Treasury Books and Papers: January 1739

Pages 208-216

Calendar of Treasury Books and Papers, Volume 4, 1739-1741. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1901.

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January 1739

[Commencement of.]
1. Papers of Estimates as follow, all for the year 1740 except where otherwise stated.
(a) The charge of the Guards, Garrisons, and Land Forces in Great Britain (total, 860,150l. 10s.d.). 2 pages.
(b) Same of augmenting the forces in Great Britain, Minorca, and Gibraltar (for 183 days, total, 119,557l. 19s. 8d.). 1 page.
(c) Charge of the forces in the Plantations, Minorca and Gibraltar (total 266,203l. 2s.d.). 1 page.
:—(c) (1) A comparison of the estimates for the Plantations for 1739 and 1740 (increase in 1740, 38,140l. 11s. 6d.). ½ page.
(d) Same of the Office of Ordnance, certified by the officers of the Ordnance (total 140,434l. 4s. 8d.). 1 page.
(e) Same of augmenting 6 Regiments of Marines, and of raising one Independent Company of Invalids, and for making an addition of 20 men to each of the 4 Independent Company of Invalids raised in November 1739 (total, 35,879l. 13s. 6d.). 1 page.
(f) Charge of the 6 regiments of Marines, 1739, Oct. 25 to 1740, Dec. 24 (total, 118,214l. 1s. 0d.). 1 page.
(g) Estimate of the decrease in the estimate for Chelsea Hospital in 1740 as compared with 1739 (decrease in 1740, 16,825l. 9s. 5d.). 1 page.
(h) Same of same of half pay for 1740, as compared with 1739 (decrease in 1740, 4,458l. 13s. 2d.). ½ page.
:—(h) (1) Paper of figures relating to same estimate. 1 page.
(i) Same for the provision of widows of officers dying on half pay (total, 3,998l.). 1 page.
—(i) (1) Paper of figures as above. ½ page.
(j) An account of payments made and to be made for extraordinary services not particularly provided for any otherwise than by the sum of 200,000l., granted to His Majesty to enable him to prosecute the war. 2 different drafts only partly in duplicate. 4 pages.
[Treasury Board Papers CCCII. No. 1.]
Jan. 1.
2. Present: Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Dodington, Lord Sundon.
Jonas Malden's commission as Surveyor of house duties, Essex, recalled and his salary to cease from this day.
[Treasury Minute Book XXVIII. p. 185.]
Jan. 1. 3. An account dated Edinburgh, and certified by Allan Whitefoord, of all moneys issued and paid by him as His Majesty's Receiver General in Scotland, and Cashier of the funds applicable towards encouraging fisheries and manufactures there, pursuant to precepts issued upon him by the Commissioners and Trustees for the management of said funds, all for the period 1738 Dec. 25 to 1739 Dec. 25. 5 pages.
[Treasury Board Papers CCCII. No. 2.]
Jan. 2.]
4. A paper of general observations upon the subject of the raising of the coin in the Leeward Islands, St. Christopher, Antigua, Montserrat and Nevis.
“The account of the coin and currency of the Leeward Islands delivered to the Parliament is by the Governor's transmitting from Antigua a report from two members of the Council, from St. Christopher a report from the President of the Council only; from Montserrat an extract of a letter from Mr. Wyke, President of the Council only, so that not one word from the Governor himself upon so important a matter comes before the Parliament or any report as the act or deliberation of any one of the Councils of the Leeward Islands.
That no return from Nevis, one of the Leeward Islands, is transmitted.
