The Peto Family

Basil Edward Peto
Basil Edward Peto
This image is from a postcard sent to supporters during Basil's 1910 election campaign
Arms of Basil Edward Peto
Arms of Basil Edward Peto

Basil Edward Peto

Title: Sir Basil Edward Peto, 1st Baronet, M.P.

Birth: 13 August 1862 in Westminster St Margaret district, Middlesex, England

Father: Samuel Morton Peto

Mother: Sarah Ainsworth Kelsall

Education: Harrow School
The Harrow School register, 1801-1893 p460
Entrances in May 1876.
Peto, Basil Edward,
son of Sir S. Morton Peto, 1st Bart., The Hollands, Yeovil      (Mr. Bowen's)
Left  Dec. 1879; Director of the Morgan Crucible Co., Ld., Battersea.
B. E. Peto, Esq., East House, Pinner

Married: Mary Matilda Annie Baird on 30 August 1892 in Bridge district, Kent, England

Occupation: Building Contractor, Plumbago Magnate and later Member of Parliament
Upon leaving Harrow, Basil chose not to take the opportunity to study law, but instead joined the building firm of Peto Brothers, run by his brother William Herbert. Herbert and Morton Kelsall Peto had started the firm in 1882, but Morton, according to Basil in his diary "was not suited to business and retired after a few years with 10,000 to follow Art and study painting" and Basil joined the firm in his place. Basil wrote in his diary (p16; unpublished, quoted in The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and His Partners vol 1 p35)
  At the end of 1879, a great family debate was held with regard to my future. My mother and elder sisters, and Morton Peto were strongly in favour of my going to Cambridge and going to the Bar, and a great friend of my Father's, Mr Barber, QC, offered to take me into his Chambers as pupil. This was thought to be a rare opportunity, as he had never taken a pupil and was one of the leading QC's.
  However, against this prospect Herbert Peto, who was at Gillingham Street and had the whole business of Peto Brothers now on his hands, proposed the suggestion that, if I left Harrow at once - the Christmas of 1879 - and came there, he would, as soon as I was about 21 years of age, take me into partnership as, in his view, business was the way to make money, not Law. My Father rather leaned to Gillingham Street as the proposal was almost exactly repeating what had happened in his own case...
  I finally decided on. the Gillingham Street offer, although I realised that it had many social and other disadvantages.

Basil Peto's diary describes his early days at the firm. Work began at 6.00am (Basil Peto Diary p16; unpublished, quoted in The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and His Partners vol 1 p75):
I was allotted for bench-mate a very nice man, named Overton, who was a very good joiner. Of course, I was given all the easier parts of the different joiners' work that we made on our benches, doors, windows etc. At breakfast time each day I retired to the cashier (Ellison's) office as he did not come for about three quarters of an hour later, and I was able to toast a kipper or a sausage in front of the fire and heat tea or coffee on it. At dinner time, if I had any hot dinner, it was heated in a pudding basin on the glue-heater and about 12.30 every day one saw joiners removing the glue-pots and substituting pudding basins tied up in cloths

The day's work ended at about 6.00pm. After about eighteen months of this apprenticeship Basil worked for nine months on buildings, "learning something about bricklaying and masonry".
The building I was on most of the time was a house in Harrington Gardens that Herbert was building - to Ernest George and Harold Peto's design, for Sir Robert Palmer Harding --the father of Kate Peto and Nellie Peto.

Another of Basil's brothers, Harold Ainsworth Peto, was an architect in partnership with Ernest George, and that architectural concern did some business with Peto Brothers. Basil describes, again from his diary (p17; unpublished, quoted in The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and His Partners vol 1 p75):
In the summer of 1882, in the evenings, did a lot of overtime work at Harold's office, where he was working on a big specification for an elaborate house for his friends, the Middletons, which was ultimately never built, as the Father, old Middleton - died. However, it gave me a lot of very useful experience.

In 1882 Basil attended a course of lectures on carpentry, and sciences connected with the building trade, at University College, Gower Street. In February 1883, with an advance of 600 from William Herbert Peto, Basil sailed on the Arizona the United States where he stayed for almost a year, returning in November 1883. The trip which was "as much an instructional visit and a holiday". Basil visited New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Chicago. From Chicago he travelled to Montreal via Niagara. In an attempt to find a guide to take him salmon fishing, he happened (Basil Peto Diary p19; unpublished, quoted in The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and His Partners vol 1 p76):
to stumble across what I wanted when visiting the Grand Trunk Railway offices, where of course, I found everybody at that time very friendly to the son of Sir Morton Peto, who had been the actual constructor of the greater part of the system, including the great bridge over the St Lawrence river.

