Calendar of Treasury Papers, Volume 5, 1714-1719. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1883.
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The present volume of the Calendar of the Treasury Papers commences with a new dynasty, and extends from 1st of August 1714 to the end of 1719, during which period the Treasury Board was six times changed. A foreign king now ascended the throne with the disadvantage of knowing so little of the language of the people he was called to govern that papers of importance, which he was required to consider, had to be translated into French for his perusal. Not a few outstanding arrears of the late reign had to be dealt with by the Lords of the Treasury. Many appointments conferred in that reign, although they did not terminate abruptly with the Queen's life, were only prolonged by a wise enactment (6 Anne, c. 7. s. 8), which continued the holder six months in office after the death of the sovereign. The applications for renewal of such appointments had to be considered, together with the circumstances which had led to the boon being conferred, as well as fresh applications from those who were anxious for the honour of serving the Crown. These latter, as may be supposed, were never slow to express their admiration for the Hanoverian succession, and if they were able to show that they had contributed, however slightly, to bring it about, they took care to make the most of the service they or their friends had rendered.
The papers arising in any Government department at one time will necessarily have a certain amount of general resemblance to those arising at another, and those under consideration are no exception to that rule. In previous volumes it was found that claimants did not easily obtain what was due to them, and the Treasury, whether presided over by a Lord High Treasurer or by Commissioners, seems not at this period to have been more lavish in its dealings with the numerous applicants for its favours than in previous times. As an illustration it is found that the Commissioners of Chelsea Hospital were complaining that pensioners were begging about the street (CLXXX. 30). It is not perhaps to be expected that we should discover in the papers an admission on the part of the Board that any applicant had understated his case. We are much more likely to find that their Lordships resisted applications which appear to have had a great amount of justice about them. It seems hardly fair that such a man as Dr. Henry Newton, Envoy Extraordinary to the Great Duke of Tuscany and the Republic of Genoa, should have been kept out of arrears for his services amounting to 2,600l. (CLXXX. 17). It must, however, be borne in mind that to form a really just judgment we should have been present at the Treasury and have heard the reasons advanced for withholding what was asked for; and even then we must go a little further and become acquainted with the influence brought to bear on the Lord Treasurer or at a subsequent time on the members of the Board. Far from all this we are often only made acquainted with the decisions without knowing anything of the intermediate steps that led up to them.
The minutes of their Lordships are much more frequently found written on the papers than at a previous date, and the entries in the Minute Books are proportionally few, being chiefly confined to weighty affairs. The rule (if there was one) followed by those who kept the books as to what should or should not be entered is not very apparent. As to the great mass of the papers, the only notices that there are in the Minute Books of the transactions in them are entries such as, “Papers are read and minutes taken thereupon.” Although the minutes on these papers, except in a few instances, are not entered in the Minute Books, there is another set of Treasury volumes entitled: “Memorials, petitions, and other papers read before the Right Honble the Lords Commrs of his Maty's Treasury, and the directions given by their Lordps thereupon,” and in these, so far as the books are extant, the minutes are entered.
The Treasury Board, which was constituted on the 13th of October in the first year of the reign of King George the First, made various “orders for the more regular keeping of papers and dispatch of business at the Treasury.” These apportion the duties of the four chief clerks, the first of whom was: “To receive all petitions, and when they are read to enter ye answers that shall be indorsed thereupon in a book to be kept for that purpose, and to prepare such letters or references as shall be directed. Also to lay up such peticons as shall have received final answers, and when a second peticon shall be brought by any suitor, after one has been answered, he is to return it back or tear it; and likewise to enter in the said book the orders or resolucons of the Lords of the Treasury, which shall be written or endorsed upon any reports, letters, or memorials, upon reading thereof before their Lord'ps.”
Their Lordships also made other regulations for the dispatch of business “according to the orders hung up in Treasury.” These consisted of a settlement of what was to be done on each day of the week. (See Minute Book, Vol. XX., pp. 29 to 32.)
