the popular party, to which he had hitherto belonged, began to cultivate fashionable society. With the aid of Chiffinch, page of the backstairs, Jeffreys obtained an introduction to the court, and in September 1677 was appointed solicitor-general to the Duke of York, receiving the honour of knighthood on the 14th of the same month. In January 1678 he was called to the bench of the Inner Temple, and on 22 Oct. was elected recorder of the city in the place of Sir William Dolben [q. v.] Although for a time disconcerted at the advantage taken by Shaftesbury of the Popish plot, Jeffreys, on being called on for his advice, recommended the court to outbid Shaftesbury in a pretended zeal for the protestant religion. Jeffreys took a prominent part in the trials of the persons charged with complicity in the plot, both as counsel in the king's bench and as recorder at the Old Bailey. He incited Lord-chief-justice Scroggs in his vindictive proceedings, and, while passing sentence after conviction, took every opportunity of insulting the prisoners and of scoffing at the faith which they professed. For these services Jeffreys, on 30 April 1680, was appointed chief justice of Chester and counsel for the crown at Ludlow, in the place of Sir Job Charlton, and on 12 May following was sworn in as a serjeant-at-law in the court of chancery (London Gazette, No. 1511), taking as the motto for his rings ‘A Deo rex: a rege lex.’ For his overbearing conduct as counsel he received a severe reproof from Baron Weston at the Kingston assizes in July 1680 (Woolrych, pp. 65–6; Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. p. 479), while his conduct as chief justice of Chester was severely commented upon in the House of Commons by Henry Booth (afterward second Baron Delamere), who declared that Jeffreys ‘behaved himself more like a jack-pudding than with that gravity that beseems a judge’ (Chandler, Debates, 1742, ii. 163). In the struggle which arose from the delay in assembling parliament Jeffreys took an active part on the side of the ‘abhorrers.’ A petition having been presented from the city, complaining that the recorder had obstructed the citizens in their attempts to have parliament summoned, a select committee was appointed to inquire into the charge, and on 13 Nov. 1680 it was resolved that ‘Sir George Jefferyes by traducing and obstructing Petitioning for the sitting of this Parliament hath betrayed the rights of the subject,’ and that the king should be requested to remove him ‘out of all publick offices’ (Journals of the House of Commons, ix. 653). The king merely replied that ‘he would consider of it,’ but Jeffreys was ‘not parliament proof,’ and having submitted to a reprimand on his knees at the bar of the house, resigned the recordership on 2 Dec. 1680. Shortly after his resignation Jeffreys became chairman of the Middlesex sessions at Hicks's Hall. He was foiled, however, in his attempt to remodel the grand jury by purging the panel of all sectarians. As counsel for the crown he took part in the prosecution of Edward Fitzharris, Archbishop Plunket, and Stephen Colledge in 1681, and on 17 Nov. in that year was created a baronet of the United Kingdom. After the failure of the prosecution against Lord Shaftesbury in November 1681 Jeffreys entered heartily into the scheme for destroying the popular government of the city, and did everything in his power to push on the quo warranto by which the city was deprived of its charter. In November 1682 he obtained a conviction in the king's bench against William Dockwray [q. v.] for an infringement of the Duke of York's rights to the revenues of the post-office. He took a prominent part in the prosecution of William, lord Russell, for his share in the Rye House plot, and vehemently pressed the case against the prisoner (State Trials, ix. 577–636). Though Charles had declared that Jeffreys had ‘no learning, no sense, no manners, and more impudence than ten carted street-walkers,’ and had hitherto demurred to his promotion to the office of lord chief justice of England (see letter of the Earl of Sunderland, Clarendon Correspondence, i. 82–3), he subsequently withdrew his objections, and Jeffreys was appointed to the post on 29 Sept. 1683 (London Gazette, No. 1864). Elkanah Settle published a ‘panegyrick’ on him immediately afterwards.
Jeffreys was sworn a member of the privy council on 4 Oct. 1683, and took his seat in the king's bench on the first day of Michaelmas term. In November he presided at the trial of Algernon Sidney for high treason (State Trials, ix. 817–1022). It was conducted with manifest unfairness to the prisoner, but though the illegality of the conviction is unquestionable, the charge that Jeffreys admitted the manuscript treatise on government to be read without any evidence that it had been written by Sidney beyond ‘similitude of hands’ is unfounded (Campbell, Lives of the Chancellors, iv. 368). In June 1684 Jeffreys condemned Sir Thomas Armstrong, who had been brought to the bar of the king's bench upon an outlawry for high treason, and refused his claim to a trial, to which he was entitled by statute. Upon the prisoner exclaiming, ‘I ought to have the benefit of the law, and I demand no more,’ Jeffreys brutally replied, ‘That you shall have by the grace of God. See that