Calendar of Treasury Books and Papers, Volume 4, 1739-1741. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1901.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.
In the Preface to Vol. I of this Calendar (1729–30, p. viii.) it was shown that the main branch of the Secret Service fund was administered by the Secretary of the Treasury, and that the second, a very subsidiary branch, was administered by the two Secretaries of State. The former of these two branches varied greatly in amount (being 84,759l. 1s. 5d. in 1739; 82,066l. 13s. 0d. in 1740; 48,425l. 18s. 10d. in 1741), the latter was a fixed item of 3,500l. per an. to each of the two Secretaries of State, i.e. of 7,000l. per an. in all. All the entries relating to both these branches are brought together in the index to the present volume under the heading Secret Service (of the Secretary of the Treasury and of the two Secretaries of State). It need hardly be stated that the Treasury records here calendared contain only entries of payments to these various Secretaries for such service. They contain no entries whatever of payments by them in accordance therewith. That is to say, the disbursement of the Secret Service money is not traceable anywhere in the Treasury records. As far as Treasury and Exchequer routine is concerned this complete suppression of information is managed by the simple device of making the payments to the Secretaries “without account, imprest, or other charge,” words which released the payees (the Secretaries) from any liability to account before the Auditors of Imprests for the amounts received by them at the Exchequer. To whom therefore, or for what purposes the Secretaries paid away all these moneys can not at all be learned from the Treasury records
In the Introduction to Vol. III. of the present Calendar it was shown that Lowther's accounts contain no Secret Service items save and except (a somewhat large exception) for the payments to Government newspapers or newspaper editors. In the present volume these payments will be found brought together under the name of Mr. Walthoe and Buckley, S., in the index.
In order to complete this somewhat complicated subject it is necessary to refer to two other channels by which similarly occult payments could be made, viz. (1) Ambassadors' Extraordinaries, (2) Special Services.
(1) Ambassadors' Extraordinaries. The quite normal practice was as follows. The Ambassador sent periodically his bill for his extraordinary expenses to the particular Secretary of State within whose province his legation was comprised. The Secretary of State allowed the bill, and sent it on to the Treasury with a subscription of his allowance of it. The Treasury Lords thereupon ordered a warrant for the same and sent it to the Auditor of the Exchequer, on whose order the money was issued at the Exchequer by the Tellers in the usual course. Accordingly the copies of the Ambassadors' bills themselves are found in the Money Book, and the duplicate order for the payment (but without the details of the bill) occur in the Order Book. It should perhaps be added that the bills themselves rarely reveal any points of genuine information. The items are mostly put down in lump sums for “mourning,” “estaffets,” “stationery,” and so on.
Now all these normal “extras” were a charge upon the Civil List just as the Ambassadors' ordinary entertainments were, and they accordingly figure in the totals of the Civil List. There is therefore not the least possibility of confounding these items with any Secret Service items.
But these “extras” do not comprise the total of the extraordinary drawings of the ambassadorial service. At scattered intervals particular ambassadors will be found drawing bills of exchange from abroad on particular acceptors at home to the order of this or that person (a foreigner). These bills the Treasury meet, after allowing the acceptance, by an issue at the Exchequer to the acceptor, of so much as will cover the bill and the Exchequer fees incidental to the payment.
There are two important points of difference between such transactions and the normal transactions relating to Ambassadors' extras. Firstly, the money ordered to meet the bill of exchange is ordered to be issued “out of any money in the Exchequer,” and therefore is not out of the Civil List. Secondly, there is no information whatever afforded in the Treasury records as to the occasion of the drawing of the bill, i.e. as to the original cause or occasion of the expenditure. There can be little doubt that such disbursements were in great measure made for the obtaining of special intelligence, and such payments accordingly fall into a distinct subsidiary class of the general secret service of the country. They may be compared with the more normal payments made to John Walton and Mons. Renard (see these names in the index).
On one occasion, not falling within the limits of the present volume, the Treasury ordered that the particular bill of which they warranted payment should be made a charge against the ordinary of the Ambassador who drew the bill. This would indicate that the Ambassador was raising money by bill on his ordinary, i.e. for his own private needs, and the fact that only a single instance of this kind is discoverable in many years of the records tends to prove that normally the expenditure by the Ambassador was not on himself or for his private needs, but was a strictly state transaction.
