Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Margaret Lilian Jeffrey (1896–1977)

by Alison Holland

This article was published:

Margaret Jeffrey, Chief of Women Police, c.1954

Margaret Jeffrey, Chief of Women Police, c.1954

Sun-Herald (Sydney), 14 March 1954, p. 7

Margaret Lilian Jeffrey (1896-1977), policewoman, was born on 14 July 1896 at Bundanoon, New South Wales, second child of Bundanoon-born parents Thomas Hines, farmer, and his wife Susan, née Brody. At St Saviour's Anglican Cathedral, Goulburn, on 19 April 1919 Maggie married Walter George Baden Jeffrey (d.1931), an 18-year-old labourer. When George joined the New South Wales Police Force they settled in Sydney. Although she was too old to join the force at the age of 35, the commissioner of police William MacKay accepted her application on 1 March 1932 because of her status as a policeman's widow with four children to support.

Like all policewomen at that time, Jeffrey was appointed a special constable and operated in plain clothes. Her first post was at Clarence Street Police Station. She was transferred to the Criminal Investigation Branch on 26 June 1935 where her duties included inquiries into serious offences. On 24 October 1941 she was complimented by MacKay for good teamwork with other police in the case against Valda Stone and Mervyn Garvey, two criminals charged with attempted rape who were sentenced to seven years imprisonment. She was further commended by MacKay on 17 February 1942 for the capable and tactful manner with which she had treated a woman who was assaulted on the North Coast mail train in the previous September.

On 1 April 1943 Jeffrey was promoted special constable (1st class). After spending eleven years at the C.I.B., she was transferred to Burwood (October 1946) and to Campsie (August 1947) police stations as officer-in-charge. She returned to the C.I.B. on 14 December 1949 and on 1 August 1950 became a special sergeant (3rd class). On 8 June 1952 she was again specially commended by the commissioner for excellent work performed in association with other policewomen in connexion with the arrest and successful prosecution of Thomas Edwin Junor on a large number of charges relating to sex offences. Sergeant Jeffrey was officer-in-charge of women police in New South Wales from 25 January 1954 until she retired on 24 December 1956 with the rank of sergeant (2nd class).

A convert to Catholicism, Jeffrey was fondly remembered by her colleagues as a kind and maternal person who was helpful to new women police recruits and 'uncontrollable' girls. While undertaking all aspects of police work, except attending motor-vehicle accidents on the roads, she was expected to concentrate her attention on the needs of women and children. She was required to take statements from female witnesses in cases of indecent assault, carnal knowledge, rape, incest, abortion, child murder, concealment of birth and bigamy. In addition, she gave advice on domestic troubles and checked truancy.

After her retirement Mrs Jeffrey bought a small poultry farm and orchard near Jervis Bay. Late in life she returned to Sydney to live with one of her daughters. She died on 24 June 1977 at Marrickville hospital and was buried in Rookwood cemetery; her son and three daughters survived her.

Select Bibliography

  • A Centenary History of the New South Wales Police Force, 1862-1962 (Syd, 1963)
  • Advance! Australia (Syd), Apr 1929, p 50
  • Sun (Sydney), 6 Dec 1956
  • service record of M. Jeffrey (New South Wales Police Dept, Sydney)
  • private information.

Citation details

Alison Holland, 'Jeffrey, Margaret Lilian (1896–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 20 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Margaret Jeffrey, Chief of Women Police, c.1954

Margaret Jeffrey, Chief of Women Police, c.1954

Sun-Herald (Sydney), 14 March 1954, p. 7

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Hines, Margaret

14 July, 1896
Bundanoon, New South Wales, Australia


24 June, 1977 (aged 80)
Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.