Sunday, April 29, 2012

Imagining a Parish and its People

I keep trying to imagine, and by this I mean to fully imagine - with smells, sounds, sights and the very feel of it - what life must have been like for the young Thomas Jackson born in 1841, the man who became an eminent banker in Hong Kong. 

Who did he run into in his walks around Creggan Parish where he grew up? Who visited his parent’s house and farm? How did they get there – walking, horseback, or in a horse-pulled cart? Who did his parents owe money to, and why? How did life work for a family with a Church of Ireland father and a Presbyterian mother – which people described then as a mixed marriage.

There is little in the written record to flesh this out. One of the most fertile sources is the church records. True, they may be dull as dishwater, and in this case they are sadly incomplete, but with the advent of the internet, hyperlinks, and the generosity of strangers, it is possible to tease out an amazing amount of information. That is, if you can afford to put in the time in the first place.

Interior of Creggan Church. Sir Thomas Jackson Memorial window is at the front.
 I have made several trips to the Creggan Parish church, and I hope to make another a year from now. Thomas Jackson’s father’s family had belonged to this church for at least four generations. It is a small Church of Ireland church in a region where most were Catholic. Most Sundays in Thomas’ time, the pews supported the posteriors of only a few dozen souls.His mother also took the children to the Presbyterian Church at Freeduff.

My husband was part of a similar rural congregation in Rosedale, near Agassiz in BC. His Mennonite family emigrated from Germany in 1951 as indentured farmers, and had yet to learn English. Everyone in the congregation was related to him. As a child, he knew full well that it was one thing to have the eyes of God on you at all times, it was quite another matter to have the eyes of this congregation. They knew your misdeeds right down to the last jelly bean. They also knew of your accomplishments, although it was usually the darkness that their collective eyes were drawn to.

A century earlier, when young Thomas scampered around the graveyard after prayers, as he no doubt did, one of the best hiding places was inside the enclosure where the Johnstons were buried, a stone wall that abutted the railed enclosure of generations of Jacksons.  I do not know whether the choice of a railed versus stone is meaningful, but the location of these two families, cheek by jowl, is. They had arrived in the region about the same time, had leased and bought land, often one from the other, and had intermarried. The difference was the arc of their financial success. 
Late November afternoon - Jackson & Johnston enclosures at Creggan graveyard. 2010.

Thomas’ g-g-g-grandfather was the one who had lost his earlier family lands, probably in Carlow or Wicklow, in a card game. His descendants were equally unlucky, although not noticeably at the card table. The men had a habit of dying while their children were young, leaving widows to run the farm. The Johnston families did not suffer this fate on a regular basis, and as result became well entrenched and well financed landlords. The grave enclosures of these two families, side by side, amount to a familiar tale of rural life. One family prospers; another fails. Hard work only takes you so far.

To get to this church, young Thomas walked over a bridge that spanned the Creggan River just behind the church. The original wooden bridge had been built by his great-grandfather, David Jackson, one of these Jackson ancestors who had died an untimely death. Back then, church tithes funded a mix of purposes that today are more usually the natural turf of a property owner, or else some level of local government. Back then, the wardens of Creggan Parish managed a range of public improvements, including this bridge which like many contracts today, went over budget. We know about this, thanks to the church records. It is recorded that David Jackson agreed to build the wooden bridge for £3, but in 1790, a year later, he came back cap in hand for a further £3.17.9. Plus ça change, when it comes to bridge contracts.

View of Creggan River from the bridge behind Creggan Church.
 On my most recent foray into the Creggan Church records, I recorded as many of the collateral names of people related to this Jackson family as I could, hoping to build a more fully fleshed picture of their interrelationships. I am sure that if I knew the half of it, young Thomas would turn out to be related to virtually everyone that warmed the pews in his day, but at least the names that I have noted so far is a start.

