Jeffreys, George (1648-1689) (DNB00)

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JEFFREYS, GEORGE, first Baron Jeffreys of Wem (1648–1689), judge, born in 1648 at Acton, near Wrexham, Denbighshire, was sixth son of John Jeffreys, by his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Ireland, knt., of Beausay, near Warrington, Lancashire. The family name has been spelled in eight different ways; in the patent of his peerage it appears as ‘Jeffreys,’ a form of spelling which he always used afterwards.

His father lived to a great age. Pennant saw his portrait at Acton House, taken in 1690, in the eighty-second year of his age (Pennant, Tours in Wales, i. 385). Jeffreys had six brothers, the eldest of whom, John, was high sheriff of Denbighshire in 1680. His third brother, Thomas, was knighted at Windsor Castle on 11 July 1686; was a knight of Alcantara, and lived the greater part of his life in Spain as English consul at Alicant and Madrid. His youngest brother, James, became a prebendary of Canterbury in 1682, and, dying on 4 Sept. 1689, was buried in Canterbury Cathedral. This James was the grandfather of the Rev. John Jeffreys, D.D., prebendary of St. Paul's, who died on 20 Nov. 1798, in the eighty-first year of his age (Gent. Mag. 1798, vol. lxviii. pt. ii. p. 1001).

While very young Jeffreys was sent to the free school at Shrewsbury, whence he was removed to St. Paul's School about 1659. There ‘he applied himself with considerable diligence to Greek and Latin’ (Gardiner, Admission Registers of St. Paul's School, 1884, p. 51). In 1661 he was admitted to Westminster School, then under the rule of Dr. Busby, whom he afterwards cited as a grammatical authority in Rosewell's trial (Cobbett, State Trials, x. 299). Jeffreys was an ambitious boy, and resolved that he would become a great lawyer. His father, however, is said to have had a presentiment that his son would come to a violent end, and was anxious that he should enter a quiet and respectable trade. Having at length overcome his father's opposition, and being aided with pecuniary assistance from his maternal grandmother, Jeffreys was admitted a pensioner of Trinity College, Cambridge, on 15 March 1662. Leaving Cambridge without a degree he was admitted to the Inner Temple on 19 May 1663. During his student's days Jeffreys was more often at the tavern than in the Temple, though while indulging in dissipation he kept a keen eye to his own interest, and took especial care to cultivate the acquaintance of the young attorneys and their clerks, whom he amused with his songs and jokes. The story that Jeffreys practised at the Kingston assizes during the time of the plague may be dismissed as apocryphal. He was called to the bar on 22 Nov. 1668, and at first confined himself to practising at the Old Bailey and at the Middlesex sessions at Hicks's Hall, where, with the aid of the ‘companions of his vulgar excesses,’ his powerful voice and boldness of address soon gained him a large business. His legal learning was small, but his talent in cross-examination was great, and his language, though always colloquial and frequently coarse, was both forcible and perspicuous. He lost no opportunity of ingratiating himself with the members of the corporation, and, through the influence of a namesake, one John Jeffreys, alderman of Bread Street ward, who was no relation, he was appointed common serjeant of the city of London on 17 March 1671. Jeffreys now commenced practice in Westminster Hall, and, seeing little prospect of further advancement from the popular party, to which he had hitherto belonged, began to cultivate fashionable society. With the aid of Chiffinch, page of the backstairs, Jeffreys obtained an introduction to the court, and in September 1677 was appointed solicitor-general to the Duke of York, receiving the honour of knighthood on the 14th of the same month. In January 1678 he was called to the bench of the Inner Temple, and on 22 Oct. was elected recorder of the city in the place of Sir William Dolben [q. v.] Although for a time disconcerted at the advantage taken by Shaftesbury of the Popish plot, Jeffreys, on being called on for his advice, recommended the court to outbid Shaftesbury in a pretended zeal for the protestant religion. Jeffreys took a prominent part in the trials of the persons charged with complicity in the plot, both as counsel in the king's bench and as recorder at the Old Bailey. He incited Lord-chief-justice Scroggs in his vindictive proceedings, and, while passing sentence after conviction, took every opportunity of insulting the prisoners and of scoffing at the faith which they professed. For these services Jeffreys, on 30 April 1680, was appointed chief justice of Chester and counsel for the crown at Ludlow, in the place of Sir Job Charlton, and on 12 May following was sworn in as a serjeant-at-law in the court of chancery (London Gazette, No. 1511), taking as the motto for his rings ‘A Deo rex: a rege lex.’ For his overbearing conduct as counsel he received a severe reproof from Baron Weston at the Kingston assizes in July 1680 (Woolrych, pp. 65–6; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 479), while his conduct as chief justice of Chester was severely commented upon in the House of Commons by Henry Booth (afterward second Baron Delamere), who declared that Jeffreys ‘behaved himself more like a jack-pudding than with that gravity that beseems a judge’ (Chandler, Debates, 1742, ii. 163). In the struggle which arose from the delay in assembling parliament Jeffreys took an active part on the side of the ‘abhorrers.’ A petition having been presented from the city, complaining that the recorder had obstructed the citizens in their attempts to have parliament summoned, a select committee was appointed to inquire into the charge, and on 13 Nov. 1680 it was resolved that ‘Sir George Jefferyes by traducing and obstructing Petitioning for the sitting of this Parliament hath betrayed the rights of the subject,’ and that the king should be requested to remove him ‘out of all publick offices’ (Journals of the House of Commons, ix. 653). The king merely replied that ‘he would consider of it,’ but Jeffreys was ‘not parliament proof,’ and having submitted to a reprimand on his knees at the bar of the house, resigned the recordership on 2 Dec. 1680. Shortly after his resignation Jeffreys became chairman of the Middlesex sessions at Hicks's Hall. He was foiled, however, in his attempt to remodel the grand jury by purging the panel of all sectarians. As counsel for the crown he took part in the prosecution of Edward Fitzharris, Archbishop Plunket, and Stephen Colledge in 1681, and on 17 Nov. in that year was created a baronet of the United Kingdom. After the failure of the prosecution against Lord Shaftesbury in November 1681 Jeffreys entered heartily into the scheme for destroying the popular government of the city, and did everything in his power to push on the quo warranto by which the city was deprived of its charter. In November 1682 he obtained a conviction in the king's bench against William Dockwray [q. v.] for an infringement of the Duke of York's rights to the revenues of the post-office. He took a prominent part in the prosecution of William, lord Russell, for his share in the Rye House plot, and vehemently pressed the case against the prisoner (State Trials, ix. 577–636). Though Charles had declared that Jeffreys had ‘no learning, no sense, no manners, and more impudence than ten carted street-walkers,’ and had hitherto demurred to his promotion to the office of lord chief justice of England (see letter of the Earl of Sunderland, Clarendon Correspondence, i. 82–3), he subsequently withdrew his objections, and Jeffreys was appointed to the post on 29 Sept. 1683 (London Gazette, No. 1864). Elkanah Settle published a ‘panegyrick’ on him immediately afterwards.

Jeffreys was sworn a member of the privy council on 4 Oct. 1683, and took his seat in the king's bench on the first day of Michaelmas term. In November he presided at the trial of Algernon Sidney for high treason (State Trials, ix. 817–1022). It was conducted with manifest unfairness to the prisoner, but though the illegality of the conviction is unquestionable, the charge that Jeffreys admitted the manuscript treatise on government to be read without any evidence that it had been written by Sidney beyond ‘similitude of hands’ is unfounded (Campbell, Lives of the Chancellors, iv. 368). In June 1684 Jeffreys condemned Sir Thomas Armstrong, who had been brought to the bar of the king's bench upon an outlawry for high treason, and refused his claim to a trial, to which he was entitled by statute. Upon the prisoner exclaiming, ‘I ought to have the benefit of the law, and I demand no more,’ Jeffreys brutally replied, ‘That you shall have by the grace of God. See that execution be done on Friday next, according to law. You shall have the full benefit of the law’ (State Trials, x. 114). Burnet records that soon after this trial Jeffreys went to Windsor, where Charles ‘took a ring of good value from his finger and gave it him for these services,’ remarking at the same time that as ‘it was a hot summer and he was going circuit he therefore desired he would not drink too much’ (History of his own Time, ii. 423). In the summer of this year Jeffreys successfully induced several corporations in the north to surrender their charters (The Historian's Guide, 1690, p. 161), and it was upon his unconstitutional advice that James almost immediately after his accession in February 1685 issued a proclamation that the customs should be collected and employed exactly as if they had already been granted to him by parliament (North, Life of Lord Guilford, p. 255). In May 1685 Jeffreys presided at the trial of Titus Oates, when he took the opportunity of paying off an old grudge against the prisoner by concurring in passing a barbarous and excessive sentence upon him (State Trials, x. 1079–1330).

