This book started out as a simple family history; I expected it to be no more than a list of names and dates – “Great Aunt Nellie, 1860 to 1940” – and so on. But it became so much more than that for two reasons.
Firstly, I was very lucky to find that so much had been written by my own family and that so many photographs existed. And secondly, in researching my own family I found a host of other Packs, included herein (hence “Cornucopia”), with incredible stories. Pack is not a common surname so I have tried to link them up with my own branch of the family – but there is no certainty. Because these “other” Packs extend back 500 years, the book became an opportunity to tell the history of the times through these various Pack families and their exploits.
The story begins with Sir Christopher Pack, who started as an apprentice but rose to become Lord Mayor of London in 1654, under Cromwell, who was almost certainly a close friend. His descendants still live in Prestwold Hall, “acquired” by Sir Christopher. His family have a highly distinguished military history.
Then there is Sir Denis Pack, whose entire military career was spent fighting Napoleon all over the world and was the second most decorated soldier at Waterloo (after Wellington, of course, who was godfather to Sir Denis’ sons). His father was Dean of Ossory in Ireland. There is also Thomas Pack, who ran the Whitechapel bell foundry (still there today) for 40 years in the 18th century.
Later still, there is Lord Cornwallis, who was not a Pack but favoured the family very generously. More recently, there is Arthur Conan Doyle, whose maternal grandmother was Catherine Pack and whose links with the Packs may be even more extensive.
There is also a small village in Kent, Egerton, where for nearly 100 years my forefathers were builders and must have built nearly a third of the village.
These are just some of the stories but they were not all happy ones. At least one Pack ended up in the workhouse, one died tragically, repairing a deep well, and one seems to have been a Mormon and had two families. There are also two very interesting World War II stories plus tales about Packs who emigrated to the USA and further afield.
These and many more stories are placed in context against the backdrop of the history of the times. For any member of the Pack genus it is a must-have book. For those who are less fortunate, it is a highly entertaining journey through 500 years of history in pursuit of a family name
There are a large number of pictures and photographs, so the book has been produced in a colour version and a less expensive black and white version. The stunning cover is in colour in both versions and will attract attention on your coffee table.
Jeff Pack, 2010