Francis Parkes, known as Frank, was born in Belfast, Co Down, Ireland on 8 November 1890.
He was the son of James Parkes (b. 1851) and his wife Elizabeth, née Jervis (b. 1852). His father, a native of Co Tyrone, worked as a school attendance officer and was married to his wife Elizabeth, a Co Down native, in 1885. The couple had six other children besides Francis: Matthew James (b. 1887), Robert George (b. 1889), Charles (b. 1893), William Frederick (b. 1895), Elizabeth Mary (b. 1898) and Violet Maud (b. 1901). He grew up in an Church of Ireland household.
The family appear on the 1901 census of Ireland living at 76 Richardson Street off the Ormeau Road in South Belfast. By the time of the 1911 census, the family have shifted to 25 Agincourt Avenue, Cromac, Belfast. At the time of the of the latter record Francis was described as an apprentice plumber. He worked alongside several of his brothers who were also employed by Harland & Wolff in various capacities. His father was an official within Belfast City Council
Francis was one of the nine-strong "guarantee group" of Harland and Wolff employees chosen to oversee the smooth running of the Titanic's maiden voyage. He, like the rest of his counterparts, died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.