George Jackson


From Washfield to Templeton

Both Emma's and Albert's baptisms are recorded in the local parish church. and Albert was born on the 14th of July 1835 and baptised on the 5th of August 3 weeks line with normal practice.

Lower South Combe Farm, Templeton

The name of the village indicates its origin at the time of the Knights Templars during the crusades. A road runs along the ridge between Calverleigh and Templeton, marked by Calverleigh Cross and then Temple Cross, before dipping down steeply to Templeton Bridge and on westwards. Crosses abound on these uplands, marking where the old roads met and how the mediaeval wayfarers carefully avoided the wet valley bottoms if they could. This old track was also used by pilgrims from the West Country making their way to Canterbury.

It would have been good to have illustrated this page with a different photo, but unfortunately the one seen hanging on a wall in 1946 (after the death of George's grandson) disappeared later. It showed him nearly full face in a smock top (commonly worn by working countrymen) with a long wispy white beard falling over his chest. Although his face is somewhat obscured by the bushy (and quite curly) beard here, a strong resemblance can be seen in some of his descendants. (His great grandson Arthur's hair was similarly curly). Women's hair was usually tied in a bun at the nape of the neck and then hidden under head coverings both indoors and out, one reason for this being the considerable draughtiness of the houses!

'Steward for Lands'

Tthe description of George Jackson's occupation in 1841 which does not have space for ''gamekeeper' as well, though he was obviously still employed as one all year round, is as a 'steward for lands', that is, the properties in Templeton which belonged to the Chichester family of Calverleigh.

  • Joseph Chichester Nagle, b. 1792, now head of the family,
  • Sir Charles Chichester, KCT, KSF, KCIC, b.1795, who spent many years abroad on army service (married to his cousin Barbara Clifford Constable).
  • Mary Anne Clifford Constable, (confusingly married to her cousin Thomas, brother of Barbara ) and
  • Eliza Mary Chichester who remained single. (She reappears in the story of Emma Jackson)

    There had been earlier marriages between the two families of Chichesters, who came from the Barnstaple area, and the Cliffords from the family at Ugbrooke, Devon. Sir Thomas Constable's father (the first 'Sir Thomas' ) had adopted the name as was often required among the gentry on receiving a large inheritance of property from a distant Constable cousin.
    The Chichesters have to be included here because of the account book and because of their influence on Jackson family history over a period of over forty years and also because of their concern as gentry, and particularly as Catholics for those of the same faith. A small group of these families who ha remained as Catholics right through penal times and not only knew each other very well but had intermarried for centuries, continued to mix, helping to boost their small but very influential Catholic society, not yet quite accepted by the rest of 'high society'. Through the 'penal times' lasting about 200 years the families sent their children abroad to be educated although it was against the new laws, until the French revolution closed the colleges there. and the boys at Liege had to escape in secret and make their way to an unused house in Lancashire - now known as Stonyhurst College - belonging to the Weld family of Dorset, Chichester boys among them. There too throughout the whole 19th century were Cliffords and many others, Constables,the Welds of Dorset, the Arundells of Wardour and many more.
    These 'brushes' with the gentry occur again later, probably in Emma's story and - like an episode in 'Downton Abbey' - defintely for Emma's daughter Agatha, as shown in a census.
    (Acknowledgements to Burke's 'Landed Gentry' etc for much of the genealogical information.)

    After their father died in January 1837, the Templeton estates passed to his four children and was divided between them. 'Miss Eliza' was living at Calverleigh with her brother Joseph, eldest of the four, and his family. He always received his share first and the rest of the money received was divided equally between the other three - with a small change when Sir Charles died in Canada in 1847, his share passing to his wife - The difference in their shares was negligible, they were basically all equal.
Details of the method can be seen page by page in the account book kept by George (online in the Templeton section) dated from 1846-1864 and still in the possession of his descendants. In every half year the rents and other debts etc are listed with the name of the tenant and the farm. The cottages are listed with the tenant but no identifying cottage name. It's presumably the same farms and cottages that receive the repairs listed on the facing page - with the bills paid to the local labourers, the thatcher, glazier, carpenter, ironmonger, plumber, smith etc, as appropriate, not forgetting Jackson's own 'Book Account'.
The Templeton section includes family history of these named people who lived in Templeton, also now expanding to include anyone listed in the censuses but not paying rent to the Chichesters.
(Between them all the family was said to have owned a fifth of Devon) .His unmarried daughter, Eliza was in tears as she wrote on January 17th 1837 to her sister, Mary Anne, Lady Constable, at Burton Constable, near Hull. She said:-

I have been down to dinner as usual, but the first thing I saw was a rabbit -
it had been shot on purpose for him by my desire by Jackson

It was too late. Charles, a widower for the last six years, died the very next day. He left four children,, who appear as legatees to the Templeton properties in all the account book records: and this letter indicates that George was already the gamekeeper for the Chichesters.

