A number of different stories have been told about the origins of the family of my grandfather, Alfred George Jacques (1896-1939). One such story is that the Jacqueses are descendants of Colonel Henri Jacques, a refugee from the French Revolution who landed at Whitehaven, Cumberland. Another is that the family is descended from a rich Huguenot who came to England to make his fortune in the wool trade. Research initiated by the late Greville Jacques of Sugnall, Stafford, however, indicates that the Jacqueses originated in Scotland and that Jacques is a variant of the surname Jack.
The earliest record of the Jacqueses is that of the marriage of David Jack to Jean Gillies in 1784 in Douglas, Lanark, Scotland. Jean was baptised in 1761, the daughter of William Gillies and Jean Wier. David and Jean had thirteen children, nine boys and four girls. Most of their children were born in Windermere, Westmoreland, England, however, the second daughter, Allison, was baptised at Douglas in 1789, while the first daughter, Jeannie died there in 1794.
The names and birthdates of David and Jean's children appear in a Bible currently held by a son of Greville Jacques. Greville Jacques writes:
The family bible is a bit of a mystery. It has obviously been rebound and the information about David and Jeannie Jacques's children is on a new fly sheet. However, this information is repeated on a piece of paper which dates about the beginning of the 20th Century and is in the possession of Hazel Taylor a distant cousin I contacted for the first time last summer. At the beginning of the New Testament there is a title page which gives the date of printing as MDCCLXII . At the top of this page in longhand is written P.L. Jacques July 25th 1869 and on the next page is written William Jacques July 25th 1869. So the bible is quite old, but the information on the new fly sheet could have been written when it was rebound, but not in living memory.The bible also records the deaths of Allison and James Jacques who "drowned together in Lake Windermere Aug 12 1800" as well as that of George Jacques who was "killed at Waterloo."
In the parish registers of Windermere, David Jacques is referred to as "of the island, gardener or of Belle Isle." David Jacques was most likely gardener to Isabella Curwen and John Christian of Belle Isle. This is supported by the names of three of the Jacques children: John Christian, Isabella and Curwen.
Isabella Curwen and John Christian were first cousins of Fletcher Christian of HMS Bounty fame. Belle Isle is noted for its Georgian roundhouse. Fiona Mountain, author of the historical romance novel Isabella, writes:
Belle Isle, formerly known as the Great Island, is the largest island on Windermere and the only one to be inhabited. Situated in the centre of the lake, with views of the villages of Ambleside and Bowness and the mountain ranges bounding the Troutbeck Valley, it was the seat of the Lord of the Manor of Windermere until it passed into the possession of the local Philipson family. It was bought by a Mr. English in 1774 who instructed the architect John Plaw — later a leading master builder in Westminster who erected the church at Paddington and Montague House, Portman Square — to construct the unusual roundhouse. The construction of the house was not complete when Mr. English went bankrupt and sold the house and island for £1,720 to Isabella Curwen after whom it was then named. The descendants of Isabella and her husband John Christian Curwen lived on the island until 1993.Isabella Curwen was born on October 2nd 1765, the only child of Henry Curwen of Workington Hall who died when she was thirteen, leaving her the heiress of the estate and huge mining interests. John Christian, her cousin, was made her guardian and later became her husband. It was John who bought for her the island on Windermere which was named Belle Isle in her honour.David Jacques was buried at Windermere on 31 Apr 1824 at the age of 62. Also buried at Windermere were his daughter Allison, and his sons James, Robert and Curwen. His daughter Annie married John Moore in 1824.
John Christian, Isabella's husband and also first cousin to Fletcher, took the name and arms of Curwen on his marriage to Isabella.
John was the head of the Cumberland Christians who inherited the Ewanrigg estate at Maryport. He was a prominent Whig MP, innovator of social welfare and an agricultural pioneer. His chief political opponent was the Earl of Lonsdale, nicknamed the Bad Earl because of his use of bribery, corruption and violence to win elections – on one occasion he went so far as to arm his colliers with bludgeons in an attempt to unseat Christian.
His work as an agricultural pioneer earned John Christian Curwen the title ‘The Father of Agriculture’ and he is credited with planting over three million larch trees on the banks of Windermere. As an early welfare reformer he set up compulsory sickness and unemployment benefit schemes for his workers which were in many ways precursors to the National Health Service.
Archibald Jacques, the son of David Jacques and Jean Gillies, moved to the Cartmel area of Lancashire, and in 1820 married Eleanor Bartram of Bootle, Cumberland. Archibald and Eleanor had seven children. The oldest daughter, Ann, married Thomas Rudd, a mariner who was 18 years her senior. Thomas and Ann had a least four children and lived in Ulverston, Lancashire.
David Jacques, the son of David Jacques and Jean Gillies, moved to Keighley, Yorkshire, and in 1812 married Elizabeth Corlass, daughter of John Corlass and Alice Lawson. Alice Lawson was the daughter of Robert Lawson and Mary Playtress. John Corlass was the brother of Thomas Corlass, owner of Hope Mill.
