Saturday, December 10, 2011

Goldsmiths, Jacksons, London, Ireland & some ongoing mysteries

I wasn’t going to write about Alexander Jackson, at least not for a while - mostly because I don’t really know enough about him – but he got under my skin. He was a goldsmith based in London who invested money in Cromwell’s campaign in Ireland and was rewarded when Cromwell won. This means that there are records of him as one of the Irish Adventurers. I kept wondering if he might be connected to the long line of Jacksons who were living in Co. Meath by the early-1700s, moved to Monaghan in the mid 1700s and lived in Ballybay. Many of them were prominent actors in the United Irishmen.

This particular Alexander Jackson had advanced money to finance Cromwell’s war, and was allocated property in the South-East corner of the Barony of Navan, Co. Meath. He was also granted land in the Barony of Morgallion. The townland of Lisnaboe – where the Jacksons of Monaghan and United Irishmen fame came from - is in the Barony of Kells, County Meath. These three baronies adjoin each other.

On  April 4th, 1670 a letter from the King to the Chief Governor of Ireland mentioned that a Mr. Palmer had purchased the land allotments of various Adventurers situated in the Baronies of Navan and Maghergallen (Morgallion), County Meath. It was a lot of land – 1,800 acres, Plantation Measure. The acreage was subsequently reduced to 1,004 acres because some of the lands were restored to innocents, papists and others. The names of the Adventurers recorded in this letter include the name of Alexander Jackson. This makes it unlikely that his descendants settled on this land immediately. It is probably significant that this letter was dated the same year that Alexander died.

What else do we know about him? The entry in The Rulers of London 1660-1689 contains the following:

Co Co Aldersgate Within, 1652, 1660 St John Zachary, 1624-64, ChW, 1637, St Andrew Holborn, 1667 (1) GOLD, appr, 1605, to John West, fr, 1615 (2) d 1670, bur ? St John Zachary (3) Will PCC 177 Penn, 19 Dec 1670 f Robert Jackson of Stone, Staff (4) Goldsmith, 1643, Assay Master of the Mint, 1624, Deputy Assayer of GOLD, 1626 (5) City property (£100 p a) (3) Presbyterian Elder of 5th Classis* of London Province (6) Da Sarah mar Lawrence DYER (7)
(1) McMurray, pp 422a, 438b, will (2) Will, GOLD, Appr Reg, I, f 165, Index of Appr (3) Will (4) GOLD, Appr Reg, I, f 165 (5) Heal, London Goldsmiths, p 181, McMurray, p 456, GOLD, Index of Appr (6) Sion College, MS Acc L40 2/E17 (7) Will, Boyd 25284
NOTE: Classis was the name for the organization of pastors and elders that governed a group of Presbyterian churches.

His will was proved 15 December 1670, and in it we learn that his daughter Sarah married a Lawrence Dakins Dyer, a pewterer of St. Lawrence, Jewry, London. This connection between pewtering and goldsmithing may provide other leads. After all, there was a Thomas Jackson,pewterer of London, who was granted land in the same baronies of Co. Meath. 

Alexander Jackson was supposedly buried at St. John Zachary and his will was probated December 19, 1670. There was an Alexander Jackson who was sworn Assay-Master at Goldsmith’s Hall in 1667 which may have been him, but if so, it would have been at a time when he already felt himself to be weak and infirm in body but of perfect mind and memory praise the Almighty God

As a result of a court case, we also know that this Alexander Jackson was a brother-in-law of the London merchant, William Drax. The Drax conection is intriguing because the name Drax is sometimes rendered as Drakes, and there is such a family with pre-Cromwellian roots in Co. Meath. This may be simply a coincidence and nothing more.

In 1663 there was a claim that two of Alexander’s servants, who by then had been an assayer for 34 years, had committed a fraud. They had illegally taken the official date letter and lion passant punches and then marked items belonging to friends, including Joseph Fabian. Their purpose was to make substandard plate pass as certified gold - 22 carat, I believe. Poor old Alexander may have traded in gold, but as a result of this, his reputation was as tarnished as silver.

