Mr Edward Parker, Dispenser




Military career

Edward Parker was born in Cannock, Staffordshire, in July 1835, the son of William and Anne Parker.  His first wife, Ellen, was born in 1831, his second wife, Jessie, in 1838, in Stepney, East London; the daughters of William and Sarah Tapp.

He joined the Royal Artillery at the age of 16 and served in the Crimean War.  He spent more than 19 years in the Army before being discharged unfit for duty in 1871. 

After leaving the Army, Edward worked as a Dispenser at the Auxiliary Hospital in Mill Lane, Woolwich.

In 1875, Edward moved to Dover to take up the post of Dispenser and Collector at the Dover Hospital, where he worked until his early death in 1902.  The Hospital was supported by subscriptions and donations, and it would have been part of Edward's job to collect these sums.  A few years later, "Collector" was dropped from his  job title and he continued as Dispenser for the rest of his career.

We can trace his life through his obituary in the Dover Express on 20th June 1902.


Dover Hospital has lost a valuable officer in the death of Mr. Edward Parker, who was appointed Dispenser and Collector in 1875, and has filled the office of Dispenser with great ability for 27 years.  He had previously been associated with the medical service of the Royal Artillery, and in that capacity served in the Crimean War, taking part in the very heavy work which fell to the lot of that branch of the service after the battles of Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman, and the terrible sickness including cholera, which attacked our troops in that trying campaign.  He nearly lost his own life when assisting at an operation owing to the accidental cutting of his hand with a lance, which inoculated his blood with poisonous matter, which was very near proving fatal, the effects of which he felt more or less during the remainder of his life.  He retired from the Royal Artillery after 20 years' service, the latter part of which was spent at Woolwich, and very soon after received his appointment at the Dover Hospital.  The testimony of all the Doctors is that he was a most able dispenser, and that it will be difficult to find an equal to succeed him.  His death was mentioned at the Hospital Meeting on Monday, and was referred to in appreciative and sympathetic terms  by Sir William Crundall, the Rev. Canon Bartram, Mr. E. Elwin, and Dr. Osborn, and a vote of condolence was passed.  The funeral took place yesterday at Charlton Cemetery.

The minutes of the Hospital Meeting on Monday 16th June 1902 report that:

Sir William Crundall said that he was sorry to say that the next announcement he had to make was that Mr. Parker, who has been their dispenser for the last 27 years, died on Sunday morning.  The Governors and subscribers and the staff of the Hospital would all regret his untimely decease.  He suggested that some expression of regret and condolence with the widow should go forth from the meeting.  They would find it very difficult to replace him.
Canon Bartram then moved a resolution to the effect that the meeting desired to record its sense of the loss through the death of its dispenser, Mr. Parker, that the Hospital has sustained, and its deep sympathy with the widow and family in their bereavement.
Mr. G. Osborn said that as the oldest member till recently on the Hon. Medical staff, he wished to second this resolution.  Mr. Parker was a very able despenser, a post not at all easy to fill, and he was sure that both the past and present staff would bear him out in saying how valuable Mr. Parker's services as despenser had been to the Hospital.
Mr. E. Elwin, as the late Hon. Secretary, also spoke highly of the late dispenser's services.      (spelling as in original Dover Express report)

The announcement of his death in the same edition reads:

PARKER.- On June 15th, 1902, at 9, Wood's Place, Oswald Road, Dover, Edward Parker, aged 66 years and 11 months.

His funeral took place at St Andrew's, Buckland, on 19th June 1902.

Jessie died at 13 Durham Place, Dover, on 6th February 1917, aged 79.

The following additional information has been provided by Edward's great, great granddaughter, Kaye Taylor.

Edward enlisted into the Royal Artillery at Birmingham on 17th December 1851.  He was described on enlistment as 5ft 9 inches in height with a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair.  His civilian trade was servant.

He was listed as a Gunner & Driver, Reg. No. 3086, in the personnel of Capt. A. C. Hawkins 8th Co. of the 7th Bn.

When Edward enlisted the Company was serving at Devonport, where, at the age of 17 (he gave his age as 24), Edward married his first wife, 21-year-old Ellen Tapp, in Stoke Damerel in 1853.  They remained there until being posted to Ireland in early 1854.  At the start of 1855 it was at Woolwich prior to being sent to the war in the Crimea.

"The Company embarked at Portsmouth on T/T Himalaya as a siege Company on the 2nd March and landed at Balaclava 28th March. Company mustered in camp before Sebastopol on 31st March and thereafter monthly till 31st August and in camp on the Heights of Balaclava on 1st October and thereafter monthly."

He served in  the Crimea from 24th March 1855 to 13th of March 1856.  He was awarded the Crimea Medal with the clasp for Sebastopol for his involvement in the campaign there. He also received the Turkish War Medal that the Sultan of Turkey awarded to all participants.

The Company returned home embarking on T/P Imperatriz on 12 February 1856 to arrive at Woolwich on 13th March, eventually returning to Devonport at the end of the year.

He was promoted to Bombadier in June 1856 but, on 1 May 1857, when the Army Establishment was being cut back, he was reduced back to a Gunner & Driver, only to be promoted back to Bombadier one week later.

On 1st April 1858, Edward was promoted to Corporal and made Sergeant on 1 August 1860. He served the remainder of his time in this capacity.

With the reorganisation of the Royal Artillery the Company became 1 Battery 8th Brigade and was posted to Aldershot. then briefly in Bristol and Ireland before being posted to Canada in 1862.  There is no evidence of Edward having served in Canada.

On the 25th June 1863 he re-enlisted, this time in the 9th Division of the Coastal Brigade, presumably to complete the 21 years service that would qualify him for a pension.  This was an entirely home based unit and Edward remained stationed at Woolwich until his discharge.

At intervals during his career he qualified for four Good Conduct awards each meriting additional pay of a penny a day two of which were taken into his pay as an NCO.

Three of his children were born in Woolwich: Annie, Emilia and Edward Jr.  His first wife Eleanor died there in April 1869, shortly after the birth of Edward Jr., and it was here that Edward married his second wife, Jessie Tapp (the sister of his first wife), in March 1871.  The census shows the family living at 29 Engineer Rd, Woolwich:

Edward Parker head m 35 Chelsea Pensioner Staffordshire Hatherton
Jessie       do wife m 33   Middlesex Poplar
Anne A    do dau   6   Kent Woolwich
Emelia E dau   4     do        do

He was nominally discharged on 1 February 1871 after a medical examination at the Royal Herbert Hospital in Shooters Hill Road, Woolwich (the Army Hospital) and received his final medical discharge on 21st February having served a total of 19 years 67 days.  He was found to be suffering from angina as a result of : ".. military service and vicissitudes of climate ..", for more than two years, ".. aggravated by special circumstances of overwork and anxiety."

(Information originally extracted from his discharge papers at the National Archives, Kew, and the 1871 Census)