Sunday, April 28, 2019

Rev. William JACKSON - Dead Ends Blog #1

Depending on your perspective, Rev. William Jackson (1737-1795) was either famous or infamous. Shortly after his conviction as a United Irishman, but before his sentence could be pronounced, he committed suicide in the Dublin court. His timing had purpose. It was to preserve his estate – at least what was left of it – for the use of his pregnant wife, their future child and for William, their thirteen-year-old son. Immediately after his death, dozens of articles and books began to be written about him. The ones written by R. R. Madden, picture beneath, are the ones that get read most often. 

Born in 1798, three years after the death of Rev. William Jackson, Richard Robert Madden (1798-1886) was the youngest of 21 children. The seven volumes of his opus - The United Irishmen – Their Lives and Times- was published in 1843. It ran to numerous editions and frequent reprints.
Even though some of Madden’s errors and omissions are deeply frustrating, there is much to be grateful for. Sure, he lost some of the many family documents entrusted to him and destroyed a few others as well – ones that contradicted his own preconceived ideas, but still. As Leon O Broin wrote, We can accept that Madden tended to utilize a mass of material with scanty regard for order and reliability.” That being said “the work embodies a mass of original material that, but for Madden’s intervention, would have been lost forever …” 

Madden opens his chapter on Rev. William Jackson with a number of tantalizing clues about who the Rev. William Jackson really was:
(my bolding) THE subject of this memoir, though not born in Ireland, was descended from a highly respectable family of a northern county, of the Newtownards branch of the Jacksons, from which the celebrated American general of that name sprung, I am informed by Mr. John M'Adam of Belfast. From an account of his own, given in the Northern Star of the 6th of January, 1794, we learn the following particulars of his family.
SOURCE: The United Irishmen – Their Lives and Times, Catholic Publication Society of America. Shamrock edition, p. 162. This was a 1916 reissue (interesting timing).

This led me to Dead End #1. After reading through the entire January 6th edition of the Northern Star at the Armagh Irish & Local History Library, and not finding the article referred to, it dawned on me that Madden’s reference could not possibly be right. After all, January 6th was three months before Jackson was even charged. I finally found the first of the Northern Star mentions of Rev. William Jackson in  the April 28-May 1 edition. It described his arrest the day earlier on April 27th, 1794.
Yesterday, the Rev. Mr. Jackson, an English clergyman, was taken into custody by Messrs. Carlton and Atkinson, officers of the police, on a warrant under the hand and seal of the Chief Justice of King’s Bench, charging him with high treason. Mr. Jackson was brought before the Chief Justice, and was committed to the New Prison. Mr. McNally attended as his counsel.
We understand that the above gentleman is to undergo an examination before the Privy Council.
Since the Armagh Library’s microfilm came from a version where someone had scissored out the article beneath it, I wondered whether the missing section might have included the article that Madden had referenced. Days later, back in Dublin, I threaded in a different microfilm at the National Library. This time, the image from the paper was intact, but since the article beneath was about the suffering of the poor, it seemed that I was now at Dead End #2.

It took me nine more months before I finally tracked down the article in the Northern Star  which Madden had quoted in his second paragraph. It was in the November 3rd edition. Although this article made no mention of Newtownards, as Madden had done in his opening sentence, at least the reference was verified. One down, many to go.
Mr. Jackson, shortly to be tried on a charge of high treason, is only accidentally an alien to this country, he being immediately descended from a family of the first respectability in Ireland. He is the youngest of four sons. His father officiated in the Prerogative Court of Dublin. His elder brother was Dr. Richard Jackson, an eminent civilian, vicar-general to the late Archbishop of Cashel, and an intimate friend of the late Dr. Radcliff, and that truly respectable character, Philip Tisdall, attorney-general. The mother of this unfortunate gentleman was a Miss Gore, whose paternal estate was situated near Sligo. The aunt of Mr. Jackson (by the mother's side) was married to Dr. Sall, many years register to the archiepiscopal court of Dublin. Thus respectably descended, it can hardly be supposed that Mr. Jackson is an enemy to Ireland, while Irish blood only flows through his veins. His political views of things may have been erroneous; and that is all that candour should permit us to say”."
Not surprisingly, these missing bits behind these facts landed me at Dead End #3. There were now more questions than answers:
  •        Without the forenames for either Rev. William’s mother or for his father, who were they?
  •        Who was Dr. Sall and who was the aunt who had married this Dr. Sall?
  •       Where was his mother’s estate near Sligo? Was it near Lissadell House?
  •        Which branch of the GOREs did his mother descend from? NOTE: Not only did the GOREs have large families, but they also set their various sons up in at least half a dozen counties. To compound the dilemma of tracing any individual son in a family that recycled a short list of forenames, the men often owned land in one county but resided in another. The Gores who were reputed to be of Co. Sligo could just as easily have been related to the Gores from Co. Clare.
 Two new details were added to the above article thanks to a complementary source (my bolding):