That this singular method was chosen by him to stifle the whole matter from comeing out before the Parliament, and the large share he has had from time to time in raising the money contrary to two statutes. For was it not he that first raised the Silver money at St. Kitts in 1715–6 by an edict (fn. 1) contrary to a confirmed general law of the Leeward (fn. 2) Islands in 1694, and the 6th Q. Anne, and his 38th instruction against altering the coin? … Was it not he that raised the Gold at Antigua to 3½d. per grain so lately as March, 1738, and silver to 9s. 3d. per oz. (fn. 3) by signing an Instrument of Association for that purpose when an act with a suspending clause (fn. 4) made expressly for those two identical points was and is still depending before his Majestie? And was it not the same Governor Mathew that refused also to put the act of 6 Q. Anne in force in 1735 when the Secretary of the Leeward Islands pressed him to do it? …
Note. The two members who make the report for Antigua signed the Instrument of Association to raise the gold in 1738, and Charles Dunbar, one of them, about the year 1734 as Surveyor General, ventured to direct the Custom House to take pistoles for the King's enumerated duty at 24s., they having passed for that duty before only at 23s.
That Mr. Estridge, the president of St. Kitts, who makes that report, advised the raising of French crowns anno 1715 from 6 to 7 shillings, and it appears by the minutes of the 10th January, 1715–6, that he was one that advised Gov: Mathew not to recall his order of the 23rd August, 1715.
The Three Reports from the Leeward Islands about coin examined.
That upon the strictest enquiry they find that from 1700 to 1710 Spanish Pistoles and French passed at 28 shillings, without regard to any certain weight, English Guineas at 33s., Portuguese Moydores weighing 6dwt. 24gr. at 42 shillings, those weighing 5dwt. 6gr. at 33 shillings.
Observations. In 1706 Spanish Pistoles 4dwt. 6gr. passed at 24s. and French Pistoles the same, and so says the President of St. Kitts they passed in that Island and that they were not raised till 1707. Is it to be conceived that Pistoles could pass for 28s. at Antigua and at 24s. at the same time in St. Christopher, and that one Pistole should remain in that Island? Or is it probable that a Spanish Pistole unmill'd and clipt should pass equal to a French Pistole that is mill'd and can't be clipt without it being visible? These are contradictory and strange accounts. However they admit to the Parliament the irregular currency of the Gold, and that it passes greatly above its proclamation value. For example a Pistole passes (clipped to 4dwt.) at 28s. The proclamation value is no more than 1l. 0s. 6d., and 1l. 2s. 3d. if full weight. A guinea goes for 1l. 13s. 0d. in Nevis, St. Christophers and Montserrat, at Antigua for 1l. 17s. 0d. Its proclamation proportion is 1l. 8s. 0d.
At Barbados that obeyed the Act of Parliament they regulated the currency of their gold in proportion to the acts regulating the silver.
That pieces of eight, Mexico, Seville, Perue, weighing 17dwt. 12gr. passed in small sums at 6s. each without regard to their coarseness or fineness, but [large] sums were negotiated as merchandise.
Observations. Here is an admission that these pieces of money went legally in common payment, and to say they went otherwise in merchandize is an admission of the breach of the act of Parliament….As to the coarseness or fineness of these three Spanish pieces they are the same, except the Perue piece of eight, which is one penny sterling in 4s. 6d. sterling worse than the other two.
That after the Act of Parliament in 1714 peices of eight passed at 6s. 10¼d. an oz., and sold at 10 to 12 per cent. advance thereon, and then esteemed as current money.
Observations: 6s. 10¼d. an oz. is the exact legal value according to the proclamation. For example, 17dwt. 12gr. of silver value 4s. 6d. sterling is to pass for 6s., then 2dwt. 12gr. added to it makes an ounce of course worth 6s. 10¼d., but in the same breath 10 or 12 per cent. being advanc'd thereon was esteem'd current money is a notorious admission of the violation of the act of Parliament.
At the same time no proper proportion between the currency of the Gold and Silver: remittances in Silver from 10 to 12 per cent better than Gold: that from thence the heavy Silver was carried away and only the gold and light money remained; as it is at this day:
Observations. It is therefore necessary the Parliament should address the King to settle the proportion of Gold to prevent the like operations for the future in the Leeward Islands and to order the act of the 6th Q. Anne to be forthwith put in execution where no law assented to by His Majestie, since a proclamation by him, has alter'd it. The reason why the heavy silver was carried away was from the high rates the gold species passed at, and the introducing of clipt silver to pass by tale; in short by a total neglect of the act of the 6th of the Queen, for if that act had been observed in the Leeward Islands as it was at Barbados neither gold or silver wou'd have been carried off from an Island to an other, because money wou'd have pass'd at the same rates, and scales would have determined its weight so that no advantage could have been made thereby.
