Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Reverend James Jackson Cross. The Patriarch of the Pillarites

The Patriarch of the Pillarites

The Reverend James Jackson 1796 to 1878

While researching fell history on the internet  I came across an article in The Fell and Rock Climbing Club Journal of 1907, page 40, which referred to 'The Patriarch of the Pillarites', which was the title assumed by the Reverend James Jackson of Sandwith, Whitehaven. He had given himself that name following his fascination with being an octogenarian, coupled with his burning desire to climb Pillar Rock, in the Ennerdale Valley. He achieved this and wanted to continually repeat this feat on an annual basis, which was to lead to his death. Other climbers erected a temporary iron cross, then later had the nearby rock carved with his initials and the year of his death. Any walker of the lake district with an interest in the histories it generates knows of the rock carving of a cross to the Scafell tragedy of September 1903, where four climbers fell to their deaths, which altered the techniques of mountaineering in lakeland. I was fascinated to question why with two such high profile incidents occurring, why was the Scafell carving so well photographed, yet the Pillar one had no image on the internet whatsoever? This was despite a great variety of articles on 'The Patriarch'. Intrigued I set out to find the cross and to try and add far more detail on Reverend James Jackson's earlier life as the pastor of Rivington, Lancashire, assisted by a visit to his church there. Over the last few years I have came back to this story and can now add that detail, so adding to the history of the English Lakes.


James Jackson’s place of birth has long been unclear to people writing informative internet explanations of his life. He was born at Kendal on 12th April 1796 and baptised there on 26th August of that year. His parents were Robert and Agnes Jackson and James had an elder brother called John who was born on 10th June 1794 at Kendal, baptized on 14th August of that year. 
Nothing further is known of any other family members, it appears these were the only children of Robert and Agnes. 
His early childhood remains a mystery, beyond a mention at an inquest following his death that he was educated at both Appleby and St. Bees. It was then recorded that he joined the army and served in the Napoleonic war of 1815.
James’s life begins to be better documented when he chooses the church as his calling in life and on 16th July in 1820 the Lord Bishop of Chester held an ordination ceremony at Windermere (Bowness) where 14 Priests were ordained, and nine Deacons appointed, with 500 children being later confirmed. Previous to the Ordination ceremony an excellent speech on the duties and responsibilities of the Christian Minister was given by one of the candidates for Priests Orders. The lesson was ‘2 Cor., c, vi, v, 4 – “In all things approving ourselves as the Ministers of God” ’; the candidate was James Jackson, who would be 24 years of age when appointed.
The Reverend Jackson was to become the Minister for Rivington, near Chorley, Lancashire. He married a Susanna Thorpe at the Parochial Chapel of Rivington on 8th September 1835 and the officiating Minster was a J. Whittaker. Both James and Susanna are recorded as ‘of this chapel’; she was born there, and her parents died before she was 16 years old; Susanna would have been married at the age of 19 and married a man 20 years older than her. Although it may turn a head in more modern times, he would be of some standing in the community, in constant employment and financially secure. The union would have been of mutual benefit to both. The two witnesses were Timothy and Ann Lightoller, although Ann was illiterate and was only capable of making her mark: ‘X’.  It is believed the Jacksons had two children. Agnes was the first born in 1836, baptised on 10th June at The Chapel, Rivington and grew into adulthood, surviving beyond both her parents. Franklin Rawdon Jackson was the second born in the second quarter of 1838, but he died aged one on 5th November 1839 and was buried at Rivington.

In these early years there appears no insight into his character, beyond him being a man of the cloth but intriguingly there was an incident at Rivington where at four o’clock on the morning of 25th June 1837 the Reverend was woken by the noise of men shouting outside the vicarage, then the sound of a stone rolling down the roof was heard by him. He looked out the window and saw two men withdrawing from his porch.

The Vicarage at Rivington, home of the Reverend Jackson.

