Friday, December 22, 2023

Rev William Francis JACKSON

This is not as radical a name change as the one made by the artist formerly known as Prince, but I will henceforth be referring to Rev. William JACKSON (1737-1795) as: Rev. William Francis JACKSON. This may seem like a minor change, but adding a middle name can narrow the scope when it comes to finding key documents.

My first hint, about what William's middle name might have been, came a few years ago in an article about his sermons:

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. 

Further verification came thanks to: Ruairi Nolan who recently emailed me this citation.

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.

Silly me for taking so long to put this together. Sylvie Kleinman had first mentioned something about William's middle name a few years ago, but I had let it fall off my radar. In hindsight, the name Francis makes total sense. After all, his grandfather was a Francis GORE. Recently, Mathieu Ferradou emailed me a copy of Jackson's signature on this Nov. 1792 convention document (Sylvie had shared it before).

All these little bits help. The history of Rev. William JACKSON still sports more holes than a slab of Swiss Cheese. During my next trip to Ireland and England, I will be checking out the following:

·         William supposedly studied at Oxford, but the available records show no evidence of his attendance at this university. Why?

·         He was an Anglican clergyman (Church of Ireland and/or Church of England), but we don’t know when or where he was ordained. Although there are several Williams who were ordained in a timeframe that could be a match, he is not one of them. Why? Were his records expunged because of the disgrace of his conviction for treason?   Is it possible that he faked his credentials from both the university and the Church? (What we know of the checkered past of Rev. William is such that these possibilities cannot be ruled out.)

·         Of course, a third possibility for such missing records is to blame rats (thanks to Sylvie Kleiman for this): In 1836, Henry Cole made a surprising discovery while he was working with damaged and dirty government records – a dead rat with a stomach full of chewed up documents. You can now purchase these cute little rats at the British National Archives gift shop.


Other bits of the story which still niggle at me:

·         Who was William's first wife? She died of cancer, but when? He was supposedly devoted in his care of her.

·         In a 1766 mention in JACKSON’s newspaper The Public Ledger, a Luke NAYLOR is mentioned as JACKSON’s brother-in-law. He was probably the Luke NAYLOR, born in 1750, a lawyer who lived at Halfmoon Street Piccadilly in London and who died in 1814. His wife was Anne FARRELL. Perhaps William's first wife was a sister of Luke NAYLOR. Another possibility is that JACKSON had a sister who had married a NAYLOR. No sisters are mentioned in William's early bios (just that he had three older brothers), but the non-mention would not be surprising given the general invisibility of women in the records of the day. Update Jan 23, 2024: The Times Feb 3, 1795: Dublin Jan 27, 1895, A Mr. NAYLOR, a London Attorney of Westminster Hall, was Rev. William JACKSON's lawyer representing him at his trial at the Court of King's Bench. The trial was delayed until the next term.

·         Rev. William’s 2nd wife was an Elizabeth, and assuming that they were formally married, there should be a wedding cert and hence lead us to her surname.  Where is it?

·         From her letters, we know that this Elizabeth was living destitute in Paris in 1802, as a widow with two children. In these letters, she was seeking a pension as well as support for schooling for her son as her due for work done by her deceased husband on behalf of the French Government. SEE:  Elizabeth JACKSON letters from Paris 

·         During Rev. William’s trial, Elizabeth supposedly lived at Stephen’s Green. Several JACKSONs had long owned property at Stephens Green. Were they part of Rev. William’s extended family? Who did she stay with? SEE: Stephens Green. Leases relating to JACKSONs.

·         Stephen’s Green was quite a posh area in the late 1700s. Was it because of her elevated social class that the press of the day were silent when it came to details about Elizabeth? Was there payment or other pressure to be silent? From JACKSONs? From GOREs?

·         Finally, where was William born? Some sources say near Newtownards. Others suggest Ballycastle, but don't say whether the reference is to the Ballycastle in Co. Down, or to the Ballycastle in Co. Antrim. Arguments pro and con can be made for both counties, and no solid proof exists for either. So far.

With luck, I will soon be able to answer some of these questions. I plan to visit Ireland in mid February 2024. Being such an aging duck, I do need the health of myself and my husband to continue to hold. So far, so good. I have already booked my flight. Stay posted.

Update: Thanks to input from Sylvie Kleinman, it seems that a handwriting sample that I had ordered of a Rev. William in Church of England records may or may not be "our" Rev. William. It is not decisive.

Earlier blog pieces relating to Rev. William Francis JACKSON (some need updating):

·        Richard Jackson father of Rev. William JACKSON (1737-1795) 2021

·        The wives of Rev. William Jackson (1737-1795) 2021

·        Documents relating to the ancestry of Rev. William JACKSON. 2019

·        Rev. William Jackson & his Gore ancestry 2019

·        Hyde’s Coffee Shop 2019

·        Dr. Richard JACKSON (abt 1720-abt1768) and the SALEs. 2019

·        Rev. William JACKSON - Dead Ends Blog #1 2019