Parkyns, Mansfield (DNB00)

PARKYNS, MANSFIELD (1823–1894), traveller, born at Ruddington, Nottinghamshire, on 16 Feb. 1823, was second son of Thomas Boultbee Parkyns by Charlotte Mary, eldest daughter of George Smith of Edwalton, Nottinghamshire. His father was a nephew of Thomas Boothby Parkyns, first lord Rancliffe, and a grandson of Sir Thomas Parkyns, third baronet of Bunny, the son of Sir Thomas ‘Luctator,’ who is separately noticed. Mansfield matriculated from Trinity College, Cambridge, in October 1839, but did not proceed to a degree. A strong craving for a more adventurous mode of life led him to Constantinople in the autumn of 1842, and on 5 March 1843 he left Cairo on a journey of exploration into the remotest parts of Abyssinia. Without any very definite projects, he remained among the Abyssinians over three years, enjoying unique facilities for observing the life of the people, to whom his strength, sang-froid, and ready compliance with all the customs of the country greatly commended him. After having traversed the country by a circuitous route from Massowah to Khartoum, he returned to England in 1846. He was appointed an attaché to the embassy at Constantinople on 15 Feb. 1850, and retained the position until the latter part of 1852. He then came back to England, and in 1853 issued his interesting, though desultory, ‘Life in Abyssinia, being Notes collected during Three Years' Residence and Travel in that Country’ (2 vols., London, 8vo), which was dedicated to Lord Palmerston and excited much attention; it corroborated certain passages in the ‘Travels’ of James Bruce which had hitherto been regarded as fabulous. A new edition with a fresh introduction, touching upon Abyssinian history and methods of government, was published in 1868 à propos of the Abyssinian expedition commanded by Lord Napier of Magdala [see Napier, John Cornelis]. Upon his marriage, on 14 Sept. 1852, to Emma Louisa Bethell (d. 2 Dec. 1877), daughter of Richard, first lord Westbury, by whom he had eight daughters, Parkyns settled down at Woodborough Hall in Nottinghamshire, where he acquired an estate. He served in the Sherwood foresters' militia, and subsequently became lieutenant-colonel of the Nottinghamshire rifle volunteers. In 1858 he became official assignee in bankruptcy, first in Exeter and then in London, and he was afterwards appointed comptroller of the court of bankruptcy. He retired from this office in 1884. In earlier years he had obtained some notoriety as a pugilist, in emulation, doubtless, of his ancestor, the second baronet; after his retirement he took to wood-carving as a diversion, and presented to Woodborough church some handsome oak stalls of his own handiwork. Parkyns was also an active member of the Royal Geographical Society, and was distinguished as an excellent linguist, possessing a rare knowledge of many of the less known dialects of the Nile Basin and of Western Asia. He died on 12 Jan. 1894, and was buried in Woodborough church.

[Times, 19 Jan. 1894; Nottingham Daily Express and Daily Guardian, January 1894; Foster's Peerage, 1882, p. 485; Foreign Office Lists, 1853, 1895; Life in Abyssinia.]

T. S.