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William Arthur Jeffs b. Northampton 1869 -

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Gillikins Report 31 Jul 2022 20:31

This is the grandfather of my relative. He was a blind poet and reciter.. we cannot find his death or whereabouts after 1910 where the Brixham Western Guardian says he had his boots stolen, and was said to be at the lodging house in newton abbott. (3rd march 1910).

His father was Jessie Jeffs. He was educated at a school for the blind in London, and in 1903 married Charlotte Ferrer in Wellingborough. They had five children, and I believe only Walter Ernest Jeffs survived the workhouse and went to sea aged 14, born 1907. The last child of William was Lilian May Jeffs 1908 Wellingborough His mother we believe died in the workhouse much much later, she did have another child in1917, but not to William.

He wrote accounts about a clock tower and a Manchester train wreck, also his love affair with Charlotte.

Any help gratefully received


nameslessone Report 31 Jul 2022 20:53

Have you checked the local newspapers for reports of his death?


ArgyllGran Report 31 Jul 2022 22:05

. BLIND MUSICIAN'S ACCORDION. The fund started by a visitor to Torquay for the purpose of providing an accordion for William Arthur Jeffs, the blind musician who for some years has amused the sympathy of passers by on the Torbay Road has now been closed ..
Published: Friday 01 September 1922
Newspaper: Torquay Times, and South Devon Advertiser

??? I think this is his death below, although the newspaper article below is a bit garbled re age and birthplace.
The death record itself has the right age for someone born 1869, and it's registered in Newton Abbot, the area where you know he was in 1910.


... Well Known Blind Man's Fatal Fall PATHETIC TALE OF BRAVE ENDEAVOUR Behind the story of the death of Mr. Arthur William Jeffs. of Melville Street. Torquay, in a pathetic tale of the blind man's struggle to make a living a world of able-bodied workers. Born in Oxfordshire 64 years ago, Mr. Jeffs was afflicted at the very early age of three weeks, with the terrible handicap of blindness. From the time he left the Blind School, his life was a brave endeavour to make ends meet, a constant effort to play the part of an independent breadwinner.
For a number of years he managed to do this by carrying on as an itinerant street musician, but later moved to Torquay and became a well-known figure on Torquay Sea Front, where he took up his position early in the morning, being escorted to his pitch carrying a small wooden stool, and a mug for the coppers of charitable passers-by..
During the summer season, when hundreds throng the Front, Mr Jeffs was as familiar a landmark as the famous Torquay palm trees, and visitors from Lancashire and the North remembered him from year to year..
Just how long he had been there no one seemed to know, but his widow states that he came to Torquay 36 years ago and had stayed in the same spot all those years..
Valiant endeavours were made by him to lead a normal life, and his hobbies were numerous.
He never forgot his early musician days, and possessed a church organ, an accordion, and a gramophone, which he frequently played during his few leisure hours.
His stock of records was very exhaustive, the total collection numbering about 600, and, although sightless, Mr Jeffs could go to the required pile and pick out any record he wanted with the greatest of ease..
In addition to his musical accomplishments, he studied engineering by means of Braille books, showing an astonishing aptitude for learning, and grasp of this somewhat difficult subject, in a way nothing short of amazing in one so afflicted.
He made great use of the Braille invention, and, in addition to a Braille Bible, possessed a Braille watch with raised hands and figures, by means of which he could tell the time as quickly as a normal person.
His Bible was seldom closed for very long and he would quote whole chapters with reverence and meaning, in addition to extracts from Sankey's hymn book, which he would accompany on the organ..
A religious man of conviction, Mr Jeffs was by no means a pacifist, and had the greatest contempt for the so-called "conscientious objector" during the War years.
He even attempted to "join up" himself, and when refused smilingly by the Recruiting Sergeant, said "You can laugh, but you may need me soon."
His accomplishments were endless, and he would mend a clock, or explain the intricate workings of his gramophone, with an ease astonishing to more gifted onlookers.
Animals and children were among his greatest friends, and at one time he possessed two fine retrievers, one of which he later gave away, and the other subsequently had to be destroyed.
Among his personal belongings, most of which were contained in a wooden box, and untouched by any hand but his own, were souvenirs of the War years, including a number of ration cards and Army Reserve papers.
When he first came to Torquay, he lived at Perrett's Buildings, Pimlico, later moving to Melville Street where he married again. He leaves a widow, Mrs Matilda Jeffs, and, it is believed, a son who has been missing for a large number of years.
The man who fought Life and won, turning a losing battle into a glorious victory, met his end in the way he desired.
He had a horror of lingering in suffering through a dreary old age, and often said, "When I go, I want to go quickly".
On Tuesday morning, about a quarter to ten, he went into a boxroom to get his beloved Bible. His wife and two friends, sitting in a downstairs room, heard a noise and went out, discovering that Mr Jeffs had fallen from top to bottom of the stairs, dying instantly.
Later an ambulance removed the body to the Borough Mortuary.
A post-mortem examination was conducted on Wednesday.

