Mary Cordelia JACKSON 
- Born: Abt 1845, Alveston WAR
- Christened: 11 Sep 1845, Billesley WAR
- Died: 22 May 1929, The Porch Wilmcote Stratford on Avon WAR aged about 84
WILMCOTE'S VERY OWN NUN
When Queen Elizabeth was born, St Andrew's had its very own nun, living right next to the Old Vicarage: Sister Mary Cordelia, who lived at The Porch, in Church Road (where Mr & Mrs Periam now live), until her death on the 22nd May, 19291. She was buried in the churchyard, and her gravestone is beside the path leading to the school.
Mary Cordelia Jackson was born in about 1845. Her parents were both closely connected with the history of St Andrew's. Her father was the Reverend Francis George Jackson, and her mother was the former Maria Margaretta Knottesford. Maria was the sister of Wilmcote's first priest, Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue, and for many years Francis acted as unofficial curate at St Andrew's: whenever Edward Fortescue, his brother-in-law, was ill (and he was desperately ill for a long time in 1844 and 1845) Francis took charge of the church, and conducted its services. There is a memorial to Francis Jackson in the churchyard, near the notice board.
The 1881 Census report tells us that on the 3rd April, 1881, when she was 35, Mary Cordelia was a probationer of the Bethany Religious Community, in Old Machar, near Aberdeen. This was probably the "House of Bethany", which ran an orphanage in Aberdeen from 1876 onwards. The house which had been acquired for the purpose was "enlarged and adapted to Community use", and a chapel was built, as well. "At the orphanage, girls were cared for by the Sisters, and, on leaving, were trained in domestic work. The Sisters also did work in city parishes, acting as sacristans, district visitors and Sunday School teachers, and carrying on a laundry for church linen2."
We do not know whether Mary Cordelia ever became a full member of the House of Bethany, nor, if so, when she left the Order. We lose sight of her until she appears in Wilmcote, much later, living at The Porch. The late Mr Plater, writing about village history in the Village Vine some years ago, states that The Porch "was owned and lived in by Sister Mary, a Church Sister of the Anglican Order. Sister Mary had a companion, Miss Stock, and when these two ladies died, The Porch was bequeathed to the Church and used for meetings connected with the Church."
From about 1924 onwards, the Vicar was Sister Mary Cordelia's second cousin: John Nicholas Knottesford-Fortescue was the grandson of our first priest, Edward Bowles Knottesford Fortescue, and Mary Cordelia was the daughter of Edward's sister, Maria Jackson (née Knottesford). We do not know how closely they worked together!
There is also one amusing anecdote about Sister Mary Cordelia, which I was told by Grahame Harris. When Grace Bromley was a little girl, Sister Mary Cordelia spoke to her parents one day, and complained that Grace refused to curtsey to her. Grace's reply to her parents was, "I only curtsey to the Vicar."
1. The monument in the churchyard gives this as the date of death; and a notice published under the Trustee Act 1925, on page 4393 of the London Gazette, for the 11th July, 1930 (issue number 33,624), confirms it.
2. The quotations are taken from Scottish Episcopal Clergy, 1689 - 2000, edited by David Bertie, T & T Clark Ltd., Edinburgh, 2000, page 666.
Ref: Stan Lapidge Researcher & Historian 2016
Birth Registration. Mary Cordelia Jackson 1845 3rd.Qtr Stratford A WAR Vol.16 Pg.464.
Jackson Mary Cordelia of The Porch Wilmcote Warwickshire spinster died 22 May 1929. Probate Birmingham 12 September 1929 to the Midland Bank Executor and Trust Company Limited. Effects £5471 16s 9d.
National Probate Calendar.
1. Census: England, 30 Mar 1851, Bridge House Richmond SRY. Mary is recorded as a grandchild aged 5 born Alveston WAR
2. Census: England, 8 Apr 1861, Weston Lodge Albury SRY. Mary is recorded as a visitor at the house of John Taylor unmarried aged 15 born Alveston WAR
3. Census: England, 2 Apr 1871, Morley Hse Christchurch HAM. Mary is recorded as a visitor at the house of Emma Mordaunt aged 28 living on dividend income born Alveston WAR
4. Census: England, 3 Apr 1881, Old Machar ABD. Mary is recorded as a probationer (Betheny Religious Community) aged 35 born Alveston WAR
5. Census: England, 5 Apr 1891, Priory Northfield WOR. Mary is recorded as a visitor unmarried aged 45 a servant born Alveston WAR
6. Census: England, 31 Mar 1901, 65 Church Lane Aston Cantlow WAR. Mary is recorded as head of house unmarried aged 55 living on her own means born Alveston WAR
7. Census: England, 2 Apr 1911, The Porch Wilmcote Stratford on Avon WAR. Mary is recorded as head of a 6 room house unmarried aged 65 living on her own means born Alveston WAR
8. Mary C Jackson: Letters to E H T Liveing, 1 Jul 1927.
Liveing Archive 285a-b
1 July 1927.
My dear Cousin
I had hoped that you might have come again to Wilmcote or at least to Stratford but have not had the pleasure of seeing you. When your father and uncle kindly came to see me at Wilmcote, a long time ago, one of them, I stupidly forget which, expressed a great interest in and desire for books with Book-plates of the Downing family. I gave him 2 or 3 I had. I am now
staying for a short holiday with my sister (the only one left me in this world) and have been helping her to look over books, china and various old possessions. I've found a Roman History in 2 vols. by Erhard 1719 A.D.: and "A Serious Call to the Holy Life" extracted from a Late Author by John Wesley 1744 A.D. The first has in each version the book plate of Dickson Downing, the last that of George Downing.
I do not know whether you inherit the love of such things? If you do? My sister would be glad to send the books to you if you will accept them from her. I return to Wilmcote
D.V. next Tuesday, her address is
Very likely you may not care for them, in which case excuse my troubling you with this suggestion.
With best Cousinly wishes
Yours in Christ
& Mary Cordelia