Theodore Parker.

Genealogy and biographical notes of John Parker of Lexington and his descendants: Showing his earlier ancestry in America from Dea. Thomas Parker of Reading, Mass., from 1635 to 1893 online

. (page 24 of 47)
Online LibraryTheodore ParkerGenealogy and biographical notes of John Parker of Lexington and his descendants: Showing his earlier ancestry in America from Dea. Thomas Parker of Reading, Mass., from 1635 to 1893 → online text (page 24 of 47)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

his only funeral services consisted of the reading of the Beati-
tudes by his friend Mr. Cunningham. He lies in the Protest-
ant Cemetery in Florence, a plain stone of gray marble over
his grave, bearing his name and the dates of his birth and
death. An American pine tree has also been planted there.

Up to the time when he was taken with haemorrhage, the
strong constitution inherited from the long line of hardy Massa-
chusetts ancestors had preserved him through 40 years of
constant application and toil ; it had carried him triumphantly
through hundreds of extraordinary exertions. The crisis was
naturally severe. Experienced physicians declared the chances
of recovery as one in ten. "If that is all I'll conquer," he
replied, "I have fought ninety-nine against one, — yes, nine
hundred and ninety-nine against one, — and conquered." Had
he possessed a restful nature he might have recovered, but
travelling was his element for continual mental occupation.
He must know the name of every tree, read every new book,
take daily excursions into the country wherever he was. He
was constantly studying the habits, occupations and religion
of the inhabitants, classifying the products, the minerals and


the value of properties, thus becoming acquainted with the
whole history of every country he visited. While at Santa
Cruz he wrote his volume "Experience as a Minister." In
Switzerland his health improved for a time. He wrote to a
friend :

"I am still full of hope that the human mortal life will hold out
long enough for me to hammer over again some of the many irons I
have laid in the fire and got ready for the anvil. Indeed, I laid out
my life to work publicly and hard till sixty, and then have a quiet
afternoon till eighty for getting in my hay ; but if the hour strikes at
forty-eight, let not you nor me complain,"

The last insertion in his journal states :

"When I die I wish to be buried in the old burying place at Lex-
ington, where my fathers since 1709 — four generations of them —
have laid their venerable bones. I wish to be put near ihem.

"My life has failed of much I meant to hit, and might have
reached, nay, should, had there been ten or twenty years left for me.
But it has not been a mean life nor a selfish one. Above all things
else I have sought to teach the true idea of man, of God, of religion,
with its truths, its duties, and its joys. I never fought for myself
nor against a private foe, but have gone into the battle of the nine-
teenth century and followed the flag of humanity. I would rather
lay my bones with my father's in Lexington and think I may ; but
will not complain if earth or sea shall cover them up elsewhere."

But in Rome the winter was cold and damp. He wrote :

" Rome is the dampest city I was ever in. I have lost three pounds
a week since I left Switzerland and have gained nothing but a great

He welcomed the fair city of Florence with joy, although
he well knew it was to be his last earthly home.

Thus passed away before he had reached his fiftieth birth-
day this unique and much-gifted man. No man was ever
more cordially hated by such as upheld the errors, hypocrisies
and iniquities which he exposed ; none was ever more deeply
and tenderly loved, by those who recognized his true great-
ness and manliness, or felt the magnetism of his influence.
Those of his personal friends who survive hold him ever as a
sacred memory in their hearts, and count it as the choicest of
blessings that they were privileged to come within the charmed
circle of his presence.


It is impossible to estimate at this time what he has accom-
plished in the various lines in which he worked. In the pro-
gress which has been made in the liberalizing of theology in
all denominations his influence is so marked that it cannot be
disputed. The Unitarians, who cast him out, have acknowl-
edged their error, and now seek to retrieve their folly by
honoring his memory. His portrait hangs in their hall, and
his writings are printed and circulated by their association,
with its imprint upon the title page. They have left behind
the dogmas for attacking which they so eagerly denounced
him. The various branches of the Orthodox Church, though
not acknowledging the debt they owe to him, are moving in
the same direction, and the modifications and humanizing of
their creeds, which is continually in process, is unquestion-
ably largely due to his efforts. Dean Stanley, when he came
to America, said that Theodore Parker had contributed more
to theological progress than any other religious thinker in this
century. His anti-slavery work was a powerful factor in the
abolition of slavery and in the triumph of the Union in the
war of the Rebellion. The other reforms in behalf of which
he labored owe much of their progress to his clear statement
and able advocacy.

