Parker Name & History by Kerry Ross Boren & Lisa Lee Boren
ROBERT LEROY PARKER, a.k.a. Butch Cassidy
During the ninth and tenth centuries the Vikings streamed out of Scandinavia in droves, raiding and colonizing wherever they went. In the north of France, Rollo the Ganger led Horse invaders in search of new lands to colonize. Rollo was called the AGanger (Long-Legs) because it is said that his legs were so long that when he sat his horse his feet dragged the ground.1
Rollo's son Rogawald not only demanded land from the French king, Charles the Simple, but also the king's daughter, Giselle, in marriage. At the place where they met to forge an alliance, the Norsemen built a castle, and the Norse who settled that portion of France were called Normans (i.e. Northmen), and the land was called Normandy.
Rollow was a member of the Norwegian clan Möre. In fact, the Möres owned the castle that was built at the treaty site in 912 A.D. This branch of the clan Möre changed their name to St. Clair, after that of a saintly martyr who lived as a hermit near a holy well on the bank of the River Epte, north of Paris, and who had been decapitated by a Acruel woman whom he had rebuked.
William the Conqueror, himself a descendant of Rollo, invaded and conquered England with the aid of his fellow Normans. Nine members of the St. Clair family accompanied the Conqueror and were present at the Battle of Hastings, for which service they were rewarded with extensive grants of land in England. They anglicized the spelling of their name from St. Clair to Sinclair. One of these was Walderne Sinclair who married Margaret, daughter of Richard, Duke of Normandy, and established the Sinclair family in Scotland.2
One branch of Rollo's family retained the name Möre and came to England with the Conqueror and their Sinclair cousins. Very early the Möres were appointed AKeepers of the King’s Forest, and given the title AMöre-leigh (Möre of the King's Forest) which became the English surname AMorley Inasmuch as the keeper of the forest the duties of keeping the king's parks, the Morleys also took the surname AParker. It was their duty to keep the forests and parks stocked with deer and other wild game for the king's hunting pleasure.
Though the Morleys and Parkers were the same family, the name was used interchangeably. In time, Morley also became a title and the Parkers became the Lords of Morley. They became prominent and powerful, holding several lordships through careful marriages, and in addition became hereditary Archbishops of Canterbury.
Edward Parker, tenth Baron Morley (1555-1618), was a former recusant who spent some time abroad before succeeding to the barony in 1577. He renounced his hereditary right to the office of Lord Marshal of Ireland in return for the right to print the book about how to instruct children in the oath of allegiance. His son William Parker (1575-1622) became fourth Baron Mounteagle through his mother Elizabeth Stanley,4 as well as eleventh Lord Morley. In 1605 Lord William Parker was the recipient of the mysterious letter betraying the Gunpowder Plot (a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth 1). Of this same family was Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Butch Cassidy descended from the family of Henry Parker, Tudor Archbishop of Canterbury, allied to the ancient house of Morley, chief Aparkers to the monarchs of England since King Edward 1. But the family was not without scandalous progeny.
Butches immediate ancestor, Harry Parker, alias Saunder Parker, was a personal servant of Sir Francis Bryan,5 who was a diplomat, statesman, soldier and courtier at the court of King Henry VIII. During Bryan's ambassadorship to France during the 1540's, Henry Parker served dutifully as his courier, delivering diplomatic dispatches from Bryan at the French court of King Francois 1 to the English court of Henry VIII. Harry Parker carried the disappointing dispatches to Henry VIII when the Pope refused his divorce from Catherine of Aragon.6
In January 1546, Harry Parker, Aof Kingston, Surrey, murdered one Thomas Sexton of Kingston following a dispute. Sir Francis Bryan, his master, who ever had Athe king's ear, used his influence to secure a pardon for his servant on 1 February 1546.7 Bryan afterward rewarded Harry’s service with lands near the village of Habersham, in Essex, where the family resided for the next 250 years.
