Rev. James Jackson [1796-1878] The Pillarite Patriarch

Bodies lay fragmented, torn asunder by the cannon shells that rained down on both Armies like hail stones in a raging winter storm, oblivious on who they fell. The year is 1796 and we are in southern Italy where the battle of Montenotte is well under way. Napoleons troops are pitted against an Austrian Army led by Count Eugène-Guillaume Argenteau, and it is not going well for the Austrians.Virgil van Dijk gets transfer wish as Liverpool have met crucial need  despite FSG compromise - Liverpool.com

Across the English Channel in the county of Cumberland some 526 miles away, another personal battle was being fought between a mother and the vagaries of childbirth. Neither Napoleon nor the .سرمایه گذاری مدیریت ثروت لیورپول unborn child knew, that their futures were inextricably linked, and whilst they would never meet personally, they would stand on the same piece of land some nineteen years later for similar yet different reasons, and this time, the battle would not be going well for the French.

As it turned out, the Battle of Montenotte for Bonaparte, on that dull cloudy wet day in April was victorious, just as the personal battle taking place that same day in the home of Mrs Agnes Jackson, as she gave birth to her second son who was later christened James.

James Jackson’s father Robert, was a grocer by trade and whilst they were not of property or social standing, he had a reasonable upbringing and at the age of thirteen, they managed to pay for him to attend a local (private) Grammar School where he received a good education.

Both Bonaparte and James had yet to play their part in history, and whilst it is common knowledge how Bonaparte’s future panned out, it is only in the context of local knowledge within his home county, that James’s future is known. Despite this localised fame, James would by some of his deeds, go down in the annals of history with regards the early pioneering history of Lake District climbing and mountaineering which was at the time of his birth, still in its infancy.

The 33rd Foot was first raised in 1702 as “The Earl of Huntingdon’s Regiment” by order of Queen Anne to fight in the War of the Spanish Succession. Before James enlisted, the regiment fought with distinction in the War of the Austrian Succession, the Seven Years War, and, during the American War of Independence.

When James enlisted, the regiment were still in Holland when Bonaparte escaped from his prison on the island of Elba, and returned to France. The regiment marched none stop south to a small town called Waterloo where James and other new recruits, joined them, three days before the battle.

The Duke of Wellington, placed the 33rd Foot regiment in the middle of the battle lines where they successfully withstood the French attacks all day. Seeing possible defeat, Bonaparte threw his elite Imperial Guard into the fray hoping at the last minute, to salvage a victory. However, despite their bravery they could not break the British centre held by the soldiers of the 33rd Foot, and were forced to retreat.

History is testament to the fact, that Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by the stern resistance of the British lines which ended his rule as French Emperor, this despite the Duke of Wellington referring to his soldiers as the scum of the earth after the British troops broke ranks to loot the abandoned French wagons, instead of pursuing the beaten foe. This gross abandonment of discipline caused an enraged Wellington to write in a famous dispatch to Earl Bathurst, “We have in the service the scum of the earth as common soldiers”. Although later, when his temper had cooled, he extended his comment to praise the men under his command saying that though many of the men were, “… the scum of the earth; it is really wonderful that we should have made them to the fine fellows they are”.

Again, we will never know whether the carnage he witnessed at Waterloo was instrumental in leading him down the ecclesiastical road or not, but this is the road he took. As it happened, at the same time that he arrived home, St. Bees Theological College had just opened its doors as a private theological teaching establishment, offering young men of means a two year course over four terms each year, at £10 a term.

James Jackson, along with nineteen other young ‘men of means’, were the first to enroll in this new venture, and on his first day, what he was not aware of, was that 112 miles away in a small village called Rivington in the civil parish of the Borough of Chorley in Lancashire, a baby girl, Susanna Thorpe, had just come into the world and who would later play an integral part in the rest of his life as would the place where she was born.

James matriculated from St. Bees Theology College in February 1819 and spent the next two years consolidating his career before taking up a new post as Vicar of Rivington on 9th May 1823 which is how he met Susana Thorpe who he later married.

For example, he crossed the Atlantic in 1826 in a perilous journey in an old sailing ship, from Liverpool to Boston, from where he made his way north to visit Niagara Falls where he took a boat to see the falls from beneath, before moving on to Nova Scotia where he worked as a missionary for the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society in Yarmouth fishing port. In 1828 he set out on a 12 month sailing voyage around the world where he spent time visiting various places across Europe, which included sing “God save the King” in the hall of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, climbing Mount Vesuvius during an eruption, and ascending all the major mountains in Ireland and North Wales, before returning home and settling down to married life.

The family took up residence at Parsonage House beside the church from where James would preach to his flock. It was whilst he was vicar at Rivington, that he became widely known for repairing a weathervane cock on the church steeple when no one else would attempt the feat. This was a time when steeple-jacks were generally ‘jack of all trade’s’ rather than professional expert scaffolders and on this occasion, they all refused to climb the steeple to fix the weathervane. James disrobed, rolled up his sleeves and duly climbed up the steeple and set the matter right.

On descending he was met with a mixed reception. On the one hand there were those parishioners who thought he was putting his life and limb at risk and that such work was below that of a clergyman whilst others applauded his efforts which fed into his ego, resulting in him writing and publishing a short four lined poem about his deed after writing of the “terror which made the workmen recoil from the task, and gazing rustics turn sick with horror at the sight”:

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