The New Student's Reference Work/Jeffreys, George, Lord

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Jeffreys, George, Lord, an English lawyer, who rose to a high position on the bench but disgraced the profession and made his name forever infamous by his cruelties and brutal disposition, was born at Acton, England, in 1648. He was the son of a squire of small means, who contrived to give his son a good education. Among his earliest trials were those of Titus Oates and Richard Baxter, and in both he displayed his brutal and vindictive nature. In 1685 he was sent to the west to try those who took part in Monmouth’s unsuccessful rebellion. Three hundred and twenty were hanged as rebels during the trial, which was called the Bloody Assize; 840 were transported; and a still larger number were whipped, imprisoned and treated with the most brutal cruelty. He was appointed lord-chancellor by James II, and made a peer with the title of Baron Jeffreys of Wem. When James II was driven from the throne and kingdom, he tried to follow his master, disguised as a sailor, but was caught and shut up in the Tower of London, to save him from being torn to pieces by the mob. Here, worn out by hard drinking, he died on April 18, 1689. See Life by Woolrych.