Sir Henry Parker or Sir Henry Watson Parker was a renowned politician and civil servant. Sir Henry Parker was appointed the Premier of New South Wales. In 1858, Sir Henry Parker was knighted and in 1877 he was made the Knights Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.
Sir Henry Parker was born on 1 June 1808, in Lewisham, England. He was the fourth son of Thomas Watson Parker and Alice Mary. Sir Henry Parker received private education from Dr Waite and due to weak health could not join the army. He was prescribed to undertake sea travel in order to improve his health and for this reason he joined the East India Company and traveled to India, China and Cape of Good Hope. Sir Henry Parker then went on a tour to France, Belgium and Holland and was unemployed till 1837. Thereafter he was appointed as the private secretary to Governor Gipps. On 21 November 1843, he married Emmeline Emily who was the youngest daughter of John Macarthur and was linked to conservative colonial groups.
Sir Henry Parker handled the responsibilities of the Governorís job from 1838 and he gradually became a shrewd official. On May 11, 1846 Sir Henry Parker was appointed to the Legislative Council and was the chairman of committees till 29 February, 1856. He performed his duties very efficiently and scrupulously until the federation government was shaping up. In 1855, Sir Henry Parker was part of a special committee which enquired about the powers and responsibilities of ministers of the new government. He won the seat of Parramatta during the first general election on 29 March 1856. In the same year, in May, he lost the seat of a Speaker by just a single vote. Sir Henry Parker was severely criticized for his behavior and use of language. He was even attacked by some critics outside the Parliament on 5 August, 1856.
In 1856, by the month of October, two ministries had fallen because of the division of parties on the grounds, one supporting the progressiveness of country and other group upholding the traditional views. In order to combine both these parties, Governor Denison requested Sir Henry Parker to set up a ministry. Although the Liberal leader Charles Cowper refused to join, a new ministry was formed with three officials. This ministry ruled till 7 September 1857 and tried hard to repair the legislative deficiencies. During the Parliamentary session of 1856-57, Sir Henry Parker tried to pass our public bills but his government failed on the electoral bill. In the following year Sir Henry Parker received his knighthood and returned back to England.
During 1848, Sir Henry Watson Parker was a Crown Trustee of Australian Museum and remained an unofficial trustee in 1856-57. Sir Henry Parker was well-suited for the time when electoral government was not there but his strategies failed when the federal government was established.
On the personal front, Sir Henry Parker was survived by his wife but had no children. Sir Henry Parker died on 2 February 1881.