He was ordered to dismiss his servants who were involved in the fraud, but he only dismissed one of them. Eight months after the first offence, there was a repeat of it. This resulted in the immediate dismissal of Alexander and his sons as assay masters. One of these sons, Abraham, was probably in cahoots with the servants and Joseph Fabian. Abraham had worked for his father in the Assay Office since 1645, and had, due to his father’s advancing years, been assuming on a major part of the duties. One of the servants involved in the fraud, Daniel Joslin, was still Alexander’s servant when Alexander’s will was witnessed in 1667.

Alexander was not the first Jackson to practice as a goldsmith in London. On October 31st, 1574 a Francis Jackson, known as Citizen and goldsmith of London wrote a will that was probated a couple of months later on December 7, 1574. From this will, it is clear that his wife, Anne, was still alive, as were two of his brothers – Richard and John – as well as his sister Elizabeth who had married someone with the last name of LEEKE. There are no slam dunks here, but it’s a place to start when trying to determine whether these various goldsmiths might be related.

There was also a goldsmith named Christopher Jackson (1668-1730), of the Duddington,Northamptonshire line of Jacksons whose brother Francis Jackson (1670-abt 1740) settled at Fanningstown, Co. Limerick. It is curious that there are so many convergences of names and profession happening here. It is hard to believe that it is nothing more than coincidence. 

There is something like a thirty year gap between the death of Alexander Jackson and the first sightings of Jacksons at Lisnaboe, and as they say in the London Underground – mind the gap. There is however one little bit that has hooked my curiosity as a possible lead.

 In St. Mary’s Church, Crumlin, in Dublin there is a gravestone inscription referring to a goldsmithing family who were in Dublin a generation after Alexander’s goldsmithing son, Abraham, had died in London. Abraham had no surviving children, but his brother Isaac Jackson did.

JACKSON: This stone belongs to | Joseph Jackson of the City of Dublin | Gold Smith | Here lieth the body of his father Henry Jackson who departed this life April ye 11th| 1782 aged 64 years also the body of Ann Jackson wife of  said Joseph Jackson who departed this | life April y 25th  1782 aged 28 years | [245] Vol V Memorials of the Dead p.360

It is intriguing that the Henry Jackson mentioned in the inscription above died in 1782 while the Henry Jackson of Lisbanoe supposedly died sometime 1778-1796. The text can be a little confusing, but Henry JACKSON (1718-1782) was the father of Joseph Jackson who was the husband of Anne JACKSON (1754-1782).

In 1761, Joseph was serving his apprenticeship in goldsmithing in Dublin. By 1780, he employed several goldsmith apprentices in Dublin, presumably having inherited the business from his father. He worked at Hoey’s Court in Dublin, and was recorded as a freeman from 1775-1807. He also served as a warden of the Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin from 1791-1793.  

His work in silver was of the highest quality. It is collectable today. SEE:  Weldons.

One generation before Henry JACKSON in Dublin, there was also a Christopher JACKSON who was practicing as a goldsmith in 1718 in Dublin.  The questions that all this raises for me are:

  • Was the Christopher JACKSON who was a goldsmith in Dublin in 1718 related to Henry Jackson (1718-1782)?
  • Was this Christopher Jackson the same person as the Christopher Jackson  (1668-1730), goldsmith of the Duddington, Northamptonshire line of Jacksons whose brother Francis Jackson (1670-abt 1740)settled at Fanningstown, Co. Limerick
  • Did Alexander Jackson goldsmith who invested and received land in Co. Meath have descendants who settled in Ireland? His son Abraham had no children who survived him, but his brother Isaac Jackson had a son named Abraham. This younger Abraham may have lived to adulthood, inherited the goldsmithing trade and also may have descendant..
  • Since the names Alexander, Joseph, Thomas and Henry are first names that are frequently used in naming sons of the Jacksons of Lisnaboe Co. Meath and Ballybay, Co. Monaghan were they related to any of the goldsmithing Jacksons?
  • UPDATE December 30, 2012: Thanks to Jan Waugh, I can now add that in 1577-78 there was also a William JACKSON goldsmith in the Calendar of Ancient Records of Dublin who was admitted for a fine of 40 shillings to be paid in work. These goldsmiths also issued coinage.

I have much more to learn, and will post more information and supporting documentation as I learn more.

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