Jackson Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Jackson Meaning
Jack is believed to have derived from Janken, a pet-form of Jan or
John.   Jankin shortened to Jacken and thence to Jack, a
process that was completed by the beginning of 14th century.  Jack
also came to be used as a synonym for man or boy, a usage that has
continued to the present day – “I’m all right, Jack” being a popular
catch phrase in England in the 1960’s.Jackson is the patronymic name, meaning “son of Jack.”

Jackson Resources on

Jackson Ancestry

Adam Jackesonne and Adam Jakson appeared in the Staffordshire rolls of
the 14th century.  But the name really developed as a surname
further north in Yorkshire and Lancashire.

The Eske
in the East Ridings of Yorkshire was the
ancestral home of a Jackson family which began with Richard Jackson in
the early 1500’s.  Later generations were first Royalist
sympathizers and then Cromwell supporters who were granted land in

Descendants there were persecuted for their Quaker
beliefs so Isaac Jackson removed his family in 1687 to
the new Quaker settlement in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Isaac was a collateral relation to US President Andrew Jackson and, in
a subsequent generation, to the Confederate general Stonewall Jackson.

Other Jacksons from Yorkshire were:

  • the Jacksons from the early 1600’s
    at Normanby Hall in Eston.  Robert Ward Jackson of this family
    was the man who built the town of West Hartlepool in the early 19th
  • then there were the naval Jacksons from north
    Yorkshire.  The journals of Ralph Jackson gave a
    unique insight into life in Cleveland in the 18th
  • W.L. Jackson, who started off in the leather business in
    Leeds, rose to be a Cabinet minister in Lord Salisbury’s
    government.  His son, Stanley Jackson, became the beau ideal of
    the Edwardian cricketer.  He captained England against Australia
    in the 1905 Test series and headed both the batting and bowling

One recent Jackson has had a less orthodox pedigree.  Michael
Jackson, a beer champion in his writings, was born in Wetherby,
Yorkshire.  But his background was Jewish Lithuanian.  His
immigrant father Isaac Jakowitz
had anglicized his name to Jack Jackson.

Jackson is also a common name in Lancashire.  A Jackson family at
Worsthorne near Burnley dates from the
mid 1500’s.  They had 19th century descendants who emigrated to
America. Other early Jacksons came from Gorsey Bow near Wigan.
Three Quaker Jackson brothers arrived in the Calder valley in the
1830’s and built the Calder Vale cotton mill there.  Their Quaker
Meeting House at Garstang still stands.

Ireland.  The Jackson name
in Ireland was an English implant.  One story relates to Jacksons
from Northamptonshire during Elizabeth’s reign who had been granted
land in county Carlow.  Four Jacksons were said to have received
land settlements on the heels of Cromwell’s victories in 1642:

  • Abraham
    Jackson, a cleric who had invested £300.
  • Alexander Jackson, a goldsmith
    from London who put up £100.
  • Joseph Jackson, who put up £100.
  • and Thomas Jackson, a pewterer
    from London who also put up £100.

These Jacksons were Protestant and, in some later cases, Quaker.
US President Jackson’s parents left Carrickfergus for America in
1765.  Later Jacksons were emigrants to Canada and Australia, as
well as crossing the Irish Sea to England.

early immigrant to America was Robert Jackson who had arrived in
Massachusetts with his father in 1630 from
Yarmouth in Norfolk.

“Tradition has it that Robert Jackson
came to Watertown, Mass to Wethersfield and thence to Hartford,
Connecticut, and finally to Hempstead which was perhaps the first
English settlement in the western part of Long Island.”

His descendants have spread to all corners of the United States.

Other early Jacksons were to be found in Newton, Massachusetts.
Their original house there was built about 1670.  According to
Francis Jackson’s History of Newton
in 1854, this house “stood on the same spot now occupied by the mansion
of William Jackson, a cold water man who has continued to draw from the
old well which has served seven generations.”  The forebears of
these Jacksons were two brothers, John and Edward, who had arrived from
London in 1639 and 1642.