That a remittance of 100l. in heavy money silver yielded sterling from 35 to 37 per cent. But a remittance of the same in gold money (English or Portugal) 150 for 100l. sterling; Spanish, 160 for do., and that this proceeded from the lightness of those species of gold and irregularities of the currency for these 10 years, viz.,from 1700 to 1710. During that time few or no remittances were made in these gold species, but remittances were made in produce of the country, heavy Peices of eight 35 to 37 per cent, for 100l. sterling, bills of Exchange at 40 or 50 per cent, ingots and gold dust came out at 30 to 40 per cent.
Observations. Here are so many irregularities confessed which require no other comment than that it is requisite the cure should not be deferr'd a moment.
That from 1710 to 1720 gold and silver continued the same very near as in the preceding 10 years.
Observations. It is not fact. Because it appears by a minute of the Antigua Council of the 27th April, 1713, that great Pieces of eight were then taken by weight, that is according to their proclamation value.
That from 1720 to 1730 the value of the species in gold and silver continued with very little variation from the preceding years, except that heavy silver advanc'd by way of merchandize from 10 to 12 per cent. up to 15 and 20 as a rule to bring heavy money to current money.
Observations. Here again is an admission that the silver money was advanc'd by way of merchandize, but the fact is that heavy Peices of eight went current at 7s., and French crown the same, that is one shilling more than they ought to pass at and clipt dollars went for 6s. by tale, and they were worse than heavy ones at 7 shillings, so that they were advanced in currency as well as merchandize.
That from that time gold and silver pass'd with little or no variation until the year 1738 all coined gold has been paid at 7l. per oz., 7s. per dwt., andd. per grain, and Peices of eight that formerly pass'd at 6s. 10¼d. per oz. according to proclamation (with the advance thereon already mention'd) are now advanc'd to 9s. per oz. and upwards.
Observations. Here is the fact admitted as stated in Wood's letters, but the means totally concealed, for it appears that Govr. Mathew, Council and Assembly, sign'd an instrument to raise the gold to 3½d. per grain, and the silver to 9s. the oz., when a law was depending for that purpose before His Majesty in Council, and that this was forced down by their influence as appears by the affidavit of the Deputy Secretary of the Leeward Islands. It is of public notoriety. The law pass'd by Mathews, dated the 30 April, 1736, has the modesty to declare that the act of 6 Q. Anne had been long found useless and impracticable.
That there is no paper currency in Antigua.
Observations. It is true. But there is an other currency conceal'd, for which see the remark on this head in the St. Kitts return, which will serve for all, being the same in all the islands.
Extract from the report of George Wyke, President of Montserrat.
That there has been no paper currency at Montserrat.
Observations. Admitted to be true.
That from 1700 to this day all current coins both in gold and silver have continued the same without variation, viz: 7l. current money for an oz. of Gold and 8s. for 1 oz. of Silver.
Observations. If this be true the law of 1694 was never once obeyed nor the act of Parliament…. This is the first news I ever heard of its passing thus at Montserrat.
Extract from the report of Jos. Estridge, Esq., President of St. Christopher.
That in the year 1700 and some time before almost the only coin passing in payments were Spanish Pieces of eight and their lesser pieces of coinage, and that they were generally clipt and pass'd by tale at the rate of 6s. the dollar or peice of Eight.
