The After-Life of Ann Jackson, Servant

January 20, 2022 at 11:49 am (diaries, estates, history, news, people, research) (, , , )


Quite some time ago, I found reference to “Bennett Gosling, Esq.” at the Old Bailey Online. His valet, Thomas Wenlock, was giving testimony in a theft case that had occurred in July 1839. I made mention of both Thomas Wenlock and Ann Jackson as having been part of Bennett’s household on the page “Servants-Clerks-Governesses.” For Ann Jackson, her employment seemed in the past.

Given that I have, (I think), ONE letter penned by Bennett Gosling – a brief note. Given that, among the Goslings, only Mary Gosling, Bennett’s younger sister, has left diaries – which, except for travels, are all daily diaries written after her marriage in 1826 to Sir Charles Joshua Smith, baronet (Emma Austen’s brother). AND given that only a handful of a household’s servant population manage to gain more than one mention in a person’s diaries (ie, there might be at least the hiring and/or the dismissal mentioned), SERVANTS are the hardest to construct any kind of roster. The early 19th century census, unlike our common “every ten years” really comes down to the 1840 census — and people were not always at home on Census Day. I once searched the census for Mary, Lady Smith – I had her birthday — Ancestry could NOT find her. I looked up her diary — she was in town (London) and staying at the Curries’ home (sister-in-law Charlotte and husband Arthur Currie).

Little did I know, at the time, that the age for Mary was incorrectly approximated in the census. In essence, I knew (and searched) too-specific information!

Anyway…

I was happy to find mention of Ann Jackson a few days ago. She turned up in an Australian database because she received a sentence of TRANSPORTATION at her 9 July 1839 trial. This *find* of a new-to-me website made me revisit what I had previously found at the Old Bailey.

The transcript of Ann Jackson’s trial can be read online. She was found to have in her possession disparate items from two households – the stays of Mrs. Pearse, for example, valued at 30 shillings; and two coats (valued at £4) of Bennett Gosling, Esq.

Arrest and trial records of the period tend to be rather sketchily transmitted. The policeman, Andrew Wyness, for instance, according to his testimony, follows the young woman, pushes open a door, and then confronts Jackson, demanding to know what’s in her bundle.

Was Wyness entering a residence? a rear yard? What had made him suspicious of Jackson, other than that he spotted her at “Four in the Morning”…

Wyness could not have known at the time that Ann Jackson would be found to have an alias – Maria Donaldson – though WHAT NAME she was using at the time of her employment with the Pearses (or Bennett Gosling) is not quite noted. Surely Wenlock had not known her under one name and come across her at the Pearses’ (where he lodged) under another, but which name she used when is anyone’s guess.

That she was indicted under the name ANN JACKSON leads me to believe this was her legal name.

Wenlock’s testimony that he and Bennett (“his master”) “went into the country” can only mean they spent the weekend at Roehampton Grove, before returning to banking duties on Monday. Sister Mary’s diary does not indicate a visit to Suttons that July weekend.

The Prisoner at the Bar was summarily sentenced after a brief self-defense. She was given Ten Years and Transported to Van Diemen’s Land. Ann Jackson was 23-year-old at the time of trial.

Jackson’s Australian history is picked up by the website “Edges of Empire Biographical Dictionary of Convict Women from Beyond the British Isles“, edited by Lucy Frost and Collette McAlpine.

Jackson sailed on the Gilbert Henderson, reaching Van Diemen’s Land on 24 April 1840. Steve Rhodes, in his write-up of her biography, supplies interesting details missing from the curt Old Bailey transcript. Born in South America, she had been raised in London. Rhodes believes her legal name to have been MARIA DONALDSON, and promotes a marriage to one Robert Donaldson with a marital home at 1 Tavistock Street, London. The marriage had produced at least one (living?) child.

Surely it is convict records that accounts for the fascinating PHYSICAL details:

Jackson “was a short woman at 4 feet 9 1/2 inches (146.05 cm) tall, had dark brown hair, hazel eyes and fair complexion, and her freckled nose was inclined to the right.”

Records record only a few personal details of her time in Australia. There’s a “case of misconduct” (no information) on 16 April 1842. The delivery of an illegitimate child a few months later, on 28 July 1842. She married John Sykes, “a free man”, in Hobart on 26 December 1843. Evidently in the marriage registry Sykes is described as a 25-year-old mounted policeman. Given the earlier indication of a marriage, Jackson is incorrectly described as a 26-year-old “spinster”. “There were three children known to be born to Ann Jackson”, writes Rhodes, though I am unsure if this includes the two prior children he had already established or not.

Also produced online is the BOOK, Women Transported: Life in Australia’s Convict Female Factories – a tie-in with a (2008) exhibition. Access the PDF catalogue and its essays by clicking on the picture (above). Essays include Gay Hendricksen’s WOMEN TRANSPORTED – MYTH AND REALITY; Carol Liston’s CONVICT WOMEN – IN THE FEMALE FACTORIES OF NEW SOUTH WALES; and Trudy Cowley’s FEMALE FACTORIES OF VAN DIEMEN’S LAND.

PLEASE NOTE: the website listed on the title page goes to a blog. The correct website address evidently is a “dot org”: https://femalefactory.org.au/ which will take you to the website for Cascades Female Factory (currently – early 2022 – closed for construction of a new History & Interpretation Centre).

Interesting reading in their evocative Brochure. There were five such “factories” in Van Diemen’s Land. And, yes, Ann Jackson’s name appears in the catalogue’s list of names.

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