Parker, John William (DNB00)

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PARKER, JOHN WILLIAM (1792–1870), publisher and printer, was born in 1792. His father was in the navy. At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to William Clowes the elder (1779–1847), and became the manager of the printing business in Duke Street, Stamford Street, Blackfriars Road, London, established in Applegarth's old premises by Clowes. He was afterwards allowed to set up a small office of his own. In February 1829 Parker was engaged, on Clowes's recommendation, as superintendent of the Cambridge University press, and his practical suggestions converted the press from a source of loss to a source of profit to the university. In 1832 he left Clowes, and established himself at 445 Strand, where he was appointed publisher to the Christian Knowledge Society, and issued the ‘Saturday Magazine.’ A large variety of bibles, testaments, &c., were also on sale at the Cambridge Repository, which was the style of his house (Bent's Lit. Advertiser, July 1832). On the retirement of John Smith, he was formally made printer to the university of Cambridge, on 15 Nov. 1836, and thenceforth spent two days in Cambridge every fortnight. After a great deal of opposition he introduced steam-power, but the Bible Society long declined to purchase books thus printed. A handsome volume of specimens of bibles, testaments, and books of common prayer, was circulated by him in 1839. In the same year he was appointed publisher to the committee of council on education. He retired from the management of the Cambridge press in 1854. He devoted much attention to education, and was a warm friend and supporter of John Pyke Hullah [q. v.] He started a printing-office at the back of the Mews, Charing Cross, and afterwards removed to St. Martin's Lane, where he took Mr. Harrison into partnership, and ultimately relinquished the business to him. ‘Fraser's Magazine’ was published by him, as well as the writings of John Stuart Mill, Buckle, Lewes, Whewell, Whately, Hare, Maurice, Kingsley, Froude, and others.

After the death in 1860 of his eldest son, John William Parker (1820–1860), who had been in the business since 1843, Parker took into partnership William Butler Bourn, who had been his principal assistant for nearly thirty years. The business, including stocks and copyrights, was, however, sold in 1863 to Messrs. Longman. Parker died at Warren Corner House, near Farnham, Surrey, 18 May 1870, aged 78. He was twice married. By his first wife he left two daughters. His second wife, who survived him, was a daughter of Dr. Gideon Algernon Mantell [q. v.], the geologist; by her he left one son and two daughters.

[Robert Bowes's Biographical Notes on the University Printers … in Cambridge, a reprint from the Cambridge Antiquarian Society's Communications, 1886, pp. 329 sq.; Bookseller, 1 June 1870, pp. 491–2, and 16 Jan. 1861, p. 2; Athenæum, 17 Nov. 1860, p. 673; Curwen's History of Booksellers, pp. 317–24; Smiles's Men of Invention and Industry, 1884, pp. 216–217.]

H. R. T.