Story 2 – Notorious Jackson Gang

It is a cold, dark night in April 1846. Members of the Jackson family are inside the Monglass home occupied by Caldwell Motherwell.

“Da, hurry up,” whispers Rebecca. She listens intently for any sound coming from the bedrooms above.

“Don’t you be worrying, me girl,” William replies, “We still have plenty to get from here.”

“But, da, we all have a coat or cloak to wear. We don’t want to wake up Mr Motherwell with any sudden noise.”

Rebecca slowly edges to the doorway with her younger brother William, who was wearing a macintosh, and her friend Mary Jane Gallagher, who was wearing a cloak.

William the elder, Anne Jackson and Jane Steele, who were also members of the notorious Jackson gang, picked up the last of their stolen goods and followed the children out the doorway.

Quickly and silently they headed over the fields that should have been filled with potatoes, towards their home in Garshooey, about a mile away. But with the potato famine happening all over Ireland, there was little in the way of food to eat. Pawning the pieces of clothing meant food in their stomachs for another week or so.

Eight months later, Anne reports the thefts to the local sub-constable James Lowe. William, his son and daughter and Jane Steele are convicted of theft and sentenced to transportation. Thus begins a new life in Van Diemen’s Land for my great great grandmother Rebecca Jackson.

Source:

Report of court trial at Lifford Quarter Sessions, Donegal,  1 January 1847. Found in the Court of Petty Sessions records for Newtowncunningham held at Donegal archives, Lifford.

…………………………………………..

Two students replied to this story mentioning a bit of confusion with the two William – father and son. Also to maybe set the scene more with lots more description.

Readers: Where else could I improve this writing? As it is only going to be published on this blog, feel free to re-write whole paragraphs if you want.

What’s in the newspaper report?

Whilst down in Dublin, I had visited the National Library where many Irish newspapers are found on microfilm. I would suggest you use the newspaper database before heading there as you need to get a reader’s ticket, put in the order and they are not done immediately but once every hour or half hour. When searching the database, fill in the county you need and to narrow further the town.

From the Londonderry Journal and Donegal and Tyrone Advertiser, Wednesday January 13, 1847 under the Donegal Quarter Sessions:

William Jackson, sen., William Jackson, jun., Rebecca Jackson, and Jane Steel, who lived in the neighbourhood of Carrigans, and have committed depredations in that vicinity for many years, were sentenced by the Assistant Barrister, at the above sessions (Lifford) to seven years transportation each. This gang, which had been a terror to the neighbourhood, thus have met a deserved punishment, owing much to the exertion of Robert McClintock, of Dunmore, Esq., in bringing their many delinquencies to light, through the information obtained by him from a former accomplice.

Two days later on Friday 15 January 1847 in the Ballyshannon Herald and County Donegal General Advertiser, the same report was written up but no mention of William Senior. This may have been a misreading by the typesetter of the paper not noticing two Williams mentioned.

Modern day street at Carrigans.
Modern day street at Carrigans.

 

To know what it was like in Donegal at the time, I also found a report in a newspaper (forgot to write down which one) but in the section labelled Donegal Quarter Sessions – Division of Lifford.

Much of the report was about the 258 Ejectment Processes the Assistant Barrister Jonathan Henn Esq had to look at.

These ejectments are, we understand, brought chiefly against the small holders, whose rents did not exceed 4 pound per annum, and in getting rid of this class of tenants, the landlords are said to have two objects in view – namely, the consolidating of some five or six of these tenements into one farm, which, when let to a solvent tenant, would relieve them from the payment of the whole of the Poor Rates, which they are now obliged to discharge, and to get quit of this burden, is supposed to be the chief cause of these wholesale ejectments.

