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

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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 8 of 47)
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Woburn line. Mary Monroe must have been a lady of much
worth, coming from this flourishing and sturdy Monroe family.

The year following his marriage he purchased, May 29,
1749, of John Burt's heirs, then of Boston, an estate in Woburn
of 200 acres of rich farming land for the sum of £2,000. It
was in the west part of the town and but a few miles from his
home in Lexington. It was in this part of Woburn where the
Kendalls resided ; where Jabez Kendall lived until his mar-
riage to Sarah Parker of Lexington. The farm was bordered
by Samuel Kendall on the north and on the west by Samuel
Wyman. Later, in i77i,Josiah Parker bought much more
land, bounded, as the deed reads, north by the highway to
Lexington, and east by the highwa}- to Charlestown. This
was in the southwest part of the town and was adjacent to a
part of his other land. It is said that his house, the home-
stead site, stood between Cambridge and Lexington Streets.

Mr. and Mrs. Parker were connected with the Church in
Woburn. It may be that he saw service in the French and
Indian wars, or perhaps accompanied his brother, Capt. John
Parker of Lexington, in the memorable Louisburg expedition
of 1745, or in the French and Indian war; but one thing is
certain, that he was honored with the title of Lieut.

Characteristic of his family he was " joiner" as well as a
farmer. He had his "shop," which he mentions in his will,
wherein he made wagons, furniture and all farm implements.
In his will, which is preserved in Middlesex Probate Records,
he mentions Mar}^ my dearly beloved wife, Mary, my well
beloved dau., my eldest son Josiah Parker, my dau. Lydia,
son Edmund, dau. Martha, and sons Nathan and Benjamin.


He d. in Woburn, April i8, 1774, ^t the early age of 49.
All of his family were b. in Woburn.
Their children were :

40. Mary Parker, b. Dec. 25, 1749 ; m. (probably) John Gilmore.

41. JosiAH Parker, b. Nov. 25, 1751 ; m. Hannah Gardner of

42. Lydia Parker, b. Dec. 10, 1753; m, Jesse Wright, then of

43. Benjamin Parker, h. Jan. 30, 1756; m. Mehetable Tidd of

Nathan Parker, b. April i, 1758; d. young.
Anna Parker, b. Feb. 12, 1760; probably d. young.

44. Edmund Parker, b. March 17, 1762; m. (i) Lydia Jolinson,
(2) Mrs. Elizabeth Reed, both of Woburn.

Martha Parker, b. July 29, 1764.

Ruth Parker, b. Oct. 1, 1766. She probably d. young, as she
was not mentioned in her father's will.

45. Nathan Parker, b. Feb. 21, 1769; m. Polly Richardson of

Betty Parker, b. July 23, 1771.

In Woburn Death Records is recorded the death of a John Parker,
May 30, 1790. His identity is not plain. Perhaps he belonged to
the Reading families.

17. Capt. John Parker (Josia/i,^ Joh^i,^ Hananiah^
Thomas'), son of Lieut. Josiah and Anna (Stone) Parker,
was b. in Lexington, July 13. 1729. He passed his boyhood
upon his father's farm amid the hardships and warfare of the
early times.

He was early connected with the military company of the
town, and was trained by his father, Lieut. Josiah Parker.
Unfortunately the period of his services in the French and
Indian wars cannot be ascertained, as all the rolls of the Lex-
ington men have not been preserved. Some of the Lexington
men were attached to the famous corps known as "Rogers's
Rangers," to which Capt. Edmund Monroe at one time be-
longed, and quite likely John Parker as well. This company
is thus described by the historian of Lexington :

"This was the corps in which vStark served his military apprentice-
ship; — a corps whose name was expressive of the life they led —
ranging through the wilderness, seeking their wary savage foe by


day or by night in silent glens or secret ambush: — a corps whose
winter quarters were in tedious marchings amid drifted snows,
frozen lakes and ice clad hills, — relying sometimes upon snow shoes
and sometimes on skates for locomotion, and carrying their only
arsenal and commissariat in their packs. In such a corps were some
of the hardv sons of Lexington trained — they, knowing that their
lives were in their own hands and that their escape from the toma-
hawk and scalping knife, the tortures of the faggot or ignominious
slavery, depended entirely upon their own severe trials, perpetual
watchings and determined courage."

