Jeffries Surname Meaning, History & Origin
Old French personal names of “Jeufroi,” “Jefroi,” or “Geuffroi,”
meaning “peaceful place,” were brought to England by the Normans.
They became Jeffrey or Geoffrey in Middle English. Jeffries is
the patronymic (“son of”) from Jeffrey. Modern variants of the surname are Jeffries, Jefferies and Jeffreys.
- Jeffries Family History. Jeffries from Berkshire.
- Charles Jeffries – The Man and His Family.
Charles Jeffries, a London tinker.
- Jeffreys Family Papers
Papers of David Jeffries, Boston merchant, and descendants.
Wales. There was a family
who later became
Jeffreys who had owned lands in Llywel parish in Brecon since the early
1500’s and possibly earlier. Their home was Ynys Clydach.
of this family moved to London in the 1650’s and became a
wealthy tobacco merchant. On his death, his business was carried
on by his nephew Sir Jeffrey Jeffreys, described as “a merchant
of great fortune” (he was in fact a slave trader).
Another line of
Jeffreys in Brecon began with Jeffrey Jeffreys, a prosperous mercer,
had purchased the Abercynrig estate in 1621. His
descendants later established themselves in Swansea.
John Jeffreys, chief justice of the Anglesey court in north Wales, was
the first of his family in the late 1500’s to adopt the Jeffreys
name. His son John, also a judge, lived at Acton Hall, the
largest house in Wrexham at that time. It was there that his
George Jeffreys, later to be known as the
Judge,” was born. The Judge was married twice and had thirteen
children, but no surviving grandchildren. The Jeffreys line continued
through his younger brother James.
Early Jeffries in England were in Worcestershire. Henry Jeffreys
was recorded as leasing Ham manor near Clifton in 1505 and the Jeffreys
were there for the next two centuries. Joyce Jeffreys of this
family was an enterprising businesswoman who lived through the Civil
War. Meanwhile William Jefferies, who had been a cofferer at the
Henry VIII, had been able to acquire Earls Croome Court in
One Jeffries family history began with a Henry Jeffries who was born in
Wiltshire in 1775 and then moved to Berkshire as a young man. A
Jeffries family in Herefordshire in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s
was one of the first developers of the Hereford breed of cattle. Thomas Jeffries
bred the famous Hereford bull Cutmore in 1836.
Richard Jefferies, born near Swindon in Wiltshire, was a Victorian
writer on nature and rural life. His birthplace and home there is
now a museum open to the public.
Generally, Jeffries and its variants were names to be found in the west
country, either side of the English/Welsh border. By the 19th
- the Jeffries spelling appeared most often in a line running south
from Staffordshire into Gloucestershire
- Jefferies was more to be seen in the southwest, in the counties
of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset
- whilst Jeffreys, the earliest spelling but by that time the least
used of the three spellings, was a name
then mainly of south Wales.
Sir Jeffrey Jeffreys the slave trader had owned large tracts of land in
Virginia and Edward Jeffreys of his family moved there from Barbados in
the 1680’s. He settled in Richmond county where he died in
1715. Moses Jeffries
was born in Fauquier county, Virginia in 1771. His family was
followed in Marie Jeffries Capps’ 1973 book The Moses Jeffries Family of Northern
Virginia. The family of Jim Jeffries the boxer had come
originally from Virginia. He himself was born in Ohio and his
moved to California when he was a young man.
Meanwhile in New England David Jeffries had arrived from Wiltshire in
1677 and become a merchant in Boston. From his line came two eminent
physicians – John
Jeffries, a surgeon at the time of the Revolutionary
War, and a later John Jeffries who founded the Massachusetts Eye and
Ear Infirmary in Boston in 1824.
and New Zealand.
Two Jefferys who came to Australia in the 19th century may have had
family connections with Judge Jeffreys:
- Arthur Jeffreys, the youngest son of the Rev. John Jeffreys of
Barnes in London, who came to Australia in 1839. He prospered as
a cattle and sheep rancher, naming his home Acton after the Jeffreys
home in north Wales, but he died relatively young. His son
became an MP back in England and his grandson a baronet.
- and George Jeffery who emigrated to South Australia in
1847. Later George Jefferys served on a cruiser ship during the
Boxer rebellion in China (his diary of those times has been preserved)
and as a Western Australian MP in the 1950’s.
Henry Jeffreys, born to an English family in
India, immigrated to Otago, New Zealand in 1850. He died young
and his son Henry was committed to the Dunedin lunatic asylum while
suffering from religious mania. But his wife Ellen lived
on. Her paintings survive in the Otago Early
Settlers Museum and the Hocken Library.
Jeffries, Jefferies, and Jeffreys. Modern variants of the surname are Jeffries, Jefferies and Jeffreys. The table below shows their approximate numbers today.
John Jeffreys, Tobacco Merchant. John Jeffreys prospered in the mid 1600’s as a London merchant dealing with
newly developed tobacco in the Virginia colonies. He
was to suffer some financial reverses from
the Great Fire in London in 1666.
morning of September 2, a fire broke out in the baker’s house and
spread. It soon also burned down Thames
Street where all the tobacco warehouses.
