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Emma Jackson and the Mason Family

Go to Burton Park for essential background details;
or follow the links between these two related pages as they occur

Lady’s maid

The 1851 Census for Burton Constable in Yorkshire lists Emma as lady’s maid to Miss Chichester.

When did they become Catholic? There is no definitive answer to this question and it largely depends upon George. He may have converted after working for the Chichesters though he might have been favoured by being Catholic already. The certainties are listed below:

What is certain is that the baptisms of all of them were recorded in the local parish church (and are all now available online).

In 1851 Emma went to stay with the these two were obviously Catholics as George and Mary Ann definitely were by the mid-sixties.

The baptisms and marriages are not evidence to the contrary because from Harwick's Marriage Act of 1754 onwards, everyone (except for Jews and Quakers) was obliged to marry in the parish church (having been baptised of course) and only on quite rare occasions being able to attend Mass which was usually called 'prayers' for safety as in penal times the Mass was forbidden by law with heavy penalties, especially execution of the priest involved!

They did, for example, have access by this time to books of devotion and regular small magazines which were sometimes also collected and published as books. (I have one used by the Ball family in Lancashire q.v., which dates from before 1802) Devout parents were also meticulous in teaching their children the prayers and the content of their faith. The Chichester family had for a time had a resident priest, a French emigre named Fr Moutier who eventually founded the first Catholic church in Tiverton in 1839, but even if he said Mass in their domestic chapel in Calverleigh there is no evidence that he conducted baptisms there (unlike Lancashire which recorded very large numbers of such ceremonies - and marriages - from about 1785 onwards. Such marriages were frequently 'duplicated' with a ceremony one day in one church and perhaps the next day in the parish church or vice versa) because of the law, to ensure that any children were legitimate in the eyes of the law, and, of course, could therefore inherit from their parents. Theoretically the Catholic wedding was supposed to be no more than a blessing.

Both of George Jackson's children, Emma and Albert may have attended the little school in Templeton and been taught by Mrs Cottrell who lived 'next door' for a while at Lower South Combe farm. But Emma's future probably owed as much to Calverleigh Court. Quite how regular this employment was is unknown but in 1851 she was employed by Miss Chichester, probably the eldest of the four 'legatees' whose income partly depended on the Templeton estates left to them by their father, as a lady's maid. The occasion was a visit to the estate of Burton Constable just a few miles north of Hull in Yorkshire.

;A personal recommendation is perhaps a possible reason for Emma's move to Arundel within a few years of this visit to Burton Constable. Arundel is given as Emma's place of residence on her marriage certificate- she is several times listed as a school teacher.. However, all the places in West Sussex where she is known to have been, Arundel, Slindon and later Burton Park were ancient Catholic centres, each based on a big house. Both Emma and her youngest daughter Agatha served as ladysmaids, Emma in 1851 at Burton Constable, near Hull and Agatha in 1901 at Glossop Hall in Derbyshire. Emma probably accompanied Miss Eliza Chichester from Calverleigh to this large Chichester and Constable family event.


Marriage to George Mason

It was in Slindon that on 5 Sep 1855 Emma Jackson married George Mason, a gardener living at Barlavington on the edge of Burton Park in the district of Petworth.

George had been baptised on March 20th 1825 in the parish church of Bloxham, Oxfordshire. The Mason family still lived in that area. His father was a ‘private gardener,’ living at 19, Back Lane, Banbury with his daughter Ann. His mother Kezia was a ‘live-in’ maidservant in the village of Neithrop, a couple of miles away, her employer being a young woman of 25 who was rather well-off as a ‘house-proprietor’ and owner of railroad shares. The separation implies that the Masons were not finding life easy.

In the summer of 1851 George sent for his baptismal certificate to Bloxham in Oxfordshire. The certificate is dated August 4th 1851, and the cost is quoted as 2/6. The reason must have been, especially living on an estate so steeped in Catholicism, that he had become a convert to the Catholic faith and needed proof that he was already baptised. He did not to receive baptism again as the Catholic church has always recognised both baptisms and marriages in the Church of England as valid.

