John Parker

John Parker was the eldest of the three sons of William Parker. There were large gaps between the birth of William’s children: seven years between John and William, and six between William and Luke. It’s impossible to know, but maybe there was a physical problem. I had almost expected to find an early death for his wife but I have found no records of any kind for her. I did, regretfully, find a record of Luke’s death at the age of three.

John’s father was a handloom weaver with a workshop attached to the house. I have found no record of marriages at this time for John and William Jnr. So I imagine the two young men stayed at home and worked with their father.  (I am irresistibly reminded of the folk song “Foggy Foggy Dew” )

In 1717, when John was nearly forty and his brother was also in his thirties, their father died. John inherited the business: it seems that he lived all of his life in the cottage where he was born. In 1726 though he at last took a wife, Alice Wild.

Family life

They had four children: our ancestor Mary, then Ann, Sarah and John. Mary and Ann would no doubt have helped Alice with the spinning as they grew up. Sadly their sister Sarah died at the age of four and their brother when he was three years old. Records at this time did not include a cause of death but the loss of three toddlers in two generations of the family might point to some inherited malady.

John Parker himself died only five months after his son. I have obtained a copy of his will from the Borthwick Institute at the University of York. It was made just a few weeks before his death. It’s very short and makes no reference to his good health, as some wills do. Maybe he was already ill and knew he was dying.

He clearly wanted to make provision for his wife and surviving children, Mary and Ann. He gave instructions that the girls should be looked after until they were twenty-one (at which time, presumably, they would marry!).

His wife Alice would inherit his estate, which would pass on to his daughters when she died. Even if she were to marry again, she would still be entitled to an equal share with them for her lifetime. This seems to me quite a generous settlement. Most other wills I’ve seen only provide for the widow so long as she does not re-marry.

As it happened, Alice survived her husband by twenty-six years and did not marry again. As Jane Austen would write some seventy years later: “the public … is rather apt to be unreasonably discontented when a woman does marry again, than when she does not

Father of Mary Parker, son of William Parker

Baptised 19 March 1678 at Handsworth, near Sheffield, Yorkshire

Married Alice Wild on 26 December 1726

Buried 13 [May?] 1742

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