Somerset Case - slaves cannot be compelled to leave England against their will

(642 words)

Historical Context Essay

The case of James Somerset (also spelled Somersett and Sommerset) is considered a turning point in the history of British anti-slavery. Somerset was a Virginia slave, owned by Charles Stewart, who had brought him to England. When Somerset ran off, Stewart had had him captured to be returned to Jamaica against his will. Granville Sharp (1735-1813) brought a case for his liberation on the grounds that no man could be a chattel in England. The case was heard in the court of the King's Bench under the distinguished Lord Chief Justice Mansfield. At this time, English law was not clear on this point, certain cases in the earlier part of the century having been found in favour of the rights of the master over his slave (Oldham, p. 310). …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Clark, Robert. "Somerset Case - slaves cannot be compelled to leave England against their will". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 March 2008
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]