John Peddie was a soldier who joined the British 38th Regiment as an ensign in 1805. In July 1812 he lost an arm in the battle of Salamanca, Spain, but remained in the army and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in 1827. From 1828 to 1840 he commanded the 72nd Regiment in South Africa. During the Sixth Frontier War in March 1835 he marched into British Kaffraria (the region between the Keiskamma and Kei Rivers) and the next month penetrated the stronghold of the Xhosa, capturing several thousand head of cattle. He established Fort Peddie as a British frontier post in the territory and the town that later developed there still carries his name.
During his time in South Africa Peddie sent plants to William Harvey* at Dublin, among them an evergreen shrub from Port Natal (now Durban) on which Harvey based the genus Peddiea (Family Thymelaeceae). However, there is no evidence that Peddie was ever in Natal, hence this and other Natal plants may have been collected, perhaps at Peddie's request, by a soldier in his regiment who took part in the military occupation of the territory during 1838-1839, Thomas Williamson*.
Peddie was sent to Ceylon either in 1837 to join the 90th regiment, or in 1840. He retired in July 1840 and died later that year.