Sunday, October 27, 2019

Ulster-Scots and global finance – Thomas Jackson (1841–1915) of Crossmaglen, and giant of HSBC bank

Hong Kong is in the news constantly just now. Back when it was being established, it was Thomas Jackson (1841–1915) who was responsible for financing the development of the then colony. There is a statue to him in Hong Kong still today, in Statue Square. This photo above shows some the recent protestors trying to put a police helmet on his head.

• Family and ancestry
His parents were David and Elizabeth Jackson. He was born in Carrigallen in Co Leitrim, just a few miles from the border with County Cavan – but the Jackson family were all Crossmaglen folk and he grew up there at the family's tenant farmstead of Urker Lodge, where they had lived since around 1829. It still stands today, but is in a ruinous condition.

His mother, her maiden name Elizabeth Oliver, was said to have been a 'strict Covenant Presbyterian'. The family was well networked with others in the area. A maternal ancestor was William Donaldson of Freeduff, said to have been a leading United Irishman in the 1798 Rebellion. (Freeduff Presbyterian Church had been burned down in an infamous and probably sectarian arson attack in 1743; link here. It was rebuilt and in January 1867 Thomas's sister Bessie Jackson married Thompson Brown there – the meeting house still stands today; Flickr image here).

Elizabeth's sister Margaret was the wife of Rev Daniel Gunn Brown, the Presbyterian minister of Newtownhamilton, who had conducted that 1867 wedding because he was the groom's uncle. Rev Brown was active in the Tenant Right and Land Reform movements. Rev Brown's daughter Elizabeth Sarah married Thomas's brother James Jackson in Blackrock in October 1886. A confusing mesh of interconnections!

Thomas's father, David Jackson, was said to have been an Orangeman who also supported Tenant Right for all - Catholics and Protestants alike.

• Education and Career
Thomas was educated at Morgan School in Castleknock, Dublin. Aged 19, his first job was with the Belfast branch of the Bank of Ireland. He moved to Hong Kong in 1864, becoming Chief Manager of HSBC in 1876, aged just 35 – he most senior executive in the Bank, effectively its CEO, until 1902, establishing it as the premier bank in Asia. He was called the bank's 'Great Architect' and his intuition brought him the nickname 'Lucky Jackson'. He was awarded a baronetcy in 1902, and his statue was unveiled in 1906.

He died at his home in London aged 74 and was buried at Stansted. Three of his sons, and three of his sons-in-law, were killed in battle during the Great War.

There is a very big story here just waiting to be uncovered... 

Further information is online here from Creggan Historical Society

• This magnificent blog by Canada-based researcher Sharon Noddie Brown gives some further biographical background, as does her earlier website here.


SharonOddieBrown said...

The link to this blog post was recently recommended to me. You really have done a great job of boiling down many of the essentials of the life of Sir Thomas to a short readable nugget. One thing I am curious about - the map at the bottom. Do you have it? If not, where is it?
Sharon Oddie Brown

Mark Thompson said...

Hello Sharon, thanks for your comment which seems to have been 'stuck' within my system for some time. I had found the map on eBay and I was in discussions with the seller, but he ceased communication and I have had no further contact from him.