While visiting Ottawa, Basil recalled that he:
thoroughly investigated the newly built Canadian Houses of Parliament - the ventilation system was something new and clever. In winter, when they want the heat, the air there is naturally extremely dry, as it is at a very low temperature, and when it is brought in and heated it is very bad for the skin and cracks it. They therefore arranged a wonderful system under the Houses of Parliament of a network of pipes, perforated so as to make an imitation rain, through which they drew the air from outside so as to damp it all before heating it. This system of perforated pipes has been used also as a means of extinguishing fire'

From there to Newport where he "definately ceased the instructional side" of his visit in favour of socializing and then
After another stay in New York and more study of American building methods, my time in America was drawing to an end. On both my first visit to New York and the last one I saw a good deal of Charles Gregory, a crucible maker and a competitor of the powerful firm of Dixons, makers of pencils and crucibles, who had always been in very close touch with the Morgans of Battersea.

In 1884 Basil was made a partner in Peto Brothers. The firm was engaged to build the new London Pavilion under great time pressure, and they took the novel step of building durin gthe night as well. He notes in Basil Peto Diary p26; unpublished, quoted in The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and His Partners vol 1 p78, that this was:
quite a new sight for London, only made reasonably possible by the recent invention of electric arc lighting. The internal lighting by incandescent lamps, on the Edison principle came later.
  Five huge glass globes containing the carbons, were suspended high over the building site and above the level of the three Scoth cranes, which covered the walls of the three corners of the triangle which constituted the site. I had seen Scotch cranes used in New York on buildings of moderate height, but, although they had been used for some time - as the name suggests - in Scotland for lifting masonry, those working on the London Pavilion were the first that had ever been used in London. On one or two occasions at night I added to the show by stepping on to an empty brick skip at the street level and being swung up to the scaffolding above by the Scotch crane, to save the trouble of climbing ladders.

The London Pavilion was the first building to be constructed using the new fireproof system known as 'Doulton-Peto' flooring, developed by Basil Peto. Basil wrote:
Among other thing that I had observed in America was their system of fire-proof flooring, made of terra-cotta blocks, partly covering the bottom flanges of the rolled iron joists, and forming a much more fire-proof floor than concrete... (I) designed blocks that were shaped with a bottom flange which would meet and entirely cover the underside of the joists and these were used throughout the London Pavilion.

Peto Brothers took a large contract for the International Fisheries Exhibition held in 1883 during which Basil extended the company to supply (Basil Peto Diary p27; unpublished, quoted in The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and His Partners vol 1 p80):
a stream of exhibitors, all anxious to have lengths of counter, platform and stands, acres of green baize, show cases and all sorts of things supplied to them ... In the fortnight before the opening of the Exhibition I had nearly 2,000 accounts, varying from 7/6d, to some hundreds., of pounds and I was there almost day and night.

In 1887 Peto Brothers took a job constructing the exhibition arena for William Cody - "Buffalo Bill" - whom Basil had met during his trip to the United States. Basil wrote in his diary that Cody:
proceeded to draw on a bit of paper an oval ring, which he said would about fit the site, and which I was to understand meant tiers of seats for the audience to see the performance all round - he gave me a rough indication of the length of the arena and the width he required for the galloping ponies, for the ball shooting and Red Indian battle shows. As far as I recollect, it was all to be ready in three weeks' time. That seemed a big order, but we managed it alright by getting a sufficient strength of carpenters and our good friend, my brother-in-law Pendrudock-Wyndham, reaped a rich harvest in selling a large quantity of timber again - though not anything approaching the quantity he had supplied for the Fisheries Exhibition

Stanley Greville Harding, a brother-in-law was brought in to the firm as a partner, and William Herbert Peto retired in December 1888 (London Gazette 28 December 1888 p7430). The firm continued with a number of major contracts including the Queen's Club in West Kensington in 1887, the Hummums Hotel in Covent Garden and the Garrick Theatre in 1888 and the New Prince's Club in 1889.

In 1889, Peto Brothers won the contract for the Canehill Asylum Extension. The firm offered workers a profit-sharing scheme in which they would share one quarter of the contract's net profits, but attached conditions forfeiting the profit sharing by anyone earning less than a total of 5 in wages on the contract, by anyone who diminished the profits by "neglecting their duties, misconducting themselves, wasting their time, or by joining any strike for shorter hours or for
wages above the existing recognised rates of wages." The Building Trades Unions rejected the scheme, taking exception to the restrictions and feeling that there would be incentive to dismiss men before they earned their 5. The project was subjected to a number of strikes, with the strikebreakers being forced to sleep at the shop, and sent home only at weekends, under heavy police escort. On 11 June 1890 a fire was set at the works that "destroyed the buildings and the whole of the joiner's shops, joinery, and machinery which had been used to make it". The firm never recovered, and in 1891 Basil joined another of his brother, Samuel Arthur Peto at the Morgan Crucible Company rather than restarting the building business. Peto Brothers was wound down and officially dissolved on 30 June 1893 (London Gazette 5 December 1893 p7143).

