Peter Chardon Brooks

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Peter Chardon Brooks
Born(1767-01-06)January 6, 1767
DiedJanuary 1, 1849(1849-01-01) (aged 81)
OccupationInsurance businessman, state senator
EmployerNew England Marine Insurance Company
Net worthUSD $1.3 million at the time of his death (approximately 1/1646th of US GNP)[1]
Ann Gorham
(m. 1792; her death 1830)
Parent(s)Edward Brooks
RelativesNathaniel Gorham (father-in-law)
Benjamin Gorham (brother-in-law)
Edward Everett (son-in-law)
Nathaniel Frothingham (son-in-law)
Charles F. Adams (son-in-law)
Peter Brooks Adams (grandson)
Henry Adams (grandson)

Peter Chardon Brooks (January 6, 1767 – January 1, 1849) was a wealthy Massachusetts merchant.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Brooks born in North Yarmouth, Maine, on January 6, 1767. His parents were the Rev. Edward Brooks and Abigail Brown. In 1769, the family moved to Medford, Massachusetts, his father's native town, where Brooks boyhood was spent working on the family farm.[4]

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.[5]


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.[5]

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.[5]

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.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Mrs. Peter Chardon Brooks (née Sarah Lawrence), John Singer Sargent, 1890

On November 26, 1792, Brooks was married to Ann Gorham (1771–1830), the daughter of Nathaniel Gorham (1738–1796), the 14th President of the Continental Congress and the sister of Benjamin Gorham, a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts. They were the parents of 13 children, of which the following survived to adulthood:[7][8]

  • Edward Brooks (1793–1878), who married Eliza Root[7]
  • Gorham Brooks (1795–1855), who married Ellen Sheppard in April 1829.[7]
  • Ann Gorham Brooks (1797–1864), who married Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham (1798–1870) on March 2, 1818.[7]
  • Peter Chardon Brooks (1798–1880), who married Susan Oliver Heard (1806–1884) on November 9, 1825.[7]
  • Sidney Brooks (1799–1878), who married Frances Dehon (1805–1871) on December 27, 1827.[7]
  • Charlotte Gray Brooks (1800–1859), who married Edward Everett (1794–1865) on May 8, 1822.[7]
  • Ward Chipman Brooks (1804–1828)[7]
  • Henry Brooks (1807–1833)[7]
  • Abigail Brown Brooks (1808–1889), who married Charles Francis Adams (1807–1886), the son of President John Quincy Adams and grandson of President John Adams, on September 3, 1829.[7][9]

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.[9] 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.[7][10]


Brooks was the grandfather of historians Peter Chardon Brooks Adams and Henry Adams[11] and of Massachusetts governor and senator Leverett Saltonstall.[12][13]


He is considered to have been one of the 100 wealthiest Americans, having left an enormous fortune.[1][14] The town of Chardon, Ohio is named for him.[15]


  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. ^ "Peter Chardon Brooks, 1767-1849". Library of Congress. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  3. ^ Saltonstall, Nora (2004). "Out Here at the Front": The World War I Letters of Nora Saltonstall. UPNE. ISBN 9781555535988. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  4. ^ Lincoln (Mass.) (1905). An Account of the Celebration by the Town of Lincoln, Masstts, April 23rd, 1904, of the 150th Anniversary of Its Incorporation, 1754-1904. town. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Morris, Dee (2009). Medford: A Brief History. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781625843173. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  6. ^ Nasrallah, Wahib (2003). United States Entrepreneurs and the Companies They Built: An Index to Biographies in Collected Works. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313323324. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Whittier, Charles Collyer (1907). Genealogy of the Stimpson Family of Charlestown, Mass: and allied lines. Press of D. Clapp & Son. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  8. ^ Browning, Charles Henry (1911). Americans of Royal Descent: Collection of Genealogies Showing the Lineal Descent from Kings of Some American Families ... Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 361. ISBN 9780806300542. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  9. ^ a b Massachusetts Historical Society (1968). The Adams Papers | Diary of Charles Francis Adams. Cambridge, M.A.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 10. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Brooks Estate Master Plan Medford-Brooks Estate Land Trust" (PDF). 1 September 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  11. ^ See Personal life and the Adams family tree at Charles Francis Adams Sr.
  12. ^ "Saltonstall-Brooks-Lewis family papers (1863-1982)>Biographical Sketches", Massachusetts Historical Society. Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  13. ^ Harp, Gillis J. (2003). Brahmin Prophet: Phillips Brooks and the Path of Liberal Protestantism. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 14. ISBN 9780847699612. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  14. ^ Klepper, Michael M.; Gunther, Robert (1996). Peter Chardon Brooks (1767-1849): Wealthiest Man in New England. Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Pub. Group. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  15. ^ 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, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1891). "article name needed. Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.

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