Published: Friday 12 February 1937
Newspaper: Torquay Times, and South Devon Advertiser

GRO Reference: 1937 M Quarter in NEWTON ABBOT Volume 05B Page 212


ErikaH Report 31 Jul 2022 22:18

Torquay ER 1931
William A Jeffs and Matilda Jeffs
20 Melville Street


ArgyllGran Report 31 Jul 2022 22:20

Western Morning News Devon, England
11 Feb 1937
William Jeffs, aged 68, a blind old-age pensioner, of Melville-street, Torquay, whose custom it was to sit on wooden stool on Torquay sea front throughout the year. He died Tuesdav morning his home following a fall down the stairs. Mrs Matilda Jeffs (wife) . . . . .

"I would like to add that when he died he was grasping a book supplied by the National Institute to the Blind, dealing with the life of Christ, which was typical of the old man's mind", said Mr Ernest Hutchings, (County Coroner).., returning a verdict of "accidental death" on William Jeffs, a blind old age pensioner of Melville Street, Torquay, at an inquest at St. Marychurch on Wednesday. Mr. Jeffs, whose death is recorded in another column, was a familiar figure on the sea front where he sat every day.
Evidence of identification was given by the widow, Mrs. Matilda Jeffs, who she took him a cup of tea soon after eight o'clock on Tuesday morning. While dressing about 9.30 he said he was going to get a book (Braille) to read. She then heard him going to the boxroom, and later a noise. Receiving no reply to her inquiries she went outside the room and saw her husband on the floor. Deceased was ill some time ago but would not give in, and went to the Sea Front in accordance with his usual custom on the previous day.
Mr Edward Caine, a neighbour, gave evidence of fetching assistance. Although blind, deceased was able to get about, and had even been known to carry a heavy gramophone down the stairs.
PC Hubbard said the staircase had 14 steps, and four steps before reaching the foot there was a sharp turn to the right. There were no signs , however, of where deceased fell, but witness formed the impression that he fell from the top to the turn, and from there to the floor.
The constable was complimented upon his sketch by the coroner.
Dr P Wade, who conducted a post-mortem examination, said there was intensive fracturing of the whole of the front and right side of the skull, to which injuries death was due.
Returning his verdict, Mr Hutchings said that while expressing his sympathy with Mrs Jeffs, he would like to say that everyone would regret the sad ending of "this old man, who was really a kind of landmark in Torquay".
Published: Friday 12 February 1937
Newspaper: Torquay Times, and South Devon Advertiser

... THE LATE MR. A. W. JEFFS. We have been asked to deny rumours that the late Mr. Arthur William Jeffs. of Melville Street, Torquay, left property and a considerable amount of money.
Published: Friday 19 February 1937
Newspaper: Torquay Times, and South Devon Advertiser


ArgyllGran Report 31 Jul 2022 22:27

Matilda Jeffs
in the 1939 England and Wales Register
Name: Matilda Jeffs
Gender: Female
Marital Status: Widow
Birth Date: 19 Jun 1879
Residence Date: 1939
Address: 5 Brunswick Terrace
Residence Place: Torquay, Devon, England
Occupation: Incapacitated
Line Number: 31
Schedule Number: 128
Sub Schedule Number: 1
Enumeration District: Wges
Borough: Torquay
Registration district: 272-2.
Household Members Age
Matilda Jeffs 60

Matilda Jeffs
in the England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
Name: Matilda Jeffs
Death Age: 83
Birth Date: abt 1877
Registration Date: Oct 1960[Nov 1960] [Dec 1960]
Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec
Registration District: Newton Abbot
Inferred County: Devon
Volume: 7a
Page: 612


ArgyllGran Report 31 Jul 2022 22:52

Marriages Jun 1928
CAUNTER Matilda JEFFS Newton A. 5b 364
Jeffs Arthur W Caunter Newton A. 5b 364


Gillikins Report 1 Aug 2022 08:54

Wow. I was not searching newspapers late enough it seems. Such as shame. Charlotte was still living in 1928 at his remarriage.

At his death he did have one living son through Charlotte that was his own who was in the navy, so I’m wondering if he was aware of that.

I will look for him again in 1911, and 1921 given this information

Delighted, thanks


ArgyllGran Report 1 Aug 2022 09:45

Possibly in Liverpool in 1921, with wrong year of birth??? Can't tell without seeing the transcript or image for other details.

Northampton, Northamptonshire, England

Nobody else listed with him.


Gillikins Report 1 Aug 2022 10:36

A question, where do you look for historical electoral roles?


nameslessone Report 1 Aug 2022 10:49

Have you tried tried the ones on here?

If the ones you want are not on here or the big companies such as Ancestry or aFMP then, I am afraid’ it is trip to the local arcives.


ArgyllGran Report 1 Aug 2022 11:04

The Electoral Rolls here on GR don't really go back before 2002.

Ancestry and FMP have ERs for certain towns or areas, but not all.

