Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Sheldrake and other Elements – 3rd in a small series

Recently I set myself the task of documenting two kinds of Jackson ancestral trees – those trees which included ancestors who had settled in Ireland in the 1700s or earlier, and those that had sheldrakes in their family crest.

It was a bit of a crazy thing to attempt, quite a scatter-gun approach to research - but I was at my wits end trying to nail down what Sir Thomas Jackson (1841-1915) and his mother Eliza (1815-1903) knew about their family history. There are repeated hints that they did in fact know which line of Irish Jacksons they belonged to, but unfortunately, they took this knowledge to the grave. I have come across letters, starting in the early 1900s, where various family members were scratching their heads and already trying to make sense of the who, what, when, where, and why.  As one of my great-aunts put it, it has been a 'flee bedder' in its time!!

Of course, the additional stumbling block was when the Irish records building burnt down in 1922.

Assembling these family trees reminded of me of how generals used to use toy soldiers on a large table when mapping out a campaign. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees unless you can set the pieces up in a viewable pattern. That’s what this is for. Along the way, I learned a thing or three.

  • It helps to have either a wide screen monitor, or two screens available. This way, you can have two trees side by each and scroll through them independently while looking for areas of overlap.
  • It is worth looking at all the versions of books such as Burke’s A Genealogical & Heraldic History of Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland. There are dozens of versions, and they each have a different audience in mind. Actually, they have one audience: who will buy this book. It is just that in each succeeding generation, the list of potential customers changes. This means that a line of Jacksons that had survivors in the 1850s, but not in the 1890s, would be dropped at the point that there were no more living customers in that line. Directories, such as Burkes, are in the business of making money, and fair enough. Vanity is a powerful force that they knew how to harness.
  • The secondary material in these books is not always reliable. Much of it is, but even though Burke’s hired researchers, they also used family sources, and the reliability of such sources varies. Where possible, check it out by finding a primary source.
  • The names of counties didn’t stay put (let alone townlands!). In the late 1500s, Laois became known as Queens Co. and Offaly, was changed to King’s Co. It helps to have an indecent number of maps.
  • To further confound the neophyte researcher, many of the old English settlers in Ireland remained Catholic, while the newer arrivals tended to be Protestant. The Jacksons – like many - were likely to be on either side of the faith divide at that time.

I have posted these new trees, and now I am on the watch for birds - sheldrakes to be precise.  I am still trying to find a fit between the sheldrakes and the stories. I can’t say that I am much further ahead. I found links between some of the trees, and have noted them. I have found potentials for future links, but no slam dunks. Once again, it is time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. In the meantime, here are the links to the trees:

Jacksons of Ahanesk As I was working on this, I thought that perhaps the JACKSONs of Ahanesk might be a possibility, although the light on them is pretty dim when we get this far back. Thomas JACKSON was connected to Waterford and died 1672. His father also had land in Waterford, but we have no record of a date. It is likely that the family was there in the early 1600s, if not before. The thing is that their crest has no birds of any ilk.

Jacksons of Ballyboy. This tree needs a lot more work in finding dates for the early entries, but it is a start.  

Jacksons of Doncaster The Doncaster Jacksons have the shoveller on their crest, but they seemed to be from Co. York. Then again, another family story  says: JACKSON line of our family came from Co. York and was in Cromwell’s army. He was granted land for his services at an estate called Mount Leinster.  As far as the Doncaster line goes, their earliest (known-to-me) arrival is Thomas Jackson (1740-1805) of Tullydowey, Co. Tyrone.

Jacksons of Duddington The Duddingtons came from Northampton – a match for one of our family stories - and settled in Limerick at least by the mid-1700s, but their crest is not quite a match. They had three birds, but they were eagles, although they did also have the ermine that was also part of TJ’s crest.  

Jacksons of Glanbeg This tree is interesting when looked at in connection with the Jacksons of Ahanesk. In each tree, there is a Mary WALLIS, daughter of Thomas WALLIS who marries a Jackson. In the Glanbeg tree, it is a Thomas JACKSON and in the Ahanesk tree, it is a George JACKSON. Whether this is a coincidence, or an error in the secondary sources that I used, or whether there is a relationship here still to be discovered, I do not as yet know. 

Not that these are all the Jackson trees that I have done and posted to my web site. For example, in the past I have done trees of some of the JACKSONs who are connected with Co. Cork, Co. Down, Co. Derry, and Co. Mayo. If you want the full forest effect, check out The Silver Bowl Family Trees. 

Also, if the elements of the family crest and the quest for the elusive shoveller interests you, it is at Jackson Family Crest

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