Parkes Papers

Scope and Content

Papers of the Parkes family, 1634-1865. The main part of the collection consists of letters to Joseph Parkes. In addition, there are a few letters to his elder brother Josiah, to their father John, and to other members of the family. There are also a few miscellaneous papers. The Parkes family deeds are also part of the collection, consisting of family deeds, subsidiary title deeds, grants of mineral rights, deeds held as Trustees, and miscellaneous. The deeds are dated 1634-1800 and the correspondence is dated 1801-1865.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Parkes was a partner in the Warwick firm of Parkes, Brookhouse and Crompton, worsted manufacturers. Joseph Parkes (b 1796) was his youngest son. In 1817 he was articled to the London solicitors Amory and Coles of Throgmorton Street. From 1822 to 1823 he was a solicitor in Birmingham. In 1824 he married Elizabeth Rayner, eldest daugher of Joseph Priestley. He was a member of the Birmingham Political Union in 1832. In 1833 he became Secretary of the Commission on Municipal Corporations, and moved to Westminster. He was later a solictor to the Charity Commission Chancery Suits. He was a taxing-master in Chancery in 1847. Parkes supervised the publication of Thomas Gisborne's 'Essays on agriculture' in 1854. He also collected material on Francis Place, and on Sir Philip Francis and the authorship of the Junius letters. This memoir was completed by Herman Merivale, and published in 1867 as 'Memoir of Sir Philip Francis KCB with correspondence and journals'. Joseph Parkes died in 1865. Josiah Parkes (b 1793) was the third son of John Parkes. In 1823 he became an Associate of the Institute of Civil Engineers. In 1825 he went to work in Puteaux-sur-Seine, returning to England in 1830. He became engaged in the draining and attempted steam cultivation of Chat Moss. There he first evolved the principles of the deep drainage system. In 1844 a Birmingham manufacturer produced, at Parkes' instigation, the first set of drain-cutting tools. In 1846 Sir Robert Peel advanced £4 million to be used on drainage on the Parkesian principle. Josiah Parkes died in 1871.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Purchased in 1960 and 1978 from the Right Honorable the Countess of Iddesleigh, great-granddaughter of Joseph Parkes.

Other Finding Aids

A hardcopy handlist and name index are available. Please contact Special Collections for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.