Jefferson Surname Genealogy

Jefferson comes from son of Geoffrey, a forename meaning peaceful place.  The surname is not that common in England.
Jefferson is more common in America, thanks to Thomas Jefferson, the third American President.  He was recently discovered to have a Y chromosome belonging to the haplogroup known as K2.
Genetic studies show that this Y-haplogroup is extremely rare in Europe and is more likely to have come from northeast Africa or the Middle East.  Two unrelated Jeffersons in England were also found to have the same Y-haplogroup.  This led The New York Times to speculate that the Jeffersons were Jewish..
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Jefferson Ancestry

England.  The first
reference to a Jefferson appears to be a John Geffreesume, otherwise
as John fitz Geoffrey, as a signature to the 1258 Provisions of Oxford
document.  However, the fitz Geoffrey name was still patronymical
(his son was called fitz John), rather than a surname as we would know

Jeaffresons were yeoman farmers in Suffolk for many generations.
In the early 17th century, John Jeaffreson left his home for a
life of adventure at sea.   He was fortunate in his
connections and was able, in 1625, to secure rights to a plantation in
the West Indies.

His son Samuel established this plantation, the
Red House plantation, in St. Kitts.  Although the Jeaffresons
later returned to England with their profits and bought Dullingham
House in Cambridgeshire, it is believed that one of these Jeaffresons
migrated from Antigua to Virginia and was the forebear of the American
President, Thomas Jefferson.

Yorkshire  The
name John
Jeffrason appeared in Yorkshire in the 1528 York register.
subsequently were to be found in the East Ridings:

  • a Jefferson
    family were landowners in Hook and Howden,
    dating back to Robert Jefferson in the 1680’s.  There were and
    still are clusters of Jeffersons in and
    around Driffield nearby.
  • and the name still means something in
    Thorganby where the family had been benefactors.  Locals protested
    when the name of their pub, The
    Jefferson Arms
    , was changed to The
    Indian Elephant.

The actor Thomas Jefferson was born in Ripon in
1732.  The family later emigrated to Philadelphia.  His son
and grandson also became actors, the latter, Joseph, achieving public
renown in America for his portrayal of Rip Van Winkle.   He
put on a show in Washington, Our
Japanese Embassy,
when the first ever Japanese delegation came
to America in 1860.

Jeffersons can also be traced from the early 1600’s across the Pennines
in what is now Cumbria.  A Jefferson family owned the Bulmer Hill
farm near Wigton.  From Wigton came Robert Jefferson who founded
the family
rum business in Whitehaven
that bore his name.  This
business, which involved ships, plantations in Antigua and warehouses
in Whitehaven, lasted until 1997.  The warehouses, first built in
1785, now function as a museum.

Also from Cumbria came Stan
Jefferson who crossed the Atlantic, like the Yorskshire Jeffersons, to
tread the boards in America.  He is better known by his stage-name
Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy fame.

America.  The Jeffersons
appear to have arrived in Virginia in the 1650’s.  Thomas’s father
Peter claimed land in Albemarle County where he built a 5,000 acre
plantation.  Thomas Jefferson himself served as Governor of
Virginia, was a member of the Continental Congress, and, in 1800,
became the third President of the United States.  He retired to
his estate in Monticello in 1809.

While President, Jefferson concluded in 1803 the Louisiana purchase
which secured for the United States the North American French
possessions in the south.  As such, his name is particularly
commemorated there.

Jeffersons themselves are still to be found
foremost in Virginia, and then in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and
Georgia.   Richard Jefferson was granted land in Delaware in
the 1740’s.  John Jefferson was one of those who moved south to
Mississippi in the 1830’s and later went onto Seguin in Texas where he
ran a tavern and operated several stage lines.  Another Jefferson
family from Virginia, the descendants of Colonel Field Jefferson,
migrated to Tennessee and Texas.

Thomas Jefferson has been called the “negro
president.”  He was throughout his life a slaveowner.  His
relationship with his slave Sally Hemings caused much
comment at the
time and still does.  Did Jefferson father any of her six
children, including her son Eston who subsequently moved to Wisconsin
and took the Jefferson name?  Eston’s descendants thought so and
tried to gatecrash the annual Jefferson reunion.

African Americans  It is a noteworthy fact
that 75% of the Jeffersonsin America today are black. African Americans
choose their name after Emancipation and many of them obviously chose
as a well-known early President.  There are more than a thousand
descendants of Jefferson by his slaves.  We have post-bellum slave
recollections by
Isaac Jefferson at Monticello, by
Sophronia Jefferson in Kentucky, and by Lewis and Hattie Jefferson in

In more recent times, the popularity of Jefferson as an African
American name is evident from The Jeffersons, the first black
sitcom to be aired on national TV.  Blind Lemon Jefferson
the father of the Texas blues; while Bill Jefferson was in 1990
first black congressman since Reconstruction.

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If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Jefferson

John Jeaffreson established his family fortunes as a plantation owner in
St. Kitts in the West Indies.
started the Jefferson rum business in Whitehaven in
the 1780’s.
Thomas Jefferson was the third American President.
Joseph Jefferson was a nineteenth century actor known for
portrayal of Rip Van Winkle.

Lemon Jefferson
Texas was one of the first African American blues singers to achieve
popular success.
Wallace Jefferson in
2004 became the first African American to be Chief Justice of the Texas
Supreme Court.

Select Jeffersons Today

  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Warwickshire)
  • 16,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas).
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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