Fonds PEAC - Letters to George Peacock

Identity area

Reference code

PEAC

Title

Letters to George Peacock

Date(s)

  • 1823–58 (Creation)

Level of description

Fonds

Extent and medium

2 boxes; paper

Context area

Name of creator

(1791-1858)

Biographical history

George Peacock was born 9 April 1791 in Denton, near Darlington, co. Durham, one of eight children, the youngest of five sons of Thomas Peacock, curate and schoolmaster at Denton. After a short spell at Richmond School he came up to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1809, where he graduated as Second Wrangler. He was elected Fellow of Trinity in 1814, and received his MA in 1816.

In 1815 Peacock was appointed a Mathematics lecturer at Trinity, and became a tutor in 1823. His leanings towards reform were exercised in his review of the Mathematics Tripos during his three spells as moderator, from 1816 to 1821, as well as work on committees to rebuild the University Library and build the Fitzwilliam Museum, amongst other projects. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1818, and was given the Lowndean professorship of astronomy and geometry in 1837, a position he held until his death. He lectured for many years on mathematical theory in this role, and was on the committee in 1843 to restore the standards of weights and measures which had been destroyed in the parliament building fire.

Peacock was appointed Dean of Ely in 1839 and turned over the astronomy lectures to the Plumian professor of astronomy and experimental philosophy, retaining the Lowndean chair as a sinecure for the rest of his life. In Ely he persuaded the chapter to restore the cathedral, improved education for the middle and lower classes, and improved the city's drainage system. In 1841 Peacock published 'Observations on the Statutes of the University of Cambridge', advocating academic and political reform of the university and colleges, and served on the royal commission for inquiry at Cambridge in 1850, and and to a royal statutory commission for Cambridge in 1855.He was able to initiate many reforms, despite the opposition of Trinity master William Whewell.

He married Frances Elizabeth, daughter of William Selwyn, in 1847, and died at Ely in November 1858.

Archival history

These letters were originally catalogued as the first two boxes of the Papers of George Peacock. The George Peacock Letters to his Family (PEAC II) made up the third box. The two sets of papers were separated in June 2019 in recognition of their separate provenances.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Gift of Angela Reed, 1973.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The papers consist of 281 letters written to George Peacock from a variety of friends, acquaintances, fellow academics and clergymen.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

System of arrangement

The letters are arranged in alphabetical order by correspondent's surname.

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Conditions governing access

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Finding aids

Two legacy finding aids are available at the library, listing the formerly designated Papers of George Peacock (see the Archival History note above), and another (in a file at the library) listing the former Papers together with the autograph album at ADD.Ms.b.49 by correspondent, with entries in the card catalogue as well. The former finding aid is attached to this catalogue record.

Uploaded finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

George Peacock Letters to his Family, PEAC II.
Peacock and Thompson Family Autograph Album, ADD.Ms.b.49.

Notes area

Note

Cite as: Trinity College Library Cambridge, Letters to George Peacock, PEAC1.

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Archivist's note

Collection level description created by Diana Smith in June 2019, using an earlier, undated finding aid.

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