At the time of the Census in 1851 Emma was staying at Burton Constable just outside Hull in Yorkshire, at the home of Lady Barbara Chichester-Constable. She is described as a 'lady's maid', her employer probably being Miss Chichester of Calverleigh Court in Devon, sister to Lady Barbara, on the occasion of a large house party which implies that Emma was still normally resident 'at home' in Templeton. It is not known when she travelled to Sussex but at her marriage in Slindon in 1855 her address was given as Arundel. It is quite likely that she had been recommended by Miss Chichester for a post there. (Catholic 'society' of the time included the Duke of Norfolk, a prominent Catholic at Arundel Castle and a member of the same congregation. (Emma's daughter Agatha was also a lady's maid later, appearing in the 1901 census staying at Glossop Hall, residence of a 'Peer of the Realm', a close relative of the Duke's, his wife probably being her employer.)

George Mason was 30 and Emma Jackson 28 when they were married in the Catholic chapel at Slindon on Sep 5th 1855, the ceremony being performed by Fr.John Sheehan, the parish priest. He could not have been referred to as a 'parish priest' then - terms like 'parish' or 'bishop' could only be used by the established church by law until the restoration of the hierarchy in 1851.

The witnesses to the wedding, Mary Anne Guilfoyle and T-M. Charlier, sound interesting but they have not so far been traced, though they were presumably living locally. Guilfoyle is an Irish name so not surprising to find in such a Catholic centre after ten years of a huge influx of people as a consequence of the years of famine and starvation in Ireland.

The children of George Mason and Emma

  1. George b. 1857 'of the parish of ' Barlavington
  2. Anne Josephine b. 1858
  3. Alice b.1859
  4. Mary Amy b.1860
  5. Richard Andrew b. 1866 d. 22 Sep 1899 bur. at SS Anthony & George in the family grave
  6. Agatha b. 1866, twin to Richard, d. 1950 in Nazareth Ho. Southwark SRY
  7. Peter b. 1869 d. 16 Feb 1950, bur. 23 Feb 1950 Rev. Peter Mason (recorded in my own diary when my parents attended the funeral)
We were led to believe that there were ten Mason children but have not so far found evidence of any more. All 7 above are listed at home in the 1871 census, but only Agatha was still at home in 1881 though Mary Ann, Emma's mother and Agatha's grandmother had moved in to live with them after the death of her husband George Jackson on 10 Apr 1879. George and Mary Ann had been living at Sutton End on the far side of the Burton Park estate - but only a short walk from George and Emma across the Park. Mary Ann died on 28 Jun 1882 at the 'Bailiff's House', Barlavington, across the lane from the parish church which had been one of those administered by the Cardinal when an Anglican priest back in the 1840s! George and Mary Ann Jackson were not of course buried there but at the new Catholic Church of Sts Anthony and George beside the main entrance to Burton Park.

