The Pakington family
-Purchased land which was once the property of Westwood Nunnery
- Built Westwood House
- Were MP’s for Worcestershire and Droitwich
- Built the Coventry Almshouses in the Holloway, Droitwich
- Fought the last duel in Worcestershire
- Owned land and property in Dodderhill
The origins of the family are not known for certain, but they probably originated in either the village of Packington in Leicestershire or the one in Warwickshire, although the name of the family was always spelt ‘Pakington’ later. But it is known that a John Pakington from Brailes near Shipston on Stour came to Worcestershire when he married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Thomas Washbourne of Stanford, in about 1375. A descendent, another John, married Margaret Bulfynch of Astley in about 1475, and this marked the beginning of the modern family.
John and Margaret had four sons, who were all based in London. The most prominent was John, a leading lawyer and member of the council of the marches, who purchased the manors of Elmley Lovett and Chaddesley Corbett (which included Harvington) in Worcestershire, and later (for £22) the property of the Benedictine nunnery at Westwood near Droitwich. At his death in 1551 John Pakington owned 31 manors.
A third son of John and Margaret Pakington was Robert, who was murdered in what was probably a dispute stemming from Henry VIII’s reformation in 1537. He left a son Thomas, who died in 1571 who was the ancestor of the later Pakingtons. Thomas’s uncle John left him the Worcestershire manors he had acquired. Through his marriage to Dorothy Kitson, Thomas left an heir, Sir John Pakington (1548-1627). This Sir John was a fine figure of a man and was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, who dubbed him ‘Lusty’ Pakington, and he added to the family property by inheriting the manor of Aylesbury from his mother’s family. It is thought that Lusty built the present house at Westwood, possibly around the time of his second marriage in 1598 to Dorothy, daughter of Humphrey Smith, silkman to the Queen.
Lusty died in 1625 and was buried at Aylesbury, after his son Thomas (1600-1624) had been created a baronet. Thomas’s son John, the 2nd baronet (1620-81) took the royalist side in the Civil War, fighting for the King at Edgehill, where he was taken prisoner. He suffered as a consequence, was heavily fined and was imprisoned for a period in the Tower. Although he denied any active involvement he was caught up again in the second Battle of Worcester in 1651, and charged with high treason, but the trial collapsed, and he was able to retire to Westwood to repair his finances – he reckoned the wars had cost him over £20,000.
As Sir John was left an orphan after his father died in 1624 he was made a ward of Thomas Lord Coventry, keeper of the Great Seal. In 1640, when just 20, John married Dorothy, fourth daughter of Lord Coventry. Lady Dorothy became well known in her own right, and indulged in much correspondence with Bishops and Deans. She was friendly with Dr Henry Hammond, a noted Anglican divine, who called on her for a short visit at Westwood in 1650, and stayed there until his death 10 years later.
Sir John Pakington, 3rd bart (1649-89) was tutored by Dean George Hickes, Dean of Worcester, and is chiefly remembered for the wager he had with two of his uncles, Samuel Sandys and Thomas Coventry. It was agreed that the loser of a horse race to be held at Ombersley would pay £1,000 towards a charity to be established in Droitwich. Pakington lost, and the alms houses that resulted can still be seen in the Holloway. The 3rd baronet was succeeded by his son, another John (1671-1727). Judging by his portrait in Worcester Guildhall he was a forceful character, and was a staunch royalist and supporter of the established religion. He served as MP for both Worcestershire and Aylesbury, and in 1707 opposed the union with Scotland on the grounds that it might lead to the spread of Presbyterianism. In 1715 he was one of six MPs arrested on suspicion of complicity in the first Jacobite rebellion, but he was later released. In 1726, a year before he died, he was recorder of Worcester.
The 4th baronet’s son and heir was Herbert Perrott Pakington, so named after his wealthy mother Hesther Perrott. The baronet succeeded his father as MP for Worcestershire, but his later career was not so illustrious. In 1741 he got into debt and abandoned his family, going to live in Utrecht, Holland, where he died in 1748 aged only 46. His eldest son, another Sir John, succeeded to Westwood, but little is known about him other than that he died only two years after his marriage to Mary Bray in 1760, leaving no children. He was succeeded by his younger brother Sir Herbert Pakington who became the 7th baronet. The estates were heavily mortgaged at this time, and were charged with an annuity of £500 a year for his late brother’s widow, who lived until 1812. In July 1777 Fanny Burney paid Westwood a visit, and complained in her diary that Sir Herbert was a bore, talking to her for two hours on the weather, the hay, and Dr Dodds, and that Lady Pakington was ‘parading’ and uncultivated.
Sir Herbert was succeeded in 1795 by his son Sir John Pakington, who became the 8th and last baronet. Sir John had to deal with the poor financial state of the estate, and sold the Buckinghamshire property in 1802, and that in Pembrokeshire in 1828. In his later years Sir John became a recluse, and had a poor relationship with his nephew and heir, John Somerset Russell. When he died in 1830 his will left everything to trustees but he appointed no executors, and the will had to be changed in Chancery.
