Charles Lewes Parker (1810–1848)

Charles Lewes Parker was born in Oxford in 1810. He was descended from a long line of illustrious Oxford ancestors. His father Joseph Parker (matriculated at the University of Oxford as a privileged tradesman in 1798) founded the well-known Oxford bookshop; his grandfather Richard Parker (matriculated from Lincoln College in 1735) was a cleric; his great-grandfather, John Parker (matriculated as a privileged tradesman in 1758) was an apothecary of 33 Holywell Street; his great-great-grandfather Samuel Parker (matriculated from Trinity College in 1694) was writer and non-juror; and his great-great-great-grandfather, Samuel Parker (matriculated from Wadham College in 1657) was Bishop of Oxford from 1686 until his death in 1688.

Charles was born in St Michael’s parish on 31 January 1810, probably in the house in the Turl adjoining his father’s book shop at 26–27 Broad Street. He was the second surviving son of Joseph Parker and his wife Sarah, and he and his siblings were born in the following order:

  • Joseph Parker, born 24 November 1802, baptised 1 January 1803 at St Michael’s Church, buried there 26 March 1803
  • Sarah Parker, born 23 November 1803, baptised 28 January 1804 at St Michael’s Church
  • Harriet Parker, born 16 May 1806, baptised 8 October 1806 at St Michael’s Church, died 8 July 1831
  • George Parker, baptised 21 September 1807 at St Michael’s Church, buried there 11 January 1808
  • Edward Parker, born 28 December 1808, baptised 16 February 1809 at St Michael’s Church
    (matriculated at University of Oxford from Oriel College, became Vicar of Bicester 1836, Rector of Oxenden Magna 1843, Hon. Canon of Peterborough 1877, died 1887)
  • Charles Lewes Parker, born on 31 January 1810, baptised 10 February 1810 at St Michael’s Church
  • Frances Parker, born 12 April 1811, baptised 11 June 1811 at St Michael’s Church, buried there 26 April 1825
  • George Richards Parker, baptised 16 May 1813 at St Michael’s Church, died aged seven and buried there on 1 June 1820
  • Elizabeth Maria Parker, baptised 3 February 1816 at St Michael’s Church (this must be “Mary” who died at Parker’s house at St Giles on 7 January 1831)

As well as losing three children as babies, three of Joseph’s Parker’s other children died young, and then his wife Sarah after a few days’ illness on 22 September 1840: this may have encouraged Joseph to have become a supporter of the Radcliffe Infirmary.

Charles Lewes Parker was matriculated at the University of Oxford from Wadham College in 1827, and registered for Daubeny’s lectures that year.

By 1831 Joseph Parker had retired to live in Black Hall in St Giles’ and left the family bookshop to his nephew John Henry Parker, as his only surviving sons Edward and Charles were committed to the Church and to medicine respectively. Charles had already been studying in London for a year, taking the MRCS in 1834. He was awarded his MA from Wadham College on 28 February 1835, and stayed in Oxford, setting up a practice in St Aldate’s. He was elected Surgeon to the Radcliffe Infirmary on 27 January 1836, beating his competitor William Fisher by 152 votes to 51. He was the first Surgeon who was a member of the University, and remained in the post until his death.

Soon after his election, Charles Lewes Parker married Jane Lowry Barnwell. Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 21 May 1836 records:

On Thursday last was married, at St. George’s, Bloomsbury, by the Rev. Edward Parker, Vicar of Bicester, Charles Lewes Parker, Esq. of St. Aldate’s, in this city, surgeon, to Jane Lowry, youngest daughter of C. F. Barnwell, Esq. Woburn-place, London.

Parker’s family home and surgery were at 17 St Aldate’s Street, and he is listed as a surgeon there in Robson’s Directory of 1839.

Charles Lewes Parker and his wife Jane had the following seven children:

  • Charles Perrott Parker, privately baptised at St Aldate’s Church on 3 March 1838, and received into the church three days later; died in infancy
  • Lewes Barnwell Parker, baptised at St Aldate’s Church on 27 September 1839; died 1849
  • Harriet Jane Parker, baptised at St Aldate’s Church on 27 March 1841
  • Frederick Perrott Parker, born 19 January 1843, baptised at St Aldate’s Church on 28 February 1843
  • Richard Lowry Parker, baptised at St Aldate’s Church on 27 September 1844
  • George Sackville Parker, baptised at St Aldate’s Church on 9 October 1846
  • Eleanor Susanna Parker, privately baptised at St Aldate’s Church on 6 April 1848.

The 1841 census shows Charles and Jane with Lewes (1) and Harriet (3 months) living in St Aldate’s with Caroline Stanton (a lady of independent means) and five servants.

Brodrick in William Tuckwell, Our Memories, wrote:

Another evening I (Bishop Hobhouse) invited Mr. Lewes Parker, a leading Oxford surgeon who had lately shown his skill in his treatment of the venerable president of Magdalen College, Dr. Routh, who had been bitten by his gardener in a fit of madness.

On 4 March 1847 Parker carried out an operation using ether as an anaesthetic just over two months after ether was used for the first time in London.

Charles Lewes Parker died at the age of 38 in his house in St Aldate’s on 19 December 1848 and his funeral was on Boxing Day.

Charles Lewes Parker’s father Joseph had been living alone at Black Hall at the time of the 1841 census, aged 67, looked after by three servants. At first Charles’s widow Jane Lowry Parker brought her children to live in Black Hall with her father-in-law, as when her eldest son Lewes Barnwell Parker died on 12 November 1849, it was announced in Jackson’s Oxford Journal that he had “died at the house of Joseph Parker Esq in Saint Giles’s”.

Joseph Parker himself died at the age of 76 on 9 November 1850 and Jane continued to live at Black Hall for a while: the 1851 census shows her (aged 35 and described as a “Fundholder”) living there with five of her children, aged from 2 to 10, and six servants (a nurse, under-nurse, cook, housemaid, under-housemaid, and butler). They had moved away by the time of the 1861 census.

Parker’s son Frederick
  • Frederick Perrott Parker, Charles Parker’s eldest surviving son, attended Rugby School and was matriculated at the University of Oxford from Oriel College on 2 December 1861. He obtained his MA in 1868 and was appointed Rector of Colton in Staffordshire in 1874.

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