His family

The name ‘Parkinson‘ is believed to stem from the names “Parkin” or “Perkin”, which are themselves are derived from “Peter” (Greek “petros” meaning rock or stone). The name “son of Parkin” first appeared in the 14th Century, in the north England (Lancashire/North Yorkshire). The first recorded spelling of the basic name is that of ‘Johannes Parkynson‘, dated 1379 in the “Poll Tax Rolls of Yorkshire”. The Parkinson form of the name first appeared in the Oxford University Register of 1564 when a Robert Parkinson attended, and a Dorithie Parkinson (an early emigrant to the New World), was recorded as living “at Elizabeth Cittie”, Virginia in 1623.

The granted Parkinson family Coat of Arms is a red shield, with a white chevron with three black stars between three silver ostrich feathers.


Source: Heraldry


Very little is known about the ancestors of Dr James Parkinson. I do not know if he was related to the famous herbalist and botanist John Parkinson (1567–1650; apothecary to James I and Royal botanist to Charles I; buried in London on the 6th August 1650). I am currently investigating this.

John-ParkinsonJohn Parkinson (1567–1650) – Source: Wikipedia

While investigating the notes of Arthur Morris (author of ‘James Parkinson: His Life and times’ – one of my guiding lights), I came across the Parkinson family tree according to him:


From Arthur Morris’s notes: PP/ADM/6 (‘The Parkinson Family of Hoxton’) – Wellcome Collection

At the top of that sheet of paper, above the name of James’s father John, is handwritten ‘John Parkinson = Dorothie Squire 4×1.1721′. Communications with surviving relatives of James who have pieced together the family tree has indicated that John Parkinson and Dorothy Squire were indeed the Grandparents of James. They have also suggested that these forebearers had another son (in addition to James’s father John) who died young.

Parents and siblings

James’s father, John Parkinson was born in Shoreditch, Middlesex in 1725 and died there on the 10th January, 1784. A search of the St Leonard’s parish registry shows that John was not baptised or married in the parish. His mother, Mary Parkinson (maiden name unknown) was also born in Shoreditch in 1721, and died there on the 6th April, 1811. James Parkinson was their second child. His other siblings were:

Elizabeth Parkinson – born in 1753; died 30th November, 1754

Elizabeth Parkinson – born on the 5th April, 1756; died 29th March, 1759

Margaret Townley Parkinson – born on the 3rd August,1759; She married Richard Wayman on the 25th July, 1779. We do not know when Margaret died.

William Parkinson – born on the 5th March, 1761; died in August, 1766 (buried 29th August at St Leonard)

Mary Sedgwick Parkinson – born on the 11th January, 1763; She married John Keys (from Tenby, Pembroke, Wales; 1762 – 10th June, 1836) on the 9th December, 1784 at St Olave in London. John Keys was a close friend of our James. John and Mary had no children that we know of. Mary died in April 1840, and is buried at Stonehouse, Gloucestershire.


On 21st May 1783, James married Mary Dale in St Leonard’s Church, by special license which was the custom of the upper and middle classes of that period. He was 25 and she was 23 years old. James’s friend Wakelin Welch Jr of Lympstone (Devon) acted as his best man (many years later, ‘Organic Remains of a Former World’ was dedicated to Welch). The wedding ceremony was carried out by the curate, the Rev. Alex Kilgour, in the absence of the Vicar Rev. Dr. John Blake.

According to the Family Pursuits website, Mary Dale (daughter of John Dale and Mary Hardy) was born 2nd September, 1757 in Shoreditch, Middlesex. Her family lived lived in Charles Square, Hoxton. Mary’s grandfather, Francis Dale (1650-1716), was an apothecary in Hoxton Old Town. He had three sons: Francis (also an apothecary), Thomas (1699-1750), and John (a silk merchant and Mary’s father). Her family not only had a medical history, but also geological. Mary’s grand uncle, Samuel Dale (1659-1739) was a keen botanist and one of the first to describe the fossils in the cliffs of Harwich (Essex).


Samuel Dale (1659-1739) – Source: The Essex Field Club

Thus the marriage was most likely a good fit for James. Mary Parkinson would live a long life, dying on 28 March 1838 of typhus fever (Gardner-Thorpe, 2013). Together with James, she had six children:

1. James John Parkinson – (born 11th Feb, 1783; died 3rd January, 1795).

2. John William Keys Parkinson (born 11th July, 1785) was apprenticed to his father and would later become the ‘Son’ in ‘Parkinson and Son’ (and ultimately John’s son James Keys Parkinson would follow in this process). John married Diana Chapple (born in Sevenoaks, Kent on the 11th August, 1787; died in Shoreditch in February 1820), they were married in St Leonard’s Church on the 7th May, 1811, and had three children:

James Keys Parkinson – (born in Shoreditch, on the 27th October, 1812; died in Shoreditch in March, 1849). Like most of the Parkinson family, he was baptised and christened in St Leonards’s church on the 24th December, 1812. He died in Shoreditch in March, 1849, being buried at St Leonard’s church on the 3rd of March, 1849.

Mary Hester Parkinson – (born in Shoreditch on the 30th March, 1816; died in Jersey, Channel Islands on the 8th February, 1892). She was baptised and christened on the 7th May, 1816 at St Leonard’s church, Shoreditch. She married Charles Holman Warren (born 1813 in Milverton, Sommerset; died in Sydney, Australia on the 16th August 1875) on the 14th October, 1841 in Dulverton, Somerset. They had 6 children. The 1861, 1871, 1881, and 1891 census have her living in Dulverton, Somerset; Littleham, Devon; Hornsey, Middlesex; and St Martin, Jersey, Channel Islands, respectively.