Other orders for “the dispatch of business” were made on 22nd March 1717/1718, when their Lordships resolved to sit on “Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and not to meet on Saturdays or Mondays unless upon extraordinary occasions.” (See Minute Book, Vol. XXII., p. 1).
In the preface to the last volume (p. x) it was noticed that many papers of but little interest had been dealt with in a very brief manner. It has been thought desirable at the beginning of a new reign to condense the description of such papers still further by placing them in tables which will be found at the end of each year. This has a double advantage, first, in collecting those of little worth into a brief space, and second, in letting those that remain, which are of more worth, stand out more prominently. The selection perhaps might have been carried still further.
Among the events of domestic historical interest referred to in the present volume is that of the Cattle Plague, which broke out at the end of the year 1714. It seems to have fallen very heavily on the cowkeepers in the neighbourhood of London, more particularly on the northern side. It spread from Poplar in the east, to St. James's and St. Margaret's, Westminster, in the west, and was very infectious. The justices for Middlesex were entrusted with such remedial measures as it was thought proper to take, and they sent five reports to the Treasury between 6th November and 14th December (Vol. CLXXXII. 39). They speak of it as a new disease, and one that was very malignant and infectious, and they give a theory as to how it might have been developed, although they do not appear to have had a very strong belief in their theory. They confess that no medicine had been found effectual as a remedy. For the prevention of the spread of the disease they state that whilst they had authority they bought, burnt, and buried the sick cows, this being in accordance with an Order in Council of 6th December 1714 (Vol. CLXXXII. 38) which directed their burial with a good depth of earth, and that the justices should keep an account of their numbers. The remedial measures they tried without effect are detailed. The sick were separated from the healthy, and the cowhouses were purified with pitch, tar, and lime wash. The compensation to the owners for the cattle slaughtered to prevent the spread of the disease was 40s. a head, the same being paid out of the Civil List until it became too heavy to admit of its continuance. It is somewhat remarkable that in the great outbreak in 1865, Islington was the first place in which the disease was noticed (see First Report of the Commissioners on the Cattle Plague, p. v), and this was one of the places which suffered badly in 1714. The disease is also supposed to be the same (see ib., p. viii.). It is not less remarkable that medical science has not from that time to this advanced much, either in the detection of the subtle cause of the disease or in the discovery of a remedy for it. At both periods to isolate, destroy, and bury was pretty nearly all that could be done with any certainty of being effective.
Not a few documents in the present volume trace their origin to the uprising in the north of England and in Scotland in favour of the Pretender. The following particulars touching on the Rebellion have been gleaned from them, viz.:—
Ten thousand pounds were ordered to be paid by the Receivers General of the Land Tax and Customs and the Commissioners of Excise to the Duke of Argyle, for a month's subsistence of the forces (CXCII. 77).
Most of the country north of the Forth was in the hands of the rebels, and the south of the Forth was overrun by them. The Commissioners of Excise reported that the revenue had been collected by the rebels (CXCII. 82).
If the statement of Thomas Wells in his petition can be relied on, he was the first discoverer of the Rebellion in April 1715. He gave a great deal of information to the Government, and according to his own account he was in daily attendance on Lord Townshend when the Rebellion was at its height, but it does not seem that his services had advanced his own interests (CCXXI. 48).
Colonel Thomas Harrison had a warrant signed for 500l. for bringing the news from the Duke of Argyle to the King, of the victory obtained over the rebels in Scotland, near Dumblain (31 Dec. 1715, CXCIV. 19).
On the failure of the rising in favour of the Pretender, the stewards and other officers of the lords and gentlemen captured at Preston hastened to raise what money they could from the estates of the latter; and the attorney and solicitor-general made a report as to what the law would allow to be done by them in that direction. Their report was to guide the proceedings of the Treasury solicitor (CXCVIII. 29).
The wives of some of those who joined the cause of the Pretender were made to feel the bitterness of rebellion. Their jointures and settlements availed them but little when their husbands' properties were confiscated. Though the Barons of the Exchequer of Scotland and the Attorney-General in England seemed disposed to take a kindly view of their case, the Lords of the Treasury were unable to help them (18 and 22 July 1718, CCXIV. 60 and 63).
