Parker Wickham

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Parker Wickham (February 28, 1727–May 22, 1785) is famous for being a Loyalist politician who was banished from the State of New York under dubious circumstances.

Wickham was the oldest son of Joseph Wickham and Abigail Parker of Cutchogue, Long Island, New York. Wickham inherited nearly all of his father's large estate at age 22, including the legendary Robins Island. He lived in the Old House in Cutchogue, which was built in 1649. Currently a museum, it is said to be one of the oldest English-style houses still in existence in the USA. Wickham married Mary Goldsmith and had several children. He was the brother (and rival) of Patriot leader Thomas Wickham and the uncle of noted Federalist attorney John Wickham.

In 1751, Wickham was elected as Fence Viewer and Prisor of Damage. He was elected in both 1754 and 1755 as Overseer of the Poor, and in 1763, he received an appointment as justice for the County of Suffolk. He was elected town assessor in 1765 and 1766, then elected nine times to the highest post of local government, town supervisor of the Town of Southold. In addition, he served as a major in the local militia.

During the American Revolution, Wickham was known for his pro-Loyalist views. He was kidnapped by Connecticut rebels on December 13, 1777 and placed on parole soon after. He was required to forfeit his property without compensation on October 22, 1779 after a bill of attainder was passed by New York's legislature. He was also banished from the state under threat of death. Wickham was forced to move to Connecticut, where he died shortly thereafter. He insisted he was innocent of the charges, but was never granted a trial. Acts of attainder were banned under the U.S. Constitution, adopted a few years after Wickham's death.

Shortly before his death in exile, Wickham wrote:

"I have acted consistently and consciously throughout my whole conduct, with a firm belief there is a future existence, and defy the state to produce one instance wherein I have acted rigidly, defrauded, or abused one member of it, although it was in my power."

In 1989, several of Wickham's heirs filed a lawsuit to try to regain ownership of Robins Island. Though the lawsuit failed, it discouraged development and most of the island is now protected by an easement to The Nature Conservancy[1][2][3]

Wickham was interred in the Raymond Cemetery in Waterford, Connecticut.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sullivan, Ronald (March 24, 1992). "Descendants of British Loyalist Lose Bid for Island". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  2. ^ Schmitt, Eric (April 24, 1989). "Heirs Pressing 200-Year Claim To a Pristine Isle". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-04. 
  3. ^ "Court Refuses to Block Development of an Uninhabited Island". The New York Times. December 1, 1992. Retrieved 2009-09-04.