The Pedders of Preston

The history of the Pedder family of Preston is important for two reasons. Firstly, the family opened the town’s first bank in 1776, a year before the first cotton mill, and managed it for nearly a century until its collapse in 1861, during which time it helped finance the rapid growth of the cotton industry in the town. Secondly, the family provides a case study for the preservation of privilege across generations that Sam Friedman and Daniel Laurison dissected in their book The Class Ceiling: Why It Pays to Be Privileged, taking their inspiration from the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu:

At root a Bourdieusian lens insists that our class background is defined by our parents’ stocks of three primary forms of capital: economic capital (wealth and income), cultural capital (educational credentials and the possession of legitimate knowledge, skills and tastes) and social capital (valuable social connections and friendships).

The life stories of the Pedders below (with more to come) have been prepared with the aim of writing an account of the family and its bank. I have put them on line here while working on that account, so that should I fail to complete the project, the material I have gathered will be available to others.

The absence of women reflects their absence in the surviving records: the Pedders were as patriarchal as their contemporaries. In the family tree above there are several Pedders named James and Charles, and not a single George: the family’s political sympathies were clearly Jacobite and Tory, rather than Hanoverian and Whig. One of the Pedder daughters danced with Prince Charles at a ball given in his honour while he was in town in 1745. The locket he gave her is in the Harris Museum.

A page from Thomas Pedder’s inventory. Image courtesy of Lancashire Archives

Thomas Pedder — ?-1680
Thomas was the ancestor of Edward Pedder, one of the founding partners in Preston’s first bank, which opened its doors in Church Street in 1776. Thomas arrived in Preston in the middle of the 17th century. At the time of his death he was described as an innkeeper; the inventory of his worldly goods provides a detailed description of the interior of a small inn at this period. He had two sons, Richard (below) and Thomas junior. Thomas Pedder’s biography.

Richard Pedder — 1659-1726
Richard was the eldest son of Thomas Pedder. He lived in Friargate and worked as a linen weaver. He had seven children, three daughters and four sons: Richard junior (below), Paul, Peter, and Philip. Richard Pedder’s biography.

Richard Pedder — 1693-1762
Richard Pedder junior followed on his father’s trade as a weaver, establishing the firm of Richard Pedder and Sons, which was one of the Preston firms exporting cloth to the West Indies. Richard’s eldest son, also Richard, died at the age of 32. His next two sons, Edward and Thomas (see below), joined him in the family business. In 1750 he bought the perpetual advowson of the vicarage of Garstang, and when his youngest son James graduated from Oxford, he was established there as vicar; the Pedders were to be vicars of Garstang for the next two centuries. Richard was twice mayor of Preston. Biography and will.

Section from William Yates' map of Lancashire 1786, showing the Pedder family as owners of Whittingham Hall

Edward Pedder — 1717-1789
Edward was mayor of Preston in 1763, 1770 and 1776. At the time of his death, he was a major landowner, owning estates and properties in Preston, Haighton, Whittingham, Grimsargh, Alston, Ribbleton and Lancaster. Biography and will.

18th-century portrait of Thomas Pedder of Preston

Thomas Pedder — 1729-1781
Thomas, who was mayor in 1779, built up an even more extensive property portfolio than his brother, the details of which can be found in his will. He was possibly the first of the family to have his portrait painted. In one of the many disturbances that marked the infamous Preston election of 1768 his house in the market square was reportedly besieged and he had to surrender his money and beg for his life. Biography and will.

© Copyright Galatas

James Pedder — 1731-1772
The youngest of Richard Pedder’s four sons, he was the first member of the family to enjoy an Oxbridge education. He was presented as vicar of Garstang by his father in 1755, while still in his early twenties, becoming the first member of the Pedder clerical dynasty that provided Garstang with vicars for two centuries. Biography.

Ashton Park, the Preston seat of Edward Pedder

Edward Pedder — 1810-1861
This Edward was the third Pedder to head the family bank, and it was shortly after his death that the bank collapsed, leaving his immediate family destitute. The collapse led to the forced sale of his home, Ashton Park, and all its contents. The sale was widely advertised and the detailed description of the house and its contents suggests a way of life a world away from that revealed by the inventory of his innkeeper ancestor, Thomas Pedder. Poverty and privilege in 1860s Preston.

Arthur Edward Pedder — 1841-1916
Arthur, the son of the above Edward, was raised to a life of privilege, being reckoned the wealthiest boy in his set at Eton. He was on a Grand Tour when the bank collapsed, and he rushed home from India to support his mother and two sisters, taking a job as a bank clerk. He eventually rebuilt his fortunes, retiring early with his family to a country estate. Biography

Privilege preserved: Brandiston Hall, Arthur Pedder’s home in his retirement. Image: N.A. Hallett.

2 thoughts on “The Pedders of Preston

  1. This is really excellent. So much, so clear, so well referenced. It brings old Preston alive and highlights starkly the enormous gap between rich & poor. I particularly Iike the comparisons made between two men with the same surnames but nothing else in common. The reference to a female inheritance being effectively ring-fenced is helpful. The fate of many women, whose husbands simply acquired the spouses wealth on marriage, is well known but this shows us how such outcomes could be avoided and the future security of a woman secured. Congratulations Peter. N.B. One link is not working- ‘Thomas Pedder — 1729-1781’


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