Select Peacock Miscellany

Here are some Peacock stories and accounts over the years:

Peacocks as Lead Miners

The Peacock name is associated with Swaledale in north Yorkshire and the lead mining that went on there.  The hey-day of lead mining was probably the 18th century.  However, this occupation was hard and very dangerous, not least because of the lead poisoning.  Most lead miners died at a relatively young age as a result.

The forebear of one family was Thomas Peacock from Thwaite who died in 1753 at the age of sixty or so.  That was not a bad age for those times.  But then the lead mining took its effect:
  • his son Ralph died in 1763 at the age of fifty
  • and his grandson Mark died in 1796 not quite making his 40th birthday.

The Tombstone of Thomas Peacock in Swaledale

Grinton is a parish on the banks of the Swale river in Swaledale.  At its church of St. Andrew, there is a tombstone that reads as follows:

"In memory of
Thomas Peacock of Marrick who died on December 4, 1762 at the age of 102
Dorothy his wife who died on December 6, 1710 at the age of (left blank).

Also in memory of
Simon, their son, of Reeth who died on July 14, 1767 at the age of 58
Ann his wife who died on June 30, 1797 at the age of 78
and Catherine Orton her sister who died on March 24, 1811 at the age of 99.

Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord."

Thomas Peacock was probably no lead miner!

Dr. Edmund Pocock the Great Orientalist

Edmund's father, named Edward, was a clergyman and had been the vicar of Clievely in Berkshire before moving to Oxford where Edmund was born in 1604.

Edmund became a scholar at Corpus Christi.  Early during that time he made contact with some English merchants then active at Aleppo in the Levant.   So fascinated was he by his exposure to the Oriental world that he travelled there in 1630, meeting up with the Turkish and Arabic people based in Aleppo and procuring many religious and other documents in their language.  He managed to obtain an Old Testament document that was written in Arabic; and Arabic became the subject of his greatest industry and application.

His reputation in England grew.  Support came from William Laud, the Archbishop of Canterbury, which whom Pocock corresponded regularly.  However, these were dangerous times.  The Civil War was raging, the Parliamentarians were gaining the upper hand, and Laud himself was executed in 1645.   Pocock was deprived of his Oxford tenure at Christ Church.

It was not until the Restoration in 1660 that this tenure was restored to him.  That year he published his Arabic version of Hugo Grotiusís treatise concerning the truth of the Christian religion.  It had a wide circulation.  Edmund Pocock lived on another thirty years.   During that time he travelled and corresponded widely, cementing his reputation as the great Orientalist.

Peacocks and Pococks in the 1891 UK Census

Peacocks (000's)

Pococks (000's)

Berkshire          0.5




Peacocks outnumbered Pococks by more than three to one.  The Peacock name, although concentrated in the north, did spread across the country.  Pocock was largely a name of London and the southeast.  Sussex and Kent seemed to be ambivalent as whether they liked Peacock or Pocock.

John Peacock in New Jersey

Stealing children, or "kidnapping" as it was called, to send them to America where they would be sold to planters, was a common practice in the 17th and 18th centuries.  It was encouraged by the captains and owners of the vessels who would derive profit from this slave trade.

Family lore has it that John Peacock from Glasgow was kidnapped by his guardian uncle and sold off as an indentured servant.  On his arrival in America in 1714, John, at the tender age of sixteen, was sold again to a mill-owner, John Gosling, who lived at Medford in Burlington county, New Jersey.  John learnt to saw logs.

In time, after he paid off his passage, he became a free man.  He remained on good terms with John Gosling.  Squire Gosling in fact presided over his marriage to Elizabeth Prickitt in 1723.  He and his wife developed several sawmills and, on his death in 1759, John had become a man of considerable property.

John Jenkins Peacock and the Convicts

John Jenkins Peacock, the son of a convict, had done good in colonial Australia.  The money he made from his merchant and shipping enterprises enabled him to build a fine Georgian stone farmhouse in the Hawkesbury district of NSW in 1826.  This house became known as Peacockís. 

Five years later, he and his family endured a frightening home invasion.  One evening three runaway convicts entered their home, put the family under guard, and plundered the house for an hour, taking cash and anything movable.  After releasing the family, the convicts requested and received refreshments before leaving with their plunder in Peacock's boat. 

Early the next morning, Peacock set off with a posse and tracked the convicts to a cave where they were regaling themselves on his stolen wine, bread and meat.  Guns were fired and one convict was shot in the arm (which later had to be amputated), whilst the other two seemed to think better of it and surrendered.  Peacock was able to recover his stolen goods and his boat

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