1. George Henry Mason married Caroline E. (possibly Cass) and lived in St Pancras and then in Islington, first as a gardener then as a carman. They had six children, George Henry 1877, Frederick Richard 1879, Albert Edward 1881, Sydney Herbert 1883, William John 1884, and Arthur Wallace 1889. His place of birth was given once as Burton or even 'Baslurngton' (misreading of Barlavington of course). His sons are listed as at 'St Pancras' in 1881 and as 'Camden Town' in 1891.
2. Anne Josephine Mason married William Edward Higgins, a gardener, in the Mar Q 1879 in Marylebone. By 1911 William is described as a 'botanical' NOT a 'domestic' gardener. They had 14 children altogether but only the 10 who served appear in the censuses so presumably the other four died as babies. The survivors were: William E.G.Higgins 1881, Francis G.Higgins 1882, Mary J.Higgins 1885, John P.Higgins 1887, Agatha E.Higgins 1888, Charles H.Higgins 1889, George Higgins, 1891, Joseph Higgins 1892, Peter Higgins 1896, and Lawrence Higgins 1897.
3. Amy Mary Mason (as Mary A.) joined the community of Franciscan nuns attached to St Elizabeth's House in Kensington (along with a Frances Dean aged 30 from Duncton) and in 1901 was moved to Bocking in Essex. It was a large convent, and devoted to 'Various Works of Charity'
4. Alice Emma Mason was working as a housemaid in 1881 at the home of a Polish merchant. She rmarried Edmund Charles Bridgeman, a 'ledger clerk' in the Mar Q 1887 in Petworth. They had one son, Edmund Francis Bridgeman but Alice died in the Mar Q 1894 in Islington. Edmund remarried to a Mary Annie Kennedy in the Dec Q 1895 and had one more son, Joseph in 1899.
5. Richard Andrew Mason is misleadingly listed as born in 'Burton Park Pulworth Yorkshire' and as a 'milk boy', was visiting piano makers in St Pancras! He married an Emily Bridger in the Sep Q 1895 in Petworth but they do not appear to have had any children. Richard, twin to Agatha, died on 22 Sep 1899 and is buried with his parents in the graveyard of SS Andrew and George at the entrance to Burton Park (which is of course 'Petworth, Sussex'!)
6. Agatha K. Mason, twin to Richard; lived at home - as a dressmaker in 1881 aged 15, until at least the age of 25 when her occupation is not given. Then in 1901 she is listed among the 22 servants - after the children's nurse and a nursery maid, as a ladies' maid (sic) at Glossop Hall in Derbyshire. In residence then were Francis FitzAlan Howard, described as 'Peer of the Realm' The FitzAlan-Howards (who lived more frequently at 19 Rutland Gate in London, certainly during the 'season', probably a more comfortable house than Glossop Hall),.were closely related to the Duke of Norfolk, the Premier Peer whose 'seat' was Arundel Castle. Agatha was probably ladies maid to Francis Howard's second wife Hyacintha, mother of two children, Frances aged 9 and Philip aged 5. There were two visitors, a father with his 19 year old daughter, but Agatha is not listed as a visitor so could have been ladies' smaid to Hyacintha then aged 35. How long she was there is unknown - it could have been weeks or even years.

Though Howards and Chichesters do not here appear on the same guest list, as members of the Catholic gentry they would have been well acquainted from schooldays onwards. It is perhaps no accident that Emma's residence at the time of her marriage in Slindon in 1855 was actually 'Arundel', the Castle being then (and still today) the main residence of the Duke of Norfolk, though this is not intended to imply that she was actually living at the Castle - though equally she might have been.

Burton Park was sold in 1904 and the Masons, George, Emma and Agatha moved with Mrs Wright-Biddulph to the 'Chalet' across the road which runs round the whole estate (past Sutton End where George Jackson had lived till his death in 1879). It was a large house and George Mason continued as gardener until his own death in 1907. By 1911 Emma and Agatha were living in Angel St, Petworth where presumably Emma died on 8 May 1914. As far as is known Agatha continued as a 'companion' though when I met her in the late forties when she was 89, she spoke only of her family and of the 'big house' at Petworth, where she described playing 'when the family were away,' in the long gallery with its busts on marble pillars - it sounded like the great house at Petworth itself, but long before we knew the story of Burton Park.

Some confusion probably resulted from the way the whole district is referred to as 'Petworth' and perhaps even from the fact that these stately homes nearly all followed the fashion for long galleries with busts on pillars! Or perhaps it was a regular 'gardeners' get-together'! Burton Park is also 'in' Petworth.

Agatha died in 1950 at Nazareth House in Southwark, opposite the Imperial War Museum, some months after her brother Peter who had been parish priest at Streatham, not very far away.
7. Peter Mason must have wanted to be a priest from an early age, boarding at a junior seminary, St Mary's at Woolhampton in Berkshire by the time he was 12. He became Secretary to Bishop Peter Amigo of Southwark and used to joke that the Bishop was 'big Peter' and he was 'little Peter' (somewhat the reverse of their actual sizes!) Later he became Parish Priest of English Martyrs, a large parish in Streatham, S.London. He appears briefly in a book on the life of Peter Amigo.

