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Photographer's Note

At the rear of Royal Exchange, facing the traffic passing in Threadneedle Street there sits a bald man in an armchair with leg crossed on a granite support plinth, the figure is cast, probably in bronze, and painted black. There is a plaque on the statue that reads:

"Born Danvers, Mass., USA, 18th February, 1795. / Died London England 4th November, 1869. / American Philanthropist and great benefactor / of the London poor. / Accorded the honorary freedom of / the City of London, 10th July, 1862. / This statue by W.W. Story was unveiled on the / 23rd July, 1869."

He was born in what was then South Danvers, Massachusetts (now Peabody, Massachusetts), to a family with Puritan antecedents in the state. His birthplace at 205 Washington Street in Peabody is now the George Peabody House Museum, a museum dedicated to preserving his life and legacy. One of George Peabody's longtime business associates and friends was renowned banker and art patron William Wilson Corcoran.

In 1816, Peabody moved to Baltimore, where he would live for the next 20 years.

Peabody originally visited the UK in 1827 on what would become known today as a "buying trip", and also to find markets in Lancashire for the purchase of cotton to purchase wares and to negotiate the sale of American cotton in Lancashire. He subsequently opened a branch of his business in Liverpool. British business began to play more of an important role in Peabody's affairs, and in 1835, the banking firm of George Peabody and Company was established in London.

Peabody had been invited to meet Nathan Mayer Rothschild, who put a most unusual proposition to him. Rothschild is said to have told Peabody that despite his wealth, he had not been able to penetrate London society. He suggested that Peabody should entertain London society on Rothschild's behalf, and of course at Rothschild's expense. In 1837 Peabody took up residence in London where he remained the rest of his life.

George Peabody never married. He died in London on November 4, 1869, aged 74. At the request of the Dean of Westminster and with the approval of the Queen, Peabody was given a temporary burial in Westminster Abbey.

His will provided that he be buried in the town of his birth, Danvers, Massachusetts, and Prime Minister Gladstone arranged for Peabody's remains to be returned to America on HMS Monarch, the newest and largest ship in Her Majesty's Navy. He is buried in Salem, Massachusetts, at Harmony Grove Cemetery. Peabody's death and the pair of funerals were international news, with hundreds of people participating in the ceremonies and thousands attending.

The town of South Danvers, Massachusetts, changed its name to The City of Peabody, Massachusetts in honor of its favorite son. Peabody is a member of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans located at the Bronx Community College, at the former site of New York University. On March 16, 1867, he was awarded the United States Congressional Gold Medal.

A statue of him stands next to the Royal Exchange in the City of London, unveiled in 1869 shortly before his death. There is a similar statue of him next to the Peabody Institute, in Mount Vernon Park, part of the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland.

Cheers,
Ralf

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Additional Photos by Ralf Lai (kim_gwan) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 99 W: 0 N: 368] (1142)
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