Birthplace: Durham, Durham, England
Location of death: London, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Executive summary: English abolitionist
English abolitionist and philanthropist, the ninth of the fourteen children of Thomas Sharp, a prolific theological writer and biographer of his father, John Sharp, Archbishop of York. Granville, who was born at Durham in 1735, was educated at the grammar school there, and apprenticed to a London draper, but obtained employment in the government ordnance department in 1758. Sharp's tastes were scholarly; he managed to acquire knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, and before 1770 he had published more than one treatise on biblical criticism. His fame rests, however, on his untiring efforts for the abolition of slavery. In 1767 he had become involved in litigation with the owner of a slave called Jonathan Strong, in which it was decided that a slave remained in law the chattel of his master even on English soil. Sharp devoted himself to fighting this judgment both with his pen and in the courts of law; and finally it was laid down in the case of James Sommersett that a slave becomes free the moment he sets foot on English territory. Sharp was an ardent sympathizer with the revolted American colonists, and at home advocated parliamentary reform and the legislative independence of Ireland, and agitated against the impressment of sailors for the navy. It was through his efforts that bishops for the United States of America were consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1787. In the same year he was the means of founding a society for the abolition of slavery, and a settlement for emancipated slaves at Sierra Leone. Granville Sharp was also one of the founders of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and of the Society for the Conversion of the Jews. One of his tracts, entitled Remarks on the Uses of the definitive article in the Greek text of the New Testament, published in 1798, propounded the rule known as "Granville Sharp's canon", which on account of its important bearing on Unitarian doctrine led to a celebrated controversy, in which many leading divines took part, including Christopher Wordsworth. This rule was to the effect that "when two personal nouns of the same case (in Greek) are connected by the copulate and, if the former has the definite article and the latter has not, they both belong to the same person." Sharp died on the 6th of July 1813, and a memorial of him was erected in Westminster Abbey.
Father: Thomas Sharp (b. 1693, d. 1758)
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