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Director Donal Davis in Podium

John Parker


The First Marshal of New Hampshire

John Parker served as Sheriff of Rockingham County, N.H., from 1771 until his appointment as Marshal in September 1789. He began this career under the royal governor, but apparently did the job so well that he gained appointment as Sheriff by the rebel government immediately after New Hampshire declared its independence from Great Britain. Thus, he and Clement Biddle were the only two of the first generation of Marshals to have law enforcement experience.

Born on Nov. 16, 1732, in Portsmouth, Parker apprenticed as a merchant. During his youth, he went on several voyages as master of a ship before settling down in Portsmouth to earn his living as a merchant and head of an insurance house. In 1775-76, Parker served as a captain in Biddle's New Hampshire Rangers, but he returned to Rockingham County to continue as Sheriff after that brief tour. Parker was the oldest man President Washington appointed to the office of Marshal. When he received his commission in October 1789, he was 56. Parker died in 1791 at the age of 58.