John Chapple Parkinson – (Born in February, 1820; died in May 1820; buried on the 1st June 1820 at St Leonard’s church in Shoreditch).

At some point John’s first wife Diana died (we do not know her date of death), but John remarried and his new wife Elizabeth Caroline Tompson (born in Limster, Lincolnshire in 1800; died 3rd May 1864 in Kensington and Chelsea, Middlesex), and she  gave him another six children:

John Ellis Parkinson – (Born in Shoreditch on the 29th July, 1822; died in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire in 1899). He was christened on the 23rd August 1822 at St Leonard’s church, Shoreditch. He married Emily Mary Rebecca Rumball Gifkins (born in St Albans, Hertfordshire in 1844; died in September of 1875 in Woolwich, Kent) on the 5th May, 1868 in Harpenden, St Albans, Hertfordshire. They had 5 children together. Following Emily’s death in 1875, John married Eliza Natt Weston (born in Tooting, Surrey in 1850; died in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire in 1881) that same year in Woolwich, Kent. They had six children together. The 1861, 1871, and 1881 census have John living in Fulham, Middlesex; Charlton, Kent; and Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, respectively.

Elizabeth Coley Parkinson – (born in Shoreditch on the 2nd January, 1824; died 12th January 1900 in Hampshire, Wiltshire). We do not know if Elizabeth was married or had any children. The census of 1851, 1861, 1871, and 1891 had her living in Bray, Berkshire; Bushey, Hertfordshire; Millbrook, Hampshire; and East Dean, Hampshire, respectively.

Jane Dale Parkinson – (born in Shoreditch on the 18th March, 1825; died on the 10th December 1911 in Hampshire). She was
baptised and christened on the 13th April, 1825 at St Leonard’s church). We have no idea if Jane married or had children. The 1851, 1861, 1871, 1891, and 1901 census had her living in Bray, Berkshire; Bushey, Hertfordshire; Millbrook, Hampshire; East Dean, Hampshire; and East Dean, Hampshire, respectively.

Emma Townley Parkinson – (born on the 22nd September, 1826 in Shoreditch; died on the 26th November, 1918 in Havant, Hampshire). She was baptised and christened on the 25th October, 1826 at St Leonard’s church, Shoreditch, Middlesex, England. On the 21st September, 1858, she married Radcliffe Russell Hall (born 14th November, 1818; died 18th March, 1902) at Great Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire. They had
four children.

Caroline Haslewood Parkinson – (born in Shoreditch on the 27th February, 1831; Died in Worthing, Sussex in 1839). She was baptised and christened on the 30th March, 1831 at St Leonard’s church, Shoreditch.

Fanny Sedgewick Parkinson – (born in Shoreditch on the 27th August, 1834; died on the 8th October, 1908, in Southsea, Hampshire). She was baptised and christened on the 26th September, 1834 at St Leonard’s church in Shoreditch, Middlesex, England. We do not know if Fanny was married or had any children. The Census of 1841, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 has her living in St Mary, Islington, Middlesex; Harrow, Middlesex; St Pancras Camden, London; All Saints, Southampton, Hampshire; St Cuthbert, Bedfordshire; and Penge, Surrey, respectively.

Their father, John Parkinson (son of Dr James Parkinson), died in London on the  5th April, 1838.

3. Emma Rook (Born 5th April, 1788) married John Dymock of Stonehouse, Gloucestershire in St Leonard’s Church on the 29th October, 1816. They had four children – the eldest, Emma Parkinson Watts Keys Dymock (born November of 1821; 3rd April 1906 in Chelsham, Surrey) married Edward Brown of Croydon. The two middle children – Mary Birch Dimock (1823 – 20th April, 1841) and John Keys Dimock (1824 – 18th April, 1939) – died in their teens, while their youngest child, the Rev. Nathaniel Dimock (born 8th July, 1825; MA from Oxford) died 3rd March, 1909, having been the rector of Wymonsfold and vicar of St Paul’s Church in Maidstone, Kent. Emma died on the 27th August, 1867.


Rev. Nathaniel Dimock – Source

4. Jane Dale (born 2nd October, 1789 – died 21st January, 1792).

5. Henry William (born 7th May, 1791) married Elizabeth Asperne on the 20th October, 1821 in Calcutta, India. He returned to the UK, and died in Chertsey, Surrey, in April, 1862. (Elizabeth’s parents were James Asperne and Ann Philips. It is curious to note that one of the publisher of Dr James Parinson’s books ‘Organic Remains of Former World’ is a J. Asperne, who is suspected of being Elizabeth’s father)

6. Wakelin (born 17th October, 1792; died 31st January, 1793) was baptised and christened on the 08th November, 1792 at St Leonard’s church, Shoreditch. He died a few months later.

7. Mary Dale (born 8th March, 1794) was unmarried at the time of Dr James Parkinson’s death, but she would go on to marry William Tringham on the 18th August, 1828 in Hackney, Middlesex. They had a son William (died 25th April, 1909 in Chertsey, Surrey) and a daughter Mary (died 21st March, 1914 in Chertsey, Surrey). Mary Dale died in Surrey on the 16th May, 1871.


Gardner-Thorpe C (2013)’Education forms the tender mind’ from A History of Geology and Medicine, edited by C.J. Duffin, R.T.J. Moody, C. Gardner-Thorpe.

Morris AD (1955). “James Parkinson, born April 11, 1755”. Lancet 268 (6867): 761–3.


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