Henry Parkes

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In England, Sir Henry Parkes was born into abject poverty and hardship. After growing up in poverty, Henry acquired a range of useful manual skills. He started studying British poetry out of a need to educate himself and utilized his newly acquired writing abilities to woo his first wife. Parkes and his wife immigrated to Australia because they were desperate for a change of scenery due to poverty and the deaths of two of their children. Henry found his calling as a politician after years of excruciating poverty when it was determined he had a gift for public speaking. With a number of periodicals and books, he struggled to make ends meet, but his fervently patriotic writings and fiery speech attracted a lot of sympathy. He then succeeded in navigating the political minefield in a crucial colony by ascending to the position of prime minister five times. Parkes, who unfortunately made terrible financial decisions in his personal life, frequently had to abandon his wife and kids because he was drowning in debt and abject poverty. Parkes was a fervent supporter of his new country using his bombast and status as an elder statesman. He helped shape several important political concepts that came together shortly after his passing to form the Commonwealth of Australia.

Early Childhood & Life

On May 27, 1815, Henry Parks was born in Canley, a town close to Coventry in the English province of Warwickshire. The father of Henry was a poor tenant farmer. Little is known about Henry’s mother, who passed away shortly after giving birth to Henry.

Henry was a young child who had no formal schooling and frequently worked to support his family. He joined a political union at the age of 17 while working as an apprentice in Birmingham.

Career of Henry Parkes

Parkes and his wife relocated to London in 1839. A few weeks later, they sailed to Australia on a ship. Two days prior to arriving, their daughter was born on board.
‘Stolen Moments’, a collection of poems by a talented author, was released in 1842.
He used financial leverage to launch three distinct publications. Despite his best efforts, Henry quickly found himself in a financial mess. He made use of the publications while they were in existence to publish more of his poems as well as editorials in favor of Australian culture.

This persuasive orator ran in a special election for the post of City of Sydney representative to the New South Wales parliament in 1854. He received almost twice as many votes as his nearest challenger.
The parliamentarian left his position in 1856 out of displeasure with the New South Wales parliament’s inefficiency. He refused despite several requests for him to run for reelection.
‘Murmurs of the Stream’, a collection of Parkes’ poetry, was published in 1857.

Despite putting all of his efforts into making his newspapers successful by 1858, he was deeply in debt. Parkes made the decision to run for office once more, this time as a New South Wales constituency candidate. Despite being elected, he resigned six months later because of difficulties related to his personal indebtedness.
He was chosen to represent yet another area when he was re-elected to the New South Wales parliament in 1864.

A parliamentary trick removed the parliament’s leader in 1866. Parkes was given the title of Colonial Secretary by Governor Sir James Martin. He would serve in this capacity for three years, following which he would be out of office for three years.

Studies in Rhyme, a collection of poems by Parkes, was published in 1870. Due to issues with his personal finances, he was forced to resign from the legislature once more in the same year.
He was chosen to serve in the legislature in 1871, this time as a representative of yet another group. After political divisions led to a standstill a year later, Parkes was elected premier of the Colony of New South Wales. He would serve in that capacity for three years.

After a succession of political controversies, he was forced to resign from his post as Premier of the Colony of New South Wales in 1875. He left the legislature two years later, citing boredom as his motivation. However, Henry reappeared as the Premier of the Colony of New South Wales for a short time after his colleague’s transient administration fell apart a few months later.
He once more gained the position of Premier of the Colony of New South Wales in 1878 through political scheming. He would serve in that capacity for the following five years.

Parkes released ‘The Beauteous Terrorist and Other Poems’ in 1885. He was successfully re-elected to parliament in the same year, this time as a representative of yet another district.
This accomplished politician used the turbulence in politics in 1887 to win a fourth term as premier of the Colony of New South Wales. He would serve in that capacity for three years.
After a brief absence, he was appointed Premier of the Colony of New South Wales once more in 1889. He would serve in that capacity for two years.

Parkes gave his most famous speech, known as “The Tenterfield Oration,” toward the end of 1889. In it, he urged federalists to draft a constitution that would enable the establishment of a federal government and federal parliament for the conduct of national business.

Bigger Works of Henry Parkes

As the longtime leader of New South Wales, Sir Henry Parkes is regarded as one of the architects of the Australian Commonwealth. Despite the fact that this leader did not live long enough to see his ambition come to fruition, his contribution to the founding of the Commonwealth remains unmatched.

Personal Legacy & Life

Henry Parkes had three marriages. In 1836, he wed Clarinda Varney, and they were together until her death.

After Eleanor passed away, he married Julia Lynch in 1895, and they remained together until his death.
The day before his death, April 27, 1896, was Henry Parkes. He passed away naturally.
Thomas, Clarinda Martha, Clarinda Sarah, Robert, Mary, Mary Edith, Milton, Lily Maria, Annie, Gertrude, Varney, Lily Faulconbridge, Sydney, Kenilworth, Aurora, Henry Cobden, and Charles Jessel are among the 17 legally recognized children that Sir Henry Parkes fathered in total.
Parkes spent his entire life as a devoted member of the Church of England.

Net Worth of Henry Parkes

The estimated net worth of Henry Parkes is about $1 million.


The majority of administrations under Parkes’ leadership often generated budget surpluses, despite being heavily in debt for most of his life.