JACKSON, Sir Robert (-d.1646), of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumb. and Chatham, Kent

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press

Family and Education

s. of Robert Jackson (d. c.1603) of Berwick-upon-Tweed.1 m. ?30 Jan. 1610, Margaret (bur. 25 Apr. 1645), da. of ?Edward White of Berwick-upon-Tweed, 1da.2 kntd. 13 May 1617.3 bur. 29 Jan. 1646.4 sig. Rob[er]t Jacksonn.

Offices Held

Freeman, Berwick-upon-Tweed by 1596, alderman 1599-1600, 1606-d.,5 customer 1604-1623,6 mayor 1605-6, 1608-9, 1626-8, 1640-1, j.p. 1605-d.,7 muster-master 1611-at least 1640,8 commr. oyer and terminer 1640,9 assessment, Northumb. 1642,10 dep. lt., Berwick-upon-Tweed 1644.11


Jackson grew up in Berwick alongside several namesakes, and it is difficult to elucidate his early life from the surviving records. The son of a local merchant, he was already a prominent member of the town’s corporation by 1599, when he was chosen as that year’s elected alderman.12 He became customer of the port of Berwick no later than 1604, and his election as mayor the following year afforded him the status of a permanent alderman thereafter. After a second mayoral term, in 1611 he secured the post of muster-master of the soldiers who remained in Berwick as pensioners after the dissolution of the garrison there. In the same year he formed part of the delegation which successfully lobbied the government for the funding needed to rebuild Berwick bridge, a project with which he would be closely connected for more than two decades. Knighted at Berwick in 1617 during James I’s final visit to Scotland, Jackson was one of the town’s wealthiest inhabitants by 1620, when he was sent to London to help refute allegations of malpractice by the bridge construction team.13

Although returned to the 1621 Parliament as Berwick’s junior rather than senior Member, Jackson took the lead in defending the borough’s interests. On 12 Mar., responding to a bid to end Berwick’s traditional exemption from the payment of subsidies, he successfully moved for this privilege to be upheld, reminding the House that it was enshrined in the borough’s charter. He complained on 21 Apr. about the impact on the town’s trade of a patent for the supply of salmon and lobsters to London. According to several accounts, it was Jackson rather than Sir William Grey who introduced on 26 May a proviso to exempt Berwick and Newcastle from the bill against wool exports, a move which was rebuffed on the grounds that it was procedurally premature. Undeterred, Jackson tried again when the bill received its third reading on 30 Nov., only for the proviso to be rejected outright. His proposal later in the same debate that exports via Scotland should also be banned was similarly dismissed.14

In 1622 Jackson was still actively engaged in the financial management of the Berwick bridge project. When he leased a number of properties in the town which had formerly belonged to the garrison, he was described in the borough records as ‘a profitable member of this corporation ... [who] hath done many good offices for the wealth thereof’. However, by now he had also acquired the Kent manor of Chatham, and may have been contemplating retirement, since he relinquished his customs role in the following year.15 This step had no discernible impact on his local standing in Berwick, and in January 1624 the borough again elected him to Parliament, this time as the senior Member. He was appointed by name to the committees for three bills, which dealt with the banning of wool exports, the preservation of salmon and trout stocks, and the office of clerk of the market (6 and 25 Mar., 14 April). Of these he is known to have attended the committee on the wool trade, and he also participated in the committees which considered abuses by customs officials, and the enfranchisement of County Durham (24-5 March).16

Jackson ceased to feature in the corporation’s proceedings after June 1624, and presumably settled at Chatham. In April 1625 the duke of Buckingham requested that he use his local influence in support of Sir Albertus Morton*, who was standing for election as a Kent knight of the shire. How Jackson responded is not known, but later that month he was again elected as a Berwick Member, one of his relatives vouching in his absence that he would pay his own expenses. He failed to feature in this Parliament’s records, though he presumably attended at least the Westminster sitting. On 6 July he was appointed by Berwick corporation to help collect £1,000 promised by Charles I towards the cost of rebuilding the parish church.17

