THEODORE Parker came rightly by his Yankee features and his provincialism, for his was the sixth generation of Parkers to be born on Massachusetts soil. The first American Parker, Thomas, had come to the Bay Colony in 1635; he was admitted as a freeman to the town of Lynn, moved to Reading, helped to organize the church, served as deacon, and followed the biblical injunction to multiply and replenish the earth. For threescore years the Parkers were active in the affairs of Reading. Then in 1712 Thomas' grandson, John Parker, bought "one small mansion house and sixty acres of land" in Cambridge Farms, and moved his family to that straggling village which was shortly to be known as Lexington.
For a hundred years before Theodore was born, the fortunes of the Parker family were interwoven with the history of Lexington. Johns and Josiahs, Ebenezers and Hananiahs, served as thingmen and fenceviewers, clerks and assessors, while the Sarahs and Rebeccas and Lydias married into neighboring families and bore numerous children. Parkers sat in the meetinghouse on the Common along with the Estabrooks and Russells and Tidds; they served on the school board, and trained with the militia. It was an unpretentious family; the rocky soil refused them wealth, but there was little wealth in Lexington, and the Parkers were as well off as their neighbors. None of the Parker children attended the college at Cambridge; there were no lawyers or clergymen among them. They were farmers and mechanics; they tilled the soil and raised peaches in the orchard