Robert Jackson – Watch and Clock Maker


After the publication of the Bishop Burton baptism registers on the web site, I recently received an email from Paul Schumacher who lives in New York.  He asked me what information we might have about a Robert Jackson who built a clock that he and his wife bought each other about 25 years ago to celebrate an anniversary. Paul knew that Robert was working in Bishop Burton around 1800 but that was all. He is in the process of repairing the clock and pictures of his “work in progress” show the essential character of the clock.


The clock is a musical clock which is capable of playing 12 tunes. Tunes are selected by moving the large hand above numeral 12.  The clock is an eight day clock and strikes the hour on the large bell mounted parallel to the dial.  The music plays every three hours.


Paul has the complete clock but the case is under repair as well.  He purchased the clock from an antique dealer in the USA but has no idea how it arrived in the country.


The tunes are named in an arch over the 12 o'clock position in a script that he has trouble reading.  Part of the ongoing repair is the proper addressing of the bell hammers to play the melodies.  The original hammers were rusted and broken so new hammers were fabricated thus the proper alignment to the correct bell was lost.  Paul will be investigating the melodies through the Association of Music Box Collectors in the US and he should then be able to properly address the hammers to the correct bells.


The skill of Robert Jackson amazes Paul; how he did what he did with the tools available in the 1700s is truly remarkable.  The first thing Paul does when working on the clock is turn on a light; Robert Jackson had no electric light!


I have checked the obvious sources of information about clockmakers in the East Riding and Yorkshire and Robert Jackson does not appear there.


John Dunning recalls that in the early days of pea vining Lord Manton, now deceased, of Houghton Hall, Sancton, was for a time their chairman and John being the secretary visited the Hall occasionally. John noticed that Lord Manton had a grand father clock by a Bishop Burton maker but does not remember the maker. Lady Manton used to run an antique business from the Hall.


There are three baptism records in Bishop Burton for children of Robert and Sarah Jackson. The children are


Sarah(17th June 1775),

Robert( 29th June 1777) and

Charles (12th Feb 1779). 


No dates of birth are given, just the dates of the baptisms. Robert is described as a watchmaker on all three records.


The burial register records that a Robert Jackson aged 35 was buried in 1778 in the village and this would place his birth at around 1743. This may the same Robert who was the watchmaker but we can’t be sure.


The burial register also records rather sadly:


Charles Jackson buried in 1779 aged 6 months

Robert Jackson buried in 1779 aged 2 years


I think these must be the two older children who were baptised earlier. Robert's death in 1778 (if it's the same Robert) would explain why there were no baptisms after Charles in 1779.


I can't find any further sign of mother and daughter Jackson, both called Sarah.


Other Jacksons in Bishop Burton

There were probably at least two other Jackson families in the village around this time. One would have been the Jacksons who lived at Killingwoldgraves Farm, just outside the village. The other was a William and Elizabeth Jackson.


William and Elizabeth Jackson

William and Elizabeth Jackson had their family at the same time as Robert and Sarah Jackson. He was variously described as a labourer and an innkeeper. The baptism records show they had the following children:


            Ann 7th August 1775

            Thomas 22nd December 1777 buried 1779 aged 18 months

            Jane 20th December 1779

            Robert 2nd March 1783


Jacksons of Killingwoldgraves

The other Jacksons were connected to Killingwoldgraves Farm. There are records of Jacksons at Killingwoldgraves dating back to the 16th century at least. I’m not sure if they are the same Jacksons as the 18th century ones.


A William Jackson appears in the baptismal records as a church warden in 1760, 1772 and 1773. This is probably the William Jackson of Killingwoldgraves, husbandman, buried 1774. It’s highly unlikely that it would be the William Jackson mentioned earlier since he would have been too young.


William Jackson of Killingwoldgraves also appears in a legal document dated May 1775 with a reference MRB/2/60 which shows he was married to Elizabeth. The event referred to was probably a consequence of his death the previous year.



  1. Robert Jackson yeoman and wife Elizabeth, and Elizabeth widow of William Jackson yeoman, all of Killingwould Graves [Killingwold]
  2. William Thompson of Hull gentleman


Property: part of a garden near Towl [Toll] Gavel Walkergate East

Consideration: £35


Robert Jackson of Killingwoldgraves also appears in a document in the East Riding Quarter Sessions of about 1775 with his brother (?) Ralph. (QSF/267/C/7)


This introduces a new Robert Jackson who is probably the same Robert Jackson mentioned on an inscription in the churchyard as having been married to an Elizabeth Jackson. This Elizabeth was born in about 1731 and was buried in All Saints Church on 3rd April 1805 aged 74.


Robert and Elizabeth had a daughter Mary born in about 1772 who married Mark Cook; she was buried in the same grave as her mother on 1st January 1834 aged 62 years.


Another Mark Cook is buried in All Saints died July 19th 1841 aged 55 and was born in 1786. He was married to Mary born in 1788 who died on 10th October 1864 aged 76. Yet another Mark Cook married a Mary Jackson in 1814


The Bishop Burton registers also record the following “Jackson” events that I have not been able to connect to the three stories:


  • Thomas Jackson servant of Robert Spence buried 1768


  • William Jackson married Jane Oxtoby of South Dalton 1778


  • Thomas Jackson (W) of Walkington married Mary Brooks (w) 1781


  • John Jackson married Anne Jenneson 1784


  • Gabriel Swallow married Hannah Jackson 1818


  • Thomas Jackson married Alice Davison 1832


If anyone has a Bishop Burton clock or knows any more about the Jacksons, especially Robert the clockmaker then do get in touch.