Jeffers of Bandon

In our digital age many of us take photographs almost daily of everything including our pets, families, food, holidays etc.  In fact we have so many photos that we fail to appreciate the wonder and value of this technology. Photography was first invented in 1826, the first picture of a human in 1838, the first colour photo in the 1860s and the first digital photograph in 1975. It was probably around the 1870s that it became possible for the ordinary person to access the services of a photographer. However personal photos from the 1800s and early 1900s are scarce.  Many families have albums full of old photos but unfortunately many of them are unidentifiable as nobody took the time to write down who was in the picture.

I was recently shown this wonderful photograph of my husband’s Jeffers family taken around 1909 in Bandon, Co. Cork.  His grandfather, Jonothan Edward Jeffers, known to everyone as Eddie, is the little cross-legged boy seated at the front.  Later in life Eddie wrote names on the back of the photo but the family couldn’t confirm exactly who everyone was. However, by putting his records with the family tree that I’d created alongside we were able to piece the information together and identify everyone in the photo. The photo contains three generations of Jeffers spanning 159 years. Eddie’s grandparents, John Edward & Bessie Jeffers are centre stage and are surrounded by their surviving children, children-in-law and grandchildren.

John Edward Jeffers was one of at least four children born to Edward Jeffers, a farmer and shoemaker, and his wife Anne Wolfe of Lislee near Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork on  29 June 1841.  John moved to the nearby market town of Bandon where he worked in and became manager of Miss Moriarty’s Grocery and Bakery on South Main Street.  In 1868 he married Elizabeth (Bessie) Bright in St. Peter’s Church, Bandon.  Bessie’s father, Jonathan Bright, was a shoemaker from Bridge Street, Bandon.  When Miss Moriarty died in 1883 she left the Grocery to 42 year old John in her will.  John renamed the shop “Jeffers” and continued to work in the Bakery/Grocery Trade.


Jeffers bakery and grocery, 86 South Main Street, Bandon, Co. Cork.  Early 1900s.

John and Bessie Jeffers lived on Castle Road, not far from his shop and bakery.  Previous generations of Jeffers in Courtmacsherry had belonged to the local Church of Ireland, but John and Bessie were very active members of Bandon Brethren Church. They had a total of eight children though a number of them died young as you will see from their details below.

1. Edward Jeffers (1869-1876) was their eldest child.  When he died aged just 6, he had three older brothers.

1869 Edward Jeffers birth

Birth record of Edward Jeffers, eldest son of John & Bessie Jeffers, 1869, Bandon.


2. Jonathan Jeffers (1870-1891) moved to live and work in Barry, South Wales.  He married Elizabeth Guymer and worked as a Custom House Office. He was only 27 when he died of Tuberculosis.  He had at least 1 son, William Jeffers.

1898 Jonathan Jeffers Death Wales

Death record of Jonathan Jeffers, Barry, Cardiff, Wales, 1898.


3. Unknown Jeffers (1872 -?) There’s a civil birth cert recording an unnamed boy born in 1872.  No sign of any further information on this person other than he had died by the time of the  1911 census.

1872 unknown jeffers birth prob Richard

Birth Record of an unknown child of John and Bessie Jeffers, 1872.


4. Richard Wolfe Jeffers (1875-1961) was known to his family as Dick. Initially a draper’s assistant in Bandon, in 1899 aged 24 he enlisted in the Royal Artillery Corps (RGA) of the British Army reaching the rank of Sergeant Major by the time he was discharged in 1911. In 1906 he married Mary Anne Cudmore from Leith, near Edinburgh, Scotland and they had five children. Evelyn and Elizabeth, his first two daughters, were born in Leith. Dorothy, his third daughter, was born in Aden (now Yemen) during his army service. Following Dick’s discharge from the army they returned to Bandon where he worked as a bakery manager and where Richard (b.1912) and Gwendoline (b.1914), his youngest two children were born. Some time after 1914 Dick and Mary moved to live near her family in Edinburgh. Mary died there in 1947 aged 56 and Dick lived on to the ripe old age of 88. According to Mary’s death record Dick was a law clerk when he moved to Scotland.

1875 unknown Jeffers birth to John Edward & Bessie

Birth record of Richard Wolfe Jeffers, 1875, Bandon.  Note, his birth was registered without a christian name.

1961 Richard Wolfe Jeffers Death

Death record of Richard Wolfe Jeffers, 1961, Edinburgh, Scotland.


