Pease, Edward (DNB00)

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PEASE, EDWARD (1767–1858), railway projector, born at Darlington on 31 May 1767, was the eldest son of Joseph Pease and his wife Mary Richardson. A brother Joseph (1772–1846) was one of the founders of the Peace Society in 1817, and a supporter of the Anti-Slavery Society, for which he wrote tracts in 1841 and 1842. Edward was educated at Leeds under Joseph Tatham the elder, and in his fifteenth year was placed in the woollen manufacturing business carried on by his father at Darlington. About 1817 he retired from active participation in the business. Soon afterwards he became interested in a scheme for constructing a tramroad from Darlington to Stockton; in 1818 preliminary steps were taken to obtain parliamentary sanction for the undertaking, but the bill was thrown out owing to the opposition of the Duke of Cleveland, near one of whose fox-covers the line was to run. In 1819 a new route was proposed, and the measure received royal assent on 19 April 1821. Originally the cars were only intended to carry coal, and be drawn by horses; but in the spring of 1821 George Stephenson, then only an ‘engine-wright,’ introduced himself to Pease, and pressed upon him the practicability and advantages of steam locomotives, and a railway instead of a tramroad. Convinced by an inspection of Stephenson's engine at Killingworth, Pease adopted Stephenson's plan. Stephenson was appointed to survey the proposed route, in which he made several alterations, and the first rail was laid on 23 May 1823.

Meanwhile Stephenson persuaded Pease to advance him money in order to start an engine factory at Newcastle, and there was constructed the first engine used on the Stockton and Darlington line; it now occupies a pedestal at Darlington station. After considerable opposition the line was opened for traffic on 27 Sept. 1825, and at once proved a success [see Stephenson, George]. Pease, however, withdrew from railway enterprise about 1830, and died at his residence, Northgate, Darlington, on 31 July 1858. His relations with George Stephenson and his son Robert remained cordial to the end of his life.

Both Pease and his wife were devout quakers, being ‘overseers’ in the society in their youth, Pease subsequently becoming an elder and his wife a minister. Dr. Smiles describes Pease as ‘a thoughtful and sagacious man, ready in resources, possessed of indomitable energy and perseverance.’ His diaries were edited by his great-grandson Sir Alfred E. Pease in 1907. A portrait is given in Smiles's ‘Lives of the Engineers’ (George and Robert Stephenson, ed. 1874, p. 124).

Pease married, on 30 Nov. 1796, Rachel, daughter of John Whitwell of Kendal. She died at Manchester on 18 Oct. 1833, having had five sons and three daughters.

The second son, Joseph Pease (1799–1872), aided his father in carrying out the project for the railway from Stockton to Darlington in 1819 and 1820. The draft advertisement of the opening of the line, dated 14 Sept. 1825, in his autograph, is preserved by the company. Upon the extension of the railway to Middlesbrough in 1828, the mineral owners offered powerful opposition. Pease consequently purchased a coal-mine in the neighbourhood in order to prove the value of the new mode of conveyance. Four years later the colliery owners were convinced, and admitted their obligations to Pease for conquering their prejudices. After the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832, Pease was returned for South Durham, and retained the seat till his retirement in 1841. He was the first quaker member who sat in parliament, and on presenting himself on 8 Feb. 1833 he objected to take the usual oath. A select committee was appointed to inquire into precedents, and on 14 Feb. he was allowed to affirm (Hansard, Parl. Deb. xv. 387, 639). He was a frequent speaker on matters of social and political reform, always avoiding the use of titles when addressing the house, and retaining his quaker dress (cf. Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. ix. 153). In addition to business of various kinds and politics, he devoted himself to philanthropic or educational work, aiding Joseph Lancaster [q. v.], and acting as president of the Peace Society from 1860. Before 1865 he became totally blind, but, with the aid of his secretary, republished and distributed many Friends' books; and he had the ‘Essays, Moral and Religious,’ of Jonathan Dymond [q. v.] translated into Spanish, for which service the government of Spain conferred on him (2 Jan. 1872) the grand cross of Charles III. He died on 8 Feb. 1872. At the time of his death there were nearly ten thousand men employed in the collieries, quarries, and ironstone mines owned by him and his family, who also directed the older woollen and cotton manufactories. Pease married, on 20 March 1826, Emma (d. 1860), daughter of Joseph Gurney of Norwich, leaving five sons and four daughters. Joseph Whitwell Pease, the eldest son, who was created a baronet on 18 May 1882, was M.P. for South Durham from 1865 to 1885, and subsequently for Barnard Castle. Arthur Pease, the third son, was M.P. for Whitby from 1880 to 1885, and for Darlington from 1895.

Edward Pease's fifth son, Henry Pease (1807–1881), also entered with zeal into the railway projects of his father. His principal achievement was the opening in 1861 of the line across Stainmoor, called ‘the backbone of England,’ the summit of which is 1374 feet above sea level. It joined at Tebay the London and North-Western railway, and was soon extended to Saltburn-on-Sea. In January 1854 Pease was deputed by the meeting for sufferings, held on the 17th of that month, to accompany Joseph Sturge [q. v.] and Robert Charleton as a deputation from the Society of Friends to Russia. On 10 Feb. they were received by the Emperor Nicholas, and presented him with a powerful address, urging him to abstain from the then imminent Crimean war. He received them politely, but their efforts were unavailing, and Kinglake (Invasion of the Crimea, ii. 54) ridiculed their action. Pease was M.P. for South Durham from 1857 to 1865. In 1867 he visited Napoleon III with a deputation from the Peace Society, but their request for permission to hold a peace congress during the International exhibition in Paris was rejected. He was chairman of the first Darlington school board in 1871, first mayor of the town, president of the Peace Society from 1872, and on 27 Sept. 1875 chairman of the railway jubilee held at Darlington, at which eighty British and thirty foreign railways were represented. He was always a prominent member of the Society of Friends. He died in Finsbury Square, London, while attending the yearly meeting, on 30 May 1881, and was buried at Darlington. Pease married, on 25 Feb. 1835, Anna, only daughter of Richard Fell of Uxbridge, who died on 27 Oct. 1839, leaving a son, Henry Fell Pease, M.P. from 1885 for the Cleveland division of Yorkshire; secondly, he married Mary, daughter of Samuel Lloyd of Wednesbury, by whom he had three sons and two daughters.

Schools and a library were presented by members of the Pease family to Darlington, which greatly benefited by their munificence.

[Cat. of Devonshire House Portraits, pp. 487–95, 503, 507; Annual Monitor, 1859 pp. 122–64, 1873 pp. 101–10, 1882 iii. 122; Foster's Pease of Darlington; Our Iron Roads, 1852; Smiles's Lives of the Engineers; Illustrated London News, 7 Aug. 1858; the Engineer, 1858, ii. 103; Times, 2 Aug. 1858; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. vii. 465; Joseph Pease, a Memoir, reprinted from the Northern Echo of 9 Feb. 1872, with Appendix, and 31 May 1881; Longstaff's Hist. of Darlington, pp. xciv, 318, 333; Random Recollections of the House of Commons, p. 289; the Peases of Darlington, British Workman, February 1892; Smith's Catalogue, ii. 278; information from Henry Fell Pease, esq., and personal knowledge.]

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