The Pease Family

The Pease Family of Hull and Hessle

The origins of the Pease family of Hull are a little obscure. It is believed that the family originated in Essex, at Great Baddow, and came to Hull in the late 16th century, though another source suggests the West Riding.

In 1582 there is a record of a John Pease and a George Pease. John was a burgher of Hull whilst George was a master of the wool house, a position only awarded to the most responsible of the town’s merchants. George had a daughter named Anne who was the second wife of the Rev Andrew Marvell, of Winestead, and Hull and so the mother of the MP and poet Andrew Marvell.

A little later a Robert Pease married Anne Richardson at Holy Trinity Church, Hull on January 31st, and they had two children; Robert (1643) and Anne. Anne married a future Alderman and Mayor of Chester by the name of William Thompson. Robert, the father, held the office of chamberlain in Hull and was fined for his refusal to accept the office of Sheriff. His wife Anne died and after the Restoration he moved to Amsterdam, possibly to escape religious persecution for his Puritan views. There he met Esther Clifford, another refugee, and they married on 17th November 1670. Together they had six children, three boys and three girls: George, William, Joseph, Abigail, Anna and Hester. The Cliffords owned one of the most important banks in Amsterdam and the marriage provided Robert with the support he needed to develop his commercial enterprises. He soon became established as a merchant and his business ran successfully for over a century.

Robert purchased an estate in Ireland for George where he married Elizabeth Randall of Cork and ran a mill and oil seed exporting concern. He died in Limerick in 1743. William remained in Amsterdam and managed the family’s business interests there. None of the three girls seems to have married and so it is to Joseph that we turn to continue the family.

Joseph was the youngest son of Robert and Anne being born on 30th November 1688 and he was given a name that recurs frequently in the history of the family. It was through Joseph that the Pease dynasty in Hull became settled.

Joseph Pease

In 1708 Joseph’s father sent him to England to establish a family in business in London and gave him specific instructions as to what he was to do. His first task was become a naturalised Englishman so that he could obtain full control over the family property. Secondly he was to put God at the forefront of his life and maintain his religion. Thirdly Joseph was to make the acquaintance of Richard Hoare a London banker. His fourth task was to find a suitable site in London on which to establish a rapeseed oil clarifying business. Finally he was to work for the greater good of the Pease family. Robert had been granted a patent for his process of manufacturing green oil.

Before his death in 1778 Joseph was to achieve a remarkable degree of success in achieving the tasks set for him by his father. However, in setting up a business in London he was unsuccessful. Having found what he though was a suitable site he met with strong local opposition and was forced to look elsewhere. His search took him first to Gainsborough and then on to Hull where he was to found a business empire, backed by the Cliffords from Amsterdam. Joseph established himself in High Street, the traditional home of Hull’s business, shipping and trading concerns. Here he found himself a site with a house and access to the river and docking facilities, and enough room to construct warehouses (two of which are still standing, though converted to residential apartments). From there he established the family in whaling, milling, shipping, lead, paint and whiting manufacturing, underwriting and, eventually, banking. On the corner of Lowgate and Saltshouse Lane he built an oil crushing mill in 1740. The Clifford’s supplied Pease with seeds for crushing through their Baltic connections, whilst more seed was brought in from Ireland. When he died in 1778 Joseph Pease left an estate of £80,000 and a business empire valued at half a million pounds and a legacy described by Jackson as being “one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the eighteenth century”.

The Pease Bank in High Street, Hull and plaque.

Whilst accumulating his wealth, and extending his business, commercial and interests Joseph had also been acquiring property both locally and further afield in places such as Grimsby and Manchester. In 1754 he took a further step into the world of commerce when he established his bank which was situated towards the northern end of High Street in the family home. He began the venture with his son, Robert, but soon several of the wider family became in the Hull banking scene. The bank is believed to have been the first in Yorkshire and one of only a few outside London. The Pease house was demolished in 1950.

In 1717Joseph married Mary Turner and they had four children in a, sadly all too, short marriage: Robert, Joseph, Hester and Mary. Mary died in 1728 but Joseph lived on as a widower for another fifty years. Of his children only Mary, the younger daughter, had a legitimate child. Robert did not marry but did have an illegitimate son with Margaret Copeland who was named Robert Copeland Pease. Joseph died in infancy and Hester had no children. Robert pre-deceased his father in 1770 and his estate came back to Joseph and thence to Joseph Robinson Pease in 1778.

Mary met and married (1751) Robert Robinson of Manchester and gave birth to three sons, one of whom they named Joseph (1752) and through whom the legitimate family line was continued. Robert Robinson was based in the cotton manufacturing trade but tragically died in 1755 and Mary died the following year leaving Joseph an orphan. He was brought up by his uncle Thomas in Manchester, who lived in a house owned by Joseph Pease. In 1778 Joseph Robinson took the name and arms of Pease by Royal Sign Manual, according to his grandfather’s wishes, and became Joseph Robinson Pease.

