Parker, George (1651-1743) (DNB00)

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PARKER, GEORGE (1651–1743), almanac maker, born in 1651 at Shipton-upon-Stour, Worcestershire, was originally in business as a cutler in Newgate Street, London, and professed quakerism. His wife, however, who was at the time of her marriage a zealous member of the church of England, laboured hard to convert her husband, while he as strenuously endeavoured to bring her over to his own views. In the result each was convinced by the other. Parker became a high churchman and a Jacobite, while his wife turned rigid quaker. But his rival, John Partridge (1644-1715) [q. v.], asserts that Mrs. Parker was the quaker, and that Parker merely passed for one in order to secure her fortune of 300l. He then took a larger shop, but became bankrupt in 1693, and behaved badly to his wife and children. In 1698 he was keeping a tavern. His undoubted mathematical abilities gained him some friends; it is said that Halley occasionally employed him. He afterwards established himself as an astrologer and quack doctor at the 'Ball and Star' in Salisbury Court, Strand, greatly to the disgust of Partridge, who carried on a similar trade at the 'Blue Ball' in Salisbury Street. In June 1723 he visited Hearne at Oxford, on his return from Worcestershire, and was then accompanied by his wife (Reliquiœ Hearnianœ, pp. 498-9). He died on 16 July 1743, aged 92.

In 1690 Parker commenced the publication of an almanac, with the title 'Mercurius Anglicanus; or the English Mercury,' 12mo, London, which was continued under his name until 1781. In 1703 it was called 'A Double Ephemeris,' and in 1707 'Parker's Ephemeris.' The number for 1720 was entitled 'Parker's Mercurius Anglicanus,' but the title of 'Parker's Ephemeris' was resumed in the following year. Having included in one of his almanacs the Chevalier de St. George, otherwise the Old Pretender, among the sovereigns of Europe, he was fined 50l. and forbidden to publish any more almanacs; upon which he printed for some time a bare calendar, with the saints' days only. He attacked Partridge in his almanac for 1697. Partridge replied with extraordinary bitterness in his 'Defectio Geniturarum' (1697-8, p. 331), the appendix of which, called 'Flagitiosus Mercurius Flagellatus; or the Whipper whipp'd,' is wholly devoted to abuse of Parker. He returned to the attack in a pamphlet entitled 'The Character of a broken Cutler,' and in his 'Merlinus Liberatus' for 1699.

Parker revised the tenth edition of W. Eland's 'Tutor to Astrology,' 12mo, London, 1704, and edited John Gadbury's 'Ephemerides of the Celestial Motions for XX years' (1709-28), 12mo, London, 1709. In 1719 he issued the first number of a 'West India Almanack,' 16mo, London, but did not continue it.

His portrait has been engraved by J. Coignard, W. Elder (prefixed to his ' Ephemens' for 1694), and J. Nutting respectively. Another portrait, by an anonymous engraver, represents him in extreme old age.

[Noble's Continuation of Granger's Biogr. Hist. of England, i. 277; authorities cited.]

G. G.