The seventh American President Andrew Jackson and the Confederate
General Stonewall Jackson can both trace their lineage back to a
Jackson family.  And both had an American frontier upbringing of

  • Andrew Jackson’s father had come to South Carolina from Ireland
    1765.  Jackson’s formative years came during the Revolutionary War
    when he was captured by the British and lost his family.  Later,
    he began to practice law and soon was prospering in the
    rough-and-tumble world of frontier law.  Jackson was US President
    from 1829 to 1837.
  • Stonewall Jackson was descended from John Jackson, the son of a
    London merchant, and Elizabeth Cummins.  They had immigrated from
    England in 1749 and originally settled in Maryland.  Shortly after
    the birth of their first child, the Jackson brigade crossed the
    Alleghany mountains to become pioneer settlers in what is now NW West
    Virginia.  Elizabeth died in Clarksburg, West Virginia in 1825.
    having lived onto the ripe old age of ninety six.

Heading West
Trapper Davy Jackson from West Virginia was one of the first Americans
to head into the West.  Jackson Hole, his area for fur trapping in
Wyoming, was named after him.  Two relatives John B. and
Ulysses Jackson
sons of Henry Jackson, followed his overland trail in the 1840’s to
settle in what was then Oregon country.  In 1871, William Henry
Jackson took the first photographs of Yellowstone which encouraged the
Government to create a national park there (even before Wyoming had
been brought in as a state).

Jacksons in the South
James Jackson, who had arrived in Savannah from England in the 1770’s,
became a force in local Georgia politics and created something of a
family political dynasty in the state.  Meanwhile other Jacksons
were moving south in the early 19th century, many of them to start up

President Jackson’s own plantation was the Hermitage, near Nashville in
Tennessee.  Other Jackson planters were:

  • James and Temperance Jackson who started their Jackson
    plantation in Autauga county, Alabama in 1818
  • there was another Jackson
    family which operated a smaller plantation in Georgia near Augusta.

1840 Virginia planter Abner Jackson brought his family and slaves to
Brazona county in Texas where he started his sugar plantation at what
is now called Lake
.  Following Abner’s death in 1861, his
two sons took over the running of the plantation.  However, the
two sons
fought.  George ended up decapitating John and throwing his head
into the lake   As the plantation declined after the Civil War,
the area became a black community.

African Americans
There are African American Jackson accounts of the slave era in
Virginia, the handed-down letters of Lethe Jackson in Abingdon and
George Jackson’s slave narrative from Loudon County.

John Andrew
Jackson, born a slave in South Carolina, fled north to Boston in
1846.  The book he later wrote, The
Experience of a Slave in South Carolina
the suffering
of his slave life.  Another Jackson story is equally uplifting.
Louise Jackson, born to a slave family in Mississippi, made it to
college in Berkeley, California and became the first certified African
American teacher of that state in the 1920’s.

Jackson has become a prominent African American name.
Indeed latest census data estimates show that there are more black than
white Jacksons in America today.  Leading
Jacksons of today include: Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader;
Frank Jackson, the mayor of Cleveland; Samuel L. Jackson, the actor;
and Michael Jackson, the singer.

Caribbean.  John Jackson
was an early settler in Barbados in the 1650’s.  Another John
Jackson came to Jamaica in the 1770’s.  He married Elizabeth
Witter and their descendants were prominent in the life of the colony
during the 19th century.  Some of these Witter Jacksons had mixed
race partners.

Canada.  John Jackson was
first chaplain to the English garrison in Newfoundland in 1697.
The next Jackson arrivals
into Canada were Empire Loyalists, such as James Jackson the
Methodist minister.  He had crossed the border into Upper Canada
with his father
following the War of 1812.

A number of Jacksons came to Canada from Ireland:

  • three Jackson
    brothers, James, Launcelot, and Thomas, had set off from the Wexford
    region and settled in Lanark, Ontario (their father John had been
    killed in the Irish uprising twenty years earlier).
  • other
    Jacksons, from Monaghan and Kilkenny counties, arrived in the
    1840’s.  A descendant, Samuel Jackson, set off to homestead in
    what was then the NW Territories in the 1870’s.


