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The Jeffery family in Chile and UK

The following information has been sent by Patricia Jeffery one of our Anglo Chilean Society member. Patricia’s late husband Francis was the great grandson of Robert Jeffery, the British Vice Consul in Pisagua in 1879.

The Jeffery family settled in Pisagua, Peru in 1875. This town and the region of Tarapacá became part of Chile in 1884 after the Chilean victory over Peru and Bolivia in the War of the Pacific (1879-1883). This war was fought over the rich nitrate deposits in the area.

Robert Jeffery had 4 sons Edwin, George (the grandfather of Patricia's husband), Robert and Alfred. It was George who bought the nitrate mines and developed the business. In 1905 both Robert and Alfred gave George Power of Attorney possibly because they had invested in the business. They had no role in management as that was looked after by William Clayton in Iquique. Ultimately Alfred Jeffery became the President of the Nitrate Producers Association. The mines in the photos were amongst those owned by George.

In 1909 George and his family all sailed to the UK and from the census it appears Robert was with them, as suggested probably for business. George sons were in school in England. The family went to and from to UK over the next couple of years until George's death in 1913.

George married America Sampaio, daughter of the Governor Francisco Sampaio. They had a total of 8 children. The first two seem to have died at birth and are buried in the cemetery at Tiliviche in the desert. Then, the eldest, Edwin died in Cachicoca in the desert in 1927. There were three further sons. Patricia’s husband's father Albert (Bertie), two further sons - Alfred and Robert plus two daughters Violet who died at a year and Mabel who was, I think, quite a well-known artist in Vina del Mar.

It was to his children that George's estate was left when he died, Robert was not guardian to the children, but he and Alfred had responsibilities for the children's financial interests.

The family did spend a very short time at Robert's house in Vina after George's death, but moved rapidly into the home of Augusto Bruna, America's brother in law. It was to the Bruna's America turned as they also had mining interests in the Bruna/ Sampaio Nitrate company. The Jeffery and Bruna families have remained close to this day and we met with them in Santiago in March. Augusto Bruna was also a very rich man responsible for the building of Palacio Bruna in Santiago although he never lived there as he too ran out of money. Fortunes were made and lost very easily!

In 1913 America returned to England with the children to complete their education. There she met Alexander Fergusson and married him in 1917. He was a chemist with considerable international business interests. They moved back to Vina and it was he who looked after the family thereafter. Both my husband's father and his brother Bob were involved in the management of the mines and other business interests until the last mine, Santa Rosa, was sold in 1957.

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