(More details of this family can be found here on the Templeton pages. Use your back arrow to return)

It is therefore reasonable to assume that George Jackson was already the land steward at the birth of Albert in 1835 (when he was already living at Lower South Combe) and could in fact have been the steward by 1830 whether or not someone else had filled the accounts in before him. The certificate of his competence as a gamekeeper obtained in 1829 could even have been for the purposes of moving from Washfield to Templeton but the chances of confirming this are small.

Even one book is a bonus though, for without it next to nothing would have been known of these years at all!

It was part of George’s task to collect the rents at the beginning of May for the half-year ending on Lady Day and in November for the half-year ending at Michaelmas, and see to repairs on these properties, The rent and expenses book which he used from May 7th 1846 to November 2nd 1864 has been preserved by the family and is a valuable source of information on both the family and their background.

'Ripping bark' appears occasionally, having been sold for varying amounts between about £3 and more than £7 (for its tannin used in preparing leather for use as shoes etc. This 'ripping' might be a gamekeeper's job but tiling and Fire Insurance (on properties) were not. The list suggests that George was in full charge of all Templeton properties in the village in addition to his gamekeeper duties and with good reason as the family were often abroad, touring Europe or crossing the Atlantic (they loved to travel) or simply visiting relatives who lived at the other end of the country. It was not unusual for a trusted employee to be given the care of such a holding . It's also obvious that 'Jackson'could be contacted quite easily from Calverleigh and visited that village when necessary.

An earlier account book?

There is a note entered in pencil in 1842 on the inside cover of the existing book concerning James Beedell, farmer who was paying - and still owing money for - 'High and Low Town Living' (i.e. in the village itself, referred to as the 'town'. (Templeton = 'Temple town') right up to May 5th 1852, though he had, as the census shows, moved elsewhere much earlier. Perhaps there  was another book for the earlier years, now lost. The existing account book has 36 double page spreads (2 facing pages) which accounts for 18 years, so an earlier book would be about the same. There should have been an earlier book whoever kept it, which George would have been using in 1841. James Beedell continues to appear in the account book till May 1852 but had moved elsewhere long before. The note on the first page of this (then new) book could be because he left Templeton in 1842 - not confirmed till the next census in 1851 of course.

George Besley, farmer, on the other hand, was paying rent at 'Low South Combe' in 1846, though the 1841 census shows him actually living at 'Higher South Coomb', with an 'uninhabited house' next door (which just might be the other farmhouse?). The two farms are only separated by a lane (or a cart-track in 1841!)from 1846-1852. Either he actually owned Higher South Combe or he was paying rent elsewhere for it as it never appears in the account book.
(For the purposes of comparison the 1881 census shows both properties occupied, but in 1891 the situation had reverted to the same as before - Higher South Combe has a resident farmer but, although Lower South Combe is actually listed, the other columns are left blank)

Lower South CombeFarm
The Tithe Apportionment Map and details for Templeton show George Jackson as living at Lower South Combe (numbered 193 and 196 with 197 either as the rest of the house, or just the farmyard. From the map it appears that George and Mary Anne occupied a cottage attached to the left of the farmhouse (as viewed from this side), partially confirmed by the farmer when this photo was taken, as he said there were traces of a building there. The garden was a field or two away, in the corner of a patch of woodland, where Mary Anne could grow vegetables and keep chickens.

George must have spent much of his day travelling around Templeton to inspect property which might need repair but he also had the (seasonal?) care of his 'nursery' of young game birds down by the stream which ran in a deep cleft below the farm. He would also have gone to Tiverton to catch the train to Exeter, at least twice a year to pay the rent monies into the bank. There would also be orders of supplies for all the various jobs. Whether he had the use of a horse is also unknown, but Albert's familiarity with horses suggests that he had some experience as well. Times were changing of course and the train was to make an enormous change in their lives

11 August 1836

A newspaper report found in 2013 (on FindMyPast) about Mary Anne tells that she had to appear in court as witness in an inquest into the sad death of a young boy who lodged with George Besley, at Upper South Combe,

George Besley of Higher South Comb, yeoman, sworn.- The deceased has lived with me since Ladyday, 1835, as a servant; I do not know his age, I suppose 14 years; he was a very good boy; I last saw him alive yesterday morning, between 7 and 8 o'clock, outside my court gate; he had put the cows to field and was coming back; he asked me what he was to go about, I told him to go to the lower court and finish the dung he was about the day before; nothing else passed between us, he went towards his work; I had no quarrel with him; I have not struck him for a year past.

