Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jackson, John (1686-1763)

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JACKSON, JOHN (1686–1763), theological writer, eldest son of John Jackson (d. 1707, aged about 48), rector of Sessay, near Thirsk, North Riding of Yorkshire, was born at Sessay on 4 April 1686. His mother's maiden name was Ann Revell. After passing through Doncaster grammar school he entered at Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1702, and went into residence at midsummer 1703. He studied Hebrew under Simon Ockley. Graduating B.A. in 1707 he became tutor in the family of Simpson, at Renishaw, Derbyshire. His father had died rector of Rossington, West Riding of Yorkshire, and this preferment was conferred on Jackson by the corporation of Doncaster on his ordination (deacon 1708, priest 1710).

Jackson's mind was turned to controversial topics by the publication (1712) of the ‘Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity’ by Samuel Clarke (1675–1729) [q. v.] His first publication was a series of three letters, dated 14 July 1714, by ‘A Clergyman of the Church of England,’ in defence of Clarke's position. He corresponded with Clarke, and made his personal acquaintance at King's Lynn. Jackson's theological writings were anonymous; he acted as a sort of mouthpiece for Clarke, who kept in the background after promising convocation, in July 1714, to write no more on the subject of the Trinity. Whiston, in a letter to William Paul, 30 March 1724, says that ‘Dr. Clarke has long desisted from putting his name to anything against the church, but privately assists Mr. Jackson; yet does he hinder his speaking his mind so freely, as he would otherwise be disposed to do.’ Almost simultaneously with his first defence of Clarke, Jackson advocated Hoadly's views on church government in his ‘grounds of Civil and Ecclesiastical Government,’ 1714, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1718. In 1716 he corresponded with Clarke and Whiston on the subject of baptism, defending infant baptism against Whiston; his ‘Memoirs’ contain a previously unpublished reply to the anti-baptismal argument of Thomas Emlyn [q. v.] In 1718 he went up to Cambridge for his M.A.; the degree was refused on the ground of his writings respecting the Trinity. Next year he was presented by Nicholas Lechmere (afterwards Baron Lechmere [q. v.]), chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, to the confratership of Wigston's Hospital, Leicester. Clarke held the mastership of the hospital, and recommended Jackson. The post involved no subscription, and carried with it the afternoon lectureship at St. Martin's, Leicester, for which Jackson, who removed from Rossington to Leicester, received a license on 30 May 1720 from Edmund Gibson [q. v.], then bishop of Lincoln. On 22 Feb. 1722 he was inducted to the private prebend of Wherwell, Hampshire, on the presentation of Sir John Fryer; here also no subscription was required. The mastership of Wigston's Hospital was given to him on Clarke's death (1729) by John Manners, third duke of Rutland, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. Several presentments had previously been lodged against him for heretical preaching at St. Martin's, and when he wished to continue the lectureship after being appointed master, the vicar of St. Martin's succeeded (1730) in keeping him out of the pulpit by somewhat forcible means. In 1730 Hoadly offered him a prebend at Salisbury on condition of subscription, but this he declined, for since the publication (1721) of Waterland's ‘Case of Arian Subscription’ he had resolved to subscribe no more. He busied himself in writing treatises and pamphlets, many of them against the deists. In September 1735 he went to Bath for the benefit of a dislocated leg. On 28 Sept. he preached at St. James's, Bath, at the curate's request. Dr. Coney, the incumbent, preached on 12 Oct., and refused the sacrament to Jackson, on the plea that he did not believe the divinity of the Saviour. Jackson complained to the bishop (John Wynne), who disapproved Coney's action.

Jackson's later years were spent in the compilation of his ‘Chronological Antiquities’ (1752), a collection of laborious research. He had projected a critical edition of the Greek Testament, but his work was interrupted by decaying health. He died at Leicester on 12 May 1763. He married, in 1712, Elizabeth (d. December 1760), daughter of John Cowley, collector of excise at Doncaster, and had twelve children; his son John and three daughters (all married) survived him.

Apart from his relation to Clarke, Jackson's polemical tracts possess little importance. The most notable replies to them are by Waterland. Jackson was a pertinacious writer, without originality or breadth of culture. He had none of the devotion to science which distinguished the abler divines of his school, and of modern languages he was wholly ignorant. He is said to have been litigious; but his general disposition was amiable and generous.

