Thursday, April 2, 2020

The wives of Rev. William Jackson (1737-1795)

Think of a travelogue where the traveler gets lost, has many interesting adventures, but never arrives at their intended destination. Think of Don Quixote. Think of Christopher Columbus. On a much smaller canvas, think of me on my quest to learn about two wives who were born and or married in the mid-1700s in any one of three countries: France, England or Ireland. On this trip, many of the roads traveled have led to dead ends. Near the end, however, one of them led to a new clue.

The husband of each of these two wives, Rev. William Jackson (1737-1795), was the convicted United Irishman who swallowed arsenic and died in the Dublin courtroom before his sentence could be pronounced. It was alleged that his second wife, Elizabeth, most likely served him his arsenic-tainted tea when she joined him in his prison cell at breakfast on the day of his death. He drank it in the hope that his suicide, by pre-empting a state execution, could protect the few assets he had for their children. Seven years later, they ended up impoverished in Paris, but that is another story. I will get to that one in a later post.

A handful of articles about Rev. William were published shortly after his death and were further embellished in the decades that followed. Sometimes the embellishments were factual, sometimes not so much. His first wife is mentioned in some of them, but she is never named. Apparently, he had been extremely solicitous of her as she died a painful death of cancer. There is no mention of the source of these facts. Where did she get married and where did she die? England or France? He may have been Irish, but his marriages were probably not in Ireland.

I could only find one marriage licence in England that seemed to be a decent fit: that of a Rev. William Jackson’s marriage to an Anne Palmer. Initially, the idea that he could be “our” Rev. William was compelling. It turned out to be a dead end, but an interesting one. Some of this part of the quest may turn out to matter, albeit not in the way that I had hoped.

(SOURCE: FindmyPast).
 For starters, what felt significant about this marriage was that this William Jackson was a curate. He had married an Anne Palmer on September 4th, 1783 at St. Mary the Virgin, Stone in Oxney, near Appledore Parish in Co. Kent. The date of his marriage seemed a decent fit with “our” Rev. William, although at age 46 he was older than I would have expected him to be.

Even the location in Appledore seemed reasonable. Looking at older maps, and assuming travelling on the roads of the day, Appledore would have been about 70 miles south-east of London and about 30 miles north-west of Dover. This would not have been an unlikely location for “our” Rev. William to be parked. It’s also a fit with his repeated trips between London and Paris.

Location of Appledore, Co. Kent - London to the NW and Dover to the E.
Nailing down other facts about this couple was not too hard. This William Jackson was a bachelor of full age residing in the Parish of Appledore. He had married by licence (not banns) with the consent of Anne’s father, Mathew Palmer. The Goldsmith family tree in Ancestry records her parents as Mathew Palmer (1725-1798) and Sarah Adams (1727-1806). Although the bride was not of full age when she married, her 21st birthday was only weeks away. Although these Palmers were from Appledore, Palmer is also a name that crops up in association with many known Jacksons who were members of the merchant class in Dublin. This correlation also seemed worth noting.

The couple were married by a Theophilus Jones, curate of Ivy Church.  This was another name to conjure with. A Theophilus Jones, M.P. (1729-1811) had figured in the story of “our” Rev William. That one was a son of Walter Jones and Olivia Coote (daughter of Chidley Coote). He had been secretary to Augustus Hervey, 3rd Earl of Bristol. “Our” Rev. William had also worked for Augustus Hervey and had subsequently enjoyed a significant long-lasting friendship with Hervey’s wife, Elizabeth Chudleigh (1720–1788). One degree of separation. It begs the question: Were the two Theophilus Joneses related to each other? 

