Cornelia Augusta Connelly (née Peacock) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA on 15 January 1809. At the time of Cornelia’s birth and early life, Philadelphia was growing into one of America’s first major industrial cities.
Cornelia was born and lived the first year of her life at 8th and Filbert Streets, on the NW corner. Her parents were Ralph and Mary Peacock. Ralph, a merchant by trade, was originally from Yorkshire, England, but became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1797. Cornelia’s mother, Mary Peacock (née Swope) was also born in Philadelphia.
Mary was the widow of John Bowen, a wealthy plantation owner in Jamaica, prior to her marriage to Ralph. Mary had two children from her first marriage – Isabella and John, Cornelia’s half siblings. Together Ralph and Mary had seven children from their marriage, besides Cornelia – Dodsworth, Adeline, Ralph, George, Mary, and unknown named girl who died at eleven months just before the birth of Cornelia.
Ralph Peacock died in 1818 when Cornelia was nine years old. The family lived at 10th and Sansom Streets before Ralph’s death. The family then lived at 151 N. 9th Street until the death of Mary Peacock in May 1823. Cornelia was fourteen years old when she became an orphan. She then went to live with her half-sister and brother-in-law, Isabella and Austin Montgomery until 1831. Their home was located on Walnut Street between 10th and 11th Streets. Here Cornelia was given educational, social, and cultural opportunities from the Montgomerys.
As a child Cornelia’s family practiced Presbyterianism, however, at the age of 21, Cornelia’s baptism took place at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church located on 10th Street below Market Street. James Montgomery, brother of Austin, was the rector of St. Stephen’s and has been considered the founder of this parish.
In December 1831, Cornelia married Reverend Pierce Connelly. Bishop William White performed the marriage at the home of Cornelia’s sister, Adeline Duval (née Peacock) near the intersection of 13th and Chestnut Streets and it was recorded in the records of Christ Church located on . Bishop White, the officiant, also married Cornelia’s mother and father in 1798.
Pierce Connelly was born in Philadelphia, PA on 9 August 1804 and was the eldest son of Henry Connelly and Elizabeth Pierce. Pierce graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and was ordained in St. James’ Episcopal Church in Kingsessing, PA by Bishop White. Not long after their marriage, Cornelia and Pierce moved to Natchez, Mississippi, where Pierce became the Rector of Holy Trinity Church.
Cornelia's Philadelphia Timeline of Cornelia in Philadelphia juxtaposed with then-current events.