Peters, Hugh an English divine, who came to this country in the colonial days, and is noted both as a preacher and politician, was born at Fowey, Cornwall, England, in 1599. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1622; then entered the ministry, and preached successfully at St. Sepulchre's, London, until he was silenced for nonconformity, and imprisoned. As soon as liberated he went to Rotterdam, and became pastor of the Independent Church in that place. In 1635 he resigned and sailed for New England, where he arrived October 6, and was installed December 21, 1636, pastor of the First Church, Salem, as successor to Roger Williams, whose doctrines he disclaimed and whose adherents he excommunicated.
He was also active in civil and mercantile affairs, suggesting coasting and foreign voyages, and the plan of the fisheries. In March 1638, he was appointed by the General Court to assist in collecting and revising the colonial laws, and having been chosen to "represent the sense of the colony upon the laws of excise and trade," he sailed for England August 3, 1641. He became in 1643 a preacher in the Parliamentary army, in which capacity he was present at the siege of Lynn and the capture of Bridgewater. For his services he was largely rewarded, and in 1653 was one of the committee of legal reform appointed by Parliament. In 1658 he was chaplain to the garrison at Dunkirk. After the Restoration Peters, being suspected of some complicity with the death of the king, was committed to the Tower, and indicted for high-treason October 13, 1660. He was:convicted and executed October 16, 1660. During his imprisonment he wrote several letters of advice to his daughter, subsequently (1717) published under the title of A dying Father's last Legacy to an only Child. His private character has been the subject of much discussion both in England and America. He as charged by his enemies with gross immorality, and the most bitter epithets were appliedtto him by bishops Burnet. Kennet, and others; but oflate years he has been estimated more favorably. He published also God's Doings and Man's Duty, opened in a Sermon preached before the House of Commons, the Lord Mayor, and the Assembly of Divines (1646): — Peters's last Report of the English Wars, occasioned by the Importunity of a Friend pressing an Answer to some Queries (1646): — A Word for the Army and Two Words for the Kingdom, to Clear the One and Cure the Other, forced in much Plainness and Brevity from their faithful Servant, Hugh Peters (1647): — A Good Work for a Good Magistrate, or a Short Cut to a Great Quiet (1651): — Some Notes of a Sermon preached on the 14th of October, 1660, in the Prison of Newgate, after his Condemnation (1660). See Sprague, Annals of the Amer. Pulpit, 1:70; Drake, Dict. of Amer. Biogr. s.v.