Parry, William (fl.1825) (DNB00)

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PARRY, WILLIAM (fl. 1825), major of Lord Byron's brigade in Greece, was originally ‘a firemaster in the navy,’ in which he served with credit, and subsequently a clerk in the civil department of the ordnance at Woolwich. While Lord Byron was endeavouring to assist the Greeks, Thomas Gordon [q. v.], of Cairness in Aberdeenshire, an enthusiastic supporter of the Greek cause, employed Parry in 1823 to prepare a plan for supplying artillery. The result was an estimate that for 10,500l. an efficient corps could be organised in Greece. Gordon supported the plan, and offered personally to bear one-third of the cost; but the Greek committee in London decided to send out a corps on a much smaller scale. Parry was accordingly sent out with a few men, some of whom were skilled artisans capable of making the carriages in Greece, and stores. On 5 Feb. 1824 Byron wrote to Charles Hancock at Missolonghi: ‘Amongst other firebrands, our firemaster Parry has just landed.’ According to Trelawny, Parry was a ‘rough burly fellow, never quite sober.’ He prepared a plan for placing Missolonghi and the harbour in a state of efficient defence at a cost of a thousand dollars (Stanhope, App. p. 295), but actually did very little, probably because he had neither the money nor the men, his artisans having returned to England within three weeks of their arrival.

Parry kept Byron's accounts, and is said to have been his favourite butt at Missolonghi; he appears, however, to have repaid familiarity with devotion, and to have faithfully nursed the poet in his last illness, which terminated in 1824. In 1825 he published in London ‘The Last Days of Lord Byron,’ in which he highly praises Byron, and condemns the conduct of Colonel Stanhope, ‘who had brought with him Nabob airs from Hindostan.’ An absurd description of Jeremy Bentham is included. Trelawny thus sums up Parry's subsequent career: ‘After three months' service in Greece, he returned to England, talked the Greek committee out of 400l., and drank himself into a madhouse.’

[Parry's book; Trelawny's Records of Shelley, Byron, and the Author, 1887, p. 245; Col. Stanhope's Greece in 1823 and 1824, passim; Gamba's Narrative of Lord Byron's Last Journey to Greece, Paris, 1825; Moore's Memoirs; Gent. Mag. 1825; Blackwood, August 1825; Works of Lord Byron, with letters, &c., and his Life by Moore, vi. 139.]

W. B-t.