Thursday, March 5, 2020

Streetlight effect and Jacksons and Sheldrakes

One of the jokes that my father frequently told and retold was about a drunk who leaves a pub, stumbles in the middle of a field, and then staggers back to his car. A policeman finds him, an hour or so later, on his hands and knees peering at the ground beneath a streetlight. 

What are you doing?
Looking for my car keys.
Is this where you lost them?
No, they are somewhere in the field over there.
So why are you looking here?
Because this is where the light is.

What is called the Streetlight Effect refers to the idiocy of acting like the drunk in my father’s joke when doing research. Not that this stops me. Sometimes I can spend days if not months trolling through English archives when I am researching Irish people. Since so many of the Irish records went up in flames in 1922, the lost keys and such of the 17th and 18th centuries are long gone. The English records- where the light still is -  can often be a useful last resort.

Recently, I got curious about a line of Jacksons from Cuddeson, Oxfordshire. Their family arms included a specific bird: a sheldrake. The Jacksons of Coleraine also had sheldrakes in their family crest, as did the Jacksons of Forkhill, Co. Armagh. These Jacksons all descended from a particularly fertile Rev. Richard Jackson (1602-1681), who sired – with two wives - more than twenty children while the family lived first in Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmorland and later in Whittington, Yorkshire. When it comes to following the connections between sheldrakes and Jacksons, it is not so daft to go with the old saying: Birds of a feather fly together

Seal on a letter from George Jackson (1766-1840) to Robert Haslett, his land agent based  in Coleraine. Jan 4, 1800. PRONI D668/H2
Sheldrakes were also included in the family crest of my great-grand uncle, Sir Thomas Jackson. Unlike the Jacksons from Coleraine and Forkhill, who had prestigious ancestors, our line of Jacksons descended from a jilted card player known for gambling away the family lands and then becoming a philandering schoolmaster. He lived in the 1700s at Urker, a farm near Crossmaglen.

So why did the Royal Herald include a shoveller in the arms of Sir Thomas? Was it because our family were “want-to-be-relations” of the more prestigious Jacksons and he was convinced by our tale (Sir Thomas could spin a great yarn), or were we really “kin”? And what does "kin" mean?

The impression from a signet ring that belonged to Sir Thomas Jackson.
Thanks to Thomas Bowman-Vaughan.

So, back to the Jacksons of Cuddeson: Are they related to the Jacksons of Kirkby Lonsdale? Where should we look for answers? Where does the light shine best?

A record of the children of Gilbert Jackson of Cuddeson was recorded in a family bible and a century later was published in Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica Vol IV 1884 by a descendant of Gilbert Jackson: W. H. M. Jackson. He also annotated the entries.

I found his full name in the National Archives: William Henry Mutton Jackson (1839-1916), and from there it became clear where he fit into the Cuddeson-Jackson family tree. He left no record of any children or a marriage and there was no probate, so it is no surprise that his research has disappeared. I am also puzzled by the curious ending of his obituary: Will friends accept this, the only, intimation? No flowers:
JACKSON – On the 6th March (midnight), at a nursing home, London. LIEUT-COLONEL WILLIAM HENRY MUNTON JACKSON, late 81st regiment., only son of Major W.H. Jackson killed in action at Meeanee. Cremation at Golders-green Crematorium on Friday, March 10:h at 12 noon. Will friends accept this, the only, intimation? No flowers.
Regardless, it was thanks to W.H.M. that the bare bones of a family tree became possible. It was further fleshed out when Jan Waugh, a much-trusted researcher in Arizona, shared some Jackson will transcriptions with me. This led me to the work of Nick Kingsley in his award winning Landed Families of Britain and Ireland Blog. Together, these three leads knit together several links between Jacksons and Aldworths during several generations as they lived in Ireland and/or England. 

Apparently, there are two lines of Aldworths who were members of a similar social, political, religious and occupational class. Both descended from minor gentry residing in the town of Aldworth in Berkshire in the 1500s. Although they were seemingly unrelated in later generations, both were active in one way or another in Ireland. You can follow both lines, splendidly filleted by Nick Kingsley, in his two posts: Aldworth of Newmarket Court (Co. Cork) and Aldworth of Stanlake Park (Berkshire). 

 Because both lines included several men in senior levels of Irish government and the East India Company, it is easy to confuse who fits where. Both lines also included prosperous landlords and merchants. To add to that – and it may not mean anything important - both branches included daughters who had married Jacksons of a similar class. Jane Aldworth (1681-1746) married Gilbert Jackson (b. 1684) of Cuddeson and a Rev. John Aldworth (1800-1878) married a Mary Jackson (1798-1864) of Co. Cork, daughter of William Jackson of Youghall, Co. Cork.

Back to my theory of birds of a feather fly together. Marriages between certain land-owning families often occurred more than once, and often were repeated in succeeding generations. If you see one, it is worth looking for others.

