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William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield

Geburtstag: 2. März 1705
Todesdatum: 20. März 1793

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William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, PC, SL was a British barrister, politician and judge noted for his reform of English law. Born to Scottish nobility, he was educated in Perth, Scotland, before moving to London at the age of 13 to take up a place at Westminster School. He was accepted into Christ Church, Oxford, in May 1723, and graduated four years later. Returning to London from Oxford, he was called to the Bar by Lincoln's Inn on 23 November 1730, and quickly gained a reputation as an excellent barrister.

He became involved in politics in 1742, beginning with his election as a Member of Parliament for Boroughbridge, and appointment as Solicitor General. In the absence of a strong Attorney General, he became the main spokesman for the government in the House of Commons, and was noted for his "great powers of eloquence" and described as "beyond comparison the best speaker" in the House of Commons. With the promotion of Sir Dudley Ryder to Lord Chief Justice in 1754, he became Attorney General, and when Ryder unexpectedly died several months later, he took his place as Chief Justice.

The most powerful British jurist of the century, his decisions reflected the Age of Enlightenment and moved England on the path to abolishing slavery and the slave trade. He advanced commercial law in ways that helped establish the nation as the world leader in industry, finance and trade. He modernised both English law and the English courts system; he sped up the system for submitting motions and reformed the way judgments were given to reduce time and expense for the parties. For his work in Carter v Boehm and Pillans v Van Mierop, he has been called the founder of English commercial law. He is perhaps best known for his judgment in Somersett's Case , where he held that slavery had no basis in common law and had never been established by positive law in England, and therefore was not binding law .

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„Tut, man, decide promptly, but never give any reasons for your decisions. Your decisions may be right, but your reasons are sure to be wrong.“

— William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield
When asked by an army officer, appointed governor of a west Indies island and who had no experience in law, how to apply the law. Quoted by John Cordy Jeaffreson in [http://books.google.com/books?id=lUpqPJSlBS8C&q="tut+man+decide+promptly+but+never+give+any+reasons+for+your+decisions+your+decisions+may+be+right+but+your+reasons+are+sure+to+be+wrong"&pg=PA85#v=onepage A Book About Lawyers], Volume 1 (1867).

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