Sunday, June 30, 2013

Woof - Part One

Last month, I posted a piece where I invoked Sherlock Holmes and the curious incident of the dog that didn’t bark. In the case that I was trying to solve, the missing piece was why did the Rev. Richard Jackson (1595-1680) of Kirby Lonsdale not name a son after himself – especially when he had twenty children, ten of whom were sons? Surely, there had to be a son named Richard.

Woof. Case solved. Thanks to crowd sourcing, and the input of others, it turns out that not only was there a son named Richard, but now – as a result of that earlier post - I also know the names and christening dates of all of his nineteen siblings. We can credit his first wife, Dorothy Otway, with doing most of the heavy lifting. Sixteen of the twenty children were hers, and only one died as a child.

Advancing years may be why there were no more than twenty children. When Richard’s second wife, Jane Carter, gave birth to Richard’s 20th child, the aptly named Vigessima (Latin for 20), June was 39 years old. Even though Rev. Richard would live well into his 80s, he was already 62. In his first marriage, he had a child virtually every year. In his second marriage, there was a hitherto unheard of gap of five years between the 18th and 19th child. Fair enough.

In 1645, the year that Dorothy & Richard’s 16th child was born, the eldest son, William, was seventeen years old. This was the same year that Dorothy died, and was also the same year that Oliver Cromwell formed his New Model Army. This convergence is significant. Many of the children of Rev. Richard, as well as many of their relations relocated to post-Cromwellian Ireland after the Civil War. Further research will likely prove that some members of the extended family settled in Ireland long before this, quite likely as early as Elizabethan times.

At the time of the birth of Rodger in 1645, the Jackson family was facing a serious financial crisis. Bear in mind that in the mid-1600s in England, a succession of rulers had been taking turns seizing power and then getting whacked down. It was as if the whole country was engaged in a game of Whack-a-Mole. Every time a ruler was deposed, another one popped up, and the legal and religious lay of the land underwent a 180 degree shift. Much of the country went from Catholic to Protestant, Protestant to Catholic, and then back again Those of the yeoman, clerical and wealthier classes often lost their lands if not their heads when they were found guilty of being on the losing side.

Rev. Richard had misjudged which side his bread was buttered on when he backed a £100 loan to a popish recusant. The man was unable to pay because of all his lands & meanes beinge sequestered.  The ricochet effect put Rev. Richard on the verge of bankruptcy. The Right Honorable Lord Wharton was beseeched to find a:

 course may be taken that Mr. Jackson may have satisfaction, if any be to be had out of the delinquents estate of lands or woods, otherwise if lawe pceede agaynst Mr. Jackson & compell him to pay it as it will do, he will be undone, and not able to subsist haveing wife & many children, 14 children he hath & the 15th (is by this tyme borne for every houre his wife lookes for it). [NOTE: Rev. Richard’s daughter Maria, who died in 1642, was not included in this count of 14 children]

This is where having friends in high places helps. Oliver Cromwell and Lord Wharton were close friends. An indication of their closeness is in a letter sent by Oliver Cromwell in 1649 to Wharton, where Cromwell says: If I know my heart, I love you in truth: and therefore if, from the jealousy of unfeigned love, I play the fool a little, and say a word or two at guess, I know you will pardon it. There is much more to learn about the support of the Jacksons by Lord Wharton, who seems to have come to their rescue. Clearly, Rev. Jackson dodged a financial bullet, since he married again within a year, and seemed to have no problem in supporting another four children.

Jackson Hall, Kirby Lonsdale, now known as The Royal Hotel, a lovingly restored Georgian town-house hotel providing luxury accommodation and exceptional hospitality amidst the unspoilt English countryside of the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland. NOTE: I will write about the family connections to this property in a future post - it belonged to the Coleraine Jacksons for generations.

Although Rev. Richard had long sided with the Parliamentarians not the Royalists, we do know that the beliefs of his father-in-law, Roger Otway, shifted with the winds of the times. In 1643, he spoke up on the side of the King and hence against the Parliament, but a year later he was clearly under the protection of the Roundheads. The hint about where Rev. Richard’s loyalties lay was that Otway invoked his name in order to demonstrate his own loyalty to Parliament. Otway’s shift happened just after the Battle of Marston Moor where the Scottish Covenanters, with Oliver Cromwell acting as Lieutenant- General, defeated the Royalists in Yorkshire. Rev. Richard seems to have been a Parliamentarian and supporter of Cromwell long before this.

When Rev. Richard’s wife Dorothy died, a year after the Battle of Marston Moor, the region was still in a state of political upheaval and uncertainty. This meant that the family was on their back foot in more ways than one. Clearly, they were already financially shaky, but now there were a total of 15 children to feed and house, most if not all of them dependent on their family. The six youngest were under the age of six.

