Sir Henry Parkes ~ Father of Many

Day 355 of Colourisation Project – April 27

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication. 

He is on our $5.00 note. The Times during his lifetime described him as “the most commanding figure in Australian politics.”

Alfred Deakin, Australia’s second Prime Minister, described him a little less flatteringly, saying that despite having “numerous pettinesses, spites and failings, he was in himself a large-brained self-educated Titan whose natural field was found in Parliament and whose resources of character and intellect enabled him in his later years to overshadow all his contemporaries.”

Sir Henry Parkes Bef & Aft

Photographer Unknown ~ Sir Henry Parkes c1867 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

We know him as the “Father of Federation,” Sir Henry Parkes, Premier of New South Wales and one of the most influential advocates of the Federation of Australia.

He was a major proponent for self-governance and instigator of the 1891 Constitutional Convention, the first of a series of meetings that led to the federation of Australia. Unfortunately for Parkes, he died of  heart failure on this day, 27 April 1896, five years before Australia became a Federation in 1901.

Not only was Parkes, the Father of Federation but he was the father of many. Twice married he fathered 17 children. He had 12 children with his first wife of 52 years, Clarinda Varney.  Five of those children died in their infancy.

One year later at the age of 74 and despite an age difference of 42 years, Parkes married his second wife, 32 year old, Eleanor Dixon, with whom he had a further five children. Three of these were born before their marriage and whilst he was still married to his first wife. Dixon died at the age of 38. This marriage was never recognised by his first family.

In 1895 three months after the death of his second wife, Parkes married his 23-year-old former cook and housekeeper, Julia Lynch. They had no children, but then they were only married 6 months when Parkes died just four weeks shy of his 81st birthday leaving Lynch to raise the children from his second marriage.

Parkes was buried beside his first wife at ‘Faulconbridge’ in the Blue Mountains.


“With our splendid harbour, our beautifully situated city, our vast territories, all our varied and inexhaustible natural wealth, if we don’t convert our colony into a great and prosperous nation, it will be a miracle of error for which we shall have to answer as for a gigantic sin.”    –Henry Parkes

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3 Responses to Sir Henry Parkes ~ Father of Many

  1. what a character, though I kinda feel sorry for his wives!

    Liked by 1 person

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