James Jacobson Broker

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The marriage of James and Mary took place in a church that had previous associations with the family of the bride. If you have read my biography of John Bankes on this website, you will recall (a) that Bankes mentioned the parishioners of St Benet, Paul’s Wharf in his will, and (b) eighteen months earlier, on 19 February 1720/21, Mary’s cousin, Joseph Rand, married Ann Hughes in that church(1)

Weddings are always important events in any family, and I am sure that the occasion that took place on 5 July 1722(2) was no exception. Mary Mitchell (Junior) was the only daughter of Robert and Mary Mitchell, who were the subject of a separate page on this website . As I have shown, the available evidence indicates that Mary Mitchell (senior) was probably relatively prosperous, and it seems reasonable to assume that she could afford to provide her daughter with a wedding that reflected this. James, on the other hand, was the eldest known son of Esco Jacobson, a naval shipwright and his wife, Mary (surname unknown)(3). In 1722, Esco was resident in the parish of St Dunstan, Stepney.

The Will of Esco, proved in the Prerogative Court of Chancery (PCC) in 1728(4) gives little genealogical information, but refers to the fact that some payment may be due to his estate from ‘…the Treasurer or Paymaster of His Majesty’s Navy’. When probate was granted another son, also named Esco, was required to swear that the will was authentic. He further stated that his father was a shipwright on the naval vessel ‘Royal William’, but had previously been a carpenter. Unfortunately, the Naval records for this vessel for the period in question have not survived, so I am not able to find out any more about Esco’s naval career at present.

The East London parish of Stepney is close to riverside locations associated with seafaring and shipbuilding, including Wapping and Limehouse. It seems likely that at that time Esco Jacobson worked in these places.

James’s mother – Mary – died between 5 April 1746 , when she made her will, and 6 November 1747 , when her will was proved(5). What is certain is that both of James’s parents were alive at the time of his marriage, and it seems likely that they would have attended the ceremony.

In my pursuit of more information about my Jacobson ancestors I have searched the records of the PCC, looking for probate records that relate to Jacobsons and date from the early eighteenth century. This search has revealed nothing revealed nothing that I can identify as being relevant to the forebears of Esco, but it has shown me that nearly all of these records relate to people who were in the service of the King’s navy. Another factor that they have in common is that most of them lived in the area to the east of the City of London – then Middlesex, but now Essex.The following table demonstrates this :-

Name Probate Year Naval Link Residence Scandinavian Link
Jacob Jacobson 1707 Reference to sea Shadwell, Middx None
Coore Jacobson 1709 Mariner Shadwell, Middx None
William Jacobson 1710 HMS ‘Swift’ Not known None
Peter Jacobson 1710 Mariner Copenhagen Residence. Executor formerly of Copenhagen , then of London
Christopher Jacobson 1710 Mariner Wapping, Middx None
Arnold Jacobson 1712 ‘Bound out on a voyage to sea’ Stepney, Middx None
Simon Jacobson 1714 None Stated Stockholm Stockholm
Jacob Jacobson 1717 HMS ‘The Rose’ HMS ‘The Rose’ None
Esco Jacobson 1728 Shipwright Stepney, Middx None

Given the common factors between these people, I wonder whether they may have been related. However, I have not yet found a way of testing this hypothesis.

I have not been able to discover the origin of the name Esco, but bearing in mind that fact that two of the people included in the above table had proven Scandinavian connections, I suspect that it may be Scandinavian.

The occupation of James’s father could lead one to believe that this was a marriage between members of different social groups, but this may be a misunderstanding of the situation. The available documentary evidence shows that James earned his living as a Broker in the Tower Hill area(6). I have not found any evidence of his business dealings, but understand from the term ‘Broker’ that he was a ‘middleman’ in the buying or selling of goods or services. If James was operating as a Broker in the City of London he would have had to be a Freeman of the City, but having searched the Freedoms Registers at the Corporation of London Records Office, I have not found James’s name in them. I have also failed to find him listed in the City’s records of Brokers’ licences. It therefore seems likely that he was either operating unlicensed within the City of London , or was operating outside the City. Further research will be necessary regarding this matter if I am to determine whether or not James’s activities as a Broker were licensed by an authority outside the City of London .

As the reader will appreciate from my section on his social and economic standing (below), James appears to have made a good living at this trade. Although my sources relating to his prosperity date from the 1740s – some twenty-four years after his marriage – I think it reasonable to suppose that in 1722 his bride would have taken a favourable view of his economic prospects.

