Parish records show that Thomas Parker was born on 19th August 1828 in Market Rasen and baptized five days later. His parents were John and Mary Parker. John was a publican. By the time Thomas was 21 years old he had moved to Gainsborough where, in 1849, he married Zillah Paulina Jackson. They were not long there, however, for the 1851 census has them living, with a son, at St Botolph’s Green in Lincoln where Thomas was a journeyman joiner. In 1856 a daughter, Rosamund Eva, was born and in all Thomas and Zillah had five children. The 1857 City of Lincoln Directory lists Parker’s Buildings in Newton Street, Lincoln, with the name of Thomas Parker and five others (this is the present day site of Siemens factory) and in the 1861 census Thomas is described as a “joiner and house proprietor” so he seems to have been doing quite well.
Even though he was only in his early 30s he was already a prominent citizen of Lincoln being secretary of the Lincoln Temperance Society and in 1861 he had the vision, determination and organizing ability to set in motion the founding of the Lincoln Cooperative Society.
Tragedy befell the Parker family in 1862, however, when Rosamund Eva died aged just six but greater misfortune came the next year when Thomas died at the very early age of 34. He died of tuberculosis at the Brompton Hospital, a charity hospital set up on the (then) outskirts of London for the treatment of tuberculosis. In his will he left his wife £300, quite a substantial sum for the time, indicating that the Parker family was quite well off. Thomas’s body was brought back to Lincoln to be buried at Canwick Road Cemetery. The family continued to live at various addresses in Newton Street, Lincoln, until Zillah’s death in 1887.
Market Rasen did not have its own Cooperative Society until 1876 when a cooperative store was opened in Queen Street. It lasted until 1892 when it went into liquidation. Its stock was then bought up by the Lincoln Cooperative Society and a branch of the Lincoln Society was opened in Market Rasen and the Lincoln Society has had a store in the town since then.