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Vol 24 No 4 April/May 2019

Book of the Month

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Granville Sharp's Cases on Slavery

ISBN13: 9781509930111
To be Published: June 2019
Publisher: Hart Publishing
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Paperback (Hardback in 2017)
Price: £30.00
Hardback edition , ISBN13 9781509911219

The purpose of the book is twofold: First, to publish previously unpublished legal materials principally in three important cases in the 18th century on the issue of slavery in England, and specifically the status of black people who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The unpublished material are mostly verbatim transcripts made by shorthand writers commissioned by Granville Sharp, one of the first Englishmen to take up the cause of the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 Other related unpublished material is also made available for the first time, including on the cases by an opinion of an attorney general and some lesser cases from the library of York Minster.

The second purpose, in the Introduction, is to give a social and legal background to the cases and an analysis of the legal 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.

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 profits from slave production in the West Indies flooded into England and accounted for a large part of the national wealth. Slave owners had also penetrated the leading institutions in England.

On the other hand, English law had over time established right and liberties which in the 18th century were seen by many as national characteristics and that tradition was bolstered by ideas of the Enlightenment. The issue was the central intellectual debate of the late 18th century.

Legal History
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