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Josiah Parker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 11th district
In office
March 4, 1793 – March 3, 1801
Preceded byDistrict established
Succeeded byThomas Newton, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 8th district
In office
March 4, 1789 – March 3, 1793
Preceded byDistrict established
Succeeded byThomas Claiborne
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Isle of Wight County
In office
Alongside John S. Wills
In office
Alongside John S. Wills
Personal details
Born(1751-05-11)May 11, 1751
Isle of Wight County, Virginia
DiedMarch 11, 1810(1810-03-11) (aged 58)
Isle of Wight County, Virginia
Political partyFederalist
Other political
Spouse(s)Mary Pierce Bridger
Military service
Branch/serviceContinental Army
Years of service1775–1778
Unit5th Virginia Regiment
Battles/warsAmerican Revolutionary War
*Battle of Trenton
*Battle of Princeton
*Battle of Brandywine
*Battle of Germantown

Josiah Parker (May 11, 1751 – March 11, 1810) was an American politician who was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Virginia in the First through Sixth United States Congresses.

Early life

Parker was born at the Macclesfield Estate in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. In 1773, he married the widow Mary Pierce Bridger. They had one child, Anne Pierce Parker (ca 1775, Isle of Wight Co., VA - March 21, 1849).[1]

In 1775, Parker became a member of the state Committee of Safety. He attended the Virginia Convention that met in March, July, and December of that year.

Revolutionary War

When the American Revolutionary War began in April 1775, Parker enlisted in the Continental Army. He was promptly commissioned a major in the 5th Virginia Regiment on February 13, 1776, promoted to lieutenant colonel on July 28, 1777, and became its colonel on April 1, 1778. His regiment served in Virginia under General Charles Lee until the autumn of 1776, when the 5th Virginia Regiment was transferred to George Washington’s army. The regiment thereafter saw action at the Battle of Trenton, Battle of Princeton, Battle of Brandywine, Battle of Germantown, Battle of Monmouth and the Siege of Charleston.

At the Battle of Trenton, Parker had the honor to receive Hessian Colonel Johann Rall's sword of surrender and he alone holds a sword in the painting, The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776 by John Trumbull.[2][3]

Parker resigned from the army on July 12, 1778 and became a member of the Virginia House of Delegates for 1778, 1779, 1782 and 1783. During Cornwallis's Virginia campaign in 1781, the notorious Colonel Tarleton ransacked his home.[4]

In August 1781, Lafayette sent him to Portsmouth, Virginia on a reconnaissance. He found the British had embarked for Yorktown. Parker recovered 25 cannons the British had thrown into the sea to prevent their capture.[5]


In 1786, Parker was commissioned a naval officer at Portsmouth, Virginia. He ran to become a delegate to the 1788 Virginia Convention, since he opposed surrendering Virginia's hard won independence by ratifying the United States Constitution.[6] However, he was elected to the First United States Congress, was reelected to the Second and Third Congresses. He was elected as a Federalist to the Fourth through Sixth United States Congress. Declaring it was time to "wipe off the stigma" of slavery that stained America, Parker became the first national legislator in American history to formally introduce an antislavery motion in congress.[7]

Parker then returned home and engaged in agriculture. He died in 1810, and was buried in the family cemetery on his plantation, "Macclesfield", in Isle of Wight County, Virginia.


The Capture of the Hessians by John Trumbull, Parker is on the far left, dressed in white
The Capture of the Hessians by John Trumbull, Parker is on the far left, dressed in white

His grandson, Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper, served in the Virginia House of Delegates as lieutenant governor in the Restored Government of Virginia during the American Civil War.

The Col. Josiah Parker Family Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.[8]

A World War II Liberty Ship, SS Josiah Parker, was named in his honor.


  1. ^ Thomas Parker of Isle of Wight Co Archived March 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Ward, Harry M. (2011). "Josiah Parker". For Virginia and for Independence: Twenty-Eight Revolutionary War Soldiers from the Old Dominion. pp. 60–61. ISBN 9780786486014.
  3. ^ "NRHP Nomination: Col. Josiah Parker Family Cemetery" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources. 2004. p. 15.
  4. ^ William Meade (1891). Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia. J.B. Lippincott & company. p. 229.
  5. ^ David A. Clary. Adopted Son. Bantam Books. p. 324. ISBN 978-0-553-80435-5.
  6. ^ Rossiter Johnson; John Howard Brown, eds. (1904). The twentieth century biographical dictionary of notable Americans. The Biographical Society.
  7. ^ Bordewich, Fergus (2016). The First Congress. Simon & Schuster.
  8. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
District established
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 8th congressional district

Succeeded by
Thomas Claiborne
Preceded by
District established
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
Thomas Newton
This page was last edited on 14 June 2020, at 17:20
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