He was, said Emerson :

''A man who has put us all into his debt by his brave life and
incessant labor in the cause of truth, freedom, good morals, religion
and good sense, here and throughout the world ; and whose single
and unaided performances in behalf of learning and humanity might
well put colleges and churches to shame. . . .

"New England put into him her choicest elements, made him as
it were the incarnation of her characteristic genius. Her granite
hills bequeathed to him their stern inflexibility ; her climate gave
him hardihood and health ; her summer and winter left upon him
their deposits of verdure and snow.

"Such was the largeness of his reception of facts and his skill to
employ them, that it looked as if he were some president of council
to whom a score of telegraphs were ever bringing in reports ; and
his information would have been excessive but for the noble use he
made of it, ever in the interest of humanity. He had a strong under-
standing, a logical method, a love for facts, a rapid eye for their
historic relations, and a skill in stripping them of traditional lustres.

"The vice charged against America is the want of sincerity in


leading men. It does not lie at his door. He never kept back the
truth for fear of making an enemy. It was his merit, like Luther,
to speak tart truth when that was peremptory, when there were few
to sav it. But his sympathy for goodness was not less energetic.
His commanding merit as a reformer is this, — that he insisted beyond
all men in pulpits that the essence of Christianity is its practical
morals ; it is there for use, or it is nothing. . . .

"There were of course multitudes to censure and defame this
truth-speaker. But the brave know the brave. . . .

" The sudden and singular eminence of Mr. Parker, the importance
of his name and influence, are the verdict of his country to his
virtues. We have few such men to lose. Amiable and blameless at
home, feared abroad as the standard-bearer of liberty, taking all the
duties he could grasp, he has gone down in early glory to his grave,
to be a living and enlarging power, wherever learning, wit, honest
valor and independence are honored."

Wendell Phillips said of him :

"No sect, no special study, no one idea bounded his sympathy,
but he was generous in judgment where a common man would have
found it hard to be so. He raised the level of sermons intellectually
and morally. Other preachers were compelled to grow in manly
thought and Christian morals in very self defence. No man ever
needed to read any of his sentences twice to catch its meaning.
None suspected that he thought other than he said or more than he
confessed. He was far other than a bitter critic, though thank God
for every drop of bitterness that came like a wholesome rebuke on
the dead saltless sea of American life ! Thank God for every Christ-
ian admonition that the Holy Spirit breathed through those manly
lips. But if he deserved any single word, it was generous. Born
on a New England farm in those days when small incomings made
every dollar a matter of importance, he no sooner had command of
wealth than he lived with open hands. Not even the darling ambi-
tion of a great library ever tempted him to close his ear to need.
Go to Venice or Vienna, to Frankfort or to Paris, and ask the refu-
gees who have gone back — when here friendless exiles but for him —
under whose roof they felt most at home."

Moncure D. Conway of New York recently placed this
tribute to his memory :

" Dr. Gannett, the great, though always fair, antagonist of Theo-
dore Parker, has written of him : ' He was a very learned man and
a tender, true-hearted man, honest and thorough.' The whole
source of Parker's heresies is in that sentence. Because Parker was


