Parker, John (1772-1840) (DNB00)

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PARKER, JOHN, second Baron Boringdon and first Earl of Morley (1772–1840), born 5 May 1772, was the only son of John, first baron Boringdon, by his second wife. The family came originally from Warwickshire, but their seat was transferred from Boringdon to Saltram, near Plymouth, in the seventeenth century.

Parker's father, born in 1735, matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, on 23 Oct. 1753. He represented Bodmin in 1761–2, and sat for the county of Devon from the latter year till 1784, when he was created a peer as Lord Boringdon. He was a great lover of pictures, and added some valuable old masters to the collection at Saltram, where there is a small whole-length of him, in shooting dress, by Sir Joshua Reynolds. He married first, in 1763, Frances Hort, daughter of the Archbishop of Tuam; and secondly, in 1769, the Hon. Theresa Robinson, second daughter of the first Lord Grantham. She died on 22 Dec. 1775. Reynolds, who painted a portrait of her with her infant son, wrote an obituary notice, in which he eulogised her beauty, her character, and her ‘skill and exact judgment in the fine arts’ (Playfair, British Families of Antiquity, ii. 270). Lord Boringdon died on 27 April 1788.

In September 1788 John, the only son, entertained George III, with Queen Charlotte, at Saltram. Matriculating at Christ Church, Oxford, on 7 April 1789, he was created D.C.L. on 18 June 1799. He was gazetted lieutenant-colonel of the North Devon militia regiment on 1 June 1794, and colonel on 1 Nov. 1799. From an early age Boringdon took an active part in the debates in the House of Lords, and till the death of Pitt he supported the ministerial home and foreign policy (Parl. Hist. xxxiv. 819–23). When, on 30 April 1800, Lord Holland moved to insert in the provisions for the union a clause providing for the removal of Roman Catholic disabilities, he moved and carried the previous question (ib. xxxv. 165). After the death of Pitt he acted with Canning. Boringdon claimed to have been Canning's earliest adherent in the House of Lords (Hansard, new ser. xviii. 568). They corresponded continually and intimately on political matters. Boringdon voted with the whigs in 1811 on Lansdowne's amendment for removing the restrictions on the regent, and on that relating to the removal of the officers of the household, both of which were carried by narrow majorities against ministers (ib. pp. 748, 1027). On 19 March 1812 Boringdon, acting in concert with the whigs and moderate tories, moved an address to the regent for the formation of an efficient administration, the object in view being a coalition government, with the Marquis Wellesley as its chief. An amendment expressive of general confidence in the government was carried by a large majority (ib. xxii. 36 et seq.).

In the following session Boringdon introduced in the House of Lords a bill for more effectually preventing the spread of infection from small-pox by provisions for vaccination, but withdrew it after the first reading, on the representation of the lord chancellor that ‘the alterations confessedly to be made by the noble lord were more numerous than the whole of the rest of the bill’ (ib. xxiii. 987–8). In 1814 he introduced a similar bill, but withdrew it on the lord chancellor stating that the spread of infection was punishable at common law. In a speech delivered on the question of catholic emancipation on 26 Feb. 1810, which was published in substance the same year, he declared himself favourable to the principle of relief, and characterised the notion of indefinite postponement as ‘absolutely horrible;’ but protested against concessions wrung from fear or due to the convenience of the moment (ib. xvii. 415–23).

On 29 Nov. 1815 Boringdon was created Earl of Morley and Viscount Boringdon. He supported the repressive measures of 1819, but opposed the bill of pains and penalties against Queen Caroline in all its stages (Hansard, new ser. iii. 618, 1700, 1733). After Canning's death he drifted into whiggism, and was a firm supporter of parliamentary reform (Walpole, Life of Earl Russell, i. 205).

Morley not only made great improvements on his own Devonshire estate, but also gave great assistance to public works in the neighbourhood. He received a gold medal from the Society of Arts, and another from the Board of Agriculture, for an embankment on the coast. At Catwater Harbour he had constructed dry docks and fixed moorings for ships, and a flying bridge connecting Plymouth and the adjoining country was due to his enterprise. He was elected F.R.S. so early as 26 Feb. 1795. Cyrus Redding describes Morley at the age of forty as a tall, well-proportioned man, with regular and handsome features, pallid complexion, and sedate physiognomy. He spoke French and Italian fluently, and had considerable taste in the fine arts. The hospitality of Saltram, the largest house in Devonshire, was most munificent. When George III and his queen stayed there a hundred beds were made up. He died at Saltram on 15 March 1840.

Morley was twice married: first, on 20 June 1804, to Lady Augusta Fane, second daughter of the tenth Earl of Westmorland, from whom he was divorced on 14 Feb. 1809; and secondly, on 23 Aug. 1809, to Frances, daughter of Thomas Talbot of Wymondham, Norfolk, by whom he had a son and a daughter. The second countess was one of the most accomplished ladies of the day.

His portrait, as a child, was twice painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, once with his mother, and once with his sister; and two later portraits of him are mentioned, one by F. R. Say, engraved by W. Say, and another by Phillips. At Saltram there is also a marble bust by Nollekens. His son, Edmund Parker, second Earl of Morley (1810–1864), born on 10 June 1810, matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, on 21 Jan. 1828, and graduated B.A. on 11 Nov. 1830. He was appointed deputy-lieutenant for the county of Devon on 13 March 1833, and a lord of the bedchamber to Prince Albert on 15 Feb. 1840. He succeeded to the peerage on 15 March. On 8 Jan. 1845 he was gazetted colonel of the South Devon militia regiment. In politics Morley was a liberal, but, having been attacked by paralysis in early life, he was prevented from taking much part in public affairs. He was, however, a lord-in-waiting to the queen from 24 July 1846 to February 1852; and in October of the latter year was appointed special deputy-warden of the Stannaries. He died on 28 Aug. 1864. He married, on 1 March 1842, his second cousin, Harriet Sophia, daughter of Montagu Edmund Parker, and widow of W. Coryton. His son and successor, Albert Edmund, third earl (1843–1905), to whom Prince Albert stood godfather, was at one time chairman of committees in the House of Lords.

[Doyle's Baronage; Foster's Alumni Oxon. (1715–1886); Ann. Reg. 1840, Append. to Chron., p. 136; Raikes's Journal, 1838, ii. 198; Stapleton's Canning and his Times, pp. 96–101, 102–6, 109–12, 116–18, 122, 127, 129, 133–4, 356–9, 362, 568–9, 571–2; Brayley and Britton's Devon and Cornwall illustrated, pp. 52–3, in which is a plate of Saltram; Cyrus Redding's Fifty Years' Recollections, 2nd ed. vol. i. chap. vi.; Evans's Cat. Engr. Portraits; Parl. Hist. and Parl. Debates, passim; authorities cited.]

G. Le G. N.