Biography of Bsp Samuel Peploe

Samuel Peploe

by Pam Bradburn DL

Samuel Peploe was baptised in Dawley on 29th July 1667, or according to a note in the parish register 1668. He was the son of Podmore Peploe, a yeoman farmer, and his wife Mary. Podmore Peploe died in 1714 and an inventory of his goods only amounted to £14-13-6d, but Samuel, obviously a bright lad, had the opportunity to be educated at Penkridge Free School and Jesus College, Oxford where he matriculated as a Battelar (commoner), subsequently gaining his BA in 1690 and MA in 1693, enabling his life to take a very different course.

Once he had taken holy orders at Magdalen College, his promotion through the Church of England ranks became rapid. In 1695 he was rector of Kedleston in Derbyshire, and in 1700, vicar of Preston. Peploe was known for his strong anti-Catholic views in what was a largely Roman Catholic population, but his religious convictions and his Whig and anti-Jacobite politics made him attractive to his patrons, the Hoghton family of Hoghton Tower who were staunch Presbyterians.

When Jacobite forces entered Preston in 1715, Peploe ‘mounted his pulpit’ and urged his parishioners to support the newly established Hanoverian King George. It was this act of courage, his loyalty to the crown, but above all his uncompromising sermons identifying the dangers of ‘popery’ which brought him to the attention of ministers, and probably secured his promotion to the vacant wardenship of the Collegiate Church of Manchester in July 1717. This was an influential post but his induction was refused for years by Francis Gastrell, Bishop of Chester, because his bachelor of divinity, conferred at Lambeth, was deemed invalid by his diocese, until the situation was resolved in his favour in 1725.

The post of bishop of Chester became vacant in 1725 and Samuel Peploe’s success was noted mostly as due to his ‘zeal and affection to the true interest of our king and country’ . It is thought that he was almost certainly supported by Edmund Gibson the Bishop of London. He was consecrated on 12th April 1726. It is not surprising as he reputedly had a pugnacious temperament that over the next twelve years he proved a determined, combative individual in the defence of what he believed. He eventually established a Whig majority at the cathedral, working to set up charity schools, founding the town’s blue coat school, and never allowing the rich to forget their Christian duties towards the poor. This was somewhat ironic as he himself had a reputation for meanness.

During his ministry he consecrated 39 churches and chapels throughout his diocese as well as having built 2 new galleries in the choir of Chester Cathedral. He was a staunch Anglican, but not a zealot, except perhaps in his opposition to Roman Catholicism,. When in 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart, (Bonnie Prince Charlie), and his Jacobite supporters marched as far as Derby in an attempt to overthrow the king, Peploe once again denounced ‘Popish idolatry’ and donated £200 towards local defences. The bishop was appreciated as a great defender of the church against its detractors, and also for the conscientious exercise of his duties.

Samuel Peploe married twice. His first wife, Ann Browne, gave him a son and four daughters but died in 1705. He married again in 1712 to Ann Birch who was the daughter to the previous Bishop of Chester. She survived her husband but with no surviving children. His son, also called Samuel, became Archdeacon of Richmond and when in 1738 Peploe resigned his wardenship at Manchester Collegiate Church, he ensured that his son Samuel succeeded him in this post implying that he was not adverse to nepotism. His son then became Chancellor of the Diocese of Chester. A portrait of him, painted by Thomas Gainsborough, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

In later life Samuel Peploe Snr. suffered poor health. He died on the 21st. February 1752 and was buried in Chester Cathedral where a memorial to him was placed on the North Wall of the building.


                                                          Samuel Peploe memorial in Chester Cathedral

                                                                          (Courtesy of Chester Cathedral)

Go Back