Edward Peel (big-game fisherman)

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This article is about the big-game fisherman. For the British actor, see Edward Peel.
Sir Edward Townley Peel
Born (1884-05-31)31 May 1884
Knutsford, Cheshire
Died 6 September 1961(1961-09-06) (aged 77)
Residence Alexandria, Egypt
Nationality British
Alma mater Cheltenham College
Occupation Military officer, businessman
Known for Big-game tunny fishing, yachtsman
Spouse(s) Françoise Nora de Revière (m. 1923–53)[1]

Sir Edward "Teddie" Townley Peel, KBE, DSO, MC (1884–1961) was a British army officer, businessman and amateur sportsman. He fought throughout World War I in three overseas theatres of war, rising in rank from private to colonel. In 1932 he held the world record for the heaviest Atlantic bluefin tuna caught with rod and line. He was knighted in 1944. Peel was also chairman of Victoria College in Alexandria.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Peel, a son of William Felton Peel and Sarah Edith Peel, née Willoughby, daughter of General Michael Francklin Willoughby, was born at Knutsford, Cheshire, on 31 May 1884.[2] He had thirteen brothers and sisters and was a member of the wealthy, aristocratic Peel family. He attended Arnold House School[3] in Llanddulas, Cheltenham College and the Lycée Français in Tours.[4] From 1902 he lived mostly in Egypt, in Alexandria.[2] He was a keen cricketer both at college and in Egypt.[5]

In World War I Peel served with the Wiltshire Regiment on the Western Front in France, in the Gallipoli Campaign, and with the Middle East force in Egypt, Palestine and Syria. He had a very distinguished record, being mentioned in dispatches five times and awarded the DSO and MC.[2][4][6] From being a private in 1915 he had been promoted to lieutenant colonel by 1918; in 1919 he was awarded the Order of the Nile by the Sultan of Egypt, Sultan Fuad.[7]

Peel worked in the family firm of Peel and Company, cotton and wheat merchants, which had been established in Alexandria since the mid-19th century.[8] He became a director of several commercial companies and a leading member of the British community there.[2][4][note 1] In 1923 he married Françoise Nora de Revière.[note 2][4]

Peel became a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1933, proposed by Field-Marshal Lord Allenby, and was vice-president of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.[2][4] Peel was keenly interested in marine biology and he provided his yacht and gave assistance to Frederick Russell in investigating the movements of tunny off the east coast of Britain. Although local fishermen considered there had been no tunny before World War I, the studies suggested that migration into the North Sea had not been recent.[2][9] There are photographs of Peel and Russell engaged on this study.[10] In 1934, together with Richard Kindersley, he took out a patent for a fishing reel. It incorporated a frictional braking device which allowed big-game fish to pull out the line under strong tension, while leaving the line free during baiting, etc.[11]

In 1937 he was awarded a pilot's licence by the Royal Aero Club.[12] In yachting, on three occasions he won the Royal Thames Yacht Club's Cumberland International Cup, the contest for 8–metre International class yachts.[4]

Peel & Co.[edit]

In 1907, Peel's father William Felton was killed playing polo and Peel with his elder brother Willoughby Ewart, and his father's partner Kenneth Birley took on the family business, Peel and Company, with Peel himself becoming chairman in 1908.[4] Described by former Ambassador, Lord Killearn as 'one of the biggest cotton firms of Alexandria'[13] Peel insisted on keeping the company as a British registered company and paying taxes to the British Government, for he believed that the British Government would help protect the company, should there be political instability. This it did not. After the Suez crisis, President Nassar confiscated the company and its assets and expelled Peel and his family from Egypt.

Big-game tunny fishing[edit]

Following a catch off the Yorkshire coast of a large Atlantic bluefin tuna in 1929 (the fish were called "tunny" in Britain at the time), big-game tunny fishing in Britain became fashionable from 1930.[14] Scarborough was the centre of attraction and the town was transformed into a resort for the wealthy who fished from their yachts.[14] Magazines published many sensational stories covering the personalities and the yachts that sailed to Scarborough.[15] A gentlemen's club, the British Tunny Club, was founded there in 1933 and Peel was their first president.[16][17][18] In the season, which was August and September, Peel sailed with his "huge steam yacht" St George with an "exotic Sudanese crew" and in 1932 he landed a world-record tunny of 798 pounds (362.0 kg), capturing the record by over 40 pounds (18 kg) from a tuna caught off Nova Scotia by American champion Zane Grey.[15][18][19][20] In 1950, when North Sea tunny were declining, Peel nevertheless caught a 639-pound (290 kg) specimen.[21] Much of Mark Ross's book The Glory Days of the Giant Scarborough Tunny is dedicated to Peel's fishing.[22]

Second World War[edit]

During Second World War, Peel was head of the British Community in Alexandria and on the recommendation of Sir Miles Lampson (later Lord Killearn) Peel was awarded the KBE. He was knighted in 1944 and was awarded the Grand Officer of the Order of George I by the King of the Hellenes, King Paul, in 1947.[4][note 3][23]

Suez Crisis[edit]

In 1952 Peel wrote to the British government warning of the impossibility of maintaining a secure base on the Suez Canal but, following the failure to withdraw British troops and the ensuing 1956 Suez crisis, in 1958 he produced a report to the government on protecting British property in Egypt which was accepted but not acted upon.[8][24]

Peel was a close friend of Lord Walter Monckton and advised him during the Suez Crisis. Peel wrote to Monckton stating that 'If Anthony Eden is banking on the Egyptians not being able to run the Canal, to think again. They could do it on their heads. I have been using the canal for fifty years and the Suez Canal Company have been providing a second rate service at exorbitant prices.'[25]

In relation to the Suez Crisis, Killearn states that Peel was 'foremost in pressing the claims of the "small man" in priority to the larger claimants of who he was, of course, one of the biggest in the class of private firms'.[13] Peel was one of the main protagonists in the effort to secure adequate compensation for the British residents who lost their all.