It cost the Government 40s. a head to transport to the West Indies the rebels taken at Preston. Sir Thomas Johnson, who was the contractor, made a bargain that they should serve him or his assigns in any of the plantations for seven years (CXCVIII. 54 and 72).
The rebels appear to have been transported very carelessly, for the masters of the ships suffered them to escape when they landed in Ireland. Some of them, being taken on shore at Cork, talked very impudently and treasonably. As they would have done mischief, the Sheriff of Cork was ordered to take them on board again. There appear to have been 118 of this cargo (taken at Preston) bound for Virginia. Another cargo of them put in at Waterford, and met with great encouragement (CC. 16). Forty-five others were taken to Montserrat (CC. 43).
Patrick Strachan of Glenkindy petitioned the King for the return of considerable sums expended by him in frustrating the traitorous designs of the Earl of Mar, who tried to seduce him from his allegiance; but he gave information of the rebellious measures of the Earl, and being a volunteer at Stirling was taken at the battle of Sheriff Muir by the Earl, and treated in a most barbarous manner. By his directions the rebels in the Highlands were disarmed (CCXIII. 64).
Mr. Baron Fortescue and Mr. Laurence Carter, two of His Majesty's counsel, claimed 500l. a-piece for their services in trying the prisoners at Carlisle (CCVII. 6); and Nicholas Paxton, attorney, went to Scotland to collect evidence against the Scotch prisoners who were tried at Carlisle. He wanted to be Solicitor to the Stamp Office, but the place was disposed of (CCXI. 14).
Mr. William Pitt, the keeper of the gaol at Newgate, received about 70 of the rebels brought from Preston, and about 30 more from the Tower and the Fleet Prison. He complains of their spitefulness in destroying their bedding and furniture, and that they were too poor to pay him anything (CCVII. 54). Another paper of a later date (CCIX. 21) gives some further particulars of their sojourn with this gaoler, who was himself tried for his life for allowing a prisoner to escape, but was acquitted. (See Smollett's History of England, Vol. VIII., p. 197.)
Attention has been drawn in the previous volumes to the difficulty of inducing the Scotch to acquiesce in the measures taken for bringing their system of administration into harmony with ours, and entries in the present volume show that the difficulty still continued. Mobs in various parts of the country overawed the Collectors of Customs, so that they were afraid to do their duty. Insufficiency of military force is complained of, and the town guards in Edinburgh are stated to have been ever backward in giving assistance to the officers of Customs, rather hindering than forwarding the seizures (CLXXXIX. 1, CXCI. 3). Where the officers were energetic enough to attempt the discharge of their duty they were overpowered and the goods carried off. The Lords of Justiciary evidently sided with the wrongdoers, so as to render prosecutions useless (CXC. 14). A party of Col. Clayton's regiment in charge of goods thus seized by the officers at Inverness were attacked by an armed force. A corporal was killed and a private wounded. A similar attack was reported from Glasgow (CCXV. 43).
Historical and other information in respect to African and other colonies is found in a paper of the Royal African Company (undated, but apparently belonging to the beginning of the reign of George I.). It states, among other details, that the trade commenced in the reign of King James I., and that each European nation excluded all others from its fortified territories. The first Company built three small forts, but were beaten out by the Dutch in the war of 1665. The new Company, in 1672, proposed to buy out the former Company, and King Charles II. granted them all the coasts and lands in Africa between Cape Verd and the Cape of Good Hope for 1,000 years, in order that they might secure the whole trade from the French, Dutch, and other Europeans. The Company subscribed 698,418l., built 14 new forts, &c., and excluded other Europeans. The happy effect of which was the cheapness with which they bought negroes in Africa and sold them in America. The Company's property in the lands and coasts was founded upon these principles, viz., that no subject of Great Britain could gain for himself a property by conquest or occupancy of lands in barbarous countries; that it was the prerogative of the Crown to grant the property of lands in barbarous countries to such of its subjects as could conquer or gain possession of them; and that this prerogative had been constantly exercised in granting the lands as well in America, as in Barbadoes, Virginia, Maryland, Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Jamaica. The Company complains of interlopers coming in by authority of Parliament, and asserts that trade could never be beneficially carried on without compelling the natives to deal with the Company only. The “bitter fruit of this open trade” had raised negroes to an excessive dearness in Africa; even about four times the former price (CLXXXV. 59).
