Peters, Onslow

Born: 1802-03-01 Massachusetts

Died: 1856-02-28 Washington, DC

Born in Westborough, Massachusetts, Onslow Peters was a lawyer and judge. He studied at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, graduated in 1825, and was admitted to the bar in Massachusetts, where he began practicing law. In October 1829, he married Hannah Parkman Tyler, with whom he eventually had six children. He and his family relocated from Westborough to Peoria, Illinois in either 1836 or 1837. In 1838, he partnered with Jacob Gale, and the two practiced law together until 1844. Throughout his years practicing in Peoria, Peters mentored others in their study of the law. He was also active in Democratic politics and served as a member of the Illinois Constitutional Convention of 1848. By 1850, he was still practicing law and owned $10,000 in real property. When, in 1853, the Illinois General Assembly declared Peoria and Stark counties part of the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit, Peters was elected as that circuit's first judge. He was re-elected to the position in 1855 and held it until his death. He died unexpectedly during a trip to Washington, DC, while seeking an appointment from President Franklin Pierce's administration.

Jay Mack Holbrook, Massachusetts Vital Records, Westborough 1717-1900 (Oxford, MA: Holbrook Research Institute, 1993), 156; The Biographical Encyclopaedia of Illinois of the Nineteenth Century (Philadelphia: Galaxy, 1875), 59, 355, 360, 478; Historical Catalogue of Brown University, 1764-1904 (Providence, RI: Brown University, 1905), 144; John M. Palmer, ed., The Bench and Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), 1:306; Vital Records of Westborough, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849 (Worcester, MA: Franklin P. Rice, 1903), 195; Willard Irving Tyler Brigham, The Tyler Genealogy: The Descendants of Job Tyler, of Andover, Massachusetts, 1619-1700 (Plainfield, NJ: Cornelius B. Tyler, 1912), 1:361; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Peoria, Peoria County, IL, 16; “An Act to Establish the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit in the State of Illinois,” 9 February 1853, General Laws of Illinois (1853), 127; P. G. Rennick, “Courts and Lawyers in Northern and Western Illinois,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 30 (October 1937), 338; The History of Peoria County Illinois (Chicago: Johnson, 1880), 338.