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June 3, 2009

Francis James (1794-1865)
of Cumberland, England

by Neil A. Boyer

            This section focuses on the ancestors of William (Bill) Jackson (1879-1944) and Sarah Wilkinson Jackson (1879-1942), both born in Lancashire, England. Bill and Sarah moved to America in 1923 and 1924. Bill Jackson's family originated in Cumberland, England, and was joined through marriage to the Cumbria family of Francis James (1793-1865).  This section concentrates on the family of Francis James and his descendants. This presentation includes: 


The Jackson Family of Cumberland
The Family of William and Sarah Jackson in America
The Wilkinson Family of Leigh, Lancashire
The Hayes Family of Leigh, Lancashire
The Boyers of Easton
Neil Boyer's Home Page


The Family of Francis James (1793-1865) of Cumberland

             Francis James, the father of Agnes James, was a farmer, born in 1793 in Birkby, Cumberland. He was baptised on October 7, 1793, at nearby Muncaster. He died on April 26, 1865, in Blindcrake, a small village not far away in the parish of Isel in Cumberland, at the age of 71.  His wife, Ann Casson, had been born in 1794 in Ulpha, in southeastern Cumberland, about 19 miles south of Workington.  The 1871 census, when Ann was 76, said she had been born in Torver, which is near Coniston, not far from Ulpha. The two were married on September 25, 1813, at the Church of St. John the Baptist in Ulpha, a small village in the Cumberland parish of Millom, when he was 20 and she was 19.  Their first child, Agnes, was baptized at Ulpha in 1814, which suggests this was the family home for some time.  See a genealogical chart on the family of Francis James. Census reports and church records indicate that they had nine children. Ann Casson James died in September 1875, in Blindcrake, near Bridekirk, when she would have been 81.

            More information about the Casson family ancestry of Ann Casson James is provided below, along with photographs of Ulpha.

            The Francis James family appears in the official census over several decades.  In 1841, Ann Casson James (minus Francis) was living on Bonney Hill, a few miles north of Cockermouth, just at the southern border of Bridekirk. Apparently, for census purposes, Bonney Hill fell within the district of Papcastle, which was on the northwestern edge of Cockermouth.  Ann, shown in that census as aged 45 (although it was probably 47), was listed as a farmer. Living with her were six of her children. The oldest, Agnes James, was not present and apparently was living with her new husband, Edward Jackson, since their first child was born in 1841. The children in the list were shown as Francis, 20, Ann 15, William 15, Eleanor 15, Henry 8, and Ferdinando 7. (Note on the census page below how the census taker was instructed essentially to "round down" the ages of young people counted.)  

          Of particular interest in 1841, however, is that the husband and father, Francis James, was not included among the residents. Where was he? Thanks to the efforts of researcher Lin Chapman of Leicester, England, Francis was located -- in the jail at Carlisle!  In the record shown below, Francis James, 45 (he would have been 48), is the 19th person on the 1841 census list for the "Gaol and House of Correction, County of Cumberland." The list, which in several pages totaled 124, appears to include managers and employees of the gaol. No "occupation" or other identification was given for Francis.  It appears he was an inmate. Why he was there, and not with Ann, is not known. 

Ann James and Family, 1841 Census
The 1841 census for Bonney Hill, near Papcastle, shows,
at the bottom of the list, Ann James and six of her children.
Francis James in Gaol, 1841
The 1841 census for "Gaol and House of Correction for
the County of Cumberland" shows "Francis James, 45,"
as the 19th person on the list.

            Ten years later, Francis was out of jail. The census for 1851 shows that Francis James, Agnes's father, was a farmer of 100 acres at Gale House in Bridekirk, a location not far from Bonney Hill, where Ann James and six children were present ten years earlier.  A researcher at the Cumbria Record Office in Carlisle reported that, while Francis appeared on the 1851 census, he was not on the register of electors, and that this was an indication that he was a tenant at Gale House and not the owner of the property.  The office said that in 1844, a John Smith was the owner and occupier of Gale House.  The office estimated that Francis James, who had a tenancy on a large property nearby (a map was supplied by the office), also took over a tenancy at Gale House prior to 1851.  It presumed that his son-in-law Edward Jackson took over that tenancy between 1851 and 1857 after Francis James moved to Blindcrake. 

