Updated 13 Feb 2011
WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900
Samuel Peal, shoemaker from Wirksworth
"Craftsmanship is dying in the Western World...
It's the sign of the jet age.
All crafts like these take time."
Rodney Peal, 1965, Director & Secretary of Peal & Co 1953-1965
Samuel PEAL, born in 1754, came from a line of shoemakers
(who from their account
came originally from Cockermouth in Cumberland)
and moved to Wirksworth before 1669. In 1791 Samuel patented
a way of waterproofing leather with rubber latex in turpentine,
but became bankrupt in 1793.
His waterproofed and high quality footware became very popular and he
moved to London that year. Some say Peal and Company was founded
in 1791, others that it dates back to 1565. The company became the
oldest-established and most successful shoemakers in the world, moving
to more and more exclusive London addresses as business improved.
Company salesmen travelled extensively throughout
North and South American, Europe, Asia and the Far East. Peal and Co
exhibited their footware at the Great Exhibition 1851 and the Festival
of Britain 1951. The Company recorded the shape of each
customer's foot in "Feet Books", between 1870 and 1965 620 books
containing drawings of almost 100,000 feet survive. Customers included
Royalty, Aristocrats, Presidents, Politicians, Bankers, Industrialists,
Military, Musicians and Film stars. The business ended in 1965,
when the family decided that lack of family succession, a declining
trade and shortage of skilled staff made closure their best option.
The Peal family had been shoemakers for 8 generations, 1700-1965
The trading name was sold to Brooks Brothers of New York,
who still produce a range of traditional English-style footwear marketed
under the Peal banner. Fosters of Jermyn Street, London acquired the famous
boot and fox emblem.
PEAL pedigree |
Other references |
Peals in Ince |
Pedigree text |
History of Peal & Co |
Shops & factories |
Other early Peals |
Connection between early Peal families |
Benefits 1830 |
Riding boots |
Last chapter |
Peal & Co (Janet Peal) |
The End 1965 |
Peal and Company Ltd (AIM25 Archives) |
Henry Walter Peal, 1850-1938
Mayor of Ealing, son of Nathaniel,
grandson of Samuel.
Mary PEAL nee CLARK 1840-1909
wife of Charles Nathaniel PEAL 1833-1898
Bernard Edward PEAL 1874-1944
Grace BARROW 1878-1944
Bernard Edward PEAL
Peal's Riding Boots and boot trees 1900-1920
Riding boots with trees
Trees inside boots
Trees made in four pieces from beech wood
Maker's plate on tree
Leather sole with cobbler's nails
Trees hinged & metal pinned
Internal shaping for lightness
Pulling loops & stitching
Shoemakers in 1568.
Boot and fox emblem.
Peal and Co advert for Polo boots, New York 1915.
Baptisms, Marriages and Burials
139 entries for PEAL, PEALE, PEALLE, PEEL, PEELE and PELE
from the Wirksworth and Middleton Parish Registers
covering 1608-1900 can be found here
PEAL family of Wirksworth
PEAL=====v===== ? 1
1660 YKS 1656
Charles 1679 Elizabeth 2
| | | |
1681?? 1684W 1687W 1691W
Charles Joyce Peter Ann
Peter 1714W Sarah 3
** | 1756W
| | | | | | |
1715W 1717W 1720W 1722W 1725W 1728W 1731W
Charles Jane Hannah Peter Samuel Sarah Thomas
|** 1723W 1723W **
Charles 1745W Martha 4
1786W | 1786W
| | | | | | | |
1746W 1747 1749W 1752W 1754W 1757W 1758W 1760W
Peter Charles Hannah John Samuel Sarah William Martha
** 1830 1829 1773W ** 1779W ** 1829
1807W | 1832W
Elizabeth 1776W Samuel 1790? Ann 5
1783W | 1818 |
| | | | | | | | |
1777W 1778W 1780W 1793 1795? 1797? 1799 1799 1800
Thomas John Sarah Nathaniel Elizabeth Samuel Charles Abraham William
1787 | 1832
1802 | 1805
Arabella 1830 Nathaniel 1845 Susan Henrietta 6
1839 | 1862 | 1897
| | | | |
1833 1835 1837 1850 1853 1855 1852
Charles Annie Susan Henry Emma Emma Frederick 7
Nathaniel Eliza Arabella Walter 1875 Elizabeth Florence Enos
1898 1878 PEAL=====v=====CORBEN PEAL=====v=====FENTON
1938 | 1930 | 1916
| | | | | | | | | |
1877 1878 1880 1880 1883 1889 1879??
