Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Parker, Peter (officer)

PARKER, Sir Peter, bart., British naval officer, b. in Ireland in 1721; d. in London. 21 Dec., 1811. He became a post-captain in 1747, and in 1775 in the “Bristol,” of fifty guns, left England with a squadron and proceeded to Charleston, S. C., in order to co-operate with Sir Henry Clinton in his attack on that city. Arriving on 28 June, 1776, he made an unsuccessful assault on Fort Moultrie, which resulted in great loss of life and damage to his ships, and to the final abandonment of the enterprise. He was subsequently knighted for his bravery in this affair. He aided Lord Howe in the capture of New York, commanded the squadron that took possession of Rhode Island in the latter part of 1776, and held the chief command on the Jamaica station in 1777-'82. He was made a baronet in 1782, subsequently became commander-in-chief at Portsmouth, England, was member of parliament for Maldon and admiral of the White, and, on the death of Lord Howe, succeeded him as admiral of the fleet. — His grandson, Sir Peter, bart., British naval officer, b. in England in 1785; d. near Moorefields, Georgetown Cross-Roads, Md., 30 Aug., 1814, was educated at Westminster school, entered the navy at an early age under his grandfather, and rose rapidly, serving with Lord Nelson, the Earl of St. Vincent, and other noted officers. He was placed in charge of the frigate “Menelaus” in 1810, commanded her on the Bermuda station in 1814, and in the spring of that year went to Chesapeake bay for the purpose of patrolling those waters and blockading Baltimore harbor. Previous to his American service he had been noted for his magnanimity, but under the direction of his superior officer, Sir George Cockburn, he was unnecessarily cruel and exasperating to the Americans, frequently sending parties ashore to plunder private as well as public property, and wantonly destroying every house that was suspected to be the residence of a military man. He swept domestic commerce from the bay, and boasted that during the month of his blockading service he had not permitted a single American boat to cross the Chesapeake. After the fall of Washington, D. C., he was ordered down the bay, but he said: “I must have a frolic with the Yankees first,” and accordingly, after a dinner with his officers on the night of 30 Aug., he landed a force of seamen and marines from the “Menelaus” and attacked a body of Maryland militia that was camped near Chestertown, Md. After a hand-to-hand fight of about an hour, the British were repelled, and Sir Peter was mortally wounded, dying before he could be carried to the ship. His body was taken to Bermuda, and subsequently to England, receiving a public funeral and military honors in both countries. Lord Byron, who was his first cousin, wrote a poetic eulogy to his memory. See a memoir of him by Sir George Dallas (London, 1815).