The Helen Jackson Mystery

Helen was my Great-grandmother, of that we’re reasonably sure. She was first identified in the marriage record of Sarah Jackson and Hugh McCormick:

December 31st 1902
North Woodside Hall
Raglan Street Glasgow
After publication according to the forms of the Church of Scotland
Hugh McCormick, Carter, Bachelor
Age 24 (?)
15 Stirling Street Glasgow
Parents – Hugh McCormick, Carter
Catherine McCormick – MS Hattrick
Sarah Jackson, Glass Painter, Spinster
Age 22
56 Water Street Glasgow
Parents – Angus Jackson, Shoemaker, Deceased
Helen Jackson, MS Crow, Deceased
J H McCormick
J Bowers (?)
John Ronald MacGregor BD Milton Parish

National Records of Scotland

At this time everything seems fairly straightforward. However, the waters are muddied with the birth record of Helen’s first child, James Jackson (b.1861). The birth record reads as follows:

Angus Jackson, Shoemaker (Journeyman)
Helen Jackson, MS Dunlop
Married – 29 August 1859, Belfast Ireland

Informant – Helen Jackson, Mother

She gave her maiden name as Dunlop and provided a different marriage date. At first one is inclined to believe this is a different couple. However, a search of Irish records shows that there were no Jackson or Dunlop marriages on the day in question. Moreover, there is not a single record of an Angus Jackson ever marrying a Dunlop. Indeed, the only record for an Angus is this one which supports information she gave on other records –

Ellen Crow
Angus Jackson
21st March 1860

You will note the difference in forename and it’s a recurring theme. Apparently Helen and Ellen are interchangeable names.

This inconsistency is troublesome enough on its own yet it is just the beginning. Upon her death in 1881 Angus was hospitalised and near death himself. Both had fallen prey to one of the waves of Typhus Fever that ravaged the slums of Glasgow. The task of reporting her passing fell to the aforementioned James who seemed less than well informed as to his family history. This is a transcript of Helen/Ellen’s record of death:

Deaths in the District of Bridgeton
Burgh of Glasgow
Belvidere Hospital
3 March 1881
Ellen Jackson
Aged 40
66 Muse Lane, Cowcaddens
Married to Angus Jackson, Shoemaker (Journeyman)
Thomas Finlay, Seaman (Merchant Service), Deceased
Susan Harvey, Formerly Finlay, MS Donaghy, Deceased
Cause of Death – Typhus Fever as cert by James W Allen MB
Informant – James Jackson, Son, 39 Weaver Street, Glasgow
Registered 7 March 1881 at Glasgow, Jas Gardner Assistant Registrar

National Records of Scotland

He managed to get the address right. At least it agrees with the information Helen/Ellen gave upon Sarah’s birth in 1880 – 66 Muse Lane. After that he seems to have lost his way. His paternal grandfather, James Jackson, was a seaman in the merchant service, but Thomas Finlay? Susan Harvey? Finlay? Donaghy? He raised more questions than he answered.

At present we believe Susan Harvey might have been born in 1815 as there is a marriage record for Susan Jackson and John Harvey in 1860. This suggests she was likely Angus’s aunt. Perhaps while unraveling the tangle of names James supplied we might just stumble across a Dunlop.