Peter Bent Brigham

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Peter Bent Brigham
Peter Bent Brigham ca1875
Born (1807-09-04)September 4, 1807
Bakersfield, Vermont
Died May 4, 1877(1877-05-04) (aged 69)
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Residence Boston, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Known for initial endowment of Brigham and Women's Hospital
Spouse(s) never married
Parents Uriah Brigham (1757-1820)
Elizabeth (Fay) Brigham (1767-1837)
Signature PeterBentBrigham-signature.jpg

Peter Bent Brigham (1807–1877) was a self-made American millionaire businessman, restaurateur, real estate trader, and director of the Fitchburg Railroad. He is best known as a philanthropist for his initial endowment of Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Brigham Academy in Bakersfield, Vermont.

Early life and family[edit]

Peter Bent Brigham was born 4 September 1807 in Bakersfield, Vermont as the seventh of nine children born to Uriah Brigham (1757-1820) and Elizabeth (Fay) Brigham (1767-1837). Brigham was a direct descendant of Thomas Brigham (1603-1653), an early immigrant to Cambridge, Massachusetts,[1] as well as John Bent (1596-1672) a founder of Sudbury, Massachusetts.[2] Brigham had little formal schooling and was forced to seek work in his early teens upon the death of his father. He traveled to Boston from Vermont on horseback, and began his career working on Middlesex Canal boats, and selling fish and oysters from a wheelbarrow in Boston.[1] He was never married.

Career in Boston[edit]

Brigham owned a very successful restaurant on the corner of Hanover and Court Streets in Boston, Massachusetts, which he operated until it was sold in 1869 due to a street widening project. His greatest success was that of a real estate investor. He took a deep interest in his home town and he did much to promote the welfare of the city. He never sought public office, but his judgment was often sought by the city officials. His expertise in real estate made him the ideal consultant when it came to questions of street widening and other such improvements. He was one of the founding directors of the Fitchburg Railroad and held that office until his death.[1]

Peter Bent Brigham died at his home at the northeast corner of Bulfinch and Allston Streets on Beacon Hill in Boston on 24 May 1877. He is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.[1]

Legacy and endowments[edit]

Having no children as he never married, he gave very careful thought to the disposition of his large estate. He often lamented his want of a higher education. In full appreciation of its importance, he provided $40,000 to his birth town, Bakersfield, Vermont. Of this sum, $10,000 was to go for caring for the graves of his parents, brothers and sisters and the remaining $30,000 was for the establishment and care of the Brigham Academy. After taking care of a long list of siblings, nieces, employees and servants, $1,300,000 was set aside, not to be spent until 25 years after his death, for the establishment of a hospital. By 1902, the fund had grown to about $2,000,000, and this money was to be used to establish a hospital "for the care of sick persons in indigent circumstances". The Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, became a world famous medical research hospital connected with Harvard Medical School in Boston. Brigham's nephew, Robert Breck Brigham (1826-1900), was also a successful restaurateur and businessman who followed in his uncle's footsteps by endowing the Robert Breck Brigham Hospital to serve patients with arthritis and other debilitating joint diseases.[1] The two Brigham hospitals became formally affiliated with Boston's Women's Hospital and today are known as the Brigham and Women's Hospital.[3]

See also[edit]

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Brigham Academy
Peter Bent Brigham at Find A Grave
Robert Breck Brigham at Find A Grave


  1. ^ a b c d e Brigham, W.I.T., E.E. Brigham, and W.E. Brigham (1907). The history of the Brigham family; a record of several thousand descendants of Thomas Brigham the emigrant, 1603-1653. The Grafton Press, New York. 810pp. pdf
  2. ^ Powell, Sumner Chilton. (1963). Puritan Village. The Formation of a New England Town. Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press. 215pp. ISBN 0-8195-6014-6
  3. ^ "Archives of Brigham and Women's Hospital". Boston Medical Library and Harvard Medical School. Retrieved 22 July 2011.