Observations. This is extraordinary, for the Antigua return says that dollars weighing 17dwt. 12grs. pass for 6s., which was their full weight, and how it happens that they were clipt at St. Christophers and not in Antigua I can't say …
That no gold or other silver money was hardly ever seen, but a Spanish Pistole of 4dwt. was then deemed worth 24s. this [St. Christopher] currency, and continued so till 1704, when Q. Anne's proclamation came there settleing and regulateing all Spanish dollars of 17dwt. 12grs. to pass at 6s., and clipt and light money in proportion to its weight, which proclamation was afterwards enforced by act of Parliament.’
Observations… as to there being no other silver than dollars or Peices of Eight current at St. Christopher it is flatly contradicted by a minute of Council thereof of the 15th January, 1715–6, wherein the Council express themselves to Govr. Mathews desiring him not to recall his order for raising French Crowns because it wou'd carry them away to the other Islands, which the then Council say is the only species of coin now current.
That it was then said or believ'd that the proclamation and act were obtained at the instance of some who desired to have all the coins passing in the Leeward Islands remitted to England.’
Observations. These must have been the insinuations of persons who imported light money and wanted to protect their currency for their own fraudulent gain, and these were always the chief and most influenceing men in the Govt.
That remittances could not be made to London on country produce (sugar, &c.) under 50 to 60 or 70 per cent. loss, whereas coin did not loose 30 per cent.
Observations. Sugar remittances depend upon the markett and sell according to their goodness … but as to the coin going by proclamation it is fixed, viz., sterling money to proclamation money is as 3 to 4 or as 100 to 133⅓, so that proclamation money is 33⅓ worse than sterling.
That the difficultys for money made every one unanimously willing so far to elude that act as to receive Ryals and ½ Ryals without weight, which have continued so to this day. But that dollars or Pieces of Eight have been in currency from that time and that if some few dollars of full weight are imported by trade with the Spanyards they are sent over to Great Britain or sold in private at 7 shillings each. To relieve themselves from these inconveniencys it was unanimously agreed to towards the year 1707, as gold coins were not comprised in the aforesaid act, to receive and pay Louis d'ors and Spanish Pistoles at 28 shillings, and other gold coins in proportion, and that this raising the gold brought a supply of gold, but specially Spanish.’
Observations…. He insinuates 'twas only as to the currency of Ryals and half Ryals. But it appears that he was one of these Councillors afterwards who advised Govr. Mathew to raise French Crowns from 6s. to 7s. (the only species of silver then current amongst them). He owns he raised the gold because it was not regulated by the act of 6 Q. Anne. But how does this excuse him when he advised to raise the silver?
That the gold money passing now is received at the following rates:
English Guinea at 33s.
French Guinea at
French Pistole milled at
Spanish Pistole weighing
4dwt. or upwards at 28s.
French Moydores at
42s. lesser parts in proportion.
Portuguese Moydores at
42s. lesser parts in proportion.
The silver money:
English Crowns at
7s. 6d. lesser parts in proportion.
French and other foreign Crowns at
7s. lesser parts in proportion.
Spanish Piastres at
1s. 6d. lesser parts in proportion.’
French L'isle du, Vints at
9d. lesser parts in proportion.’
Spanish Ryals at
Observations. Thus it appears from the Antigua report and this how different the currency of money is in two Islands of the same government; for instance in Antigua a guinea passes for 1l. 17s. 0d., at St. Kitts at 1l. 13s. 0d.
That the value of the Gold and Silver to be purchased can be rated but in proportion to the coin—gold at 7l. per oz. and silver at 8s. the nearest.’
Observations. This is absurd, for Gold and Silver will sell according to its fineness and weight at St. Kitts with respect to sterling, regardless of their currency.
That there is no paper currency at St. Christopher.’
Observations. It is admitted. But there is an other currency in all the islands, viz.: their own produce, sugar, rum, &c., which they compel people to take, for it is a fact that if a man demands to be paid sterling money or other gold or silver money he lent condition'd to be paid in the same species it is in the option of the debtor as the law now stands to pay in country produce.” 6 pages.
[Treasury Board Papers CCCII. No. 3.] (fn. 5)
Jan. 3.