John Parker was at the capture of Louisburg in 1758, and
was at the taking of Quebec in 1759. ^^ ^^'^^ made a ser-
geant in this war. The war of the Revolution which fol-
lowed, and the great armies in the service of the late Rebellion
have thrown the French and Indian War in a great measure
into the shade. Few people at the present time realize the
toils, the sufferings and the sacrifices made by the colony at
that time to sustain the cause and strengthen the arm of the
mother country, which was shortly after raised to crush the
patriotic colonists. From 1755 to 1763 Massachusetts per-
iormed an amount of military service almost unparalleled.
Minot, the historian, says that in the year 1757 one-third of the
effective men in the colony were in some way or other in the
field. The patriotic devotion of the colony, and the zeal with
which the brave soldiers served Great Britain should have
excited her gratitude and induced her to respect their rights.

John Parker m. in Lexington, May 25, 1755, Lydia Moore,
b. in Lexington, Jan. 18, 1731, third dau. of Thomas and
Mary Moore of Lexington, who lived, if tradition be correct,
in a house, man}' years since in ruins, not far west of the
present poor farm. They were admitted to the Church Oct.
31, 1756. After the settlement of his father's estate the other
sons in course of time removed from town and he bought out
their shares. Mr. Parker was a successful farmer and col-
lected a respectable estate. He was a skilful "-joiner" as well
as a good mechanic. He became assessor, constable and col-
lector of his town. Royal assessments known as "the stamp
act," involving consequences of great importance, were levied
often upon the colonial towns. The collector received the
document and was obliged to collect its quota or go to jail.


As John Parker was assessor this duty fell upon him, and at
Lexington is preserved one of the papers, which best explains
the condition of affairs at this time. The citizens could not
anticipate their coming, which was irregular, or the amount
which might be stated in them.

John Parker was a stout, large framed man, of medium
height, somewhat like his illustrious grandson, Theodore
Parker, in personal appearance, but had a much longer face.
He was fond of learning and reading, as from Parson Clark's
diary we learn he was one of those who often borrowed his
valued books, treasures at that time.

The Church and town were one, consequently the minister
was the most influential man in the town. The ardent patriot,
Parson Jonas Clark, plainly exposed the doctrine for which
Massachusetts rose in arms. He levied high treason in the
house of God, and upon his fellow-citizens, and finally upon
the whole country — his influence was inestimable. The
Parkers for several generations used to love to go to Church,
they were the best of hearers of the Word, and faithful doers
too, but they had their own thoughts and resolved as well as

Probably the name of Capt. John Parker would have no
place in history had not the events and circumstances of the
times brought the British to Lexington. But do not the
results well show that no better man could have been chosen
to represent the colonists in their first defence? He was equal
to the emergency, and may we ever honor his name.

The whole country was equally alive and it needed only a
spark to kindle the fire of liberty, and any village might have
been the scene of the first resistance. The Lexington company
of minute-men, formed about 1774, comprised the principal
men of the town. John Parker was at that time 45 years of
age. He must have been a man of admitted character and
one who commanded the confidence of the people. When in
1774 and "75 the town made an effort to organize a company
of minute-men, we have a record over his signature in this
language, showing his military leadership, and seems the first
note of preparation to the bloody drama so soon to be enacted :


"Lexington, March 14, 1775.

"Agreeable to the vote of the town I have received by the hands

of the Selectmen the drums — there were two — provided by the town

for the use of Military Company in this town until the further order

of the town.

John Parker."

There were in town at that period Lieut. Edmund Monroe
and Ens. Robert Monroe, both of whom had held commissions
in the French War, besides 25 or 30 more who had seen
service on the "tented field," and the fact that Parker was
selected to command that company and that these officers and
soldiers were willing to volunteer and serve under him, shows
that he was a man of more than ordinary ability and one to be
trusted in any emergency.

Capl. Parker shouldered his gun on the evening of the i8th
of April, left his home and seven young children, proceeded
to the village and there awaited the arrival of messengers from
Boston. He placed a guard composed of Sergt. Monroe and
eight men around Rev. John Clark's house, where the hunted
patriots, John Hancock and Samuel Adams, were that night
stopping. Paul Revere arrived in Lexington at midnight.
He immediateh' gave the alarm at the parson's house. At
two in the morning Capt. Parker caused the alarm to be
sounded from the belfrj' on Lexington green and by the beat-
ing of drums. The minute-men hastened from their firesides,
and all finally assembled upon the common. The night being
cool the company was soon dismissed with orders to assemble
again at the beat of the drum. The greater portion retired to
Buckman's tavern near the place of parade. At half-past
four Parker called the roll of his company, forming the line
near the meeting-house. He then commanded —

"Every man of you who is equipped follow me, and those of you
who are not go into the meeting-house and furnish himself from the
magazine and immediately join the company."

