Edward Parker Esquire
Originally from the County of Durham, Edward Parker spent 40 years in Dundee as a flax merchant and spinner. A staunch Methodist, he took a leading role in the establishment of the new Methodist Chapel in Ward Road, during the 1860s.
Subscription value in 1863:
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Personal details and history
Date of birth
1822 - Haughton Le Skerne, County of Durham - baptised 09-07-1822
Place of birth
Haughton Le Skerne, County Durham
Name of spouse
Margaret Eleanor Walker
William Walker (1853): Charles Edward (1856): Emily (1857): Mary (1858): Henry (1860): Edward (1861): Albert Edward (1864): James Gordon (1869):
Age at death:
Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers
Clubs / societies
Nine Trades of Dundee - a Member
Career and worklife
Flax and flax yarn merchant
Place of work
Career to date:
In the census of 1841, Edward Parker, aged 18 years, was listed, together with his family, at Priestgate, Darlington. His occupation was stated as 'Foreman Flaxmill,' his father, Charles, as a 'Flax Spinner.' At this point, his father, Charles Parker (later Provost Parker of Dundee), was already applying for patents - 'Charles Parker of Darlington, Durham, flax spinner, for improvements in looms for weaving linen and other fabrics, to be worked by hand, steam, water or any other motor power - December 24 1841.' The family moved north to Dundee in the late 1840s, when his father founded 'Charles Parker & Sons,' engineers, in 1849. Meanwhile, in 1851, Edward Parker was listed as a 'Machine Maker' in Northallerton, Yorkshire. This was the year of his marriage also. He next appeared listed in the Dundee directory of 1856-57, as having been associated with his father's business. By 1861, however, he was listed on his own account as a merchant, dealing in flax and flax yarn, operating from 22 Cowgate. A few years later, around the time he pledged his subscription towards the Albert Institute, he had expanded his business interests to incorporate flaxspinning, having purchased a mill in 1863.
Edward Parker was born in 1822, to Charles Parker, a flax spinner, and Isabella Hodgson. The Parker family had dealt with flax for a long time, his grandfather, also Edward, having been a flax spinner.
The Parker family made its way to Dundee in the later 1840s, although Edward Parker, the oldest son, would appear not to have arrived until the early 1850s. He married Margaret Eleanor Walker in 1851. She was the daughter of William Walker of Bolton, the head of the largest and most successful tanning business in the County of Lancashire and her mother was a member of the Society of Friends. His first child, William Walker Parker, was born in Dundee in 1853.
Edward Parker and his wife Margaret were adherents of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. Both were heavily involved in the raising of funds to erect a new Wesleyan Church in Ward Road, to replace the old chapel at the top of Tally Street.
In 1865, contractors were sought for the new Wesleyan Methodist Chapel:
‘New Methodist Chapel in Dundee – We understand that the Wesleyans in Dundee, who have for some time found the chapel in Tally Street much too small for their increasing numbers, have resolved on the erection of a new chapel to seat from 800-1,000 people. It is contemplated to have a schoolroom, vestries and classrooms beneath.’
Edward Parker was one of the people dealing with the likely contractors. His father, the Provost, at the time of laying a Memorial Stone for the new chapel, also deposited a bottle with mementos of the moment, in a cavity under the stone. This was not the only cause that Edward and Margaret Parker threw themselves into.
On the first visit to Dundee of John Bartholomew Gough, a Temperance Orator from the United States, Margaret was inspired to take more than an interest in the Temperance Movement. Both she and Edward became activists for the cause, battling the evils of drink. Margaret went on to become a leading figure, in the UK and the US, in the Temperance Movement and also, the advocacy of women’s rights. It was reported that her husband Edward supported her throughout all her endeavours.
The Parkers forged successful businesses in Dundee. Edward’s father, Charles Parker, as well as having a background in the flax business, established a renowned foundry and engineering works at ‘Ladybank Works,’ Chapelshade. Edward Parker and his brothers, Charles Hodgson, Robert Overend and ultimately, Frederick Carr Parker, were all involved in the family firm of ‘Charles Parker & Sons,’ at Ladybank Works and, latterly, at Clepington Foundry. Edward himself, operated Mid Street Mill and ‘West Mills’ flax spinning works in Lochee – ‘West Mills, belonging to Edward Parker, are driven by two engines, together of 40 horse-power. They contain 1,124 spindles and 12 power looms, and employ 170 hands.’ In addition to the works, Parker and another operator, James Donald at Pitalpin, employed a great number of hand looms in the village of Lochee and the surrounding district.
An advertisement in 1863 indicated that Edward Parker had purchased ‘Quarry Mill’ in Lochee. There is uncertainty as to whether Quarry Mill and West Mills were one and the same.
‘The Quarry Mill, Lochee has been purchased by Mr Edward Parker, merchant, Dundee for the sum of £3,150. We understand that the present spinning machinery is to be removed and replaced entirely with Parker’s mathematical power-looms.‘
Following the deaths of his father and his own teenage son, Harry, Edward Parker, his wife and three youngest children moved from Newport to London by 1881. He had pursued a career as a flax / flax yarn merchant and spinner in Dundee and raised his own family in Newport, across the River Tay.
Edward Parker had gained a reputation as having been a member of a successful, prominent family in Dundee. In supporting his wife in her endeavours, while she was touring (she gave many lecture tours) at home and abroad, he demonstrated a selfless character and was declared to have been among the most amiable of men.
His death, in 1887, occurred while his wife Margaret was abroad in the United States. Ironically, she received letters from him, describing himself to be ‘well and strong’ after the news of his death.
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- Dundee People's Journal. 10 January 1863. p.3. British Newspaper Archive website.
- Dundee Evening Telegraph. 14 September 1887. p.4. British newspaper Archive website.
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