Leader of the Nore Fleet,
educated and a persuasive orator, Richard Parker was
not your normal sailor in Britain's Royal Navy.
came from a well-off background, the son of a grain
merchant and baker, and had gone to grammar school
was good looking, swarthy and was described as having
flashing black eyes.
some reason Parker rejected his family business and
went to sea as a midshipman where his naval career,
even before the Nore Mutiny, was chequered with a
history of insubordination, a willingness to stand
up for good food and better conditions.
even challenged one of his captains, Edward Riou of
HMS Bulldog, to a duel.
married Ann McHardy, a Scottish farmer's daughter,
in 1791 but this union failed to temper his outspoken
was demoted and transferred from his ship until discharged
from the service because of persistent rheumatism.
a time as a teacher, Parker ended up in debtor's prison
and in 1797 he accepted an offered 30 pounds to rejoin
a Royal Navy desperately short of experienced seamen.
ship was the Sandwich and a little over a month
later on 12 May the mutiny at The Nore began.
was chosen by the other delegates to be President
of the Fleet because he was a gentleman and was smart
enough to match clever words with well-educated officers.
his intelligence Parker's position was difficult in
the extreme and he walked a taut wire between radical
fellow delegates and the intransigence of the Admiralty.
George III demanded Parliament pass draconian laws
against mutiny so that anyone trying to "seduce
soldiers or sailors from their duty" would receive
the death penalty.
accused of being a traitor, Parker always said he
would fight his country's enemies.
public opinion was against the mutineers with their
families being threatened with transportation to Australia.
Parker attracted a 500-pound reward for his capture.
attitude was that he wanted to settled the matter
with pardons for the mutineers. He went to leave the
Sandwich with an offer of submission, but radicals
blocked his path.
rations cut off and internal bickering rising among
the mutineers the so-called Floating Republic was
about to disintegrate.
by one ships slipped their cables and sailed away
- at risk of being fired on - from the rest of the
Government and Admiralty could now smell blood and
there would be no concessions to the mutineers. All
ships had to surrender unconditionally and then the
sailors would have to wait for a decision on a King's
order went out to then obey officers' orders and the
mutiny was effectively over.
hunt then began for the delegates of the fleet - at
least one of whom William Wallis of HMS Standard
shot himself rather than be tried and hanged.
tried to leave the Sandwich only to find his
way blocked by the crew who feared retribution if
he was allowed to escape. He
held a vote on the Sandwich to see if his men wanted
to continue on or surrender. The vast majority of
men called to raise the white flag.
was then given a cabin to stay in while the Sandwich
sailed for Gravesend where delegates were identified
and arrested by militia troops.
arrival he was placed in leg shackles and the next
day was taken ashore through a hostile crowd who booed
him. Parker is reported as having said "Don't
hoot me. It is not my fault. I will clear myself."
was taken to Maidstone prison where he was charged
with treason and piracy.
former president of the fleet told his interrogators
he had been ignored when he had called for moderation
during the mutiny and that he had hoped to "prevent
wild men from doing worse injury to the country".
the express orders of Prime Minister William Pitt,
Parker was to face trial before 13 naval captains
or higher ranks - including Captain Edward Riou
man he had challenged to a duel years before.
also had to do so without the aid of legal counsel.
wife, however, did her best by her husband and sent
a petition to Queen Charlotte asking for clemency.
22 June, Parker's trial began aboard HMS Neptune
under the presidency of Vice-Admiral Thomas Pasley.
reports say Parker walked in with a "respectful,
but unintimidated air."
two days of indifferent evidence, the prosecution
closed its case against Parker and called for him
to begin his defence. He was denied court transcripts
of the proceedings so far, but was given an extra
two days to prepare.
defence was spirited and would have shown to a fair-minded
jury that he was neither a revolutionary, nor one
of the radical mutineers.
lasted until the early afternoon - 1.30pm to be precise
- and then the captains left to consider their verdicts.
By 4pm they had returned and Parker was sentenced
to be hanged.
read a statement to the court: "My Lords, I shall
submit to your sentence with all due submission, being
confident from the clearness of my conscience that
God who knows the hearts of people will favourably
most sincerely hope that my death may atone to the
country and that all the rest of the fleet may be
pardoned and restored to their former situations.
I am convinced they will return to their duty with
steadiness and alacrity."
30 June the yellow flag of execution flew from the
gallows ship Sandwich.
was dressed all in black and after a breakfast with
marines he walked to the quarterdeck where he prayed
with a priest. Afterwards he asked for a glass of
white wine and with it said: "I drink first to
the salvation of my soul and next to the forgiveness
of my enemies."
then shook hands with Sandwich's Captain Mosse
and then was led towards the forcastle followed by
his former comrades who would be those soon hauling
him by the neck up into the rigging.
was the scene his wife saw when she came near the
Sandwich in a rowboat. It was her third attempt
to see her husband and it so shocked her she fainted.
another short prayer Parker asked for permission to
speak and shouted out: "I acknowledge the justice
of the sentence under which I suffer. I hope my death
may be deemed a sufficient atonement and save the
lives of others."
personal enemy placed the noose badly around his neck
- and Parker asked for another to do it properly.
This time it was done so that his death would be quick
and he would not suffer terribly as his body was hauled
resisted the hood being put over his head and asked
that the moment for it be deferred. He turned to his
former comrades and smiled at them saying "Goodbye
a white handkerhief with which to signal for the execution
to begin, Parker then mounted the steps leading to
where he would die.
hood was pulled down and before he dropped his white
cloth Parker jumped off the platform towards the sea.
The rope was still to be untied for the hauling gang
and so when it reached its limit it jagged taut and
broke the prisoner's neck.
signal gun sounded and the shocked hauling gang belatedly
raised the body to the yardarm. After an hour it was
brought down and quickly buried near Sheerness fort.
that day Ann Parker and three women dug him up and
smuggled the body in a dung cart to London where she
hoped for a Christian burial. The authorities, however,
tracked her down and left Parker's body on public
display in a tavern for a week.
a magistrate allowed her the body, but officials seized
it and hid it in a workhouse, before it was taken
to St Mary Matfelon's burial vault.
Parker did get to see her husband again when church
workers felt pity for her and opened Richard Parker's
coffin one last time.