There exists a substantial body of legal and historical research on the case of Fendall v Wilson, in which the Privy Council famously ‘dismissed Hell with costs’. However, the case has never been examined in the context of Anglican debate over Hell and the Last Judgment in the second half of the nineteenth century. Despite its remarkable parallels with Fendall, Jenkins v Cook has been forgotten by most modern lawyers and has never been examined in parallel with Fendall. This article analyses the parts of the two cases that deal with Hell, the Last Judgment, and the Devil in the context of mid-nineteenth-century Anglican doctrinal litigation, and of the controversy over Hell in general and Essays and Reviews in particular. It also reconstructs some of the important factual elements of Jenkins that were not recorded in the first instance or appellate judgments. The contextual analysis of the judgments and unrecorded facts shows some surprising and evasive judicial responses to the doctrinal questions of whether Hell and the Devil exist and if so in what form. The article suggests that religious politics, rather than ecclesiastical jurisprudence, are the likelier cause of those responses. The article provides a historical contribution to the growing body of research and comment on the interplay of law and religion, in particular exemplifying some of the difficulties that arise when issues of religious doctrine are brought before purportedly secular courts.
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