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Rodger was born on the 1st January 1881 in the Township Patterdale opposite the White Lion Inn. He was the first son of Elizabeth Jackson, who was unmarried at the time of his birth. He was christened Rodger Robinson Jackson at St Patricks Church Patterdale on the 29th January 1881. Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of Thomas and Dorothy Jackson (nee Robinson). She had been born in Bowness where her mother grew up. Her father was born in Sedbergh and the family moved to Patterdale around 1861 just after Elizabeth was born, with Thomas working as a “Boots & Ostler”, possibly at the White Lion Inn.
By the time was Rodger was born his mother was working as a servant and still living with her parents and siblings at 8 Township Patterdale. Two years after Rodger’s birth she married Thomas Woof in Crosthwaite. Thomas was a labourer from Threlkeld whose mother ran a Beer House. We do not know for certain if he was in fact Rodger’s father, although this is the inference from Rodger’s later Service Records. Whatever was the case Rodger did not move with his mother and her new husband and continued to live with his grandparents and Uncles and Aunts in Patterdale. He would have attended Patterdale School and in all probability is included in the photo shown below of the children at Patterdale School in 1889.
By 1891 Rodger’s mother and Thomas Woof had moved to Portinscale and in 1896 she gave birth to another son, Tom Jackson Woof. Rodger was still living with his Grandparents in Patterdale but in 1894 his Grandmother Dorothy died, and it is possible that around this time Rodger adopted his mother’s married name and became Rodger Jackson Woof. Around the turn of the century Rodger himself seems to have continued the family trend for children out of wedlock when he had a son, John Jackson, born to Mary Ellen Anderson. He wed Mary Ellen on the 4th February 1901, and 2 months later she gave birth to their second child, Mary Elizabeth Woof. By this time Rodger and his family were living in Crosthwaite and he was working as a quarryman.
On the 24th January 1902 Rodger enlisted in the Volunteer Battalion of the Border Regiment, serving with them from then until the 31st March 1908 at which point he transferred into the 1/4th Territorial (Cumberland and Westmorland) Battalion Border Regiment in Keswick. We know he attended their annual 3 week training camps from 1908 to 1913 in Fleetwood, Cornwall and Barrow in Furness, and may well have been there with Miles Cooper who was in the 2/4th Battalion of the Border Regiment, and who was the same age as Rodger.
On the 1st August 1914 Rodger set off with his Battalion for their annual camp, this time at Caernaevon in Wales. When Britain declared war on Germany on the 4th August the Battalion hurried back from their camp and on the 5th August 1914 Rodger was “embodied” into the regular army. His Battalion sailed from Southampton bound for India at the end of September, arriving at the end of October. He was posted to Burma and was stationed in the Kachin Hills at the end of 1914 and early 1915 -
On the 17th may 1918 Rodger was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He remained in India until after the end of the war in Europe and in July 1919 became quite seriously ill and was invalided back to the UK aboard the HT Varela suffering from “M Nephritia” -
He was eventually “disembodied” (the demob term used for Territorials who had fought in the war) on the 13th October 1919. He was discharged with the Silver War Badge and a 20% disability pension. After the war we believe Rodger returned home to 16 Poplar Street Keswick, where Ellen and the children (by now grown up), had spent most of the war except for a brief spell when they seem to have moved to Gretna Township in Carlisle.
We believe Rodger and Ellen continued to live in Keswick until their deaths -
In terms of the rest of the family Rodger’s mother Elizabeth had died during the war, in July 1915. We’re not sure when his father Thomas died but his brother Tom Jackson Woof died in December 1972 aged 76. Rodger’s grand father Thomas had moved in with one of his daughters, Mary Jane, who had married William Macghie (a miner from Glenridding) in 1888. They moved to Cockermouth and were still living there with 76 year old Thomas in 1911. It seems the last of Rodger’s direct family living in the Dale was probably his Uncle Edmund, just five years older than him, who had been working at the Milcrest Hotel in Glenridding in 1901 as a porter and who married Charlotte McKeegan in Patterdale in November 1902. By 1911 he too had moved away, to Carlisle, where he was working as a Railway Labourer. We believe Edmund stayed in Carlisle until his death aged 77 in December 1952.
It is perhaps because there were none of Rodger’s direct family left in the Dale at the end of World War One that he is remembered on the Glenridding Village Hall Roll of Honour as “Private Roger Jackson, Border Regiment” -
If you can add anything to the story of Rodger and his family please contact us.
A photo of the children at Patterdale School in 1889, kindly given to us by the family of Dawson Bowman, which may well include Rodger. We have tried to identify as many of them as possible on our Patterdale School Then and Now page.
Warncliffe War Hospital in Sheffield, where Rodger recovered from his illness and wrote the letter below in 1919..
Sergeant Rodger Robinson Jackson Woof
97 & 200017 -
1/4th (Cumberland and Westmorland) Battalion Border Regiment
Born 1st Jan 1881 Township Patterdale.
Died June 1959 Aged 80 in Keswick
Son of Elizabeth Jackson and Thomas Woof
Husband of Mary Ellen Anderson
Father of John and Mary Woof
Rodger’s Medal Card above and below his entry in the Silver War badge Log Book