Packe, Christopher (1593?-1682) (DNB00)

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PACKE, Sir CHRISTOPHER (1593?–1682), lord mayor of London, son of Thomas Packe of Kettering or Grafton, Northamptonshire, by Catherine his wife, was born about 1593. He seems to have been apprenticed at an early age to one John Kendrick, who died in 1624, and left him a legacy of 100l. Packe married a kinswoman of his master Kendrick, set up in business in the woollen trade on his own account, and soon amassed a large fortune. He was an influential member of the Drapers' Company, of which he became a freeman, and he served the office of master in 1648. On 9 Oct. 1646, by an ordinance of parliament, he was appointed a trustee for applying the bishops' lands to the use of the Commonwealth (Husband, Collection of Publicke Orders, 1646, 922–5). His connection with municipal affairs began on 4 Oct. 1647, when he was elected alderman of Cripplegate ward. On midsummer day 1649 he was chosen one of the sheriffs of London and Middlesex, and on 2 Oct. following was elected alderman of Cornhill, but declined to desert Cripplegate ward (City Records, ‘Repertory,’ Reynardson and Andrews, fol. 504 b). His wealth, ability, and zeal for the parliamentary cause soon brought him extensive public employment. In 1649, and perhaps earlier, he was one of the commissioners of customs (State Papers, Dom. 1650, p. 611). He was also a prominent member, and subsequently governor, of the Company of Merchant Adventurers, and probably on this account was frequently appointed, with other aldermen, to advise the council in commercial controversies (ib. 1653–1654 pp. 64–5, 1654 pp. 148, 315, 1655–6 pp. 176, 316, 523). According to Thomas Burton's ‘Diary’ (1828, i. 308–10), Packe fought hard at the meeting of the committee of trade on 6 Jan. 1656–7 for the monopoly of the Merchants Adventurers (of which he was then governor) in the woollen trade. The committee, however, decided against him. In 1654 he was one of the treasurers (with Alderman Vyner) of the fund collected for the relief of the protestants in Piedmont (State Papers, Dom. 1654, passim). This involved him in considerable trouble. The money was kept back for several years; various instructions were given him by the council for its disposal, and nearly 8,000l. of the amount was lent by the treasurers to public bodies (ib. 1659–60, p. 589). Ultimately the matter came before the House of Commons, which resolved, on 11 May 1660, that the money should be paid to the treasurers by 2,000l. monthly from the excise, the house also ‘declaring’ detestation of any diversion of the money (ib. 1660–1; cf. also ib. 1657–8 and 1659–60 passim). Packe was also one of the city militia, and treasurer at war, receiving in the latter capacity threepence in the pound on all contributions received or paid by him (Mystery of the Good Old Cause, 1660, pp. 44–5).

Packe became lord mayor on 29 Oct. 1654, and on 26 March 1655 the Protector, on the advice of the council of state, thanked him and the rest of the militia commissioners of London ‘for their forwardness in execution of their trust’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser. 1655, p. 96). He received orders from the council on 3 July to prevent a meeting taking place ‘in the new meeting-house at Paul's’ at which one John Biddle [q. v.] was to argue against the divinity of Jesus Christ (ib. p. 224). The council also appointed him one of the committee of trade on 12 July (ib. p. 240), and he was knighted by Cromwell at Whitehall on 20 Sept. (State Papers, Dom. 1655, pp. 393–4). On 31 Oct. he was made an admiralty commissioner (ib. p. 402). Packe was also chosen with others on 15 Nov. 1655 to meet the committee of council appointed to consider the proposals of Manasseh Ben-Israel [q. v.] on behalf of the Jews (ib. 1655–6, p. 23). On 25 March 1656 he was appointed one of the commissioners for securing peace in the city of London (ib. p. 238). In the following August Packe was presented by the hackney coachmen with a piece of plate to stand their friend to keep out the parliamentary soldiers who were then seeking civil employment (ib. 1656–7, p. 75). The sum of 16,000l. was still due to the state from Packe and his fellow commissioners of customs, and, after several petitions and inquiries by the treasury, Packe and two others were discharged from a share in the obligation, but Alderman Avery and Richard Bateman were not acquitted (ib. 1656–7, pp. 84, 253–4, 291–2, 1657–8, pp. 8–9, 106–7). In September 1657 Packe appears as one of the committee of parliament for farming the customs (ib. 1657–1658, p. 94), and on 25 March he was made, with Sir Thomas Vyner, treasurer of the fund for the relief of protestant exiles from Poland and Bohemia. In January 1655–6 Cromwell and his council proposed to send Packe, with Whitelocke, on an extraordinary embassy to the king of Sweden, so as ‘to manifest the engagement of the city in this business, and in it to put an honour upon them’ (Whitelocke, Memorials, 1682, p. 619).

