Maud Jeffries

Maud Jeffries was born December 14, 1869 at Willow Farm, near present day Lula.  She was the daughter of James Kenilworth Jeffries and his wife Elizabeth Field.  James Jeffries grew up in Coahoma County and first made an appearance on a U.S. Census there in 1850.  He was with his mother and brother.  Jeffries was living at Mound Place, Mississippi on the plantation of Berryman Weathers and listed his occupation as laborer.  By 1869 he was married.  James K. Jeffries next appears on the 1880 U.S. census living in Beat 1, Coahoma County.  James is listed with his wife and four children. One of them was Maud.  The enterprising Jeffries was listed as postmaster in several places in Tunica County starting at Crews on February 10, 1889 and State Levee in 1900.  A small community grew up around his farm called Jeffries in southern Tunica County.  It was on the county line.  He moved his family to Memphis around 1900 and was listed as a planter in Shelby County.  He passed away in 1914.

Maud attended and obtained an education at Miss Higbee’s School in Nashville, Tennessee where she took part in a number of theatrical productions.  In 1889 she moved to New York to further her acting career.  On December 4, 1890 she made her London debut in Wilson Barrett’s production of “The People’s Idol.”  Maud Jeffries soon became the leading lady of that show and after returning home, created the part of Mercia in Barrett’s play “The Sign of the Cross” at St. Louis on March 28, 1895.  By the next year she was headlining it in London.

Maud Jeffries

Jeffries became known for her grace, beauty and air of innocence.  She would play two more seasons in a series of roles in different plays until joining the Herbert Beerbohm Tree Company.  Maud then visited Australia from 1903 to 1906.  She opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne on September 12, 1903 in a production of Tolstoy’s novel “Resurrection.”  The papers noted her for an excellent combination of realism and restraint.

On October 25, 1904 Maud Jeffries married James Bunbury Not Osborne.  He was a fellow actor.  They retired after her last show ended.  She visited the United States once before settling on her husband’s property in Australia.  Her life in New South Wales was a secluded one with her family.  They had a son born in 1908 and a daughter who died in infancy.  Maud performed one last time for charity in 1910 in a play called “Pygmalion and Galatea.”  She died September 26, 1946 of cancer and is buried at the Anglican Section of Waverly cemetery in Australia.

References:

Biography – Maud Evelyn Jeffries – Australian Dictionary of Biography

Maud Jeffries – Person – National Portrait Gallery

Vintage love story: The tale of US actress Maud Jeffries and Australian farmer James Osborn

U.S. Census Ancestry.com

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