Ann Fletcher Jackson –“Pioneer Resident Minister” (1833-1903)
The story of Victoria Hall starts with Ann Fletcher Jackson and her husbandThomas, who lived at a small farm along present day Avondale Road called“Meliora” — from the Latin
meaning“better“ — (now 103 Avondale Road) from1893 to 1899.Ann was born on 27 February 1833 in Leigh,Lancashire, the eldest child of John and MaryFletcher. At age 11 Ann was sent to a Society of Friends School (Quaker) at Ackworth, studyingthere for 3 years. She recalled later in life thatonce she had come home from the school, aministry Friend paid a visit to her home andtold her the following: “I hope dear thou wilt befaithful to the call of the Lord, for I believe Hewill call thee to special service for Him, to preach the Gospel in distant placesand be a comfort to many far and near; only be faithful.” Ann was to rememberthis as a basis for her later ministry work in New Zealand and Australia.She married Thomas Jackson, from Ulverston, Lancashire, in 1859, and 3 yearslater the couple moved to Birkenhead in Cheshire. Thomas Jackson worked asa boot seller there. In 1878, he
“took from his pocket some papers containinginformation respecting some land in the province of Auckland in the North Is-land of New Zealand.”
The Story of New Zealand Quakerism, 1842-1972
, byMargaret West & Ruth Falwell, 1973, p.7.]Short on funds, and with a family of seven children surviving of eleven, Tho-mas and Ann Fletcher Jackson were barely able to scrape up enough to coverthe cost of their fares to New Zealand, leaving 3 October 1878. The arrived inAuckland 12 January 1879, taking up land at Otonga, north of Whangarei,called “Home Farm”.
“They invited neighbouring settlers to share their gather-ings, though their ways were not always understood.”
[West & Falwell, p.8]In 1883, Ann applied for a position as teacher at a local school, working thereuntil April 1885 (only leaving because of the school board’s decision to makethe position a part-time one for male teachers only). In 1885, she made the de-cision to start active ministry work, and was granted a certificate to travel onreligious service the next year, starting the couple’s travels in October 1886.These included a trip to Australia and journeys around the mining towns there
Thomas and Ann Fletcher Jackson, c. 1897.