A representation of the injustice and dangerous toleration of slavery, 1769, Granville Sharp

Title page of old book

Granville Sharp was the first notable British abolitionist.  He began to take a serious interest in abolition of slavery in 1765, long before the formal establishment of the British abolition movement in 1787.  He wrote letters and pamphlets against the slave trade and actively assisted many of its victims.  

Sharp specifically addressed the legal status of enslaved Africans in Britain, as opposed to the colonies, which culminated in the celebrated Somerset legal judgement in 1772.   This ruling was widely interpreted as stating that any enslaved African setting foot in England was immediately freed.  It actually said that no enslaved African could be forcibly removed from Britain against their will.

For more information on our holdings relating to Liverpool and the transatlantic slave trade see our online information sheet. Find out more about the history and abolition of the transatlantic slave trade on the International Slavery Museum website.

Archive reference 512.5 SHA/R