Florence George Bessie Wilfred Douglas (Living) Maud Mary John Maud 8
Mabel Leonard 1907 Evelyn M 1947 Eva
W=Event occured at Wirksworth.
**Shoemaker, according to Ince 048d
Partners and Directors of Peal and Co.
| 1862 |
1872 Charles Henry 1875 7
| 1898 1935 |
1873 1874 1878 1880
1900 Frederic Bernard 1899 George Wilfred 8
===v===C Edward===v=== Leonard===v=== Evelyn
| 1957 1944 1965 |
1902 1915 |
Cecil John Robert 9
Frederic===v=== Rodney===v=== G
1976 | 1993 |
Rodney Bernard 10
1896 Partners: CN, HW, FC, BE
1932 Partners: HW, FC, BE, GL, WE, CF
1955 Directors: CF, RG, JR, R
1965 At closure: CF, RG, JR, R
Shops & Factories:
1794 Stepney Green
1802 7 Frederick Place, Tottenham Court Rd
1830 Peal Bros. 11 Duke St, Grosvenor Squ.
1844 Nathaniel Peal
1886-1958 487 Oxford St W1
1886 Northfield Works, Ealing
1885-1965 Jeddo Works Boot Factory
Jeddo Road, Acton Vale W12
1958-1965 48 Wigmore St, W1
It was Samuel Peal who in 1791 took out
a Patent for rendering clothing materials waterproof
by brushing on them a solution of Caoutchouc
(India rubber). A shoemaker from Wirksworth, he came to London and made
boots using his own waterproof Leather.
History of Peal & Co. 1791-1965
Military, Sporting & General Bootmakers,
Boot tree, Spur & case Makers.
by Rodney Peal Sep 2002
Director & Secretary of Peal & Co 1953-1965
Samuel Peal became a freeman of Cordwainers
Company April 1802 by order of the Lord Mayor.
His son Nathaniel was apprenticed April 1808.
Charles N Peal was apprenticed to Nathaniel
Peal March 1847 at Cordwainers Hall.
Nathaniel Peal exhibited his Half-Leg Hunting
Boots and Whole-Leg Hunting & Fishing Boots
of Waterproof Leather at the Great Exhibition
of 1851 in Hyde Park.
Peal & Co exhibited Hunting Boots with trees
at the Festival of Britain in 1951.
About 1889 Peal & Co sent representatives to
the principal cities of Europe & also to the USA
taking orders for bespoke footware. Mr W L Peal
visited the USA in Spring & Fall from 1922-1966
A trip to the USA in the 1960s included
NYC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Pittsburg,
Chicago, Detroit, & Boston with Los Angeles,
Beverley Hills, Santa Barbara. Between the wars
Peal reps went to West Point & other camps
for Boot & Sam Brown belt orders.
Peal & Co had a Trade Tent at Badminton Horse
Trials after WW11, and gave a prize for show
jumping. Peals went to Royal International Horse
& Horse of the Year show, Bughley Horse Trials, & Hickstone.
Peal & Co Ltd closed shop Sat 27 Feb 1965
due to manufacturing problems. The Peal name
was sold to Brooks Bros, NYC.
Will of Abraham Samuel Peal, Bootmaker of Marylebone , Middlesex 30
January 1838 PROB 11/1889
Will of Samuel Peal, Cordwainer of Saint Pancras , Middlesex 14 August
1818 PROB 11/1607
from Historical Directories for London
1832, London Directory 1832
S. Peal Water-proof -leather-manuf, 7 Frederick Place , Tottenham court Rd.
Peal's Waterproof shoe maker, 11 Duke St, Grosvenor Sq.
1841, Post Office London Directory, 1841
11 Duke Street, Grosvenor Sq, near Robert St
Peal & Brothers, boot & Shoe makers
Peal & Brothers, patent boot & shoe makers
11 Duke St, Grosvenor Sq
1846, Post Office Directory 1846
Nathaniel Peal , Water proof Boot and Shoe maker, 11 Duke St Grosvenor Sq.