Peel died at the Grosvenor House Hotel on 6 September 1961.[26] His memorial service was held at the Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair, London. Lord Killearn wrote an obituary of Peel, which was published in The Times, 26 September 1961. Killearn describes Peel as 'an outstanding character excelling at work as at play, a first class shot, a fine cricketer and golfer, a good tennis played who navigated his own yacht the S.S. St. George of 500 tons' and says that the distressing miscarriage of the Suez crisis resulting in the expulsion and ruin of the British community in 1956 broke Peel's heart and hastened his death.[13]


  1. ^ It is sometimes incorrectly stated that he chaired the 1936–1937 Peel Commission into the future of Palestine. In fact the chairman was William Peel, 1st Earl Peel.
  2. ^ Françoise Nora de Revière (1887–1953), second daughter of Francis de Revière
  3. ^ "Grand Officer" is as reported by the London Gazette announcement. The proper title seems to be "Grand Commander".


  1. ^ Victoria College: a history revealed, Sahar Hamouda, Colin Clement – page 136
  2. ^ a b c d e f Hindle, E. (December 1961). "Obituary: Sir Edward Townley Peel, KBE DSO MC". The Geographical Journal. 127 (4): 565. JSTOR 1792884. 
  3. ^ http://www.llanddulashiddenhistory.co.uk/arnold.htm
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Peel, Sir Edward Townley". Who was Who?. A & C Black. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Matches played by E.T.Peel". Cricket Archive. Cricket Archive. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "War Service Awards". Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser. British Newspaper Archive. 19 January 1916. p. 6. Retrieved 28 June 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ "Second Lieutenants" (PDF). London Gazette. 1 June 1915. 
    "Distinguished Service Order" (PDF). London Gazette. 3 June 1918. 
    "Decorations conferred by His Highness the Sultan of Egypt" (PDF). Supplement to the London Gazette. 9 November 1919. 
  8. ^ a b Mansel, Philip (December 2012). "The Rise and Fall of Royal Alexandria: From Mohammed Ali to Farouk". The Court Historian. 17 (2). Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  9. ^ Russell, F.S. (May 1934). "Tunny Investigations made in the North Sea on Col. E.T. Peel's Yacht, "St. George," Summer, 1933. Part I. Biometric Data" (PDF). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 19 (2): 503–522. doi:10.1017/S0025315400046592. 
    Russell, F.S. (18 November 1933). "Tunny in the North Sea". Nature. 132 (3342): 786–786. doi:10.1038/132786a0. (Abstract)
  10. ^ Cermele, Joe (21 October 2010). "The Glory Days of the Giant Scarborough "Tunny"". Retrieved 30 June 2013.  See, in particular, pages 3 and 4 of this photo gallery which is drawn from Ross, 2010.
  11. ^ GB patent 420695, E. J. Peel & R. F. Kindersley, "Improvements in fishing reels", published 1934-12-06, assigned to Richard Frampton Kindersley 
    US patent 1995221, Townley, Peel Edward & Frampton, Kindersley Richard, published 1935-03-19, assigned to Townley, Peel Edward and Frampton, Kindersley Richard 
  12. ^ "Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, 1910-1950". ancestry.com. Retrieved 21 November 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  13. ^ a b c The Times, 26 September 1961
  14. ^ a b Elliott, Keith (30 September 2000). "Novice catches Britain's biggest fish for 50 years". Independent. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  15. ^ a b Hudson, Robert (3 February 2013). "Scandal, cash and the joys of tuna fishing". Daily Express. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  16. ^ Green, Anthony. "Big Game fishing off the Yorkshire coast". Welcome to Filey Bay. Filey Bay Research Group. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  17. ^ Herd, Andrew. "The Scarborough big game fishery". Fishing Museum. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  18. ^ a b Kaye, Leon (31 May 2011). "Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: Wild, Farmed, or Neither?". TriplePundit. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "On the Trail of Giant Fish". Daily News (Perth). 17 March 1934. 
  20. ^ "Large Tunny Fish caught by Naval Officer". Glasgow Herald. 18 August 1934. 
  21. ^ Northerner II (4 September 1950). "This World of Ours: Tunny-fishers take Heart". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. British Newspaper Archive. p. 2. Retrieved 28 June 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  22. ^ Ross, Mark (2010). The Glory Days of the Giant Scarborough Tunny: The British Tunny Club, Hardy Bros. Tackle and Big Game Fishing in the 1930s. Mark Ross. ISBN 978-0956637505. 
  23. ^ "Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood" (PDF). Supplement to the London Gazette. 1 January 1944. 
    "Order of George I" (PDF). London Gazette. 28 November 1947. 
  24. ^ Wall, Patrick. "British Property, Egypt". HC Deb 15 November 1961 vol 649 cc627-38. Hansard. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  25. ^ Family Matter, Denys Peel, page 40
  26. ^ "Trustee Act, 1925" (PDF). London Gazette. 13 March 1961. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Berry, Chris (2010). Tunny – The Rise and Fall of Britain's Biggest Fish. Medlar.