Basil remained a director at Morgan Crucible Company until 1904, and then entered the business of mining and buying plumbago (graphite), the material used to make molten-metal crucibles. Basil made three trips to the United States and Canada and four trips to Ceylon and India in connection with his plumbago trade (The Straits Times (Singapore), 8 August 1928, p12). He is recorded arriving on the Lucania on 13 May 1905 (manifest), a trip which he describes as "touring on business" with a final destination of Montana. His occupation is listed a manufacturer, and his residence as Guildford. On that trip, Basil also recorded border crossings on 12 June 1905 from Canada into Niagara Falls, New York (Border Crossings From Canada to United States) and from Canada into North Stratford, New Hampshire, also in June (Border Crossings From Canada to United States). Basil is also recorded arriving in New York aboard the Lusitania on 9 October 1908 (manifest). On this trip he lists his final destination as Holland House, New York, and his residence as Kirby House, Hungerford.

Election Rally for Basil Peto
Election rally for Basil Peto
1910 - Market Lavington
At the January 1910 general election Basil was returned as Member of Parliament for the Conservative party for the Devizes constituency in Wiltshire, and retained the seat until the 1918 election. He was later elected twice as Member of Parliament for Barnstaple, holding the seat as a Conservative from 1922 to 1923 and again from 1924 to 1935. In 1927, Peto was expelled from the Conservative Party after which he sat in Parliament as a Unionist.
The Straits Times (Singapore), 8 August 1928, p12
                  SIR BASIL PETO.
"Excommunicated" By Conservative Party.
                             London, July 27.
  Extraordinary disciplinary action has been taken by the Chief Government Whip in removing the name of Sir Basil Peto (Cons. Barnstaple) from the list of members receiving the Whip, which is tantamount to expulsion from the Conservative Party. Apparently the Government Whips were dissatisfied with Sir Basil's activities in opposing Government notably in pressing the claims of the South Irish loyalists, resisting the Totalizator Bill, and promoting the movement for the extension of the safeguarding system. The irritation reached a climax when Sir Basil Peto last week, late at night, moved an embarrassing resolution after the bulk of the Government supporters had departed.
  The excommunication of Sir Basil Peto, M.P., has provided a first-class end-of-session sensation.
  Sir Basil saw the Prime Minister this afternoon. It is expected that he will see the Chief Government Whip next week.
  Sir Basil Peto, in an interview, stated that he had received no warning of the punishment and knew nothing of the Whip's action until he read of it in the newspapers, though on Thirsday night the Chief Government Whip sopke to him angrily in the lobby.
  Meanwhile, the opinion is expressed that his excommunication is also in the nature of a warning to other Conservatives.
  [Sir Basil Edward Peto, 1st Bt., (1927), has been M.P. (Conservative) for the Barnstaple Division of Devon since 1924. Born in 1862, he was educated at Harrow. Sir Basil is a well-known building contractor, and was a partner of Peto Brothers, Pimlico, 1884-91; a director of the Morgan Crucible Co., Ltd, 1892-1904. He has had considerable experience in the mining and buying plumbago, in connection with which he has visited the U.S.A. and Canada three times and Ceylon and India four times. He was Chief Commissioner (unpaid) of Belgian Refugee Affairs in 1916. Sir Basil entered Parliament in 1910, as Conservative M.P. for the Devizes Division, Wilts, and during 1922-23 represented Barnstaple. He was re-elected in 1924.]

These are Basil Peto's contributions to Parliament.

Debrett's House of Commons p130 (1918)
B. E. PETO (Wiltshire, Eastern, or Devizes, Division).
  Basil Edward PETO, son of the late Sir Samuel Morton Peto, 1st Bt., by Sarah Ainsworth, who d. 1892, da. of the late Henry Kelsall, of Rochdale; b. Aug. 13th, 1862; ed. at Harrow: m. 1892, Mary Matilda Annie, da. of the late Capt. Thomas Carpendale Baird. A Conservative; has sat for E., or Devizes, Div. of Wiltshire since Jan. 26th, 1910.
  Residences - 33, Grosvenor Road, S.W.; Tawstock Court, near Barnstaple, N. Devon.  Clubs - Carlton, Orleans.


Basil's father suffered some financial difficulties in 1869, and was forced to give up their home in Chipstead Place, Sevenoaks. The family 'went abroad' for three years. The winter was spent at Cannes at the villa of a French protestant Pasteur, Monsieur Espinet and his wife and the spring of 1870 at Ventimiglia and summer at Villars, above Lake Geneva. Basil recalls, "In the summer holidays Arthur, Harold and Frank came out to join us". During the winter of 1870-71, Lady Peto and the elder sisters went to Rome, but Helen and Basil were left with a governess in Florence, "thought to be much too young to benefit from the historical glories of what became the capital of Italy". They joined their mother in Venice in the spring of 1871, then went to Lugano, Monte Generose and Le Prese, above Lake Lugano and across the Maloya Pass to Pontresina. The winter of 1871-72 was spent at San Remo and Cannes. They travelled back to England in the spring of 1872, via Cologne and Dresden. The family's movements are then recorded in Sir Morton Peto: a memorial sketch (Henry Peto, 1895) p103:
Then from 1873 to 1875 Cowley House, Exeter, was the home; the summer of 1875 was spent at Stargrove, near Newbury; in 1876 The Hollands, Yeovil, was rented; from 1877 to 1884 he resided at Eastcote House Pinner;

