- Joseph Peabody was the son of a clergyman of Middleton, Massachsetts and a descendent of Francis Peabody, who came to New England in 1635. During the Independence War, he joined the private armed marine first on Elias Hasket Derby’s "Bunker Hill", then on the Cabots "Pilgrim". He distinguished himself for his courage and determination. After these early adventures, Joseph Peabody launched himself in the shipping trade, purchasing his first vessel, a schooner named “Three Friends”. In the eight years after the peace of 1783, Joseph Peabody was constantly at sea, on numerous voyages to Europe and the West Indies. By 1791, he had amassed a large fortune and settled in Salem. By the time of the war of 1812, Joseph Peabody had become Salem’s largest shipowner and merchant. He owned as many as 83 ships, which he sent to St.Petersburg and other ports in Northern Europe, the Mediterranean as well as Calcutta, Canton and Sumatra in the East Indies. He also operated a number of coastal ships, carrying the goods from the farther destinations to various American ports and the West Indies. He was the largest employer of Salem, with 6000 to 7000 men in his ranks, and also its largest tax payer. Joseph Peabody married and had several children by his second wife.