Jeffreys was created Baron Jeffreys of Wem in the county of Salop on 15 May 1685, and on the 19th took his seat in the House of Lords (Journals of the House of Lords, xiv. 73). As no chief justice had ever been made a lord of parliament since the judicial system had been remodelled in the thirteenth century, this was an exceptional mark of royal approbation. In the same month Jeffreys tried Richard Baxter [q. v.] on the charge of libelling the church in his ‘Paraphrase of the New Testament,’ and overwhelmed him with abuse. Jeffreys was now the virtual ruler of the city, while the lord mayor enjoyed no more than bare title, and the corporation ‘had no sort of intercourse with the king but by the intervention of that lord’ (Reresby, Memoirs, p. 308). He had also practically superseded the lord keeper in his political functions, and the whole of the legal patronage was in his hands. On 8 July 1685, two days after the battle of Sedgemoor, the commission was issued for the western circuit. It consisted of Jeffreys as president, and of four other judges, viz. Sir William Montagu, the lord chief baron, Sir Cresswell Levinz, justice of the king's bench, Sir Francis Wythens, justice of the common pleas, and Sir Robert Wright, baron of the exchequer. On 24 Aug. an order was issued from the war office to all officers in the west to furnish such soldiers ‘as might be required by the lord chief justice on his circuit for securing prisoners, and to perform that service in such manner as he should direct’ (Mackintosh, History of the Revolution, p. 17). On the following day the commission was opened at Winchester, where the only case of high treason was that of Alice, lady Lisle, the widow of John Lisle, sometime president of the high court of justice (State Trials, xi. 297–382). Jeffreys's conduct of the trial was in the worst style of the times, but Burnet's account of it is grossly exaggerated; and though much may be said in favour of the justice of her conviction, the execution of the death-penalty cannot escape condemnation. The commission afterwards sat at Salisbury, Dorchester, Exeter, Taunton, and Wells. Bristol, which had an assize of its own, was the last place visited by the judges. The number of executions for high treason cannot now be ascertained with any precision, but there are good reasons for supposing that the number of 320, as given by Macaulay, is very much in excess of the truth (Inderwick, Side-Lights on the Stuarts, p. 392). More than eight hundred rebels were bestowed upon persons who enjoyed favour at court to be sold into slavery, and many others were whipped and imprisoned. Jeffreys himself appears to have amassed a considerable sum of money during ‘the bloody assizes,’ chiefly by means of extortion from the unfortunate rebels or their friends. On his return from Bristol Jeffreys stopped at Windsor, where James, ‘taking into his royal consideration the many eminent and faithful services’ which the chief justice had rendered the crown, promoted him to the post of lord chancellor on 28 Sept. 1685 (London Gazette, No. 2073). Jeffreys was installed in the court of chancery on 23 Oct., the first day of Michaelmas term, and at the opening of parliament on 9 Nov. following took his seat on the woolsack (Journals of the House of Lords, xiv. 73). On 18 Nov. he opposed the Bishop of London's motion for taking the king's speech into consideration, and insisted upon the legality and expediency of the dispensing power. He addressed the house in the same arrogant tone with which he was wont to browbeat both counsel and juries, and was compelled before the debate closed to make an abject apology for the indecent personalities in which he had indulged. On 14 Jan. 1686 Jeffreys as lord high steward presided over a court consisting of thirty peers whom he had selected for the trial of Henry Booth, second baron Delamere, for high treason (State Trials, xi. 509–600). On this occasion he seems to have behaved with some moderation, and Delamere obtained an unanimous verdict of acquittal. Shortly afterwards Jeffreys had a severe attack of illness, and for some few days was ‘even almost without hopes of recovery’ (Luttrell, i. 371).

