Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Parker, Samuel (1681-1730)

PARKER, SAMUEL (1681–1730), nonjuror and theological writer, second son of Samuel Parker [q. v.], bishop of Oxford, was born in 1681 at Chartham in Kent, and matriculated on 6 June 1694 at Trinity College, Oxford. At an early age he ‘embraced the principles of the nonjurors, and, observing a strict uniformity in his principles and practice, refused preferment offered.’ He declined the oaths of allegiance at the Revolution, and ‘lived retired ever since at Oxford, esteemed particularly for his art of pleasing in conversation.’

His chief friends are said to have been Hickes, Grabe, Jeremy Collier, Dodwell, Nelson, and Leslie, the foremost of the nonjuring theologians; and the liberality of some of them helped him to support a very large family; while Parker's piety, modesty, and learning made him highly esteemed by all who knew him. For a time he seems to have held a situation in the Bodleian Library, and while still at Oxford, in 1700 and 1701 respectively, he produced two volumes of juvenile essays, ‘Six Essays upon Philosophical Subjects,’ and ‘Sylva, or Familiar Letters upon Occasional Subjects.’ In 1705 a scare was raised about a supposed ‘Academy’ of his in Oxford, suspected to be disseminating Jacobite principles, but whose ‘business,’ says Hearne, was only this—that he had a son of one Colonel Tufton as a resident pupil. He is repeatedly alluded to by Hearne. On 20 Jan. 1710 Hearne records that Parker had so far relented as to allow his wife to take the sacrament in the established church; under 11 May 1711 he notes that Parker himself now conformed like ‘Mr. Dodwell,’ whose ‘Case in view now in fact’ had persuaded him to take this step. After helping to close for a time the nonjuring schism, he was repeatedly canvassed to write answers to books and pamphlets directed against the conduct of his party, and it was commonly, but wrongly, supposed that he would now take orders. On 14 July 1730 he died at Oxford, either of the dropsy or, as his friends declared, of overwork. He married the daughter of Mr. Clements, a bookseller at Oxford, and his younger son Richard founded the publishing house in Oxford, which still remains in one branch of his family [see Parker, John Henry].

Parker's ablest work is the ‘Censura Temporum, or the Good and Ill Tendencies of Books,’ a monthly periodical issued in the interest of the high-church school of Queen Anne's reign, begun January 1708 and continued to March 1710, in which Locke and Whiston are repeatedly attacked with much warmth. On his ‘Bibliotheca Biblica, or Patristic Commentary on the Scriptures’ (1720–35), which was left incomplete and only covered the Pentateuch, his friends thought his reputation chiefly rested; but it was a work that ‘showed his good intentions rather than his judgment.’ He was partially responsible for the first eight volumes of the ‘History of the Works of the Learned; being an Account of Works printed in Europe 1699–1707,’ which was continued in yearly volumes to 1711. In ‘A Letter to Mr. Bold on the Resurrection of the Body,’ 1707, he argues for the literal resurrection of the material body and boldly attacks Locke's attempted explanation of the ‘resurrection of the man;’ this tract contains a plain statement of his belief, which resembled that of the tractarians.

Parker also attempted to popularise, by translations and abridgments, the early church historians. In this endeavour he published an abridged translation of Eusebius, 1703, dedicated to Robert Nelson [q. v.]; ‘An Abridged Translation of the Church Histories of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret,’ 1707–12; and ‘An Abridgment of Evagrius,’ 1729. His other works included ‘A Translation of “Cicero de Finibus,” with the Annals of Thucydides and Xenophon,’ 1702. He left an ‘Essay on the Duty of Physicians,’ 1715; ‘Homer in a Nutshell, or his War between the Frogs and Mice, paraphrastically translated, in three cantos,’ 1700; and an edition of his father's historical work, with the title ‘Reverendi admodum in Christo patris Samuelis Parkeri, episcopi, de rebus sui temporis commentariorum Libri IV,’ afterwards translated. A fierce attack was made upon Parker from the dissenting side in the pamphlet ‘A Rod for Trepidantium Malleus, or a Letter to Sam Reconcileable,’ 1700.

[Parker's Bibliotheca Biblica, 1735, with notice of his life; Lathbury's History of the Nonjurors, especially pp. 374–5; Noble's Continuation of Granger, iii. 321; Darling's Cyclopædia, ad lit; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict. xxiv. 120; Rawlinson, i. 400, ii. 86; Hearne's Collections (Oxf. Hist. Soc. edit.), i. 37, 132, 261, ii. 10, 73, 108, 116, 338, iii. 77, 139, 159, 198, 244, 275; Hazlitt's Collections, ii. 443; Crosby's English Baptists.]

C. R. B.