Jefferson, John Frazer

Jefferson, John Frazer


SS Cadillac (Newcastle-on-Tyne), Merchant Navy

Died as a result of enemy action on Saturday 1 March 1941 (aged 44)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Tower Hill Memorial, London, England (Panel 22)

Holywood and District War Memorial

First Holywood Presbyterian Church

Cowan family grave headstone in Holywood Cemetery

Father of Warrant Officer (Pilot) Thomas Francis Jefferson (No. 1062362)


John Frazer Jefferson was born on 19 October 1896 in High Street, Holywood and he was a son of Jonathan and Agnes Jefferson (nee Frazer) who were married on 12 December 1885 in the Mariner’s Church of Ireland Church, Belfast.  Jonathan Jefferson (aged 30), a widowed iron-turner, was a son of Richard Jefferson, a farmer.  Agnes Frazer (aged 23) was a daughter of John Frazer, a bleacher.

Jonathan Jefferson had previously been married to Matilda Jane Armstrong Irvine.  They were married on 27 July 1879 in St Anne’s Church of Ireland Church Belfast.  Matilda Jefferson (nee Irvine) died of phthisis on 2 May 1880 (aged 19).

The Jefferson family lived at 45 High Street, Holywood.

Jonathan Jefferson worked as an iron turner and then as a publican and spirit merchant and he and Agnes Jefferson (nee Frazer) had four children:

Sarah McBride (born 12 June 1887 at 13 Eighth Street, Belfast; died 14 April 1888)

Jonathan (born 12 September 1891 in High Street, Holywood)

Richard Sinclair (born 19 October 1893 in High Street, Holywood)

John Frazer (born 19 October 1896 in High Street, Holywood)

The last three children were baptised in Holywood Parish Church of Ireland Church (St. Philip and St. James).

Agnes Jefferson was 42 when she died of heart disease on 3 October 1901 and Jonathan married Mary Jane Frazer on 24 March 1903 in Ballysillan Presbyterian Church, Belfast.  Mary Jane Frazer was a daughter of Moses Frazer, a millwright.

Jonathan and Mary Jane Jefferson (nee Frazer) had at least two children, both of whom were baptised in Holywood Parish Church:

Albert Edward (born 2 March 1905 High Street, Holywood; died of pneumonia 15 March 1908)

Albert Edward (born 16 July 1909 High Street, Holywood)

Jonathan Jefferson was 79 when he died on 29 October 1933.

John Frazer Jefferson and Margaret Anne Rea Valentine Cowan of 99 High Street, Holywood were married on 29 July 1918 in First Holywood Presbyterian Church.  John Frazer Jefferson was a mercantile officer and they lived at 2 Walmer Terrace, Holywood.  They had at least two children both of whom were baptised in First Holywood Presbyterian Church:

Kenneth Frazer (born 15 August 1919 at 103 High Street, Holywood)

Thomas Francis (born 17 October 1920 at 99 High Street, Holywood)

During the Second World War John Frazer Jefferson served with the Merchant Navy aboard the British Steam Tanker SS Cadillac.  Built in 1917 by Palmer’s Shipbuilding and Iron Company Ltd., Newcastle-upon-Tyne she was owned by the Anglo-American Oil Company Ltd., London.  Around midnight on 1 March 1941, in Convoy HX-109,  the SS Cadillac was on route from Aruba, Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea to Avonmouth, Bristol carrying a cargo of some 17,000 tons of aviation fuel when she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-552 about 170 miles northwest of the Outer Hebrides.  Captain John Frazer Jefferson and Ordinary Seaman Robert Joseph Shaw from Portaferry were among more than 30 men who died.

Captain John Frazer Jefferson is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London; on Holywood and District War Memorial; in First Holywood Presbyterian Church and on the Cowan family grave headstone in Holywood Cemetery.  Two years and eight months later, John Frazer Jefferson’s son, Warrant Officer Thomas Francis Jefferson serving with the RAFVR died in an aircraft accident.