In the struggles between the two parties at court Jeffreys endeavoured to preserve a judicious neutrality by promising both his support while waiting to see which would be victorious. In order to please the king, with whom he had lost favour, Jeffreys suggested that the court of high commission should, with some slight modifications, be revived. The commission ‘for the inspecting ecclesiastical affairs’ was thereupon established by patent in July 1686, and Jeffreys was appointed the chief of the seven commissioners, his presence and assent being declared necessary to all their proceedings. Henry Compton [q. v.], the bishop of London, was the first person who was summoned to appear before the new court (State Trials, xi. 1123–66). In April 1687 Jeffreys presided over the proceedings against Dr. John Peachell, vice-chancellor of the university of Cambridge, for not admitting Alban Francis, a Benedictine monk, to the degree of master of arts (ib. xi. 1315–40), and in October over the proceedings against the fellows of Magdalen College, Oxford, for not electing Anthony Farmer [q. v.] president of that college (ib. xii. 1–112; see also Bloxam's Magdalen College, and King James II, Oxf. Hist. Soc. Publ., 1886). In this year it seems that even Jeffreys wavered in his support of some of the king's designs, but upon receiving a sharp reprimand from James he promised to do whatever was required of him (Macaulay, i. 483). In order that he might assist in packing a favourable parliament Jeffreys was placed on the committee of seven privy councillors who sat at Whitehall for the purpose of regulating the municipal corporations, and was appointed lord-lieutenant of Shropshire and Buckinghamshire. On his advice the king determined to bring the seven bishops before the king's bench, and on 8 June 1688 they were examined before the council, and committed to the Tower. Two days afterwards Jeffreys was present at the birth of the Prince of Wales. Becoming alarmed at the popular feeling in favour of the bishops, Jeffreys charged Clarendon with friendly messages to them, and threw on others the blame of the prosecution (Clarendon Correspondence, ii. 177, 179). Upon the death of the first Duke of Ormonde in July 1688, it was intended that Jeffreys should become chancellor of the university of Oxford. The king's mandate, however, arrived too late, as convocation had already taken the precaution to elect without delay James, second duke of Ormonde, as successor to his grandfather (see the letters of the vice-chancellor of Oxford University to the lord chancellor and Lord Middleton, ib. ii. 490–1).

Aroused to a sense of danger, at the close of September 1688 James directed Jeffreys to rescind the suspension of the Bishop of London, and to annul the proceedings against the fellows of Magdalen, while the high commission court was shortly afterwards abolished by a supersedeas under the great seal. On 2 Oct. Jeffreys sent for the lord mayor and aldermen of London, that they might be presented at court ‘by their old recorder,’ and on the following day he attended a meeting of the common council, when he restored to them the charter which had been forfeited six years before. Previous to the king's departure to Salisbury, Jeffreys was appointed one of the council of five lords to represent James in London during his absence. Upon the king's return Jeffreys was ordered to take up his residence in Father Petre's lodgings at Whitehall, and on the evening of 8 Dec. surrendered the great seal to the king, who threw it into the Thames two nights afterwards, while escaping from London. The last use which Jeffreys made of the great seal was for sealing the writs for the election of a new House of Commons. He sat and heard several petitions on the very day the seal was taken from him. The king having fled, Jeffreys disguised himself as a common sailor, and hid himself on board a vessel moored off Wapping, whence he hoped to escape beyond the sea. The next morning (12 Dec.), however, he rashly went ashore, and while drinking at the Red Cow in Anchor and Hope Alley, near King Edward's Stairs, was recognised by a scrivener, who had been concerned in a chancery suit about a bottomry bond, and had good reason to remember the ex-lord chancellor (North, Life of Lord Guilford, pp. 220–1). Jeffreys was immediately surrounded by an excited mob, who yelled at and pelted him. He was, however, rescued by a company of the train-bands, and carried before the lord mayor, who was so alarmed at the sight of Jeffreys that he fell into a swoon. To secure himself from the violence of the mob Jeffreys was, at his own request, removed to the Tower, accompanied by an armed escort, and shortly afterwards a warrant of committal was received from the lords of the council. In a letter