EVENT: “THE BLACK MUST GO FREE” How a legal ruling on ‘Windrush Day’ in 1772, is as relevant as ever on Windrush Day 2021


Windrush ship, HMT Empire Windrush, originally MV Monte Rosa, passenger liner and cruise ship. Image shot 1800. Exact date unknown.

Time: 6.00pm – 7.15pm
Date: Tuesday 22nd June

On 22 June 2021 – ‘Windrush Day’ – Matrix hosts an online commemorative seminar about the historic, but rarely discussed case of Somerset v Stewart. 

Since 2018, British society has recognised 22 June as Windrush Day – to commemorate the date in 1948 when SS Windrush arrived in Tilbury Docks, heralding the modern wave of Caribbean immigrants in the UK. 

But few people realise that for almost 250 years, 22 June has already been a hugely important day in the history of Black people in England. On that day in 1772, Lord Mansfield handed down a historic judgment setting free James Somerset who was being held on a ship in London, awaiting to return him to a life of slavery in Jamaica.

Matthew Ryder QC of Matrix, and Alexandra Wilson of 5 St Andrews Hill, will discuss the detail and importance of the case; what it means to them as British barristers of Caribbean heritage, why it is often overlooked by legal historians; and its importance in a modern context legally, politically and culturally.

Click here to register for this event.