Life in East Oxford for the descendants of George and Harriet Jeffery

(1833-1909 and 1834-1910 respectively, grave B113)
based on the memories of their great-granddaughter, Margaret.

Please see the foot of this page for dates and census information.

At the turn of the century, the Jeffery family were living in Sydney St. According to the 1881 census, George (a whitesmith) and Harriet Jeffery were living there with four children: William (born1860) a fireman and gas fitter, Eva (b 1865) a school teacher, Julia (b 1869), and Charles (b 1874). By the 1901 census, George and Harriet were living at No 22. Alice Doman was also living with them. She was the daughter of a family friend from Little Milton where they had lived previously.

George and Harriet Jeffery’s youngest son Charles, who had married Ellen, was living next door at No 20. They had three sons: William (4), George (3) and Frederick (1). There was also a boarder which was common practice at the time, despite the small houses, as this provided extra income for families. George and Harriet’s eldest son, William Jeffery, had married Lucy and they were living the other side at No 24 with their children: William (17 years old), an apprentice gas fitter, Harry (16), a watchmaker, Walter (12), Alfred (10), Lucy Gertrude Eva (8) and Arthur Leonard known as Len (4). Lucy Jeffery took in washing, another way to raise the family income, and had a washhouse at the back of their home in Sidney Street.  As a young child Len would take the washing back to the customers in areas of the city such as St Ebbes.


Taken in about 1900.
George and Harriet Jeffery sitting in the middle on the front row.
William and Lucy behind. Arthur Len standing in front.

Len attended Ss Mary & John School,, was taught by Mr Irvine and by all accounts was a model student. He won prizes at school for being well behaved and a good scholar. The family attended Ss Mary & John Church until St Alban’s was built. His sister Lucy and his mother were active members of St Alban’s Church. Len and his brothers were members of the Boys Brigade run by the church. Len left school at 13 years old which was usual for working class children.  His mother had found him a job at a printers firm in Cowley but Len found his own job as a teaboy at Thorntons Accountants in King Edward Street, off the High Street, as he wanted to be an accountant not a printer.  Len studied for his exams in accountancy in the cold bedroom that he shared with his brothers while they played cards downstairs. He worked his way up from a teaboy to be an accountant at the firm and eventually became the Chairman of the Board. Len went to the war when he was 17 years old (he was tall and would pass for 18 years) and joined the Kings Royal Rifles and became a crack shot. He was in the trenches in France and later sent to Macedonia. In the mid 1920s he married Florence Annie Andrews (b in 1892) at her suggestion, so that he could study in peace.

The Andrews family had lived at 4 East Ave (1881 census) and then 118 Cowley Road (1891 census). By the time Florence Annie was born in 1892 they were living at 5 Bartlemas Road. Her father, Edward (Ted) Andrews, who was from Gloucester, was a carpenter and had moved to the developing area to find work. He bought two plots in Bartlemas Road (Nos 3 & 5) and built a house on one and made an orchard and workshop on the other. He and his friend Mr Bunce (who bought No 7) built their houses adjoined and Ted did all the carpentry for both houses – floor, windows, doors and cupboards. He also made furniture which has remained in the family.

John and Frances Streaks lived at 116 Cowley Road (1881 and 1891 census) with their four daughters. Frances was Florence’s aunt, sister to her mother (their maiden name was Williamson). The youngest daughter Mignonette was a pupil teacher at Cowley Road Infants School.

Florence went to Cowley St John School and later to Central School for Girls in St Ebbes. (The building later became Oxford Art School where Mary – one of her two daughters - attended in the 1940s). She talked to Margaret (her eldest daughter) about her memories as a schoolgirl.  The headmistress’ office (who was one of the Sisters of the Holy Childhood E195) was at the centre of the school. From here she could see everything that went on including latecomers who were reprimanded.  Children in the school had to curtsey to the headteacher.

When she left school Florence went to work at a tobacconist in Turl Street. During the Great War she had several other occupations including work as a telephonist and an assistant postmistress. Florence went to work as a clerk at Thorntons in the 1920s and there met her future husband Len who was a trainee accountant at the firm.  When they were first married they lived in lodgings in Aston Street. Len was able to study for his accountancy training in a quieter environment. Soon after their marriage Florence’s father, Ted Andrews, saw that there was a house, built in 1904, for sale in Cowley Road. Len and Florence were able to purchase this through a Council mortgage.


