Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Rev. Robert Parker

Male Abt 1564 - 1614  (~ 50 years)

Personal Information    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    All

  • Name Robert Parker  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    Prefix Rev. 
    Birth Abt 1564  Wilton, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [6, 7
    Gender Male 
    Death 1614  Doesburg, Gelderland, Netherlands Find all individuals with events at this location  [6, 7
    Siblings 1 sibling 
    Person ID I9247  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of JTS
    Last Modified 10 Feb 2024 

    Father (Unknown) Parker 
    Family ID F5586  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Dorothy Stevens   d. Between 10 Oct 1649 and 11 Apr 1650, Mildenhall, Wiltshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Marriage Bef 1592  [7
    +1. Sarah Parker,   b. Bef 15 Apr 1593   d. 1660 (Age > 66 years)
    Family ID F5071  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 28 Sep 2020 

  • Notes 
    • From the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

      Parker, Robert (c. 1564–1614), religious controversialist, was probably born in Wilton, Wiltshire; his parents' names are unknown. He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, entering as a chorister in 1575, graduating BA in 1582, and proceeding MA in 1587. From 1585 he was a fellow of Magdalen. While at Oxford, Parker began moving in a nonconformist direction; the authorities had to punish him for not wearing the required robes, and he tried by every means to avoid clerical subscription to church canons. After finally subscribing in 1591, and with the support of Henry Herbert, second earl of Pembroke, whom he served as chaplain, he gained positions in the church. From 1591 to 1593 he was rector of Patney and master of the hospital of St Nicholas, Salisbury, and then from 1593 to 1607 he was prebendary of Stanton St Bernard. In or before 1592 he resigned his Oxford fellowship to marry Dorothy Stevens (d. 1649/50); their daughter Sarah was baptized in April 1593.

      Parker's conformity was always very marginal and in 1607, with the publication in the Netherlands of his Scholasticall discourse against symbolizing with Antichrist in ceremonies, especially in the signe of the crosse, his nonconformist convictions were totally revealed. The work warned about the ceremonial sign of the cross during baptism, because it was abhorrent to God's sense of simplicity and not compatible with scripture. The sign of the cross produced sins such as idolatry, superstition, hypocrisy, impiety, injustice, soul murder, adultery, wrong, slander, and concupiscence. Puritans welcomed the book as unanswerable truth, but Parker's bishop was not pleased. Parker was quickly suspended from his ministry, and 'fled from the storm' by going across to the Netherlands. His flight probably occurred in 1607, but some reports say he travelled across with William Ames in 1610.

      Parker's trail reappeared in 1610 in Leiden, where John Robinson's separatist church provided sustenance for a while to Parker and other destitute refugee puritans, such as William Ames and Henry Jacob. For several years Parker had no visible means of support and could not find a pastorate or chaplaincy. His wife and children initially stayed in England. Secret funds, however, were coming in from sympathetic, puritan-minded merchants so that he could write more fiery, puritanical books; they seem to have sent him and Ames abroad expressly 'to write against the English hierarchy' (Nethenus, 4). However, Parker's second book, De descensu domini nostri Jesu Christi ad inferos (1611), a continuation of a work begun by Hugh Sanford, dealt with erudite arguments about Christ's descent into hell, and did not draw much attention.

      The period of Parker's residence in the Netherlands corresponded with sharp puritan debates about church polity. Both Leiden and Amsterdam had two English churches, one for the separatists (Brownists) and the other for the non-separatist presbyterian English and Scots. Parker clearly rejected the separatists as schismatics, as is evident from a letter printed in Christopher Lawne's Prophane Schisme of the Brownists (1612), yet neither was he fully in tune with the presbyterian position. Instead, he was part of a third or new grouping called the Jacobites or the Amesians—non-separatist (or, said some, semi-separatist) congregational puritans, who included Ames and Jacob. They refused to use the language of separatism, thus remaining loosely within the bounds of the Church of England, but argued for the autonomy of the local congregation.

