Monday, July 7, 2014

Early Jacksons of County Down

Migration paths fascinate me -tracking when and where people took root.

When Oinri and his brother Breen asked me: Could their Jacksons from County Down be related to the Jacksons of Lisnaboe, Co. Meath? I had my own reasons for wanting to answer their question.  If there was a connection, then it might provide a clue to the pre-1700s ancestry of Sir Thomas Jackson, the person who is the main focus of my research project.

I had already done a fair bit of work on the Jacksons who lived at Lisnaboe, near Nobber in Co Meath in the mid-1700s. Some of them had then moved to Ballybay, Co. Monaghan where they had been big frogs in a little pond. They were successful linen and farming people. They lived large, carousing at length, were active insurgents on the side of the United Irishmen, and even buried their favourite old horse named Jane in a deep grave, standing up – an event that was commemorated in verse.

Two groupings of Jacksons in Co. Down have long tweaked my interest. One group is linked to Quakers, and another to the politically active Presbyterians who had settled just south of Belfast in the mid-1600s. The first line included Thomas Jonathon aka Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863), and the second line included President Andrew Jackson. Oinri’s lineage was new to me, so I was curious to know where or even if his people might fit in.

When it comes to the Quaker Jacksons of Co. Down, Lisburn is as good a place to start as any, even though it is just over the border in Antrim – at least according to today’s boundaries. Stick with me for a half a dozen paragraphs, and my choice to start with this lot may make sense.

Jackson Lane is now called Railway Street. It runs roughly north-south in the middle of this map.
 Thanks to the Lisburn Historical Society, we know pretty much where the Jackson's lived:

Jackson's Lane began at Market Square and ended at Michael Jackson's land on the Magheralave Road. It was the Magheralave Road from there on-Jackson's lane was about the Friends' School playing-fields. Lisburn Miscellany. Frank Kee. 1976

The Hearth Tax, which began in 1662 after the restoration of the British monarchy, reveals that Lisburn was a prosperous town. Linen towns such as Lisburn, Lurgen, and Coleraine had quickly drawn Quakers and Presbyterians to settle there, along with Huguenots who had contributed a whole new skill set to the linen trade. In 1669, when most households in Ireland counted themselves lucky to have even one hearth, a Nicholas Jackson had 2 and a Roger Jackson (1620-1694) had 8. Eight!!! This level of wealth makes me wonder: Was this the same Rodger JACKSON who served as an ensign in the 1649 Officers under Cromwell? Quite likely.

An indenture signed by a Mary Jackson on August 10, 1709 led me to discover that a Roger Jackson – probably the Roger of the eight hearths - shared a grave marker with Michael Jackson (1696-1727), a son of Michael & Mary Jackson, in the Christ Church Cathedral & Friends Burying Grounds. Which of course leads me to another question: Was Roger Jackson a father of Michael sr. or an uncle?  I don’t know, but he was most likely one or the other. A second question: Was Roger a Quaker? I don’t know that either.

In 1707, a fire leveled most of Lisburn, and burnt down the Jackson’s home on Magheralave Road. Michael Jackson sr. died two years later. Shortly after his death, his widow Mary Jackson (née Peers), with seven minor-aged children, negotiated an indenture, whereby 1st Lord Conway, Francis Seymour Conway(1679-1732)  gave her the right to rebuild, and in compassion to great loss sustained therein …. is pleased to give a sufficient quantity of timber for the Building the said Tenement and also for the further Encouragement of the said Mary Jackson to rebuild the same in manner herein after mentioned freely and without fine to renew a lease of the premises.

