Wolverhampton BTW

Keturah Jeffreys

Jeffreys, Keturah née Yarnold, later Metcalfe, 1791—1858

by Benjamin Colbert

Keturah Yarnold Jeffreys, later Metcalfe, was born in Worcester, daughter of George Yarnold (1743-95) and Elizabeth Yarnold, née Holdship. She married John Jeffreys (1792-1825), a missionary, by whom she had 4 children: George Yarnold Jeffreys (1822-99), John William Jeffreys (b. 1823), Annie Mary Jeffreys (b. 1824), and Keturah Jeffreys (b. 1826). Under the auspices of the London Missionary Society, they departed for Madagascar on 4 August 1821, serving there as missionaries from 7 May 1822 to 20 June 1725. They left out of concerns for Keturah Jeffrey’s and her children’s health, but, in the event, John Jeffreys and his daughter by a previous marriage, Elizabeth, died of malaria on the return voyage between Tamatave (present day Toamasina) and Port Louis, Mauritius.

Keturah Jeffreys and her surviving children returned to England where she found herself in financial distress. In July 1826, she offered the London Missionary Society a ‘History of Madagascar’ – compiled in part from her husband’s journals – along with a biographical memoir of her husband; the Society reviewed but rejected her manuscript in March 1827 as containing too much ‘coloring’ (although, as Gwyn Campbell suggests, the LMS’s expert reviewer was also a rival author). After further revisions and excisions of historical matter, Jeffreys published her book by subscription as the Widowed Missionary’s Journal, a form to which the LMS lent their support by recommending it to readers of the Evangelical Magazine.

On 30 September 1828, Jeffreys married Capt. John Metcalfe (1795-1833), an officer in the service of the East India Company, and resided at Bath, where a son was born, John Henry Metcalfe (b. 1830). Sometime thereafter, John Metcalfe was posted to Madras where he died in 1833. Widowed abroad a second time, Jeffreys returned to London where she lived another 25 years, dying on 5 January 1858.


Campbell, Gwyn. David Griffiths and the Missionary “History of Madagascar”. Leiden: Brill, 2012. 134-40. Print.

‘Metcalfe’. The Morning Post, no. 26233 (Fri., 15 Jan. 1858): 8. Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.

Ruvigny and Rainerval, Marquis of. The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal: Mortimer-Percy Volume. London, 1911. 94. Print.


Title Published
The Widowed Missionary's Journal 1827

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