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Wednesday 4 February 2015

Fact 58. The first bank in Yorkshire was in Hull.

A Robert Pease was a merchant in Hull and doing well. He had the important role of Chamberlain for Hull. It was his job to collect the taxes and revenues due to the corporation. He was actually fined for refusing the job of Sheriff! His first wife Ann died leaving him with two children  Robert and Ann and after the restoration of Charles II he fled to Amsterdam, maybe due to religious persecution as Robert was a Puritan. In the Netherlands Robert the younger did well and married another refugee from the UK, Esther Clifford, in 1670. The Cliffords were an important family there and had a very influential bank. Robert Pease junior did well and prospered as a merchant. They had six children three boys and three girls. The Eldest of the boys had an estate purchased for him in Ireland. The second son William remained in Amsterdam and ran the family affairs there. The youngest Joseph was dispatched to England to make his fortune and to extend the base of the family. His father wanted him to become naturalised English so that he could properly own any business that he created. He had several contacts to help him and the message that he should always keep God at the fore front of his thoughts and work  for the betterment of the Pease family. As Robert held a patent for the extraction of oil from seed the idea was to build up a oil seed crushing mill. The competition was too fierce in London so he moved on to Gainsborough which at one time had been the home of the Clifford family. He didn't stay there long before moving on to Hull in 1709. He soon secured a prime spot on High Street where all the influential merchants lived. He had a house built facing the road and the land went down to the River Hull where he built a dock for handling ships and warehouse to store the seed he was importing.

Joseph Pease. born in Amsterdan 1688 and died 1778 after outliving his second wife by fifty years.

In time with the backing of the Clifford family in Amsterdam he built up a large trading business. He was well known for being able to obtain credit and to coax loans from his relations and friends. However his banking relations were exasperated that he always paid the money back promptly and did not finance his business very long on credit. Due to this he was thought of as entirely reliable. His business initially was oil seed milling and he obtained seed from the Baltic via contacts of the Clifford family and from Ireland where his elder brother lived and worked. A mill was built on the corner of Low Gate and Salthouse Lane in 1740. The two big warehouse to receive the grain for processing were built in 1745 and the second in 1760. They are both still standing and were converted to flats in 1981. The empire soon branched out into whaling, milling, shipping, lead, paint and whiting manufacture, insurance underwriting and banking. Joseph married Mary Turner in 1717 and they had four children, Robert, Joseph Hester and Mary, before she died in 1728.

The old Pease warehouse seen from the east bank of the River Hull with Drypool bridge to the right and Ranks's mill behind the camera. The five story building was gutted by fire and so is now called  Phoenix House and the the one with the large red doors is called Pease Court. Both have been converted to apartments.

Due to the difficulty with transporting cash around the country from London due to time delay and the possibility of highway robbery a system of local banking was set up. The first bank in Yorkshire, and one of the few outside London at the time, was set up on the ground floor of the Pease family home on High Street. Obviously the experience of the Clifford family would help him set it up. The bank started in 1754 set up by Joseph and his son Robert. It can be seen later on the pictures of bank notes that other members of the family were also drawn into the business too. As the banks were very local it meant that their notes were not easily cashed out side of that place. This meant that there were very many failures of the institutions when trading conditions changed. However Pease's Old Bank as the enterprise was known lasted for 140 years. It was then taken over by the York Union Bank in 1894. In 1902 it was again taken over by Barclays and Co which in 1917 became the Barclays Bank we know today so it never failed.

The home of the Pease family was demolished in 1950 but the warehouse by the river remain. A blue plaque can be seen on the front wall remaining of a building on the left and a more grand entrance to the right. One of these may all be that remains of the original house. (or not).

The blue plaque that can be seen on the wall of the building above.

Image result for hull bank notes

Some of the bank and promissory notes issued by Pease's Old Bank in later years.

Joseph died in 1778 and in his estate he left £80000 and a business empire worth a further £500,000. Of Joseph's four children Joseph junior died in infancy and Hester had no children. The eldest Robert did not get married but had a child with Margret Copeland and the son was also called Robert Copeland Pease. The father Robert died before his father Joseph. Mary did get married to a Manchester cotton trading businessman called Robert Robinson and they had three sons. One was also called Joseph. (It gets more confusing all the time!) Both this Joseph's parents died leaving him an orphan in 1775/76. Following his grand father Joseph's wished this Joseph changed his name and took the arms of Pease and he became Joseph Robinson Pease. We was then able to inherit his Grandfathers estate. Robert Copeland Pease (illegitimate grandson) did inherit some property but this was likely to have been his fathers.

Joseph seniors son Robert leased Hesslewood Hall to the west of Hull and this was left to Joseph Robinson Pease in 1778. He later obtained the freehold and extended the building and utilised the chalk quarry on the foreshore for his businesses in 1788.

Hesslewood Hall.


  1. Thank you for sharing. I am a descendant od the Pease family. I have a box of family papers and family trees photo's etc and I dug these out afer reading this interesting piece of work. Paul Gowland

    1. Are you descended from the Pease family of Hull? I have links with the Darlington Pease's. It would be great to see your photos &c. Judith