            The census records show that the Francis James family that resided at Gale House in 1851 consisted of his wife, four children, and a servant.  The four children living there did not include Agnes, the oldest child, who was living with her husband, Edward Jackson, in that year nearby at Westray.  The residents of Gale House in 1851 were Francis James, age 57, described as from Birkby; his wife Ann, age 56, from Ulpha; their children Francis, 35, born in Ulpha; William, 28, in Esdale; Mary, 21, in Irton; and Henry, 19, in Irton; as well as Jane Eland, an unmarried servant, from Ellenborough.  Francis and Ann also had three other children, Eleanor, Ferdinand and John.  A grandson, Francis Henry Sumpton, child of Francis’ daughter Eleanor, is recorded in the 1861 census as having been born at Bridekirk in 1851, suggesting that Eleanor James Sumpton also lived there at that time. More information on Gale House and Bridekirk is below.

            By the time of the 1861 census, the James family was gone from Gale House.  The 1861 census for Blindcrake showed Francis James, age 67, to be the head of household, a farmer of 150 acres, living there with his wife, Ann James, 66, his son Francis James, 45, and four servants: Martha Cameron, 22, John Gowan of Ireland, 58, Thomas Hill, 21, and Isaac Parker, 16.  When the senior Francis died in 1865, he was at Blindcrake.  According to a note with his will, his estate was worth less than 450 pounds, most of which was left to his wife Ann and his son Francis James, Jr.   Agnes James Jackson, like several other siblings, received 30 pounds.

            The 1871 census at Blindcrake, after the senior Francis James had died, showed the head of household to be Francis James, Jr., age 55, the son of Francis and Ann.  Also living there with Francis Jr. were his mother, Ann James, 76; Henry Sumpton, 51, the widowed husband of Ann’s daughter Eleanor James and brother-in-law of Francis; and four servants: Mary Graham, 19, a domestic, John Harrison, 21, John Simpson (perhaps Singleton), 17, and Joseph Thomlinson, 14.


            Children of Francis James.  Records show that Francis and Ann Casson James had nine children over a period of 20 years:

            1.  Agnes James Jackson (1814-1889)
            2.  Francis James, Jr.  (1816-1884)
            3.  John James (1819-bef 1882)
  4.  Ann James (1820-bef 1882)
            5.  William James (1823-bef 1882)
            6.  Eleanor James Sumpton (1825-1892 )
            7.  Mary James Dodd (1829- )
            8.  Henry James (1831-bef 1882 )
            9.  Ferdinand Casson James (1834-1881)

            1.  Agnes James, the first among nine children of Francis James and Ann Casson James, was born in Ulpha in April 1814 and baptized at Ulpha on April 12, 1814. (The 1851 census record says that Agnes was 37 in that year, which also indicates indicates that she was born early in 1814.) She married Edward Jackson, the only known child of George and Jane Jackson, on February 15, 1835, at St. Paul's Church in Irton with Santon, near Whitehaven. She was 21 and he was 22. Edward had been baptized at St. Michael's Church in Workington on May 9, 1813, and presumably born in the same year. Edward died at Gale House in Bridekirk  on August 21, 1857, at the age of 44. Agnes died in Cockermouth on January 5, 1889, at the age of 75.

                   At some point between 1851 and 1857, Edward and Agnes Jackson moved to Gale House, a small estate in the village of Bridekirk, about three miles north of Cockermouth.  More information on Gale House can be found below. The birthplaces of members of the James and Jackson families suggest that the families moved around within Cumberland prior to settling at Gale House.  The census records indicate that Edward and Agnes moved about 50 miles between 1841, when their daughter Mary was born in Rottington, and 1847, when their son Edward was born at Embleton.   Rottington is a village between Whitehaven and St. Bees on the western edge of Cumberland.  Embleton is a farm about four miles due east of Cockermouth.  

            Edward and Agnes James Jackson had three children -- Mary (1841-1903), Francis (1843-?), and Edward Jackson (1847-1910). More information on them can be seen here. Agnes was not found in the 1841 census. Her mother and six siblings were living at Bonney Hill and her father was in jail. It is possible that by 1841, Agnes was married and living with Edward Jackson. Census records for 1851 show that Edward and his wife Agnes, three children and a servant, lived at Westray, a farm about three miles east of Cockermouth.  Edward, then 38, was a farmer of 54 acres.  Agnes was 37.  Also living there were their daughter Mary, age 10, son Francis, age 8, and son Edward, age 4, as well as John Ray, 16, a servant from Eaglesfield.  All the Jacksons were listed as being from Cumberland.  

