The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: Volume 3, 1695-1706. Originally published by Chandler, London, 1742.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The 3d Session of the 3d Parliament.
On Friday December 3, the Parliament met at Westminster, and the King in his Robes made this Speech to the two Houses.
King's Speech to both Houses.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
'The War which I entered into by the Advice of my People, is by the Blessing of God, and their zealous and affectionate Assistance, brought to the End we all proposed, an honourable Peace; which I was willing to conclude, not so much to ease my self from the Trouble or Hazard, as to free the Kingdom from the continuing Burthen of an expensive War.
'I am heartily sorry, my Subjects will not at first find all that Relief from the Peace, which I could wish, and they may expect; but the Funds intended for the last Year's Service, have fallen short of answering the Sums for which they are given; so that there remain considerable Deficiencies to be provided for.
'There's a Debt upon the Account of the Fleet and the Army. The Revenues of the Crown have been anticipated by my Consent, for public Uses; so that I am wholly destitute of means to support the Civil List; and I can never distrust you'll suffer this to turn to my Disadvantage, but will provide for me, during my Life, in such a manner, as may be for my Honour, and for the Honour of the Government.
'Our Naval Force being increased to near double what it was at my Accession to the Crown, the Charge of maintaining it will be proportionably augmented; and it is certainly necessary for the Interest and Reputation of England, to have always a great Strength at Sea.
'The Circumstances of Affairs abroad are such, that I think my self obliged to tell you my Opinion, that, for the present, England cannot be safe without a Land-Force; and I hope we shall not give those who mean us ill, the opportunity of effecting that, under the Notion of a Peace, which they could not bring to pass by a War.
'I doubt not but you, Gentlemen of the House of Commons, will take these Particulars into your Consideration, in such a manner as to provide the necessary Supplies, which I do very earnestly recommend to you.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
'That which I most delight to think off, and am best pleased to own, is, that I have all the Proofs of my People's Affection, that a Prince can desire; and I take this occasion to give them the most solemn Assurance, that as I never had, so I never will, nor can, have any Interest separate from theirs.
'I esteem it one of the greatest Advantages of the Peace, that I shall now have leisure to rectify such Corruptions or Abuses as may have crept into any part of the Administration during the War; and effectually to discourage Prophaneness and Immorality: And I shall employ my Thoughts in promoting Trade, and advancing the Happiness and flourishing Estate of the Kingdom.
'I shall conclude with telling you, that as I have, with the Hazard of every thing, rescued your Religion, Laws and Liberties, when they were in the extremest danger; so I shall place the Glory of my Reign in preserving them entire, and leaving them so to Posterity.'
This Speech had various Effects in the House of Commons: Some thought some Expressions in it too magisterial; others seemed to be offended at his Majesty's putting them in mind of what he had done for the Nation; others again distrusted the great Promises of what he would do for them; and most began to be jealous of the Expression, That England could not be safe without a Land-Force: By which they understood that odious thing a standing Army. However, on December 9th, the Commons presented this humble Address to the King.
'We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons in Parliament assembled, who have so frequently waited on your Majesty with the Tender of our Assistance for carrying on the War, come now to congratulate your Majesty upon the happy Conclusion of it, in a Peace so honourable and advantageous to the Nation, as sufficiently justifies the Wisdom of the Commons in advising, and your Majesty's Conduct in the Prosecution of it.
'The Prospect of the Benefits your People will receive from this Peace, is very pleasing. The Honour your Majesty has restored to England, of holding the Balance of Europe, gives your Subjects great Content. But what your Commons are most affected and delighted with, is, that your Majesty's sacred Person will now be secure, from those many and great Dangers, to which you have so often exposed it for our Sakes: Nothing being so evident, as that your Majesty's Return in Safety, was a Blessing more welcome to your People than Peace, and received with greater Demonstrations of Joy.
'We therefore with Hearts full of Affection, Duty, and Gratitude, do assure your Majesty in the Name of all the Commons of England, that this House will be very ready to assist and support your Majesty, who, by putting a period to the War, has confirmed us in the quiet Possession of our Rights and Liberties, and so fully completed the glorious Work of our Deliverance.'
The King answered thus:
'Gentlemen, Nothing that relates to the Peace pleases me so much, as the Satisfaction you have in it: And as you have assisted me in the War, beyond all Expression, I do not doubt, but you will be as zealous in maintaining the Peace.'
The Grievance of Standing Forces. ; Arguments used for them. ; And against them.
