Parkinson, Sydney (DNB00)

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PARKINSON, SYDNEY (1745?–1771), draughtsman, born in Edinburgh about 1745, was the younger son of Joel Parkinson, a quaker brewer of Edinburgh, by his wife Elizabeth. His father dying in straitened circumstances, Sydney was apprenticed to a wool-draper, but showed an aptitude for drawing, and before 1767 came to London. By the advice of James Lee, an artist, he was engaged by Sir Joseph Banks [q. v.] to accompany Captain Cook and himself in the Endeavour to the South Seas, as natural-history draughtsman, at a salary of 80l. a year.

Parkinson's ship left the Thames on 30 July 1768, and arrived in Funchal Bay, Madeira, on 13 Aug. She then proceeded to Rio and the South Seas. Under the direction of Banks and Dr. Solander, Parkinson made numerous drawings of botanical and other subjects, as well as landscapes and portraits of native chiefs. After leaving New Zealand, the expedition reached Batavia on 10 Oct., and remained there until 26 Dec. On leaving Prince's Island for the Cape of Good Hope, Parkinson succumbed to fever and dysentery on 26 Jan. 1771. He was buried at sea.

Parkinson, though young, was a good and intelligent draughtsman. Sir Joseph Banks speaks in unqualified terms of his ‘unbounded industry’ in making for him a much larger collection of drawings than he expected. His observations, too, were valuable, and the vocabularies of South Sea languages given in his ‘Journal’ are interesting. The circumstances attending the publication of this book were peculiar. Upon Sir Joseph's return to England, Parkinson's brother, Stanfield Parkinson, claimed, under a will executed before Sydney left England, all the drawings made by his brother in spare hours, as well as his journals and collections. A dispute ensuing, Dr. John Fothergill [q. v.] interposed, and Sir Joseph Banks agreed to pay to Stanfield Parkinson and his sister Britannia the sum of 500l. for balance of salary due, and for Sydney's collections and papers. The latter were, however, lent to Stanfield on his promise of return. He at once had them transcribed, and, with the assistance of Dr. Kenrick, prepared them for publication. An injunction, however, was obtained in chancery to restrain him from publishing until after the appearance of the volume then in preparation for the admiralty by Dr. John Hawkesworth [q. v.] Hawkesworth retaliated, after a fashion, by excluding mention of Parkinson from his ‘Journal of a Voyage round the World, in His Majesty's Ship Endeavour,’ &c., which appeared in 1771, although some of Parkinson's papers were used in its preparation. Similarly his name was not allowed to appear on any of his drawings in ‘An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere,’ &c., by John Hawkesworth, LL.D., 3 vols. London, 1773.

The opposition narrative of the voyage was published later in 1773 under the title ‘A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas in His Majesty's Ship the Endeavour. Faithfully transcribed from the Papers of the late Sydney Parkinson, Draughtsman to Joseph Banks, Esq., on his late Expedition with Dr. Solander round the World. Embellished with Views and Designs, delineated by the Author, and engraved by capital Artists, London. Printed for Stanfield Parkinson, the Editor.’ Before the actual publication, however, Stanfield Parkinson died insane. The work contains a portrait by James Newton, representing Parkinson as a youth surrounded with drawing materials and specimens. Twenty-three plates from his drawings accompany the text. The originals of many of these, and some others, are preserved in the British Museum (Addit. MSS. 23920–23921). A second edition of the ‘Journal,’ by Dr. John Coakley Lettsom [q. v.], was published, London, 1784.

[Hawkesworth's Voyages, ii. 97, 123, iii. 780; Gent. Mag. July 1773 p. 342, August 1784 p. 603, January 1785 p. 52; Smith's Catalogue, ii. 260, Suppl. 1893, pp. 260, 261; Friends' Quarterly Examiner, xi. 97–9; Registers at Devonshire House.]

C. F. S.