He published, besides the tracts already mentioned: 1. ‘An Examination of Mr. Nye's Explication … of the Divine Unity,’ &c., 1715, 8vo. 2. ‘A Collection of Queries, wherein the most material objections … against Dr. Clarke … are … answered,’ &c., 1716, 8vo. 3. ‘A Modest Plea for the … Scriptural Notion of the Trinity,’ &c., 1719, 8vo. 4. ‘A Reply to Dr. Waterland's Defense,’ &c., 1722, 8vo (by ‘A Clergyman in the Country’). 5. ‘The Duty of Subjects towards their Governors,’ &c., 1723, 8vo (sermon, at the camp near Leicester, to Colonel Churchill's dragoons). 6. ‘Remarks on Dr. Waterland's Second Defense,’ &c., 1723, 8vo (by ‘Philalethes Cantabrigiensis’). 7. ‘Further Remarks on Dr. Waterland's Further Vindication of Christ's Divinity,’ &c., 1724, 8vo (same pseudonym). 8. ‘A True Narrative of the Controversy concerning the … Trinity,’ &c., 1725, 4to. 9. ‘A Defense of Humane Liberty,’ &c., 1725, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1730, 8vo. 10. ‘The Duty of a Christian … Exposition of the Lord's Prayer,’ &c., 1728, 12mo. 11. ‘Novatiani Presbyteri Romani Opera,’ &c., 1728, 8vo (this was criticised by Lardner, ‘Works,’ 1815, ii. 57 sq., and led to a correspondence with Samuel Crell, the Socinian critic, published in ‘M. Artemonii Defensio Emendationum in Novatiano,’ &c., 1729, 8vo). 12. ‘A Vindication of Humane Liberty,’ &c., 1730, 8vo; also issued as second part of 2nd edit. of No. 9 (against Anthony Collins). 13. ‘A Plea for Humane Reason,’ &c., 1730, 8vo (addressed to Edmund Gibson, then bishop of London). 14. ‘Calumny no Conviction,’ &c., 1731, 8vo (defence of No. 15). 15. ‘A Defense of the Plea for Humane Reason,’ &c., 1731, 8vo. 16. ‘Some Reflexions on Prescience,’ &c., 1731, 8vo. 17. ‘Remarks on … “Christianity as old as the Creation,”’ &c., 1731, 8vo; continuation, 1733, 8vo (by ‘A Priest of the University of Cambridge’). 18. ‘Memoirs of … Waterland, being a Summary View of the Trinitarian Controversy for 20 years, between the Doctor and a Clergyman in the Country,’ &c., 1731, 8vo. 19. ‘The Second Part of the Plea for Humane Reason,’ &c., 1732, 8vo. 20. ‘The Existence and Unity of God,’ &c., 1734, 8vo (defence of Clarke's proof). 21. ‘Christian Liberty asserted,’ &c., 1734, 8vo. 22. ‘A Defense of … “The Existence and Unity,”’ &c., 1735, 8vo (against William Law). 23. ‘A Dissertation on Matter and Spirit,’ &c., 1735, 8vo (against Andrew Baxter [q. v.]). 24. ‘Athanasian Forgeries … chiefly out of Mr. Whiston's Writings,’ &c., 1736, 8vo (by ‘A Lover of Truth and of True Religion;’ ascribed to Jackson, but not certainly his). 25. ‘A Narrative of … the Rev. Mr. Jackson being refused the Sacrament,’ &c., 1736, 8vo (see above). 26. ‘Several Letters … by W. Dudgeon … with Mr. Jackson's Answers,’ &c., 1737, 8vo. 27. ‘Some Additional Letters,’ &c., 1737, 8vo. 28. ‘A Confutation of … Mr. Moore,’ &c., 1738, 8vo. 29. ‘The Belief of a Future State proved to be a Fundamental Article of the Religion of the Hebrews, and held by the Philosophers,’ 1745, 8vo (against Warburton). 30. ‘A Defense of … “The Belief of a Future State,”’ &c., 1746, 8vo. 31. ‘A Farther Defense,’ &c., 1747, 8vo. 32. ‘A Critical Inquiry into the Opinions … of the Ancient Philosophers concerning … the Soul,’ 1748, 8vo. 33. ‘A Treatise on the Improvements … in the Art of Criticism,’ &c., 1748, 8vo (by ‘Philocriticus Cantabrigiensis’). 34. ‘A Defense of … “A Treatise,”’ &c. [1748], 8vo. 35. ‘Remarks on Dr. Middleton's Free Enquiry,’ &c., 1749, 8vo. 36. ‘Chronological Antiquities … of the most Ancient Kingdoms, from the Creation of the World for the space of 5,000 years,’ 1752, 4to, 3 vols. (this was translated into German).

[Memoirs of Jackson, with Letters and Remains, were published anonymously, 1764, by Dr. Sutton of Leicester; the memoirs are founded on particulars given by Jackson the summer before his death, and their defects are attributed to his failing memory; Memoirs of Whiston, 1753, p. 267; Nichols's Lit. Anecd.]

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