In levying the revenue, complications between the home government and the Assembly at New York at this early period (1719) are shadowed forth. The Assembly, it is stated, had taken the whole management of what was raised for the support of his Majesty's Government out of the hands of the officers of the Crown and put it under a particular administration of its own, “contrary to the ancient practice and natural dependence which that colony ought to have upon the government here.” This, it is further said, would render the royal prerogative precarious, and the continuance of such an encroachment must in time make the colony independent of the Crown (CCXXI. 40).
Papers relating to the survey of the coast of Newfoundland, on which Captain William Taverner was engaged, give a good deal of historical and other information as regards the fishery, &c. in that and surrounding districts, which was then causing difficulties between this country and the French (CLXXX. 30, CCVI. 35, CCXV. 14).
In the last volume some account was given of the poor Palatines who flocked over to this country. A number of them were sent over to, and settled in, Ireland. In the present volume are some further particulars of this portion of them. As they were ignorant of the law, they had neither taken an oath required of them nor been naturalized; and so they could not, without the help of Parliament, enjoy their leases. There were then 230 families, all of whom had farms, which they had taken on lease (except a few tradesmen who had settled in Dublin). They were employed very industriously in raising hemp and flax and in other husbandry (CLXXXVII. 25). The Commissioners, who had the care of them, were making efforts in the spring of 1715 to get their case considered by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. A great part of them were in a starving condition, and there was a difficulty in keeping them in the country until they could receive his Majesty's answer (CLXXXVIII. 7). Lord Galway says that they improved the manufactures and strengthened the Protestant interest in Ireland (CC. 20). In the year 1717, 200 more Wirtembergers and Palatines were sent to Rotterdam, at a cost of 10s. a head and 10s. more on their arrival (CCVIII. 40).
Elaborate papers illustrative of administrative practice are not frequently to be met with among the Treasury papers. The following, however, though of minor importance, may be worthy of consideration.
A minute on a letter of 17th September 1714 seems to mark a departure from powers of control exercised by the Treasury at an earlier date (see Vol. XXIX. 22 and 68) over the assessments of taxes and salaries in as much as Mr. Wm. Blathwayt, Clerk of the Council, who was threatened with process for 53l. 3s. 4d. for an assessment on his place, had this minute of the Lord Treasurer put on his application:—“22 7br 1714. My Lord thinks he cannot protect any person legally agt paym't of any sum assessed on him: if he is illegally assessed, he may plead it in the Excheqr. His Lop is unwilling to make a precedent wch might be very prejudicial.” (CLXXX. 61.)
The petition under date 29th November 1714 (CLXXXII. 26) shows that the Lords of the Treasury were setting their faces against bargaining for the resignation of places. Mr. Edw. Pauncfort had paid 3,500l. to Lord Howe for the surrender to him of the Controllership of Excise. Pauncfort afterwards, as he says, had been prevailed on by the late Lord Treasurer to quit his office and accept that of cashier to make way for the present Controller, by which means a Mr. Meriton, the cashier, was reimbursed 4,000l., which he had “laid down” to succeed a Mr. Hall. Pauncfort was about to be removed from being cashier, and wanted an equivalent for what he had paid, but their Lordships' minute was not in his favour:—“29 Nov. 1714. The place is already disposed of, and my Lds do not think fit there should be any money given for employmts in ye revenue.”
The Commissioners of Customs also discouraged the system of buying out officers, and they were supported by their Lordships. The reasons the Commissioners give are that the succeeding person's salary would be less than that of other officers of the same rank, and would be more likely to cause exactions by him in his office to make up for what he had been obliged to pay out of his salary (CLXXXIX. 43).