Fortunately, a few mysteries have also been solved by this work. For starters, I had a hunch for quite some time, but couldn’t quite prove it, that the COULTERs who lived at Mounthill, and then Shortstone were related to the ones who lived at Silverbridge. Now, I have them neatly like ducks in a row, and have posted a family tree that illustrates just how they are related. There are still other clumps of COULTERs in Armagh and Louth who hail from Dorsey and Annavackey, as well as Carnbeg, so there are still stones to be unturned before we can be sure how all of them inter-relate. Even so, the similarities of faith, geography, social class and naming patterns all amount to a pretty compelling smoking gun.

I am particularly curious about the Carnbeg COULTERs, although they probably did not attend Creggan Parish Church. One of them, Joseph Arthur COULTER, a mere six years older than Thomas, had an amazing life – that is, if the records written a few years after he died are to be believed. Apparently, he accompanied Lady Franklin on her last expedition for her husband Sir John Franklin. That trip was in 1857, and was commanded by Francis Leopold McClintock of Dundalk on a yacht called The Fox. McClintock had a crew of twenty-five on board, as well as seventeen Arctic veterans, and he names them all in his 1908 version of the trip. Unfortunately, there is no mention of this Joseph. 

Another bit of Joseph Coulter’s life that also proves allusive is that he supposedly served a stint as Deputy Governor of Vancouver Island. You would think that if he did, then he would show up in the BC Archives, but no cigar. My best bet when guessing which Lieutenant Governor he may have served under would be Hugh Nelson (1887-1892).  Nelson was born at Larne, Co. Antrim. Such appointments usually had more than a whiff of patronage about them. 

Sometimes even the most dogged researcher can be fairly skilled as both hunter and gatherer and still emerge empty handed, at least in the short run. This is where I really appreciate an approach to writing described by Ursula K Le Guin. She has what she calls: The Carrier Theory of Fiction. You gather up all the bits that appeal to you, just as a wise elder or a magpie might do, no matter whether they are feathers or bits of bark, or records of events and people, and you tuck them into a bag. If you are a medicine man or woman, or even a writer, the contents of this carrier bag becomes over time ever more magical as a result of the proximity of its contents. The whole becomes more than the sum of the parts.

I would go so far as to say that the natural, proper, fitting shape of the novel might be that of a sack, a bag. A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings. A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us.

There is no reason that Le Guin’s notion couldn’t also be applied to creative non-fiction. Personally, I like the way that it matches my own idiosyncratic process of finding and collecting as I try to sneak up on the truth. Perhaps my blog site and website are a digital equivalent of the traditional carrier bag, and by sharing the contents, the power of the magic expands. It is with that notion in mind that I often post absolutely chaotic pages such as Ruminations on early Creggan Church Records. The best that I can call such pages is organized ignorance or if I want to feel a bit more important, my carrier bag.

In this latest piece, Ruminations on early Creggan Church Records, I am trying to figure out the connections between JACKSONs, MASONs, JOHNSTONs and JONES. The links that connect to this pursuit are beneath.

I always appreciate hearing from others if they notice that I am way out in left field, or at very least in need of correction. Heck, like a small boy hiding amongst the gravestones, I also appreciate hearing when I have done something right. 

Speaking of mistakes, and with the life of young Thomas in mind, I wonder what he might have thought of the stained glass window erected in his honour that has pride of place as the main window in the church. It has him born at  Urcher rather than where he was actually born at Aughavilla, Carrigallen, Co. Leitrim. I can't be totally sure, but he was enough of a rascal, I think it would make him laugh.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Monday's Bread

I was out walking last Monday with the Sisters of Mercy, which is what we call ourselves for reasons lost in the mists of time, when being who I am, I bragged about the bread that I had made earlier in the day. Actually, I was decidedly pleased with myself. I keep playing with this and that when I make bread, even though my poor husband would prefer it if I stuck to something that was closer to white, plain, and unadulterated. Ah, well. Occasionally, I do just that.

This particular batch was a mix of spelt and kamut. I often pronounce the latter with the EMphasis on the wrong sylLABLE. Old dogs, new tricks. KAmut. KaMUT. It is a problem.

