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This is the first of a set of letters from Eliza JACKSON to her son Thomas that were discovered in a bog in Ireland some time before the 1960s.
The news includes: TJs father recovering from operation on lip; TJs first trip home planned for March 1874; William OLIVERs will presents legal challenges; Thompson BROWN in new place with better health; David JACKSON is working in France.

Sharon Oddie Brown, October 4, 2006


Urker Novr 12th 1873

My dear Tom,

            I suppose you will read my letter to Minnie [1] and though I have but little to say in addition, yet I must write you a line also. Your Father’s lip healed rapidly, and the mark left is scarcely discernable. The fear of being disfigured was his greatest dislike to this operation but he is now glad that is now performed and with reason, for it saved him from a lingering and painful death.


            I have some dread about your voyage in March; might it not be better to avoid the Equinoctial gales? But you know best, and God can bring you safely at any time. May He do so for Jesus Christ’s sake.


            I would wish you to bring Minnie and the child [2] here first, and leave them with us while you are going your visits. We will all be delighted to have them with us; and will do our best to make them comfortable. You will see the most of us greatly changed, those when you left children are now grownup; and some of the rest grown old.  Your Father and I are both gray haired [3] , and in addition I am very corpulent and very deaf. I was quite slight  when you went away. I seldom attend public worship now, for I cannot hear a word unless spoken close beside me and am liable to be lulled asleep by the continuous sound of the preacher’s voice, when I cannot distinguish the words. Poor old Grandmother [4] would not remember today, if she saw you yesterday; but she would know you well enough; and would be very glad to see you. Many of your old friends acquaintances are gone the way of all flesh, Aunt Donaldson [5] , Uncle Thomas [6] , Uncle William [7] , Anne Donaldson [8] , Mr & Mrs Gilmore [9] , Russell [10] & Charles McWilliam [11] , Mrs. Barlow [12] , Mrs Robert Dickie [13] . Alas! What a changing world! If there were not a better beyond it, it would be little worth living for.


            Your Uncle Andrew [14] is ill pleased about his Brother’s [15] will; he will give trouble if he can, but I hope it is not in his power. Thompson Brown [16] offers to do well in his new place [17] ; and his health is greatly improved. It was providential that he got it; for he would scarcely have survived long in Dublin. His knee is almost well. Both he and Bessy [18] seem quite contented with the place, though it is a great change from their beautiful house in Dublin. They hope to build a better house but it must be some time first. They are both of them too wise and prudent to involve themselves in difficulties by undertaking too much at once.


            Willy [19] and Mary [20] are well and happy. Both your sisters are blessed with good husbands; and I think the coming one [21] will not be amiss either. It will be a great comfort to me to have a daughter so near [22] ; and it is delightful for Bessy and Mary to be beside each other [23] . I hope David [24] is doing well in France; M. Vernier [25] praises him very much. Johnny [26] is going about home as usual. I fear the legacy will put folly in his head; but you will be at home (D&) before that comes. Did I tell you that some of my children hoped to buy Uncle Wm’s [27] freehold property*, a sort of joint stock company; which would give a yearly income to each? Well, Johnny objects to put in his share, but wishes to have in ready money. If he continues in that action, it will just be the old story of the prodigal son over again. But as I said, you will be at home, and your advice may have weight.


            I suppose it will be useless to write to you or Minnie after the month of January; you will not have many more letters from home till we see you. If anything turns up worth writing, I shall write again this month; if not, not till December. I am taking a quiet hour to write, the evening before post day; there will be some waste paper, contrary to my usual custom. If there is anything new in the morning, I may fill it.


At present I say good night and may God Almighty bless you and yours; and bring you home to us in peace and safety;


                        Your ever affectionate Mother

                                    Eliza Jackson

  * The property was possibly in Knockagraphy.

[1] Amelia Lydia DARE, wife of Sir Thomas JACKSON.

[2] Kathleen McCullagh JACKSON (1872-1959), first born of Sir Thomas’ children. Twins would be born in London in May 27, 1874 – possibly a reason for choosing an earlier travel date – and a reason that Eliza may not have been apprised of given the early stage of Amelia’s pregnancy at this time.

[3] Eliza JACKSON would have been 62 years old at the time of this letter and her husband David 64.

