Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Occam’s Razor or KISS

In the 1890s, Thomas Jackson (1841-1915) supposedly owned a farm in Co. Kildare, but I have yet to find it. It hasn’t been for lack of trying. In this post, I am resorting to the approach that is often referred to as Occam’s razor. You start with the fewest assumptions, and then razor away the leads that are hopefully less relevant. In other words – KISS, or Keep It Simple Sister.

So, starting in the beginning: It was part of our family’s oral history that Thomas Jackson had hired Patrick Lynch, a man who had worked on Thomas’ farm in Co. Kildare, to run a farm that he had partly bought, and partly inherited at Cavananore, Co. Louth. There was a sentimental value in owning this farm. Thomas’ favourite aunts had lived there in the mid-1800s, and it was also where Thomas’ infant daughter Emily had died in 1874 when the family was on leave from Hong Kong. 

In 2005, with the help of Patrick Lynch’s great-great-grandson, Eugene Lynch, I found proof that the widower Patrick Lynch sr. (1832-1913) from Co. Kildare, and had indeed moved north with his son – probably in the early 1890s - to manage Cavananore. 1893 is the first date in the cancellation books that show Thomas Jackson as the sole occupier, replacing the trustees of his great-uncle, Andrew Coulter Bradford, who had held the farm for several decades. 

So far, so good. For the next steps, here are my initial assumptions:
#1: Thomas owned a farm in Co. Kildare.
#2: He inherited it. Since he was based in London and Hong Kong, it would make no sense otherwise for him to buy a farm in Co. Kildare – or at least no reason that I know of.
#3: The owner before him was a Jackson. It would also not be surprising if it were another relation: a Bradford, McCullagh, or Coulter.
#4: The Jackson family that had owned the farm had been in Co. Kildare for some time. No one in Thomas' father’s generation would have been likely to own a farm there.

Exploring the parishes which include townlands where Jacksons owned land is as good a starting point as any.
The parish that is shaded green is Monasterevin, where Patrick Lynch’s family came from. The parishes shaded in yellow are ones where I have found leases connected to Jacksons in the 1700 & 1800s.On my website, I have posted an annotated chart of the townlands in Co. Kildare that were leased, owned and/or lived in by Jacksons from the mid-1600s up until at least the 1800s. A larger version of this map is also on that page. 

Question #1: Was Thomas’ farm anywhere near the townlands where Patrick Lynch and his family came from? The short answer is no. Kill and Lughill are just south of the town of Monasterevin, and are not close to any lands owned or leased by Jacksons. There were no deeds, no tithes, no records in Griffith, nor were there any in the cancellation books for Jacksons in Monasterevin. There is another townland in Co. Kildare named Kill, but it is in the Parish of Kill, Barony of South Salt, and this is definitely not where the Lynch’s came from. 
No Jacksons here – but lots of Lynches.
Question #2? Is there any likely connection to the line of Jacksons in Co. Kildare - the one that starts with a Thomas Jackson from England who either died falling from his horse in 1690 (oral family history) or else died 20 years later in Monastereven (LDS records)? Both Thomas Jacksons had a wife named Elinor Greene. Land was granted to a Thomas Jackson at Athgarvan and Blackrath as compensation for service under William III. 

If there was any family connection between this Kildare Thomas Jackson and “my” Thomas Jackson, then one possibility could be a connection to the Thomas Jackson who was born in 1629 in Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland. He had settled in Ireland, although I do don’t know where, but he was probably dead before 1688. My assumption here is based on the fact that Thomas’ living brothers were all mentioned in the account of their brother William’s will (1628-1688), but Thomas was not. Could the Thomas of Co. Kildare have been a son, or a nephew of this Thomas, or was the Thomas of Kirkby Lonsdale left out of the 1688 document because he was estranged from the family? This is all guesswork for now. 

Question #3: Can we find parents or uncles of the Thomas JACKSON (d 1690) who came from England? They settled first in Athgravan and Blackrath, in the parish of Greatconnell, lost that land, and then settled at Narraghmore. There is an unbroken swath of parishes where Jacksons held leases, starting with Greatconnell (#47), and heading south. 