1852 Post Office London Directory (Small Edition), 1852
Peal Nathaniel, waterproof boot & shoe maker,
11 Duke St, Grosvenor Square
1882 Post Office London Directory, 1882.
Peal & Co waterproof leather manufacturers & boot & shoe makers,
11 Duke St, Grosvenor Sq W; & workshops 31 Thomas St,
Grosvenor Sq W; 15 Queen St, Grosvenor Sq W; Northfield works,
Ealing Dean & Cathnor Road, Shepherd's Bush
1884, Business Directory of London, 1884
Peal Charles & Co waterproof boot makers 11 Duke St,
31 Thomas St Grosvenor Sq & 15 Queen Sq Grosvenor Sq W.
Removing in spring 1884 to 485 Oxford St
1891, Post Office London Trades Directory 1891
Peal & Co, 487 Oxford St W & workshops North Row W
1895, Post Office London Directory, 1895
Peal & Co, 487 Oxford St W & North Row W
1899, Post Office London Directory 1899
Peal & Co, boot & shoe makers, 487 Oxford St W & 48 North Row W
-T A "Peal Boots"; T N 3549 Gerrard
1904 Post Office London County Suburbs Directory, 1904
Peal & Co boot manufacturers, Jeddo Road, Shepherd's Bush W
1910, Post Office London Directory 1910
Peal & Co, 487 Oxford St W & 48 North Row, Grosvenor Sq W
1915, Post Office London Directory, 1915
Peal & C0, boot & shoe Makers, 487 Oxford St W & 48 North Row,
Grosvenor Sq W-T A "Peal Boot", "Wesdo", T N 825 Mayfair
Sun Life Guildhall Library 1819
MS 11936/477/948802 20 January 1819
Insured: Ann Peal, Nathaniel Peal and Thomas Lloyd 7 Frederick Place
Hampstead Road Middlesex shoemakers
MS 11936/482/953810 21 April 1819
Insured: Charles Thompson and Nathaniel Peal of 33 on east side of
Rupert Street leather sellers
MS 11936/482/954440 25 May 1819
Insured: Thomas and John Peal 103 Great Portland Street shoemakers
MS 11936/521/1088852 2 April 1829
Insured: Edward Abbott St Martin's Lane oilman and Frederick Lomax
13 Old Quebec Street upholder in trust for Mary Ann the wife of
William Edward Peal
Other property or occupiers: 4 Bryanstone Street Portman Square
MS 11936/514/1069866 16 January 1828
Insured: Nathaniel Peal, Abraham Peal, William Edward Peal and
Charles Peal, 17 Frederick Place Hampstead Road, boot and shoe makers
London Gazette, 1793, Page 681
The Creditors who have proved their Debts under a Commission
of Bankrupt awarded and issued forth against
Samuel Hands and Samuel Peal, of Birmingham in the County
of Warwick, and Anthony Hunt, of the city of Bristol,
Curriers, Dealers, Chapmen and Copartners, are desired to meet
the Assignees of the said Bankrupts Estate and Effects on the
30th day of August instant, at Ten o'clock in the Forenoon,
at the Union Tavern, Cherry Street, Birmingham, in order to
assent to or dissent from the said Asignees borrowing, on the
Credit of the Patents for making and vending the water Proof
Leather and other joint Property of the said Bankrupts, a sufficient
Sum for enabling them to continue on the Working of
the said Patents; or whether the said Assignees shall sell one or
more of such Patents, and continue to work the Remainder of
them with the Money to arise therefrom; or whether all the
said Patents shall be sold; and lastly, if it should be thought
adviseable to work all or any of the Patents, whether any and.....
London Gazette, 1793, Page 1046
The Creditors who have proved their Debts under a Commission
of Bankrupt awarded and issued forth against
Samuel Hands and Samuel Peal, of Birmingham, and Anthony
Hunt, of Bristol, Curriers and Copartners, are desired to meet
the Assignees of said Bankrupts Estate and Effects on the 27th
Day of November instant, at Five in the afternoon, at the
Union Tavern in Cherry-Street, Birmingham, in order to take
into Consideration sundry Matters relative to the intended Sale
of the Patents for making and vending Water-Proof Leather;
and particularly how far any Attempt to invade the Right of
such Patents shall be Prosecuted at Law; and also upon several
other special Affairs.
Will proved 11 Aug 1818
Mentioned in will:
Samuel Peal of Frederick Place, Saint Pancras, Middlesex, cordwainer.
son Nathaniel Peal,
Thomas Lloyd of east Sain? Bermondsey, Surrey;
freehold and leasehold property at Wirksworth;
Frederick Place, Saint Pancras, Middlesex;
Abraham Samuel Peal,
William Edward Peal.
Will of Abraham Samuel PEAL of Paddington, bootmaker
Will proved 30 Jan 1838
mentioned in will:
wife Sarah Eliza Peal
brother Nathaniel Peal, Duke St, bootmaker
brother William Edward Peal, Bryanstone St, Portman Sq, bootmaker
Francis Cranmer Penson
Custom Bootmaker in London Calls it Quits
[from over the AP wire, Jan 3, 1965]
London's most famous bootmakers are closing down because of trouble
getting craftsmen to make their custom-made shoes.
Rodney Peal, director and secretary of the 173-year-old Peal & Co.,
said Thursday the firm would close its custom operation Feb. 27.
