Court Cases

This section contains a list of court cases in Britain, relating to slavery in the British Isles. Some link to reports, documents or other explicatory material. More will be added in time.

These cases are of two types. First, there are those of great legal importance, their judgements recorded in the English Reports. Then there are those cases known of through archival research, newspaper item or passing mention, that if not establishing any legal precedent, do suggest how the law was interpreted.

Note that many other cases concerning slavery in the British colonies and on the high seas were heard at the Court of Admiralty in London. Reports of some can be found in volumes 161 to 167 of the English Reports.

1569, Cartwright. (Not reported, quoted in John Lilburne’s trial)
1587, Hector Nunez
1677, Butts v Penny
1677, Lowe v Elton
1690, Katherine Auker, Middlesex sessions.
1693, Chambers v Warkhouse
1694, Gelly v Cleve
1696, Chamberline v Harvey (ER v90)
1701, Smith v Brown & Cooper (Holt, ER v90)
1706, Smith v Gould
1732, De Pinna v Henriques
1739, Galway (Gallway) v Cadee (Caddee)
1749, Pearne v Lisle
1750, Galway v Cadee
1757, Sheddan v Sheddan, aka Montgomery v Sheddan (Scotland)
1762, Shanley v Harvey
1767, Jonathan Strong, London Lord Mayors’ Court
1768, Hylas v Newton
1769, Dalrymple v Spens (Scotland)
1771, Nicolson v Nicolson
1771, Rex v Stapleton, aka King (Lewis) v Stapylton
1772, Somerset v Stuart
1773, Cay v Crichton
1774, Anonymous, London Lord Mayors’ Court
1778, Joseph Knight, Knight v Wedderburn (Scotland)
1783, Gregson v Gilbert (The Zong trial)
1785, Charlotte Howe, Rex v Thames Ditton
1795, Keane v Boycott
1799, Forbes v Hamlet
1799, Alfred v Marquis of Fitzjames
1801, Shawe v Felton
1802, Williams v Brown
1802, Barclay v Cousins
1824, Forbes v Cochrane
1827, Grace James
1860, Santos v Illidge