John Fabyan Parrott, the son of John and Deborah Walker Parrott, was born and educated in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Parrott followed his father, becoming a merchant and ship captain, trading in Europe and the Caribbean until the passage of the Embargo Act of 1807. A gifted speaker, Parrott was elected as a Democratic Republican to the State House of Representatives from 1809 through 1814. He next was elected to the Fifteenth Congress (1817-1819) of the United States. In 1819 he was elected to a six-year term in the United States Senate. Parrott later served in the State Senate and as postmaster of Portsmouth.
The painting descended in the Parrott family to Margery Hall Fawcett, who contacted the Society in the early 1990s about our interest in receiving the portrait as a bequest. Margery Hall Fawcett died on February 12, 2006, at 102 years of age. The portrait also relates to three linear feet of John Fabyan Parrott’s family and business papers given to the Society by another branch of the family in the early 20th century.
Like his father, portrait painter Richard Jennys, William Jennys (1774-1859) spent much of his life traveling up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States painting portraits. Jennys probably painted this portrait of John Fabyan Parrott when he visited Portsmouth during August of 1804. After settling in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1807, Jennys moved to New York City before settling in Littleton, New Hampshire, in 1817, then in Coventry (now Benton), New Hampshire, where he became a merchant and farmer. By the 1840s Jennys returned to New York City where he worked as florist. He probably stopped painting portraits by 1810.