The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 2, 1680-1695. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
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Sixth Session of King William's Second Parliament.
On Monday November the 12th, the Parliament met at Westminster, and with the usual Solemnity, the King made this Speech to both Houses.
The King's Speech.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
I am glad to meet you here, when I can say our Affairs are in a better Posture both by Sea and Land than when we parted last.
'The Enemy has not been in a Condition to oppose our Fleet in these Seas, and our sending so great a Force into the Mediterranean, has disappointed their Designs, and leaves us a Prospect of further Success.
'With respect to the War by Land, I think I may say, that this Year a stop has been put to the Progress of the French Arms.
'Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
'I have had so much Experience of your good Affection to me, and of your Zeal for the Public, that I cannot doubt of your Assistance at this Time: I do therefore earnestly recommend to you, to provide such Supplies, as may enable me to prosecute the War with vigour; which is the only Means to procure Peace to Christendom, with the Safety and Honour of England.
I must likewise put you in mind, that the Act of Tonnage and Poundage expires at Christmas; and I hope you will think fit to continue that Revenue to the Crown: which is the more necessary at this Time, in regard the several Branches of the Revenue are under great Anticipations, for extraordinary Expences of the War, and subject to many Demands upon other Accounts.
'I cannot but mention to you again, the Debt for the Transport Ships employed in reducing of Ireland, which is a Case of Compassion, and deserves Relief.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
I should be glad you would take into your consideration, the preparing some good Bill for the Encouragement of our Seamen: You cannot but be sensible, how much a Law of this nature, would tend to the Advancement of Trade, and of the naval Strength of the Kingdom, which is our great Interest, and ought to be our principal Care.'
Mr. Harley brings in a Bill for frequent Parliaments.
The Commons adjourn'd to the 19th of November; when the first thing they did was to order Mr. Harley to prepare and bring in a Bill for (fn. 1) the frequent meeting and calling of Parliaments, which they had been so earnest for in former Sessions, and were resolved to insist upon in this. The Bill was easily drawn up, and presented November the 22d, and read with dispatch the third time, and past December the 13th and sent up to the Lords, who on December the 18th, gave it their concurrence, without any Amendments.
Which pass'd both Houses.
The Commons likewise went chearfully on with the Supply, and having examin'd the Estimates for the next Year's Service for the War; the Accounts of the Monies paid to the Fleet, to the Army, to the Allies, and for Forage, and enquir'd into the Quota's the Confederates were severally to furnish, they voted
2,382,712 l. for the Navy.
2,382,000 l. for the Army.
To be rais'd by
Royal Assent given to Tonnage and Poundage and Triennial Bills.
Four Shillings in the Pound Land-Tax, and other Subsidies. They continu'd the Duties of Tonnage and Poundage five Years longer; and his Majesty past that Bill, and the Triennial Bill, at the same time, December 22.
Both Houses condole the Loss of the Queen.
The 31st, (the Queen dying the 28th) both Houses of Parliament immediately address'd his Majesty, to condole the great Loss, and give him Assurance of their firm Adherence to his Interest. To the Lords, who presented their Address in a Body to his Majesty at Kensington, he was pleas'd to say in these few Words of Sorrow:
The King's Answer.
'I heartily thank you for your Kindness, but much more for the Sense you shew of our great Loss, which is above what I can express.
To the Commons:
'I take very kindly your Care of Me and the Public, especially at this time, when I am able to think of nothing but our great Loss.
The Commons look back into Abuses and Corruptions.
While the Commons were raising Money, they wisely enquired into the disposal of former Taxes; and discover'd so much Corruption, as was high time to punish and prevent. The Occasion of looking back, was given by a Petition of the Inhabitants of Royston, complaining of the great Abuses committed by Officers and Soldiers in exacting SubsistenceMoney.
This Petition was read in the House on January the 12th, and after examining Mr. Tracy Pauncefort, Agent of Colonel Hastings's Regiment, and the Officers complained of; it was resolved, 'That the Officers and Soldiers of the Army demanding and exacting Subsistence-Money in their Quarters, or upon their March, is arbitrary and illegal, and a great Violation of the Rights and Liberties of the Subject. And it was thereupon ordered, 'That the Commissioners for taking and stating the Public Accounts, do upon Friday Morning next, lay before this House, their Observations of the Abuses and ill Practices, committed by the several Agents of the Regiments of the Army, and that the Commissioners should lay before them the Names of such Agents, as have neglected to attend them upon Summons. And that Agent Pauncefort lay before the House, a particular Account of all the Moneys received from the Earl of Ranelagh, and how he has paid or disposed of the said Money.'
Several Agents examin'd. Mr. Pauncefort order'd to the Tower for a Contempt.
Pursuant to this Order, on January the 25th, Mr. Harley, from the Commissioners for taking and stating the Public Accounts, presented to the House their Observations of the Abuses and ill Practices committed by the several Agents. On January the 28th, Mr. Tracy Pauncefort presented his Accounts, and was examined to the truth of them. Agent Roberts, Agent Wallis, Lieutenant Turner, Colonel Hastings, and Major Montall, were likewise examined: The two latter were discharged, the others were taken into Custody. Mr. Pauncefort was brought in Custody to the House on February the 12th, where refusing to answer to several questions demanded by the House, it was resolved, 'That by obstinately refusing to Answer to a Matter of Fact demanded of him by this House, he had thereby violated the Privilege, and contemned the Authority of this House, and the fundamental Constitution thereof.' For which he was brought to the Bar, and upon his Knees received the Judgment, of being committed Prisoner to the Tower of London.
On February the 15th upon his Petition, acknowledging his Offence, and expressing his Sorrow, he was again brought to the Bar of the House; but not giving satisfactory Answers, he was remanded back to the Tower.
And Mr. Guy a Member.
His Brother Mr. Edward Pauncefort was likewise called in and examined; and on February 16, it was resolved, That Mr. Edward Pauncefort, for contriving to cheat Colonel Hasting's Regiment of five hundred Guineas, and forgiving a Bribe to obtain the King's Bounty, be taken into Custody. And that Mr. Henry Guy, a Member of the House, for taking a Bribe of two hundred Guineas, be committed Prisoner to the Tower of London. And the House at the same time agreed, that a Committee be appointed, to prepare an humble Representation to be made to his Majesty, laying before him the several Abuses, ill Practices, and intolerable Exactions of the Agents of the Regiments of the Army, upon the inferior Officers and common Soldiers, whereby they have been forced to raise their Subsistence on the People: which said Representation was as follows:
Representation of the Commons.
'We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, do from a true and unseigned Zeal for your Majesty's Person and Government, (which God long preserve). and from the Obligation that lieth upon us in behalf of those whom we represent, most humbly lay before your Majesty the Grievances we lie under, by some of the Officers and Soldiers of the Army, in raising Money upon the Country, under pretence of Subsistence; which is such a Violation of the Liberty and Property of your Subjects, that it needeth no Aggravation.
'This is, in great measure, occasion'd by the undue Practices of some of the Agents and Officers; the Particulars of which, we beg leave to lay before your Majesty, in order to the more effectual preventing the like Miscarriages for the future.
'I Some of the Agents, amongst other their ill Practices, have detained the Money due to the Soldiers, in their hands; and made Use of it for their own Advantage, instead of immediately applying it to the Subsistence of the Officers and Soldiers, for whom they were entrusted.
'II. Their intolerable Exactions and great Extortions upon the Officers and Soldiers, for paying Money by way of Advance; their charging more for the Discounts of Tallies, than they actually paid: By which fraudulent imposing upon those who serve in your Majesty's Armies, it appeareth, that, notwithstanding they have a greater Pay, than is given in any other Part of the World, they are yet reduced to Inconveniences and Extremities; which ought not to be put upon those, who venture their Lives for the Honour and Safety of the Nation.
'III. In particular, Colonel Hastings hath compelled some Officers of his Regiment, to take their Clothes from him at extravagant Rates, by confining and threatning those that would not comply therewith: By which the Authority, that may be necessary to be lodged in the Colonel over the inferiour Officers in some Cases, is misapplied, and extended so as to promote a private Advantage of his own, without any Regard to your Majesty's Service, or to the Discipline of the Army.