Afterward came the order to load the guns. As the British
approached and the little band of 60 stood before 600 dis-
ciplined troops, a few of them naturally for a moment faltered,
Capt. Parker sternly replied, "The first man who offers to
run shall be shot down." When the British halted and




Pitcairn cried out "Disperse, ye villians, ye rebels," etc., our
Captain showed his cool and prudent judgment in evading the
mighty disaster which aggression on the part of his troops
would have been, by firmly ordering, "Don't fire unless fired
upon, but if they want a war let it begin here." He was
always gentlemanly. As he stood before the British host no
profane sentence sullied his lips, sorely tempted though he
may have been in the peril and excitement of that hour.
What a contrast did the language of the American commander
present to that of Maj. Pitcairn, when, with oaths, he dis-
charged his pistol and ordered his men to fire. They over-
shot and no one was injured, but at their second discharge
nearly one-fourth of the little compan}^ were killed or wounded.
The little band then returned the fire with some effect and
the war was begun ! The British charged upon them, upon
which perilous state of affairs Capt. Parker ordered his men,
"Disperse and take care of yourselves." With a cheer the
British resumed their march, having first bayoneted Jonas
Parker, who was determined to face the British. He was
Capt. Parker's cousin and the first man bayoneted in our
American Revolution. (See page 50.) Far better would it
have been for Major Pitcairn and his command to have re-
flected from the brave resistance shown by Jonas Parker of
the probable reception awaiting them. Far better for his men
if he had then and there wheeled around and marched back
to Boston. How heartily the example offered by Parker,
together with the fate of the other victims, was told from mouth
to mouth, and how the minute-men responded b}^ their pres-
ence that day !

Capt. Parker had not only trained his company but had
formed an "Alarm List," as was the custom, to which the
boys and old men belonged. He trained all who could carry
a musket, and during the day many of them got in chance
shots at the enemy, and some of the boys carried water in
wooden bowls to the men. Besides Capt. Parker and his
cousin Jonas Parker, there was the latter's nephew. Corporal
Ebenezer Parker, and the Captain's brother, Thaddeus Parker,
who were in the fight that day. It is shown in another part
how Ebenezer's father, Thomas Parker, defended his family


and property from British insult, although he was still con-
fined to his house. In the forenoon Capt. Parker gathered
the remainder of his company and marched toward Concord
to intercept the British at the best advantage. In Lincoln, as
they saw the enemy returning, he led the men into an open
field, and they fired once more upon the enemy. Troops
from Woburn, Acton, Reading and other towns had arrived.
From Woburn were Captain Parker's nephews, Edmund and
Josiah Parker. From Reading came 17 who bore the name
of Parker, who, under command of Capt. Brooks, kept up a
hot fire upon the enemy's column during the remainder of the

In the following May John Parker led a part of his company,
45 men, to Cambridge, upon order of the Provincial Congress,
and they served from the sixth to the tenth. Again on the
day of the battle of Bunker Hill he was with 69 men at Cam-
bridge ready for action. He was not in perfect health on the
day of the battle of Lexington. At Bunker Hill he was too
ill to be allowed to enter the turmoil of the battle, so he dis-
contentedly commanded troops who guarded the "Neck" that
day. He was never well afterwards and an epidemic dysen-
tery in September found him an eas}^ prey. He died at an
early age for his long-lived family, aged 46, Sept. 17, 1775.
He who was so brave and true at the beginning of the struggle
saw not the end nor the glory.

His direct descendant, Elizabeth Parker of Lexington,
writes of him :

" I think one can say of John Parker, althoiiojh perhaps a man
plain and simple like his name, he must have been a man ot" some
mental and much executive ability, a man of strong will, bold, earn-
est and daring — wise, prudent and determined. A man sure of his
convictions and true to his convictions. Jonathan Harrington, the
last survivor of the battle, said that ' He looked as though he could
face anything,' and most bravely did he face the responsibilities and
dangers of that trying time."*

It has been eloquently said of him :

" But Parker commanded more than that little company who
stood on yonder green ; he led the embattled host that ])artook of his

♦Extract from an article entitled Capt. John Parker, written for and pre-
served by the Lexington Historical Society in its publications.


and their spirit henceforth. When he rallied his men in the after-
noon of that signal day he prefigured our noble army, which again
and again, with thinned ranks and amid fallen comrades, returned to
the dread fields of that long and bloody struggle."*

At the Lexington homestead is preserved Capt. Parker's
affidavit of the actions of the 19th of April, very valuable to
history as his official account of the direct cause of the Revolu-
tionary War. It is here copied in full.

