Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jeffrey, Alexander
JEFFREY, ALEXANDER (1806–1874), Scottish antiquary, born in 1806 near Lilliesleaf, Roxburghshire, was fourth son of a farm steward or bailiff, who belonged to the antiburgher branch of the secession church. He was a studious youth, but left school at an early age, became a solicitor's clerk at first in Melrose and afterwards in Edinburgh, and was later an assistant in the town-clerk's office at Jedburgh. In 1838 he obtained admission as a practitioner in the sheriff court of Roxburghshire, and subsequently became the most popular and successful agent, especially in criminal cases, in the sheriff courts of Roxburgh and Selkirk. He lived at Jedburgh, and died there on 29 Nov. 1874. His wife had died in 1872.
Despite his professional industry Jeffrey was well read in general literature, and as an enthusiastic archæologist was elected a member of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries. In 1836 he published a history of Roxburghshire in an octavo volume. In 1853 he began rewriting it on a larger scale. The first volume of the new venture—his chief work—was issued in 1853, and the fourth and last in 1864. Although the works of the Record Commission published since disclose information with which Jeffrey was not acquainted, his history, despite occasional defects in style and arrangement, is on the whole well written, and remains a recognised authority (cf. review in Edinburgh Review, cxii. 489 seq., and ib. July 1887). To the ‘Transactions’ of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club, of which he was a member, he contributed two topographical papers on Jedburgh and Ancrum respectively. He also published a small guide to the scenery and antiquities of Jedburgh (12mo, n.d.)
[Scotsman, 30 Nov. 1874; private information.]