ERs for Torquay for the 1920s-1930s are not on Ancestry.
Nor on FMP , as far as I can see.

The British Library has all Electoral Rolls, but you can only view them in person.


Gillikins Report 1 Aug 2022 11:17

Ok. Thanks it was a gift then, from Erika for 1931


ErikaH Report 1 Aug 2022 11:20

I found the ER info I posted on FMP


England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1910-1932
Devon, England

William A

England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1910-1932
Devon, England

ADDRESS 20 Melville Street

As posted above yesterday


ErikaH Report 1 Aug 2022 12:38

Name: Walter Ernest Jeffs
Birth Date: 24 Jan 1907
Service: 1939-1945
Medal Issued/Claimed: 1946-2002
Discharge Number: 1092128

Name: Walter Ernest Jeffs
Birth Date: 24 Jan 1907
Birth Place: Wellingborough, Northamptonshire
Date: 1908-1955
Service Number: AX 13343

Name: Walter E Jeffs
Gender: Male
Marital Status: Married
Birth Date: 24 Jan 1907
Residence Date: 1939
Address: 75 Parr Lane
Residence Place: Bury, Lancashire, England
Occupation: Lineman, Sectional Eng G P O
Line Number: 36
Schedule Number: 138
Sub Schedule Number: 1
Enumeration District: Ngbk
Borough: Bury
Registration district: 462-1
Inferred Spouse:
Agnes Jeffs
Household Members Age
Walter E Jeffs 32
Agnes Jeffs 27 (DoB 9/11/1912)
This record is officially closed.
Walter L. 2
This record is officially closed.

Name: Walter E Jeffs
Appointed Date: 1923
Appointed Place: England
Industry: Postal Service

Name: Walter Ernest Jeffs
Death Date: 11 May 1961
Death Place: Lancashire, England
Probate Date: 2 Nov 1962
Probate Registry: Manchester, Chester, England

Probate to Marjorie Maud Ada Mason (wife of Joseph Mason)

Births Sep 1930 (>99%)
Jeffs Marjorie M A Jones Bristol 6a 10

GRO Reference: 1930 S Quarter in BRISTOL Volume 06A Page 10

Marriages Sep 1952 (>99%)
JEFFS Marjorie M A MASON Bury 10b 1577
MASON Joseph JEFFS Bury 10b 1577

Marriages Sep 1929 (>99%)
Jeffs Walter E Jones Bristol 6a 546
Jones Maud M R Jeffs Bristol 6a 546

Name: Agnes Jeffs
Death Age: 54
Birth Date: abt 1912
Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec 1966
Registration District: Heywood
Inferred County: Lancashire
Volume: 10c
Page: 443

Births Sep 1937 (>99%)
Jeffs Walter L Callaghan Heywood 8c 655
More Jeffs/Callaghan births on freebmd

Name: Maud Marjorie Rees Jones
Baptism Date: 4 Dec 1910
Baptism Place: Easton, Bristol, England
Parish as it Appears: All Hallows
Register Type: Parish Register
Father: Tom Briarley Jones
Mother: Edith Maud Jones

Name: Maud Marjorie with her father?
Residence Year: 1932
Parliamentary Division: Thornbury
Residence Place: Gloucestershire, England

Births Dec 1912 (>99%)
Callaghan Agnes Kirk Leeds 9b 740

Taken at face value, Walter and Maud must have separated, and he took up with Agnes, but didn't marry her


Gillikins Report 1 Aug 2022 13:04

Well, it goes to prove what good researchers you are. All is completely correct except for guessing Agnes Callaghans birth. Agnes born 1912 mother Wilton Manchester, lancs. That covered in another thread about Annie Townsend and Joseph Moore Wilton/ Edward .Thomas Cousins.

Walter married Maud Marjorie Rees Jones who gave birth to Madge, that is Marjorie, his sole beneficiary. This wife left him and left Madge tied in a chair, until he came home. He then got together with Agnes Callaghan and had more children, but could not ever marry her, as Maud (and she used lots of other names) could not be found.
Agnes lived as Walter's wife.

By the way, the history of Maud was uncovered, and Madge got to see her mother in a nursing home just before the mother's death.

We really are getting to the bottom of this, a big thanks


Gillikins Report 1 Aug 2022 13:15

Just looked at that 1911 for William Jeffs in Liverpool, b. 1864, I think it says that he is. Crew, and a watchman on a ship called Greyhound. So I don’t think it’s him, as he was blind.


ErikaH Report 1 Aug 2022 14:02

So I wasted a lot of my time finding info about Walter :-( :-( :-( :-(


Gillikins Report 1 Aug 2022 14:37

Oh so sorry, I can’t find him either ??


ArgyllGran Report 1 Aug 2022 18:21

Of course I should have known that wasn't William Arthur in Liverpool in 1921.
According to Matilda he was in Torquay then.

Still can't see him, though!
Also he's not listed at either Perrott's Buildings or Melville Street in 1901 or 1911.