Pease, Edward (1767-1858) Railway Projector 1767 - 1858

Edward Pease was a woollen manufacturer and railway promoter, born at Darlington on 31 May 1767, was the eldest son of Joseph Pease, woollen manufacturer, and his wife, Mary Richardson. Edward was educated at Leeds under Joseph Tatham the elder, and at the age of fifteen was placed in the woollen manufacturing business carried on by his father at Darlington. Pease married, on 30 November 1796, a fellow Quaker, Rachel, daughter of John Whitwell, of Kendal. They had five sons and three daughters. Rachel Pease died at Manchester on 18 October 1833.

In 1809 Pease became interested in a scheme for improving navigation on the lower reaches of the River Tees, a project which eventually bore fruit as the Stockton and Darlington Railway, linking collieries in south-west Durham with the London coastal trade in competition with established interests on the Tyne and the Wear.

Pease's role as the driving force behind the Stockton and Darlington Railway project was facilitated by his status as a Quaker entrepreneur with extensive familial contacts within the Quaker banking community in Norwich and London. Following the opening of the railway in September 1825, intermarriage within the Quaker ‘cousinhood’, reinforced by intra-family share transfers, resulted in the Pease family's emergence as the leading stockholders in the railway. Thus, despite its status as a publicly quoted company the Stockton and Darlington Railway soon aspired to the standing of a family-run firm.

Pease's role as provider of capital is well illustrated in his contribution to the founding of Robert Stephenson & Co. of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1823 as a purpose-built locomotive building establishment. Of the modest initial capital of £4000, £1600 was advanced by Pease, but he also loaned Robert Stephenson £500 towards his own subscription.

Pease retired from active business life in 1833. He spent the remaining years of his life, as a notably ‘plain’ Quaker, consumed with guilt about his worldly riches and worrying incessantly about his sons' business speculations. He died of heart failure 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.