Standing Forces, however established and regulated by Law, or however necessary to maintain the Peace, were thought intolerable; and therefore upon entring into a Consideration of his Majesty's Speech, the first Resolution of the Commons, was on December 11th. That all the (fn. 1) LandForces of this Kingdom, that have been raised since the 29th of September 1680, shall be paid and disbanded. The Friends of the King and his Government had argued, that the Nation was still unsettled, and not quite delivered from the Fear of King James; that the Adherents to that abdicated Prince, were as bold and numerous as ever; and he himself still protected by the French King: who, having as yet dismist none of his Troops, was still as formidable as before. That if our Army was entirely disbanded, the Peace which was obtained at the Expence of so much Blood and Treasure, would be altogether precarious: And not only England, but all Europe lie once more at the mercy of that ambitious Monarch, an inveterate Enemy to King William, the Protestant Religion, and the Liberties of Christendom. On the other hand, the Country Party, who valued themselves upon opposing any Motions of the Court; the disaffected Party, who never heartily approved the Revolution; the Commonwealth Party, who were secretly driving at a Change of Government into their own Scheme and Interest; and even many worthy Patriots, who had no worse view than the Rights and Liberties of their Country: All, upon different Thoughts, agreed in the same Aversion to a standing Army, and laboured to represent it as absolutely destructive to the Constitution of the English Government. And it was no wonder that their Objections prevailed when they were more popular, and had this weight in them, that standing Forces would want a continual Tax; and disbanding would relieve the People from the Burthen of the War, which they would never be willing to bear in a time of Peace. The King hoped that he had prevented the warmth of these Debates at his last coming over, when he had caused several Regiments of Horse, Dragoons, and Fooot to be dis banded; and even others to be reduced, and sent away (most of them) either to Scotland or Ireland (fn. 2) And therefore he resented it as the greater Hardship upon him, that he must have no Troops remaining, but be left so naked and exposed, as if the Peace were only to encourage his Enemies to surprize him with another War.
Commons for disbanding the Army.
The Commons however persisted in their Resolutions of Disbanding; but to make it the more palatable, they passed a Vote, December the 13th, That it be an Instruction to the Committee who were to consider of the Supply, that they should likewise consider of a Gratuity, to be given to such Officers and Soldiers of the English Army who were or should be disbanded: And, at the same time, ordered Mr. Hammond and Mr Moyle to bring in a Bill, to enable Soldiers who should be disbanded, to exercise their Trades in any Town or Corporation throughout this Kingdom, And, to provide for the Security of the Kingdom, when the Army should be disbanded. On December the 17th, they appointed several Members to prepare and bring in a Bill, to regulate the Militia, and make them more useful. And on December the 18th, they Resolved, That ten thousand Men are necessary for a Summer and Winter-Guard at Sea, for the Year one thousand six hundred ninety eight.
Supply took into Consideration. ; A Civil-List of 700,000 l. settled on the King for Life.
On December the 20th, the Commons took the Supply into Consideration, and Resolved, that in a just Sense and Acknowledgment of what great Things his Majesty has done for these Kingdoms, a Sum not exceeding seven hundred thousand Pounds be granted to his Majesty during his Life, for the Support of the Civil-List.
Royal Assent given to several Acts.
On Friday, Jan. 14, The King gave the Royal Assent to an Act to prevent the Currency of hammer'd Money, and for Recoining it. 2. An Act against corresponding with King James and his Adherents. 3. An Act for imprisoning Counter, and others, for the Assassination-Plot, &c.
Sums granted, and for what Uses.
The same day, the House of Commons agreed to the Resolutions which had been taken in a grand Committee about the Supply; First, That a Sum not exceeding three hundred and fifty thousand Pounds, be granted to his Majesty, for maintaining Guards and Garrisons for the Year 1698. Secondly, That a Supply be granted to his Majesty, which, together with the Funds already settled for that Purpose, should be sufficient to answer and cancel all Exchequer-Bills, issued or to be issued, not exceeding two Millions seven hundred thousand Pounds. Thirdly, That a Supply be granted to his Majesty, for the speedy paying and disbanding the Army. And then they ordered, that a Bill be brought in for reducing the Discount upon Exchequer-Bills, and giving them a better Currency.
Bounties granted to disbanded Soldiers.
On January the 18th, they came to other softning Resolutions. First, That upon Disbanding the Army, over and above what is due to them, there be allowed by way of Bounty, fourteen Days Subsistence to each Foot-Soldier and Non-Commission Officer; and to each Foot-Soldier three Shillings more, in lieu of his Sword, which he is to deliver up. Secondly, That upon disbanding the Army, over and above what is due to them, there be allowed by way of Bounty, six days full Pay to each private Trooper and Non-Commission Officer of the Horse and Dragoons. Thirdly, That, out of the Supply to be granted to his Majesty, the Sum of two hundred and fifty thousand Pound be allowed upon Account, towards defraying the Charge of disbanding the private Troopers, and Centinels, and Non-Commission Officers, of the Horse, Dragoons, and Foot. Fourthly, That Provision be made for giving Half-pay to the CommissionOfficers, (his Majesty's natural-born Subjects of England) till the said Officers shall be fully paid off and cleared, and be otherwise provided for.
Deficiencies made good.
