Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Parker, Thomas Lister
PARKER, THOMAS LISTER (1779–1858), antiquary, born at Browsholme Hall, Yorkshire, on 27 Sept. 1779, was the eldest of the eight sons of John Parker of Browsholme, M.P. for Clitheroe, Lancashire, by his wife Beatrix, daughter of Thomas Lister of Gisburne Park, Yorkshire. He was educated at the Royal grammar school, Clitheroe, under the mastership of the Rev. Thomas Wilson, B.D., and at Christ's College, Cambridge. On the death of his father on 25 May 1797 he succeeded to the Browsholme estate. In 1804 and 1805 he made alterations in Browsholme Hall—a house of the sixteenth century—rebuilt the west wing, and afterwards made additions under the superintendence of Sir Jeffrey Wyatville. Parker had a taste for landscape gardening, and between 1797 and 1810 spent large sums in laying out his grounds. In the house he displayed a collection of antiquities and pictures, partly formed by himself. He had a large series of drawings and prints bought by him during a tour on the continent in 1800 and 1801, at Moscow, Venice, and Paris; a large collection of drawings of castles and manor-houses by J. C. Buckler, and many portfolios of his own drawings. He also possessed pictures of the Flemish school and works of Northcote and Gainsborough. In 1815 (London, 4to) he published a ‘Description of Browsholme Hall … and of the Parish of Waddington.’ The volume included a collection of letters of the reigns of Charles I, Charles II, and James II, printed from the originals at Browsholme. The frontispiece gives a view of the exterior of the hall in 1750. The views of Browsholme in Dr. Whitaker's ‘Whalley’ were prepared at Parker's expense, one of them, signed ‘Wm. Turner A.,’ being by J. W. M. Turner, R.A. (see edition of 1872, i. 336–7, p. xviii). Parker was a constant associate of Whitaker, who largely used his antiquarian and genealogical manuscripts for his ‘History of Whalley.’ He was also a friend of Charles Towneley, the Hebers, Turner, and James Northcote.
Parker was elected F.S.A. in 1801, and afterwards F.R.S. He was high sheriff for Lancashire in 1804. He had the sinecure post of ‘Trumpeter to the Queen,’ and held the office—hereditary in his family for many generations—of ‘Bow-bearer of the forest of Bowland,’ Lancashire. In 1824 he sold Browsholme estate, with the mansion, to his cousin, Thomas Parker of Alkincoates, Lancashire, who, dying without issue in 1832, devised it to his nephew, Thomas Goulbourne Parker. During the later years of his life Parker retired from society, and chiefly resided at the Star Inn in Deansgate, Manchester, where he died, unmarried, on 2 March 1858. He was buried on 9 March in his family chapel in Waddington Church, Yorkshire. Parker was a kind and liberal patron of artists, but his lavish expenditure brought him into pecuniary difficulties in the latter part of his life. There are two portraits of Parker by James Northcote, one of them representing him at the age of twenty-five (see Parker, Descript. of Browsholme). Some of his letters are printed in Raine's ‘Life of Wilson of Clitheroe,’ 1858.[Parker's Descript. of Browsholme; Burke's Landed Gentry; Gent. Mag. 1858 pt. i. p. 446; Whitaker's Hist. of Whalley, ed. 1872, i. 336.]