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Regimental Life of the Month

Since 1756 hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have had life changing experiences with the Manchester Regiment or its forebears. Each month this on-line feature will tell the story of a person’s experiences with the Manchester Regiment.

We hope that anyone undertaking their own research will consider writing a small piece for this on-line feature. If you are interested in submitting a brief biography of a man, woman or child for the ‘Regimental Life of the Month’ feature please contact the Museum’s Curator.

See previous regimental 'Life of the Month' stories.

Private James Parker

 

James Parker was born in Gisburn, West Yorkshire, around 1771. He worked as a labourer before enlisting as a private in the newly formed 2nd Battalion of the 52nd Regiment of Foot on 17 July 1799. He received levy money of £7.0.0, was paid 1/- a day and was assigned to the ‘Commandant’s Company’.

Pte Parker and the 2nd Battalion remained in the UK until August 1800 but then, under Colonel Sir John Moore, took part in the expeditions to Qiberon Bay, Vigo, Cadiz and Ferrol in support of the French and Spanish Royalist causes. After short stays in Gibraltar and Lisbon they returned to England in early 1801. After being stationed in Ashford and Shorncliffe, Pte Parker and his battalion moved to Dover Castle in November 1801 and then on to Chatham in November 1802.

In 1803 the 52nd Foot was chosen to form the first corps of light infantry and its 2nd Battalion was re-numbered as the 96th Regiment of Foot. All the necessary arrangements were completed by 23 February 1803 but in the meantime Pte Parker had been transferred to the 96th Foot on 25 December 1802 and he and the 96th Foot had marched to Gillingham and embarked from there for Ireland before marching to Fermoy. The 96th remained in Ireland until January 1805 and during this time Pte Parker was based at various stations such as Bandon, Limerick, Cork, Killary and Middleton.

In February 1805 Pte Parker and the 96th embarked for the West Indies in order to protect British colonies following the outbreak of the Napoleonic War. After landing, and spending three months, in Barbados the 96th and Pte Parker moved to Antigua in June 1805 and then sailed on HMS Fawn to St Croix in September 1807. Whilst stationed on St Croix, Pte Parker and the 96th took part in the capture of Guadaloupe in1810.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the French colonies had provided protected harbours for French privateers and warships, which could prey on the numerous British trade routes in the Caribbean and then return before British warships could react. In response the Royal Navy instigated a blockade of the islands, stationing ships off many ports and seizing any vessel that tried to enter or leave. With trade and communication made very difficult by the British blockade the economies and the morale of the French colonies began to collapse and in the summer of 1808 desperate messages were sent to France requesting aid but, despite repeated efforts, the French navy failed to reinforce and resupply the French garrisons, as their ships were intercepted and defeated, either in European waters or in the Caribbean itself.

The British had intercepted a number of these messages, and launched a series of successful invasions during 1809, until Guadaloupe was the only French colony remaining in the Americas. A British expeditionary force, including the 96th, landed in Guadaloupe on 28 January 1810 and found that much of the island's militia garrison had deserted. Advancing from two landing beaches on opposite sides of the island, the British were able to rapidly push inland and it was not until they were outside the capital, Basse-Terre, that the expeditionary force faced strong opposition. However, in a battle lasting for most of 3 February, the French were defeated and driven back. The island's commander surrendered the following day.

Pte Parker and the 96th soon returned to St Croix where they remained until the middle of 1815. Pte Parker was promoted to corporal on 20 November 1812, moved to St Thomas in the spring of 1813 but was reduced to private again on 20 July 1813. Pte Parker joined the rest of the regiment on St Croix in the spring of 1815 and from their moved with the 96th to Martinique which, having been captured by the British earlier in the war, had been handed back to the French under the Treaty of Paris in April 1814. However, following Napoleon’s escape from Elba, there was considerable unrest in the West Indies and the 96th was part of the force sent to re-occupy the island as the majority of French officers there had shown themselves in favour of Napoleon.

With the reduction in the size of the Army following the end of the Napoleonic War the 96th Foot was renumbered the 95th Foot in early 1816.

Pte Parker and the 95th Foot returned to Portsmouth from Martinique towards the end of July 1816 and from there moved to Chatham and then Nottingham. However, on 21 August 1816 Pte James Parker was ‘invalided home’ and discharged as a Chelsea Out Pensioner ‘in consequence of being worn out’ and was ‘rendered unfit for further service’. He was described as being about 44 years old, 5’7” tall, with light hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion. Pte Parker signed his discharge papers with his mark – an ‘X’. He had served with the colours for 17 years and 71 days, of which 11 years and 179 days had been served in the West Indies which counted as time and a half towards his pension which was therefore based on total service of 22 years and 11 months and was paid at 1/1d per day in 1816. He was finally discharged on 24 September 1816.

