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A Grand Military Funeral

Albert died on Boxing Day, 1902 after three months illness. The following account is taken from three reports in the Woking newspapers.


"THE SURREY TIMES" Sat.Jan.3rd 1903 : DEATH OF MR ALBERT JACKSON : A Crimean and Mutiny Veteran, a familiar figure from St John's


All three papers reported some details of his former life, how he had settled in St John's after leaving the army and had been an assistant warder at the old convict prison, Woking. After seven years in that post he retired with a bonus and became proprietor of the Rowbarge Inn where he remained for many years. The Observer largely repeated information from the other two reports and the three have been merged here in the words of the reporters. (Some of the many people mentioned are identified at the end or in the previous article).

The little hamlet of St John's has seldom witnessed so remarkable a testimony of respect paid to any of its departed inhabitants and so uniquely impressive an occasion as it presented on Wednesday afternoon, 31st Dec. when a very large number of people attended the funeral of Mr Albert Jackson of St John's, the well-known omnibus and fly proprietor, who was buried with full military honours.

First Bus Service from St John's to Woking Station

The deceased was better known as the first person who started the omnibus service running from St John's for over 20 years. As bus and fly proprietor, he ran a service of buses to Woking Station for twenty years. He carried on this business by himself and then with his son Mr George Jackson who will continue it. He frequently drove his vehicles himself, and at special times was to be seen mounted on his box with his medals on his breast. Mr Jackson was an ex-Wheeler Sergeant of the Royal Artillery in which he served for 21 years, retiring on a pension. He went through both the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny without a scratch and possessed four medals - the Crimea, Turkish, (with clasp for Sebastopol), the Mutiny, and long service - which on special occasions he proudly wore. When Colonel Harris of the 3rd East Surrey Regiment returned from South Africa, Mr Jackson drove him to the Inkerman Barracks, and it was on such occasions as this that he delighted to display his well-won decorations.

It was during the Russian war that he had what he considered as the narrowest escape of his life, and he treasured as a memento of this occasion an old flintlock brass blunderbuss pistol. This weapon was presented at his head by one of the enemy but the pistol fortunately missed fire, and before the Russian had time to re-cock the trigger he was felled to the ground with the butt of a rifle wielded by Mr Jackson.

Mr Albert Jackson passed away on Friday, Boxing Day, at his residence, Belle Vue Villas, St John's, at the age of 67 years. Mr Jackson, who had been laid up for several weeks and was attended by Dr.W.H.Ball, had been in failing health for some time with an unlcerated stomach. During the last three months his illness took a serious turn, so that the end was not altogether unexpected. Only a week before his death, he had moved from Ivy Cottage, where he had lived for the last twenty-eight years after coming to the district. Widely known and highly esteemed the deceased, under a rugged exterior, possessed a kindly heart and sympathetic spirit and he will be greatly missed in the circle in which he moved.

Mr Jackson was of the Roman Catholic faith and therefore the first part of the funeral service took place at the house, performed by Father Connell (the Roman Catholic Military Chaplain attached to Inkerman Barracks), assisted by the Rev. Father Peter Mason, a nephew of the deceased, Mr J.Powell acting as sacristan.

On both sides of the road leading to St John's Cemetery were lined a company of the Berks regiment, now stationed at Inkerman Barracks, under command of Lieutenant Hunt, altogether about 70 men. The coffin was removed by six sergeants of the regiment and placed on the gun carriage, drawn by a full team of six horses, supplied by the 99th Battery Royal Field Artillery now stationed at Deep Cut Barracks, in the charge of a non-commissioned officer. The coffin, which was of polished elm, and bore the simple inscription,

Albert Jackson,
died December 26th 1902,
aged 67 years

was covered with the Union Jack and surmounted by numerous beautiful wreaths. The cortege was headed by a firing party composed of 20 men of the 1st Battalion royal Berkshire regiment who carried their rifles at the 'reverse arms' and they were followed by the Drum and Fife Band with muffled drums. After the coffin, which was covered with the Union Jack, the rear was brought up by more men from the same battalion also carrying their rifles at the "reverse arms". The detachment of the Royal Berkshires was under the command of Lieut. Hunt. The solemn procession left the house at a slow step then moved slowly on, the drum and fife band playing the "Dead March in Saul". Immediately after the gun carriage the favourite horse of the deceased, led by one of his employees followed, then the mourners, and a vast crowd of followers. A large crowd watched the procession as it wound its way to the churchyard, and a numerous assembly afterwards gathered at the graveside. The great many friends and sympathisers at the graveside included several members of the Village Club to which the deceased belonged.

The mourners, all of whom followed on foot, were Mr and Mrs George A. Jackson (only son and daughter-in-law), Quarter-Master Sergeant T.Taylor, Grenadier Guards (brother-in-law), Mrs Ricketts, Mrs Hope, Mr W.Jolley of London (brother-in-law), and Mrs Hawkins, Mr H.Nicholls and Mr W.Weller.

