Friday, May 22, 2015

The Irish Referendum & Dorothy Jackson

Today, Friday May 22, 2105, voters in Ireland are going to the polls to vote on a bill to amend the constitution to permit marriage between men who wish to marry men, or women who wish to marry women. Gay people have often been written out of family histories. Even today, most genealogical data bases do not have a way to include same-sex marriages [NOTE: Since I wrote this, there are now some options for inclusion]. There are several gay people in my extended family who did not live to see a day when their heart’s desires could be recognized. One is Dorothy Jackson.

Dorothy St. Felix Jackson, the youngest daughter of Sir Thomas Jackson and his wife Amelia, was born in 1887. Like her father, she loved sports, and allegedly was a wicked golfer and a good shot with a rifle. I have a photo of her as a young woman wearing men’s riding gear, but I am in Ireland right now, away from home, and can’t access it. Julian Currie shared it with me in 2006, on one of my earlier visits. Unfortunately, I have since lost touch with Julian. He was one of the great-grandsons of Sir Thomas Jackson. Instead, here is a photo that was shared by another great-grandson of Sir Thomas Jackson, Pat Roberts.
Here is Dorothy, age 12, about to leap off the side of a ship with men a decade older than her. In a letter sent to her father dated Aug 18, 1896, her grandmother comments: Dorothy is all alive; I believe she does not know what fear is. One family member told me that she was the first woman in England to get a driver’s license, but I cannot yet prove or disprove this.
Pat Roberts grew up knowing Dorothy as one of his feisty great-aunts. She always dressed in men’s clothing, with her suits made by the best of London’s tailors. Unlike most men with a significant number of ties in their collection, she often got tired of certain designs and passed those ties on to her grand-nephews, such as Pat.

One remarkable thing about how Dorothy lived her life was that she was a lesbian living openly with her partner Dorothy Fitch at Barony House (or cottage), Glengarriff, Co. Cork . She lived there for several decades, in such a way that she bridged not only the sexual divide, but also the faith divide. Thomas Jackson, one of her great nephews, told me that when she died in 1964, her Catholic pall bearers bore her hearse to the doorway of the Church of Ireland, where her Protestant friends then took over. She is buried there in the Protestant graveyard, but I have yet to make my way to Glengarriff to see it for myself. Her partner, Dorothy Fitch, died sometime around 1985.

The way that both Dorothies handled the legacies in their respective estates speaks volumes about how much family mattered to them. Dorothy J left much of her estate to her partner, Dorothy F. (as one might expect), but when Dorothy F. died a couple of decades after Dorothy J. (it is confusing that they are both named Dorothy!), Dorothy F. arranged for trusts to be set up for several of the Jackson grand-nieces and nephews.

We also know that Dorothy J. had at least one other serious love in her life: Phyllis Keyes. Phyllis, was the daughter of  Sir Roger Keyes, an admiral in the British navy who had been born in India. Her brother Geoffrey got a VC for trying to kill Rommel in Northern Africa. Given the army background of the family, and also the army background of several of Dorothy’s brothers, perhaps this is how they met. One other possibility is that they met through the Woolf family connections in Hong Kong. Bella Sydney Woolf, sister of Leonard Woolf and hence sister-in-law to the author Virginia Woolf married the Hong Kong Colonial Secretary, Tom Southorn. Also, Leonard Woolf would have been in Hong Kong when the Jacksons were there. More work is needed on this front.

Phyllis, born in 1880 and seven years older than Dorothy, was on the periphery of the Bloomsbury group. One can assume that even though Dorothy seems to have been more sporty than artistic, that she would have socialized with at least some of their members. They were a group of artists and writers who lived with a more fluid approach to gender and sexuality than was common in much of British culture at the time.

