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1870 April 22 Thomas JACKSON is writing from Shanghai to his Aunt Mary Jane OLIVER at Cavananore. He mentions his sisters: Bessie (aka Elizabeth), Mary, Sally (aka Sally) and Margaret (aka Peggy).
Sharon Oddie Brown. June 10, 2015.

NOTE: As with so many of the early family letters, this transcription has been made possible thanks to Christine Wright sharing the original with me.


1870 April 22 Thomas JACKSON - writing from Shanghai to his Aunt Mary Jane OLIVER

NOTE: The anotated and transcribed version of the text is included beneath the images of the letter.


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Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation


Shanghai[1] 22 April 1870


My dear Aunt[2],

            I have your letter of the 17th of Feb and am ashamed to say how long it is since I wrote to you.

            By this Mail I am paying off a lot of old scores in the way of letter writing and have written a regular Yarn tomosher[3].

            Since I last wrote I have met with an accident in the shape of a dislocated elbow. I got an awful spill in consequence of my horse falling with me, and my arm was in a sling for a fortnight, but it is all right now though not quite straight in fact I’m afraid it never will be. It doesn’t make much matter as it is quite as strong as the other one for all necessary purposes, however I hardly think I could use if for fisticuffs as well as formerly.            I don’t know what Bessie[4] Mary[5] Sally[6] & Peggy[7] think of me for not writing to them in reply to their

numerous epistles.      Some time when in the humour I shall spin such yarns that it will make up for all past deficiencies.

            Touching Peggy I think she had better remain at school a while longer. I am getting as rich as Croesus, why actually I have about £500 during the past year and have invested the Dibs safely – Isn’t that something. Just fancy any person named Jackson worth £500 the very idea is absurd. Seriously if I had the Urker folk straight I could easily save half my salary or more, but the former must be done.

            You say you would like to have an evening’s chat with me, well so would I with you, and if I be sent away from Japan I shall try and get leave of absence for about eight months, say from Feb 71 to Decr of same year. What a Hugging I would give you all.    I’m in excellent health, and getting fat (12.4)[8] following your example. Well I hope I may do so in more ways that that, and I think I won’t be far wrong With love to all,

                        Your attached nephew

                                    T. Jackson 




[1] Shanghai – Thomas is writing this letter from Shanghai, where he had worked as an accountant, but in March he had been appointed as sub-manager at Hong Kong.

[2] Mary Jane OLIVER (1821-1875). She was his mother’s younger sister. She never married, and lived at Cavananore. Thomas wrote to her frequently, but his correspondence with her does not include the in depth reflections that were included in his letters to his Great-Aunt Barbara DONALDSON (1783-1865) – who had also lived at Cavananore.

[3] This sounds like a scots expression, but I have no idea if it is for sure, or whether I have made a transcription error.

[4] Elizabeth JACKSON (1843-1923) She was my great-grandmother, and a younger sister of Thomas Jackson.

[5] Mary JACKSON (1844-1921) She was a younger sister of Thomas Jackson. He daughter, Mary MENARY was the one responsible for saving so much of the family archives – along with Christine Wright.

[6] Sarah JACKSON  (1848-1942) She was a younger sister of Thomas Jackson. She is the only sister who I have yet to post a biography page for. She is on my to-do list.

[7] Margaret JACKSON (1853-1944) She was a younger sister of Thomas Jackson, and was seventeen years old, and it would be another five years before she married. I suspect that Thomas was bankrolling her education, as he did for all of her children.

[8] 12 stone 4 equals 172 pounds. Since he was 6’2”, this means that he was still quite slender. Sometimes I wonder if all the talk about him getting fat - mentioned in several letters when he was in his 20s - was perhaps something of a family joke.


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