Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Packer Love Story-A Tale of Bastardy, Landed Gentry, Quakers & Irish Civil War

I haven't done a good, long, rambling genealogy post in forever so let's do one today, shall we?
I hear you asking, "What does bastardy, landed gentry, Quakerism and the Irish Civil War all have to do with each other?"
Well pull up a chair and let me weave my ancestral tale......

I briefly posted before about my 10th great grandparents, Phillip Packer and Sarah Isgar Packer.

This blood line comes to me by way of my maternal great grandmother, Lucy Ellen Baker Vassar.
One of the Packers of PA married into a Baker line and great grandma was born a Baker 5 generations later in the piedmont of Virginia.
But let's concentrate on the beginning of this story and line.

Phillip Packer was the son of John Packer(1572-1649)and Philippa or Philippi Mylles or Mills Packer(1590-?).  This family line lived in the areas around London England during the late 1500's.

                                Thought to be a portrait of John Packer.

Phillip's father, John, was Clerk of the Privy Seal which meant he was a high official of the state who handled the charters, pardons and other important legal documents/matters of the King's court under Kings James the 1st and Charles the 1st.

    Portrait of Phillip Packer by a follower of Sir Peter Lely, undated.

Phillip was born in 1618 in Spedhurst, Kent, England at Groombridge Estate.
Phillip's father bought Groombridge in 1618 from Sir Richard Sackville, the 3rd Earl of Dorset.  The Earl had large gambling debts to pay.
Phillip who had an interest and some education in architecture, built the Manor House, which stands to this day, called Groombridge Place in 1662 with the help of famed architect and friend, Christopher Wren.

         A current photo of Groombridge Manor House .

Phillip Packer was educated at Oxford and studied law at the Middle Temple and was called to the bar in 1647.  Yep, he was a lawyer.

He was friends with Christopher Wren and an acquaintance of Samuel Pepys and one of the original fellows in the Royal Society of London.

         Portrait of Isabella Berkeley Packer, attributed to Robert Walker, date unknown.

In 1653 Phillip Packer married for money and position to the heiress Isabella Berkeley, the daughter of Sir Robert Berkeley and Elizabeth Conyers Berkeley.

Phillip brought his new bride to live at Groombridge Estate and together they are thought to have produced 7 offspring, 2 sons and 5 daughters:  eldest Robert, John Phillip, Catherine, Isabella, Elizabeth, Katherine and Temperance.

       Portrait of son, John Phillip Packer by John Clostermann, date unknown.

    Portrait of Packer daughters Isabella, Katherine, Elizabeth and Temperance by John Michael Wright, date unknown.

This match was the "proper" marriage Phillip's parents pushed him to make.  His family held position in London society of that time, yet lacked financial resources so he found a marriageable young woman of good breeding and from a wealthy family, Isabella Berkeley.  Obviously the marriage was "fruitful".

We don't know if Phillip met Sarah Isgar before meeting Isabella Berkely or before his actual marriage to Isabella.

      Portrait of Sarah Isgar by John Greenhill, date unknown.

What we do know is that Phillip also was in love with and later took as his mistress. my 10th great grandmother, Sarah Isgar, born 1625/26 in West Lavington, Wiltshire, England.
I suspect he and Sarah were in love long before he was pushed to marry into the aristocratic Berkeley family.  Sarah's family from all information available was not wealthy, therein lies the difficulty.

Throughout his marriage to Isabella, Phillip kept Sarah, first somewhere in London(we know that as of 1654 she was living in Chelsea in the home of Sir Charles Danvers), and sometime after the birth of their first child and the death of Phillip's father in 1649, on an estate in Ireland, that Phillip inherited from his father John.
After inheriting property in Ireland from his father's estate, Phillip made regular trips to the Emerald Isle on business and to see his other family, which grew to include 3 sons, Phillip, James and William.  Being illegitimate, these 3 sons of Phillip Packer were raised outside of London society and were not entitled to any of their father's property once he died, though they seemed to have been raised in relative comfort and privilege.

    This is thought to be a portrait of Phillip Packer, son of Phillip Packer and Sarah Isgar by Charles Beale.

It is not known exactly when my ancestor, Phillip Packer(who we'll refer to as the émigré from this point) was born. It is believed that he was the eldest of the 3 brothers born to Sarah Isgar.  As he was thought to have been born in London and Phillip Sr. didn't inherit the Ireland land until after 1649, at which point he moved Sarah and any of her children there, he may have been born before 1649 but most put his birth date at about 1656/57.
Phillip Jr was followed by the birth of James around 1659 and William at about 1662.