Florence and Len had two children, Margaret, born in 1929 and Mary, born in 1931. Other family members also lived in the area. Florence’s parents lived nearby in Bartlemas Road. They had moved from the Cowley Road and built the house in 1892. Margaret visited her maternal grandparents regularly and remembers playing in the garden with her little sister.  Her paternal grandmother, who was widowed by the time Margaret was born, had moved with her unmarried daughter Lucy to Cricket Road.  Margaret remembers her grandmother giving her a comic called Pip, Squeak and Wilfred which came with the local paper every week.  Other relatives living nearby included Mignonette Beckley (née Streaks) who lived in Southfield Road and was now quite deaf. Mignonette’s other sisters moved to Goosey. The family also had a lot of contact with Aunty Lucy, Len’s sister, who never married.  Aunt Lizzie who was married to Uncle Harry (Henry) came to stay with the family when she was ill. Uncle Harry was a watchmaker who trained at Paynes in Oxford but moved to Market Harborough where he owned his own business.

When Margaret was a young child in the 1930s the part of the Cowley Road where she lived was just being developed. Opposite her home were fields owned by the university that stretched from the Regal up to ‘White City’ (further up towards Shelley Road area). Behind Margaret’s house was an orchard where horses were kept and also allotments. She would go and catch grasshoppers in the allotments and play on other green spaces nearby where there were streams and grass. Sometimes she would venture up to the golf course.  She would sometimes visit her friends in Howard Street and they would have pigs and rabbits in the back garden (common in those days) which the families would use for food.

Margaret’s family spent a lot of time walking.  They went on long walks at weekends to places like Shotover and Wolvercote. The family would also walk along the rivers up to Sandford and the girls would fish for tiddlers. Sometimes they would explore the Oxford colleges. Every year they would go and see the pantomime at the New Theatre.  Margaret and her sister would play at home playing marbles, doing gymnastics, skipping or drawing indoors on rainy days.


1898. Ss Mary & John School. Lucy Jeffery 2nd row 5th from left.


From the age of 4½ years Margaret attended Ss Mary & John School.  When she was at Ss Mary & John School she came home for dinner everyday at midday. Her mother had help in the home – Miss Payne – known as Auntie Payne, who worked from 8am until 3pm nearly every day. Miss Payne made the lunch for the family. Parents would wait for their children outside the school. One day, when she was quite small, about five years old, she rushed across the road and was run over by a pony and cart. The cart wheel ran over her leg and the pony stepped on her fingers. She was not badly hurt but had to see the doctor for emergency treatment.  (The owner of the pony and cart, Mr Bricknell, kept his pony in a small field behind what is now the bakery in Hertford Street.  Margaret’s father’s cousin, Harry Smith (called Uncle Harry by Margaret), a painter and decorator, lived the other side of the bakery.)  Her father also came home for dinner but not until 1pm.  In the summer months her mother would take Margaret and her sister Mary for a walk to the nearby grounds of Lincoln College until her father came home.  Here they learnt the names of wild flowers and other wildlife information.  She also remembers playing marbles in the gutter all the way home from school.
Margaret remembers poor children at school. Some of them came from quite rough homes. Head lice and impetigo were common amongst the children and spread very easily. Childhood diseases such as chicken pox and measles, which could be very serious, were also very contagious.  Inoculations to prevent some of the diseases spreading had not been developed at this time. She does remember lining up to have injections in school and always volunteered to be first to get it over and done with. One lad in Margaret’s school had polio and was left with a bad leg so he had to wear a calliper. Margaret recalls that the calliper seemed to be very heavy as he always dragged it around.


Theatrical production. Lucy Jeffery (Margaret's aunt) in the centre.

During her time at Ss Mary & John School Margaret was a noisy, curious and sometimes naughty child. She remembers spending a considerable amount of time outside the classroom as she had been sent out as a punishment and had to listen through the door to the lessons.  When Margaret took the 11 plus she had to sit part of it in the Town Hall along with at least another hundred children. She had to use a ‘dip pen’ (pens that were dipped into an inkwell) and recalls making a dreadful mess on her paper. Margaret passed the exams and attained a scholarship place at the Oxford High School.

