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Henry Parkes

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Henry Parkes Henry Parkes was born in Warickshire on the 27th of May 1815. His mother and father lived in Stoneliegh, England, where the owned a wheat farm. Henry left Stoneliegh at a young age, when falling wheat prices forced the family to leave the land and seek employment in Birmingham. In 1836 Parkes married ClarindaVarney and after a further 3 years in England, decided to apply for assisted passage to Australia. The death of two of their infant children and a failed business venture influenced this decision. After arriving in Australia with his family in 1839, he quickly found work as a farm labourer. This didn't last long as the low wages didn't appeal to him. ...read more.


This forced him to retire from politics. Parkes managed to pay off his debts after turning to old friends and relying on their support was re-elected. Parkes became a strong supporter of land and educational reform, free trade and immigration. Parkes was not receiving any money during this time because politicians didn't get paid in this era of time. This meant Parkes was finding it hard to live. All this time, Parkes had left his wife and five children at Werrington (near Penrith). Mrs Parkes was often short of money and frequently besieged by creditors. An insolent and disobedient man managed the property she lived on and the property went downhill. Mrs Parkes was lonely and expressed her feelings through numerous letters to Henry. ...read more.


People listened to him all the time because he was a good speaker, a good actor and his long white hair and beard gave him an apostolic look. Parkes also believed the voters should feel that they are the "Man of the Hour". During this period, he introduced the Public Instruction Act which abolished state aid for denominational schools. Parkes' Ministry is best remembered for his fiery and impassioned support for the Federation of Australian Colonies, making a famous speech at the School of Arts, Tenterfield on 24 October 1889. Parkes faced personal tragedy and criticism after marrying Eleanor Dixon in 1889, about a year after the death of Clarinda. This marriage was never recognized by his family. Eleanor died in 1895, leaving Parkes with young children. Parkes was in declining mental and physical health. He then married Julia Lynch who nursed him until his death on 27 April 1896. He was 80 years and 11 months. ...read more.

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