Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thomas and Samuel Jackson -Pewterers of London

I started pursuing these particular Jacksons pretty much by accident. I had long been curious about the pewterer Thomas Jackson (1600-1680) who had received lands in Ireland as part of the major land grants that followed in the wake of Cromwell’s conquest. This Thomas had fronted some money for the war, which was how war was financed back then. He was rewarded with the grant of lands in Co. Meath. These lands, of course, came from those on the losing side.

Some of the questions that I had about this particular Thomas Jackson were:

  • Did he settle in Ireland?
  • Was he related to the Jacksons of Lisbanoe, Co. Meath? They were there as early as 1712. A generation later, many of them moved to Ballybay, Co. Monaghan. Some of these men and their families then moved to America after being convicted of insurrection in the 1798 uprising. They were supposedly descended from a 1649 officer, who was granted land at Lisnabo in Co.Meath, near Kingscourt.
  • Was he related to Alexander Jackson, a goldsmith in London? NOTE: This latter question, I will address in a piece that will follow this one. For now, let’s say: Maybe.

A William and Mary pewter Charger made by John Jackson circa 1700 and sold at Christies in 2009.

Once I dug into some of the available on-line records, I found much more than I expected. There is likely a good deal more. Bear in mind that I conduct all my research from the vantage point of my home in Roberts Creek BC, in Canada - either in my pyjamas at the start of the day, or accompanied with a glass of wine in the evening. It is hardly what would count for full blown scholarship, although maybe those who have that skill set can take what I have learned so far and run with it.

As for: Did he settle in Ireland – apparently not. One reference says that he served in Colonel Fairfax’s Regiment, in the Parliamentary Army. Later, he was referred to as a Colonel himself. This is intriguing since a Col. Thomas Jackson is often mentioned in connection to lands granted in Co. Kildare. How many Colonel Thomas Jacksons could there be? Since this Thomas served under a Colonel and then was known as a Colonel himself, it would seem to indicate that he was promoted up through the ranks at some point in the conflict. Either that, or there are two different Thomas Jacksons who have been conflated by the Historical Gazetteer of London before the Great Fire.

After the war was over, our pewterer Thomas seems to have retired from the military since he returned to his old trade in London. Going by what he owned at the end of his life, he was definitely a successful businessman. He was also lucky enough to live to the ripe old age of eighty, and to have his wife only predecease him by a month. As far as his professional life went, he was made a Warden of the Pewterers Guild in 1647, and a Master in 1660.

Members of various Jackson families had a significant, long-term, inter-generational presence in pewtering in London at this time. There are close to a couple of dozen of them who were either Masters or Wardens mentioned from the mid-1400s to the early 1800s in the History of the Worshipful Company of Pewterers of the City of London. They thrived in the heyday of pewter – when the yeoman and gentry class moved from using treen – wooden tableware - to using pewter for their usual table settings. Later pewterers did not fare so well. Innovations in ceramic and glass cut deeply into their customer base. Still, the Pewterer’s Hall gives some idea of the wealth that the trade generated in the 1600s, as do the bequests in several wills left by pewterers of the day. 

Thankfully, both Thomas and his son Samuel left wills, transcripts of which have survived. I have typed, annotated and posted both of them, and links will be at the end of this piece, along with links to other source material.

At present, I can’t prove that this Thomas was related to the Jacksons of Lisbanoe, but he did have other relations who definitely settled in Ireland in the mid to late 1600s. These wills did solve a few other mysteries for me. For example, I had always wondered what might have lead the young Daniel Jackson, who later became the Rev Daniel Jackson of Santry, Dublin, born in Staffordshire, to study at Trinity, Dublin. Now we know that there was an earlier foothold in Ireland thanks to his uncle Thomas the pewterer. Daniel’s father, Rev. John Jackson (1604-1691) was a younger brother of this Thomas. This goes with my birds of a feather approach to research. If you see one bird of a particular sort, look for others.

One other connection that would be of interest to those descended from Jacksons in America is the Samuel Jackson (1702-1760) who was a first cousin of Thomas the pewterer. He was a successful merchant in Philadelphia. Since pewter was one of the goods that this Jackson family traded internationally, it makes sense that for them to have family members placed wherever it served the advancement of their trade.

I suspect that further investigation will reveal other sightings of members of this family in both Ireland and America. Back to the birds of a feather notion. There is much more on this American line of Jacksons, but I did not follow it too far along since my main interest lies in Ireland.

I should mention that I could never have even begun to put this together were it not for my undisciplined method of thrashing about in the digital bushes with no plan in mind. I Google-stumbled on a site that was new to me: Clan Jackson . Like many such sites, mine included – I hasten to add - some of the information is solidly referenced, and authenticated, while other bits are not as reliable. In this instance, it seemed to me that the Rev. Daniel Jackson material was a little off with respect to some of its dates, so I went with my own data for that part. Still, there were lots of other missing pieces that were new to me, and that looked good enough to trust. With them, I was able to assemble a line of Jacksons that was totally new to me, but which also absorbed stubs of trees that I had assembled before. The link to the tree is below.

The recently added facts include amongst other things the name of Thomas’s only known surviving son, Samuel (1634-1716) who had a son, also named Samuel who followed his father into the trade. Unfortunately, Samuel jr. predeceased his father leaving no issue. Since Samuel sr.’s other two children died in infancy that was the end of the pewtering line in this particular branch of the Jackson family. I am not sure what happened next. A Robert Jackson and a John Jackson carried on the pewtering trade in the 1700s and into the 1800s, and were likely related to Thomas and Samuel. It is likely that the end of this line did not mean the end of Jacksons in Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland who had other family ties to these pewterers. This is still to be explored.

Thankfully, Samuel senior’s will included the mentions of more than a hundred other family members – including the names of dozens of women whose names are often like the bits left on the cutting room floor when movies are made. For these surviving bits in this particular will, I am particularly grateful and delighted to share.

1 comment:

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