To proceed in these softer Ways, the Commons Resolved to make good the Deficiencies of former Funds; and therefore, on January the 22d, they voted the Sum of four hundred and seven thousand Pounds, for making good the Deficiency of the Aid of three Shillings in the Pound, granted to his Majesty the last Session of Parliament; and nine hundred and forty thousand Pounds, for making good the Deficiency of the Subsidies, and other Duties granted at the same time; and one hundred twenty nine thousand Pound, for making good the Deficiency of the Aid of one Shilling in the Pound. And they ordered a Committee to consider of Ways and Means for making good the said Deficiencies. On Feb. the 1st, having taken the Arrears of the Army into consideration, they Resolved that the Sum of 1,254,000 l. was necessary to clear the Arrears of Pay, due to the Land Forces, according to the Establishment from the first of April 1692, to the last day of September 1697, besides 940,815 l. for Subsistence, 28,295 l for Contingencies, 5000 l. for the General-Officers, and 75,000 l. for the Guards and Garrisons; in all 2,348,102 l. And that there was but 855,502 l. remaining in the hands of the Pay-Master of the Army, the first day of January 1697-8.
Three Shillings in the Pound laid upon Land. ; Sums voted to foreign Princes.
To raise the Sums which the Parliament had voted necessary for disbanding the Army, paying of Seamen, and towards making good of Loans, and the Deficiencies of former Funds; they Resolved, February the 9th, to lay an Aid of three Shillings in the Pound upon Land, by way of Assessment upon every County, in proportion to the Rates of the first four Shillings Aid granted in 1691, by which means they prevented any future Deficiency of this Fund. The next day, they considered the Account of what was due to some of his Majesty's Allies, both for Arrears of Subsidies, and for Payment of Auxiliaries; and Resolved, that 180,000 Rix-dollars were due to the Elector of Brandenburgh; 250,000 Rix-dollars to the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel; 121,223 Rix-dollars to the Duke of Wolfenbuttle; 149,997 Rix-dollars to the Bishop of Munster; 50,000 Rix-dollars to the Duke of Hanover and Zell; 25,000 Rix-dollars to the Duke of Holstein, and 200,000 Rix-dollars to the King of Denmark, both upon the fore-mentioned Account, and in consideration of an entire Prohibition of Commerce between that Crown and France. They also Resolved, that there was due the Sum of 177,000 Pounds to the Contractors for Bread and Forage. Four days after, they farther examined into the Debt of the Nation, and Resolved, that the Sum of 1,392,742 l. was due upon the several Heads of the Estimate of the general Debt of the Navy; 204,157 l. to the Office of Ordnance; 340,708 l. for Transports for Reducing of Ireland; 125,785 l. for other Transport-service; and 49,929 l. for quartering and cloathing the Army raised by Act of Parliament in 1677, and disbanded by another Act in 1679.
Order of Paying off all Arrears of Debt.
It being impossible for the Nation to acquit this vast Debt at once, the Commons resolved to do it by degrees; and therefore voted, First, That the Debt due for clearing the Army, from the first of April 1692, to the last day of September 1697, amounting to 1,254,000 l. the Sum of 139,066 l. be raised in the Year 1698, which would clear the Army to the first day of April, 1693. Secondly, That the Sum of 203,450 l. be raised for the clearing the Arrears of Subsistence to the Troops in England, between the first day of January 1696, and the first day of August, 1697. Thirdly, That 450,816 l. be raised for clearing the Arrears of Subsistence to the Troops in Flanders, to the 4th day of October, 1697. Fourthly, That the Sum of 50,000 l. be raised for the General-Officers. Fifthly, That 137,990 l. be raised for clearing the Arrears of Subsistence, due to the Troops in Flanders, from the 4th October, 1697, to the last of December. Sixthly, That the Sum of 1,100,117 l. be raised for the Navy; viz. 100,000 l. for Wear and Tear; 600,000 l. for Seamens-Wages, in Part of 1,862,849 l. due on that score; 16,389 l. due to the Register'd-Seamen; 24,000 l. for the Salaries of the Commissioners of the Admiralty, and other Officers, and for Contingencies; 28,663 l. for Halfpay Sea-Officers; 90,073 l. for Pensions to superannuated Sea-Officers and Widows; 15,927 l. for the Charge of the Yards; 848 l. for the Muster-masters of the Out-Ports; 43,399 l. for Wages to Ships and Vessels in Ordinary; 19,608 l. for Victuals of the Ships in Ordinary; 32,558 l. for Harbour-moorings; 35,848 l. for ordinary Repairs of the Navy; 55,520 l. for the two marine Regiments; and 37,286 l. for the Charge of the Office for Registering Seamen. Seventhly, That the Sum of 60,000 l. be allowed for the Ordnance. And Eighthly, That Provision be made towards Payment of the Principal and Interest of the Transport-Debt. All which Sums they resolved to raise in the Year 1698.
Enquiry into the false Endorsements on Exchequer-Bills. ; Duncomb and Knight, two Members, expell'd and imprisoned for the same.
