Village links to priest revealed

A memorial plaque placed in a parish church near Sleaford could feature more prominently in future in light of the gathering pace for social change led by the Black Lives Matter movement.
The memorial to Rev John Peckard and his wife in Welbourn Church, erected by his son, Peter Peckard. EMN-200629-154624001The memorial to Rev John Peckard and his wife in Welbourn Church, erected by his son, Peter Peckard. EMN-200629-154624001
The memorial to Rev John Peckard and his wife in Welbourn Church, erected by his son, Peter Peckard. EMN-200629-154624001

The story of Peter Peckard, born in Welbourn and a former dean of Peterborough Cathedral, was featured in a recent edition of The Standard due to the discussions surrounding Britain’s historic links with the slave trade and statues to prominent figures being removed or targeted.

Peter Peckard was vice-chancellor of Cambridge University in the 18th century and was outspoken in his opposition to the slave trade, inspiring the abolitionist movement. He set an essay competition won by Thomas Clarkson, discussing the realities of slavery. Clarkson later recruited William Wilberforce to lead the successful battle in Parliament to end the trade.

Welbourn historian Bill Goodhand has written a history trail for the village, but admitted to not realising Peckard’s links to the movement. He said: “History is full of these people who did enormous things in quiet ways that ought to be recognised.”

Peter Peckard’s father, John, was rector of the parish for over 40 years. Peter was one of six children, although four died in infancy. He graduated from Cambridge at the age of 16.

The plaque to his parents, in Latin, which he erected in the chancel, miraculously survived the building falling down in a storm in the 1850s.