JEFFREYS, GEORGE, Lord (1648 89). An English judge, born at Acton, in Den bighshire, Wales. Though the son of a squire of small means, Jeffreys obtained a fair education at Shrewsbury, at Saint Paul's, and at Westmin ster under Dr. Busby; in 1662 he matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, which lie left without a degree to enter the Inner Temple, London. Admitted to the bar in 1668, with small legal learning, but with a powerful voice and bold address, lie soon gained a large practice. About 1672 he deserted his popular constituency and began to cultivate the Court party. His ability, zeal, and unscrupulous conduct won him rapid advancement, and lie became Chief Justice of Chester in 1680, a baron in 1681, and Chief Jus tice of England in 1683. He was foremost in the prosecutions of Archbishop Plunket and Stephen Col ledge, and aided in destroying popular govern ment in London, pushing on the quo a-arra/au proceedings which deprived London of its elmrter. Charles 11., who despised him, consented to his appointment as Chief Justice, swore him as a Privy Councilor in 1683: and connived at and took advantage of his unscrupulousness. Jeffreys was unfair in his rulings in the trial of Algernon Sidney. He condemned Sir Thomas Armstrong without a trial, and sent him to his death loaded with insults. He advised James II. to collect the customs revenue and use it without a vote of Par liament. His career seemed to culminate in 1685, when he browbeat Titus Oates at his trial. He was created Baron Jeffreys of Went and was the virtual ruler of London and disburser of all legal patronage. In this year also he traveled the western circuit, his 'bloody Assize' condemn ing hundreds to death, among them Alice, Lady Lisle; he assi7ned over eight hundred persons to his favorites to be sold as slaves. and im
prisoned and maimed hundreds more; yet James 11. made him Lord Chancellor and Keeper of the Great Seal. Tie joined with James (if, in deed, he did not advise it) in the arrest and imprisonment of the seven bishops. Frightened at length, in 1688, he attempted to undo some of his autocratic deeds, but the movement came too late. His master James IT. fled. and he disguised himself in the dress of a common sailor, but was recognized in spite of his dis guise and taken to the Tower, where lie died. In private conversation, after his fall. he alleged that he lost the favor of .Tames because he would not be still more vindictive in his bloody circuit. Occasionally he did all act that indicated some recognition of the principles of human kindness. In criminal cases he has had perhaps no equal among judges for baseness. In civil eases, on the contrary, he is said to have been able and upright, and surpassed by few men in the clear ness of some of his opinions. The most complete account of his life is found in Woolf-yell. Memoirs of the Life of Judge Jeffreys (London, 1827). Consult also: Burnet. History of His Times (London, 1838) ; Lord Campbell, Lires of the Lord Chancellors, vol. iv. (London, 1$49.57) ; Lir( of Eminent British Lawyers (Lon don, 18301 ; Macaulay, ilistory of Rag/and, vols. i. and ii. (Boston, 1856) ; North. Life of Lord Beepe• Guilford (London, 1826) ; Irving, Life of .ludyt Jr ffrics (London, 1898).