The firm of solicitors, Pedley, May & Fletcher, acted for the South family over many years. Joshua Pedley was a leading Tottenham citizen who lived at Trafalgar House in White Hart Lane.
The following article was published in the newsletter of the the Haringey Local History Forum in Spring 2006.
A shortened version appeared in the First Tottenham free newspaper in June 2008
A photographic portrait of an impressive, bearded gentleman, is on display in Bruce Castle Museum close to the statue of Rowland Hill. The photograph is of Joshua Pedley (1830-1910), a wealthy solicitor and local benefactor who was instrumental in securing the park and manor house at Bruce Castle for the benefit of the local community. The story of his life exemplifies the Victorian ethics of hard work, social responsibility and philanthropy. My interest in Joshua arose because the firm of solicitors, Pedley, May & Fletcher, of which he was senior partner, acted over many years for my maternal family, the Souths.
Joshua Pedley was born in 1829 at West Ham, the eldest son of another Joshua who was a land and property owner. At the time of the 1851 census, Joshua was aged 21 and articled to a firm of solicitors. His younger brother, Joseph, was studying for the Bar examinations. It was a privileged household and the five members of the family, were looked after by four domestic servants. During the course of the next ten years, Joshua qualified as a solicitor in 1854, was married the following year and had become the father of three daughters, Eleanor, Florence and Eliza. The 1861 census finds him living with his family at Somerset House, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
By 1871, Joshua and his family, which now included Agnes, Samuel and Blanche, had moved to Tottenham and taken up residence in Trafalgar House, a substantial property in White Hart Lane. Trafalgar House had been formerly occupied by Dr. William Robinson (1777-1848), the noted historian of Tottenham, Edmonton and Enfield. It is rumoured that his father, also William (1737-1808), had an affair with Ann Nelson (1760-1783), the sister of Horatio, Lord Nelson, and that a son, William junior, resulted from the relationship. Hence the name given to the house.
On the census night of 2 April, 1871, however, Joshua Pedley was alone at Trafalgar House, with the exception of three domestic staff, because his wife and children were on holiday at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight accompanied by the remaining two maidservants. He resided at Trafalgar House for the remainder of his life where the family continued to live in some style with a typical staff comprising, cook, Lady's maid, parlour maid, two housemaids and two gardeners.
Joshua immersed himself in the public life of Tottenham and became actively involved with several charitable causes. He became a member and chairman of the Local Board of Health (fore-runner of Tottenham District Council), a member of Middlesex County Council, a governor of Tottenham Grammar School, a trustee of the Tottenham Parochial Charities Scheme, founded the Tottenham and Edmonton Dispensary, and was appointed a Justice of the Peace. His contribution to the community also took more tangible form. As a supporter of the temperance movement, he purchased and provided a site in Tottenham High Road for the construction of the "Red House Coffee Palace" which later became offices for Tottenham Hotspur FC. In 1898, and in circumstances that are readily recognised today, the Tottenham Hospital, later the Prince of Wales Hospital, was threatened with closure for lack of funds. For a period of three months, Joshua paid the bills of the hospital and continued to make donations thereafter.
It is, however, his involvement in the acquisition of the manor house and grounds at Bruce Castle that this local notable is best remembered. The property was offered for sale in the anticipation that the purchaser would develop the site for housing resulting in the loss of the historic building and surrounding open space. Joshua Pedley recognised that, if the Tottenham Local Board of Health wished to purchase and preserve the amenity of the site, there would be a delay whilst the Board deliberated and sanction for an appropriate loan was obtained. He stepped in and bought the property for £15,000 (about £1,000,000 today) and provided the opportunity for the local authority to buy the site from him for an equivalent sum.
By 1892, the Local Board had decided to purchase the site and in February of that year made application to the Local Government Board for permission to borrow the £15,000. After an Enquiry the necessary approval was received in April and the transaction completed on 25 June, 1892. In addition to the sale price of £15,000, the Local Board of Health also agreed to reimburse the costs of upkeep that Joshua Pedley had incurred over the period of his ownership from December, 1890, until June, 1892, which amounted to £1279. Once again, Joshua demonstrated his public responsibility. During the 18 months of his possession, Bruce Castle had been leased out for the purposes of an Industrial Exhibition and a Poultry Show. The monies received were deducted from the expenses due to him and wages paid by him were also waived. He also made a personal donation of £500 thus reducing the amount of reimbursement owing to £378. The grounds of Bruce Castle were opened to the public on 13 August1892 with much pomp and ceremony during which gratitude was expressed to Joshua Pedley for his involvement. Later, in 1906, a museum was opened in the manor house. Both amenities continue to be enjoyed by local residents, and those from further afield, up to the present day.
