Calendar of Treasury Papers, Volume 4, 1708-1714. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1974.
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The present volume (the fourth of the series) extends from the beginning of the year 1708 to 1 August 1714, when the reign of Queen Anne terminated; and the papers answering to the entries are now contained in bound volumes, numbered CV. to CLXXIX.
This period includes:—
(1.) The end of the treasurership of Lord Godolphin;
(2.) The few months when the Treasury was in Commission (August 10, 1710 to May 30, 1711);
(3.) The whole of the treasurership of the Earl of Oxford; and
(4.) The commencement of that of the Duke of Shrewsbury.
The proceedings and ceremonies upon the appointment of a Lord High Treasurer have a certain amount of interest, and it may not be out of place to insert here the account given of them by Mr. Lowndes on the appointment of the Earl of Oxford to that office. It is entered by Mr. Lowndes on a fly-leaf of the Minute Book, Vol. XVII.
“Memd that the Rt Honble Robert Harley, Esqre, Chancellor and Under Tr[easur]er of her Mats Excheqr, one of the Comrs for executing the office of Tr[easur]er of the Excheqr, and one of her Mats most honble Privy Councel was in May 1711 created Earle of Oxford & Earle Mortimer and Baron Harley of Wigmore, and having first taken his place in the house of Peers, her Maty on the 29th day of ye same month (the anniversary for restorac[i]on of the Royal family) delivered to him at her pallace of St James, the staff whereby his Lord[shi]p had the office of high Tr[easur]er of Great Britain. And on the — day of — 1711 her Mats L~res patent passed under the great seal, whereby he was constituted Tr[easur]er of her Mats Excheqr during her pleasure. And that on the first day of June 1711 (being the first day of Trinity term and the Parliamt then sitting) his Lorp was sworne in the Courts of Chancery & Excheqr at Westmr. In order to which his Lop about eleaven in the forenoon came to the apartmt of the Auditor of ye Receipt (Lord Halifax) where a great number of the nobility and other persons of quality attended him, and with them his Lop went thorow the Receipt side of the Excheqr into Westrhall, and (shewing respects to the Courts of Com[m]on pleas & Queens bench as he passed by) went into the Court of Chancery, where the Lord Keeper Harcourt, administred to his Lord[shi]p (kneeling upon cushions in the middle of ye Court) the oaths of allegiance & supremacy, and the oath for the office of Lord Treãr; which done his Lop with the Lord keeper went to the Excheqr Court, and the Lord Keeper having placed himself next to ye Lord Chief Baron Ward, made an eloquent oration to ye Lord Tr[easur]er, who all that while stood without the bar; And having heard the speech as also the L~res patent for constituting him Tr[easur]er of ye Excheqr & ye Writt of Attendance read, his Lop entred into the Court, where he was sworne according to custome, then took his place in Court betweene ye Chief Baron & Lord Keeper, heard a motion made p[er] Mr Ettricke, and had ye keys dđ to him p[er] Lord Halifax; wch being redeliverd, his Lop attended by ye Barons went into ye offices of ye Queen's Remembrancer, Tr[easur]er's Remembrancer, Clerk & Comptroller of ye Pipe & saw the Records there, and afterwards went up into the Receipt side, where his Lop saw some of ye Records in the keping of the Chamberlains, & a Bill throwne downe from the Teller's Office into ye Tally Court, & a Tally levyed. From thence into the Auditor's Office next ye water, taking notice of the books of entry there: From thence into ye Pell Office, where his Lop saw ye books & some of the Records, and afterwards into one of the Teller's Office to see their methods. From whence coming downe stairs the compa sep[er]ated, and his Lop went to the House of Peers.
Memd. The Mace was carryed before his Lop from the time he went from my Lord Hallifaxe's apartmt. It should have been from his owne house if he had proceeded from thence, but he came in the Queen's coach from Kensington.
Memd also that when ye Earl of Rochester was sworn Tr[easur]er to King James ye 2d I saw his Lop's patent carryed before him by Henry Guy & Francis Gwin, Esqrs, his Lops secretarys, and when my Lord Godolphin was sworne into ye said office in 1702, I carryed his Lops patent in ye same quality, walking just before the Mace, and I ought to have carryed ye Earl of Oxford's Patent at the proceeding here related; but it was delivered to his Lop in ye Excheqr p[er] my Lord keeper.