Basil lived in Gillingham Street, London from 1882 until 1889 at which time he writes in his diary (p29; unpublished, quoted in The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and His Partners vol 1 p39):
During the time that I lived at Gillingham Street Harold decided to buy a mahogany double sculling boat. As one would expect from Harold's taste in such things, it had very special cushions and other such fittings and he was very proud and careful of it. We often went down to use it on Sundays and generally kept the boat at Goring, Pangbourne or Streatley. The 'White Hart' Hotel was our favourite resort. We generally had two or three friends with us and the picnic lunch on Sunday became quite well known and traditional.

In June 1886, Basil and Ingham Baker went climbing in the Alps (The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and His Partners, C. 1860-1922 vol 2 p444).

In the manifest of the Lusitania 9 October 1908, Basil is described as 6' 0" tall, with dark hair and complexion, and brown eyes.

Basil was appointed as a temporary Captain on 1 October 1914 (London Gazette 20 October 1914 p8483), and relinquished that commission on 1 January 1915 (London Gazette 23 February 1915 p1957). He was appointed Chief Commissioner (unpaid) of Belgian Refugee Affairs in 1916 (The Straits Times (Singapore), 8 August 1928, p12) and on 12 May 1919 he was made Commander in the Order of Leopold by the King of the Belgians, at that time described as "Chairman of the Committee on Repatriation, Local Government Board" (Edinburgh Gazette 20 May 1919 p1741)

Basil was nominated a Baronet on 1 January 1827 (Edinburgh Gazette 4 January 1927 p2)
The KING has been graciously pleased to signify His Majesty's intention of conferring Baronetcies of the United Kingdom on the following:-
Basil Edward Peto, Esq., J.P., M.P., Member of Parliament for Devizes, 1910-18; Barnstaple, 1922-23 and since 1924. For political and public services.

and the grant was made official on 18 February 1827 (London Gazette 18 February 1927 p1111).

Wikipedia page for Sir Basil Peto, 1st Baronet

Death: 28 January 1945, in Trowbridge district, Wiltshire, England, aged 82

Census & Addresses:
1866 - 1869: Chipstead Place, Sevenoaks, Kent (The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and His Partners vol 1 p35)
1879 - 1881: 8 Albert Place, London (The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and His Partners vol 2 p439)
1881: Eastcote Road, Ruislip, Middlesex
1882: 29 Gillingham Street, Pimlico, London (The Architecture of Sir Ernest George and His Partners vol 2 p446)
1901: Chobham, Surrey: Basil R. Pete is aged 38, born in London, Middlesex and his occupation is Cruceble Maker
1905: Guildford, Surrey (manifest of the Lucania 13 May 1905)
1908: Kirby House, Hungerford, Berkshire (manifest of the Lusitania 9 October 1908)
1911: Hambledon district, Surrey; Basil Edward Peto is aged 48
1914: Worton Littlecourt, Devizes, Wiltshire (Balliol College register, 1832-1914 p266)
1918: 33 Grosvenor Road, London and Tawstock Court, near Barnstaple, Devon (Debrett's House of Commons p130)
1933: Tavistock Court, Barnstaple, Devon (Balliol College register, 1833-1933 p341)
1945: Iford Gatehouse, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire (London Gazette 29 June 1945 p3434)


Basil Arthur John Peto

Birth: 13 December 1900, in Chobham, Surrey, England

Father: Basil Edward Peto

Mother: Mary Matilda Annie (Baird) Peto

Occupation: Army Officer and Member of Parliament.
Basil was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion of the Devon Regiment in the Territorial Army on 22 July 1921 (London Gazette 5 August 1921 p6263) and promoted to Lieutenant on 22 July 1923 (London Gazette 24 August 1923 p5766). On 30 January 1923 he transferred to the Royal Artillery (London Gazette 8 February 1924 p1166) and then transferred again on 7 July 1926 to the King's Dragoon Guards (London Gazette 6 July 1926 p4445). On 7 November 1929 Basil was seconded for service as Aide-de-Camp to the Governor of Bombay (London Gazette 21 January 1930 p427). During this period Peto defended the acting Governor of Bombay during an assassination attempt in Poona.
The Argus (Melbourne) 23 July 1931 p8:
Attempted Assassination.
Acting Governor of Bombay.
              CALCUTTA. July 22.
At attempt to assassinate Sir Ernest Hotson, Acting Governor of Bombay, was made at Poona this morning. When Sir Ernest Hotson was inspecting Ferguson College a student fired two shots at him from a revolver. Sir Ernest Hotson was uninjured.
  As the student fired, Captain B. A. J. Peto, of the Dragoon Guards, aide-de-camp to the Acting Governor, struck him down with his sword. 
  A communique issued to-night states that the first shot struck Sir Ernest Hotson's coat just above his heart, but it was deflected by a metal stud and a pocket-book. The second shot missed him.

