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John Parkes, Coventry's own Gladiator!

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TonyS
Coventry
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1 of 9  Fri 3rd Feb 2012 6:17pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2011  Total posts:1557

How many people knew that Coventry had its very own gladiator? His name was John Parkes, an incredibly successful fighter - he was born in Coventry in 1681, and died in 1733 at the age of 52! His tombstone lies clearly visible by the footpath in the grounds of Coventry Cathedral and his epitaph reads:-
"To the memory of John Parkes, a native of this city he was a man of mild disposition. A gladiator by profession, who after having fought 350 battles in the principal parts of Europe with honor and applause, at length quit the stage sheathed his sword and with Christian resignation submitted to the grand victor in the 52nd year of his life Anno 1733"
He is a forefather of the slightly better known Sir Henry Parkes who was also born in Coventry and became five-times Prime Minister of New South Wales and the "Father of Federation" in Australia. Some interesting information can be seen here.
John Parkes, Coventry's own Gladiator!
Ian Silvera
London
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2 of 9  Tue 30th Jul 2013 11:59pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2013  Total posts:4

Dear All This is my first post on the forums, but I have enjoyed reading the information on here for a while now. I recently came across a post about John Parkes, the gladiator of Coventry, and noticed a link to a short BBC article about the man here. However, I was left unfulfilled by the story and I've carried out my own research. I uncovered a number of things about the Coventrian I hope you will find interesting. You can find my story here. If there's anyone on the forums who thinks I've missed a trick or knows more about Parkes, don't be shy and get in touch.
Ian Silvera

John Parkes, Coventry's own Gladiator!
dutchman
Spon End
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3 of 9  Wed 31st Jul 2013 12:36am  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:3086

Ian, are you by any chance related to the late Carmen Silvera, she being a Coventry lady?
John Parkes, Coventry's own Gladiator!
Ian Silvera
London
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4 of 9  Wed 31st Jul 2013 8:18am  
Member: Joined Jul 2013  Total posts:4

Yes, Dutchman, I am indeed related to the late Carmen Silvera - she was my great aunt.
Ian Silvera

John Parkes, Coventry's own Gladiator!
TonyS
Coventry
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Thread starter
5 of 9  Wed 31st Jul 2013 8:47am  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2011  Total posts:1557

Some direct descendants of Sir Henry Parkes (& John) who live in NSW, Australia are good friends of mine. If there happen to be any pieces of your jig-saw missing I can ask them. I know they also were interested in John's past and I pointed out his grave to them the last time they visited Coventry, about two years ago. The obligatory photo-session followed! I also arranged for them to meet with our then Lord Mayor; Councillor Keiran Mulhall - to whom they presented a specially minted 1996 Sterling Silver Australian Silver Dollar coin, and amongst the items received in return were cuff-links bearing the Coventry crest.
John Parkes, Coventry's own Gladiator!
Ian Silvera
London
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6 of 9  Wed 31st Jul 2013 9:16pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2013  Total posts:4

Well, there isn't an awful lot I can find - other than advertisements detailing the duels. So if they had any oral history about John or maybe some documents, that would be fantastic.
Ian Silvera

John Parkes, Coventry's own Gladiator!
woodford
coventry
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7 of 9  Wed 31st Jul 2013 9:36pm  
Member: Joined Feb 2013  Total posts:175

I have always been fascinated by the grave - before the days of t'internet I used to be puzzled that his profession and the century he lived in didn't match up. Your research has explained this! Your aunt was a great actor Big grin Have you followed in her footseps?
John Parkes, Coventry's own Gladiator!
Ian Silvera
London
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8 of 9  Wed 31st Jul 2013 11:50pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2013  Total posts:4

Many thanks for the kind words, Woodford. Unfortunately not - I'm a journalist, but we're not all bad!
Ian Silvera

John Parkes, Coventry's own Gladiator!
Midland Red
Cherwell
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9 of 9  Tue 6th Aug 2013 8:16am  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4190

On 31st Jul 2013 8:18am, Ian Silvera said: I am indeed related to the late Carmen Silvera - she was my great aunt.
I have fond memories of her father Roland (Roly) as a top flat-green bowler Cheers - such big hands! Oh my
John Parkes, Coventry's own Gladiator!

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