The false Endorsement of Exchequer-Bills was such a scandalous Practice, that it took up much of the Commons time to enquire into it, and reform it. These ExchequerBills were of mighty Use in the Nation, by supplying the Scarcity of Money during the Re-coining of the Silver Species. Now, because there was an Interest of seven Pounds twelve Shillings per Annum allowed upon the second issuing the said Bills out of the Exchequer, after they had been paid in, on any of the King's Taxes; whereas at their first issuing out of the Exchequer, they bore no Interest; this encouraged several of the King's Officers, both in the Exchequer, the Customs, and the Excise, to contrive together to get great Sums of Money by false Endorsements on these Exchequer-Bills, before they had circulated about, and been brought into any Branch of his Majesty's Revenue. The most considerable Persons that had carried on this unwarrantable Practice, were Mr. Charles Duncomb, ReceiverGeneral of the Excise; Mr. John Knight, Treasurer of the Customs; Mr. Bartholomew Burton, who had a Place in the Excise-Office; and Mr. Reginald Marryot, one of the Deputy-Tellers of the Exchequer; which last, to get his Pardon, compounded to accuse the rest. Upon a full Proof of the matter, Duncomb and Knight, who were Members of the House of Commons, were first expelled the House, and committed Prisoners to the Tower; Burton was sent to Newgate, and Bills were ordered to be brought in to punish them. The Bill against Mr. Duncomb, whereby a Fine of near half his Estate, (which at that time was judged to be worth 400,000 l.) was set upon him, did quickly pass the House of Commons, notwithstanding the Opposition that was made to it, particularly by the Attorney-General: But being sent up to the House of Lords, and their Lordships being equally divided, the Duke of Leeds gave his casting Vote for the rejecting of the Bill. It was then the common Report, that Mr. Duncomb dispelled the impending Storm by a golden Sacrifice; which however History cannot relate as a Truth, because it never came to public notice: But we must not pass over in silence, that Mr. Duncomb being set at liberty by the Order of the House of Lords, without the Consent of the Commons, the latter resented it to that degree, that they caused him to be remanded to the Tower of London, where he continued to the End of the Session. The Bills against Knight and Burton had the same fate; and so all those threatning Clouds that seemed ready to crush the false Endorsers, spent themselves in Vapour and Noise.
A Bill of Resumption ordered.
The Commons did this Year design to apply Part of all the forfeited Estates to the Use of the Public; in order to which, they enquired into the Grants made by King Charles II. and King James II. and ordered a Bill to be brought in to make them void. Afterwards they examined the Grants made by his present Majesty in Ireland; and because a Grant was found made to Mr. Railton, which Mr. Montague, Chancellor of the Exchequer, owned to be for his Benefit, a warm Debate arose thereupon; and the Enemies of the latter, who were not few, moved, that he should withdraw; which passing in the Negative, it was Resolved by a great Majority, That it was the Opinion of this House that the honourable Charles Montague Esq; Chancellor of the Exchequer, for his good Services to this Government, did deserve his Majesty's Favour: A Vote that will render his Name famous to all succeeding Ages.
State of Religion.
On Feb. 9th. A Committee was appointed to draw up an humble Address to his Majesty, upon the Debate of the House, to suppress Prophaneness and Immorality, and all Books which endeavour to undermine the Fundamentals of the Christian Religion, and to punish the Authors. So that on Feb. 17th, this Address was presented to the King by the whole House.
The Commons Address.
'May it please your Majesty, We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons in Parliament assembled, do with great Joy and Comfort remember the many Testimonies which your Majesty has given us of your Sincerity and Zeal for the true Reformed Religion, as established in this Kingdom: And in particular, we beg leave to present to your Majesty our most humble and thankful Acknowledgments, for the late gracious Declaration your Majesty has made to us from the Throne, that you would effectually discourage Prophaneness and Immorality, which, chiefly by the Neglect and ill Example of too many Magistrates, are, like a general Contagion, diffused and spread throughout the Kingdom, to the great Scandal and Reproach of our Religion, and to the Dishonour and Prejudice of your Majesty's Government.
'Therefore, in Concurrence with your Majesty's pious Intentions, we do most humbly desire, that your Majesty would issue out your Royal Proclamation, commanding all your Majesty's Judges, Justices of the Peace, and other Magistrates, to put in speedy Execution those good Laws that are now in force against Prophaneness and Immorality, giving due Encouragement to all such as do their Duty therein: And that your Majesty would be pleased to require from your Judges and Justices of Assize, from time to time, an Account of such their Proceedings.
'And since the Examples of Men in high and public Stations have a powerful Influence upon the Lives of others, we do most humbly beseech your Majesty, that all Vice, Prophaneness and Irreligion, may in a particular manner be discouraged, in those who have the Honour to be employed near your Royal Person; and in all others who are in your Majesty's Service, by Sea and Land; appointing strict Orders to be given to all your Commanders that they do not only shew a good Example themselves, but also inspect the Manners of those under them; and that your Majesty would upon all Occasions distinguish Men of Piety and Virtue, by Marks of your Royal Favour.
