Parkinson, James (1653-1722) (DNB00)


PARKINSON, JAMES (1653–1722), polemical writer, son of James Parkinson, was born at Witney, Oxfordshire, on 3 March 1652–3, and matriculated at Oxford on 2 April 1669 as a servitor of Brasenose College. He was admitted scholar of Corpus Christi on 31 Jan. 1670–1, but was expelled for abusing the president, Dr. Robert Newlyn, in Lent 1674. Migrating to Gloucester Hall, whence he proceeded B.A. on 6 April 1674, and then to Hart Hall, he gained some reputation by an excellent speech at the Encænia, and was nominated fellow of Lincoln College by the bishop of Lincoln, its visitor, in November 1674. He was admitted M.A. in November 1675, and took orders about the same time, though without enjoying any benefice (Rawl. MS.)

He was a successful tutor, according to his own account, but his pronounced whig tendencies rendered him obnoxious to the majority in the college and the university. Hearne calls him ‘a rank stinking whigg, who us'd to defend ye Murther of King Charles 1st, and recommend Milton and such other Republican Rascalls to his Pupills.’ After convocation, by decree of 21 July 1683, had condemned the tenets professed by the exclusion party, the fellows of Lincoln drew up a set of twelve articles against Parkinson, accusing him of advocating anti-monarchical and anti-Anglican principles, both in his private conversation, and from the pulpit of St. Michael's (Wood MS. 18 D, where the articles are given in full). Dr. Marshall, then rector of the college, declined to act in the matter; and the fellows thereupon appealed to Dr. Timothy Halton, provost of Queen's and pro-vice-chancellor, who summoned Parkinson before him, and, after inquiry, bound him to appear at the next assizes. He appeared on 3 Sept. 1683, and pleading not guilty to an indictment charging him with holding republican views, was released on bail. The next day, Dr. Halton informed him that, in accordance with orders ‘from above,’ he must expel him from the university. The ‘bannitus’ or proclamation of expulsion was posted on 6 Sept. (Account, &c., p. 12). He appeared at several assizes and then before Chief-justice Jeffreys in the king's bench, the proceedings against him being continued till April 1686.

After spending some years in London he was readmitted to the university early in 1689 by Dr. Gilbert Ironside, vice-chancellor, but failed to regain his fellowship. He published a vindication of his own conduct anonymously, and took some part in the controversy with the nonjurors. His whiggish pamphlets probably brought him under the favourable notice of Archbishop Tillotson, who procured for him the headmastership of King Edward's School, Birmingham, in 1694. Though the town had given its name to the extreme section of the whig party, he was never free from the difficulties which his violent temper created for him. His differences with the governing body rose to such a pitch in 1709 that they unanimously resolved on his ejectment, alleging that the school under his direction had declined both in numbers and reputation. Costly proceedings in chancery had no result: the headmaster maintained his position until his death; but no exhibitioners were sent to the universities, and the number of his pupils diminished. The rebuilding of the school, commenced in 1701, had no doubt temporarily impaired its efficiency. Parkinson is said to have enjoyed great esteem as a schoolmaster (Rawl. MS.), and Hearne admits, on the authority of an old pupil of his, that he never attempted to enforce upon his scholars his own political principles (Hearne, MS. Diary, vol. cxxxviii.)

He died on 28 March 1722, and was buried in the middle chancel of St. Martin's Church, Birmingham, near the altar steps. A stone, with inscription, was placed on the grave by his son (Rawl. MSS. and (imperfect) in Gent. Mag. March 1804). He was a little man, ‘very furious and fiery’ (Hearne).

He left a widow, who died in 1742. His only son, James, was baptised at Birmingham on 4 Sept. 1700, and educated in his father's school. He matriculated at Oxford from Wadham College on 6 June 1717, proceeded B.A. on 20 Feb. 1720–1, was admitted M.A. on 11 May 1724, was elected sub-dean, and died on 28 Dec. 1724, being buried near his father (Rawl. MS. J. 4o.5, 543).

Parkinson's works are: 1. ‘An Account of Mr. Parkinson's Expulsion from the University of Oxford, in the Late Times. In Vindication of him from the False Aspersions cast on him in a late Pamphlet, Entituled “The History of Passive Obedience [by Dr. Geo. Hickes?],”’ (anon.), London, 1689, 4to. 2. ‘The Fire's continued at Oxford; or, The Decree of the Convocation for Burning the “Naked Gospel” [by Arthur Bury] considered, In a letter to a Person of Honour’ (anon.), dated 30 Aug. 1690, 4to. 3. ‘An Examination of Dr. Sherlock's Book, entituled “The Case of the Allegiance due to Sovereign Powers Stated and Resolved,”’ &c., London, 1691, 4to. 4. ‘A Dialogue between a Divine of the Church of England and a Captain of Horse, concerning Dr. Sherlock's late Pamphlet, intituled “The Case of Allegiance”’ 1691 [?].

[Rawl. MSS. J. fol. 4, 173, and 4o.5, 453; Wood MS. 18 D. 51a–54b; Hearne's Diaries (Rawl. MSS.), vol. cxxxviii. ff. 109–10, vol. ii. f. 63, vol. iii. f. 76, ed. Doble (Oxford Hist. Soc.); Wood's Life, ed. Clark, ii. 288, 431, Athenæ, ed. Bliss, iv. 571–2, Fasti, ed. Gutch, pp. 867–8; Fowler's Hist. of Corpus Christi College (Oxford Hist. Soc.) p. 283, n. 2; [Parkinson], Account of Expulsion (Bodleian copies with manuscript notes by Gough and Harman); Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Gardiner's Wadham Registers; Gent. Mag. 1804, i. 227; Carlisle's Endowed Grammar Schools, ii. 631–44; Hutton's Hist. of Birmingham, ed. 1806, p. 295; Griffith's History of Free Schools, &c., of Birmingham, pp. 7, 35, 450.]

E. G. H.