The War of the Roses (1455-1485) between the two branches of the royal house of Plantagenet, the House of Lancaster and the House of York had ended and it was the age of the Tudor Monarchs in England and of a renaissance throughout Europe.
In 1476 William Caxton had produced the first printed book in England using techniques invented in Germany. New printing presses were turning out quantities of cheap books and pamphlets, bringing new ideas and information to anybody who could read.
In 1534 King Henry VIII of England had begun the process which became the Reformation, which separated the English Church from the control of the Roman Catholic Church and which led to the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536.
In 1538 Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Vicar General, ordered that every baptism, marriage and burial was to be recorded in books known as parish registers. The pages were fragile and many succumbed to damp or even mice and the home-made ink faded but a remarkable number of registers survived. [Without those parish registers few family historians would be able to research further back than the time of Civil Registration which began in 1837.]
Architects, painters, musicians, writers, sculptors and scholars began to look at the world in new ways and use new techniques and theories. The most famous playwright of all time, William Shakespeare, would be born in 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.
It was a time of expansion: of knowledge about the world, of exploration and of international trade. In a voyage from 1577 to 1580 Francis Drake would circumnavigate the world. In 1585 Walter Raleigh would found the first colony in America. Although that colony failed, a later one would give England a firm foothold in North America.
Many children were born into this exciting new age; their descendants were to spread around the world.
In about 1540, a boy was born in Siderow, in the village of Bremhill in Wiltshire. He was given the name David and he was born into the Jefferys family. It was a large family, firmly rooted in the soil. It became a farming dynasty.
This is the story of generations of farmers in Wiltshire and beyond during a time of great agricultural change, with at least one descendant still farming today – over four hundred and seventy years later.
It is the story of two drapers: one who became the Mayor of Calne and the other, the manager of departmental stores in Colombo, Ceylon and in Calcutta, India.
It is the story of missionaries and of the British Empire Medal being awarded to the ‘Angel of Stockton’. It is the story of service in the county militia and of military service during the world wars. And of a wartime marriage which was a mistake.
It is the story of many births: of family first names being repeated generation after generation – to the frustration of the family historian.
It is the story of the marriages of cousins and of farming families united through marriage.
It is the story of deaths: of infant mortality, accidents, war and old age.
It is a story of hope and despair: of joy and sorrow. It is a story of gains and losses. It is the story of a family.
It is the story of the Jefferys of Wiltshire.
Next: The Early Jefferys