The Chancellors Resolution:

Title

The Chancellors Resolution:

Subtitle

OR, His Last Sayings a little before his Death. To the Tune of, Lilli borlero.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

Magdalene College - Pepys Library, Pepys Ballads 2.278; EBBA 20892

Set to tune of...

Lilli borlero

Transcription

I have been long in Custody here, under strong Bolts a Prisoner fast,
Being possest always with a fear, that I should live to swing at the last;
Never was Man more tormented, sorrow and grief my sences does seize;
I never was pitty'd, but faith I have fitted the Hang-man, and cousen'd him of his Fees.

I have been made the scorn of the Town, who was of late next Man to a Throne;
Every Rascal's running me down,
so that I make most pittiful moan;
There's a thousand deaths invented,
for honest George, who them did displease;
but to their vexation, I shall cheat the Nation, and likewise the Hang-man of all his Fees.

I was the whipping Scourge of this age, caus[ing] good Men to suffer with shame,
[Therefore the Land] is all in a Rage, [wishing I] might partake of the same:
Some [says scourge me, others hang] me, [thus e'ry] one condemns as they please;
[But my speech] does falter, I shall scape the Halter, [and couzen] the Hang-man of all his Fees.

I wish the [rest] wou'd murder the Test, this is a Crime which none wou'd excuse;
And the good Wives that lives in the West, hopes they shall see my dye in my Shooes;
But they will not have their wishes, conquering Death does Chancellor seize;
O let them not Cavel, the Gout and the Gravel,
will couzen the Hang-man of all his Fees.

Ever since I have lain in this Den, faith I have lost the Purse and the Mace,
And am expos'd abroad amongst Men, under the terms of shame and disgrace;
Some says hang me, others flee me, and twenty Deaths more cruel then these,
But here I am lying, upon my Bed dying, I'll couzen the Hang-man of all his fees.

William and Mary being Proclaim'd, this like an Arrow went to my heart,
I with a Feavour straight was inflam'd, fearing I soon should have my desert:
Thousands waited for my Tryal, a shameful end the Rabble wou'd please,
Tho' they do crave it, they never shall have it, I'll couzen the Hang-man of all his fees.

Now when I hear King William was Crown'd, and that the loud-mouth'd Cannons [did roar,]
Presently I fell into a Swoon'd, never was man so daunted before;
And my Stony old Distemper, violently my Body did seize;
'Tis no feigned Story, but in this I glo[ry] to couzen the Hang-man of all his fees.

Some did declare I must loose my Head, others said Hanging wou'd be my Doom,
'Cause I for Honour had been misled, pleading always for Treacherous Rome;
But i'faith they're disappointed, conquering Death my Spirits does seize,
I'll make each a Lyar, and straightways expire, so couzen the Hang-man of all his fees.

Date

Printing Location

Printed in the Year, 168[9]

Notes

Wikipedia:  George Jeffreys, 1st Baron Jeffreys of Wem, 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.

Jeffreys' historical notoriety comes from his actions in 1685, after Monmouth's Rebellion. Jeffreys was sent to the West Country in the autumn of 1685 to conduct the trials of captured rebels. The Centre of the trials was based at Taunton. Estimates of the numbers executed for treason have been given as high as 700, however, a more likely figure is between 160 and 170 of 1381 defendants found guilty of treason. Although Jeffreys has been traditionally accused of vindictiveness and harsh sentencing, none of the convictions have been considered improper, except for that of Alice Lisle. Furthermore, as the law of the time required a sentence of death for treason, Jeffreys was required to impose it, leaving the king the option of commuting sentence under the prerogative of mercy. Arguably, it was James II's refusal to use the prerogative as much as was customary for the time, rather than Jeffreys' actions that made the government's reprisals so savage. 

During the Glorious Revolution, when James II fled the country, Jeffreys stayed in London until the last moment, being the only high legal authority in James's abandoned kingdom to perform political duties. When William III's troops approached London, Jeffreys tried to flee and follow the King abroad. He was captured in a public house in Wapping, now named The Town of Ramsgate. Reputedly he was disguised as a sailor, and was recognized by a surviving judicial victim. Jeffreys was in terror of the public when dragged to the Lord Mayor and then to prison "for his own safety". He begged his captors for protection from the mob. 

He died of kidney disease (probably pyelonephritis) while in custody in the Tower of London on 18 April 1689. He was originally buried in the Chapel Royal of Saint Peter ad Vincula in the Tower. In 1692 his body was moved to St Mary Aldermanbury. 

In his London Journal, Leigh Hunt gives the following account of Judge Jeffreys' death and burial:

Jeffreys was taken on the twelfth of September, 1688. He was first interred privately in the Tower; but three years afterwards, when his memory was something blown over, his friends obtained permission, by a warrant of the queen's dated September 1692, to take his remains under their own care, and he was accordingly reinterred in a vault under the communion table of St. Mary, Aldermanbury, 2nd Nov. 1694. In 1810, during certain repairs, the coffin was uncovered for a time, and the public had a sight of the box containing the mortal remains of the feared and hated magistrate.

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“The Chancellors Resolution: ,” Execution Ballads, accessed January 28, 2022, https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/execution-ballads/items/show/944.