In the preface to the First volume of this Calendar, p. xvi, is noticed an attempt to reduce the business of the Treasury Board to a system, and another effort in the same direction is chronicled in the Minute Book, Vol. XV., p. 177, 12th August 1710:
Ditto, afternoon.—If her Maty pleases. To attend her Maty with the cash paper for her to make the disposic[i]on, and to lay before her such cases as shall be proper for her direcc[i]on, and such warrts &c. as pass ye Royll sign manll.
The underwritten to attend upon sũmons only:—Commrs of Navy, Victualling, Sick & Wounded & Transports, Board of Ordnance, Com[m]issioners of Excise, Salt dutys, Stamp dutys, Wine Lycences, Hackney Coaches, & Hawkers & Pedlars, the Postmars, the Attorny & Sollicitor Generall, Comptrollrs of the Army Accompts, the Sollicitors of the Trea[su]ry, Surveyors of the Lands & Woods, Surveyor of the Works, Auditor of the Plantac[i]ons, and many others.”
It was further stated in the preface to the First volume that many of the papers admitted of classification. Some have therefore been brought together in this and the previous volumes. A general description only has been given of them, as they contain but little information. They are either put at the end of the year to which they relate, or under their last date. Many papers of the Pay Office, Transport Office, Commissioners for Sick and Wounded, &c. are thus treated.
In the department of the Treasury, which had the purse strings in its hands, a large number of applications for money would necessarily be made, which would have little interest for any one except the persons immediately concerned. There have consequently come down many such papers and memoranda relating to money transactions in the Treasury, and the per-centage has perhaps increased in the present volume. They have been very briefly noticed.
Various reports will be found in this and the previous volumes in which the facts of the case are set forth without the expression of any opinion as to what ought to be done upon them. An indisposition to take the responsibility of advising was probably the reason. The persons making the report not unfrequently conclude by leaving the remedy to the wisdom of the Lord High Treasurer. Now this in all probability was not what he wanted. What he did want was their opinion, and that they did not give. On 11 July 1709 the Lord High Treasurer ordered a paper to be minuted thus:—“Send to the Comrs Navy that my Lord doth not find they have given any opinion, and directs them in this and all other cases where matters are referred to them to report their opinion very expressly;” CXII. 50.
A petition of the accomplished Joseph Addison occurs under date 27 Jan. 1709/1710 (CXX. 22), when he was keeper of the records in the Birmingham Tower, in Ireland. He was pressing to have the records methodically digested and referred to in proper catalogues, and also for such a salary as would give him assistance to enable the business to be proceeded with. The Lord Lieutenant (Wharton) recommended 500l. a year. The subject was brought before the Queen, and 400l. a year was ordered. His salary was on 4 Oct. 1715 increased to 500l. per ann. See the warrant in Irish Book, Vol. VII., p. 8.
Two letters from William Paterson, who established the Bank of England, and was the means of starting the ill-fated Darien expedition, and who also claimed to have formed a scheme for the union between Scotland and England, are hereafter calendared. The first is here given entire, as showing his efforts to get his claims recognised. (See CXIII. 39.) The second draws attention to other of his schemes (CLXXIV. 3). A committee reported on his claims upon the African and Indian Company of Scotland that in their opinion 18,241l. ought to be paid to him (CLIX. 43.)
The dependence I have had upon the public for a settlement in its service, or some way or other to have a recompense for what I have done for now seven years of Her Matys reign, besides former losses, hath at last so reduced me and my family that, without a speedy provision and support from Her Maty, I must unavoidably perish.
It was the dayly hope of some suitable provision from the Government which first ingaged and afterwards inclined me during all that time to support myself, by borowing in an expence triple to what might have sufficed in a retired life without publicke business or prospects.
The expectation of my claim on the equivalent hath kept me up for the last two years, but since that is still postponed, and as it now stands, I can have no releif till next session of parliament, and then instead of ready money, expect only debentures on the growing equivalent. I am thereby reduced to [the] utmost distress.
The inclosed petition to Her Maty contains the sum of my case which necessity obliges me now to represent, and I most humbly intreat yor Lordship, of whose goodness I have had such particular instances, to interceed with Her Maty now at last to take some immediat care of me and so to establish me for the future that I may be preserved and be made further usfull during the rest of my life.
