WILLIAM JACKSON, Jun., was born on Oct. 10, 1820. His parents were in humble life, his father being a working tailor, but one who devoted a considerable portion of his leisure time to the study of zoology ; and from his father he no doubt inherited much of that taste for natural objects which afterwards characterised him. Unlike his father, however, botany was his favourite study, his mind, no doubt, being led to that science by some of his father's associates. When but a boy, he frequently accompanied his father, and the other lovers of nature who were then associated together, in their excursions to various localities in the neighbourhood. At that time, Dundee could boast of several naturalists, who, though moving in the humble ranks of life, had acquired considerable eminence in natural science —William Gardiner, sen., and Douglas Gardiner, the father and uncle of William Gardiner, the author of the Flora of Forfarshire, &c. ; D. Butchart, a working shoemaker ; W. Lennox, also a working shoemaker, who devoted his spare time to the cultivation of a botanic garden on the west of what is now North Lindsay Street; and others. Jackson's scholastic education was confined to the elementary branches of reading, writing, and arithmetic, with a smattering of English grammar, etc, On leaving school, he adopted his fathers employment, spending his leisure hours in the acquisition of knowledge, especially of his favourite study, botany ; and when the nature of his employment afforded him an idle day, he spent it in the country. In the neighbourhood of Dundee, he had ample opportunities of following out the bent of his mind. Will's Braes, Den of Mains, Baldovan Woods, and other localities, were frequently visited in his early morning excursions, and seldom without making some addition to his collection.
These excursions sometimes extended to the Sidlaw Hills, where many sub-Alpine species of considerable interest were to be found ; at others, to the Links of Barry, where, in addition to several rare botanical gems, the neighbouring beach furnished many species of algae and zoophytes thrown up by the waves. Of these he made a considerable collection, and he several times contributed collections of the rarer plants he had gathered to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. This, together with his devotion to the study of plants, recommended him to the attention of some influential members of the society; and on May 14, 1840, he was elected an associate of that body. This had the effect of still further stimulating him to exertion ; and having become pretty well acquainted with the plants in the neighbourhood of the town, he planned an excursion to the Clova Mountains, with his friend William Gardiner. They set out towards the latter end of July 1840, and remained for several weeks, during which they collected and dried large quantities of specimens of the rare Alpine plants which are to be found on these mountains. These afforded subjects for extensive study for a long period after his return, and largely extended his knowledge, especially in regard to mosses and lichens. But while Jackson was thus becoming a first-rate botanist, he was not unmindful of the other departments of natural science, especially ornithology—his father's favourite study. In this, he latterly made considerable progress ; but, unlike many so-called naturalists, his studies were not confined to cabinet specimens. He studied the birds in their natural haunts, and at different seasons, and took great delight in wandering along the sea-beach, even in the cold and stormy weather of mid winter, observing the habits of the interesting tribe of sea-birds visiting the sea-coast at that season. Many of these observations were subsequently written out, and several of them appeared in a manuscript magazine to which several of the naturalists in the town contributed, and amongst whom it circulated. After Jackson's death, several of the papers which he had written for this manuscript magazine were published in the North British Agriculturist In the year 1847, Mr Jackson and a number of other ardent naturalists formed an association called the 'Dundee Naturalists Association,' for the purpose of mutual help in the study of natural science, by the reading of papers, the exhibition of objects of natural history, excursions, etc. Jackson was chosen Treasurer of the Association, and acted in that capacity up till the time of his death. Several papers of considerable interest were communicated by him to the meetings, and, amongst others, a list of the birds of Forfarshire, exhibiting the occurrence of many rare species in the county, and narrating many facts of great interest from his own and his father's observations. He had often been urged to give his various observations in zoology a more permanent form, by preparing them for the press ; and this task he commenced, but did not live to accomplish. In the autumn of 1847, he caught a
cold, which, settling down on his lungs, terminated his earthly career in March 1848, at the early age of 27, leaving a widow and two young children to mourn his loss.
Norrie, W. (1873) Dundee Celebrities of the nineteenth Century, PP.111-113.