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Thomas Parkinson family collection

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSS 1565

Scope and Contents note

The Thomas Parkinson family collection has been arranged in three series. The first series is comprised of personal items which belonged to Thomas and Mary Ann Bryant Parkinson and include his 1855 priesthood ordination in San Bernardino, his personal journal, and original letters from family members in England and Australia dating as early as 1856. These letters are written to Thomas and Mary Ann Bryant Porter Parkinson, and to Thomas's sister, Sarah Parkinson Rodwell Stapley.

The second series includes personal information about George Arthur Parkinson and his descendants. George was the youngest son of Thomas and Mary Ann. There are journals of George's mission in 1897, a diary kept by George's daughter, Ethel, and photocopies of family scrapbooks which include histories, newspaper articles, photographs, and genealogical information donated by various family members.

The third series is comprised of photographs of the Australian cousins, the Stapley and Parkinson cousins. These photographs were collected as a result of the research done for the Parkinson book, a copy of which is also included in the collection.


  • 1855-1981


Conditions Governing Access note

Open for public research. Although there are no general restrictions on research use of the collection some items within the collection are very fragile and users are asked to use the photocopies of those items for research. Such restrictions are designated on the folder within the container.

Conditions Governing Use note

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Thomas Parkinson family collection must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

English-Australian converts to the LDS Church who helped colonize the areas of Beaver and Toquerville in Utah.

Thomas Parkinson was born on December 11, 1830, in Cambridgeshire, England, the second son of James Parkinson and Elizabeth Chattle. His father, James, was born in the not-too-distant hamlet of Farcet, Huntingdonshire, England, and was also a farmer, as was his father before him. Students of English history know only too well the economic struggle in the 1830s and 40s, especially for the tenant farmer. Until that time agriculture had been the nation's mainstay, but with industrialization the best a man could hope for was steady work.

Late in 1848, James and Elizabeth (Betsy) Parkinson and their four children, William, Thomas, Sarah, and Eliza set sail for Australia aboard the St. Vincent, a barque bound for Sydney. Their hope to obtain land in England seemed doomed. Perhaps they felt there would be more opportunity to obtain their own land in that newly colonized continent which lay down under. The St. Vincent arrived in Sydney on March 13, 1849, after spending some 3 months at sea. The family settled in the area of Brookfield in the William's River district of New South Wales and again turned their efforts to the land. Within a year James and Elizabeth's older daughter, Sarah, was married to Edward Rodwell, a seaman, and soon had a son and daughter of her own.

Early in 1853 Mormon missionaries visited the William's River area and made a full harvest in the Parkinson family. Thomas Parkinson was soon made a Teacher in the Mormon Church and named to act with Charles Stapley, Sr. in the presidency of the William's River Branch of that church. In February of 1854, a group of new converts from the William's River area were assembled under the leadership of missionary William Hyde who helped to procure passage for them aboard the maiden voyage of the Julia Ann. This group of sixty-three members included Thomas Parkinson and his sister Sarah Parkinson Rodwell and her two children, John Edward and Sarah Ann Rodwell. The entire Stapley family was also included in the group, along with Mary Ann Bryant Porter, a young woman convert with four children, William Frederick, John, Elizabeth Ann, and Samuel. The Julia Ann docked in San Pedro, California, on June 12, 1854, the same day that Thomas Parkinson and Mary Ann Bryant Porter recorded their marriage date.

Thomas and Mary Ann made their first home in San Bernardino where they added two daughters, Mary Jane and Eliza Ellen, to their family. In the meantime Thomas's sister, Sarah Parkinson Rodwell, had married Charles Stapley, Jr., and they also added a daughter, Harriet Elizabeth, to their family. The Stapleys and the Parkinsons had a close alliance, not only through their kinship, but with shared memories of the little branch in Australia that had brought them all together.

Thomas's parents and his older brother, William, and youngest sister, Eliza, had chosen to remain in Australia. Later Eliza married and returned to England where she had three children.

William's life and that of his family was an intriguing story which finally surfaced 130 years after Thomas and Sarah left Australia aboard the Julia Ann. The discovery of letters from William's daughter, Sarah Parkinson Gilson, were found among the effects of George A. Parkinson, the youngest son of Thomas and Mary Ann, who lived and died in Beaver, Utah, led to research which resulted in locating family members of William who still reside in the William's River area of New South Wales. (1986)

In 1858, President Brigham Young ordered the mission at San Bernardino closed and called all the saints to Utah Territory. The Charles Stapley Sr. and Charles Stapley Jr. families left via the old Spanish Trail which headed north across what is now known as Cahoon Pass to Baker, Las Vegas, then north to Cedar City. Thomas Parkinson and his family traveled the same route a few days later in the Gale company.

Upon arriving in Cedar City, the Stapley's rested and waited for the birth of Sarah's new baby and for directions from President Young as to where their company would be sent to colonize. When the order came, they were among the first four families to settle in Toquerville, Utah, which became known as part of the Dixie Mission. It was here that Charles and Sarah Parkinson Rodwell Stapley raised their eleven children and several of their grandchildren.

When Thomas and Mary Ann Bryant Parkinson arrived at Cedar City, they were directed to proceed to Beaver, Utah, some 50 miles to the north-east where they established a fine homestead. Five more Parkinson children were born in Beaver, and together the family of eleven children, working alongside their parents, built a comfortable life.

Thomas Parkinson's name is found frequently among the pages of Beaver City's history. He served faithfully in civic and church callings for the remainder of his life and was a stalwart citizen of Beaver.

The Parkinson and Stapley families kept in touch with one another despite the 100 miles that separated them. Thomas visited his sister Sarah as often as he could. Together they traveled to the St. George Temple where they completed ordinance work for their family members who had passed on. Some of these people were family members in Australia and England. Thomas and Mary Ann spent the last few years of their lives in the more temperate climate of Toquerville and then passed from this life within six months of each other in 1905 and 1906.

A complete biography of the Stapley and Parkinson families may be read in the book, James Parkinson of Ramsey - His Roots and His Branches, at the Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.


1 box (0.5 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Letters, journals, scrapbooks and photos dealing with the Parkinson family.

Arrangement note

Arranged in three series: 1. Thomas and Mary Ann Bryant Parkinson papers, 1855-1903; 2. George Arthur Parkinson and descendants papers, 1896-1981; and 3. Parkinson family photographs and book, undated.

Where ascertainable, the original order of the collection was retained. An arrangement was imposed by staff of the Archives and Manuscripts in accordance with donor specifications and is arranged as nearly as possible in chronological order.

Other Finding Aids note

A more detailed finding aid is available in print in the repository.

Other Finding Aids

File-level inventory available online.

Custodial History note

Donated by members of the Thomas Parkinson Family Association in 1987 and 1988.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated; members of the Thomas Parkinson Family Association; 1987 and 1988.

Appraisal note

19th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts.

Separated Materials note

Photographs were copied from various family members and placed in the Harold B. Lee Library Photoarchives.

Processing Information note

Processed; March 1988.

Register of the Thomas Parkinson family collection
Diane R. Parkinson
March 1988
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States