SIR JOSEPH JEKYLL (1663-1738), English lawyer and master of the rolls, son of John Jekyll, was born in London, and after studying at the Middle Temple was called to the bar in 1687. He rapidly rose to be chief justice of Chester (1697),(1697), serjeant-atlaw and king's serjeant (1700), and a knight. In 1717 he was made master of the rolls. A Whig in politics, he sat in parliament for various constituencies from 1697 to the end of his life, and took an active part there in debating constitutional questions with much learning, though, according to Lord Hervey (Mem. 1, 474), with little "approbation." He was censured by the House of Commons for accepting a brief for the defence of Lord Halifax in a prosecution ordered by the house. He was one of the managers of the impeachment of the Jacobite earl of Wintoun in 1715, and of Harley (Lord Oxford) in 1717. In later years he supported Walpole. He became very unpopular in 1736 for his introduction of the "gin act," taxing the retailing of spirituous liquors, and his house had to be protected from the mob. Pope has an illusion to "Jekyll or some odd Whig, Who never changed his principle or wig" (Epilogue to the Satires). Jekyll was also responsible for the Mortmain Act of 1736, which was not superseded till 1888. He died without issue in 1738.
His great-nephew Joseph Jekyll (d. 1837) was a lawyer, politician and wit, who excited a good deal of contemporary satire, and who wrote some jeux d'esprit which were well-known in his time. His Letters of the late Ignatius Sancho, an African, was published in 1782. In 1894 his correspondence was edited, with a memoir, by the Hon. Algernon Bourke.
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