There is lot more about Phyllis and her pottery available on line, but it also seems clear that she was probably bisexual. At one point, she got so besotted with Duncan Grant, a potter who she both worked and socialized with in the 1930s, that his wife Vanessa Bell finally composed a letter on her husband’s behalf asking Phyllis to back off. As far as Duncan was concerned, they were just friends.

Phyllis Keyes family had Irish connections, and I do not know if Dorothy Fitch’s did as well. In fact, I know absolutely nothing about Dorothy Fitch. I also do not know what initially took Dorothy Jackson to Glengarriff, only that the Valuation records show her there as early as 1929. Her sister, Amy Oliver Lloyd also mentions visiting her that year: We went to Ireland for a fortnight at Easter to Glengarriff, Co. Cork.... Dot & Honor Hamilton there. We did a lot of boating in the summer. Honor Hamilton owned the house where she and Dorothy J. lived at that point. Was she also a lover? I don’t know. A decade later, Amy’s son Richard also visited: Richard] had previously spent his usual fortnight’s holiday as Dot’s guest in Glengarriff with Bill Croom.

I have so much more to learn, but given the events of today – here in Ireland -  I want to honour Dorothy, and make sure that I write her into the family history, at least to the extent that I am able. Were she alive today, I know how she would vote YES!, and I also know that should the vote succeed, that would toast its passage with a more than generous tote of good Irish Whiskey.
Update: December 30, 2020. FITCH is not a common name in Ireland. She may have been the Dorothy FITCH recorded in the 1901 Irish Census. She was age 24 (b. abt 1877 (age 24) born in England. She taught English at an orphanage and industrial school at Mount St. Vincent Convent on Military Road, in the townland of Prior's-Land,, St. Michael's Parish, Limerick City, Co. Limerick. As to why they chose to live at Glengarriff? It is possibly because the family of Alan Skuse, the husband of Dorothy Jackson's cousin Maud Martha Elizabeth Reed, had lived at Glengarriff for at least two generations. Alan and Maud Skuse died childless. Of course, it is also only a 15 minute drive from Bantry, a town thick with Jackson history - some of which likely includes Dorothy Jackson's ancestors.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Clay Pigeons

Years ago, when I was actually paid to solve problems, I often tossed up what I called clay pigeons as a way to focus thinking. It is not the only way, or even always the best way, but it can be effective. In one experiment about the value of having something to focus on, it was proven that men significantly improved their aim when a dead fly was placed in the urinals that they used. I am not making this up. Of course, if the clay pigeon, or dead fly, or whatever else you are choosing to focus on turns out to be a red herring, it does make sense to stop aiming at it. Especially if it is on the floor.

With respect to my work on who Sir Thomas Jackson might have thought his ancestors were, my clay pigeon is in the form of a shoveller -a duck – and it has proven to be remarkably effective, thanks to the fact that my own research has been complemented by the indefatigable efforts of Jan Waugh from Arizona. One day, I hope we meet.

ARMS: Ermine on a pile azure between two fountains in base proper a Sheldrake or. CREST: Upon a fountain proper a Sheldrake or. MOTTO Aut Mors aut Vitoria (Either death or victory).

After seeing the shovellers on Sir Thomas’ coat of arms, Jan and I started seeing shovellers in other Jackson coats of arms – veritable flocks of them. I suspect that most of this has to do with the dominance of the Mercers  and Clothworkers Guilds in bankrolling King and Queen, bailing out other hard up aristocrats, and yes, even contributing funds to the first settlement at Virginia in America.

It would help if there were written records about why these shovellers were included in Sir Thomas’ coat of arms, but unfortunately no such records exist. Peter O’Donaghue, York Herald at the College of Arms in London, was clear on this point. I have to say that I was thrilled to hear from him a couple of days ago. I had been trying for years to find out whether there were any records concerning the creation of Sir Thomas’ coats of arms, but had been clearly sending letters to the wrong in-box. Now that I know that there is nothing to be found, I can at least stop looking and hoping.