'We do further in all Humility beseech your Majesty, that your Majesty would give such effectual Orders, as to your Royal Wisdom shall seem fit, for the suppressing all pernicious Books and Pamphlets, which contain in them impious Doctrines against the Holy Trinity, and other fundamental Articles of our Faith, tending to the Subversion of the Christian Religion, and that the Authors and Publishers thereof may be discountenanced and punished.
'And we do also most humbly beseech your Majesty, that your said Proclamation may be ordered to be read at least four Times in the Year, in all Churches and Chappels, immediately after divine Service; and at the Assizes and Quarter-Sessions of the Peace, just before the Charge is given.
'We present to your Majesty this our most humble Address, proceeding from our Duty and Zeal for the Glory of God, and to the end that all our Councils may be blessed by his divine Assistance, and may produce Honour, Safety and Happiness, with all the Blessings of a lasting Peace, to your Majesty and your People.'
His Majesty received this Address with a singular Satisfaction, and gave this agreeable Answer.
His Majesty's Answer.
'Gentlemen, I cannot but be very well pleased with an Address of this nature; and I will give immediate Directions in the several Particulars you desire: But I could wish some more effectual Provision were made, for the suppressing those pernicions Books and Pamphlets which your Address takes notice of.'
An Act for suppressing Atheism, &c.
Upon this seasonable Intimation of his Majesty, leave was given, Feb. 26th, to bring in a Bill or Bills, for the more effectual suppressing Prophaneness, Immorality and Debauchery; and Sir John Philips, and Mr. Edward Harley were ordered to prepare and bring in the said Bill or Bills. In the mean time, an ingrossed Bill from the Lords came down to the Commons, entitled, An Act for the more effectual suppressing of Atheism, Blasphemy and Prophaneness: Which, being committed at the second reading to a Committee of the whole House, was, after some Amendments and Conferences, (on certain Points contain'd in it, which too nearly affected the Jews) happily agreed to. And in the mean time, his Majesty, in immediate compliance to the Request of the Commons, published a Proclamation for preventing and punishing Immorality and Prophaneness.
Royal Assent given to several Acts.
Several Bills being ready for the Royal Assent, his Majesty came to the House, March the 7th, and pass'd An Act for explaining the Mum Act; An Act for discharging the Arrears on several Annuities; An Act for all Retailers of Salt to sell by Weight; An Act for preventing the Importation of foreign Bonelace, &c. An Act to prevent the throwing and firing of Squibs; and to some private Acts.
And April 2. other Bills being ready for the Royal Assent, his Majesty came again to the House of Peers, and pass'd An Act for disbanding the Army, paying Seamen, &c. for which they gave 1,484,015 l. An Act explaining some part of an Act made last Sessions for the better Relief of the Poor; An Act for the enlarging, repairing and preserving the Bridge and Key of the Borough of Bridgewater, in the County of Somerset; An Act for dissolving the Marriage, between Charles Earl of Macclesfield, and Anne his Wife, and to illegitimate the Children of the said Anne; and to several private Bills.'
Several Merchants impeach'd of high Crimes and Misdemeanours.
May the 16th, Articles of Impeachment were read, and agreed to be ingrossed against J. Gaudett, D. Barran, P. Longueville, S. Seignorett, R. Baudouin, P. Deheerce Merchants, and J. Pierce Gent. for confederating with several other Persons, in carrying on a Trade to France during the late War.
For carrying on a Correspondence with several Persons in France, and giving intelligence to the Enemy of the State of the Realm.
For importing great Quantities of French Goods.
For Exporting Wool.
For conveying Criminals out of the Kingdom.
And for selling French Lustrings, and Alamodes with counterfeit Seals and Marks, in breach of several Laws.
Royal Assent given to several Acts.
The same day the King gave the Royal Assent to An Act for granting to his Majesty several Duties upon Coals and Culm; An Act for continuing the Duties upon Coffee, Teas, Chocolate and Spices, far Discharge of the Transport-Debt; An Act for the better preventing the diminishing the Coin; An Act relating to on Act for taking away the Courts held before the President of the Marches of Wales; An Act for determining Differences by Arbitration; An Act for the better Payment of Bills of Exchange; An Act to naturalize the Children of Officers and Soldiers, and others, being the natural-born Subjects of this Realm, who were born abroad during the War; An Act to repeal an Act to restrain the excessive making of Malt; and 19 private Acts
Grievance of the Victuallers of the Tower Hamlets.
The 20th, the Report, on a Petition from the Victuallers, &c. of the Tower-Hamlets, complaining, that under pretence of Subsistence-Money, &c. they had been obliged by the Justices to disburse several Sums to the Officers and Soldiers of Colonel Tidcombe's Regiment, &c. was read, together with the Resolutions of the Committee, to whom the said Petition was referred, on the same; which were agreed to by the House, and are as follow.
Resolved, That the Petitioners had no Cause of Complaint against the Justices of the Peace, who acted in relation to the quartering Colonel Tidcombe's Regiment.
That by an Account stated between the Victuallers, and Mr. Moyer Agent to the said Regiment, it appears that the Sum of three thousand, six hundred and twenty three Pounds fourteen Shillings and eight Pence, is due to the said Victuallers; and that there is due from his Majesty to the said Regiment, four thousand, nine hundred, and seventy five Pounds nine Shillings and seven Pence.
