Variant spelling of Geoffrey, common in the Middle Ages (as reflected in surnames such as Jefferson). This is now the usual spelling of the name both in North America and Britain. Well-known bearers include the novelist and former British politician Jeffrey Archer (b. 1940), the British conductor Jeffrey Tate (b. 1943), and the American soul singer Jeffrey Osborne (b. 1951).
English (mainly southern England and South Wales) and Irish: from the Old English personal name Hearding, originally a patronymic from Hard 1. The surname was first taken to Ireland in the 15th century, and more families of the name settled there 200 years later in Tipperary and surrounding counties.