PARKINS, John (1571-1640), of Dorchester, Dorset

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. 1571, 1st s. of William Parkins, yeoman, of East Shilvinghampton, Dorset.1 m. (1) c.1600, Wilmot (bur. 6 Nov. 1617), da. of John Chappell, merchant, of Exeter, Devon, 4s. (3 d.v.p.) 5da. (4 d.v.p.);2 (2) 15 Apr. 1621, Rachel, da. of John Radcliffe of Lexden, Essex, wid. of Richard Potter (d. by 1612), Haberdasher, of London and Richard Chappell (d. 9 Feb. 1621) of Exeter, 1s. 1da.3 suc. fa. 1634.4 bur. 2 Nov. 1640.5

Offices Held

Bailiff, Dorchester 1610-11, 1615-16, 1619-20, 1624-5,6 cap. burgess 1610-d.,7 freeman 1611,8 mayor 1629-30;9 collector, Privy Seal loans, Dorset 1625.10

Member, French Co. 1611.11


Parkins was born into a family of Dorset farmers that leased around 275 acres in Portesham, six miles from Dorchester. His father subsequently took on another substantial farm at nearby Clandon.12 However, Parkins himself settled in Dorchester as a cloth merchant, and was nominated as bailiff in the borough charter of 1610, even though he had not yet taken out his freedom. In the following year he joined the French Company of London. A prominent local puritan, he was one of the principal subscribers behind the building of Dorchester’s workhouse in 1616.13

Shortly after completing his third term as bailiff, Parkins was elected as Dorchester’s junior Member in the 1621 Parliament. However, he left no trace on the Commons’ records, and was evidently preoccupied with family matters for much of the first sitting. In February 1621 his brother-in-law Richard Chappell died in Exeter, leaving a young widow, Rachel, aged about 28. Parkins, himself a widower in his fiftieth year, promptly embarked on a hasty courtship, and married Rachel barely two months later, during Parliament’s Easter recess. He is not known to have sought re-election, despite remaining active in municipal affairs.14

Parkins lost £700 in 1625, when a consignment of kerseys was taken by French pirates in the Channel, but he apparently continued to export cloth, for one of his sons died at Florence two years later. In 1626 he was excused from paying a Privy Seal loan of £10, perhaps partly in recognition of his services as one of this levy’s collectors.15 Parkins became Dorchester’s first mayor under the 1629 charter. Around the same time he donated a book by the Calvinist divine, William Perkins, to the borough’s library. In 1631 he compounded for knighthood at £14.16 Having succeeded to his patrimony, in 1636 he defaulted on £6 13s. 4d. Ship Money, charged on his property at Clandon, where he held 1,181 acres, valued at £360 p.a., as tenant to the 2nd earl of Suffolk (Theophilus Howard, Lord Howard de Walden*).17 Parkins was buried at Holy Trinity, Dorchester on 2 Nov. 1640. He charged his property in the town with annuities of £5 each to the curate and the workhouse. His heirs still held land at Clandon and Shilvinghampton after the Restoration, but no other member of the family entered Parliament.18

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. W.M. Barnes, ‘Commonplace Bk. of a Dorset Man’, Procs. Dorset Nat. Hist. and Antiquarian Field Club, xvi. 65, 73; Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 762-3.
  • 2. Barnes, 66-7; Soc. Gen., Holy Trinity, Dorchester par. reg.; PROB 11/119, f. 41v.
  • 3. William Whiteway of Dorchester (Dorset Rec. Soc. xii), 34, 36; London Mar. Lics. ed. J. Foster, 1079; St. Mary Mounthaw (Harl. Soc. Reg. lviii), 6; PROB 11/137, f. 318v; Barnes, 70; Soc. Gen., Holy Trinity, Dorchester par. reg.
  • 4. Barnes, 73.
  • 5. Soc. Gen., Holy Trinity, Dorchester par. reg.
  • 6. Hutchins, ii. 352.
  • 7. Municipal Recs. of Dorchester ed. C.H. Mayo, 41, 57.
  • 8. Dorset RO, B2/11/2.
  • 9. Hutchins, ii. 354.
  • 10. E112/174/14.
  • 11. Select Charters of Trading Cos. ed. C.T. Carr (Selden Soc. xxviii), 66.
  • 12. Hutchins, ii. 574-5, 762-3.
  • 13. Municipal Recs. of Dorchester, 41; Hutchins, ii. 397; D. Underdown, Fire from Heaven, 55.
  • 14. William Whiteway of Dorchester, 34; Barnes, 66; Exeter Mar. Lics. ed. J.L. Vivian, 72.
  • 15. William Whiteway of Dorchester, 73; Barnes, 71; APC, 1625-6, p. 370.
  • 16. Municipal Recs. of Dorchester, 57, 582; Som. and Dorset N and Q, iv. 16.
  • 17. SP16/319/89; Dorset RO, D10/M74.
  • 18. Soc. Gen., Holy Trinity, Dorchester par. reg.; Hutchins, ii. 391; Dorset Hearth Tax Assessments ed. C.A.F. Meekings, 7, 11.