Paraphrasing the advice that I got from Mr. O’Donaghue, coats of arms are like jazz – they are best enjoyed as a riff.  Take them for what they are. For hundreds of years men would invent arms for themselves, even though they had not been granted the official use of them. Then, for those who did become baronets, and had already been usuing their own self-created arms, they tended to stick with the design that they had already been using for years. Others simply appropriated aspects of Arms that had been used by prestigious people who shared the same surname. It isn’t far off from the kind of heraldic Clip Art you find on mugs and plaques in tourist shops in Temple Bar in the heart of Dublin. There is usually little point in expecting this to be meaningful in terms of either blood-lines or family ties (not always the same thing – as we know from the frequency of the so-called non-paternal events). But sometimes there is a point.

For years, I took copious notes of any Jackson arms that had birds on them. Then I posted what I had found on a page on my web site. One of these memorials revealed the sad tale of a young mother, who had died at age twenty-four after having already buried two infant sons. Only her daughter Susanna, and her husband Richard survived her. Thanks to Anthony R. Yates of Leicester, I even have an image of her memorial to share. Some repainting of the memorial, which was done in more recent times, used colours for the Bates side of the crest which are incorrect, but the  colours used for the Jackson touch-up are probably close enough:


Near this place lieth the body of
Wife of Richard Jackson, second
Son of William of Coleraine
In ye County of Derry, in ye Kingdom
Of Ireland Esq. Daughter of Thomas
Bate of Ashby Gen. And Dorothy his
Wife, who departed this life the 13th
Of July, in ye year One thousand six
Hundred and ninety eight.
In ye twenty-fourth year of her age
Having had issue two sons
William and Thomas
& one daughter Susanna
Who only survived her.
Above are painted arms (gules, a fesse between three shovellers or; impaling Bate).

This is where my own ignorance – that following such birds was futile - led me to learning about Richard Jackson (1722-1787) of Forkhill. The Anne Bate who died at age twenty-four was the first wife of his father, Richard Jackson (1658-1730). Richard of Forkhill was the first-born son of his father’s second wife – Elizabeth Boyd, about whom I know nothing. Richard, who had bought the lands of Forkhill in 1742 when he had just come of age, died without issue. In his will, he created a trust to take care of the poor of his parish and to fund missionary work. He also made a donation to the Armagh Infirmary for the good of my poor fellow creatures who are destroyed by the advice of Quack Doctors. Unfortunately, his good intentions were undermined by legal nit-picking. It took an Act of Parliament and decades of litigation to sort it all out, but that’s a whole other story.

As a man who valued education, and paid to ensure schools were available in his parish - albeit not Catholic ones (he was a Protestant man of his time and place) - he poses here as a young man with his copy of Horace.
Meantime, there are the birds. Shovellers, to be precise. Richard of Forkhill had them in his family crest, and so did his father and grandfather. Had I not swallowed the notion that birds of a feather fly together, even in heraldic arms, I would never have even bothered to try to find the painting of Richard Jackson of Fork Hill aka Forkill. When I met up with the actual painting and its current custodian, I also found that Sir Thomas Jackson considered himself to be a kinsman of the Jacksons of Forkhill. A friend, Linda Leonard, will soon be checking out the pertinent correspondence at PRONI. If Thomas Jackson’s letters are there, I will definitely be doing the happy dance.

FROM: A Short history of the Jackson Charitable Trust, Forkhill. 1789-2006.
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what I have learned by bird watching. There will be more to come. The stories that connect the Jacksons with shovellers in their family crests stretch back and include Jackson family lines in Ireland, Yorkshire, Westmorland, London, and as you can see, even counties such as Leicestershire, places that you might not expect.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Oral History - Jacksons and Fairy Rings

It is surprising – at least to me – how often I encounter a bit of oral history or local knowledge, and then days later am able to find that it is a perfect fit with the written record. Last week, I was enjoying a lovely Sunday dinner made by Marie Lynch at Cavananore in Co. Louth, when her husband Eugene asked me: Have you ever heard about Jackson’s Rocks?  I hadn’t.  I’ll take you there. He wasn’t sure exactly where they were, only that they were somewhere near Liscalgot. After a few stops along the road to see if we could learn more, we arrived at a bungalow where Mary & James Casey lived on Liscalgot Road. They were just pulling out of their driveway when we arrived.