The Commissioners for collecting Stamp Duties observe (CLXXXVII. 21) that the principal in every office might expect to receive more than any one under him, and that the giving a larger salary to inferior officers than to their superiors made them insolent and less under command. They thought also that for the future no person above 40 years of age, nor anyone that was not sound and perfect in his limbs, should be admitted to employment, as several had been brought in who were aged and infirm, and were a hindrance to business by their disability to discharge their duties, and were a burthen instead of an assistance to their fellow officers.
An attempt to get rid of the payment of a pension granted for a term and to substitute a composition is illustrated in the case of John Walker, Esq., the son of Dr. George Walker, the Governor of Londonderry. He had been promised 2,000l., but only received a pension of 200l. a year, which was recommended to be increased to 300l. for 21 years certain. Their Lordships' minute is:—“14th June 1715. If ye 2,000l. be a well grounded demand, my Lords think it more advisable that the 2,000l. should be paid off than that 300l. a year should be granted for 21 years” (CXC. 25.)
A trial was to be made in the Post Office of the effect of appointing surveyors for certain of the main roads to check the frauds and abuses of the inferior officers. The result was to be reported to their Lordships (CXC. 26). The Postmaster General represents that this inspection of the six main roads had been put in execution. He touches also upon the abuse of franking, and the matter was to be further considered (CCVI. 29).
The Treasury Board can hardly be accused of want of forbearance in proceeding to extremities with those under their control, if the case of the well-known Sir Richard Steele can be considered a specimen. As one of the Commissioners for Forfeited Estates he certainly was not a model of attendance at his office. It will be seen by reference to the paper placed under date 10th October 1719 (CCXXII. 37) that he had been two years absent, and that his brother Commissioners were complaining that he and Richard Grantham, Esq. (another truant from the same Board), were causing a deadlock to their business. Steele had been called before the Board on 23rd July in the above year, and had promised to set out for Scotland in a few days, and by his future diligence to make amends for his former neglect of his duties; but as the Commissioners sent in a third certificate of his absence on 10th October, the summons before their Lordships seems to have been but of little avail.
The memorial of the Duke of Douglas and the report on it by the Barons of the Exchequer of Scotland contain interesting details of a poor relation of the Royal family. The Duke was entitled to the first seat and vote in all parliaments and conventions of the states in Scotland, the leading of the van of the army in time of war, and the carrying of the crown at the opening of parliaments and other public processions; which privileges and offices were heritably conveyed to the Duke by his charters. He complains that they were then rendered useless by the union of the two kingdoms (CLXXXVIII. 55).
In the last volume the affairs of William Penn are referred to as in process of settlement. In the present volume there is a petition of Hannah, his wife, and certain of his creditors, in which they set out what he had done for the territory owned by him, and how he had been prevented from settling with the Treasury by a distemper in his head. The petitioners wanted the agreement with the Treasury carried out (CLXXXIII. 24).
A letter of Sir Christopher Wren of 21st April 1719 is printed entire (CCXX. 48). He was then dismissed from his office of Surveyor-General. It is a somewhat dignified letter, and shows that he could calmly look upon the pretensions of his successor who laid claim to manage the department of the works better than those who had preceded him. Most of Wren's contemporaries would join in his hope that, after having worn himself out in the public service, he might be allowed to die in peace.
The subject of the maintenance of Bishops in the plantations and colonies of America is referred to the Lords of the Treasury in an Order of Council of 28th October 1714 (see Vol. CLXXXI. 31.) There is also a letter of John, Bishop of London, giving a good deal of information as to pensions granted by the Crown to ministers of the Protestant religion out of the kingdom (CLXXXI. 32).
An early instance of the payment into the Exchequer of conscience money by one who had defrauded his Majesty of 186l. 2s. is given in Vol. CCXIII. 37; and their Lordships directed an advertisement to be prepared and inserted in the Gazette, much in the same way as the Chancellor of the Exchequer does now in the newspapers.
There are various papers which relate to the restoration of the Custom House, London, which was considerably injured by the fire in Thames Street. The measures taken by the Commissioners for the acquirement of the land necessary to build on are set out. A new “long room” was contemplated to be built (CLXXXVII. 28, CCII. 1, CCX. 5, CCXVII. 4).