            Edward and Agnes Jackson appear in the census records for Westray in 1851, but not for Gale House in 1851, although Agnes’ family, the James family, was then living there. Nevertheless, Edward and Agnes apparently lived together with the James family at Gale House for a few years.  Edward died there on August 21, 1857, aged only 44.

            The census of 1861, after Edward died, shows that Agnes, then 46, was head of the household and the farmer of 20 acres (not 100, as was attributed to her father, Francis James) at Gale House, and the site was occupied by Agnes and two children, Mary, 20, and Edward, 13.  Between the census records of 1861 and 1871, Agnes left Gale House and moved to the Mountain View section of Cockermouth.   The 1871 census showed her at 1 Henry Street, living with her daughter Mary Jackson, 30, and a lodger, William Williams, 32, of Ireland, the vicar of Christ Church.  Agnes’ son Edward Jackson, then 24, was not mentioned.  Agnes was still identified as a farmer, although she lived on Henry Street, and Mary as her assistant.  Burial records show that Agnes died at her home on Henry Street on January 5, 1889.  She was 74.

            Edward Jackson was buried on August 23, 1857, in the graveyard at Bridekirk Church, near the center of the village.  Agnes was buried there on January 7, 1889.  The tombstone of Edward and Agnes is on the right side of the path as one enters the churchyard, just before reaching the church.  It reads as follows:

In Loving Memory of
who died at Gale House, Bridekirk,
August 21, 1857, aged 44 Years,
Agnes his wife, who died January 5th, 1889, Aged 74 Years,
Blessed are the Dead which Die in the Lord,
Also of Mary, Their Daughter, who died January 25th, 1903,
Aged 62 Years

            A descendant of Agnes James and Edward Jackson was Bill Jackson, who was born in England on May 20, 1879. Bill went to the United States in 1923, at the age of 44.  His wife Sarah Wilkinson Jackson, at age 45, followed a year later with their two surviving children, Annie and Jack.  They lived in Phillipsburg, New Jersey.  Details on their family are here.          

            2.  Francis James, Jr., was born in 1816 in Ulpha.  He appears in all of the available census reports living with his father and mother, and appears to have been the favored child.  He and his mother received the bulk of the estate when Francis James, Sr., died in 1865.   In the 1871 census for Blindcrake, Francis Jr. was described as the landowner of 12 and a half acres and the farmer of 265 acres, employing five laborers.  By the time of the 1881 census, Francis Jr. had left Blindcrake and was listed as a retired farmer living in Deanscales, southwest of Cockermouth.  He died there on September 23, 1884, at the age of 68.  Apparently, Francis James, Jr., had prospered very well.  His very long and sophisticated will, available in the Cumbria Records Office, showed that he was proficient in dealings with real estate and the stock market.  His will disposed of at least three dwelling houses on his property in Blindcrake, and his total estate was valued at 2,228 pounds.  (According to one internet calculator, this was the equivalent of 142,012 pounds sterling in 2002, or U.S. $257,355 in 2005.) The will of Francis Jr. was signed on December 19, 1882, and a codicil was added on January 5, 1884, eight months before he died. 

             Francis was married to Rebecca Burnyeat, born in 1832 in Loweswater, Cumberland, about 10 miles south of Cockermouth.  She was the youngest of seven children of Peter and Ann Burnyeat, born in 1786 and 1787 respectively.  Apparently, Francis and Rebecca had no children. His estate was left to her and to 23 nieces and nephews. Those bequests included property for three of the children of his late brother Ferdinand but nothing for the other nine children of Ferdinand, although it seems they were still living. The only other variation in the bequests was that they went to four of the children of Francis' late brother Henry, but not to two others.

             According to the 1881 census, Francis, 65, and Rebecca, 48, were living in Deanscales with his widowed brother-in-law Henry Sumpton, 61.  Francis was listed as a retired farmer.  In 1891, Rebecca, 58, was living in Deanscales alone with a servant.  In 1901, she was still living in Deanscales, with a brother, Thomas Burnyeat, who was born in Loweswater in 1830 and died in Cockermouth in 1903. Rebecca died in Cockermouth in 1907, at the age of 75.

