Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jaffrey House

The Jaffrey House was located on Linden Street, about halfway between Daniel Street and Bow Street. It faced south with a large front lawn that extended to Daniel Street, approximately where the Portsmouth Post Office is located today. The Jaffrey home and Linden Street no longer exist.

George Jaffrey, 2nd, built his house around 1730. At a time when Portsmouth was the government center of colonial New Hampshire, Jaffrey served as a court Councilor, Treasurer of the Royal Province, and Chief Justice of the Superior Court.

After the death of his first wife, Sarah Jeffries, George Jaffrey, 2nd, remarried in 1738. His second wife was Sarah Wentworth McPheaderis, the widow of Archibald McPheaderis and daughter of Lieutenant Governor John Wentworth.

George Jaffrey, 2nd, was an extremely wealthy landowner who had inherited his wealth from his father, George Jaffrey of New Castle.  In 1737, the records show that George Jaffrey, 2nd, sold a road that ran across his property to the town of Portsmouth that became known as Middle Street. Court Street was originally named Jaffrey Street, presumably because he owned that one too.

After his father died, George Jaffrey, 3rd, also lived in the Jaffrey House and served as Treasurer of the Province of New Hampshire and Chief Justice of the Superior Court, as well as a member of His Majesty's Council. In 1773, Portsmouth resident Governor John Wentworth named the city of Jaffrey, New Hampshire in his honor.

George Jaffrey, 3rd, was a loyal Tory who was bitterly opposed to the American independence movement and continued to be an outspoken royalist until his death in 1802. Being childless, he left his house and all his property  to his 13-year-old grandnephew, George Jaffrey Jeffries, who lived in Boston. The will required that, in order to inherit, the boy had to shorten his name to George Jaffrey, move to the home in Portsmouth, and “never follow any profession but that of being a gentleman.” George Jaffrey, 4th, complied with these stipulations. For many years the Librarian of Portsmouth Athenaeum, he lived in the Jaffrey home until his death in 1856. He was the last George Jaffrey to reside here.

During the Great Portsmouth Fire of 1813, every building on the opposite side of the road – the south side of Daniel Street – burned to the ground. All of the buildings on the north side, including the George Jaffrey House, survived the conflagration.

In 1902, when the photograph above appeared in C. S. Gurney’s book, Portsmouth . . . Historic and Picturesque, the house was vacant and suffering from neglect. The George Jaffrey home was located about where the U. S. Post Office is situated today. I believe the driveway into the Post Office parking lot may be a remnant of Linden Street.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston purchased the home in 1919 and preserved the parlor, which you can view here: Jaffrey House, interior finish. Developers razed the house in 1920.

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