(b Masham, Yorks., 9 Jan 1815; dBradford, 15 April 1866). English composer. He was known as ‘Jackson of Masham’ to distinguish him from William Jackson ‘of Exeter’ (1730–1803). He was the son of a miller, John Jackson, and left school at 13 to work in the mill and bakery. In his free time he taught himself first to repair, and then to construct, organs; he also learnt how to play various instruments, and the elements of thoroughbass, using tutors and scores from the public library. In 1832 he was appointed first organist of Masham church. In 1839 he went into business as a tallow-chandler, but in the same year his first composition, an anthem, was published. He progressed to a prize glee (1840), a setting of Psalm ciii (Huddersfield Choral Society, 1841), and finally, in 1844, to the highest rung of the ladder – an oratorio, The Deliverance of Israel from Babylon, given at Leeds in 1847.
In 1852 Jackson made music his profession and settled at Bradford, where he became organist of St John's (1852–6) and of Horton Lane Independent Chapel (1856). He was conductor of the Bradford Choral Union (male voices), chorus master of the Bradford Musical Festivals of 1853, 1856 and 1859, and conductor of the Festival Choral Society from 1856. In 1858 he brought his chorus of 210 singers to London and performed to the queen at Buckingham Palace. He was also in business as a music seller in Bradford.
Jackson composed several oratorios and cantatas for the Bradford Festival. He did not live to conduct his last major work, Praise of Music, composed for the festival of 1866. He also composed a number of anthems, glees and songs, and published three hymnbooks and A Singing Class Manual (London, 1849). It is evident from the oratorios that he was thoroughly steeped in the music of Handel, though there are also reminiscences of Haydn and Mozart; of the later style of Spohr and Mendelssohn there is no trace. He was never able to overcome his lack of thorough technical training, and his scores are full of blunders and crudities, yet they have a certain primitive strength, particularly in passages of declamatory recitative.
Jackson's second son, William (b Bradford, 1853; d Ripon, 10 Sept 1877), became organist of Morningside parish church, Edinburgh; he composed a few songs and partsongs.
Choral, with acc.: Ps ciii, 1841; The Deliverance of Israel from Babylon, orat (Leeds, 1844); Mass, E, 4vv, org (London, 1846); Isaiah, orat (London, 1851); Ps ciii [2nd setting] (London, 1856); The Year, cant (London, 1859); Full Service, G (London, 1864); Praise of Music, sym., 4vv, orch (London, 1866)