Parke was born in 1669, probably in York County, Virginia, the son of Daniel and Rebecca Evelyn Parke. Like many Virginians, Parke's father had come to the colony as a man of modest circumstances. There he married Rebecca Evelyn, daughter of George Evelyn, Lord of the Manor of Evelinton in St. Mary's County, Maryland, and widow of Bartholomew Knipe. The senior Parke rose quickly in Virginia, serving as justice of York County in 1655, sheriff of York County in 1659, member of the House of Burgesses from York in 1666, member of the governor's Council beginning in 1670, and Secretary of State of Virginia from 1678 to 1679.
Parke's mother died at Long Ditton in Surrey, England, in 1672; his father died on March 6, 1679, and his will directed that a portion of his fortune, most of which was invested at the Chamber of London, be used for "educating and supporting" his son Daniel. Micajah Perry and Thomas Lane, of the merchant house Perry and Lane, were to look after young Daniel in England, while James Bray and Robert Cobb were to care for him in Virginia. It is probable that young Daniel spent much of his youth in England, possibly with his mother's relatives at Long Ditton or with his three sisters at Stepney Green, before returning to York County in the 1680s.
Sometime in or around 1685, Parke married Jane Ludwell, daughter of Philip Ludwell and Lucy Higginson Ludwell, of Virginia. Both Parke and Ludwell were about fifteen years old at the time. The couple had three daughters, two of whom—Frances and Lucy—survived to adulthood. But their marriage was generally an unhappy one, and they later became estranged.
Political Rise in Virginia
Parke's political rise in Virginia was rapid, his fortunes no doubt influenced by
his father-in-law, Philip
Ludwell, who had married the widow of Governor William Berkeley, and his cousin
John Evelyn, who repeatedly petitioned English officials on Parke's behalf. Parke
was elected to the House of Burgesses for James City County in 1688, at age
nineteen; was chosen by both James City and York counties to serve as burgess in
1693 (he chose to represent James City County); and represented New Kent County in 1695. Parke
was an early investor at Yorktown
in 1691, a vestryman for Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg from 1694 to 1697, and a
Parke no doubt possessed a talent for politics, but he also possessed arrogance and raw ambition. James Blair, the commissary of Virginia, called Parke "a complete sparkish gentleman" and complained of his "quick resentment of every least thing that looks like an affront or injury." Parke is said on one occasion to have horsewhipped the governor of Maryland after challenging him to a duel and on another to have pulled James Blair's wife from the Harrison family pew at Bruton Parish Church during a quarrel. This was the sort of arrogance that led Virginia governors such as Francis Nicholson and Alexander Spotswood to complain of the Virginia gentry and their sense of entitlement.
The Battle of Blenheim
Perhaps Parke's greatest notoriety came in 1704, during the War of the Spanish
Succession, when he carried news of John Churchill, duke of Marlborough's victory
in the Battle of Blenheim on August 13,
Governorship of Leeward Islands and Death
Parke dutifully spent the remainder of his life in the Caribbean, but his tenure was a brief one. Parke alienated many of the leading citizens of Antigua through his insistence on maintaining the royal prerogative and suppressing illegal profits made through smuggling; his subjects also resented his haughty demeanor and refusal to compromise with them on any issue. He was also accused of "debauching many of the wives and daughters" of local Antigua planters. As a result, a rebellion occurred in Antigua on December 7, 1710, during which Parke was stripped naked, dragged from the governor's house, and murdered. Oral history holds that his body was left in the streets for a week to rot after his murder. He was forty years old.
Parke's wife, Jane Ludwell Parke, had died in Virginia in September 1708, but his daughters Lucy Parke Byrd and Frances Parke Custis, who had married William Byrd and John Custis (1678–1749), respectively, survived him. Despite the anticipated legacies, Parke left only modest property to his two daughters in Virginia. Parke had fathered an illegitimate son and daughter, and it was they who inherited most of his estate. Byrd and Custis dealt with Parke's Virginia and England estates, but faced a mountain of Parke's debts. Interestingly, a portion of Parke's lands fell to his grandson Daniel Parke Custis, and was transferred to the care of George Washington when he and Custis's widow married in 1759.
1669 - Daniel Parke is born to Daniel Parke and Rebecca Evelyn Parke, probably on their York County plantation.
1672 - Rebecca Evelyn Parke, Daniel Parke's mother, dies at Long Ditton, the Evelyn home in Surrey, England, at age thirty-nine.
March 6, 1679 - Daniel Parke (the elder) dies at age fifty; he leaves the bulk of his estate in England and Virginia to his only son, ten-year-old Daniel.
ca. 1685 - Daniel Parke returns to Virginia from England and marries Jane Ludwell, daughter of Philip Ludwell and Lucy Higginson Ludwell, and step-daughter of Lady Frances Berkeley, widow of Governor Sir William Berkeley. Both bride and groom are about fifteen years old; the marriage is an arranged one.
1688 - Daniel Parke, at age nineteen, is elected to represent James City County in the House of Burgesses.
1691 - Daniel Parke acquires property in newly established Yorktown on the York River.
1693 - Daniel Parke is elected by both James City County and York County to represent them in the House of Burgesses. He decides to represent James City County.
1694 - Daniel Parke's cousin, the diarist John Evelyn, writes letters of recommendation to English officials in an effort to help Parke gain high office in Virginia.
1695 - Daniel Parke represents New Kent County in the House of Burgesses.
June 11, 1695 - Daniel Parke is named to the Virginia governor's Council; he is twenty-six years old.
1697 - Daniel Parke relocates from Virginia to London, England, in the hope of gaining a seat in Parliament.
1702 - Early in this year, Daniel Parke becomes a colonel in the British Army.
August 13, 1704 - The army of John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, defeats the Franco-Bavarian Army in the Battle of Blenheim during the War of the Spanish Succession. Daniel Parke, an aide-de-camp of Marlborough's, carries news of the victory to Queen Anne.
April 25, 1705 - Daniel Parke's royal appointment as chief governor of the Leeward Islands, a small island chain in the Caribbean, commences. He delays his departure, hoping for a more desirable post.
July 14, 1706 - After having delayed his departure to the Caribbean in the hope of securing a more desirable post, Daniel Parke arrives in Antigua, in the Leeward Islands, and begins his tenure as governor.
September 1708 - Daniel Parke's estranged wife, Jane Ludwell Parke, dies in Virginia.
December 7, 1710 - An angry mob murders Daniel Parke, chief governor of the Leeward Islands, after dragging him from the governor's residence. The mob is said to have left his body to rot in the street for a week after his death.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Knight, T. D. Daniel Parke (1669–1710). (2012, January 18). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Parke_Daniel_1669-1710.
- MLA Citation:
Knight, Thomas Daniel. "Daniel Parke (1669–1710)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 18 Jan. 2012. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: August 8, 2011 | Last modified: January 18, 2012
Contributed by Thomas Daniel Knight, assistant professor in the department of history and philosophy at the University of Texas-Pan American.