Henry Parkes Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


Henry Parkes

Birthday :

May 27, 1815

Died On :

April 27, 1896

Birth Place :

Coventry, England, United Kingdom

Zodiac Sign :


Henry Parkes was a British poet who is better known as one of the founding fathers of Australia.

Childhood And Early Life

Henry Parkes was born on May 27, 1815, in Canley, Coventry, England.  His father was a poor tenant farmer while his mother died in childbirth while he was still very young.

Henry Parkes helped support his family instead of going to school.  Henry Parkes was an apprentice in Birmingham where he joined a political union when he was 17.



Henry Parkes was primarily self-taughtHenry Parkes learned by reading from many of the British poets.



A few years after Henry Parkes married his wife Clarinda, Henry Parkes set sail for Australia.  Henry Parkes was able to secure some odd jobs to support his family until he obtained a government job.  Henry Parkes also started his newspapers but was not a good businessman. 

Henry Parkes was often in debt.  Overall he had three different newspapers.  In 1842, Henry Parkes published his first books of poetry Stolen MomentsHenry Parkes was known to use his newspapers to publish his poetry along with editorials regarding the culture of Australia.  

Henry Parkes was also an excellent speaker.  Henry Parkes used his gift with words to help run for election supporting the issue of self-governance.  His first election was for a representative of Syndey in the New South Wales parliament in 1854. 

Henry Parkes was a clear winner.  However, the parliament did not run as well as he would hope.  Henry Parkes resigned in protest despite support for re-election.

Parkes' inability to run a profitable business affected him in many ways.  When he was in debt, Henry Parkes focused on another election in 1858, this time in a different district.  However, he resigned again because of those debts. 

Henry Parkes ran again in 1864 in another district in New South Wales.  Henry Parkes was appointed to the role of Colonial Secretary in 1866 and remained in that position until 1869.  In 1870, Henry Parkes resigned yet again because of his debt. 

When the election happened again in 1871, he was elected in another district.  In 1872, Henry Parkes became the Premier.  He would lead the country for three years in that role.  Due to political scandals, Henry Parkes was no longer Premier. 

In 1877, Henry Parkes resigned from the legislature. However, he returned to be Premier for a short period.

With the challenges facing the government in 1878, Parkes was the Premier of New South Wales yet again.  For his third time in office, Henry Parkes held the position for five years.  In 1887, he became Premier for the fourth time. 

His fifth non-consecutive and final time was from 1889 to 1891.  During his final term as Premier, Henry Parkes gave one of his most famous speeches“The Tenterfield Oration” is where he publicly puts to words his vision of Australia becoming a federal republic.


Later Life

Henry Parkes retired from politics in 1891.  Henry Parkes was forced to sell off many of his valuables to support his family.  However, Henry Parkes was in debt and ill during the final days of his life.


Personal Life And Legacy

Henry Parkes married Clarinda Varney in 1836.  The couple had twelve children, some who died in infancy. After her death in 1888, Parkes married Eleanor Dixon in 1889.  They had a total of five children. 

Henry Parkes married a third time to Julia Lynch in 1895.  They remained together until his death.  Henry Parkes died on April 27, 1896, in Annandale, New South Wales at the age of 80.  He died of natural causes.  Overall he had seventeen children.

Henry Parkes remembered for his contributions to the founding of Australia.  During the turmoils of the beginning of the Commonwealth, he remained steadfast in the establishment of the nation. 

Henry Parkes was also the longest, non-consecutive Premier of New South Wales.  Five years after his death, Australia did indeed become a federation.  


Awards And Achievements  

•    Appointed Colonial Secretary, 1866
•    Seventh Premiere of New South Wales
•    Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, 1877
•    Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, 1888
•    The image on the Australian one-dollar coin, 1996

Summary Of Major Works

Five-time Prime Minister of New South Wales, Australia

Poetry books:

•    Stolen Moments, 1842
•    Murmurs of the Stream, 1857
•    Studies in Rhyme, 1870
•    The Beauteous Terrorist and Other Poems, 1885

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