Harry Parker’s descendant, John Parker, who was born in Habersham about 1758, was the first of this branch of the family to settle in Lancashire. He married Jenny Schofield, of an old Lancashire family, who brought to the marriage a dowry of lands in the village of Burnley, where they took up residence.
Thomas Parker, son of John and Jenny, was born at Burnley about 1794. Under England’s ancient law of primogeniture, Thomas had to be content with a younger son's meager portion of his father’s estate, and was soon thrown into abject poverty.
This was the age of the Industrial Revolution, when human labor was swiftly being replaced by mechanization and jobs were scarce. Poverty, pollution and homelessness were rampant and urchins begged pittance in the streets. Great reformers like Joseph Priestley and Robert Owen tried social experiments to fill the bellies of the poor, while religious reformers filled their minds with hellfire and damnation, for poverty was a sin.
On 28 November 1819, in the midst of his poverty, Thomas Parker married 21 year-old Martha Pollard, daughter of Robert Pollard and Martha Hardman. Their first child, whom they named Robert in honor of his maternal grandfather, was born at Burnley on 19 March 1820, a telling four months after the marriage.
As the eldest son, Robert stood to inherit his father's estate, except that his father had none. Thomas had been granted charitable domain for a few years on the family estate at Burnley, but eventually he was urged to enterprise and move away. He moved his wife and young son to North London about 1823 where he invested in a shaky business venture with his cousin, John Dickens.
John Dickens was born in 1785. In 1809 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Charles Barrow. They became the parents of eight children, among them Charles Dickens, born 7 February 1812, who was destined to became one of England’s greatest authors.
John Dickens was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office in Portsmouth. In 1814 he was transferred to Somerset House in London, and in 1817 he moved his family to Chatham and worked in the naval dockyard. Transferred back to the London office, he moved his family to Camden Town in 1822.
He was continually living beyond his means. He was said by his famous son to be AA jovial opportunist with no money sense. In 1823 Dickens entered into a business venture with Thomas Parker that failed. In February 1824 both men were arrested and thrown into debtor's prison at Marshalsea in Southwark.
Twelve year-old Charles Dickens was pulled from school and sent to work at Warren's Blacking House, a shoe-dye factory, where he earned six shillings a week to help support his family. He lived alone, ashamed and frightened, in a lodging house in North London. Dickens later wrote that the period of his father's imprisonment was the most terrible time in his life and he wondered how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age.
If the experience was bad for Charles Dickens at age twelve, it was even worse for his distant cousin, Robert Parker, who was only four when his father was imprisoned. John Dickens was released from his confinement in March, after serving only a month, having fortuitously come into an inheritance. For Thomas Parker it took considerably longer. His wife and son were left temporarily homeless on the dirty, unforgiving streets of North London.
Robert Parker spent his early youth on the streets of North London and Manchester as an urchin, begging farthings to help his starving mother and to pay his father’s debt. What he could not beg he learned to steal, and this quite adeptly. So adept was he, indeed, that his cousin Charles Dickens used him - - so says Parker family tradition - - as the model for Oliver Twist. Dickens often used persons from his own experiences as models for his characters. He depicted his father in the character of Wilkins Micawber in David Copperfield, and he caricatured his mother (with whom he remained estranged until her death in 1863) as Mrs. Nickelby.
Charles Dickens became a household icon to the Parkers. He was a cousin, several times removed, by descent from the Schofield family. Robert Parker brought autographed copies of Oliver Twist and David Copperfield to Utah in 1856, and he raised his children and grand-children with an appreciation of the Dickens classics. ADickens was read to us as religiously as [was] the Book of Mormon in my grandfather's home, Butch's sister Lula Parker Betenson told me.
Robert's grandson and namesake read Dickens voraciously. Bob [she seldom called him Butch] used to spend a lot of time in my father's library on the old ranch in Brown's Park, Josie Bassett Morris once informed me. He would lean back on two legs of his chair, kick his feet up on the wood stove, and read all my father's books. He especially liked Dickens and the old histories of Scotland. He used to boast, with a big grin on his broad face, that the Scottish heroes were his mother's people, and that Dickens was a relative of his father.8
Etta Place, whom Butch married, was also an avid Dickens fan and could recite entire passages of his works by heart.9 In New York City, near the fin de siècle, Butch, Sundance and Etta attended a theatrical production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.
