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JOHN SOMERS SOMERS (or SOMMERS), BARO...

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 385 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOHN SOMERS SOMERS (or SOMMERS), BARON (1651–1716), English lord chancellor, was born on the 4th of March 165r, near Worcester, the eldest son of John Somers, an attorney in large practice in that town, who had formerly fought on the side of the Parliament, and of Catherine Ceaverne of Shropshire. After being at school at Worcester he was entered as a gentleman commoner at Trinity College, Oxford, and afterwards studied law under Sir Francis Winnington, who became solicitor-general, and joined the Middle Temple. He appears, in addition to his legal studies, to have written several poems and pamphlets. He soon became intimate with the leaders of the country party, especially with Essex, William Russell, and Algernon Sidney, but never entered into their plans so far as to commit himself beyond recall, He was the author of the History of the Succession of the Crown of England, collected out of Records, &c., and was reputed to have written the Just and Modest Vindication of the Two Last Parliaments, which was put forward as the answer to of political opponents; but his connexion in 1699 .with the notorious Captain William Kidd, to the cost of whose expedition Somers had given £1000, afforded an opportunity; the vote of censure, however, proposed upon him in the House of Commons for giving Kidd a commission under the great seal was rejected by 199 to 131. The attack was renewed shortly on the ground of his having accepted grants of Crown property to the amount of 1600 a year, but was again defeated. On the subject of the Irish forfeitures a third attack was made in 1700, a motion being brought forward to request the king to remove Somers from his counsels and presence for ever; but this again was rejected by a large majority. In consequence, however, of the incessant agitation William now requested Somers to resign; this he refused to do, but gave up the seals to William's messenger. In 1701 he was impeached by the Commons on account of the part he had taken in the negotiations relating to the Partition Treaty in 1698, and defended himself most ably before the house, answering the charges seriatim. The impeachment was voted and sent up to the Lords, but was there dismissed. On the death of the king Somers retired almost entirely into private life. He was president of the Royal Society from 1699 to 1704. He was, however, active in 1702 in opposing the Occasional Conformity Bill, and in 1706 was one of the managers of the union with Scotland. In the same year he carried a bill regulating and improving the proceedings of the law courts. He was made president of the council in 1708 upon the return of the Whigs to power, and retained the office until their downfall in 1710. He died on the 26th of April 1716. Somers was never married, but left two sisters, of whom the eldest, Mary, married Charles Cocks, whose grandson, Sir Charles Cocks, hart., became the second Lord Somers in 1784, the title subsequently descending in this line. For a contemporary character of Somers Addison's paper in the Freeholder fur the 14th of May 1716 should be referred to; and there is in Macaulay's History (iv. 53) an eloquent and worthy tribute to his stainless character and comprehensive learning. A catalogue of his publications will be found in Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors. (0. A.)
End of Article: JOHN SOMERS SOMERS (or SOMMERS), BARON (1651–1716)
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