Select Jackson Miscellany

Eske and the Jacksons.  Eske
is a hamlet in the East Riding of Yorkshire, about three miles
northeast of Beverley.  It was the ancestral home of the Jackson
family, starting with Richard Jackson in the first half of the 16th

From this family came Sir Richard Jackson, who saw service for James I,
and Anthony Jackson, born in Eccleston near Chorley in Lancashire, who
took the side of Cromwell during the Civil War and was rewarded with
land in Ireland.  His descendants became Quakers.  Ephraim
Jackson, born around 1658, set off for America (Delaware Co,
Pennsylvania) in 1687.

Meanwhile, John Jackson had moved from Eccleston to London where he
became a wealthy merchant.  His son John went to visit his uncles
in Ireland and then crossed the Atlantic to New Jersey.

Ralph Jackson and His Diary.  Ralph was one of nine children born to George and Hannah Jackson of Richmond
in North Yorkshire.  In 1749, aged thirteen, he was sent north to
start a seven year apprenticeship with a merchant in Newcastle.
He then returned to North Yorkshire where he subsequently inherited his
uncle’s property and business interests.  In the following years
Ralph matured to become an integral part of Cleveland’s community and
to fulfil the various roles incumbent upon a member of the landed

was a contemporary and near neighbor of the explorer James Cook.
He never achieved anything comparable to Cook’s discoveries.  But
he has received some renown because of the meticulous diary which he
kept throughout his life.  His hand-made journals, written in a
neat copper-plate style, provide a unique insight into life in
Cleveland in the 18th century.  The diary describes his personal
interests, business dealings, and social contacts with people
throughout the region.

John Jackson and Elizabeth Cummins.  Most researchers agree that John Jackson was born in Ireland, near
Coleraine in county Derry.  Some accounts claim that he was born
in 1715, others as late as 1719.  All agree, however, that his
mother died when he was very young and that he later moved, with his
father and two brothers, to London.  At the age of 10, we are
told, John was fortunate to be apprenticed into the builder’s
trade.  In 1748 he contracted to build a house for as landowner in
Maryland and sailed for America.

The tales surrounding Elizabeth’s immigration are somewhat more
complex.  Most family histories state that Elizabeth was born in
London in 1723.  Her own account, as recounted by her grandson,
was that she was born in 1729.  This latter date would seem the
more likely in that her last child was born in 1774.  It would
mean, however, that she did not live past the age of 100.

According to early biographers, Elizabeth’s father owned land in
Ireland and was the proprietor of a public house in London known as The
Bold Dragoon
.  Soma accounts say that her father died and
Elizabeth’s mother married her own brother-in-law.   Others
state that Elizabeth’s mother died and her father later married a woman
that Elizabeth despised.  Whichever the case, Elizabeth is then
said to
have lost her temper, thrown a silver tankard at her step-parent, and
fled to America.

John and Elizabeth are buried in the Jackson cemetery in
Lexington, Virginia.  John is described there as an “Indian
and Revolutionary soldier.”  He lived to be 85.  Elizabeth
has a marker indicating that she lived to be 105.  But this is
unlikely to be the case.

The Jackson Sugar Plantation in Texas.  Abner Jackson came from Virginia in 1840 with his wife, children, and
slaves to start a plantation in Brazona County, Texas.  First
called the Lake Place, it later came to be known as the Lake Jackson

By all accounts, the plantation was an elegant complex, with a columned
colonial-style main house, brick outhouses, ornamental gardens, and a
state-of-the-art sugar mill.  The following was a description made
by a descendant, Abner Jackson Strobel, in 1926.

residence was a two storey house in the shape of an “I,” with six
galleries and immense brick pillars the length of the galleries.
Its cost, exclusive of slave labor, was some $25,000.  The sugar
house was made of brick and the best of machinery for the making of
sugar was obtained.  There was an artificial island in the lake
said to have cost $10,000.  Fine orchards and gardens were on the

By 1850, the Lake Jackson plantation had grown to 3,744 acres.
Prosperity and abundance ruled for a brief period.  In 1860 census
takers listed Abner Jackson as owning 285 slaves, making him the second
largest slaveowner in the state.

