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Thomas Jackson had his last day as a clerk at the Belfast branch of the Bank of Ireland on Wednesday August 30th, and this letter was written three days later on Friday.
Note: I have formatted this with paragraph breaks for easier reading. As with so many of the early family letters, this transcription is made possible thanks to Christine Wright sharing the original with me.
Sharon Oddie Brown. June 5, 2015

1864 TJ letter
To give a sense of the challenges of transcription - here is a photo of the 2nd & 3rd pages. One word that eluded my transcription - [Norn?] - may be a reference to Belfast - the Northern Capital. [Thanks to HSBC staff for that suggestion]


Williamsons Hotel[1]

Cheapside Bow Lane

London 2nd Sept 64

My dear Aunt[2]


You see by the above that I have at last got to the Capital and as I had not time to write to you before I left Belfast I will now attempt to give you a little history of my proceedings.

For four or five days before leaving Belfast I was almost run to death. I had no idea that the bid- ding of friends good bye and other little matters would take so much time. To add to my misfortunes my many kind friends in the [Norn?] Capital almost all insisted that at least I would spend an evening with each one –


So after running about from About 8 in the morning I had an order to satisfy people who had shown me kindness to dine in one place, take tea in another and supper and a third. You are aware that many young friends gave me a ring –


Mr. Reid[3] our cashier as senior of the Clerks made the speech and presentation. I trust you will excuse me while I enumerate a few of the sentiments expressed towards me on that the last day of my sojourn in Belfast. However when I think that I am writing to a beloved Aunt and for the perusal of my nearest & dearest friends I think I may proceed –


When giving me the ring said Mr. Reid “It affords me the greatest pleasure to convey to you on behalf of myself and of my brother officers a token of our affection yet I feel that I am parting perhaps for ever with a sincere and respected friend with a sterling good fellow”

In bidding M’Geoghan goodbye said he “Jackson Wherever of our lot may be placed you have my best Wishes and prayers and may God protect you my poor fellow”


He put into my hands the following Letter - copy Bk of Ireland Belfast My dear Jackson, As your [connexion] NOTE: The rest of the letter of recommendation is included in my web site: August 30, 1864.


NOTE: The 2nd section of the letter was written overtop and at 90o to the first part.

Finding that the packet parted at Ten I got my Trunk on board and took my Ticket through. I had intended remaining all night in Dublin the first part of the night was pretty calm but when we got out a bit it became rough and I retreated to a bunk where I lay awake until about 3:0 Clock when all the passengers became [sick]


I hurried on my clothes made on Deck as quick as I well could be – I was not much more half dressed, to go down again was out of the question and it was impossible to walk about the Boat pitched so much. So I stood on Deck holding on by an iron railing until I became so stiff with cold and so weak from the sickness that I hardly had the power of my limbs –


When we came near Holyhead it calmed down gradually and I was able to move about and so came round again – I must have looked a hard case – so they all said – I could not look at food until the evening when I took a little tea –


Though I travelled 3rd class all the way yet I just found I had 9/6s in my purse when I got into my hotel this evening – However I will be alright – it is not pleasant to ask money in advance from the Bank but I am sure they will do it without a word –


I have found out that any salary will not commence until I join in India – It does not look pleasant in this respect but what good would a fellow be who could not grapple with little grievances such as this.


Tomorrow morning I will join the Bank and will write some of you the result together with my opinion of this City, its people It is almost certain that Calcutta will be my destination. It is headquarters for India

With fondest love to all

I am dear Aunt as ever

T. Jackson

TJ's ring

This ring mentioned in the letter is in the collection of one of his descendants, Thomas Bowman-Vaughan. Of interest is that the seal is that of a sheldrake – the same bird that would be incorporated into the coat of arms that he was awarded when he was made a baronet several decades later.

TJ's ring



[1] Williamsons Tavern stands on the site of Sir John Fastolfe’s house – the knight whom Shakespeare unfairly caricatured as Falstaff. The existing building dates in part from the late 17th century, although greatly rebuilt after the war, and has been known since 1753 when Robert Williamson made it a hotel. Dan Cruikshank in London Walks: 30 London Walks by London Writers. p116. There is a lovely blog written about it by Heather Shimmin.

[2] This Aunt is not an aunt of Thomas Jackson, but a great-aunt: Barbara DONALDSON née BRADFORD (1783-1865). Her husband, William DONALDSON (1768-1815) was the leading United Irishman in south Armagh during the late 1700s. For more detail about her see the footnotes in an earlier letter: September 23, 1863.

[3] Henry K. REID. I suspect that his middle name may have been “Kennedy”. I do not know if he was related to several other REIDs in banking.



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