My father, John Jefferys, was born in Calcutta, India, in 1922 where his father, Frank Haines Jefferys, was the manager of a departmental store and later established an import/export business.
John and his sisters Moira and Barbara Joan were sent to boarding school in England at an early age. In those days, before air travel began, Frank would make the long sea journey to England every two years or so, on business and to see his family. His timing was so great that he and his second wife arrived in London by ship on the very day that I was born in London!
My father had no Jefferys uncles but had met two of his aunts (one having emigrated to Canada before he was born) but generally knew very little about the family though he knew that his father was born in Wiltshire and that farming was in the background.
When I began researching the Jefferys family I found that they were firmly rooted in the good soil of Wiltshire. I discovered generations of farmers back to the mid 1500s. Many of the farms were in sufficiently rural areas that they have been untouched by encroaching civilisation from the nearest towns and villages. Not only I have stood where my ancestors stood, looking at the same rural views as they did, plus or minus a few trees or hedges, but I’ve realised where my love of green English rolling hills comes from.
That grandfather may have chosen to follow the steps of his great uncle into the retail trade rather than become a farmer may be understandable but what remains a mystery is how and why my grandfather found himself working in a departmental store in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where he met and married my grandmother, Aileen Annie Wyer in 1912. Aileen, known as Cissie, was the daughter of a retired army officer who served in both the British and the Indian Army.
One hundred years later, in November 2012, my brother John followed in our grandfather’s footsteps and visited Cargills, the store in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where Frank worked, and the church where our grandparents were married and where the funeral service for Aileen’s father, Patrick Wyer, was held.
From starting my research with just a copy of my grandfather’s birth certificate and an inscribed silver tea service which my brother had inherited, I now have a family tree which begins with my 9 x great grandfather, David Jefferys (who died in 1603).
Fortunately or unfortunately, I could find no breath of scandal in the family, nothing more shocking than the farmer, who really ought to have known better, shooting himself in the foot and, having survived, got religion.
The articles here are based on the research which I did between 2004 and 2007 and subsequent writing in 2011 of what I term the Jefferys Chronicle.
Next: The Mission
The story of the Jefferys in the Wiltshire Militia is here.
And the family tree is here.