North Street, Newry, County Down

North Street, Newry, County Down
North Street, Newry, County Down

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Jackson Wray [1824-1855]

In 1823 Hugh Boyd Wray married Anne, the eldest child and only daughter of Francis Biddulph and Mary Steele. Their only son, Jackson Wray, was born on the 22nd of March, 1824, in Borris-in-Ossory, Queen’s County. He was named after his grandfather, Jackson Wray. The name Jackson came from the Jackson family of Coleraine, one of whom, Jane Jackson, had earlier married into the Wray family.
Jackson ‘Joe’ joined the Army, and fought in the Crimean War.  A portrait of Jackson in full uniform is in private possession. Jackson kept a journal in the first 15 weeks of 1955, while he was serving in the Crimea with the Connaught Rangers. It contains details of the conditions in the lines during the siege of Sebastopol. The journal was published in The War Correspondent, the official Journal of the Crimean War Research Society.[1]

On February 19th, 1855 Jackson wrote to his father Hugh from the Camp before Sebastopol:
We are all quiet still, yesterday I went to see our new [works] at Inkerman, those made by the French are magnificent, the work is so far superior to ours, they work and guard them for us, but we supply the Guns and Gunners, as soon as the Fire opens. On nearing the most advanced Battery we passed some six or seven of the dead Russians who fell at Inkerman, the bodies are quite black, but clothed and accoutred just as they fell, except their Boots, those articles are always stripped the moment the fight is over. Some of the large Mortars 13 inch shells are in the advanced Battery and will astonish the Russian Ships, that lay in the harbour.
Well my dearest Father, I have to thank you for another nice Parcel which came to Balaclava on Saturday with our Draft.  The clothing could not be better and the Telescope is an excellent one, I shall now be able to watch “Monsieur La Russe” more closely, the Tooth Brushes and Powder are also safe. Please God the Telescope will be brought Home yet [as] a match to the poor old Waterloo one[2], [I] shall have  an Inscription on it when please God I do get Home, “Received this Present from my fond Father on the 17th Feby, when Encamped on the Heights before Sebastopol.”[3]

Capt. Jackson Wray of the 88th Foot (Connaught Rangers) was killed in action, in the assault on the Quarries. 7th June 1855.
There is a Memorial in the Second Brigade, Light Division, cemetery overlooking Sebastopol
 "Sacred to the memory of Major Bayley, Captain Corbett, Captain Wray, and Lieut Webb of the 88th Connaught Rangers who fell while assaulting the Quarries on the night of the 7th June 1855."

In spite of recent searches by a member of the Biddulph family his burial place at Sebastopol has never been found.
Anne Wray died in November 1872 and is buried in Deansgrange Cemetery, County Dublin. Her husband Hugh died the following year.
The death of their son, Jackson Wray, is commemorated on the same gravestone in Deansgrange Cemetery, but he is not buried there.

There is a second Memorial to Jackson Wray in St Stephen’s Church of Ireland, Mount Street Crescent, Dublin.[4]
Sacred to the memory of the late CAPTAIN JACKSON WRAY
Of the 88th Regt The Connaught Rangers
Who fell before Sevastopol,
On the night of the 7th of June 1855,
After storming and while holding,
The Russian advanced works,
Well known as the Quarries.

This tablet is erected by his mourning
And deeply affected parents
As a record of their heartfelt sorrow
For a dearly loved and only child
And a memorial of all he was to them
As a fond and dutiful son:
And of the worth, youth, courage and unaffected piety
By which he was distinguished as a friend,
A gentleman, a soldier and a Christian.

We mourn for one whose honoured name will stand
Foremost amid the valiant of our land
Yet better far we know to him ‘twas given,
To be the soldier of his Lord in heaven.

“They shall be mine” saith the Lord of Hosts,
“In that day when I make up my jewels.”
Malachi III-17.

[1] The Crimean War Research Society,
[2] Hugh Wray, Jackson’s father, fought at Waterloo.
[3] Transcribed by Peter Colquhoun.

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