John Somers Baron Somers

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John Somers Somers, Baron (sŭm´ərz), 1651–1716, English jurist and statesman. In the Glorious Revolution he secured Parliament's acceptance of the official statement that James II had "abdicated" the throne, and he presided over the framing of the Bill of Rights (1689). William III rewarded him with the office of solicitor general (1689), and he advanced to become attorney general (1692), lord keeper of the seal (1693), and lord chancellor (1697), taking the title Baron Somers of Evesham. He was politically influential throughout the reign of William, but was forced to resign as lord chancellor in 1700 after repeated attacks directed against him, in part for his support of the ventures of Capt. William Kidd. He was a leader of the Whig Junto under Queen Anne and supported the Act of Union with Scotland (1707). He was made (1708) president of the council, but he lost office (1710) when the Tories came to power. A friend of such writers as John Locke and Jonathan Swift, Somers himself wrote a number of political tracts. His valuable collection of papers and manuscripts was edited by Sir Walter Scott as the Somers Tracts (13 vol., 1809–15).

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Somers, John, 1st Baron Somers (1651–1716). Lawyer and Whig politician. Called to the bar in 1676, Somers made his name as an outstanding barrister. He was elected in 1689 to the Convention Parliament and was among the principal draftsmen of the Bill of Rights. After that his advancement was rapid, becoming solicitor-general (1689), attorney-general (1692), lord keeper (1693), lord chancellor (1697), and a peer (1697). A leading Junto Whig, he was one of the few English politicians in whom William III closely confided, but in 1700 Tory jealousy brought about his dismissal. Though out of office during Anne's early years, he helped to promote much-needed reform in the legal system, supported the war against Louis XIV, and played an important role in the passage of the Regency Act (1706) and the Union with Scotland (1707). By 1708 the queen's coolness gave way to appreciation of his statesmanlike qualities and he became lord president, but went out with his fellow-Whigs in 1710. At George I's accession he was given a seat in the cabinet.

Andrew Hanham

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