"The new workmen haven't got the skill of the old craftsmen and work
recently has not been up to standard", said Peal, a member of the
sixth generation to operate the firm.
Ten years ago, he said, the firm had 25 craftsmen with more than 50
years of service. Now there are about 10.
"Craftsmanship is dying in the Western World," said Peal.
"In the coming years I foresee the death of bespoke (made-to-order)
tailoring also. It's the sign of the jet age.
All crafts like these take time."
Peal said most of his 82 employees had already found work in the
10 or so custom bootmakers left in London.
Peal's custom-made shoes sell for $70 a pair, and "we have more orders
than we can make," the director said. The firm stopped taking orders
three weeks ago.
In the early years Peal was famed for hunting and military boots,
then turned to men's shoes. In the Great London Exposition of 1851 it
won awards for fishing boots, both high and low.
The members of the firm today are Cecil Peal, managing director and
father of Rodney; Cecil's brother, John Peal, and Cecil's cousin,
"I'm very disappointed at the closing," said Rodney. "I thought I
was in this field for life."
He said he hadn't decided what he would do now.
Peal's readymade shoes, produced from the firm's lasts and special
leather at factory in Northampton, will still be sold in the United States
by Brooks Brothers of New York.
But the custom-made shoes will be no more, and all the British sales
Early Peals from Ince 048d
(written c1830, transcribed by 2001)
A clear full-size scan (1902x1182 px) is available free,
for private research only,
by email attachment (474 kb), contact
ask for "IncePeal.jpg".
Pedigree of the family of PEAL of Wirksworth Co Derby shoemakers.
Who from their account came originally from Cockermouth in Cumberland
Drawn by T N Ince from the relation of Mr Marcellus & William PEAL
ob 2 Nov 1857 aet 56 Isaac FRICKLEY of Wirksworth
.....| . . . .
| | |
04==v==05 06 07
| | | | |
08==v==09 10==11 12==v==13 14 15
| | | | | | | | | | | |
16==v==17 18==v==19==v==20 21 22 23 24 25==v==26 27 28 29 30 31
| | | |
.................................................|..... ......|.. .|................... |
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
32==v==33 34==v==35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54==v==55
| | |
..................|..... ..|.......... ...................................|.
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
56 57==v==58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75
| | | |
76 77 78 79
01 Peter PEAL of Wirksworth Co Derby bur there 4 Mar 1669
02 Charles PEAL of Wirksworth
03 William PEAL of Wirksworth
[note: connection with #02 is dashed, showing uncertainty]
04 Peter PEAL of Wirksworth shoemaker bap at Wirksworth 6 Apr 1687
bur ........[words crossed out]
05 Sarah dau ... BRANDRITH of Wirksworth
(Richard BRANDRITH 1620 paid 11/2 copyhold rent in Wirksworth
to the Kings copyhold Decree)
06 Mary bap 15 Apr 1685
07 Jane bap
[children of Peter & Sarah]
08 Charles PEAL of Wirksworth ap[prentice] shoemaker bap at Wirksworth.....
bur there 12 Jul 1786
09 Martha da of SPENCER of Ible Derb farmer bur there 2 Aug 1786
10 Samuel PEAL of Wirksworth shoemaker ob s.p. [died without issue] seized
of 2 houses & gardens on Causeway Wirksworth. Bur Jun 4 1778
11 Jane TOMLINSON of Higham afterwards Wirksworth mard Richard OXLEY
of Wirksworth shoemaker she died ... Feb 1789
12 Sarah mard Mark STONE of Wirksworth shoemaker
13 Mark STONE
14 Jane PEAL ob in London unmarried
15 Thomas ob bachelor
[children of Charles & Martha]
16 1 Peter PEAL of Wirksworth aforesaid shoemaker died 5 Sep 1807 aged 61
Bn Jul 6 1746
17 (*) Mary YATES da of John YATES of Middleton by Wirksworth miner
she died 23 Jan 1817 aged 72
18 Elizabeth [Sarah crossed out] STUBBS of Wirksworth da of Thomas STUBBS
by Lydia STREET of Bolehill ob 22 Sep 1783 aet 26
19 5 Samuel PEAL of Frederick Place St Pancras London shoemaker
Testator 10 Nov 1817 bn March ... 1754?
