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 and Welsh: patronymic from the Middle English personal name Jon(e) (see John). The surname is especially common in Wales and southern central England. In North America this name has absorbed various cognate and like-sounding surnames from other languages. (For forms, see Hanks and Hodges 1988).