'IV. Colonel Hastings's Agent hath presumed fraudulently to detain five hundred Guineas, out of a Bounty given by your Majesty to the Officers of that Regiment, under Pretence of giving them as a Bribe to obtain the same, to the Dishonour of your Majesty, and Injury to the Officers thereof. And hath taken two Pence per Pound, out of the Money due to the Officers and Soldiers; for which Deductions there being no Warrant, the Colonel, whose Servant the Agent is, is answerable.
'V. Colonel Hastings's Agent hath refused or neglected to give an Account of the Pay due to the Captains of his Regiment, and their Companies; which tends apparently to the defrauding the Officers and Soldiers.
'VI. Some of the Agents assume to themselves the Liberty of making great Deductions: Which, since they know not how to justify, they endeavour to cover, by putting them under the shelter of the uncertain Head of Contingencies; which giveth them the better Opportunity of hiding the Frauds and Abuses, that would otherwise be more liable to be detected.
'VII. Colonel Hastings hath discharged an Ensign, by putting another in his room, contrary to the true Discipline of an Army, from which the Colonels have no Right to exempt themselves, to enlarge their own Authority, to the Prejudice of your Majesty's Service, and of the Officers who serve under them.
'VIII. Colonel Hastings hath taken Money for the recommending to Commands in his Regiment, to the great Discouragement to the Officers who are to serve in your Majesty's Armies; who ought to be such as deserve their Commands, and not such as pay for them.
'These things we most humbly represent to your Majesty, in Confidence of having them redress'd by your Majesty's Justice and Wisdom.
'Your loyal Commons, as they have been always ready to supply your Majesty, cannot but be sensible of such Miscarriages, as may either diminish the Strength of your Armies, or the Affections of your People: And it is from a Principle of the highest Duty, that we take this way of applying ourselves to your Majesty for redress; having an entire assurance that this our most humble Representation will not only be graciously accepted, but that our Expectations from it will be fully answered.'
To this his Majesty was pleas'd to reply:
The King's Answer.
'I will consider your Representation, and take all care possible to have the Grievances redressed.
[Accordingly Colonel Hastings was immediately cashiered, and his Regiment given to Sir John Jacob, his Lieutenant Colonel. And while the Complaint was depending, the King in Council was pleased to order, February 19. That the chief Officers of the Army should meet twice a Week, in the great Chamber of the Horse-Guards, to receive and examine all Informations and Complaints, that should be brought before them, of any wrong or injury, done by any Officer or Soldier of his Majesty's Land-Forces, in order to redress the same. And on March 11. His Majesty issued out a Declaration for the strict Discipline of the Army, and due Payment of Quarters; strictly forbidding to exact or demand any Subsistence-Money, or to commit any Spoil or Disorder, or to use any Violence or threatning Words, or otherwise to misbehave themselves, under pain of cashiering and loss of their Pay]
Contractors for cloathing the Army, examin'd.
To prosecute the Discovery of ill Practices, Mr. James Craggs, one of the Contractors for cloathing the Army, was summoned to attend the House: And after he had given in his Answer to the Commissioners for taking and stating the Public Accounts, it was demanded of him March 7. whether he would produce his Books, and be examined before the said Commissioners upon Oath: He excused himself, and refused to produce his Books. Upon which it was resolved, that for so refusing, and thereby obstructing the Enquiry of the House into the disposal of the Public Monies, he be committed Prisoner to the Tower of London. Soon after Mr. Harley reported the farther Examination of Mr. Edward Pauncefort, and acquainted the House, that Mr. Richard Harnage, another of the Contractors for the Cloathing of the Army, had refused to be examined upon Oath, before the Commissioners: Whereupon it was ordered, That a Bill be brought in, to oblige Mr. Edward Pauncefort to discover how he disposed the Monies paid into his Hands, relating to the Army, and for punishing him in Case he should not make such Discovery; and that Mr. Tracy Pauncefort, Mr. James Craggs, and Mr. Richard Harnage, be included in the said Bill.
Petition of the Hackney-Coach-men.
Amidst the Noise of Bribery and Corruption, there was a Petition to the House of Commons, of Thomas Kemp and others, on behalf of themselves and others, the ancient four hundred licensed Hackney Coach-men; which being referred to a Committee, it was their Opinion, that the Petitioners the Hackney-Coach-men, had proved the Substance of their Complaint, and were worthy the Consideration and Relief of the House: And that several of the Commissioners for licensing and regulating Hackney-coaches, and Stage-coaches, had, by receiving Bribes, and by other unsue Means, acted corruptly and arbitrarily, contrary to the Authority and Trust reposed in them by Act of Parliament. Thereupon the House ordered the Committee to distinguish the Commissioners, which they accordingly did; and by their Report on March 20. Henry Ashurst and Walter Overbury Esqs; were honourably cleared, and the others were declared guilty: And an humble Address was made to his Majesty, that he would remove Henry Killegrew, Henry Villers, and Richard Gea Esqs; from the Commission for licensing Hackney-coaches; and they were accordingly removed.
From these Discoveries a commmon Murmur arose, that an universal Corruption had overspread the Nation; that Court, Camp, City, nay and the Parliament itself were infected more especially when the following State of the Accounts of the East-India Company was presented to the House, according to Order.
State of the East-India Company's Accounts.
Hereupon, to wipe off the Suspicion from the honourable Members, and to expose the Guilty, on March 7. the House appointed Paul Foley Esq; Sir Richard Onslow, John Pollexsen Esq; Sir John Thompson, Foot Onslow Esq; Thomas Tekham Esq; Sir Samuel Bernardiston, Thomas Wharton Esq; and Francis Gwinne Esq; as a Committee to inspect the Books of the East-India Company, and also the Books of the Chamberlain of London.
Mr. Foley's Report thereon.