Some amateur genealogists put Phillip Jr's birth at 1664 as that date coincides with the death date of Isabella Berkeley Packer.  They then go on to list Phillip Jr. as the offspring of Phillip Sr. and Isabella and make it appear that Isabella died as a result of giving birth to Phillip Jr.  This is incorrect as Phillip Jr. was NOT the issue of Isabella, rather the issue of Sarah Isgar.

Being the illegitimate issue of someone highly placed in English society at this time, the sons of Sarah Isgar and Phillip Packer would most probably have gone by their mother's surname of Isgar instead of Packer, at least until the death of Phillip's wife Isabella.  They were also caught in a world where they could not inherit from their father's estate upon his death.  So while they were well taken care of, their prospects as adults in English society was not promising.  Being bastards at that time, they would not have been admitted to any prestigious schools or been received into society.

At any rate, around 1664 Isabella Berkeley died, leaving Phillip free to then marry Sarah Isgar.
And that is what he did.  He moved Sarah to his estate Groombridge and wed her on 20 December 1666.  Their 3 sons did not move with their mother to London however, as their half siblings by Phillip's 1st wife Isabella resented their existence.

Philip and Sarah remained married until Sarah's death in 1677.  Philip followed her to the grave on Christmas Eve in 1686, passing away quietly while reading in his secret garden at Groombridge.
Sarah Isgar Packer is buried under the floor at the foot of the altar, of the St. John's Chapel on the Groombridge Estate with a stone inscribed--"Under this stone lie the remains of Sara Packer, beloved second wife of Philip Packer Esq., who died 17th September A.D. 1677".

But what was to become of Philip and Sarah's 3 sons?
We know that both James and William stayed in Ireland and fought and died in the Battle of Boyne in 1690, a well known conflict between the Jacobite Catholic forces of King James and the Williamite Protestant forces of King William for control of the thrones of England, Ireland and Scotland.

Phillip however escaped that fate by leaving Ireland in 1683.  Being a young man, probably about 25 years old, and having no opportunities in English society and knowing that remaining in Ireland at this time was highly dangerous what with a civil war raging, Philip indentured himself to a Dublin merchant and Irish Quaker, Joseph Fisher.  Joseph Fisher, his wife Elizabeth, their children and servants, including my Phillip Packer, came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania aboard the "Lion of Liverpool" 14 August 1683. 

William Penn had been granted a large quantity of land in the Americas by King Charles II to satisfy a debt he owed to Penn's father in 1681.  William Penn was America's first great land speculator and real estate developer and these lands given to him encompassed large parts of modern day Pennsylvania and Delaware.  (Before being granted these lands he had gone in with other Quakers on buying large amounts of land that encompass most of present day New Jersey.)  He spent the next 40 years luring like minded Quakers in England and Ireland, as well as other persecuted religious minorities in England to the American shore to settle and populate his religiously tolerant community.

Only 2 years after Penn's land grants were secured, Philip Packer the émigré was heading to the New World.

Here's the wording from the "Certificate of Removal" from the Dublin, Ireland Quaker Meeting records.....

Dublin The 10th day of ye second month 1683. Whereas Joseph Fisher a member of ye meeting of us the people of ye Lord (Scornefully) called Quakers in ye City of Dublin and Kingdom of Ireland hath laid before our said meeting his Intentions of Transporting him self, his wife Isabel & family into America.

These are therefore to Certifie all whom it may concern that ye Said Joseph Fisher and his wife have
Demeaned themselves honorably as far as we doe understand, and we have nothing to lay to their charge to obstruct their Said Intended voyage and removal. As witness our hands y So with ye Salutation of our Dear love to all those faithful friends to whom these lines may come and with
your loving Brethren in ye Truth, (signed all members present).

And here is the list of those departing in the Fisher party for America--(the number after a name means that person is an indentured servant and the number is the amount of years required to work to pay off the indenture)--

Joseph Fisher & Elizabeth Fisher his wife, late of Stillorgin near Dublin, in Ireland, yeoman, borne in Elton in Cheshire, came in ditto ship: children Moses, Joseph, Mary, Martha Fisher: servants, Edward Lancastr, 4 yrs, Wm Robertson, 4, Ed: Doyle, 4, Ben: Clift, 4, Tho: Tearewood, 4, Rob. Kilearth, 8, Petr Long, 2, Phill: Packer, 4, Wm Conduit, 4, Mary Toole, 4, Eliz Johnson, 4.

