COURT OF CHANCERY—JAxuau 19.
THORNLEY V. BYRNE.
Sir Edward Sugden stated that this was a petition beset with greater
diffi- culties than perhaps ever came under the consideration of a court of justice, and proved how often it was that the most humane and kind intentions were lost on the object of them. In the year 1816, Lord Crawford and Lindsey died, and by Ids will bequeathed a tract of land in the Island of Antigua to trustees, the pro- Sts.of which were to accumulate until February 1833, aid then the whole of the slaves on his Lordship's estate were to receive their manumission and the money accumulated divided equally between them. His Lordship also further directed by his will, that the slaves who would in 1833 be entitled to their free- dom, should be taught to read the Bible, and treated with all the humanity that reason and justice could dictate. These humane and benevolent inten- tions of the testator it was now found impossible to carry into effect, and all the flattering hopes of manumission were utterly hopeless. The slaves at the present time were one hundred and thirty-four in number; and from the deprecia- tion of property and other causes, the whole sum at the disposal of the trustees was only 750/. All and every offer to benefit the slaves had been proposed, but they would listen to no terms, being completely intoxicated at the idea of liberty. It had been suggested to purchase land and form them into a colony; but this they indignantly refused, declaring they would no longer live together. Another insurmountable difficulty presented itself. Twelve of the slaves, from old age, 'Were incapable of labour; and the laws of the island required that, when the owner of a slave gave him his manumission, he should deposit 3001. currency in the public treasury as a guarantee for the slave's support. Now, in the present case, there was no fund to make this deposit from. In short, it was found im- possible to carry the intentions of the testator into effect ; hence the present application. The Attorney-General, on behalf of the Crown, wished to leave the case en- tirely in the hands of the Court.
The Lord Chancellor said, if counsel did not object, he should wish, before giving any opinion, to advise with the Government on the subject.
Sir Edward Sugden would feel much obliged to his Lordship so to do. This case must show to every thinking man the difficulties attending the general question of the abolition of slavery.
The Lord Chancellor—" I agree with you, Sir Edward, that the present case suggests many and very serious reflections regarding the question of slavery. I will advise with the Government."