Edward Packard (businessman, born 1819)

Edward Packard, senior (1819–1899), was an English businessman who founded and developed a major artificial fertilizer industry near Ipswich, Suffolk in the mid-nineteenth century, and became a wealthy and prominent figure in the life of the Borough. His son, Sir Edward Packard, junior (28 September 1843 – 11 April 1932) developed Packard and James Fison (Thetford) Limited ('Fisons') into one of the largest fertiliser manufacturing businesses in the United Kingdom.[1][2]


Edward Packard senior, born at Hasketon near Woodbridge, Suffolk in 1819,[3] built up the E. Packard & Co. business in artificial fertilizers at Bramford near Ipswich, Suffolk, based upon Professor J.S. Henslow's recognition in 1843 that the so-called "Coprolites" at the basement bed of the Pleistocene Red Crag Formation of Suffolk were rich in phosphates.[4]

Commencing experimental workings at Snape in 1843, and entering contracts for supply of the raw materials (freighted by barges and lighters), Packard's first factory in Ipswich was set up in an old flour-mill on the Orwell quay in 1847. This became a coprolite warehouse when he relocated to Bramford (by 1854), as rail freight became available and the sulphurous fumes from the works demanded more rural location.[5] Such was his success that the elder Packard (nicknamed 'The Coprolite King' or, more informally, 'the Golden Muck-Man of Ipswich') served as Mayor of the Borough in 1868.[6]

He contributed immensely to the town's Victorian prosperity. He was an Alderman for Ipswich Municipal Council and served as Mayor in 1868-9. He was also the Chair of the Ipswich Museum Committee that advocated the recruitment of the geologist John Ellor Taylor as Curator in 1872. Taylor was the founder of the Norwich Science-Gossip Society and the founding example for the sister Society in Ipswich, in which the sons of the town's industry-owning families met regularly to improve their scientific knowledge and understanding of its industrial applications.[7] As the Crag workings for coprolites produced many unusual fossils the Museum collections were also greatly enriched.[8] In addition to Crag specimens, Packard notably obtained and presented a near-complete ichthyosaur skeleton from the Lias at Street, Somerset for the benefit of the New Museum opened in 1880, where it can still be seen.[9]

Packard took Dr. Taylor to inspect his phosphate mines in southern France, in the area of the Puy de Dôme, in 1876,[10] and Taylor responded with deep interest.[11] Packard resigned his Chairmanship of the Museum Committee (making way for his son) when Taylor's ill health led to his retirement in 1893, but after Taylor's death in 1895 became President of the Museum for a short period until his death in 1899.[12]


  1. W.G.T. Packard (ed.), Sir Edward Packard, K.B.., J.P. (Private, Ipswich 1936), cf. A.V. Steward, A Suffolk Bibliography, Suffolk Records Society XX (Boydell Press 1979), p. 172, item 3201.
  2. M.S. Moss, 'Packard, Sir Edward (1843-1932), fertilizer manufacturer', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  3. 'The late Mr. Edward Packard' (Obituary), Ipswich Journal 1900, cf. Steward, A Suffolk Bibliography, p. 172, item 3200.
  4. G. Henslow, 'Reminiscences of a Suffolk Scientific Clergyman', 8 parts, Eastern Counties Magazine I and II (1900-1902), I, 22-30.
  5. D. Alderton and J. Booker, The Batsford Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of East Anglia (Batsford 1980), p. 163. W.G.T. Packard, 'The early fertiliser years 1843-1929', Fison's Journal no. 77.
  6. B.P. Grimsey, Borough of Ipswich, Members of the Council in and since 1835 (Ipswich 1892). See also W. Vick, Mayors of Ipswich from 1835 to 1890 (Ipswich).
  7. S.J. Plunkett, 'Dr. John Ellor Taylor: Guide, Philosopher and Friend', Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History XL Part 2 (2002), pp. 164-200, at pp. 168-73. (portrait of Edward Packard senior p. 179 (Fig. 41)).
  8. E.R. Lankester, 'The Crag Fossils in the Ipswich Museum', Suffolk Chronicle, 4 August 1877.
  9. R.A.D. Markham, 'Visit the Ichthyosaur', GeoSuffolk Times Newsletter 30 (October 2016), p. 2.
  10. Plunkett, 'Dr. John Ellor Taylor', at p. 174.
  11. J.E. Taylor, 'Over an old-land surface', in Nature's Byepaths (David Bogue, London 1880), pp. 19-31.
  12. Plunkett, 'Dr John Ellor Taylor', at p. 191.