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1865 April 15 letter to Mary JACKSON.
Thomas Jackson is writing from Hong Kong, after being in the employ of the Agra Bank for three months. He is twenty-three years old. A friend, Lane, is on the staff and the two of them live at the Agra Bank House with the Manager. The manager is not named, but Henry NOBLE (1833-1866) was the manager of the Agra Bank at this time. His wife, Catherine Isabella Haywood NOBLE, died on November 15th, 1865 in the Agra Bank House, Hong Kong, I presume that she and her husband and their three children: Henry Haywood Noble, Ada Catherine Noble and Edith Isabella (who was born in Hong Kong on October 24, 1864) also lived there. I need to confirm this.

Sharon Oddie Brown. June 7, 2015
NOTE: This letter was shared thanks to the generosity of Christine Wright of Gilford Castle.



 1865 p1&4

 1865 Apr p2&3

Pages one & four

Pages two & three

Per “Benares”

No 10001

Agra United Service Bank Agency,

H.K. Canton 15 April 1865[1]


My dear Mary[2],

            By last mail I sent some photographs and prints on rice paper which I trust have arrived and pleased you.

            I just read over your last letter and have come to the conclusion that there is wonderfully little in it, and you use so bad ink that I can hardly read your calligraphy. You should write me thundering long letters full of news. Everything would be interesting. Smallest contributions gratefully received and thankfully acknowledged.

            I trust the rumor about John Brown[3] will not turn out to be true rather strange that two of our cousins[4] should

be upholding the Star-Spangled Banner, really I dislike those Yankees very much. We have a lot of them here, and mind you they are not better than they ought to be constantly reminding us of how they lick the game cock of creation and all other sorts of Bunkum.

            I have bought a beautiful Japanese pony ”Blackbird” £25. He is a regular beauty as black as midnight or Batty’s [5]ebony pony.--- I took a round the racecourse yesterday evening twice in less than eight minutes. (two miles). I sometimes gallop them five or 6 miles without stopping. My companion Lane[6] is the owner of a pony also and we start together every evening at 5 O’C for a spanking ride. Nothing like exercise to keep the liver all square, and our evenings are too

warm to walk enough. The Bank House is about 50 yards from the waterside. I am about going into partnership with Lane in a boat so what between the pony and the boat I will have enough of exercise (afraid of getting too fat you know).

            I am not sure whether I mentioned or not that I and Lane and the manager live together in the Bank House. We have splendid quarters and manage to live “pretty well”; Hong Kong is a very jolly place. Dinners. Dinners. Dinners. Is the greatest place for feeding on the face of the earth.

            For so far I like it exceedingly well and I'm agreeably disappointed. We have very few ladies. The proportion is 1000 men & 56 when I'm all ages. 950 of the former are under 30 years

or perhaps 35 years of age. So you may guess we have a jolly state of society.

            I must wind up Mail time up. Your

Affectionate Brother







[1] Note: For a bit of context - by 1865, Robert HART, a fellow countryman who Jackson would later work with but never mix with much socially, had already been Inspector-General of China's Imperial Maritime Custom Service (IMCS) for a couple of years.

[2] Mary JACKSON (1844-1921). At this point, she is 21 years old. It is 6 years before she will marry William MENARY (1838-1874). It is their daughter, Mary MENARY (1872-1946) who was responsible for saving many of these letters, and then her grand-daughter-in-law – Christine Wright - who has generously given me permission to transcribe and post them.

[3] John Jackson BROWN (1843-1876), son of Daniel Gunn BROWNE & Margaret JACKSON. In the 1870 Census, he was in Pennsylvania, working as a Railway Conductor.

[4] John Jackson BROWNE’s brother Robert Boyd BROWNE (1845-1927) also emigrated to America.

[5] Battys? If this is a reference to someone back in Creggan Parish, it may be “Beatty” aka “Beattie”.

[6] In the 1862 China directory there is a T.A. LANE, a ship Chandler with L. Crawford & Co., (absent) as well as a William LANE, also of L. Crawford & Co., of Queens Road. I do not have access to an 1865 China Directory, so perhaps others who do could enlighten me.



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