Hanging judge

"Hanging judge" is a colloquial phrase for a judge who has gained notoriety for handing down punishment by sentencing convicted persons to death by hanging, or otherwise imposing unusually harsh sentences. Hanging judges are officers of the court with mandates, as opposed to extralegal lynch law.


17th century

19th century

20th century

Cultural references


  1. ^ Tyler Bryant, Ruth. "George Jeffreys, first Baron Jeffreys of Wem". Donald E. Wilkes, Jr. Collection: Chief Justice George Jeffreys. University of Georgia School of Law. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  2. ^ Williams, David R. (1977). The Man for a New Country. Victoria, BC: Gray's Publishing. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-8882-6068-0.
  3. ^ National Park Service. "Judge Isaac C. Parker". National Park Service. Retrieved 22 November 2015. Remembered in Western novels and films as a "Hanging Judge"
  4. ^ Knopp, Guido (2002). "4, "The Hanging Judge"". Hitler's Hitmen. United Kingdom: Sutton Publishing.
  5. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0002c9p
Bloody Assizes

The Bloody Assizes were a series of trials started at Winchester on 25 August 1685 in the aftermath of the Battle of Sedgemoor, which ended the Monmouth Rebellion in England.

There were five judges – Sir William Montague (Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer), Sir Robert Wright, Sir Francis Wythens (Justice of the King's Bench), Sir Creswell Levinz (Justice of the Common Pleas) and Sir Henry Pollexfen, led by Lord Chief Justice George Jeffreys.

Over 1,000 rebels were in prison awaiting the trials, which started in Winchester on 26 August. The first notable trial was that of an elderly gentlewoman named Dame Alice Lyle. The jury reluctantly found her guilty, and, the law recognising no distinction between principals and accessories in treason, she was sentenced to be burned. This was commuted to beheading, with the sentence being carried out in Winchester market-place on 2 September 1685.From Winchester the court proceeded through the West Country to Salisbury, Dorchester and on to Taunton, before finishing up at Wells on 23 September. More than 1,400 prisoners were dealt with and although most were sentenced to death, fewer than 300 were hanged or hanged, drawn and quartered. The Taunton Assize took place in the Great Hall of Taunton Castle (now the home of the Museum of Somerset). Of more than 500 prisoners brought before the court on the 18/19 September, 144 were hanged and their remains displayed around the county to ensure people understood the fate of those who rebelled against the king.Some 800–850 men were transported to the West Indies where they were worth more alive than dead as a source of cheap labour (the novel Captain Blood, and the later movies based on it, graphically portray this punishment). Others were imprisoned to await further trial, although many did not live long enough, succumbing to 'Gaol Fever' (typhus), which was rife in the unsanitary conditions common to most English gaols at that time. A woman named Elizabeth Gaunt had the gruesome distinction of being the last woman burnt alive in England for political crimes.Jeffreys returned to London after the Assizes to report to King James, who rewarded him by making him Lord Chancellor (at the age of only 40), 'For the many eminent and faithful services to the Crown'. Jeffreys became known as "the hanging judge".After the Glorious Revolution, Jeffreys was incarcerated in the Tower of London, where he died in 1689. His death was probably due to his chronic medical history of kidney and bladder stones leading to an acute infection, kidney failure and possibly toxaemia.

Writing as recently as 1929, Sir John C. Fox said:

Even to the present day, the mothers of West Somerset control their unruly offspring by threatening to send for 'Judge Jeffreys'.

Evett Dumas Nix

Evett Dumas Nix, often known as E.D. Nix, (September 19, 1861 - February 6, 1946) was a United States Marshal in the late 19th century handling the jurisdiction that included the wild Oklahoma Territory, later to be the state of Oklahoma. He was first appointed in 1893, in the closing years of the Old West, during the last years of the "Hanging Judge" Parker tenure.

Frank Cochran

Frank Cochran (1853? – 1925?) was a 19th-century Old West Deputy US Marshal in the service of Judge Isaac Parker, known as the "Hanging Judge", operating out of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Frank M. Canton

Frank M. Canton (September 15, 1849 – September 27, 1927), born Josiah Horner, was an American Old West fugitive who had a career as a deputy U.S. marshal under an assumed name. Although an ex-sheriff 'stock detective' in Wyoming, Canton and his associates were accused of operating more by assassination than the law. Extra judicial measures such as the lynching of Ellen Watson inflamed public opinion against the long established big ranchers Canton worked for, and to re-establish control over grazing they funded an all out assault on those small operators considered to be rustlers. Canton directed Frank Wolcott's imported gunmen in their planned vigilante campaign, known as the Johnson County War, which was quickly ended by a local posse. Finding himself a marked man in Wyoming, Canton considered it opportune to leave the state. He spent most of the rest of his working life in law enforcement for the court of hanging judge Isaac Parker.

