Jefferys 1714 – 1860 – The Gardeners

John Jeffery 1714 – 1792
Richard Jeffery 1755 – 1841
Richard Chisman Jeffery 1784 – 1860

About Gardens in the 17th and 18th Centuries

A reputation for reliability and quality was the key to success in business for the 17th and 18th century nursery gardeners.  This could be influenced by many factors, from a gardener’s training, through early employment, to the respect of patrons and colleagues.  Personal testimonials passed on by satisfied customers were invaluable, while the emerging genre of gardening books saw individual gardeners appearing in lists of subscribers and as beneficiaries of writers’ comments.  In 1725, the Society of Gardeners was founded in England.

Some nursery gardens were owned and managed very successfully over a long period by a single family. Those who prospered ( or inherited well from their parents) became gentlemen and moved into another world, another class. While many nursery gardeners trained their own offspring to support the family business, local gardeners also took on apprentices.

Excerpt from an Apprentice Indenture (edited and abbreviated)

During which term the apprentice shall faithfully serve his master, his secrets keep, his lawful commands everywhere gladly do. He shall not waste the goods of his master, nor lend them unlawfully to any. He shall not commit fornication nor contract matrimony in the said term.  He shall not play at cards, dice, or tables, or any other unlawful games. He shall not haunt taverns or playhouses.


In the 16th and 17th century, symmetry, proportion and balance were important design features. Very often gardens were laid out with a central axis leading down from the house with a number of cross axes forming a grid pattern. The garden was divided into parts by hedges. Flowerbeds were often laid out in squares, separated by gravel paths.

16th century gardens were adorned with sculptures, fountains and topiary. Often they also contained water jokes (unsuspecting visitors were sprayed with jets of water). Water organs played music or imitated bird song. Some gardens contained grottoes (cave like buildings)

Knot gardens were popular. Intricate patterns like knots were made by planting lines of box and herbs like lavender. Hedge mazes were  very popular. At this time, many new plants were introduced into Europe including tulips, marigolds, and sunflowers as well as horse chestnuts, potatoes and tomatoes.

In the early 18th century, many people rebelled against formal gardens and preferred a more ‘natural’ style.  Gardens were laid out with shrubberies, grottoes, pavilions, bridges, and follies such as mock temples. Pleasure gardens were still only for the upper class and the middle classes.  If poor people had a garden they had to use it for growing herbs or vegetables.  They had neither the time nor the money to grow plants for pleasure.


It was not unusual for a great estate to employ 60-100 gardeners. there was the full-time staff, consisting of a master gardener, who had begun his apprenticeship as a boy, and his assistants. Unmarried apprentice gardeners moved from estate to estate in order to gain experience and be promoted.

Many gardeners worked around 60 hours per week. They not only were responsible for maintaining the outdoor gardens, they also were required to care for glassed in conservatories and archery, cricket, bowling, and croquet greens.

One of the ways the landed owners displayed their wealth was by publicizing their lists of bedding plants. There was an hierarchy – 10,000 for a squire; 20,000 for a baronet; 30,000 for an earl, and 50,000 for a duke. A similar list was kept for the number of servants employed and that would include anywhere from 60-100 gardeners.


Lawn Mowing

Mowing clover late-19th-c Arthur Verey


Grass was cut with scythes, usually in the morning when the ground was still damp, and then rolled to firm the ground and set the blades of grass all in one direction. The edges were trimmed with sheep shearing clippers.

Dibbles and Daisy Grubber

“The grass was kept free of daisies with an instrument named a daisy grubber, which is the long-handled instrument with angled pick in the image to the left. Dibbles were used to dig holes in the ground to plant seeds or bulbs, pry up roots, or jab weeds out between bricks and stone.” 

Source: Life in the Victorian Country House by Pamela Horn, page 75

Large trees would be moved from one place to another and hedges trimmed.

Tree moving 1794

Note the hedge trimmer









As small children, William Cheesman and wife Anne Hider, parents of Anne Cheesman Jeffery (wife of John Jeffery), lived in Wadhurst, Sussex.


Wadhurst High St. 1903







They would have experienced the “the Great Storm” of November 26, 1703, (later described as a Category 2 hurricane). It devastated southern Britain. Between 8,000-15,ooo people died, church spires toppled, tiles and chimneys littered the streets and more than 400 windmills were broken. Some of these caught fire because of the speed of the turning arms creating friction inside the mill. Thousands of cattle and sheep drowned from the flooding.

Almost 60 years later there was a severe drought. This would have affected John Jeffery and wife Anne Cheesman, their siblings and children.

