Matthew Hale: defender of the English crown

He was celebrated for his fairness and legal acumen and continued Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth of England

Matthew Hale
  • Matthew Hale

Matthew Hale

The Great Lord of the World hath placed the Children of Men in this Earth as his Stewards; and according to the Parable in Matthew 25, He delivers to every person his Talents, a Stock of advantages or opportunities: to some he commits more, to some less, to all some…That in that due and regular employment, each man might be in some measure serviceable and advantageous to another. That, although the great Lord of this great Family, can receive no Advantage by the Service of his Creature, because he is Perfect and All-sufficient in himself; yet he receives Glory and Praise by it, and a Complacency in the beholding a Conformity in the Creature, to his own most Perfect Will…. The Great Day of Account will be the great Day of Judgment, when the Lord of the Families of the whole Earth, will call every man to his account of his Stewardship here on Earth. Wherein we may with reverence, and for the better fastening it upon our affections, suppose the Lord thus to be bespeaking all and every particular persons of the world.

– from Contemplations, Moral and Divine

Matthew Hale (1609-1676) was an English judge and lawyer who was best known for his defense of the English crown during the English Civil War. Historians speculate that Hale would have represented Charles I in trial – had the king not been executed instead — and there is evidence that Hale had drafted his case for Charles. Although the Royalists lost the Civil War, Hale was so celebrated for his fairness and legal acumen that he was immune from any repercussions regarding his involvement in the Royalist cause, and continued as a lawyer under Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth of England, heading up a commission to reform the legal system in England. He published Contemplations, Moral and Divine the year he died.

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