Henry Jackson (also known as Harry Jackson) lost both his parents while still a child and in 1839 went to the United Kingdom to live with his aunt at Tattershall, Lincolnshire. He came to the Cape Colony in 1846 and farmed in the Beaufort West district. In 1856 he married Hermina Catharine Hendrina de Jager and after her death in 1871 married Hendrika Jacoba Andrea Brandt in 1872. These unions produced several children. He was a powerful, strong-willed man and a staunch supporter of the South African Museum in Cape Town.
From Nelspoort, some 50 km from Beaufort West, Jackson donated an extensive series of birds' eggs to the South African Museum in 1866, followed by many more in 1867. In 1870, from Beaufort West, he donated more eggs, as well as skins. He corresponded with the curator of the museum, E.L. Layard*, to whom he reported the first observation in South Africa of the local breeding of the European bee-eater (Merops apiaster), which he observed on his farm near Nelspoort.