No. 52 on the Colonial Department list, led by William Parker, a merchant of Cork, Ireland, who had at various times been engaged in the sugar trade in the West Indies, farmed in Ireland and held a government post in London. A virulent anti-Papist, Parker managed by outrageous impertinence and importunity to obtain the patronage of Charles Grant, the Secretary for Ireland; Sir Nicholas Colthurst, the Member of Parliament for Cork; and the Earl of Rosse and Viscount Ennismore. He even approached the Prince Regent for approval of his schemes. His 'exorbitant demands and absurd pretensions', backed up by threats of the influence he could bring to bear in high places, created major difficulties for the Colonial Department and, later on, the Cape authorities, and more than justified the Acting Governor's opinion 'that this Individual is suffering under a degree of mental derangement'.
Parker first proposed to undertake the supervision of the entire body of emigrants, and when that suggestion was turned down, he offered to take 500 'starving Irish poor' to the Cape under his direction, in return for a grant of land at Knysna and various official appointments, both civil and military. The Colonial Department showed exemplary patience under a wordy bombardment of letters and personal visits from Parker, and courteously reiterated that he would be allowed to take a party of 100 families from Ireland according to the conditions laid down for the emigration scheme, but no special arrangements could be made for him. In spite of that, Parker's demands continued; he asked for and was refused, among other things, 500 hammocks and seven and a half tons of old sails for his settlers, and a full supply of arms and ammunition, including 100 000 musket balls. Since the scheme made provision for a clergyman to accompany a group of 100 or more settlers, he informed the Colonial Department that he had engaged the Rev Francis McCleland to minister to his party.
By late October 1819, however, Parker had not yet provided a detailed list of the party, and had fallen out with his Irish agent who was responsible for recruiting labourers. He was told that his place in the emigration scheme could not be reserved for him indefinitely, as there were many other appllicants 'perfectly prepared and equally anxious' to go.
In mid-November a list of the proposed party was finally submitted, and the sorely-tried Colonial Department lost patience at last when it was seen that nearly two-thirds of Parker's prospective settlers were from London, not Ireland. This not only disrupted shipping arrangements but defeated the Department's intention to devote a substantial share of the emigration grant to Irish poor relief. Parker was told that his English contingent - 'a body of persons hastily collected in London of whom you can know but little, and who are in many cases the very persons whose proposals to emigrate have already been considered and rejected by Lord Bathurst' - might proceed to the Cape, but would be treated as a separate party. (In the event this threat was not carried out: the English and Irish sections of the party were embarked separately at Deptford and Cork, on the transport East Indian, but were otherwise administered as one unit.) Permission was withdrawn and then grudgingly reinstated for the Rev Francis McCleland to accompany the Irish settlers and 'receive a moderate stipend for the discharge of clerical duties'.
There was a further hitch over Parker's belated payment of the deposit money before the East Indian finally left Deptford for Cork late in December 1819 with 48 men of the party and their families on board, under the temporary direction of DP Francis. The transport sailed from Cork for the Cape on 12 February 1820, after 27 more men (including Parker himself) with their families had embarked, making up a total of 75 men.
As it was finally constituted, this was a mixed party which included a number of different sub-groups. In the Irish section were Parker himself with his nephew William S Parker and several indentured servants. An independent group of 11 small farmers and artisans had applied to emigrate as a joint-stock party under the leadership of Wiliam Scanlan, a shoemaker and sergeant in the Longford Yeomanry, and when their application was rejected they had enrolled with Parker's party. This group comprised James, John, Laurence and Moses Armstrong, Alexander and Edward Forbes, Foster, Frayne, Fullard, Matthews and Scanlan himself. The balance of the Irish contingent were 'free' settlers who had paid their own deposits and in some cases that of one or more servants: John Archer paid for one manservant and SE Shawe for three. The Rev Francis McCleland, who had at one time proposed to form his own party, was given a free passage as official clergyman but paid the deposit for a manservant.
Four unmarried women are known to have embarked with the Irish contingent: Ann Daniel, mother-in-law of Samuel Shawe, Elizabeth Coyle, a would-be missionary who had been engaged by Parker as governess to the children of the party, and two maidservants, Bridget Murphy (employed by Parker) and Mary Robinson (employed by McCleland). The three younger women were all listed as the 'wives' of unmarried male settlers to avoid payment of separate deposits.
As Lord Bathurst had perceived, the English section of the party included the remnants of several small groups that had been rejected by the Colonial Department. DP Francis, Joseph Latham, Thomas Seton and Thomas Woodcock had all made independent applications to emigrate, Latham and Woodcock with joint-stock parties and Francis and Seton with indentured servants, and Robert Holditch had tried to obtain an official appointment as surgeon to the settlers, before joining Parker. (A second medical man was recruited in England for the Party - John Addey, with his servant John Wolgrove. However, they did not sail in the East Indian but in her consort, the Fanny, which was short of a medical officer.)