On March 17. Mr. Foley reported from the said Committee, That as soon as they came to the East-India House, they called for an Account of all Moneys paid for the special Service of the Company; upon perusal of which, observing, that the greatest Payment was in the Year 1693, they searched for the Orders for the issuing that Money; the chief of which were,. one dated the 13th of April 1693. another dated the 24th of November 1693, and another the 22d of January, 1693–4. In pursuance of which, the Sums of 22,275 l. 24,983 l. and 30,000 l. were severally paid cut of the Casn, amounting in all to 77,258 l. besides several smaller Sums amounting in the whole to 10,144 l. which with the former Sum makes 87402 l. all issued in the Year 1693, while Sir Thomas Cooke was Governor, and Francis Tyssen Esq; Deputy Governor, for the special Service of the House, and obtaining a new Charter. That they found by examination of most of the Persons, present at the Committees of the East-India Company, where the said Orders were made, that the Governour in the said Committees, did only in general inform what Sums he hath disburst, without naming the particulars to whom, or to what Service, which several of them said was a new Course, since Sir Thomas Cooke came to be Deputy-Governor, or Governor. That in a State of the Company's Cash, dated at the East-India House the 7th of March 1694–5. and drawn up by several Members of the Company, empowered for that purpose, near all the aforesaid Sums were observed to be paid, and placed to the Company's Account of Charges general, paid out of Cash, viz. In 1688 and 1689, Sir Benjamin Bathurst Governor, and Sir Josiah Child Deputy-Governor, 2230 l. 14 s. In 1690 and 1691, Sir Joseph Herne Governor, and Sir Thomas Cooke DeputyGovernor, 13,532 l. 9 s. In 1692 and 1693, Sir Thomas Cooke Governour, and Mr. Tyssen Deputy-Governour, 87,402 l. 12 s. in the whole 103,165 l. 15 s. That upon Examination of the Company's Cash-book, having found the Ballance of the 31st of October, 1694 was 124,249 l. they demanded of Mr. Portmans the Cashier, if he had the same in Cash? That he replied, he had not; but instead thereof, laid before them in writing that 90,000 l. was lent upon Sir Thomas Cooke's Notes, (which he produced) with other Particulars, which made up the above-mentioned Ballance. That in his Note Sir Thomas Cooke owned the Receipt of 90,000 l. which he had disburst, and paid for 99,197 Pounds Stock in the East-India Company for their Account; tho' they did not find any Warrant for the said Sum, or any of that Stock transferred in the Company's Books for their Account, exceeding 18,300 l. Stock, the 16th of January, 1694–5. The Committee of the House of Commons further reported, that they found a Contract dated the 26th of February, 1693, for 200 Tun of Salt-petre, to be brought home in the Ship Seymour from India, to pay 12,000 l. for the same, and 25 l. freight per Ton, besides all Charges here. That 2000 l. which was the Sum sent out to purchase the said Salt-petre, was actually paid out of the Company's Cash, and that a Bond for the remaining 10,000 l. was given under the Seal of the Company, payable the 31st of March, 1695, whether the Ship arriv'd in safety or not: With this Limitation only, that if two hundred Ton of Salt-Petre be not laden upon the said Ship, then to repay in proportion to the want thereof. So that the Result of this Contract was, that the Company ran the Adventure of 12,000 l. for that which cost only 2000 l. and must consequently lose 12,000 l. if the Ship miscarried: And on the contrary, the Seller on the other hand, got ten thousand clear, without disbursing, or running the hazard of one Penny; and what is yet more, a certain loss of 9 or 10000 l. would attend it, if the Ship arrived in Safety. That the Committee having examined the Members of the Company, concerning this Contract, they owned it to be true, that the 2000 l. was paid, and the 10,000 l. Bond given to Mr. Thomas Colston. That about the same time this Contract was made, so many of the Interlopers as would sell their Shares in the Interlopers to the East-India Company, were allowed their first Cost, and 25 l. per cent. advance; which was done by giving them Credit for so much in the East-India Books. That the Committee found Sir Samuel Dashwood, Sir John Fleet, John Perry Esq; Sir Joseph Herne, and Sir Thomas Cooke, were present at the Court of Committees, when the Orders above-mentioned were made; but they being all Members of the House of Commons, the Committee did not think fit to examine them. That the rest of the Committees, who were present at making those Orders, and most of whom had been examined, could give no Account of the Disposal of the Money issued out, during the time of Sir Joseph Herne, and Sir Thomas Cooke's Government; but only that the same was paid for special Service, and that a great part thereof was put into the Hands of Sir Basil Firebrace. That one of them, viz. Sir Benjamin Bathurst, said, Sir Joseph Herne had the greatest part of the 13,932 l. 9 s. to dispose of; and Sir Benjamin Bathurst would have called for an Account thereof, but Sir Thomas Cooke desired he would not. That the Company's Committee of nine, had often called upon Sir Thomas Cooke, to give an account to whom he had distributed the Money he received, which he had some time promised, and afterwards declined to do: So that the Secret of that Service, and the placing of that Money, lay principally with Sir Thomas Cooke, and Sir Joseph Herne. That Sir Benjamin Bathurst finding so great a Sum as 30,000 l. charged for secret Services, he had some warm discourse with Sir Thomas Cooke about it, to know how it was disbursed: But Sir Thomas refused to give him any particulars, and told him he should remember he was bound by his Oath to the Company, to keep their Secrets. To which Sir Benjamin replied, he was under the same Obligation, to be true to the Interest of the Company. Sir Benjamin Bathurst further said, that about April, 1694. understanding that they were in want of Money, he looked into the Cashbook, which casting up, he found a considerable Sum in Cash; and taking some Persons with him, discoursed Sir Thomas Cooke about it, who said, the 90,000 l. he had received, was to gratify some Persons in case the Bill should pass. As for the Contract about Salt-petre, Sir Benjamin Bathurst said, that it was made by Sir Thomas Cooke, and Sir Basil Firebrace, but he knew nothing of it, till it came into Court.
The Committee likewise reported, that Sir Basil Firebrace being examined, owned he had received upwards of 16,000 l. which was for buying Shares of Stocks, and of which the Company had allowed: But said, he knew no ground the Committee of nine had to say, that a great Part of the other Sums were put into his hands. He confessed he invited several Persons to come into the Company; and offered to lay down Money for several, and that if they liked it not at the Year's End, he would then take it off their hands; which Offers he made to Members of the House of Commons, among others, and gave an account to the Company of his doing so, who promised to indemnify him. That concerning the Accommodation with the Interlopers, the Company had a Letter from the Lord Nottingham, That it was the King's Pleasure, that they should come to an Agreement with the Interlopers: That the Proposal to them was 25 per Cent. for bringing in their Stock to the Company, and one half of the Profit besides; which one half of the Interlopers accepted: but Mr. Godfrey and some others, standing upon 30 per cent. Mr. Colston went off with them, and did not come into the Company. That Mr. Ward said it was agreed by the Interlopers, that only 2000 l. should be employed in buying of Salt Petre; that Mr. Colston was to have the advantage of it, which he believed was not for Mr. Colston himself, but for some other Gentleman; and lastly, that the original Inducement to the Leave of the Interlopers going out, was that Agreement with Mr. Colston.
Report of corrupt Practices in procuring the Orphans Bill.
The same Committee of the House of Commons reported, That having inspected the Chamberlain of London's Books, they found an Order made by a Committee of the CommonCouncil for the City of London, (appointed to consider of ways and means for satisfying the Debts due to the Orphans of the said City) and dated the 12th of February, 169¾, by which Mr. Chamberlain was directed to pay to Sir John Trevor Speaker of the House of Commons, the Sum of 1000 Guineas, so soon as a Bill was passed into an Act of Parliament, for satisfying the Debts of the Orphans, and other Creditors of the said City; which Sum was paid and delivered to Sir John Trevor, on the twenty-second of June 1694, in the Presence of Sir Robert Clayton and Sir James Houblon. That they observed that the Order of the Committee of the Common Council, which now stood dated the 12th of February, and that the Person named therein, was put in a different hand: That examining who first writ the Warrant, Mr. Borret the City Sollicitor, owned it was his Hand-writing; and at first said, that he believed the Blank at first left therein, was filled up with the Speaker's Name, before the Committee signed it, because he believed they would not set their Hands to a Blank. But all the Committee who signed it, and who appeared upon Summons, declared most of them positively, that there was a Blank for the Person's Name, when they signed it; and the rest being doubtful, Mr. Borret then said the Blank might be filled up afterwards, though he could not tell the time: However, he owned he filled it up with another Pen. That they found another Order of the said Committee, dated 26th of April, 1693, directing the Chamberlain to pay to Paul Jodrell Esq; the Sum of 100 Guineas, for his Pains and Service in assisting the Orphan's Bill to pass in Parliament; which Sum was paid him the 22d of June 1694. That in the Chamberlain's Books were entered several Sums paid to Mr. Borret, to defray the Charge of drawing the Bill, making Copies thereof, and of the Petitions and Orders relating to the same; amongst which Payments they found 5 Guineas paid to Mr. Sollicitor General, for his Advice therein, 5 Guineas to Mr. Harcourt, 20 Guineas to Mr. Hungerford, Chairman of the Grand Committee, for his Pains and Service, and 60 l. 9 s. to Mr. Jodrell. That they understood that the Orphans, for the procuring of this Bill, had given Bond to Mr. Smith and Mr. Charles Nois, to allow them 12 d. in the Pound, when the Bill was passed, for their Pains and Charges in that matter, which Contract being made void in that Bill, the Court of Aldermen were impowered to satisfy them their real Expences. That upon this, Smith and Nois applied themselves to the Court of Aldermen, and got a Petition to be signed by many of the Orphans, that they were willing, notwithstanding the Act of Parliament, they should be allowed 12 d. in the Pound. That the said Nois and Smith brought in a Bill to the Committee of the Common Council, of their Charges, amounting to 3457 l. 16 s. but, as was alledged, they pretended to be more than 10,000 l. out of Purse; by which Argument they got Subscriptions to the said Petition; in which Bill there was charged 1650 l. paid to Mr. George Finch for carrying on the Act. That Mr. Nois and Mr. Smith being examined, they did utterly deny that they had given any Money to any Member of Parliament, on the account of the said Bill, or knew of any to be given; but they were willing to get what they could, having taken a great deal of pains in long solliciting the same; and that they did say, that notwithstanding they did charge 1650 l. to be paid Mr. George Finch, yet they had not paid him any Money; but having delivered up his Bond for the 12 d. in the Pound, they valued his Share of the Orphans Debt to amount to that Sum. That Mr. George Finch being examined, did deny to have received any thing from Mr. Nois and Mr. Smith, or his paying any Money to any Member of Parliament: But wavering in his Discourse, and being again asked if he ever did distribute, or know of any Money distributed on account of the Orphans Bill? he said it was a hard thing to be asked such Questions. That however he owned, that upon Suggestion that there were Obstructions to the Bill, which must be removed by Money, he applied himself to several of the Orphans, and did receive 100 l. from Mr. John Chadwick, 100 l. from Mr. Harvey, 100 l. from Mr. Scot, 50 l. from Mr. Herne, and had a Promise of 100 l. from Sir John Smith, which was not yet paid. And lastly, they reported that Mr. Chadwick and Mr. Herne proved the Payment of the Money to Mr. George Finch, but could give no account what he had done with it.