a very learned man he could not accept statements which criticism
and scholarship had to him proved erroneous ; because he was tender
and true-hearted he rejected traditional conceptions which to him
showed God heartless ; because he was honest he spoke out what he
believed. Those who once resisted his teachings, now favor his
writings. While Boston society disowned him, he was of all men
the most Bostonian. If Boston did not love Parker, Parker loved
Boston. As an example of the transiency alluded to, Parker's con-
cept of deity may be adduced. Nothing can be more perfect than
his ideal of a deity supremely wise, loving and at work in all the
laws of the universe, present in all events, minute or vast. Darwin,
even more sweet and gentle than Parker, walked by facts rather than
by faith, and he proved that the evils we had, though superficial and
transient, were inherent in the very organization of nature. I believe
the verdict must be that Parker was indeed tender to individuals, yet
writing beneath the musket which another Captain Parker used at
Lexington he felt himself struggling in a revolution against great
religious and political oppressions ; therefore his words were some-
times as hard as bullets, though each tore his heart as it went forth ;
but this is the inevitable inconsistency of all men who kneel to wor-
ship infinite perfection everywhere, then rise up to fight imperfection
everywhere. There will some day be centennials of spiritual inde-
pendence and of the union of religious colonies, and in that day
every scrap of testimony concerning Theodore Parker will be searched
for as is now every scrap relating to Washington. His will be a far
greater name then than now, for it will take a century to sum up the
results of his work. Theodore Parker ! Thy work is achieved ;
thy congregation may be dismissed. We are free."

His relative and playmate in childhood, warm friend through
life, Columbus Greene, Esq., says:

"While at the Divinity School at Cambridge I seldom saw him.
I had left the old homestead and we were more widely separated,
but we corresponded every month and we were familiar with each
other's welfare. I visited him once while there, and when I asked
him if he was taxed hard by the lessons assigned him, he replied,
' Oh no, it takes me about two hours.' He then showed me a list of
the books he had read and what volumes he had written of the sub-
jects treated and his opinions. The time was pleasantly spent at the
Divinity School in some respects, while in others it was not. He
entered the school in harmony with the Unitarian belief as generally
held, but he gradually departed from it, and his sermons in the school
were said to be dry and scholastic and called forth reproof from his


professor. He diftered so much from the doctrines taught that on
'Visitation Day' a certain D.D. said, that he had no denominational
character ^ that he was an eclectic. Their frowns were more numer-
ous than their smiles of approbation, but it did not move him from
his fixed purpose to cling to what he believed to be right.

"His history after he entered the ministry, with its joys and soi'-
rows, is clearly described by Weiss and Frothingham, but I wish to
say that from his early youth he was conscientious, tenaciously
attached to what he believed to be right, and the best scholar and the
greatest reader I ever knew. The amount of his reading was marvel-
lous, his passing through books was like a locomotive on a down
grade with full head of steam and brakes ofl^'.

"His memory was remarkable; he retained what he read. In
his library in Boston, worth $20,000, he could tell readily what
each volume treated upon. A gentleman seeking for information
upon a given subject, once called upon him to see if he had a book
in his library that treated upon that subject, and as my memory
serves me, he replied, ' No, but if you will go to the library at Har-
vard University in the northeast corner on the second shelf from the
floor, and the third book from the corner, I think you will find it.'

"His organ of language was very fully developed. He once said
to me ' Some people are troubled for words to express themselves,
but as for me as much as five sets of words come up and I have to
select from them.' He was naturally tender-hearted, diffident and
retiring, but when he thought what was right was assailed he was
brave as a Spartan. Circumstances would show him to be as tender
as the kindest mother, or as argumentative as Webster in his reply
to Hayne, or as terrible in denunciation as the cyclone that sweeps
all before it. His father would have been pleased to have had him
studied law, and for a time it was a question whether he should be a
lawyer or a minister, but he soon decided that he could not consci-
entiously be a lawyer and he chose to be a minister. His aim from
early life was not only to be learned, but to be useful to mankind, to
do and defend what he believed to be right, if in so doing he stood
alone. Being intimately acquainted with him I have no doubt but
what he would have given up his life rather than to have ceased to
cry out against what he believed to be wrong. I think he was the
most fearless man I ever knew when almost overwhelmed by oppo-
sition. If any differ from me let them read his speeches and sermons
when most public men were as quiet as those in the sepulchre ; his
sermon after the death of Webster, his speech in Faneuil Hall after
the arrest of Anthony Burns, and his sermon after he was carried
back to slavery, 'The New Crime against Humanity.' I admired


him for his vivid conscience, his great ability, his devotion to what
he behaved was right and his fearlessness in defending it, however
much he might suffer in so doing."