The rest of the report shows what it was like to be a poor person in Donegal area at that time:

The greater part, if not the whole of the wretched beings who are about to be driven from their miserable habitations, will likely become inmates of the poorhouses in their respective Unions, and will consequently increase the rates on the already over-taxed farmers, who will be obliged to support them. Nothing can more forcibly demonstrate the poverty of the country than to find such a number of people unable to pay their rent, as in this part of Ulster it is well known that the poor man, though himself and family are neither half clothed nor half fed, will make an effort to pay his rent, in order to secure, for himself and them, the shelter of a cabin that he can call his own, be it ever so humble. The blight that fell upon the potatoes during the past and the two preceding years, at once accounts for this general destitution among the lower classes of the rural population; and now to take advantage of their poverty, and extirpate them from the soil, appears to be a harsh and heartless proceding, however the law may justify the perpetrators of it. It is more than probable that we will publish in our next, the names of the chief actors in this wholesale clearance system, and thus allow them, should their work be meritorious, to enjoy the full credit of it, by giving them all the benefit of our extensive circulation.

One very famous Irish County Donegal eviction was from Glenveagh(Derryveagh). Here is a website with lots of stories about what happened to those evicted by John Adair in 1861. While in Ireland, I visited Glenveagh which is now a famous National Park. I also visited poorhouses  and museums talking about the evictions. Here are some photos of these places.

All these images (and 200 more) can be found in my Ireland 2014 album on Flickr linked here.

 

 

County Donegal Archives at Lifford

Surely there were records telling me about the court trial ….

I asked the archivist what sort of trial records they might have here. She replied that Petty Session records were here and which would I want to see. Now I wasn’t sure if I wanted Quarter Session or Petty Session records so decided to try the Petty Session just in case there was mention of the Jackson family misdemeanours in them over the few years prior to 1847. But which town or areas records would I look at?  I remembered from the Outrage Papers that A McClintock was a magistrate from the Newtown Cunningham area so said I would try them.

Checked 1 January 1847 and there it was:

Cases in which Mr McClintock acted out of Petty Sessions:

Anne Jackson of Garsney??? and John Craig of Corneamble  a(gainst) William Jackson the Elder and Jane Steel both of Garsney

For that they did at Corneamble on 1 February? 1846 feloniously steal and take away 4 hens value 3/- the property of John Craig

Information taken returnable? to Quarter Sessions at Lifford January 1847

Another case reported:

Anne Jackson of Garsney and Anthony Gallagher of Ruskey? a(gainst) William Jackson the Elder, William Jackson the Younger, Rebecca Jackson, Jane Steele and Mary Jane Gallagher

For that they did at Ruskey on the 1st day of April 1846 feloniously steal and carry away 4 stones of potatoes value 8d the property of Anthony Gallagher

Information taken returnable? to Quarter Sessions at Lifford January 1847

A third case reported:

Anne Jackson, Caldwell Motherwell of Monglass, sub constable James Love?, Nelly Jackson of St Jo uston? and Joseph Wray of Curry free? County Derry a(gainst) William Jackson the Elder, William Jackson the Younger, Rebecca Jackson, Jane Steele and Mary Jane Gallagher

For that they did at Criche? on the 6th day of April 1847 into a certain dwelling House of one John Motherwell feloniously broke and enter and did then and there feloniously steal from one large cloak valued 2/5, on Mr Qutoste? cloak value 6d, 3 frock coats value 7/6, one body coat value 2/-, 3 pairs of trowsers value 6/-, 3 waistcoats value4/6, one sheet value 6d and one quilt value 6d the goods and chatels of Caldwell Morthewell? Motherwell?

Information taken returnable? to Quarter Sessions at Lifford January 1847

I think it might have been this latest case that really did it for the thieving Jacksons. But I notice the date is April 1847 – think that should have been April 1846 as they were tried in January 1847. I also see another Jackson being mentioned Nelly in County Derry. Wonder what relation she might be?

So where else could I find records for the court case? Let’s try the newspapers – checked back in Dublin at the National library where the newspapers are on microfilm.

 

Lifford Gaol, County Donegal

So from the Outrage Papers of County Donegal in 1847 I have found out the following:

  • William Jackson Senior is the father of William Jackson Junior and Rebecca Jackson.
  • Jane Steele is a member of the Jackson family somehow – maybe William’s sister?
  • Ann Jackson gave evidence against members of her family which led to their conviction and transportation – is Ann William the elder’s wife and Rebecca and William’s mother?
  • They were tried on 1 January 1847 at Lifford Quarter sessions by the Magistrates of Newton Cunningham Petty Sessions.
  • They were being held at Lifford Gaol.
  • Ann Jackson has had a passage to Quebec paid for her and her two young children aged 10 and 6.