I have not traced the birth or baptism of James, but the statement signed by James on his Marriage Licence Allegation(7) indicates that he was born c1692. This would mean that he was approximately eight years older than his bride.

From the evidence of the wills of his father and mother, mentioned above, James had at least four siblings. It seems possible that the eldest son would have borne his father’s name, and if the evidence of his burial record is correct, Henry was born c1690. If I were correct in my calculation that James was born c1692, he may have had at least two brothers older than himself. I have included a section on James’s siblings below.

I know little of James Jacobson’s early life. On his marriage licence allegation he was said to be a bachelor, resident in the parish of St Botolph without Aldgate. He was, thus, living in the area near the Tower of London, and the evidence we have found suggests that he and his wife continued to live there through the next twenty years. The burial record for a daughter of James and Mary, dated 1733, shows her address as King Street, which was situated at Tower Hill(8). This address is also cited on the occasion of the burial of Mary Mitchell, mother in law of James(9) in 1738/9, and in August 1749 James was recorded as trading as a Broker in King Street, Tower Hill(10).

This apparent residential stability did not endure throughout the lives of James and his spouse, however. When he made his will in August 1758 James was described as a Gentleman, living in Peckham, where he owned property described as:

‘…Freehold messuage or tenement with the Garden Ground hereditaments and appurtenances thereto …'(11).

James was probably about 66 years old by the time he made his will, and I surmise that he may have moved to Peckham to spend his retirement years there. Peckham is situated south of the Thames, and was then in Kent. Nowadays it is a suburb of London – a built-up area with a great deal of traffic and many, bustling people thronging its streets. However, it was not like this in the mid-eighteenth century. Then it was a village, separated from the City of London by fields. The agricultural produce of the area was sold in the City of London, which was reached by a daily stagecoach, or on horseback. The journey to and from the metropolis was slow, however, as the roads were in very poor condition – probably deeply rutted(12).

In this rural idyll James Jacobson lived out his last years. He was obviously unwell when he made his will, as he stated that he was ‘…weak in body but sound in mind…’. I do not know when he died, but probate was granted on 20 June 1759.

Mary Jacobson, wife of James, was born c1700, and was a beneficiary of the will of John Bankes, receiving the following bequests(13):

•  £5 for mourning.

•  A share in the leases held by the testator on property in Whitechapel, nos. 8,9,10 & 11 for the remainder of their terms. (Fig. 2 shows part of the record of this property transfer).

•  An annuity of £10 per annum.

The records of the Haberdashers’ Company show that monies were being paid to Mary and her spouse in the period 1742-51(14). It is quite possible that the payments continued after 24 July 1751, but the record ends at that date. These payments were in respect of Bankes annuities that were judged by the Court of Chancery to be due to Mary. Additionally, she was recorded in several legal documents as being a party in the ongoing Court of Chancery proceedings(15).

When the Will of her mother in law was proved in 1747, Mary was left £2. 10s. 0d(16).

We do not know precisely when Mary (Mitchell) Jacobson died. Administration of her estate was granted to her son in law, Thomas Hunt, in July 1771(17). However, the records of the Court of Chancery contain several references suggesting that she died well before this date. In one such document, a response by Ann Collyer (a cousin of Mary) dated 1764, the respondent stated ‘…both Mary and James Jacobson are now deceased…'(18). As we know (see above) that the annuities due to her under the Bankes Trust were paid until at least 24 July 1751 it seems reasonable to assume that she died after that date.

As will be seen on elsewhere on this website, Thomas Hunt was a lawyer, and represented some of the Bankes descendants in the Chancery proceedings. It seems likely that his action in belatedly obtaining probate orders in respect of the long-dead mother and grandmother of his wife was taken in pursuit of claims made in those proceedings.

James Jacobson – Social and economic standing
I have traced several sources that demonstrate that James Jacobson was considered by his kinsmen to be a reliable, responsible person. Additionally, I have found several sources that attest to either his business activities or his prosperity. In this section I shall briefly outline this evidence with the aim of providing a rounded view of James the person.