None of the other children have been found on the 1881 census. Ann could have been married by then, and Agnes is said to have become a nun but is thought to be still a child at this time. Richard, (whose gravestone tells us he died in 1899), Mary and Frank remain a mystery. Mary's married name, obviously much later, was O'Neill. Mary had three children as far as is known, including a son Frank and daughter Kathleen. Kathleen, who did not marry, kept in regular contact with her Jackson cousins throughout her life.


....... George, Emma and Agatha,
the Census of 1861 has yet another intriguing twist. With their three children they were now resident at Newpiece Lodge on the west side of Burton Park, the larger area being known as 'Newpiece'. There is still a group of old brick cottages here, quite near to the big house and it is possible it was one of this group.

Emma was described as a ‘schoolmistress.’ The likelihood is that she ran a small school for the children on the estate.

The owners in the 19th century were the Wright-Biddulphs who had taken the name Biddulph on inheriting from cousins. The family probably spent weeks or months in Scotland and perhaps also in London, letting their house while they were away, quite a common practice. In 1861 the big house itself was let to a non-Catholic, Richard Denman, the barrister, with his 6 children, a household totalling 22 people so perhaps Emma ran the 'school' in her own house. It may at that time have numbered no more than a dozen pupils but nothing positive is known of it.

It is claimed in CRS Vol. 22 of Recusant History, May 1994, that a school was held in the basement of Burton House from about 1869 to 1880. This is almost certainly an underestimate of its age as it surely must be where Emma taught in 1861.
See the school next to the church

The new church

See the new churches

By 1871 George and Emma had moved to Burton Park Lodge. Their children now numbered seven.

Friends and Neighbours

James Budd, gardener, lived at 9 Crouch Cottages within the park on the north side in 1851.

At no.12 Lodge Green cottages that year on the south side of the house was another ‘Budd,’ a gamekeeper, who is buried in the graveyard of the old chapel.

Nearby also lies John Gerke, the Biddulph’s German butler who is listed on the 1891 Census. The Budd family must have been well-known to the Masons. Francis Budd, born at Burton, was a footman at Slindon House in 1851.

Another servant at Slindon born at Burton was Lucy Greenfield, aged 45, a housemaid.

In one of the Lodge Green cottages at Barlavington, still within the park on that side near to ‘Lodge Copse,’ lived a family of Sherwins, Henry Sherwin, 51, an agricultural labourer, his wife Sarah, 50, and their four children. When George Mason was Bailiff, and living at the Bailiff’s house, he was, according to the 1881 census, Henry's next door neighbour.

Arthur Sherwin, aged 18, served in the pantry at the big house.


Mary Ann, wife of George Jackson, probably Mary Ann White, born Nateley, Hants abt 1806 In the next few years the Jacksons were once more reunited as a family. It is probable that George Jackson, the steward, was the first to follow Emma to Sussex. The last entry in the accounts book for Templeton was November 1864. When he left Templeton is not known, but by the 1871 Census he was resident scarcely three miles walk from Emma, at The Round House, Upper Horncroft, a hamlet on Horncroft Common. He described himself as ‘formerly Bailiff and Gamekeeper.’ By 1875 he had moved to Sutton End, just beyond the end of the village of Sutton. Here there were two neighbouring cottages on the east side of the park. They are described on the estate documents as ‘stone-built and slated double tenements, with 3 bedrooms, kitchen, scullery and good gardens.’ The rents were one at £8 and one at £4. There is no trace of them to be seen now for new ‘executive-style’ cottages replaced them on the site. George Jackson Land Steward of Templeton Devon, b.1796 in Upton Grey, Hants

During this period George Jackson and Mary Anne travelled into Petworth for these photographs to be taken. Another one of George, now unfortunately lost, (and last seen about 1946) showed him at a different period in a smock-like top commonly worn by farmers etc at that time, with his beard much longer and wispy at the ends, looking quite patriarchal.

