Endicott Peabody (educator)

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Endicott Peabody
Born May 30, 1857
Salem, Massachusetts
Died November 17, 1944(1944-11-17) (aged 87)
Other names Cotty
Education Trinity College, Cambridge
Spouse(s) Fannie Peabody
Church Episcopal Church in the United States of America
Ordained 1884
Congregations served
Tombstone, Arizona
Offices held
Headmaster, Groton School

The Reverend Endicott Peabody (May 30, 1857 – November 17, 1944)[1] was the American Episcopal priest who founded the Groton School for Boys (known today simply as Groton School), in Groton, Massachusetts in 1884. Peabody also founded St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Ayer, Massachusetts in October, 1889. Peabody served as headmaster at the school from 1884 until 1940, and also served as a trustee at Lawrence Academy at Groton. In 1926 Peabody also founded Brooks School, which was named for 19th-century clergyman Phillips Brooks, a well-known preacher and resident of North Andover, Massachusetts. Peabody was headmaster for Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Groton, and he officiated at Franklin's marriage to Eleanor Roosevelt.[2] A 1944 Time magazine article described him as "the most famed U.S. headmaster of his generation".[3]

Early life[edit]

Endicott Peabody was the son of Samuel Endicott Peabody and Marianne Cabot Lee. He was born in Salem, Massachusetts.

His father, Samuel Endicott Peabody, was a Boston merchant and a partner in the London banking firm of J. S. Morgan and Company (later known as J.P. Morgan & Company). When Endicott Peabody was 13, the family moved to England. He prepared for university at Cheltenham College,[1] a secondary school in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, finishing in 1876 at the age of 19. He was graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1880 with an LL.B. degree.[1] He married his first cousin, Fannie Peabody, daughter of Francis and Helen (Bloodgood) Peabody of Salem, Massachusetts on June 18, 1885 in Salem. His father Samuel and her father Francis were brothers. They had six children.

His great-grandfather was Salem shipowner and privateer Joseph Peabody who made a fortune importing pepper from Sumatra as well as opium from East-Asia. Joseph Peabody was one of the wealthiest men in the United States at the time of his death in 1844.[4] Another of his ancestors was Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Endecott, who ordered the hanging of non-conformist Quakers, but who none-the-less was a friend of Roger Williams.

Seminary service[edit]

In 1882 during his first year at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, (now the Episcopal Divinity School) Peabody, a seminarian not yet a priest, was invited to take charge of a little Episcopal congregation in Tombstone, Arizona, (now St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Tombstone).[1] After a long seven-day train ride from Boston, he arrived in Benson, Arizona, and took the Sandy Bob stagecoach to Tombstone, arriving on January 29, 1882, three months after the "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral". He had words of praise for Wyatt Earp.

The last church had burned down six months previously, and no attempt had been made to replace it. Peabody held his first services in the Miner's Exchange Building on February 5, 1882.[1] Though he spent no more than six months in Tombstone he succeeded in getting the church built, St Paul's Episcopal Church.[2][unreliable source?] This church building today is the oldest in the state apart from those of the Roman Catholic Church. He was impressive physically, never losing a boxing match. He began a baseball team in Tombstone.[5] He left Tombstone after only six months, and many were saddened that he had to go. George Whitwell Parson noted in his diary that day, “We will not easily fill Peabody’s place.”[2] He returned to the east coast and completed his studies at the Episcopalian Theological School, graduating in the spring of 1884.

Due to the nature of his service during his six months of service in Tombstone, he afterward came to be called the patron saint of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona.[6]

Founding of Groton School[edit]

Peabody's primary mission was to replicate for American schoolboys the type of education he had experienced in England. He considered Rugby School a particular model for its dual emphases on sports and classics. The curriculum was targeted specifically at boys from upper-class families, whom Peabody wished to steer toward moral leadership and philanthropy, and emphasized moral development over intellectual. His school received early support from the Roosevelt family, including future US President Theodore Roosevelt, and filled quickly.[7]

The school opened in 1884, and Peabody served as its headmaster until 1940. Its students included Theodore Roosevelt's four sons as well as his cousin, future president Franklin D. Roosevelt.[8]


Franklin Delano Roosevelt said of Peabody, "As long as I live his influence will mean more to me than that of any other people next to my father and mother."[9] His family has been called Boston Brahmins. Governor Endicott Peabody was a grandchild, and his great-grandchildren include author Frances FitzGerald, model Penelope Tree, actress Kyra Sedgwick (wife of Kevin Bacon), and 1960's cultural icon Edie Sedgwick.


  • A Church for Helldorado: the 1882 Tombstone Diary of Endicott Peabody by SJ Reidhead


  1. ^ a b c d e "Peabody, Endicott (PBDY876E)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ a b c Egerton, Jeff (September 30, 2008). "Reverend Endicott Peabody: Tombstone's Quiet Hero". Retrieved March 29, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Education: Victorian Headmaster". Time. October 30, 1944. Archived from the original on November 30, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2012. 
  4. ^ Maclay, Edgar Stanton (1899). A History of American Privateers. p. 408. ISBN 1-58057-331-2. Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
  5. ^ "St.Paul's Episcopal Church - Tombstone AZ". 
  6. ^ Smith, Kirk S. (11.09.07). "The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona". Retrieved April 1, 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ de Kay, James Tertius (2012). Roosevelt's Navy. New York: Pegasus. pp. 9–10. ISBN 9781605982854. 
  8. ^ "Groton School". The Theodore Roosevelt Center. Archived from the original on November 30, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2012. 
  9. ^ Peabody's obituary in the New York Times, April 13, 1944.

External links[edit]