Secret Service Payments: Introduction

Pages 513-514

Calendar of Treasury Books, Volume 17, 1702. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1939.

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In this section

Introduction to the Secret Service Payments


The four volumes of Secret Service Accounts kept by the Secretary of the Treasury (successively William Jephson, Henry Guy and William Lowndes) cover the reign of William III from 20 April, 1689 to its close and the reign of Anne from the 25th June, 1701 to 9 August, 1710: viz. as follows:

T 38. 734 (William Jephson). Vol. 1 extends from 20 April, 1689 to 5 June, 1691.

T 38. 735 (Henry Guy). Vol. 2.
extends from 3 July, 1691 to 19 April, 1695.

T 38. 736 (William Lowndes). Vol. 3.
extends from 29 April, 1695 to 23 June, 1701.

T 38. 737 (William Lowndes). Vol. 4.
extends from 25 June, 1701 to 9 August, 1710.

These dates indicate that the volumes are in unbroken sequence and that there is no real gap, but only a quasi-interregnum interval, between the first of them and the volume of "Secret Services of Charles II and James II" published by the Camden Society in 1851 (Camden Society Old Series, Vol. 52). That volume extended from 30 March 1679 to 25 December, 1688 and was drawn in the form of a ledger account: Debit side viz: issues out of the Exchequer. Credit side: payments made thereout to individuals.

This ledger account form is preserved in Volumes 1 and 2 of the present series here printed. But Volumes 3 and 4 (Lowndes's volumes) contain only the acquittances of the payees with autograph signatures and only an intermittent skeleton statement or form of an account.

It is clear however from the note under date 1690 October 24 infra p. 595 that Jephson kept a similar book of receipts as quite a separate record from his mere ledger account.

In view of the pattern set up by the Camden Society's volume it has been decided to print the material of these William III and Anne Secret Service payments in an integral form as a separate appendix. The alternative procedure of dispersing the entries chronologically in and amongst the general material of the Treasury Calendar would have destroyed the unity of the record and its value to historians from the point of view of availability and synthetic treatment. At the same time such a treatment would have produced a false impression of duplication. The Treasury records proper contain all the authorised warrants for issues of money to the various payee agencies employed, i.e. the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretaries of State etc. As quite distinct from this type of entry, these Secret Service books contain either a ledger account or the voucher entry of the disbursement of the sums so issued, the voucher being in each case the autograph signature of the recipient testifying his receipt of so much on such a date and stating frequently the service or consideration in virtue of which the payment had been ordered to be made. Thus the two sets of entries though referring frequently to one and the same fact or person differ very materially in their nature.

In view of the decision to print these Secret Service Books as a separate record in unbroken sequence it was necessary to wait until the Treasury Calendar for the whole of William's reign was in print before the Secret Service record for the same period could be printed.

They are here given for the whole of the reign and therefore contain the text of Volumes I, II and III as above enumerated.

In a similar way Volume IV of this record covering the Secret Service of the reign of Anne will be printed when the Treasury Calendar has reached the end of that Queen's reign.

With regard to the nature of the contents of the volumes and the light which they throw—or do not throw—on the real secret service system of the time it is perhaps unnecessary to repeat what was stated in the Introductions to Volume IV of the present Calendar, pp. xlvi–xlvii and the Introduction to Calendar of Treasury Papers, vol. 1735–8, pp. ii–xi.