Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/111

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


New Romney. Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice calls him ‘the private secretary of George Grenville’ in 1765, and writes that in that year he warned the House of Commons against applying the Stamp Act to the American colonies. In after-years Jackson was known as the intimate friend of Lord Shelburne. When Shelburne formed his ministry in July 1782, Jackson was made a lord of the treasury, and he held that office until the following April. He died at Southampton Buildings, Chancery Lane, London, on 6 May 1787, when a considerable fortune came to his two sisters. From his extraordinary stores of knowledge he was known as ‘Omniscient Jackson,’ but Johnson, in speaking of him, altered the adjective to ‘all-knowing,’ on the ground that the former word was ‘appropriated to the Supreme Being.’ When Thrale meditated a journey in Italy he was advised by Johnson to consult Jackson, who afterwards returned the compliment by remarking of the ‘Journey to the Western Islands’ that ‘there was more good sense upon trade in it than he should hear in the House of Commons in a year, except from Burke.’ He is introduced into ‘The old Benchers of the Inner Temple’ in Lamb's ‘Essays of Elia.’

[Boswell, ed. Hill, iii. 19, 137; Fitzmaurice's Life of Lord Shelburne, i. 321–2; W. H. Cooke's Inner Temple Benchers, p. 80; Lamb's Elia, ed. Ainger, p. 127; Gent. Mag. 1764 p. 603, 1787 pt. i. p. 454; Cooper's Annals of Cambridge, iv. 390; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. viii. 466.]

W. P. C.

JACKSON, ROBERT, M.D. (1750–1827), inspector-general of army hospitals, born in 1750 at Stonebyres, near the Falls of Clyde, was the son of a small farmer. After a good schooling at Wandon and Crawford he was apprenticed for three years to a surgeon at Biggar, and in 1768 joined the medical classes at Edinburgh. Supporting himself by going twice on a whaling voyage as surgeon, he finished his studies without graduating, and went to Jamaica, where he acted as assistant to a doctor at Savanna-la-mer from 1774 to 1780. He next made his way to New York, with the intention of joining the state volunteers; but he was eventually received by the colonel of a Scotch regiment (the 71st) as ensign, with the duties of hospital-mate. After various adventures he arrived at Greenock in 1782, and travelled to London on foot. He left early in 1783 on a journey on foot through France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, and landed on his return at Southampton with four shillings in his pocket. He walked to London, and thence, in January 1784, to Perth, where the 71st regiment was stationed. Coming at length to Edinburgh he remained two or three months, and married the daughter of Dr. Stephenson, and the niece of an officer whom he had known in New York. The lady's fortune placed him in easy circumstances, and he spent the next year in Paris, attending hospitals and studying languages (including Arabic), and then proceeded to Leyden, where he passed an examination for M.D. in 1786. He settled as a physician at Stockton-on-Tees, and remained there seven years, but with no great relish for private practice. When war broke out in 1793, he got appointed surgeon to the 3rd regiment, or Buffs, on the strength of a book which he had published on West Indian fevers. Not being connected with the College of Physicians of London he was ineligible for the office of army physician; but he received the promotion in 1794, owing to the personal intervention of the Duke of York, who recognised his abilities. This personal incident was the beginning of Jackson's resolute opposition to the monopoly of the College of Physicians and to the corrupt administration of the old army medical board, which ended in a new régime in 1810, and in an open career from the lowest to the highest ranks of the army medical service. In the course of the contest he wrote seven pamphlets (from 1803 to 1809), was obliged to retire from active service, and committed an assault on Keate, the surgeon-general (by striking him across the shoulders with his gold-headed cane), for which he suffered six months' imprisonment. The overthrow of the monopolists was hastened by their proved incompetence in the disastrous Walcheren expedition. Jackson had many supporters, among the rest Dr. McGrigor, afterwards head of the army medical department. Meanwhile, from 1794 to 1798, he had been on active service in Holland and in the West Indies, acquiring experience which formed the basis of his most important works. In 1811, his old enemies being now out of the way, he was recalled from his retirement at Stockton to be medical director in the West Indies, in which office he remained until 1815. He retired on half-pay as inspector-general of army hospitals, and a pension of 200l. per annum was afterwards granted him. In 1819, when yellow fever was in Spain, he visited the Mediterranean. He died of paralysis at Thursby, near Carlisle, on 6 April 1827. Four children of his first marriage predeceased him. His second wife, who survived him, was a daughter of J. H. Tidy, rector of Redmarshall, Durham. Jackson was of the middle height, muscular, blue-eyed, inclined to be florid, and of a pleasing expression.