Harry Peckham

Harry Peckham (1740[2] – 10 January 1787) was a King's Counsel,[3] judge and sportsman who toured Europe and wrote a series of letters which are still being published over 200 years later. Peckham was a member of the committee that drew up early laws of cricket[4] including the first inclusion of the leg before wicket (lbw) rule.[5] The diarist James Woodforde makes reference to Peckham playing cricket at Oxford in 1760.[6] and he was still playing in 1771.

Harry Peckham
Died10 January 1787
Resting placeTemple Church
EducationWinchester and New College, Oxford
OccupationLawyer, writer
Political partyWhig
Parent(s)Rev. Henry and Sarah Peckham [1]


Peckham was the only son of the Reverend Henry Peckham (1712-1795), then curate of Edburton but later rector of Amberley and of Tangmere, by his wife Sarah (1702-1784), daughter of Thomas Norton of Hurstpierpoint. He had two younger sisters: Sarah (1742-1819), who in 1784 married the Reverend George Parker Farhill, and Fanny who only lived a few days in 1744.[7] He was christened in his mother's church of the Holy Trinity, Hurstpierpoint, on 7 August 1740.[8] Sir Thomas Peckham was his first cousin once removed and Henry Peckham (MP for Chichester) a first cousin three times removed.

He was a contemporary of James Woodforde at school ( Winchester College) and at New College, Oxford, where he was also a friend of Francis Noel Clarke Mundy.[4]

The diarist James Woodforde makes reference to Peckham playing cricket at Oxford in 1760 and 1761.[6]

Peckham was a member of the private Markeaton Hunt. In 1762–63, his friend Mundy commissioned a set of six portraits. Each of the subjects was in the distinctive dress of the Markeaton Hunt, consisting of a blue coat over a scarlet waistcoat and yellow breeches. Peckham sat for one of these paintings. The paintings hung at Mundy's ancestral home, Markeaton Hall.[9] As well as the Wright portrait, Peckham sat for Romney and one canvas in the possession of Chichester City Council which hangs in the Chichester Council House.[10] Another canvas, now classed as « after Romney », is in the Royal Collection.[11]

Peckham entered Middle Temple in 1764 and was called on 29 January 1768.[1] In the same year he toured through Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Paris, Rouen, and Calais. His letters home were published by George Kearsley [12] among a number of travel books Kearsley published in London. Peckham's writings were and are still considered witty and interesting.[4] His book records a view of Europe before the political upheavals and is considered to give a Whiggish view of how the Netherlands was a successful outcome of the union of liberty, commerce and Protestantism.[13]

The following quotations from Peckham's Tour of Holland... give some idea of his wit and style:

Of a picture of St Anthony in the chapel of the Sorbonne, Paris, he wrote -

He is seated in an armed chair, not a very common convenience in a desert, nor a very proper attitude for a preacher; but his hair is greyish which I suppose to be an apology for the sitting.

Also in Paris he visited "the miserable college of English Benedictines" where -

...lies in state that silly fellow James [James II] not yet buried; for his followers, as weak as their master, think that the time will come when his family shall reign again in Britain; he therefore lies ready to be shipped off for England, to sleep with his ancestors in Westminster Abbey.

The Dutch language, he suggests -

....even from the mouth of a beauty would be an antidote to venery.

And of the French -

Their religion seems calculated for the vulgar, and is rather to amuse than to amend.[14]

The first edition of his book in 1772 was anonymous and only the fourth posthumous edition of 1788 was attributed to Peckham.[15]

Peckham continued to play cricket as it seems likely that he was the "Mr Peckam [sic], jun" who played for the Gentlemen of Sussex against the Gentlemen of Hampshire at Broadhalfpenny Down on 20 August 1771.[16]

Harry Peckham, Recorder of Chichester in 1785 by George Romney

In 1774, Peckham sat on the committee that formulated some early laws of cricket. They were settled and revised at the Star and Garter in Pall Mall on Friday 25 February 1774. The meeting was chaired by Sir William Draper and the committee included the Duke of Dorset, the Earl of Tankerville and other "Noblemen and Gentlemen of Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex, and London".[17] This meeting agreed one of the earlier sets of cricket rules and is acknowledged as being the first where the leg before wicket rule was introduced.[5]

In 1781 Peckham was junior counsel to the former attorney-general John Dunning in the unsuccessful defence of François Henri de la Motte accused of supplying naval secrets to the French.[18] Dunning was taken ill during the trial and Peckham found himself having to conduct the defence in a case that is said to have been the inspiration for the trial of Charles Darnay in the Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities.[19]

On 22 May 1783 Peckham wrote to the prime minister 3rd Duke of Portland from the Inner Temple thanking him for his 'Interposition in my favour'.[20] He was called to the bench on 20 June 1783.[1] Once eligible as a judge, he was appointed Recorder of Chichester, a post he held until his death on 10 January 1787 after a fall from his horse while hunting on the estate of the Duke of Richmond at Goodwood.[21] His burial at the Temple Church was on 19 January 1787.[22]

He was survived by his father, who was his executor,[23] by his sister and by his illegitimate daughter Sarah, born 3 May 1771. His will dated 29 September 1784 was proved on 12 April 1787.[24] In it he appointed three guardians for his daughter, one being his sister Sarah. The young woman objected to being under the tutelage of her aunt and in the Chancery case of Peckham v Peckham [2 Cox, 46] the Lord Chancellor agreed.[25] Her subsequent career is so far unknown.