In September 1875 Albert arrived, having received his final discharge papers from the army by the 7th. He was 40 years old, 5' 8 " with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair, by trade a carpenter. He travelled from the army camp at Weedon, Northants by train to Pulborough, a few miles to the north-east, his intended place of residence being named as Sutton End which was either part of or adjoined the Burton Park estate. The papers do not mention his wife and two children, Margaret and Albert's stepdaughter Minnie now aged 13 and son George Albert who was 7. It is quite possible that they had gone on ahead for they had been in England since the summer of 1873.

George Jackson died 19 April 1879 aged 83. The informant of George’s death was Sarah Sherwin who, being illiterate, made her mark. Mary Anne, George’s widow, moved in to live with the Masons for another three years until her death in 1882 at the age of 75.

By 1881 George Mason had become Bailiff of the Burton Park estate as well as still being a gardener, and had moved to the Bailiff's House, probably this one, directly opposite Henry Manning's old church at Barlavington. (Manning was now a Cardinal) Of the ten Mason children only Agatha, now 15, remained at home. In the days before mass-produced garments her occupation of dressmaker would keep her very busy. Also in the other half of the Bailiff’s house in 1881 was the coachman, George Kinsbury with his wife and five children. George Mason's house, could be the right hand one of this 'pair' of brick-built houses. There is evidence of rebuilding work in more recent times.

Henry Sherwin was the next door neighbour on the other side, living at Lodge Green, the cluster of houses next along the lane.

Beyond Lodge Green, Burton House is the next dwelling place listed, rented in 1881 by an army officer, Richard T. Godman, with his wife, six children and 16 servants. The Wright-Biddulphs who also had estates elsewhere were frequently away and often went north in the hunting season.

Burton Park 1891

By 1891 the Biddulphs, who owned several other properties, were once more in residence, their only child being the 14 year old daughter of Anthony’s second wife by her earlier marriage. Diana Biddulph was more than twenty years her husband’s junior. He died on August 8th 1895.

Mrs Wright-Biddulph moved into a house on the northwest corner of the estate known as ‘The Chalet’ where George Mason continued to be employed as head gardener until his death in 1907. The estate of Burton Park was sold at the turn of the century. Across the lane on the north side of the estate however, Burton Hill became a rest home for the Jesuits, and although the parish officially moved to Petworth, many other priests - and the Catholic poet and writer Hilaire Belloc - were frequent visitors to ‘Burton Park.’ as it continued to be known. The Lord of the Manor was now Douglas Bernard Hall, Esq. and not part of our story.

The church of SS Anthony and George, hidden by trees and hedges, is easily missed by the cars passing on the road below the bank. There, in the graveyard, a few feet away are the simple stone crosses with their inscriptions. Here were first buried (right) George Jackson, died 10 April 1879, aged 83 and Mary Anne ‘relict of the above’ who died 28 June 1882 aged 75. Richard Mason, Agatha’s twin brother, died at the age of 33 on 22 September 1899 and was buried (left) with the inscription:

Oh for a touch of the vanished hand and a sound of the voice that is still. RIP


George Mason died 1 June 1 1907 and Emma on 8 May 1914. They are both buried in the same grave as their son Richard (Agatha's twin brother)

It was on Boxing Day 1902 that Albert died. George and Emma did not make it to the funeral on Dec. 311str, but it was reported in the Woking newspapers the following week that Mrs Mason, (sister), and Mrs Mason (niece) sent floral tributes. Perhaps the niece was George junior's wife. The only one of the children still at home was Agatha who would of course have been ‘Miss Mason.’ Or perhaps the reporter made a mistake, putting Mrs for Miss. Agatha’s brother Peter, now an ordained priest, assisted at the requiem Mass. (See Albert4)