 He may have been a man of the cloth, but he also had a family to protect and was an ex-soldier. He went out and confronted them, the main antagonist refused to give his name, so the reverend seized his cap resulting in the man threatened to kick him. The two were Thomas Bouch and Charles Thompson. That assault appears to have happened as both appeared before the magistrates. Bouch was there for a breach of the peace and assault, one presumes the threatened kick on the brave reverend. Bouch was ordered to find sureties and ordered to pay costs of 14s 6d. Thompson was before them for being drunk only and ordered to pay costs of 5s 6d. This could have started as a drunken prank with any resident of Rivington as the victim, or jealousy at this particular man’s standing in the community. Another possibility is that the reverend was not liked by all members of the community and greater insights into his character will later become apparent, making this scenario certainly well worth consideration.
There was the mundane reporting of local weddings in the family columns of local papers, naming the reverend as the officiating clergy, but life took on the ordinary existence of a pastor.
On Monday 31st July 1843 a half yearly meeting was held at The Swam Hotel, Bolton, by the proprietors of the Bolton and Preston Railway. Present was the Reverend James Jackson of Rivington, who asked for a point to be explained whether the first act was to be revived or the tram road and canal were to be filled in and converted to a rail line, and what the cost of each would be? Clearly, he kept an interest in local politics, on behalf of his parishioners.
In April 1847 he is listed as a contributor to ‘The Cobden National Tribute Fund’ where he donated £1 to the fund. £60, 692, 3s 10d was the national total to this point. Richard Cobden was a British Statesman and economist who advocated free trade and non-interventionism both during and after the efforts to abolish the Corn Laws and he believed them to be the solution to world prosperity and peace. It was given the title of Cobdenism and still forms a debate to this day in political and economic circles. Clearly the Reverend also had a viewpoint on world politics and economics.
In February 1850 he assisted another parishioner at court in the settlement of a claim on an old lady’s estate, where she had promised him money for assistance, he gave her on the death of her husband. It was through the assistance of Reverend Jackson that the money was awarded.
Another insight into his interests, perhaps through retirement, was that in July 1856 he appeared as a witness at a case where a Thomas Latham was claiming £50 following the death of a neighbour, Mrs. Alice Marsh. He had assisted her husband following a robbery in January 1850, staying with him for over 2 months. Following the husband’s death, he went on to assist the lady, who then gave him a note promising him £100 on her death. He came across objections from a relative, Robert Eatock, and the amount was arbitrated to £50, which Mr Latham agreed to. There was an allegation that Latham had plied Mrs. Marsh with raw rum, a quantity of 10 gallons was suggested and denied.  Even that was not paid, so Latham took the matter to court. One of the witnesses he called was the retired Reverend James Jackson, of Rivington, who had been present on 3rd March 1853 when Mrs. Marsh had said that: ‘Tom ought to have it.’ The Judge found for the plaintiff, quoting the corroboration by the Reverend as sufficient evidence. Clearly his status and reputation spoke volumes to his credibility as a witness to events.
 There were however two very well documented events in Reverend James Jackson’s life, both made famous by none other than himself and the first was to occur at Rivington. The weather cock of the church blew down in high winds and required re-seating on the spire. The ‘steeplejacks’, most probably local builders, declined the job which must have disheartened the reverend. That fulfilling this parish need was refused and by professionals must have been beyond the pale to him, so he seized the article from them and climbed the steeple, replacing the cock on it’s spire in service to the local community. The placing was in his own words a two-handed job, but there it stands to this day as a testament to his brave, (some would say foolhardy) feat.

The Church at Rivington

The weathercock
Some locals were in awe, others aghast that their pastor had taken such an unnecessary risk to his life. It was said by James that in the short walk back to his residence he had formed the feat into words in his own mind, this being a short poem, or ditty:

“Who has not heard of Steeple Jack,
That Lion-hearted Saxon,
Though I am not he, he was my sire,
For I am Steeple Jackson.”

