Somers, John Somers or Sommers, Baron (sŭmˈərz) [key], 1651–1716, English jurist and statesman. In the Glorious Revolution he secured Parliament's acceptance of the official statement that James II had "abdicated" the throne, and he presided over the framing of the Bill of Rights (1689). William III rewarded him with the office of solicitor general (1689), and he advanced to become attorney general (1692), lord keeper of the seal (1693), and lord chancellor (1697), taking the title Baron Somers of Evesham. He was politically influential throughout the reign of William, but was forced to resign as lord chancellor in 1700 after repeated attacks directed against him, in part for his support of the ventures of Capt. William Kidd. He was a leader of the Whig Junto under Queen Anne and supported the Act of Union with Scotland (1707). He was made (1708) president of the council, but he lost office (1710) when the Tories came to power. A friend of such writers as John Locke and Jonathan Swift, Somers himself wrote a number of political tracts. His valuable collection of papers and manuscripts was edited by Sir Walter Scott as the Somers Tracts (13 vol., 1809–15).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.