My Jeffery conundrum

I am building a family tree for Anne Ramsden who lives in Melbourne.  Her father was a Jeffery and her mother was a Holmes.  So far I have most of her lines going back a long way except – ironically – for the Jeffery and Holmes lines which have hit a dead end.  So far I have the Jeffery line back to Thomas Jeffery 1784-1841.  That’s not a bad achievement but I’m sure I can do better.  And this is the one line I really want to extend for this lady.

(I have one line – Rowland – on Anne’s maternal side back to the mid-1500s.)

The English Jeffery (and name variations) families were widespread but tended to be mostly in the South of England.  In this case, Sussex predominates.

Several family trees on ANCESTRY indicate that Thomas was born in Streat in Sussex.  But the people at the Sussex Family History Group – – can’t find evidence that Thomas was born in Streat, Sussex.

His marriage record that I found at the SFHG –




indicates that Thomas was “of the parish of Street” – different spelling.  I take that to mean that if it was “of the parish of Streat”, then it meant that he was living in Streat when he married.  It doesn’t mean he was born there.

Just to add to the confusion – there is also a parish by the name of Street in Somerset – a mere 160 miles away from Streat in Sussex!

Various suggestions are that in those days people didn’t travel far because there were no cars or trains – it was horse drawn transport or Shanks’s pony.  But it is my opinion that some did – either because they needed to find work, or perhaps had fallen foul with the law or because of family problems and so forth.

So I don’t know whether Thomas was born in Sussex or a neighbouring County, and I am yet to confirm the date as 1784, but it has to be around that time.  But I do have evidence of his marriage to Frances (Fanny) Ford in Keymer, Sussex on 9 November 1809 and of his death in Keymer, Sussex on 17 February 1841.

And I do know that Thomas and Frances had eleven children.  The first seven children were all baptised in Wivelsfield in Sussex and two of them died in Wivelsfield.  The last four children were all baptised in Clayton in Sussex and one also died in Clayton. Daughter Catherine was born in Wivelsfield in 1817 and died in Clayton in 1840.   I have baptismal records for all eleven children.

I have noted that it is approximately 6 miles from Wivelsfield to Clayton and 6 miles from Wivelsfield to Keymer, and less than 2 miles from Clayton to Keymer.

Thomas’s wife Frances Ford was born in Keymer as were her parents.  Her paternal grandfather was born in Wivelsfield and paternal grandmother was born in Clayton.

I decided that perhaps Thomas was born somewhere else in Sussex but where?  I subscribed to the Sussex Family History Group and have spent many hours trolling through baptismal records in villages within a reasonable distance of Streat for this Thomas.  I haven’t finished yet by a long way but I currently have almost FIFTY minor Sussex Jeffery trees – and so far I have only connected two or three of them.

The only couple so far that I feel could be Thomas’s parents are Thomas Jeffery and Mary Braysher (Brasier).

Thomas is the son of Henry and Susan Jeffery and was baptised in Keymer on 28 December 1758.


A reliable source has Mary being the daughter of John Braysher and Ann Gibbs and she was born 22 May 1760 possibly in Plumpton or Wivelsfield.

It would appear that Thomas and Mary Jeffery had six children I can verify with some level of confidence   None of them are named Thomas.

The first was William born 1779 followed by Mary 1785, James 1788, Lydia 1793, Charlotte 1802 and Frances 1805.

But what interests me is the six-year gap between William, born in Clayton or Wivelsfield and Mary, born in Clayton.  There was also a nine-year gap between Lydia and Charlotte.

Did the Jeffery’s practice some early form of birth control?  Did one of them have minor issues?  They didn’t have television or Facebook to distract them.  Or did they pack up and move after William was born for some reason and had one or more children where they moved to?  And one of them could have been Thomas?  And then maybe they moved back to Clayton before Mary was born?

This scenario appeals to me but I haven’t been able to find any reference to him elsewhere in Sussex at the moment.  And there are a lot of records still to be checked.

IF – if our Thomas is not the son of Thomas Jeffery and Mary Braysher and if I can’t find him anywhere in Sussex, then maybe he was born in another County and moved to Sussex as a young man.

I guess Kent is the favourite County followed by Somerset, Dorset and Surrey.  That’s a lot of records!