On Saturday 6th September 1856, by virtue of a charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I, at the request of Bishop Pilkington (who founded Rivington School), a meeting was convened at the Chapelry at Rivington where the ‘dwellers and remainers’ were allowed to vote in their next reverend. This followed the resignation of James Jackson after 33 years of pastoral service to that community. Of the two candidates that were put forward, the Reverend Thomas Sutcliffe of Blackburn gained 75 votes, the Reverend Thomas Crossfield of Stafford gaining 45 votes. There was some legal objection on the matter, it’s basis being whether the occupiers of Belmont had any right to vote, yet Mr. Sutcliffe was duly appointed to replace James Jackson.
James then surfaced at Broughton-in-Furnace living at a house called Broom Hill on New Street. John, his older brother by two years, was the inn-keeper at The Kings Head Hotel in Broughton-in-Furnace. When at that address James came into possession of a Celtic artefact of the ‘perforated or wedge-shaped class’ which was dug up near Broughton Tower during the construction of the Coniston Railway. It was 9¾ inches in length, 3 inches breadth, 2 inches thick and weighed just over 2lbs. He is known to have been there on 7th August 1861. Around August 1863 however, he purchased the house at Summer Hill, Sandwith, near Whitehaven, for £455. It is here he resided with both his wife and daughter for the rest if his life.
The Reverend, now in retirement at Whitehaven, appears to have been a man of art, for on 28th April 1863 he was a member of the Art Union of London. Listed in the London Evening Standard were members entitled to select a work of art of different values. ‘Reverend J. Jackson, Whitehaven,’ was in the 10 shillings category.
Art was not his only interest and in June of 1866 the Whitehaven Industrial Exhibition took place and was advertised as guaranteed to take the interest of the mineralogist, botanist, with steam engines to further captivate the interest. Many inventions were exhibited; so many that only a passing comment could be made to each and their inventors. One exhibitor was: ‘Rev. J. Jackson, Sandwith - economic ball and socket double truss.’ Because it got the same rudimentary mention as all the other inventions, it is unclear what its engineering purpose was.
It was while at Sandwith that another event occurred that gave some insight into his character. It was reported long after his death that the reverend had taken to law and ruined a poor man who had enclosed a trifle of garden land. The implication would seem to be one of a particularly unchristian view, by a well off former minister bringing to ruin a poor villager.
It was also whilst he was at Sandwith that the feats of endurance he was to become renowned for occurred, both in his stamina, bravery, and risk taking. If this Reverend was anything, he was a self-publicist, but there is no reason to ever doubt the tales he would tell to show these qualities. He was also opinionated, sometimes to his own detriment. He was to write a series of letters to George Seatree a well-known climber and president of the Fell and Rock-Climbing Club, and these letters were a further insight into this retired reverend character.
He told Seatree:
 ' . . . during my lengthened and varied and still robust existence I have been beneath the Falls of Niagara. I have sung " God Save The King " in the hall of St. Peter's. I have ascended Vesuvius in the eruption of 1828. I have capped Snowdon in Wales, and Slieve Donard in Ireland, and nearly all the high hills in this district, many of which I can see from my residence. It only remains for me to mount the Pillar Rock, and then I may sigh for something else to conquer.'
With reference to Pillar Rock, one feat brought some adverse reaction to James Jackson’s stated view. In the letters it was commented on how the brothers, Edward and Thomas Westmorland had ascended the rock in the company of their sister. ‘N.Y.Z.’ wrote in to the paper expressing that he had read the story with ‘incredulous amazement’, believing they must have ascended Pillar Mountain, not the rock itself. This view was based on N.Y.Z's simple belief that it was beyond the capabilities of a woman. However, that same month Mr. Seatree and Mr. Stanley Martin made the ascent and found their names on the top. Reverend Jackson then admitted he had written the doubting letter and now accepted the truth of the account. The Westmorland’s were reported to have always held this slur on their character against James Jackson.

The Westmorlands
In the course of the letters the Reverend enquired of Mr. Seatree what equipment he had used to ascend the rock; spikes, ropes etc.? He asserted his powers of endurance by stating:

‘To give you some idea of my powers of endurance, I will briefly say that Oct. 1st, 1864, I walked 46 miles in 14 ½ hours, Oct. 4th, I walked 56 miles in 18 hours; and on Oct. 7th, 60 miles, my crowning exploit, in 19 hours 50 minutes. The last mentioned was to Keswick and back, via Whitehaven and Cockermouth.’

In 1875 he attempted to ascend the rock in company but had to concede to only a partial success and had been benumbed by the cold. They did not achieve the summit but were satisfied they had gained the correct route. He wrote to Seatree and said he hoped before the summer was too far advanced, he expected to vindicate the title of ‘Patriarch of the Pillarites’ he had given to himself. He wrote to Seatree dated 1st June 1875 and informed him he had achieved the summit and returned unscathed to his home. He said he would send an account for publication for 10th June Whitehaven News.

Reverend James Jackson photograph recording his passion with Pillar Rock.
Although climbing Pillar Rock had become a goal in his life, which he achieved, his fascination with it would eventually lead to his death.
On Saturday 4th May 1878 the Coroner Mr. John McElvie, held an inquest at Wasdale Head. Giving evidence was William Ritson, farmer and owner of the Hotel. He said that he had known the Reverend for ten to twelve years; he had arrived on the Tuesday afternoon and had set off at 5am on Wednesday with the intention of climbing Pillar Rock. When he did not return, he sent two men to look for him. They were John Jenkinson, a labourer of Burnthwaite, and Isaac Fletcher of Wasdale Head, to look for him but they returned and had been unsuccessful. They went again on Friday, finding his body in Great Doup. His watch had stopped at three o’clock, albeit undamaged; £2 gold, 10s 6d in silver, 4d copper along with other articles were found on him. There was also a bottle which contained a verse, on the cork was ‘Rev. J. Jackson, Sandwith’, evidently meant to be placed on the rock, once ascended. The verse was as follows:

‘Two elephantine properties are mine,
For I can bend to pick up pin or plack;
And when this year the Pillar Rock I climb,
Four score years and two’s the howdah on my back.