The majority of Parker's own indentured servants - about 20 men in all - appear to have been recruited in London, where he was living from September to December 1819. His Irish servants were probably last minute recruits who filled the gaps left by deserters while the East Indian lay in Cork harbour.
The voyage to the Cape was a turbulent one. Quarrels at once erupted among the settlers on board, and by the time they reached Simon's Bay on 30 April 1820, Parker had drawn up official complaints against McCleland and Seton and had attempted to have Elizabeth Coyle certified insane.
It was the intention of the colonial authorities to locate the Irish settlers separately from the main body of English emigrants, and land had been allocated in the Clanwilliam district for the parties under Parker, Synnot, Ingram and Butler. On 16 May 1820 their transports, the East Indian and the Fanny, sailed from Simon's Bay for Saldanha Bay where the settlers were to disembark. Parker had made a preliminary reconnaissance overland and refused to accept the location that was offered him; instead, he demanded a grant of land at Saldanha Bay where he proposed to found the harbour city of New Cork. His demands were not met, and his refusal to take further responsibility for his party resulted in its subdivision under elected leaders. The Irish parties in general were dissatisified with their land at Clanwilliam, and were given the option of removing to Albany to join the main body of settlers. Thirty-one families of Parker's party, under the direction of Scanlan, Latham and Francis, chose to move to Albany, where they were located on the Kap River, the Assegai Bush River and the Nazaar River respectively, while others obtained colonial passes to enable them to seek work in Cape Town. By 1825 only six families of Parker's party were still in the Clanwilliam district.
William Parker himself was given a free passage back to Britain in 1822, but the authorities' relief at his departure was short-lived: he subsequently carried on a vituperative campaign, in print and in Parliament, against the Cape government and, in particular, the Roman Catholic colonial secretary, Colonel Bird, which culminated in Bird's dismissal.
LIST OF PARKER'S PARTY
ADDEY, John 28. Apothecary.
ALLISON, James 18. Painter.
ALLISON, James 44. Turner and army pensioner. w Ann 39. c Sarah 15, John 12, Margaret 10, Mary 8, Joseph 3, Anne 1.
ARCHER, John 21. Land surveyor. w Jane 21. c John.
ARMSTRONG, James 28. Weaver.
ARMSTRONG, John 30. Shoemaker and army pensioner. w Catherine 27.
ARMSTRONG, Laurence 28. Shoemaker. w Anne 25.
ARMSTRONG, Moses 26. Farmer. w Jane 25. c Samuel 6, William 2.
BAKER, George 46. Machinist. w Ann 47. c Richard 16, George 13.
BARBER, William 20. Farmer. w Anne 25.
BARRY, John 42. Mason. w Margaret 36. c John 16, Michael 13, Eleanor 9, Johanna 8, William 7, Jehu 5, Mary 1.
BARUK, Ralph 25. Apothecary.
BLYTHE, Nathaniel 25. Clerk.
BOUCHER, Charles 22. Fisherman. w Mary 22.
BYRNE, Patrick 30 Labourer.
CLARKE, George 24. Labourer.
CLARKE, Thomas 38. Labourer. w Ann 38. c Joseph 15, Anne 13, Elizabeth 8, Susannah 5, Harriet 4.
CONN, William 26. Victualler.
COONEY, Simon (or Samuel) 22. Labourer. w Margaret 18.
COUGHLAN, Cornelius 20. Labourer.
COYLE, Elizabeth 21. Governess.
DANIEL, Anne 49 (mother-in-law of SE Shawe).
DICKASON, Robert 45. Cabinetmaker. c Amelia 13, Frederick 11, Alfred 9, Henry 6.
DOUGLASS, William 39. Bricklayer.
ELLA, Peter 33. Farmer. w Effie 30. c Elizabeth 6, David 3.
FOLEY, John 40. Carpenter. w Barbara 33. c Mary 10, Joanna 8, Thomas 5.
FOLLIOTT (or FULLARD), John 24. Farmer. w Eleanor 23.
FORBES, Alexander 27. Farmer.
FORBES, Edward 30. Shoemaker. w Harriet 27. c Alexander 2.
FOSTER, James 21. Farmer.
FRANCIS, David Polley 36. Gentleman. w Anna 28.
FRAYNE, Pierce (or Percival) 23. Wheelwright.
FRYER, Richard 25. Shipbuilder. w Elizabeth 20.
GRUNWELL (or GREENWELL), Thomas 30. Labourer. w Ann 30. c Edward 6, Thomas 5.
HARE, John 34. Master baker. w Hester Agnes 28. c William 7, Martha 4, John 2.
HAWKES, George 21. Ropemaker.
HAYES, John 40. Quarryman. w Mary 34. c Robert 16, Michael 13, Anne 12, Mary 10, Jeremiah 5, Catherine 3.
