Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Robert Peel (1723-1795)

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Robert Peel (1723-1795), calico printer

1723 Born the son of William Peele and his wife Jane Walmesley

Robert with his father William were yeoman farmers who were engaged in the infant textile industry, then organised on the basis of the domestic system (most of the work being undertaken in the home).

c.1743 Married Elizabeth Howarth

c.1760 He went into partnership with his brother-in-law Jonathan Howarth.

c.1764 Four years later they began a small calico printing factory at Brookside, Oswaldtwistle; William Yates, the publican of the Black Bull Inn, was brought into provide warehouse space and additional capital. Their earliest success was the production of a simple parsley leaf design from which Robert Peel earned his trade nickname, "Parsley" Peel. Also, a neighbour, John Kay, invented the flying shuttle.

Robert inherited Peel Fold. It was with him and his brothers that the name was first spelt Peel instead of Peele.

c.1766 James Hargreaves was one of Howarth and Peel's weavers. He allowed his employers to see his new Spinning Jenny machine; they were keen to exploit it.

A close rival in the calico printing business was Richard Arkwright whose originality was vigorously contested by Peel and a group of other Lancashire manufacturers while they exploited what was most profitable in his new system of factory spinning, then quickly improved it.

1772 Peel gave his son, Robert, £500 to start a business on his own account. In partnership with William Yates and his uncle Howarth, he established a calico printing works on the Chamber Hall estate at Bury, with spinning mills nearby supplied by hundreds of handloom weavers in the Pennine villages.




c.1743 Married Elizabeth Howarth, he had seven sons and one daughter:-

  • William Peel, of Church, near Blackburn, founder of extensive bleaching and print-works. He was born in 1745, and died March 30, 1790. By his wife, Mary, daughter of Thomas Howarth, of Blackburn, he had eight sons and three daughters. Most of them have families, who are half-cousins to the present Sir Robert Peel and his brothers.
  • Edmond Peel, of Church; born 1748, died 1776. By his wife, Mary, daughter of Mr. Wright, of Blackburn, he had issue, Robert, Susannah, and Elizabeth. The latter married Edward Howarth, of Mill Hill, Blackburn, and had a family.
  • Jonathan Peel, of Accrington House, near Blackburn, an extensive manufacturer; born 1752, died 1885. By his first wife, Anne, daughter of Giles Howarth, of Blackburn, he had issue, Robert, Giles, Grace, Anne, Elizabeth, and Jane. By his second wife, Hester, daughter of Robert Bolton, Esq. of Bolton, he had Jonathan, Bolton, William, Catherine, Hester, Dorothy, Mary, Jane, Susannah, Edmund, and Joseph; in all, seventeen children, whose descendants are numerous.
  • Anne. She died in 1826, having been twice married; first to the Rev. Borlace Willcock, of Harwood, Lancashire; second, to the Rev. George Park, of Hawkeshead, same county. She had issue only by the first marriage, Robert Peel Willcock, postmaster, of Manchester; who has a numerous family, two daughters being married to manufacturers in Manchester named Garnett, and one to Dr. Arnold, of Atherstone. Annes's second son was William Willcock, Esq., of Leeds, a manufacturer; who married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Peel, of Penzance, a distant relative, and had a family of five children, one of them being the Rev. William Wellington Willcock, incumbent of St. Andrew's, Manchester. Anne had also a daughter, Ellen, who became the wife of Charles Harding, Esq., of Fazeley, near Tamworth.
  • Lawrence Peel, of Manchester, an eminent merchant, born 1755. He married, first, Alice daughter of Jonathan Howarth, of Manchester; secondly, Lady Radcliffe, of Milne's Bridge, Yorkshire. By the first he had issue, Robert, Jonathan, Frederick, Mary, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Caroline, and Harriet.
  • Joseph, a merchant in the city of London, born 1766. He married Anne Howarth, sister to Alice, the wife of Lawrence, and had issue, Robert Howarth, Joseph, Lawrence, William, Marianna, Alicia, Elizabeth, and one other daughter.
  • John, a manufacturer and merchant, who succeeded to his father's business at Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Gilbert Slater, Esq., of Liverpool.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • 1852 Autumn Hoggs' Instructor