When Joseph Pease considered his estate and wrote his will he left everything to his grandson Joseph. His other grandson Robert Copeland did come into two properties but they probably came through his father. Joseph inherited the Hesslewood estate in 1778.

Joseph Robinson Pease snr

In 1749 Robert Pease moved onto the Hesslewood estate under a lease from the Trustees of the Leonard Chamberlain Trust. Hesslewood house was set to become the country seat of the family but it was used mainly as a summer residence for many years. However, it seems that Pease was anxious to get his hands on the property because it was adjacent to the chalk quarries at Hessle which provided raw materials for his paint and whiting manufactory rather than for the house itself. It was not until 1788 that Joseph Robinson Pease obtained the freehold to the property when he exchanged, with the Trust, other lands for Hesslewood. Even then there was some controversy as the Clerk of the trust was also in the employ of the Pease family. However, there was no legal challenge to the deal and it went through. Work had already begun on the site to build a new grand mansion before 1788. Pease employed Charles Mountain (snr) to design and oversee the building of the new house. Work on the house seems to have been completed by 1791 at cost around £4,500 and provided a mansion which “commands a fine view of the Humber, but less extensive than from the house of Mr Cooper, and others on top of the hill”.

Hesslewood House is built from cream brick and has stone details. The hipped roof is of slate. In the centre of the main block is a fine south facing doorway looking down towards the river. This has pilasters on each side and a richly decorated pediment showing festoons and rosettes. The main block of the house has five bays and two stories with an attic floor above. To either side of the house there are single storey wings and two storey pediment pavilions. Inside there were many elegantly furnished rooms and a beautiful mahogany staircase together with a magnificent marble fireplace in the drawing room.

The main entrance to the house was from Hesslewood crossroads with a second entrance was half a mile along the road towards Ferriby, which now forms the main entrance. The lodge cottage at the entrance to the estate still stands at the crossroads. There was also a private road which ran north-west from the house across Ferriby Road and then along the west side of North Drive Plantation to Jenny Brough Lane.

In 1778 Joseph married Anne Twigge of Ashover in Derbyshire and they had six children who survived infancy: Joseph Robinson (jnr), Clifford, George, Anne, Mary and Charlotte.

Charles Mountain was also engaged by Joseph Robinson to design and oversee the building of a terrace of fine houses on Charlotte Street in Hull. Pease financed the building of the properties by the builders Fox and Usher and the other properties were sold on. This street was the most sought after address in Hull despite its close proximity to the new Dock. The new house at number 12 was an elegant mansion with a grand portico. It was the most elegant house on the terrace with plainer houses to either side so that it really stood out. Pease and his wife, Anne, lived here when not in residence at Hesslewood. Anne continued to live there after Joseph’s death and until her own demise in 1816. An entry in Joseph Robinson Pease’s journal recalls re-moving from Charlotte Street to Hesslewood in 1817, when the house was divided into two until it was eventually sold on in 1849 for £3,500.The Charlotte Street House was demolished in 1969 though an idea of its elegance can be glimpsed from the remaining houses, now on George Street. It would be nice to think that Charlotte Street and George Street were named after members of the Pease family who were so baptized but in fact the names refer to King George III and his wife, Queen Charlotte.

There was nothing unusual about a wealthy Hull merchant building a new house but whilst many of Hull’s wealthiest citizens were moving out of town into the neighbouring villages Pease was having two grand new residences built, one in town and one out of town. The cost for Hesslewood was £4,500 and for the Charlotte Street terrace £20,000, whilst he also spent £5,000 on furnishing the houses.

Joseph Robinson Pease jnr

Joseph Robinson (snr) died in 1807 and his son Joseph Robinson Pease (jnr) inherited the estate but as he was still a minor a group of trustees was appointed to look after the estate and businesses. The estate was worth about £140.00, mostly in property. The men assigned to the task of trusteeship were friends and business acquaintances of the family – George Knowsley, a banking partner; Robert Osborne, the Recorder of Hull and William Bourne a relative.

In the year of his father’s death the young Joseph was admitted to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, having spent four years at a private school in Little Shelford, Cambridgeshire. The school was run by a Reverend Thomason and his wife and it was here that Joseph learned the religious values that would stay with him for life. The school had been chosen for him by his mother and the teaching was a stark contrast to the Unitarian views held by his father.

In 1810 Joseph came into his inheritance and straightaway took up a partnership in the bank which was now trading under the name of Pease and Liddell after an amalgamation with a bank based in Beverley. Seven years later Joseph removed house from Charlotte Street to Hesslewood and in 1818 he married Harriet Walker, the daughter of James Walker of Beverley. Joseph and Harriet had a happy and successful marriage with six children and two girls surviving, though there were also other infants who did not or who were miscarried. Joseph was a family man and was devastated when members of his family passed away especially the deaths of his sister Charlotte and his infant daughter Emily Jane. He records his feeling in the journal. He was also full of pride when he recorded the marriage of his eldest son, James in 1843, writing that he was the first father in the Pease family to witness a son marry since 1717.

