08 March 2017

BOOK: "Granville Sharp's Cases on Slavery" by Andrew Lyall (March, 2017)

Andrew Lyall, Granville Sharp's Cases on Slavery

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The purpose of Granville Sharpe's Cases on Slavery is twofold: first, to publish previously unpublished legal materials principally in three important cases in the 18th century on the issue of slavery in England, and specifically the status of black people who were slaves in the American colonies or the West Indies and who were taken to England by their masters. The unpublished materials are mostly verbatim transcripts made by shorthand writers commissioned by Granville Sharp, one of the first Englishmen to take up the cause of the abolition of the slave trade and slavery itself. Other related unpublished material is also made available for the first time, including an opinion of an attorney general and some minor cases from the library of York Minster.
The second purpose, outlined in the Introduction, is to give a social and legal background to the cases and an analysis of the position in England of black servants/slaves brought to England and the legal effects of the cases, taking into account the new information provided by the transcripts. There was a conflict in legal authorities as to whether black servants remained slaves, or became free on arrival in England. 

Lord Mansfield, the chief justice of the court of King's Bench, was a central figure in all the cases and clearly struggled to come to terms with slavery. The material provides a basis for tracing the evolution of his thought on the subject. On the one hand, the huge profits from slave production in the West Indies flooded into England, slave owners had penetrated the leading institutions in England and the pro-slavery lobby was influential. On the other hand, English law had over time established rights and liberties which in the 18th century were seen by many as national characteristics. That tradition was bolstered by the ideas of the Enlightenment. 

By about the 1760s it had become clear that there was no property in the person, and by the 1770s that such servants could not be sent abroad without their consent, but whether they owed an obligation of perpetual service remained unresolved. - See more at: 

Dr Andrew Lyall is a retired member of staff in Law at University College Dublin

Table of contents

Granville Sharp (1735–1813) 
The Manuscripts 
Jonathan Strong 
The King (Lewis) v Stapylton 
Somerset v Stuart 
Gregson v Gilbert (The Zong) 
Black Servants Brought to England 
Factual Background 
State of the Law 
The Case Law 
The Royal Navy 
The Cases 
Jonathan Strong 
The King (Lewis) v Stapylton (1771) 
Somerset v Stewart 
Versions of the Judgment 
The Order 
Scope of the Judgment 
Attempts to Evade Somerset 
Habeas Corpus and Foreigners 
Slave Law in the Colonies 
Villeinage in England 
Gregson v Gilbert (The Zong) 
The “Absolute Necessity” 
Marine Insurance and Slave Trade Acts 
Navigation and the Longitude Problem 
Did it Really Happen? 

Jonathan Strong 
King (Lewis) v Stapylton 
Proceedings in the King's Bench 
Motions for Judgment 
Granville Sharp's Argument 
Granville Sharp's Remarks on the Case 
Somerset v Stuart 
First Hearing in the King's Bench 
Third Day, “Second Hearing” in the King's Bench 
Lord Mansfield's Judgment 
1. The Scots Magazine/Estwick version 
2. Granville Sharp MS of the Judgment 
3. Letter to the General Evening Post 
4. Lincoln's Inn, Hill MS version 
5. Lincoln's Inn, Ashhurst Paper Book 
6. Lofft's Report 
Sharp's Memoranda on Somerset v Stuart 
Gregson v Gilbert 
The Declaration in the King's Bench 
Proceedings on a Motion for a New Trial 
Letter from Granville Sharp to Admiralty 
An Account of the Murder of Slaves on the Zong 
Letter from Granville Sharp to Duke of Portland 
Bill in the Court of Exchequer 
James Kelsall's Answer 
Gregson's Answer 
Extract from Martin Dockray MS 
Minor Cases 
De Grey Opinion 
Cay v Crichton 
Hylas v Newton 
Sharp's Remarks on Hylas v Newton 
Habeas Corpus Act 1679 
Act of the Scottish Parliament, 1701 c 6 
Slave Trade Act, 1788 
Slave Trade Act, 1793 
Slave Trade Act, 1798 
Slave Trade Act, 1799 
Letter from Blackstone to Sharp 
Letter from Dr Fothergill to Sharp 
Blackstone's Commentaries
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