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Francis George Packer

alias Nigel de Brulier

Seen here at the Piazza San Marco, Venice, in September 1924.

Francis was born in Frenchay on 8th August, 1877 and baptized at St John Baptist on 30th September 1877.

Francis left Frenchay and went on to make his name with a life-long career in Hollywood.


See new pictures Dec 2006...

Latest pictures April 2009...

Francis' father, James Packer, was a coachman to William Tanner at the Big House, now known as Frenchay Park, and his mother, Louisa, was a laundress at the house.

James Packer was first married to Mary and then to Eliza, who both died before James married Louisa, and from whom there were two children, Frank 1854 and Louisa 1856.

James and Louisa had 13 children, all born and baptized in Frenchay. Their second child, Florence, died in 1871, aged 2 years, but all the other children attended Frenchay National School. Their names were Samuel, born 1867; Selina, 1870; Henry, 1872; Ernest, 1874; Stanley Martin, 1876 -1882; Francis George, 1877; Edward Marshall, 1879; Florence Snowdrop, 1881; Kate, 1883; Herbert, 1885, Minnie, 1886; and William James, 1887.

When Francis left school in October 1888, his head master wrote against his name ‘A good boy’, and by 1891 he was working at the Big House as a ‘Hall Boy’.

Later, Francis emigrated to America, and went to live in the Hollywood area, where he began a career in the silent movies and changed his name to Nigel De Brulier. He appeared in his first film, ‘The pursuit of the Phantom’, in 1914, playing the part of ‘the priest’.

In a career lasting nearly 30 years he appeared in 114 films. These included...

‘The Romance of Tarzan’, 1918, in which he again played the Priest;

‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’, 1921, playing Tchernoff;

‘The Three Musketeers’, 1921, Cardinal Richelieu;

‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, 1923, Don Claudio;

‘Ben Hur’, (silent) 1925, Simonides;

‘The iron Mask’, 1929, Cardinal Richelieu;

‘The Green Goddess’, 1930, Temple Priest;

‘The Three Musketeers’, 1935, Cardinal Richelieu;

‘Zorro Rides Again’, 1937, Don Manuel Vega;

‘The Hounds of the Baskerville’, 1939, Convict;

‘The Man in the Iron Mask’, 1939, Cardinal Richelieu;

‘The Adventures of Captain Marvel’, 1941, Shazam.



For a complete list of his films...

link to Nigel de Brulier online.

In this photograph, taken on a visit to England, Francis is seen with his mother, Louisa, who is by now living at Westbourne Terrace, Frenchay.

[Note the folding bellows camera]

Francis’s sister, Minnie, is seen above with her three children.

Minnie was married at St John Baptist, Frenchay, in July 1910, to John Davis Fox, a Journeyman Tailor of Frenchay. They emigrated to America, but Minnie returned to Frenchay after the death of her husband.


The film - 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame', 1923, with Nigel de Brulier in the role of Don Claudio - was shown on Sunday 3 July 2005, at St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol as part of their four day festival of music.

The accompanying music for the film will be supplied on the church organ by David Briggs.

In this publicity postcard, Francis is seen in the centre, wearing a turban.

The wording on the reverse side reads…

ROMA – Magnificent vista of Jerusalem, one of the many colourful and dramatic scenes filmed by Director Fred Niblo for the Metro-Goldwin-Mayer spectacular production of General Lew Wallace’s famous novel and stage play, ‘Ben Hur’.

Prominent in the celebrated cast of screen players are: Ramon Navarro [Ben Hur], May McAvoy [Esther], Carmel Myers [Iras], Francis X Bushman [Messala], Kathleen Key, Nigel De Brulier [Simonides], Claire McDowell [Princess of Hur], Frank Currier [ Quintas Arrius], and Anders Randolf.

Francis George Packer’s Hollywood Biography, downloaded from the InterNet, reads as follows…

Nigel De Brulier. Height 5’-8". Character actor in Hollywood silents and talkies.

British-born Nigel De Brulier’s long career began in silent films, but unlike many performers of the era, he managed to successfully translate into sound films.

His authoritarian and somewhat regal bearing was perfect for the many Bishops, Cardinals, Knights and other authority figures he often played. He portrayed Cardinal Richelieu in both the 1921 and 1935 versions of ‘The Three Musketeers’.




Francis died in

Los Angeles, California,

30th January 1948.




Photographs on this page above kindly supplied by Mrs Margaret Dench

  A recent visitor [December 2006] to this webpage, Lucy Manning, is a great granddaughter of Francis' sister Minnie, and has sent us the following superb pictures of Francis, alias Nigel de Brulier, in still shots from some of his many films...

We are very grateful to Lucy for sending in these pictures - and also for a few corrections to the above information concerning Minnie's marriage.

Thank you Lucy.



1919  - "The Mystery of 13".


The actor number 5 is Francis Ford and the gent kneeling by the body is Francis George Packer, alias Nigel de Brulier.



Francis Ford appeared in 476 films between 1909 and 1953.

He also directed 174 films between 1912 and 1928,

and wrote the scripts for 27 films between 1913 and 1928.

In 1952 he appeared with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in "The Quiet Man", which was directed by his brother, John Ford.



1922  - "Omar the Tentmaker"


The main actor in the middle is Guy Bates-Post and the seated actor, right, is our Francis George Packer.



1925  - "Ben Hur".


This particularly interesting shot shows the Director Fred Niblo, the cameraman and camera, and a stuffed camel in the centre.

The lady is May McAvoy and the gentleman to the right of her, with the squared flower pattern on his robes, is Francis George Packer.



1927  - "Soft Cushions"


The short man in the centre is Douglas McLean

and our Francis is peeping out from behind the gent on the left.

  In April 2009 Lucia Cridland visited the Museum during a visit to Frenchay. She is a descendent of Francis's father's brother, and had more photographs of Francis which she very kindly allowed us to copy.

Lucia was able to tell us that Francis was well known for having a good singing voice. She has promised to write down all she knows about Francis, and let us publish it here.

Lucia also had a newspaper cutting from sometime around 1924...



From this cutting we can deduce that Francis must have emigrated to America in about 1897, aged about 20.



It is thought that this picture may have been taken of in his home.


I like the waistcoat..!





This is another still from the 1919 film

"The Mystery of 13".


The reverse side of the above picture gives the names of the actors.


From left to right in the picture they are

Phil Ford, (son of Francis Ford)

Dolly Dare and Francis Ford, with Nigel de Brulier seated.


The writing, left, reads "Raoul Ferron, The Mysterious 13, Francis Ford Co."

(Nigel played the part of Raoul Ferrar

in the film

"The Mystery of 13")