In January 1626 Jackson was once again notified by letter of his return in Berwick’s latest parliamentary election. He was named on 9 Mar. to the legislative committee concerned with unseasonable malt production, and was probably responsible for the proviso introduced five days later in another unsuccessful bid to exempt Berwick from the bill against wool exports. Around the end of this month he requested his borough corporation to draft a petition, presumably for submission to Parliament, but its intended contents are not known.18 Jackson must have moved back to his home town soon afterwards, since he was elected mayor for the third time in the following September. His appointment to this office again in the following year rendered him ineligible to stand in the parliamentary election of March 1628. However, he was returned in the by-election caused by Sir Edmund Sawyer’s expulsion from the Commons for tampering with witnesses during the inquiry into the new book of rates. Entitled to attend the Parliament’s second session in 1629, he left no trace on its records.19

Jackson’s rise up the social ladder was confirmed in 1630, when his daughter married a son of Henry Carey*, 1st earl of Dover, whose own father (John Carey†) had once served as acting governor of Berwick.20 He remained a dominant figure in the town during the following decade, and made regular visits to London on the borough’s behalf to pass the residual bridge accounts in the Exchequer or, in 1638, to defend the corporation’s title to the former garrison buildings, some of which he was still leasing. He sold Chatham manor in 1636 for £2,400.21 When Berwick acquired a new garrison in 1639, in the context of the First Bishops’ War, Jackson’s existing role as muster-master was extended to cover these new soldiers. Rigorous in the performance of his duties, he even risked the wrath of the 1st earl of Lindsey by stopping the allowances of some of his household servants for absenteeism. Elected as mayor for the last time in 1640, he presided over the election for the Long Parliament, blocking an attempt by the new governor of Berwick, Sir John Conyers, to influence the nominations.22 Jackson remained an alderman until his death. In his will, made on 15 Jan. 1646, he left a small annuity and £100 outright for assorted charitable purposes in the town. To his heir, his only daughter, he bequeathed lands worth in excess of £300 per annum. Jackson was buried two weeks later, and his will was proved on 5 Aug. 1646 by his daughter’s second husband, George Payler†.23

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. J. Scott, Berwick-upon-Tweed, 396.
  • 2. Regs. Berwick-upon-Tweed ed. H.M. Wood, i. 32; ii. 20; J. Raine, Hist. and Antiqs. of N. Durham, 180; PROB 11/197, f. 159v.
  • 3. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 163.
  • 4. Raine, 180.
  • 5. Berwick RO, B1/5, f. 13; B1/6, f. 12; B1/7, f. 83; B1/10, f. 30.
  • 6. E351/610, 627.
  • 7. Berwick RO, B1/7, ff. 59, 125; B1/8, p. 213; B1/9, ff. 7, 184; Scott, 323.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 54; HMC Cowper, ii. 227; HMC Ancaster, 409.
  • 9. C181/5, f. 165v.
  • 10. SR, v. 154.
  • 11. CJ, iii. 657b.
  • 12. IGI; Scott, 396. Scott’s account of Jackson’s early career is inaccurate.
  • 13. CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 34; SP14/62/15-16; APC 1619-21, pp. 123-4; Berwick RO, B1/7, ff. 170-2; B1/8, pp. 87, 89, 96.
  • 14. CJ, i. 550b, 628a, 653a; CD 1621, ii. 478; iv. 380; v. 23, 89; vi. 56, 214; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 296; Anno XVIII Jacobi Regis. An Act for the Grant of Two Entire Subsidies (London, 1621).
  • 15. Berwick RO, B1/8, pp. 133-4, 146; E351/2260.
  • 16. CJ, i. 678b, 747b, 749b, 766a; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 210, 218, 224.
  • 17. Berwick RO, B1/8, pp. 167, 184-5; Add. 37819, f. 11.
  • 18. Berwick RO, B1/8, pp. 198, 204; Procs. 1626, ii. 238, 278.
  • 19. Berwick RO, B1/9, f. 36v.
  • 20. Scott, 396; Her. and Gen. iv. 41; HMC Hatfield, xv. 24.
  • 21. Scott, 415; CSP Dom. 1637-8, pp. 456-7; C54/3077/21.
  • 22. Add. 4155, f. 192; HMC Ancaster, 410; CSP Dom. 1640-1, pp. 258-9.
  • 23. PROB 11/197, ff. 159v-61v.