George Peacock was a little-known yet indefatigable inventor and naval officer, born in 1805 at Navy House in Exmouth, Devon.
His father, a former Master in the Navy, owned merchant vessels on which George became an apprentice at the age of 13. He progressed quickly and in 1828 obtained his full Master’s ticket; joining the Royal Navy as engineer of the paddle steamer HMS Echo. He had always been a keen inventor – his first invention was a screw propeller for his father’s boat, which he designed when he was just 17. Aboard the Echo he continued to pursue his interests, patenting an ingenious method of making fresh water from salt, and a method of salvaging wrecks.
Peacock's later career
Inventions and publications
For more information please see the following sources:
ZAZ6817: G. Peacock: Plan of a tell-tale dial for ships wheels, Admiralty Sailing Navy CollectionPlan showing the front elevation and side elevations of the upper dial and lower dial mechanisms for the tell-tale system on the steering wheel of warships. 10th Nov 1835.
SLR2386: Model of propellerPropeller screw – wrought iron, with blades shaped like a bee’s wing, or parabolic in their curvature. (NMM Brass Foundry)
MSS/82/045: Peacock, George, Letters of Patent for a Propeller, dated January 1855Copy of agreement and patent certificate – copy refers to diagrams (not included) – the section and sketches reside at Liverpool Record Office (387 PEA/3/16). This item also contains a Great Seal of the Realm of Queen Victoria.
Ref: (ILN): Illustrated London News: Oct 30th 1860 p. 352 An article and illustration relating to the Swan boat.
Mariner's mirror, v.66, No.1, February 1980, pp.17-29'Captain George Peacock: the pioneer commander of Pacific Steamers.' Duncan, Roland. E.
Sea Breezes, new series, volume 11, pages 194-196, 1951. - 387.205 SEA'Outstanding Shipmaster of the 19th Century, George Peacock'
Drawings relating to the propeller patent MSS/82/045 are held at Liverpool Museum and the last surviving Cygnet boat, alongside more examples of his inventions, reside at Topsham Museum, Devon.
Katherine Weston, Archives Assistant