PEDLEY, John (?1762-1838), of 24 Lower Grosvenor Street, Mdx. and Caddington Hall, Beds.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. ?1762, 3rd s. of Simon Pedley of St. Stephen’s, Bristol, Glos. by a da. of Robert Deverell, merchant, of Bristol; bro. of Robert Deverell*. unm.
Sheriff, Beds. 1818-19.
Pedley went to Jamaica about 1785 at the expense of his brother Robert Deverell and entered the office of the Wildman brothers, agents of William Beckford*. There he ‘contrived to undermine their influence and to succeed them in the management of the West India estates’.1 He made a large fortune from his connexion with Beckford and returned to England in 1802. He was then ‘so prosperously situated as to be able’ to bring himself into Parliament:2 Beckford wrote on 4 July 1802 to Sir William Hamilton: ‘Pedley, whom I sent to you t’other day, is a trimmer, and will fight his way shortly in the H. of C. if I am not mistaken’.3 But his brother’s negotiations for a seat for him came to nothing and at the general election Beckford returned him for Hindon.
The death of a ‘near relation’ obliged Pedley to return to Jamaica in November 1803. Having been chosen a member of the Waterford election committee he sought leave of absence through his brother, but this was refused as creating an undesirable precedent.4 Although Beckford’s nominees usually supported administration, Pedley disliked Addington’s financial policy: ‘He is tearing the very bowels of the West Indians out at this moment’ (17 Dec. 1802). He was classed as ‘doubtful’ in May and September 1804, having voted against Pitt’s additional force bill, 8 June 1804. After voting for both the censure of and criminal proceedings against Melville, 8 Apr. and 12 June 1805, he was listed ‘doubtful Opposition’ in July. He was opposed to abolition of the slave trade.
In 1805 Pedley bought Beckford’s estates in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire, for £75,000,5 possibly aspiring to a title, for Beckford wrote to him on 12 Sept. 1805, ‘I know you too well to be ignorant of the object best calculated to afford you satisfaction—I tremble lest the Beds. purchase should not answer that end’. At the general election of 1806, Beckford regretted that he could not afford to provide a seat for Pedley. ‘Comparatively speaking your affairs are now in a more thriving way than mine,’ he wrote on 23 Nov., urging him to bring himself in. ‘You mentioned some time since having been prepared to afford Mr D[everell] the means of entering the House of Commons—afford them to yourself in as good a cause and for wiser purposes.’ Pedley replied on 11 Dec. 1806, ‘I see the full force of all your kind advice, and look upon a seat in Parliament for the present term inestimable’. He had begun negotiations for a seat at less than 5,000 guineas, but these had fallen through because his agent was away. ‘It is one of the mischiefs in these treaties that one cannot interfere oneself—the agents will keep it to themselves and the reason is obvious.’
Pedley did not obtain a seat in the election of 1806, but in that of 1807 he contested Saltash on Beckford’s interest; after a double return, he petitioned successfully. When Beckford decided to sell his interest, Pedley naturally urged him to retain it, but in vain. He had to vacate his seat when Beckford sold his burgages in 1809. No speech by him is known. The Whigs were out of touch when they listed Pedley as a Member of whom they were doubtful in March 1810: he had been out of the House nearly a year. Despite this he was also reported as voting with ministers on 23 Jan. and 5 Mar. 1810, possibly mistaken for Prendergast, his successor at Saltash. Pedley died 22 July 1838, aged 76.