Star"-cham`ber (?), n. [So called (as conjectured by Blackstone) from being held in a room at the Exchequer where the chests containing certain Jewish contracts and obligations called starrs (from the Heb. shetar, pron. shtar) were kept; or from the stars with which the ceiling is supposed to have been decorated.] Eng. Hist.

An ancient high court exercising jurisdiction in certain cases, mainly criminal, which sat without the intervention of a jury. It consisted of the king's council, or of the privy council only with the addition of certain judges. It could proceed on mere rumor or examine witnesses; it could apply torture. It was abolished by the Long Parliament in 1641.

Encyc. Brit.

 

© Webster 1913.

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