His name was added to a white marble monument erected on the north wall of Chichester Cathedral, noting that he was Recorder of Chichester. This monument had been created for Peckham's parents by his sister Sarah Farhill.[26] Mrs Farhill was anxious to keep the name of Peckham alive and made her second cousin once removed, Charles Peckham Smith (1801-1873), her legatee if he would assume the name and arms of Peckham. This he did in 1820, becoming Charles Peckham Peckham.[27]

Major worksEdit

  • Harry Peckham's Tour, Harry Peckham & Martin Brayne (editor), The History Press, ISBN 978-1-84588-619-6


  1. ^ a b c The Middle Temple Bench Book: Being a Register of Benchers of the Middle ... - Page 269 by Middle Temple (London, England), Arthur Robert Ingpen - Lawyers - 1912, accessed 13 June 2008
  2. ^ T. F. Kirby, Winchester Scholars: a list of the Wardens, Fellows and Scholars of Saint Mary College of Winchester...commonly called Winchester College, (1888)
  3. ^ The Public and Private Life of Lord Chancellor Eldon
  4. ^ a b c Harry Peckham & Martin Brayne (editor), The Tour of Holland, Dutch Brabant, the Austrian Netherlands, and Part of France; in which is included a Description of Paris and its Environs (first edn 1772), October 2008, ISBN 978-1-84588-619-6.
  5. ^ a b "Pall Mall, South Side, Past Buildings: Nos 94–95 Pall Mall: The Star and Garter", Survey of London: volumes 29 and 30: St James Westminster, Part 1 (1960), pp. 351–2. Date accessed: 8 June 2008.
  6. ^ a b R. L. Winstanley, The Diary of James Woodforde, Vol. 1 (1759-1762), (1979).
  7. ^ Berry, William. « County Genealogies: Pedigrees of the Families in the County of Sussex », p58 at https://books.google.co.uk retrieved 17 October 2015
  8. ^ England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 https://familysearch.org/ Harry Peckham, 7 Aug 1740, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex, England; reference FHL microfilm 416,747 retrieved 28 October 2015
  9. ^ Markeaton Portrait, David Moore-Gwyn, Sothebys.com, accessed 7 June 2008.
  10. ^ Harry Peckham, George Romney, WikiArt, Retrieved 17 October 2015
  11. ^ Peckham "after Romney, Royal Collection, Retrieved 17 October 2015
  12. ^ "Publishing history" (PDF). Archived from the original on 7 July 2010. Retrieved 24 September 2013.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) accessed 9 June 2008.
  13. ^ King's College acquisitions, 2003, accessed 8 June 2008
  14. ^ Quotations from Harry Peckham, The Tour of Holland, Dutch Brabant, the Austrian Netherlands, and Part of France, first edn 1772.
  15. ^ Peckham, Harry. London, 1788 «  The Tour of Holland, Dutch Brabant, the Austrian Netherlands, and Part of France; in which is included a Description of Paris and its Environs «  at https://books.google.co.uk retrieved 17 October 2015
  16. ^ T. J. McCann, Sussex Cricket in the Eighteenth Century (2004).
  17. ^ Cricketana by James Mycroft, 1865
  18. ^ The case can was accessed July 2008.
  19. ^ Arthur Machen, Dreads and Drolls (1926).
  20. ^ Nottingham University records, accessed 9 June 2008.
  21. ^ Nicolson, B., Joseph Wright of Derby: Painter of Light, Vol. 1 (1968).
  22. ^ Sussex Notes and Queries, Sussex Archaeological Society, 1926, p. 138.
  23. ^ Joseph Jackson Howard, Frederick Arthur Crisp « Visitation of England and Wales » at https://books.google.co.uk/books retrieved 17 October 2015
  24. ^ PROB 11/1152/84 Will of Harry Peckham 12 April 1787 http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D445674 retrieved 17 October 2015
  25. ^ »... the Lord Chancellor in Peckham v Peckham in the year 1788 where the late Harry Peckham Esq having a natural daughter by his will appointed Mrs Farhill George Rous Esq and Gibbs Crawford Esq to be her guardians and on petition his Lordship appointed Mr Rous and Mr Crawford some objections being made the infant to Mrs Farhill to be guardians... »Brown, William.1844 Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the High Court of Chancery, Volume 2 https://books.google.co.uk/books retrieved 17 October 2015
  26. ^ "Chichester cathedral: The eastern arm", A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 3 (1935), pp. 116-126. Date accessed: 14 June 2008.
  27. ^ John Burke, Bernard Burke 1842 «A General Armory of England, Scotland and Ireland » at https://books.google.co.uk/books retrieved 17 October 2015