•' Lexington, April 23, 1775.

"I, John Parker of lawful age, and commander of the militia in
Lexington, do testify and declare that on the 19th inst. in the morn-
ing about one of the Clock, being informed that there were a num-
ber of Regular oliicers riding up & down the road, taking and insult-
ing people, and also was informed that the Regular troops were on
their march 'from Boston, in order to take the Province Store at
Concord, immediately ordered our militia to meet on the common in
Said Lexington, to consult what to do, and concluded not to be dis-
covered nor to meddle or make with said Regular Troops, (if they
should approach) unless they should insult or molest us ; and upon
their sudden approach I immediately ordered our militia to disperse
and not to fire ; immediately said Troops made their appearance and
Rushed furiously to & fired upon and Killed Eight of our party with-
out Receiving any provocation therefor from us.

"Midd'" ss April y* 23'' 1775.
" The Above named John Parker appeared and made Solemn
Oath to the truth of the within deposition by him subscribed before


John Cuming \

Jon" : Hastings > Justices of Peace."

Duncan Ingraham j

In the Massachusetts Senate Chamber there hangs two
muskets, priceless relics, appropriate memorials to the State
of Capt. Parker, the gift of his grandson. Rev. Theodore
Parker. On one, Capt. Parker's own light fowling-piece,
which he carried at Quebec and Lexington, is inscribed:


*A. B. Muzzy, April 19, 1871, a descendant of Isaac Muzzy, who was killed
in the battle of Lexinsrton.

parker genealogy. 87

"This Firearm was used by

Capt. John Parker

In the Battle of Lexington,

April 19,

And on the other, which he took from a grenadier in Cam-
bridge on the 17th of June :

"The First Fire Arm

Captured in the
War of Independence."

These invaluable mementos were received by the State
with appropriate ceremonies, and are conspicuously suspended
for public view in the Senate Chamber of th^ State House.
May they ever be prized with reverence, and "Tell to our
sons how our fathers have died."

In the year 1884 the town appropriated the sum of $1,500
to mark spots of historic interest in Lexington, and among
others the grave where his remains were supposed to rest
received a substantial and fitting monument bearing this in-
scription :

" To THE Memory of Capt. John Parker,

Commander of the Minute-men, April 19TH, i775'

Born July 13TH, 1729, Died September 17T11, 1775.

The Town erects this Memorial.


Their children were :

Lydia Parker, b. Nov. 8, 1756.

46. Anna Parker, b. Jan. 11, 1759 ; m. March 16, 178 1, Ephraim
Pierce of Waltham.

47. John Parker, b. Dec. 7, 1761 ; m. Feb. 17, 1785. Hannah
Stearns of Lexington.

48. Isaac Parker, b. May ii, 1763 ; m. in Charleston, S. C.

49. Ruth Parker, b. Dec. 7, 1765; m. Nov. 14, 1787, David
Bent ; removed to Nova Scotia.

50. Rebecca Parker, b. June 28. 176S: m. PettM" Clarke of

51. Robert Parker, b. April 15, 1771 ; m. Oct. 22, 1794,
Elizabeth Simonds of Lexington.



18. Thaddeus Parker (yosmh,\ Jokn,^ Hanam'ak,^
Tkofuas^ ), son of Josiah and Anna (Stone) Parker, b. in
Lexington, Sept. 2, 1731 : m. May 27, 1759, Mary Reed,
b. July 17, 1751, dau. of William and Abigail (Stone) Reed.
He sold in 1761 to his brother, John Parker of Lexington,

The accompanying engraving shows the appearance of the homestead as it
was at this time. It is the house which stood upon the place when the estate
passed into the ownership of John Parker of Reading in 1712. It also shows
the old belfry building which, previous to the nineteenth century, stood on
the common, on the site of the present monument, and from which in 1775
went forth those peals of alarm which called the patriots to arms on the morn-
ing of the 19th of April. Although the old house has been replaced by
another the belfry still stands at the Parker homestead.

