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Henry Bradwardine Jackson

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Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Bradwardine Jackson (1855-1929), R.N., G.C.B. K.C.V.O., Hon. D.Sc. (Leeds), LL.D. (Cantab.), F.R.S. M.I.E.E. Pioneer of wireless telegraphy

1855 born on 21 January at Barnsley, Yorkshire, the eldest son of Henry Jackson, a farmer, and his wife, Jane, the daughter of Charles Tee of Barnsley.

Educated at Chester and at Stubbington House, Fareham

1868 entered the navy

1874 promoted sub-lieutenant

1877 promoted lieutenant; specialized in navigation

1879 took part in the Anglo-Zulu War.

1881 joined the Vernon, the torpedo school at Portsmouth,

1883 elected an associate of the Society of Telegraph Engineers

1890 promoted commander. Married Alice Mary Florence, the eldest daughter of Samuel Hawksley Burbury FRS, a barrister and mathematician; they had no children.

1891 Proposed using electromagnetic waves to detect torpedo boats and to distinguish friend from foe.

1895 Appointed to command the Defiance, the hulk used as a torpedo school at Devonport.

1896 Success in transmitting and receiving wireless signals in Morse code.

Jackson and Marconi became friends although they had developed rival systems

1897 Demonstrated to the commander-in-chief, Devonport, transmission of a signal at ranges of up to 2 miles.

1897 appointed naval attaché in Paris

1899 In command of the cruiser HMS Juno to report on the Admiralty trials of wireless. In October appointed to the Vernon to give its officers the benefits of his experience with wireless, work out details for fitting wireless to ships, and establish a course for instructing radio operators.

1899 appointed to command the torpedo boat carrier and depot ship Vulcan in the Mediterranean.

1900 The Admiralty commissioned two reports to attack Marconi's wireless patents. Captain Henry Jackson, then commanding HMS Vulcan and a pioneer of wireless telegraphy, gave an opinion that led a senior naval officer to report "it would be unworthy to try to evade the Marconi Company's patent."

1901 elected Fellow of the Royal Society

1902 published a paper "On some phenomena affecting the transmission of electric waves over the surface of sea and earth".

1902 Jackson was appointed assistant director of torpedoes at the Admiralty

1904 Admiral Sir John Fisher counted Jackson as one of the "seven brains", a select group that he intended to gather around him when he became first sea lord.

1905 became third sea lord and controller of the navy.

1905 aide-de-camp to Edward VII from September 1905 to October 1906

1906 promoted rear-admiral; created KCVO.

1908 Command of 3rd cruiser squadron in the Mediterranean from October 1908 to October 1910

1910 created KCB. Admiralty representative at the international conference on aerial navigation.

1911 Command of the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth; promoted vice-admiral

1913 Appointed chief of the war staff.

1914 promoted Admiral; nominated commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean.

WWI Posted to special service at the Admiralty, involved in planning including the Dardanelles

1915 After the resignation of Fisher and the dismissal of Churchill, Jackson became first sea lord in which position he remained until the end of 1916

Became admiral-president of the Royal Naval College at Greenwich where he remained until July 1919.

1919 Promoted admiral of the fleet

1920 appointed chairman of the Radio Research Board.

Hon. Vice-President, Institution of Naval Architects

1924 retired from the navy in 1924

1929 died on 14 December 1929 at home on Hayling Island.



1930 Obituary [1]

ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET SIR HENRY BRADWARDINE JACKSON, R.N., G.C.B., K.C.V.O., F.R.S., was born at Barnsley in 1855.

He served in the Zulu War in 1878 and was appointed to the torpedo school on the "Vernon" in 1879. Later his interest became concentrated upon the development of naval signalling. It is on record that in 1891 he urged the trial of Hertzian waves for short-range signalling; it is known that in 1895, when in command of the torpedo-school ship "Defiance," he successfully transmitted signals several hundred yards by reflector apparatus like that of Hertz, but with a Bose type of coherer at the receiving end and a tapper for causing de-coherence after the receipt of each morse signal. Sir Oliver Lodge, by means of similar apparatus, had transmitted and received morse signals the preceding year but had made no attempt at application.

Sir Henry Jackson was probably the first to make practical use of Hertzian waves, and he was certainly the father of marine wireless communication.

In 1899 he assumed command of the "Vulcan" and in November 1901 reported to the Admiralty that by careful tuning he had established communication between two points in the Mediterranean separated by 134 miles.

He had developed in 1900-01 a transmitter of his own design, in which a tuned primary circuit was coupled to a tuned aerial circuit by both condenser coupling and mutual inductance. The aerial was not earthed directly, but indirectly through the coupling condenser;—a desirable arrangement on a ship. This transmitter operated on 600 m and 240 m; the inductances and condensers were carefully calculated with the aid of formulae, and the capacities of typical forms of antenna were measured by laboratory methods. The fruits of a long series of measurements of the range of wireless stations over water and over various kinds of land formation and under miscellaneous atmospheric conditions were given in May, 1902, to the Royal Society, soon after he had gained the Fellowship.

Until 1905 he was responsible for the whole development of naval signalling, and official equipment made excellent progress during his period of office. In 1905 he was appointed Third Sea Lord and Controller, and gradually lost touch with practical radio-telegraphy. At the beginning of the War he was appointed to the War Staff at the Admiralty and in May, 1915, became First Sea Lord.

At the end of 1916 he left the Admiralty and was made an Admiral of the Fleet.

In 1920 he resumed his active participation in wireless by accepting the Chairmanship of the Radio Research Board.

In 1924 he acted as Chairman of the Transatlantic Telephony Committee. His success in these important offices was largely due to his receptiveness for new ideas. This modernity was strikingly shown by the way he followed up the amateur short-wave movement from 1922 onwards. He died on the 14th December, 1929. In his work for wireless he was conspicuous for his unselfish, far-seeing, scientific efficiency and his avoidance of controversies about priority.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution in 1883 and a Member in 1902.


1929 Obituary [2]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Biography of Sir Henry Jackson, ODNB