John Augustus Parry [Obituary]


Rev W. Harpley

Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 1876, Vol VIII, pp. 46-47.

Prepared by Michael Steer

Lee Bay or just Lee, the home of John Augustus Parry, is a small village on the North Devon coast near Woolacombe. Lee is situated on the rugged and inhospitable stretch of coast between Ilfracombe and Woolacombe, that includes Bull Point (with its lighthouse) and Morte Point, both notorious for shipwrecks in earlier times, and both on the South West Coast Path.  The village of Lee lies at the foot of what is known locally as the Fuchsia Valley, and these days consists of around 100 properties, mostly old in style. The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

John Augustus Parry, eldest son of the late John G. Parry, Esq., was born in London on the 1st May, 1797. Intended for the legal profession, he received the education and passed the examinations necessary for this purpose, but never engaged in practice. Early in life he spent a good deal of time on the Continent, and eventually married an Italian lady, and settled down at “Lee”, near Ilfracombe. Of an active turn of mind, he soon took part in local matters, social and political. His sympathies in this latter point were warmly liberal, or, as would then have been said, radical, and soon brought him into connection with the leaders of the party in North Devon. But although feelings ran high in these matters some forty years ago, his genuine cordiality and kindliness of disposition saved him from making enemies, and ensured him many friends.

At Lee his first wife died, and in 1846 he married a second time. In 1851 the gold discoveries in Australia made him desirous to visit the new El Dorado, and in the latter part of that year he went out to Melbourne. At Melbourne and at Ballarrat he engaged in business, and after four years of Australian life realized his property and left the colony.

On his return to Europe he travelled for two years in Germany and France, and then turned his steps again to North Devon, where, among many old friends, he spent the rest of his life. In 1867 he became a member of this Association, and contributed at the Barnstaple Meeting a paper "On the Remains of Ancient Fortifications in the neighbourhood of Bideford." At various times Mr. Parry has shown a warm interest in the objects of the Association, frequently attending its meetings; and he was an assiduous member of the Local Committee, and Honorary Local Secretary of the Association during its visit to Bideford in 1871. On this last occasion, besides discharging his official duties, he contributed a highly interesting paper, entitled " A Brief Sketch of the Early History of Bideford."

Failing health of late years began to tell upon him gradually, and on the 3rd November, 1875, he died at Bideford, at the age of 78. He was a man who all through life, to use the old words, had friends, and showed himself friendly. Advice and help, as far as lay in his power, were always at the service of any who needed, and to work for others was with him a labour of love.