Find out more about our founder
George Peabody (1795-1869) was born in Massachusetts, USA. One of eight children, he left school at the age of 11 to work and help support his family. He made his money importing and exporting wool, linen and dry goods and then moved into merchant banking.
George Peabody first visited Britain on business in 1827 and ten years later took up residence in London, where he remained for the rest of his life.
He became acutely aware of poverty in the capital and was keen to help. Lord Shaftesbury suggested he could do so by supporting low-rent housing.
In 1862, he set up The Peabody Donation Fund and the first dwellings for the “artisans and labouring poor of London” were opened in Commercial Street, Spitalfields in February 1864. The flats housed 66 low-income families and included provision for shops and laundries. This marked the beginning of his – and our – work in London.
George Peabody’s philanthropy was not restricted to the UK. In America, he founded and supported numerous institutions in New England and elsewhere, including Baltimore, the city in which he achieved his earliest success. He is known to have provided benefactions of more than $8million, most of them in his own lifetime.