George Peabody, an American merchant, born in Danvers, Mass., Feb. 18, 1795, died in London, Nov. 4, 1869. After serving as a clerk in Thetford, Vt., and in Newburyport, Mass., he went to Georgetown, D. C, where he became a partner of Elisha Riggs in a drygoods house, which was removed to Baltimore in 1815, and in 1822 had branches in New York and Philadelphia. In 1837 he settled in London, where in 1843 he established the banking house of George Peabody and co. In 1851 he supplied the sum needed to arrange and display the contributions from the United States in the great exhibition. In 1852 he gave $10,000 toward the second Grinnell arctic expedition under Dr. Kane, and $30,000 to found the Peabody institute in the S. portion of Danvers (now Peabody), to which subsequently.he added $170,000, with $50,-000 more for a similar institution in North Danvers. He revisited the United States in 1857, and founded the Peabody institute in Baltimore, Md., with $300,000, subsequently increased to $1,000,000. In 1862 he matured his plan for building lodging houses for the poor in London, contributing in all £500,000, with which down to 1874 buildings had been erected in different districts sufficient to accommodate 6,000 persons.
In 1866, on another visit to the United States, he founded an institute of archaeology in connection with Harvard college, with $150,000, gave $150,000 toward a department of physical science in Yale college, and made a gift of $2,100,000, increased in 1869 to $3,500,000, for the promotion of education in the south, besides contributing to other objects about $200,000. On his return to London in 1867, the queen offered him a baronetcy, which he declined. In 1868 he endowed an art school in Rome, and in 1869 made his last visit to the United States, when he endowed the Peabody museum at Salem, Mass., with $150,000, gave $20,000 for a public library at Newburyport, $30,000 to Phillips academy at Andover, $20,000 to the Maryland historical society, $10,000 to the public library of Thetford, Vt., $25,000 to Kenyon college, Ohio, and $60,000 to Washington college, Va. During his absence, on July 23, 1869, the prince of "Wales unveiled a statue of him by W. W. Story, erected by the citizens of London, on the east side of the royal exchange. He returned to London in October, and died within a month.
His obsequies were celebrated in Westminster abbey on Nov. 12; his remains were brought home in H. B. M. turret ship Monarch, and buried in Danvers (now Peabody). He left $5,000,000, mostly to his relatives.