Jonathan Parker of New Jersey, one of my 5X great grandparents, and a Loyalist who gave up home and friends to sail to Canada in the fleet of Fall 1783, left only a small paper trail.
Because of that, and maybe because he has hundreds, if not thousands of descendants today, online family trees in which he is found contain a LOT of undocumented information, suppositions and plain old fantasy.
My last Parker update was almost four years ago.
Since that time, I’ve seen the creation of a mythical person – Jonathan Benjamin Parker, who never existed.
My line of descent from Jonathan goes through his son Benjamin, born c1788 and Benjamin’s daughter, Sarah Ann Parker, who married Daniel Adams.
The Parkers sailed to New Brunswick on the Camel with three adult Parker men and their families on the passenger list:
- Jonathan Parker (Sr.) – He appeared alone on the 1783 ship’s list for the Camel. I surmised that he could possibly be the father of Benjamin. If he was the father of Benjamin, he likely was born before 1720.
- Benjamin Parker – with a wife, 3 children over the age of 10 and 2 under the age of 10. If his children were, say, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 15, then he could possibly be the father of Jonathan Parker Jr. He might or might not be the father of other Parkers on the list, but if he is the father of Jonathan, then Benjamin was probably born not later than 1743 and possibly quite a bit before then.
- Jonathan Parker Jr., born c1764, based on his age on the 1811 militia list of Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada.
Of these three men, Jonathan Parker Jr. is my ancestor. He was apparently unmarried and left New Jersey with a probable brother and either his father, an uncle or an adult cousin, also Jonathan Parker, but called Senior.
I don’t know what became of Jonathan Sr. but Jonathan Jr.’s movements around New Brunswick have been fairly well tracked by descendants, given the time period.
However, Benjamin Parker is the man who has recently caught my attention for two reasons.
First, a Parker from Campobello Island, part of the West Isles of New Brunswick, Canada where my Parker family settled, contacted me, hoping to share information about her Elizabeth Parker who married William McLellan and lived on Campobello.
Elizabeth was baptized as an adult and her birthday is entered in the church record as 10 May 1776, likely in New Jersey, as that was the Parker home before the American Revolution.
There is also a marriage record for Elizabeth and William – 6 August 1795 on Campobello Island.
Now, William McLellan is from Colchester, Nova Scotia, Canada, born c1768. This is important for more than one reason.
My Parker cousin has her Elizabeth as part of the tree of my Jonathan Parker. I am quite positive that is a mistake, as Jonathan is found on a West Isles militia list with his age, which makes him born in 1764. Not likely that a boy born in 1764 would be having a daughter born in 1776.
I believe her Elizabeth was the daughter of Benjamin Parker, found on the 1783 passenger list with the two Jonathans. Benjamin had six children in his family at that time, including two under the age of 10. Elizabeth would have been about 8 years old in 1783.
More importantly, I think I have finally discovered the source of the conflated, non-existent “Jonathan Benjamin Parker.”
Look what has turn up in the indexed FamilySearch Canadian records – one single record, but which may answer more than one nagging question:
Thomas Parker, 93, Widower, born NJ,
Parents – Benjamin Parker, Rachel Thropp Parker
died 4 September 1868, Halls Harbour
Thomas Parker was reported to be 93 years old when he died in 1868. That puts his birth year c1775.
Furthermore, his parents are named!
Benjamin Parker and Rachel Throop!!!
At some point, I think the mythical Jonathan Benjamin Parker was created to account for the unknown wife of Jonathan Parker.
Note, too, that Thomas Parker died in Kings County, Nova Scotia and that Elizabeth’s husband, William McLellan, was from Nova Scotia.
The Isles families were all fishermen. It wasn’t unusual for them to move from the mainland to islands and back again. My family lived on Deer Island and Adams Island as well as in Eastport, Lubec and Calais, Maine.
It appears that Benjamin and Rachel might have settled in the area that stayed Nova Scotia after New Brunswick was formed. I don’t think they were ever known to have lived on Campobello Island.
I think I will be digging around Nova Scotia records once more to see if I can piece together some of Benjamin’s and Rachel’s other children.