Hope Mill was one of the first steam powered cotton mills to be built in Keighley. Corlass employed a large number of pauper children, some of whom may have come from afar afield as London. Corlass lost money as a cotton spinner during the Napoleonic Wars and in 1812 was so "agitated by the unfavourable state of the markets, he one morning went to the engine tender and ordered him to rake out the fire and stop the engine; and this being done, he from that time ceased to be a cotton spinner."
In the 1822 Baines Directory entry for Keighley, David Jacques appears under the heading Gardeners, Nursery and Seedsmen as "Jacques Dvd. (dealer in British wines) Spring gardens."
David and Elizabeth had ten children: eight boys and two girls. David died in 1831 and is buried in the churchyard of St Andrew's, Keighley along with his wife, his eldest son William and his youngest son Archibald Gillhouse.
John Corlass Jacques, the second son of David Jacques and Elizabeth Corlass, became a grocer in Morton, Yorkshire. John married Rebecca Greenwood and had three children. According to Philip Evans, a descendant of John's eldest son William, John Corlass Jacques was a prominent figure in Morton. There are several references to him in the minutes of local committee meetings and his signature is to be found on several occasions in official documents. His daughter Priscilla Greenwood Jacques married the butcher Samuel Midgley. John Corlass Jacques is mentioned in Midgleyana by John Franklin Midgley, grandson of Priscilla, who also asserted that Priscilla Greenwood Jacques was the great-granddaughter of Colonel Henri Jacques.
David and Elizabeth's fifth son, Henry Jacques, married Mary Hollings. Six of their nine offspring died in childhood and are buried with their parents in Utley Cemetery, Keighley. The name of one of their children, Curwen George Hollings Jacques, acknowledges their Windermere roots.
David and Elizabeth's seventh son, George Jacques, began his career as a wool spinner in Keighley, Yorkshire. When the Waterloo Mills was built in nearby Silsden, George was one of the purchasers and soon became the sole owner. In the 1870s George had a home called Springbank built on Howden Road in Silsden. When George died in 1895, his estate was worth £72,000. Today this would be worth over £4,000,000.
George married Arabella Holmes and had six children. His son, Plateras, inherited Waterloo Mills and Springbank. Plateras married late in life and had no children. He did, however, travel extensively. Passenger records exist showing a passage from Japan to Vancouver in 1922 and a passage a few months later from Quebec City to Southhampton. When Plateras died in 1935 his estate was valued at over £350,000 (£13,000,000).
George's daughter Arabella married Arthur Sellers. Their son, Arthur Brian Sellers, was a famous cricket player. George's daughter Alice married Edgar Heap, a prosperous wool merchant in Bradford. Apparently it was one of the poshest weddings Silsden had ever seen.
Plateras Lawson Jacques was the sixth son of David and Elizabeth, and was named for his paternal grandmother Alice Lawson and her mother Mary Playtress. Plateras married Ellen Jennings, daughter of Jonathan and Sarah Jennings of Bradford in 1851. Plateras and Ellen had eight children, one of whom, Ellen, died at the age of five.
The oldest child, George Gilbert Jacques, emigrated to Australia. He married Catherine McWilliams in 1878 in Ipswitch, Queensland. Both George and Catherine are buried in the Lutwyche Cemetery in Brisbane, Queensland.
Plateras and Ellen's oldest daughter, Sarah, was born at sea and her birth was apparently registered in Augusta, Maine in the United States. The family's stay in the United States was brief since all of Sarah's siblings were born in Yorkshire. Sarah never married. Her sister, Alice, married a widower, James Roberts, and lived in Fenton, Staffordshire.
Plateras and Ellen's second eldest son William became an architect and did not marry. Their third son, Alfred was a journalist who married Emma Murgatroyd. Greville Jacques is their grandson. Plateras and Ellen's fourth son, John Henry Jacques was also an architect. He married Marion Cane and named his second son Geoffrey Plateras Lawson Jacques. Geoffrey joined the Royal Flying Corps but died in a mid-air collision in 1916 over Salisbury Plain.
The youngest son, Charlie Jacques started as a goldsmith's clerk but eventually became Chief Accountant of the Public Utilities Commission of London, Ontario, Canada. In 1891 in Sutton, Surrey he married Alice Lymath. Alice was the daughter of George Lymath and Elizabeth Boorer and was one of five girls, two of whom, Alice and Charlotte, were twins. Charlie and Alice had three children, all born in Sutton: Archibald Lymath, Alfred George and Dorothy. Charlie emigrated to Canada in 1906, arriving at Quebec City aboard the SS Canada on the 2nd of November. Alice and her three children joined Charlie the following spring, arriving in Quebec City aboard the RMS Empress of Britain on the 24th of May.
Plateras died in 1870 and is buried in Uttly Cemetery, Keighley. In 1875 Ellen married Issac Holmes a widower with two boys. Both Issac and his two boys had died by 1878 at which point Ellen decided to move her family to the south of England, to Sutton in Surrey. Ellen died in 1898 in Sutton but is buried with her husband in Keighley.
Belle Isle, Windermere © Copyright Brian Clift and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Waterloo Mills, Silsden © Copyright Chris Allen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.