Richard Peters (cleric)

Richard Peters (1704 – July 10, 1776) was an American cleric and a civil servant in colonial Pennsylvania. For many years he was the rector of Christ Church in Philadelphia.

He was born in Liverpool, England, where his father, Ralph Peters, was the town clerk. He was educated at Westminster School, where he married a servant girl, and then went to school in Leyden. He was ordained in the Church of England and undertook further studies at Wadham College, Oxford. Believing that his first wife was dead, in 1734 he remarried. A bigamy scandal arose when Peters's first wife reappeared, and he sought exile in America in 1735.

Peters became an assistant at Christ Church in Philadelphia and served there for two years. He then became a registrar at the land office. He also served as secretary to a series of colonial governors and on the Governor's Council from 1737 until the Revolution.

In 1762 Peters returned to Christ Church, this time as rector, and remained until his health forced him to resign in September 1775. Throughout these years he was active in many religious, civic, and educational affairs. He worked with Benjamin Franklin to establish a public academy, which became the Philadelphia College and then the University of Pennsylvania, and served as President of the school's Board of Regents from 1756 to 1764. He served as a director of the Library Company of Philadelphia (1750-1764), a manager of Pennsylvania Hospital (1751–1752), and a member of the American Philosophical Society (1769–1776).

Peters died in Philadelphia in 1776. His brother William had also emigrated to Pennsylvania. William's son and Richard's nephew was named Richard, and was known as Richard Peters, Jr. to distinguish him from the prominent churchman; Richard, Jr. (1744-1828) would represent Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress and serve as a U.S. District Court judge.


*Cummings, Hubertis Maurice. "Richard Peters, Provincial Secretary and Cleric, 1704-1776", University of Pennsylvania Press, 1944.

External links

* [ Biography at]
* [ Biography and portrait] at the University of Pennsylvania

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