sketcher, magistrate and vigneron, eldest son of Edward and Mary Peake, was given 'a classical education’ in England at D. Scott’s College, then became steward on William Leigh’s estate at Woodchester, Gloucestershire. In 1852 Leigh sent him to Australasia as companion to his son, another William Leigh , who was making a recuperative voyage. The pair visited South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, New Zealand and South Africa. Both were dedicated Catholics and William Leigh senior was a patron of the South Australian Church. At Adelaide in 1853-54, they stayed with Bishop Francis Murphy.
Peake returned to Adelaide as a settler in 1855. In July he rented one of the Franklin Street cottages owned by the Catholic Church. He brought with him drawings for a 'correct’ early English-style cathedral by the English architect Charles Hansom. On 29 March 1854, Bishop Murphy had sent him the foundation plan of the Adelaide Catholic Cathedral on which a local architect, Richard Lambeth, was proposing to erect a clumsy adaptation of Hansom’s earlier 'model plan for the new world’ (for which Peake’s employer had paid), which had been deemed unsuitable. Following the new drawings, the Cathedral of St Francis Xavier was partly erected on top of Lambeth’s foundations, and it would appear that Murphy’s ecclesiological education and change of architect owed much to Peake’s familiarity with the post-Puginian flowering of the English Gothic Revival.
At least two sketches by Peake were shown in the inaugural exhibition of the South Australian Society of Arts at Adelaide in 1857. The Adelaide Observer described them as 'some interesting views of Australian scenery… [lent] by his Excellency’. Peake’s first encounter with Governor Sir Henry Young had occurred in November 1853 as a consequence of the wreck of the coastal steamer the SS Osmanli off Kangaroo Island when he was returning to Adelaide from Melbourne. Joining the volunteer crew that took off in a lifeboat to seek help, he immediately demanded to be taken to the Governor when set down at Port Adelaide. His exhibition sketches, View of Sydney Harbour and View in New Zealand , were drawn during less exciting moments of the voyage, perhaps inspired by young William Leigh’s indefatigable sketching.
No further artistic efforts are known after Peake settled in South Australia. Instead, he became MHA for the Burra and Clare districts (1857-59). Initially a land and commission agent in Hindley Street, Adelaide, he moved to Clarendon in 1858 as manager of Leigh senior’s 38-acre rural property (sketched by William Leigh junior in 1854). He turned the existing modest vineyard into a substantial winery and the original cottage into a charming Gothic Revival 'cottage orn?’ (both extant). By 1860 Peake was leasing the property from Leigh and possibly further extended the cottage. Later he purchased the estate for £4,407.
Peake became a gentleman of substance in South Australia and a foundation member of the Adelaide Club. He was appointed stipendiary magistrate for the local courts at Willunga, Morphett and Clarendon in 1860, then at Port Adelaide. He resigned in 1875, due to ill health, and died on 26 March 1876. He was buried in the Morphett Vale Catholic Cemetery. At Adelaide on 26 June 1867 he had married a widow, Elizabeth Newman, née Chambers, who survived him.