Select Parker Miscellany

Here are some Parker stories and accounts over the years:

The Parkers of Bulwell and Norton Lees

These Parkers were first found at Bulwell in Nottinghamshire and later at Norton Lees on the Derbyshire/Yorkshire border. 

The line has been traced back to the marriage of Sir John Le Parker, Baron Parker of Bulwell, and Lady Annie Redmayne sometime around 1325.  Their son Robert was born around 1327 and his son Thomas around 1360.  It was Thomas who married Elizabeth de Gotham, the daughter and heiress of Adam de Gotham of Norton Lees, in 1385 and the family then established themselves at Norton Lees.

A branch of this family was at Park Hall in Staffordshire by the late 16th century

Browsholme Hall

Browsholme Hall, pronounced “Brewsom,” is an historic house and the ancestral home of a Parker family who have lived there since it was built by Edmund Parker in 1507.  Tudor in origin, Browsholme has an antiquarian collection of oak chests, furniture by Gillow, portraits, mementos of Bonnie Prince Charlie, Chinese porcelain, and arms and armor from the Civil War. 

Browsholme, set in the Ribble valley in Lancashire, is still very much a family home, however.  The current owners are Robert and Amanda Parker.

Parker Distribution in England

H.B. Guppy in his 1890 survey Homes of Family Names in Great Britain had the following to say about the Parker name distribution in England: 

“The Parker name is distributed almost all over England, but absent or is conspicuously rare in the SW counties of Devon and Cornwall.  Its principal centers are in the northern half of the country, the first in the West Riding and in the adjacent counties of Lancashire, Derbyshire, and Lincolnshire, and the second in Northumberland, but it does not extend across the border into Scotland. It has also additional homes in the south of England, in Essex on the east coast, in Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire in the west, and in Hampshire on the south coast.”

Yorkshire and Lancashire had the most Parkers at that time.  Today it is Yorkshire and the East Midlands..

Captain James Parker of Groton

James Parker left his home in Wiltshire in the 1630’s and sailed across the Atlantic to set up a new life in Charlestown in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He was apparently accompanied by his brothers.  Augustus G. Parker into his Parker Family in America 1630-1910, stated that there were five Parker men in the family - Abraham, Joseph, James, Jacob and John: “Most of them were brothers, and it is believed that all were thus related.”

In 1653 James and John Parker were to be found at the new settlement of Billerica northwest of Woburn.  Abraham Parker was the first settler in Chelmsford nearby (his wife was the first woman “to bake and brew in Chelmsford”).  James joined him soon after.   However, he was not to stay there too long.   In 1662 he moved to a new settlement at Groton, apparently because of some religious disagreements. 

At Groton, James was important in early civic affairs.  He was “a moderator of most of the town meetings, a member and chairman of all important committees.”  During the 1670’s he was captain of the local militia and active in defending his community against Indian attacks.  He was called into service again in 1694 when another Indian attack came and James himself lost two sons. 

James was in his seventies by this time, but took unto himself a new wife.  In 1697 he sired a new child, his first offspring since Eleazer had been born 37 years earlier.  But four years later he was dead.  There is a marker today in Groton for Parker House, where his home was.

William Parker and Zerviah Stanley

Tradition has it that Mrs. Zerviah Parker was Lady Stanley, a daughter of the Earl of Derby, and she had married William Parker in England without the consent of the Earl.  She thereupon abandoned her claims to nobility and in 1703 fled to the New World with her husband.  Interestingly there is no trace of her in the Stanley family ancestry.  Her name was either suppressed, changed, or she was not of regular descent. 

Portsmouth in New Hampshire was to be their place of refuge.  Her husband William Parker was a gentleman of education.  But after arriving in this country he found it necessary for him to support himself and worked at a tan yard near their home. 

Both feared the father's vengeance.  He was an arbitrary and vindictive man who might readily take up legal proceedings.  She herself would often suffer great periods of distress, knowing that she would be disinherited and that her children would be cut off from her father's house.  She lived just fifteen years in Portsmouth and died in 1718. 

But the Parker family did prosper in Portsmouth.

Snow Parker's Years of Privateering

Snow Parker’s father Benjamin, a mariner and fish merchant, had come to Nova Scotia from Cape Cod in the early years of the Liverpool settlement.  Though most if not all of his five sons also earned their living from the sea, it was Snow who laid the basis for a spectacularly successful career in trading, shipbuilding, and privateering which was to make him a wealthy man.  

Snow Parker came to manhood in the shadow of the American Revolutionary War when rebel privateers cruised in Nova Scotia waters and sometimes raided coastal settlements.  He was only 18 when the ship on which he was travelling from Halifax to Liverpool was intercepted by a privateer.  Taken prisoner, he was carried to Port Mouton and only released after paying a ransom.  

Snow began his business life as a coastal trader and began to acquire ships.  It  was these vessels, built or sailed as privateers, that made his fortune. The outbreak of war with France in 1793 and with the United States in 1812 had raised once again the specter of privateering. 

Liverpool was the centre of privateering activity in Nova Scotia between 1793 and 1815 and Snow Parker was its leading exponent.  He built, owned, financed, and acted as agent for several privateers, but did not sail them himself. The cargo of captured vessels could be speedily condemned in the Vice-Admiralty Court at Halifax, acquired cheaply at auction, and then retailed at a handsome profit.  Moreover, the prizes themselves could be purchased, refitted, and then sent out as privateers or trading vessels. 

In the heyday of privateering Parker was reputed to be the richest man in Liverpool.  His fortune declined with the years so that at the time of his death he was apparently worth no more than £1,500.  However, he lived onto the age of 80, a respected man in the community.

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