Will of Richard Parker (1820)
Proved 19 Dec 1820
© Crown Copyright
PROB 11/1632/451, Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury
Transcribed by Peter Selley
The will transcribed below purports to be that of Richard Parker (1767-1797). Youngest son of an Exeter baker, his mother Ann (née Gale) died when he was five months old. He was a pupil of Revd John Marshall of Exeter Grammar School before joining the navy when aged 15. A short autobiography covering his upbringing in Exeter and his naval career can be found here.
In June 1795 he married Ann McHardy – whom he met in Scotland - at St Sidwells in Exeter. Their son, John, baptised in St Sidwells in 1796 died when about one year old.
Parker spearheaded the naval mutiny in May 1797 at Nore in the Thames estuary. He was court-martialled, found guilty and sentenced to death. He was hanged from the yard-arm of HMS Sandwich on 30 June 1797. This will is dated the previous day.
There were no known living male descendants when his father died in the following year. Richard Parker’s widow made several attempts to inherit the Parker properties at Shute in Shobrooke. In July 1823 she won a court case in Exeter on the basis that they had had a child named John Charles Parker born in Scotland in November 1794 and still living. This child was in fact Ann’s sister’s son, Alexander Cumming: The baptism record for John Charles Parker was shown to be a forgery and the verdict was overturned in the Court of the King’s Bench in London in November 1823.
Ann Parker became blind and relied on charity. In 1841 she was back in Scotland with her sister’s family.
This is the first time that this will has been connected with Richard Parker the mutineer. It is not clear why it was not “proved” until 23 years after his death.
In the Name of God Amen I Richard Parker now a supernumerary on board His Majesty’s ship Sandwich James Robert Mosse Esq Commander at Blackstakes being in bodily health and of sound and disposing mind and memory and considering the perils and dangers of the Seas and other uncertainties of this transitory life do for avoiding controversies after my decease make publish and declare this my last Will and Testament in manner following that is to say first I recommend my Soul to God that gave it and my Body I commit to the Earth or Sea if shall please God to order and as for and concerning all my worldly Estate I give bequeath and dispose thereof as follows that is to say all such wages sum or sums of money land tenements goods chattels and estate whatsoever as shall be any ways due owing or belonging unto me at the time of my decease I do give devise and bequeath the same unto my lawful wife Ann Parker residing at Edinburgh in Scotland and I do hereby nominate and appoint the aforesaid Ann Parker sole Executrix of this my last Will and Testament empowering her to receive all legacies that I may have or might after this date have fallen or hereafter fall to me hereby revoking all former and other Wills Testaments and Deeds of Gifts by me at any time heretofore and I do ordain and ratify these presents to stand and be for and as my only last Will and Testament in witness whereof to this my said Will I have set my hand and seal this twenty ninth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety seven and in the thirty seventh year of the reign of His Majesty King George the third over Great Britain &c &c &C Richard Parker [signed] - Signed sealed publish’d and declar’d in the presence of Witness - Thos Hardy 1st Lieut - JG Honor Clerk - of His Majesty’s Ship Sandwich - John Moir Chaplain of His Majesty’s Ship the Neptune
Proved at London 31st July 1820 before the Worpl Samuel Rush Meyrick Doctor of Laws & Surre by the oath of Ann Parker Widow the Relict sole Extrix to whom admon was granted save and except the wages pay prize money and allowances of money due to the sd. Deceased for his service as a Seaman on board any of His Majestys Ships being sworn first duly to administer