The Speaker charged with Corruption.
The Commons having debated and weighed these Reports, came to this Resolution on March 12th: That Sir John Trevor Speaker of the House, receiving a Gratuity of a thousand Guineas from the City of London, after passing of the Orphans Bill, is guilty of a high Crime and Misdemeanour.
Leaves the House. ; Mr. Foley chosen Speaker.
Upon this Sir John did not think fit to justify himself, but sent the Mace to the House, and wisely absented himself.
So on March 14th the Commons resolv'd to proceed to the Election of a new Speaker: Sir Thomas Littleton and Paul Foley Esq; were proposed; the Majority inclined to chuse the former; but Mr. Wharton, Comptroller of the King's Houshold, speaking up for him with more than ordinary Zeal, the Majority did from thence presume that Sir Thomas Littleton was too much in the Court Interest, and upon that Prejudice only they elected Mr. Foley; who on the next day, Friday March 15. was approved by his Majesty on the Throne.
Sir John Trevor the late Speaker expelled.
On March 16, the Commons proceeded upon the Report from their Committee, and resolved, 'That Sir John Trevor late Speaker of this House, being guilty of a high Crime and Misdemeanour, by receiving a Gratuity of a thousand Guineas from the City of London, after passing the Orphans Bill, be expelled this House.' And so he retired to enjoy his other beneficial Place, the Mastership of the Rolls.
Mr. Bird reprimanded on his Knees for offering Money to a Member.
On March 18, Mr. Bird made his excuse for offering Money to a Member of the House, to present a Petition against a Bill depending in the House, and upon his Knees had a Reprimand from Mr. Speaker. And it was then resolved, 'That whosoever shall discover any Money or other Gratuity, given to any Member of the House, for Matters transacted in the House, relating to the Orphans Bill, or the East-India Company, should have the Indemnity of the House for such Guilt.' And to carry on the needful Inquisition, they ordered, That Mr. Charles Nois, Mr. James Smith, Mr. George Finch, Mr. Dowse, Mr. Herne, Mr. Chiswell, and Mr. Chadwick, should attend the next Morning. They did so, and it was then resolved, that Mr. Charles Nois having to several Persons pretended he was out of Purse, or engaged to give great Sums of Money to several Members of this House, in order to pass the Orphans Bill, which on his Examination he denied to have given or promised, has been an occasion of Scandal to this House and the Members thereof; for which he was taken into the Custody of the Serjeant at Arms. And the House proceeding to clear and purge themselves, did soon after resolve, That Mr. Hungerford a Member of the House, having received twenty Guineas for his pains and service, as Chairman of the Committee of this House to whom the Orphans Bill was committed, is guilty of a high Crime and Misdemeanour.
Farther Proceedings of the Commons against Bribery and Corruption.
On March the 26th, the Commons proceeding on the Report relating to the Members of this House taking Money;
Resolved, That Mr. Hungerford a Member being guilty of a high Crime and Misdemeanour, by receiving twenty Guineas for his pains and service, as Chairman of the Committee to whom the Orphans Bill was committed, be expelled the House. And ordered, that Sir Thomas Cooke, a Member, having refused to give an account of the Money of the East-India Company by him distributed, be committed Prisoner to the Tower; and a Bill be brought in to oblige him to give such account. This Bill was presented by Mr. Bridges on March the 28th, and received and read the first time: The next day it was read a second time, and the Cashier to the East-India Company, according to order, produced the Warrants for the Sums paid for special Service or Charges general.
On March the 30th, Sir Basil Firebrace delivered in an account of Monies by him paid for the Service of the EastIndia Company; and Sir Thomas Cooke petitioned the House, that he might be heard by Council before the Bill do pass, which was granted.
On April the 2d, the Commons in a grand Committee went through the Bill, and made Amendments, which were reported the next day.
The 6th, Sir Thomas Cooke's Council were heard, and the Bill was read a third time and passed, and sent to the Lords for their Concurrence, where it stopt.
The 13th, their Lordships sent a Message to the Commons, desiring that Sir Thomas Cooke might be permitted and ordered to appear at the Bar; and the Commons did accordingly order by Warrant from the Speaker, that Sir Thomas should attend the Lords at their Bar: Which he did, and was by them referred to a Committee; who prevailed with him to promise a Discovery within seven Days on condition a Bill of Indemnity should be pass'd in his favour. With this the Lords comply'd, and sent down a Bill of that nature to the Commons, where it pass'd with some Amendments: to which the Lords agreed April 19.
Royal Assent given to several Bills.
On the 22d of April, his Majesty gave the Royal Assent, to the Act for Annuities: That for Duties on Marriages, Births and Burials: That for Duties on Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate: For the Transport-Service: And other Acts, public and private. After which his Majesty spoke as follows:
King's short Speech.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
'I Take this Occasion to tell you, that the Season of the Year is so far advanc'd, and the Circumstances of Affairs are so pressing, that I very earnestly recommend to you, the speedy dispatching such Business as you think of most Importance for the Public Good, because I must put an end to this Session in a few Days.'
His Answer to the Address relating to the Officers in Ireland. ; And to another, concerning the Expence of the War.
The next day, Sir Henry Goodrick acquainted the House of Commons, that their Address for obliging the Colonels and other Officers employ'd in the Reduction of Ireland, to account for what Money they had receiv'd to pay the Inferior Officers and Soldiers, had been presented to the King, who was pleased to answer, 'That he had already given Orders, as well in Flanders as in England, for the doing what is mention'd in the Address; and that some Officers, who neglected to comply with the Directions, had been cashier'd; however, that he will repeat those Orders, under the severest Penalties to such as shall disobey them.' Mr. Comptroller Wharton acquainted the House the same day, that their Address had been presented to his Majesty, praying, 'That his Majesty, in his great Wisdom, would please to take care for the future, that this Kingdom be put upon an equal Foot and Proportion with the Allies, in bearing the Charge of the present War.' And that his Majesty was pleased to answer in these Words, 'In this, as in every thing else, I shall always endeavour to have a due Regard 'to the Interest, and to the Honour of the Nation.'
Sir Thomas Cooke's Account of Moneys disposed of by him for the East-India Company.
In pursuance of the Act to indemnify Sir Thomas Cooke, a (fn. 2) Committee of both Houses was appointed to receive the Discovery to be made by him. He appeared before them on April the 23d, and being sworn, he delivered in writing an Account of the Disposal and Application of several large Sums: As of 10,000 l. delivered to Francis Tyssen Esq; 12,000 l. to Mr. Richard Acton; 338 l. to Mr. Nathaniel Molineux; 220 l. to Sir John Chardin; 350 l. to Paul Dominicque, Esq; 382 l. to Captain John Germain; 1000 Guineas to Colonel Fitz-Patrick; 545 l. to Charles Bates, Esq; and 40,000 l. to Sir Basil Firebrace. All which Sums were said to be paid for special Service of the East-India Company, to defray the Charges, and acknowledge the Pains and Services of those Persons and their Friends, on solliciting to prevent a Settlement of a new East-India Company, and to endeavour to establish the Old; besides 500 Guineas paid to the Attorney-General; 200 to the Sollicitor; and 200 more to Mr. Sambrooke.
His Examination thereon.
