The Peek Family

John "Jack" Peek b 1869 - d

Wife - Mary

Census Year Copy Found Certificate Type Copy Found Associated Locations  
1871 Yes



Place of birth (No map yet)
1881 No



Place of marriage
1891 Yes



1901 No    

Fishing News

The Fishing News, 24 October 1931





Research Dates
5 Nov 05

5 November 2005 
A lot of the information found on Jack has been very kindly provided by Neil and Christine Peek.   From that information, it can be seen that Jack, from all of the fishermen in the family, and there are lots, was the master of them all.   His is a very interesting story, and one which I am keen to research further.   To date, all that is known about him is taken from the 1871 and 1891 census records, from which it would appear that he had a wife called Mary, although her maiden name is not known.   A fantastic piece about his fishing career is reproduced below, which provides a lot of information about his career in fishing, which seems to have taken place mainly from Aberdeen.   This poses a number of questions, such as did he move there lock, stock and barrel with his wife, or did she stay behind?   Were there any children, as yet unknown?   Did he retire back to Lowestoft, or did he stay in Scotland?   Did he maintain any links with the rest of his fishing family?   Hopefully all will become clearer in the fullness of time!

Birth Certificate

Marriage Certificate

Death Certificate

1891 Census

Extract from The Fishing News

The item below was given to me by Neil and Christine Peek, it is an article from The Fishing News, dated the 24th October 1931. Due to being taken from a scan, some parts of it are unreadable. Those parts are noted between square brackets.




A full half century ago, a hefty Lowestoft youngster, 12 years of age, embarked upon a sea-going career as cabin boy. The sea was in his blood as he sprang from a family which had always paid liberal toll to its exacting requirements. Today, still hale and hearty, he has hauled down his flag "to give the youngsters a chance" he says. Jack Peek's record - 40 years of it as skipper - has been an unqualified success and he may rest contentedly on his laurels. Like Wicks (alias Kirkup or Treat), Peek must have been what Stevenson calls a handler of men, for at the age of 23 he had graduated from cabin boy to skipper. Board of Trade tickets were possibly not so exacting then as now, but whatever the requirements the youngster fulfilled them and for a couple of years was happily employed as master of a sailing smack. It was arduous work, and the young skipper put his heart and soul into it. His first trip is worth remembering. He sailed from Lowestoft one fine morning, for new grounds, and fetched up, some 300 miles away, off Lunday Islands. In his first [unreadable] one fish, a skate. Really it should have been preserved, but actually the cook laid sacrilegious hands upon it and made a fair meal for the crew of youngsters who manned the smack for the skipper was the veteran of the lot - five men and a boy! Possibly the skate livened matters up for eleven days from the kick-off the vessel nosed into Plymouth with a fair showing, and made a heartening price.

Jack Peek had but two years of smack skippering before accident set him on the road to success. He was busily fishing off the Norfolk coast one dismal morning when his smack was hailed by the British Empire, a big ship out from Hartlepool whose master had lost his bearings in a thick fog. The sun had been invisible for a couple of days, explained the captain, as Peek scrambled aboard and "could the skipper tell him his position." The skipper could, and did. In the interchange of chat which followed the merchantman, a Scotsman named MacKay, with a liberality of heart universally dissociated with the city from which he hailed, told the young fisherman of the coming port of Aberdeen and strongly urged him to "try his luck." Jack took the advice and never regretted it.

These were the paddleboat days - the days when steam trawlermen were hooted when they came up the waterway by irate yawlsmen who foresaw a new era likely to revolutionise fishing practice, and to compete - as effectively as "unfairly" - with their own activities. Peek shipped, first of all, as second fisherman in the Strathdee, one of the three vessels in which the now famous Strath line originated, and the first screw trawling fleet at Aberdeen under the control of the late Sir John Brown. From second fisherman he progressed to mate of the Port Glasgow built trawler Alde, one of the six vessels constructed on the Clyde for a company managed by Mr (now Sir William) Meff. At that time the incoming Lord Provost's father ran a fish shop round about the foot of Market I Street and no one then foresaw the eminence to which the son, and many of his colleagues, were to spring. It was a natural transference from mate to skipper, so we next find Jack as Master of the Sea Eagle, built in Duthie's yard and run from Jamiesons office. The Loch line next claimed his attention, and for three years he skippered several vessels for the eminent firm now known as A and T Smith, and managed locally by Mr H A Holmes. A disagreement - one of the kind skippers are won't to have - sent him to the Strath company and there he remained. The Strathmore, the Strahatlen, the Strathmartin, practically all the big fleet of the Aberdeen Steam Trawling and Fishing Co. Ltd., came under his command at one time or other until, finally, he stepped ashore from the Strathblair and bade farewell to the sea. As commodore of the Strath line he had followed such notable men as Wetherly Bill Coates, and John Nutten, and he had added lustre to a celebrated ancestry.

One of the most successful skippers who ever sailed from the port, his most valuable catch was secured off Iceland during the war period. He was out for from twelve to fourteen days and the trip panned out at a few pounds short of 3,000. During the last three years of his career, it is interesting to recall, his yearly average was over 11,000.

The views regarding modern methods of [unreadable] successful and experienced skipper are bound to prove interesting at a time when North Sea depletion is being vigorously debated. Professor Garstang tells us that despite intensive fishing the North Sea grounds are improving every year. The war, he says, enabled a natural experiment to be made in regard to to the theory that there was a depletion taking place as a result of over-fishing. For several years during that period, of course, fishing was reduced to small-scale inshore efforts. Instead, however, of the plaice (in particular) being found to be larger and more abundant after their long respite as was expected to be the case, statistics showed that this expectation was not realised. More large plaice were certainly found, but these were found close inshore, where such fishing as had been possible during the war had been engaged in.

Jack peek refuses to stand for that [unreadable] he heartily subscribed to , the Professor's opinion that a wastage of the fish supply is caused by the destruction of under-sized fish in trawling. Captain Peek was one of the last of present-day skippers to introduce the new type of gear. He could catch plenty without it, he maintained; so that out of a 60 years' experience he had only six months trial of a method which he believes to be inimical to fisheries. Too much small fish were caught by the sweeps, the grounds are harrowed and torn up, and the small fry have no chance to get away. Intensive fishing with the sweeps is killing off the supply and more fish is thrown overboard than is ever brought to market. This is true of all the nearby grounds, he contends. Had the 30-40 fathom sweeps never been used and the ordinary gear retained the North Sea and Shetland grounds would have remained in good condition for from twelve to fifteen years longer.

The popularity of Captain Peek was evidenced last week when a big gathering of his own directors (the Strath Company) friends and fellow skippers, met at a dinner to celebrate his retirement. Prominent amongst those present were Mr a T Cruickshank, vice-chairman of the company; Mr J J Williamson, director; Mr George Massie, manager; and Mr Frank H Hunt, secretary. Two handsome presentations were made, a finely finished smoker's cabinet from the directorate, and the other, a beautiful Westminster chimes timepiece from his former colleagues and friends. It was a jovial evening and a happy send off to a fisherman whose popularity from end to end of the coastline is so genuinely manifest.


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