The eldest son, William, later known as Capt. William Jackson, had likely already joined the army, and would be rewarded with land for his services. There is a William Jackson listed in the Irish Cromwellian Land Grants, but infuriatingly, there is no mention which County or Counties his lands were in. Even so, I suspect this is our man. The lands that William leased in Coleraine in 1663 were in the townland of Killowen, part of the lands granted under the Plantation grants to members of the Clothworkers’ Corporation. This is a good fit with the profession of his grandfather, William Jackson, a merchant and a mercer in Kirby Lonsdale, Westmorland.

Ironically, in spite of the Parliamentary affiliations of Rev. Richard and his sons, many of his descendants would ascend to become not only well-heeled gentry, but also supporters of the Royalty no less. Unlike their progenitor, many never wavered when it came to keeping a keen eye to which side their bread was buttered on.

Still, the social status of Rev. Richard makes it even more surprising that his son William, at the age of 29, was allowed to marry Elizabeth Staples, daughter of Sir Alexander Staples and Elizabeth Conyngham of Coleraine. To go from being the military son of an impoverished vicar to the husband of a knight’s daughter in one generation was not unheard of, but it was rare. Perhaps there was more to this than meets the eye. Although knighthoods were often no more than patronage appointments handed out in reward for services to the ruler, it is also possible that Rev. Richard came from a family that was much better off than might appear at first glance.

Regardless of whether the Captain William Jackson who leased lands in Coleraine in the 1660s was born with a silver spoon in his mouth or not, he did well by himself. Already by 1663, Killowen, the townland that he leased, had 18 households with 20 hearths. Compared to Oliver Cromwell, who two years earlier had been exhumed and posthumously executed, young William Jackson was doing very well indeed. By 1669, he also won the position of wood ranger, the better to log 200 tons of timber to build a bridge over the River Bann that was to his advantage.  Never being one to back down from a good fight, he is also on record for having tangled with the town of Coleraine in 1673 over taxes. Finally, an agreement was reached for a settlement, and it was agreed that he would not trouble or molest the town court leets (taxes), nor hinder any of the Clothworkers’ tenants from answering these leets.

As a result of the bridge, and the focussed energies of Capt. William, the town of Killowen soon expanded to 65 households, mostly tenanted by Presbyterian tradesmen. Capt. William also controlled the Custom House, the Excise Office, end eventually even the Post Office. By the time he died in 1688 at age 60, his eldest son, the next Captain William Jackson was old enough to step into his father’s considerably sized boots.

The story of this second Captain William Jackson, as well as the stories of the other Jacksons related to those who settled in Coleraine in post-Cromwellian times, will have to await a later post. There is no shortage of juice. The family was nothing if not colourful.

NOTE: This is the only photo that I can find of Jackson Hall aka Manor House in Coleraine. It is on the web site of “Lord Belmont” in Northern Ireland.
Perhaps someone reading this may know of another?
 CREDITS: There are many people whose fingerprints are all over the solving of this case, but it is Jan Waugh who deserves to be singled out for special praise. It was her research which lead me to revisit the earlier versions of this Jackson family tree, and then to unlink Tomsin Futhergill as a wife of Rev. Richard. Tomsin had been included as a possibility as Richard’s second wife, after Dorothy and before Jane. Based on the records to date, this earlier hunch can now be safely discounted. Tomsin Futhergill must have married another Richard Jackson. This was easily done as there was no shortage of them in Westmorland in the 1600s.

See Also:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


It is official. I am a total geek.

Years ago, an old friend observed, while we were quaffing a beer or three, that if you asked most people how many cows were in the field across the road, they would glance up and say: Three, or twelve – depending on how many they saw. I, on the other hand, would spend the next month examining the nature of the grass, the cow pies, the angle of the hoof prints – in short, the whole nine yards. My answer then would be that there were seven mature cows, two yearlings and three calves. Half of them had issues with their bowels, and one had an infected hoof.

To the charge of being a geek, I plead guilty as charged. Last week I uploaded more than 300 pages of notes on deeds and such that I had transcribed from the Deeds Registry, and other sources. Now that is arcane, even for me. Yet it is amazing material when you know how to use it.