The Original being read by Sir Thomas Cooke, the Committee conceived it was imperfect, and not such as the Act required; and therefore they acquainted Sir Thomas, that they expected a more particular Account from him. Upon this Sir Thomas began to be more plain, and said; 'That as to the first Sum of 10,000 l. paid to Mr. Tyssen, he gave him no Directions how it should be disposed, but it was in expectation to have the Charter of the East-India Company confirmed; that it was intended for the Service of the King, tho' he could not say the King had it; but he believed, that Mr. Tyssen told him, that he delivered it to Sir Josiah Child, who presented it to his Majesty, as a customary Present; for the like had been done in former Reigns, as by the Books of the Company might appear. That as to the 12,000 l. next mentioned, it was paid to Mr. Richard Acton, who declared, he had several Friends capable of doing great Service to the Company's Affairs, and several of them would speak with Parliament-men; that he could not particularize who they were, but the End aimed at, was to get an Act of Parliament. That Mr. Acton did again say, he could tell some Persons employed in that Affair; that he did understand that this Money was to be laid out for promoting their Affairs in Parliament: That he could not say to whom it was given, but understood it went no further than the House of Commons; and that he found no good Fruit by such Distributions. As to the 338 l. paid to Mr. Molineux, Sir Thomas said, that Mr. Molineux told him this Money was to be disposed of to the Lord Rivers; but since his Confinement, Molineux had told him that my Lord never had it, but he had made use of it himself. As to the 1000 Guineas paid to Mr. Fitzpatrick deceased, Fitzpatrick told him, he had a great Interest with the Lord Nottingham, that he would try what he could do, and he did not doubt but he might do great Services, provided he had such a Sum of Money; yet he believed, Fitzpatrick kept the Money himself, and that there was a Promise of a further Sum, if the Act for a new Company did not pass. That the 345 l. was to be paid to Mr. Charles Bates when the Charter was settled, and was accordingly in October 1693; that he had no Acquaintance with Mr. Bates: But Sir Basil Firebrace told him, that Bates had Acquaintance with several Lords, and named the Marquis of Carmarthen, now Duke of Leeds. That as to the first 10,000 l. paid to Sir Basil Firebrace in November, 1693. it was always his Apprehension, that Sir Basil kept it for himself, to recompense his Losses in the interloping Trade: And as to the several other Sums, compleating the Sum of thirty thousand Pounds paid to Sir Basil, he presumed he had occasion to distribute it to several Persons. As to the Sums paid to Sir John Chardin and Mr. Dominicque, he believed they were expended in the Company's Service. As to the 382 l. to Captain Germain, it was paid to bring him off from the Interlopers, and engage him in the Company's Interest.
Reported to the House.
On April the 24th, Mr. Comptroller reported this Examination to the House of Commons; upon which the Debates were very warm.
Debates on that Occasion.
'A. Inform'd the House that Earl Rivers, who upon the Examination was said to have receiv'd 300 and odd Pounds of the Money, protested he never had a Penny, and tho' he was now of another House, he had the same Esteem and Honour for this House as heretofore; and that he had mov'd the House of Lords, and they had sent for Molineux, who had said he had receiv'd that Money.'
'B. Observ'd, that as to all the little Sums, Sir Thomas Cook knew very well to whom they were given, but he could never learn to whom Sir Basil Firebrace deliver'd the Money he had receiv'd; for Sir Basil would not give him any Account of that Matter, tho' often ask'd by him to do it. Acton would have told him, and he would not hear him, so between these two we were sawn. You have it among you, Gentlemen.
'C. Took notice of Sir Thomas Cook's long Preamble, that he had inspected his Powers, reduc'd his Account into Writing, and deliver'd it in that Paper. Whereupon he was examin'd by the Committee, and it was with great difficulty that what they had was drawn from him. As to the first 10,000 l. they had but an Hearsay: Tyssen told him, he gave it Sir Josiah Child, who said he gave it the King. [And here note by the way, that in the fore-mention'd Examination it was said to be a customary Present; and that in King Charles's and other Reigns, the like had been done for several Years, as appears by the Company's Books.] As to the second 10,000 l. to Acton, he proffer'd to tell him the Particulars, and he was unwilling to hear him; but did not doubt but Acton would give a particular and satisfactory Account of all distributed by him; and yet at the same Moment being ask'd where and in what Condition this Acton was, he declar'd he was a distracted Man, and not able to give the House any Account at all. As to the 40,000 l. to Firebrace, he believ'd he kept 10,000 l. for himself, and for the rest he refus'd to tell him to whom, or for what, or when it was issu'd. That he mention'd Contracts to the Value of 60,000 l. on account of procuring a new Charter, and also 40,000 l. for an Act of Parliament. They were not Fools, but they parted with their Money very easily, their Proprietors were little beholden to them.'
'D Said, No Man is innocent, if every Man was guilty; the Members could not be innocent, if they did not lay their hands on these Men, that had betray'd them and the Company, and he hoped themselves; he would have them go as far as they could, then they should not be in fault; and mov'd that Firebrace and Acton should be order'd to attend the next Day.'
'E. Seconded the Motion, and mov'd that they should not forget a Member of their own, who was accus'd for receiving a considerable Sum.'
Conference of both Houses.
In the midst of these Debates, a Message came from the Lords, desiring a present Conference in the Painted-Chamber; which was immediately had. Their Lordships proposed, that all future Examinations of any of the Persons mentioned in the Report of Sir Thomas Cooke, be had before a Committee of both Houses. To which the Commons agreed.
Examination of Sir Basil Firebrace, in a Committee of both Houses.
This Committee met the same day: And Sir Basil Firebrace there deposed, that the first ten thousand Pounds were given to him, as a Gratuity for his Losses, some time before the Charter for the East-India Company passed: That ten thousand more was received by him, by virtue of a Contract with Sir Thomas Cooke, for Favours and Services done. That the Stock at the time of the Contract valued at 150 l. per Cent. falling afterwards to 100 per Cent. the Difference was thirty thousand pounds; which they made up to him. He was positive, the 10,000 l. and 30,000 l. were for himself, and for the Use of no other Person, except 500 l. paid to Mr. Powell, because he had good Interest amongst the Interlopers. The Committee asked Sir Basil, What particular Service he did, or was to do, for procuring a new Charter? To which he answered, that he was unwilling to take too much upon himself: that he thought he did great Service to the Company in solliciting their Cause; but wished he might be excused to another time, being now much indisposed.
The next day, Sir Basil Firebrace being again examined, further deposed, 'That having had a Treaty with Mr. Bates, whom he thought able to do Service in passing the Charter, and to have Acquaintance with several Persons of Honour; he gave two Notes for 5500 Guineas to Mr. Atwell, payable to Mr. Bates or Bearer; one Note for 3000 Pounds, the other for 2500 Guineas, intended for the doing Business. That he had these Notes from Sir Thomas Cooke, and was accountable to him for the same: That he believed Sir Thomas did not know how these Notes were to be disposed of; but that he had told Sir Thomas, that Mr. Bates had Acquaintance with several Lords; naming the Lord President, and others. That the Deponent could not tell who this Money was designed for, or what Bates did with it, for that Bates would not deal on such Terms of telling Names. That Bates did introduce him several times to the Lord President; who made some Scruples in point of Law, which were removed by the Attorney-General. That one day last Week, the five thousand Guineas were offered by Bates back again to him; Bates saying, that this might make a Noise. That on Tuesday last, 4400 Guineas were brought to this Deponent; and that the other 400 Guineas were still in Bates's hands.—That they found great Stops in the Charters, which they apprehended proceeded sometimes from my Lord Nottingham, and sometimes from others. That Colonel Fitz-Patrick received a thousand Guineas on the same Terms with others, if the Charter passed. That he pretended great Interest with the Lord Nottingham; and that he could get Information from the Lady Derby, how the Queen's Pleasure was. That Colonel Fitz-Patrick said, he would try to prevail with the Lord Nottingham, for five thousand Guineas upon passing the Charter, and five thousand Pounds on the Act of Parliament: But that the Earl of Nottingham absolutely refused to take it. That the Deponent heard, a Note signed by Sir Josiah Child, and Sir Thomas Cooke, for fifty thousand Pounds, was lodged in Tyssen's hands for about a Year, to be paid in case the Act passed; and that it was refused, as he understood, by my Lord Portland, to whom he had offered it.'
