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Sir Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood, 1st Baronet, (9 May 1801 – 12 April 1866) was an English landowner, developer and Member of Parliament, best known as the founder of the town of Fleetwood, in Lancashire, England.

Born at Wennington Hall, Lancaster in 1801 as Peter Hesketh, he was the fifth son of Robert Hesketh, and descended (through his paternal grandmother) from the Fleetwood family who had owned the large Rossall estate in West Lancashire for over 200 years. Robert inherited the estate in 1819 on the death of his elder brother, Bold, and the family relocated to the manor house, Rossall Hall, on the Fylde coast. On Robert’s death in 1824, the estate passed to Peter, his four elder brothers having predeceased him. By that time, the land extended from Heysham in the north, to North Meols, near Southport, in the south, and encompassed most of the present day Fylde peninsula. He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford. In 1826 he married Eliza Metcalf. None of his several children from this marriage survived infancy, and Eliza herself died in 1835. In 1831 he changed his name by royal license to Peter Hesketh Fleetwood (without the hyphen), incorporating the better-known family name into his own. In 1837, he married Virginia Garcia, having one son who survived him.

Hesketh Fleetwood served as High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1830, He was elected to Parliament as MP for Preston in 1832, in the first Parliament elected under the Great Reform Act, initially as a Conservative but later as Liberal.

In 1835, saddened by the death of his first wife, he conceived of a plan to construct a seaport and holiday resort on the estate land, and chose the peninsula to the north of Rossall Hall as the location. It had commanding views of the Lake District, and the sheltered estuary of the River Wyre, ideal for port facilities. In 1836, he hired the architect Decimus Burton, whose work in St Leonards-on-Sea he had admired, to design his new town, which he named Fleetwood. As MP for Preston, he had considerable influence over the development of a railway link between his new port and Preston, which at the time was the northernmost railway terminus on the West Coast, there being no line to Scotland because of the hilly terrain of the Lake District. Hesketh Fleetwood envisaged railway service from London to Fleetwood via Preston, and then steamer service on to Scotland, making his new port a major transport hub.

The initial design and construction phase of the new town lasted eight years, during which time Hesketh Fleetwood was created a baronet (1838). He hyphenated his surname and became Sir Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood. Through his brother Charles he engaged an agent and manager, Frederick Kemp, to deal with the day today running of the estate and the development of the new town. However, Kemp and Sir Peter had financial differences of opinion, with Kemp borrowing excessively against the estate revenues to finance development of the town. Kemp being a more forceful character than Sir Peter, his views tended to prevail, and soon the Fleetwood estates were in considerable debt. Sir Peter was obliged to sell most of his assets, including the large house he had built in the town, to help clear his debts. He leased Rossall Hall, through Rev. St. Vincent Beechey, the vicar of Fleetwood, to the Church of England, and it became Rossall School. The School bought out the lease after ten years for £7,000. By 1847, Sir Peter was virtually bankrupt. His estates were taken over by the Fleetwood Estates Company, while Kemp had become the most powerful man in the town. Sir Peter retired from his parliamentary obligations, and moved to Brighton, never to return to Lancashire.

He died at his home in Piccadilly, London on 12 April 1866. His son Rev. Peter Louis Hesketh-Fleetwood (1838-1880) succeeded to the Baronetcy, which became extinct on his death.


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Henry Hunt
John Wood
Member of Parliament for Preston
Served alongside: Henry Thomas Stanley 1832–1837
Robert Townley Parker 1837–1841
Sir George Strickland 1841–1847
Succeeded by
Charles Pascoe Grenfell
Sir George Strickland


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