Peter was born at Harlyn, St Merryn, Cornwall, the son of Henry Peter and his wife Anna Maria. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, receiving BA in 1807 and MA in 1809. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn on 28 May 1813. After a few years in London, he returned to Cornwall where he was a J.P. and Deputy Lieutenant. He complied a two volume set of Speeches of Sir Samuel Romilly in the House of Commons, published in 1820.
In 1840, he was living at Bruges when he received an appointment as HM Consul in Philadelphia USA. In the United States he married Sarah Ann Worthington King, daughter of Ohio Governor and U. S. Senator Thomas Worthington, and widow of Edward King a prominent Ohio politician and son of Minister to Great Britain Rufus King. She died in 1877 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Peter died in Philadelphia at the age of 64 and was buried in St Peter's Churchyard, Philadelphia.
- "Alumni oxonienses: the members of the University of Oxford, 1715-1886, vol.3".
- William Peter HM consul at Philadelphia The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 1956
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "B" (part 3)[self-published source][better source needed]
- Renick, L W; Fullerton, M D; Nipgen, M P (1896). Che-le-co-the, glimpses of yesterday: a souvenir of the hundredth anniversary of the founding of Chillicothe, Ohio April 1896. Chillicothe. pp. 61–62.
- Bronson, William White, Hildeburn, Charles Swift Riché The inscriptions in St. Peter's church yard, Philadelphia 1879
Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by William Peter
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