When it comes to baking for those with wheat allergies and gluten intolerance, I am also learning that there is a difference, and that one needs to check. Kamut or KaMUT only works for some people and not for others. Same with spelt, which conveniently only has one syllable. Still, Since one of The Sisters wanted the recipe for a family member with some level of challenge with wheat, I decided the easiest way was to share it here.

Fresh out of the oven - before I went on my walk.

This recipe is only an approximation.  Since I have been making bread for more than forty years, I am actually rubbish when it comes to being really reliable about exact measurements. Besides, when it comes to bread, going by how it looks counts for more than exactitude. Humidity for one thing can throw exact measurements into a cocked hat. When it comes to non-wheat breads, I find chia seeds really help with the texture. The rest is all to be played with.

Sharon’s KAmut. KaMUT & Spelt Bread

What I did
1 ½ c warm water
Put into my Bosch mixer
1 T yeast
Sprinkle on top of warm water
Kamut flour
Add enough to make it look like thick mud, beat it for about ten minutes with a dough hook, then let it rest for half an hour or however long you like - up to a couple of hours.
¼ c Chia seeds
½ c hot water
Soak the chia seeds in hot water while the above mud is resting. Then add the gelatinous result to the mud, and beat it for a few minutes.
1 T salt
1T sugar
1 T oil
Hemp hearts
Pumpkin seeds
1 egg
Add these ingredients to the mud. As for measuring seeds and hemp hearts, I just toss in what I feel like, a handful maybe.
Spelt flour
Add to all of the above, ½ c at a time, until the dough pulls away from the side of the mixer, but is not at all firm. Leave it covered for at least an hour, up to 2 hours., Then turn it on to a floured surface, and knead it - only until it isn’t too sticky, but isn’t dry. Plop it into a greased cast iron pot that has a lid. Cover and leave for half an hour, or longer it needed for it to double in size. Preheat oven to 425 F convection, pop the bread in the covered pot into the overn, and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the lid, and bake for another 20 minutes.  Then turn out onto a cooling rack. Set yourself a challenge. Try not to cut into it until it has cooled a bit

After the walk, sliced so you can see the texture.

After getting my heart rate up by walking with The Sisters on our usual circuit, I returned home for lunch and dug into the aforementioned bread. I slathered it with a thin skim of peanut butter, and a generous dollop of my Port Wine Cranberry-Apricot Sauce, so you may as well have that recipe too:

Port Wine Cranberry-Apricot Sauce – great on bread, in plain yoghurt, or with turkey.

What I did
8 whole green cardamom pods
Crush them in a mortar & pestle, & discard skins
3 cups Port Wine
Add to cardamom, and bring to boil in a heavy bottomed non-reactive pot.
1 cup sugar
1 cup apricot preserves
1 cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup honey
2 6-ounce package dried apricots, quartered
Add to above & cook for about 2 minutes.
3 - 12-ounce bag cranberries
Add to above and cook until the berries make a delightful popping sound, and most of them look popped.
1 grated lemon peel from one lemon
Turn off the heat, and add to above.Put into glass jars, and preserve, or eat it all. Whatever.

What else to say? Enjoy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Struan & Saras farm - It's for SALE

Last summer, I posted a piece about the incredible veggies grown by my brother Struan and his wife Sara. As it so happens, I am still enjoying last year’s garlic, and it is even still sweet and fragrant. The individual cloves have none of that bitterness that has accompanied some of the garlic that over the years I have chopped, minced, pressed or otherwise had my way with.

Struan in his glory
 But to all good things there is a season. Looking back with pleasure, and looking forward with hope, Struan & Sara are now planning to sell this farm. Their longer term hope is to buy acreage about half that size. To be honest, I haven’t a clue how they ever managed over the past several years to run a horse barn, as well as to grow enough vegetables and raise enough chickens, ducks and other fowl as well as sheep and such to feed their extended family and friends. They did all this, and yet still had enough left over to earn thousands from their veggie stand. You would think that they worked at the veggie growing full time, but no such thing. Struan has always had a full time job. It is just that gardening is his passion. Gotta love him.

