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Parkes, Joseph

Parkes, Joseph (1796–1865). Parkes was an early example of the kind of man needed by the politics of lobbying—the parliamentary agent. He was born in Warwick, was much influenced by Bentham, became a solicitor, and married a daughter of Joseph Priestley. In 1828 he was secretary to a committee which lobbied successfully for the transfer of East Retford's parliamentary seats to Birmingham, and in the reform crisis of 1832 he acted as go-between for the Whig ministers in their dealings with the Birmingham Political Union. Though Parkes was not inclined to underestimate his services, it was tactically useful to the Whigs to have radical pressure. Parkes's reward in 1833 was to be made secretary to the committee looking into municipal corporations, which, not surprisingly, reported that there was vast dissatisfaction and substantial reform of local government was needed. Next, under the patronage of Lord Durham, he threw himself into the registration of voters in the Reform Association, which spawned the Reform Club in 1836. He continued to work for the Whigs in election matters until 1847, when he was appointed taxing master in Chancery.

J. A. Cannon

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