Lexington’s Captain John Parker

Yesterday I took a ride to Lexington, MA. I arrived shortly before the annual Patriot’s Day Parade and several hours after the re-enactment of the famous battle that took place on the Lexington Green on April 19, 1775, a battle recognized as the start of the American Revolution.

In the center of the town, directly in front of the Lexington Green stands a statue of a proud minuteman holding a musket. The statue is of Captain John Parker. On the morning of April 19 Parker lead a small band of Lexington farmers into battle.

I have driven by that Parker statue many times and each time I admirer the determination, pride and character displayed by the figure.

Captain Parker was part of a well respected Lexington family. At various times his father, Josiah served as Lexington Town Clerk, Assessor and even a Selectman. Parker himself was a farmer, mechanic and life long resident of Lexington…born on Spring Street. He was “a stout, large framed man of medium height”. Parker was no stranger to military battle. Earlier in his life he fought in the French and Indian War at Louisbourg and Quebec and was a member of Roger’s Rangers. At the age of 26 he married Lydia Moore also of Lexington.

On the morning of April 19, 1775 Captain John Parker was 46 years old as he stood beside 76 other colonists and opposed 700 British Regulars. At the time he was terminally sick with tuberculosis. His illness forced him to bed early the night before (April 18, 1975). It was around 1:00AM when a messenger arrived informing him that the Regulars were marching to Concord. Parker and his men assembled on the Lexington Green and around 5:30AM three advance companies of British Regulars burst on the scene commanded by Major Pitcairn.

Many, many times historians have debated how the events unfolded that morning, but several things are indisputable…
Parker lined his men in two ranks, a proud stance for freedom challenging the world’s most dominant superpower… and the captain and his brave men weren’t looking for fight that morning, but they weren’t going to back down if one came …and it did.

Here is the text of Captain John Parker’s actual deposition given several days after the battle:

Lexington, April 25, 1775.

I, John Parker, of lawful age, and commander of the Militia in Lexington, do testify and declare, that on the nineteenth instant, in the morning, about one of the clock, being informed that there were a number of Regular Officers riding up and down the road, stopping and insulting people as they passed the road, and was also informed that a number of Regular Troops were on their march from Boston, in order to take the
Province Stores at Concord, ordered our Militia to meet on the common in said
Lexington, to consult what to do, and concluded not to be discovered, nor meddle or
make with said Regular Troops (if they should approach) unless they should insult us;
and upon their sudden approach, I immediately ordered our Militia to disperse and not to fire. Immediately said Troops made their appearance, and rushed furiously, fired upon and killed eight of our party, without receiving any provocation therefor from us.

John Parker

Captain John Parker didn’t live long enough to see the United States officially declare its independence. He died of Tuberculosis a mere five months after the battle of Lexington and Concord…but his noble actions on April 19, 1775, so perfectly represented by that statue on the Lexington Green, sounded a declaration of freedom heard throughout the world.

11 thoughts on “Lexington’s Captain John Parker”

  1. A good synopsis of the events of my grandfather (seventh generation) John Parker. I am member (178131) of the Sons of the American Revolution). Anyone else want to contribute to this, please do so.

  2. To clarify a misconception, this was sculpted as a statue representing the minutemen, rather than John Parker… it is through the trials of time that this became known as a statue of John Parker.

  3. “Stand tall your an AMERICAN.”–”bow to no one”–”lock & load”–”Just leave me and mine alone:”– And–one on my early childhood memories after begging him to defend me against older cousins, -”When are YOU gonna learn, YOU don’t play with cheaters”…And in answering me, why he didn’t hate the Japs, “Because they are barbarians and we are Christians” and then, “some of the Jap troops were as beaten, & hungry as we were..” Quotes from Dad-USN-JapPOW -3-1/2 years- 1942-45 – YES; I MISS HIM….

  4. THE LEXINGTON STATUE IS CAPT PARKER; IT IS NOT A COMMON MISCONCEPTION.

    You even find the original notice of the unveiling of the statue at Lexington’s historic Cary Library not 10 feet from Capt Parker’s statue.

    It was unveiled by one of his lineal descendants, Charles W Parker.

    Kitson sculpted his image of Parker using a member of the Harvard rowing team, so more confusion.

    This “misconception” seems an effort to further awareness of the forgotten but equally brave men of Lexington.

    My great-grandfather of Menotomy (now Arlington) died in a house with 11 other men fighting the bloodiest battle of that day, yet the entire town is forgotten.

    Perhaps it is better to encourage our legends, not plant seeds of doubt. Is it not enough what politician’s have done to “The Tea Party”?

    Did you know that Lexington had a Tea Party….three days prior to Boston’s? Common misconception through the trials of time have forgotten Lexington’s “Tea-Party-by-bonfire”.

  5. I am very proud to be related to such a brave Patriot. My maternal grandmother, Mary E. (Goodwin) Beaver from Nova Scotia was a niece (grand, grand grand, et al) and our lineage had been recorded by relatives on my mother’s side. A famous transcendental UU minister, Theodore Parker, was also a direct descendat of Captain John.
    I was never the DAR type, but our history, and Captain Parker’s role in it, inspired me as a young native American (and now as a middle aged native American), to keep the faith and share our independent spirit and heritage with my offspring.
    Of note, many years ago when one of my elementary school aged children was asked in her class to have a parent speak to the class about their ethnic /national heritage, I offered, but was turned down. They only wanted to hear from parents that were not from this country. Sad, but true, the indoctrination of our youth….

    God Bless.

  6. I believe that my Parker bloodline is the closest to Capt. John Parker’s son, John Parker Jr. Hannah Stearns was a descendent of John and Rebecca Gibson. In The Parker’s of Lexington genealogical and biological notes there is a typo in the maternal ancestral line of Deacon Thomas Parker. Gibbon should be ‘Gibson’ as the proper surname. My 2x great grandfather was Gov. Cyrus Gray Luce, governor of Michigan 1887-1890. Gov. Luce was one of the founders of the Republican party in 1854.

  7. Capt. John Parker was my ancestor. We have kept the parker name in our family to keep the name in the family. My great grandfather was John Henry Parker, my father is Thomas Parker Lancaster, my brother is John Parker Lancaster ,my nephews are Ryan and Brien Parker Lancaster, and my grand nephew is Eric Parker Lancaster.

  8. I come down the line from Captain John Parker as well. I am still doing a lot of research as we are missing 2 generations of information up from my great-great grandfather to Captain John, however we do know from a newspaper interview with my gggrandfather’s daughter that Captain John was her great grandfather. Still trying to connect all the dots. It is very interesting especially because just 2 years ago I had no idea who my ancestors on my mother’s side were. I very much want to make a trip to Lexington and walk where my ancestors walked!!

  9. There were 5 Parker brothers that came to America in the early 1600′s. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, John and James. My direct decedent is James. Likely Captain John Parker is a decedent of one of these 5.

  10. I am descended from two of the 5 Parker brothers mentioned above. Capt John Parker descends from Thomas Parker of Reading – there may be some relationship to the 5 brothers, but it has yet to be determined. If there is male Parker descendant of Capt John Parker, it would be of interest to have him join the Parker yDNA project and see where he fits in.

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