Lot 337
  • 337

John Riley

15,000 - 20,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • John Riley
  • Portrait of George, 1st Baron Jeffreys of Wem, Judge Jeffreys (1645-1689)
  • oil on canvas
  • 74 by 62 cm.; 29 by 24 1/2  in.


By descent to Henrietta Louisa Jeffreys, the sitter's granddaughter, who married Thomas Fermor, 1st Earl of Pomfret;
By descent to the 2nd Baron Hesketh, Easton Neston, Northamptonshire;
By whose Heirs and Trustees sold with the contents of Easton Neston, Sotheby's, Session I, 17 May 2005, lot 56.


London, Royal Academy, The Age of Charles II, 1960-1961, no. 365


G. Barker, The History and Antiquities of the Country of Northamptonshire, 1838, Part IV, p. 145, as displayed in the Long Gallery;
H. Avray Tipping, 'Easton Neston, Northamptonshire, The Seat of Sir Thomas Fermor-Hesketh Bt', in Country Life, Vol. XXIV, 14 November 1908, pp. 672-673, reproduced, as displayed in The Long Gallery;
G. W. Keeton, Lord Chancellor Jeffreys and the Stuart Cause, 1965, p. 514, plate 6b.

Catalogue Note

The celebrated Judge Jeffreys was the son of John Jeffreys of Acton Park, Wrexham and his wife Margaret Ireland.  He was educated at St Paul's and Westminster, and after a brief stay at Trinity College, Cambridge entered the Inner Temple and was called to the Bar in 1668.  He quickly made his reputation as a master of cross-examination, and built up important links with prominent merchants and city figures.  In 1671 he was elected common serjeant of London, and in 1677 was knighted and made a King's Counsel.  In 1678 he was made a Bencher of the Inner Temple.

Jeffreys had successfully ingratiated himself with the Court by keeping them informed about City politics and in August 1678 entertained the King and the Duchess of Portsmouth at Temple Bulstrode, his estate in Buckinghamshire.  This bore fruit and the King recommended him as candidate for Recorder of London, a post which he held for two years during a turbulent period which saw numerous trials resulting from the so-called Popish Plot.  In 1680 Jeffreys resigned following serious disagreements with leading figures in the City, but the King named him as Chief Justice of the Palatine Courts in Chester where he worked vigorously on behalf of the King and the Duke of York in many trials concerning treason or seditious libel.  In 1681 the King made Jeffreys a baronet.  In 1683 he became Chief Justice of the King's bench and a Privy Councillor, and actively prosecuted those implicated in the Rye House Plot, including Algernon Sidney.  He also began to preside at assizes, and in 1685, after the accession of James II, took part in the notorious assizes on the Western circuit following the defeat of Monmouth.  James II made him a peer in May 1685, and four months later he was appointed Lord Chancellor.  He remained loyal to the King, whilst trying to restrain his more extreme measures mindful of the threat of a Protestant backlash and an invasion from abroad.  Following James II's fall he was committed to the Tower, where he died four months later.  This fine portrait, painted in the mid 1680s, descended to the sitters son John and thence to the only surviving child from John's marriage to Lady Charlotte Herbert in 1688.