As part of my trip I headed to Lifford Gaol to find out a bit more about it. I was lucky enough to have a guided tour once one of the archivists found I had had a convict relative staying there. The only part of the old gaol remaining is down in the basement and what is now the Lifford Courthouse and Museum. If ever you visit, I recommend the meal at the old Courthouse.

In surfing the web today, I found a report of what the gaol was like on 6 January 1847 when it was visited by the inspector generals of prisons in Ireland. There is a three page report and my Jackson family will be in the number of convicted felons mentioned.

The archivists sent me some images to use when writing about the gaol. Here is one of them:

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I took this while touring the basement area:

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I enjoyed the humour when entering the archivists room.

IMG_1601.JPG

 

But unfortunately, they had nothing more about my Rebecca Jackson, so where was I to go now? I still had not seen any court records explaining what was stolen by this group of thieves. The archivists suggested the heading to Donegal County Archives about 100 metres around the corner. I might find the court records there.

Donegal Outrage Papers

Outrage Papers consists of reports to the Chief Secretary on crimes and disturbances around the country. These are arranged in county order from 1835-52 and are held at the National Archives in their original format. If you get permission from the archivist you can take photos of the papers but you need permission to publish them on the internet. There are papers after 1852 but not in county order.

So I started checking those for 1846 – nothing then 1847 – the year my great great grandmother Rebecca Jackson was tried for stealing wearing apparel.

The first mention I found was:

William Fenton – Governor of the Gaol of Donegal on 23 March 1847 – not sure who he was sending the letter to?

Also that James Sharkey above named was the means of bringing to justice William Jackson Senior and his family four in number, by discovering the pawn tickets concealed on the person of William Jackson the older, the whole family been sentenced to transportation in January last before the Assistant Barrister.

So from this document I now know that William, William, Rebecca and Sarah are all related – probably father, son, daughter and maybe married sister??

Next was report James Sharkey sent in to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on 6 April 1847

The memorial of James Sharkey, Turnkey in Lifford Gaol, County of Donegal, most humbly sheweth,

That on the 21st December last William Jackson Senior, William Jackson Junior Rebecca Jackson and Jane Steele and Mary Jane Gallagher were committed to said gaol charged with various larcenies – that William Jackson Senior (the father of the other two Jacksons and principal leader of them all) had managed to conceal from the Constabulary (who had searched him previous to his committal) a number viz. twenty one Pawn Office tickets which Memorialist found concealed in the waistband of his trowsers at the time he was committed and which led to the discovery of various articles which had been stolen and finally to the conviction of four of the party as the charges for which they were first committed were not sustained: – That Memorialist was examined before the Assistant Barrister at last January Sessions when the aforesaid were tried and convicted and sentenced to be each transported for seven years. Memorialist prays His Excellency will be graciously pleased to award him such remuneration for said service as His Excellency may think proper and as in duty bound Memorialist will ever pray.

Now I have more information William is the father and William Junior and Rebecca are his children. There were actually 5 people committed but only four were convicted. They were convicted because of the pawn tickets found proving to be from stolen articles rather than from the various larcenies charges.

The next document was from A McClintock and John Ferguson to the Under Secretary, Castle Dublin

Newtown Cunningham Petty Sessions, County Donegal 25 May 1847

We the Magistrates of the Petty Sessions District of Newtown Cunningham County of Donegal beg leave to call your attention to the case of Ann Jackson, and to request of you to lay the same before the Lords Justices; the said Ann Jackson became an approver on behalf of the Crown, and gave evidence at the last January Quarter Sessions held in Lifford before Jonathan Henn Esq Q.C. Assistant Barrister of the County of Donegal, against four persons members of her own family, who had been guilty of repeated acts of Larceny, and who were convicted upon her evidence and sentenced to be transported for seven years, and she, having been frequently threatened with personal injury by other members of her family who remain here in the country, and being a Pauper with two children of the respective ages of 10 and 6, and unprotected, has been importuning us to make application on her behalf, that she may be with her two children sent out to one of the colonies at the expense of the Government.

