Born: Ralph Jackson was born on 15th January 1736. His parents were George Jackson of Richmond and Hannah Ward, daughter of Ralph Ward of Guisborough, one of Yorkshire’s richest men. Ralph was one of four sons and five daughters.
Educated: At the age of thirteen, Ralph Jackson was sent to a writing and arithmetic school in Newcastle. He also entered into an apprenticeship with a Newcastle coal merchant named William Jefferson.
Married: On 14th November 1776 Ralph Jackson married Mary Lewin, the daughter of Richard Lewin, a captain in the East India Company. Mary died in 1781.
Family: Ralph and Mary had three children. Ralph Ward Jackson and Mary Lewin Jackson both died in childhood. Their second son William Ward Jackson survived to become Ralph’s heir.
Home: From 1749 to 1756 he lived in Newcastle as an apprentice to a merchant. In 1756 his uncle invited Ralph to come and live with him in Westgate in Guisborough. When Uncle Ralph died in 1759 he left the house in Guisborough to his nephew. In May 1770 Ralph moved to Normanby Old Hall, which was his home when he married in 1776.
Known for: Ralph Jackson became a J.P. in 1769 and as such was prominent in North Riding affairs for over 30 years. He is best known for his diary, which he began in 1749 when he was only 13 and continued until 1790. It is full of details of domestic life, business, and the doings of his neighbours, friends and family. He continued to keep his diary through most of his life, his last entry being written shortly before his death. The diary, comprising 19 volumes, is kept at Teesside Archives.
Died: Ralph Jackson died on 16th February 1790 at his home in Normanby.
Further Information: “Ralph Jackson’s Cleveland Countryside” Grace Dixon, Bulletin of the Cleveland and Teesside Local History Society no. 60
“The Diaries of Ralph Jackson” David Wilkinson (2010)