5. Present: Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Dodington, Lord Sundon, Mr. Winnington, Mr. Earle.
Orders for the following issues out of the Civil List Revenues:
£ s. d.
To the Foreign Ministers, 1739, midsummer quarter 11,264 10 0
Fees and salaries at the Exchequer 9,944 5
For the Duke and Princesses, 1739, 'Xmas quarter 7,817 12
For pensions payable by Mr. Stuart for 1739, Michaelmas quarter 9,235 0 6
For French Protestants 4,295 10 0
For the Treasurer of the Chamber on bills to 1739, Midsummer 4,666 7 7
For the Lords of the Treasury et al. 1739, Xmas quarter 5,693 12 4
£52,916 18 6
Capt. Geo. Johnston's petition read, for leave to import into Ireland, duty free, 900 dummy hides from Holland for leathern accoutrements for the additional men of the regiments of foot in Ireland: referred to the Revenue Commissioners there.
Captain Alex. Wilson's memorial read for the free importation into Ireland of 5,150 muskets and bayonets sent from the Ordnance, London, to Dublin. Referred as above.
[Treasury Minute Book XXVIII. p. 186.]
Jan. 11.
6. Present: Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Dodington, Lord Sundon, Mr. Winnington, Mr. Earle.
Order for the issue to the Treasurer of the Navy out of funds 1739 of 6,000l. as by his memorial of the 7th instant.
Order for a warrant for a loan of 200,000l. on land tax 1740 at 3 % to be registered and paid first in course.
(Ibid, p. 187.]
Jan. 16.
Whitehall, Treasury
7. Present: Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Sundon, Mr. Winnington, Mr. Earle.
Order for a warrant for 200,000l. in 3 % loans on land tax 1740 to be registered first in course.
Same for the issue to the Paymaster of Marines out of above loans, of 11,169l. 2s. 0d. for 2 months' subsistence of the marine regiments from 1739 Dec. 25.
The Customs Commissioners to permit the proprietors of goods salved out of the “Adventure” of Amsterdam, James Fedd master, to ship same to Cadiz, the destination of said ship before it was stranded.
Order for a warrant for 306l. 11s. 8d. to George Lowen, huntsman, for taking 17 brace of male and 8 brace of female red deer out of Epping Forest, 1739, August 24 to Oct. 27, as certified by Ralph Jenison, Master of the Buckhounds.
“Transmit to the Postmaster General a paper read to my Lords relating to the packet boats settled in the late Queen Anne's reign, for carrying on a regular correspondence between this kingdom and the West Indies,” for consideration and report as to the effect of said correspondence, the charge attending same, &c., &c.
[Treasury Minute Book XXVIII. p. 188; Letter Book XIX. p. 523.]
Jan. 18. 8. Representation to the Treasury from the Commissioners of Excise, London. Of late there have been great quantities of candles made of spermaceti oil or other ingredients in imitation of wax candles, which being sold at a lower price than wax candles, though little inferior to them in quality, have greatly prejudiced the sale thereof. As the law stands spermaceti candles are liable to no higher a duty than that on tallow candles, viz., 1d. per lb., whereas that on wax candles is 8d. per lb. Find as a result that the revenue from wax candles is considerably lessened, and apprehend a further decrease if said spermaceti candles should come into more frequent use unless subject to the same duty as wax candles.
Propose therefore to make it subject to same duty. 1 page.
:—Draft legislative clauses for that purpose, to be passed into an act. 4 sheets.
[Treasury Board Papers CCCII. No. 5.]
Jan. 22.
9. Present: Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Dodington, Lord Sundon, Mr. Winnington, Mr. Earle.
A memorial of Thomas Viscount Gage read concerning the warrant for raising 150l. by wood sales in the Forest of Dean for the repair of Coleford Chapel as being prejudicial to his ownership of the ground on which the chapel is built. Their Lordships think same not prejudicial, and the objection unreasonable.
Order for the issue out of Exchequer bills on land tax, 1739, of 10,000l. to pay bills of Exchange on the head of Victualling as by the memorial of the Navy Treasurer of the 17th instant.
