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Joseph Peabody

Joseph Peabody (December 9, 1757 – January 5, 1844) was a merchant and shipowner who dominated trade between Massachusetts and the Far East for a number of years.

Joseph Peabody
Salem shipping colonial color.jpg
Born(1757-12-09)December 9, 1757
DiedJanuary 5, 1844(1844-01-05) (aged 86)
OccupationMerchant, Shipowner, Sailor
Spouse(s)Catherine Smith, Elizabeth Smith
ChildrenJoseph Augustus Peabody, Francis Peabody, George Peabody, Catherine Endicott Peabody
Parent(s)Francis Peabody and Margaret Knight


Family and careerEdit

He was descended from Francis Peabody of St. Albans, England, in 1635. He was one of the first settlers of Topsfield, Massachusetts. During the American Revolutionary War he was an officer on privateers, and acted with credit as second officer of the letter of marque Ranger. He was captain of several merchant vessels, and his company built 83 ships. He became extremely wealthy and used that wealth for philanthropy.[1]

Peabody was the wealthiest merchant-shipowner of Salem, Massachusetts between the embargo of 1807 and 1845.

Brig LeanderEdit

His brig Leander 223 short tons (202 t) tons, built at Salem in 1821, made twenty-six voyages to Europe, Asia Minor, Africa, and the Far East in the twenty-three years of her life.

Ship GeorgeEdit

The ship George was 110 feet 10 inches (33.78 m) by 27 feet 10 inches (8.48 m) by 13 feet 6 inches (4.11 m), weighed 328 short tons (298 t), and was designed somewhat like a Baltimore Clipper model. Built at Salem for a privateer in 1814, she was purchased by Mr. Peabody for USD $5,250. It is said that she made Salem in forty-one days from the Cape of Good Hope in 1831. George made twenty-one round voyages from Salem to Calcutta between 1815 and 1837, with such regularity that she was called the "Salem Frigate." Salem vessels were always manned in part by local boys, but the George was a veritable training ship. No less than twenty-six mates and forty-five captains graduated from the forecastle of this floating bit of Essex County.

Pepper trade and China tradeEdit

For several years Joseph Peabody competed in the China trade, and continued the famous pepper trade between Salem, Massachusetts and Sumatra.[2]

Capture of the Friendship by piratesEdit

In 1830 Peabody's ship Friendship was attacked and captured off the village of Quallah-Battoo (Kuala Batee, South West Aceh, Province of Aceh,Indonesia) by Malay pirates while loading pepper. The ship James Monroe of New York set out to recover the Friendship, With the help of crew from Governor Endicott of New York and brig Palmer, The pirates initially refused to surrender, but jumped overboard and fled after the three ships opened fire on the village. The following morning, four Friendship survivors in poor condition showed up in a small boat, having swum two miles down the coast and hidden in the jungle in order to escape the pirates.[3][4]

In reprisal for the massacre of the crew of the Friendship, a punitive expedition was launched in 1832, The First Sumatran Expedition.


In 1791, Peabody married his first wife, Catherine, who was the daughter of a minister friend. She died within a couple of years. In 1795, he married Catherine's sister, Elizabeth. They had four children. His first son, Joseph Augustus (1796–1828), graduated from Harvard in 1816.[2] Another son, George, was father-in-law of William Crowninshield Endicott.

One of Peabody's descendants was Augustus Peabody Gardner.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1921). The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783-1860 (Second Impression, February 1922 ed.). Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. Archived from the original on 2017-11-17.
  2. ^ a b Hunt, F. [1858]. Lives of American merchants - Vol 1. (via Google Books Archived 2017-10-28 at the Wayback Machine)
  3. ^ Gleason, Hall (1937). Old Ships and Ship-Building Days of Medford. Medford, MA: J.C. Miller. pp. 30–32.
  4. ^ Trow, Charles Edward (1905), The old shipmasters of Salem, New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, p. 121, OCLC 4669778, archived from the original on 2016-01-12, ...the brig Governor Endicott, of Salem, H. H. Jenks, master, and the ship James Monroe, of New York, J. Porter, master, once sailed to Quallah-Battoo, to rescue Captain Endicott's ship from its captors.
  5. ^ Gardner, Frank A MD [1933] Gardner memorial : a biographical and genealogical record of the descendants of Thomas Gardner, planter, Cape Ann, 1624, Salem ISBN 978-0-7404-2590-5 (also, via

This article incorporates text found in the public domain because it was published before 1923.