When she was a bit older Margaret helped out at the Sunday School in St Albans Hall. The children drew pictures and learnt from the bible and she spent time helping them. She remembers the children at Sunday School were also from poor backgrounds and had similar problems such as head lice and impetigo. One of the medical books available at the time was The Universal Home Doctor, Illustrated, Odhams Press Ltd, London, published in the 1920s. In this book head lice were treated by applications of paraffin oil being rubbed into the hair and sleeping in a bathing hat overnight, then washing the hair.  Or washing the hair in vinegar and water, or applying oil of sassafras to the head for 24 hours.   Treatments recommended for impetigo at the time were lotions such as a lead and spirit lotion or powders such as boracic, zinc or talcum. Thick calamine lotion combined both lotion and powder.  Children would come to school with purple dabs on them. Margaret caught erysipelas (a very contagious, acute streptococcus bacterial infection in the skin) from the children when she was in the middle of taking the school certificate and had to be isolated from the rest of her classmates while she took the exams. The treatment was applications of tincture of iodine.


Harriet & George Jeffery memorial

Margaret had school medicals whilst at Ss Mary & John School. Her father had taken out health insurance for the family as there was no National Health Service and medical treatment was expensive.  The family doctor was in James Street – this practice later moved to the Cowley Road Health Centre. She had an operation for a TB gland in the early 1930s before she went to school but this did not develop further.  This operation was performed at the local doctors’ surgery on the Cowley Road on the corner of Bartlemas Road. Before she went to the Oxford High School Margaret had another medical. At this medical she was found to have curvature of the spine and had to wear a brace all through the summer which was very uncomfortable. Her mother took her for another opinion to a specialist at the Wingfield-Morris (now Nuffield Orthopaedic) Hospital and to Margaret’s relief said that she did not need to wear the brace anymore.    

One of Margaret’s cousins (Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Harry’s daughter) contracted diabetes as a teenager. When Aunt Lizzie was ill and staying with Margaret’s family, she was visited by Miss Solace a Christian Scientist counsellor.

Jeffery family


1881 census
Sidney Street
George Jeffery b 1833 (Oxford), whitesmith
Harriet Jeffery b 1834 (Little Milton)
William Jeffery b 1860 fireman and gas fitter
Eva Jeffery b 1865 school teacher
Julia Jeffery b 1869
Charles Jeffery b 1874


1901 census
20 Sidney Street
Charles Jeffery
Ellen Jeffery
William (4)
George (3)
Frederick (1)


1901 census
22 Sidney Street
George Jeffery (68)
Harriet Jeffery (69)
Alice Doman (boarder)


1901 census
24 Sidney Street
William Jeffery, gas fitter
Lucy Jeffery
William (17) apprentice gas fitter
Henry (16) watchmaker
Walter (12)
Alfred (10)
Lucy Gertrude Eva(8)
Arthur (4)

Andrews & Streaks


1881 census
4 East Avenue
Edward Andrews b 1849 (Winchcombe, Glos) carpenter
Kate Charlotte Andrews b 1855
Edward b 1876
Sydney b 1878
Rose Kate b 1880


1881 census
116 Cowley Road
John Streaks b 1844 (Oxford)
Frances Streaks b 1842 (Oxford)

Alice b 1869
Helen b 1872

Kate b 1875
Mignonette b 1878


1891 census
118 Cowley Road
Edward Andrews (42)
Kate Charlotte Andrews (36)
Edward (15)  Railway agents clerk
Sydney Walter (13) carpenter
Rose Kate (11)
Ernest Victor (9)
Arthur Herbert (4)


1891 Census
116 Cowley Road
John Streaks
Frances Streaks


Kate -  Milliners/dressmakers
Mignonette (13) -  pupil teacher at
        Cowley Road Infants School
Margaret Lucy
Harry Albert


1901 census
5 Bartlemas Road
Edward Andrews (52)
Kate Charlotte Andrews (46)
Rose Kate (21)
Ernest Victor (19)
Arthur Herbert (14)
Florence Annie (9)



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