10.29 – Fergus and Albert Jackson

Todmorden Advertiser, 28th February 1919

Albert Jackson was born in Burnley on the 24th February 1886, the son of Fergus and Mary Jackson (nee Heys). He was Mary’s birthday present to herself; they shared a birthday 34 years apart. Later records give his year of birth as 1887 but we can be certain that those are in error.

Fergus was a cotton weaver from Bacup and Mary a cotton winder who came from either Clitheroe or Slaidburn. Fergus’s parents John and Jane were both power loom weavers who settled in Newchurch and he followed in their footsteps. He had 4 siblings, a brother, Walter, who was born in 1884 and three sisters – Elizabeth Ellen, born 1881, Sarah Alice, born in 1890, and Mary Ann, who was born in 1893. All five of these children are recorded as being born in either Burnley or Barnoldswick, likely along with a sixth – that child had died before 1911 when census returns began recording the number of total children born to a marriage as well as the number still living and cannot be found on any census return either.

In 1891 the family were living in Marlborough Street, Habergham Eaves, but by 1901 they had moved to Todmorden and they were living at 606 Burnley Road, Cornholme. At the age of 14 Albert was working as a wood bobbin varnisher (presumably at Wilson’s Bobbin works).In December 1901 Fergus died aged 56 and was the first to go into this grave plot…or was he? The burial register does not note that it was a “new grave”. Perhaps the lost sixth child was buried first and their burial not recorded.

In 1911, Albert together with his mother, brother, three sisters, a niece and a lodger were living at 4 Park View, Knotts, Lydgate. Albert and Walter were both working as screenmen at Stansfield Corn Mill. 

Albert enlisted on the 22nd February 1916, but didn’t officially join the Army until the 30th March 1917 in Halifax, when he was assigned to the Royal Garrison Artillery.  He gave his address on joining as 17 Wood Street, Todmorden, his age as 29 years 11 months and his height is given as 5 feet and 6.5 inches. He gave his occupation as a screenman in a flour mill, so that hadn’t changed since 1911. He was also unmarried.

He was initially sent to Prees Heath Camp in Shropshire for training, but by April 1917 he was at the South Camp, Ripon and this seems to be where he received his training as a Gunner, operating a heavy howitzer, a long-ranged weapon which fired large calibre high explosive shells.  After training the records show that he was posted to Egypt to fight in the Salonika campaign. He left the UK with the 423rd Siege Battalion on the 25th August 1917 and arrived in Alexandria on the 12th September 1917. He looks to have remained in Egypt for the duration of his service, but was transferred between Battalions during his time there, serving with both the 21st and the 300th Battalions. He would probably have fought at the 3rd Battle of Doiran. His medal record card shows he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his time in the Army.

The records don’t show when he left Egypt to return to the UK, but he returned to Todmorden in early 1919 and died on the 19th February of pneumonia and heart failure – yes, another WW1 fatality unrelated to actual battle and linked to the conditions under which service personnel lived and fought. His brother Walter had meanwhile joined the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1915 and died from wounds on February 28th 1918 – another family who suffered much during the war. Walter is remembered at Mendinghem Cemetery.

And in yet another blow to the family, mother Mary had also died on the same day as Albert. She also was suffering from heart failure, although with acute bronchitis as the primary cause rather than pneumonia. They were buried on the 24th February 1919 at Christ Church on what would have been his 33rd birthday and his mother’s 67th. Interestingly one of the newspaper reports refers to a memorial service at Oldroyd Chapel, where he was a trustee, but we were unable to find more about this. Mary’s name is not in the sexton’s book as having been buried with Albert and Fergus, but we can safely assume that she was.


  1. Josephine Paolozzi

    Very interesting reading. I’m sorry not to have participated in any of the tours of the graveyard as I live abroad

    • Hi Josephine! If you go to the “tours” tab, we link to all the stories told on each tour beneath each tour’s title – so even if you miss being here in person, you can still read about everyone who was chosen for each themed tour, in order, as though you were there with us. We’ll add more videos and audio soon, we hope.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *