A query from Argentina - Rev William PARKES (1821-1884): baptism details, parent, etc.

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Last seen: 11 years 46 weeks ago
Joined: Saturday, 7-01-2012

Happy New Year to everyone!
My name is Santiago, and I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have been tracing my family tree for some years. My gggg-grandfather was the Rev William Parkes, FRGS, who was born certainly in Shropshire in 1821. He was a Congregational Minister who studied at Lancashire Independent College and was pastor at Canon-street (Manchester), Dundas-street (Monkwearmouth), Park Road (Blackburn) and Lyme Regis (Dorset).
William Parkes's daughter, Lucy, married my ggg-grandfather James Murdoch, MA (1856-1921).
I have found his obituary in the 1885 Congregational Year Book (published by Hodder & Stoughton: London, 1885), which gives much detail about his life.
According to his obituary, Rev William Parkes was born on 12 March 1821 at Wem, and says that he converted when he was 18, which would imply he was not born into the Congregational faith.
The obituary doesn't mention his parent's names, and I can find no trace of either of the parents or indeed any other Parkes family member.
The IGI gives a matching baptism on 30 April 1821 in Oldbury for a William Parkes:

Can anyone have a look at the original records of this baptism?
Any help, much appreciated.

Thanking you all - Santiago D'Angelis Murdoch

Michael J Hulme
Last seen: 5 hours 33 min ago
Joined: Saturday, 4-06-2011


Looking on the Family Search (previously IGI) web site there are several entries for the birth / baptism of a William PARKES in Shropshire so I wondered why you picked out the christening at Oldbury which was a detached part of Shropshire situated in Worcestershire about 40 miles away especially as you say that he didn't convert until he was 18 which would imply that he wasn't born into the Congregational faith in which case you probably need to concentrate on the Church of England.

The early Parish Registers of Wem have been printed but only up to 1812 unfortunately. Have you had the later registers searched for the period 1820-1825 to establish whether there is a possible entry for William PARKES?

Have you found the marriage of William PARKES and obtained a copy of the marriage certificate which should give the name of his father? This would at least give you a starting point. Once you have a name for his father you could look for a baptism for William based on this information.

Also, when you have a possible name for his father, I would suggest that you search for any possible Probate records for the father because these are likely to give information which would tie the two generations together.


Last seen: 4 years 35 weeks ago
Joined: Sunday, 14-08-2011

Although on both the 1861 and 1871 census returns William's birthplace was given as Wem, the 1851 census shows William, age 30, a Congregational Minister, was born at Nescliff, Shropshire (piece 2232, folio 307, page 64). The 1881 census shows William as born in Westcliffe in Shropshire but this was likely an error made by the enumerator when transcribing the household schedule and is almost certainly another reference to Nesscliffe. He may have been born at Nesscliffe but brought up at Wem. This suggests the possibility that William may have been baptised at Great Ness rather than Wem, although FamilySearch seems to have Great Ness baptisms for that period, including some for children with the Parkes surname, but not William. The 1851 census shows a 30-year-old farmer of 80 acres named Thomas Parkes who was born at Great Ness, living at Newtown in the parish of Wem with his wife Mary. A possible brother of your William?

Another avenue of research I have followed to a dead end is from my extended Atcherley family tree. This includes a Jane Parkes who married Roger Spencer Dickin at Loppington in 1825 and lived with him at Wem. The Salopian Journal, when reporting the marriage, described Jane as "eldest daughter of the Rev. Richard Parkes, Vicar of the former place, and Chaplain to the Most Noble the Marquis of Donegall." Jane was baptised at Hanmer, Flintshire, Wales on 2 Nov 1804, parents Richard and Margaret Parkes. The 1851 census shows a Margaret Parkes, age 78, a clergman's widow born at Hanmer, living in New Street, Wem. Almost certainly the Margaret Parkes who was living at Mill Street in Wem in 1841, age given as 65, with Francis Parkes, age given as 25, occupation clergyman. Later censues show that Francis was born at Loppington. This was all looking promising. However in his will, proved in 1833, the Reverend Richard Parkes, vicar of Loppington, named his sons as Richard Pryn Parkes, William Barney Parkes and Francis Barney Parkes (daughters Margaret and Jane and his son-in-law Roger Spencer Dickin were also mentioned). I did wonder if William Barney Parkes might be your man, but it appears that he lived in the London area and was a physician until his death in 1863, so that's him out of the running.

One other possibility: In 1841 there was a household in High Street, Wem, made up of the following (relationships not shown and ages of adults rounded down to nearest 5 years): John Parkes, 40, butcher; Ann Parkes, 50; William Parkes, 20, butcher; Mary Parkes, 15; Margaret Parkes, 15; Elizabeth Parkes, 13; Ann Parkes, 3; all born in Shropshire. Name, age and place all look right - but would William have gone from butcher to Congregational Minister? The family, without William, was still at Wem in 1851 (proper ages and birth places this time: John, 51, born at Ruyton-XI-Towns; Anne, 59, born Wem; children Margaret, 24, Betsy [Elizabeth], 28, and Anne, 12, all born at Wem). It is interesting to note that daughters Margaret and Elizabeth, and a son named Charles, were all baptised at the Independent Chapel at Wem (on 19 Oct 1824, 7 Oct 1827 and 4 Oct 1829 respectively - Margaret under the surname "Sparkes" - parents John, a butcher, and Ann). I see that the Presbyterian baptism you found at Oldbury also names the parents as John and Ann, but I think this is a different family. There are other, earlier baptisms at Oldbury almost certainly relating to children of the same couple dating back to 1813, which would probably be too early for John Parkes of Ruyton and Wem to be the father given his birth around 1800. In addition, a William Parkes born abt 1821 at Oldbury turns up living there with wife Maria on various census returns (e.g. 1861 when he was 40 and employed a coal mine engineer). But back to William of Nesscliffe / Wem, and his potential father John of Ruyton and Wem. John was, in 1871, a widower living with his married daughter Margaret Weever and two of her children at Newport in Shropshire; he was then described as a retired farmer. Almost certainly he was the "John Parkes late of Newport in the County of Salop Gentleman who died 15 April 1874 at Newport" and whose will was proved at Shrewsbury on 20 May that year. I have a feeling that this might be the family you are looking for, but some corroboration from records (e.g. William's baptism record, or his marriage register entry, or John's will) will be necessary to confirm or disprove as the case may be.

By the way, I found a lengthy article about William's ordination at Cannon Street Chapel in Manchester in the Manchester Times of 28 Oct 1848 - let me know if this would be of interest.


PS - if the above family is the correct one then we have a marriage of John Parkes and Ann Mason at Wem on 12 Jun 1820 (FamilySearch) and a baptism of Ann Mason at Wem on 12 Jun 1791 (FamilySearch). A baptism for John may be more problematic as this may have taken place in 1799 rather than 1800 and entries in the transcribed register of Ruyton for that year are sparse to say the least (Mel Lockie's site).

Last seen: 11 years 46 weeks ago
Joined: Saturday, 7-01-2012


Dear Micheal and Steve (Atcherley.org.uk) thank you very much for the replies to my post. I know it has been too long, I am sorry, but for some reason I haven't received your replies to my Hotmail account and I didn't noticed that you had replied already. In all this time I have obtained a copy of the marriage certificate of the Rev. William Parkes and Catherine Barry which gave the names of their fathers. His father was a John Parkes, described as a Farmer and her father was John Barry, described as a Gentleman.
This William Parkes seems to be the same William Parkes born at Nesscliffe and son of the butcher John Parkes, of Ruyton and Wem. William Parkes's marriage certificate would be a corroboration to this.
If all this is correct, interestingly William Parkes would have gone from butcher to Congregational Minister.
Do you think am I correct on this?
Steve have mentioned that he found a lengthy article about William's ordination at Cannon Street Chapel in Manchester in the Manchester Times of 28 Oct 1848. Would you be so kind to send me a copy to my Email: santudm@hotmail.com
Thanks and regards from Argentina,
Last seen: 4 years 35 weeks ago
Joined: Sunday, 14-08-2011

Hi Santiago

I have emailed you a copy of the newspaper article, I hope you find it interesting.

The marriage certificate certainly lends weight to theory that the Rev. William Parkes was the son of John Parkes the butcher who was born at Ruyton XI Towns, lived at Wem, and later declared his occupation as farmer before retiring and living with his daughter's family in Newport.

It seems that once William heard the call his whole life changed. Certainly he was keen to spread the word to others. One snippet I found through a Google Books search describes him as entering "heart and soul" into a service he delivered to 700 scholars and friends in the Ebenezer Chapel, Peter Street [link].

If you are interested in obtaining a copy of John Parkes' will to see if William is mentioned in it, you can download form PA1S fill it in on-screen then print it out and send it, with the small fee required (£6), to:

Postal Searches and Copies Department
Leeds District Probate Registry
York House
York Place

The details of the deceased, from the National Probate Calendar, are as follows:

Surname: PARKES
Forenames: JOHN
Probate Details: Issuing Registry - SHREWSBURY; Grant issue date - 20 MAY 1874
Date of death: 15 APRIL 1874

Further information on obtaining copies of wills (those dating from 1858 onwards) can be found on the HM Courts & Tribunals Service website.

John's will was proved by Freeman Bruckshaw of Newport, cattle dealer - Freeman was in fact John Parkes' son-in-law, husband of John's daughter Elizabeth.