PARKER, Sir Henry (by 1514-52), of Morley Hall, Hingham, Norf. and Furneux Pelham, Herts.
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Family and Education
b. by 1514, s. of Henry Parker, 10th Lord Morley by Alice, da. of Sir John St. John of Bletsoe, Beds. educ. ?L. Inn, adm. 1516. m. (1) 18 May 1523, Grace, da. and h. of John Newport of Furneux Pelham, at least 2s. 1da., (2) by 1549, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir Philip Calthrope of Erwarton, Suff., at least 1s. d.v.p. KB 31 May 1533.3
Commr. tenths of spiritualities, Herts. 1535, musters 1539, loan 1544, chantries, Essex and Herts. 1548 relief, Essex, Herts., Norf. and household of Princess Elizabeth 1550; other commissions 1538-51; sheriff, Essex and Herts. 1536-7; j.p. Herts. 1537-d.; custos rot. c.1547.4
Sir Henry Parker’s father was a prominent courtier, an accomplished translator and author, and a close friend of Cromwell. One of his daughters married George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford, and Parker himself was to be connected, through his second marriage, with the Boleyn family. The beginnings of Parker’s career are obscure. The man of that name who was page of the chamber and gentleman usher from 1514 was probably a namesake, perhaps Henry Parker of Berden, Essex.5
By his marriage to Grace Newport, who was only eight in 1523, Parker acquired the manors of Furneux Pelham and Stapleford, and in 1536 he procured a private Act (28 Hen. VIII c.20) settling his two Norfolk manors on himself and his wife, in lieu of the jointure that he had covenanted to make her on marriage. In 1541 the under sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire was sued for abducting a 14 year-old ward, Jane Barenton, who had been contracted in marriage to the younger John Newport, presumably Parker’s brother-in-law. Parker was apparently a party to the abduction, for his servants escorted the girl in her flight from her guardian and helped her to elude him in London.6
Parker was knighted at Anne Boleyn’s coronation and served regularly on Hertfordshire commissions from 1535. It is possible that he sat in the short Parliament of 1536, for which the Hertfordshire returns have not survived; it was that Parliament which passed the Act relating to the settlement on Grace Parker, although such an uncontroversial measure hardly required Parker’s presence in the Commons as well as his father’s in the Lords. His election for Hertfordshire in 1539 is to be explained by his father’s closeness to Cromwell and his own leading position in his county. In two letters to Cromwell (probably of 1536) Parker reported his imprisonment of two parsons who had disobeyed the royal injunctions against superstitious holy days, and begged Cromwell to help his chaplain, whom the bishop of London’s surveyor was suing for no good reason. Parker explained that he knew ‘the love and favour which ... your lordship always hath borne to the word of God and to all them which endeavour to set forth the King’s most godly and gracious injunctions’ and interpreted the action against his chaplain as an attack by the conservative Bishop Stokesley on himself. He attended at court on ceremonial occasions, such as the christening of Prince Edward and the reception of Anne of Cleves. He was also called on for military service, his name appearing in lists of Hertfordshire gentlemen to serve against the northern rebels in 1536, and eight years later he was with the rearguard of the army in France. In April 1536 he had a grant from the crown of the dissolved priory of Latton, Essex, which he sold, with other land, five years later. He was assessed in Hertfordshire for the subsidy, his lands there being valued at £100 a year in 1546, which made him one of the county’s ten or 12 richest men.