Curator of Art
William Jackson was born in Boston in 1731. By 1758, he was in business with his widowed mother, Mary Jackson, who kept the Brazen Head Tavern in Cornhill, next to the Town House (the Old State House) in Boston, where they operated a "variety store"—a shop where they sold groceries and general merchandise. Although the Jacksons lost all their property in a devastating Boston fire that began in their home in 1760, by 1763 "Bill" Jackson was in business on his own, importing an extraordinary range of English imported goods—everything from "buff, blue, and scarlet Broadcloth" to "German serges, stuffs for gowns, Linnen, Cambricks, and Lawns [a fine linen thinner than cambric] of all Prices, neat silk and black Russel Shoes, brass Kettles, London Pewter, frying and warming pans, Buckles, Buttons, Knives, Rasors, with a full Assortment of all kinds [of] London, Birmingham, and Sheffield Hard Wares, too many to enumerate," along with "blue & white Tea-Cups, Saucers, Milk Jugs, English Loaf Sugars, etc., etc., etc.," as well as "Fresh Hyson, Souchong, Singlo, and Bohea Teas," "Lisbon lemmons," and "Glocester cheese."
With the enactment of the Townshend Acts in 1767, resistance to British encroachments upon the rights of the American colonists quickly revived and centered on new non-importation agreements. This time, however, there was less support for the boycott of British imported goods and some colonial merchants, including William Jackson in Boston, chose to flout the agreements.
William Jackson remained a loyal supporter of the King through the outbreak of the American Revolution. When the British forces evacuated Boston in March 1776, he fled by ship, only to be captured by an American privateer and forced to return to Boston. The following year, after a period of imprisonment, he was accused of attempting to profit from the distress caused by the Revolution and ceremonially banished from Boston. He had done so well in business in the years leading up to the Revolution that he received only modest compensation from the British government and died in England in 1810.
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