John Somerset Russell was the son of Elizabeth Pakington, the sister of the last baronet, who had married William Russell of Slaughters Court, Powick, the son of the eminent Worcester surgeon William Russell. After the death of his elder brother William in 1819 John Russell was the heir apparent to the 8th baronet Pakington, and he came into possession in 1830 and changed his name to Pakington. After the neglect of the 8th baronet Westwood needed extensive repairs, and John Somerset Pakington was at last able to move there in 1832. By this time he had already married his first wife, Mary Slaney, who had born him their first child, John Slaney Russell. A little earlier a Mr Parker had accused the 8th baronet of shooting foxes to the detriment of the hunt, and John Russell, feeling he had to uphold the honour of the family, challenged him to a duel. This was reputedly the last duel fought in the county, and in the event no-one was hurt as both fired into the air! This seems to match the character of John Somerset Pakington, who in his younger days was something of a ‘dandy’.
In 1833 John, Mary and little Johnny undertook a tour of the USA and Canada, and according to his journal John’s conservative instincts turned him against the “equality nonsense” he found in the USA – “the tendency of democracy once admitted is always downward” he wrote. In 1837, at his fourth attempt, he gained a seat in parliament, being elected the MP for Droitwich – the representation for the borough had been reduced from two to one in the Great Reform Act of 1832. A true blue Tory, he was not given office in Peel’s ministry in 1841, but when Peel fell in 1846 John Somerset Pakington was made the first baronet of the second creation.
In 1843 John’s first wife Mary died, and the following year he married Augusta, daughter of Rt Rev George Murray, Bishop of Rochester and Dean of Worcester. After the birth of a daughter Edith in 1845, Lady Augusta gave birth to a son Herbert Perrott Murray Pakington in February 1848, but she never recovered from the birth, and died the same month. Later Pakington married for the third time another Augusta, a widow.
Still MP for Droitwich, in 1851 Pakington was given his first ministerial post by Lord Derby, who appointed him Secretary for War and the Colonies. But the government only lasted a year, and in opposition thereafter he developed an interest in educational reform – this was before universal primary education. As chairman of the Worcestershire Quarter Sessions he had noted a link between ignorance and juvenile crime, and in 1855 introduced an Education Bill which foreshadowed the 1870 Act. But the Tory leader Disraeli would not support him, and nothing came of it. He remained a staunch Anglican, but supported religious toleration, and was in favour of the admission of Jews into the House of Commons. In 1858 the Tories were again in power, and Pakington was appointed first Lord of the Admiralty, although through the vagaries of politics he was only one year in office. Then in 1866 he returned to the Admiralty, and the following year was transferred to the Ministry for War.
The general election of 1868 was the first to be held after the Second Great Reform Act of 1867, under which the area covered by the Droitwich seat had been enlarged. John Somerset Pakington had been returned unopposed for Droitwich for 30 years, but in 1868 a challenger emerged. He was John Corbett, ‘the salt king’, a man of liberal views who announced that he was standing in the Liberal interest. Pakington was upset by this challenge, and claimed that Corbett had broken an undertaking he had given not to stand, and a good deal of bad blood was caused between Pakington, Corbett, Harry Vernon of Hanbury Hall (the retiring Liberal MP for the county and local party chairman) and Vernon’s agent Henry Bearcroft. In the event Corbett’s challenge failed, but the Tories remained in opposition, and Pakington out of office. Then in the next election in 1874, the first to be held by secret ballot, Corbett renewed his challenge, and this time won by 787 votes to 401.
Out of the Commons for the first time since 1837, Pakington was created Lord Hampton of Hampton Lovett, and was given the post of Chief Civil Service Commissioner by Disraeli to help his finances. He lived a further six years, dying in his London home in Eaton Square on 9 April 1880, aged 81. His widow Augusta lived there a further 12 years, dying in 1892 aged 92.
Lord Hampton’s heir was his son from his first marriage John Slaney Pakington, but he had become unbalanced after the death of his wife Diana in 1877, and had no children. When he succeeded to become 2nd Lord Hampton in 1880 he was still master of nearly 5,000 acres in Worcestershire and over 600 elsewhere, but the agricultural depression of the 1880s and 1890s had taken their toll, and the estate income was much reduced. John Slaney Pakington died in 1893, and was succeeded by his half brother, Herbert Murray Pakington, who became the 3rd baron Hampton. Deprived of the ministerial salary which had been so helpful to his father, the 3rd Lord Hampton realised that it was impossible to keep Westwood in the family, and in 1902 the house was sold. Later it was inhabited by the Barons Doverdale, but after the war was converted into flats.
Lord Hampton retained a base in Worcestershire, taking a house in Hartlebury. The 3rd Lord Hampton was succeeded in 1906 by his son Herbert Stuart Pakington as 4th Lord Hampton, but despite living to the age of 79 he never married, and was succeeded in 1962 by his younger brother Humphrey Arthur Pakington. By this time the family had moved away from Worcestershire, but Humphrey retained a fondness for and a connection with the county of his ancestors. In his younger days he practised as an architect, and in the war served in the navy, and also found he had a talent for writing, and published a series of short novels. Many of these reflect his own family’s vagaries of fortune, and Humphrey also wrote an autobiography ‘Bid Time Returns’.
The family still possessed a magnificent archive, and Humphrey and his son Richard used it to tell the story of the family since their beginnings in Worcestershire over 500 years before, in a privately published book ‘The Pakingtons of Westwood’. Sadly Humphrey died in 1974 before the work was complete, leaving Richard as the 6th Baron Hampton. He died in 2003, leaving his son John Humphrey Pakington, who was born in 1964, as the 7th and present Baron. John lives in London where he works as a photographer, but is proud to retain his interest in the county of his ancestors.