20 Ann LLOYD
21 4 John ob unmarried Bn Mar 12 1754
22 2 Charles PEAL of Wirksworth shoemaker Bn Mar 16 1747 died 16 Oct 1830
bur 20th Wirksworth
23 3 Hannah wife of Isaac DOXEY of Wirksworth died Jan 1829 bur 10th
24 8 Martha wife of Joseph FRICKLEY Bn Sep 2 1760
25 7 William PEAL of Wirksworth shoemaker Bn Dec 9 1758 died 28 Oct 1832
aged 73 years
26 Ellen TATUM da of ... TATUM of ....
27 6 Sarah bn 15 Apr 1757 bur 24 Mar 1779
[children of Mark & Sarah]
28 Samuel STONE brother & heir of Robert? STONE 1790
29 Mark STONE of Wirksworth
31 Charles devisee of his Uncle S PEAL ob s.p.[died without issue]
[children of Peter & Mary]
32 Peter PEAL of Wirksworth shoemaker bn 2 Mar died ... 1812 aet 41
33 Alice BAMFORD da of Marcellus of Wirksworth shoemaker
34 Samuel PEAL of London shoemaker died
35 Hannah GUNN? Birmingham
36 John bur 5 Mar 1776
38 Hannah blind ob 23 Feb 1831 aet 57
42 Jane d Peter PEAL bur 9 Mar 1780
43 Elizabeth bn .... mard Edward JACKSON junr
44 Anne bn .... Mard John DAY of London
[children of Samuel & Elizabeth]
45 Thomas PEAL of Wirksworth shoemaker 1830
46 John PEAL died s.p.
47 Sarah PEAL died s.p.
[children of Samuel & Ann]
48 Nathan PEAL Oxford St London
49 Elizabeth mard ... THOMPSON
51 Charles PEAL
52 Abraham PEAL
53 Will Edward PEAL
[children of William & Ellen]
54 William PEAL of Wirksworth shoemaker born ....
died at Belper 5 Sep 1836 aet 41
55 Rhoda COLLEY d of William COLLEY of Cromford Co Derby & formerly of
Ecclesfield Co York paper manufacturer mard at Wirksworth....181 [sic]
[children of Peter & Alice]
56 Joseph PEAL of Wirksworth shoemaker born 23 Jan 1801 died Jul 1821 unmarried
57 Marcellus PEAL of Wirksworth schoolmaster 2nd son heir of his brother
Bn 18 Mar 1802
58 Betty d HARRISON of Edale ob 28 Apr 1862 aet 62
59 Sarah died s.p. 21 Mar 1817 Bn 18 Oct 1804
60 James died 2 May 1826 aged 19 years bur at Wirksworth St James?
Bn 26 May 1807
61 Peter PEAL of ? book binder bn 10 Mar 1810 of Derby
[children of Samuel & Hannah]
[children of William & Rhoda]
66 William PEAL
67 Nat[han?] PEAL
73 Thomas (Note: 10 children)
74 [no details]
75 [no details]
[children of Marcellus & Betty]
76 (*) George
77 Sarah Ann m at Wirksworth 17 May 1866 to William SPERRY
of the Via Gellia Lead Works Bonsall
Her 3 sisters viz:
Sarah ux Thomas STEAR of Wirksworth cordwainer
Ann wife of Job WILD of same place miner &
Phoebe wife of John BONNINGTON of [Red Lion St?] London cabinet maker
with Peter PEAL & Mary his wife sell premises which [...?] devised to them
by his Will dated ....
[footnote below may be on another page:]
At Mildchen? Middlesex Co Feb 7 1863 George M PEAL of England?
to Julia d of C V MUNDAY Esquire of see MUNDAY
At Natchez Mississippi on 14 Nov 1865 Mr George M PEAL a son born
22 Jun 1866 at Jersey Charles James youngest son of M PEAL [married]
Laura Marie Josephine d of James WHEELER No 2 Charing Cross Jersey
Other early Peals from Parish Registers
It is not known if the Peter Peal shown at the top of this tree
is the father of Charles Peal shown at the top of the
Peter Peal's baptism may have been just before 1608,
when the Registers begin.
Dorothy 1633 Peter 1641 Jane
1640 | 1669 |
| | | | | |
| 1638 1641 1643 1645 1647
Infant Alce John William Peter William
1634 1641 1645 |
Elizabeth 1672 William
1703 | 1715
| | | |
Elizabeth Ann Elizabeth Mary
The only known connection between Peter PEAL buried 1669
and Charles PEAL father of Peter Peal
baptised 1687. It is shown in Ince's "Pedigrees"
related to Ince about 1830 by Marcellus and William Peal, alive at the
time. Such a connection would unite the main two Peal families living
in Wirksworth in the 17th Century.
Problems with Benefits in 1830
Hannah Peal was Samuel Peal's niece.
T.N.Ince compiled the Peal pedigree.
