1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Peabody, George

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

PEABODY, GEORGE (1795-1869), American philanthropist, was descended from an old yeoman family of Hertfordshire, England, named Pabody or Pebody. He was born in the part of Danvers which is now Peabody, Mass., on the 18th of February 1795. When eleven years old he became apprentice at a grocery store. At the end of four years he became assistant to his brother, and a year afterwards to his uncle, who had a business in Georgetown, District of Columbia. After serving as a volunteer at Fort Warburton, Maryland, in the War of 1812, he became partner with Elisha Riggs in a dry goods store at Georgetown, Riggs furnishing the capital, while Peabody was manager. Through his energy and skill the business increased with astounding rapidity, and on the retirement of Riggs about 1830 Peabody found himself at the head of one of the largest mercantile concerns in the world. About 1837 he established himself in London as merchant and money-broker at Wanford Court, in the city, and in 1843 he withdrew from the American business. The number of his benefactions to public objects was very large. He gave £50,000 for educational purposes at Danvers; £200,000 to found and endow a scientific Institute in Baltimore; various sums to Harvard University; £700,000 to the trustees of the Peabody Educational Fund to promote education in the southern states; and £500,000 for the erection of dwelling-houses for the working-classes in London. He received from Queen Victoria the offer of a baronetcy, but declined it. In 1867 the United States Congress awarded him a special vote of thanks. He died in London on the 4th of November 1869; his body was carried to America in a British warship, and was buried in his native town.

See the Life (Boston, 1870) by Phebe A. Hanaford.