Henry Parker (Australian politician)

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Sir Henry Parker

Henry Watson Parker.jpg
3rd Premier of New South Wales
In office
3 October 1856 – 7 September 1857
Preceded byCharles Cowper
Succeeded byCharles Cowper
Personal details
Henry Watson Parker

(1808-06-01)1 June 1808
Lewisham, Kent, England, UK
Died2 February 1881(1881-02-02) (aged 72)
Richmond, Surrey, England, UK
Spouse(s)Emmeline Emily Macarthur

Sir Henry Watson Parker, KCMG (1 June 1808 – 2 February 1881) was Premier of New South Wales. He fitted into colonial society and politics in the pre-responsible government era, but his style was not suited to the democratic politics that began to develop in 1856.[1]


Parker was the son of Thomas Watson Parker of Lewisham, Kent, England. In order to improve his poor health, he joined the British East India Company and travelled to India, China and the Cape of Good Hope. He came to Sydney in 1838 as private secretary to Sir George Gipps. He married in 1843 Emmeline Emily, third daughter of John Macarthur, who survived him without issue, linked him to the colonial establishment.[1] In 1846 he was nominated by the governor as a member of the Legislative Council. In May of that year he was elected chairman of committees and was again and again re-elected to this position until the coming in of responsible government in 1856.[2]

Parker was elected as member for Parramatta in the first Legislative Assembly[3] and was a candidate for the speakership in May but was defeated by one vote, Daniel Cooper being elected. In September 1856 John Hay carried a vote of no-confidence in the Cowper ministry. He recommended to Governor William Denison that Parker would be the most likely man to conciliate parties, and that he should be asked to form a coalition government.[2]


Parker offered seats in the cabinet to Cowper and Stuart Donaldson, the preceding premiers, but Cowper declined. In March 1857 Parker passed an act re-establishing the Sydney municipal council, and other useful legislation was also passed. It had been intended to bring in a land bill but the government was defeated on its electoral bill, and Parker resigned on 4 September 1857. In 1858 he returned to England. He does not appear to have ever revisited Australia, and died at Richmond.[2]


Parker was knighted in 1858 and created Knights Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1877.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Nairn, Bede. "Parker, Sir Henry Watson (1808–1881)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 26 February 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d Serle, Percival. "Parker, Sir Henry Watson (1808–1881)". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Project Gutenberg Australia. Retrieved 26 February 2007.
  3. ^ "Sir Henry Watson Parker (1808–1881)". Former Members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Cowper
Premier of New South Wales
Succeeded by
Charles Cowper
New South Wales Legislative Assembly
Preceded by
New seat
Member for Parramatta
Served alongside: Oakes
Succeeded by
James Byrnes