After serving Mr. Fisher for 4 years, Phillip the émigré  received his freedom and 50 acres of land in Philadelphia County.  2 years after arriving in the colony of Pennsylvania, Phillip married Hannah Sessions in the house of his master, Joseph Fisher.  Hannah and her family were Quakers also who had come to Pennsylvania at the behest of William Penn and his "great religious experiment settlement".
It is not known whether Phillip Packer the émigré was a Quaker before becoming indentured to Joseph Fisher & left for America or not(as his father & the Packer family had been members of the Church of England-Anglican Protestant), but upon marrying Hannah he cemented his relationship within the Quaker religious community. 

My theory about Philip and his Quakerism--After experiencing firsthand in his home of Ireland, the death and destruction wrought upon all by the warring Catholic and mainstream Protestants factions, I believe that Philip was very welcoming of a religious philosophy that did not believe in force and violence in which to get it's point across.
But that's just me.  ;-)

As for Philip.....
Philip the émigré and Hannah had a son, Philip Packer Jr., born in 1686 in Pennsauken, Camden County New Jersey.  Philip Packer, Jr. is my 9th Great Grandfather.
Not only do I have a lawyer as an ancestor, I also have an ancestor that was born in New Jersey, much to my chagrin and much to the perverse delight of my Hubs. 8-P

Hannah Sessions Packer died around 1689/90, when Philip Jr was 3 years old.  Philip the émigré remarried quickly to Rebecca Jones in 1690.  Philip and Rebecca went on to have 11 children.  Evidently the Jones/Parker clan was a close-knit one as many in the succeeding generations didn't realize that the oldest child, Philip Jr. wasn't Rebecca's natural born son.

Philip the émigré and his family lived around the Princeton NJ area, moving to near present day Elkton MD for a short time and then back to the Chester County PA area around Philadelphia and Trenton NJ, near the Delaware River.  Phillip built and owned a sawmill in the Yellow Springs area of Chester County, PA.  He was injured at some point in an accident at the mill and spent his later years disabled and required two staves to walk about.  Phillip died in that area of Chester County in either 1739 or 1740 a very old man for that time.

Quite the story, no?

I'll leave off here for now as this has grown quite wordy.



  1. Sluggy, as I was reading this, I realized that you are a very good writer. You kept me enthralled with this story. You should write a novel.

    1. Thanks but I have commitment issues and don't like deadlines. Maybe I'll just start charging everyone who reads my blog instead.....nah....LOLZ

  2. I enjoyed your story. I am a very amateur genealogist compared to you!

    1. Thanks Janet. I've only been at this on a regular basis for 1.5 years now.....but it's sort of consumed a lot of my waking hours.
      Plus many of my maternal lines are already well documented so there is lots of material already out there on this side of things. Now my paternal side is a whole other story since it's almost exclusively native Irish and they didn't keep great records if at all.

      If you need any help or hints at a brick wall of yours just email me. I am happy to help when I can.

  3. That was very interesting. Keep entertaining us.

  4. Absolutely fascinating stuff...and the artwork too! Well done!

    1. Thanks HK. I owe it all to lots of well placed dead people. 8-))

  5. Wow! A lot of Phillips in your past! and I'm surprised John had a son at all. Frankly my dear, he was NOT a looker... I sincerely hope you don't take offense!

    1. No offense taken. John was quite a sour apple face, wasn't he?lol
      This just proves yet again that getting the girls is less about physical attractiveness and more about how much is in your bank account and/or how much power you hold in society. Look at all the old ugly men with gorgeous woman hanging off their arms today....Larry King comes to mind....what number wife/GF is he on now??lolz

  6. Reading your stories is better than watching "Who do you think you are?"! My DD loves that show and now wants to try our hand at genealogy. I'm sure it would be fun.

    1. I use to love that show but this season not so much. They don't do enough research/history and they let the celebrities TALK on and on and they mostly are idiots....if they have to let someone talk so much?, let it be the genealogoists who do the ACTUAL research for them, ya know? lol

      I highly recommend trying your hand at genealogy and just email me if you want some help or tips.

  7. Bastardy is my new go to word. Everyone around me will be thanking you. LOL
    Not to be rude but I think a few people in your family tree need a brush. And no, I am not referring to myself.

