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William Jeffcock - Sheffield's First Lord Mayor

William Jeffcock was born in April 1800 in Handsworth. His baptism is recorded in the Parish Registers and, although he died in Ireland, he is buried in a family vault in Handsworth. Both his ancestors and his descendants were prominent local figures - wealthy and respectable. But the historical importance of William Jeffcock lies in the fact that in 1843, he became the very first Mayor of Sheffield.

The Jeffcock family settled in Handsworth in the 17th century, having moved from Eckington in Derbyshire. The first record of the family name occurs in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Eckington in 1351. But they settled in the Handsworth parish and there are over 60 entries in the Parish Registers registers for members of the Jeffcock family between 1636 and a 1768.

John Jeffcock, the father of William, established the family name as coal Masters by becoming colliery engineer at Dore House Colliery in Handsworth. William was able to build upon his father's commercial success by entering the realm of the local government. He was keen to play an active role in the civic affairs and so became a candidate for Attercliffe ward in the town's first municipal elections on 1st November 1843.

Although he polled only 80 votes, William was elected. Meeting for the first time on 9th November 9 1843, the new town council unanimously chose William Jeffcock to be the first Mayor of Sheffield. He also became an Alderman and remained on the Council for 10 years. He was also nominated as a Justice of the Peace for the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1846 and he held a Commission in the West Yorkshire Yeomanry Cavalry for some time.

For many years, the Jeffcocks lived in nearby High Hazels John Jeffcock was the first to live there, but it was his son William who built a new mansion on the site in 1850. The closeness of the Jeffcock connection to Handsworth can be seen in St Mary's churchyard. Two box tombs in memory of the family bear inscriptions to over a dozen Jeffcocks. There are tributes to members of the Jeffcock family in St Mary's Church and there is a (disused) fountain and water trough bearing inscriptions to the family on a curve of Handsworth Road.

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