Select Jeffries Surname Genealogy

The 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. 

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Select Jeffries Ancestry

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.  John Jeffreys 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, who 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 grandson Judge George Jeffreys, later to be known as the "Hanging 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.    

England.  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 court of Henry VIII, had been able to acquire Earls Croome Court in Worcestershire in the 1560's.
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 century:
  • 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. 
America.  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 family 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.

Australia 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.

Select Jeffries Miscellany

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

Select Jeffries Names

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 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)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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