Wynne's Diary

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The Jackson family in all their mid-Victorian splendour...sometime in the 1860s
Back row, standing, from the left:
Herbert, Tom, Mary and Landon
Seated, from left:
Frank, Caroline (Mrs J), Mabel, Tom (Mr J) with Ebbo on his lap. Arthur (seated below Ebbo) Willie, Fanny and Charlie.

It looks as if the whole process of photography has been pretty traumatic for the assembled group - they all look very bored, especially Herbert, who has clearly decided to do his own thing...

 

 

Frank and Herbert, circa 1866.
And below, a picture of Herbert in the 1870s.

In 1879 he was shipped off to India, having been commissioned the year before...you can see some of his letters below, written from the boat on his first journey out. He was to serve there until he returned to England at the turn of the century to marry Wynne.

By the time he returned his father was dead, but the family home was still ruled by the redoubtable Jackson matriarch - there is a picture of Caroline in old age at the bottom of this page...

 


He was sent off to join his unit in India in 1879, and two surviving letters from this voyage exist...

 

H.M.S. Malabar, Feb 19th 1879

My Dearest Mother
I am going to try and write though the ship’s rolling rather and I expect it’ll be very hard to read. Thank goodness I’ve got over my illness at last and am now feeling very fit and all the better for the voyage. I had to stop in bed all yesterday and the day before, but I got my meals regularly, so there was nothing to complain of. We are to get to Gibraltar tomorrow evening I believe, but I’m afraid we shan’t be able to go on shore as we only stop 3 or four hours. We have had up till now most perfect weather, today was simply splendid and as warm as summer.
We sighted land about 12 this morning, some cape at the mouth of the Tagus (off the Portugese coast, opposite Lisbon), but we couldn't see very plainly as we were some distance off. It seemed a very fine rock with several villages on it and a monastery on the top. It was awfully rough in the bay, we shipped a sea about twice every quarter of an hour and all the glasses fell off the table at lunch and dinner, though neither of these events troubled me much, as I was safe in bed all the time.
There’s one of the old Summertown fellows on board, Christopher, I dare say Willie (his brother) remembers him - he’s in the 78th now. And also please tell Willie that Tommy Griffiths, that’s the elder of the two who were at Summertown, was one of the poor fellows of the 24th killed the other day in the Cape.
One of our gunners who came down from Colchester with me, broke his arm the day before yesterday by something getting loose on the deck and hitting him when the ship rolled. It must be rather wearisome being shut up in one’s cabin for the whole voyage I should think.
We had a dance on board tonight for the first time, it was great sport watching the blue jackets dancing together, some of them with bare feet too, but they seemed to get on all right and danced very well, and some of the women of the 78th are very pretty and dance very well so they’re in clover rather. They ended up with a reel which the officers of the 78th performed in grand style.
I think I have exhausted all the news of this awful ship, so good bye. I remain with much love to all, your loving boy
H.K.Jackson.

On his arrival he wrote again, on March 29th...

My Dearest Mother
I have arrive quite safely, as no doubt you have seen by this time (a reference to the fact that all shipping arrivals and departures were reported in the English press). I had to bring 15 men up with me and we arrived at Mypore on Sunday evening about 7.30 pm, leaving a march of 10 miles ,,,before we could expect to get any sleep. Of course we didn’t know the way so we had to follow the camels which were sent to meet us to take our baggage. Well those wretched brutes walked at about the rate of two miles an hour, so we were pretty well tired out by the time we arrived. I haven’t got a house of my own yet, but I expect to move into one with another fellow in the battery next week. I’m at present living with one of the other subs (subalterns) but he is going home soon on sick leave so I shall have to move out as I can’t afford to keep a house all to myself. The fourth sub has gone to the hills for the hot weather, so I don’t expect to see him until the battery goes home which will be in October I believe. I don’t think I shall come home with it although I should like to stop in the battery very much, as its a very good one. The Major seems very jolly and the fellows in the other battery here are being good fellows too. I don’t care so much for the other sub in the battery, but he’s very harmless, so we shan’t fall out, I hope.
Thank you all very much for your letters. I got one lot at Bombay the day we arrived and the other lot I got here. Please give my love to Mabel and wish her many happy returns of her birthday. I am sending home a few little ornaments for you, they are what is called (Inchinopoli?) work and I think very pretty.
March 31st
I shall ask Hunter the fellow in my battery who is going home to send them for me when he arrives in England, so I hope you will get them all safely - he’s a very jolly fellow and i shall be awfully sorry to lose him.
It’s getting rather hot here now, we have to keep all the doors and windows shut to keep the hot air out, the day before yesterday the thermometer went up to 105 in a place where the sun never strikes.
We get up at about half past 5 and I go to riding drill every day, but I hope to get out of that in about 6 months.
We have punkalis going all dinner time and night night now which helps to keep the mosquitos off. I got fearfully bitten one night on the hands through not having a punkali so I’m not going to try it again. It’s a very pretty place - as there are lots of trees in the cantonment, most of the leaves are falling now which seems rather odd for March. Some of the trees are quite bare, but they say its quite wonderful how everything gets green directly the rains set in. They begin here about the 15th of June and are I believe the most unhealthy and beastly time of the year. Otherwise the place is very healthy although one of the hottest in India. They think nothing of having the thermometer up to 120 or 130 degrees.
The sport seems rather a failure, the place is so much cultivated that you have to go out some way to get any shooting at all. there are some antelope about 10 or 12 miles off but the farmers go out and shoot all the bucks off so that its not much good going out. If you want to get any good sport you have to go about 50 miles off and get a fortnight’s leave. That’s however quite out of the question for me as I can’t get any leave at all till I have passed my drills.
My letter was just too late for the last mail so I didn’t finish it on Saturday, I hope you didn’t think I was lost . I don’t think there is any more to say so I shall stop with the best love to all. I remain as ever your loving son, H.K.Jackson.

then overwritten on the front page:
April 4th, I received all your letters this morning for which many thanks. We didn’t get in till Mar. 19th having been 38 days on board.

 

Herbert's Mother in old age.