JEFFREYS, John (c.1623-89), of The Priory, Brecon.
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Family and Education
b. c.1623, 1st s. of Jeffrey Jeffreys of Abercynrig by Margaret, da. of Gregory Price of The Priory, Brecon. educ. I. Temple 1640, G. Inn 1641. m. Mary, da. of Edward Bassett of Fledborough, Notts., 1da. suc. fa. by 1647.1
Lt.-col. of ft. (royalist) to 1645; lt. of horse [I], regt. of Francis, Lord Aungier 1663, capt. 1664-78; constable of Dublin Castle 1673-80.2
J.p. Brec. July 1660-d., dep. lt. c. Aug. 1660-d.; commr. for assessment, Brec. Aug. 1660-80, Brecon 1677-80; maj. of militia horse, Brec. by 1661-?4, commr. for loyal and indigent officers 1662, col. of militia ft. by 1679-at least 1684; capital burgess, Brecon by 1679-?d.; master of Kilmainham hospital 1684-?d.3
Jt. registrar of claims [I] 1665-70.4
MP [I] 1665.
Jeffreys, the grandson of a Brecon mercer, fought as a Royalist in the Civil War, compounding for his estate in 1648 for £380 10s. He claimed to have been always active in the King’s service except when prevented by strict imprisonment, and his name appeared on the list drawn up by Roger Whitley in 1658 as a lieutenant-colonel of foot. At the Restoration he was nominated for the order of the Royal Oak, with an estate of £600 p.a. He applied for a tellership of the Exchequer, but the candidate proposed by Edward Progers was preferred. He defeated Progers at a by-election for Breconshire in 1661, and became the only member of his family to enter Parliament. But he had taken no part in the proceedings of the Cavalier Parliament when the election was declared void, after which he stood down in favour of his opponent, probably at the wish of the Duke of Ormonde, who gave him a commission in the Irish army. It was said on his arrival in Ireland that ‘his estate in Wales was so encumbered by his loyalty to the crown that he had to remove hither in hopes to redeem it’. Abercynrig had to be sold in 1664, but in the following year Jeffreys was made joint registrar to the commissioners appointed under the Act of Explanation, a post believed to be worth at least £8,000. He sat in the Irish Parliament and his fortunes probably improved, although he was still not clear of debt in 1672.5
Jeffreys intended to stand for the county again at the first general election of 1679, but he again withdrew in favour of Progers. With government support, he challenged the country candidate Thomas Mansel I in the borough, where he had probably inherited the Priory from his cousin Sir Herbert Price. There was a double return, but Jeffreys was allowed to take his seat. He knew too much about the informer Bedloe to attach credence to the Popish Plot; marked as a court supporter on Huntingdon’s list, he was absent from the division on the first exclusion bill. He was inactive in the 1679 Parliament, in which he was appointed only to a committee for the continuation of the Irish Cattle Act and another for a private bill. He was re-elected in October, when he was described as one of the capital burgesses. In the second Exclusion Parliament he was moderately active, being appointed to six committees, including those to draw up an address for a fast, to audit the disbandment accounts, and to consider a bill for relief from arbitrary fines. He left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament, but in the following summer it was stated that he had been lately ‘very serviceable to his Majesty in the county where he lives’. Sir Leoline Jenkins, who had known him for over 40 years, persuaded Ormonde to accept him as the first master of the new military hospital at Kilmainham, although a serving officer would have been preferred. ‘He hath spent all his time and almost all his estate in the King’s service, and he hath done it with a very clear reputation.’ He was returned in 1685 at a by-election when the Marquess of Worcester (Charles Somerset) chose another seat, but was again appointed to no committees. He was in Ireland when the Breconshire magistrates were questioned on the repeal of the Test Acts and Penal Laws, and in some apprehension about his place; but James II acknowledged his ‘faithful services and sufferings’, and ordered him to stand again for Brecon. It is not known whether he contested the general election of 1689. He died shortly afterwards and was buried at Carmarthen on 24 Apr. His daughter, who had already contravened his wishes over his funeral and her own marriage, completed her disobedience by selling the Priory to the Jeffreys family of Llywel, who were of a different stock. They sat for the borough as Tories for most of the period from 1695 to 1713.6
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Author: Leonard Naylor
- 1. Jones, Brec. iv. 273; Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. iv), 42; CSP Ire. 1663-5, p. 255; SP23/207/473.
- 2. J. R. Phillips, Civil War in Wales, ii. 286; HMC Ormonde, i. 218, 268; n.s. iii. 165.
- 3. SP29/34/21; J. Dingley, Beaufort’s Progress, 200; HMC Ormonde, n.s. vii. 215.
- 4. CSP Ire. 1663-5, p. 663.
- 5. Cal. Comm. Comp. 1674; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 9; Bodl. Carte 33, ff. 7, 203; CSP Ire. 1663-5, p. 662; 1666-9, p. 106; J. Lloyd, Hist. Mems. Brec. 55-56.
- 6. CSP Dom. 1679-80 pp. 64, 74, 84; 1680-1, p. 600; Jan.-June 1683, pp. 89-90; 1686-7, p. 212; 1687-9, p. 276; SP23/207/471; HMC Ormonde, n.s. iv. 275; vi. 89, 93; vii. 482; Trans. Hist. Soc. West Wales, xiv. 18.