            As noted above, Francis James’ nephew Francis Jackson, one of three children of Agnes James and Edward Jackson, was deliberately singled out to receive much less under the will than his brother and sister, Edward and Mary Jackson, and many cousins.  No explanation was given. However, 14 months after signing his will, in January 1884, and eight months before he died, Francis James appended a codicil to his will in which he deleted one of the negative references to Francis Jackson and assured that Francis would receive shares equal to those of his siblings and cousins.  This provision of the will was contingent on funds remaining after Rebecca died, and since Rebecca was 16 years younger than Francis and lived 23 years after his death, the value of these bequests may have been substantially reduced.
            3.  John James, according to the 1871 census, was born in 1819 in Cumberland.   His wife Elizabeth was born on March 20, 1825, in Herefordshire, England.  They were married in September 1847 at Camberwell in Surrey. John is mentioned in the will of Francis James, Jr., as his “late brother.” He died in June 1875 at Ann's Hill, near Bridekirk. Bequests were left to five children of John: Francis Freen James, born in Whitehaven in 1852; Mary James, in Flimby in 1859; Marian James, in Flimby in 1862; Thomas Henry James, in Flimby in 1865; and Lydia James, in Bridekirk in 1867.  Francis Freen James was singled out for special attention in the will drafted by his uncle, Francis James, Jr., in 1882.   A birth record indicates that another child, also called John James, was born in September 1856 in Whitehaven.

           4.  Ann James was born in Ulpha and baptized on March 15, 1820, at St. Catherine's Church, Eskdale, Millom, Cumberland. She did not appear in previous accounts of the family on this site but was discovered through the research of Lin Chapman of Leicester. Ann James also appeared in the 1841 census, living with her mother in Bonney Hill. No other information is available on her. She was not among the beneficiaries of her brother Francis Jr. listed in his will of 1882, nor did the will mention any children of Ann.

            5.  William James was born in 1822 in Eskdale, Millom, and died in September 1863 in St. Bee's, Whitehaven. He was married in June 1856 in Cockermouth to Elizabeth Ackerlay, who had been born in 1824 in Wigton, Cumberland.  They had three children, as known from the will of Francis, Jr..  The will, written in 1882, noted that William had already died. The children were William Henry James, Francis James and Elizabeth James.  After William died, Elizabeth married Joseph Richardson in June 1870. She died in December 1887 in Whitehaven.

            6.  Eleanor James, born in 1824 in Ulpha, Millom, and baptized on November 1, 1824, at St. Catherine's Church in Eskdale, Millom. She was married to Henry Sumpton in Bridekirk on October 29, 1842. Henry had been born in 1820 in Lumplugh, Cumberland.  The 1861 census shows that Henry, 41, Eleanor, 36, and their son, Francis Henry Sumpton, 10, born in 1851 in Bridekirk, lived at 64 King Street in Workington. (Note that John Jackson, a possible brother of Edward Jackson, an uncle of Henry, lived at 65 King Street in Workington in 1861.) Henry was described in various census reports as a tallow chandler, grocer and wine merchant.  In the 1871 and 1881 census reports, Eleanor and her son were identified as grocers in Workington, without Henry.  At the time of both those reports, Henry was living with Eleanor's mother and brother Francis, Jr., first at Blindcrake and then at Deanscales, near Cockermouth, apparently leaving Eleanor in Workington minding the store.  In the 1871 census, Henry was 51 and his mother-in-law, Ann James, was 76.  It is possible that Henry may have moved to Blindcrake to assist the James family in the handling of their financial affairs, while Eleanor and her son maintained the business in Workington.  Or perhaps Henry just happened to be with the James family on census day in those years.  Eleanor James Sumpton died in 1892, at the age of 67, and Henry died in 1894 at the age of 74.  The 1884 will of Francis James, Jr., named Francis Henry Sumpton, 33, the son of Eleanor and Henry, as a co-executor. 

