Friday, May 18, 2012

A Wesleyan Minister with links to the West Indies and China

In 2001 a query from Adrian lead me to investigate how many people living in Hertfordshire at the time of the 1881 census had been born in China. This showed that two children of the Rev. John S. Parkes, living in Bishops Stortford, had been born in Canton. 

Flora has now written to ask if I could throw any light on the father of  John Sowter Parkes of Bishops Stortford. It turns out that he was the son of another Wesleyan Minister, John Parkes, who was in the West Indies when his son was born - while the grandfather was probably a Marmaduke Parks of Derby. Some of this information came from recent correspondence on Genes Reunited

The detailed story throws a light on the way that Wesleyan Methodist ministers regularly moved from place to place, and further connections with Hertfordshire involving the Ashwell family. It also reveals the existence of what is best described as a small dames school, of the type where it is often hardto prove they existed. I looked at the origins of the three pupils in 1911 and the two I could identify came from families where I would not expect the parents to send a child to a boarding school in Hertfordshire, which raises a number of questions.


  1. Marguerite Boucher Palser and BROTHER Emile Victor B (Boucher?) Palser would seem to have French Christian names and one possibly both Boucher as a middle name. Perhaps it is not quite so simple as them becoming orphans. Marguerite seems to have married at Bishops Stortford in 1926. Anthony

  2. The births of Palser Male and Palser Female to ANNIE Palser in the Infirmary are recorded in the Admission and Discharge Book of Mile End Infirmary on 27 March 1901. No information on paternity is given. Anthony

  3. A closer look at the records reveals that Annie Palser was admitted on the day the twins were born. Her address was 31 Arbour Square, which was in Mile End Old Town. Four days later this address housed Sarah Bird and Marian Bell "Matron(s) of Institution" and 8 boarders all single domestic servants. One had a 2 month old baby. Could this have been a charity for "fallen" women? Secondly, Annie's father was Herbert Palser of 64 Broadway Street, Burton-on-Trent. A close match is Herbert Palser of 17 South Broadway, Burton-on-Trent. Earlier census returns show him to have been a cooper married to Ann and with a daughter Ann born in Gloucestershire. This Ann was an apprentice draper in 1881. Did Annie take 5 years off her age? There is an Admission and Discharge Register (as distinct from the ditto book) showing that the female and male twin (unnamed) were discharged with their mother. Although Emile cannot later be found he seems to have survived thus far. There are no Observations in the Register or Book about the father of Annie's twins. Anthony

  4. The male twin did indeed survive and is found in 1911 as Victor Boucher Palser aged 10 born Mile End at Princess Alice's Orphanage, Aston, Warwickshire. Cannot track him after this but Marguerite Bouchier Ellis (her married name) born 27 March 1901 lived in Herts; her death was registered Bishops Stortford Oct-Dec Q 1972. Anthony


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