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John Jackson

Elizabeth McCullagh
Born: 1780
Born: 1788*
Died: 20 June 1817 Died: 12 March 1880
Father: David JACKSON Father: James MCCULLAGH
Mother: Margaret BRADFORD Mother: Sally MCCARTER

* The birth date of Elizabeth MCCULLAGH was calculated by her age at death of 92 years. She lived for another 63 years after the death of her husband. At the time of his death, her youngest child was three years old and the next oldest was six years old.


Margaret JACKSON, married Rev. Daniel Gunn BROWNE.
Elizabeth JACKSON, married John DONALDSON
Sarah JACKSON, born 1811, married Joseph BARKLEY
David JACKSON, born 1814, married Eliza OLIVER of Killynure.

One of the most valuable sources of information on this family is the work of Mary Cumisky published in the 1990 Journal of The Creggan Local History Society, issue #4. These journals can be purchased on-line and are well worth it. As Cumiskey says of Elizabeth Jackson, she ... was obviously a matriarchal figure, having lived in Urcher for the major part of the 19th. century, guiding and influencing the family fortunes for most of that time.

It has to have been a struggle. She never remarried even though she herself was only 29 years old when widowed and her youngest child, David, was three years old at the time of his father’s death. [NOTE: He himself went on to father ten children, one of whom would be our great-grandfather, one of whom would be the great-grandfather of our Moorhead “cousins”, and one of whom would be Sir Thomas Jackson, of which so much is already known.]

Although we don’t know the date when the JACKSON family first owned land at Urcher, we do know that in 1828 (SEE: Tithe Composition Book records) that Elizabeth owned 30 acres in Urcher and 50 acres in Lisgolat. Not she was able to hang on to all that she had, some details of which we have thanks to Mary Cumisky:

Thomas Ball's "Valuation Records", 1840, show Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson as holding 59 acres in Urker, a fairly substantial farm in those days, but on December, 1846, she was evicted from at least some of these lands at Urker (if not all). This fact came to light during research on agrarian disturbances around Crossmaglen, with reference to the murder of George McClean, a farmer and road-contractor, of Cregganduff, who was found dead on the Dundalk Road, Crossmaglen, on 4th December 1846. Matthew Singleton, R.M., Newtownhamilton, sent a report on 9th December 1846 to the Under-Secretary at Dublin Castle, indicating that he thought the murder might have been committed by the Ribbonmen and that one cause assigned for the murder was that Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson was dispossessed of a large farm on the expiration of a long lease and that part of the farm was given to one Middleton, bailiff to the property, and a nephew of the deceased. Matthew Singleton wrote: "..... Several persons refused to plough the lands last week. Deceased sent his horses to do a few days before he was murdered..... "

This would not be the last murder of a land agent who was murdered and whose life and death was intertwined with the fortunes of the Jackson farm. On May 23, 1850 a Robert Lindsay Mauleverer, a land agent for the Hamilton, Tipping and Jones estate in the Crossmaglen area was murdered as he was being driven to the Cullaville Train Station.  His driver, McNally, testified that the horses - startled by gunshot – had galloped some thirty perches down the road before he could turn his jaunting car around. Mauleverer was already dead, in the ditch. Although initially three men were indicted for the murder, only one was charged and he was eventually acquitted.

[SOURCE: p. 212-251, Seanchas Ard Macha Vol 12, #1, 1986, p212-251]

One of the complications in the consequent trial was that the post mortem did not support the story of gunshots. The skull under some of the wounds was a mass of fractures, so much so that when the skin was removed, the bones fell asunder.  Even more intriguing (and perhaps makes sense of the acquittal) is that most of the locals did not seem not particularly displeased with Mauleverer's demise. Here was a man who had ordered up to 300 evictions when the aftermath of the famine and the consequent disease was wreaking the worst of its damage. My eyebrows shot up when I learned that he had also ordered the bailiff to seize “seven cows, four heifers and a bull belonging to Mrs. Jackson” and that these cows were subsequently  “rescued by a number of persons who drove them[back] to Urker House.”  I later heard a family story that the neighbours had then hid the cattle on their fields until the whole thing had blown over.

