Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Judge Jeffreys, George Jeffreys, 1st Baron 1648-89 1685c.

John Michael Wright (1617–1694)

Portrait of Judge Jeffreys, George Jeffreys, 1st Baron 1648-89, John Michael Wright
Oil on canvas
17th Century
50 x 40 inches 127 x 101.2 cm
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This portrait shows perhaps the most infamous man ever to have sat upon the English bench. Judge George Jeffreys sat as judge during the so-called “Bloody Assizes”, which followed the failed rebellion of Charles II’s illegitimate son, the Duke of Monmouth. Over the course of the Assizes, Monmouth was responsible for the deaths of around two hundred traitors and the deportation to the West Indies of many more. However, Jefferys’s star was not to remain in the ascendant for long; following the fall and subsequent flight of James II, Jefferys was arrested as he himself attempted to flee disguised as a sailor. Sent to the Tower, his poor health, perhaps caused by his notorious heavy-drinking, led to Jefferys’s death before he could be brought to trial.
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