Thursday, 5 November 2009


Sooner or later Captain George Peacock FRGS must be introduced. He was born in Exmouth in 1805 and he settled at Starcross in his retirement. He is the Estuary’s most distinguished son, though neither in his lifetime nor since his death has he been given the attention he merits. There are many tales to tell of Captain Peacock but here by way of an introduction is an excerpt from the Western Times for Friday June 23rd 1882, the year before the year he died.:

“It was not long ago that we had the pleasure of recording the fact that the President of the Republic of Columbia had presented a decoration to Capt. George Peacock of Starcross, in acknowledgement of his services to the State of Columbia as the first modern surveyor of the Isthmus of Panama. It will be recollected that, last year, in the month of June, in a public meeting at Liverpool, Count Ferdinand de Lesseps declared that he was grateful to Captain Peacock for showing how to make the Canal which is in due time to cut through the neck that separates the two oceans. This scientific navigator of Devon has now, we learn with pleasure, received another mark of distinction, which reaches him from the classic shores of Greece. The cutting of the isthmuses seems to have much occupied the gallant Captain’s mind. Among other tasks of his busy life he undertook to survey the Bay of Salamis and explored the Isthmus of Corinth with the view of joining the Gulfs of Aegina and Lepanto. This was done in the time of King Otho, some thirty years ago. Captain Peacock presented his chart and plans to his Majesty, who, in return, presented him with a richly-embossed gold snuff-box which is to be a family heirloom. A quarter of a century or more having passed since these incidents occurred , we now see the work of the cutting of the Corinth isthmus actually taken in hand, and the opportunity has been embraced by his Majesty King George to give further marks of the esteem in which Captain Peacock’s scientific plans are held in testimony whereof the King has created him a Chevalier of the Royal Order of the Saviour. Intimation of this fact was conveyed to the worthy Captain at his residence, Starcross, by a letter from the Greek Minister in London who encloses therewith the diploma bearing the royal signature and countersigned by the Foreign Minister of Greece and also a letter from the Foreign Minister felicitating Captain Peacock on the honour which the King had conferred upon him. It is needless to say how great a source of gratification to him is this well deserved honour so graciously bestowed on the veteran and much respected officer. With the official document was transmitted the golden crown, cross and ribbon of the Order. The cross has in its centre the head of Our Saviour.”

Well done Captain Peacock! Without you no Panama Canal nor no Corinth Canal neither.

And well done the writer of this piece!

1 comment:

  1. I hope you don't mind that I have taken this interesting research and added it to with a portrait of Captain Peacock. We are recreating The Swan of the Exe for this year's Trail Recycled Art in the Landscape