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View from the hill
Photo by Mike Aiken

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About Peacham, Vermont

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Caledonia County
Chartered: December 31, 1763 (New Hampshire Grant)
Area: 30,539 Acres = 47.72 Square Miles [ Size Rank: 42* ]
Coordinates (Geographic Center): N 44° 20' W 72°10'
Altitude: 1,310 feet ASL
Population (US Census, 2010): 732 [ Population Rank: 199* ]
Population Density (persons per square mile): 15.3 [ Density Rank: 217* ]
Full Census Info: Town
  County  State

*Area, Population and Density rankings refer to Peacham's relative position among Vermont's 255 civic entities (9 cities, 242 towns, 4 gores and grants). Complete rankings are here.

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Vermont has its share (more, perhaps) of fascinating town name stories, and Peacham is one of the more colorful. There are actually four possibilities as to how the town was named:

  1. A misspelling of the name of one of the grantees. To get from Meecham to Peacham, however, is a stretch even considering the relaxed spelling conventions of the time.
  2. For the author Henry Peacham. His book, The Compleat Gentleman, was reprinted several times and widely read in the Colonies.
  3. After one of two villages in Kent, England: Peckham and West Peckham (pronounced "Peacham").

The fourth, however, is the one most favored by locals:

In 1726 the English playwright John Gay wrote what has become his best-known work, The Beggar's Opera, a slightly scandalous parody of grand opera. The beautiful actress Lavinia Fenton played the role of Gay's enchanting Polly Peachum with such success that the piece remained popular in England for over fifty years (in recent times Gay's plot has been revived by Bertolt Brecht in The Threepenny Opera). Gay later wrote a sequel, Polly, banned from the stage but widely read in both England and America.

The British nobility was aghast when Charles Paulet (1685-1754), the third Duke of Bolton and eighth Marquis of Winchester, married Fenton. The average citizen was thrilled with the marriage; she was, after all, the personification of Polly Peachum to many. She was forty-three to the Duke's sixty-six, and had been his mistress for years; theirs seems to have been a story-book romance.

As the Duchess of Bolton, Lavinia's death in 1760 might have gone unnoticed, but she was Polly Peachum to so many people that she was mourned on both sides of the Atlantic.

When The Beggar's Opera was brought to the Colonies in the early 1760's, it achieved as much success as it had 35 years earlier in England. The aging Benning Wentworth, caught up by the romance of the Polly Peachum-Duke of Bolton story, may have named the town to honor the late Duchess. He had named one Vermont town (Bolton) and possibly a second (Pawlet) for members of the Duke's family.

Material excerpted or adapted from Esther Munroe Swift's
Vermont Place-Names: Footprints of History
with the author's permission

Activities & Points of Interest

Goings-on in and near Peacham
Calendar of Events provided by the Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing.

New Discovery State Park

Peacham Historical Association

Contact Info

Emergency Services (Statewide): 911
Hospital: Central Vermont Medical Center (Berlin) 802-229-9121
Town Clerk:  Thomas Galinat PO Box 244 Peacham, VT 05862
 M 8-5: T-Th 8-12

Churches, Ministries, Charitables

United Church of Christ : United Church of Christ


Caledonia Central Supervisory Union 802-684-3801
Peacham Elementary School 802-592-3513
Stevens School of Peacham 802-592-3194

Neighboring Towns

This is a basic geographic reference, intended to show relative location of adjacent towns. Directional accuracy is limited to 16 compass points. There isn't even the slightest suggestion that one can necessarily travel directly from one town to the next (as in "You can't get there from here").

Cabot Peacham
Groton Ryegate


Notes about utilities:

  • One electric or phone company indicates that company serves the entire town. More than one of either indicates each serves different areas of town.
  • A listed cable company MIGHT mean the entire town is covered, but not necessarily. More than one listed indicates each serves different areas of town.
  • Unless your area is one served by Vermont's only gas utility, your only option is bottled gas (any dealer).
    Electric Green Mountain Power 888-835-4672
    Electric Washington Electric Co-op 800-932-5245
    Telephone Fairpoint 866-984-2001

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    January 13, 2017