William Yelverton Peyton
William Yelverton Peyton was born on August 26, 1831 in Williamsburg, Virginia. After completing preparatory school he enrolled at the College of William and Mary in October 1848. The following October found him at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, where he remained, “doing very credible work,” and serving as the editor of the Randolph Macon Magazine. He returned to William and Mary in December 1851, graduating from that institution with an A.B. in July 1852. The next few years he devoted to teaching and was for a short time an associate editor for the Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg. On July 4, 1855 he was awarded an honorary degree from William and Mary. In August 1855 the Florida Institute Board of Education announced his appointment as the Principal of the Florida Institute. Peyton, however, preferred and consistently used the title of President. Throughout his first year, he worked earnestly to organize the school, grade the pupils, build up the laboratory facilities, and develop attractive and wholesome extracurricular activities for the students. As a result of Peyton’s careful organization and direction, the Florida Institute smoothly transitioned to the West Florida Seminary (the earliest predecessor to Florida State University). Unfortunately he was plagued with ill health and in the spring of 1857, he was forced to resign his position and return to Williamsburg. He died on July 2, 1859 and is buried in Williamsburg.
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