James Cook's early life contains several apocryphal stories suggesting that his education and employment were all the result of patronage. There has never been any firm evidence to support allegations that the more affluent members of Cleveland`s community sponsored the education and training of children other than their own.
Can Ralph Jackson`s diary shed any light on patronage either in Cleveland or elsewhere?
Ralph's journals contain several examples confirming that sponsorship did occur in Cleveland, as follows:-
Wm Stevens was sponsored by Ralph Ward, who was Ralph Jackson's uncle. Although Ralph Ward died in 1759, Ralph Jackson continued the sponsorship until the boy's education was completed, and he may have been instrumental in securing his employment.
His diary contains an account of another placement resulting from the old boy network:-
Some positions, secured through the old-boy network, sometimes required that palms be crossed with silver! Take for example Ralph's own brother, George Jackson. In February 1755 George Jackson secured the post of Chief Clerk in the Admiralty. But it does not appear that this post was obtained on merit alone, as according to the diary of Ralph Ward:-
Once on the ladder of power George Jackson used his position of influence to provide favours for others. Ralph Jackson, referring to a letter which he had received from the Newcastle merchant to whom he had been apprenticed, wrote in his journal:-
Ralph must have conveyed this request to his brother George as 9 days later Ralph received a reply from London:-
A year later and Ralph is recording another favour of his brother George:-
Originally published in Cook's Log, page 1373, volume 20, number 2 (1997).
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