The Gentleman's Magazine
[Published April 1, 1833]
Page 194, Minor Correspondence.
Mr T.N.INCE, of Wirksworth, enquires
at what period the Governors of
Etherington's Charity for the Blind, altered
the age of admission from 50 to 60 years;
their reasons, and their authority fo so
doing? He states that a respectable female,
blind from childhood, named Hannah
Peal, of Wirksworth, failed in obtaining
the charity, although she had been a regular
applicant for it, from the age of 42
to 57 years! namely, from 1816 to 1830.
On her first application it was admitted
that she possessed every requisite but age,
and that at 50 years of age she would become
eligible. In 1824, having attained
the age of 50, she renewed her application,
but in reply was informed, that in consequence
of a new regulation, she could not
receive the charity till she attained the
age of 60. She died in February 1831,
aged 57, and therefore never received the
benefit of the institution.
Peal Premises, drawn for Margaret Wells by
Rodney Peal July 1998
only surviving member of the firm
of Peal Brothers and sole successor
to Samuel Peal the inventor of the Original Waterproof Leather.
11 Duke St W1 1853-86
487 Oxford St W1 1886-1958
48 Wigmore St W1 1958-65
Jeddo Works, Jeddo Rd, Acton Vale, Shepherds Bush 1885
Leather manufactory, Northfield Works, Ealing 1886
Notes between drawings:
Peal & Co showed Riding Boots
at the Festival of Britain 1951.
Peals closed shop Sat 27-2-1965 noon.
Peals closed down due to manufacturing problems.
The Peal name was sold to Brooks Bros NYC.
NB. Brooks Bros bought 1988 by M & S for £500 Million.
Samuel Peal inventor of Waterproof leather.
Waterproof leather factory: Stepney Green 1794.
7 Frederick Place, Tottenham Ct Rd 1832.
Patronized by the Royal Family.
Peal Bros. Then Nathaniel Peal 1844.
Partners 1896: Peal CN, HW, FC, BE
Partners 1932: Peal HW, FC, BE, GL, WE, CF
Directors 1955: Peal CF, RG, JR, R
Horse and Hound, January 23, 1965
Peal & Co. (bootmakers) call it a
day after 174 years of business.
On Saturday, February 27, the last
entry will be written into the
vast volume which makes up
the 174 years' history of Peal and Co,
Ltd, the Wigmore Street bootmakers,
for on that day the 18th-century
established firm which has supplied
hunting boots and other forms of footware
to generations of hunting and sporting
folk throughout the world - and, not
least, to countless readers of Horse and
Hound- will be closing its London,
W1, premises for the last time.
The cause of this rather sad departure
of a firm which was born in and grew in an
age of charm and elegance, is not lack of
trade, for the demand for its products is
still great - particularly in overseas countries
where 65 per cent of these expertly
made goods are exported-but shortage
of skilled labour: no one, it seems, is
sufficiently interested in this modern age of
fast-moving cars and supersonic jets to
devote himself to the art of turning out
piece of footwear which, though costly
in purchase, can. and frequently does, see
service for 40 years and more.
Cecil Peal and his leather buyer, Herbert Winstone,
inspect some of the skins during the last war period.
Veteran shoemaker sewing a welt in the early parts of this century.
The firm of Peal and Co. first entered
the world of commerce from an old farmhouse
in Hampstead in 1791. With their
reputation growing and the demand for
their products increasing, they moved into
more elite premises in Duke Street, off
Grosvenor Square, where they took root
for more than 100 years.
Later they transferred the business to
Oxford Street and, in 1958, to the present
shop in Wigmore Street, where Mr Cecil
Peal (a member of the fifth generation of
the family) heads the small board of directors.
Throughout the three centuries during
which their craftsmen have been making
boots and shoes, Peals have numbered
among their clientele some of the most
famous people in sport, and other celebrities.
A glance through any one of the old
order books is, in fact, like turning over
the pages of Debrett or Who's Who.
One or two books chosen at random
contained the names (and footprints)
of King George V and his son the Duke
of Windsor, the Duke of Santona, Prince
Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, Lord
Digby, Lord Ludlow, the earl of Shaftesbury,
the Duke of Beaufort- and, from
Hollywood, such stars as Humphrey
Bogart, Douglas Fairbanks and Cary
Grant. The show-jumping world is also
represented in these books, Pat Koechlin-Smythe
having an entry, as do several
other members of the British, German and
American International teams, and, on
behalf of polo, there are Lord Cowdray,
Hanut Singh and the Maharajah of Jaipur.