            7.  Mary James was born April 26, 1829, in Irton, Cumberland, and baptized on April 29 of that year at St. Paul's Church at Irton with Santon. She married John Dodd, a carpenter born in 1830.  They lived in Blindcrake in 1881 with three children:  Mary Ann Dodd, born in 1859, Francis (Frank) Dodd, 1862, and Jane Ellen Dodd, 1865, all born in Blindcrake. Perhaps because they lived in the same village, all three children benefited very well in the will of Mary’s brother Francis James, Jr.  His three dwelling houses at Blindcrake were left, respectively, to Mary Ann, Jane Ellen, and Frank Dodd.  (The residue of the real estate there was left to Francis Freen James, the son of his brother John.)  Jane Ellen was reported in the 1881 census, at the age of 16, as working to help her newly widowed Aunt Elizabeth James, wife of Ferdinand, care for her nine children at 6 Market Street in Cockermouth, although Jane Ellen resided in Blindcrake with her parents. 

            8.  Henry James was baptized on October 26, 1831, at St. Paul's Church in Irton with Santon, Cumberland.  His wife Sarah was born in 1835 in Workington.  At the time of the 1871 census, the family lived at 23 Derwent Street, Cockermouth, and Henry was described as a tallow chandler.  Henry is mentioned in the will of Francis James, Jr., as his late brother, indicating that Henry died prior to 1882, when the will was written.  The 1871 census showed that Henry and Sarah had five children:  Mary James, born in 1858 in London; Sarah Ann James, born in 1861 in Canada; Agnes James, born in 1864 in Workington; Frances James, born in 1868 in Cockermouth; and William James, born in 1870 in Cockermouth.  However, the will of Francis in 1882 left money to four children – Sarah Ann, Agnes, Francis, and (a child not mentioned in the census) John Casson James, perhaps born after William.  By the age of 21, Sarah Ann had married someone named Jackson, but the connection to descendants of Agnes could not be traced.

            9.  Ferdinand Casson James was baptized on July 6, 1834, at St. Paul's Church in Irton with Santon. He was described in the 1861 census as a draper in Cockermouth,Ferdinand Casson James, about 1880 the employer of three men and two boys.  His wife, Elizabeth Hird, had been born in London in 1839, and they were married in June 1860.  Ferdinand died in the first quarter of 1881 in Cockermouth at the age of 46, leaving Elizabeth at 6 Market Street in Cockermouth with a very large family.  In the 1881 census, Elizabeth, 42, is identified as a widow and the head of household, with nine children, the youngest only 9 months old.  Luckily, Elizabeth had the assistance of a niece, Jane Ellen Dodd, 16, daughter of her sister-in-law, Mary James Dodd.  Elizabeth is described in the census as engaging in the farming of grazing land.  

          In the 1891 census, after Ferdinand died, their son Ferdinand was listed as the head of household on the family property. He was identified as a draper, as was his father in an earlier census.  His brothers and sisters, still living at home, erroneously were identified in this census as his sons and daughters.  They were Elizabeth, 28, John Edward, 25, Helen (apparently “Ellen,”) 23, Francis W., 18, and Hannah, 13.  There is no mention of their mother, Elizabeth Hird James.  Where did the mother go?  There is in the 1891 census an Elizabeth James, 52, born in London, listed as living with a sister, Janet Wicks, 47, in Keswick, in central Cumberland, and this seems to be her.  Also living there was Harry G. Wicks, 19, a chemist’s assistant and son of Janet.  The 1871 census shows that Janet Hird and her husband, Henry P. Wicks, a solicitor, had both been born in 1844 in Cockermouth.   But Henry Wicks died in December 1879, leaving Janet with at least seven children, as known from the 1881 census.  It appears that Elizabeth James left her big family and moved in with her sister, who, like Elizabeth, was also a widow with many children.  It seems the Hirt sisters had bad luck.  In the 1901 census, Elizabeth, then 62, is living on Hook Street in Cockermouth with her unmarried daughter Hannah James, 23.  Elizabeth is described as a widow living on her own means.

            It is believed that Ferdinand and Elizabeth Hird James had 13 children, all born in Cockermouth:

