Family Notes - March 2021
This is a sample of the information provided to members of the P*rr*tt Society in the most recent edition of Family Notes. Family Notes is a quarterly magazine that is distributed to society members in both printed and electronic format. All previous editions of the journal since 1984 are available online to society members.
An Irish PARROTT family in America
Wayne Parrott (775) investigates the family of John PARROTT from Bandon, Cork, Ireland - Family No. 003 in the Catalog of American P-rr-tt families ( http://tinyurl.com/AmericanP-rr-tts )
One of the very few Irish P-rr-tt families that came to America is that of John PARROTT (1794-1879). Despite having been in the United States for two centuries, the family has remained small - its members comprise <1% of PARROTTs living in the US today. Nevertheless, it has left its imprint on US history.
John and his brother, Matthew Jr., came from Bandon, Cork, Ireland, and settled near Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada in 1817. From there they headed south west and moved to Coshocton, Ohio in 1837, searching for more fertile farmland.
Their father was Matthew PARROTT, who according to the family history, descended from Karey PARROTT, who "came over from England with William of Orange as an officer and helped whip the rebel Irish at the Battle of the Boyne. For his services in that war he received a large amount of land on the Eastern coast of Ireland " in 1690.
The history continues, "the tradition in the family seven and a half plow lands; but it did us no good from the fact that a squanderer of a son named William Kearry, spent all the property except one half Plow land that one daughter got as a portion". A plowland, or carucate, was 120 acres in size. A century and a half later, their descendant, John PARROTT, left his adopted home in Ohio and moved to Holton, Kansas in 1858. John died there in 1879. Some of his children accompanied him to Kansas; others dispersed to Iowa and California. His brother, Matthew, had no issue. Three of John's sons are profiled in the following pages of this article.
John Bateman PARROTT (1821-1908) became an engineer in Iowa who went bankrupt building a railroad. He then joined his family in Kansas, and became a captain in the Union army during the Civil War, and after the war was over, became a revenue collector. When his wife died, he remarried, at age 83, to the widow Serena Gilman, age 82. Her husband had been a mail carrier, and she rode shotgun with him. In American English today, to ride shotgun means to ride in the front seat alongside the driver. In Serena’s day, whomever rode next to the driver held a shotgun and used it to ward off robbers and other would be villains.
Robert Bateman PARROTT (1828-1904) was one of the sons who did not move to Kansas with the family. Instead, he became an attorney and moved to Iowa, where he practiced and got elected District Attorney for the 3rd district. In 1864, he moved to Virginia City, Montana, where he set up his law practice. Once in Montana, Robert B. prospected on the weekends, and the following year discovered one of the richest copper deposits in the area. His find became known as the Parrott Copper Mine, which turned out to be the richest copper mine in the world.
Business card for Robert Bateman PARROTT printed in the Montana Post, 11 March 1865.
By 1867, mining was in full swing, and the next year, President Andrew Johnson of the United States appointed Robert to the position of Chief Justice of Montana. A few months later, Robert gave it all up and returned to Iowa, having failed to profit from his find. He returned to Des Moines, Iowa, where he remained the rest of his life. His assets were scarcely valued at $6000 at the time of his death. Yet, the mine he discovered is still in operation as the Parrot Silver and Copper Company.
Finally, William Karey PARROTT (1831-1906) moved to Sacramento, California, where his son, Karey Lee PARROTT (1863-1925) established the Parrott Carriage Co. in the late 1800s in Los Angeles, California. Newspaper accounts published as the 19th century was coming to a close suggest the company was having difficulties. In hindsight, the era of the automobile was dawning, and the future was not looking promising for horse drawn carriages.
Today, the Parrott Carriage Co. gets used as a case study of how companies use wrong strategies in the face of new technologies. Case in point, building a better buggy whip was not going to protect the company against the onset of automobiles. The next step, after focusing on the wrong product, is to slash prices. Eventually, the Parrott Carriage Manufacturing Co. was purchased by the Auto Vehicle Co., which went on to make the first automobiles produced in California.
