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Peebles, Robert Bruce

by James Elliott Moore, 1994

21 July 1840–29 June 1916

A 1906 engraving of Robert Bruce Peebles. Image from Bruce Peebles, legislator and judge, the son of Ethelred J. and Lucretia Tyner Peebles, was born at Moorfield, his father's plantation in Northampton County. After attending Horner School in Oxford, he entered The University of North Carolina in 1859. At Chapel Hill Peebles earned high honors but left to join the Confederate army before receiving a degree. Entering the army as a private in Company E, Fiftieth North Carolina Regiment, he soon was promoted to company lieutenant; afterwards he became adjutant of the Thirty-fifth Regiment. During the war he saw action at Petersburg, Drury's Lane, and Bermuda Hundred in Virginia and at Plymouth, N.C. At Five Forks he was made assistant adjutant general of General Matt Ransom's brigade.

At the end of the war Peebles returned to Chapel Hill to complete his studies and to read law under Judge William H. Battle. Settling in his native county, he established a practice in Jackson and became county attorney. He was elected as a Democrat to the General Assembly of 1866–67 and again in 1883, but this election was contested and after serving for a brief time he was obliged to step down. He was returned to the legislature for the sessions of 1891 and 1895, however. From 1874 to 1903 he served as a trustee of The University of North Carolina, and in 1902 he was elected a judge of the superior court, a position he held until his death.

In 1875 Peebles married Margaret Cameron, daughter of Paul C. Cameron, a prominent planter and businessman of Orange County. They were the parents of a daughter, Annie Ruffin Peebles. A lifelong member of the Episcopal Church of the Saviour, Jackson, he died in Hillsborough and was buried in the churchyard at St. Matthew's Church.

A retouched photo of Robert Bruce Peebles used in Walter Clark's Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War, 1861-1865. Image from the North Carolina Museum of History.References:

Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, vol. 4 (1906 [portrait]).

John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585–1979 (1981).

Daniel L. Grant, Alumni History of the University of North Carolina (1924).

North Carolina Bar Association Report (1917).

Northampton County Bicentennial Committee, Footprints in Northampton (1976).

J. C. Tomlinson, Assembly Sketch Book, Session 1883 (1883).

Additional Resources:

Price, Harry Hill, Peebles, Robert Bruce, and Avery, Willoughby F. "Petition, April 27, [1861]." Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (accessed May 17, 2013).

"Necrology 1863." The Alumni Review 5, no. 1 (October 1916). 21-22.  (accessed May 17, 2013).

Graham, William A. (William Alexander), 1804-1875. Papers of William Alexander Graham: Volume 5. Raleigh [N.C.]: State Department of Archives and History,1957. 1973. 461. (accessed May 17, 2013).

Image Credits:

E. G. Williams and Bro. "." Biographical history of North Carolina from colonial times to the present volume 4. Greensboro, N.C.: C. L. Van Noppen. 1906. 361. (accessed May 14, 2013).

"Photograph, Accession #: H.1951.31.94." 1900-1910. North Carolina Museum of History.

Origin - location: 


The bio for Robert Bruce Peebles contains this statement,"ntering the army as a private in Company E, Fiftieth North Carolina Regiment, he soon was promoted to company lieutenant; afterwards he became adjutant of the Thirty-fifth Regiment." All sources that I have seen indicate that Peebles was in Company E of the Fifty-sixth regiment rather than the Fiftieth.

Hi Eddie,

Thanks for visiting NCpedia and taking time to post a comment.

And thank you for noting this!  I do see in Clark's Regimental Histories that he puts Peebles with the 56th as well. Do you have any other sources that you can share with us?  If you have additional resources to help us with this update and to include with the entry, that would be very helpful.

This content comes from UNC Press's Dictionary of North Carolina Biography  and has been licensed to NCpedia by them.  We will contact them to investigate an update.

Thanks and best wishes!

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library

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