Matthew Hale

Matthew Hale in United Kingdom

Hale, Sir Matthew

Introduction to Matthew Hale

Matthew Hale (1609-76), English jurist and statesman, born in Alderley, Gloucestershire, and educated at Magdalen College, University of Oxford, and Lincoln’s Inn. He was called to the bar in 1637 and acted as defense counsel at the trials of many Royalists during the English Revolution. Hale had a long public career, including service as a justice of Common Pleas in 1654 and as a member of Parliament from 1654 to 1660. In 1660 King Charles II knighted Hale and appointed him chief baron of the Exchequer; from 1671 to 1676 Hale was chief justice of the King’s Bench, then the highest judicial office in England.

Although Hale, as a member of Parliament, shared in the parliamentary triumph over the Crown during the English Revolution, he was sympathetic to the Royalists and labored to bring about a settlement between the two factions. Eventually he took an active part in the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II.

Hale’s private studies included investigations in classical law, history, the sciences, and theology. He exercised considerable influence on subsequent legal thought, and his best-known work, The History and Analysis of the Common Law of England (pub. posthumously in 1713), furnished the British jurist Sir William Blackstone with a basis for his Commentaries.” (1)

Alternative Biography

HALE, SIR MATTHEW (1609-1676). —Jurist and miscellaneous writer, has left a great reputation as a lawyer and judge. Steering a neutral course during the political changes of his time, he served under the Protectorate and after the Restoration, and rose to be Chief Justice of the King’s Bench. He is mentioned here as the author of several works on science, divinity, and law. Among them are The Primitive Origination of Mankind, and Contemplations, Moral and Divine. His legal works are still of great authority. Though somewhat dissipated in early youth, he has handed down a high reputation for wisdom and piety.

Source: A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature


Notes and References

Guide to Matthew Hale



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