Jackson Family Genealogy
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History and Background of the Study of Jackson Families in Australia with Roots in Ireland

By Graham Jackson - Page two of two - July 2017

View Rootsweb chart for Thomas Jackson Dublin last update 7 Jul 2017 

You asked why we picked on FTDNA - simple - at the time they seemed to have the largest number of records of persons tested and we were looking for the widest coverage we could get.  The decision had very positive results and gave us 2 extremely valuable contacts.  One a retired university lecturer in Belfast, Northern Ireland and the other a woman who lives in Sydney, only a few Kms from Bryce.  

Her interest is in mapping out all the ramifications of her family tree and I mean "all" - her records cover an extremely wide range of the connections of Anglo Irish families to which she is connected - not just closely related to.  We provided both of them with what little we knew of our Thomas Jackson - one said "No" and the other said "Hang on, I remember some talk of a Jackson connection".  That caused quite a flurry of activity. 

They came up with a strong family link to Anna Maria Bagnall - the bride of Thomas Jackson - who married in Dublin in 1823.  Forgive me if I continue to qualify every reference to Thomas Jackson - but we have Thomas J's in the family tree over 6 or 7 generations up to the present - gets confusing.  The next Thomas Jackson we are sure of is the 2nd son of that marriage, who came to Australia, firstly in 1852 - we can give you details of his descendants but they have no relevance to family connections outside of Australia and New Zealand, so we can leave them aside for the present.

Our two new contacts came up with a lot of information on the forebears of my Gt Gt Grandmother - a real treasure trove - so whoever of the Jackson project in the US who can prove their connection to that marriage in Dublin in 1823 will win a wonderful family history going back from Anna Maria Bagnall for quite some generations.  

I have on my wall a beautiful portrait of the Thomas Jackson who married Anna Maria Bagnall in 1823. It does not carry an artist's signature but experts tell me it was painted by a very well trained artist.  The clothing dates  to the early 1820's when the cravat was coming into vogue - initially cravats were very plain and were worn with a shirt designed to be worn with the cravat - over the next few years the cravats got more exotic in materials and colours, so dating the portrait is quite easy.

It was painted about the time Thomas married Anna Maria Bagnall.  It shows a very well dressed young man who is clearly a man of some means and fashionably dressed.

Our search for this Thomas Jackson has been singularly unsuccessful.  The obvious step was to access Irish marriage records.  The result of repeated attempts was advice that these records were amongst those destroyed in the fire in the Dublin Records Office during the uprising in Dublin in 1922.  This was when the Irish rose up and won their independence from England – The Uprising.  Guess you could call it their Dublin Tea Party, like the one you had in Boston.  All we have been able to locate is an Index - note it is just an Index - to a file of applications for a Marriage Licence only a month or so before they married.  It just tells you the page number. 

The practice amongst the Anglo Irish Protestants - particularly the wealthier families - was to obtain a Marriage License rather than have banns read for a number of weeks in church to flush out any reason why the marriage should not take place.  In effect the license, which cost money, guaranteed to the local Bishop there was no obstacle to the marriage.  The actual recording of the Marriage License and any related records were apparently destroyed in the fire.

The crux of our problem has been to determine which group of Anglo Irish families our Thomas Jackson is related to – this we have not been able to do.  Great ideas but all supposition – nothing that would satisfy you or anyone else.

The Anglo Irish were descendants of the English that came with Oliver Cromwell when he conquered Ireland in 1659, or who followed subsequently.

Many of the native Irish who were Roman Catholic were dispossessed of their land which was given to the English settlers.  Ireland was an occupied country for hundreds of years up to 1922 when they rose up and gained their independence – The Uprising ! 

The Anglo Irish, as these occupiers became known as, tended to live in clusters and they dominated life in Ireland for so long.

They did this with a set of rules/practices/laws that essentially controlled all opportunity - the lower you were in the pecking order the less opportunity you had open to you..  Families were the primary unit and there was a strict set of rules as to inheritance – eldest sons inherited titles and most of the property,  while further sons generally joined the army, the church, went into business or emigrated.  

Daughters only married approved suitors or became “Old Maids”   On marriage a husband gained ownership of all his wife’s property.  The only women who could own property were those without a husband – either old maids or widows. Doweries went with brides.

They had the game sown up – tight ! 

There were a lot of marriages between the families within the clusters.  Identify the cluster and you open the door to your family history.  Trouble for us is that Thomas Jackson was a common name and without something further to confirm identification it is not easy to determine which Jackson is the forebear of our Thomas Jackson.  Bryce and I have been casting around for anything that will confirm any one of our pet theories – but with little success to date.

The results of this lie in a number of inconclusive stories – possibilities – that we have not been able to prove.  I will provide details of these but remember they are possibilities that we have been unable to confirm or to dismiss. 

Links to the family of the 1823 marriage get very weak after 1833 – they had 7 children in 10 years.  No reference to the family as a unit.  A record of Eliza the eldest child marrying in 1845 – I’ll come back to this in a minute.  Also the marriage of a Maria Francis Bernard to a Jackson in Dublin in 1853.  Fascinating point – my grandfather – born in Melbourne (Australia) in 1859 was named Thomas Bernard Jackson, his youngest son – my father - was named Dudley Bernard Jackson and I was named Graham Bernard Jackson.

I have previously sent Jack copy of an interesting but undated handwritten letter from a father to his sons - William and Thomas - to be read after the father’s death. 