The Parker Homestead.

In this ancient house several generations of large families were born. Here
was also born the Rev. Theodore Parker, who in early life drew the picture
which is here shown. He wrote in regard to it as follows: "It faced as
near the south as the rude science of the owner or builder could make it,
and so was a perpetual sun dial. It had but one chimney, that a huge one
in the centre of the building. The large bricks, made half a mile oft", were
laid in clay as far as the ridge pole, while the part of the chimney above the
roof was pointed with mortar. Limestone was not found within many miles,
and the want of it was a serious inconvenience in building. The house, like
all the others in that neighborhood, was two stories high in front and only
one in the rear. The rooms were few but large and airy, the windows not
numerous, of various size, but all small; originally all the latches, except


afterwards captain, a part of his share of his father's, Lieut.
Josiah Parker, estate for £175. He lived in Lexington,
probably at or near the centre of the town. He was like his
brothers, and doubtless his ancestors, a strong, large boned,
muscular man. His career in Lexington stands out brightly
in two ways, first as a citizen, and second as a patriot. It
is a lamentable fact that of his large family there is not a
living descendant of this worthy man.

Thaddeus Parker was one of the selectmen in the years
preceding the Revolution, a period when the most important
duties of the town were devolved upon that board, and when
only mei} of true character and firm patriotism were chosen.
His name appears as assessor of the town of Lexington during

that of the ' fore-door,' were of wood with wooden thumb pieces, but these had
nearly all passed away before my recollection. The house, as it stood in my
day, had been built at different times, the eastern end being considerably
younger than the western, and not furnished with the massive oak beams
which everywhere stuck out in the older part. A New England farmer of
* comfortable estate ' would hesitate a good deal before setting up his house-
hold in such a cheerless shelter; but three generations of stout and longlived
men were born and grew up there, and if the fourth be more puny and sink
quicker to the grave, it is from no fault of the old house, but from the con-
sumption which such spongy meadows in New England seldom fail to pro-
duce in the course of time : even children, Avho have removed to healthier
situations, carrv with them the fatal poison in their blood, and transmit it to
their sons and daughters."

A history of the old belfry is found in Mr. C. A. Staples's ''Sketch of the
History of Lexington Common,'' published by the Lexington Historical Society,
from which I copy the following: "At a town meeting held in June, 1761,
Isaac Stone, as the record says : ' came into y^ meeting and gave y« town a
bell to be for v^ towns use forever; which bell was there and weighed 463 lbs.
— and y" moderator in y name of y meeting gave him thanks.'

"Accordingly the town set to work building a belfry for the bell, and the
building was finally settled upon the common. This was the famous bell
which rung the alarm on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, whose tongue
is still preserved among the precious relics at the Gary Library, Lexington.
But when the new meeting-house was built in 1794 the belfry was sold to
John Parker, the father of Theodore Parker, and carried away to the Parker
homestead, where it long did duty as a wheelwright shop and where it is
still standing. Soon we trust, under the auspices of the Lexington Historical
Society, it will come creeping back, to find its final resting-place near the
spot of its birth. It should be placed on some height overlooking the village
and restored to its original form, a bell procured of the exact size of Dea.
Isaac Stone's gift, the old tongue put in it, and on every anniversary of the
19th of April it should be rung to let people know how the summons sounded
which called the minute-men to the common on that eventful morning."


the years 1770, '71, '73 and '77. At a time of deep desponden-
cy, the closing months of 1776, when the patriot army was a
mere handful of ragged, disheartened men, he enlisted from
Lexington for a campaign in the Jerseys, there to join Gen.
Washington. This was during the retreat through New
Jersey, the battle of Trenton, when Washington crossed the
Delaware and turned the tables of his country's history, fol-
lowed b}^ the battles of Princeton, Brandy wine and German-
town, and it is probable that in all of these Mr. Parker assisted.
He was in the service at least eight months. He d. in Lex-
ington, Feb. 10, 1789. From the note-book of his nephew
John Parker we read :

"Lexington, February 12, 1789.
" Was intered Mr. Thaddeus Parker, Esq. aged 58, who died of a
motification in his bowels, it being the 6"* person that died in one
house since the 4"" day of September in the year 1787, whereof Mr.

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 8 of 47)