Saturday, June 14, 2014

Possible Treasures

One of several Possible Treasures.

When I come home from my annual research trips, one of the first things my friends usually ask me is: Did you have any big breakthroughs?  My answer is frequently: I don’t have a clue. When I am in Ireland, I tend to hoover up a honking big pile of raw data, and don't stop to think much about the particulars. Some of it is collected on the basis of rational list-making, other bits are based on hunches. It takes playing with it all, once I am home, to even know what I have. Over the years I have learned that each approach – planning or hunches - yields about the same result, although neither would amount to much without the other.

This time, one of my possible treasures is a copy of a will by a Jane Innes of Jackson House in 1765. I didn’t really know who she was at first, but the citation caught my eye because of her residence: Jackson House  - the Coleraine home of close to a dozen generations of Jacksons. I also knew that Innis was the surname of a man who had married one of them. As soon as I laid out the 250 year old piece of parchment on the table before me, I knew that I had something. Jane Innis’s sisters and her nephew, Richard Jackson, the executor, were all related, in spite of the assortment of a number of differing surnames.

As with any good will, there are the unexpected perks. Who would have guessed that one of the things that Jane did in her will was to pay for clothing for four boys and four girls to sing in the church of Killowen for ten years after she died? Or who might have guessed that amongst her itemized treasures – and we are not talking about many items which were mentioned beyond a couple of candlesticks, snuffers, and a watch– that there would be the Diamond Sleeve Buttons that had been worn by her late husband, Colonel James Innis.

Another surprise was the way she delivered one heck of a smack in the codicil. Three nieces who had stood to receive a hundred pounds each – about £10,000 in today’s currency – were all disinherited on Acct of the disregard they have shown for me and my answer to their Bill in Chancery by Fishing for Witnesses on a Commission by them Obtained to contradict the Facts I first Ascribed by Letters, and afterwards attested by my said Answer.  Not that I know what that quarrel was about, but I do have to say that my curiousity has been tweaked.

I have transcribed the will, and posted it on my website. The link is beneath. As I assemble these footnotes, I always learn more. For fellow researchers, they might be fascinating, although I am sure for most others they will result in some eye rolling. Feel free to skip them.

For me, the fact that one of Jane’s nieces was a Mrs M’Loughlin made me prick up my mental ears. I am still blocked in my quest to find out the back story of a Margaret O’Laughlin (1722-1797), who was the wife of Old George Jackson (1718-1782) of the Parish of Creggan, South Armagh. They are the earliest known ancestors of Sir Thomas Jackson.

Names shape-shift in this era – O’Laughlin or M’Laughlin – it is all the same, and there are least a half dozen other varients. Even though I have long suspected – but can’t prove - that our familiar Old George descends from the Coleraine line of Jacksons, it had not occurred to me to also look for O’Laughlins or M’Laughlins in Coleraine.  Their presence there goes back at least to 1641, when there is a record of a George M’Loughlin, a Coleraine innkeeper, describing his experiences during the rebellion. He may have been related to a Katherine NORTON née M’LOUGHLIN, and the unsettled times may have been why she ended up in Barbados.

Hers is a remarkable story. She was born of wealthy Irish parents in or near Coleraine, and was sent to Londonderry for education. At age 16, she emigrated to Barbados – if it was with family, I don’t know - where she was married and in 1671 converted to the Quaker faith as a result of hearing a sermon by George Fox, the founder of Quakerism. You can’t make this stuff up. In 1678, she came to Northern Ireland to proselytize – in Gaelic, no less.

Katherine had returned to Ireland by 1676 ‘on truth's service’ (Rutty and Wight, 129). She was determined to become part of the Gaelic-speaking community and minister to the existing English-speaking settlers who were Friends. She visited Friends' houses, held public meetings, and indeed preached in Gaelic on a number of occasions, notably in Lurgan on market day, which was unusual. Undoubtedly the language barrier prevented the advancement of Quakerism among the native Irish community. However, during meetings near Coleraine where her relations lived, there were several disputes ‘on account of truth’ (ibid., 129). But these did not deter her, and she held successful meetings throughout co. Armagh, co. Cavan, co. Westmeath, and co. Dublin. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Coming across her story meant that I also learned the extent to which the Quaker families of Coleraine were well established in the linen business there, as were the M’Laughlins and the Jacksons in the mid-1600s. Given that I have long suspected a connection between the Quaker Jacksons and the so-called Jacksons of Coleraine, this is definitely a juicy bit to chew on.

SEE: The annotated transcription of The Will of Jane Innes.
PS The John BALL who is mentioned in the will as having given a watch to Jane Innes was the same John Ball who held the lease to Urker, where the ancestors of Thomas Jackson lived.

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