Friday, 7 December 2012

Bishop Henry Parry and Virginia

This week brings you an unusual connection between a Jacobean Bishop of Worcester, the colony of Virginia and some books in the collection. Henry Parry was Bishop between 1610 and 1616. He was present at the death of Queen Elizabeth I, and as her chaplain he gained the important confirmation from her that she died as a Protestant.

Henry Parry's monument in Worcester Cathedral. Image is reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral.

In Anthony Wood’s Athenae Oxonienses (1691), Parry was described as being the son of Henry Parry, and grandson of William Parry of Wormbridge, Herefordshire. Bishop Parry was born in Wiltshire on 20th December 1561. He became a scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford on 13th November 1576. He was made a probationer on 23rd April 1586, and gained his MA. He later read Greek at the same College.

King James I was greatly impressed by Parry’s preaching skills. In 1606 the King of Denmark, who was visiting King James, gave Parry a ring as a reward for the quality of his sermon. Later, as Bishop of Worcester, Parry paid for a pulpit in the cathedral. He wrote at least two books and translated two more, and generously gave a sum of money to the University of Oxford. It was in 1612 that Bishop Parry invested £13 6s 8d in a company set up to support the establishment of the colony of Virginia. 

In the cathedral library, are a set of books by a Church of England clergyman, Samuel Purchas. Purchas compiled Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas His Pilgrimes: Contayning a History of the World, in Sea voyages, & lande-travells, by Englishmen & others...etc (1625). This work combines research of fellow clergyman Richard Hakluyt and that of his own on exploration around the world. It includes an early map of Virginia first engraved in 1606, as well as some accounts of life in the early seventeenth century colonies including Virginia.

Map of Virginia 1606. The  image is reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral

In book nine, chapter fifteen is the list of provisions recommended for every person who would be going to live in Virginia. These included enough food to sustain a man for a year- eight bushels of meal, two bushels of pease, two bushels of oatmeal, a gallon of aqua vitae, a gallon of oil, and two gallons of vinegar, as well as clothing, and weapons. The weapons required were light armour, a five or five and a half foot musket, sword, sword belt, bandolier, twenty pounds of gunpowder, and sixty pounds of shot or lead for bullets. 
A family of six were required to bring with them axes, hand saws, whip-saws, hammers, shovels, spades, augers, hatchets, nails, pickaxes, various other tools and kitchen utensils. These books were published after Parry’s death, but perhaps as an investor he had access to some of the early accounts of life in Virginia.
New France, New Scotland, New Foundland, and New England c.1625. The image is reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral. 

Parry died of a stroke on 12th December 1616 at the Bishop’s Palace in Worcester, and was buried in the North Quire transept. His monument was later moved to the south nave aisle together with a plaque. Another plaque to him is in the St. George’s chapel placed there in 1872 by a descendant.

The brass monument to Bishop Parry. The images are reproduced by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral.

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