The Straits Times (Singapore) 10 September 1931 p11
Indian Student Gets Eight Years.
                         Poona, Sept. 9.
  The student, Vasudev Balawant Gogate, who attacked Sir John Hotson, the acting Governor of Bombay, as he was entering the library of the Fergusson College at Poona on July 22, has been sentenced to eight years' rigorous imprisonment.  - Reuter.
  Gogate, it will be recalled, took deliberate aim with a .22 revolver and fired two shots in rapid succession. Before a third shot could be fired, the Governor sprang at the student, while Captain B. A. J. Peto, his A.D.C., knocked the revolver from Gogate's hand with his sword. Together they overpowered the student after which the college staff handed him over to the police.
  Following Sir John's return to Government House, after the shooting, the bullet which struck him was found in the pocket of his lounge suit. It had passed through his coat, struck the wad of notes in his wallet in the breast pocket, and been deflected by the wallet's metal clasp.

Basil returned to his regiment on 7 November 1931 (London Gazette 1 December 1931 p7740), and was promoted to Captain on 18 June 1932 (London Gazette 12 July 1932 p4559). From 1932 to 1935 he served in Egypt and on 21 February 1936, then a Captain, Basil was seconded for service as an adjutant in the Scottish Horse Territorial Army (London Gazette 3 March 1936 p1382), which appointment he vacated on 19 September 1937 (London Gazette 8 October 1937 p6212). Basil retired on 1 June 1939, receiving a gratuity (London Gazette 2 June 1939 p3704), but he rejoined the King's Dragoon Guards on the outbreak of war. Basil was promoted to Brevet-Major on 1 May 1940 (London Gazette 17 June 1941 p3498). On 9 May 1951, Captain and Brevet-Major Peto, having exceeded the age limit of liability to recall, ceased to belong to the Reserve of Officers (London Gazette 4 May 1951 p2577)

Basil was elected as Member of Parliament for Birmingham King's Norton at a by-election in May 1941 following the death of the sitting MP Ronald Cartland, but was defeated at the 1945 general election by the Labour Party candidate, Raymond Blackburn. Basil was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chairman of the Oil Board (Geoffrey Lloyd) from December 1941 until February 1945. These are Basil Peto's contributions to Parliament.

Shortly before the by-election, Winston Churchill wrote a letter of encouragement to Basil:
The Churchill War Papers: The ever-widening war, 1941 pp595-6 (Martin Gilbert, 2001)
3 May 1941
Dear Captain Peto.
  King's Norton had in Ronald Cartland a young member of high promise who was loved by all who knew him for his great personal charm and respected by his friends and opponents alike for his courage and intellectual integrity. His death on the field of battle has left a sad gap in our ranks and it is only fitting that his successor at King's Norton should be like him a serving officer who supports the war policy pursued by the Government and generally approved by the nation.
  I am confident that I can rely on the electors to make clear by the majority they accord to you that this is their view and that they are not the people to be duped by well-meaning extremists in to the illusion that victory or peace can be reached by any easy short cut. By giving you their vote they will show their confidence in me and my colleagues from all the political parties to make the best strategic use of the ever-increasing resources at our disposal.
  Those who are sincerely convinced that Hitler and Hitlerism must be extirpated from Europe should regard it as part of their duty in defending their country to go to the poll and record their vote. They must remember that every enemy of Britain will look to the voting in King's Norton to see if there is any weakening in the national resolve. No one should commit the act of negligence involved in staying at home just because the seat is in no danger of being lost. Every vote counts.
            Yours very truly,
         Winston S. Churchill

Basil usually went by his third name, John. He was author of a book of poetry Escape from Now published in 1947.

Wikipedia page for Basil Arthur John Peto

Death: 3 February 1954, aged 53.

Census & Addresses:
1901: Chobham, Surrey: Basil A. J. Pete is aged 0, born in Chobham, Surrey
1943: Tancreds Ford, Tilford, Surrey (London Gazette 19 October 1943 p4636)
1950: Old Enton, Witley, Surrey (London Gazette 19 May 1950 p2507)


Christopher Henry Maxwell Peto

Title: Brigadier Sir Christopher Henry Maxwell Peto, 3rd Baronet, D.S.O., M.P.

Birth: 19 February 1897, in Chobham, Surrey, England

Father: Basil Edward Peto

Mother: Mary Matilda Annie (Baird) Peto

Married: Barbara Close on 3 October 1935 in City of Westminster district, London, England.
Barbara died in 1992.

