Edward Robert Peacock

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Sir Edward Robert Peacock, GCVO (1871–1962) was a Canadian merchant banker, born in St. Elmo, Glengarry County, Ontario. He is perhaps best known as a director of the Bank of England, or for his role as receiver general to the Duchy of Cornwall, the principal property management arm of the Royal Family.

Early life[edit]

Peacock's father was a Congregationalist minister who died shortly after Edward was born. His mother moved to Almonte, Ontario, where he received his schooling. He attended Queen's University in Kingston, and under the tutelage of Adam Shortt studied philosophy and political economy, graduating in 1894 with a gold and silver medal.

Career[edit]

He began his career as teacher at Upper Canada College. In 1902 he left the teaching profession to work for the investment company Dominion Securities (established a year earlier by George Albertus Cox), moving to London in 1907. He caught the attention of Montagu Norman, who made him a director of the Bank of England in 1921. Peacock later resigned from the Bank to become a partner of Barings Bank, though he returned following the 1929 death the chief officer of Barings, Lord Revelstoke. During this time he was made a director of the Hudson's Bay Company, as well as the Rhodes Trust.

Also in 1929, he was made receiver general to the Duchy of Cornwall, which entailed dealing with the Royal finances. For these services, he was knighted by George V in 1934. He was receiver general until the death of George VI in 1952.

Peacock was in Washington, D.C. during World War II, as a liaison between the United States government and the Bank of England.

Just before the war, he and Montagu Norman were asked by Admiral John Henry Godfrey of British Naval Intelligence to find a personal assistant for the admiral. He found and recruited Ian Fleming, who later wrote the James Bond novels.

Personal life[edit]

In 1909, he married Katherine (Kitty) Coates, who was the daughter of John Coates, engineer and founder of Turner & Coates Limited on Cannon Street in London (now in Salford, Greater Manchester) and with interests in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Peacock was subsequently made chairman of the new John Coates and Company Limited. They had no children of their own, but adopted two daughters. After a distinguished career, he retired to his estate near Ascot and died of natural causes in 1962, leaving a large amount of money to Queen's University in Canada. Queen's honoured him by instituting the Sir Edward Peacock Professorship. David Haglund is the current Sir Edward Peacock Professor of Political Studies, James G. MacKinnon is the current Sir Edward Peacock Professor of Econometrics, and Robin Boadway is the Sir Edward Peacock Professor of Economic Theory.

His birthplace at St Elmo, Ontario, is marked by a plaque erected by the Glengarry Historical Society who maintain a scholarship fund endowed by the Peacock family in his memory.

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