1. Ferdinand Casson James, born in 1861. He was also described as "Frederick" in some reports. Ferdinand Casson James, at the age of 20, was named co-executor of the will of his uncle Francis James, Jr., written in 1882. While that will left 60 pounds to Ferdinand, and some funds and property to other nieces and nephews, and a potential estate for Ferdinand's brother Francis William James (below), it apparently left nothing to nine of the living children in Ferdinand’s family.
2. Elizabeth Frances ("Elsa") James was born in 1863. She moved to New York (actually four other sisters also moved to the United States, while their brothers either stayed in England or died at relatively young ages). In the United States, Elsa met Johan Carolus Heinrich Biekarck, who had been born in Hamburg, Germany. They were married in Massachusetts.  The obituary of Johan said that he "sprang from an old and talented Dutch family which migrated to Germany." Elsa and Johan at some point moved to Cincinnati, Ohio  (where they apparently were joined by some of Elsa's sisters), and then they moved to Warren, Pennsylvania. They had two children, Violet, born in 1894, and Ferdinand Charles "Rex" Biekarck, born in 1895, both in Warren. After Johan died, Elsa lived with her son Rex in Warren until her death in 1952. Rex married Martha Mae "Gret" Grettenberger, and they had three children. Most of the information in this section on Ferdinand Casson James was developed by Marie Biekarck Spurgin, a granddaughter of Rex Biekarck. Marie lived near Portland, Oregon, in 2009, and was married to Kerry Spurgin.

Elsa James Biekarck, about 1900 Johan Carolus Heinrich Biekarck, about 1900 Elsa, Johan, Violet and Rex Biekarck, about 1900
Elsa James Biekarck, husband Johan Carolus Heinrich Biekarck,
with children Violet and Rex, about 1900

3. Henry Ernest James, 1864. A certificate issued in November 1893 shows that "Henry Ernest James, of Worthington, in the county of Cumberland," was appointed a practicing solicitor of the Supreme Court of Judicature in England.

4. John Edward James, 1866. He was still living in 1931, when he wrote a letter to his sister Elsa.

5. Ellen M. (Helen) James, 1868. She was described as "dumb" in the 1881 census.
6. William W. James, 1870.  He was shown in the 1871 census at age 1. Family members believe he died at the age of 3.

7. Gertrude A. ("Gert") James, 1871. Gert moved to the United States, along with four of her sisters.

8. Francis ("Frank") William James, 1873. He was still living in 1882 and was mentioned in his uncle's will as a contingent beneficiary.

9. Katherine Mary ("Kitty") James was born in 1874. She moved to the United States in the early 1900s. She had a twin who died at birth or shortly thereafter. Kitty never married but lived all her life with her sister Agnes, who was also a twin. Kitty died in Cincinnati in 1952.

10. Unknown, twin of Katherine, born in 1874 and died shortly after birth.

11. Hannah Singleton ("Hansie") James was born in 1878. In 1901, Hannah, 23, lived with her mother in Cockermouth. She later moved to the U.S., one of five James sisters to do so.

12. Agnes Louisa ("Dot") James was born in 1880. She traveled to the United States in the early 1900s and lived with her sister Katherine in Cincinnati.  Like Katherine, she had a twin who died at birth or shortly thereafter. Where Agnes died is not known. It may have been Cincinnati.

13. Unknown,  twin of Agnes, born in 1880 and died shortly after birth. 

The Casson Family of Ulpha    

          The wife of Francis James, Ann Casson, came from a family with a long history in the area of Ulpha, in the southern part of Cumberland. Ann was born in 1794, but her Casson lineage, thanks to research of Lin Chapman of Leicester, can be traced back to Nicholas Casson, who was born in 1651, almost 150 years earlier. The stages of the family as it descends directly to Ann Casson can be described in this way:

Nicholas Casson was born in 1651 in Ulpha, Millom Parish, Cumberland. He died in 1711. Nicholas was married to Isabel, and records show that they had five children: Thomas, Jenet, Elizabeth, John and Grace Casson.

John Casson, a son of Nicholas and Isabel, was born about 1680, also in Ulpha, and he died there in 1724 at the age of 44. John married Alice about 1703. She had been born in Ulpha about 1780, and she died there in 1735. John and Alice Casson had five children: John in 1704, Isabel in 1705, Alice in 1706, Jane in 1707, and Mary in 1711.

John Casson, a son of John and Isabel, was born in 1704 at Sella Farm, Dunnerdale, Broughton in Furness, Lancashire, not too far from Ulpha in Cumberland. John died at Low Hurst in Ulpha in 1788, at the age of 84. He was married in 1729 to Mary, who had been born in Dunnerdale with Seathwaite in 1708. She was baptized at Holy Trinity Church in Seathwaite on August 20, 1708, and she died in 1785 at the age of 77. John and Mary Casson had nine children: John in 1730, Hannah in 1732, Robert in 1734, Mary in 1736, Ferdinando in 1739, Alice in 1741, Dinah in 1743, Ann in 1747, and David Casson in 1749.

