JAFFRAY, John (d.1832), of 87 Queen Anne Street, Westminster.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1802 - 1806

Family and Education

Offices Held

Commissary gen. W. I. Nov. 1793-Aug. 1795.


Jaffray, a native of Stirling, was possibly a relative of Henry Jaffray, provost of Stirling like other Jaffrays before and after him, who died in 1799. Early in life he went to America and was a loyalist in the war of independence. He entered government service and in 1780 and 1784 was at Montreal sending instructions to commissaries general. He informed Pitt in 1797 that he had been 22 years in the public service ‘and acquired by practice and observation more knowledge of the business of an army’ than most men.1 On 1 Nov. 1793, with his brother Alexander as deputy, he was appointed commissary general to Sir Charles Grey’s forces in the West Indies on Grey’s recommendation to Pitt, proceeding there by March 1794. He resigned for health reasons and was replaced by Valentine Jones on 1 Sept. 1795. In the view of George Rose*, Jaffray was far more satisfactory than Jones and on 3 Sept. 1797 Rose informed Pitt that Jaffray had ‘for some months held himself in readiness to return to the West Indies’, adding, ‘I really do not know anyone else who can be sent ...’2 Jaffray, however, jibbed at the new draft of instructions, 16 Dec. 1797, and preferred to continue as government agent for the Leewards, which he had evidently been since his return home. Rose was displeased and Jaffray begged Pitt for an interview, 3 Jan. 1798: ‘Standing as I do alone without interest, without friends, and without support and surrounded as I am by a host of weighty foes ... I feel confident I have nothing to fear’, he explained. The climate of the West Indies was intolerable to him, but he had ideas for the reform of the commissariat there and considered himself ‘bound to the present administration’. His address was then 45 Weymouth Street.3

In 1802 Jaffray surfaced as a would-be purchaser of a seat in Parliament. His income tax assessment had been £200. (Sir) William Pierce Ashe A’Court*, to whom he had applied for a seat, passed on his credentials to Lord Radnor, adding, ‘I have not seen him, but believe he is inclined to bid high’. At the last minute he found an opening at Retford after a contest, on the Newcastle interest. He was an inconspicuous Member. No speech or minority vote is known. He was listed ‘doubtful Addington’ in September 1804 and, despite a vote against the censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805, ‘doubtful Sidmouth’ in July. He disappeared from view thereafter. According to Oldfield he went bankrupt, perhaps as a partner of George Baillie of Finsbury Place, Middlesex.4 He remained on the commissaries’ half-pay list until 1832, when he was reported to have died. A John Jaffray of Pitfar died 1 Apr. 1832, leaving as heir his cousin Alexander Murdoch, and having in 1819 been served heir to his brother Alexander of Stirling.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: P. A. Symonds / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806), 303; Add. 21851, ff. 167, 351; PRO 30/8/148, f. 68.
  • 2. Rose Diaries, i. 129, 206; Gent Mag. (1794), i. 860; Debrett (ser. 3), v. 218; PRO 30/8/173, f. 204.
  • 3. PRO 30/8/148, ff. 67, 68.
  • 4. PRO E182/631 (Marylebone); Wilts. RO, Radnor mss 490/1373, A’Court to Radnor, 26 June [1802]; Rep. Hist. iv. 342; cf. London Gazette (1811), 115.