There are several notices of William Penn, the proprietor and governor of Pennsylvania. Under 23rd July 1709 (CXV. 21) a report of the Commissioners of Trade is described, which states that Pennsylvania, under Penn's able rule, had begun to develop its natural resources, and was becoming a thriving colony. Our government probably perceived that such resources in the hands of a subject might some day become dangerous. The Commissioners indeed considered that his powers were capable of being extended so as to diminish the Royal prerogative. At the same time they bore testimony to Penn's great ability and industry, for he had transformed a desolate wilderness into a well peopled colony. When Penn became desirous of parting with some of his powers, he commended the people of his persuasion, as well as the other inhabitants, to Her Majesty's protection. The Attorney-General made a report on this proposal to surrender his government to the Queen. (See 25th February 1711/12, CXLIV. 31.) The soil and mines Penn, however, proposed to retain. From the minute respecting this transaction entered in the Minute Book, Vol. XVII., p. 151, 15th March 1711/12, it might be urged by those who are ready to find defects in his character that he was endeavouring to get the best of the bargain. He wanted 20,000l. for the purchase, and when questioned as to how he made out his claim, produced his Deputy Governor, Col. Evans, whose letter (CXLIV. 6) gives an estimate of the revenues there; but the Lord High Treasurer discovered that the estimate was made out in New England money, which Mr. Penn allowed was 25 per cent. worse than sterling. By the minute on the back of the paper, it appears Penn was to receive 12,000l. for the sale. A warrant was signed on 6th Sept. 1713 for 1,000l., presumed to be part of that amount.
At the time of this negotiation his health had become shattered, and there is a holograph letter from him speaking of his weakness, which compelled him to wear his night gown, in which he says he should make an odd figure if he came to the Treasury (CXLIV. 40).
Three papers occur under date 30th November 1709, 5th June and 13th July 1711, illustrating as well the method of accounting in the Exchequer, as the biography of Lord Ranelagh who had been paymaster of the Forces, and had been concerned in heavy transactions with that department. In his account up to 1701, he had upwards of 4½ million disallowed for want of proper vouchers (CXXXIV. 8). The examination of these accounts took the Auditors of Imprest three years. Although he had resigned his office in 1702, he was still (1711) not freed from his liabilities, and was pressing the Lord High Treasurer for a supply for himself and clerks, who had all this time been employed on his accounts. He says fair words will neither pay clerks nor go to market, and it is nearly two years since he received anything, and that less than 1,000l. will not make him tolerably easy and further that he has neither place nor pension with seventy years and a great many debts upon his back. Broken in health he applied to his dear friend Lowndes to get him a thousand pounds ordered to help him to proceed to Bath for his recovery (CXXXV. 29, CXXXVI. 41). There is further a report upon the memorial of his daughter who was his administratrix (CLX. 20).
An interesting report on the affairs of several of the Colonies, as to how far they were self-supporting, what were their revenues, and what were the salaries of the Governors, will be found in Vol. CLXXIV., No. 56.
From the Revolution (before which there are very few papers) to the end of the reign of the Queen, being about a quarter of a century, the resources placed at the disposal of the Treasury seem to have always been unequal to the strain put upon them; and this perhaps accounts for repeated applications being sent in. Those Departments or individuals who had money transactions with the Government were fortunate who had their claims satisfied without difficulty. There was still anxiety lest sick seamen should be exposed to perish in the streets (CXXXVI. 24.) Governor Hooke threatened when there was no subsistence left for the prisoners of war at Plymouth, to let them out to shift for themselves, for he could not keep a guard on men to starve them (CXXXVI. 17, CXXXVIII. 43, CXLIII. 36, CXLIV. 32, CXLV. 33.)
A large number of refugees, consisting of Palatines, Swabians, and other Germans, were encouraged to come to this country. They came in such numbers as to embarrass the Government. They were most of them Protestants and had fled from oppression. The Government made various arrangements for their support. Some were encamped at Blackheath, and others at Camberwell, tents being ordered for them. Commissioners were appointed to collect and dispose of the funds to maintain them, and to settle what should be done with the people themselves. The care of the Commissioners even extended to the length of having little books printed for their use. The two Commissioners at Rotterdam thought they were doing great things for England and for these people by helping them to come over, but it proved otherwise (CXXXII. 47). A portion of those who came were drafted to Ireland, another portion to Hudson River, and a third portion reshipped to Rotterdam, the last receiving in money five guilders each. Those who were sent to Ireland in September, October, and November, 1709, consisted of 821 families, of whom 263 only remained on April 4, 1713 (CLX. 6). 40s. per annum for seven years were allowed to buy stock, &c. to 312 families, consisting of 1,218 persons, who remained in Ireland on 21 November 1711 (CXXXIX. 39). Several interesting particulars are given of this portion who went to Ireland in the papers referred to in Vol. CXXXIII., No. 47, as well as in a representation by the Commissioners appointed to settle them in Ireland, dated 4 April 1713 (CLX., 5), who say that they readily conformed to the Liturgy of the Church of England, but that they required protection from their Irish neighbours.
