Social Departure - C.J. Peacock

C.J. Peacock


C.J. Peacock (1834-?)

In early 1834, Charles James Peacock was born in Filey, Yorkshire, England to Norris Peacock and Hannah Baron. Charles was baptised 28 July 1834 in Filey. He had 7 siblings, Elizabeth (1836), Jane (1838), Frederick Norris (1840), Mary Hannah (1843), Alfred George (1844), Joseph (1846), and Sarah Ann (1847).

In 1851, at the age of 16, Charles was an apprentice to George Wraugham to become a draper; he lived with Wraugham’s family and two other apprentices, Edward Abraham and Samuel Daggitt.

On 20 December 1864, Charles married Sophia Simms; they had one servant in their home Eliza Shepperson.

By 1871, Charles was working as a dentist and dental surgeon in the district of Scarborough, England. He was a graduate from the American school, Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. His going rate for dental work was a guinea an hour.

Charles and Sophia divorced in 1879, the record cited due to “husband’s petition”. In the 1901 England Census, Charles was remarried to Emma from Barlby, Yorkshire, England, they were married around 1881. They had one daughter together, Emma Stanley Peacock born in 1886. By 1911, Charles and Emma had been married for 30 years and they had one servant, Emily Jane Saunders, living with them and their daughter.

Charles retired from dentistry by 1911 but during his working days, he was considered to be very skilled. On 13 April 1875, The York Herald reported on a case that was brought to the Scarborough Court of Record, regarding non payment for dental work Charles completed. A Mr. J.W. Harrison from Cottingham, near Hull refused to pay Charles for the dental surgery done on his daughter, Mabel Harrison. Charles and an assistant spent four and a half hours filling one of Mabel’s teeth and deadening the nerve in another, since Charles’ fee was a guinea an hour, Charles charged them four guineas total.

Mr. Harrison did not agree with Charles’ fee and decided to bring him to court. As part of the court hearings, letters to and from Charles are included. In December of 1873, Charles sent a bill to the Harrison’s for his work done in October, in the summer of 1874, Mr. Harrison sent the following letter,

“Cottingham, near Hull,
“15th May, 1874.

“Mr. C. J. Peacock.

“Sir,—-I expected to have been in Scarbro’ before this time, and to have called upon you respecting your charge of four guineas for stopping one tooth.
“I was brought up a surgeon, and have stopped teeth and drawn hundreds, but never in my professional experience heard of such a charge. If you reduce it to one guinea I will pay it ; this is more than I ever was charged.
“I am, yours truly,
“J. W. HARRISON, M.R.C.S., L.A.C.”
(British Journal of Dental Science, p.267)

Charles’ reply back:

“Sir—Before your daughter came to me she knew from Miss Stephen that my fee was a guinea an hour. It took two of us four hours and a half to perform the important operation, for which I have only charged four guineas. My practice is much larger than I am able to attend to, and if had never seen your daughter some one else would have occupied the time I devoted to her. As regards the truth of my statements I refer you to Miss Stephen. Having rendered your daughter the service of which she stood greatly in need, in the way of my profession, to the best of my ability, I now call upon you to satisfy my demand for just compensation for the time, labour, and what skill I may possess, I have given to her case.
“Yours obediently,
(British Journal of Dental Science, p.267-8)

Witnesses, which many were dentist’s themselves, described Charles to be very skilled; enough to have their own dental work done by him. Dr. Hickson of Scarborough would send some of his own patients over to Charles and Miss Stephen of Denmark House, keeper of a ladies school in Scarborough, would also recommend her students to see Charles. The jury would agree and Mr. Harrison was forced to pay the full four guineas owed.

UPEI’s Provenance copy of A Social Departure by Sara Jeannette Duncan, has a sticker on the inside cover with a crest-like illustration of the initials “C.J.P.”, which was drawn to look like a peacock. It also included the phrase “Ex libris C.J. Peacock” written below it; there is a short poem which reads “who folds a leafe downe ye divel toaste browne / who makes mark or blotte ye divel roast hot / who stealeth this boke ye divel shall cooke”, an interesting, if threatening, addition to the label.


England, Marriages, 1538–1973. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.

England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.

Anglican Parish Registers. Manchester, England: Manchester Cathedral. Images produced by permission of Manchester Cathedral and Manchester City Council

Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, later Supreme Court of Judicature: Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Files, 1858–2002. J 77. Records of the Family Division and predecessors. Records of the Supreme Court of Judicature and related courts. The National Archives, Kew, Surrey, England.

1851 Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1851.

1871 Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1871. Class: RG10; Piece: 4815; Folio: 142; Page: 15; GSU roll: 847360.

1881 Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1881.

1901 Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives, 1901. Data imaged from the National Archives, London, England.

1911 Census Returns of England and Wales. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA), 1911.

Emma Stanley Peacock. General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office.

Important Action by a Dentist at Scarborough. (1875). British Journal of Dental Science, 18, 265-272. Retrieved June, 2017.

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