Although Michael Jackson sr., was a warden in the established church, it is worth noting that the Quaker meeting place was just down the road on the street where they lived. As for their professions, Michael sr.’s son Michael was an apothecary, and it seems that Michael sr. and son John were both doctors. They were also prosperous enough that it suggests they had more going for them on the financial front than simply the income from their medical practice. A deed in 1734 describes the holdings transferred to William WOGAN late of Lisburn but now of Dublin Gent:

 all that piece or parcel of ground on the North side of the Marketplace of Lisburn joining east on Thomas WALSHE’s tenement and West upon the tenement formerly George GROGSTON’s doctor containing in front 88’ and ranging down on the right hand of the gate as you go into the Barnfield as also a parcel of land known as Jackson’s Hill and also another little parcel of land called the Barn path or Meadow all the said Tenements or lands were formerly in the possession of Mary JACKSON widow of Michael JACKSON the elder containing by estimation 48 acres and one rood good English Measure more or less which said premises were demised by lease therein recited by Francis Lord Conway to the said Mary JACKSON for 41 years at the yearly rent of 15 pounds 16...

According to the 1862 Griffiths valuation, no Jacksons continued to reside at the site of the previous 1600s Jackson home on the corner of Railway and Magheralave Road. There was a John Jackson who leased buildings from George Thompson on Antrim St. which were worth £3.5.0 and a Joseph Jackson who leased buildings from Robert Lyness worth £2.5.0, both in the townland of Lisnagarvey, both of them substantial buildings.

The Nicholas Jackson of 1669 Lisburn is even more of a mystery. I have put together a 2nd Quaker tree which includes a Nicholas JACKSON from Seawaite Lancashire, and perhaps they are one and the same. Perhaps not. This 2nd Nicholas had a son Thomas JACKSON. The birth of John, a son of Thomas, was recorded in the Quaker Church records in Kings Co. in 1703. It is possible that this Nicholas, a father of at least one Quaker, might have stayed a while in Lisburn. After all, many Quakers temporarily resided either there, or in Coleraine, or Lurgen before either joining or establishing settlements in the south.

John Jackson (1653-1715), a son of two devout Quakers ,Richard Jackson (1626-1679) and Margaret Keete (d. 1705), and the first ancestors in my 1st line of Quaker Jacksons, was one of those early Quakers who was born in Lisburn, and it is possible that there was a familial connection between his family and the families of Michael and Roger Jackson. After all, both families resided in the same place at a time when the numbers of those in their financial class was small. It is also worth noting that once you drop the far-fetched notion of Richard Jackson’s (1626-1679) father being Sir Anthony Jackson, there is no known, credible ancestor for him. I wrote about this issue on my blog in a piece: The Dog That Didn’t Bark.

Richard’s son, John Jackson (1653-1715), was born at Lisburn and died at Killinure, Parish of Saintfield, Co. Down. This parish was home to many inter-related Presbyterians who were connected to the 1698 Uprising. John’s brother, Thomas JACKSON (1656-1716), also lived there. This Thomas was born in Clery, Co. Down, although I do not know where that is. Thomas’s wife Dorothy MASON, daughter of John MASON, probably died at Killinure as well. They had lived there long enough that their last four children were born there: Thomas, Dorothy, Sarah & Richard. Now, it may be a fluke, but a John MASON, a man with the same name as Dorothy’s father, was also present as a witness to the 1705 will of Samuel JACKSON of Dublin. Samuel was a member of a Jackson family of Coleraine who put down roots during the mid-1600s settlement of Londonderry and Coleraine. This Samuel also had a brother named Roger, but this Roger was born about 15 years later than the one at Lisburn - who may have been a cousin. Or not.

There was a 3rd line of Quaker-related Jacksons that supposedly descended from Sir Anthony Jackson. It started with someone named John in some versions or Robert in others. Supposedly, John/Robert was a Presbyterian, not a Quaker, possibly because he married a Scotch-Irish woman. Again, I have detached the start of his line from Sir Anthony. Not that I want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Both of the two Quakers who were supposedly brothers of Robert, named one of their sons Robert. This is a long way from any proof that the three men,  Richard, Anthony & Robert - were brothers, even though the possibility can still be entertained – as a long shot.