Same for a sign manual for 200l. royal bounty to the lady of Sir Orlando Bridgman.
Same for the following issues out of the Civil List Revenues:
£ s. d.
To Mr. Reid for transporting felons 380 0 0
To Mr. Lowther to reimburse expenses 2,000 0 0
To the Privy Purse for the month of January, 1739–40 3,000 0 0
To Mr. Porter 400 0 0
The Postmaster General's memorial of the 21st read on the Lisbon merchants' memorial for packet boats of greater strength to be employed on that station. “My Lords are to be informed what kind of boats were employed during the late war with France with the charge of building and maintaining the same and the revenue that arose to the Crown therefrom.”
The Excise Commissioners' memorial of the 18th instant read relating to Sperma Coeti candles, the duty on wax candles being 8d.
per lb., and Sperma Coeti paying only as tallow. Said Commissioners to consider whether the imposition of 8d. per lb. on Sperma Coeti would not, as apprehended, suppress the manufacture of them; and to consider of a more moderate rate.
[Treasury Minute Book XXVIII. pp. 189–90; Letter Book XIX. pp. 523–4.]
Jan. 23. 10. Warrant under the royal sign manual countersigned by the Lords of the Treasury to William Gooch, Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of Virginia, for orders to the Receiver General of Revenues there to issue out of quit rents of said Colony 785l., 16s. 11d., being the cost of making certain surveys (pursuant to an Order in Council of date 1733, Novr. 29) in said colony in order to settle and adjust the boundaries and marks of a district of land called the Northern Neck, claimed by Thomas Lord Fairfax, under grants from the King's predecessors, and a further 450l. for the 3 Commissioners nominated by said Lieutenant Governor (in accordance with said Order in Council) for their services in attending said surveys and making plans thereof.
Appending:—Memorial to the Treasury from John Grymes, Receiver General of His Majesty's Revenues in Virginia containing a detailed bill of said expenses (878l. 4s. 3d. Virginia currency, equivalent at 20% discount to 731l. 17s. sterling) same having been paid out of quit rents by directions of the Governor and Council of the Colony: the former charge of running the dividing line between Virginia and North Carolina in 1729 having been satisfied by a warrant from the Crown out of the same fund.
With report thereon by Horatio Walpole, Auditor of the Plantations.
[King's Warrant Book XXXIII. pp. 438–42.]
Jan. 29. 11. The Commissioners of Excise to the Treasury, dated Excise Office, London, concerning the policy of proposing a more moderate duty to be laid on spermaceti candles. Had proposed the full duty now levied on wax candles, being of opinion that spermaceti candles are being used principally in place of wax candles, and apprehending a prejudice to the wax candle duty thereby. “But if your Lordships are of opinion that the said Sperma Ceti candles will be consumed in any considerable quantity in the room of tallow candles, as the revenue wou'd in that case be improved by such consumption,” propose a duty of 6d. per lb. Endorsed, Read 5 Feb. 1 page.
[Treasury Board Papers CCCII. No. 10.]


  • 1. Lre to Wood, fol. 23, 24. Marginal note in MS.
  • 2. Ibid. fols. 12, 14, 19, 20. Marginal note in MS.
  • 3. Ibid. fol. 32, proved by the affidavit of Walsh, deputy Secretary. Marginal note in MS.
  • 4. Ibid. fol. 29–32. Marginal note in MS.
  • 5. The date of the above undated paper can only be approximately deduced. Geo. Wijke's letter to Governor Mathew, which is dissected in the above paper, occurs among the records of the Board of Trade (Leeward vol. 26, document 74) and is dated Montserrat, 1739, Dec. 14. In the same volume the last document is a letter from General Mathew, Governor of the Leeward Islands, dated 1739–40, Feb. 5, enclosing an account of the gold and silver coin from Nevis, that account not having been to hand when he sent the other 3 by Captain Snelling. The document in the text must of course be posterior to the first of these two dates, and anterior to the second.