Some of the published works of Rev. Theodore Parker are :

Occasional Sermons and Speeches, 2 vols., izmo, 1852.
Ten Sermons on Religion, 1853.

Sermons on Theism, Atheism and Popular Theology, 1853.
Additional Speeches, Addresses, etc., 2 vols., i2mo, 1855.
Trial of Theodore Parker for the "Misdemeanor of a Speech
delivered in Faneuil Hall against Kidnapping," 1855.
Two Christmas Celebrations, 1859.
Experience as a Minister, 1859.

To these add the masterly pamphlet-sermons and addresses
on "Immortal Life," on "The Perils of Adversity and Pros-
perity," "What Religion will do for a Man," "Lesson for a
Midsummer Day," "The Function and Place of Conscience,"
the "Sermon of Poverty," " Of War," " Of Merchants," "The
Chief Sins of the People," "The Power of a False Idea," of
"The Perishing Classes," "The Dangerous Classes," "Great
Cities," "The Dangers and Duties of Woman," "Crime,"
"Intemperance," and we have a partial list of his best sermons.
He left unpublished about i,ooo sermons and lectures, among
which is a series of lectures on great Americans, some of which
are to be published. Different admirers of his works have
privately compiled "Sermons and Lectures by Theodore
Parker," amounting in all to about 18 different publications.
Besides his autobiography by O. B. Frothingham, a more
extensive one by John Weiss, and a third by A. Revielle of
Paris, entitled "Theodore Parker, sa vie et sa CEuvres," 1865,
and in English, London, Dec, 1865, i2mo. He left the chief
part of all his very valuable library, 11,900 books and 2,500
pamphlets, to the Boston City Library.

Theodore Parker was a very affable man. His acquaint-
ances included people of all classes of society and all kinds of
people. He was easily approached, as he was very pleasant
and genial in his countenance and temperament. His friends
were everywhere, he seemed to know everybody. But little
above the average height he was very firmly built and carried
a rugged appearance. His wife continued to reside in Boston,
where she died several years since. They had no issue.


134. Mary Parker (Robert,^ John^ Josiak,^ John,'^
Hananiah,^ Thomas^ )^d.?cci. of Robert and Elizabeth (Simonds)
Parker, was b. in Lexington, Dec. 26, 1794; rn. April 11,
1822, Isaac W. Lawrence, native of Lexington, b. Nov. 18,
1796, son of Phinehas and Polly (Wellington) Lawrence of
Lexington. He d. Nov. 18, 1843. She d. Nov. 30, 1881.

Their children were :

1. Albert S. Lawrence, b. in Lexington, Jan. i, 1823 ; d. Aug.

I, 1856.

2. Henry L. Lawrence, b. in Lexington, Aug. 17, 1824; m.

March 30, 1852, Lucy M. Ham of Rochester, N. H., b. in
Rochester, Nov. 14, 1830. He and his brother are merchants
at Faneuil Hall Market, Boston. All the children were b. in
Lexington :

I. Helen M. Lawrence, b. Dec. 27, 1852.

II. Mary A. Lawrence, b. Aug. 7, 1854.

III. Anna Lawrence, b. May 9, 1857.

IV. Alice S. Lawrence, b. Dec. 6, 185S.
V. Henry D. Lawrence, b. Oct. 9, i860.

VI. Gertrude A. Lawrence, b. Nov. 26, 1863.
VII. MiNOT R. Lawrence, b. July 20, 1867.
VIII. Grace Lawrence, b. Oct. 6, 186S ; d. Aug. 10, 1S69.
IX. Effie Lawrence, b. May 24, 1871 ; d. July 21, 1872.
X. Dana Lawrence, b. Dec. 5, 1875.

3. John Parker Lawrence, b. in Lexington, Dec. 37, 1830; m.

July 15, i860, Georgianna Williams of Boston, b. in Boston,
April 3, 1823. Their children were :
I. Albert P. Lawrence, b. in Boston. July 31, 1863.
II. Mary H. Lawrence, b. in Boston, Oct. 15, 1864.