Do you have a minute?  Eugene asked. This being Ireland, which as far as I can see is generosity personified, they did. They backed up into their driveway and welcomed us into their home, and we explained what it was that we were seeking. I should mention that it was totally bucketing down with the kind of rain that made you not only want to wear a hat or hoist an umbrella, but instead to duck and seek cover.

Jackson’s Rocks? Yes, Mary said. There was a fairy ring there. James pointed towards a hedge beside their house. Behind there. He grabbed a hat, and rain jacket, and the three of us went back out into the elements. Not much further out of their driveway and along down Liscalgot Road, I clambered up on the wee ledge beside the hedge at the edge of the road, and shot over the branches as best I could. Not that there was much to see, even taking my fogged up glasses into account. Had I not heard tell of the story connected to it, I would have walked right on past it in utter ignorance.

The cashel on Liscalgot Road - aka Jackson's Rocks.

The next day, I was in the Armagh Country Museum, and the curator, Sean Barden set out a pile of T.G.F. Paterson’s notebooks for me to peruse. Lo and behold, in the first one, Paterson was describing this same bit of land as it had appeared to him in 1930. He called it a cashel. A cashel is the anglicised version of the Irish word Caiseal, meaning "stone fort". It turned out, there were two cashels in the area. The first that he mentioned was at Liscalgot:

 The 1st cashel mentioned:
TGF Patterson Notebook No 135. LISCALGOT O.S. Sheet No 31
There are two cashels in this townland, one on the farm of Mr. Bernard Loy (and known as Loy’s For[th]) and the other on a grazing farm (within a stone throw) belonging to Sir Thomas Jackson. Both are well known locally, Loy’s being perhaps the more “famous” of the two. The cashel on the Jackson property contained a “cave” but it is now (1930) closed. These forts are not shown on the maps of 1855.The Jackson cashel, until a few years ago was a mass of thorns etc. These have now been cleared away but Loys Forth is still very much overgrown. 
NOTE: An Alice JACKSON married an unnamed LOY in the mid to late 1700s, and this may have been their land. She was a daughter of George JACKSON (1718-1782) and Margaret O’Laughlin (1722-1797) – the g-g-grandparents of Sir Thomas Jackson. Alice’s family farmed at Liscalgot, and her father and brother were both schoolmasters of the Creggan Charter School (the latter fired for reasons of scandal).

 It is hard to see - but look at the middle right of the photo,just above Milltown Bridge. The penciled in X is the kind of mark that TGF Paterson would have made. It suggests to me that this is where he thought the location of the cashel was. This copy of this map dates from 1836, and is held at the Armagh County Museum.

 The 2nd cashel mentioned:
TGF Patterson Notebook 284 Vol 3.: CORAGH OS Sheet No 8
JACKSON’S FORT The rampart of the ring of this earthwork has been levelled into the trench all the way round with the result that the ring sits several feet high above the surrounding fields. It is now (1931) in use as an orchard. Mr. Allen, the present owner of the farm states that his family settled in the adjoining townland of Ternacreevy in 1616. His mother was a Miss Jackson daughter of the former owner & the Jackson’s held the farm “from the days of Cromwell”.

On this map from 1836, held at the Armagh County Museum, TGF Paterson’s penciled annotation suggests that this is where he thought this cashel was. Even though the townland in this 1836 map was called Cornoonagh, I assume that this is the same townland referred to in his 1930 notes as Coragh.
Of course, given the nature of my particular quest, my next question is: who was the father-in-law of the Mr. Allen mentioned in Paterson’s notes, the Mr. Jackson who would have owned the farm in Coragh. More importantly, who was the Miss Jackson who was the mother of the younger Mr. Allen. This could go a long way to solving the puzzle of the relationships between several of the 19th Century Jacksons who lived in and around the Parish of Creggan from the mid-1600s to the mid-1800s.

