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 comtracts 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's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
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