The late Lord Mildmay and the Ducque
d'Albuquerque are representative of those
who made their names among amateur
Peals are, rightly, very proud of their
records and these, on many occasions
during the first world war, helped the
War Office to identify soldiers whose
sole remains after shell explosions have
been a few fragments of clothing-and
an all-important reference number in a
Stories of the whims and fancies of
clients of the firm throughout the ages
are, naturally enough, profuse and Piggott
(still an employee after 56 years) and other
veteran members of the staff all have their
tales to tell- of, for example, the Indian
prince who always had everything made
in triplicate, because he hated travelling
with luggage, and of the society lady who
had made for her a pair of suede thigh-
length boots for riding elephants on safari
-and the rivalry which took place among
the staff to get the job of taking the
esteemed lady's measurements!...
Samuel PEAL born (and baptised) 1754 in Wirksworth near Derby, he died in 1818, patented his method
of waterproofing leather in 1791. This was achieved by dissolving rubber in turpentine, and repeatedly
brushing this mixture on the skins, partially drying them between coats in an oven or warm room. His
previous interests had been in quarrying in the Wirksworth area of Derbyshire where he lived. He was twice
married, and by his second marriage Nathaniel was born 1793, who later entered the business (probably at
the age of 17 or so).
PEAL & Company
by Janet Peal
(Great-great-granddaughter to Samuel Peal)
Samuel first tried to start a business of waterproofing leather in the Birmingham area, but this proved
unsuccessful. He then came to London and with a Mr. THOMPSON started a leather merchant's business in
Rupert Street, St James. By 1794 he had his own business in Stepney Street, as a waterproof leather
manufacturing and leather merchant in general for the boot and shoe trade.
Nathaniel finding that the boot and shoe makers, his customers, were enjoying profitable business using his
leather, decided to enter the trade. Accordingly, he set up as a boot and shoe maker at No 7 Frederick Place,
Tottenham Court Road, where he was still trading in 1831.
Nathaniel was also twice married, his first wife had Charles Nathaniel, born 1833 and by his second wife
Henry Walter, 1860. Before the birth of Charles, the business had moved to No 11 Dukes Street, Grosvenor
Square, and continued there until 1886. In that year newly built premises were taken at No 487
Oxford Street, under the partnership of Charles Nathaniel and Henry Walter. Also at this time a workshop
was built at Jeddo Works, Starch Green, Shepherds' Bush, and the leather waterproofing had been moved to
the family laundry at Northfields, South Ealing. The leather processing had to be out in the country owing to
On January 1st 1895 Frederick Charles, son of Charles Nathaniel, was made a full partner at the age of 21. In
March of that year the works were enlarged. That year also was Henry Walter being allowed by the other
partners to take up a Directorship in the newly formed tobacconist firm of Benson & Hedges.
January 1st 1896 Bernard Edward, brother of Frederick was admitted as a full partner at the usual age of 21.
It is recorded that in February of that year there was a bad crash of the horse drawn delivery van, but
unfortunately no details are given.
By the year 1898 the partners had revolutionised the manufacturing side of the business by introducing
lock-stitching welters, rapidly stitching machines, an edge trimmer and a heel paring machine. The firm was
the first customer in the Country of the United Shoe Machinery Co of America, later to be known as the
British United Shoe Machinery Co, with the use of the lock-stitch welters. The idea behind the new
methods was to assist and standardise the hand operations by machines for the more laborious tasks.
Perhaps here it should be noted also that the firm used the Cutland lasting machine, a device by which the
upper and last were held in position and the first pull taken by the machine. It should be pointed out that the
machine was humanely powered; the remainder of the lasting in was accomplished with hand pincers, with
the exception of course of the primary strains at the toe cap and joints which were taken by other pincers on
During 1917 the horses and van were replaced by a motor van, nick-named Maxwell, at the cost of £195.
In the latter part of 1919 extensions to the wood factory were started, namely two large wood drying
kilns and a bay especially for the four last and tree lathes.
1923: Cecil Frederick was made a partner and from the records it appears that a Pediscope has been
in use for the shoe fitting for some time. At this time the Business was making not only boots, riding
boots, shoes and trees of all varieties, but military belts and a full range of suitcases and leather
May 1930: due to shortage of business the staff had to be pruned and had to take an extra half day
off each week with a subsequent reduction of pay.
Henry Walter died in 1938. During the 1939 War the Works suffered bomb damage. The mess room
at Oxford Street being the H.Q. of the local Fire-Watchers.
During September 1941 Peal & Co undertook to run the Business of Flock & Smith. In 1942 there
were discussions with Maxwell & Yapp over amalgamations with them, but these did not come to
Both B.E. and W.E. Peal retired due to ill health in 1944. The lease of 487 Oxford Street was renewed
for a further 69 years.