Occupation: Army Officer and Member of Parliament.
Peto served in both World War I and World War II, attaining the rank of Brigadier. He was commissioned in the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers and on 24 September 1923, Lieutenant Peto was appointed Adjutant and promoted to Captain (London Gazette 25 September 1923 p6426). He served as adjutant of the 9th Lancers until 24 September 1926 (London Gazette 24 September 1926 p6158) and then, from 1 November 1926, he was seconded as adjutant of the Northumberland Horse in the Territorial Army (London Gazette 19 November 1926 p7478) which appointment he held until 20 July 1929 (London Gazette 3 September 1929 p5718). On 5 July 1933, Captain Peto was seconded as Instructor at the Equitation School in Weedon (London Gazette 14 July 1933 p4720). He was promoted to Major on 7 April 1935 (London Gazette 16 April 1935 p2598) and relinquished his appointment as Instructor on 16 September 1936 (London Gazette 2 October 1936 p6276). Peto was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel of the 9th Lancers on 17 October 1938 (London Gazette 4 November 1938 p6888) and tasked with carrying on the mechanised training of the regiment in the build up to the war, to mobilise it when war came and to take it to France in May 1940. He received the Distinguished Service Order for the action described below, although the D.S.O. was not awarded until 8 November 1945 (London Gazette 6 November 1945 p5432). An entry written about Peto in the forward of the Lancer's regimental history The Ninth Queens Royal Lancers 1939-1945 (Bright, 1951) reads:-
His was the responsibility of showing all ranks how to behave under fire, and so much depends upon the leadership the first time men go into battle. His calm and fearless example was an inspiration to all, and laid the foundation of the enthusiasm and steadiness which the regiment so consistently displayed throughout the war. He commanded with conspicuous ability in the fantastic operations south of the Somme until a severe wound obliged him to be evacuated. He earned the D.S.O. for his services in France in 1940, though this was not known until Major-General Victor Fortune, Commander of the 51st Highland Division, was able to make his recommendations on his return from captivity in Germany. These he backed up by a personal visit to the War Office. Those who did not take part can have little idea of a commanding officer's difficulties during those two years. Many were caused by failure in higher places to foresee more accurately the type of equipment which would be required, to provide it in time, and to settle with less vacillation the organisation of the troops who would use it. Luckily for the regiment, Chris Peto had, and has, an inexhaustible fund of humour and an irrepressible spirit. These, he would be the first to admit, have sometimes got him into trouble, but they were invaluable assets through those years of exasperating trial. He did not come back after his recovery, but was promoted to the command of armoured brigade. The Regiment owes him a debt.

When the regiment was deployed to France it was not well equipped and the account of Peto's injury illustrates this:
Major MacDonell seeing the head and face of a German popping out of the ground periodically about three hundred yards from the Regimental Headquarters, suggested an investigation. Lieutenant-Colonel Peto agreed and led the reconnaissance accompanied by Major MacDonell's tank and two scout cars. They opened fire on twelve slit trenches full of enemy infantry. After ten minutes the Germans crawled out and surrendered. The "bag" was one officer and forty-three other ranks. We had found it impossible to depress the guns on our tanks sufficiently to bear, and Lt-Col Peto, firing from his turret with his pistol, was badly wounded in the right hand. He carried on until the Germans surrendered, and was then evacuated.

Christopher completed his period of service in command of the 9th Lancers on 17 October 1941 (London Gazette 14 October 1941 p6027), and was promoted to Colonel (although serving as a temporary Brigadier) (London Gazette 25 November 1941 p6826). In 1942 he was made Acting General Officer commanding the 11th Armoured Division. From 1942 until 1943 he was Commanding Officer of the 137th Armoured Brigade and in 1944 appointed Chief Liason Officer of the 21st Army Group, North West Europe, for which he was mentioned in dispatches three times (London Gazette 20 March 1945 p1548, London Gazette 9 August 1945 p4044 and London Gazette 6 November 1945 p5434) and showered with foreign honours. Colonel Peto was awarded the Order of Polonia Restitua (3rd Class) by the President of Poland on 14 December 1943 (London Gazette 10 December 1943 p5425) and made Commander of the Order of Leopold with Palm and awarded the Croix de Guerre 1940 with Palm, conferred by the Prince Regent of Belgium on 16 January 1947 (London Gazette 14 January 1947 p325). Brigadier Peto was awarded the Order of the White Lion 3rd class and the War Cross 1939 by the President of the Czechoslovak Republic on 23 May 1947 (London Gazette 20 May 1947 p2289). Peto also received the French Legion of Honour, French Chevalier avec Croix de Guerre with palms, Luxembourg Order of Nassau (Commander) and the Luxembourg Croix de Guerre (Wikipedia). Colonel Peto, then a Member of Parliament, retired on 27 November 1946 "on account of disability", and was granted the honorary rank of Brigadier (London Gazette 22 November 1946 p5769). On 2 September 1950, Col. (Hon-Brig) Christopher Henry Maxwell Peto, D.S.O., M.P., late R.A.C., ret'd was appointed Colonel in the Royal Armoured Corps (London Gazette 1 September 1950 p4423).

At the 1945 general election Christopher Peto was elected as Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party for Barnstaple. When that constituency was abolished at the 1950 general election, he was returned for newly recreated Devon North constituency, where he served until 1955. These are Christopher Peto's contributions to Parliament.


