George Jeffreys

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Jeffreys, George (1648–89). Notorious as the judge who presided at the Bloody Assizes, Jeffreys was a career lawyer who became conspicuous as an aggressive prosecutor and partisan judge. At political trials his success in harassing defendants and intimidating juries earned him royal approval for upholding the interests of the crown. In 1684 he ordered the execution of Sir Thomas Armstrong without trial, as an outlaw. Attached to James II since 1677, he became lord chancellor in 1685 and as Baron Wem acted as Speaker of the Lords. In dealing with his peers his bullying manner proved counter-productive. The other judges involved in the Bloody Assizes allowed Jeffreys to incur responsibility for the brutal treatment of Monmouth's rebels. Consequently Jeffreys was cast as scapegoat after the Glorious Revolution, but died soon after being arrested. Whig historians subsequently created the legendary figure of a unique judicial monster.

J. R. Jones

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Jeffreys, George

Jeffreys, George, English organist and composer; b. c. 1610; d. Weldon, Northamptonshire, July 1, 1685. He was a member of the Chapel Royal, and was made joint organist (with John Wilson) to King Charles I in Oxford (1643). From 1646 he was steward to Sir Christopher (later Lord) Hatton at Kirkby, Northamptonshire. He composed both Latin and English sacred music, including about 70 Latin works and about 35 English anthems and devotional songs. He also wrote six string fantasias for three parts (1629), music for plays and masques (1631), dialogues, Italian songs, etc.


P. Aston, G. J. and the English Baroque (diss., Univ. of York, 1970; includes performing eds. of all of his instrumental pieces, theater music, and secular songs, as well as 30 sacred works).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Jeffreys, George (b c.1610; d Weldon, Northants, 1685). Eng. composer. Org. to Charles I at Oxford during Civil War. In 1646 became steward to Sir Christopher (later Lord) Hatton at Kirby, Northants, remaining until death. Worked as amateur composer, only one work being published in lifetime. Wrote mainly church mus., influenced by It. Baroque, particularly Monteverdi and Gesualdo. Collected works ed. Peter Aston, from 1970. Works incl. 35 Eng. anthems, over 70 Latin settings, secular songs, str. fantasias (1629), and mus. for plays (1631).

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