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2 “ In the first recorded case (Butts v. Penny, 2 Lev., 201; 3 Kib., 785), in 1677, in which the question of property in negroes appears to have come before the English courts, it was held, ‘that, being usually bought and sold among merchants as merchandise, and also being infidels, there might be a property in them sufficient to maintain trover.’ ” --Hildreth's Hist. U. S., vol II., p. 214.“What precisely the English law might be on the subject of Slavery, still remained a matter of doubt. Lord Holt had expressed the opinion, as quoted in a previous chapter, that Slavery was a condition unknown to English law, and that every person setting foot in England thereby became free. American planters, on their visits to England, seem to have been annoyed by claims of freedom set up on this ground, and that, also, of baptism. To relieve their embarrassments, the merchants concerned in the American trade” (in 1729) “had obtained a written opinion from Yorke and Talbot, the attorney and solicitor general of that day. According to this opinion, which passed for more than forty years as good law, not only was baptism no bar to Slavery, but negro slaves might be held in England just as well as in the Conies. The two lawyers by whom this opinion was given rose afterward, one of them to be chief justice of England, and both to be chancellors. Yorke, sitting in the latter capacity, with the title of Lord Hardwicke” (in 1749), “had recently recognized the doctrine of that opinion as sound law. (Pearce v. Lisle, Ambler, 76.) He objects to Lord Holt's doctrine of freedom, secured by setting foot on English soil, that no reason could be found why slaves should not be equally free when they set foot in Jamaica, or any other English plantation. All our colonies are subject to the laws of England, although as to some purposes they have laws of their own I His argument is that, if Slavery be contrary to English law, no local enactments in the Colonies could give it any validity. To avoid overturning Slavery in the Colonies, it was absolutely necessary to uphold it in England.” --Ibid,m p. 426.
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