Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 309 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BART SIR SAMUEL MORTON PETO. (1809–1889), English contractor, was born at Woking, Surrey, on the 4th of August 1809, and was at an early age apprenticed to his uncle, a London builder, who on his death in 1830 bequeathed the business to Peto and another nephew, Thomas Grissell. The partnership between Peto and Grissell lasted till 1846, amongst the many London buildings erected by the firm being the Reform Club, the Lyceum and St James's theatres, and the Nelson column. Peto afterwards entered into partnership with Edward Ladd Betts (1815–1872), and between 1846 and 1872 Messrs Peto & Betts carried out many large railway contracts at home and abroad, notably the more important portions of the South-Eastern and of the London Chatham & Dover lines, and, in conjunction with Thomas Brassey, the Grand Trunk railway of Canada, and the London Tilbury & Southend railway. In 1854–1855 Peto and Brassey constructed a railway in the Crimea between Balaclava and the British entrenchments before Sebastopol, charging the British government only the actual out-of-pocket expenses, and for his services in this matter Peto was in 1855 made a baronet. Peto entered parliament as a Liberal in 1847, and, with a few years' interval, continued there till 1868, when, his firm having been compelled to suspend payment in the financial crisis of 1866, he was forced to resign his seat, though both Mr Disraeli and Mr Gladstone publicly eulogized his personal character. He died on the 13th of November 1889.
JEAN LOUIS PETITOT (1652–c. 1730)

Additional information and Comments

As a local historian in Folkestone I am puzzled as to which 'important portion' of the South Eastern line was contracted to Samuel Peto as most if not all sources agree that he did not enter the railway construction business until 1846. The line through Folkestone to Dover had been completed and opened by 1844. One source says that he constructed the Foord Viaduct at Folkestone but again this was designed and the construction of which I understand was supervised by William Cubitt engineer to the South Eastern Railway.
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