Theophilus Jones, M.P. (1729-1811) SOURCE:

Theophilus Jones is not an uncommon name in the mid-1700s in both Wales and Ireland, but when it comes to nailing down the one who was a curate, there are two records of interest:

·         Jones, Theophilus son of Theophilus Jones of Blaeng Plxf, Co. Cardigan, pleb. PEMBROKE COLL., matric 15 Jul 1773, aged 21; B.A. 1777, rector of St. Mary Romney Marsh, Kent, 1802 until his death 5 Aug., 1835. His dates and locale are a fit with the one who performed the marriage of Anne Palmer and William Jackson.
·         Jones, Theophilus, of TRINITY COLL., Dublin (B.A. 1807, M.A. 1832), s. James, of St. Marks, Dublin, cler. Incorp. From WORCESTER COLL. 26 Feb., 1808 aged 20. He was born too late to be part of this story, but the Dublin mention is worth pinning on our research wall for future use – just as TV detectives do when they don’t have a clue.

There is one more set of facts to pin alongside this. One of the earliest Ireland-based Theophilus Joneses, in the mid-1600s, served in various military and political capacities along with several Gores. The Gores are a proven part of “our” Rev William’s ancestry. The Joneses were also well connected to the Jacksons of Coleraine and to several Beresfords and Hills, etc. All these families belonged to the military, political, land-owning Church of Ireland class. It might seem like a long shot that the curate and the M.P. could be related, except that although the Theophilus Jones, M.P. was based in Ballinore, Co. Leitrim, some of his children are recorded in memorials at All Saints Church, Loose, Co. Kent, a church just down the road from Appledore. 

·         Lady Chapel, south wall above window: In Memory of Maria Sophia MARSHAM the beloved wife of Rr Admrl Jones Marsham of Hayle Cottage in this Parish and daughter of Walter Jones Esqre of Ballinamore, C. Leitrim, Ireland and Hayle Place who departed this Life Decr 21st 1861 Aged 55
·         Lady Chapel, south wall: In memory of Walter JONES Esqr of Ballinamore, C. Leitrim, Ireland; and Hayle Place in this Parish Eldest son of the Rt Honble Theophilus Jones and Lady Catherine daughter of the Earl of Tyrone; who departed this Life on the 29th day of March 1839 aged 84 years. Also Catharine Jones wife of the above who died December 12th 1846 Aged ?? years.
·         Lady Chapel, south wall: In memory of Theophilus JONES Esqre Admiral of the White of Hayle Cottage in this Parish, 2nd son of the Rt Honble Theophilus Jones of the C. of Leitrim, Ireland and Lady Catherine, daughter of the Earl of Tyrone who departed this life on the ?? day of September 1835 aged 77 Years.

It was complicated for these families who had a foot in two countries. Although the children of Rt Honble Theophilus may have been interred in Co. Kent, and he had died in London, even so the probate of his will includes his request that he be buried close to the grave of his first wife Catherine Beresford at St. George’s Church, City of Dublin.


The Geometry of a colourful Venn Plot.
 Venn diagrams are useful for visualizing the repeated intermarriages that occurred within most Irish families of both the upper and upper-middle class. A first cousin marriage was not uncommon. There are also instances of several sisters from one family marrying several brothers of another family with both families already being in a “cousin” relationship. These marriages helped to ensure that the inherited land stayed within the family.

In this light, and bearing in mind the importance of both location and profession, it is worth noting that a son of Rt Honble Theophilus Jones, the Rev. James Thomas Jones (d. 1836, Londonderry), married an Anne Blackwood, daughter of Sir John Blackwood and Dorcas Stevenson, Baroness of Dufferin and Clandeboye, Co. Down. 

Clandeboye Estate - south to Newtownards and then south east to Ballycastle.
 As the map shows, the Clandeboye Estate is not far from Ballycastle. This was where Rev. William Jackson’s older brother Richard Jackson was born, according to his records at Trinity. [UPDATE: August 10, 2023. I now believe that this Ballycastle is more likely to have been the Ballycastle in Co. Antrim: Ballycastle the town is in Town Parks, Parish Ramoan, Barony Cary] Their father, Richard Jackson was a Proctor in Dublin, but we know nothing of his ancestry – yet. It may be meaningful that many Jacksons had held leases since at least the late 1600s at both Newtownards and Dundonald (both can be seen on the map above). These two places are midway between the Clandeboye estate and Ballycastle. Also, there are a few records of local Blackwood-Jackson marriages.