Harriet brought a considerable sum of money to the marriage - £10,700. This put Joseph into a very strong position financially and he used it to effect a dilution of his role in the bank so that he passed over much of the responsibility for the running of the bank to his partner George Liddell. Joseph later wrote that he was very much indebted to Liddell for his successful management of the bank and the “handsome income” it brought him.

Between the years 1822 and 1865 Pease kept a journal in which he recorded the personal, family and commercial aspects of his life as well as national and international highlights, and his various charitable, political, sporting and leisure interests. He became a Justice of the Peace and a Deputy Lieutenant of the East Riding. He owned shares in various canal companies and took up shares in the Hull and Selby Railway and other railway companies. Despite the influence of his father’s strong Unitarian beliefs he followed his mother and schooling to become a staunch Anglican. He was a man of fine taste. He kept fine furniture and served the best of food and wine to his guests at Hesslewood, and he expected the same of others. Both of his houses in Charlotte Street and at Hesslewood were superb mansions.

Joseph was also highly regarded in the community. He was widely involved in supporting charities and the church as well as in his business interests and local politics. When he died in 1866 the Hull Packet was fulsome in its praise describing him as “he, the least obtrusive of men, has occupied a foremost place in every movement for advancing thee material prosperity of the town, for furthering the education of the poor, for promoting religious knowledge, and for extending the influence and increasing the usefulness of the Church”.

By the mid nineteenth century the Pease family had friends and relations all over the country and these are mentioned frequently in the journal. The family travel far and wide holidaying or staying with friends and in return does much entertaining at Hesslewood. In the 1830s James had to travel south to Torquay to spend the winter in the milder climes of the south coast for health reasons. The journeys of seven days or more are detailed in his journal.

Joseph Robinson Pease left behind not only fond memories in the minds of most of those with whom he had come into contact during his life but also a successful business empire and a fine memorial mortuary in Hessle Cemetery.

Joseph Walker Pease and Later Generations

Joseph Walker Pease took his father’s place at the head of the Pease family on the death of his father. In 1843 Joseph married Barbara Palmer of Withcote Hall in Leicestershire, and together they had seven children, four boys and three girls.

In his turn, Joseph carried on those traditions of charity and benevolence which his father had displayed. Like his father Joseph Walker was a great supporter of the church and gave considerable sums of money to restore and repair All Saints in Hessle and Holy Trinity in Hull. He was also one of the founders of the 1st East York Rifle (Volunteers), joining as a captain in November 1859. He was promoted to Major the following March and to Lieutenant Colonel in August 1860, retiring with that rank in 1876. In March 1860 Joseph was presented to Queen Victoria at a special reception for Rifle Officers. Joseph was a JP and Deputy Lieutenant of the East Riding. The Rifles were regular visitors to Hesslewood where they were reviewed and entertained by the family. On one occasion “three tables of one hundred feet each were laid out in front of the house and a large tent in case of rain ready. Three hundred and fifty Rifles sat down” to dine at Pease’s expense.

He was also the Chairman of the Hull and Withernsea Railway Company and was devoted to a number of East Riding charitable or philanthropic causes.

In 1873 Joseph stood as a Conservative MP in a by-election in Hull but his political career was short lived as he was replaced by Charles Wilson the following year. The election took place on 22nd October and Pease was elected by polling 6873 votes, a majority of 279 over his Liberal opponent, Edward Reed. Although polling had ended at 3:30 pm the count was not completed until early the next morning and the result was announced at 1:00 pm. Pease made a victory speech from the balcony of the George Hotel on Whitefriargate after which he returned to Hesslewood. In Hessle the whole village turned out to celebrate his success. The church bells rang and his carriage was pulled by two dozen residents. Pease expressed his thanks to his supporters, the horses were returned to the carriage and he made his way home. However, his term as an MP met with no success whatsoever. At the time of the election Parliament was in its autumn - winter recess and before he could take his seat in the House of Commons Parliament was dissolved (January 26th 1874). In the resulting general election Pease was defeated and the city returned two Liberal MPs. Pease had been an MP for three months but never sat in the Commons.

He died in 1882 leaving the estate to his son Henry. Despite his lack of personal success in politics Joseph was one of the powers behind the scenes in local politics. Much of his work was done in supporting and promoting others and as such his friendship was highly valued by many.

Directories of the 1880 place Francis Pease (the third son of JWP) at Hesslewood though his brother Henry (the eldest son) is also there in 1885. By 1891 it is Francis and his family who are recorded there in the census returns. Henry has by this time gone to live at Hunmanby Hall in North Yorkshire. Henry’s eldest son, Joseph Robinson, would soon return to Hesslewood for a brief spell but by 1901 both Francis and Joseph Robinson are both to be found in London at Paddington and Chelsea respectively, though Joseph gives his postal address as Hesslewood on the census return.

The third Joseph Robinson married Nony Isabel Colville in 1899. He was an officer in the Royal Garrison Artillery and became a Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel, like his grandfather, but died on active service in May 1914. His body was returned to Hessle for burial.