The parishes of Greatconnell, Kilcullen, Davidstown, Usk, Timolin and Narraghmore are in one long row stretching southwards. Their owners are likely to be connected to each other by more than just geography.
The most northerly parish in this grouping also includes the townlands of Glasselly aka Glassholly, Ballindrum and Ballyadam. These townlands were all leased by a Samuel Jackson (1643-1731) from Sir William Tichborn, and then were later leased by a Josias Jackson aka Josiah Jackson from the Rt. Hon. Robert Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare. The earliest memorial where this Josiah is mentioned, ROD: 43-421-2880, May 6, 1724, makes me suspect a family connection between himself and Robert Jackson of Crooked Staff in Co. Dublin (a tanner).
Indenture May 6, 1724 Wm. JAMES of Athy. Co. Kildare, Tanner did demise & set to Robert JACKSON of Crooked Staff in Co. Dublin Tanner and Josiah JACKSON of Glassholly, Co. Kildare Farmer lease of house in Athy from Robert JACKSON to Josiah JACKSON for 22 years.
The reference to the trade of tanner, makes me wonder if this lease might be connected to an earlier deed:
Between Wentworth CAVANAGH, Gent of Athy, Co. Kildare & Daniel JACKSON of same, tanner. Indenture of release in consideration of sum of 40 pounds., all that and those the houses and holdings of William ADDIS in the Market Street of Athy containing 84 feet to the front in the same street eastward and to the river backwards 143 ft. with the 7 acres & 23 perches … for natural life of said Wentworth CAVANAGH, his son James CAVANAGH & Beshell WESTON son of son of Thomas WESTON of Athy.. rent 8 pounds 6p, Signed Daniell JACKSON [his mark] WITNESSES: John CHAPMAN & John CONNELL. JACKSON Daniel Tanner of Athy, Kildare made his mark, rather than signed

There is an even stronger whiff of a connection between Josiah Jackson and the Samuel Jackson (1643-1731), who was the earlier lessee of the three townlands of Glasselly, Ballindrum and Ballyadam. In the 1734 deed where these townlands are mentioned, we learn that Josias Jackson aka Josiah Jackson had a wife named Anne who was deceased, and two children Josias jr., and Sarah. A second son, Samuel, was named in a lease in 1738 as one of the three lives, replacing the life of the deceased Anne Jackson. Was this Samuel named for his grandfather or for an uncle?

If we hope to find the parents or uncle of the Thomas Jackson who came from England, Samuel Jackson (1643-1731) is worth keeping in our sights. for one other reason. The townland of Narraghmore, where Thomas’ son Richard Jackson leased land in either the late 1600s or early 1700s, is in the same parish as the townlands of Glasselly, Ballindrom & Ballyadam. 

As for Josiah Jackson, he was included as one of the names decreed to be responsible - in a 1731 Act of Parliament - to repair and maintain the road leading from the town of Kilcullen through Castledermot, Catherlough, Laughlin-Bride to Kilkenny. The road had suffered from so many and heavy Carriages pulling through the same, are becoming ruinous and Bad and in Winter Season many parts therof are impassible for Wagons, Carts, Carrs and Carriages, and very dangerous for Travellers…. Significantly, this road passes right through many of the lands owned by Jacksons from Kilcullen in the north to Castledermot in the south. This road is not the only transportation link worthy of notice when it comes to learning more about this family. The 1750s Grand Canal, linking the River Shannon with Dublin, had feeders linking it up to towns such as Athy. This canal network benefitted the middle-class and wealthy farmers and merchants in these parishes, people such as the Jacksons, as did the later introduction of the railway.

NOTE: Josiah Jackson’s leases also involved a Dublin Alderman named William Empson. This may be a simple coincidence, but there was a William Empson mentioned as a nephew in the 1705 will of a Samuel Jackson (1641-1706) of Dublin. This Samuel Jackson was obviously not the Samuel Jackson (1643-1731) of Glasseley, but there may be some other family connection. Even though naming patterns are not terribly helpful in this quest, since so many Jackson families of the mid-1600s to early 1800s re-used the same names, still the descendants of Thomas Jackson of Co. Kildare do include sons named: Richard, Samuel, William and George. These are the same forenames that get continuously recycled in the Westmorland & Coleraine Jackson family tree. 

Question #4. Where to look next? Amy Lloyd (1874-1962), Sir Thomas Jackson’s daughter, a reliable source for facts about her father’s family history, never mentioned the family having any ancestral lands in Co. Kildare. She did say that the family had been granted lands in Co. Carlow, the county which borders on the southern portion of Co. Kildare.

It sometimes helps to get out a compass and draw circles around a known fixed point with a radius of five miles, and then ten miles, and then to note the road systems of the day as well as the canals and waterways. When it comes to the northern part of Co. Cavan, there are several records of Jackson leases. There are also several on the western border of Co. Kildare, near Athy, in Offally aka Kings Co. They are all worthy of note.

Four last connected questions: Who was the old George mentioned in one of Eliza Jackson’s letters to her son Thomas, and was the Co. Kildare farm connected to him in some way? Who were the other Jacksons living in Creggan Parish in south Co. Armagh in the 1800s? They seem to be related to the Jacksons of Urker. Did one of them leave a farm to Thomas Jackson? There are records in family letters that the Urker Jacksons did offer financial assistance to some other Jacksons who were likely distant cousins. 

Even so, enough is enough. Occam’s razor insists that I desist. At this point, my only hope is that the facts in this post will help fellow researchers, or else trigger suggestions in the minds of some readers of where else I should focus my attention (or not). Please let me know.

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