Peploe, Samuel (DNB00)

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PEPLOE, SAMUEL (1668–1752), bishop of Chester, was born at Dawley Parva in Shropshire, and baptised on 3 July 1668. His father, Podmore or Padmore Peploe, seems to have been in humble circumstances. From Penkridge school in Staffordshire Peploe proceeded to Oxford, where he matriculated as a battler of Jesus College 12 May 1687. He graduated B.A. 12 March 1691, and M.A. in 1693. Having taken holy orders, he was presented to the rectory of Kedleston, near Derby, in 1695 (Cox, Churches of Derbyshire, iii. 174). A strong whig in politics, and a latitudinarian in religion, Peploe attracted the notice of Sir Charles Hoghton, a strenuous supporter of Revolution principles in Lancashire. Hoghton nominated him to the important vicarage of Preston in 1700.

Preston was then a stronghold of the Jacobites, to whom through life Peploe was uncompromisingly opposed. This, coupled with a somewhat overbearing manner, rendered him obnoxious in the town, although he greatly exerted himself to improve its educational and religious condition. He took a prominent part in building a bluecoat school in 1702, and in founding Cadley School in 1707. After the Jacobite occupation in 1715 he viewed with alarm the large number of Roman catholic residents in the town, and he procured the erection of two new churches. While Preston was in the hands of the Jacobites, tradition says that a party of rebels entered the church while the vicar was reading the prayers, and threatened him with instant death unless he ceased praying for the ‘Hanoverian usurper.’ With great self-possession Peploe continued the service, only pausing to say, ‘Soldier, I am doing my duty; do you do yours.’ On this incident being related to George I, he is reported to have said: ‘Peep-low, Peep-low is he called?’ Then, with an oath, he added: ‘But he shall peep high; I will make him a bishop.’ Whether this story be authentic or no, Peploe's subsequent advancement was probably rather an acknowledgment of the active assistance rendered by him to the commission for forfeited estates, appointed in 1716, to which he furnished an elaborate report of ‘estates granted to superstitious uses in and about Preston’ (Forfeited Estates Papers, P.R.O. p. 34). On 1 July 1718 Peploe was nominated by the king warden of the collegiate church of Manchester, in succession to Dr. Richard Wroe [q. v.] The statutes requiring the warden to be B.D. or LL.D., he obtained the former degree from Archbishop Wake, and thereby was thought to have cast a slur upon Oxford. On presenting himself for induction the visitor, Francis Gastrell [q. v.], bishop of Chester, hesitated to perform the office, on the plea that a university degree was essential to the dignity. The matter was taken into the court of king's bench, which decided in Peploe's favour, ruling that the legatine power of conferring degrees was established, and that the degrees so conferred were of equal validity with university degrees in qualifying for ecclesiastical preferment.

As warden of Manchester, Peploe was involved in constant disputes with his chapter. On all religious and political questions he found himself alone; and the episcopal visitor, to whom frequent appeals were made, was on the side of his opponents. On the other hand, his tolerant views made him a general favourite with the dissenters.

On the death of Gastrell, Peploe was nominated to succeed him at Chester. He was consecrated on 12 April 1726, when he resigned Preston, retaining Manchester in com- mendam. A fresh legal difficulty at once arose. The bishop of Chester was visitor of Manchester College, and the warden of Manchester was one of the persons to be visited. But the two offices were now united in one person, and he could not visit himself. After much unseemly contention between the warden and his tory clergy, the ministry of the day passed a measure appointing the king visitor whenever the wardenship should be held with the bishopric of Chester. But this arrangement failed to put an end to the dissensions in the chapter, and Peploe found it prudent to resign his post of warden in 1738, his son being appointed his successor. He now became legal visitor of the college, and, supported by the new warden, lost no time in reducing the refractory chapter to outward obedience.

With the diocesan clergy the bishop dealt much more successfully. In spite of a hot temper, he was by no means unpopular with them. During his episcopate he consecrated thirty-nine churches. He also erected two new galleries in the choir of his cathedral (Hanshall, Chester, p. 99). In 1739 he was involved in a dispute with the mayor of Chester, who, being refused admission into the Abbey Court by the bishop when proclaiming war against Spain, ordered the gates to be broken down (Hemingway, Chester, ii. 248). During the Jacobite rebellion of 1745–6 Peploe, staunch to his early principles, preached a sermon in his cathedral (13 Oct. 1745), afterwards published under the title ‘Popish Idolatry a strong Reason why Protestants should steadily oppose the present Rebellion.’ The bishop died at Chester on 21 Feb. 1752, and was buried on the 28th of the same month in the cathedral. The inscription on his monument shows that he was one of the few English bishops who never took a doctor's degree.

Peploe was a man of great determination, and totally regardless of public opinion in the discharge of his duties. A strong and unflinching partisan in politics, his whole life was passed in an atmosphere of strife. But he was by no means destitute of generous instincts; and his scheme of religious toleration embraced even the Roman catholics.

By his first wife, Ann, daughter of Thomas Browne, esq., of Shredicote, Staffordshire, he had one son and four daughters. She died on 25 Nov. 1705. On 8 Jan. 1712 he married Ann, daughter of his predecessor, Thomas Birch, vicar of Preston, by whom he had no surviving issue. Mrs. Peploe survived her husband. The bishop's only son, Samuel (1699–1781), commonly known as ‘Peploe Junior,’ was vicar of Preston 1726–43, prebendary of Chester 1727–81, vicar of Northenden 1727–81, archdeacon of Richmond 1729–81, warden of Manchester 1738–1781, vicar of Tattenhall 1743–81, and chancellor of Chester 1748–81. The family is now represented by the Webb-Peploes of Garnstone, Herefordshire (Burke, Landed Gentry).

Peploe only published a few sermons and charges. His portrait was painted by Winstanley, and engraved by Faber ({[sc|Bromley}}, Catalogue).

[Raines's Rectors of Manchester (Chetham Soc. Publ., vol. vi. new ser.); Hibbert-Ware's History of the Collegiate Church, Manchester; Smith's Records of the Parish Church of Preston; Halley's Lancashire: its Puritanism and Nonconformity; Cheshire Sheaf, vols. i. and ii.; Foster's Alumni Oxonienses, 1500–1714; Stubbs's Registrum; Act-books of the Diocese of Chester; information supplied by the Vicar of Dawley.]

F. S.