YOU wouldn’t guess Sir Peter Peacock’s dark secret just by looking at his portrait hanging in Warrington Town Hall.

Mayor of Warrington from 1913 to 1919, he was a JP and a very successful businessman to boot. He was the owner of the drapers Peacocks, which began as a penny bazaar in Warrington in 1884, and was married with five children.

The oil portrait of Sir Peter by John Archibald Alexander Berrie depicts a man considered a pillar of society.

But Sir Peter lived a double life.

During his time as Mayor of Warrington, the married Sir Peter met and fell in love with Letitia Rose Tynan, who was working as a postwoman, and they ran away together to Switzerland.

His wife, Lady Peacock, wouldn’t give him a divorce, so Peacock gave up his civic duties and moved to Birmingham, effectively turning his back on his previous life.

He took up the alias ‘Peter Tynan’ to avoid a scandal, and set up home with Letitia and her extended family.

He successfully kept his two aliases separate for more than 20 years. Seemingly nobody made the connection.

Together Peter and Letitia had an illegitimate son, Kenneth. Young Kenneth only discovered the deception when Peter died in 1948 and saw a picture of his father in the papers under headlines about the death of ‘Sir Peter Peacock’.

If you haven’t already realised, Sir Peter’s illegitimate son was Kenneth Tynan, celebrated writer, theatre critic, and the man attributed with being the first person to say the F-word on British television.

Tynan was famous for staging the notorious Sixties theatre revue, Oh! Calcutta!, which had sketch contributions from people like Samuel Beckett and John Lennon, and caused a sensation with its frequent nudity.

Just before his death in 1980 aged 53, Tynan gave a now legendary interview with journalist Ann Louise Bardach.

Speaking of confronting his mother with the newspaper after his father died, he said: “I embraced her and commiserated and I said, ‘This is a picture of dad. Explain.’ She burst into tears and said, ‘Well, we weren’t married and we thought that you would be ashamed of us.’ I said, ‘On the contrary, it’s the most romantic thing I ever heard – [that] he should run away from his past and give up everything for love. It’s fantastic!’.”

He concluded: “I always regretted not having known in his lifetime because he was quite an important man, he was knighted and he moved in quite important political circles. But he took my mother’s name, which was Tynan, when he came to live with her in Birmingham. He was known to the neighbours as Peter Tynan. I am, I suppose, Kenneth Peacock, really…”