In 1832 Dublin was hit with an outbreak of Cholera – thousands died and many fled Dublin.  Cholera is a dreadful disease – very contagious, very painful and generally only a short time between symptoms appearing and death – like signs in the morning and dead by evening.  So dramatic an epidemic that records were not properly kept, cemeteries ran out of land, bodies were buried without any formalities or coffins – a shocker.  The letter appears to have been written as some form of farewell to his sons in case he did not have time to write anything if he became infected with the disease.  The sons are named in correct age order but the letter makes no reference to a third son – Charles - shown in the family Bible as born in 1833.  Appears the father did not know the gender of the unborn child or he may not even have known his wife was pregnant at the time of writing.

We can now go back to Eliza and her marriage in 1845 to a John Millikin from a family of cutlers in Dublin.  Cutlers made knives, swords etc and gradually developed into Medical Instrument Makers.  Eliza and her husband moved to London with the business – guess in the 1850’s.  Not sure if Dublin was the main site and later moved to London OR London was the primary site and Dublin a branch.  In 1860 my Gt Grandfather, and his wife and 2 children returned from Australia, to London where Thomas worked with his brother in law in the Millikin medical instrument business.  Thomas is listed in the London census of 1872 as a medical instrument maker – we also have a card – part of a Millikin business card to support this. 

We understand representatives of the Millikin family subsequently moved to America.  We are aware of the existence in the US of a major medical products company by the name of Millikin and was interested to see one of their subsidiaries was named Mayer Distributors.  As a child I recall my Grandfather referring to relatives in the US but don’t recall where or by what name etc. 

Thomas Jackson - our Great Grand Father - then returned to Australia in the late 1870’s where he established a medical instrument business in Melbourne under the name of Mayer, Meltzer and Jackson of London, Johannesburg and Melbourne.  It is interesting to note that he brought to Australia certain family memorabilia that one would have thought would have gone to his elder brother William – the portrait of his father, the Family Bible,  the letter from the dead father and possibly other items I am not aware of.  The letter from the dead father is particularly significant as it was directed to the eldest son, William.  This suggests the elder brother William died without issue.

This is the Thomas Jackson who came to Australia in the early 1850’s and went gold prospecting.  We are not sure of the exact date or ship he arrived on as every second ship seemed to have at least one Thomas Jackson on board – probably arrived in the early 1850’s and subsequently married a woman from Devon, England at Mt Blackwood in Victoria.  Her name was Mary Gubb and she came to Australia in 1853(?).  Two of her sisters had migrated to Melbourne earlier.  An important point – we have been unable to establish if Thomas Jackson knew her before coming to Australia or if he only met her after her arrival in Australia.  So does he have any Devon family history or not.

Plymouth in Devon is not far from the East Coast of Ireland and there were a lot of links between Dublin and Devon.  So did our Jacksons come from Devon ?  What we do know is that there were Jacksons in the area Mary Gubb came from – a town called Topsham - and some of them were merchants. Topsham today is something of a sleepy hollow but prior to the introduction of a rail line to nearby Exeter in the early 1840’s, Topsham was second only to London as the busiest seaport in the UK.   Amongst the cargo handled through Topsham was coal from the North of England.  Thomas Jackson of Dublin was a Coal Factor – that is the middle man who arranged the finance and logistics of getting coal from the mine head to the ultimate destination - where it was sold to vendors who on sold to consumers.

Another product the merchants of Topsham were involved in was the lucrative cod trade from the fishing fields off the coast of Newfoundland.  Each season the merchant’s boats left Topsham and picked up Irish labourers to work in the fishing sheds that processed the cod in Newfoundland.  The cod was sold in England and also traded into the Mediterranean for goods to trade in turn in the UK.  Soon some of the merchants settled in Newfoundland rather than travel back and forth.  We know this included Jacksons from Topsham in places like Trepassey in NFL and it is likely that some of these could have moved South to warmer climes. 

We know that Thomas the gold prospector developed a very close relationship with Mary Gubb’s family in Topsham, whilst at the same time we cannot find any later link to his Jackson family or to Dublin where he was born.  In 1934 his son (my Grandfather) visited England and he included Topsham in Devon in his itinerary.  His comment on his return to Australia was that the only relatives he found were in the grave yard at Topsham.  My Grandfather apparently made no  mention of Jackson relatives in England nor did he visit Dublin or Ireland.

His wife Mary died in 1869, leaving him with 2 sons – the only children to survive infancy out of at least 9 children she bore.  These two were my Grandfather Thomas and his younger brother William.  Thomas was sent to a boarding school run by Mary’s brother, Edwin Gubb , and William was looked after by a spinster named Frances Rhoda Lucy Jackson in Topsham.  Many years later, on the other side of the world, William named a daughter Rhoda Lucy Jackson.

So what other links have we explored – one of our brothers who is now deceased - was named Ross Beresford Jackson and our grandfather named his home Eastongray.  We have found a family of Beresfords who lived in Easton Gray in Hertfordshire. England.

The third son of that Dublin family was named Charles Jackson and we have a photograph amongst family memorabilia which we believe is of him as a young army officer in dress uniform of a style that dates to 1856 – 1865.  We have been unable to trace him in English army records – his belt buckle is not clear enough in the photo to identify the regimental badge – it is too grainy and did  not show sufficiently clearly when we enlarged the photograph.  Bryce came across a photograph of a uniformed officer of the Irish Brigade that fought in the American War between the States – there is a resemblance in the uniform and settings but we cannot be certain.

I would welcome comment from anyone wishing to explore these topics further.

With Regards, Graham Jackson, July 2017

View Rootsweb chart for Thomas Jackson; Dublin to Australia last update 7 Jul 2017
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This page was created 7 Jul 2017.