Christopher Peto was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Devon on 10 July 1950 (London Gazette 18 July 1950 p3702), resigning the commission on 9 May 1955 (London Gazette 13 May 1955 p2791) when he moved to Wiltshire. He was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire on 31 January 1956 (London Gazette 7 February 1956 p757), and received a nomination for Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1963 (London Gazette 15 November 1963 p9320), 1964 (London Gazette 17 November 1964 p9820) and 1965 (London Gazette 16 November 1965 p10664), at which he was appointed Sheriff of Wiltshire for 1966 on 10 March 1966 (London Gazette 11 March 1966 p2704). Christopher resigned his commission as Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire on 10 March 1979 "on taking up residence outside the county" (London Gazette 13 March 1979 p3366).

Ray Goodwin, who worked as a gardener at Lockeridge House from 1955 until 1973 remembers:
  Sir Christopher Peto managed the river from Clatford to the Bell at Overton. Sections of the stream would be attached with scythes to clear it for fishing. All the weed would be dragged out for 30 metre stretches and trout from the Hungerford Trout Farm would be put in in April. They never had to feed the fish; there was so much natural food like molluscs, leeches, insect larva and so on. There would be some wonderful fishing such as at Stanley Wood. You could catch trout up to four and a half pounds.
  The water always dried up around July. The trout would be left in little pools. They’d be collected up and returned to Hungerford Trout Farm!

Christopher succeeded to the baronetcy on his brother's death on 24 March 1971.

Wikipedia page for Sir Christopher Peto, 3rd Baronet

Death: 19 May 1980, at Basingstoke, Hampshire, aged 83.

Census & Addresses:
1901: Chobham, Surrey: Christopher H. M. Pete is aged 4, born in Chobham, Surrey
1911: Headington, Oxfordshire: Christopher Pets is aged 14, born in Surrey
1945: Brill, Buckinghamshire (London Gazette 6 November 1945 p5432)
1950: Kenwith Castle, Abbotsham, Devon (London Gazette 18 July 1950 p3702)
1956: Lockeridge House, Marlborough, Wiltshire (London Gazette 7 February 1956 p757)
1966: Lockeridge House, Marlborough, Wiltshire (London Gazette 11 March 1966 p2704)


James Michael Peto

Title: Lt-Col. Sir James Michael Peto, 2nd Baronet

Birth: 8 May 1894, in Pinner, Middlesex, England

Father: Basil Edward Peto

Mother: Mary Matilda Annie (Baird) Peto

Education: Harrow School and Balliol College, Oxford, from 1913 to 1914, then the Royal Military College, Sandhurst (1914 to 1915).
Balliol College register, 1832-1914 p266 (1914):
Peto, James Michael : b. May 8, 1894; s. of B. E. Peto, of Worton Littlecourt, Devizes. Educ. Harrow; Balliol 1913- (A.L.S.,N.S.T). Union andn Arnold Socs. Addresses: Worton Littlecourt, Devizes; 243 St. James Court, London, S.W.

Balliol College register, 1833-1933 p341:
Peto, Maj. James Michael. - b. May 8, 1894; e.s. of Sir Basil Peto, Bart., M.P., of Tavistock Court, Barnstaple, N. Devon, and London, and 1st cousin of H. L. P. Baker (Balliol 1906). Educ. Harrow; Balliol 1913-14 (A.L.S., N.S.T.); R.M.C., Sandhurst, 1914-15. 2nd Lt., Coldstream Guards, May 1915; France and Flanders 1915-18; mentioned in disp., France, 1916; Temp. Capt. 1916-19; Staff Capt. 1919-21; Capt. 1921; Staff Officer, East Anglian Area, 1926-8; Maj. Coldstream Guards, 1928; retired 1931; Lloyd's Underwriter; m. 1920, Frances, e.d. of Canon W. H. Carnegie, sub-dean of Westminster: one daughter.

Married: Frances Gertrude Carnegie on 17 February 1920 in St George Hanover Square district, London, England
Frances was born on 12 December 1893 in Martley district, Worcestershire, the daughter of William Hartley Carnegie and Albinia Frances Crawley-Boevey. She died on 4 March 1971.

