Joseph Pease, the son of Edward Pease, was born on 22nd June, 1799. After being educated at Tatham Academy in Leeds and Josiah Forster's Society of Friends school in Southgate, London, Edward joined his father in helping form the Stockton & Darlington Railway company.
Pease married Emma Gurney, the daughter of Joseph Gurney a successful Quaker businessman from Norwich. Gurney, the brother of Elizabeth Fry, was also a major shareholder in the Stockton & Darlington Railway company. Joseph and Emma's daughter, Elizabeth Pease, became one of the most female reformers in the 19th century.
By 1829 Joseph Pease had taken over the running of the family business and by 1830 had bought up enough local collieries to become the largest colliery owner in the whole of the Durham coalfield. Pease also joined Joseph John Gurney, Thomas Richardson and a group of Quaker businessmen in raising £35,000 to buy 520 acres of land at Middlesbrough. The area was developed as a seaport for the export of Durham coal. This became a profitable venture for Pease when in December 1830, the Stockton & Darlington Railway opened a branch to Middlesbrough.
In 1832 Pease became Britain's first Quaker MP when he was elected to represent South Durham. Pease refused to take the Church of England oath and was allowed to affirm. For religious reasons he also refused to take his hat off when he entered the the House of Commons.
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In Parliament Joseph Pease supported the Whig governments of Earl Grey and Lord Melbourne and joined Thomas Fowell Buxton, Gurney's brother-in-law, in the campaign to end slavery. Pease also supported the removal of the Bishops from the House of Lords, shorter Parliaments and the secret ballot. Pease retired from the House of Commons in 1841.
Pease continued to develop his extensive business interests. He also became a minister of the Society of Friends and in 1860 was appointed President of the Peace Society. Joseph Pease held this post until his death on 8th February, 1872.