abolishing the punishment of the pillory, except for perjury and subornation (56 Geo. III, c. cxxxviii.). Early in 1816 Ellenborough's health had begun to show signs of giving way, and during the trial of James Watson for high treason (Howell, State Trials, xxxii. 20–673), in June 1817, he was obliged, while summing up, to ask Mr. Justice Bayley to read part of the evidence. In the following autumn he went on the continent in the hope of recovering his strength. He presided at Hone's second and third trial at the Guildhall in December 1817, but though he summed up strongly against the defendant, the jury, to his great mortification, on each occasion returned a verdict of not guilty (The Three Trials of William Hone for publishing Three Parodies, &c., 1818). So annoyed was he at 'the disgraceful events which have occurred at Guildhall within the last three or four days,' that he wrote to Lord Sidmouth on 21 Dec. 1817 announcing his intention to resign 'as soon as the convenience of government in regard to the due selection and appointment' of his successor would allow (Pellew, Life of Lord Sidmouth, iii. 236–7). His health now became completely broken, and his absence from court more frequent. At length, on 21 Sept. 1818, he wrote to the lord chancellor giving notice of his intention to resign 'on the first day of next term' (Twiss, Life of Lord Chancellor Eldon, 1844, ii. 320–1), and on 6 Nov. following executed his deed of resignation. A few weeks later, on 13 Dec. 1818, he died at his house in St. James's Square, London, aged 68, and was buried on the 22nd of the same month in the chapel of the Charterhouse, where a monument by Chantrey was erected to his memory.
Ellenborough was a man of vigorous intellect and great legal knowledge, intolerant of contradiction and overbearing in his opinions. He was essentially a strong judge, though, unfortunately for his judicial reputation, his temper was hasty and his prejudices violent. Of his integrity, and of his determination to do justice, there can be no doubt; but his judgments were frequently biassed by his political and religious feelings, and his habit of browbeating the juries was notorious. He was a forcible, but not an eloquent, speaker. In the House of Lords he often overstepped the bounds of parliamentary license, and his language, though doubtless sincere, was frequently intemperate. As a legislator his fame for the most part depends upon the act known by his name (43 Geo. III, c. lviii.), by which ten new capital felonies were created, and which has since been repealed. He thought that the criminal laws could not be too severe, and once declared that ours were superior 'to every other code of laws under the sun' (Parl. Debates, xxv. 526). He therefore consistently opposed all the humane efforts of Sir Samuel Romilly for the amelioration of the criminal code, and for a considerable time even resisted any measure of relief for insolvent debtors. He was treated with obsequious deference by his brother serjeants and the bar, and, though he indulged freely in sarcasm, is said to have been an extremely agreeable companion. In the course of his career he amassed a large fortune, and lived in magnificent style both in town and at Roehampton. Some seven years after his elevation to the bench he left Bloomsbury Square for St. James's Square, being the first common law judge who moved to the west end of London (Campbell, Lives of the Chief Justices, iii. 246 n.). In his person he was clumsy and awkward, with dark eyes, shaggy eyebrows, and a commanding forehead. His ungainly walk and peculiarities of manner, coupled with his Cumbrian accent and his love of long words and sonorous phrases, made him a favourite subject of mimicry. Charles Mathews the elder gave an inimitable imitation of him in the judge's charge to the jury on the first night of Kenney's farce of 'Love, Law, and Physic' at Covent Garden on 20 Nov. 1812. Though immediately withdrawn on the interposition of the lord chamberlain, whose aid it is said was invoked by the infuriated chief justice, the offending speech was subsequently given, by special request, at Carlton House for the delectation of the Prince Regent (Life and Correspondence of Charles Mathews the Elder, abridged by Edmund Yates, 1860, pp. 164–70).
His portrait in judicial robes, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1806, and was lent by the Earl of Ellenborough to the Loan Collection of National Portraits at South Kensington in 1868 (Catalogue No. 49). It has been engraved by C. Turner, R. W. Sievier, and others. Miss Law, of 3 Seymour Street, Portman Square, possesses a half-length by Romney, and there is another portrait in the benchers' room at the Inner Temple.
Ellenborough's judgments are recorded in Howell's 'State Trials,' and the reports of Espinasse (vols. iv–vi.), Campbell, Starkie (vols. i. and ii.), East (vols. ii–xvi.), J. P. Smith, Maule and Selwyn, and Barnewall and Alderson (vol. i.). A number of sarcastic pleasantries and judicial witticisms, which have been ascribed by tradition to Ellenborough, will be found in Moore's 'Memoirs and Lives of the Judges,' by Townsend, Campbell, and Foss respectively. His 'Opening of the Case in support of the Petitions