PARKER, Sir Nicholas (1547-1620), of Ratton and Willingdon, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. 1547, 1st s. of Thomas Parker and bro. of John II. m. (1) c. Jan. 1573, Jane (d.1557), da. of Sir William Courtenay of Powderham, Devon, wid. of Francis Browne, bro. of Anthony Browne, 1st Visct. Montagu, s.p.; (2) Elizabeth, da. of John Baker of London, sis. of Richard Baker, s.p.; (3) Katherine, da. of Sir John Temple (d.1603), of Stowe, Bucks., 6s. 2da.; (?4) Avis, wid. of one Erisey, ?s.p. suc. fa. 1580. Kntd. 1591.1

Offices Held

J.p. Suss. from 1580, sheriff 1586-7, 1593-4, dep. lt. 1587, commr. recusancy July 1592.2


Parker was a cousin of Robert Sackville, his fellow knight of the shire in 1597. He was named to a Commons committee on 16 Nov. 1597 dealing with forestallers, regrators and engrossers. His position as knight for Sussex entitled him to attend committees concerning enclosures (5 Nov.), the poor law (5, 22 Nov.), armour and weapons (8 Nov.), penal laws (8 Nov.), monopolies (10 Nov.), the subsidy (15 Nov.), land reclamation (3 Dec.) and the repair of the Queen’s highways (27 Jan. 1598). Though presumably conforming to the Elizabethan church, he had Catholic relations, and in 1583 was described as ‘suspect or weak, and follows only those noblemen who are dangerous in the county’. Three years later, when he was sheriff, his mother-in-law, a recusant, was living with him at Lewes. However, he had already demonstrated his loyalty in 1584 when he arrested and sent to Walsingham a recusant fleeing to France, and in 1592 he was appointed a recusancy commissioner. Parker was more prominent in the military affairs than in the civil government of Sussex. He became a deputy lieutenant in 1587 and was knighted by Lord Admiral Howard, at Cowdray, Viscount Montagu’s mansion. In 1596 he provided 100 Sussex men for Cadiz, and the following May raised 400 for an expedition to be led by the lord admiral and Lord Buckhurst. In October 1597 it was planned that he should take charge of the defence of Sussex in the event of an invasions.3

In October 1601 he offered his help at court to the port of Rye, which was seeking government aid to repair its decaying harbour, and he was one of the port’s commissioners for sewers in 1604. He remained a deputy lieutenant to his death, and despite his age was engaged on military duties in 1619 when he wrote to Matthew Parker, son of the archbishop, whom he styled his kinsman.4

He died 9 Mar. 1620, aged 73, and was buried in the family chapel in Willingdon church. He had made his will in 1615, appointing his wife executrix and his brother Sir John Parker overseer, but both predeceased him. He provided for his younger children, leaving estates in Eastbourne, Hailsham, Jevington and Willingdon to his eldest son Thomas, who was granted administration of the will. Thomas, who became a deputy lieutenant, supported Parliament in the civil war. Henry Parker, younger son of Sir Nicholas, was a writer and scholar.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: R.C.G.


  • 1. Mousley thesis, 646-8, Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 22; Lond. Mar. Lic. (Harl. Soc. xxv), 55; Vis. Devon ed. Vivian, 247; Berry, Co. Genealogies, Kent , 216.
  • 2. Harl. 703, ff. 49, 67; Add. 5702, f. 196.
  • 3. D’Ewes, 552, 553, 555, 557, 558, 561, 567, 589; E179/190/298; Vis. Suss.; PCC 1 Dorset; SP12/165/22; Lansd. 53, ff. 164-5; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 192; 1595-7, p. 526; HMC Hatfield, vi. 65; vii. 206; APC, xxvii. 105.
  • 4. E. Suss. RO, Rye hundreds 1599-1606, ff. 387, 388; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 131; Suss. Arch. Colls. lix. 118.
  • 5. PCC 25 Soame; Suss. Arch. Colls. v. 35, 102-3; xiv. 101; xvi. 189; xl. 2, 5, 7, 22; lix. 118, 122; DNB.