England’s turbulent history and the last quarter of the 17th century
records the name of George Jeffreys in a most unflattering manner.
Jeffreys became Lord Chief Justice in 1682 and held, in 1685, the brutal
assizes following the defeat of Monmouth’s rebellion. By his order,
hundreds of prisoners were condemned to gruesome deaths without adequate
evidence of their guilt.
The story of these notoriously defective trials, The Bloody Assizes,
edited by J. G. Muddiman, amply documents why the word “bloody” became
permanently attached to the judgments of the 1685 Western Circuit and
puts a human face on the consequences.
Professor Alan M. Dershowitz refers, in his introduction to our
facsimile of the 1929 edition, to an important connection with the early
“This terrible event in British history was well known to the framers of
our Constitution, and the rights included in that document and in the
Bill of Rights that followed soon after were designed to prevent the
wrongs inflicted on British citizens by the infamous Jeffreys.”
This volume recounts in all its sad detail this critical episode in