Pease, Sir Joseph Whitwell (1828-1903) 1st Baronet Businessman and MP 1828 - 1903

Pease, Sir Joseph Whitwell, first baronet (1828–1903), industrialist and banker, born at Darlington on 23 June 1828, was the elder son of Joseph Pease (1799–1872), railway company promoter and industrialist and his wife, Emma (d. 1860), daughter of Joseph Gurney of Norwich. Edward Pease was his grandfather. In January 1839 he went to the Friends' school, York, under John Ford. Entering the Pease banking partnership at Darlington in 1845, he became largely engaged in the projection of railway enterprise and in the management of the woollen mills, collieries, and iron trade with which the firm was associated. He was soon either director or chairman of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, the Owners of the Middlesbrough Estate Ltd, Robert Stephenson & Co. Ltd, Pease & Partners Ltd, and J. and J. W. Pease, bankers. In 1894 he was elected chairman of the North Eastern Railway, after serving as deputy chairman for many years. He also farmed extensively, having purchased a 3000 acre estate at Hutton Lowcross in the North Riding of Yorkshire in 1867. He read a paper, entitled ‘The meat supply of Great Britain’, at the South Durham and North Yorkshire chamber of agriculture, on 26 January 1878.

He married in 1854 Mary, daughter of Alfred Fox of Falmouth. She died on 3 August 1892. They had two sons and six daughters.

In 1865 Pease was returned as Liberal MP for South Durham, which he represented for twenty years. After the Redistribution Act of 1885 he sat for the Barnard Castle division of Durham county, until his death. He strongly supported Gladstone on all questions, including Irish home rule, and rendered useful service to the House of Commons in matters of trade, particularly in regard to the coal and iron industries of the north of England. He was president of the Peace Society and of the Society for the Suppression of the Opium Traffic, and a champion of both interests in parliament. On 22 June 1881 he moved the second reading of a bill to abolish capital punishment, and his speech was separately printed. In 1882 Gladstone created him a baronet (18 May). No Quaker had previously accepted such a distinction, although Sir John Rodes (1693–1743) inherited one. In 1886 Pease unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Gladstone to defer his first government of Ireland act.

During the course of 1902 the family banking partnership, J. and J. W. Pease, became insolvent, the product in large measure of a court settlement against Pease in the matter of the administration of the estate of his niece (the countess of Portsmouth), for which he had acted as trustee for many years. Drained of capital, and dependent on secured and unsecured loans to meet the dividend payments of leading industrial concerns, including the Consett Iron Company, Pease & Partners Ltd, and the North Eastern Railway, the bank was absorbed by Barclay & Co. on disadvantageous terms. Although Pease and his sons were saved from bankruptcy proceedings by the receipt of generous financial support from business associates both in London and in the north-east of England, the settlement with Barclay & Co. entailed the forfeiture of the bulk of their estates. Pease died at Kerris Vean, his Falmouth home, of heart failure, on 23 June 1903, his seventy-fifth birthday, and was buried at Darlington.