Deposition of Mr. Acton.
Mr. Richard Acton being examined before the same Committee deposed, that he received the Sums of ten thousand, and two thousand Pounds of Sir Thomas Cooke: That he told Sir Thomas, he had Friends who would take pains to do the Company Service; but they would have ten thousand Pounds. That he had two thousand Pounds for his Trouble in attending two Sessions; and that if the Bill for a new Company had passed, he was to have had nothing. That he did not distribute the ten thousand Pounds to Members, but to those who had Interest with Members. That some of them to whom he gave Money to be distributed, were Mr. Craggs, with whom this Deponent was concerned in cloathing the Army, Mr. Wallis, Mr. Ridley, Mr. Dominicque, &c. and that Colonel Goldwell, and Colonel Dean, (who were since dead) were the only Persons which he himself gave Money to.
Deposition of Mr. Bates.
The next day, April 26th, the Committee of both Houses proceeded upon the Examination of the rest of the Persons mentioned in their Report, and Mr. Bates being sworn, deposed, that Sir Basil Firebrace did apply himself to him, to use his Interest for obtaining a Charter for the East-India Company, the old Charter being forfeited, and told him, they would be grateful: That the Deponent did use his Interest with the Lord President, who said, he would do what Service he could. That the Lord President had delivered his Opinion publicly, for confirming the Charter; and thought the Forfeiture a Hardship. That having received Notes for five thousand five hundred Guineas, he told the Lord President what Sum he had, and would have pressed it upon my Lord, but he refused it. That thereupon in regard he could not very well tell Money himself, he did ask leave of my Lord, that his Servant might tell the Money; to which my Lord answered, he gave leave, and accordingly Monsieur Robart did receive the Money. That after Monsicur Robart had received it, he brought the same to the Deponent, in whose Possession it remained, till he paid 4400 Guineas thereof back again to Sir Basil. That as to the 600 Guineas remaining of the 5000, he said he had spent some of them. That the Reason he paid back the 4400 Guineas, was the Noise that it made; and that People might think that he did not deserve them; and that the whole 5500 Guineas, were for his own private Use. However, being soon after re-examined he owned, that the 4400 Guineas which he paid back, were brought to him by Monsieur Robart.
Sir Basil Firebrace re-examined.
Sir Basil Firebrace being once more examined, deposed, That Sir Thomas Cooke, and others, observing him active, and to have Interest among Noblemen, applied themselves to him to endeavour the procuring a new Charter. That Sir Thomas Cooke was apprehensive, that it stuck with the Duke of Leeds; and told the Deponent, that some way must be found out to the Duke. That he thereupon applied himself to Mr. Bates, who would not pretend to talk with the Duke; but said, the Deponent must tell him what the Company would do. That he told Mr. Bates, he thought a Present might be made of 2 or 3000 l. That Mr. Bates told him, he went to St. James's, and said he had spoke with his Friend; and that more had been offered him by the other side: And that at another time Bates said, that 5000 l. had been offered him by another hand on the same side. That it was at last agreed, that if the Duke did act in favour of the Company, he should have 2 or 3000 Guineas, and Bates 500 Guineas to himself. That from the time the Notes for the 5500 Guineas were given to Bates, they had free Access to my Lord President; and found him easy and willing to give the Company his Assistance. That Mr. Bates was shy, and called it, his Friend at St. James's. That the Condition of one Draught of a Counter-Note, which Mr. Bates brought, was worded, In case the Lord-President did not assist the Company in passing the Charter; to which this Deponent made an Alteration, by putting out my Lord's Name, and making it not payable, in case the Charter should not pass. That about a Week before the Money was brought back again, this Deponent went to Bates about it, who then told him, it was all for himself. That the Deponent did intend a Distribution of the above-mentioned Sum of thirty thousand Pound, in manner following: To Sir Edward Seymour, Sir John Trevor, and Mr. Guy, ten thousand Pounds, in case the Charter and Act of Parliament passed; to the Merchants Interlopers ten thousand Pounds, and to himself ten thousand Pounds. That as to five thousand Pounds, part of the said thirty thousand Pounds, he did design one third thereof to Sir Edward Seymour, one third to Sir John Trevor, and one third to Mr. Guy. That Mr. Guy, to whom he made the Proposal, told him, they did not desire to meddle with the Stock, but would do any Service they could to promote getting the Charter. That Sir Edward Seymour afterwards meeting this Deponent, chid him for making that Proposal, and told him, he would never have any thing to do with him, if he ever made any such Offers. That the Deponent thought himself obliged in honour, to pay two thirds of the five thousand Pound, when received, to Sir John Trevor and Mr. Guy; and intended to keep the other third, (which Sir Edward Seymour refused) for himself. And that Sir John Trevor did some time afterwards give him some Hints of his Expectation.
Sir Josiah Child being examined, said, he never disposed of ten Pounds of the East-India Company's. That he did recommend it, that a Present of fifty thousand Pounds should be made to the King, if his Majesty would so far wave his Prerogative, that an Act of Parliament might be passed for settling the Company; that Mr. Tyssen had told him, the King would not meddle in that matter, as he had been informed from my Lord Portland.
Debates of the Commons thereon.
These Examinations being reported to the House of Commons, April 27. one of the Members stood up, and spoke thus:
'A. Mr. Speaker, I conceive there is a Necessity to search this Matter to the Bottom, the House has a Thread in their Hands. They ought to provide Laws for the future to prevent the Members of this House taking Money. All imaginable Endeavours have been used to stifle all Discoveries; and Mr. Bates appears an unfortunate Person, whom the Care of his Friend the Duke of Leeds, and the Sense of his Oath, have caused to make such Contradictions. I move that the House would put the Matter in such a Method, as becomes their Justice, and as the shortness of their time will allow.'
'B. Mr. Speaker, I do fully agree with the Gentleman near me, there never were greater and more general Instances of Corruption and Necessity of speedy Remedy. It is very fit this House should let the World see they are in earnest. I ask leave to put you in mind what Practice and Arts have been used to stifle and stop your Discovery; so that what you have, is, as it were, by the utmost Force and Constraint; you cannot wonder at it, when you now find so great a Man at the bottom. But there is no Person in a Post so high, that this House cannot reach, no Man's Practice or Art so deep that this House cannot discover. Here have been all imaginable Endeavours used to obstruct this Enquiry; first, his Majesty's Name was made use of at the Committee, with Hopes perhaps that that might stop any further Enquiry; and if it was made use of there, you may reasonably expect it was made use of elsewhere. But that appear'd so far from being a Reflection on the King, that Sir Josiah Child often complain'd of it as a Rudeness to his Majesty, that what other Kings had yearly as a Present, they had not offer'd to his Majesty in three Years. It was indeed, if not a Matter of Right, a Matter of Custom. Then a noble Lord, who may be named for his Honour on this Occasion, the Earl of Portland, when the great Sum of 50,000 l. was press'd upon him, did absolutely refuse it, and told them he would for ever be their Enemy and Opposer, if they offer'd any such thing to him. Having thus mention'd the Innocent, I must say somewhat of the Guilty: A Stop having been put, the Duke of Leeds must be apply'd to. Certainly there never was a more notorious Bribery, and that in a Person, whom we might have thought to have been free from such a Crime; whether you respect the Greatness of his Place, or of his former Obligations. It is fit to speak plainly on such Occasions, that the House ought to endeavour to remove such a Person from the King's Council and Presence: what Security can the Nation have when we are bought and sold to one another? We have seen our Designs defeated, our Attempts betray'd, and what wonder is it? Can any Man think it more strange, that our Councils should be sold abroad, than that Charters should be sold at home? Certainly a Man may reasonably believe, that he who will sell the Subjects, will sell the Kingdom if he can have a sufficient Bribe: what Prince can be safe in such Councils, which are given for private Advantage? Several Proposals for a Remedy may be here offer'd, as that this House should address his Majesty to remove the Duke of Leeds; but with Submission, an Address is too mean and too low a thing for the House to do at this Time, and upon such an Occasion; I therefore move we may lodge an Impeachment.'
