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Thanks to Wendy Jack, the references to the Gray family have been added.
Sharon Oddie Brown, November 23, 2003
Updated March 3, 2011. Robbie Burns reference added.

Urker, November 30, 1871


My dear Tommy[1] – (I must still call you the old pet name. I received your letter of Oct 2nd containing the happy and welcome intelligence of your marriage. May you both be happy and may God bless you both in Time and Eternity. I am glad that you are married, it is not good for man to be alone, and from all you tell me, I am well satisfied with the partner you have chosen. One word in your last letter pleased me better than all; that she was a God-fearing Christian. That is just the one thing needful. Oh my dear children, be helpers of each other on this heavenly earth!  Love God and love each other; then though troubles may and will come, you will never be unhappy. And now my dear Tom, if you do not make a good husband I know not where the making of one might be looked for. Be most attentive and affectionate and confiding to the dear girl that has left all for you; and be particularly careful of her health; she is very young, and her constitution cannot be fully formed yet; the climate is dangerous; but you have some experience of it; and can the better guard her from its dangers. I will give you a few lines of an old Scottish song very applicable to your present circumstances –


She is a winsome wee thing

She is a handsome young thing

She is a winsome wee thing

            This bonnie wee wife of mine.

I never saw a fairer

I never loved a dearer

And next my heart I’ll wear her

For fear my jewel’s tine [2]


May such be your feeling and spirit towards her, as long as God spares you to each other. And dear Tommy, take care of yourself for her sake; I often told you to do it for mine.

And now daughter Minnie[3], a word to you. You have got my greatest earthly treasure into your keeping with my good will. Oh love him, comfort him, watch over him, soul and body; and  may God Almighty for ever bless you both. I long to fold you in my arms, and give you a Mother’s blessing. Perhaps that may be before long. Tom wrote hopefully about visiting Ireland in several of his later letters; the last of all was rather doubtful on that subject. To meet would be delightful to us all and besides there are some aged relatives whom we cannot expect to have long here, who would wish to see him and you before they die; nevertheless; he must not injure his prospects or neglect his business. What I would advise is, that you should take all sides of the question into consideration; and then decide upon whatever is best. I hope it may turn out that you can gratify us all, without doing your interests any harm. I hope my little token of affection has reached you safely ere this; but it will be long ere I can hear that it did. I feared that it had gone down in the Rangoon[4] now I think it was not there. I was [nearly] omitting to say we had received the letter of the 18th Sept. containing Minnie’s[5] letters to Father[6] and myself, which pleased us very much. I appreciate the fact of her taking time to write us on the day before her marriage, at its full values. If she had not been particularly anxious to show us respect and good feeling she would have put it off to another opportunity.

As for home news, I believe there is little since I wrote in the beginning of the month. But no news is good news. We are all in life and in our usual health. Uncle William[7] had an illness about a fortnight ago, but got over it. Little Thompson Brown[8] had also an attack of croup (what took away poor little George[9]), but it ended favourably. The Prince of Wales is ill of a fever; you will hear by the papers how that will end. The Tichborne[10] case ~ has not yet concluded. It is a wonderful romance. Old General Bouverie[11] is dead and Jane Grey[12] and her husband[13] have come into the inheritance. I believe I wrote you of William Grey’s[14] health at the time it occurred. This will be a hard enough year on many Irish farmers. Potatoes generally are very bad, and flax was a complete failure in many places. Our corn was good, flax middling potatoes nothing to boast of; but the cattle did well; and even have ten beasts still feeding. On the whole it is not a bad year to us.

I have but one thing more to add: which is: now that there are two of you to write; I shall expect more letters than ever. To hear from my absent children is the salt and solace of my life.

Father and brothers John[15] and James[16] write in love to you my dear Tommy and to your wife, with your ever

Affectionate Mother,

Eliza Jackson[17]


[1] Thomas JACKSON (1841-1915), David & Eliza JACKSON’s second son who had just been married in Yokohma and would go on to be knighted for his work with banking in the Far East, in particular with the HSBC

[2] This is a version of the Robbie Burn’s poem, My Wife’s a Winsome Wee Thing. The word tine means loss.

[3] Amelia Lydia DARE (1851-1944), the twenty year old bride of Thomas Jackson, daughter of George Julius DARE and Sarah Shrieve PARK, long time residents in the Far East.

[4] The Rangoon was a P&O ship that was wrecked off Ceylon that year. It had sunk on October 1: Stopped outside Point de Galle waiting to disembark the pilot when a current put her across Kadir Rock and she was holed several times  amidships. Six hours later she slipped off the rocks and sank stern  first in deep water, but with no casualties except  the pilot’s reputation  - he was given the entire blame for the accident.  Mails were forwarded by  Behar. SOURCE: P&O Heritage.

[5] Minnie  was a nickname often used for Amelia. The date of her letters is the day before her marriage.

[6] David JACKSON (1814-1889)

[7] William OLIVER (abt 1810-1873), uncle to Thomas JACKSON, brother of Eliza JACKSON (née OLIVER)

[8] Thompson BROWN (1868-1942), nephew of Thomas JACKSON, would later work for the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank

[9] George JACKSON (1858-1859), youngest brother of Thomas Jackson.

[10] Ironically, the case of the Tichborne affair  is written up in a book written by my husband: Cheats, Charletans, and Chicanery: More Outrageous Tales of Skulduggery” Andreas Schroeder. McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1997. p. 178-205. The imposter Arthur ORTON tried to claim that he was the long missing and presumed dead Sir Roger TICHBORNE.

[11] Everard William BOUVERIE of Delapré Abbey (13 Oct 1789 – 18 Nov 1871) who owned large estates attached to the abbey in Northamptonshire. His heir was his nephew, John Augustus Sheil BOUVERIE, son of Jane GRAY & John Augustine Sheil BOUVERIE. This family and their inheritance issues are described in At the Ford of the Birches: The History of Ballybay, its People and Vicinity, James H. Murnane & Peadar Murnane. Published by Murnane Brothers.  p477-499.

[12] Jane GRAY, 1828-1903, married John Augustus Sheil Bouverie, son of John Augustine Sheil Bouverie (whose legitimacy was questioned at the time). She was the daughter of the notorious Sam Gray 1782-1848 described in the chapter “The Gray Family” in At the Ford of the Birches: The History of Ballybay, its People and Vicinity, James H. Murnane & Peadar Murnane. Published by Murnane Brothers. P469-482y

[13] John Augustus Sheil BOUVERIE, son of John Augustine Sheil BOUVERIE.

[14] William GREY 1821-1871, eldest son of Sam Gray who succeeded to the York Hotel property in Ballybay. Tales of his life including escapades of operating outside the law can be found in At the Ford of the Birches: The History of Ballybay, its People and Vicinity, James H. Murnane & Peadar Murnane. Published by Murnane Brothers, p480.

[15] John JACKSON (1839-1886), older brother of Thomas JACKSON.

[16] James JACKSON (1850-1925), younger brother of Thomas JACKSON. Married Sarah BROWNE, sister of Thomas McCullagh BROWNE, who was also a manager in the Far East for the HSBC. Sarah & Thomas BROWNE were children of Daniel Gunn Browne & Margaret JACKSON who was a sister of David JACKSON, father of Thomas JACKSON.

[17] Elizabeth JACKSON (née OLIVER), wife of David JACKSON, and wife of Thomas JACKSON &9 other children. They lived at Urker.



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