After admittance as a Solicitor in 1854, Joshua had practised from offices in Bush Lane in the City of London as a sole practitioner until 1878 when he went into partnership with John Bartlett as Pedley & Bartlett. This partnership was dissolved in 1889 and, in association with Charles May and Basil Fletcher, the firm of Pedley, May & Fletcher was established. The Tottenham connection continued in his professional life because one of the clerks employed at the lawyers' office was Robert Buckle better known as "Bobby" Buckle, a founder member and first captain of the amateur 'Spurs. He lived with his parents at White Cottage, White Hart Lane (which exists today). His father, William E Buckle, was a coachman and it is reasonable to speculate that he worked for the Pedley family and, perhaps, drove Joshua in his private carriage from Tottenham to his office in the City.
As a Strict Baptist, Joshua attended the Calvinist Chapel in Claremont Road off Fore Street, Edmonton, close to the boundary with Tottenham. It was a simple building, built in 1818, with room for a congregation of 150 worshippers. Services were simple with extempore prayers and unaccompanied hymns, the pitch being given with a tuning fork. According to the minutes of Chapel meetings, his coachman, William E Buckle was a leading member of the congregation and there is also reference to W Welfare who is likely to be Walter Welfare, one of two brothers who were gardeners at Trafalgar House. The minutes also record a further example of his financial support for local institutions. In March 1901 the freehold of the Chapel ground together an adjoining cottage came up for sale by auction and were purchased by the Chapel for £235. Subscriptions were raised to meet the cost and the largest donation of £50 was made by Joshua Pedley.
In his commercial life, Joshua was also able to support and invest in local businesses Local businessmen were amongst the members of the Chapel including Samuel South (1853-1919), the owner of a pottery in White Hart Lane supplying the Lea Valley nurserymen with flower pots, and the two men became acquainted. For many years Pedley, May & Fletcher acted for the South family. The partnership dealt not only with the conveyance of property for the South family but, on occasion, provided the finance by way of mortgage. The first recorded transaction of the relationship was in 1898 when Samuel bought a brickfield off Bury Street, Edmonton, from his brother's widow and the last occurred nearly sixty years later when the solicitors settled the estate of Samuel South junior in 1956.
There was a further, more personal, connection between the South family and the household of Joshua Pedley. After his marriage in 1899 Samuel South junior moved to Tottenham Terrace, a terrace of houses close to Trafalgar House, and he was friendly with one of the two Welfare brothers. In 1991, one of Samuel's daughters, who had lived in the Tottenham Terrace house as a young girl, recalled that nearby:
".....there was a large house, Trafalgar House, with a huge garden. My parents were good friends with the gardener and his wife, Welfare by name, and it was a great treat for some of us to be invited to visit them. Some lovely old trees in the garden. I collected Mulberry leaves to feed my silkworms!"
At the age of 78, Joshua retired from active business life because of failing health and in 1910, accompanied by his wife, he was staying in Hastings in order to alleviate his condition. He fell ill and, after contracting pneumonia, passed away on 8 April. Upon receiving the news, flags were flown at half mast on municipal buildings in Tottenham and at the Prince of Wales Hospital. The funeral was held on 12 April, 1910, and his body interred in the Pedley family vault at Ilford cemetery.
His son, Samuel Pedley, had followed in his father's footsteps and entered the legal profession becoming a partner in the family firm. As the years passed the connection with the founding partners and their descendants was lost but a continuity with the earlier years of the practice has been maintained. By 1909 Arthur Raisen was employed in the offices of Pedley, May & Fletcher and, later, he was elevated to partner. In turn, his son, John Raisen, joined the partnership in 1951 and continues to practice as sole practitioner. On transfer of the offices from the City to Sevenoaks, Kent, in 1982, the nomenclature of Pedley, May & Raisen was adopted. Over 150 years after Joshua Pedley qualified as a solicitor, his name remains in use by his successors.
On your next visit to the museum at Bruce Castle why not take the opportunity to pay your respects to Joshua Pedley for his continuing legacy.