Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pinney, Charles

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PINNEY, CHARLES (1793–1867), mayor of Bristol, born on 29 April 1793, was son of John Preter (1740–1818), who assumed, on succeeding to the Pinney estates in 1762, the surname and arms of Pinney by royal license. Charles was a merchant and slaveowner, in partnership with E. Case at Bristol, a firm which in 1833 received 3,572l. as compensation for the emancipation of their slaves. On 16 Sept. 1831 Pinney was sworn in mayor of Bristol, and held that office during the riots caused by the rejection of the Reform Bill. These riots commenced on Saturday, 29 Oct. 1831, on the entrance into the city of Sir Charles Wetherell, the recorder, who was very unpopular, owing to the part he had taken in opposing the Reform Bill in the House of Commons, and was immediately mobbed. After taking refuge in the mansion house, he left Bristol during the night. Conflicts between the mob on one side and special constables and soldiers on the other continued through the evening, and thrice the mayor read the Riot Act. The next day, Sunday, the rioters reassembled, and the mayor's life was in danger. The mob burnt and destroyed the mansion house, the bishop's palace, the custom-house, the excise office, the gaol, and two sides of Queen's Square. Finally the military, until then in a state of indecision, charged and fired on the people. About sixteen persons were killed, or perished in the flames, and one hundred were wounded or injured. Those rioters who were captured were tried by a special commission in Bristol in January 1832, when four of them were executed and twenty-two transported [see for the conduct of the troops, Brereton, Thomas, 1782–1832].

On 25 Oct. 1832 Pinney was put on his trial in the court of king's bench, charged with neglect of duty in his office as mayor of Bristol during the riots. After a trial lasting seven days the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, asserting that Pinney ‘acted according to the best of his judgment, with zeal and personal courage.’ In 1836 he was chosen one of the first aldermen in the reformed corporation. He died at Camp House, Clifton, on 17 July 1867.

He married, on 7 March 1830, Frances Mary, fourth daughter of John Still of Knoyle, Wiltshire, and had issue Frederick Wake Preter Pinney of the Grange, Somerton; John Charles Pinney, vicar of Coleshill, Warwickshire; and a daughter.

[Nicholls and Taylor's Bristol, 1882, iii. 325–338; Bristol Liberal, 17 Sept. 1831, p. 3; Latimer's Annals of Bristol, 1887, pp. 146–79, 188, 212; Trial of Charles Pinney, Esq. 1833; Ann. Register, 1831 pp. 292, &c., 1832 pp. 5, &c.; Times, 30 Oct. 1831 et seq., 26 Oct. 1832 et seq.; Burke's Landed Gentry, 1886, ii. 1467–8; Gent. Mag. September 1867, p. 398.]

G. C. B.