5. Jasper Travers Jeffers (1878-1959) followed his father into the grocery and bakery business, eventually taking it over on his father’s retirement.  He married Frances (Fanny) Young from Aughadown, near Skibbereen, in Scariff Methodist Church near Bandon. Frances’ father William Young had been a colporteur with the Methodist Church in West Cork, selling Bibles and Christian literature.  Jasper and Fanny had three children Jonothon Edward (Eddie) Jeffers (1906-87), Ruth Jeffers (Harper) (1909-81) and Travers Vickery Jeffers (1911-2008). Eddie and Travers both worked in the family shop with their father, while Ruth married George Harpur and moved to live in England. During Eddie and Travers lifetime, Ireland’s grocery trade went through a dramatic transformation. The old-style shop where you were served by an assistant from behind a counter were forced out of business in the 1970s by large supermarkets which initially opened in the cities and larger towns. Eddie and Travers Jeffers caused a bit of a stir when they converted their grocery store into Bandon’s first self-serve supermarket.

Both Eddie and Travers Jeffers raised their families in Bandon and their extended families grew up closely together.  Their grandchildren also grew up together and were more like cousins/friends of each other rather than the official title of second cousins.  Like their father and grandfather before them, they belonged to the Brethren Church and would regularly have preached there and led services.

Jasper and Fanny Jeffers are buried in the graveyard at St. Peters, Church of Ireland in Bandon.  Eddie, Travers and their families are buried in the newer Church of Ireland graveyard in Kilbeg just a few miles east of Bandon.

Jeffers supermarket and bakery is long gone.  In the 1980s and 1990s Jasper’s grandsons, Peter and Mervyn, had an electrical shop and a sports shop.  They too have ceased to trade and the current generation now operate Music Shops, selling pianos and church organs. And so the name Jeffers lives on in Bandon today.

1950 Jasper Travers Jeffers Death

Death record of Jasper Travers Jeffers, 1950, Bandon.


6. James Percy Jeffers (1880-1926) grew up in Bandon and ran a successful auctioneering business in the town. Numerous newspaper advertisements announced the sales of farms, houses, livestock etc. by Percy Jeffers, Auctioneer. In 1907 he married Kathleen Smith in Bandon Methodist Church. He and Kate had two daughters, Ida and Nora. When he was only 45 years old he died quite suddenly from acute nephritis (kidney).

1926 James Percy Jeffers Death

Death Record of James Percy Jeffers, 1926, Bandon.


7. Anna Charlotte Jeffers (1884-1940) never married and lived with her parents in Bandon. Her father died in 1919 and she continued to live with her mother Bessie who outlived her by four years. Anna died in Lindville Hospital, Cork of Chronic Endocarditis aged just 55.

1940 Charlotte Ann Jeffers death

Death Record of Charlotte Anne Jeffers, 1940, Cork.


8. Elizabeth Jeffers (1887-?)  Only a birth record for her.  No further information other than she was no longer living by the 1911 census and unlikely that she was alive by the 1901 census.

John & Bessie Jeffers (in centre of pic) had a total of eight children, though by the time of the 1911 census only four were still alive. These are the four that we can see in the back row of this amazing photograph which was taken around 1909.


Jeffers family photo taken c. 1909, Bandon, Co. Cork.  Back Row: Richard Wolfe Jeffers, Frances (Young) Jeffers, Jasper Travers Jeffers, Anna Charlotte Jeffers, James Percy Jeffers.  Seated: Mary (Cudmore) Jeffers with baby Elizabeth, John Edward Jeffers, Bessie (Bright) Jeffers, Kathleen (Smith) Jeffers with baby Ida.  Front row: Jonathan Edward Jeffers (son of Jasper) and Evelyn Jeffers (daughter of Richard).

And here’s just one more photo that turned up of the same family though a few years earlier. It must have been taken after Jonothan moved to live in Wales. Perhaps it was taken after his death. Young Anna, who was born in 1884 looks like she couldn’t be any more than around 10/12, so that would make the date c. 1896/7.

John Edward & Bessie Jeffers

John Edward & Bessie Jeffers with four of their children c. 1897

While preparing the Jeffers family tree, discovering names, dates, professions etc was all very interesting, but actually seeing the people I had been researching has made them seem so much more real.

Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 22.02.403 Generation Descendant Chart of John Edward Jeffers

Irish Granny = Irish Passport

Did you know that even if you yourself weren’t blessed to be born on the island of Ireland, you might still be eligible to apply for an Irish passport.  If either your parents or your grandparents were born in Ireland, you can apply for Irish Citizenship and an Irish Passport.