St. Peter and St. Paul Church Wadhurst Sussex

One of their children, Richard Jeffery, was christened 20 May, 1755 in Wadhurst, Sussex but later moved to Lamberhurst, Kent.

He followed in his father’s footsteps and later became a gardener for the Duke of Kent.

In 1780-1781 Sir Frederick Haldimand, Governor and Commander of the British forces in the Province of Quebec, constructed a villa on a dramatic site beside the Montmorency Falls


First known as the “Kent House,” it suffered a devastating fire in 1993 but was rebuilt by the following year.

Montmorency Falls

The remarkable waterfall, cascading down 83 meters (33.5 meters higher than Niagara Falls), provided an ideal setting for a secondary residence for the Governor. Like other 18th century aristocrats, he chose to build a summer retreat on a picturesque site where he could enjoy constant contact with the beauty of nature. The views of the St. Lawrence River, the Island of Orleans and the surrounding landscape were magnificent. But also, beside this waterfall, the governor could gaze upon the awesome power of nature. A search or the “sublime” was a central part of the 18th-century attraction to the countryside.

Governor Haldimand’s residence was designed in the Palladian manner, with a central building flanked by pavilions. Square, or slightly rectangular in plan, the main building was two storeys high. The first and second stories were surrounded by covered galleries to provide protected vantage points from which to enjoy the splendid views afforded by the location of the house. A low-pitched hipped roof, with a dormer windows projecting from each of its four sides, extended out beyond the walls of the residence to cover the galleries below. Open passageways led to the two square pavilions flanking the main building.

Governor Haldimand remained owner of the villa until his death in 1791. The property was then put up for sale. Rather than being sold, however, the house was rented to a very illustrious tenant: Prince Edward Augustus, the fourth son of George III. Prince Edward, later the Duke of Kent, lived in the residence with his companion, Madame de Saint Laurent, until 1794. Years later, in 1818, the Prince was obliged to assure the succession to the throne by leaving Madame de Saint Laurent so that he could marry the Princess of Leiningen. The new couple were to be the father and mother of Queen Victoria.


Prince’s Lodge
National Art Gallery

Music Room – all that remains of the estate

Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent, came to Canada as commander of the 7th Fusiliers. Richard Jeffery came with him as his gardener. the Duke resided at Montmorency House from 1791-1794. While there, Richard landscaped the surrounding gardens.

In 1794, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, as Commander-in-Chief of the King’s Forces, was moved to Bedford, Nova Scotia. He stayed at Prince’s Lodge, estate of the Lieutenant-Governor, John Wentworth. Edward liked the estate – so much so that he turned the grounds into pleasure gardens, had ornamental temples built, waterfalls, a grotto and a pond ( dedicated to his mistress Julie de St. Laurent) all landscaped by a gardener from England – most likely Richard Jeffery who was travelling with him as his gardener. It became a gathering place for the local elites for garden parties, picnics, concerts, and winter skating parties on the pond after sleigh rides from Halifax.


St. Mary Church Lamberhurst Kent

The Duke remained in Nova Scotia until 1799 at which time Richard Jeffery, along with his young son, Richard Chisman Jeffery, returned to England. He died at 86 years of age in Lamberhurst Kent on the 29th of March, 1841 and is buried in St. Mary’s Parish Church Cemetery in Lamberhurst.


Lamberhurst Kent

Lamberhurst Kent

Photo Source:

Richard Chisman Jeffery was born in 1784, the son of Richard Jeffery and Abigail Buss. He was christened in St. Mary’s Church in Lamberhust Kent on 25 February, 1784. He was the 2nd of 5 children – a sister Abigail, born 1787, and 3 brothers – John, 1782, Thomas,1786, and William Cheesman, 1788.

He also followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and became a gardener. He, along with his wife Elizabeth Stone, and his 3 sons, John, Alfred, and Richard Gardelstone, came to Canada in 1825.

Family history claims that Richard was employed by Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada from 1818-28. During this time, he lived in an estate near Niagara on the Lake. Richard Chisman landscaped the rose garden there. He was known as a scientific horticulturist.

Jeffery Family Gravestone

After Maitland’s departure to Nova Scotia in 1832, Richard Chisman Jeffery became a farmer on his own land on Lot 5, Concession 8, now Upper Woodbridge. In 1833, he bought land for his son Alfred. In 1835 he bought lot 15, Concession 9 from the Canada Company for 75 pounds and in 1843 sold this land to his  son Richard for 100 pounds and in 1849, he gave the home place on Concession 8 to his oldest son John. This second Richard C. Jeffery was the one who gave the site for the first Methodist Church in Woodbridge. He is buried in the old cemetery on Concession 8.