Jeffrey Tifton (or Jeffrey McGrath) is the only child of Brenda Tifton and Alec McGrath and the Very Interesting Boy the Penderwicks met during their stay at Arundel. He became a very close family friend to them and visited them even after their visit. In the third book, it is revealed that Alec is his father, though his and Mrs. Tifton's marriage had been a big mistake and he had left before meeting Jeffrey at all.
Jeffrey Tifton was born when Brenda, his mother, was quite young. He was cherished by his grandfather who called him the "son he never had". Mrs. Tifton recounts that Jeffrey used to march around the living room with a military hat on and wanted to be a soldier. Growing up, Churchie, the household cook, served as a parental figure because of Mrs. Tifton's short temper and Jeffrey's father's absence.
Jeffrey Tifton is first spotted briefly in an upper window of his house by Jane Penderwick, inspiring her latest Sabrina Starr novel. Soon after, he runs into Skye in a tunnel carved out in hedge. Skye unintentionally insults his mother with a witty joke, but they make up after Jeffrey rescues Batty from stepping in the bull.
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The Penderwicks on Gardam StreetEdit
Jeffrey is absent in this book other than when he visits for Mr. Penderwick and Ianthe's wedding in the epilogue. However, Skye does at one point come to visit him at his boarding school in Boston, describing her visit to her sisters.
The Penderwicks at Point MouetteEdit
Jeffery made great company for Skye, who is the OAP while Rosalind is in New Jersey and her father and Iantha on their honeymoon with Ben in England. Jeffery hints that he likes Skye, wondering if someday they will get married, then sharing: "Whenever you guys aren't on vacation with me, I miss you. Sometimes." And Skye replies by saying: "I miss you too, sometimes."
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Jeffrey is described as having light brown hair, green eyes, and freckles. One can assume from his silhouette on the cover of the third book that his hair is short and straight. He is said to look exactly like his father, Alec McGrath. Jeffrey is described pale when Skye Penderwick bumped on Jeffrey.
An only child who turns 11 during the first book, Jeffrey led a largely contented, if eventless, life before meeting the Penderwicks, as he lived in a grand estate in the Berkshires with a kind housekeeper, Churchie, to care for him. His father had left him before he was born, and Jeffrey initially does not know anything about him. Jeffrey had suffered the loss of his grandfather, a well-known general, at age seven, and his mother and her new husband, Dexter Dupree, had designed for Jeffrey to follow in his footsteps, attending Pencey Military Academy and then West Point. However, Jeffrey, an immensely talented pianist, wants to be a musician, and vehemently protests this fate. With the aid of the Penderwicks, he manages to tell her his opinions, and eventually enrolls at the Welborn-Hughes boarding school in Boston while taking private piano lessons at the New England Conservatory. He also plays the cello and clarinet. His musical ability is later revealed to come from his father, whom he meets at Point Mouette. His birthday is August 8. He is a clear thinker and very logical, yet often playful and amicable with other characters.
Brenda Tifton - Jeffrey and his mother have a strained relationship. Mrs. Tifton hates the Penderwicks, which makes Jeffrey angry. In the first book, Mrs. Tifton wanted to send Jeffrey to Pencey Military School, a military school for young boys. Jeffrey did not want to go and fought his mother on the matter several times in the book.
Alec McGrath- Alec is Jeffrey's long lost dad. They meet for the first time in the third book "The Penderwicks At Point Mouette".
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Dexter Dupree- Jeffrey's stepfather and husband of Brenda. Jeffrey hates him. He eventually divorced Mrs. Tifton.
Jane Penderwick- Jeffrey and Jane became friends as soon as they met. Jane was sent on a mission to apologise for Skye's blunder earlier that day, and Jane delivers her message as practiced. Jeffrey readily accepts the apology and they become fast friends. Jane was 10 in the first book.
Rosalind Penderwick- In the first book, he does not really interact with her, mostly because she’s older and spends most of her time with Cagney and looking after Batty. It is clear, however, that they have a mutual feeling of sibling love.
Batty Penderwick- Batty loves Jeffrey, and often refers to him as "her favorite boy in the world". They also have a relationship that none of the other sisters have in common: a musical talent. Batty was 4 years old in the first book.
Skye Penderwick- Skye is his favorite Penderwick, except in maybe the fourth book, in which Skye keeps banning him from the house for short periods of time because Jeffrey desperately wants to go out with her, but Skye is not interested in dating. Skye was about 11 years old in the first book.
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Skye Penderwick - In the first three books, it is hinted that Jeffrey might like Skye. They first meet in book one when the Penderwicks stay at a cottage in the grounds of Arundel. When Mr. Penderwick asked Jeffrey if the girls are driving him crazy, Jeffrey said, "Oh, no, sir. Well, except Skye." At his birthday party, Jeffrey tried to slow dance with Skye until she said, "Forget it, show Rosalind." When Skye and Batty visited his house again later, Jeffrey attempted to teach Skye to play the piano, despite her lack of enthusiasm, and he finally let her win and they fought on the floor by tickling each other, causing Mrs. Tifton to get mad at them. In the second book, he appeared only in the epilogue, but Skye and Jane both rushed to greet and hug him. In the third book, he talked about marrying Skye, although she thought he was crazy. After Jeffrey ran away when he realized that Alec is his father, Skye was the only one who could calm him down. In the fourth book, it is confirmed that Jeffrey likes Skye romantically, as he wants to be her boyfriend; however, she refuses, saying she's not currently interested in being in a relationship because she wants to go to college, learn, and "soak up the universe." In the fifth book, Skye marries long time boyfriend Dusek, and Jeffrey began to like Batty. This follows the idea that The Penderwicks is similar to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
Batty Penderwick - In the first book, a four-year-old Batty thinks that she should marry Jeffrey. This is Birdsall’s use of foreshadowing the developing relationship in the Penderwicks at Last, in which Jeffrey sees Batty and thinks she is Rosalind. This hints that he thinks she is pretty, since Rosalind is extremely pretty. “‘I thought Rosy wasn’t here.’ ‘She’s not.’ Lydia saw that he was staring at Batty. ‘That’s not Rosy.’ He took a step back in surprise, then forward again, as if to make sure he understood what he was seeing. At the same moment... Batty.... caught Jeffrey’s eye. For what seemed like a long time, the two stared at each other with matching confusion. Until, slowly, Batty smiled, her smile the first warm day of spring... She opened up her arms and reached toward Jeffrey, and without another word, he went inside.” Then, he and Batty spend most of the night catching up and playing music (mostly playin music). At the wedding rehearsal, they danced together. Later, when talking to Batty’s ex-boyfriend, he said he had never seen her dance. Lydia agreed, saying she “had rarely seen Batty dance with such joyous abandon”, the way she did with Jefferey. Wesley, the ex-boyfriend, then calls Jane to tell her that those two were meant for each other. At the end of the book, it is reavealed that Jane wouldn’t promise Mrs. Tifton that no Penderwick would marry Jefferey because she thought Batty and him might get together. Skye and Rosalind both “ship” them. “Skye and Rosalind are both more certain than I am- Skye swears they’re perfect for each other.” It does seem perfect, considering Jeffrey just broke up with Sigrid and Batty with Wesley.