Those who were placed at Hudson River were instructed in the art of making tar (CXXXVII. 25). The Lords of Trade proposed to employ 3,000 of the Palatines in the production of naval stores in New York. The latter entered into a contract by which the adults were to receive 6d. and the children 4d. a day until they could subsist themselves (CXLIX. 2).
Henry Bendyssh, gentleman, the Secretary to the late Commissioners for the poor Palatines, petitioned to be recompensed for his trouble in that business, and was fortunate in getting 1,000l. ordered and 100l. additional in consequence of his being so long without his money (CLXXVII. 44).
A petition of the Marquis of Guiscard (who was afterwards arrested for treason, and whilst under examination attempted to stab Mr. Harley with a penknife) will be found under 16th December 1710 (CXXVII. 12). He states that Her Majesty had granted him a pension of 500l. per annum, but had not signed a warrant nor appointed a fund for it, and asks that it may be made up to 600l. per annum. Two days later Her Majesty intimates to Mr. Lowndes her inclination to grant him a pension not exceeding 500l. a year, and recommends the same to the Lords of the Treasury. His animosity to Mr. Harley for opposing this pension is the reason attributed for this attempt at assassination in the Annals of the reign of Queen Anne, Vol. IX., p. 339.
The charges of taking care of the Marquis whilst in Newgate demanded by the keeper of Newgate, the surgeons, doctor, and coroner, amounting to upwards of 290l., will be found referred to under date 25th July 1711. (See Vol. CXXXV. 41). One of the items is “to repair the damages done to the floors and ceilings of two rooms by the salt water that ran out of his coffin, 5l.” These charges were reported on by Mr. Borrett on 10th September 1711 (CXXXVII., 21.)
The conclusion of what had been a very unpleasant business to our Government is given in a paper of 25th July 1710 (CXXII. 64). It had its origin in the arrest of the Russian ambassador for debt in the year 1708. The bill of our own Ambassador Extraordinary to the Czar of his extraordinary disbursements for making his public entry, and for treating the Czar and his principal ministers and officers (who he says came daily to him), amounted to the very moderate sum of 1,210l., which was ordered to be paid. He stayed there in his ambassadorial character 105 days.
The purification of infected goods was an expensive process if Dr. Maynwaring's proposals were carried out. For a bale of hemp of a ton weight, a pound of medicine, value 10s., would be required. It would take four hours and the labour of six men. The doctor's fees would be 2l. 2s., besides which a double booth must be erected 60 feet by 20, and the men would be liable to infection (CXVII. 19). In the doctor's proposal he gives some account of his experience in the great plague of 1665, the dangers he went through in visiting the sick, &c. So far as he knew in the year 1709 he was the only surviving physician who had been so occupied. In another paper (CXXXI. 25) it is stated that Howfort in the Medway was the place proposed for the disinfecting process, and the inhabitants of Chatham, Gillingham, and Strood were alarmed for the consequences.
Consequent upon the union of the two nations, Scotch affairs continue in this volume to require a good deal of consideration from the English Treasury, and communications from the Barons of the Exchequer and the Commissioners of Customs of Scotland are frequent. The justices [of the peace] in Scotland sympathised with the old state of things, and were not only not disposed to convict smugglers and others who contravened the excise laws, but in Shetland they set the officer of customs in the stocks. (See Vol. CVI. No. 60.) Another zealous officer was smartly upbraided by the Lord President for searching the house of the Earl of Stair for brandy which had been run on the coast (CX. 38). In the Island of Fleet (where those who were in charge of certain captured brandy had been barbarously wounded, so that they were frightful to look at) the justices were the persons most concerned in running the goods, and the greater number of those engaged in this illegal business were tenants or servants of two of the justices. Not a constable would assist the captors of the goods (CX. 7). Indeed it may fairly be inferred from the papers that the justices of the peace had a very strong leaning towards the offenders against the Excise and Customs' laws. The Commissioners of Excise charge them with acting directly contrary to the law (CXIII. 56). Even when they did punish, their punishment of the delinquents was so light that it acted rather as encouragement (CXIII. 60). If it were pleasant to the President [Sir Hugh] Dalrymple to get his excellent claret passed by his relation, the collector at Port Patrick (CXIII. 44), why should those who regarded a stronger beverage with affection be molested in their national and natural taste? If the law laid heavy penalties on the offenders, the justices in their discretion made them light, and it is not difficult to see who would be most popular, the sympathetic justice or the punctilious commissioner.
