Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Oliver Peabody

New Hampshire & Massachusetts

Oliver Peabody, and his twin brother, William Bourne Oliver Peabody, were born at Exeter, New Hampshire on July 9, 1799. Their father was Judge Oliver Peabody.

They were educated together at the celebrated academy [Exeter] under the charge of Dr. Abbot, entered Harvard College together at the early age of thirteen, and were graduated together in 1816.

. . . .

Oliver, after passing some time in his father's office, completed his legal education at Cambridge, and returned to practise in his native town, where he resided for eleven years, serving for a portion of the tine in the state legislature, and being also occupied at different periods as editor of the Rockingham Gazette and Exeter News-Letter. In 1823, he delivered a poem before the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Harvard, and shortly after read a similar production at the celebration of the second centennial anniversary of the settlement of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

In 1830, Mr. Peabody removed to Boston, where he became the assistant of his brother-in-law, the Hon. Alexander H. Everett, in the editorship of the North American Review. He was also for some years an assistant editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser. . . . The three journals contain many finished essays and choice poems from his pen. . . .

In 1836, Mr. Peabody was appointed Register of Probate in Suffolk county, a laborious office which he resigned in 1842 in consequence of impaired health, and his acceptance of the professorship of English Literature in Jefferson College, an institution supported by the state of Louisiana. Finding a southern climate unsuited to his constitution, he returned in the following year to the North.

His views and tastes had been for some time turned in the direction of theology, and he now determined to enter the ministry. In 1845, he was licensed by the Boston Unitarian Association as a preacher, and in August of the same year became the minister of the Unitarian church of Burlington, Vermont, where the remainder of his life was passed in the discharge (so far as his delicate health would permit) of his parochial duties. He died on the sixth of July, 1848.

[Evert A. & George L. Duyckinck, The Cyclopedia of American Literature 67 (Philadelphia: William Rutter & Co., 1880)(Vol. 2)]["Oliver William Bourne Peabody was a son of Hon. Oliver Peabody, born in Exeter, July 7, 1799, and educated at the Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1816. He was for a while a teacher in the academy in his native town, then studied law and entered into practice there. He was a representative of the town in the Legislature, from 1823 to 1830, eight years successively. In the latter year he took up his residence in Boston. In 1835 he was one of the representatives of that city in the General Court, and in 1836 was appointed register of proate for the County of Suffolk. He afterwards studied for the ministry, and was settled over the Unitarian Society in Burlington, Vt., and died, unmarried, July 5, 1848. . . . He was the author of several poems and addresses which were much admired." [Source: Charles A. Hazlett, History of Rockingham County, New Hampshire and Representative Citizens 68-69 (Chicago: Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co., 1915)]

Peabody was one of this country's first editor's of Shakespeare.


Lament of Anastasius


Oliver William Bourn Peabody, "Life of James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia" in Library of American Biography 201-405 (Boston: Hilliard, Gray; London, R.J. Kennett, 1834-48)(ser. 2, vol. 2)

______________________, "Life of David Brainerd," in in Library of American Biography 257-373 (Boston: Hilliard, Gray; London, R.J. Kennett, 1834-48)(vol. 8)

_______________________, "Life of Alexander Wilson," in Library of American Biography 1-169 (Boston: Hilliard, Gray; London, R.J. Kennett, 1834-48)(vol. 2)

_______________________, "Life of John Sullivan: Major-General in the Army of the Revolution," in Library of American Biography 3-177 (Boston: Hilliard, Gray; London, R.J. Kennett, 1834-48)(vol. 13)

_______________________, "Life of Israel Putnam," in Library of American Biography 103-218 (Boston: Hilliard, Gray; London, R.J. Kennett, 1834-48)(vol. 7)

_______________________, "Life of Cotton Mather," in Library of American Biography 161-350 (Boston: Hilliard, Gray; London, R.J. Kennett, 1834-48)(vol. 6)

_______________________ (ed.), The Dramatic Works of William Shakspeare ... embracing a life of the poet, and notes, original and selected ... ( Boston: Phillips and Samson, 1849)(Boston: Phillips, Sampson and Co., 1850-1851)(Boston: Phillips, Sampson, 1852)


Oliver William Bourn Peabody, An address delivered before the Peace Society, of Exeter, N.H. at their annual meeting, April, 1830 (Exeter, [New Hampshire]: Published by Francis Grant, for the Society. 1830)

_______________________, A discourse, delivered in the church of the First Congregational Society in Burlington, Sunday, December 21, 1845 the anniversary of the sabbath, which preceded the landing of the Pilgrim fathers at Plymouth (Burlington: University Press, S. Fletcher, printer, 1846)


Charles Henry Bell, Deceased Lawyers: Oliver William Bourn Peabody (New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1894)

John Fellows, The Veil Removed, or, Reflections on David Humphrey's Essay on the Life of Israel Putnam also, Notices of Oliver W.B. Peabody's Life of the same, S. Swett's sketch of Bunker Hill battle, etc., etc. (New York: J.D. Lockwood, 1843)

Research Resources

Bi-Centenary of New Hampshire: scrapbook, 1813-1823
Special Collections
University of New Hampshire

[Scrapbook pertaining to exercises held in Portsmouth, NH on May 21, 1823, "the two hundredth anniversary of the settlement of New Hampshire by Europeans." It includes two receipts from Reverend Nathaniel A. Haven and a printed copy of his bi-centennial oration, a holograph manuscript of Oliver W.B. Peabody's poem, and copies of the odes and songs that were written for the occasion."]