The said Ann Jackson was a member of a family that had for the last twenty or thirty years been committing depredations in this part of the country; they had always escaped detection until she came forward and gave information against them, and was the means by which they were brought to justice: four persons, namely, William Jackson the elder, William Jackson the younger, Rebecca Jackson and Jane Steele were arraigned upon six Bills of indictment at the Quarter Sessions, and principally upon the evidence of the said Ann Jackson were found guilty upon two of the charges and sentenced as before mentioned.

The conviction and punishment of these offenders have been most beneficial to the community, and they might never have been detected but for the information given by this woman: from the character of those members of her family who have been threatening her, we consider them capable of doing her injury, if in their power, and under  these circumstances we recommend her application to the favourable consideration of the Lords Justices.

The next document is very blurry and I can’t read it properly from my iPad. I think it is from Mr Barrett from Riversdale Ardara dated 31 May 1847  The source is labelled 7/181

I have carefully read the annexed and it is perfectly correct – Ann Jackson became an Approver as stated, and gave such information as led to the conviction of William Jackson the Elder, William Jackson the Younger, Rebecca Jackson and Jane Steele, who were severally transported for seven years. I consider the recommendation entitled to the favourable consideration ….

Other notes on the same piece of paper but written in red ink include

I … and inform the Magistrates that their … have sanctioned their recommendations as to the … of Ann Jackson and her two children. Report/Request/Regret?? therefore that they will ………

The final document I copied is from R Ramsay from the Government Emigration Office Londonderry 24 June 1847

I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 22 Instance respecting the providing passage for Ann Jackson and her two children and to arrange for 5 pound to be paid her on arrival at the port of Quebec. Have received from H McMahon Esq fifteen pounds for the purpose of providing such passage and remitting the five pounds – I shall provide the passage and remit the pounds to the Emigration gent at Quebec.

So what did I learn from the Outrage Papers and where do I go now? That will be another post.

 

Tripping off to Ireland

One of my hard to research ancestors is Rebecca Jackson. As I was going to a conference in USA in June 2014, I decided to divert to Ireland for three weeks prior to the conference. No good just spending a week overseas when you have to travel to and from Australia. You have to make the most of travelling time.

What did I know about her before I left?

Rebecca was tried in County Donegal on 1 January 1847 for stealing wearing apparel. There were three other people tried for the same offence. William Jackson Senior, William Jackson Junior and Sarah Steele. She was Presbyterian, could read a little and her native place was County Donegal. She departed Dublin on 19 July 1847 on the ship Waverley with Sarah Steele onboard as well.

So where do I go from there? What do I need to find out?

I knew that many records from Ireland had been lost in a fire in Dublin many years ago, but what was left to use? With so much online now, I decided to contact the Donegal Archives on Facebook to get some clues from them. I knew I would be visiting there at some stage of my journey. They said all convict records were at the National Archives in Dublin. As I was flying into Dublin I decided to stay a week there and spend lots of time at the archives, library and museum. I was also visiting schools as part of this trip but you can read about that on my other blog written by a little Tasmanian Devil soft toy.

National Archives of Ireland

Checked the convict records there but they were exactly the same as those I could find here in Australia as part of the AJCP. Disappointed I had a chat with the archivist on duty when I registered for my ticket to use the resources at the archives. He said if Rebecca and the two Williams were all from the same family then their crime might be mentioned in the Outrage papers for Donegal. I had never heard of these but they were a godsend. I checked for 1846 and 1847 seeing as they were on trial early in 1847.

What I found out will be my next post.

UPDATE UPDATE  UPDATE UPDATE  UPDATE UPDATE

Just re-read the convict records and noticed Jane Steel at age 53 was single(not widow) so she can’t be William’s sister, maybe she is the sister of his wife ….

