Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: June 08, 2018
Webpage updated: June 08, 2018

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SIR JOHN JACKSON (1851-1919)

John Jackson was born at York on February 4th 1851, the younger son of Mr Edward Jackson.

He was educated at a local school and then at Edinburgh University.

In 1876 he married Miss Ellen Julia Myers, daughter of Mr George Myers of London.  They had five daughters, all of whom married.

Early in his career he spent three years working in engineering shops and shipbuilding yards on the river Tyne.  He also held a commission as captain in the Field Artillery.

In 1903 he was awarded a LL.D degree by the University of Edinburgh.

Sir John's home was at 38 Belgrave Square, London, which was quite close to the offices of the company he founded and which he turned into a Limited Company in 1896.  His country residence was at Hanley Park.

His first contract was for the extension of the Stobcross Docks, in Glasgow.  He also built the last sections of the Manchester Ship Canal, the foundations of the Tower Bridge, Dover Harbour, the docks and breakwaters in Burntisland and Methil on the Firth of Forth, the deep water dock at Barry, south Wales, the docks at Simon's Town in the Cape, the Trans-Andean Railway, the Government docks and harbour at Singapore, the docks at Ferrol in Spain, harbour works in Canada, and a dam across the river Euphrates near Babylon.

But his connection with Devonport commenced in February 1896 when he started work on the 114-acre North Yard Extension to the Royal Dockyard.   Originally valued at 3 million, it was altered and extended so much that it eventually cost some 6 million and employed around 3,400 men.  While this work was going on he lived at Pounds House, Peverell, and at the same time he acquired some ten acres of land at Saint Budeaux for houses for his workers and their families.  He provided a church and free schools for the children.

He was knighted in 1896 upon the completion of the Manchester Ship Canal.

In 1910 he was elected Member of Parliament for Devonport, standing for the Conservative and Unionist Party.  He served until 1918.

Sir John was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Justice of the Peace for the county of Devon and the Borough of Devonport, and was Commodore of the Royal South Western Yacht Club and in 1910 was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.  He also held the highest Chillian Order of Merit and the Spanish Order Grand Cross of Naval Merit.

On Sunday December 14th 1919 he was visiting a friend at Godalming in Surrey when he was suddenly and unexpectedly taken ill and died almost immediately from heart failure.

Jackson Place and York Road at Weston Mill are both named in his honour.


  Compiled with the assistance of the
Devon Family History Society.