[4] Elizabeth [McCULLAGH] JACKSON would be 85 years old at this time.

[5] This is most likely Barbara BRADFORD (1783-1865) who married William DONALDSON and lived with him at Freeduff. Sir Thomas JACKSON left Ireland before she had died. Her husband and his family were prominent supporters of the United Irish movement in the region.

[6] Thomas OLIVER d. 1867

[7] William OLIVER d. 15 Oct 1873 – a month before this letter.

[8] Anne DONALDSON – I am unsure which one she would be. Given the dates, it is likely Anne DONALDSON of Sytrim who appears in the Creggan Church records having been buried February 28, 1872. A Richard DONALDSON of the same generation was also of Sytrim.

[9] Samuel GILMORE (1795-1868) & Jane COULTER (1801-1866) – the parents of Eliezer GILMORE who would later marry Sarah JACKSON (a sister of Sir Thomas).

[10] Russell McWILLIAM (1839-1870) Church of Ireland minister in Carlow. He died of TB. Son of Rev Thomas McWILLIAM (minister in Freeduff from 1837 to 1863 and a colleague of Rev Daniel Gunn Brown.) & Anna RUSSELL.

[11] Charles McWILLIAM (1843-1869) was a doctor in Crossmaglen. He died of TB. Brother of Russell McWILLIAM.

[12] Mrs. BARLOW? The BARLOWs are tied into the BARTLEYs – but I am unclear how. See also a letter from 1875? Perhaps related to a BARLOW mentioned in August 2, 1875. There is also a BARLOW who had a deed at Cregganduff (SEE: Deeds Registry 46/434/29449). Interestingly, there is also a record of a John BARLOW marrying a Mary JACKSON in Tamlaghtfinlagan, Londonderry on May 9, 1850. The father was a David JACKSON. (Vital Records Index). There was also an A.H. BARLOW at HSBC. Griffiths evaluation also shows a Rev. Wm BARLOW at Creggan ban Glebe as well as Creggan Duff.

[13] Mrs. Robert DICKIE was born Mary Anne WALLACE (1795-1870), daughter of John WALLACE & Jane DONALDSON. She was likely living at Roachdale, Co. Louth.

[14] Andrew Bradford OLIVER, brother of Eliza [OLIVER] JACKSON

[15] William OLIVER d. 15 Oct 1873

[16] Thompson BROWN (1837-1915), my great-grandfather married (in 1867)  “Bessy” JACKSON (1843-1923) , sister of Sir Thomas.

[17] This likely refers to some new place of employment after working in Dublin. His father had a business in Dublin as a woollen and linen draper and the address of this business was the one given on his wedding certificate. This would have been six years after his marriage and 3 children would have already been born. The family may have just moved to Killynure, Co. Armagh. I believe that initially, he and his wife and the first three children (Thompson, Elizabeth & David) lived in the old single story home that had belonged to the OLIVERs.

[18] “Bessy” Elizabeth JACKSON (1843-1923) – a sister two years younger than Sir Thomas

[19] William MENARY (1838-Feb 7, 1874) married Mary JACKSON (1844-1921), sister of Sir Thomas in 1871.

[20] Mary JACKSON (1844-1921), sister of Sir Thomas.

[21] Sarah JACKSON (184801942) sister of Sir Thomas married Eliezer GILMORE (1845-1919) on  Feb 3 1874.

[22] Sarah & Eliezer GILMORE would live at Liscalgot – beside Urker outside Crossmaglen.

[23] The house on Maghery townland where Mary & William lived was right beside Killynure where Bessy & Thompson lived.  They had young children together. Mary had a daughter Mary MENARY born 1872 & Bessie already had three children Thompson, Elizabeth & David. (Both Thompson & David would go on to work in banking in the Far East.).

[24] David JACKSON (1855-1903), youngest surviving brother of Sir Thomas

[25] Mr. VERNIER? Assuming that David was in France learning the trade of banking, the company Decroix, Vernier, Verley et Cie in Roubaix may be of interest.

[26] John JACKSON (1839-1886) a brother two years older than Sir Thomas.

[27] William OLIVER (d. 15 Oct 1873), brother of Eliza JACKSON



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