Family of John and Rebecca England

1. John ENGLAND ( – 10 Feb 1905) & Rebecca JACKSON (About 1833 – 23 Oct 1906)

1. William ENGLAND (16 Oct 1852 – 11 Mar 1854)

2. Henry Lewis ENGLAND (26 Dec 1854 – 29 Aug 1932) & Julia Charlotte CHANDLER (1 Oct 1860 – 3 Mar 1905)

1. Ruby May ENGLAND (5 Jul 1886 – 29 Oct 1967) & Arthur John Sydney STIRLING (1885 – )

2. Henry Lewis ENGLAND (12 Dec 1888 – 12 Mar 1963) & Hannah DAVEY (10 Nov 1899 – 7 Mar 1967)

3. Gladys Emily ENGLAND (4 Aug 1891 – Sep 1977) & Harold AMINDE

4. Lucy Grace ENGLAND (22 Oct 1894 – 7 Oct 1914)

3. Elizabeth ENGLAND (22 Feb 1857 – ) & Joseph BRADLEY (1856 – )

1. Alice Rebecca BRADLEY (1879 – )

2. Madeline BRADLEY (1880 – )

3. Lily BRADLEY (1882 – )

4. Elizabeth Mary BRADLEY (1884 – )

5. BRADLEY (1885 – 1886)

6. George BRADLEY (27 Oct 1890 – )

7. John BRADLEY (1892 – )

8. Joseph BRADLEY (1896 – )

4. Male ENGLAND (4 Nov 1859 – ) Probably Edward

5. Mary Ann ENGLAND (30 Nov 1861 – )

6. William James ENGLAND (2 Mar 1864 – ) & Sarah SINFIELD (1861 – )

7. Female ENGLAND (28 Jul 1866 – )

8. George Thomas ENGLAND (3 Dec 1868 – )

John England

John is an ancestor I feel was sent out to Van Diemens Land for a deserving reason. He didn’t just try to help feed or clothe his family in these trying times in England, but he and his friends decided to carnally assault a young woman – known as rape both then and now. He and two of his friends Joseph BARRAS and Samuel MYERS were given life for their crime even though it was John’s first conviction. They were tried at the York Assizes on 9 July 1846 and embarked on the ship Pestonjee Bomanjee (2) on 25 October 1846.

Whilst I was at the Public Record Office (PRO) in London during a vacation, I looked up the trial records of John and found some of his other friends had tried to help him before his trial date. A summary of what I found is here.

John was an iron moulder, 5 feet 6 and three-quarters, aged 19 with a fair complexion, oval head and visage, sandy hair but no whiskers, medium height forehead, brown eyebrows but hazel eyes and a large nose, mouth and chin. He had many marks on himself: boys/men blowing horn, birds and bush, ship and 2 fishes, bust of woman, sailor with flag etc.

When he arrived in VDL on 17 February 1847, he was sent to Darlington which is on Maria Island. He was based here for two years, then six months with the Public Works Department and finally 12 months at the prisoner barracks. Whilst at Darlington he was insolent and given 10 days solitary confinement, was admonished for being idle and when he was caught fighting on the works he was given 14 days solitary. Remittance could be gained by doing extra work, so John was employed by John Swaine in Collins Street, Hobart, then Crosby and Robinson in Campbell Street and again with John Swaine. On 3 June 1851, he was admonished for being out after hours. He was given his ticket of leave on 8 August 1854, his marriage to Rebecca Jackson was approved on 20 September 1854 and on 16 August in 1855 he resisted a constable and was fined one pound. He was recommended for his conditional pardon on 11 September 1855 and given it on 22 July 1856.

Rebecca Jackson

Rebecca is one of my ‘hard to find out anything about’ convicts. All I know is that her native place was county Donegal in Ireland. She was Presbyterian and could read a little. She was convicted of stealing wearing apparel. It was her first conviction and Sarah STEELE (?) was also on board for the same offence. She was an exemplary convict according to the surgeon’s report.

Her description says she was 5 feet 1 inch tall, age 17, with a fair complexion, large head and mouth, small nose and chin, brown hair and eyebrows, blue eyes, an oval visage and high forehead.

She was tried at Donegal on 1 January 1847 and departed Dublin on the ship Waverley 3 on 19 July 1847. On arrival in Van Diemens Land on 25 October 1847, she was assigned to the ship Anson which was moored in the Derwent River. After 6 months she was given 3rd class status, her ticket of leave on 2 July 1850 and her certificate of freedom 3 January 1854. Marriage to John ENGLAND was approved on 20 September 1854 and they did the deed on 16 October 1854 at St Georges Church, Battery Point, Hobart.

STOP PRESS      UPDATE           STOP PRESS       UPDATE

Since my recent trip to Ireland I have more news about Rebecca. She is no longer labelled ‘hard to find out anything about’.