PARKER, SIR HYDE, Bart. (1714–1782), British vice-admiral, was born at Tredington, Worcestershire, on the 25th of February, 1714, his father, a clergyman, being a son of Sir Henry Parker, Bart. His paternal grandfather had married a daughter of Bishop Alexander Hyde, of Salisbury. He began his career at sea in the merchant service. Entering the royal navy at the age of twenty-four, he was made lieutenant in 1744, and in 1748 he was made post-captain. During the latter part of the Seven Years' War he served in the East Indies, taking part in the capture of Pondicherry (1761) and of Manila (1762). In the latter year Parker with two ships captured one of the valuable Spanish plate ships in her voyage between Acapulco and Manila. In 1778 he became rear-admiral, and went to North American waters as second-in-command. For some time before Rodney’s arrival he was in command on the Leeward Islands station, and conducted a skilful campaign against the French at Martinique. In 1781, having returned home and become vice-admiral, he fell in with a Dutch fleet of about his own force, though far better equipped, near the Dogger Bank (Aug. 5). After a fiercely contested battle, in which neither combatant gained any advantage, both sides drew off. Parker considered that he had not been properly equipped for his task, and insisted on resigning his command. In 1782 he accepted the East Indies command, though he had just succeeded to the family baronetcy. On the outward voyage his flagship, the “Cato” (60), was lost with all on board.
His second son, Admiral Sir Hyde Parker (1739–1807), entered the navy at an early age, and became lieutenant in 1758, having passed most of his early service in his father’s ships. Five years later he became a post-captain, and from 1766 onwards for many years he served in the West Indies and in North American waters, particularly distinguishing himself in breaking the defences of the North river (New York) in 1776. His services on this occasion earned him a knighthood in 1779. In 1778 he was engaged in the Savannah expedition, and in the following year his ship was wrecked on the hostile Cuban coast. His men, however, entrenched themselves, and were in the end brought off safely. Parker was with his father at the Dogger Bank, and with Howe in the two actions in the Straits of Gibraltar. In 1793, having just become rear-admiral, he served under Lord Hood at Toulon and in Corsica, and two years later, now a vice-admiral, he took part, under Hotham, in the indecisive fleet actions of the 13th of March and the 13th of July 1795. From 1796 to 1800 he was in command at Jamaica and ably conducted the operations in the West Indies. In 1801 he was appointed to command the fleet destined to break up the northern armed neutrality, with Nelson as his second-in-command. Copenhagen, the first objective of the expedition, fell on the 2nd of April to the fierce attack of Nelson’s squadron, Parker with the heavier ships taking little part. Subsequently Parker hesitated to advance up the Baltic after his victory, a decision which was severely criticised. Soon afterwards he was recalled and Nelson succeeded him. He died in 1807.
The family name was continued in the navy in his eldest son, who became vice-admiral and was First Sea Lord of the Admiralty in 1853 (dying in 1854); and also in that son’s son, who as a captain in the Black Sea was killed in 1854 when storming a Russian fort.