W.G. Bell’s book The Great Fire of
Jeffries of Bread St. ward and a former M.P. for Brecknockshire in
tobacco burned at a value of 20,000 pounds sterling in the fire.”
he was hurt financially by the loss
of his tobacco and warehouses, he had become so wealthy by this time
was soon able to rebuild and continue his profitable business.
Judge Jeffreys, the Hanging Judge. After Monmouth’s rebellion failed in 1685, Jeffreys dealt
with the rebels with great severity, earning himself the nickname of
Jeffreys.’ Not only did he sentence 320 people to death but he
sentenced about 850 to transportation to the West Indies as slaves and
ridiculed them in his court whilst passing sentence.
There was one reported case where he brought
up four large horses and had the man’s arms and legs tied to the horses
then had the horses beaten until the man was quartered.
Such was the storm of protest afterwards that
Judge Jeffreys was taken to the Tower of London and locked up. He died there four years later.
Dr. John Jeffries, Surgeon, Loyalist, Astronaut. John Jeffries was an American by birth, having been born in Boston in 1745 where his father
was town treasurer. By 1784 he was a
British subject living in England, a Loyalist who had served in British
military posts during the Revolutionary War.
A year later he and a Frenchman were the first to fly a hot air
across the English Channel. But he
returned to Boston in 1789 to resume his illustrious surgery practice
there. And he died an American in Boston
In June 1783 the Montgolfier
brothers had launched their first large balloon in Paris.
Soon a Frenchman named Jean Pierre Blanchard
started to imagine ways that such balloons could be steered in flight. He thought he would find more patrons outside
France, so he went to England. That
patron turned out to be Dr. John Jeffries.
In November 1784 they undertook their first flight together in
Then, two months
later, the two men undertook something infinitely more daring, the
balloon crossing of the English Channel.
Half way across the Channel, the balloon started to descend and
started to jettison things to keep them airborne. Jeffries
had not now anything left to cast away as ballast in future, excepting
wings, apparatus, and ornaments of the car, with our clothes, and a few
articles. But as a counterpart to such a
situation, we here had a most enchanting and alluring view of the
from Blackness and Cape Blanez to Calais, and on to Gravelines.”
They even jettisoned their own clothes
before finally managing to make it to the French coastline.
Jeffries returned to England and published
his account of the trip. But he never
got the adulation he expected in London from his accomplishment. So when he received letters from his father
David Jeffries, who had never left Boston, to return, he did so and
England in 1789.
Thomas Jeffries and His Herefords. In 1836 the Hereford bull Cotmore was calved. It
had been bred by Thomas Jeffries and was acknowledged to be the
ever produced to that day. Its weight at nine years was 3,920
Thomas Jeffries was recognized by his
subscription list, prefaced by the following notice, appeared in the
Hereford papers in 1839:
as well as breeders of Hereford cattle having viewed with feelings of
success of Mr. Thomas. Jeffries of The Grove in obtaining at the first
of the English Agricultural Society, held at Oxford on July 17, 1839, a
for exhibiting the best Hereford bull, desire to present him with a
plate, as an expression of the highest estimation in which his services
as a breeder of Herefords.”
was presented at a dinner with a magnificent service of plate. The service, along with a large number of
cups, has later in the possession of his son Henry who treasured them
as evidence of the skill of his father and other members of the family
breeding Herefords, but also as a testimony of the esteem in which Mr.
was held by a wide circle of friends.
Charles Jeffries and His Concertina. Charles Jeffries
was born near Paddington in London in 1841. According to legend, he was
a tinker – someone who mends pots and pans, sharpens knives, and deals in
metal objects. His descendants have
adamantly contended that he was, like his father, a brushmaker in his
younger days. Still, brushmaking could be
occupation, with the brushes being made during the winter and hawked
the summer. And hence Charles in his
wandering days might have been mistaken for a tinker.
Charles probably acquired his first
concertina in the early 1860’s. One legend of his early life has him
with his barrow and playing his concertina to attract the attention of
in the surrounding houses or busking for pennies when business was
quiet. When people became interested in
concertina, he would offer to sell them one. If
the story has any truth, most of his early
customers would have been ordinary folks.
Somehow his skills eventually led him to the concertina as a trade,
apparently first as an aspiring concertina player, then as a repairer,
finally as a maker. In the 1866 birth
certificate for his child, his occupation was given as “musical
maker,” but the “maker” was then struck out and corrected to “mender.” By 1969, his occupation was given as “musical
instrument maker.” This is good evidence
that Charles Jeffries went into the concertina trade in earnest in the
- George Jeffreys was known as the “Hanging Judge” because of how he dealt with the ringleaders of Monmouth’s rebellion in 1685.
- Richard Jefferies was an
English writer about nature and rural life in Victorian times.
- Jim Jeffries became boxing heavyweight champion of the world when he defeated Bob Fitzsimmons in Brooklyn in 1899.
- Boyd Jefferies founded the
global investment bank of Jefferies & Company in 1962.
Select Jeffries Numbers Today
- 16,000 in the UK (most numerous
in West Midlands)
- 10,000 in America (most numerous in Ohio)
- 9,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
Select Jeffries and Like Surnames
Patronymic surnames can be with either the “-son” or the shorter “s” suffix to the first name. The “s” suffix is more common in southern England and in Wales. Here are some of these surnames that you can check out.
Click here for return to front page
Leave a Reply