'(Said, I wonder the Gentleman who spoke last should say, that which he did not believe, that that Lord should have sold our Councils to France.'
'B. Reply'd; It is with some Uneasiness I stand up; but the Gentleman forces me to it, for I do not take pleasure to rake in a Dunghil; I was far from saying any such thing, but argu'd only from Possibility, that it was as reasonable to believe one as the other. That when Honour and Justice were not the Rule of Mens Actions, there was nothing incredible, that might be for their Advantage.'
'D. I second and agree in the Motion for an Impeachment.
'E. God alone, who can produce Light out of Darkness, can fully discover the dark Practices in this Affair. Such Actions as these are a Blemish, if not a Scandal to the Revolution itself. I agree in the Motion for an Impeachment.'
'F. By what Law is it a Crime to take Money at Court?'
'G. If there be no Law, it is time there should be a Law to prevent it.'
'H. The Law of God is against him, and broke by him. He took an Oath as a Privy-Counsellor; Justice is not to be sold, by the Common-Law. But there are Parliaments to punish such Crimes, and 'tis hoped there will be still.'
'F. It seems doubtful whether there be Matter in this Report for an Impeachment; therefore before the House goes to an Impeachment, they ought to put the Question upon the Report, and see whether it be a Crime.'
'K. Where there is no Law, there is no Transgression.'
The Question was then put, and it was Resolv'd, That there does appear to this House, upon the Report of the Committee of both Houses, appointed to examine the Persons mention'd in the Report of Sir Thomas Cooke's Account; that there is sufficient Matter to impeach Thomas Duke of Leeds, Lord-President of his Majesty's most honourable PrivyCouncil, of high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
The Duke of Leeds voted to be impeach'd.
Resolv'd, That Thomas Duke of Leeds, &c. be impeach'd of high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
While the Impeachment against the Duke of Leeds was in Agitation in the House of Commons, that Duke being inform'd of it, went immediately from the Upper to the LowerHouse, and desir'd Admittance, which was granted, and a Chair plac'd for him within the Bar. The Speaker told him, that the House having receiv'd Information that he desir'd to be heard, they were ready to hear him, that there was a Chair for his Grace to repose himself, and that he might please to be cover'd. Then the Duke sate down, put on his Hat, and after a little Pause arose, uncover'd himself, and made the following Speech.
His Speech in the House of Commons.
'Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House,
'In the first place, I thank you heartily for this Favour of hearing me. I had attended sooner, if I had had the least Intimation what the House was upon. I wish the Dispatch thereof had not been so quick. The Occasion of my coming is from the two Votes, upon the Report from the Committee of both Houses; I did all I could to be inform'd of the Particulars, but could not, nor have I any Notes. I was earnest therein, finding myself concern'd, and hearing of a Report, a monstrous long Report, to the end that I might not be under the Displeasure of either or both Houses; it is a bold Truth, but 'tis a Truth: this House had not been sitting but for me.
'I was formerly pursu'd by this House in two Points, for being for the French Interest and for Popery; I had then, if I might have been heard, justify'd myself, as I hope I have since done, and shall by all the Actions of my Life. One Firebrace was introduc'd to me by the means of Mr. Bates whom I have long known, and if I am not much deceiv'd in him, I cannot believe that Gentleman would have transacted such a Matter if put upon it.
'The Evidence is but Hearsay, and I hope you will not condemn on Hearsay. I would not take up your time by entering into Particulars; but there is a Money-Part, as well as a Treaty Part; and as to the Money-Part, much of it is false, what is true I have made no Secret. I can, and do say, that neither directly nor indirectly, upon my Faith and Honour, have I ever touch'd one Penny of the Money.
'I observe a great deal of Pains has been taken to hook and draw Men in this Matter by a Side-Wind, and Firebrace thinks his Merit will deserve 10,000 and 30,000 l. this 5000 Guineas was no Part of the 40,000 l. The Committee call'd in and examin'd several Witnesses; but Firebrace, after his first Hearing, desir'd to be call'd in again himself, contrary to all Rules, which shews at least that he is a very willing Witness.
'I have a Thread which I hope to spin finer, and make it appear that this was a Design laid against me, long before the naming of this Committee; that Warning was given me some time since, that this Matter would be prov'd against me, and that Firebrace had been told, he should be excus'd if he would charge the Duke: I ask no Favour but your favourable Justice. It will be a most unfortunate thing in point of time, to be under the Displeasure of this House, or of the Nation. I pray that no severe Sense be put on what will bear a candid one, and that if it may be, the House would re-consider what is done, or at least preserve me from Cruelty; and not let me lie on the Rack and be blasted, until the Parliament shall sit again If you will proceed, I hope it will be speedily, for I had rather want Council, want Time, want any thing, than be under yours or the Nation's Displeasure. I thank you again for this Favour, and pray if you will not re-consider, that this Matter may be brought to a Determination, and that I may have at least your speedy Justice.'
This Speech being ended, and the Duke withdrawn, Mr. Comptroller attended by many Members, went up to the House of Lords with the Impeachment; and the Committee who were join'd with the Lords, were order'd to prepare the Articles against the Lord-President.
The House of Commons taking the Duke's Speech into consideration, a worthy Member said,
'By this noble Lord's Speech, the Point is now, whether the House will arraign the Committee of both Houses, or go on with their Impeachment. This noble Lord, when he came to the Matter, would not enter into Particulars, but pass'd it over with Excuse of wanting Time. He makes no Excuse as to the Facts: His Argument of a Contrivance was, that the 5000 Guineas charg'd on him, was no Part of the 40,000 l. Firebrace was to account for. But this is an Aggravation of the Crime; for Sir Thomas Cooke had a double Account, one with, and one without the 5000 Guineas; and this is an Indication, that if there was a Contrivance, it was not by the Committee, but with Sir Thomas Cooke, to stifle the Enquiry, and conceal the Corruption. The speedy Justice of the House is to be wish'd and desir'd. If there is such a Contrivance, such a Thread as is mention'd by this noble Lord, 'tis not to be doubted but the House where he is impeach'd will clear him.'
'Another Member mov'd, That a Committee might be appointed to withdraw, to consider what was to be done, in order to gratify that Lord by speedy Justice. His Friend Mr. Bates's tricking and contradicting himself, is more than the Evidence of Firebrace. Who was his Friend? Who was his Servant? Those were Questions not to be ask Monsieur Robart was a Servant of my Lord-President's, and is fled. Mr. Bates said, he kept the Money in his House? What was become of it? Sometimes he had spent it? Sometimes it was in his Closet. He did own the Money was not in his House on Sunday, but on Tuesday Morning, Monsieur Robart brought it to him; but he would never declare from whence he brought it.'
A Message from the Lords.
In the middle of these Debates, a Message was sent from the Lords, to acquaint the House of Commons, that it was the Opinion of their Lordships, that the Discovery made by Sir Thomas Cooke was not satisfactory, nor so full as to entitle him to the Benefit of the Act to indemnify him, and that their Lordships desired the Concurrence of the Commons. They thereupon pass'd a Vote, as the Lords had done, and sent it up by the Lord Coningesby.
Bill for imprisoning Sir Thomas Cooke, &c. ; Articles against the Duke of Leeds.
On Monday April the 29th, the Lords acquainted the Commons that they had passed a Bill entitled, An Act for imprisoning Sir Thomas Cooke, Sir Basil Firebrace, Charles Bates Esq; and James Craggs, and for restraining them from alienating their Estates, to which they desired the Concurrence of the Commons. After the reading of this Bill, Mr. Comptroller repeated the Articles of Impeachment against the Duke of Leeds; For contracting and agreeing with the Merchants trading to the East-Indies, or their Agents, for 5500 Guineas, to procure them a Charter of Confirmation, and a Charter of Regulation; or by his Agents and Servants, with his Privity and Consent. These Articles were agreed to by the Commons, and by their Order sent up to the House of Peers; where, upon reading of them, the Duke of Leeds made another Vindication of himself much to the same purpose; adding, That this Storm which was now fallen upon him, was some time a gathering; and it was promoted by a Faction and a Party who had a Pique against him, and an Intention to delay the King's Business; that he had an original Letter which gave him an Account of this, some time before it broke out, and it appeared only levelled against him, because none else were prosecuted; that there appeared a Joy they could catch at this Pretension; and that Sir Basil Firebrace was treated with to discover only this Part, and so he should be excused from any other Discovery. His Grace concluded with praying a Copy of the Articles of Impeachment, and of the Report of the Committee of both Houses, which was readily granted.
