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Packer, John Edward (1840–1900)

Very general regret was expressed yesterday when it became known that Mr. John E. [Edward] Packer, formerly Under Treasurer of the colony, had passed away at his residence in Sydney. For some time past the deceased showed signs of decaying health, and advices received lately by relatives were such as to cause alarm. John E. Packer came this notice received his earliest musical history. Though his long residence in these colonies makes him almost an Australian, he was an Englishman by birth, and a native of the ancient benedictine abbey city of Reading, capital of Berkshire, where his father, F. Alexander Packer (a member of the Royal Academy of Music), was for many years organist of the Minster (St. Lawrence's church). It was here the subject of this notice received his earliest musical education. He came out to Tasmania with his parents in the early fifties, and when in his teens entered the office of Messrs. Huybers and Hammond, merchants, Murray-street. He was an enthusiastic musician, his father being his chief instructor, though he was indebted for much of his musical education to his mother, an accomplished pupil of Costa's at the Royal Academy of Music, and the youngest daughter of Nathaniel Gow, composer of "Caller Herrin," and grand-daughter of Scotland's national musician, the celebrated Neil Gow, of immortal fame. Mr. Packer was for many years organist of All Saints' Church, and afterwards he occupied a similar position at St. George's, Battery Point, and through his strenuous exertions the choir of that church for many years held a position second to none amongst the southern churches. In the early sixties he entered the telegraph service, and then was transferred to the Treasury Department, and so zealously did he carry out his duties that he ultimately was appointed to the important position of Under-Treasurer of the colony.

As a citizen he was highly respected, and esteemed by all who know him. He was quiet and genial, and was always attentive and polite to those who had from time to time to meet him upon public business. To the members of the press he was always courteous, and ready to make the burdens of journalists who attended his department for information as light as he could. He made many fast and true friends, and his enemies, if any, were few. He was the author of many musical compositions, which have been most favourably reviewed. That sweetly pretty hymn, "At even when the sun was set," came from his pen. Like his gifted uncle, the late Charles S. Packer, composer of the "Crown of thorns," and his brother, Mr. F. A. Packer, the generally recognised muscian and composer of this colony, he was a skilled pianist. He was married twice. His first wife was Miss Harrison, by whom he had issue a son and daughter, the latter being the wife of Mr. A. Eckford, chairman of the Queenborough Town Board. His second wife was Miss Clyde, daughter of a retired army officer. Mr. Arthur H. Packer, a brother of the deceased, holds an important position in the Customs Department of the colony, and Mr. H. E. Packer is Secretary of Public Works. The deceased retired on a pension some four years ago, and, finding the climate of Tasmania not suited to his failing health, he took up his residence in Sydney.

At St. George's Church yesterday the "Dead March" in Saul was played at both the morning and evening service, and reference made to his services in the parish.

Original publication

Citation details

'Packer, John Edward (1840–1900)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/packer-john-edward-17035/text28887, accessed 25 September 2017.

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