Second parliament of King William: Fourth session - begins 4/11/1692

Pages 408-415

The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 2, 1680-1695. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.

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Fourth Session of King William's Second Parliament. ; The King's Speech to both Houses.

'My Lords and Gentlemen,

I Am very glad to meet you again in Parliament, where I have an Opportunity of thanking you, for the great Supplies you have given me for the Prosecution of this War. And I hope by your Advice and Assistance, which has never failed me, to take such Measures as may be most proper for supporting our Common Interest against the excessive Power of France.

'We have great reason to rejoice in the happy Victory, which, by the Blessing of God, we obtained at Sea; and I wish I could tell you, that the Success at Land had been answerable to it: I am sure my own Subjects had so remarkable a Part in both, that their Bravery and Courage must ever be remembred to their Honour.

'The French are repairing their Losses at Sea with great Diligence, and do design to augment their Land-Forces considerably against the next Campaign; which makes it absolutely necessary for our Safety, that at least, as great a Force be maintained at Sea and Land, as we had the last Year; and therefore I must ask of you, Gentlemen of the House of Commons, a Supply suitable to so great an Occasion.

'I am very sensible how heavy this Charge is upon my People; and it extremely afflicts me, that 'tis not possible to be avoided, without exposing ourselves to inevitable Ruin and Destruction. The Inconvenience of sending out of the Kingdom great Sums of Money, for the Payment of the Troops abroad, is, indeed, very considerable; and I so much wish it could be remedied, that if you can suggest to me any Methods for the Support of them, which may lessen this Inconvenience, I shall be ready to receive them with all the Satisfaction imaginable.

'My Lords and Gentlemen,

None can desire more than I do, that a Descent should be made into France; and therefore notwithstanding the Disappointment of that Design this last Summer, I intend to attempt it the next Year, with a much more considerable Force; and so soon as I shall be enabled, all possible Care and Application shall be used towards it.

'And upon this Occasion I cannot omit taking notice of that signal Deliverance, which, by the good Providence of God, we received the last Spring, to the Disappointment and Confusion of our Enemies Designs and Expectations: This has sufficiently shewn us how much we are exposed to the Attempts of France, while that King is in a Condition to make them; let us therefore improve the Advantage we have at this time, of being joined with most of the Princes and States of Europe, against so dangerous an Enemy: In this surely all Men will agree, who have any Love for their Country, or any Zeal for our Religion. I cannot therefore doubt but you will continue to support me in this War, against the declared Enemy of this Nation; and that you will give as speedy Dispatch to the Affairs before you, as the Nature and Importance of them will admit, that our Preparations may be timely and effectual, for the Preservation of all that is dear and valuable to us.

'I am sure I can have no Interest but what is yours; we have the same Religion to defend; and you cannot be more concerned for the Preservation of your Liberties and Properties than I am, that you should always remain in the full Possession and Enjoyment of them; for I have no aim, but to make you a happy People.

'Hitherto I have never spared to expose my own Person for the Good and Welfare of this Nation; and I am so sensible of your good Affections to me, that I shall continue to do so with great Chearfulness upon all Occasions, wherein I may contribute to the Honour and Advantage of England.

Addresses of Thanks.

This excellent Speech produced hearty Addresses from both Lords and Commons, and in particular to the Queen, for her wise and happy Administration in the King's Absence

The Bill for regulating Trials in Treason, revived and dropt again.

On the 11th of November, the Bill for regulating Trials in Cases of High-Treason was reviv'd, and a Clause being presented, to be added to it, a Debate ensued; the Result of which was, that the Bill was ordered to lie on the Table; and no farther mention was made of it during this Session.

The Parliament thank Admiral Russel. ; Enquiries into the Conduct of the Fleet.