Another correlation is that Theophilus Jones’ wife, Lady Catherine Beresford, is related to a line of Beresfords who initially came to Ireland from Kent and settled in Coleraine in the mid-1600s. These Beresfords intermarried more than once into the Jacksons of Coleraine. This is a group of Jacksons on my short list to be ancestors of “our” Rev. William. Of course, mere correlation is not proof of anything.

Sadly, despite all these enticing correlations, it became clear that the Rev. William Jackson, curate of Appledore, was not our Rev. William Jackson. Church records show that the curate of Appledore had officiated at several marriages both before and after his own. The last marriage that he officiated at was in September 18, 1791. After that, the Appledore marriages were performed by Theophilus Jones. Jones performed his last one on October 14, 1804. 

The Rev William who is most likely our curate of Appledore is listed here:
·         JACKSON, William, 1780 Lett dismiss. Priest’s orders; xi, 279 Lic cur. Appledore w Ebeny, Kent ; ibid 1790. Lic. endorsed cur. Fairfield and Stone, Kent, xii, 199. SOURCE: Index to the Act Books of the Archbishops of Canterbury, 1663-1859

Why “our” Rev. William does not show up in any such indexes, I do not know. His biographies place him not in Appledore, but in two other English parishes: Mary le Strand and Tavistock Chapel, Drury Lane. Both are in London. 

·         He became at an early age a tutor in London, and, taking holy orders, was for a time curate of St. Mary-le-Strand., [St Mary le Strand is a Church of England church at the eastern end of the Strand in the City of Westminster, London]
·         Early in life he maintained himself as a tutor in London, and afterwards, entering the Church, he became a popular preacher in Tavistock Chapel, Drury-lane. [Dictionary of National Biography].

In order to save others the lost time of researching another dead end, it is worth noting that all the JACKSON marriages recorded in another index: London Marriages 1521-1869 were no later than the late 1600s. If there is another such index, I have yet to find it.

Most of the early life of Rev. William lacks proof. It is alleged that he studied at Oxford, but there is no record of him in the Oxford University Alumni: 1715-1886. There is only one listing at Oxford for a William Jackson son of a Richard – a necessary part of any fit – but he was born in 1746. This date is too long after the death of Rev. William’s father, the Richard Jackson who was a Proctor in Dublin. We do not yet have a record of this Richard Jackson's death date, but his wife – Anne Gore - was recorded as a widow in a deed in 1741. So, the question remains: Were the records for “our” Rev. William expunged, or is it possible that he never attended Oxford?

When I turned to check out records in France, I found a marriage cert recorded in the Paris, France & Vicinity Marriage Banns, 1860-1902 for a William Fritz Jackson on August 20, 1863. If this is “our” Rev. William – and I suspect he could be - he would have been about 26 years old at the time of his marriage. There is no mention of the name of his wife. Of course .[Update Aug 9, 2023: A William Francis JACKSON was mentioned in Signatories to the British Club Address of 24th November 1792 to the National Convention, presented on 28th November.. SOURCE: Vectors of Revolution.:The British Radical Community in Early Republican Paris, 1792-1794.  Rachel Rogers. NOTE: Thanks to Ruairi Nolan for finding and sharing this citation.]

