Webinar: 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.

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

Matthew Ryder QC of Matrix, and Alexandra Wilson of 5 St Andrews Hill, discussed 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.

Further reading

On the Somerset Case:

  1. Report of Somerset v Stewart (22 June 1772) http://www.commonlii.org/int/cases/EngR/1772/57.pdf
  2. ‘Black and British’ by David Olusoga; Picador Books (2016)
  3. ‘Somerset: Lord Mansfield and the Legitimacy of Slavery in the Anglo-American World’ – William Wiecek, University of Chicago (1974) https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3831&context=uclrev
  4. ‘Rough Crossings’ by Simon Sharma; Vintage Books (2009)
  5. ‘Though the Heavens May Fall’ by Steven M. Wise; De Capo Press (2006)

More Generally (and mentioned in the talk):

  1. ‘Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed Race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733 – 1833’ by Daniel Livesay; UNC Press (2018)
  2. ‘In Black and White: A Young Barrister’s Story of Race and Class in a Broken Justice System’ by Alexandra Wilson; Endeavour Books (2020)
  3. ‘The Windrush Betrayal’ by Amelia Gentleman; Guardian Faber Publishing 2019