I recall a decade and change ago when my husband and I sold our mountain top acreage and home in Mission, after having built the house with our own hands and raising our children there. We had put our heart and soul into that house as well as the land surrounding it, but there comes a time. Living on a mountaintop with a quarter mile road to maintain by hand was fast losing its appeal as we aged. Our hope when we listed it for sale was that whoever followed us would cherish it as much as we had. Of course, there are no such guarantees in life.

In Struan & Sara’s case, I hope that that the serendipity of the internet will connect them to someone who will love this land as much as they have. Perhaps, given the less than six degrees of separation that is true in our digital age, a horse-loving, farm-loving person might find the pictures that follow. Perhaps they will then feel their heart jump into their mouth with an impulsive OMG! – and then like any serious dreamer, they will find a way to make their next dream come true. After all, where else can you find a property such as this farm and stable within easy walking distance to local stores and restaurants?

Struan & Sara's house - but there is also a second house on the property as well

Exterior shot of the stable and barn. It has an indoor arena as well as 22 12'X12' stalls.

The indoor paddock is kept neat, and also has a watering system to keep the dust down.

This is taken from the roof of the barn before spring time greening up. The 1900 square foot greenhouse is off the the left behind their home, and the second house is barely visible, but is just right of the middle of the picture.
This is one of Sara's favourite pictures - a view of their outdoor paddock.

NOTE: Struan & Sara do have a realtor: Corrine Stones &Marc Goodwin. However, if someone buys this place as a result of my blogging on about it, then I expect double my usual portion of garlic scapes. Just kidding. Actually, my reward would be if everyone finds their dream. I am kind of a mutt about things like that. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Civil Society and Empire

I met James Livesay, the author of Civil Society and Empire, when I was on a flight back from Ireland. He was ego-free enough to suggest that I read not his book, but one by a colleague of his: Citizens of The World: London Merchants and theIntegration of the British Atlantic community 1735-1785.   After reading and reviewing that book, I tracked down a book written by Jim, ordered a copy, and am glad I did.

Being new to the study of Irish history, I can be counted on to get much of it wrong. The tales of slaughter, first by people on one side of the religious divide, and then by another, can be so riveting that it is easy to lose sight of the progress being made beneath the radar. One such development that I hadn’t clued into, before I read Jim’s book, was how civil society was developed in part because of the need for more tools for managing the British Empire. England was forced to wrestle with what to do with the issue of governing Ireland, while Ireland had to deal with England’s powers over them.

Civil society can be a slippery concept, and like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. It isn’t business, and it isn’t government, and yet both would be hamstrung without it. I see it as a flexible kind of space that business, government and citizens can all inhabit, and where they can all share some degree of power. Some people refer to it as the third sector, an aggregate of institutions such as clubs, churches, labour unions, NGOs, and advocacy groups. Some would also include educational institutions, as well as an independent judiciary, and a free press. Although the concept of civil society is not to be confused with the concept of democracy, it does create the kind of space that often saves democracy from itself.

It would be impossible to imagine life today if the only legal, political and moral space we had to act in was a polarized combination of family-based connections, buttressed by the expectations of inheritance and land rights; and on the other hand, the rights and duties of governments and monarchs with unchecked powers. That was the way that Europe had been governed for centuries, but in a global economy, there also needed to be a space where merchants, legislators, dissidents, or artists could thrive, and where individuals could seek meaningful redress, and also have a voice that could be heard.

The thinkers of the Enlightenment bent their mind around this conundrum, and in the decades that followed, the concept of civil society took root. The need for such a space became urgent in part because of the difficulties of managing the affairs of the ever-expanding British Empire. It was being challenged by the yeastiness of American entrepreneurs and politicians, as well as the special needs of Ireland, and the not totally unrelated needs of the slave trade. In the absence of the buffers and protections of civil society, the best option that the early international merchants had was to hire brothers, cousins, uncles, or whoever else could carry on trade in remote regions and not risk cheating them. After all: Distance was a strong solvent of trust.