III. George L. Lawrence, b. in Boston, July 20, 1868.

IV. Charles H. Lawrence, b. in Cambridge, Oct. 16, 1869 ;

d. Aug. II, 1870.
V. Blanche L. Lawrence, b. in Cambridge, July 22, 1873.

4. Theodore M. Lawrence, b. in Lexington, Jan. 5, 1837 ! '^•

Oct. 7, i860, Sarah J. Luther of Boston, b. in Boston, Aug.
10, 1838, and d. Aug. 10, 1863. He d. Jan. 18, 1888.
Their children were :

I. Henry A. Lawrence, b. in Boston, Nov. 9, i860; d.
Oct. 3, 1S61.

II. Grace Lawrence, b. in Boston, Nov. 19, 1862; d. Jan.

4, 1863.


135. Eliza Eleanor Parker (Robert,^ Jokn,^ Josiah,^
yohn,^ Hanamah,^ Thomas^), dau. of Robert and Elizabeth
(Simonds) Parker, was b. in Lexington, Sept. 20, 1804 ; m.
April 12, 1829, Nathan Robbins of W. Cambridge, son of
Nathan and Rebecca (Prentiss) Robbins of W. Cambridge,
now Arlington. He had stalls in Faneuil Hall Market, where
he dealt in poultry and wild game. He was one of the
founders of the Faneuil Hall Bank, and was its president up
to the time of his death.

Their children were :

1. Edwin Robbins, b. in W. Cambridge, Jan. 9, 1832; m. 1852,

Ellen S. Daniels, b. in W. Cambridge, Feb. 7, 1833, dau. of
John P. and Elinor S. (Whittemore) Daniels. Children :
I. Frank Robbins.
II. Henry Parker Robbins.

III. Nelly Robbins.

IV. Nathan Robbins.

2. Orrin Robbins, b. in W. Cambridge, Aug., 1835 ; d. in Phila-

delphia in 1868.

3. Alvin Robbins, b. in W. Cambridge, Sept., 1837; ^- Emma

DebloisofW. Cambridge (now Arlington). Children:
I. Amelia F. Robbins.
II. Clinton A. Robbins.
III. Clarence Robbins.

136. Almira Parker (Robert,^ Jokn,^ Josmk,^ Jo/m,^
Hananiah,^ Thomas^), dau. of Robert and Elizabeth (Si-
monds) Parker, was b. in Lexington, Aug. 30, 1806; m.
Oct. I, 1837, Joshua Robbins of W. Cambridge.

Their children were :
I. J. MiNOT Robbins, b. 1838; d. 1S69, unm. He served in the

War of the Rebellion, and was in business in Philadelphia, Pa.
3. A. Leonard Robbins, who d. unm.
3. R. Oscar Robbins ; he m. and had at least two children, who

are now living in Virginia. The parents are deceased.

137. Jonathan Simonds Parker (Robert,^ John,^
yosiah,'^ yokn,^ Hanamah,^ Thomas'^), son of Robert and
Elizabeth (Simonds) Parker, was b. in Lexington, July 30,
1812; m. Dec. 29, 1835, Abigail Tuttle, b. in Lexington,


Aug. 2, 1814, dau. of David and Abigail (Smith) Tuttle.
The dau. Abigail was the great-great-grand-dau. of Lt.
Josiah Parker, through Anna Parker, No. 14, Thomas Smith
(page 72), and Abigail Smith Tuttle (page 72). Se.e Srrata.
The father, David Tuttle, was b. in Winchendon, Dec. 2,
1782, son of Jedediah, a Revolutionary veteran.

Jonathan S. Parker was storekeeper. His place of business
was the old location which G. W. Spaulding now occupies.
He early associated himself with military affairs and became
captain of the Lexington artillery. He filled the most im-
portant town offices, was treasurer five years, from 1839 ^^
1844, assessor of that town from 1850 to 1857, and 1859, ^"^^
selectman three years.