Ferdinando Casson, the fifth child of John and Mary Casson, was born in 1739 in Low Hurst, Ulpha, and he was baptized on March 10, 1739, at St. John the Baptist Church in Ulpha. He died in 1822 at the age of 83.  He was married to Ann Atkinson on November 17, 1765, at St. John the Baptist Church in Ulpha. Ann died in 1804 in Sella, Dunnerdale, at the age of  67.  Ferdinando and Ann Atkinson Casson had four children: John in 1766, Anthony Atkinson in 1770, Ann in 1777, and Ferdinando Casson in 1781.

John Casson, oldest child of Ferdinando and Ann Atkinson Casson, was born in Mill House, Ulpha, in 1766 and baptized at St. John the Baptist Church in Ulpha on September 15, 1766. On August 23, 1794, in Millom, John married Agnes Harrison, who also had been born in Ulpha. Agnes was born in 1769 and baptized at St. John the Baptist Church on May 28, 1769. Dates of death have not been established for John and Agnes. They had six children: Ann in 1794, Ferdinando in 1799, Mary in 1801, Joseph in 1807, David in 1808, and Anthony Casson in 1814.

Ann Casson, the first child of John and Agnes Harrison Casson, was born in 1794 in Ulpha. Given that her parents were married on August 23 of the same year, it appears that her birth came shortly after the wedding, or possibly before it. As noted above, Ann married Francis James on September 23, 1813, in St. John the Baptist Church in Ulpha. They had nine children, as listed above. Francis James died in June 1865 in Cockermouth at the age of 72.  Ann Casson James died in September 1875 in Blindcrake at the age of 81.

Dunnerdale Fells Ulpha Bridge
Scenery in the area of Ulpha, where the Casson family lived: Left, Dunnerdale Fells. Right, Ulpha Bridge.
Knott End, near Ulpha Sella, near Ulpha
Left, Knott End. Right, Sella.

A Note on Bridekirk and Cockermouth               

          Bridekirk and Cockermouth were located in Cumberland, a county that encompassed the “Lake District” in northwest England, especially in the area near Cockermouth.  The name "Cumbria" had been used for the region for centuries, and the people there were known as “Cumbrians.”  In 1974, the British government restructured the counties in England, and a formal county called Cumbria was created, covering the traditional counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland, plus the Furness part of Lancashire, and a protrusion of Yorkshire.  The county names “Cumbria” and “Cumberland,” nevertheless, tended to be used interchangeably. Photographs of Cumbria are available here.

            Bridekirk is a tiny village, with not more than a dozen houses in the town proper.  The population in 1841 was 111; in 2003 it was 696.  The original church, built in the year 1130, is believed founded by a Celtic Norse patron who dedicated it to St. Bridge, or St. Bridget.  A portion of the original church remains. (See history of the church.) The newer church structure, built in 1868, was still in active use in 1988.  The Bridekirk Church is prominent for its beautiful stone font, dating from the 1100s.  

           Both old and new churches are surrounded by tombstones, many of them ancient.  The vicar in May 1988 said that the burial records were no longer held in the church but were located in the County Archives in The Castle, in Carlisle, Cumbria.  Confirming information on the burials of Edward and Agnes Jackson came from that source.

Old Bridekirk Church Churchyard Ruins Overgrown Churchyard 1988
Ruins of the Bridekirk Church built in 1703 Overgrown Churchyard in 1988

Bridekirk Church Entrance Gate Edward Jackson Stone at Bridekirk The New Church Built in 1868
Entrance to the Bridekirk Churchyard Marker for Edward and Agnes James Jackson The "New" Bridekirk Church, Built in 1868

            Gale House, which had been the Bridekirk home of Edward and Agnes James Jackson, still existed in 1989, on the road from Bridekirk to Cockermouth.  The estate was about 200 yards south of the main intersection of Bridekirk.  The house was not identified at the site as “Gale House,” but it appeared on a local map, and nearby residents knew it by that name.  The personal stationery of the owner in 1989 carried the imprinted address “Gale House, Bridekirk, Cockermouth.”  When visited by Neil Boyer in 1988, Gale House was a large, very impressive three-story home, immaculately decorated and furnished, on a working farm.  