    1. I am humbled to be of service to your vocabulary SA. lol
      Not only do they need a brush(or should that be bush?hehehe)but I am sure they could have all used a few more baths as during that time period the English weren't found of bathing on a reg. basis or shampooing. All the hair is wigs anyway but they never washed those either, just threw on more powder to keep the flies at bay...ick

  8. I just have to tell you--due to my cataracts, I don't see things well and sometimes mistake words, startle at what and read and read more closely. So, the first reading of the title was "My Pecker Love Story."

  9. Hey there
    Such a strange coincidence! Today, as I was researching the Packer line, I came across the reference to the "lion of liverpool". Tonight I googled it thinking there might be some images, and what do I see, but the portrait of John Packer, which leads me here!

    The story you tell is almost like the others I have read and I am very curious about your source material. Please share! Not sure of the best way to make contact - ideally it would be to give you my email address, but I like to avoid the webcrawlers. So. . . my email address is: smail.sheila( )gmail.--- . Hope you can fill in the blanks and I hear from you.


  10. Thank you so much for sharing. I couldn't understand why Isabella Berkeley kept coming up as the mother of Philip Packer. Thank you for clarifying. Philip and Sarah are my great grandparents X9 down through Philip II, Philip III...the Packer line. I appreciate your story.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing. I couldn't understand why Isabella Berkeley kept coming up as the mother of Philip Packer. Thank you for clarifying. Philip and Sarah are my great grandparents X9 down through Philip II, Philip III...the Packer line. I appreciate your story.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing that. I couldn't figure out the connection and the date confusion for Isabella Berkeley and you cleared it up perfectly:) Philip and Sarah are my greats 9 through the Packer line.

  13. Thanks for sharing. I came across this as I was searching for the Packer Coat of Arms. Phillip the émigré and Hannah Sessions are my 6th great grandparents (I know, my branch of the Packer tree tended to have children later in life.) Your storytelling is a bit more earthy (and entertaining) than Donna Packer in "On footings from the past : the Packers in England."

    1. Thanks Ron. Genealogists per se are NOT known for having much of a sense of humor. I guess it takes away from the professional image they like to sustain.

      6th GGrand? Yikes! He's my 10th.....either you are older than dirt or my line were rabbits in comparison. lolz

  14. I was sent this link to this page from a friend, pretty cool stuff! Ron I added you on my Google plus, I'll check back here again for sure :)

    1. Rick, thanks for commenting. I added you and went to your website. I was an art major and painted in my younger days. My son is a musician and guess where he is going to college next month? Mansfield! lol

  15. Thank you for sharing, and for your humorous comments! I am nine generations down from Philip Packer, and have been able to find the family line back four more generations beyond Philip. They really loved the name Philip! I would love to have your permission to copy your comments for an upcoming Packer reunion to be held later this month. Sheila B.

    1. Ok, so there is a Packer Reunion and nobody invited me?? lol
      Seriously, thanks for commenting.
      I'd love to correspond with you too so email me. arcure (at) ptdprolog (dot) net

      Afterall, we are cousins at some level, right?
      If you are on Ancestry you can find me there under the ID "slugmama"
      Have you had your dna tested yet? Quite interesting to do that, I highly recommend it.

  16. I am also descended from Philip Packer, the same line, and very much appreciate your posts. My mother was a Packer, and her clan moved from Pennsauken west to north central Pennsylvania - Mansfield area, Tioga County - where many of them remain today. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Like Jimbo, I am also descended from Philip Packer. Of which my line descends Philip, Philip Jr, Aaron Packer, Moses Packer, Nathan W., James D, Nathan A, Dean M, Kelli D, to me. Good reading, but just so you know. Had our line gone up from Isabella, that goes up to King Edward I, King Henry III, King John I, and King Henry II.

  18. I have many pictures of the Packers from late 18's to early 19's, my grandmothers father was Arron Lamborne Packer.

    The really interesting part of this story to me is the fact that Philip Packer in 1681 came to America having ties to William Penn. William Penn paid my 7th gen grandfather Thomas Garwood 91 acres in NJ , Springfield NJ which "Garwood road" still exists today. Thomas Garwood was a mariner and brought many quakers to America, and perhaps he must have known Philip Packer to be his relative? Id have too look at the registry for the club William and Thomas belonged to in stafforshire England. It seems highly unlikely that they would not know the relation. Thomas's son Samuel had Garwood NJ named after him being quite the Realestate Barron.

  19. I loved your blog and pictures. I am a decendent of Philip Packer & Sarah Isgar also. My line runs from Philip and Hannah's son Samuel Jones Packer. Dottie in Ohio


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