preserved among the Ellacombe MSS. it is stated that when Jeffreys was captured ‘35,000 guynies’ were seized, ‘besides a great deal of silver, which he had sent on board a collier that was to have transported him beyond sea’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. p. 324). On the following day he was examined by a deputation of four lords. He appears to have petitioned for a pardon from William, ‘acknowledging his crimes to be as numerous as his enemies … and promising to discover secrets relating to the succession’ (ib. p. 325). Confinement, however, soon began to tell upon his health, already undermined by drink and a complication of disorders. He was visited by Tutchin, Sharp, and Scott, to all of whom he affirmed that the severities of ‘the bloody assizes’ had fallen short of the royal demand, and that by his forbearance he had extremely displeased the king. He died in prison on 18 April 1689, in the forty-first year of his age, and was buried in the chapel of the Tower, in the next grave to Monmouth. A royal warrant having been obtained on the petition of his family, his body was removed on 2 Nov. 1693, and reinterred in the church of St. Mary Aldermanbury, where, during some repairs in 1810, the leaden coffin containing his remains was found in a vault close to the communion-table (Gent. Mag. 1810, vol. lxxx. pt. ii. p. 584). In May 1689 leave was given to bring in a bill to charge Jeffreys's estate in Leicestershire with the repayment of 15,000l., which he had extorted from Edmund Prideaux of Ford Abbey, Devonshire (Journals of the House of Commons, x. 113–116), and in November following a resolution was unanimously passed that a bill should be brought in for the forfeiture of his estate and honour (ib. x. 280), but both bills were subsequently dropped. He was, however, excepted out of the Bill of Indemnity (2 Will. & Mary, c. 10).

Jeffreys was rather above the average height, with marked, but by no means disagreeable, features, a fair complexion, piercing eyes, bushy eyebrows, and a commanding forehead. He was a man of considerable talents and some social gifts, but neither his judicial brutalities nor his political profligacy admit of palliation. Devoid of principle, of drunken and extravagant habits, he was reckless of everything save his own advancement. A master of scurrilous invective, he delighted in giving what he called ‘a lick with the rough side of his tongue’ to those from whom he had nothing to expect. When, however, there was anything to be gained by it he could be pleasant and agreeable enough, as we learn from his conduct to Sir Matthew Hale, whose ear he gained in nisi prius at Guildhall ‘by little accommodations administered to him in his own house after his own humour, as a small dinner, it may be a partridge or two upon a plate, and a pipe after, and in the meantime diverting him with satirical tales and reflections upon those who bore a name and figure about town’ (Roger North, Autobiography, p. 98). Of his boisterous conviviality Reresby gives more than one curious instance (Memoirs and Travels, pp. 324, 325). On rare occasions Jeffreys showed that he was not entirely devoid of humane feelings. He refused to put the Fine Mote Act in force against his mother's old friend Philip Henry (Diaries and Letters of Philip Henry, 1882, p. 324), and he successfully interceded on behalf of Sir Robert Clayton [q. v.], who had been his patron in early days. The opinion, too, which he expressed at Rosewell's trial that it was ‘a hard case that a man should have a counsel to defend him for a twopenny trespass, and his witnesses examined upon oath, but if he steal, commit murder, or felony, nay, high treason, where life, estate, honour, and all are concerned, he shall neither have counsel, nor his witnesses examined upon oath’ (State Trials, x. 267), was one far in advance of his time. Though his knowledge of law was small, his perception of the true point in the case before him was exceedingly quick. As a criminal judge he was undoubtedly the worst that ever disgraced the bench. In civil cases, however, ‘when he was in temper and matters indifferent came before him, he became his seat of justice better than any other’ Roger North ‘ever saw in his place’ (Life of Lord Speaker Guilford, p. 219). Speaker Onslow, too, records, on the authority of Sir Joseph Jekyll, that he ‘had great parts, and made a great chancellor in the business of that court. In mere private matters he was thought an able and upright judge wherever he sat’ (Burnet, Hist. of his own Time, ii. 400 n.) As chancellor he issued several useful orders for the purpose of checking oppressive practices of his court. A number of his common law judgments are reported in Shower, Skinner, and 3 Modern, and his equity decisions will be found in Vernon. One of the best specimens of his judicial powers is ‘The Argument of the Lord Chief Justice of the Court of King's Bench concerning the great case of Monopolies between the East India Company, Plaintiff, and Thomas Sandys, Defendant,’ &c. (London, 1689, fol., and reprinted in the tenth volume of ‘State Trials,’ pp. 519–54); while his summing-up in the Lady Ivy's case (State Trials, x. 631–45) is described by Lord Campbell as ‘most masterly.’ There are several amusing anecdotes of passages of arms between Jeffreys and witnesses, in which he got the worst of the encounter (Foss, vii. 231). From the dedication of the second edition of John Groenveldt's ‘Dissertatio Lithologica’ (1687), and the titles of two rare prints of Jeffreys after Kneller, published by E. Cooper and I. Oliver, it would seem that James had at one time some intention of creating Jeffreys Viscount Weikham and Earl of Flint (see also Luttrell, i. 325). The explanation that these titles were given satirically (Nicolas, Synopsis of the Peerage, 1825, i. 346) is obviously insufficient; but though it is stated in Seward's ‘Anecdotes’ that ‘a learned and ingenious collector in London’ had in his possession the patent for creating Jeffreys Earl of Flint (5th edit. iv. 142), no entry of such patent is to be found on the rolls or among the privy seals in the Record Office. Jeffreys is said to have been one of the umpires chosen to decide the respective merits of the two organs built by Bernard Schmidt and Renatus Harris [q. v.] respectively for the Temple Church. Jeffreys never represented any constituency in the House of Commons, and only sat in the House of Lords for a few weeks. He does not appear to have published anything. Vernon's ‘Reports,’ which were compiled from Vernon's manuscripts after his death, and published by the court of chancery 1726–8, were erroneously supposed to have been the work of Jeffreys (Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. i. 332). While recorder of the city Jeffreys resided in Aldermanbury, opposite St. Mary Aldermanbury Church. Though he appears to have taken Lord-keeper Guilford's house in Queen Street (ROGER NORTH, Autobiography, p. 195), Jeffreys, soon after he became lord chancellor, went to live in ‘a great house in Duke Street, just against the Bird Cages in St. James's Park,’ which he rented from Moses Pitt the bookseller. James is said to have ‘permitted a fair pair of freestone stairs to be made into the park’ for Jeffreys's accommodation (STOW, Survey of London (Strype), 1720, bk. vi. 64), and here on a vacant piece of ground between the house and the park Jeffreys had a cause room built, which he used as a place of judicial business when he found it inconvenient to sit at Westminster or Lincoln's Inn. This room, which was afterwards known as Duke Street Chapel, has since been pulled down, and the street has been renamed Delahay Street.

There are numerous portraits of Jeffreys. The full-length painted by Kneller in 1687 for the Inner Temple was hung only for a short time in the hall. After his downfall it was taken off the wall, and in 1697 was given by the society to the second Baron Jeffreys, who removed it to Acton. It was subsequently removed to Erddig, Denbighshire, where it is now in the possession of Mr. Simon Yorke, who also possesses a small oval in black and white, drawn by Allen for the engraving which appears in Yorke's ‘Royal Tribes of Wales.’ Another portrait by Kneller, belonging to Lord Tankerville, is at Chillingham Castle, Northumberland. It was painted for James II, and at the time of the revolution was hanging in the court of king's bench. A third portrait which was removed from the Guildhall upon Jeffreys's disgrace cannot now be traced. Possibly it may be the portrait which is now in the National Portrait Gallery, as Jeffreys is there portrayed as recorder. Mr. Frederic Fane has a portrait of Jeffreys at Moyles Court, near Ringwood, Hampshire, and there is another in the Dorset County Museum. Two portraits of Jeffreys and of one of his wives are preserved at Swell Court, Somerset (Notes and Queries, 5th ser. vi. 148), and his portrait appears in Verrio's large picture of James II receiving the president of Christ's Hospital (Pennant, London, 1814, pp. 140–1). Reference to other portraits of Jeffreys, which cannot now be traced, will be found in Nichols's ‘History of Leicestershire’ (vol. ii. pt. i. p. 117 n.) There are numerous engravings of Jeffreys's portraits by E. Cooper, T. Oliver, J. Smith, R. White, and others. Several prints representing Jeffreys taken in disguise and surrounded by the mob were published shortly after his capture. The inscriptions of two of these prints are in Dutch (Stephen, Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, 1870, i. 723).

