Sir Robert Peel, First Baronet - 1750 -1830

The Industrialist Robert Peel was born at Fish Lane, Blackburn, Lancashire on 25th April 1750. His father owned a calico-printing firm in Blackburn, “Haworth, Peel & Yates”.  When Robert completed his education in London he entered his father’s business and at the age of twenty-three he was made a partner and rapidly took charge of the company, quickly exploiting the new inventions in the textile industry. In 1772 he established his own calico printing works in partnership with Haworth & Yates on the Chamber Hall Estate at Bury. By 1788,  “Peel and Co.” of Bury was the undisputed leader in calico printing.

At the age of thirty-three, Peel married Ellen Yates, the daughter of one of his partners. The couple had eleven children, including Robert Peel, who later became Prime Minister. Ellen died in 1803 and he later married Susanna Clerke (died 1824).

By 1790 he had moved to Fazeley and was elected as MP for Tamworth. He bought a Tudor house and estate at Drayton Bassett replacing it with a plain Georgian manor house. By this time with mills in Fazeley, Tamworth and Lancashire, Peel was one of the country’s leading industrialists and employed over 15,000 workers.

He was created Baronet of Drayton Manor and Bury in 1800.

In the House of Commons, Peel supported William Pitt and his Tory government. Parliament passed the 1802 Factory Act, this legislation limited the hours of pauper children apprenticed in cotton mills to twelve hours a day. Peel continued to argue for further reforms, so the 1819 Factory Act was passed. This legislation forbade the employment in cotton mills of any children under nine, and limited the hours of those between nine and sixteen to twelve hours per day.

Sir Robert Peel died at Drayton Manor on 3rd March 1830, leaving a fortune of £1.5 million. In his will, he left an equal amount to each of his sons, except Robert, to whom he left all his lands and four times the assets left to the other sons. Peel had given Robert £230,000 during his lifetime, plus £100,000 on his marriage to Julia Floyd and willed him a further £154,000.