Alexander and Priscilla PECKOVER


The PECKOVER family of Wisbech is famous in Cambridgeshire. They were a Quaker banking family who lent their support to many local institutions and were instrumental in founding, and subsequently funding, several of them. Their most mportant legacy is the Peckover Estate, now managed by the National Trust.

William and Algernon Peckover were founder members of the Wisbech Museum prodiving to us genophiles a great antiquarian collection of national and international repute, including the housing of many of the Isle of Ely's parish records.

Dennis has provided us with an excellent overview of two of the Peckovers, Lord Alexander and his sister Priscilla (who nearly won the Nobel Peace Prize!!)

Alexander Peckover (1830-1919)
Alexander Peckover (born Wisbech, Cambridgeshire Aug. 16, 1830, died Oct. 21, 1919 Wisbech) LDS film #1903274. Married Eliza Sharples April 8, 1858 or June 8, 1858 in Wisbech. Alexander attended school at Grove House, Tottenham, now part of the north of London, beginning in 1843. The school was a forerunner of Leighton Park School, and closed permanently in 1874. Taking command of the Peckover family's substantial banking interests in the mid-1800's from his aging father, Alexander Peckover emerged as the wealthiest and most powerful of all the Peckovers and in 1893 was named to the largely ceremonial post of Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, a title he held until 1906. Alexander was the first Quaker in British history to hold such an exalted post. From the time of Cromwell, or perhaps earlier, the Lord Lieutenant of a county was the commander of the local militia, traditionally responsible for mustering militiamen for service in times of crisis. As the Crown�s senior representative in the county, a Lord Lieutenant was -- and still is -- required to escort visiting members of the Royal Family, in uniform. Alexander obtained a special dispensation to do his escorting in civvies. Then, in 1907, Alexander became a titled gentleman, named Baron Peckover of Wisbech in recognition of his years of service to Cambridgeshire. Over the years, the Right Honourable Alexander spent a fortune converting Bank House in Wisbech into a truly baronial home. He refurnished the interior and added a library that became the repository for one of the largest private literary collections ever assembled in Britain. Alexander and the rest of the Peckovers under his leadership teamed up with the Penrose family to turn their banking and other interests into a major force, a union that was sealed by the marriage of his daughter Elizabeth to a Penrose in 1893. Elizabeth was one of three rather amazing daughters resulting from Alexander's marriage to Eliza Sharples. But there were no sons. That meant he had no one who could inherit the title following his death in 1919, and the barony has ceased to exist. The Peckover banking interests eventually became one of the cornerstones of what is now Barclays Bank. 
Priscilla Peckover 1833-1931
Priscilla Hannah Peckover (born Wisbech Oct. 27, 1833 died in Wisbech in 1931). A sister of Baron Alexander Peckover of Wisbech, Priscilla carried on the family's strong Quaker traditions. She was recorded a minister of the Society of Friends (Quakers) on Nov. 20, 1877, and devoted much of her life to the peace movement, even through the First World War. She believed that every person had a duty to perform in consolidating public opinion against war. In 1878 she formed the Wisbech Peace Association to promote the development of women in work for peace. This group of men and women, eventually growing from hundreds to thousands, became a centre for peace activity. They concentrated on establishing peace by means of arbitration and disarmament. The organizers of the Wisbech Peace Association condemned war based on Christian theology. To further mutual understanding and internationalism the association published many tracts of short moral tales and worked with peace organizations in other countries. Through a member of the society they were joined by a Baptist congregation in the north of France and by a group of German Baptists at Wiesbaden. Priscilla Peckover also contacted groups in Scandinavia, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and Denmark. She never married and died at the age of 98 in Wisbech. In the years that followed the Great War, Priscilla was once short-listed for the Nobel Peace Prize, but she did not win.

Joanne Hughe's has supplied the following information:

Here is a picture of Lady Priscilla Peckover, given to Joseph Lawrence Near of Wisbech, Cambs. She was present at his marriage to Agnes Leach of Kirtling, Suffolk. They were married in the Friends Meeting House in Wisbech 14 Dec 1905. Lord Alexander Peckover and Lady Priscilla Peckover signed their Quaker marriage document. The enclosed note (see right) was written to Joseph Lawrence Near. Note the date is written as II XII 1905, and the usage of "thee" and "thyself". Those who signed the marriage document were: (* indicates family member).

Alexr. Peckover 
Priscilla Hannah Peckover 
Emma Near * 
Herbert Walter Near * 
Mariana Brown 
Annie E. Allen 
Alice Brown 
Samuel S.Burlingham 
Emma Cox 
Harry Near * 
S. R. Near * 
M. Barratt 
John Ottewill 
Jessie Walden* 
Sarah Ann Asleham 
John Wm. Briggs 
Xoper (Christopher) Cadman 
J. P. Inch 
E. H. Aubin 
M. A. Inch 
Mrs. Baker Joseph Burton Near * (father) 
Alice Near * (mother) 
Emma Cheesman *

As far as I know, all were members of the Friends Meeting, living in Wisbech.




*Peckovers - further reading 'The Peckovers of Wisbech' by Madeline G.H. Mc Reynolds, published by Wisbech Society & Presevation Trust Ltd., ISBN 0 9519220 2 5.

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