Edward Pease Public Library, Crown Street, Darlington
Edward Pease Public Library, Crown Street, Darlington by Peter Robinson, Geograph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Edward Pease was born into the powerful Darlington based Pease family in 1834. He is perhaps not as well-known as his father Joseph Pease Snr (1799-1872) or his elder brother, Sir Joseph Whitwell Pease (1828-1903), but Edward shared the family traditions of supporting North-East business and taking moral stands on social issues. As Quakers, in the early nineteenth century, the Pease family was restricted socially, academically and politically. However, the family enjoyed huge success in the realm of business and led the way in breaking down social barriers that had previously limited what Quakers [and other religious minorities] were permitted to do. In 1831 Joseph Pease Snr. was elected as the first Quaker MP. This was a door which his son, Joseph Whitwell, who sat as MP in Durham for 38 years, boldly walked through.

Edward Pease was involved in the family businesses. Described as an ‘economic empire’ by the prominent historian Richard Lomas, the Pease family were involved in five separate businesses in 1872 including; coal mining, iron and limestone mining, wool manufacturing, the Middlesbrough estate, and banking. The finances the family provided via its banking arm extended their reach into almost every north-east industry from railways to the press through The Northern Echo.

The Edward Pease Free Library was opened on Crown Street, Darlington, in 1885. Edward had left £10,000 in his will to provide a strong foundation for free access to literature for learning and leisure. The library continues to operate as Darlington’s central library and art gallery. In 2017, the Pease family, of which Mr Nigel Pease still lives in Durham, came to the defence of the library against budget cuts. Over 133 years had passed since the original gift but the relationship between the Pease family and Darlington remained strong and the library was saved.


Fell-Smith, C. (2004). Pease, Sir Joseph Whitwell, First Baronet. Available here (Accessed: 11/07/2018).

Lomas, R. (2009). An encyclopaedia of North-East England, Edinburgh: Birlinn Ltd, pp. 353-59.

McCord, N. (1998). The Northern Counties from AD 1000, New York: Longman.

Morris, J. (2017). Family of Quaker pioneer Edward Pease speak out about Darlington Borough Council plans to close Crown Street Library. The Northern Echo. Available here (Accessed: 11/07/2018).

The National Heritage List for England, Available here (Accessed: 11/07/2018).

Twigg, C. (2012). Edward Pease Library, Darlington. Available here (Accessed: 11/07/2018).

 Pollard, A.F. & Fell-Smith, C. (2004). Pease, Edward. Available here (Accessed: 11/07/2018).