Enter the invention of the coffee house. In 1650, an entrepreneur known only as “Jacob” opened the first coffee house in Western Europe at the Angel Inn on High Street, Oxford. Its noveltie was multilayered. A wide range of classes were free here to mingle and exchange ideas and information. Merchants absorbed the latest gossip from sea captains; students threw off the yokes of the received wisdom of their professors and intellectual sociability replaced academic discourse as the focus of many.

England was fertile ground for germinating the seed of a new idea of civilization. The ground had been broken and tilled by the Civil War; old habits and assumptions had been shaken. The collapse of controls on printing and publication in the 1640s allowed a new kind of contestatory print politics to emerge, particularly in the form of the “mercuries”, regularly published newspapers.

The thinking that percolated in the early coffee houses was not unlike that which centuries later would fuel many of the dissidents in Eastern Europe - men such as Václav Havel, Adam Michnik, and the poet Czesław Miłosz. In both instances, men acted as if they were free, and the longer they did that, the as if started to melt away, and new freedoms emerged. The early United Irishmen of the late 1700s were also part of this continuum. Although the freedom did not last, they were initially free to think and act because of the space carved out a century earlier:

Dublin had a newspaper, the Dublin Newsletter, from 1685, through which Dunton [editor of the Athenian Mercury] could advertise his wares. He could conduct his book sale at Dick's in Skinner's Row, circulate the catalog to coffeehouses in provincial cities like Kilkenny and Cork to find buyers, and even conduct a pamphlet dispute with the bookseller Patrick Campbell from the new vantage point of Patt's coffeehouse on the High Street.

Much of what occurred at these coffee houses was practical, not theoretical. One of them became a market for marine insurance. Why not? Asymmetrical information is a well known recipe for exploitation, and coffee house gossip balanced the stories put out by vested interests. By hearing about the latest crop failures in America, shipwrecks in the West Indies, or the price of butter being shipped from Cork, even the smaller merchants could minimize their risks.

Coffee house chat also went hand in glove with the political and social changes that were in play by the end of the 1600s. One of the most effective weapons in William of Orange’s arsenal was not the skills of his pike men, but the effects of his printed propaganda, distributed through the mails and the coffee houses of England and Ireland. By then, it was clear that the informal connections of the coffee shops had begun to be co-opted by various kinds of power brokers, and had become a necessary part of the toolkits of governments and Empires. At the same time, trade and mercantile connections were becoming as valuable as title to land had once been.

As the 18th Century evolved, the coffee house societies began to be supplanted by private clubs - a new social institution perfectly adapted to the needs of the governing elite in the new British Empire. The atmosphere of such clubs is well known to watchers of period dramas. Their private coffee rooms were “on a large scale, and fitted up in the style of superior splendor to what is usually observed in our more fashionable taverns”.  Add in the ever-present smoking rooms, as well as the libraries, and the Morning Room where men could read newspapers and magazines in peace and quiet, and the ruling elite were now well positioned to run the Empire as well as their own interests in the company of like-minded and like-funded movers and shakers.

At this time, social power in Ireland, which had been mostly based on land tenure, was shifting in ways that differed from the economic and political changes in England. Ireland had no coal, or major industries, aside from the linen trade. They had been bludgeoned in the Civil War in ways that England had largely avoided, and as a result a much militarized countryside had become polarized into opposing camps.

Civil society was supposed to be the key that allowed Irish thinkers to understand the complexities of Irish life in a more insightful and powerful manner and so to master them. The surprise of violence in Ireland, particularly of scale, and the re-emergence of old ethnic and sectarian forms of political allegiance confounded all expectations and forced thinkers and practical politicians to reconsider the most fundamental categories they used to explain and guide their experience. The appeal to civil society, which was supposed to end conflict, instead was found to drive it. Eventually all parties had to abandon the classic interpretation of civil society as an understanding of the polity and embrace new ideals.