            Gale House was built about 1831, according to the family, and thus it was about 20-25 years old when Edward and Agnes Jackson moved there.  The Birkett family, residing there in 1989, believed there had been no change to its basic structure since it was constructed, except for the addition of a garage and utility room on the side.  The house had four main rooms on the ground floor: a sitting room, dining room, large kitchen, and dairy.  One floor up were three good-sized bedrooms and one bathroom (which at one time was also a bedroom).  On the next floor were three attic rooms, of which two were used as bedrooms and one as a storeroom.  One genealogical researcher suggested that perhaps there had been more than one building at the site and that the Jacksons had not lived in the main house, but there was no evidence of such a second building suitable for a residence, nor was a second family mentioned in the census records.  

Gale House in Bridekirk, 1988 Gale House, Bridekirk, 1988
Gale House, just outside Bridekirk, as seen in 1988

             Research into ownership and residency at Gale House surprised the Birkett family in 1989, for they discovered a family of Birketts – John, 65, Alice, 65, Jane, 25, and Joseph, 25 – was living there at the time of the 1841 census.  In 1844, the house was owned and occupied by a John Smith.  The James family lived there at the time of the 1851 census, and Agnes James Jackson was there at the time of the 1861 census, but it is not known who owned the house during that period.  About 1870, after Agnes moved away, Gale House was owned by a Thompson Martin.  According to the deeds, after his death, his son Alfred Thompson Martin conveyed the house to a Thomas Pattinson.  The 1871 census shows the house occupied by Mary Ann Martin and Sarah Shea, sisters and both annuitants, aged 59 and 47.  In the 1930s, the house was conveyed to Florence Birkitt and her husband, and Florence lived there in 1989.  (Her daughter-in-law, Joy Birkett, of East Horsely in Surrey, provided extensive assistance in the discovery of information about Gale House and the census records relating to it.  Joy died in 1996.)   

            In August 1999, planning applications were published that showed the intention of the owner of Gale House, W. Birkett, to demolish an agricultural building and erect “three holiday accommodation units and communal swimming pool.”  In addition, a neighboring house called Ellwood, a stone building dating back to the 1830s, in 2005 had been converted and refurbished and was being offered as a self-catering holiday cottage, renting for up to 1,200 pounds a week.  Its location was described as “behind Gale House.”  It was clear that the neighborhood was passing out of the agricultural age.

            Cockermouth, where Agnes died, is an ancient market town, located, as its name implies, at the mouth of the River Cocker, where it joins the River Derwent.  It is one of 51 towns in Great Britain listed by the Council for British Archeology as “gems” recommended for preservation as part of the national heritage. The first historical mention of the town was in 1069, when the county of Cumberland formed part of Scotland.  Malcolm, the King of Scotland, took sides with the discontented Saxons in their struggles against William the Conquerer.  Eventually, Cockermouth was added to England.  The first Baron of Allerdale reportedly built the Norman castle in Cockermouth, and 500 years later, in 1648, it withstood a siege by Parliamentary troops sent out by Cromwell from Lancashire during the Civil War.  Ruins of the castle still remained in 1989, but one wing of the castle had been restored and was the residence of the Egremont family.  Poet Laureate William Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth in 1770, and Fletcher Christian, leader of the “Mutiny on the Bounty,” was born nearby in 1764.  In 1989, Cockermouth had a population of about 6,800.  It was easily reached from A66 trunk road, which links Cumbria with the north-south M6 motorway. 

            Note: It was not unusual for a tenant farmer, such as Francis James or Edward Jackson, to have servants, even though they did not own the property they farmed.  A history of the period says that, without modern machinery, farming was very labor intensive, and so virtually all farmers had servants or laborers.  One custom was to take on a laborer for six or twelve months for about five or six pounds and full board and lodging.  The laborers were located at “hiring fairs,” which were an annual event in major country towns.  Men and maids seeking work stood in rows, the males together and the females together, while masters and mistresses walked down the lines and selected those who suited them.


The Jackson Family of Cumberland
The Family of William and Sarah Jackson in America
The Hayes Family of Leigh, Lancashire
The Wilkinson Family of Leigh, Lancashire
The Casson Family of Ulpha, Cumberland

Genealogical Charts on the Jackson, James, Hayes and Wilkinson Families

The Boyers of Easton
Neil Boyer's Home Page

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