A week or so before Mauleverer’s murder in an event that may have been related, six persons were summoned to the Crossmaglen Petty Sessions in connection with the unlawful “rescue” of the Jackson livestock. Their names were Francis Lennon, Pat Kiernan, John McCabe, William Marks, Catherine McCabe and Lawrence McCabe. Francis Lennon lived on a neighbouring farm at Urcher and John McCabe lived nearby at Rathkeelan [SEE DEVLIN web pages] and  the records show that at the time Sir Thomas’ grandmother was still clinging to a lease that included some 59 acres in Urker.

This Petty Sessions case in 1850 was dismissed, but Mauleverer wasn’t about to give up and let go so easily. He said that “he would make a new distress on Jacksons when the cattle would be found on the land, and if he could get nothing to distrain, he would mark a writ against him.” The “him” that Mauleverer referred to was David Jackson, the father of Sir Thomas. No wonder those seven cows, four heifers and a bull had to lay low for quite some time.

If even half of the storiesabout Mauleverer were true, he might just as well have done the deed himself. The most appalling act of insensitivity occurred about five minutes before he left Crossmaglen for the train station and some twenty minutes before his death. A  poor widow, a tenant approached him. She had but four pence to pay for a bog ticket – the document required to authorize the cutting of turf – and she was still a tuppence short of the usual six pence price. It was all she had. The record shows that Mauleverer “… peremptorily refused, and dismissed the woman with a malediction. She returned without the ticket, and probably communicated to her neighbours the result of her application, while he, in a few minutes after returning to Mr. McDonnell’s [the innkeeper] handed him the tickets, saying: “Give these to whom you like. If you get money from them, so much the better. If not, it is no matter.

The tenant farmers living in this region were between a rock and a hard place – quite literally. The rocky land that they farmed ensured that their returns per Irish acre would always be low. To make things worse, one aspect of the Hamilton, Tipping and Jones estate was that the management was split between three owners – absentee owners at that. This meant that extra legal and collection costs inflated the rent costs even further. The leases were also subject to the short sighted practice of rack-renting, a common practice at the time. This meant that if the tenant made improvements, for example with respect to fencing, drainage or buildings, then when their lease was  renewed, their rent was “racked” up to reflect the increased value of the land.  This practice hit hardest against those leaseholders who - like the Jackson’s - had the now questionable benefit of long leases. More and more tenants were forced to default.

In the service of his masters, Mauleverer had served so many unpopular evictions – at least 300 of them - that the bailiff had refused to enforce them. A new bailiff had to be hired and this new one had to be accompanied by a dozen burly men in order to carry out his duties. When the Jackson’s neighbours saw them coming, they barricaded their homes and took a defensive position. The bailiff had to call upon police backup and he was known to arrive with men armed with pickaxes, crowbars and such. From time to time, these enforcers of those laws that were tilted to the benefit of landlords took to levelling houses as a counter-measure to the violence they met. After the death of Mauleverer, the coroner in his report pointed out that these particular social conditions had to be considered and that it could be argued that the death of one man was preferable to the deaths of hundreds “exposed to slow but certain death by starvation”. An amazing statement. This was the social and economic environment of Sir Thomas’ childhood.


The time of either of the land agent's deaths was not the first time the Jackson’s had experienced challenges in meeting their rent payments. Insecurity was probably the family’s middle name. A few years ago at Gilford Castle in County Down, Christine Wright shared with me a letter written in July 1826, to Sir Thomas’s grandmother, Elizabeth Jackson. Her rent was ₤21.2.6 in arrears and she was being advised to “consult with your friends on this & let me know as soon as possible that I may let the Landlord know”  He went on to say,  “but let me have what Rent you can for him as soon as you can as I am gathering up for a supply for him now without delay”. It is a telling letter. Clearly, it is expected that friends of hers would both want to help and be able to help. Although the situation does not seem as dire as it would become post-famine, it also clear that the Jacksons were barely keeping their heads above water.

Obviously, there is much more to her story than this, but at this point these are all the sources that I have found. By the time Elizabeth Jackson was in her early sixties, her son David - who was in his mid-30s seems to have returned from Carrigallen, Co. Leitrim where he had been living before his marriage and after the births of his first two children. It seems likely that he would have taken over the managing of the farm along with his wife, Eliza. Hopefully Elizabeth found some measure of contentment in seeing the family fortunes rise later in her life, thanks to the successes of her grandson, Sir Thomas Jackson.



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