Occupation: Army Officer in the Coldstream Guards. After his retirement from the army in 1931, Peto became a Lloyd's underwriter.
James was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards in May 1915. He served in France and Flanders from 1915-18, and was mentioned in dispatches from France in 1916. He was appointed temporary Captain on 13 February 1916 (London Gazette 17 March 1916 p3029), and retained the acting rank when appointed adjutant of the Coldstream Guards on 8 October 1918 (London Gazette 22 November 1918 p13876). James was seconded to the Staff and temporarily appointed Staff Captain on 5 March 1921 (London Gazette 29 March 1921 p2544) and was promoted to Captain on 1 April 1921 (London Gazette 8 July 1921 p5538), remaining seconded to the Staff. He relinquished the appointment on 26 July 1922  (London Gazette 15 December 1922 p8875). On 20 August 1926, James was again appointed Staff Captain of the 54th (East Anglian) Division (London Gazette 3 September 1926 p5762). James was promoted to Major on 1 October 1928 (London Gazette 2 October 1928 p6346) and relinquished his staff appointment on promotion (London Gazette 5 October 1928 p6415). Major Peto retired on 20 May 1931 (London Gazette 19 May 1931 p3227), but returned to the service during World War II. He was appointed temporary Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General on 17 April 1939 (London Gazette 30 June 1939 p4438) then, on 5 February 1941, Assistant Director of Transportation with the temporary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel . James retired to the Reserve of Officers on 27 July 1942 (Army List 1945 p20A)
Lt-Col T.V. Nicholson recalls in A Humble Man's Notes on World War II chapter 12:
In the course of our studies we visited all Commands but not London District which was manned by Guards Div. I was glad of this, for I would not have liked to try to slim an organisation run with much success by my friend Lt Col Sir Michael Peto. (Shortly after this tour Peto took a step into a lift which was not at his floor though the gate was open, broke both legs, and rebuilt about half the cottages at his village of Dundonnell in Wester Ross out of the compensation.)

On 3 October 1945, Major Sir J. Michael Peto, having exceeded the age limit of liability to recall, ceased to belong to the Reserve of Officers in the Coldstream Guards, and was granted the honorary rank of Lieutenant-Colonel (London Gazette 23 November 1945 p5742).


James succeeded to the baronetcy on his father's death on 28 January 1945.

James was a Ross-shire County Councillor in 1948 and commissioned Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Ross and Cromarty on 14 April 1950 (Edinburgh Gazette 25 April 1950 p195). In 1948 he participated in a scheme to resettle men from the cities in remote areas like his estate at Dundonnell.
White settlers: the impact of rural repopulation in Scotland p46 (Charles Jedrej, Mark Nuttall, 1996):
At the same time another resettlement scheme was undertaken on the Scoraig peninsula in Wester Ross...In this case the land owner, Sir Michael Peto was actively cooperating with the scheme and the Department of Agriculture had assisted by reseeding 25 acres of pasture. The majority of the prospective settlers were men in their twenties from Edinburgh and Glasgow. In November 1948 there were six of them on Scoraig. The scheme failed. According to the landowner, who was also a Ross-shire County Councillor, this was due to the failure of the Government to provide sufficient funds for the construction of a road into the peninsula, a road which would, of course, greatly enhance the value of his land. Sir Michael was evidently eager to keep the settlers and two years later expressed concern that now they 'would like to get away' (back to the city, presumably). Without people there would be no question of the County Council constructing a road going nowhere.

Peto was author of a book Accidental poems of occidental Britain, and other occasional verse published in 1947. An example of his work was published in the News Bulletin of the Movement Control Officers' Club (Winter 1985)
Weybridge to Waterloo
as told to Lt Col Sir Michael Peto Bt by a Lady in 1949

You've heard the tale of how I got
My dressing gown with stripe and spot;
Well, now I'll risk being rather bory
And tell you yet another story.
            *       *       *      *
One day I went to town by train -
(My home's at Weybridge on the Main
Line of the Southern Railway)- when
I cursed the cross-word, dropped my pen
(My Biro pen!) in the pocket
Of my handbag, where my locket,
Lipstick, rouge, and my mascara
Lie side by side with something rarer . . .
Where was I? Oh, I know, please listen;
I looked outside and saw them glisten,
As we were going fast through Clapham -
(A most peculiar thing to happen); -
Glanced through the window, quite by chance,
And saw a pair of nylon pants,
Glinting glossy, sheer and gleaming,
Just my cup of tea, and seeming
What I'd sought in shops and stores
Bargain-basement and first-floors.
There they were, hung out to dry,
I yelped with envy, gave a cry
Of greed surcharged with thisty longing.
At Waterloo I joined the thronging
Crowds milling for the only cab,
My conscience never gave one stab.
You know my methods; off we went
In search of Clapham knickers bent.
We found them, and I did persuade
Their owner, a girl both prim and staid,
To part with them for two pound ten.
            *        *        *        *
They fit divinely. Do say when
You'd like to see them? Darling now? . . .
There, how d'you like them? . . Oh, and how! . .
                                          Michael Peto

Death: 24 March 1971. Michael died less than three weeks after his wife, who died on 3 March 1971.

Census & Addresses:
1901: Chobham, Surrey: Michael J. Pete is aged 6, born in Pinner, Middlesex
1910: Hendon, Middlesex: James Michael  Peto is aged 16
1914: Worton Littlecourt, Devizes, Wiltshire and 243 St. James Court, London (Balliol College register, 1832-1914 p266)
1942 - 1957: Dundonnell House, near Garve, Ross and Cromatie (Dundonnell of the Mackenzies)
1971: The Manor House, Yatton Keynell, near Chippenham, Wiltshire (London Gazette 20 April 1971 p3988)

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