The family originally from eastern Essex and southern Suffolk

The origins of the Jefferies on our line before the late 1700's is still a puzzle, and may always be so.  The Jefferies/Jeffries/Jeffreys and other variants of the name are particularly found in the area of the West Country, Somerset, Gloucestershire and surrounding counties but ours are from Essex.  There are rumours that Jefferies came from the West Country to Essex at some time in the early 1700's but no evidence has been found.  The name itself is said to have been a variant of Geoffrey and of Norman French origins.

The earliest Jeffries on our known line may be John Jeffries who may have married, first a Mary at St Peters Church Sible Hedingham in Essex on 3 April 1777 or Sarah Parminter at Castle Hedingham on the same day! 

The most reliable ancestor is their son, Jonathan Jefferies, born in Sible Hedingham on the 27 January 1782.  DNA tests on his descendants have shown that his wife is Charlotte Britton also from Sible Hedingham. He is recorded as being a Maltster. He and Charlotte had 6 known children, the eldest also being called Jonathan.  The family connections of the 4 younger boys all were involved with the malting industry in the area.

However the eldest seems to have been in the hospitality trade, recorded as a Victualler on his marriage certificate and as a 'beer shop keeper' on the main street of Sible Hedingham.  The background to this occupation I found on line:-

The Beer Act of 1830, enabled any householder of reputable character to obtain a beer house licence for a tenement or dwelling of rateable value, by merely paying the small sum of two guineas to the excise. This meant that more or less anybody could obtain a licence to sell beer without the necessity of having to apply to magistrates. The act was abolished in 1869, bringing all beer houses that had sprung up all over the country under magisterial control.

He married Harriet Button in Gosfield, a village 3 miles south of Sible Hedingham.  There is a legend in the family that Jonathan had been coachman to the Button family and that he eloped with Harriet.  As far as we know Harriet came from a farming family in Blakenham north of Ipswich, about 24 miles to the north east, so for her to be married so far from home is unusual.  Button is a common name in that part of Suffolk but the census records show that Blakenham is where she declares as her birth place. So the mystery remains as to what brought her to Sible Hedingham and why she was not married at home. Her brother Peter Skipper Button was a witness to the marriage.

In 1851 the family, both parents and the three sons, William, Peter & Henry were in Sible Hedingham, next door to the Curate of St Peter's Church, and possiby working for him as servant and laundress respectively. The family left Sible Hedingham sometime before the 1861 census.  However the 1861 census records for Streatham, where the family went, were lost. Fortunately the Streatham Historical Society were able to tell me that Jonathan became coachman for the Rev. John Richard Nichol, Rector of Streatham who was Rector from the 1840's to his death in 1903.  How and why Jonathan and his family would move from rural Essex across London to the growing village of Streatham, some 50 miles in a straight line, on the south west of London is not known, maybe it is connected to their work for the Curate in Sible Hedingham.  The Historical Society did say that both Jonathan and Harriet worked for the Rev, Nichol, Harriet as a laundress.   

Jonathan died just before the 1871 census but his death certificate says he was a gardener, domestic servant, but not for whom. Harriet with her sons Peter and Henry stayed on in Streatham, the eldest son William also dying before the 1871 census, He appears not to have married.

The middle son; Peter Button Jefferies was born on 31 January 1841 and died in Streatham on the 1st September 1908. By the 1871 census he is recorded as being a boot maker, a trade he may have started learning before the family left Sible Hedingham.  The story of Peter Button and his family is in Part 3. Details of Streatham are on the Streatham History page here.

Their youngest son, Henry, by the 1871 census had a wife, marrying Martha Atkin from Spilsby, Lincolnshire.  How they met is not known to me!  Also by 1871 they were living next door to Henry's mother and brother and he had become a housepainter.  Henry died in 1892, it was said in the family due to lead poisoning from paint. The story of Martha and the 6 children is in Part 2.

Revised on 2 July 2021.