The great Case of the East-India Company, (which had been depending many Years, and because of its Intricacy, had been first referred by the Parliament to the King, and by them back to the Parliament again,) was taken into Consideration by the House, May 4. but we have postpon'd the Proceedings on that Article till now, for the sake of giving it to the Reader entire, as follows:
The Dispute between the two East-India Companies.
The old Company having offered to advance 700,000 l. at four per cent. for the Service of the Government, in case the Trade to India might be settled on them exclusive of all others, the House seemed inclined to embrace their Proposal; when another number of Merchants, of whom one Shepherd was the Chief, and who were protected by Mr. Montague, Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed, to the House to raise two Millions at 8 per cent. on Condition the Trade to India might be settled on the Subscribers, exclusive of all others: They also proposed that these Subscribers should not be obliged to trade in a Joint-Stock; but if any Members of them should afterwards desire to be incorporated, a Charter should be granted to them for that purpose. The House judged this new Overture not only to be more advantagious to the Government, but likewise very likely to settle this controverted Trade on a better Foundation than it was on before. A Bill was therefore, on May the 26th, ordered to be brought into the House, for settling the Trade to the East-Indies on those who should subscribe the two Millions, according to the Limitations beforementioned, and the following Resolutions.
'First, That every Subscriber might have the liberty of trading Yearly, to the amount of his respective Subscription; or might assign over such his liberty of Trading to any other Person. Secondly, That his Majesty be empowered to incorporate such of the said Subscribers, as should desire the same. Thirdly, That the Powers and Privileges for carrying on the East-India Trade, should be settled by Parliament. Fourthly, That the said Subscribers should enjoy the said eight Pounds per cent. and liberty of trading to the East-Indies, (fn. 3) exclusive of all others, for the terms of ten Years, and until the same should be redeemed by Parliament. Fifthly, That every Person subscribing five hundred Pounds, have a Vote; and no Person to have more Votes than one. Sixthly, That all Ships laden in the East-Indies, should be obliged to deliver in England. Seventhly, That no Person that should be a Member of any Corporation trading to the East-Indies, should trade otherwise than in the Joint-Stock of such Corporation of which he was a Member. Eighthly, That five Pounds per Cent. ad valorem, upon all returns from the East-Indies, be paid by the Importer; to be placed to the Account of the Subscribers, towards the charge of sending Ambassadors, and other extraordinary Expences. And Ninthly, That over and above the Duties now payable, a further Duty of one Shilling and ten Pence per Pound Weight, be laid upon all wrought Silks imported from India and Persia; to be paid by the Importer.' This Bill being accordingly brought into the House, the old East-India Company presented a Petition against it.
State of the Dividends, Debts, &c. of the old Company.
And June the 10th, a Motion being made, that the said Bill be read a second Time, it pass'd in the Affirmative, Yeas 135. Noes 99.
The 13th, the Committee, appointed to inspect the Books of the East-India Company, made their Report; by which it appeared:
That the original Stock of the said Company in the Year 1657, was 369,891 l. 5 s.
That 390 ½ per cent. was divided between Octob. 1. 1661. and April 1. 1681.
That at a general Court, November 2. 1681. a Call was made for the Residue of the Adventurers Subscriptions, at 100 per cent. at two equal Payments.
That Jan. 18. 1681. the said Call was revoked, and a Dividend of 150 per cent. was order'd, viz. 100 per cent. to double their Stock, and 50 per cent. in Money.
That it appear'd upon Enquiry, that this sudden Difference in the Company's Affairs, was owing to the Arrival of 6 Ships valued at 500,000 l.
That December 31. 1680. the Company was in debt 532,589 l. 7 s. 6 d.
That in the Year 1681. they took up at Interest 80,940 l.
That from the Time of doubling their Stocks as above, their Dividends were made regularly after the Rate of 25 per cent.
So that their Dividends from 1657 to 1681, amount to 440½ per cent. and from 1681 to 1691 doubling the same, according to the nominal Duplication of the Stock, to 400 l. per cent. in all from 1657 to 1691, 840½ per cent. of the 369,891l. 5 s. original Stock.
That these Dividends were always made on the Arrival of Ships on general Computations, without the Help of their Books or a minute State of their whole Account.
That March 31. 1698. their Books not being balanced any farther, the Total of their Debt upon Bond, amounted to 631,554 l. 19 s. 10 d.
That wich regard to their dead Stock in India, they give the same Answer that they did to their Debts there.
That the Company having received 744,000 l. new Subscriptions, and Enquiry being made how it was disposed of, it was answer'd that it was impossible to give the Particulars, but that all was comprized in their Cash-Books; which being examined, they found that, beside 325,565 l. 0 s. 4 d. repaid to the old Adventurers, the following Particulars were plac'd to Account, viz.
|November 30. 1693. paid for the Company's special Service||24,983||00||0|
|December 7. 1694. for Disbursements for the Company||7828||13||0|
|To Sir Thomas Cook, on his Note dated January 10.1693.||90,000||00||0|
Progress of the Bill.