I have posted the Ireland-based part of the tree which includes President Andrew Jackson at The Jacksons of County Down, so I won’t bore you with all the details here, except to note that probate records from the 1800s indicate a continuity of residency of Jacksons in the Parishes of Dundonald, Holywood, and thereabouts – places where these early Jacksons first put down roots in the mid to late 1600s. A Samuel Jackson, who I suspect also belonged to these Jacksons held a lease to Ballimescaw aka Ballymiscaw in the early 1800s, a lease that had been in the Jackson family since at least the late 1600s. It is now the townland where Stormount, the house of the Northern Irish Assembly, sits.

James Jackson (1648-1711), one of the men in this line and a son of the first Robert, was a provost – a government post that also contributed coin to the family enterprises. His will of 1711 shows that he owned a tanyard and house in Newtownards, as well as lands at Ballymascaw, and a ship named the William and John. By all appearances, he was in the export business. Probably his father, Robert (?-1679), had also been a person with considerable financial resources.

Where this Robert Jackson came from, I do not know. The box tomb where his son James Jackson (1648-1711) was buried at Movilla included the "arms": A chevron with three mullets and in the base a hand holding a sword. So far, I cannot find any other JACKSON crest with three stars [aka mullets] on it. The ones associated with Coleraine, Mayo, Armagh, Ballybay, and Limerick all have three birds, not three stars. SEE: Jackson Family Crests.Update: February 3, 2024. There is a record of a William JACKSON with a picture of three stars aka Mullets on his family crest: William JACKSON of Dublin, merchant, will dated 9 June 1697 pd 27 Sept follg. SEE: Fisher Mss. Will Notes C, relating to the period 1680-1810, compiled by Denis O'Callaghan Fisher, Image 73.

From here, I start grasping at even remoter straws and note that the family members who resided at Lisburn in the early 1700s included men who were physicians, as did some of the later Jacksons of Co. Down, and Ballybay aka Lisnaboe (Hugh Jackson (1761-1780). This may be no more than sheer coincidence, but I suppose a next step would be to look at where they might have received their training and see if there are any clues there.

Looking through my remaining pile of possible clues, I note that one of the frequently used forenames in the early Lisnaboe line was Henry and that a Henry Jackson held a lease for Ballymescaw aka Ballymiscaw in the Parish of Dundonald in May 2, 1695 from James Ross. This was the same landlord who held the lease for Robert (?-1679). Ballymescaw was occupied in the early 1700s by a Gilbert Jackson (bef 1717-1740) who had a brother who was also named Henry. He would have been too young to be the holder of a lease, but the lease-holding Henry may have been an uncle of the 2nd Henry, or some other relation. Another possibility is that the lease-holding Henry was the father of the Lisbanoe Henry (who died sometime between 1778-1796). That Henry’s father is at present unnamed.

It turns out that I am not the first to be scratching my head over Henrys who are supposedly connected to this line, although this posting from 1891 is one more Henry that I have no clue about:

NOTES & Queries 1891: Will any of your readers kindly oblige me with information relative to the relationship which existed between the Rev. Henry Jackson, who was Presbyterian minister at Banbridge, co. Down, Ireland, from November, 1743, to February, 1795, in which year he died, and General Jackson, President of the United States. General Jackson's father emigrated to the North American colonies from Tubbermore, near Magherafelt, Ireland.

Again a fact that is suggestive when it comes to Ballybay-Co. Down family links, a Mr. Jackson of Ballybay was the agent in 1836 for J. Ross in the Co. Down townland of Ballyregan, Parish of Dundonald. This was the same townland which was occupied by John Jackson (1667-1725) and Katherine McKinney (?-1727). AS I say, the link is merely suggestive. The information in a July 23, 1789 Marriage Settlement ROD: 408 477 27517 does however link the Jacksons of Ballyregan and one of the Jackson families of Ballybay, albeit not the Ballybay-Lisnaboe line (or not in a way that I know about):

Thomas BRUNKER, Esq. of Bellgreen, Co. Cavan & Hugh JACKSON of Ballybay, Co. Monaghan trustees to the marriage settlement between groom Thomas JACKSON of Ballybay, Monaghan and Isabella THOMPSON, spinster & bride & 3rd daughter of Humphry THOMPSON of Bushford, Co. Monaghan. WITNESSES: Benjamin WILSON, Gent of Cootehill, Co. Cavan & Rev. George YOUNG of Sporthall. The settlement included part of Ballyreagan, Parish of Dundonald, Co. Down.

