Christopher Parker

1761-1804. He was baptised on 27 October 1761 at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster, and was the only surviving son of Admiral Sir Peter Parker and his wife, Margaret Nugent. He became the father of Captain Sir Peter Parker.

Aged fourteen, the privileged Parker was the head boy of Westminster School, and he was described in his youth as having ‘abilities of a superior cast’.

Whilst serving under his father, the commander-in-chief of the Jamaican station, he was posted captain at the age of eighteen on 7 March 1779, having apparently been promoted from the rank of midshipman, and without any having ever been commissioned lieutenant or promoted commander. His given command was an ex-French privateer which he had commissioned in the winter as the Hinchingbrooke 28.

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Christopher Parker’s rapid and undoubtedly absurd promotion to captain at the age of 18 was facilitated by his father, Sir Peter Parker, the commander-in-chief of the Jamaican station.

Parker removed into the Lowestoft 32 shortly afterwards and participated in the successful and enriching Omoa campaign of 19 September – 19 October 1779 after which he retained this vessel for the next two years. Continuing on the Jamaican station, in August 1781 his next command, the Diamond 32, rescued the crew of the Pelican 24, Captain Cuthbert Collingwood, which had been wrecked on the Morant Keys, and on 19 September she captured the privateer Marquis de Castries. In July 1782 he exchanged with Captain John Thomas into the Pallas 36 in order to return home to England, but after collecting a convoy from Halifax she was run ashore on São Jorge Isle in the Azores on 12 February 1783, being destroyed two weeks later.

From early 1787 he commanded the Jupiter 50 in the Leeward Islands with the broad pennant of Commodore Sir Richard Bickerton, which ship was paid off in September 1789.

In the autumn of 1792 Parker recommissioned the Blanche 32 and took her out to the Leeward Islands. During 1793 he captured the privateer Vengeur 12 on 1 October, the Révolutionnaire 20 on 8 October and the Sans Culottes 22 on 30 December, and he was with Vice-Admiral Sir John Jervis in the following year during that officer’s Leeward Islands campaign from 10 January 1794 before being succeeded by Captain Robert Faulknor in the spring.

He commanded the Robust 74 briefly in 1794 after her previous commander, Hon. George Keith Elphinstone, had been raised to flag rank. Next joining the thirty-six year-old Valiant 74 in August, he retained her through to July 1795 in the Channel Fleet, and was present at the Battle of Lorient on 23 June 1795, although his vessel incurred no casualties.

Parker was the youngest by seven years of any officer to be promoted rear-admiral, which occurred on 1 June 1795. By early 1797 he was flying his flag aboard the Duke 98, Captain John Holloway, at the same time that his father was flying his own flag at Spithead , but the crew of this ship participated fully in the Spithead Mutiny that erupted on 16 April and Captain Holloway was throw off the ship.

Parker became a vice-admiral on 1 January 1801, and he died on 26 May 1804, predeceasing his father by eleven years.

On 29 September 1785 at Takeley, Essex, Parker married Augusta Barbara Charlotte, daughter of Vice-Admiral Hon. John Byron. His eldest son was the celebrated Captain Sir Peter Parker, who was killed fighting the Americans near Baltimore in 1814. His second son, John Parker, was a captain in the Royal Artillery and died in 18 November 1835, and his third and youngest son, Sir Charles Christopher Parker (1792-1869) rose to the rank of captain in the navy. He also had three daughters, two of whom died at the age of sixteen.

Parker was known as ‘Kit’ and was well-regarded by his contempraies despite his absurdly premature elevation to senior rank.