Edward Robert Peacock was born in 1871 in St. Elmo Ontario, the oldest of five children. His father, a minister, died when Peacock was twelve, and his mother moved to Almonte, where he received his secondary schooling. He studied at Queen's University, where his instructor was Adam Shortt. He graduated in 1894 as gold medalist in philosophy and silver medalist in political economy.
After working for a short period as a motorman on the Montreal street railway, Peacock took a year of training and started his career as a teacher at Upper Canada College. In 1902 Peacock left the teaching profession to join Dominion Securities. While in Toronto he later became a vice-president of Brazilian Light and Traction and president of the Mexican Light and Power Company.
In 1907 Peacock moved to England to set up Dominion's UK office. He later became a director of the Bank of England, a partner in Barings, a director of the Hudson's Bay Company and of the CPR, and a trustee of the Rhodes Trust. In 1929 he became Receiver General to the Duchy of Cornwall which involved handling the royal finances, a post he held until 1952. He was knighted by King George V in 1934. During World War II Peacock served in Washington as liaison between the Bank of England and the U.S. government. Just before the war he was instrumental in recruiting Ian Fleming into Naval Intelligence.
Queen's University honoured Sir Edward Peacock with an LLD in 1949. He died in 1962 leaving a legacy to Queen's in support of the Sir Edward Peacock Professorships.