Do you know who Luke Jackson was?

I have lived in Thornton for the past 8 years, and every now and again I hear the name Luke Jackson mentioned, but have never been able to find out who he is, or was, until now.

Last week I spotted a poster in the village saying that the Luke Jackson Charity would be distributing money from its fund, at the Community Centre, to people of government retirement age and above, who reside in the village of Thornton.

At last an opportunity to find out who our benefactor Luke Jackson was ..

I popped into the hall and before I could speak a five pound note was thrust into my hand.

A conversation with one of the trustees (Trevor Roberts) of the Charity ensued, and he started talking about the Spanish Armada and the Gunpowder plot, I soon realised there was much more to the story than a brief conversation could tell me, and was promised some information that I could share on the website. This duly arrived in my letterbox on Sunday.

Who was Luke Jackson?

Luke was a Nottingham man, the son of Anker Jackson, a churchwarden of St Peter’s in Nottingham. Luke was apprenticed to a ‘girdler’ (a maker of girdles and belts) in London and he eventually became a very rich man.

During his young life, two major events took place in our country’s history, the defeat of the Spanish Armada in July 1588 and the Gunpowder plot of 1605.

Luke Jackson owned land around Horsepool Grange, near to Stanton under Bardon, which extended towards Thornton, where it meets with Whittington Grange. (‘Granges’ were medieval estates). There is still a farm named ‘Horsepool Grange’, situated between Stanton and South Charnwood School.

Luke made his last will and testament in October 1630 and died in January 1631. In his will he determined that the profits on his estate should be divided into three. Two thirds to St Peter’s in Nottingham where he worshipped as a boy and one third to St Peter’s in Thornton, Leicestershire. He particularly wanted to ensure that people remembered the two hugely historical events of his lifetime, a time of great fear followed by great relief, and he commemorated them by creating a charitable fund.

The following paragraph is taken from the Book, Ancient Curious and Famous Wills by Virgil McClure Harris (1911).

Charity Sermons to Celebrate National Mercies – Luke Jackson, citizen and girdler of London, by will dated 26th January 1630, reciting that he was seized in fee of certain tithes at or near Horsepool in the county of Leicester, being about £20 per annum, devised the same to certain persons on trust, yearly, to pay the clear rents and profits thereof in manner following: that is to say, two equal third parts as followeth, 40s thereof yearly to be given for two sermons to be preached in St Peter’s church in the town of Nottingham; on the 28th July and the 5th November, acknowledging God’s mercy and giving thanks for the deliverance of this land and people at two several times form the Invincible Armada, (as it was termed), in 1588, and form the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 : and the residue of the said two thirds to be distributed among the people in the parish of St Peter, at the discretion of his five feoffes, and the other third share of the clear profits of the said tithes as followeth, viz 40s, for two sermons to be preached in the church of St Thornton, near Horsepool, on the two above mentioned days; and the residue to be distributed among the poor people in the parish of Thornton, at the discretion of his feoffees (trustees).

It was the vicar of those parishes to whom the money was first directed. It is not known when the obligation to deliver sermons ended.

In 2018 another reference to the will was located. It states that Luke’s trustees were to entrust the distribution of the Charity monies in Thornton to ‘Four of the most honest and able persons dwelling in the said Parish of Thornton’.

It is believed that the Luke Jackson charity absorbed another Thornton Charity – the Grundy Bread Charity – which gave bread to the poor. A ‘Bread Service’ was held annually and was still happening in the 1950’s. No questions were asked about poverty – whoever turned up was given a loaf of bread!

A newspaper article (date and origin unknown) states ..

‘The united benefice of Thornton and Bagworth seems to have been more than usually well provided for by charities, in number if not in size, and the distribution of some of these, in kind, was preserved until a later period than has been the case with many similar charities elsewhere.

Recorded is the fact that: ‘In 1631, Mr Luke Jackson, citizen and girdler, of London, gave by will one-third of the great tithes of Stanton under Bardon, in the parish of Thornton, to the poor of the said parish forever; paying to the Vicar of Thornton out of it, yearly, two pounds for preaching two sermons in the parish, one on the 28th day of July , in remembrance of the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588: the other on the 5th November, in commemoration of the great deliverance from the Powder Plot (1605).

James Harrington of Thornton gave by will £26 to the poor of Thornton for ever; paying out of it 10s. yearly for preaching a sermon in this church on the 25th of November.

John Lea gave by will (1675) 4s. annually to be distributed amongst four of the poorest in Bagworth, 5s for preaching a sermon every Monday in Easter week; 5s. for the schoolmaster for teaching a poor child: and 6d. for bread and ale to be given away at the School House in Bagworth yearly, on Easter Monday.

The Luke Jackson Window – St Peter’s church, Nottingham

This window lies to the east of the north door. The glass was inserted in the existing tracery in 1969. The window commemorates Luke Jackson a seventeenth century benefactor of St Peter’s.

Glass from 1969 erected by John Bucknell, to a design of his uncle Sir Ninian Comper (1864-1960).

The dedication in the glass reads:


Thank you to resident Trevor Roberts for providing the above information – so now we know!

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