Death of Alderman Jackson

Date published: 24/06/2013




The mournful tidings reached Newbury yesterday (Wednesday) that Mr. Alderman Jackson, J. P. had passed away at Bournemouth, to which place he had gone about a month ago for the benefit of his health. The hoisting of the Union Jack half-mast at the Town Hall conveyed the sorrowful news to the townspeople, by whom it was not altogether unexpected, for was known that the deceased gentleman had been in a critical condition for some time. Alderman Jackson recently sustained a severe blow by the death of his daughter, who had been his companion and devoted nurse in , later years, and in the hope of recuperating he went Bournemouth, where for several years past he had derived so much benefit. At first the change proved wonderfully beneficial, and the Alderman hopefully spoke of returning to Newbury and renewing some of his activities. But there was a sudden and serious relapse from which he never recovered, and although his I wonderful vitality kept him going, old age at last told its tale, and this long life came to an end just before one o’clock yesterday.   

A record of the life and public career of James Porteous Jackson, is practically the history of the borough for nearly seventy years. He re­ceived his early business training at Oxford, and coming to Newbury as a young man ac­quired the business of furnishing and practical ironmonger, in the Market-place, which he carried on for many years. He soon threw him­self into the public life of the town, and identi­fied himself with its institutions. He was an ardent musician, and was closely associated with the late Mr. James Henry Godding in the concerts he arranged. Mr. Jackson was a skil­ful violinist, and in 1865 played first fiddle at a performance of the “ Messiah,” when the orchestra consisted only of some half-a-dozen, a contrast with the big orchestras of today.

Mr. Jackson took his share of public duty, and entered the Town Council as long ago as 1844. There was a short break in the continuity of his membership, but for some sixty years he was on the governing body, and thus enjoyed the distinction of being the “ Father of the Corporation.” He served the office of Mayor in 1867, two years after his old friend and contemporary, Mr. John Hawe Mason, who still .survives, had presided over the memorable festivities of the Peace Celebration. In 1863 Mr. Jackson was elected an alderman on the resig­nation of Mr. Mason and continued to serve in that office up to the time of his decease, a period of 43 years, in itself an unique record. A director of the old Gas Company, he became chairman of the committee which undertook the management of the concern on its acquisi­tion. On resigning the position a few years later he became a keen critic of the manage­ment, and initiated many animated discussions at the Council meetings. Ald, Jackson also held very decided views on the drainage question, and never hesitated to express them fearlessly and honestly. As senior alderman it became his duty to propose new Mayors and thank those retiring from the civic chair. Then it was that he gave utterance in graceful terms to the ap­preciation of good services rendered, and generally managed to introduce a Shakespearian quotation wherewith to improve the occasion.

Mr. Jackson was a zealous Churchman, and served the office of Rector’s warden from 1858 to 1885, during which quarter-of-a-century he was associated with the great revival of parochial life and activity which marked the Rectorate of the Rev. James Leslie Randall, the present Bishop of Reading, which included such memorable events as the building of the National Schools in 1859, the Infant School in 1871, the restoration of the chancel in 1863, and the restoration of the Parish Church in 1867.

Another sphere of activity was at the Board of Guardians, of which Ald. Jackson was vice chairman for many years, only retiring from the same a year ago. ’ He was also chairman' of the Newbury Steam Laundry Company, of which he was one of the promoters.

Mr. Jackson was twice married. His first wife was a daughter of Mr. Wells, of Wash Common, and his second Miss Ellen Packer. There was a large family of sons and daughters by the two wives, but the Alderman sustained many domestic bereavements, losing his first wife in 1848, his second in 1892, and the majority of his children pre-deceased him. He was in his ninetieth year, and had outlived most of his contemporaries, two alone of whom remain, Mr. John Hawe Mason and Ald. Thomas Fidler. The body will be brought to Newbury for interment.


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