George Jeffreys (c1610-1685)
Little is known of George Jeffreys’ early life, but he is said by Anthony Wood, a contemporary historian, to have been descended from Matthew Jeffries, a vicar-choral at Wells, and to have been appointed joint organist with John Wilson at the court of Charles I at Oxford in 1643. Before this however, he had written songs for a musical entertainment which was played before the King at Cambridge in 1631, and set some verses by Sir Richard Hatton. At some time after the siege of Oxford in 1646, he became steward to the Hatton family, where he remained until his death in 1685. He held no other official post as a musician. At one time it was thought that most of Jeffreys’ music was produced after his retirement from court, but following a detailed study of the structure and watermarks in the principal autograph manuscript source, BM Add. MS 10338, it is now thought that the manuscript is mostly of earlier date, so that it was for the court that Jeffreys wrote most of his mature music. This new view of Jeffreys’ professionalism accords with some of the sacred music especially well: the abundant Latin settings, and the fact that some of the music was obviously written for professional singers of considerable ability.
Six Short Motets
Three Devotional Songs
Duets for basses by George Jeffreys and Henry Purcell