Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: July 27, 2020
Webpage updated: July 28, 2020



THOMAS PARLBY (1727-1802)

Thomas Parlby was not a native of Devon but he certainly left his mark in the County.

Born in Kent in 1727 to John and Anne Parlby, he became a stone mason even though, or perhaps because of, his father and his brothers became ship's carpenters for the Admiralty.  However, on 1745 his sister, Miss Mary Parlby, married a ship's carpenter by the name of Mr James Templer (1722-1782) and that gave birth to what was to become a famous partners: Messrs Templer and Parlby, civil engineering contractors and contractors to the Navy Board.  At this time they were all still based at either Deptford or Rotherhithe.

The partners' first contract in the area was to erect the Royal Naval Hospital in East Stonehouse. 

In 1763 the partners won the contract to double the size of the Dock in the Royal Dockyard at Plymouth-Dock and to replace all the buildings except the officers accommodation in The Terrace.  That complete, they then went onto build the Royal Marine Barracks and some speculative houses in Durnford Street between 1779 and 1785, which may date when he bought Stonehall.  During those same years they were undertaking other work elsewhere in Devon and Cornwall and in Portsmouth Dockyard.

Thomas and Lydia had several children.   Susanna Parlby by was baptised on March 31st 1751 at Deptford.  Thomas Parlby was baptised at Stoke Damerel Church on November 31st 1756.  Lydia Parlby was baptised at Stoke Damerel Parish Church on December 28th 1764.  Priscilla Parlby was baptised at Stoke Damerel Parish Church on February 26th 1767.  John Alexander Parlby was baptised at Stoke Damerel Parish Church on June 26th 1769.  Somewhere amongst them was also born James Templer Parlby, who went on to become a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Corps of Engineers and died in India in 1826.

Another mystery is when and where Mrs Lydia Parlby died for on November 8th 1783 Thomas, then 56 years of age, married 24-years-old Miss Judith Delacombe at East Stonehouse, presumably in the Chapel.  No wonder Messrs Templer and Parlby rebuilt the Chapel of Saint George in 1787.

Mr Thomas Parlby died in 1802 atthe age of 75 years and was described in his Obituary in the "Gentleman's Magazine" as a 'Master Mason of HM Docks'.  He was buried in a private vault in the Saint George's Churchyard, where he was later joined by his eldest daughter, Miss Susanna Parlby, aged 74, in 1823, and his second wife, Mrs Judith Parlby, aged 86, in 1845.