On 10th October 1734 at the church of St.Benet, Paul’s Wharf, a certain Element Jones married a twenty-year old woman named Elizabeth Jacobson(19). As she was aged under twenty one years, Elizabeth needed the consent to the marriage of her parent. The marriage licence allegation relating to this event(20) (see fig 3) stated that both of Elizabeth’s parents had died, so consent to the marriage was given by her guardian and uncle – James Jacobson. The Marriage Licence Allegation was signed on the day of the wedding, and bears a signed statement by James. Comparison of this signature with other samples of James’s handwriting proves that this was definitely ‘our’ James.

I do not know the identity of the parents of Elizabeth, but it seems likely that her father was a brother of James; presumably when he died James accepted the responsibility of acting as her guardian. Presumably James’s kinsmen regarded him as somebody who was capable of doing this.

As I mentioned above, James’s signature features on many documents I have seen in pursuing my research. I think it a splendid signature – flowing and stylish. Although I am not qualified to analyse handwriting, I believe it shows that James was a man of education, who cared about appearances.

The earliest reference I have found to James’s business activities was dated 1746. On 3 September that year his son, William, was apprenticed to John Barber, of the Drapers’ Company. In the apprenticeship records of the Drapers’ Company James was named as the father of William, and stated to be ‘…of Tower Hill, Broker.'(21)

James’s occupation as a Broker was further evidenced by a document dated 31 July 1749(22) . This was a list of the creditors of Joseph Collyer, a printer, translator and writer, who was the husband of James Jacobson’s niece, Mary (Mitchell) Collyer, translator and writer. Joseph seems to have led a somewhat impecunious existence, and was in Fleet Prison at the time of this document, claiming Insolvent Debtors’ Relief under an Act passed by parliament in 1747(23). Among the 35 creditors he listed was:

‘James Jacobson in King Street Tower Hill Broker.’

The transactions recorded in the Banks Trust Cash Book kept by the Haberdashers’ Company(24) show that by 1742 Joseph and Mary Collyer had assigned a quarter of the annuity due to them under the Bankes Trust to James. According to a statement made to the Court of Chancery by James’s son, William, on 3 August 1764(25) this assignment had been made by a deed, and the Collyers had received ‘valuable consideration’ in return.

In fact, James seems to have advanced money to Joseph Collyer over many years. In his will, dated 8 August 1758, he waived any payments due to him at the time of his death from Joseph Collyer of London, Gentleman.

I have referred to the Will of James Jacobson several times already. I now wish to point to the evidence it contains of the financial prosperity of James Jacobson.

The bequests made by James included the following:-

•  His property in Peckham was left for the use of his son William Jacobson, and daughter, Mary Hunt.

•  He left to his son in law, Thomas Hunt ‘of the parish of St Christopher London Gentleman’ the sum of £350.

•  To his son, William Jacobson, and Samuel Jacobson of the Parish of St George, Middlesex, he left £700.

•  His son, William, also received another bequest in the waiving of two business loans he and his partner had received from James. This bequest amounted to £800.

•  William Jacobson also received a separate bequest of £700, plus the furniture and linen owned by the testator, but then in the house of his son.

•  Mary received £50, plus the household goods owned by her father that were in her house at the time of his death.

•  After the payment of a number of smaller bequests, William Jacobson and Mary Hunt were left the remainder of his estate.

James’s wife was not a beneficiary of his will, although he may well have provided for her separately – possibly under the terms of a marriage settlement.

I hope the reader will understand that the value of the bequests left by James was considerable by mid-eighteenth century values. According to Bank of England estimates(26) one would have to multiply the above amounts by 68.5 to arrive at an approximation of their modern values. I have no direct evidence of the state of James Jacobson’s finances earlier in his life, but I think that the evidence I have cited indicates that he was at least comfortably off. It is reasonable, therefore, to assume that the lives of this generation of my Jacobson forebears were fairly comfortable in a material sense.

The children of James & Mary Jacobson
My reader may have deduced from the extracts from the Will of James Jacobson that he and his wife had two children. It is true that they had two children who survived both of their parents, but they also produced at least two other offspring, both of whom died young.

I do not know when the other children of James and Mary were born, but I have traced their burials in the registers of St Botolph, Aldgate(27) :

Elizabeth Jacobson Dau to James Buried 14 September 1733

James Jacobson Son of Jas Buried 11 February 1737/38

These are the only references to these children I have traced, and their ages were not stated in the register. I am confident that they were the offspring of our James and Mary, as the address stated in the burial entries was King Street. Of course, it is possible that another James Jacobson lived in this street and these children belonged to them. However, in my numerous searches of the relevant records I have never found a trace of any such people, and feel confident that this Elizabeth and James were ‘mine’.

