Catherine Pack

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
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Catherine Pack (1808-1862), a Katherine [1], Kate, was the maternal grandmother of Arthur Conan Doyle.

The Pack were presumed to descend from Sir Christopher Packe (1593-1682), the Mayor of London, knighted by Cromwell. And her cousin (once removed) Sir Denis Pack (1772-1823) was wellknown for being the general who commanded a brigade of Picton's division at Waterloo.

In his auto-biography Memories and Adventures (1923), Arthur Conan Doyle wrote :

« Katherine Pack, whose death-bed — or rather the white waxen thing which lay upon that bed — is the very earliest recollection of my life. »

Arthur was aged 3 when his grandmother died.

« ... when Katherine Pack, the Irish gentlewoman, came in her widowhood to Edinburgh, she was very poor. I have never been clear why it was Edinburgh for which she made. Having taken a flat she let it be known that a paying-guest would be welcome. Just at this time, 1850 or thereabouts, Charles Doyle was sent from London with a recommendation to the priests that they should guard his young morals and budding faith. How could they do this better than by finding him quarters with a wellborn and orthodox widow? Thus it came about that two separate lines of Irish wanderers came together under one roof. »

Catherine was protestant but converted to Catholicism, as her husband.


  • 1808 : Birth.
  • 1835 : 24 april, marriage with William Foley at St. Andrew church, Dublin. She became Catherine Foley.
  • 1836 : 14 february, birth of her son Thomas Scott Foley.
  • 1837 : 8 june, birth of her first daughter Mary Josephine Elizabeth Foley, the future mother of Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • 1839 : 19 april, birth of her second daughter Catherine Mary Agnes Mullin Foley.
  • 1840 : Her husband died.
  • 1847 : In april, she moved from Ireland to Edinburgh at 27 Clyde Street, with her 2 daughters.
  • 1849 : She was living at 8 Scotland Street, Edinburgh. Her son-in-law Charles Altamont Doyle (Arthur's father) lived with her for some time.
  • 1862 : 7 june, Catherine died aged 53, at 3 Tower Bank, Portobello, Edinburgh. Cause : cancer of uterus.

  1. Conan Doyle wrote Katherine but it was Catherine on the death certificate.