Parker: Memoirs

Pdf Parker, Captain Robert. Memoirs of the most Remarkable Military Transactions, From the Year 1683 to 1718. Dublin: Published by his son, 1746.
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Memoirs by Robert Parker (1666-1746) describe his distinguished military career serving in a series of wars under King William III of Orange and the Duke of Marlborough in the late 17th and early 18th century.

After the Gaelic Irish, Old English Catholics and Royalists forces were finally defeated in 1653 by the Parliamentarian forces of Oliver Cromwell, Ireland was settled by thousands of Protestant settlers many of whom had served in his army. Parker was the son one of these men and in his teens ran away from home to join an independent company of foot commanded by Captain Frederick Hamilton based in Kilkenny were he grew up.

In 1658, Cromwell died and was succeeded by his son Richard as Lord Protector. However the English Parliament invited the exiled son of the executed King Charles I to return and reign as Charles II which he did in 1660. In 1685 his Catholic brother James II succeeded him prompting his Protestant subjects to invite his nephew and son in law the Dutch Prince William III of Orange who was married to Mary II, the king's Protestant daughter to take the throne instead. James fled into exile and later raised a Catholic army in Ireland with the support of his French cousin King Louis XIV. After his forces were defeated at the Boyne, James fled to France once again and the Catholics under William Sarsfield surrendered at Limerick in 1691.

Robert Barker enlisted in 1689 in the Williamite Army serving in the Earl of Meath's Regiment later renamed the Royal Regiment of Ireland in 1695 as an ordinary infantryman. His bravery in the Battle of Namur, Belgium, an 1695 engagement in the Nine Years War between King William III and the Catholic King Louis XIV of France , earned Parker a commission as an ensign. During the War of the Spanish Succession he eventually was promoted to the rank of Captain of the Regiment’s Grenadier Company in 1706, unusual for a commoner. The victory of William III prevented the French King from uniting the kingdoms of France and Spain .

Parker's career benefitted due to the good fortune and influence of the legendary military commander John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. He was the son of the cavalier Sir Winston Churchill who had supported Charles I on the losing side in the English Civil War. After the demise of Cromwell he began his career under the reign of Charles II as a page serving his brother the Duke of York and future James II. He defected to King William III and Mary II against the Jacobites and later served their successor Queen Anne, another Protestant daughter of James II. Marlborough fell out of favour with Anne due to his suspect loyalties and jealous Whig and Tory rivals. He exiled himself but later joined the forces of the German Protestant Prince George I of Hanover who assumed the English throne in 1714 after Queen Anne died childless.

Robert Parker of lowly birth benefitted from his loyalty to the Machiavellian social climbing Marlborough , a gifted and victorious commander during this period. After his retirement and  rewarded for years of loyal military service Robert Parker enjoyed a comfortable old age and died in 1746.

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