But death and the Civil War brought an end to the Jackson family
fortunes.  Abner’s two sons fought over their inheritance.
In 1867 George killed his brother John during a confrontation at the

The Experience of A Slave in South Carolina.  John Andrew Jackson was born a slave on a plantation in Sumter County,
South Carolina.  His mother was named Betty, and his father was
known as ‘Dr. Claven’ for his practice of folk medicine in the slave
community.  Jackson, a field hand, was owned by a Quaker family
and was harshly treated.  When he was separated by sale from his
wife and child in 1846, he fled slavery.

Jackson worked briefly as a Charleston dockhand and then
stowed away on a vessel bound for Boston.  He settled in Salem,
Massachusetts and worked as leather tanner and part-time sawmill
operative.  But passage of the Fugitive Slave Law awoke his fear
of being returned to slavery, and, assisted by Harriet Beecher Stowe,
he left Salem for Canada.

Jackson settled in St. Johns, New Brunswick, married a
former slave from North Carolina, and worked as a whitewasher. In the
spring of 1856, still seeking to purchase family members in slavery and
hoping to add to the funds he had already saved for that purpose,
Jackson returned to Boston to obtain personal references from Stowe and
a number of Boston businessmen.

In the spring of 1857, he journeyed to Britain with his
wife to solicit contributions.  He lectured in Scotland and
England with the assistance of several antislavery leaders.
Jackson and his wife established a residence in London and remained
abroad until after the Civil War, but eventually returned to live in
South Carolina.  In 1893, describing himself as “old and feeble,”
Jackson raised money for an orphan home and school for destitute
children in Magnolia, Sumter County.

Jackson’s book The Experience of a Slave in South Carolina is a powerful testimonial of the
sufferings and toils of black people in the 19th century America.

The Jacksons in Oregon.  Moving into the Oregon country as western representatives of the
Jackson family of western Virginia, three sons and one daughter of
Henry Jackson exhibited traditional propensities for land acquisition,
milling, and public involvement with a tendency towards litigation.

The compelling hunger for land that led John Jackson and his sons
across the Virginia mountains in 1768 was continued through the pioneer
period in the Pacific Northwest.   The overland trail across
the Great Plains had been proven by their fur trading cousin, Davy
Jackson, in 1830.  But it was another eleven years before the
first immigrants to Oregon took the trail.  In 1843, John B.
Jackson edged towards the jumping off place on what was called “the
coast of Missouri.”

The Jacksons came to exploit the Donation Land Law in Oregon with
four claims and then went on to acquire the whole or part of ten
additional locations.  Considered later to be the largest
landowner in Washington County, Ulysses Jackson held title to 2,680

A granddaughter and her husband continued the public lands tradition
as late as 1910 when they filed for land in Montana under the Homestead
Act.  By then available free land in the West was getting scarce
and a great bonanza was coming to an end.  During a little less
than a hundred and fifty years, federal policies had drawn the Jacksons
across the continent.  Their history was representative of the
national westward movement.


Jackson Names

  • Andrew Jackson was the
    7th President of the United States.
  • Stonewall Jackson was a Confederate General during the Civil War.
  • Hughlings Jackson from Whixley in Yorkshire was a Victorian physician often called the father of English neurology.
  • Peter Jackson, born of a slave family in the West Indies, became a champion heavyweight boxer in the 1880’s, known and admired for his sportsmanship.
  • Jesse Jackson, born in South Carolina,
    joined Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement in 1965 and has remained a prominent black leader and politician.
  • Glenda Jackson was an acclaimed
    British actress who later became an MP.
  • Michael Jackson of the Jackson
    Five burst into the national spotlight with his crossover album Thriller in the early 1980’s.

Select Jackson Numbers Today

  • 174,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 220,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 80,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Jackson and Like Surnames  

Patronymic surnames can be with either the “-son” or the shorter “s” suffix to the first name.  The “son” suffix is more common in northern England than in the south and in lowland Scotland.  Here are some of these surnames that you can check out.




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