      In 1611 Parker moved on to Amsterdam, where Pastor John Paget of the English Reformed church took him into his home, like a 'member of the same family and living under the same roofe.' Parker joined the English church on 4 January 1612, and the church elected him elder the same year. His family arrived, and his wife became a church member on 17 October 1612. His powerful preaching endeared him to the congregation and soon there was a move to appoint him co-pastor with Paget. Although Parker welcomed the call, Paget was lukewarm—an ardent presbyterian, Paget had been taken aback at Parker's talk that synods were for advice and counsel only, and concluded that Parker was 'somewhat confused.' He worked to reconvert Parker to presbyterian polity but, when the English government protested against advancement of such an outspoken nonconformist, the city magistrates vetoed his pastoral appointment.

      With the doors closed in Amsterdam, in 1613 Parker retreated eastward: the Lord would provide, 'who I know will be my God as well out of Amsterdam as in it.' Finally, he found work as a chaplain to English troops and pastor of the tiny English church in the frontier city of Doesburg in Gelderland—not a choice position, but he had no alternative. In accordance with Dutch practice, he presented his ministerial documents to the Dutch classis of Zutphen in September of 1613 and received approval to serve. In the early summer of 1614, after only eight months' service, he died. He was survived by his wife, Dorothy, and three children, Sarah, then wife of John Woodbridge (1582–1637), Thomas, and Elizabeth Avery. Thomas Parker studied at Leiden University and, with the support of William Ames, graduated MA from Franeker University in 1617; he was later pastor at Newbury, Massachusetts. Sarah Woodbridge had two sons, John Woodbridge, who also went to Newbury, and Benjamin Woodbridge; she later married Thomas Baylie.

      Two further works by Parker appeared after his death. Exposition of the Pouring out of the Fourth Vial was not published until 1650 (in the Netherlands, like all the others, because permission was not forthcoming to print them in England), but De politeia ecclesiastica Christi, et hierarchica opposita, libri tres, his most controversial work, written in Latin for an international audience of scholars, was printed by William Brewster and his Pilgrim Press at Leiden in 1616 (two versions). Two further editions, to which many printers contributed, followed in 1621 and 1638. The book, on church government, still exhibited some ecclesiological vagueness. Parker approved of both primary congregations and the use of synods (but with rather limited authority for the latter). Although John Paget proclaimed himself satisfied that the book was in line with presbyterian puritanism, the chapters about the primary power of congregations appealed greatly to congregational-minded puritans. A favourite text, much quoted by congregationalists, was that 'all ecclesiastical power is always in the whole congregation'. New England congregationalists especially revered Parker as a founder of the faith: according to Cotton Mather, Parker was 'in some sort the father of all the non-conformists in our age.'

  • Sources 
    1. [S1648] The Woodbridge Record: Being an Account of the Descendants of the Rev. John Woodbridge, of Newbury, Mass.. "Compiled from the papers left by the late Louis Mitchell, Esquire." New Haven, Connecticut, 1883.

    2. [S5882] Ancestral Lines from Maine to North Carolina by Carl Boyer III. Santa Clarita, California, 2015.

    3. [S6114] Descendants of Reverend William Noyes, Born, England, 1568, in Direct Line to LaVerne W. Noyes and Frances Adelia Noyes-Giffen by LaVerne W. Noyes. Chicago, 1900.

    4. [S6118] Mary K. Talcott, "Genealogy of the Woodbridge Family." The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 32:292, July 1879.

    5. [S7377] Leslie Mahler, "The Hinton and Woodbridge Ancestry of Abigail1 Hinton, Wife of William1 Averill of Ipswich, Massachusetts." The American Genealogist 89:283, 2017.

    6. [S76] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004-ongoing.

    7. [S2906] Puritans and Pedigrees: The Deep Roots of the Great Migration to New England by Robert Charles Anderson. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2018.