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Parker, Edward Stone (1802 - 1865)

Middlesex, England
Franklinford, Victoria, Australia
Aboriginal Protector and Methodist Preacher

Edward Stone Parker was one of four Assistant Protectors, serving under Chief Protector George Augustus Robinson, whose job it was to oversee the welfare of the indigenous people living in the region of Victoria that would later become the site of the gold rushes. After his appointment, Parker sailed with his wife and six sons for Sydney and then moved to the Port Phillip District. Parker’s area was known variously as the Mt Macedon (or North Western) District, or the Loddon Protectorate. His headquarters were at Franklinford, at the foot of Mt Franklin.

From his arrival in Port Phillip, Parker was a leading layman and preacher in the colony's Methodist community. He served on the Council of the University of Melbourne in 1853, was a nominated member of the Legislative Council in 1854-55 and in 1857-62 an inspector for the Denominational Schools Board.

Assistant Protector Parker’s thinking was influenced by humanitarianism and evangelical Christianity: he claimed in a letter to G.A. Robinson in 1840 that Aboriginal people were being ‘beaten back by the “white man's foot” … excluded, perforce, from lands which they unquestionably regard as their own…classified with and treated as wild dogs’. Parker also reported that he found it difficult to answer ‘their repeated complaints of the loss of their country’. At the same time, he wrote in another letter to the Chief Protector that ‘indolence and dislike of constrained labour, are, in common with all savages, characteristic vices of the Aborigines’.

After Parker’s first wife died in 1842 he married Hannah Edwards, in 1843. When the Protectorate was abolished in 1849, Parker requested to be allowed to stay on at Mt Franklin and continued to operate a pastoral run and a school at Mt Franklin. Many members of the Djadjawurrung remained living on the site of the Protectorate.

Parker has been described as ‘the most understanding of the Port Phillip Protectors’. He learned the language of the Djadjawurrung and much about their culture and kinship systems. Survived by his second wife and 10 children, Parker died in 1865. His writings are preserved in the La Trobe Library.

Cate Elkner

Attwood, Bain, 'My Country': a history of the Djadja Wurrung, 1837-1864, Monash Publications in History, Clayton, 1999. Details
Clark, I.D. & Cahir, D.A, Tanderrum ‘Freedom of the Bush’, the Djadjawurrung presence on the goldfields of central Victoria, Friends of Mount Alexander Diggings, Castlemaine, 2004. Details
Nelson, H. N., 'Parker, Edward Stone (1802 - 1865)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 5, Melbourne University Press, 1974, pp. 396-397. Details