John Somerset Pakington: his first 50 years
A biography of the Sir John Pakington of Westwood Park, Droitwich, born in 1799, who was MP for Droitwich, Worcestershire for 37 years. At Westminster he served on many select committees, including that investigating the Andover Union scandal. He was also much involved in Worcestershire affairs.. More
This book tells the story of the first 53 years of the life of John Somerset Pakington. Born in Powick, Worcestershire, in 1799 as John Russell, he enjoyed his early life as a country gentleman and something of a dandy, and, using his diaries and other sources, the story of his marriage, a duel (said to be the last fought in Worcestershire), and the birth of his first son is told.
In 1830 his uncle, Sir John Pakington, died, and this book recounts his battle to overturn his uncle’s will, and his subsequent inheritance of Westwood and the Pakington estates and surname. The early 1830s were a turbulent time in politics, and his ambition to get into parliament as a Tory initially ran aground on the pressure for reform, and it was only on his fourth attempt that he succeeded in being returned for Droitwich.
Once in parliament he soon became active as a back-bencher, and he championed many issues, and served on many select committees. In 1846 he was caught up in the Tory party split, and afterwards he nailed his colours to the mast of Lord Derby, who was later to become prime minister.
Pakington was active in Worcestershire issues, and chairman of the Droitwich Union, and how the experience he gained there led to his serving on the select committee to investigate the Andover workhouse scandal in 1846. He was also involved in the Severn navigation improvements, the Powick lunatic asylum, and the Worcester Infirmary, as well as serving as chairman of quarter sessions from 1834.
His diary reveals the tragedy of the death of his first wife and the whirlwind romance which led to his second marriage, which was also to end in tragedy.
This book will be of interest to anyone interested in Worcestershire history, as well as containing an account of many of the issues facing early Victorian politicians, and reveals the tremendous energy of a man who was later to serve in three governments.