This tragedy didn’t only hamstring legislators and citizens, it also kneecapped traders. Merchants at the port at Cork may have exported more beef than any other port in the world, and had organized markets for supplying this beef, pork, and butter from the hinterland but they were powerless when they came smack up against the economic interests of the Empire. Catholics were the most disadvantaged. Irish Protestants had no difficulty in negotiating complex identities. Their social position as landowners integrated them into local societies governed by norms of deference, influence, and privilege. These Irish Protestants, people like my ancestors, even used theological precedents to buttress their case:

The biblical image of the justified remnant, set apart amidst danger and providentially delivered, was a powerful representation of the community. It was even capacious enough to be extended to dissenters when the latter events of the Williamite wars demanded interpretation. After the siege of Derry, dissenters could, if necessary, be included within the central mythic narrative identity, while continuing to be excluded from political representation by the Test Acts.

We might think that the equating of religious obligations with commercial actions is a thing of the past, but then again, listen to much of the language used in contemporary American politics. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Then, just as now, the commercial wolf becomes the religious lamb in the blink of an eye. My favourite example from Civil Society is how the 1700s subscribers to the Bank of Ireland were encouraged to invest:

If the universal consent of all civilized nations in all ages has placed charity at the head of the moral virtues; if Christ himself has given at the preference of all Christian as well as moral virtues; let us then try whether erecting a bank here, that will take no higher interest than 5%, will not be the most charitable undertaking that private men can set about, or the Legislature enact into a law.

In writing this piece for my blog, I cannot do justice to all the themes explored in Lindsey’s book. Even so, I should at least mention the chapter on the Black family who lived in Co. Antrim,  Co. Down, Co. Armagh, America, and Bordeaux. Their story will be of interest to many of my readers. It also explains why so many Irish traders used the Isle of Man as a smuggling base. The Irish sensibilities and affiliations of the Blacks, and other such merchants, were simultaneously an asset and a liability. They were both rooted, and rootless. One of them, John Black - who died in 1767 – named his home Blamont after his earlier home in Bordeaux. He had it built at Ballintaggart, Parish of Kilmore, Armagh. As I follow his story, I appreciate how his Presbyterian Irish family ties enabled him to prevail in trade for as long as he did.

Stories such as this also leave me wanting to learn more. For example, this John Black recalled: “After the break of Dromore the Irish were coming sparing neither age nor sex putting all of the sword without mercy myself carried in the dark night aboard my father ship”. The convergence of faith and place makes me wonder if he might be connected to a much later James Black (d. 1828) of Woodford, Dromara, Co. Down. James was a chandler who married a niece of Thomas Ledlie Birch aka Blubbering Birch, who was the famous or infamous United Irishman who was deported for sedition. James’ son, Rev James Birch Black, served as a minister at 1st Dromora until he was suspended for drunkenness, and died 5 months later in 1823 leaving a widow and children. A connection here is likely.

All this aside, what matters even more than the particulars of these Blacks, is that their story is one of those that shows us how the fortunes of such Irish merchants rose and fell with the tides of the British Empire, and how such outcomes challenged the thinkers of their time.  Fortunately, we are the beneficiaries of their radical thinking, and all because:

[They were]... hopeful that they could describe the life of a modern commercial Empire in a way that would save the local traditions of civility. In order to accommodate themselves to commercial empire they were given to reconsider notions of moral excellence and identity, even of fundamental theology, that had provided the common languages of moral experience for hundreds of years. Their seemingly modest claims for the “common life” or the everyday made them unfit for their old moral and political habitats and drove them to seek to adapt the environment to fit their new expectations. The consequences of that effort, its successes and failures, still structure our ideas of civil society.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jacksons of Grange, Kings County, Ireland

NOTE: In the old deeds, Offally was named King’s Co. I am using the old name in this piece because that is what is in the old records.