I have two photos given to me by Thomas Andrew Jackson (1930-2007) when he was still alive in Bangor. Are these the two in the photo beneath the Mr. Allens that Paterson referred to?
Mr Allen & son Richard
 And was this the Miss Jackson who married the Mr. Allen?
The photo was simply labeled: Mrs Allen - as if we should know who she was.

Stay tuned. My work is still cut out for me.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Family crests and Jacksons

Heraldry is as much an art as it is a science. My own introduction to it came when I was an Alderman serving on the Mission City Council in the mid to late 1980s. Canada’s Chief Herald met with us to design our very first coat of arms. It was a pleasant distraction from talking about why the sewer pipes near the prison kept corroding and leaking (was it the diet?).

Mission City Coat of Arms
Designing coats of arms is akin to designing a blog template using something like WordPress or Google. There are all these designated places where the right bits need to be tucked in, in the right format, and there are rules about what should go where. Here is the usual template for a coat of arms:

An achievement in heraldry is a full display of all the heraldic components to which the bearer of a coat of arms is entitled. SOURCE: Wikipedia.
When it comes to deciding what gets included in a coat of arms, the word entitled is one of those very dodgy words. Who is the person who ultimately decides who can use certain heraldic components? On the website of the Mission City Coat of Arms, there is a description of what ended up being included, but there is no description of how they got included. This is not unusual in heraldic design, but in this instance, I had a front row seat.

The Herald was a thoughtful man, well versed in his trade, and he arrived - as any good designer does - with a suggested template and thoughts about what should go into it. Since Mission City was a town that had grown up around an Oblate mission, he suggested that the core of the design should include a cross. Heraldry has its own equivalent of Clip Art elements. In this instance, the cross that he was showing us did not look anything like an Oblate cross.

Thankfully, our Herald was a good listener. He considered all of our suggestions, and after I winged and whined about a generic cross not being suitable, he tromped around the Oblate graveyard to see what an Oblate cross looked like. Then he included it.

The core of the design, the shield of arms, is a new symbol in heraldry, the Mission cross…. On the Mission cross is placed the form of cross favored by the Oblate Fathers, whose school marked the beginnings of the District in modern times

In the grassy bit called the supporters you can see some strawberry flowers. I had asked that they be included as a way to recognize the Japanese farmers. They had been forced out of their farms in 1941, and then lost them because of a specious link - racially based - between them and the bombing of Pearl Harbour. As it turned out, the strawberries did get included in the coat of arms, but not that part of the rationale.  Ah, well…

The reason for this lengthy ramble about heraldry is because I am working on a post about Sir Thomas Jackson, and the sheldrakes – in other words: ducks - in his coat of arms.

ARMS: Ermine on a pile azure between two fountains in base proper a Sheldrake or. CREST: Upon a fountain proper a Sheldrake or. MOTTO Aut Mors aut Vitoria (Either death or victory).
I continue to be curious about whether the sheldrakes were included because the British herald thought they were a good fit, or to what extent it was because Thomas Jackson requested them. Is there any correspondence in their files? I am less curious in answering the contemporary question of Who Do you think You Are? than I am in answering the question: Who Did He Think He Was? Did he believe that he was related to Richard Jackson of the Forkhill Trust fame? My guess is that he did, and there are considerable grounds to buttress this case. I will get to that in a future post.

Over the years, I have made several requests to the College of Arms to see if I can run this to ground, but perhaps I have been sending my enquiries to the wrong place. This morning, I found a new website – or at least new to me - and it may work better than what I have been doing so far. I will keep you posted.