Thirteen witnesses from the village were then interviewed (to be dealt with in more detail in the Templeton pages 'in context' with their families). One however was Mary Anne whose evidence was summarised (presumably as answers to various questions) as follows:

Mary Ann Jackson, wife of George Jackson, of Lower South Comb, gamekeeper.- About 8 o'clock yesterday morning I was in my house at Lower South Comb, I saw the deceased come into the court at the gate, I did not go out, nor see him afterwards. I went to Mrs Mallet's; I was absent an hour, came back to my house, I saw nothing of the deceased during this time, but Mr Besley inquired of me for him; half an hour after I came home I heard some person talking to Thomas Mills, a carpenter, who was at work at our back door, I went out to see who it was, Mary Cottrel and Thomas Mills were talking about the boy Southcote, said it was very odd where he could be; then Mr Besley came and inquired for him, we all laughed and said we thought he was gone to sleep in the tallet, I went indoors, took my boy to the back door, where Mills was at work, then Mary Cottrel came again and asked Thomas Mills to look about the tallets* for the deceased; Mills searched among the straw, did not find him; I thought it was very odd the boy was not to be found, I asked Mills to look about the orchard adjoining for him; Mary Cottrel said he might have dropt away - Thomas Mills went into the orchard, I went into the meadow where my birds are; Mills found the deceased hanging to an apple tree. I saw no other person besides those I have mentioned; I cannot say how the boy came in that situation - my opinion is, that the boy hung himself; he was a very pretty behaved boy; I do not know that he has been unwell or ill, or subject to fits.

*A tallet was the hayloft of a barn or stable. Mary would not go herself, either leaving young Albert, just one year old, unsupervised, or trying to carry him with her up a narrow wooden ladder, but she did go into the meadow where she kept her hens while Thomas Mills, the carpenter, looked in the orchard. (Whether this was the same orchard marked on the tithe map and used by the Jacksons is not known). The boy was found eventually, hanging in the orchard from an apple tree. There is no mention in the report of his own family or origins though the surname is not unusual. He could have been working almost from the time he could walk - a typical job for a small boy being bird scaring and he could also have lost touch with his family. So his motive is unknown, one can only speculate that he was rather a loner and deeply unhappy. Perhaps turning over the dung was the last straw.

Of the Besley family living at Higher South Combe, there were then at least three sons but all under five years old,, and five servants. (By 1851 George Besley had nine children). In 1851, the first census with more precise information, he was farming 366 acres with 12 labourers, 5 of them resident, one being Sarah Cottrell daughter of Mary Cottrell.

The countryside round Templeton is typical of Devon. ‘On top’ the surrounding countryside appears to be gently rolling, all the way to Exmoor in the north, and Dartmoor, a low purplish smudge in the far south, a patchwork of fields and hedges and copses.‘Combes’ are narrow, deep wooded valleys, cut by streams over the centuries. The names seem very apt as you approach Templeton by  plunging into a green gloom under hedges that meet over the road, splashing across a muddy ford and then driving warily up a steep and narrow lane with grass growing in the middle and a gradient that seems worse than one in four, hoping that you don’t meet a milk tanker on its way down.  There are some slightly easier routes, but there must have had been many problems with horses and carts in bad weather!

Two streams join at Templeton Bridge, and it was here, at Combe Mill, that William Cornwell, the miller, lived with his wife, Ann, and four daughters, paying a rent of £3.10s a year to the Chichesters. The 'Mill Village' was in a deep combe perhaps a mile from the 'town' which clustered around the parish church.

The 1836 Tithe Map (possibly not made till 1840 or so) shows the cottage where the Jacksons lived, attached to Lower South Combe on the left. The iinquest report suggests that the Cottreel family may have lived at the other end of the farmhouse for a while. By 1841 the children, Emma Jackson, 13 and Sarah Cottrell, 11 were old for schoo.l Though some are recorded as at school as late as 13, 10 was more often the age to leave), Martha Cottrell was 9 and Albert Jackson 5. Who taught them to read and write as it is known that three of them certainly did? Martha must have been taught by her mother, who is listed as a schoolmistress by 1851, with Martha as her assistant. It is possible that they were using the 'court' room at Cloggs as a schoolroom. Although Mary was now living in a cottage in 'Mill Village' it would not have been very large or even well lit, nor very convenient for children living in 'Temple town', a somewhat larger settlement than Mill Village which had very few cottages. But in any case by 1861 Mary is listed in thCloggse census as schoolmistress and living in 'Temple Town' (the main village itself and only yards from Cloggs). A barn-li building is believed in the village to have been the 'old' school. (By 1861 Emma herself was running a small school in Sussex)

Burton Constable, Yorkshire (near Hull)

Emma was initially hard to find in the 1851 census, but eventually she turned up, as ladysmaid presumably to Miss Eliza Chichester who was visiting her sister Lady Mary Anne Chichester Constable at Burton Constable, a 'stately home' inherited through the Constables. So Sir Thomas Constable (second baronet) became Chichester-Constable on inheriting Constable property from a distant cousin, (the 'new' name being a requirement to make sure that family name did not 'die out, 'just as his father Thomas Clifford had become Sir Thomas Clifford Constable, (though his Clifford name was usually dropped.) The last of this name Lady Anne's only son, died at the end of the century not having married and the estate passed to a Chichester, one of whom in the 1980s was Lord High Sheriff of Holderness.

It was not an enormous family gathering - they were outnumbered by the servants, though even some of those may have come with the guests, but there were one or two old school friends, most of the men having been at school together at Stonyhurst (near Preston) in Lancashire.

1- Intro 2 - Washfield 3- Sth Combe 4-Cloggs

5 - Sussex