Occasionally, you get a window into events such as the legal arrangements made between Thomas and Mary Jackson, and John Halpin - a comb maker, because the Jackson's marriage had come asunder in an time before divorce was an option. I have highlighted the interesting parts in blue:

1788 Jun 24 ROD 402-191-264706
Btw Thomas JACKSON of Hammond Lane Co & City of Dublin of the 1st part & Mary JACKSON his wife of 2nd pt and John HALPIN of the City of Dublin Combmaker and Edward BROOK of said City gent of the 3rd pt Reciting that certain Differences & disagreements had arisen and were then subsisting  between the said Thomas JACKSON and Mary JACKSON his wife and that in order to put an end to same they had mutually agreed to live separate from each other and that the said  Thomas JACKSON by virtue of the Deed of Settlement in said Deed  [?] was seized and possessed of among other houses the Premises in said Deed party recited  and herein after mentioned the said Thomas JACKSON to provide a separate Maintenance & provision for said Mary JACKSON during such time as she should live separate from her  said husband by said deed Did Grant bargain sell release and confirm unto the said John HALPEN and Edward BROOK in their actual position then being by virtue of the Bargain & Sale therein mentioned in trust for the sole use of Mary JACKSON One Amount or Clear Yearly Rent charge of £30… payable out of… dwelling House Assuage or Tenement… formerly in possession of  Thomas LEWIS but now in possession of John BUTLER Baker situate lying or being in the corner or front of Hammond Lane and Pudding otherwise Lincoln Lane in Co 7 City Dublin… that Thomas JACKSON during such time as said Mary JACKSON should live separate  [?] not under any pretence whatever Call upon or molest the said Mary  in the posson of any place of abode she might hereafter Occupy or cause her to be disturbed therein in like Manner that said Mary should not Molest or disturb the said Thomas JACKSON his children or family or procure it to [leedom] & that in case the said Thomas JACKSON should at any time thereafter be obliged to pay or that he should be sued for a Debt which the said Mary should Contract for her own use & account then it should be lawful for said Thomas JACKSON to enter  unto the said premises and recover the full amount of said debt and costs  & also that the said Thomas JACKSON should permit the said Mary JACKSON to have receive take away carry & remove all wearing apparel of what kind soever with the several articles of household Furniture and other matters mentioned in the schedule of deed Indorsed and to dispose  of the same as she think proper….

But, back to the geekdom part of this. A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Nick Reddan from Australia. Four dozen volunteers have been indexing and posting notes of deeds on his site for the past several years. One of these researchers, Roz McCutcheon, has indexed and uploaded more than 20,000 of them herself. I am a mere trifler in this crowd. As of June 1st, there were 113,623 indexed deeds, but by the time you read this, the total will definitely be higher.

Sharon & Nick at The Church Restaurant, Dublin, in 2011. 
Photo credit: Peter McWilliams.
PS - Check out the Fish and Chips. Excellent.
 The genius of Nick’s index is that you can often find people who were not only lessees or lessors, but also neighbours, witnesses, or relations. No other index gets even close. It is impossible to underestimate how much place matters in Irish history. When James Joyce wrote A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man the central character wrote down:

Stephen Dedalus
Class of Elements
Congowes Wood College
County Kildare
The World
The Universe

For Deeds Registry work, one would need to add:

Naas North
County Kildare

Most original deeds were in the possession of the parties but some have survived  in solicitors and private estate collections. The originals of registered memorials in the Registry of Deeds have the old  seals and signatures. Copies were handwritten in parchment books -known as tombstones on account of their weight - and are available for perusal in the Deeds Registry Office There is a sensory pleasure in searching through them personally. The weight of the paper, the smell of it. There are also two indexes to these tombstones:
  • The NAME INDEX where memorials are indexed under the name of the lessor (the person who held title to the property), NOT the lessee. NOTE: There is no index of lessees.
  • The TOWNLAND INDEX which is the more challenging of the two. Many of these books are stained, and the writing can be so cramped that it is a challenge to decode.
Other tips that I have learned over the years are:
  • Not everyone gets mentioned in memorials or deeds. Many people held leases that flew beneath the radar. Many did not have leases.
  • Unless the person you are seeking was reasonably wealthy, odds are that they were the lessee, not the owner, so the likely landlord’s name is the name to start with.
  • If you have the name of a wife, check her out. Often marriage agreements are under her father’s or brother’s names.
  • Look at the end of the book. Sometimes entries are posted that did not fit under the letter they are supposed to be under.
  • NOTE:You can order colour photocopies from the Registry of Deeds for €20 - either on-line or in person, as long as you have the reference number.. 
If you cannot get to the Registry Office in Dublin, but have a reference for a memorial, then try your luck at Nick Reddan’s site, and keep checking back. New ones are added all the time. His instructions are pretty clear. One trick I can add is whenever I have a memorial number, but nothing else, is that I go to the page where he has the index by memorial, click on the hyperlink that takes me to the page with the appropriate page-range, and then use the find feature in my browser to hone in on the specific number I am seeking. It does speed things up a bit.

The deeds on my site have a different focus in mind than his site. I am collecting notes on memorial that are likely interconnected with the families that I am researching. If you find one that looks like a slam dunk for your own research, then a site search of my web page may turn up something else of interest. The legal intricacies are of less interest to me than the family information, so, if you do find an entry on my site that interests you, it is also worth checking on Nick’s site. 

Even better, book a flight to Ireland. You won’t regret it.