In like a lion, out like a lamb. Or vice-versa. My blog in the month of March felt as if it was more like in with the Broad-faced Potoroo and out with the Galapogus Mouse. Both animals are now extinct,  which is what my blog felt like in the month of March. It was the first month since I started a year and a half ago that I didn’t manage a single post. If you deduced that my attention had been elsewhere, you would be right. It is also why this post will be indecently long. For those who are not interested in this topic, the Jacksons of Grange, Kings County, Ireland, it will also be infinitely boring. For the rest of you, parts of it may be more riveting than the tradesmen’s work done on the Titanic, which may not be saying much.

So why did I decide to interrupt this lengthy silence with a piece on the Jacksons of Grange, Kings Co., Ireland? Good Question. It was because I still can’t figure out if these Jacksons fit in with my Jacksons, or even whether that matters to the outcome of my particular quest.

It did help that two brothers, Robert and Henry, got into a legal slug fest over land, and left documentary traces of the whole kafuffle. After this, it seems that Henry retreated east and set up a life for himself in Co. Wicklow. This is not unusual. Jackson families did not stay within carefully delineated County bounds. They popcorned all over the place, including as far as America.
Birr Castle. SOURCE: Wikipedia, licensed under Creative Commons.

Now, when it comes to Kings Co. or anywhere else, just because a number of Jacksons lived cheek by jowl doesn’t mean that they are related. This caution, along with many others, is engraved on the inside of my forehead. It is equally true that if a family lives consistently over time in the same townland, this is nonetheless worthy of notice. The Jacksons of Kings County are the latter. There were clusters in a number of parishes, and I had already linked some of them in known trees. The links for these trees will be at the bottom of this post.

I have also posted references to all the deeds that I have found so far that mention Jacksons in Kings Co.. This adds up to about 8 pages worth of references. Again, the link will be at the bottom of this post.

 In order to take this any further, it is definitely worth getting picky and naming the particular townland, parish and barony where various Jacksons lived and/or held leases. Deeds and wills and such often refer to a particular land designation one way, and then sometimes another. To make things worse, the boundaries of counties, parishes and townlands shifted over time. It is easy to make the mistake of looking in one county, when you should be looking in a neighbouring one. I know it gets boring when the string of place names gets too arcane, but it does help if you use the ordnance survey map site to get yourself oriented. 

Let me give an example. Recently, I finally made sense of one of the Quaker Jacksons who emigrated to America. The Quaker records said that he was a Thomas Jackson born in 1710 at Drechet, Kings Co. So far, so good, but I could not find Drechet for love nor money. A chance encounter with a fellow researcher “Betty” pointed out that another record gave his birthplace as Dreighet, Co. Kildare. A quick dip into the IreAtlas Townland database made it clear that this townland was probably Drehid, Parish of Arkill, Barony of Carbury, Co. Kildare. It is in the north-easterly part of Co. Kildare. A quick peek at the ordinance survey maps, and Bobs your uncle. This barony is on the border of Kings Co., and Co. Kildare, and there are tons of Jacksons in the surrounding parishes on both sides of the border.

It turned out that this particular Thomas wasn’t included in the line of Quaker Jacksons that I had already assembled, because he was from another line of Quaker Jacksons, even though he was living in the same part of Ireland. Just to keep us on our toes, his line married with the ones I had already posted in my original Quaker Jackson tree. 

This new lot of Quaker Jacksons, that this Thomas of Drehid belonged to, descended from Nicholas Jackson of Kilbank, Seawaite, Lancashire, England. His son, Thomas, was also born at Seawaite, and married an Ann Man of Mountmellick, Queens Co (aka Leix aka Laois). They had a son named, guess what – Thomas – who was born in 1710 at the aforementioned Drechet aka Dreighet aka Drehid. Pretty much every citing of his ancestry is based on the mention in the appendix on page 285 of Proceedings ofthe Sesqui-centennial Gathering of the Descendants of Isaac and Ann Jackson.