The Commons took into Consideration the Naval Affairs, and began with giving Admiral Russel their Thanks for his great Courage and Conduct in the late (fn. 1) Victory obtain'd at Sea. However, there wanted not Persons in the House, who suggested that the Advantage gained upon the Enemy, might have been better improv'd. Upon which, the House enter'd upon the examining the several Instructions, Orders, and Results of Councils of War, touching the last Summer's Expedition in relation to the Proceedings of the Fleet, and the Descent intended to be made upon France, after the Victory at Sea. Sir John Ashby was examined the 19th of November, particularly in relation to the French Men-ofWar, that made their Escape into St. Malo, which the Count de Fourbin, who commanded one of those Men-of-War, (fn. 2) confess'd might have been destroy'd with good Management by the English. However, the House was very well satisfied with Sir John Ashby's own Account of that Matter; and the Speaker, by Direction of the House, told him the House took notice of his ingenuous Behaviour at the Bar, and that he had given them Satisfaction, and was dismiss'd from farther Attendance. The next thing the Commons took into Consideration, was, why a Descent had not been made into France? Admiral Russel was question'd about it; but he excused himself by saying, That twenty Days had pass'd between his first Letter to the Earl of Nottingham, after the Fight, and his Lordship's Answer.

In the mean time, the Lords, at a Conference, communicated to the Commons some Papers, which their Lordships had receiv'd from the King, relating to those Affairs, which being read afterwards in the Lower House, it was Resolv'd, That Admiral Russel, in his Command of the Fleet, during the last Summer's Expedition, had behav'd himself with Fidelity, Courage, and Conduct.

A Bill brought in, for regulating the East-India Trade.

On the 14th of November, Sir Edward Seymour deliver'd to the Commons a Message to his Majesty, in answer to their Address about the East-India Company the last Sessions. Upon which, a Bill was brought in for Regulating and Establishing the East-India Trade; but it met with great Opposition, and the Debate ended in an Address to his Majesty, like the former, to dissolve the Company; to which the King was pleased to return this Answer, 'I will always do all the 'Good I can for this Kingdom, and I will consider of your Address.'

In less than a Month's Time, the Commons went through the Supply and voted,

Supplies voted.

For the Fleet 1926516 l for the Army 2090563 l. for Deficiency of the Poll-Bill 750000 l. in all 4767079 l. The ways and means for raising these prodigious Sums, were chiefly four Shillings in the Pound Land-Tax, 70000 l. per Annum out of the Hereditary Excise for four Years; and an Additional Excise on Liquors, to raise a Million by Annuities.

An unconscionable Premium for Money by Annuitiet.

The latter was an unconscionable Advantage to the Subscribers, who had 14 per Cent. for Life, and many of them are receiving it to this very Day.

That part of the King's Speech which refer'd to the Commons the Consideration of Methods to prevent the Inconveniencies of sending Money abroad, took up a great deal of Time.

In the Consideration of the Navy, a Motion was made, That his Majesty be humbly advis'd, to constitute a Commission of the Admiralty of such Persons as were of known (fn. 3) Experience in Maritime Affairs, which upon the question pass'd in the Negative.

About the same time that the Address was mov'd for, another Address was carry'd Jan. 11. That for the future all Orders for the Management of the Fleet, should pass through the Hands of the Lords Commissioners for the executing the Office of Lord-High-Admiral: [which Vote was thought to be occasion'd by the Difference between the Earl of Nottingham and Admiral Russel.]

A Bill for satisfying the Debts due to the Orphans of London, was brought into the House of Commons; but not pass'd.

A Bill was brought in by the unanimous Consent of the House, for the better Preservation of their Majesties Persons; which was however thrown out at the second Reading. The same Fate attended the Bill for the ascertaining the Fees of Officers. A Care worthy the Regard of that House, considering the abominable Extortions too much countenanc'd, as well as practis'd in Courts of Justice, as well as other Places.

About the beginning of December, Sir Edward Hussey, Member of Parliament for the City of Lincoln, presented to the House of Commons, A Bill touching Free and Impartial Proceedings in Parliament, which pass'd the Commons and was sent to the Lords for their Concurrence.

The King refuses to pass the Bill for frequent Parliaments.

But not passing there, Occasion was taken to bring in and pass another Bill for frequent Parliaments, which pass'd the House of Commons also, but was refus'd by the King; and the Reason given for it, was, that the King had no mind to part with this Parliament as long as the War lasted.

Pamphlets order'd to be burnt.