HOLDITCH, Robert 30. Surgeon. w Mary Murly 22. c Harriet 4, Charlotte 2.
HUNT, Thomas 35. Carpenter. w Sophia 25.
JOBSON, John 21. Labourer. w Sarah 20.
JOHNSON, James (or John) 28. Labourer. w Margaret 27.
KAVANOUGH (or CAVENOUGH), James 24. Cooper.
LAKER, James 28. Smith. w Sophia 21. c Ann 1.
LATHAM, Henry 20. Carpenter.
LATHAM, Joseph 30. Gentleman. c William 16.
LEARY (or O'LEARY), Timothy 24. Butcher.
McCLELAND, Francis 24. Clergyman. w Eliza 20.
MATTHEWS, Bevan 21. Carpenter.
MOORE, John 20. Labourer.
MOORE, William 21. Weaver.
MOSS, John Pinnill 42. Farmer.
MURPHY, Bridget 20 (servant of William Parker).
MURRAY, James 48. Gardener. w Sarah 40. c Richard 16, George 13, Mary 10, Margaret 8, Martha 6, Sarah 4, James 2.
NELSON, Matthew 32. Sawyer. w Elizabeth 31. c Harriet 12, William 6, Elizabeth 2.
NORMAN, William 36. Labourer. w Jane 33.
NOWLAN (or NOOLAN), James 21. Carpenter.
PAGE, William 16 (servant of Thomas Seton).
PARKER, William 42. Merchant. w Eleanor Alice 39. c Mary Townsend 16, Ann d'Esterre 13, Thomas Somerville 9, Lucia 6, William d'Esterre 4, Norcott e'Esterre 1.
PARKER, William S 20. Gentleman.
POTE, Robert Augustine 34. Farmer. w Margaret 34. c Charles 10, Agnes 7, Harriet 5, Ann 2.
QUINN, John 30. Labourer. w Mary 26. c. Anne 10, John 8, Jane 6, Elizabeth 3.
QUINN, John 40. Labourer. w Mary 27. c Michael 8, John 6, Catherine 1.
ROBERTS, William 29. House carpenter. w Sarah 24. c John 1.
ROBINSON, Mary 24 (servant of Rev Francis McCleland).
ROSS, Mary 17 (in the care of Richard Ross).
ROSS, Richard 24. Carpenter. w Elizabeth 24. c Colin 2.
SCANLAN, William 40. Shoemaker. w Hannah 34. c William 16, John 13, Charles 11, Thomas 8, Hannah 6.
SETON, Thomas 44. Late Capt, Madras Establishment, w Sarah 22.
SHAWE, Samuel Edward 32. Gentleman. w Ann 23. c Edward 1.
SHELVER, Jonathan 26. Wheelwright.
SMITH, John 41. Labourer. w Mary 31. c John 13, Jane 11.
SMITH, Thomas 18. Tailor.
STONE, Charles 23. Gardener.
STONE, James 22. Gardener. w Charlotte 22.
TAYLOR, John 20. Farmer.
TILBROOK, George 27. Labourer. w Ann 22.
WALSH, William 22. Labourer.
WALTER, Abel Alleyn 31. Gentleman. w Jane 30. c Abel 2, George.
WHELAN, William 42. Labourer. w Mary 40.
WOLGROVE, John 34 (servant to John Addey).
WOODCOCK, Robert 37. Merchant. w Susannah 36. c Samuel 7, Charlotte 4.
*WATSON, William 26.
Main sources for party list
Agent of Transports' Return of settlers under the direction of William Parker (Cape Archives CO 6138/2,71); List of Scanlan's proposed party (Public Record Office, London, CO 48/45,971); List of settlers who have arrived in the ship East Indian from London and Cork (Cape Archives Co 4446); Special Commissioner William Hayward's notes (Cape Archives CO 8547).
GB Dickason's list of Parker's party in his study, Irish Settlers to the Cape, includes six children whose names were omitted from the Agent's Return. They are: Jane 4, daughter of John Armstrong; Elizabeth 4, daughter of Laurence Armstrong; Harriet 1, daughter of Edward Forbes; Maria Norman 9; George Scanlan 2; and Ann 1, daughter of James Stone. No confirmation of their presence at the Cape has been traced, and they have not been included in the party list as given here.
*Two seamen from the East Indian joined Parker's party at Saldanha Bay: James Clarke and William Watson, a ship's carpenter who arranged to change places with one of the settlers, Anthony Wolmsley. Wolmsley remained on the ship and Clarke went ashore to marry a settler girl.
GB Dickason, Irish Settlers to the Cape (Cape Town, AA Balkema, 1973);
G Churchhouse, The Reverend Francis McCleland (Pretoria, Human Sciences Research Council, 1976);
DE Rowse, 'William Parker and the Somerset administration', unpublished MA thesis, UNISA 1981.
THE SETTLER HANDBOOK by MD Nash page 99