The Jaffrays of Aberdeen


A potted history of the earliest Jaffrays I could find.

The very earliest mention of the name of Jaffray spelt in that way is an Alexander Jaffray who was chosen provost of Aberdeen in January 1636. He was born in 1614 and followed his father and grandfather as Laird of Kingswells. You can read more about this here. Writings of the time refer to him as being the grandson of a "baxter" (baker). Another mention in official records is that the Rev. John Jaffray was the first Episcopal minister of Lonmay, Aberdeenshire.

have in my possession a copy of the diary of Alexander Jaffray (edited by John Barclay). Alexander Jaffray was born in 1614 and lived until 1673.
Scotland in the 17th century
After his studies at school and college where he learned Latin, Greek and Logics among other things, Alexander married Jane Dune in 1632, at the age of 18. Their first son was born a year later, also called Alexander. In 1634 he went to France and travelled extensively there, representing cloth merchants, and was rarely home. Nevertheless Jane bore 10 children, although only
Alexander survived childhood. Jane died in 1644. Scotland was in turmoil at the time (the country was "loose and broken" in Alexander's own words) and he found himself on the wrong side of authority because he had fallen out with the Laird of Haddo. There was a pistol fight, and at one time Alexander found himself encarcerated in Auchindown Castle, and could only obtain release on payment of a hefty ransom. Alexander gives this as part of the reason for Jane's death.

Government duties
He writes that in 1647 he was called to sit on the Committee of Parliament in Aberdeen "for borrowing of money and censuring of delinquents".
In the same year he married his second wife, Sarah Cant. She had seven children, of whom only three survived, Andrew, Rachel and John.
His father (presumably the Alexander who was the provost) died in 1645. Alexander's diary is filled with the exploits of his life. He was injured at the battle of Dunbar, had frequent interviews with Oliver Cromwell, and later was a Commissioner to King Charles II. He is also described as a magistrate of Aberdeen

His diary (see right, edited in the 19th century by a descendent) shows his humility and his strong Christian beliefs. Later in life he became a Quaker. This was the time when Quakers were hounded in Scotland as a whole, and persecuted everywhere, but Aberdeen managed to acquire a reputation as one of the worst persecutors of Quakers in the country.
Scottish Quakers persecuted
In the 1670s just about every adult male Quaker was imprisoned at one time in the Tolbooth (Aberdeen's notorious prison), tearing families and communities in the City apart, although Alexander seemed to escape imprisonment at that time, merely being fined heavily.
Shortly before his death Alexander was responsible for beginning the "Records" of the Quakers, and this document was maintained by his son Andrew.
In 2017, after a period of inactivity, I finally managed to trace my blood line back to Alexander. He is my 8x great grandfather. I even found records on Find My past going back to my 10x great-grandfather.