Date of the third ascent, May 1, 1878.”

Of course, the only thing the jury could do was to find that death was the result of an accident. His two sticks were found nearby, one 40 yards above him and the other 100 yards below.
Whilst awaiting the inquest the terribly disfigured body had been placed in an outhouse of the Inn.
The funeral took place at St. Bees, which is very near to Sandwith.

The Grave

A close-up of his name on the headstone.
A couple of years after his death two veteran mountaineers, Mr. F. H. Bowring and Mr. J. Maitland, both contemporaries of the Patriarch, built a cairn and placed an iron cross on the spot where the Reverend Jackson had been found, but the winter storms carried both away. On August 16th, 1906, a more lasting memorial was completed. Another veteran, Mr. C. A. 0. Baumgartner, the oldest living Pillarite, having ascended the Rock so far back as 1850 in conjunction with Mr. J. W. Robinson and Mr. Seatree, had the initials "J. J." and the date " 1878" chiselled on to the nearest suitable rock to where the body was found, by Mr. (George) Benson Walker, marble mason, Cockermouth. Taking advantage of the day set apart by Mr. Robinson, (of Robinson's cairn fame) one of Cumberland's foremost cragsmen, for his hundredth ascent of the Pillar Rock, an opportunity was found to have the work done. Mr. Robinson, Mr. Walker, and Mr. Seatree were accompanied by Mrs. Robinson, Miss Cleeve, Tasmania, and Miss A. E. Seatree. Mr. Walker found the rock to be very hard, but in a few hours an effective memorial of the old clergyman was inscribed which nothing short of an earthquake should destroy.
An earthquake certainly has not destroyed the memorial, but the coupled effect of time and weather has etched into the numbers and initials, making them all but indistinct from the rough rock face. The cross that accompanies the lettering is still clear to see and the one’s fingers can read the letters, that the eye can hardly see.

The cross to Reverend James Jackson. Hollydog applying some perspective.

The Cross in close-up
I knew he had fallen in Great Doup, but after four searches I was still unable to locate the inscription. Through a former work colleague, who is also a Mountain Rescue team member, he was able to ask some fellow climbers. Steve Reid, the owner of Needle Sports at Keswick, was able to assist, and I thank him greatly for that help. He had located this elusive memorial and manged to pass me greater detail on its location.  A further visit finally located the writing, along with the cross. Crosses are carved in the landscape to commemorate the passing of a notable human being and this deserves to be known further afield, especially after 141 years.

Postscript: On his death Reverend Jackson left effects to the value of £10,000 in his probate, with the executors of his will being his daughter Agnes, and his niece Elizabeth Jackson. His wife Susannah died on 25th January 1883, aged 66 years. Both she and Agnes are buried in the same grave. Agnes had married a William Pettigrew (who was 20 years younger than her and an Irish born farmer's son) in 1885 and died a widow on 21st February 1905, leaving effects of the value £1,464 16s 5d, to Miss Ellen Berry and Ernest Lamb, who was a draper.


**I have previously published this account, and other new material, for public knowledge. I did so in the expectation that anyone wishing to further expand that public knowledge would do so by highlighting this original account, and then adding new information they discover themselves, as I have above. Sadly I am aware of one site that has repeated a large section of an account of another all but forgotten lakeland memorial to two boys that drowned and making out it was new, despite his following my many new lakes history accounts. I was asked by a person writing a book for Wasdale MRT for the generation of funds to assist that worthy cause. I gladly agreed to its use and he stated he would reference my original account. Such a stance by the latter is an honourable one; I hope the former person reflects on his conduct and no longer copies my work and then makes out he has found a new lakes history; that is dishonourable and diminishes him.**


For further reading on the letters, this is the link. It may only be of interest to climbers or lakes historians:

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The Scafell tragedy of 1903 Broadrick, Jupp, Garrett, and Ridsdale.

