Biography and Notes
Abridged from the Daily Telegraph 5th July 2018.
Peter Wilmot-Sitwell who has died aged 83, was one of the City of London's most popular and repected dealmakers, as the senior partner of the stockbrokers Rowe & Pitman and subsequently vice chairman of Warburgs, the leading British investment bank to emerge from the "Big Bang" revolution of the 1980s financial scene.
In style, Wilmot-Sitwell was an archetype of the late-1950s City he had first joined: a ruddy-faced Old Etonian who favoured plain English food and a Brigade of Guards tie, and whose clipped speech mannerisms earned him the nickname "Captain Mainwaring" - though close friends called him "Petesy". But he also had a twinkling sense of humour that made him universally liked by market peers - including those who encountered the steel beneath the lightness of manner. "Deceptively intelligent", according to a senior colleague, he was also, as the City historian David Kynaston wrote, "unfrightened of change".
Peter Sacheverell Wilmot-Sitwell was born on March 28th 1935, the son of Captain Robert Wilmot-Sitwell RN (who died when Peter was 11) and his New Zealand-born wife Barbara Fisher. The family home was in Kent but earlier Sacheverells, Wilmots and Sitwells were landed Derbyshire families connected by marriage in the18th century; Peter's distant kinsmen included the literary Sitwell baronets of Renishaw, Osbert and Sacheverell, and their sister Edith.
Peter was educated at Eton and greatly enjoyed National Service as a lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards, chiefly at Wellington Barracke in London, before going up to Worcester College, Oxford, to read Modern History. He took a Third but achieved a half-blue in fencing - a sport in which he went on to represent England, once describing himself as "the fastest man in the world over two feet".
After coming down in 1958 Wilmot-Sitwell spent a year as a trainee at Hambros Bank before being recommended to Rowe & Pitman, where he became a partner a few days after his 25th birthday. He was discreet about Rowe & Pitman's and his own connection to the Royal family, but it was confirmed by one anecdote which entered City folklore. On Saturday January 4th 1975 - after the London stock market had fallen more than 70 per cent in a relentless two-and-a-half year bear run amid dire economic conditions - he was invited to shoot at Sandringham, where the Queen Mother asked him how his firm was faring in such times. He replied that the general situation was "worrying", to which she responded on Sunday morning, by revealing that she had prayed in church for the market to improve. It fell again on Monday but by midweek it had turned and was "roaring upwards in a crescendo of buying", as one of Wilmot-Sitwell's colleagues recalled; within two months the index more than doubled.
In later years Wilmot-Sitwell was a member of the board of the London Stock Exchange and a non-executive director of WH Smith, the merchant bank Close Bros and the mining groups Minorco and Anglo American.
Peter Wilmot-Sitwell was a keen sportsman, a generous host at his homes in Hampshire and Cornwall, and a great encourager of the young. He is survived by his wife Clare, whom he married in 1960, and by their daughter and two sons. Clare was the daughter of Ralph Cobbold, a celebrated Cambridge cricketer of the 1920s, and stepdaughter of Brigadier "Joe" Vandeleur, who commanded the 3rd Battalion Irish Guards in Operation Market Garden in 1944. For many years she was lady in waiting to the Duchess of Kent.
Family members mentioned have the following family tree numbers:
Peter Wilmot-Sitwell #463
Clare Cobbold #462
Capt. Robert Wilmot-Sitwell RN #2449
Barbara Fisher #2450
Ralph Cobbold #454