1946: Saw discussions win the reduction of the working week from 48 hours 5 1/2 day to 45 hour 5
days, and the Oxford Street Staff and Jeddo foreman and deputies to have one Saturday morning
off each month. This was adopted in January 1947 for Oxford Street and March for Jeddo.
Robin George, and John Rodney were both admitted as Cadet partners from January 1947. The
former being the son of George Leonard and latter of Frederick Charles.
The freehold of Jeddo works was obtained in 1948. FCP retired in March 1949. Messrs Bartley,
also of Oxford Street, was absorbed in October 1952.
Rodney, son of C.F. was made a partner in Jan 1953.
In 1954 the closing factory was sold, the closers being moved to a disused part of the maker's
building and the office to part of the old stables.
In January 1955 the partnership was dissolved and the Firm made into a Limited Company. This
year also saw the sad demise of the old original lock-stitch welters, installed in 1898. These were replaced
by a model "K" welter from the same stable. The sold machine had to be re-placed as it was impossible to
find anyone capable of operating it and also lack of space.
1958: The Firm inherited some trade customers from Messrs SLOAN for lasts and trees.
At this time it was at least a 50 hour week. 5 1/2 day week, finishing Saturday afternoon in Oxford Street
around 15.30 hrs and at the Works about 16.30 hrs.
The basis for holidays being:
3 year Service and under - 1 week.
3 years but less than 7 -10 days
7 years, and over 14 days.
In the year 1900 George Leonard (my father) son of Henry, was admitted as a partner, and in 1901 this
younger brother Wilfred Evelyn was similarly admitted. It was during this year that the first Royal Warrant
In February 1902 there were in excess of 111 employees, and this number was then recorded of having
availed themselves of free vaccination by the firm. The records state that there were many more who were
vaccinated privately or by the "public vaccinator". The entry exhorts the employees to be vaccinated with
the following "Many of our customers are loath to return to London at this time and the firm would like to
be able to assure them that all our employees have been vaccinated. In this year it was decided to build
a factory next to the machine factory, specially for "closing". This cost £5,296.
During 1905 the partners decided to patent another of their innovations. This was the expanding long
boot tree key. By means of this key, ie. the centre portion of the tree leg, expanding and contracting
automatically as it was pushed in and pulled out, stretching of the top edge was avoided. Also during this
year electricity was first used both to drive machinery and for lighting. Prior to this the shafting had
been operated by a gas-oil engine.
Many of the employees joined the Services during the First World War. Several were wounded and
killed. Two of the partners were commissioned - GLP and WEP. The latter attained the rank of Lt Colonel
and was severely wounded. The Business was hard put to it during the war with manpower shortage and
many orders for field boots, marching boots and Sam Browne Belts. The Firm had a patent shape for the
shoulder straps of the latter, which made it lie flatter on the officer's back. The Works also did its share war-
work by the Wood Factory turning rifle butts on the last machines, and loaning the mechanic's lathe for
On 25 March 1959 the Firm moved to 48 Wigmore Street, W.1. There were two reasons for this.
a) The lowering of the prestige of Oxford Street and
b) a reasonable offer from developers.
It was felt that Wigmore was more in keeping with our type of trade.
1950 a cup was presented to the British Show Jumping Association for competition at Badminton Horse
1961 a prize of a pair of riding boots and trees was given for the Peal Championship at Ascot Jumping
Show. A similar prize was given to the Hickstead Horse Show.
December 1964 at a Board Meeting of the Directors, it was decide that in view of the impossibility of
getting skilled shoe makers, last and tree makers at Jeddo Works and being unwilling to lower the
standard so long maintained, the Firm should close. This took effect from 1 January 1965 (the day G.L.P.
Between the wars representatives of the Firm travelled among other places to Canada, USA, South America,
Hawaii, Sweden, France, Germany, Spain and Belgium to attend customers. The American traveler
completed 100 crossings of the Atlantic in 1953 and continued his itinerary yearly up to 1964.
The Firm exhibited at the 1851 Exhibition at the Crystal Palace and in 1951 at the South Bank
During the life of Peal & Co the Firm served many of the crowned heads, aristocracy and famous
people of Europe and USA. Royal Warrants were held for King George V, The Prince of Wales and The
King of Greece. The bespoke lasts held in the Last Room in Oxford Street exceeded 50,000
(Great-Great-Granddaughter of Samuel Peal)
Some typical prices were:
Calf blacking boots £5. 5. £44.
Walking shoes £2. 2. £24.10
Ladies Oxford Shoes £1.15 £25.10.6.
Long hollow riding boot trees £2.18.6. £12.12.0.
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