When it comes to one more bit of correlation - and correlation is all we have right now - there is one other source that refers to “our” Rev. William as Rev. William F. Jackson:

  • Art. 38. Sermons on practical and important Subjects. By the late Rev. W. F. Jackson. Tried and convicted for High Treason, in Dublin, April 23, 1795. 8vo. 239 pp. 4s. sewed. Evans. 1795* Any thing very remarkable happening to an author renders his works immediately an object of traffic. The melancholy catastrophe of Mr. Jackson's life has called these sheets, long ago printed and designed for publication, from the retirement in which they had begun to change their colour : and, with the addition of only five pages and a title, has brought them forward to the public eye. So strange are the perversions of the human mind, that we shall not attempt to enquire by what extraordinary combination of circumstances a writer, whose discourses express a strong and even a rigorous piety, could have been led to the commission of such crimes as those which stained the latter days of this teacher. His sermons, eleven in number, are rather above than below the common level of composition. Sometimes his expressions are rather harsh, and sometimes there appears an affectation of rhetorical flourish, or pathetic appeal to the feelings; but, on the whole, they are such as lead the reader to regret, yet more strongly than before, the unhappy termination of the author's career. The British Critic and Quarterly Theological Review, vol 7-8 p 557. 

First - stay curious. Was “our” Rev. William’s middle name Fritz or could it have been Fitz? Recording the name Fitz as Fritz is a common kind of transcription error that crops up with some frequency – especially when going from one language to another – and there are many Ireland-based surnames that start with Fitz but few if any that include Fritz. [Update August 9, 2023 - Although Francis was more likely his middle name, Fritz could have been a nickname or an alias - perhaps intended to mislead.]

When a surname is used as a middle name, it usually signifies a family relationship. Given the Venn diagram approach of mapping the social circles of men like “our” Rev. William, one marriage of interest would be that of William Beresford (1743-1819) to Elizabeth Fitzgibbon. He was a brother of the Catherine Beresford who was the wife of Theophilus Jones. Some of the Gore and Jones family connections to these Beresfords may also connect through marriage to names such as: Fitzgerald or Fitzherbert or Fitzmaurice. They were all of the same social class. 

Another path - and here I wish I had a better grasp of French - would be to follow up on other Jacksons and their relations in Paris in the late 1700s. After that it might be fruitful to look to records that are both earlier and later. One example :

French, Civil and Military Pensions, 1836-1862 (Bulletin des Lois) 1845. Série 9, Vol 27, No 758-792 and one of them has me curious:
My Notes & Conjectures
Jackson (Ellen) demeurant à Wooton Hall, deux actions, ci
Was she a wife, widow or unmarried? Is this the Wooton Hall in Lincolnshire or the one in Staffordshire? Or Folkington?
Jackson (William), demeurant à London quatre actions ci
Possibly a son of Rev. William Jackson
Jarkson [sic] (H.B.). demeurant à Manchester, trois actions ci

CONCLUSION: Three observations.

  1. The quest of this post can be pretty much summed up with: Disproving a something is never a nothing. It sounds more profound in Latin: Nihil est autem quod non est Confutatis. [Joke!]
  2. Having found a middle name for “our” Rev. William is an important clue. It could take us down a road that could teach us more about the man and the circles that he moved in. 
  3. I approached this quest as an ignorant but curious traveller. As G.K. Chesterton puts it: The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.

Given the Jones’s family connection to Hayle Place as well as the connection of Theophilus Jones to “our” Rev. William, there is a grave marker for a William Jackson who could possibly have been a grandson or some other relation of “our” Rev. William. His father could have been William Jackson (1789-aft1839), the only son of “our” Rev. William and his 2nd wife Elizabeth. That William Jackson would have been 18 years old at the time of the birth of this William Jackson (1807-1882) of Hayle Place. The timing is a bit on the tight side, but …
  • ·         Headstone: In Memory of William JACKSON. Died 23rd March 1882. Aged 75. A faithful servant at Hayle Place for 53 years. All Saints Church, Loose, Co. Kent.


  1. Your research will hopefully lead you to that “Aha” moment that clinches what you are looking for. I remember standing in the library at the University of Waterloo and wanting to shout with joy and excitement when I discovered the ONE clue that supported my MA thesis topic!

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