Granville Sharp, an English philanthropist, born in Durham in 1734, died in London, July 6, 1813. He was the son of Dr. Thomas Sharp, archdeacon of Northumberland, author of several philological, antiquarian, and religious works, and grandson of Dr. John Sharp, archbishop of York. He quitted the study of law. for a place in the ordnance office, which he resigned at the commencement of the American war, from disapprobation of the course pursued by the government. In 1769 he befriended a negro slave named Somerset, who had been brought to England, and on falling ill had been turned into the streets by his master. When two years later the negro's master claimed him, and had him arrested and imprisoned, Sharp summoned them both before the lord mayor, who discharged the slave; but the master refusing to give him up, Sharp brought the case before the court of king's bench, the 12 judges of which, in May, 1772, decided that a slave could not be held in or transported from England. From this time Mr. Sharp devoted his powers to the overthrow of slavery and the slave trade.
He wrote numerous pamphlets on the subject, and was chairman of the meeting held in London, May 22, 1787, which formed the "Association for the Abolition of Negro Slavery." He was one of the founders of the British colony of Sierra Leone, drew up a plan for its temporary government, and sent many negroes there at his own expense. He also opposed the impressment of seamen, and advocated parliamentary reform and the extension of privileges to Ireland. Besides pamphlets, he published "Representation of the Injustice and dangerous Tendency of Tolerating Slavery in England" (8vo, London, 1772); "Declaration of the People's Natural Eight to a Share in the Legislature" (1774); "The Law of Retribution" (1776); "Remarks on the Uses of the Definitive Article in the Greek Testament" (1798); "Account of the Ancient Division of the English Nation into Hundreds and Tithings, and View of Frankpledge" (1784); and "Three Tracts on the Syntax and Pronunciation of the Hebrew Tongue" (1804). His biography was written by Prince Hoare (4to, London, 1810).