Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jeffreys, George (d.1685)

JEFFREYS, GEORGE (d. 1685), organist and composer, is said by Wood (Lives of Musicians, Bodleian MS.) to have been descended from Matthew Jeffreys, who graduated Mus. Bac. at Oxford in 1593, composed music, and became vicar-choral of Wells Cathedral. Jeffreys was organist to Charles I at Oxford in 1643. From about 1648 till his death he held the post of steward to the Hattons of Kirby, Northamptonshire. Many of Jeffreys's letters, almost wholly dealing with the Hatton estates, and addressed to Christopher, second baron, afterwards first viscount Hatton [q. v.], and others are preserved in the Hatton-Finch correspondence in the British Museum; they cover a period of nearly forty years. From 1648 Jeffreys resided at Little Weldon in Northamptonshire, displaying great zeal in the interests of his master. In 1667 he was expected to contribute a horse to the muster, but declared himself exempt as not possessing 100l. In 1671 he obtained from Hatton a draft for a protection when ‘our troublesome presbyterian parson’ maliciously set ‘him down to be churchwarden.’ His last letter, dated 11 May, complains of great pain, and he died before 12 July 1685.

Jeffreys's anthem, ‘Erit gloria Domini,’ is printed in the ‘Cantica Sacra’ of 1672. He composed numerous anthems and motets, many of which are in manuscript in the Aldrich collection, Christ Church, Oxford. The library of the Royal College of Music is very rich in music by this composer, possessing (1) an autograph collection (sixty-one numbers) of Latin and English motets and anthems, for one, two, and three voices, with basso continuo. The voice part of the motets for one voice is wanting. (2) An autograph collection (nineteen numbers) of Latin and English motets, anthems, &c., for four voices, with basso continuo. (These are probably similar to the British Museum Addit. MSS. 30829–30 and 17816, from which the cantus part is missing.) (3) ‘Fourteen Songs for two Voices,’ transcribed from Dean Aldrich's collection. (4) Motets for three voices, by Richard Dering and George Jeffreys, in separate parts, two-voice parts, and bassus continuus. In the British Museum Addit. MS. 10338 is an autograph collection of Jeffreys's compositions, dating from 1630 to 1669. It contains scores of fantasies, part-songs, a morning hymn, composed ‘at Mr. Peter Gunnings's motion,’ May 1652; scenes from masques, songs made for some comedies; ‘Have pity, grief,’ for a comedy sung before the king and queen at Cambridge, 1631; ‘Lord, who for our sins,’ ‘made in the time of my sickness,’ October 1657.

Jeffreys's son, Christopher (d. 1693), was elected as a king's scholar of Westminster to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1659, and was, according to his friend Wood, ‘excellent at the organ and virginalls or harpsichord.’ He proceeded B.A. in 1663 and M.A. in 1666. He afterwards journeyed in Spain, and his father made vain efforts to obtain him a post in the suite of an ambassador, thinking that ‘the little music he hath’ might prove a recommendation. Christopher and his wife Anna continued to live in his father's house at Little Weldon, Northamptonshire, up to the latter's death in July 1685. Christopher died in 1693. His son George is separately noticed. A sister was privately married in 1669 to Henry Goode, rector of Weldon in 1684.

[Hawkins's Hist. of Music, ii. 582, 584, 680; Wood's Life, p. xxxv; Grove's Dict. of Music, ii. 33; Cat. Sacred Harmonic Society's Library; Brit. Mus. Addit. MSS. 29550–62; P. C. C. Administration Act-Book, July 1695.]

L. M. M.