William Karey PARROTT also had a daughter, Amanda Emaretta (Retta) PARROTT (1865-1930) who was "City Librarian, Sacramento, California, music critic and composer, author of a volume of poems, 'Library Windows’” published in 1920. The book has recently been reprinted due to its cultural importance and is available from various outlets, or for free from Google.
It's In the Papers
We’ve scoured the pages of newspapers recently added to the British Newspaper Archive website to bring you some P*rr*tt related articles.
American Register (London) 24 May 1884
John Parrott, the pioneer banker of San Francisco, who has just died worth $5,000,000, left everything in the hands of his wife during her life. Even a son over 21, who is give the profits of a large ranch, holds his gift only “as long as his mother approves of his conduct.”
Westminster & Pimlico News (London) 18 January 1890
The fifth vocal and instrumental concert of the season took place in the large hall at Pimlico Rooms, Warwick street, on Saturday evening last, when there was a fairly good audience present … a Fantasia on Gounod’s “Faust” was given by Mr. W. Parrott (violin) and Mr. T. Parrott (‘cello). The instrumentalists went through their pieces in good style, the well known “Soldiers’ Chorus” part being given as an encore in response to the continued applause.
Mr. W. Parrott subsequently gave a selection from “William Tell” (Rossini) on the violin, being accompanied on the violon cello by Mr. P. Parrott. The piece was played in an excellent manner, and Mr. W. Parrott showed himself to be a violinist of no mean order.
Indian Daily News (India) 14 October 1896
THE CHUDDERGHAUT BIGAMY CASE. ESCAPE OF PERRETT FROM PRISON. MADRAS, October 8 th . Perrett the accused in the Chudderghaut bigamy case, escaped from jail early yesterday with two native prisoners, who are undergoing six months’ hard labour. The three were locked up in one cell, and one of the natives, who was employed as cook, concealed a slicer of iron before being returned to his cell in the evening, and with this implement they excavated a hole in the wall just big enough to squeeze through, and decamped. The police at Secunderabad are vigorously in search of the escaped prisoners, scouts being detailed in every direction. It is generally believed that Perrett has either committed suicide or made away in the direction of Bangalore.
Liverpool Weekly Courier (Liverpool) 5 June 1897
On Wednesday, a painter’s apprentice named Jas. Parrott, 15 years of age, employed at the L. and N. W. Company’s Wagon Works, Earlestown, met with a shocking death. He was engaged blacking wheels with tar when the works engine, which had backed into the paint shop to draw out some wagons, started forward. The lad ran after the train to get his can which had hung on the lever of a wagon, and in doing so fell and rolled under the wheels, five wagons passing over his body and frightfully mutilating it. He died almost immediately.
Newry Telegraph (Northern Ireland) 4 July 1895
BETTING RAIDS IN BIRMINGHAM. HEAVY PENALTY. At the Birmingham Police Courts yesterday, Dinah Perrott, landlady of a beerhouse, and Thos Phipps, an occupant of that house, were charged with using the premises for the purpose of betting on three days in June. It was stated that some of the bets were accepted from children eight years of age. Phipps was fined £30 and costs, and the charges against Perrott were dismissed.
Thanet Advertiser (Thanet) 23 November 1918
LOCAL RECIPIENTS OF MEDALS. At the distribution of medals of the Order of the British Empire by the Lord Lieutenant at Maidstone on Wednesday the recipients included the following:
MISS GRACE PRISCILLA PERRITT, 3, Stanley place, St. Luke’s avenue, Ramsgate : displayed great courage and devotion to duty during air raids. Miss Perritt is deputy supervisor and first telephonist at the Ramsgate Exchange, and during air raids was on duty in a building that offered practically no protection.
Send mail to
questions or comments about this web site.