#52 Ancestors Week 35 - "Back to School"

This week I'm gathering some of the information I've read (and didn't save) about my 5th great grandfather Mungo Park. He was not an academic by any stretch of the imagination. He did, however, place a big emphasis on educating his children. He and my 5th great grandmother Elspeth Hislop would have 13 children, 8 reaching the age of maturity. His sons would go on to have careers as doctors, a lawyer, a Sherriff's officer and the renown botanist, surgeon and African explorer Mungo Park, Jr.. Because of  my 5th great uncle's fame and accomplishments much has been written about him. Fortunately there have been mentions of other members of the Park family in some of his biographies. This week's prompt has given me the motivation to pull these together in one place for posterity. Mungo Park, Sr. was not an average 18th century crofter.

Photo © Walter Baxter (cc-by-sa/2.0)
Mungo Park Sr. (1714-1793) was second generation tenant farmer like his father, Archibald Park (1682-1768).  He leased the farm of Foulshiels from Henry, the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch. It was located  in the Scottish Borders on the Yarrow Water, 3 miles (5 km) west of Selkirk. Pictured here is what remains of the cottage today. A plaque commemorating Mungo Park, Jr. was placed there in 1888, some 80 years after his death.
Photo © Walter Baxter (cc-by-sa/2.0)
There are written descriptions stating the cottage was built of whinstone and lime, with no more than 3 apartments (rooms). 

In the book Mungo Park and the Niger, Mungo Park Sr. is described as "one of that type of Scottish fathers who will pinch his own body and double the slavery of his life in order that his children may receive a better education than he himself had, and that their minds at least may not be starved and stunted." In Mungo Park the explorer's memoirs, posthumously published in 1815, it states that "among the estimable qualities which distinguished his father's character was a constant and unremitting attention to the education of his children. His family being numerous, he did not content himself with personally supervising every part of their education; although far from being in affluent circumstances, engaged a private teacher to reside in his house and assist in their early instruction. It is most satisfactory to add that these paternal cares were followed by the happiest results and received their appropriate reward. Mr. Park had the gratification of seeing the greater part of his children settled during his life, and witnessing their success and prosperity." I'm left wondering how they all fit in the small cottage!

My direct ancestor was Mungo and Elspeth's 8th born child Alexander Park. He became a lawyer, Writer to the Signet and later a banker. He is credited in brother Mungo's posthumous book… "the editor has been likewise assisted by much useful information which he has received from  … Mr. Adam Park (who was also a doctor)  of Gravesend and Mr. Alexander Park of Selkirk, the latter of whom is unfortunately since dead." I wrote about the major banking scandal that my 4th great grandfather became associated with here. I've made a few enquiries in Scotland to find out more about his untimely death, but to read the strange wording in this acknowledgment adds to my feeling that he committed suicide. 

Sir Walter Scott 1822

The Parks were neighbours and friends of  Sir Walter Scott (who has an IMDB page). He was a major contributor to the memoir of Mungo the explorer, "Several anecdotes relating to Mr. Park and the Associates of his last journey, obtained from different sources, but principally through the kind and liberal communications of Walter Scott, Esq., to whom the acknowledgements of the editor are particularly due"In addition to being a poet, novelist and historian, Sir Walter Scott was the Sherriff-Depute of Selkirkshire. My 5th great uncle Archibald Park was employed by Walter Scott as a Sherriff's Officer. He is mentioned briefly in "The Life of Sir Walter Scott"  and has been described there and elsewhere as a tall and courageous man. Archibald Park was said to have helped Sir Walter seize "a gipsy criminal who was unlucky enough to have come their way".  

Only one of Mungo and Elspeth's sons stayed in the family business of farming. This must have been what he wished for his children, and he provided them with the education and tools to fulfill their dreams.

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