A great many friends and sympathisers from St John's, Knaphill and the adjacent hamlets, in all numbering quite 800, were among those who were present, among them Mr E.Waters and three sons (Woking), Mr Collins, Mr Biddle, Mr Jackson ("Prince of Wales"), Mr Padmore ("Row Barge").

The Village Club, of which the deceased was a member, was strongly represented, the members present including Mr J.Hansell (Treasurer), Mr J.Holloway (Secretary), Messrs R.Sherwin, C.Redway, J.Hampton, J.Stokes, G.Biddle, E.Squires, A.Joliffe, A.Martin, H.Bolton, H.Day, etc.

The Woking Fire Brigade was represented by Mr. C.Sherlock (captain of the Woking Fire Brigade), Foreman Grantham, (Woking Village) and Fireman Howard (St John).

Funeral service at the graveside
At the churchyard gate the cortege was met by the officiating priest, Fr. Connell (the barrack chaplain), the Rev. Father P. Mason (nephew of the deceased and the popular priest of the Southwark Cathedral, London) who assisted, and the Sacristan (Mr J. Powell). A bearer company of six sergeants carried the coffin from the gun-carriage to the place of interment in the grave in which Mrs Jackson was buried, the firing party took up its position and the committal portion of the service was said.

Firing party
At the conclusion the firing party (under Serg.-Major Beasley, Berks. regiment) fired the usual three rounds It is interesting to note that one of the firing party, which numbered 20, was Pte House who won the Victoria Cross in South Africa. Afterwards the last customary rite (the sprinkling of holy water) was performed by the co-religionists of the deceased.

Floral tributes, which were numerous and beautiful, were sent by Mr and Mrs George Jackson; the grandchildren; Mrs Mason, (sister), Mrs Mason (niece), Quarter-Master Sergeant and Mrs Taylor and family, Mr and Mrs Jolley; Mrs Ricketts; Mr and Mrs Hope; Mr and Mrs D.Jackson; Mr and Mrs Urban Padmore and family; Mr and Mrs Howard and family; Major Lawrence R.E. and Mrs Lawrence; Mr and Mrs F.A.Wellesley(Westfield Common); Mrs Gowers; Mr Cook (Hook Heath); Mrs Nicholls; Mrs Mortimer, the St John's Village Club; the cabmen at Woking Station; the Woking Fire Brigade; Mrs Howard; and Mrs Mortimer. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Gay Bros. of Knaphill.

Surviving family
Mr Jackson, whose wife pre-deceased him by some years, is survived by his only child, Mr George Albert Jackson, who is foreman of the local branch of the Fire Brigade, and who succeeds his father in the business. He also leaves other near relatives to mourn his loss, and we offer them our condolence in their sad bereavement.

Notes on some of the people listed in this report who can be identified:

Mrs George Jackson was Fanny Elizabeth Ricketts See the Ricketts family.

'Mr Jackson' was not related as far as is known, but was obviously proprietor of another local pub, and is presumably the same person as Mr D.Jackson, who with his wife, sent flowers.

Mr W.Jolley of London was Albert's brother-in-law. The obituary is so far the only mention of him to be found, his first name is not known apart from the initial, nor whether he was older or younger than his sister. His father's name was John so he also was probably born in Co.Carlow. Nothing is recorded of his wife who does not seem to have been among the mourners..

Mrs Mason - this would be Emma, Albert's sister, mother of Fr Peter Mason, who was later parish priest of English Martrys, Streatham until his death in 1950. (For some time at Southwark Cathedral Peter was secretary to Bp Peter Amigo and used to joke that they were known as 'Big Peter and Little Peter'. This did not refer to their size which was rather the opposite!')

'Mrs Mason, niece' was probably the wife of the eldest son, George. Of the other two sons, Richard and Francis (or Frank) little is known except that Richard had died in 1899.

Qtr Master Sgt Taylor. His wife Minnie was Albert's stepdaughter, and half-sister to George Jackson.

Mrs Ricketts - this was probably George Jackson's mother-in-law, Emma Grace Ricketts, formerly Janes, who was still living not far from her own mother (Emma Janes, formerly Wood) in Brighton. See the Janes family.

Mr H. Nicholls was Harry Nicholls who married Sarah Jane Ricketts, daughter of Emma Grace (Janes) Ricketts, so was another brother-in-law of George Jackson's. Sarah is not mentioned as being present though she did send a floral wreath, but she had four children, two of them rather small. Being only a year younger than her sister, Fanny, George's wife, they were perhaps rather close. See the Ricketts family.

Fireman Howard appears to be a 'James Howard' according to a scribbled note of Albert's.

1. Albert in the Crimea 2. Albert in India 3. Albert in Woking 4. Newspaper Report