Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield

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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Macclesfield
Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt.jpg
Portrait after Sir Godfrey Kneller (1712).
Lord Chancellor
In office
Monarch George I
Preceded by The Lord Cowper
Succeeded by In commission
Personal details
Born (1666-07-23)23 July 1666
Staffordshire, England
Died 28 April 1732(1732-04-28) (aged 65)
Occupation Politician
Arms of Parker, Earls of Macclesfield: Gules, a chevron between three leopard's faces or[1]

Thomas Parker, 1st Earl of Macclesfield PC FRS (23 July 1666 – 28 April 1732) was an English Whig politician.

Youth and early career

He was born in Staffordshire, the son of Thomas Parker, an attorney at Leek. He was educated at Adams' Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge.[2] He was married to Janet Carrier, whose sister was married to William Anson, 1st Baron Anson's father . He was called to the bar in 1691, and became a Member of Parliament and was knighted in 1705. In 1710 he refused the office of Lord Chancellor, but was made a Privy Counsellor. He was Lord Chief Justice from 1710 to 1718 and was involved in the prosecution of Dr Sacheverell. He made a vehement attack on Sacheverell and the high church clergy.[1] He was also a friend of Bernard de Mandeville, whose satirical Fable of the Bees became highly controversial in the 1720s.

He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1713. He also had a grammar school built at Leek, his home town. In 1714 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Parker of Macclesfield.

Regent of Great Britain and Ireland

On 1 August 1714, Queen Anne died, and her designated successor, the Elector of Hanover was off in his German domain, so Baron Parker was designated Regent of Great Britain, Ireland and the realms beyond the seas until the new King could be informed of the situation and take the crown. He governed until 18 September. In 1718, because the King could not speak English, Parker gave the King's Speech in the House of Lords.

Lord Chancellor

In 1718, he became Lord Chancellor and given a pension for life, and was a favourite of the King. In 1721, he was advanced to the title Earl of Macclesfield with the additional subsidiary title of Viscount Parker. In 1724, he was implicated in financial irregularities, but he did not resign as Lord Chancellor until 1725.


In 1725, he was impeached and tried in the House of Lords.[2] He was, unanimously, convicted of corruption for taking more than £100,000 in bribes (the equivalent of more than £11,000,000 today). He was fined £30,000 and placed in the Tower of London until payment was received. He was also struck off the roll of the Privy Council. He was a fabulously wealthy man, possibly because of his corruption, but as this money was confiscated, he had no resources to pay his fine. He spent most of the rest of his life at Shirburn Castle, where he was buried.

He was, however, still able to be a pallbearer at the funeral of Sir Isaac Newton in 1727. He died in Soho Square, London.


  1. Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.723
  2. "Parker, Thomas (PRKR685T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Parliament of England
Preceded by
John Harpur
Thomas Stanhope
Member of Parliament for Derby
With: Lord James Cavendish
Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Derby
With: Lord James Cavendish
Succeeded by
Lord James Cavendish
Richard Pye
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir John Holt
Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench
Succeeded by
Sir John Pratt
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Cowper
Lord Chancellor
In commission
Title next held by
The Lord King
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Northampton
Custos Rotulorum of Warwickshire
Succeeded by
The Duke of Montagu
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Earl of Macclesfield
Succeeded by
George Parker
New creation Baron Parker