(2) Secondly. The item of Special Services is a much more difficult one to deal with. It constitutes, in fact, the one crux of the Treasury records calendared in the present series. The persons to whom the payments were made in the first instance were persons of subordinate positions about the Treasury or the Exchequer, and it is quite clear that they were simply used as nominal or substituted payees, or as the channel through which moneys were conveyed to this or that person or object the identity of which it was not desirable to reveal. In every case the payments are made to these persons “to reimburse the like sum expended for His Majesty's special service,” words which exempted the payee from any liability to account for them before the Auditors. The entries occur in duplicate in the Money Book and Order Book, and occasionally in the Minute Book, but in no case is any further information vouchsafed than is contained in the above meagre phrase. All these items are brought together in the index under the heading Special Services. In order to convey an idea of this amount they may be summarised as follows:—
But from these totals deductions must be made in each case. The figures in the above columns against which asterisks have been placed represent payments for the purpose of meeting bills of exchange drawn from abroad—practically the items which have been already discussed under the first head above (Ambassadors' Extras). As to these items it is at least possible to say for what or on what account the payments are made. Deducting the total of these explicable items (viz. respectively for 1739, 6,882l. 2s. 0d.; 1740, 4,521l. 0s. 10d.; 1741, 6,562l. 7s. 0d.) we have left the following as the unexplained totals of payments for “Special Service”:—
The difficulty with regard to these sums is their largeness and their absolutely enigmatic nature. There is no clue anywhere in the Treasury records as to the causes or purposes for which or the persons to whom they were ultimately made. The Treasury warranted the payments to be “without account,” and therefore they were not subject to the audit of the Auditors of Imprests. Further they were warranted to be paid out of any moneys in the Exchequer, and therefore formed no part of the Civil List. These large payments, therefore, would appear to pass yearly without Parliamentary estimate or allocation on the one hand, and without Exchequer audit on the other. It is this fact which constitutes the difficulty of this distinct class of payments, and fairly entitles to the opinion that we are here dealing with yet another and quite distinct source or branch of Secret Service expenditure.
It will be quite understood that in the above pages I have attempted to explain the various branches or channels of Secret Service expenditure only from the point of view of the Treasury records, of such Treasury records that is as form the material of the present calendar, and with the object in the main of putting it within the power of the historical student to understand and to be able to make proper historical use of the Table II. (table of payments) which forms one of the staple features of this calendar. With the extraneous evidence of the Secret Service under Walpole the present calendar has nothing whatever to do.
In conclusion, it may perhaps be necessary to refer to the matter of pensions so far as it is illustrated by the historical material in the present Calendar. When the Treasury Lords are found ordering a warrant quarterly for a pension it is to be understood that such pension is payable separately out of the Exchequer, and that it stands apart from the general pension list or establishment. All these separate pensions paid at the Exchequer, and voted quarterly by the Treasury, are brought together in the index under the head “Pensions.”
Standing quite apart from these just named was the regular establishment of pensions paid by the Paymaster of Pensions. This was a standing list of pensions as drawn up and established, say, at the commencement of the reign, and as periodically revised (it was revised in 1742 for the second time in George II.'s reign). To meet this establishment the Treasury warranted a lump sum periodically by way of imprest to the Paymaster of Pensions. The establishment included two main classes. (1) Ordinary or, let us say, native pensions. (2) The French Protestant pensions. On the occasion of the revision in 1742 these two series totalled respectively 32,662l. 12s. 0d. and 4,920l., (fn. 1) making a total establishment of pensions of 37,582l. 12s. 0d. per an.
As far as normal Treasury routine in the 18th century is concerned this account would appear on the surface to exhaust the subject. But such is by no means the case. A man might have a pension granted to him payable out of the Post Office. If so it would be entered in the general quarterly bill of the Post Office; and as this is warranted in the lump by the Treasury, no trace of the payments will appear in the normal Treasury records. Similarly a man might have a pension payable out of the hereditary Excise, the Customs, the Cofferer of the Household's establishment, the Irish establishment, or the Alienation Office. In all these cases once the pension has been granted it will disappear from view in the Treasury records, and if traced at all it would have to be traced in the departmental records—in the quarterly pay lists of the Customs, &c. The only clue which the normal Treasury records afford as to such pensions is at the moment of their inception. The royal warrant instituting them came to be subject to the counter-subscription of the Treasury Lords, and this fact leads to their being entered in the King's Warrant Book (or if it is a pension on the Irish establishment, then in the Irish Book). But I am not in a position to say that this is the invariable routine, and that we possess in these two sources entries of all and every such pensions.