Using the wealth of available material covering both his private and public life, local historian Andrew Harris has written an account of the first 53 years of the life of John Somerset Pakington of Westwood, Droitwich in Worcestershire, covering the time until his first ministerial appointment in 1852.

Born in Powick, Worcestershire, in 1799 as John Russell, he enjoyed his early life as a country gentleman and something of a dandy, and 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 as MP for Droitwich.

Once in parliament he soon became active as a back-bencher, and this book recounts the various issues he championed, and the many select committees he served on. 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.

Sir John Pakington, as he became in 1846, was active in Worcestershire issues, and the story is told of his involvement in the Droitwich Union workhouse, and how the experience he gained there led to his serving on the select committee to investigate the Andover Union 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. It is available for immediate delivery cost £14.50 including p&p to UK destinations. Please contact with your name and address for payment instructions.

(Below) Westwood House, the seat of the Pakingtons since 1600.