Show ContentsPeabody History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Peabody is a name that was brought to England by the ancestors of the Peabody family when they migrated to the region after the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Peabody family lived in Hertfordshire. The name, however, is a reference to Pabode, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. It has also been suggested that Peabody began as a nickname which marked a person by some physical characteristic, but, while this does seem probable, no convincing etymological derivation has been discovered to support this idea.

Early Origins of the Peabody family

The surname Peabody was first found in Hertfordshire, but we must take a moment to pass on a rather ridiculous origin of the name that this author agrees is rather 'far-fetched.' "The same as Paybody. Dixon derived it from Pae-body, 'one as handsome as a pae or peacock!' This is far-fetched enough for the ordinary belief, but Mr. Arthur goes much further, in deducing the lineage of the name from one Boadie, a kinsman of Queen Boadices, who escaped into Wales, and there got the name of Pea, or mountain, prefixed to his name !!" 1

After that distraction, we must seriously explore the origin of the distinguished name. "Pabode held a fief from the see of Durham, temp. William I. He was probably of Flemish origin. Henry Pappede held this fief 1165 and from him descended the family of Pappady, Pabody or Peabody, from which [descend] the celebrated philanthropist of the name." 2

Early History of the Peabody family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Peabody research. Another 86 words (6 lines of text) covering the year 1086 is included under the topic Early Peabody History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Peabody Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence in the eras before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate regularly changed the spellings of their names as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Peabody have been found, including Peabody, Paybody and others.

Early Notables of the Peabody family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • Peabody of St...

Peabody Ranking

In the United States, the name Peabody is the 5,605th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. 3

United States Peabody migration to the United States +

For many English families, the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. For such families, the shores of Ireland, Australia, and the New World beckoned. They left their homeland at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. Many arrived after the long voyage sick, starving, and without a penny. But even those were greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. Numerous English settlers who arrived in the United States and Canada at this time went on to make important contributions to the developing cultures of those countries. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Peabody were among those contributors:

Peabody Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Francis Peabody, who settled in Hampton in New Hampshire in 1630
  • Francis Peabody (Peboddy) settled in Boston in 1635
  • Francis Peabody, who landed in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1635 4
  • Mr. Francis Peabody, aged 21, from St. Albans, who arrived in New England in 1635 aboard the ship "Planter", bound for Hampton 5
  • William Peabody, who landed in New England in 1645 4
Peabody Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Lieutenant Francis Peabody, who settled in Topsfield in Massachusetts
  • George Peabody, who settled in Philadelphia
  • Charles Peabody, who settled in New York
  • John A Peabody, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 4
  • W Peabody, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851 4
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Peabody (post 1700) +

  • George Foster Peabody (1795-1869), American entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded the Peabody Institute and Museum and who bestowed the Peabody Award
  • Elizabeth Peabody (1804-1894), American educator who opened the first English-language kindergarten in the United States
  • Major-General Paul Everton Peabody (1892-1979), American Military Attaché to London (1943-1944) 6
  • Brigadier-General Hume Peabody (1893-1984), American Commanding General 3rd Tactical Command (1944-1945) 7
  • Nancy Pinkerton Peabody (1940-2010), American actress
  • Sophia Peabody (1809-1871), American painter and illustrator
  • Endicott Peabody, American politician, Governor of Massachusetts
  • Elden J. Peabody, American Democratic Party politician, Elected New Hampshire State House of Representatives from Milan 1938 8
  • Charles H. Peabody, American Republican politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Waterford, 1906 8
  • Charles A. Peabody Jr., American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from New York County 11th District, 1876 8
  • ... (Another 34 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Peabody Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Murus aeneus consienta sana
Motto Translation: A sound conscience is a wall of brass.

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  3. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. Pilgrim Ship's of 1600's Retrieved January 6th 2023, retrieved from
  6. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2014, March 26) Paul Peabody. Retrieved from
  7. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2014, March 26) Hume Peabody. Retrieved from
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 7) . Retrieved from on Facebook