With respect to all sorts of Jackson families in Kings Co., we can see from the deeds that some of them farmed in the townland of Jonestown, in the parish of Ballymacwilliam, Barony of Warrenstown; others were in the townland of Ballychristal, Parish of Geashill, Barony of Upper Philipstown, Kings Co.; while still others clustered at Edenderry, in the parish of Monasteroris, Barony of Coolestown. In short, when it came to Kings Co., and nearby counties, there were Jackson families here, there, and everywhere.

So far, I have not been able to link this latest batch to any other group of Jacksons. They could be connected to the Quaker lot, or else they could be a branch of the Ballyboy lot, or the Ballybritt lot, they could be some other group all together. I would love it if someone out there actually knows.

One aspect of their tree that makes me curious is the marriage in 1785 between Robert Jackson and Mary Carroll. The Carroll name is a significant name in Birr. Perhaps she was related to the famed Charles CARROLL(1661-1720) a wealthy Catholic settler in Maryland who in later life became Attorney-General in Maryland.   His family came from Aghagurty, Parish of Seirkieran, Barony of Ballybritt, Co. Offally. This is the same parish that Birr is in, so it is not unlikely that there is a connection here.

It is also worth noting that when you are looking for the townland of Birr, that it was also referred to as Parsonstown. This is not because a parson lived there, but because of the family of Sir William Parsons of Birr Castle (1731-1791). I have never been there, but from what I can see it looks like a lovely place to visit, at least these days. Aspects of it may be familiar to North American viewers of “Who Do You Think You Are?”. The workhouse, a relict of a harsher time, was toured by Rosie O’Donnell because the one from neighbouring Kildare which was connected to her family no longer existed.

One of the other things that I am curious about with respect to these Jacksons from Seirkieran, Kings Co. is why Arthur Tenison Groves spent so much time documenting them. Perhaps someone had hired him to piece this tree together. Maybe this post will find them. Groves was an antiquarian/genealogist working in PRONI (Public Records Office of Ireland), and did do work for hire. Thankfully, he had also a thing about making lists, and many of them were completed before much of the public records of Ireland went up in flames in 1922.

I don’t claim to have found all of his mentions of Jacksons noted under T808 in PRONI, but the ones that I transcribed after a recent trip to Belfast add up to 16 pages of single page typing. The deeds references have all been posted on my site. This gives some sense of the scope of this resource, but I should also note that is only a tiny taste of one part of the 9,000 documents that Groves left us. It was thanks to him that I discovered the details of the legal battle between the two brothers Robert and Henry.

Although Henry ended up in Co. Wicklow, some of this family seemed to have remained in Seirkieran parish and elsewhere in Kings Co. for some time. Decades later in Griffiths Valuation, there were still 207 mentions of Jacksons in Kings Co., and 11 Jacksons were mentioned in the 1870 Landlords lists. All told, they held leases to a few thousand acres. Not chump change when it comes to land values.

I can’t claim to have run them all to ground, but I have at least made a start. The deeds page that I assembled on Jacksons of Kings Co. will overlap with many of those mentioned in Griffiths and the landlord records. Although this quest is incomplete, I am hoping that it is helpful. Just let me know where it takes you, so we can all learn together. Otherwise, enjoy, and as a result of our sharing may fewer Jackson lines end up in the pile of endangered species. No more Broad-faced Potoroo and Galapogus Mouse.

A deed on my site whereby Robert JACKSON leases the lands of Tulla aka BallymacMurra

 A deed of Marriage of Mathew Jackson of Edenderry, Kings Co.

Albert Cook Myers. Immigrationof the Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania, 1682-1750 : with their early history inIreland The Edmundsons of Ireland were originally from Westmoreland. Perhaps not coincidentally, a significant number of Jacksons also from Westmorland settled in Coleriane in the mid-1600s. Edmundsons emigrated to Pennsylvania soon after the first lot of Quaker Jacksons.

An excellent blog by Arlene H. Eakle about the records of Arthur Tenison Groves.