One of my more recent projects was to find an Irish birth record for a grandparent of a gentleman born in the UK and now living in Ireland.  He knew his parents were both born in the UK and had their birth certs.  While there was no documentation to prove it, he had heard that one of his grannies was from Ticknock, which he thought might be in Wicklow.

Using the information contained in his father’s Scottish birth certificate, I was able to locate  his Granny and Grandpa’s marriage in Dundee, Scotland in 1904.  This gave me the names, ages, addresses and occupations of both the bride and groom as well as the names of their parents and witnesses.  Scottish records provide lots of detailed information and this one was no exception.  I was then able to find the groom’s birth in Dundee, making him a Scottish Grandpa –  not what we were looking for.   The bride’s surname  was Kelly and there was no trace of her birth in Scotland. In order to search of the Irish Civil records I turned to tHhe fabulous website where I found hundreds of Kelly’s born around 1880. Knowing that Ticknock is located in south county Dublin,  helped to narrow the search and lead me to the  birth record I was looking for and proving that Yes – Granny was Irish!

Armed with this information I then ordered all the relevant birth, marriage and death certificates required to proceed with the Irish Passport application.  So it seems our Irish Grandparents are still looking out for us, even decades after their deaths.

Have a look at a sample of a Scottish Civil Record. Here is a copy of a death record for one of my own ancestors, Walter Paterson.  It gives so much information, showing Walter’s parents names, including his mother’s maiden name, his son, both his wives as well as his own age, profession, address and cause of death.

Walter Paterson death register 1883

The following is an extract from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs web site.

Born outside Ireland?

You are automatically an Irish citizen if one of your parents was an Irish citizen who was born in Ireland.

You can become an Irish citizen if one of your grandparents was born in Ireland, or you can become an Irish citizen if one of your parents was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, but was not born in Ireland. If you’re eligible, you can register your birth on the Foreign Births Register.

With the United Kingdom about to depart from the European Union, many UK citizens are on the search for their Irish granny or grandpa in order to apply for their Irish Passport.


My origins using DNA testing

Probably one of the main questions which leads to every family tree search is ‘Where do I come from?’   Growing up as I child I simply knew that my mum was from Cork and my dad from Dublin.  I then learnt that My mum’s mother was Welsh are her fathers parents were Scottish and Irish.  On my dad’s side, his mother was Scottish (though born in the North of England) and his father’s family had come from Northern Ireland.  So what did that make me?  Born in Cork, I suppose I’ll always be first and foremost a Cork woman.  My Birth-Cert and passport say I’m Irish.  I look Irish (in a conventional sort of way).  I sound Irish.  I feel Irish.  That begs another question – What is Irish?   Going back just two generations my ancestors were certainly not from this island of Ireland.  Of my 8 great-grandparents, 3 were Scottish (Stewart, Paterson, Barclay), 2 were Welsh (Davies, Jones), 1 from Northern Ireland (McCully) and 2 from what is today called Ireland (McConnell, Wood).

Not being of a scientific mind-set and therefore not really understanding DNA I was slow and sceptical to have my DNA tested.  Eventually however, curiosity got the better of me and I just had to give it a go.  The first test I had done was for my adult son as this would show up both my own and my husband’s DNA and possibly link me to more relatives.  As I keep my tree on, I decided to use their autosomal testing service.  It really couldn’t have been any easier and in just a few short weeks, his results came back.  Even though I sent it off with just a number for a reference and not linked to my tree it came back showing that the closest relative on their database was a cousin of my father-in-law.  This gave me confidence in the system .  I was surprised how much of his DNA originated outside of the British Isles.


Now curiosity really got the better of me as I didn’t know which part of his DNA was mine and which was his father’s.  The only answer was to get my own test done.  The results have just come back and surprisingly the two results are quite similar.  Even more reassuring is that Andrew is definitely my son!!  I’m not sure how I’d have reacted if that hadn’t been the case.  Unfortunately there are no close family links connected with my test on the ancestry database yet.


Having traced much of my family back to the 1700’s on many of my branches I haven’t found any proof of them stemming from mainland Europe or beyond.  It’s quite unlikely that I ever will.  But it’s nice to know the migration pattern of my ancestors.  I hope that as more people get tested that I may get links to others who share a common ancestry.

As for the question of where am I from? –  I’m still a Cork woman.  I’m still Irish and now I can say with confidence that I’m European.