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Sir William Scroggs

Scroggs, Sir William, 1623?–1683, English jurist. Educated at Oxford and trained in law at Gray's Inn, he became (1669) a king's sergeant, was made (1676) justice in common pleas through the influence of the earl of Danby, and became (1678) lord chief justice. In the early trials for the alleged Popish Plot (see Oates, Titus) Scroggs discriminated against and abused Roman Catholic defendants notoriously. In the case of Sir George Wakeman (1679), the queen's physician, who was accused of plotting to poison the king, Scroggs changed his stand, impugned the testimony of Oates and his fellow conspirators, and brought about the acquittal of Wakeman. Subsequently, Scroggs was one of the justices who discharged the grand jury that was to consider the impeachment of the duke of York (later James II) as a Roman Catholic recusant. Scroggs was attacked by fanatical Protestants as having yielded to court pressure. An effort was made to impeach and try him, but it failed (1681) when Charles II dissolved Parliament. Scroggs was supplanted on the bench, however, and retired on a pension from the crown.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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