Charles Dickens visited America in 1842. He brought back enthusiastic tales of the great Mormon city of Nauvoo in Illinois. He telegraphed his enthusiasm to Robert Parker who derided he should investigate the new religion further. Robert’s cousins, the Schofields, had already converted, but it would take Dickens' enthusiasm to stimulate his own conversion. He was baptized on the day of his wedding.
Robert Parker married 24 year-old Ann Hartley on 25 May 1843. She was the daughter of William Hartley and Alice Ashworth of Colne.10 Wanting to be near a branch of the Mormon Church, they moved almost immediately to Accrington, in Lancaster, where their first child, Maximilian, was born on 8 June 1844. Five of their nine children would be born in Accrington between 1844 and 1852. A daughter, Emily, born in 1852, died shortly after birth.
In 1853 Robert was called to be President of the Preston Mission of the Church in Lancashire. He moved his growing family there the same year. He had come a long way since his indigent youth. For some years he had been a master weaver in the woolen mills at Manchester. He worked side-by-side with his cousin, Thomas Schofield,11 who was a master dyer at the mills. Thomas Schofield became President of the Tottingham Mission of the Church in Lancashire.
Thomas Parker died in 1854, leaving a small inheritance to his son Robert, enough to finance his emigration to America with his family, to join the main body of the Church in Utah. In 1855 he booked passage for himself, his wife Ann, and five children abroad the steamer packet Enoch Train bound for New York. They were accompanied by Thomas Schofield.
They were seen off at the Liverpool docks by Charles Dickens, who gave both Robert Parker and Thomas Schofield signed copies of his books. He scribbled some noted as he watched them board the Enoch Train. He later wrote about it, expressing at once his admiration and perplexity of these Mormons who sailed away into the unknown vastness of an uncertain future, carrying their few worldly possessions on their backs, guided only by faith and promises.12
Robert Parker and family, with his cousin Thomas Schofield, arrived at New York and went by train to Iowa. They spent the winter building two-wheeled handcarts and preparing for the 1300-mile trek to Utah. (Robert and Ann; Max, 14; Alice, 10; Arthur, 5, and Ada, set out to join the Saints in Utah. They came by sailing vessel, the Horizon to the east coast, and by rail to Iowa City.) In June 1856 they joined the Daniel MacArthur handcart company, which nearly perished in the heavy snows of the Rocky Mountains. Robert’s 6 year-old son Arthur was inadvertently abandoned along the trail. and rescued in the nick of time to save him from dying of exposure, and Robert himself nearly died from exhaustion and exposure near the Green River in Wyoming. His son Maximilian, then aged twelve, and cousin Thomas Schofield, loaded him onto a handcart and pulled him through heavy snows to Fort Bridger, where he recuperated.
Martha Alice Parker Woodbury story contributed by Charles Kyker( All their possessions were heaped in a handcart which Robert pulled and Ann, caring for the baby, pushed. Alice followed on foot with the other children of the train, with responsibility for Arthur. Before they had gone far Robert was stricken by a wasting fever, and had to be placed in one of the wagons; now it was Ann and Alice who powered the handcart. As they passed through the Nebraska timberlands, Arthur one day became ill, sat down to rest beside the train, fell asleep, and was left
behind, unmissed until the end of the day. Members of the train searched for two days without result, then had to go on. Ann and Alice went on with the train; Robert, still ill, went back to look for the boy, finally returning with him to the train, after a week. (Arthur was found in the possession of a family who had found him and taken him home) By now Robert was gravely ill, and Ann and Martha Alice pushed and pulled their cart the rest of the way. When they reached the head of the Salt Lake Valley in September, 1856, Ann collapsed from exhaustion and went no further until a passing carriage passed and pulled the cart into the city. They had walked thirteen hundred miles.)