Agatha, known to the Jacksons as ‘Cousin Ag’ lived till almost 90 and loved to talk about her big family at Burton Park. She always referred to it as ‘Petworth’ as did all the Jackson family, which led them to believe that George was gardener on the vast Petworth estates until the systematic research into the family began in the 1980’s. Agatha treasured a photo of her parents with their children in front of an ivy-clad door, and described how, when the ‘family’ were away the Mason children would play round the statues in the Great Hall. It is possible that the Masons visited friends or acquaintances among the staff there, which would explain Agatha’s description of ‘busts standing on pillars.’ Burton Park had a gallery, but nothing on quite such a grand scale as Petworth’s Great Hall.

Post elsewhere?

.......... for Albert returned from India about 1873, and then, after about five weeks of 'furlough' was posted around the country, discharged from the army on 18 August 1875 and just over two weeks later on 7 September given a railway warrant to travel from Weedon to Pulborough, the nearest station to his parents and sister (with her large family) now living near Burton Park. The record does not mention Albert's family, new to England, but they would most likely have been with him all the way from India, his wife Margaret, his stepdaughter Minnie, 13, and his son George aged seven.

Were George and Mary Anne Catholic?

By the time of the French Revolution in the 1790s the situation was becming a great deal easier for these Catholic families who could now openly have resident priest and chapels. The Chichesters were no exception and had a resident emigre French priest and a chapel in the house which would be attended by any Catholics in the neighbourhood. The priest was a Fr Moutier who had spent some time in Bristol helping out there with baptisms and marriages though there is no record surviving of his activities at this time other than on a page dated 1830, a printout from the record collection housed at Westminster Cathedral. After leaving Calverleigh Fr Moutier put all his effort and money into founding a new Catholic church in Tiverton. in 1839 and becoming parish priest there till his death.

There is no evidence that George was a Catholic before arriving in Devon - he was baptised on 1 Jan 1797 at St Mary's, the parish church (CofE) and married at the little parish church at Brown Candover on 24 Jun 1826. Interestingly they were married by special license, a dodge commonly used by Catholics to avoid having to attend the reading of the banns on the three previous weeks. Questions of this kind are insoluble without evidence. This is no proof of their allegiance then especially as, with few Catholic missions in Hampshire and to keep within the law, there was no alternative. Catholics did tend to choose household servants in particular who were Catholic more than members of the established church in earlier times in order to conceal the comings and goings of the priest and people from the district roundabout for the purpose of 'prayers' - the term used to hide that it was a Mass they were attending. In 'penal times' which lasted in all for about two hundred years, a priest could be executed as a traitor, and also the person who had harboured him and those who attended could be fined heavily (often ruining th families) or imprisoned for many years. So they certainly wouldn't advertise the fact.. By the end of the 18th century, although it as still easy to organise a riot and burn don some chapels, people were becoming in general far more tolerant and even welcoming to the fleeing families of the French emigrants, (often priests and nuns as well as many well-known gentry.).

Fr. Peter Mason

Peter Mason, born in 1869, was ordained priest at Southwark cathedral and assisted at the funeral service for his uncle Albert on Wednesday, December 31st 1902. He served at one time as secretary to Bishop Peter Amigo and used to joke about them being known as 'Big Peter and little Peter', which did not refer to their respective sizes. In 1914, just three months before his mother, Emma, the last of that generation of Jacksons, died,he was appointed as parish priest at English Martyrs, Streatham, a large parish in South London which had opened on the feastday of the English Martyrs in 1888. Peter himself died on February 16th 1950, (recorded in my own diary), having been at Streatham exactly 36 years to the day.

George Jackson at last met all his grandchildren, including his namesake, George Albert, aged 7 who arrived in England from India for the first time.The story of the Jackson family continues with Albert, son of George sen'r, father of George jun'r, who moved to Woking with his family after the visit to Sutton End.

5 - Sussex

To continue the Jackson history go to the story of Albert, told in 4 parts.