Thanks to the stellar research of Joan Blackburn of New Zealand, the people on this branch of the family tree are now included in my Jacksons of Co. Down,. The Thomas JACKSON (1700-1779) of Ballyregan aka Ballyreagan, had a son Rev James Jackson (abt 1720-1782), who while he was a minister in Ballybay, had a son Thomas Jackson (1757) who married Isabel Thompson, and together they put down roots in Ballybay. Ding!

So back to the initial question that got me started on all this: Were the Jacksons from County Down, related to the Jacksons of Lisnaboe, Co. Meath? The short answer is that I don’t know. And what about the Jacksons related to Breen and Oinri? I still don't know
1836 Griffiths map of Parish of Breda including Newtownbreda.
 What I do know is what I started with. Their line began with a Robert Jackson, a labourer, whose son John Jackson, a joiner, was born about 1843 in Co. Down (don’t know where), and married a Maria Little at Knockbreda on March 31, 1866. Given that they likely married at her family church, he may or may not have come from there. The fact that he and Maria were living at Knockbreda at the time of their marriage may indicate that he had a lease there, but I could not find a memorial of it in the Deeds Registry. Sure, there were plenty of Roberts and Johns in the Knockbreda Church of Ireland records, but none that were a good enough fit. The Presbyterian records may have been more appropriate place to find a link since John and Maria self-identified as Baptists in the 1901 census, but unfortunately, those records don’t go back far enough. Unfortunately as well, the names of John’s sons – Hugh and John - are common enough to not give us much more to go on.

What else? I have gone through the available parish records of Knockbreda – at least the ones that I could decipher, and have compiled records of Jackson probates. I also trolled through Griffiths and the Freeholders Records at PRONI, and compared maps from 1835, 1862 with contemporary maps. All I have learned is what anyone living in Co. Down would know. That Newtownbreda in the parish of Knockbreda is now in South Belfast. It is about 7 km south west of the late 1600s holdings of Jacksons connected to Ballymescaw and about 5 ½ km north-west of Killinure. In short, these Jacksons were about half way between the two places where there were already significant convergences of Jacksons.

The boundaries of Belvoir Park are not much different to the 1836 boundaries.
The earliest record possibly connected to this family is an Ellen Jackson, born at Newtownbreda in 1806, and daughter of a John Jackson. In 1862, Griffiths Valuations of Knockbreda show a couple of Jackson men leasing or owning mostly houses, not land – which would indicate that they were no longer rural. Also worth noting is that the largest landowner and lessee was a John Jackson whose buildings in the town of Knockbreda were valued at £8.0.0, which may not sound like much except when you consider that modest cottages were often valued at somewhere around £0.15.0 to £1.0.0.

One last kicker, is that we just got back some preliminary DNA results that might have helped us in this quest, but the only DNA link of any promise is to a Lawrence Clarke Jackson whose email no longer works.

Maybe it is time for a little black humor. Maybe our problem is that we are seeking an extra terrestrial. ET – please call home.  On the other hand, maybe readers of this post will find what I have missed, and set me straight. It’s my best hope.

·       Fortunately for researchers in Co. Down, Ros Davies has an excellent series of maps.
·       A related post from my blog: Woof – Part One. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sharon,
    Are you still accessible here?
    I'm following backwards my ancestor Robert Jackson born Bangor(son of Hugh Jackson - "the late Doctor Jackson") who married Judith Stewart in Belfast in 1851. I've got conflicts with the records of Jacksons of Newtownards and Ballygrainey and Holywood and Ballywooly. I think they are closer connected than is obvious but the connections elude me and involve 12 year-old fathers which isn't sensible. Glad to make contact if you have time. Chris Rush. NSW Australia.