The family of this man was very respectable in this country. His father was many years a proctor, and officiated in the prerogative court in Dublin, and maintained a most excellent character. His mother was the daughter of Colonel Gore, of the county Sligo. He was the youngest of four sons, the eldest of whom was Dr. Richard Jackson, an eminent civilian, vicar-general to the late archbishop of Cashel, and an intimate friend of those respectable characters, the late Dr. Ratcliffe, and the Right Hon. Philip Tisdall. At an early age he was sent to the University of Oxford, where he made a rapid proficiency in all branches of scientific and classical knowledge

So who was this Mr. JACKSON who was a proctor of the Prerogative Court in the early 1700s, and who was this elusive Colonel GORE?

Over the next several months, I created a table of deeds for GOREs, SALLs and/or SALEs, as well as another one of Memorials of deeds in Dublin. A year earlier, I had done one on JACKSON Grantors 1708-1799 . The rationale in approaching it in this way was that the Gores and the Jacksons would have had some financial ties to Dublin and hopefully owned or leased property there. With a bit of good luck and triangulation all would be solved.

Clearly, both families had sustained their influence through inter-marriages over multiple generations with various cousins, business partners and/or political associates. Anthropologists label this practice endogamy, and it was practiced enthusiastically in Ireland (and elsewhere) for centuries. By merging assets and keeping their inherited lands intact, these Jacksons and Gores had wielded significant influence both as landlords and politicians for close to 200 years. In 1751, there were as many as nine members of the GORE family – all closely related by both blood and land – who served as MPs in the same Parliament (Illustrative Memoir of Lady Gore-Booth.). The Jacksons were close to matching this number from time to time – specially if you count their Beresford cousins and other relations (JACKSON representatives in the Irish House of Commons.).

With Crossley’s and Betham’s extracts as well as the research from the site curated by Darryl Lundy, as well as my own deeds work, the resulting GORE family tree reveals a Who’s Who of the Irish landlord class. This is not surprising. After all, land was money – both collateral and savings. Banks as we know them today did not exist.  Short term leases, often between relations, freed up short term cash. Because of the frequent inter-generational transfers of assets, back and forth, one transaction was often linked to a subsequent one and historic relationships between the various parties were sometimes noted in the documents. Specially when leases were held for a number of named lives.

After doing what I could with the GOREs, I was now at Dead End #4.  There were several Col. Gores who could have been a reasonable fit, but it was now time to look elsewhere. In the next few posts, I will reveal what the SALL aka SALE connections revealed, and how it turned out that Richard Jackson, the older brother of Rev. William Jackson, was the key. Also, I will reveal Dead End #5 and so on. Stay tuned. All may yet be solved.

The young William Jackson. Where did he come from? Where did he live as a child? How did he come to be convicted as a terrorist - a foreign agent in the service of France?


  1. Sharon, This is a fine example of why we often have to write history 'backwards', in the sense that we must recheck sources and when possible get to 'the fountainhead of dead ends', so to speak. The Gore connection, inter alia, is a fascinating one, especially as we may assume a certain lady lieutenant in the Irish Citizen Army, 1916, had no idea...I for one certainly will stay tuned!

  2. Wonderfully written Sharon (as usual). Can hardly wait for the next installment. Carolyn