Jeffreys married, first, on 23 May 1667, at Allhallows Barking Church, Sarah, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Neesham. This marriage is one of the most creditable passages in his career. Having become involved in difficulties Jeffreys determined to repair his fortunes by marrying an heiress, the daughter of a certain rich merchant. Her father, however, discovered the design, forbade the marriage, and turned his daughter's companion, through whom Jeffreys had kept up a clandestine correspondence with the heiress, out of the house. In return for having ruined her prospects Jeffreys, in a fit of generosity, married the companion. By this marriage Jeffreys had four sons and two daughters, viz. (1) John, see infra; (2) Thomas, who died on 7 March 1676; (3) George; (4) Robert, both of whom died in infancy; (5) Margaret, who married at Hedgerley, Buckinghamshire, on 15 Oct. 1687, William, the eldest son of Sir Thomas Stringer of Durance, in the parish of Enfield, and was buried at Enfield on 11 May 1727 (Lysons, Environs of London, ii. 321); and (6) Sarah, who became the wife of George Harnage, a colonel of marines, the third son of Edward Harnage of Belswardyne, near Cressage, Shropshire (Burke, Peerage, &c., 1888, p. 676). Lady Jeffreys died on 14 Feb. 1678, and was buried on the 18th in St. Mary Aldermanbury Church. Jeffreys married, secondly, in June 1679 (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 472), Ann, daughter of Sir Thomas Bludworth, ex-lord mayor of London, and widow of Sir John Jones of Fonmon, Glamorganshire. This lady appears to have had a very doubtful reputation, and the marriage formed the subject of several lampoons. By his second wife Jeffreys had two sons and four daughters, all of whom died infants, excepting Mary, his eldest daughter, who married Charles Dive of Lincoln's Inn, and died on 4 Oct. 1711, in the thirty-first year of her age (cf. inscription in St. Mary Aldermanbury Church). The second Lady Jeffreys survived her husband several years, and died in 1703.

Jeffreys, John, second Baron Jeffreys of Wem (1670?–1702), was educated at Westminster School, where in 1685 he was admitted head into college, but did not stay for election. He is described as ‘a Person of very good Parts’ (Annals of Queen Anne, 1703, i. 231). He was, however, of dissipated habits, and is said to have exceeded even his father in his powers of drinking. A curious account of a broil ‘in a coffee-house near Gray's Inn’ in which he was involved in 1690 is preserved among the Pine Coffin MSS. (Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. p. 380). He took his seat in the House of Lords on 12 Nov. 1694 (Journals of the House of Lords, xv. 431), and in February 1696 refused to sign the ‘association’ recognising William as the rightful and lawful king (Luttrell, iv. 22). During the debate on the second reading of Sir John Fenwick's Attainder Bill he is said to have had a violent dispute with Lord Monmouth (afterwards Lord Peterborough), who had made some severe reflections on the memory of the late lord chancellor (Macaulay, ii. 609). From the ‘Journals of the House of Lords,’ however, it would appear that the altercation was between the Earl of Scarborough and Jeffreys, as an injunction was laid on those lords on 23 Dec. 1696, ‘that they do not resent what each other hath said’ (xvi. 48). In May 1700 Jeffreys was instrumental in substituting a public funeral in honour of Dryden for the private ceremony which had been determined on (Malone, Prose Works of John Dryden, 1800, vol. i. pt. i. pp. 347–82). Jeffreys died on 9 May 1702, and in default of male issue the barony became extinct. No fewer than eighteen protests are signed by the second Lord Jeffreys (Rogers, Complete Collection of the Protests of the Lords, 1875, i. 125–63). In 1709 a private act of parliament was obtained for vesting the real estate of which he had been possessed in Shropshire, Leicestershire, and Buckinghamshire in trustees, ‘to be sold for the payment of debts and portions and other purposes therein mentioned’ (Journals of the House of Lords, xviii. 