Sir James Abercrombie had a great deal to do in carrying out the demolition of Dunkirk in 1713, and resided there for some time to superintend the work. He was put to serious inconvenience by not getting paid for his services, although Parliament had made some provision for that business. Sir James had to sell his commission in the army to pay debts contracted about these affairs, but finally on the 11th of March 1716–17 the King signed a warrant in his favour for 1,783l., being the residue of 2,490l. in full satisfaction of his claims (CXCIX. 67 and CCVI. 31). Jasper Clayton, Esq., another of the Commissioners employed in the same business, had not succeeded in getting his claim settled in April 1718 (CCXIII. 56).
His Majesty King William the Third in becoming godfather to a daughter of Lieut.-Col. James Douglas when in Flanders, also conferred on her his name, so that she was known as “William Theresia Douglas,” and to educate and bring her up he ordered her the pay of a captain, which was allowed by the States of Holland, at the same time a company in General Hamilton's regiment (which was also her father's regiment) was left vacant in her favour. From this regiment she received pay as captain until it was disbanded in 1714. She then received half pay with the rest of the officers until 1717, when she lost it by Act of Parliament, and my Lords could not then help her (Vol. CCXV. 5).
There is a report of the principal officers of the Mint on the bills of the Engraver of Public Seals. The bills contain some interesting particulars of what are represented on the seals and the cost of engraving them (CC. 17).
It is hard to say what may or may not conduce to the honour of the nation, but Captain Wivell, who was the Commander of the “Fubbs” yacht, thought the honour of the nation would stand higher if his bed on board the yacht was decorated with damask; and for this he cites a precedent, which was in the first instance general, viz., that the other yachts were thus furnished, and in the second specific, in that the “William and Mary” yacht had this addition to its attractions. When he further pleaded that he was the oldest captain in England it is to be hoped their Lordships indulged him, and thus saved the honour of the nation (CXCIX. 3).
Lord Radnor, in writing to “my good Lord,” was endeavouring to strengthen his political relations by getting a prosecution against a Mr. Hoblyn stopped. The latter owed a debt to the Government, but was zealous in his Lordship's interest in Bodmin. The postscript states that they were sure of 30 honest members at least for this county at the next elections, and he hoped more. It concludes thus:—“The corporation of Bodmin dines with me next Fryday. I expect about 400 persons that day. I had that number last time, and there did not goe home five sober of the whole number. The Bishop of Winchester and the gentlemen near him are to dine with me next Munday. The next day the Corporation of Lostwithiel dine with me. I doe my best to be a good inn keeper whilst I stay here, and I hope 'twill turn to good account for our advantage” (CLXXXIII. 13).
The Records of Chancery, in the Tower of London, as reported in a previous volume, still lay in great confusion, and were in danger of being spoiled. The Board of Works reported that the rooms in Cæsar's Tower, commonly called the White Tower, were most convenient to contain them, and that the magazine for gunpowder was then under the rooms where the most valuable records of the kingdom were kept (CCXIV. 69, CCXX. 9).
The elaborate report of the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, upon the petition of the weavers against the use of printed calicoes, is fully abstracted (Vol. CCXXIII. 15). It contains a variety of interesting matter upon this subject. The weavers complained of the clandestine importation of foreign wrought silks and prohibited East India goods; but more especially of the almost universal wearing of printed and stained calicoes and linens. The Commissioners took into consideration the representations of the Company of Weavers, the Levant Company, the East India Company, the Linen Drapers, the Merchants, &c. The latter being heard on behalf of themselves and the manufacturers of linens in Scotland. The Commissioners recommend that the wearing of printed calicoes be prohibited, and that the woollen and silk manufactures should be supported.
I have been assisted in carrying this volume through the press by R. A. Roberts, Esq., barrister-at-law, and the Index has been prepared by Geo. J. Morris, Esq., B.A., both of whom are of this Department. And I am indebted to both gentlemen for valuable suggestions whilst the work has been in the printer's hands.