A Motion was then made, that Satisfaction be given to the late Subscribers to the East-India Company, for all Damages done them, by making Dividends beyond the real Value of the Company's Stock, at the Time of such Dividend; And also by ordering to be paid out of the new Subscriptions a Sum of about 325,000 l. lent by the Members of the old Company by way of Increase of their Capital Stock; such Damage to be answered out of the Estates of the said Members, respectively receiving such Dividend and Payment: and a Debate arose, which was adjourn'd till the next day, when the said Company remonstrated, that at the time of calling in the 50 per Cent. they had a good Estate to that Value: That the said 50 per Cent. was repay'd to the old Adventurers, with the Concurrence of the new Subscribers.
The 20th, both Companies delivered in their Proposals.
The 22d, the Amendments to the Bill were read, one of which being to restrain the Company for the future from borrowing Money at above 6 per Cent. it pass'd in the Negative, Yeas 92, Noes 103.
Another, enacting, That the said Company shall pay and discharge all just Debts which they now owe or are subject to, and that all Manors and Lands, heretofore granted to them under the Great Seal, or any private Grant, which they now or hereafter shall be possessed of, shall be subject to the Payment of such just Debts, pass'd in the Affirmative, Yeas 113, Noes 100.
Another being offer'd, that the Company be established in pursuance of this Act, and that their Successors shall never suffer their Debts to exceed their capital Stock, undivided; a Motion was made to adjourn, and over-rul'd; after which, the said Amendment was added to the Bill.
The 23d, another Amendment was offered to the Bill, That the Trade established by this Act, except the exclusive Right, shall be subject to such Regulations as the Parliament shall think most for the Advantage of the Kingdom, and pass'd in the Negative, Yeas 66, Noes 97.
A Motion being then made, that the Bill and Amendments be engross'd, it was resolv'd in the Affirmative, Yeas 120, Noes 80.
The Bill pass'd in favour of the new Company.
The 26th, the Bill was pass'd on a Division, Yeas 115, Noes 78.
We must now go back, in order to take notice of some other Particulars, which were transacted this Session.
700,000 l. per Ann. granted to the King for Life.
May 28. Resolved, That the new Subsidies of Tunnage and Poundage, to make up his Majesty's Revenue 700,000 l. per Ann. be granted to his Majesty for Life.
That the Surplus of the said Subsidies shall be dispos'd of at the Discretion of Parliament.
The 30th, the Answers of Gaudett and the other Persons impeached, were read, and importing that they would abide their Trial, Replies were order'd to be prepared thereto.
June 8. A Negative was put on the second Reading of certain Resolutions of a Committee appointed to examine the Petition of Col. Michelborne, joint Governour with Dr. Walker of London-Derry; Tho' it appear'd, that all the Allegations in the said Petition were made good; tho' 992 l. was due to the said Colonel upon his Pay as Governour, and 14,949 l. 18 s. 6 d. to the said Colonel, his Officers and Soldiers; and tho' the said Committee gave it as their Opinion, that, in consideration of the eminent Services of the said Colonel, and his said Regiment, an Address ought to be presented to his Majesty in their favour.
The 9th, on a Reading of the Civil-List Bill, a Clause being offer'd to secure the Rights of the late Bankers to their Debts, it pass'd in the Negative, Yeas 82, Noes 92.
The 10th, the House entring into Consideration for granting a further Aid to his Majesty, by a Quarterly Poll; a Motion was made to adjourn, and pass'd in the Negative, Yeas 19, Noes 89.
The 11th, Order'd that a Clause of Loan be admitted on the said Bill, and on the Duties for Coal and Culm.
Controversy between the two Houses, occasioned by the Impeachment of Gandett, &c. ; Issue of the said Impeachment.
During this Interval, the two Houses had several Conferences on a Demand of the Commons, to have a convenient Place assign'd them to manage the Prosecution of their Impeachment against Gaudett, &c. which the Lords refus'd, as unprecedented, except in capital Cases, when Trials were carried on in Westminster-Hall. The Controversy was carry'd on with great Steddiness on both sides, but came to no Issue; the said Persons acknowledging their Guilt, upon which they were severally fin'd by the Lords; and the Session soon after breaking up.
Molyneux's Case of Ireland complain'd of.
May 21st, Complaint had been made of a printed Book, entitled, The Case of Ireland being bound by Acts of Parliament in England, (written by William Molyneux of Dublin Esq;) which denied the Dependence of Ireland upon the Authority of the Parliament of England. A Committee was thereupon appointed, to examine further into the said Pamphlet, to enquire into the Author of it; and also to search what Proceedings had been in Ireland, that might occasion the said Book; and an Address to the King voted, that his Majesty would give Directions for the Discovery and Punishment of the Author.
