PARKER, Calthrop (d.1618), of Erwarton, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

1st s. of Sir Philip Parker by Catherine, da. of Sir John Goodwin of Bucks. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. c.1592; L. Inn 1596. m. Mercy, da. of Sir Stephen Soame, at least 5s. 1da. Kntd. 1603; suc. fa. c.1605.

Offices Held

J.p. Suff. bef. 1611, sheriff 1611-12.1


Parker, a relative of Lord Morley, owned considerable property in Suffolk, and also had lands in Norfolk. Erwarton, the family’s chief residence, had come to them in Edward VI’s reign through the marriage of Sir Henry Parker to Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir Philip Calthrope. The son of this marriage, Sir Philip Parker, was knighted by the Queen when she went on progress through Suffolk in 1578.2

Parker himself was brought up against a puritan background, which he shared with a number of the other Suffolk knights of the shire for Elizabeth’s reign. Nothing has been ascertained about his religious views, but his father was a close associate of Sir Robert Jermyn and (Sir) John Heigham, and was included by Bishop Freake of Norwich in the list of his ‘adversaries’ which he sent to the Privy Council in 1578. A prominent member of the Dedham classis, Anthony Morse, was employed by Sir Philip at Erwarton as a tutor or domestic chaplain; he was a layman, but had received some kind of calling under which he claimed to act as a minister. Sir Philip would no doubt have had the support of his powerful puritan friends had he wished to stand for the county himself, but he clearly had no ambitions in that direction. In the event Calthrop Parker had the support of his father and Sir Robert Jermyn and there ‘suddenly’ arose ‘a new knight’, as Henry Warner reported to (Sir) Nicholas Bacon, with little enthusiasm. Although his name does not appear in the records of the 1601 Parliament, Parker could have attended committees on procedure (3 Nov.), cloth-workers (18 Nov.) and monopolies (23 Nov.).3

Since Parker did not succeed to his estates until James I’s reign, most of his active career lies outside the Elizabethan period. His marriage brought him into close contact with London trading interests, and his will mentions £3,000 which his father-in-law, Sir Stephen Soame, had been commissioned to invest for him in the East India Company. In July 1618 a warrant was issued to pay Parker and others 2,178 crowns, as a bounty on the tonnage of seven newly built ships.

Some years after the death of his father, as the head of the family, Parker was forced to take steps to protect the interests of his sister Catherine, wife of Sir William Cornwallis. When her husband died in 1614 she was left in financial difficulties, as her father-in-law Sir Charles Cornwallis had not made adequate arrangements for settling lands as her jointure. In July of that year Parker was given permission to visit Sir Charles in the Tower to get the matter settled.

He died on 5 Sept. 1618, still a comparatively young man, leaving a large family, of which the eldest son, Philip, was about seventeen. In his will, drawn up in August 1618 and proved the following January, he spoke of himself as in middle-age and full health. This suggests that he may have died suddenly, but no details are known. He must have been a wealthy man, as in addition to his lands he was able to leave bequests from his ‘cattle, wool, shipping and vessels as well in Suffolk as in Norfolk’.

His heir, Sir Philip, and his son-in-law, John Gurdon, represented Suffolk and Ipswich respectively at the beginning of the Long Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 156; C142/288/137; Wards 7/27/226.
  • 2. C142/369/134; Wards 7/59/171; Copinger, Suff. vi. 36.
  • 3. Collinson thesis, 359, 883; Univ. Chicago, Bacon mss; D’Ewes, 624, 642, 649.
  • 4. PCC 1 Parker; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 560; APC, 1613-1614, p. 484; Wards 7/59/171.