In Utah, Robert Parker settled briefly to Centerville, a few miles north of Salt Lake City, but the approach of Johnston’s Army - - federal troops sent to put down a suspected Mormon rebellion - - sent the Mormon population fleeing to the south for refuge. The Parkers settled near the Indian Farm at Spanish Fork, where they lived out of their wagon while Robert briefly taught school to provide sustenance for his family. Ann was pregnant with their seventh child and she was in a weakened condition due to their privations.
When Thomas Schofield organized the Beaver Wollen Mills in the two of Beaver in the central part of the Territory, he brought Robert Parker there to assist in the construction and organization of the mills. The cooperative included, besides Parker and Schofield, a number of other textile workers, recent converts from Lancashire, including Ann Parker's uncle, John Ashworth, and his son William.
The new opportunity was a salvation for Robert Parker's needy family, but their privations had taken a toll. Ann gave birth to a son on 12 January 1858, not long after their arrival at Beaver. They named him Robert in honor of his father, but he was weak at birth and died a little more than a year later.
Robert Parker continued to live at Beaver for a number of years. He entered into the doctrine of plural wives (polygamy) and as a result was sought after by federal marshals. He moved to the more remote southern community at Washington, Utah, but was eventually arrested. Both Robert Parker and Thomas Schofield served terms in the territorial prison for polygamy. Robert Parker died at his home at Washington, Utah, on 24 February 1901.14
Robert Parker’s eldest son, Maximilian, was only twelve years old when he crossed the plains with his family. In his teens he worked as a textile apprentice in the Beaver Woolen Mills, but he hated the drudgery of the work and ran away. He eventually took a job carrying the mail by horseback from beaver south to Panguitch.
When he turned twenty-one, Maxy Parker married Ann Gillies on her 19th birthday, 12 July 1865. Ann Campbell Gillies was the daughter of Robert Gillies, a carpenter and cabinet maker, by his wife Jane Sinclair. Annie was born 12 July 1846 at New Castle, Northumberland, England.15 Maxy and Ann Parker settled on a ranch at North Creek, some four or five miles north of Beaver. Here, in the early morning hours of Friday, the 13th day of April, in the midst of an Indian attack led by Chief Sanpitch of the Utes, Annie gave birth to their first child. They named him Robert Leroy Parker in honor of his grandfather. History remembers him best as the outlaw Butch Cassidy.
One day while waiting in the Ogden Tabernacle a man came in and sat with us, he introduced himself as John Leo Chidester. I asked him if he was related to the Chidester’s in my wife’s family in Torrey. Yes he said, I am also related to Butch Cassidy. We talked until the program began and whenever we could. I asked him about his mother’s genealogy book and if I could see it. His mother was Lucinda Elisa Smith wife of James Parker Chidester. When I called to see it, he would look some more. But john Leo died and I am still waiting to see it. So I recently began Goggling and this is how we are related to the famous Robert Parker Family and the famous outlaw, Butch Cassidy.
In 12th US Census of Washington County and City, Utah on12th June 1900 lists Robert Parker as Head of his family, born 1820 in England, as 80 years old, emigrated in 1856 age 44, married 57 years and is a dry goods merchant. Ann Hartley Parker, born March 1819, 81 years old.
Well many years earlier became a polygamist and was sent to the Federal Prison. I had tried to find the trial records but there is no such thing. Everything was kept quiet. Men of means were expected to care for widows and single ladies by marring them. When the Prophet, Joseph sent some of his missionaries out and if the missionary was worried about his family he told them to bring them to his house. What they did not know was that he would have to marry them and many came home angry and would not take his wife back. Many Bishops were performing many unwanted marriages. Well Robert Parker married more than he was allowed by the laws of the land and paid for it.
One of his wives was at least one Chidester and one of them is on the same 1900 Census. It is hard to read the first name, it maybe Susan, I think. She listed as head of the household and was born April 1832 and is 68 years old. Her child, Myrow Chidester 38 years, his wife Sarah and four children are also on the 1900 census. She must have been Joshua Chidester’s wife as well as Robert’s.