January the 21st. A Complaint having been made to the House of Commons, of a printed Pamphlet, entitled, King William and Queen Mary Conquerors, as containing Assertions of dangerous consequence to their Majesties, to the Liberties of the Subject, and Peace of the Kingdom; the House, upon examination of the matter, ordered the said Pamphlet to be burnt by the Hands of the common Hangman; and that his Majesty be desired to remove Mr. Edmund Bohun, the Licenser, from his Employment, for having allowed the same to be printed. In this Debate it was suggested, that Dr. Burner, Bishop of Sarum, had recommended this Notion of Conquest, in his Pastoral Letter to the Clergy of his Diocese; though he had done it only upon a favourable Supposition, not in a way of assertion: However the Majority in the warmth of debating, and some of them for the sake of (fn. 4) Allusion to the Author's Name, passed the same Censure on the said Pastoral Letter, and ordered it publicly to be burnt by the common Executioner. On January the 24th the Lords came to a like Resolution; That the Assertion of King William and Queen Mary's being King and Queen by Conquest, was highly injurious to their Majesties, and inconsistent with the Principles on which this Government is founded, and tending to the Subversion of the Rights of the People. Which Vote being communicated to the Commons, that House, on the next Day, unanimously concurred with their Lordships, with the remarkable addition of some words; viz. injurious to their Majesties rightful Title to the Crown of this Realm.

Sir Edward Seymour, being order'd to represent to his Majesty, that under pretence of pressing Men for Sea-Service, Land-men had been taken up, and ship'd off for Flanders, as particularly a Servant to a Member of the House of Commons; his Majesty return'd Answer by the same Sir Edward, that he had order'd the Officers of the Army not to receive any such press'd Men, and the Commissioners of the Admiralty to examine the Press-masters, and punish those that had press'd Landmen for Sea-Service.

Upon Information given to the House of Commons, of the ill State of Ireland, the House ordered an Address to be drawn up; which was presented to his Majesty on March so in this form.

Address of the Commons upon the State of Ireland.

'We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects the Commons in Parliament assembled, having taken into our serious consideration the state of your Majesty's Kingdom of Ireland, find our selves obliged by our duty to your Majesty, with all Faithfulness and Zeal to your Service, to lay before your Majesty, the great Abuses and Mismanagements of the Affairs of that Kingdom.

'By exposing your Protestant Subjects to the Misery of free Quarter, and the Licentiousness of the Soldiers, to the great Oppression of the People; which we conceive hath been occasion'd chiefly by the want of that Pay, which we did hope we had fully provided for.

By recruiting your Majesty's Troops with Irish Papists, and such Persons who were in open Rebellion against you, to the great endangering and discouraging of your Majesty's good and loyal Protestant Subjects in that Kingdom.

'By granting Protections to the Irish Papists, whereby Protestants are hindred from their legal Remedies, and the course of Law stopt.

'By reversing Outlawries for High-Treason against several Rebels in that Kingdom, not within the Articles of Limerick, to the great discontent of your Protestant Subjects there.

'By letting the forfeited Estates at Under-Rates, to the Prejudice of your Majesty's Revenue.

'By the great Embezzlement of your Majesty's Stores, in the Towns and Garrisons of that Kingdom, left by the late King James.

'And by the great Embezzlements which have been made in the forfeited Estates and Goods, which might have been employed for the Safety and better Preservation of your Majesty's Kingdom. We crave leave to represent to your Majesty, that the Addition to the Articles of Limerick, after the same were finally agreed to and signed, and the Town thereupon surrendered, hath been a very great Encouragement to the Irish Papists, and a weakening to the English Interest there.

'Having thus, most gracious Sovereign, out of our affectionate Zeal to your Majesty's Service, with all humble Submission to your great Wisdom, laid before you these Abuses and Mismanagements in your Kingdom of Ireland, we most humbly beseech your Majesty, for redress thereof,

'That the Soldiers may be paid their Arrears, and the Country what is due to them for quarters; and that no Irish Papist may serve in your Army there.

'And, forasmuch as the reducing of Ireland hath been of great expence to this Kingdom, we do also humbly beseech your Majesty, that (according to the assurance your Majesty has been pleased to give us) no Grant may be made of the forfeited Estates in Ireland, 'till there be an Opportunity of settling that matter in Parliament, in such manner as shall be thought most expedient.

