Francis Paget was the eldest of the seven boys born to Cecil George Paget, vicar of Thame in Dorset, and his wife Innes Elizabeth. He was born at Sturminster Newton on 7 August 1890, and baptised at the church of St James at Holt in Dorset on 28 August 1890. The Pagets also had two daughters, Averil and Cicely. Of the boys, one died in early infancy, and three died serving in the First World War: Francis in 1916, John Christopher Paget, a Captain in the Royal Garrison Artillery, killed at St Leger on 26 April 1917, and Second Lieutenant Michael Theodore Paget, 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, on 17 August 1917. Only Bernard Leopold Paget served and survived the war, first in 13th (County of London) Battalion (Kensington), The London Regiment, and then in the Labour Corps. Felix Barnaby, born in 1904, was too young to serve.
Francis Paget attended both Durnford School at Langton Maltravers, and, like his father, Charterhouse School (Verites 1904-1906). He then went up to Oxford, to Hertford College in October 1909, and passed Classics and Divinity exams in 1910 and 1911, but did not complete his finals. In the Epiphany Term of 1915 he matriculated at Durham as a student unattached to any particular college, and in the same term satisfied the examiners in his First Year Theology examination.
He enlisted at Dorchester as a private in the 24th (Service) Battalion (2nd Sportsman’s) of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment and first went to France with them on 15 November 1915. During the Battles of the Somme the battalion as part of the 2nd Division were on the front line in the Battle of Delville Wood. The battalion’s war diary records the results of an attack by C Company launched at 04:52 on 30 July on enemy trenches east of Waterlot Farm. There was a heavy mist, a prelude to what the diary notes was to be a very hot day, and the company’s progress was further impeded by uncut wire and “very heavy shellfire”:
"Of the 3 Officers and 114 other ranks who made the attack - 1 officer (wounded) - 11 other ranks got back."
War Diary 30 July 1916, 24th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (WO 95/1349/1-7)
Francis Paget was listed among those killed the following day, as the battalion was relived and withdrew into reserve trenches – another “exceedingly hot day”. Paget has no grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial. His sacrifice is commemorated in Rolls of Honour and Service produced by Durnford School, Charterhouse School, Lancing College, (where he is mentioned alongside his brothers), Hertford College, and Durham University. His name is recorded in a stained glass window in the church of St George at Durnford, and on the war memorial in the chapel at Hertford College, Oxford. He is also remembered, with his brothers, on the war memorial cross in Cassington village, Oxford, where his father was vicar.