Packe was a representative of the city in Cromwell's last parliament, summoned on 17 Sept. 1656, and on 23 Feb. 1657 he brought forward his celebrated ‘remonstrance,’ afterwards called ‘a petition and advice,’ desiring the Protector to assume the title of king, and to restore the House of Lords. This was agreed to by the House of Commons (Journal, vii. pp. 496, 512). Packe, with another city alderman, Robert Titchborne, was a member of the new House of Lords early in 1658. The new lords obtained no right of precedency over their brother aldermen (State Papers, Dom. 1663–1664, pp. 371–2). On 11 May Packe lent 4,000l. to the state to pay the wages of the fleet lately returned into port (ib. 1658–9, pp. 17, 290). On the Restoration Packe signed a declaration, 5 June 1660, together with the lord mayor, one of the sheriffs, and ten other aldermen, of ‘their acceptance of His Majesty's free and general pardon, engaging by God's assistance to continue His Majesty's loyal and obedient subjects’ (City Records, ‘Repertory,’ Alleyne, fol. 83 b). But he was included by the commons (13 June 1660) in a list of twenty persons who were to be excepted from the act of pardon, and to suffer certain penalties, not extending to life, to be determined by a future act of parliament. This clause was thrown out by the lords on 1 Aug.; but on the next day they resolved that sixteen persons, among whom Packe was included, should be disqualified from holding in future any public office or employment under penalty of being excepted from the act of pardon (Parliamentary History of England, 1808, iv. 70–1, 91). Packe was accordingly, with six other Commonwealth lord mayors, removed from the office of alderman, his last attendance at the court of aldermen being on 7 Aug. 1660. His interest at court, however, nearly availed him to procure a baronetcy for Christopher, his younger son, a grant for which was issued on 29 March 1666; but, for some unknown cause, the title was not actually conferred (State Papers, Dom. 1665–6, p. 322, 1666–7, p. 467).

Packe's city residence was in Basinghall Street, immediately adjoining Blackwell Hall, the headquarters of the woollen trade (Stowe, Survey of London, 1720, bk. iii. p. 68). He also had a suburban house at Mortlake (Lysons, Environs of London, 1796, i. 375). On 2 March 1649–50 the lease of the manor of Prestwold in Leicestershire was assigned to him by the corporation, who held it in trust for the orphan children of John Acton (City Records, ‘Repertory,’ Foot, fol. 74). Shortly afterwards this manor, with the neighbouring one of Cotes, was assigned to him by Sir Henry Skipwith, the stepfather of these orphans (Nichols, Leicestershire, vol. iii. pt. i. p. 354). After his retirement from public office, he spent the remainder of his life at the mansion of Cotes. He also purchased on 19 Jan. 1648–9, for 8,174l. 16s. 6d., the manor of the bishops of Lincoln at Buckden in Huntingdonshire, which was for some time his occasional residence.

Packe died on 27 May 1682, and was buried in Prestwold church, Leicestershire, where there is a fine monument to his memory on the north wall of the chancel (figured and described in Nichols's Leicestershire, vol. iii. pt. i. p. 360, and plate 53). The Latin inscription states that he was about eighty-four years old at his death.

Packe was thrice married: first, to Jane, daughter of Thomas Newman of Newbury, merchant draper, by Ann, daughter of John Kendrick, who was mayor of Reading in 1565; secondly, to Anne, eldest daughter of Simon Edmonds, lord mayor of London; and thirdly, to Elizabeth (born Richards), widow of Alderman Herring. He had no issue by his first and third wives; but by his second wife, Anne, who died in 1657, he had two sons, Christopher and Simon, and three daughters, Anne, Mary, and Susanna. His portrait is engraved by Basire, and published by Nichols (History of Leicestershire, vol. iii. pt. i. pl. 50, p. 355), from an original painting by Cornelius Janssens, still in the possession of the family. It represents him in his official robes as lord mayor, with laced band and tassels, and laced ruffles turned over the sleeve of his gown, his right hand resting on a table.

[Nichols's Hist. of Leicestershire (where, however, Packe's parentage is incorrectly given); Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1655–6, passim; Ashmole's Berkshire; Masson's Milton, passim; Visitation of London, 1633–4 (Harl. Soc.), p. 17; Stow's Survey of London, ed. Strype, 1754, ii. 231; Harleian Miscellany, iii. 484; information kindly supplied by Alfred E. Packe, esq., and the Rev. A. S. Newman.]

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