Peter Chardon Brooks

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Peter Chardon Brooks
Born (1767-01-06)January 6, 1767
Died January 1, 1849(1849-01-01) (aged 81)
Occupation Insurance businessman, state senator
Employer New England Marine Insurance Company
Net worth USD $1.3 million at the time of his death (approximately 1/1646th of US GNP)[1]

Peter Chardon Brooks (January 6, 1767 – January 1, 1849) was a wealthy Massachusetts merchant born in North Yarmouth, Maine. His father, the Rev. Edward Brooks, moved to Medford, Massachusetts, his native town, in 1769, and here the boyhood of young Brooks was passed in farm work. After his father's death, in 1781, he was apprenticed to a trade in Boston, walking to the city, a distance of seven miles, every day.

In 1789 he engaged in the business of marine insurance, and accumulated a large fortune. He kept with his own hand very accurate accounts, a rare thing in those days, and made it a rule never to borrow money, never to engage in speculation of any kind, and never to take more than the legal rate of interest. He retired from business in 1803, and, until 1806, devoted himself to the settlement of all the risks in which he was interested.

He then accepted the presidency of the New England Insurance Company, the first chartered company of the kind in the state, and filled the office for several years. In his retirement at Medford he took special pleasure in the cultivation of trees, planting many thousands of them about his farm. He was at different times a member of both branches of the legislature, of the first Boston City Council, and of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1820-1821.

While in the legislature he took a prominent part in suppressing lotteries, which at that time were flourishing in the state. Mr. Brooks gave liberally, and without parade, to many benevolent objects, and, besides this, his private donations for many years exceeded his domestic expenses.

Brooks died January 1, 1849, in Boston, Massachusetts, bequeathing what was believed to be the largest estate in Boston, about two million dollars, to his seven surviving children: four sons—Edward, Peter Chardon, Gorham, and Sydney; three daughters—Charlotte, married to Edward Everett; Ann, married to Nathaniel Frothingham, minister of the First Church; and Abigail Brown, born April 25, 1808, married September 3, 1829, to Charles Francis Adams, a year older than herself. He was originally buried at the Salem Street Burying Ground in Medford, Massachusetts, but was later relocated to a family plot in Oak Grove Cemetery, near the Brooks Estate in Medford.

He was the grandfather of historians Peter Chardon Brooks Adams and Henry Adams[2] and of Massachusetts governor and senator Leverett Saltonstall.[3]

The town of Chardon, Ohio is named for him.[4]

He is considered to have been one of the 100 wealthiest Americans, having left an enormous fortune.[1]


  1. ^ a b Klepper, Michael; Gunther, Michael (1996), The Wealthy 100: From Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates—A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present, Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group, p. xiii, ISBN 978-0-8065-1800-8, OCLC 33818143 
  2. ^ See Personal life and the Adams family tree at Charles Francis Adams Sr.
  3. ^ "Saltonstall-Brooks-Lewis family papers (1863-1982)>Biographical Sketches", Massachusetts Historical Society. Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  4. ^ Overman, William Daniel (1958). Ohio Town Names. Akron, OH: Atlantic Press. p. 26. 


Attribution PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1891). "article name needed". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. 

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