723). Two small pieces in ‘Poems on Affairs of State,’ 1703–4, viz. ‘A Fable,’ and a translation of an elegy in Latin verse by Dr. Bentley on the death of the Duke of Gloucester (ii. 241, iii. 380–1), are said to have been written by him; but the first-mentioned piece was probably by Prior. He married in July 1688 Lady Charlotte Herbert, daughter and heiress of Philip, seventh earl of Pembroke (Luttrell, i. 451; Hist. MSS. Comm. 5th Rep. p. 379), by whom he had an only surviving child, Henrietta Louisa, who married, on 14 July 1720, Thomas, first earl of Pomfret. It is said that while the Countess of Pomfret was travelling on the western road with her children she was hooted at by the peasants when they learnt that she was the grand-daughter of the lord chief justice, and according to a correspondent in ‘Notes and Queries’ the memory of ‘the bloody assizes’ was still preserved in the district by the change of the name of the well-known children's game Tom Tiddler's ground into ‘Judge Jeffreys' ground’ (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vi. 432). The widow of the second Baron Jeffreys on 29 Aug. 1703 married Thomas, first viscount Windsor (Luttrell, v. 333). There is an engraving of the second Lord Jeffreys, ‘from a drawing in the collection of Thomas Thompson, M.P.,’ in Walpole's ‘Noble Authors’ (ed. Park, iv. opp. p. 10).

[Woolrych's Memoirs of the Life of Judge Jeffreys, 1827; H. B. Irving's Life of Judge Jeffreys, 1898; Western Martyrology or Bloody Assizes … together with the Life and Death of George, Lord Jeffreys, 1705; Life and Character of the late Lord Chancellor Jeffreys, 1725; Roger North's Life of the Lord Keeper Guilford, 1742; Autobiography of Roger North, ed. by A. Jessopp, 1887; Roger North's Examen, 1740; Burnet's History of his own Time, 1833, vols. ii. and iii.; Correspondence of Clarendon and Rochester, ed. by S. W. Singer, 1828; Luttrell's Brief Historical Relation of State Affairs, 1857; Autobiography of Sir John Bramston (Camden Soc. Publ. 1845); Memoirs and Travels of Sir John Reresby, 1813; Sir John Dalrymple's Memoirs, 1771; Ellis Correspondence, 1829; Evelyn's Diary, 1857, ii. 187, 189–90, 224, 242, 256; Lord Campbell's Lives of the Lord Chancellors, 1857, iv. 338–429; Foss's Judges of England, 1864, vii. 226–43; Roscoe's Lives of Eminent British Lawyers, pp. 113–39; Lingard's History of England, 1855, vol. x.; Macaulay's Hist. of England, 1889; Sir James Mackintosh's History of the Revolution, 1834; Nichols's History of Leicestershire, 1795, ii. pt. i. 114–19; Lipscomb's History of Buckinghamshire, 1847, iv. 503–7; Pennant's Tours in Wales, ed. by John Rhys, 1883, i. 384–7; Inderwick's Side-Lights on the Stuarts, 1888, pp. 365–427 (with copy of a rare engraving of Kneller's portrait of Jeffreys); Granger's Biog. Hist. of England, 1804, iii. 368–9, iv. 272, 308–10; Burke's Extinct Peerage, 1883, pp. 298, 608; Cobbett's State Trials, 1810–12, vols. vii–xii.; Seward's Anecdotes, 1804, iv. 141–4; Masters of the Bench of the Inner Temple, 1883, p. 49; Alumni Westmon. 1852, pp. 158, 203, 316, 533; Gent. Mag. 1785, vol. lv. pt. ii. pp. 769–70, 939; Marriage Licenses, London, 1611–1828 (Harl. Soc. Publ. 1887), pp. 302, 328; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vi. 432, vii. 45, 2nd ser. i. 29, 70, 128, 145, 332, 479, ii. 25, iv. 142, 3rd ser. iv. 374, v. 494, ix. 276, 4th ser. vi. 541, xi. 216, 310, 5th ser. vi. 148, 7th ser. ix. 107, 155, 215, 247; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

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