Joseph Parkes

(1796—1865) election agent and reformer

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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. 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. He continued to work for the Whigs in election matters until 1847, when he was appointed taxing master in Chancery.

Subjects: British History.

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