Jefferies, Jesse

Also known as: Jessie Jeffreys

Collection date: Sept 1905

Area: Somerset - Mendips (Harptree & Priddy)


Mr Jesse Jefferies of Cheddar (c1833-1921): age 76? 2 songs (FT662/3) on 16th Sept 1905: Sharp wrote ‘Jessie Jeffreys’ and wrote an age of ‘86’. A squiggle at the end of ‘Mr’ has led some to suppose that the singer was a Mrs Jeffreys. But it is more likely that the singer was male* and named ‘Jesse’. There were several branches of the Jefferies family in Cheddar – not a single spelling of Jeffreys.

There were 3 ‘Jesse’ boys born in Cheddar in the right time period – one in 1817 (died 1827); one b1828 who spent the last 30 years of his life in a workhouse at Stapleton, Glos; and one born c1833, son of Obediah & Maria Jefferies. This latter Jesse married Sarah Thatcher at Cheddar on 27/5/1861. He was a labourer ‘of age’ and could not write his name. He was working in a paper mill in 1871. His age, as listed in the next 2 censuses, is then inconsistent – jumping to 56 in 1881, then stalling at 56 in 1891. By 1911 he is on his own at The Bays (4 rooms) in Cheddar, aged 78 (RG14/14558 sched 76). He died Sept 1921 'aged 92'.

Sharp would be awry by at least 10 years in his age quote (and that is unusual) but this Jesse is the most likely candidate for singer, although his own maths was doubtful.

*Perhaps conclusive proof is that Sharp is quoted in The Daily Despatch (Manchester) 11/4/1906 saying that he ‘recorded an ancient ballad from an old man in charge of a cocoanut pitch (‘three shies a penny’), when business was slack’.