Jonathan S. Parker was even when young a man to whom
many of the town offices were entrusted, and must have proved
worthy as he was ever ready to aid any good cause. He was
a gentleman in the finest sense of the word, honest and fear-
less in his convictions. He was public spirited, genial, ready
with a joke, fond of reading and in this way educated himself
after his early leaving school. He was kind and helpful to
any one in trouble, and although he died comparatively young
his memory is still fresh in the minds of his many friends.
Jonathan S. Parker was a man of mind, of true honor, of ex-
cellent business abilities and was a highly respected citizen.
He d. in Lexington, July 5, 1859, and his widow d. April 4,

Their children were :

John Henry Parker, b. Sept. 16, 1836; d. Sept. 12, 1S55.

Elizabeth Simonds Parker, b. Sept. 30, 1838 ; resides in Lexing-
ton, unm. She is a teacher in Boston, where she has taught in
the grammar schools for 20 years.

Esther Tuttle Parker, b. Feb. 21, 1842; resides in Lexington,
Li n m .

307. Abby M. Parker, b. April 23, 1847; m. Geo. H. Cutter of

308. Georgiana Tuttle Parker, b. Oct. 12, 1S49; ^'^' Charles
W. Converse of Woburn.

Emma Frances Parker, b. April 8, 1853. Siie is a teacher in


Ellen Henry Parker, b. June 28, 1858 ; teacher for some years
in Lexington; m. Sept. 2, 1891, George B. Grant of Boston; re-
sides in Dorchester.

138. William Bowers Parker (Robert,^ John,^
yostah,^ John^^ Ilanamah,^ Thomas^), son of Robert and
Elizabeth (Simonds) Parker, was b. in Lexington, Jan. 13,
1817 ; m. in Lexington, Nov. 30, 1843, Elizabeth Garfield of
Charlestown, whose parents were Emery Garfield of New
Hampshire and Betsey Harrington of Lexington. They lived
in Charlestown.

Their children were :

Mary Eliza Parker, b. Feb. 3, 1844; m. Sept. 20, 1864, Albert

W. Lewis of Charlestown, son of Seth W., native of Claremont,

N. H., and Sarah (Stone) Lewis, native of Weare, N. H. Their

dau. was :

I. Mary Adelaide Lewis, b. June 14, 1865 ; m. July 17, 1884,

J. Eugene Hyland of Augusta, Me., and resides in Everett.

Almira Robbins Parker, b. Oct. i, 1845; m. Thomas Faber of

Everett, now residing in Weston. She d. Oct. 4, 1882. Their

son was :

I. George W. Faber, b. July 31, 1870. Resides in Everett.
309. JosiAH Bowers Parker, b. Aug. 31, 1848; m. Cristina

Savage of Everett.
Lucius N. Parker, b. April 7, 1851 ; d. May, 1856.
Edith Josephine Parker, b. Dec. 26, 1854; ^^'^- Edward Faber of

Everett. She d. May 20, 1874, and her child has since died.
Ellen E. Parker, b. Feb, 26, i860; d. Dec, 1867.

139. Samuel Parker (Levi,^ Joseph, '= Josiah,'^ John,^
Hananiah,^ Thomas^), son of Levi and Mary (Lyon) Parker,
was b. in Hubbardston, March 4, 1787 ; m. in Potsdam, N.
Y., Jan. 16, 1823, Lurania Akins, b. May 6, 1793, dau. of
Nathaniel and Mary (Tupper) Akins. Samuel Parker was a
farmer and lived in Potsdam. He was also overseer of the
poor. He d. in Potsdam, N. Y., May 6, 1855. She d. Nov.
24, 1879. In a local journal appeared the following compli-
mentary obituary notice of Samuel Parker :

"There are few men who better deserve a note of commendation
when they pass away from us than those strong and enterprising citi-


zens who encountered the difficulties incident to new settlements, and
whose industry serves to lay the foundation for generations to come.
In this point of view our respected neighbor and friend now gone
well deserves the tribute of a brief notice. Mr. Samuel Parker came

Online LibraryTheodore ParkerGenealogy and biographical notes of John Parker of Lexington and his descendants: Showing his earlier ancestry in America from Dea. Thomas Parker of Reading, Mass., from 1635 to 1893 → online text (page 24 of 47)