Assuming that these children were born after the date of the marriage of James and Mary, Elizabeth cannot have been older than eleven years when she died. Similarly, James would have been no older than fifteen years. These incidences of early death in an apparently prosperous family demonstrate the high death rates that prevailed in the eighteenth century. The grim reaper did not recognise social structures.

The two offspring of James and Mary who survived their parents were William Jacobson (b.c1732) and Mary (Jacobson) Hunt (b. c1737). Mary was my direct ancestor, and is treated on the Thomas Hunt Lawyer page of this website. Although William was not my direct ancestor I have collected a significant amount of information about his life, and think it worthwhile to outline this in the next few lines.

William Jacobson, Draper
I do not know precisely when William Jacobson was born. He was apprenticed to John Barber in 1746. On the assumption that he was aged about fourteen at that time, I estimate that he was born c1732. On 13 March 1754 he received his Freedom of the Drapers’ Company, appearing in the annals of that company as ‘…a linen draper of Aldgate.'(28)

William was on the livery of the Drapers’ Company from 1759 to 1780. In 1781 he became a Junior Warden and he served on the Court of Assistants from 1781 to 1786. He was recorded as having two apprentices during this time, taking on one in 1770 and the other in 1775.

William was recorded as being in business as a Linen Draper in the City of London from 1765 to 1786. The Drapers’ Company archives record his addresses as follows:-

  • Cheapside
  • Poultry
  • 1785-1786 No.4 Bucklersbury

On 21 September 1768 William married Mary Gutteridge(29), who was about ten years his junior. The ceremony took place by licence at the bride’s home parish – St Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey. Bermondsey was then in Surrey, being situated on the south bank of the Thames, near Deptford. It is now part of south east London.

The marriage entry bears the signatures of both bride and groom, and they both had very stylish handwriting. As in the case of William’s father, I think that his signature bears witness to a man of good education and pride in the image he projected.

It is possible that Mary’s father attended the marriage of William and Mary, as Joseph Gutteridge was one of the people who signed as a witness. However, both of William’s parents had died before the date of this event.

The marriage of William and Mary produced at least six children, all of whom were born during the period 1769 to 1781. However, as far as I know none of these children produced offspring, and thus this branch of the Jacobson family tree came to an end. Two of William’s children, a son named Joseph Gutteridge Jacobson and a daughter named Dorothy Elizabeth Jacobson, died as children(30).

The births of four of the children of William and Mary were registered at Dr Williams’s Library in London, which indicates that they were members of a non-conformist church. The reader will recall that John Bankes was of the Independent religion (see Bankes Biography), and, as will be seen on other pages as this website develops, several of my forebears were members of churches outside the Church of England.

William featured in the records of the Court of Chancery on a number of occasions. I have already mentioned one such occasion, but there were other instances. The following extract from a Master’s Report of 1776(31) is an example of the type of information that can be obtained from such sources:-

‘…I find by the Afidavit of William Jacobson and Thomas Hunt and Mary his wife sworn the 2nd day of December 1773 that the said William Jacobson was then of the age of forty two years and upwards or thereabouts and had by his wife Mary Jacobson two daughters then living the eldest of whom was then under the age of five years …. and I find by the Affidavit of the said Thomas Hunt, sworn the 17th day of July 1776 that since the said Affidavit of the said William Jacobson Thomas Hunt and Mary his wife that he the said William Jacobson has had another child born who is still living so that he hath three children now living…’

William Jacobson died late in May 1787, and was buried at St Thomas Square Independent Burial Ground, Hackney, on 1 June in that year(32). Surprisingly for a businessman such as he, he did not leave a will; his estate was subject to two probate grants, both in favour of his widow, in June and July 1788. Mary (Gutteridge) Jacobson survived her spouse by twenty years before dying in August 1807. Her burial, in the same burial ground (and probably the same grave) as William, took place on 25 August 1807(33). As far as I know she died intestate.

If you would like to see an abbreviated family tree for James Jacobson, Broker (c1692-c1759), his wife – Mary Mitchell – and children you can do so by clicking here.

You can see references for the material displayed on this page by clicking here.

Last updated G M Culshaw 12 Feb 2009

  • This page was last updated on Saturday July 2nd, 2011.