George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys

George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys, PC (15 May 1645 – 18 April 1689), also known as "the Hanging Judge", was a Welsh judge. He became notable during the reign of King James II, rising to the position of Lord Chancellor (and serving as Lord High Steward in certain instances). His conduct as a judge was to enforce royal policy, resulting in a historical reputation for severity and bias.

Hang 'Em High

Hang 'Em High is a 1968 American DeLuxe Color revisionist Western film directed by Ted Post and written by Leonard Freeman and Mel Goldberg. It stars Clint Eastwood as Jed Cooper, an innocent man who survives a lynching; Inger Stevens as a widow who helps him; Ed Begley as the leader of the gang that lynched Cooper; and Pat Hingle as the judge who hires him as a U.S. Marshal.

Hang 'Em High was the first production of The Malpaso Company, Eastwood's production company.

Hingle portrays a fictional judge who mirrors Judge Isaac Parker, labeled the "Hanging Judge" due to the large number of men he sentenced to be executed during his service as District Judge of the Western District of Arkansas.

The film also depicts the dangers of serving as a U.S. marshal during that period, as many federal marshals were killed while serving under Parker. The fictional Fort Grant, base for operations for that district judge seat, is also a mirror of the factual Fort Smith, Arkansas, where Judge Parker's court was located.

Isaac Parker

Isaac Charles Parker (October 15, 1838 – November 17, 1896) was an American politician and jurist. He served as a United States Representative from Missouri and was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.

Parker became known as the "Hanging Judge" of the American Old West due to the large number of convicts whom he sentenced to death. In 21 years on the federal bench, Judge Parker tried 13,490 cases. In more than 8,500 of these cases, the defendant either pleaded guilty or was convicted at trial. Parker sentenced 160 people to death; 79 of them were executed.

John Toler, 1st Earl of Norbury

John Toler, 1st Earl of Norbury PC, KC (3 December 1745 – 27 July 1831), known as The Lord Norbury between 1800 and 1827, was an Irish lawyer, politician and judge. A greatly controversial figure in his time, he was nicknamed the "Hanging Judge" and was considered to be one of the most corrupt legal figures in Irish history. He was Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas between 1800 and 1827.

Majid Ansari

Majid Ansari (Persian: مجید انصاری‎; born in 1950 in Zarand, Kerman Province), is an Iranian politician and cleric. He was formerly Vice President for Legal Affairs from July 12, 2016 until August 9, 2017. Previously held vice presidency in parliamentary affairs from October 12, 2004 to August 29, 2005, appointed by President Mohammad Khatami and the second term from September 1, 2013 until July 12, 2016 under President Hassan Rouhani. On 2 August 2017, Ansari announced that he will not be part of second Rouhani government.

Ansari is also a representative to the Assembly of Experts and a member of the Expediency Discernment Council. Politically, he is a member of the Central Council of Association of Combatant Clerics.

Previously, he has been a representative of Tehran in the Parliament of Iran until 2004. Ansari has openly supported Sadegh Khalkhali, the hanging judge and his serial executions.

Matthew Baillie Begbie

Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie (9 May 1819 – 11 June 1894) was a British lawyer, politician, and judge. In 1858, Begbie became the first Chief Justice of the Crown Colony of British Columbia in colonial times and in the first decades after British Columbia joined Confederation as a province of Canada.

Begbie served as the first Judge of the Supreme Court, Colony of British Columbia 1858 to 1866 and then, in the same capacity in the Supreme Court, the United Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia from 1866 to 1870. He was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Colonies from 1870 to 1871 and then served as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the new Province of British Columbia from 1871 until his death on June 11, 1894.

In the years after his death, Begbie came to be known as the Hanging Judge.

Michael Ponsor

Michael Adrian Ponsor (born August 13, 1946) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He serves in the court's western region, in the city of Springfield.

Monmouth Beach, Lyme Regis

Monmouth Beach is a pebble and rock beach stretching approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) from the harbour at Lyme Regis, West Dorset to Pinhay Bay, East Devon. It is part of the Jurassic Coast, situated below Ware Cliffs, and includes Poker's Pool, Virtle Rock and Chippel Bay.

