Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Parker, John (fl.1705)

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PARKER, JOHN (fl. 1705), colonel and Jacobite conspirator, was descended, according to D'Alton (King James's Irish Army List, Dublin, 1855), from a family long settled in Ireland. His ancestor, John Parker, was appointed constable of Dublin Castle in 1543, and from 1553 till his death in 1564 was master of the rolls in Ireland (Cal. of State Papers, Ireland). Colonel John Parker was born about 1654. His father, William Parker, excise commissioner in 1652–3, and afterwards a physician at Margate, was probably the William Parker who graduated in medicine at Bourges in 1634, and who in 1664 became an honorary fellow of the London College of Physicians. His mother was Judith, daughter of Roger Beckwith of Aldborough, Yorkshire. In 1676 he was appointed captain of a company in the Duke of Monmouth's regiment in France, in 1678 he became captain in the Duke of York's regiment, in 1681 brigadier-lieutenant, in 1683 lieutenant in the guards, in 1685 captain of horse; later in that year major of Lord Arran's cavalry regiment, and in 1687 lieutenant-colonel of that regiment (Dalton, Army Lists, 1892–1894). He followed James II to St. Germain and to Ireland, and was wounded at the Boyne, where his troop of cavalry sustained severe losses. Burnet describes him as employed in France ‘in many black designs;’ while Speaker Onslow, whose mother was Parker's niece, says: ‘There was nothing that was the most desperate or even wicked which he would not have undertaken for the service of his master, from a strange notion of fidelity and honour.’ Arrested in London in 1693 as a party to the assassination plot against William III, Parker escaped, and was seen publicly playing bowls in Southwark, disappearing, however, before the arrival of the soldiers sent to secure him. In May 1694 he was again apprehended in Bloomsbury, and sent to the Tower, where he was kept in close confinement, and denied writing materials. He had been implicated in Grandval's confession, and in June 1694 a true bill was found against him, but the trial was postponed. On 11 Aug., Sir John Friend having bribed a warder, Parker escaped. A reward of 400l. was vainly offered for his apprehension. He was repeatedly spoken of in the trials of Charnock and Friend, but is not mentioned by Macaulay. In October 1696 he accompanied the Duke of Berwick to London. Contrary to his father's injunctions, Berwick made himself known to his mother, Arabella Churchill, who, perhaps to prevent suspicion of her son's visit, gave information as to Parker, who had to flee to France and to explain the reason of his flight to James. Berwick, upbraided by the latter for his imprudence, bore a grudge against Parker, who in November 1698 was again suspected of being in London, but was fruitlessly searched for. In 1702 Louis XIV reluctantly ordered the arrest of Parker, who by his unguarded talk had incurred the animosity of Mary of Modena and her favourite, Charles, second earl of Middleton [q. v.] He was confined in the Bastille from 16 Aug. 1702 till June 1704. On his release his pension of four hundred francs from the French court was restored, but he was forbidden to approach St. Germain, and required to reside at Chalons. His treatment had so disgusted him with Jacobitism and catholicism (which latter belief, contrary to Onslow's opinion, he had embraced) that he made overtures through his wife to Caillaud, a secret agent of the English government, offering to renounce both and to serve under Anne. Caillaud in June 1704, and again in December 1705, advised the acceptance of the offer, but apparently without result. Nothing more is known of Parker. His two sons did not follow him into exile, but attained high rank in the British army and navy.

[Munk's Coll. of Phys.; Dugdale's Visitation (Surtees Soc.), 1859; Luttrell's Diary; Burnet's Hist. of Own Times, with Onslow's notes; London Gazette, 16 Aug. 1694; Reports of Assassination Plot Trials; Ravaisson's Archives de la Bastille, vol. x. Berwick in his memoirs does not mention Parker.]

J. G. A.