When the American comedian George Burns was 100 years old, he pointed out: You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you're down there. In the same vein, I ask myself: What else can I do while I am down this rabbit hole of research? What else can I see from under the streetlight?
Annotating wills and leases and such leads me to lots of tangential people who often don’t matter to my research but who often are of interest to others. It is these others who often add new tales or facts which I otherwise would have no other way of finding on my own. So, as I am down here, metaphorically tying my shoelaces, here are four Aldworth-Jackson related wills:

·         1725 Nov 12 Probate of Dame Anne MAY née ALDWORTH (abt 1656-abt 1726). Of interest is that Dame Anne’s father, Richard Aldworth (1615-1680) received the lease to Frogmore House and grounds thanks to his father-in-law, William Gwynne (d. 1667), an auditor in the Exchequer. He passed the property on to Sir Thomas May – Dame Anne’s husband. Long story short, the original Frogmore estate, which by then was diminished in size because of liens against it, went from one Aldworth to another until Queen Charlotte bought it in 1790. A couple of years later, Queen Charlotte built Frogmore Cottage. Unfortunately for the Jacksons, the bequests by Dame Anne to her niece Jane Jackson née Aldworth (1681-1746), mother of both Rev. Gilbert JACKSON (1704-1779) and Rev. Richard JACKSON (1709-1796), never included the Frogmore estate. Sigh.
·         1772 Oct 10 Probate of Anne COOTH. Anne Cooth was the wife of Rev. Richard Jackson (1709-1796) – his will is beneath. Her first marriage had been to a Mr. Willoughby – whoever he was (I don’t know). Decades of legal battles between the Cooths and the Jacksons over the legitimacy of leases for Lye Farm and Burnthouse Farm played out well into the 1800s. They revealed other family details.
·         1779 Aug 2 Probate of Gilbert JACKSON (1704-1779). Gilbert Jackson was the brother of Rev. Richard Jackson (1709-1796), and because of the controversy over the leases of Lye Farm and Burnthouse Farm legal cases were litigated by his son Gilbert Charles Jackson (1759-1816). At some level, the cases concerned a simple comedy of errors. It was made all the larger not only because the litigants had money to fight out a protracted suit, but also because aspects of the case fascinated at least a couple of generations of legal minds. The transcripts can be found at Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the high Court of Chancery from the year M DCC LXXXIX to M DCCC XVII. Vol VI. pp 12-41. Links to other sources included in my post on Rev. Richard’s 1796 will. 
·         1796 Oct 3 Probate of Rev. Richard JACKSON(1709-1796). It was after Rev. Richard’s death that the lawsuits over Lye Farm and Burnthouse Farm really began in earnest. Two questions were posed: Had Rev. Richard acted in good faith in leases signed in the mid-1700s? and Should the dispute be settled out of court to avoid having all his (possibly) dirty laundry being washed in public? It took multiple decisions followed by reversals of previous decisions before a final determination was made in 1819 that Rev. Richard had indeed acted in good faith – or at least good-enough faith.

So, stepping out of the lamplight and back into the dark, what did I learn about what should come next? Firstly, it pays to be careful which branch of the Aldworth line is involved with which line of Jacksons before leaping to conclusions. Secondly, it is interesting to keep following the sheldrakes. They are, after all, part of where the light is.

POSTSCRIPT & Sheldrakes.

A genealogy prepared by Mary L. Jackson in 1925 traces a line of JACKSONs whose crests included various shoveller/sheldrake-like birds. She notes: THE Jackson family was anciently established in Yorkshire, some members of which settled in the South of Scotland. There were other families of Jackson, in other parts — notably that derived from the great Norman house of Lasalles, but of no blood connection with this one. This particular family is traceable to a common origin by means of a similarity of coat-armour among its scattered branches, which have been recorded from time to time, showing the basic theme of development to have been a fosse between three birds. In some cases these three birds were shovellers, in others, shadrakes, hawks, and jackdaws

#1. The crest of the Gilbert Jackson who married Jane Aldworth is described in Burkes General Armory of England Scotland Ireland and Wales. 1884:
Jackson (Yorkshire and Curtdesdon, co. Oxon ; borne by (GILBERT Jackson, who entered his descent at the Oxford Visit. of 1669. His grandson, REV. GILBERT JACKSON, D.D., of Cuddesdon, is now represented by his great-grandson, Lieut. -Col. W. H. M. JACKSON, Hist foot). Gu. a fesse betw. three sheldrakes ar. Crest—A sheldrake ppr. NOTE: I have their family tree at: Gilbert JACKSON of Cuddeson. This JACKSON family - first based in Lincolnshire and then in Cuddeston, Oxfordshire - is connected by marriage to other land-owning families in Co. Sligo.

#2. The crest of the Jacksons of Hickleton:
Jackson (Hickleton, co. York, bart., extinct 1727 ; descended from Sir John Jackson, Knt., temp. Queen Elizabeth, whose grandson, John Jackson, Esq., of Hickleton, was created a baronet in 1660). Gu. a fesse betw. three sheldrakes ar. Burkes General Armory of England Scotland Ireland and Wales. 1884 NOTE: I have their family tree at: Hickleton or Edderthorpe JACKSONS.