'That the true Account of the Escheats and forfeited Estates, both real and personal, and Stores left by the late King James, may be laid before the Commons in Parliament; to the end, that the said Escheats, Forfeitures, and Stores, and the Embezzlements thereof, may be enquired into.

'That no Outlawries of any Rebels in Ireland may be reversed, or Pardons granted to them, but by the Advice of your Parliament; and that no Protection may be granted to any Irish Papist, to stop the Course of Justice.

'And as to the additional Article which opens so wide a Passage to the Irish Papists, to come and re-possess themselves of the Estates which they had forfeited by their Rebellion; we most humbly beseech your Majesty, that the Articles of Limerick, with the said Addition, may be laid before your Commons in Parliament, that the manner of obtaining the same may be enquired into; to the end it may appear by what Means the said Articles were so engaged; and to what Value the Estates thereby obtained do amount.

'Thus, may it please your Majesty, we your most Dutiful and Loyal Subjects, do lay these matters in all Humility before you; and as your Majesty hath been pleased to give us such gracious Assurances of your readiness to comply with us, in any thing that may tend to the Peace and Security of this Kingdom, we doubt not of your Majesty's like Grace and Favour to that of Ireland; in the Safety and Preservation whereof, this your Majesty's Kingdom is so much concerned.'

His Majesty's Answer.

To which Address his Majesty return'd this prudent Answer; Gentlemen, I shall always have great consideration of what comes from the House of Commons; and I shall take great care that what is amiss shall be remedied.'

The House seemed to be well satisfied with this Answer, and proceeded vigorously in the remaining part of the Supplies; being sensible that his Majesty was desirous to go early into Holland.

Royal Assent given to several Acts.

On the 14th of March his Majesty came to the House of Peers, and gave the Royal Assent to the Supply Bills: To an Act for preventing Suits against such as acted in Defence of the Kingdom. To Acts for the Militia, and Public Accounts; for punishing Mutiny, Desertion, and False Musters; to an Act for the Encouragement of Privateers; and to another for Preserving the Game: And to 22 private Acts. After which, his Majesty made this Speech.

King's Speech.

'My Lords and Gentlemen,

'The large Supplies, which you have given me this Session, are so great Testimonies of your good Affections, that I take this Occasion with great Willingness, to return my hearty Thanks to you: And I assure you, it shall be my Care to see that that Money you have given, may be effectually applied to such Services, as may be most for the Honour and Interest of England.

'I must recommend to your Care the Peace and Quiet of the several Counties to which you are now returning; and doubt not, but by your Care, the Supply, which you have so freely given, will not only be effectually levied, but with the greatest Equality too, and the least Uneasiness to the People that is possible.

'My Lords and Gentlemen,

'The Posture of Affairs does necessarily require my Presence abroad; but I shall take care to leave such a Number of Troops here, as may be sufficient for the Security of the Kingdom against any Attempts of our Enemies.

'I shall add no more, but that as I shall continue to expose my own Person upon all occasions, for the Good and Advantage of these Kingdoms, so I do likewise assure you that my hearty and sincere Endeavours shall never be wanting in any other kind, to make this a great and flourishing Nation.'

Then the Parliament was prorogu'd to the Second of May.


  • 1. That of la Hogue.
  • 2. The said Count de Fourbin's Account of this Affair, runs thus: In the Evening there appear'd a Fleet of 40 Sail, which were Merchant-Ships going to Havre-de-Grace, under Convey of one of the King's Ships; the English, who spy'd them as well as we, thought it was the Fleet which the Count d'Estrees was bringing from Provence to join ours, which was the reason that they put them selves again in Order of Battle, expecting another Attack; but when Day broke, we saw they were above seven Leagues off. If we bad in our turn taken advantage of this Opportunity, which offered as it were, of itself, this-false Step of the Enemy would have given the King's Fleet all the Time necessary to get away, but they did not improve it.
  • 3. This Motion was principally occasion'd by the following Fact: One of the Lords of the Admiralty being apply'd to by some Barbadoes Merchants for Convoy, and pressing him to provide it for them; he answer'd, they needed not to have given themselves that Trouble; for the Virginia Convoy would be order'd to take care of their Ships.
  • 4. Burn it ! Burn it !.