From what is known of his life, Edward Peacock with his wife by his side, devoted himself to the education of Aboriginal children. His first position was at the Aboriginal school at Narre Warren in the early 1840s. This school was part of an attempt to establish a permanent reserve at Narre Warren for the Aboriginal population of the Melbourne and Western Port area. Various factors contributed to the failure of the reserve at Narre Warren, including a reluctance of the Boonwurrung people to camp so far from their traditional homes near Western Port Bay. Peacock though had already been dismissed from his position in 1842. Tensions between himself and Protectorate employee George Bertram, then overseer, had reached such a height that both men had lost their positions.
Edward Peacock resurfaced in August of 1845 attempting to establish a Sunday School for the children of the ‘Yarra’ tribe in Richmond under the sponsorship of his church, the Collins St Baptist Church. The school was successful, principally because Peacock offered blankets and rations in return for attendance. Buoyed by this, the leaders of the Church petitioned Governor La Trobe for funding for a permanent Aboriginal School at Merri Creek. The proposal was accepted in late 1845 and funding was given. The Church leaders employed Peacock as school master, much to the chagrin of William Thomas. In November of 1845 Thomas had let Peacock use his quarters at Merri Creek to conduct classes. Thomas reported the room to have been left in a ‘beastly state’ and he was reluctant to have Peacock back. This added to existing tension between the two men as William Thomas had also been living at Narre Warren when the trouble between Peacock and Bartram, a colleague of Thomas, had come to a head. Peacock would find William Thomas to be little help in his efforts at Merri Creek, and the two men were openly hostile toward each other. Peacock did himself no favours though, on his first scheduled day of work at Merri Creek, he did not show up. He was reported to have absconded with two members of the Native Police Corps.
Peacock had early success with the school, attracting an average of 20 students per day to his classes. The students put on public displays demonstrating what they had learnt, which helped to sway public and government opinion in his favour. The success was short lived however. The death of Billibellary, the head of the clan living near the Merri Creek Station in 1846 and the influenza epidemic of the same year saw declines in attendance at the Merri Creek School. Peacock was able to maintain government and church support in the face of criticism from William Thomas, for a time, with the church urging him to lay the blame for declining attendance on Thomas. But by May of 1848 the Aboriginal School Committee felt they had to close the school and Peacock was dismissed in disgrace having been accused of stealing items from the school room, and even using some of the materials to enhance and build his own residence. He is not recorded as having ever returned to the Collins St Baptist Church. He did retain a commitment to European style education for Aboriginal children. Chief Protector George Robinson reported in September of 1848 that Peacock was leaving Melbourne to attend to 17 Wurundjeri children on the Plenty River.
Clark, Ian D. & Heydon, Toby (2004). A bend in the Yarra: A history of the Merri Creek Protectorate Station and Merri Creek Aboriginal School 1841-1851. Canberra (A.C.T.): Aboriginal Studies Press.
Lemon, Andrew (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.