Parker, Hyde (1739-1807) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 43
Parker, Hyde (1739-1807)

by John Knox Laughton
1904 Errata appended.
Contains subarticle Hyde Parker (1784?–1854).

PARKER, Sir HYDE (1739–1807) admiral, born in 1739, was second son of Vice-admiral Sir Hyde Parker [q. v.] He entered the navy, with his father, in the Vanguard, and was again for two years with his father in the Cruiser. In the summer of 1755 he joined the Medway with Captain Charles Proby; and, having passed his examination on 7 Nov. 1757, was promoted on 25 Jan. 1758 to be lieutenant of the Brilliant with his father, whom he followed to the Norfolk and the Grafton. In July 1761 he was appointed by Cornish to the Lennox, and on 16 Dec. 1762 was promoted to command the Manila, from which, on 18 July 1763, he was posted to the Baleine. In November 1766 he was appointed to the Hussar, employed during the following years on the North American station under Commodore Hood (afterwards Lord Hood), by whom he was moved, in September 1770, to the Boston. In July 1775 he was appointed to the Phœnix, again on the North American station, and in October 1776 was sent by Lord Howe, in command of a small squadron, to occupy the North River, by which the enemy was receiving supplies. The passage was blocked by heavy frames forming artificial and iron-pointed snags, on a plan invented by Benjamin Franklin (Beatson, iv. 124). These were strengthened by sunken vessels and supported by heavily armed gunboats and by guns on shore. The service was ably performed, Parker passing the obstruction, though not without loss, capturing two of the gunboats and driving the rest on shore under the batteries. For this important service he was knighted on 21 April 1779.

In July 1778 he was with Howe at New York and off Rhode Island, and afterwards convoyed the troops and co-operated with them in the brilliant little expedition to Savannah in January 1779. The Phœnix was then sent home for repairs, and early in 1780 convoyed the trade to Jamaica. On 4 Oct. she was lost on the coast of Cuba in a hurricane. Her men, with few exceptions, were got safely on shore, with provisions, four guns, and ammunition. They entrenched their position and sent a boat to Jamaica for assistance. By the 15th they were all landed in Montego Bay. Returning to England, Parker was appointed to the Latona frigate, in which he joined his father's flag in the North Sea, and took part in the action on the Doggerbank. In October 1781 he was appointed to the Goliath, one of the fleet under Howe, in the following year, at the relief of Gibraltar, and in the rencounter off Cape Spartel. The Goliath was afterwards guardship in the Medway, and later on at Plymouth. On the threat of war with France in 1787, Parker was appointed to the Orion, which was paid off when the dispute was settled. Similarly during the Spanish armament of 1790 he had command of the Brunswick, which he resigned in the autumn.

On 1 Feb. 1793 he was promoted to be rear-admiral of the white, and was nominated by Lord Hood to be captain of the fleet with him in the Mediterranean. In this capacity he was present at the occupation of Toulon and the reduction of Corsica. On 4 July 1794 he was promoted to the rank of vice-admiral, and, on the return of Hood to England, hoisted his flag in the St. George as third in command under Admiral Hotham, continuing with him during 1795, and taking part in actions of 13 March and 13 July. On his return to England, in the early part of 1796, he was immediately appointed commander-in-chief at Jamaica, where, during the next four years, the cruising ships, as stationed by him, were exceptionally fortunate, and brought in a great many prizes—merchantmen, privateers, and ships of war—‘by which both himself and his country were materially benefited.’

He returned home in the end of 1800, and in the following January was appointed commander-in-chief of a fleet destined for the Baltic on account of the threatening attitude of the Northern Confederation, or—as it is more commonly called—the Armed Neutrality. As the negotiations with Denmark proved ineffective, and Parker would not consent to adopt the proposal of Lord Nelson, his second in command, and, leaving a sufficient force to overawe Copenhagen, proceed at once to strike a decisive blow against Russia, it was determined to bring the Danes to terms by force. The depth of water before Copenhagen was insufficient for the larger ships, and Parker accepted the offer of Nelson to undertake the service with a detachment of the smaller ships of the line [see Nelson, Horatio, Viscount]. This was done with complete success on 2 April, Parker's division being at anchor two or three miles to the north. Even after the victory Parker could still not be persuaded to move up the Baltic; he was nervously anxious to secure the communications in his rear, a theoretical necessity which the special circumstances had annulled. There has never been a suspicion of timidity as the cause of his inaction, but he has reasonably been accused of wanting the ability to see that there may be a time when formal rules should be thrown to the winds, and this was Nelson's opinion. Whether it was not also the opinion of Lord St. Vincent, then at the head of the admiralty, may be doubted; it probably was; for a few weeks after the battle he was recalled, Nelson succeeding to the command. Parker had no further service, and died on 16 March 1807. He was twice married: first, to Anne, daughter of John Palmer Boteler, and by her and three sons; secondly, to a daughter of Admiral Sir Richard Onslow [q. v.] Bromley mentions two portraits of Parker: one by Sir Joshua Reynolds, which was engraved by C. Townley, and the other by Romney, engraved in 1780 by J. Walker.

His eldest son, Hyde Parker (1784?–1854), was promoted to be a lieutenant in the navy in 1804, a commander in 1806, and a captain in 1807. During the war with the United States he commanded the Tenedos on the coast of North America, and on 15 Jan. 1815 was present at the capture of the U.S. frigate President [see Hope, Sir Henry]; he was nominated a C.B. in 1839, became a rear-admiral in 1841, and vice-admiral in 1852. He was first sea lord of the admiralty in 1853, with Sir James Graham, and died in 1854. His son Hyde, a captain in the navy, commanded the Firebrand in the Black Sea, and was killed on 8 July 1854 when storming a Russian fort at the mouth of the Danube. The vice-admiral's second brother, John Boteler, died a major-general and C.B. in 1851; and the youngest, Harry, a lieutenant in the guards, fell at Talavera.

[Charnock's Biogr. Nav. vi. 523; Ralfe's Nav. Biogr. i. 377; Naval Chron. v. 281; Passing Certificate and other official documents in the Public Record Office; Beatson's Nav. and Mil. Memoirs; Nelson Despatches, freq. (see index); Mahan's Influence of Sea Power on the French Revolution and Empire, ii. 42–56; Foster's Baronetage; Gent. Mag. 1854, pt. ii. 76, 303.]

J. K. L.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.214
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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