In 1847 James Parker applied for and was awarded his Military General Service Medal with clasp ‘GUADALOUPE’, one of only 19 awarded to the 96th Foot. In the census of 1851 he is shown as being 83 years old, a Chelsea Pensioner and, on the date of the census, a visitor at Betty Scholes’ house at 67, Bolton Street, Over Darwen, Lancashire; about 20 miles from where he was born.

Sources:
WO 97/135/99 - Soldiers Papers
WO 12/6242, 6307-6309, 9592-9597 & 9526 - Muster Rolls
WO 116/23 – Royal Hospital Chelsea, Out Pensions Admission Book
WO 120/29 – Chelsea Hospital Register of Soldiers
Census 1851

 

 

Previous regimental 'Life of the Month' stories

 

Arthur John Berry John Haney William Buckley Thomas Fanahan Finn
Arthur John Berry John Haney William Buckley Thomas Fanahan Finn
William Blades Thomas Hanrahan Rex King-Clark Mike Lally
William Blades Thomas Hanrahan Lieutenant-Colonel Rex King-Clark Mike Lally aged 104
James Leach VC Harry Morgan George William Holmes Michael Neville
James Leach VC Harry Morgan George William Holmes Michael Neville
Richard Thomas Priestley John Henry Loftus Reade Eric Arnold Shacklady Sam Smith
Richard Thomas Priestley John Henry Loftus Reade (1881-1914)    Eric Arnold Shacklady Sam Smith MM
Joseph Edmund Tyson Issy Smith VC Alfred Sutton Owen Taylor
 Joseph Edmund Tyson Issy Smith VC  Alfred Sutton Owen Taylor
Thomas Lavell Tom McAlister Joseph Black Joe Horgan
Thomas Lavell Tom McAlister Joseph Black Joe Horgan
John Douglas Powell Walter Youel William Taylor Ward Frederick Picton
John Douglas Powell Walter Youel William Taylor Ward Frederick Picton
Frederick Arthur Pickles Charles Trueman Margery Burrows William Holt
 Frederick Arthur Pickles Charles Fitzgerald Hamilton Trueman : Photograph of Charles in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre.  Reference: MR2/20/15 Margery Burrows William Holt 
Percy Courtman Daniel James Willie Baines Charles Squire
Percy Courtman Daniel James Willie Vose Baines Charles Squire
Ernest Storer Col. Sir Douglas Glover  William Thompson Major Edward James Swindell
Ernest Storer Colonel Sir Douglas Glover William Thompson Major Edward James Swindell
Edmund Olive John Goodall George Halliwell Edward Rankine
Edmund Olive John Goodall George Halliwell Edward Rankine 
Harold Dixon Joseph Winterbottom Albert William Andrews  Thomas Storr 
Harold Dixon Joseph Winterbottom Albert Andrews  Thomas Storr 
Alfred Wilkinson VC James William Smith James Henry Chadwick John Henry Heathcote
Alfred Wilkinson VC Photograph of James William Smith James Henry Chadwick John Henry Heathcote
Philip Sidney Marsden Frederick Wellington Lloyd Robert Nuttall Roberts Harry Oldfield
Philip Sidney Marsden Frederick Wellington Lloyd Robert Nuttall Roberts Harry Oldfield
Harry Greenwood Joseph Verity Private Albert Hutchinson Norman Cyril John Harrison
Harry Greenwood Joseph Verity Albert Hutchinson in 1942 Norman Cyril John Harrison
James Herbert Hague William Henry Martin  Frank Oswald Medworth  Lance Sgt. Watson and Pte Glaister
 
James Herbert hague  William Henry Martin  Frank Oswald Medworth Lance Sergeant E.S. Watson and Private M.H. Glaister 
Arnold Davies Thomas Bowling John Winter Alfred Rudolph Craven
Thomas Bowling John Winter Alfred Rudolph Craven
William Francis Geoffrey Bamford Thomas Booth Edward Tierney

William Francis

Geoffrey Bamford Thomas Booth Edward Tierney
George Sutton William Bertram Louis Waterhouse James Curren
George Sutton George Sutton George Sutton George Sutton
Harold Loynds William Gingell    
George Sutton George Sutton