Like myself, walkers of the Lakeland fells begin out of a desire for fresh air, peace from the routine and pressures of work, pure exercise and not least, to test oneself in the face of nature. It is not really a sense of the history of a place or area that initially drives you to walk the fells or climb the rock faces, yet you cannot do so without beginning to gain some knowledge of the events that shaped the landscape and the people who worked the land, or enjoyed their own quest for adventure. Some events are known only to local people and a select few, yet others are known by a much broader audience.
One such event was the tragedy of 21 September 1903 when four ground breaking climbers, R. W. Broadrick, H. L. Jupp, A. E. W. Garrett and S. Ridsdale, set out to climb the rock faces of Scafell which tragically ended in the death of all four climbers. It is not my intention to enter into any great detail the reasons why this came about, many other sites go into this and I am a walker not a climber. 
The brief circumstances are they met another party of climbers near Lord's Rake and departed from them at around 2.30pm, each party doing separate climbs. The other party returned back along the rake at around 5.40pm and found all four climbers roped together at the foot of the rock-face, Broadrick, Jupp and Garrett were already dead. Ridsdale, although seriously injured was imploring the others to look after his colleagues, unaware they were dead. One of the other parties raced for help and on returning at around 8.30pm they managed to get Ridsdale down to the valley by 03.30am. They reached the valley floor and Ridsdale was still alive, yet by the time they got to the Wasdale Hotel he had passed away. That is a time span of nearly 10 hours between knowledge of the incident to recovery of the injured party and that is only to the valley floor.
 From my experience, in today's modern age, from discovery a winch helicopter would be on the scene within 45 minutes and the injured would be at Hensingham Hospital (Whitehaven) within 10 minutes of scene evacuation, or 15 minutes to Carlisle, or 40 minutes to Newcastle for more specialist accident treatment. How times change
The other bodies were recovered the following day and the inquest held on 23 September (a modern inquest would be at least one year, if not approaching two).

Wasdale Head with Great Gable at it's head, St. Olaf's church in the foreground trees.

Many walkers search out the cross while at the base of Lord's Rake, knowing of this iconic monument, mentioned in many reports on the internet and books. There are also references and images of the Grave within St Olaf's Church near the valley head.

St Olaf's Church, Wasdale Head (note the shadow of the entrance gate off the lane).

Above is the church with the first grave being the one containing three of the climbers who fell. It was a tradition to be buried where one fell, not unlike The Alps, Himalayas or war graves.

The grave

AGED 26.
SEPT. 21ST 1903.

The rock face before the Lord's Rake ascent going to the right (difficult to make out but the cross is at the end of my dogs tail
The cross inscribed into the rock face
The carved initials to the right of the cross

Lord's Rake route is an inevitable and famous route onto this second highest fell in England. Many of those walkers are aware of the tragedy from literature on the internet or guide books bought on Lakeland walking routes. Those that are inevitably look for the cross at the base of the rake, carved into the rock face in tribute to the four fallen climbers who lost their lives on that fateful day.

Lord's Rake
I decided to post this account as one part of the event is largely unknown. As stated above, the incident, memorial cross at the base of Lord's Rake and the grave in Wasdale are all well known, to greater or lesser degrees. The one article missing from the story is that of Broadrick. He was an individual from Windermere and the family had his body returned for burial there. The only information I can find referring to his burial site is a local newspaper recognising the centenary in 2003, yet any commemoration appears to have only been held at Wasdale.

St Mary's church, Windermere.

Richard W. Broadrick's Grave

The grave inscription

The Broadrick family graves, R. W. Broadrick is the second right.

It seemed an appropriate tribute to have at least one site on the internet where all four climbers can be commemorated next to each other, albeit in photographs on an internet page. They died together, let them at least (albeit visually) Rest In Peace together, finally.


**I have previously published this account, and other new material, for public knowledge. I did so in the expectation that anyone wishing to further expand that public knowledge would do so by highlighting this original account, and then adding new information they discover themselves. Sadly I am aware of one site that has repeated a large section of an account of another all but forgotten lakeland memorial to two boys that drowned and making out it was new, despite his following my many new lakes history accounts. I was asked by a person writing a book for Wasdale MRT for the generation of funds to assist that worthy cause. I gladly agreed to its use and he stated he would reference my original account. Such a stance by the latter is an honourable one; I hope the former person reflects on his conduct and no longer copies my work and then makes out he has found a new lakes history; that is dishonourable and diminishes him.**