#3. The family of the WARD-JACKSONs of Normanby Hall, Yorkshire. NOTE: Normanby is a small village near Eston 4 ½ miles W.N.W. of Guisbrough. History, Gazetteer and Directory of the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire.
Jackson (Normandy Hall [sic Normanby], co. York). Az. a fesse erm. betw. three sheldrakes ppr. Crest—A sheldrake ppr. Burkes General Armory of England Scotland Ireland and Wales. 1884 NOTE: I have their family tree at WARD-JACKSON.

Arms of the Ward - Jackson family of Normanby - St. Nicholas' Parish Church, Guisborough.

#4. The crest of the Jacksons of Duddington includes eagles, not sheldrakes, but there may be a connection:
Jackson (Duddington, co. Northampton). Ar. a greyhound courant ermines betw. three eagles' heads erased sa. Crest— A demi horse ar. guttée de sang, maned and hoofed sa. NOTE: I have their family tree at: JACKSONs of Duddington [aka Doddingham], Northamptonshire, England. The tree begins with Nicholas JACKSON (1570-1662) and is of special interest to me because of the alleged Irish roots during the Elizabethan era of the family of Sir Thomas JACKSON (1841-1915) of Urker Crossmaglen, as well as that family's alleged connections to Co. Kildare. The earliest known Irish-settled member of the Duddington family is that of Francis JACKSON (1670-1740) who died in Fanningstown, Co. Limerick

#5. JACKSONs of Doncaster This family began with Richard JACKSON b. abt 1521, and buried 1558 in Ledsham, Co. York. His descendants include family in Co. Tyrone including two cousins who married: James Edward JACKSON (Dean of Armagh) & Lydia JACKSON. NOTE: This crest includes three shovellers, not sheldrakes, but close enough to consider.
Jackson (Doncaster, co. York). Per pale gu. and az. on » fess erm. cotised ar. betw. three shovellers of the last a cross crosslet betw. two annulets of the field. Crest—A demi griffin gu. collared and chain reflected over the back or, holding in the dexter claw a shoveller's head erased ar. Motto—Strenue et honeste.

#6. Some of the DUCKETT-JACKSONs lived in Wiltshire (same as the Cuddeson Jacksons).  Also of interest is the fact that Sir Bradwardine JACKSON’s (1670- btw 1727-1739) held leases in Co. Donegal in the early 1700s ( see: Jacksons in Co. Donegal) and a DUCKETT-JACKSON pedigree alleges – probably mistakenly - that they are related  to this Sir Bradwardine.
Duckett (Hartham House, Wilts, bart.). Quarterly, Ist and 4th, sa. a saltire ar., for DUCKETT; 2nd and 3rd, gu. a fesse ar. betw. three sheldrakes ppr., for Jackson. The present bart. also quarters 1st, GOLDSTONE, az. on a fesse or, betw. three saltires ar. an annulet sa. ; 2nd, DUCKETT, as before; 3rd, ALDERBURG, gu. a lion ramp. ar. ; 4th, WINDESORE, gu. a saltire ar. betw. twelve cross crosslets or ; 5th, LANCASTER, ar. two bars gu. on a canton of the last a Lion pass, or ; 6th, REDMAN, gu. three cushions erm. two and one, tasselled or; 7th, BELLINGHAM, ar. three horns sa. stringed gu. ; 8th, BURNISHEAD, ax. three bendlets gu. on a chief of the last a lion ramp, of the first; 9th, BASKERVILLE, ar. a chev. gu. betw. three hurts ; 10th, SKYNNER, sa. a chev. or, betw. three griffins' heads erased ar. ; 1lth, BINGHAM, az. a bend cotised betw. six crosses pattée or, quartering erm. a lion ramp. gu. crowned or. Crests—1st, DUCKETT: Out of a ducal coronet or, a plume of five ostrich feathers, one, two, and three; Another Crest- A garb of lavender vert flowered az. banded or ; 2nd, JACKSON : A sheldrake, as in the arms, on the breast a saltire gu. Motto—Je views, le droit. Supporters— Two parrots vert.

NOTE: A researcher in The Herald and Genealogist Vol 5, 1870, penned a devastating takedown of a pedigree in Burke's 1859  Peerage and Baronetage which has the DUCKETT-JACKSONs being descended from the Hickleton or Edderthorpe JACKSONS:
One of the boldest instances of genealogical falsification with which I am acquainted is in the account of the descent of Sir George Duckett (by such descent Jackson) in Betham's Baronetage, vol. v. p. 83. His great-grandfather, George Jackson, is represented as son of Sir John and brother of Bradwardine. There never was any such person. The Herald and Genealogist Vol 5, 1870

1 comment:

  1. Good to see you’re still poking around in the archives. Sometimes it’s amazing what you find when you look in a place where the light is but not where your lost article is supposed to be!