Sir Alexander Rigby, who was the complainant against the President Dalrymple's doings, was in turn complained against by his brother Commissioners of Customs. They wrote that his temper and expressions had caused a ferment all over the country against him, and that they believed that such an unruly and revengeful temper was never in any man, save one, who was most justly styled the common enemy of mankind. He was, moreover, involved in debt (CXIV. 19).
Another of the family of Dalrymple (the Lord Advocate) was anxious to smooth matters for the merchants who had imported wines illegally. He says that if prosecuted a good many of them would be ruined, but if favoured it might beget a better opinion of the Union and greater confidence in the administration of justice, which last proposition could hardly be very intelligible to honest traders. As, however, these latter appear to have been in a small minority, perhaps the Lord Advocate did not much consider them. (See CXV. 6.) A way out of the difficulty was suggested by Mr. Baron Smith, viz., that the merchants should pay 4l. a tun more than the Spanish duty (CXV. 7).
These subjects continue to be illustrated. The poor dealers in old clothes seem (so far as the trade was concerned) to have enjoyed an immunity from taxation until “some cunning body” discovered that they might be compelled to take out licences under the Hawkers and Pedlars Act. The matter being referred to Sir Edward Northey, his opinion was that they came within the Acts. They were, however, excused from further process on condition that they took out licences at the following Midsummer. (See CXII. 12, 17 Jan. 1708/9).
Mr. Philip Ryley observes on 13th Feb. 1709/10 that in most cases when duties are laid on retailers, the subject pays twice as much as the public receive. Thus he says that 3d. per barrel on ale has already raised that commodity ½d. per quart (CXX. 42).
The Royal Lutestring Company complain of their losses and disappointment in being obliged to employ English weavers, by the clamours of the people against the engagement of Frenchmen. The company was seeking Her Majesty's protection and assistance. The rivalry between the English, the Lyons, and Dutch manufactures is illustrated. There were 507 weavers employed by the company in 1695. Their names are given and likewise the nature of the branches of their handicraft (CXXXIX. 19).
Some of the frauds and evasions of the Stamp Duties are detailed in a paper of 6th Sept. 1709. The Commissioners complain of the artfulness of the people in finding expedients to defraud the revenue; one stamp was made to serve for several things. Stamps from old deeds, &c. were cut off and used again. An attorney had made a stamp serve more than ten times, and the attorneys commonly charged stamp duties for five or six sheets, when by close writing they only used one. An attorney who was Deputy Registrar to an Ecclesiastical Court, instead of writing marriage licences on a 5s. stamp, merely sent a note to the curate to marry the couple and pocketed the fees and stamp duties. (See CXVI. 6).
An attempt to set up a rival Post Office, under the name of a Halfpenny Carriage in London and Westminster, by one Mr. Povey, is reported on by the Postmaster General. Mr. Povey evidently was not disposed to relinquish the undertaking without a struggle; for though his receiving houses gave up their opposition, he and his messengers continued to receive and deliver letters (CXX. 33).
An economical suggestion is made by John Bishop, a marine store dealer. Instead of allowing the waste books in public offices to be sold in a mass, he proposed that where they had good bindings, the covers should be carefully taken off and used again several times. He says this would save 1,000l. per ann. The Lord Treasurer thought it was worth consideration, and Mr. Bishop was to hear further. His Lordship also had his suspicions that some one was making a perquisite out of these waste books (CLI. 25).
A scientific instrument invented by Mr. Cawood, consisting of a new sort of magnetic needle, designed to stand due north and south, without any variation, was unfavourably reported on by Sir Isaac Newton and Mr. Halley, as it was weak in virtue and uncertain in its position, and for the most part it had a variation like other needles (CLII. 13).
A curious proposal is made to induce learned and good men to go over to the plantations, viz., to allow each poor clergyman of Virginia (having less than 20l. per annum) a hogshead or two of tobacco customs free. Piety and good literature, it is added, would thus be advanced (CLXXVIII. 48).