JACKSON, John (1763-1820), of 9 New Broad Street, London and Arlesey, Beds.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1806 - 1820

Family and Education

b. 30 Dec. 1763 at Kingston, Jamaica, 2nd s. of John Jackson, surgeon, by Hannah, da. of Nathaniel Coverley. educ. ?Eton 1778.1 m. 13 Feb. 1797, Charlotte Spry, da. of Col. Joseph Goreham, lt.-gov. Placentia, wid. of John Christian, merchant, of Dunkirk,2 4s. 2da. cr. Bt. 22 May 1815.

Offices Held

Commissary at the Cape Aug. 1795; dir. E.I. Co. 1807-d.


Little is known of Jackson’s life before he entered the House. In 1803, he supported his pretensions to a vacancy in the court of directors of the East India Company, which he subsequently withdrew, with a boast of experience acquired ‘by constant application, in various situations in India and Europe, both at sea and on shore’.3 One of his opponents at Dover in 1806 wrote that ‘we trace [him] to the situation of purser of a ship, from thence he became private secretary to Lord Keith and afterwards a navy agent, which he is now, on a very great scale’.4 Jackson appears to have been secretary to Sir George Keith Elphinstone*, Lord Keith, during his period as naval commander-in-chief in the East Indies 1795-6, when he captured the Cape. No trace of him has been found in contemporary lists of navy agents, but in 1797 Keith referred to a letter from Messrs. Elphinstone and Jackson, ‘agents for the Cape of Good Hope respecting prize money’, and in 1800 Jackson informed Keith, from London, that he and ‘Mr Elphinstone’ (presumably Keith’s brother William, a director of the East India Company 1786-1824) were estimating his prize money.5 A London directory for 1800 listed Elphinstone and Jackson, ‘merchants’, of 5 Chandos Street, Cavendish Square, but the entry had disappeared by 1802, when Jackson was named as an ‘agent’ at 36 Broad Street Buildings. In 1803 he was given the title of ‘merchant and agent’ and the additional address of 9 New Broad Street. The style of entries varied slightly for the new few years, but from 1813 until his death he was listed as a merchant at 9 New Broad Street. In his will,6 Jackson referred to his partner John Petty Muspratt, who was intermittently listed in the London directories as an insurance broker at the same addresses as Jackson between 1802 and 1820. It is not known if Jackson had any connexion with the London ship and insurance broking firms of Jackson and Andrews, Jackson and Maude, and Jackson and Vigor, which were in existence during this period.

He probably owed his selection as the Grenville ministry’s candidate at Dover in 1806 to Keith, who was brother-in-law to William Adam, one of the Whig election managers. He was returned after a contest, in which it was alleged that he entered into ‘almost unlimited expense’.7 He supported the ‘Talents’ and voted for Brand’s motion condemning their successors’ pledge on Catholic relief, 9 Apr. 1807. Later that month, thanks largely to the support of Charles Grant I*, he achieved his great ambition of becoming a director of the East India Company.8 He stood again for Dover at the subsequent general election. Although he was opposed by two ministerialists and, as a result of his vote for Brand’s motion, had to issue an affidavit refuting rumours that he was a Catholic and declaring that he would have voted against the late government’s Catholic bill had it been brought forward, he finished in second place by a margin of six votes in a poll of over 1,200.9

Jackson voted against the Portland ministry on the address, 26 June 1807, the mutiny bill, 14 Mar. 1808, Cintra, 21 Feb., and the Duke of York scandal, 15 and 17 Mar. 1809. In 1808 he submitted to Whitbread a document expressing his fears that an increase in the number of Dover pilots required by a recent statute would jeopardize his seat by extending the influence of the lord warden of the Cinque Ports, Hawkesbury (later 2nd Earl of Liverpool), a member of the government.10 He voted against the Perceval ministry on the address, 23 Jan., and the Scheldt expedition, 23 Feb., 5 and 30 Mar. 1810, when the Whigs numbered him among ‘present Opposition’. He was in the opposition minorities against the confinement of Burdett 5 Apr., for the release of Gale Jones, 16 Apr., for sinecure reform, 17 May, and on droits of Admiralty, 30 May 1810. It is not known whether the ‘J. Jackson’ who voted against parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810, was this Member or Josias Jackson. He voted with opposition on the adjournment pending the outcome of the King’s illness, 29 Nov. 1810, on the Regency arrangements, 1 and 21 Jan., and Wellesley Pole’s circular letter, 22 Feb. 1811. His next recorded vote was against the King’s household bill, 27 Jan. 1812, and he went on to vote against government on the civil list inquiry, 10 Feb., the state of the nation, 27 Feb., and the orders in council, 3 Mar.

Jackson voted in the opposition majority in favour of a remodelling of the newly formed Liverpool administration, 21 May 1812, but by the time of the general election in October, when he came in unopposed for Dover with Liverpool’s cousin, he had transferred his support to the ministry. Ministers listed him among their supporters after the election and a Whig observer commented that he was ‘now the Prince Regent’s Member’.11 His change of sides once the Liverpool ministry was established with the Regent’s support almost certainly owed much to the influence of Keith, a longstanding friend of the Prince. He proved a reliable supporter, his name appearing on the government side in almost all the divisions of the 1812 Parliament for which full lists have been found, and he was rewarded with a baronetcy in 1815. He paired against the Catholic relief bill, 24 May 1813, and voted against relief on 21 May 1816 and 9 May 1817. Liverpool instructed his agent that no opposition should be made to Jackson’s re-election for Dover in 181812 and he duly came in again after a token contest forced by an independent. He voted with government against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and paired in favour of the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June 1819. He welcomed Peel’s bill to restrict children’s working hours in cotton factories, 19 Feb. 1818, for, ‘as the House had given their attention to the amelioration of the situation of slaves abroad’, they ‘could not in reason neglect their fellow-subjects at home’. On 11 Feb. 1819 he successfully moved the appointment of a select committee to investigate the validity of the theory of contagion in the plague. When bringing up its report, 14 June, he stated his dissent from its view that plague was contagious, arguing that the period of quarantine imposed on ships returning from plague-affected countries was ‘greatly to the inconvenience of mercantile men’, and could safely be dispensed with. Jackson retired from Parliament at the dissolution. He died 17 May 1820.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. See Etoniana, no. 94, p. 395.
  • 2. Gent. Mag. (1791), i. 279.
  • 3. The Times, 3, 26 Nov. 1803.
  • 4. Add. 38458, f. 180; cf. P. Philip, British Residents at the Cape 1795-1819, p. 204.
  • 5. Keith Pprs. (Navy Recs. Soc. lxii and xc), i. 346, 446; ii. 23, 394-5.
  • 6. PCC 478 Kent.
  • 7. Blair Adam mss, Keith to Adam, 25 Oct.; Kentish Gazette, 28, 31 Oct. 1806; Add. 38458, f. 181.
  • 8. C. H. Philips, E.I. Co. 154.
  • 9. Morning Post, 1 May; Dublin Jnl. 5 May 1807.
  • 10. Whitbread mss W1/1910.
  • 11. NLW mss, Wheatley to C. Williams Wynn, 18 Nov. 1812.
  • 12. Add. 38458, f. 246.