June 22. Upon the Report of the Committee, it was unanimously resolved, 'That the said Book was of dandangerous consequence to the Crown and People of England, by denying the Authority of the King and Parliament of England, to bind the Kingdom and People of Ireland, and the Subordination and Dependence that Ireland has, and ought to have upon England, as being united and annexed to the Imperial Crown of this Realm; and that a Bill entitled, An Act for the better Security of his Majesty's Person and Government, transmitted under the Great Seal of Ireland; whereby an Act of Parliament made in England, was pretended to be re-enacted, Alterations therein made, and divers things enacted also, pretending to oblige the Courts of Justice, and the Great Seal of England, by the Authority of an Irish Parliament; had given occasion and encouragement, to the forming and publishing the dangerous Positions contained in the said Book.'
The House in a Body then presented an Address to the King: Wherein they laid before his Majesty, the dangerous Attempts that had been of late made by some of his Subjects of Ireland, to shake off their Subjection to, and Dependence on this Kingdom; which had manifestly appeared to the Commons, not only by the bold and pernicious Assertions in a Book published and dedicated to his Majesty, entitled, The Case of Ireland being bound by Acts of Parliament in England stated: But more fully and authentically by the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Commons in Ireland, in their late Sessions; and whereby the forementioned Bill sent hither under the great Seal of Ireland, whereby they would have an Act passed in the Parliament of England, expresly binding Ireland, to be re-enacted there, and Alterations therein made; some of which amounted to a Repeal of what is required by the said Act made in England: and in others, of the said Alterations, pretending to give Authority to, and oblige the Courts of Justice and Great Seal here in England. That this they could not but look on as an occasion and encouragement, in the forming and publishing the dangerous Positions contained in the said Book. That the Consequence of such Positions and Proceedings, would be so fatal to this Kingdom, and even to Ireland itself, that they needed not to be enlarged on, or aggravated. Therefore they rested satisfied that his Majesty by his Royal Prudence, would prevent their being drawn into Example; so they assured his Majesty of their ready Concurrence and Assistance, in a parliamentary way, to preserve and maintain the Dependence and Subordination of Ireland to the Imperial Crown of this Realm And they humbly besought his Majesty, that he would give effectual Orders, to prevent any thing of the like nature for the future, and the pernicious Consequences of what was past, by punishing and discountenancing those that had been guilty thereof: That he would take all necessary care that the Laws which direct and restrain the Parliament of Ireland, in their Actings, be not evaded, but strictly observed; and that he would discourage all things which might in any degree lessen the Dependence of Ireland upon England. To this his Majesty's Answer was, That he would take care that what was complained of, might be prevented and redressed as the Commons desired.
Address in Behalf of the City of London-derry, the Governour and Garison.
The 23d, an Address was read and agreed to, recommending the Services and Sufferings of the City of London-Derry to his Majesty's Consideration, for Relief in the Kingdom of Ireland; that they might no longer remain a ruinous Spectacle to all, a Scorn to their Enemies, and a Discouragement to his Majesty's well-affected Subjects.
As likewise the Governour and Garison of the said City, as those who thro' the utmost Sufferings and Extremities have defended the same; and for so signal Service, did deserve to have some special Marks of his Majesty's Favour for a lasting Monument to Posterity.
In answer to which, his Majesty was pleased to promise to take them into Consideration.
Royal Assent given to several Acts.
July 5. The King came to the House of Peers, and gave the Royal Assent to the Act for the new East-India Company; to an Act for paying to his Majesty, his Heirs and Successors, farther Duties on Stampt Paper, &c. an Act for raising the 700,000 l. a Year, for the Civil-List on Tunnage and Poundage, &c.
King's Speech to both Houses.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
'I Cannot take leave of so good a Parliament, without publicly acknowledging the Sense I have of the great things you have done for my Safety and Honour, and for the Support and Welfare of my People.
'Every one of your Sessions hath made good this Character. That happy uniting of us in an Association for our mutual Defence; the remedying the Corruption of the Coin, which had been so long growing upon the Nation; the restoring of Credit; the giving Supplies in such a manner for carrying on the War, as did by God's Blessing produce an honourable Peace; and after that, the making such Provisions for our common Security, and towards satisfying the Debts contracted in so long a War, with as little Burthen to the Kingdom as is possible, are such things as will give a lasting Reputation to this Parliament, and will be a Subject of Emulation to those which shall come after.
'Besides all this, I think myself personally obliged to return my Thanks to you, Gentlemen of the House of Commons, for the Regard you have had to my Honour, by the establishing of my Revenue.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
'There is nothing I value so much as the Esteem and Love of my People; and as for their sakes I avoided no Hazards during the War, so my whole Study and Care shall be, to improve and continue to them the Advantages and Blessings of Peace.
'And I earnestly desire you all, in your several Stations, to be vigilant in preserving Peace and good Order, and in a due and regular Execution of the Laws, especially those against Prophaneness and Irreligion.'
And then the Lord-Chancellor, by his Majesty's Command, prorogued the Parliament until Tuesday the second Day of August next, which was soon afterwards dissolved.