Lord Somers John, an English statesman, born in Worcester, March 4, 1651, died April 26, 1716. He was educated at Trinity college, Oxford, and in 1676 was called to the bar at the Middle Temple, but remained some years longer at the university, publishing several political pamphlets, and a variety of metrical and prose versions from classical authors. He began to practise law in London in 1682, acquired great professional eminence, and became a leader of the whig party. He represented Worcester in the convention which met in January, 1689, and was a member of the two committees (acting as chairman of the second) which prepared the "Declaration of Right." In 1689 he was appointed solicitor general and knighted, in 1692 attorney general, in 1693 lord keeper of the great seal, and in 1697 lord chancellor, when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Somers of Evesham. After ineffectual attempts to fasten upon him a charge of maladministration, and also of complicity in the piracies of Capt. Kidd, whom he had helped fit out a ship to capture pirates, an unsuccessful motion was made in the house of commons, April 10, 1700, that the king should be requested to dismiss him.

But his absence by illness from the debates upon a measure distasteful to William, assumed to be by design, induced the king on the 17th of the same month to remove him. In the next year an attempt was made to impeach Somers on 14 distinct charges, the most important of which referred to an illegal issue at the king's request of blank commissions under the great seal for the purpose of negotiating certain treaties, to his alleged complicity with Kidd, and to his acquisition of various unreasonable grants from the crown in addition to the salary and fees of his office; but the commons declined to prosecute the impeachment, and he recovered the favor of the king, whose last speech to parliament was written by him. On the accession of the whigs to power in 1708, Somers was appointed president of the council, and held the office until the return of Harley and the tories in 1710. Subsequently he participated in legislative duties until his death, which happened from apoplexy. A number of original letters and papers, illustrating his life and character, perished by fire in 1752. The so-called " Somers Tracts" (16 vols. 4to, 1748-'52; new ed. by Sir Walter Scott, 13 vols. 4to, 1809-'15) consist of pamphlets selected chiefly from his library.

R. Cooksey wrote Life and Character of Lord Somers" (4to, 1791).