The name derives from the landing here of Duke of Monmouth in 1685 during his attempt to take the crown from King James II. Following the defeat of the Duke of Monmouth, twelve locals were hanged on the beach on the order of the notorious "Hanging Judge" Jeffreys.

Virtle Rock is the farthest islet from the coast in Poker's Pool.

Revelation (Armored Saint album)

Revelation is the fifth studio album by American heavy metal band Armored Saint. It was released in 2000 on Metal Blade Records. Armored Saint reformed in the entire Symbol of Salvation lineup to record Revelation in 1999 after six years of being disbanded. The result was a solid album, a natural sequel of their previous effort. The limited edition came with bonus CD-ROM including the complete A Trip Thru Red Times video.

"Creepy Feelings" and "What's Your Pleasure" were original demoed with original guitarist Dave Prichard during the writing sessions of what would become the Symbol of Salvation album but ultimately didn't make the cut.

The song "The Pillar" was originally written for the 1992 horror movie Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth where the band makes a cameo appearance as a bar band performing the song "Hanging Judge" at the 'Boiler Room' club.

Robert Torrens (judge)

Robert Torrens (1775 – 1856) was an Irish judge. He enjoyed, on the whole, a high reputation for impartiality and decency. While his critics called him "the notorious hanging Judge Torrens", the legal profession as a whole praised his legal ability and integrity. Despite increasing complaints about his physical infirmity, he remained on the Bench into extreme old age. Through his daughter Henrietta he was the ancestor of the Barons O'Neill.

Roy Bean

Phantly Roy Bean, Jr. (c. 1825 – March 16, 1903) was an eccentric American saloon-keeper and Justice of the Peace in Val Verde County, Texas, who called himself "The Law West of the Pecos". According to legend, he held court in his saloon along the Rio Grande on a desolate stretch of the Chihuahuan Desert of southwest Texas. After his death, Western films and books cast him as a hanging judge, although he is known to have sentenced only two men to hang, one of whom escaped.

Sir William Williams, 1st Baronet, of Gray's Inn

Sir William Williams, 1st Baronet (1634 – 11 July 1700) was a Welsh lawyer and politician. He served as a Member of Parliament for Chester and later Beaumaris, and was appointed Speaker for two English Parliaments during the reign of Charles II. He later served as Solicitor General during the reign of James II. Williams had a bitter personal and professional rivalry with Judge Jeffreys (the hanging judge).

The Hanging Judge (film)

The Hanging Judge is a 1918 British silent drama film directed by Henry Edwards and starring Edwards, Chrissie White and Hamilton Stewart. Its plot concerns the son of a notorious judge, who is put on trial for murder. It was based on a play by Tom Gallon and Leon M. Lion.

The Westerner (1940 film)

The Westerner is a 1940 American film directed by William Wyler and starring Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, and Doris Davenport. Written by Niven Busch, Stuart N. Lake, and Jo Swerling, the film is about a self-appointed hanging judge in Vinegaroon, Texas, who befriends a saddle tramp who opposes the judge's policy against homesteaders. The film is often remembered for one of Walter Brennan's best performances, as Judge Roy Bean, which led to his winning his record-setting third Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. James Basevi and Stuart N. Lake also received Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, Black and White and Best Story, respectively. The supporting cast features Dana Andrews, Chill Wills, and Forrest Tucker.

Wolfe Tone Square

Wolfe Tone Park, sometimes known as Wolfe Tone Square, is a public space in Dublin, Ireland. Named for Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763–1798), the park is the site of a graveyard that was attached to St. Mary’s Church. The graveyard was deconsecrated in 1966 and laid out as a green park. In 1998, Dublin City Council held an international competition to redesign the park, which was won by Peter Cody of Boyd Cody Architects. The park in its current form was completed in 2001.The park is the final resting place of the United Irishman Archibald Hamilton Rowan (1751–1834), Mary Mercer, founder of Mercer's Hospital (died 1734), the philosopher Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746), Sir Boyle Roche, 1st Baronet (1736–1807), an Irish politician and member of the Irish House of Commons, parish rector William Fletcher (1715–1771), and Lord Norbury (1745–1831; known colloquially as the hanging judge).Since the park layout was changed, the park had been made available by Dublin City Council for events - such as the Dublin Fringe Festival. However, following a campaign from local residents to restore "Wolfe Tone Park as a non-commercial green space", as of 2015, there has been debate in the Council as to the future use of the park.

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