Who puts in his Answer.
April the 30th, the Commons were acquainted by a Message from the Lords, that the Duke of Leeds had put in his Answer to the Articles exhibited against him, of which their Lordships had sent a Copy to them. Whereupon the Commons ordered, That the Committee who were appointed to prepare the Articles against the Duke, should draw up a Replication to his Answer.
Message from the Lords.
On May the 1st, the ingrossed Bill from the Lords for imprisoning Sir Thomas Cooke, &c. was read the third time by the Commons, and sent up to the Lords by Sir Herbert Crofts, with some Amendments. At the same time, a Message was brought from the Lords, That their Lordships conceiving the Session may not continue much longer, they think themselves obliged in Justice, to put the House of Commons in mind of the Impeachment brought up against the Duke of Leeds; to which the Answer of the Duke of Leeds having been transmitted to the Commons, the Lords desire they may be acquainted, when this House can be ready to make good the Articles of the said Impeachment, to the end a certain Day may be appointed by the Lords, for that purpose. The Commons resolved to send an Answer by Messengers of their own, and to proceed according to the Course of Parliaments.
To offer Money, &c. to a Member voted High Crime and Misdemeanour, &c.
On May the 2d, the Commons resolved, That the Offer of any Money, or any other Advantage to any Member of Parliament, for the promoting any Matter whatsoever depending, or to be transacted in Parliament, was a high Crime and Misdemeanor, and tended to the Subversion of the English Constitution. Then Mr. Comptroller reported from the Committee, That Monsieur Robart, who was a material Witness for making good the Articles against the Duke of Leeds, had been summoned to attend the Committee, but could not be found; and it not being yet known where he was, they were of Opinion not to make any further Progress in the matter to them referred, until they had the further Direction of the House. Upon this Resolution agreed to by the House, it was ordered, That Monsieur Robart should attend the House to be examined, and should be summoned by the Serjeant at Arms.
The 3d, Mr. Speaker of the House of Commons acquainted them, That the Serjeant at Arms had informed him, that his Messenger had been at the Duke of Leeds's, and spoke to his Porter, and enquired for Monsieur Robart, to summon him to attend this House; and that the Porter said, he was not within, nor could tell when he would be; and that he had not seen him for three days past; and that he believed he was in the Country, but could not tell where.
A Conference between the two Houses.
Upon this the Commons desired a Conference with the Lords, to which they agreed immediately in the painted Chamber; where the Managers delivered a Paper to their Lordships, importing that the Commons will make good the charge against the Duke of Leeds, in Manner and Form as in the Articles mentioned; that the Committee appointed to draw the said Articles, had been daily employed in looking into the Evidences against the said Duke, but had met with an Obstruction, in that Monsieur Robart, a material Witness, was withdrawn since the Impeachment was carried up, which hath been the Reason the Commons have not yet acquainted their Lordships, when they can be ready to make good the said Impeachment, the Commons being desirous that Justice be done without any manner of delay.
On the same day, the House of Commons having read a Report of the Committee of both Houses, proceeded towards the Impeaching other Persons therein mentioned, and in particular, Sir John Trevor: But they were interrupted by the Black-Rod, and commanded to attend the King in the House of Peers, where his Majesty was come to put an end to the Session.
Ill State of the Coin.
We must observe, that amidst all these Disputes, a great thing was done for the Honour and Interest of the Nation, by redressing the bad State of the common Coin of the Kingdom. This difficulty lay so heavy upon the Government, that a Stop was almost put to Trade and Taxes. The current Silver Coin had for many Years began to be clipped and adulterated; and the Mischief of late had been so secretly carried on, by a Combination of all People concerned in the Receipt of Money, and so industriously promoted by the Enemies of the Government, that all Pieces were so far diminished and debased, as that five Pounds in Silver Specie was scarce worth forty Shillings, according to the Standard: Besides an infinite deal of Iron, Brass, or Copper, washed over, or plated. The Nation had suffered most grievously by this Evil, and the Cure of it could be no longer delayed, without apparent and inevitable Ruin to the Public, and an Obstruction to all private Commerce. Under this necessity, the House of Commons on January 8th appointed a Committee to receive Proposals, how to prevent clipping of the Coin of this Kingdom for the future, and the Exportation of Silver.
Mr. Scobel's Report concerning the Coinage
This Committee having sat several times, Mr. Scobel at last reported their Opinion.
1. That the best way to prevent clipping the Silver-Coin, was to new coin the same into milled Money.
2. That 1,000,000 l. was a sufficient Sum to make good the Deficiency of the present clipped Coin of this Kingdom.
3. That the Money hereafter to be coined should be of the present weight and fineness.
4. That the Crown Piece should go for 5 s. and 6 d. and the Half-Crown for 2 s. and 9 d.
5. That all Money to be coined, under the Denomination of the Half-crown should have a Remedy of six Pence in the Ounce.
6. That for as much of the present Coin as any Person brought into the Mint, he should have Weight for Weight, and the overplus by a Bill or Ticket at — per cent. on a Fund to be appropriated for that purpose.
7. That the present Laws against clipping be enforced by some Additions.
8. That all Persons whose Professions require such like Tools or Engines, as may be made use of for Coining or Clipping, be obliged to register their Names and Places of Abode, and that it should be penal on such as should neglect to do the same.
9. That it be penal to all such Persons, as give more for any Silver-Coin, than it ought to go for by Law.
10. That it be penal to all such Persons on whom Clippings are found.
11. That no Presses, such as are used for Coining, be in any other Place than his Majesty's Mint.
12. That it be penal in all such Persons as shall import any clipt or counterfeit Money.
13. That it be penal in any Person to export English Bullion, and the Proof to lie upon the Exporter.
14. That it be penal in any Person to counterfeit any foreign Mark upon Bullion.
This Report lay some time neglected in the House of Commons; till the Lords had passed an Act To prevent counterfeiting and clipping the current Coin of this Kingdom; and on March the 19th sent it down to the Commons for their Concurrence. Then the former Resolutions of the Committee were taken into Consideration, and out of them several Amendments were inserted in the Lords Bill; to which Amendments the Lords agreed, and so made that most expedient Act ready for the Royal Assent.
Royal Assent given to several Bills.
In the midst of these Debates (fn. 3), the King came to the House of Peers and gave the Royal Assent to the Act For Duties on Glass Wares, Coals and Culm. An Act For a general Pardon. An Act To prevent counterfeiting and clipping the Coin. An Act For imprisoning Sir Thomas Cook, Sir Basil Firebrace, Charles Bates Esq; and James Craggs, and restraining them from alienating their Estates. But a Clause was inserted to enable Sir Basil Firebrace, who was then about marrying his Daughter to the Earl of Denbigh, to give her a Sum not exceeding 20,000 l. in Portion.
His Majesty closed the Session with the following Speech.
The King's Speech.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
'I am come to give you Thanks for the Supplies provided for carrying on the War, in which we are engaged; and at the same time to conclude this Session, which cannot be continued longer, without manifest Prejudice to the Ends for which these Supplies are given: The Season of the Year making it so necessary for me to be abroad, that it were to be wished our Business at home would have allowed me to have been there sooner.
'I will take care to place the Administration of Affairs during my Absence, in such Persons on whose Care and Fidelity I can entirely depend: And I doubt not, my Lords and Gentlemen, but every one of you in your several Stations, will be assisting to them. This is what I require of you, and that you be more than ordinarily vigilant in preserving the public Peace.'
Then the Lord-Keeper, by his Majesty's Command, said, My Lords and Gentlemen, It is his Majesty's Royal Will and Pleasure, that this Parliament should be prorogued to Tuesday the eighteenth Day of June next; and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Tuesday the eighteenth Day of June next.
On July 13th, his Majesty ordered a Proclamation to be published, for dissolving the present Parliament, and issuing out of Writs for the calling a new Parliament, to begin at Westminster on November 22d.