Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 12, 1697-1699. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1803.
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Veneris, 27 die Maii;
Desborow's Share of Prize.
ORDERED, That Sir Marm. Wyvall, Mr. Moor, Mr. Woodroffe, Mr. Lambton, Lord Ashly, Mr. Tilney, Sir Ralph Dutton, Sir John Elwes, Sir John Parsons, Mr. Vincent, be added to the Committee, to whom the Petition of Captain Charles Desborow is referred.
Ship Maryland Merchant.
A Petition of Erasmus Dole, Charles Pope, and others, the Owners of the Ship Maryland Merchant, of Bristol, was presented to the House and read; setting forth, That the said Ship Maryland has, by several Disasters, been prevented from arriving in this Kingdom, by the Time allowed by the Act for preventing Frauds, and regulating Abuses, in the Plantation-Trade: That being debarred from coming hither, will be a Loss to his Majesty of 8,000l. Custom, as well as to the Petitioners, the Owners: And praying, That Leave may be given to bring in a Bill for permitting the said Ship, with her Loading, to return to England, without incurring the Penalty of the said Act.
Ordered, That Leave be given to bring in a Bill according to the Prayer of the said Petition: And that Mr. Yates do prepare, and bring in, the Bill.
Building Ships of War.
Sir Cloudesly Shovell, according to Order, presented to the House, from the Commissioners of his Majesty's Navy, an Account of what the Surplus of the Monies and Stores, and the Value thereof, are, which have been provided for building and equipping the Seven-and-twenty Ships of War, appointed, by a late Act of Parliament, to be built for his Majesty.
Ordered, That the said Account do lie upon the Table, to be perused by the Members of the House.
Mr. Lowther, according to Order, presented to the House, from the Office of Ordnance, an Account of the overplus Money appropriated to the said Office, for Guns, &c. for the said Seven-and-twenty Ships.
Ordered, That the said Account do lie upon the Table, to be perused by the Members of the House.
Preventing false Election Returns.
Ordered, That the Committee of the whole House, to whom the Bill for making more effectual an Act, made in the 23d Year of the Reign of King Henry the Sixth, for remedying false and undue Returns of Members of Parliament; and also to prevent Double Returns; is committed; have Power to receive a Clause, for the more easy electing Knights of the Shire.
Victualling Office Arrears.
A Petition of the working Coopers, Brewers Servants, Bakers Servants, and Labourers, belonging to the Victualling-Office, in London, was presented to the House, and read; setting forth, That they have Fifteen Months Pay due to them, and the Commissioners do offer to pay them only Three Months Pay, in Salt-Tallies; by which they shall lose Four Shillings in the Pound, taking no Notice of their Arrears for Twelve Months: And praying the Consideration of the House, and Relief therein.
Resolved, That the Consideration of the said Petition be referred to a Committee: And that they do examine the Matter thereof; and report the same to the House;
And it is referred to Mr. Robert Bertie, Sir Robert Davers, Mr. Foley, Mr. Blofeild, Sir Charles Windham, Sir John Walters, Sir Clou. Shovell, Mr. Henly, Sir Marm. Wyvall, Mr. Duke, Mr. Mawdit, Mr. Hamond, Mr. Mounstevens, Mr. Colt, Mr. Boscawen, Mr. Morgan, Mr. Lowther, Mr. Arnold, Mr. Fleming, Colonel Kirkby. Mr. Mason, Mr. Yates, Mr. Fuller, Sir John Kay, Mr. Hedger, Lord Fairfax, Mr. Sandford, Sir Wm. Hustler, Mr. Harrison, Sir Henry Colt, Mr. Whitaker, Mr. Thompson, Sir John Bucknall, Mr. Battiscomb, Mr. Herbert, Mr. Philip Bertye, Mr. Harvey, Sir Robert Cotton, Sir Jerv. Elwes, Sir John Trevillian, Sir Wm. Lowther, Mr. Taylor: And they are to meet this Afternoon at Five a Clock, in the Speaker's Chamber: And have Power to send for Persons, Papers, and Records.
An ingrossed Bill for vesting a Copperas-Work, Part of the Estate of Robert Mascall Esquire, deceased, in Trustees, to be sold, for Payment of Debts, and other Charges thereupon, was read the Third time.
Resolved, That the Bill do pass: And that the Title be, An Act for vesting a Copperas-work, late Part of the Estate of Robert Mascall Esquire, deceased, in Trustees, to be sold, for Payment of Debts, and other Charges thereupon.
Ordered, That Sir Henry Colt do carry the Bill to the Lords, and desire their Concurrence thereunto.
A Message from the Lords, by Sir Robert Legard and Sir Richard Holford:
The Lords have passed a Bill, intituled, An Act for Relief of the Creditors of Edward Backwell Esquire, deceased: To which they desire the Concurrence of this House.
And then the Messengers withdrew.
Impeachment of Goudet, &c.
Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to inspect the Journals of the House of Lords, what hath been done by the Lords upon the Impeachments against John Goudet, and others, and report the same to the House:
And it is referred to Sir Rowl. Gwyn, Sir John Bolls, Mr. Smith, Sir Henry Colt, Sir Wm. Williams; or any Three of them.
Impeachment of Dumaistre and Auriall.
Sir Rowland Gwyn acquainted the House, That he hath sufficient Evidence against John Dumaistre and John Auriall, to shew their being greatly concerned in the Smuggling-Trade of Lustrings and Alamodes; and to make good an Impeachment against them for the same.
Resolved, That the said John Dumaistre be impeached of High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Resolved, That the said John Auriall be impeached of High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Ordered, That Sir Rowland Gwyn do go to the Lords, and, in the Name of all the Commons of England, impeach the said John Dumaistre, and John Auriall of High Crimes and Misdemeanors; and acquaint them, That this House will in due time, exhibit Articles of Impeachment against them, and make good the same.
Ordered, That the Committee, which was appointed to draw up Articles of Impeachment against John Goudet, and others, do draw up the Articles of Impeachment against the said John Dumaistre and John Auriall.
Ordered, That the Committee, to whom the Bill for Encouraging of the Lustring Company; and the more effectual preventing the fraudulent Importation of Lustrings and Alamodes; is committed; have Power to receive a Clause for the importing several Bales of Raw Silks from Holland, paying the Duties for the same.
Privilege —Members Letters.
Sir Thomas Frankland reported from the Committee, who were appointed to inquire, how Post-Letters, directed to Members of the House, came to be intercepted, and taken away; and to consider of the best Means to prevent the like for the future; That they had examined the Matter; and found; That one Richard Frogatt was the Person who intercepted the said Letters: And that they had come to several Resolutions; which they had directed him to report to the House; which he read in his Place; and afterwards delivered in at the Clerk's Table: Where the same were read; and are as follow; viz.
That Information being given to Sir Thomas Frankland, upon the 29th Day of April 1698, That one Richard Frogatt, who was put into Prison for Debt, had a great Number of Letters in his Chamber, directed to several Members of Parliament, Sir Thomas Frankland ordered Mr. Avent, Secretary to the Post Office, to go and make Inquiry into that Matter; which he accordingly did.
And, being examined at the Committee, said, That he applied himself to one Mr. Bateman, one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace, for his Warrant, to search the Chambers of the said Richard Frogatt; which was granted; and he taking a Constable with him, upon Search, they found, in the said Frogatt's Chamber, 2 or 300 Letters opened, that were directed to Members of Parliament; which they seized, and carried to the said Justice, and desired, that he would grant his Warrant to William Jennings, Keeper of Whitechapel Prison, for the more safe Custody of the said Frogatt; which was done, and the Warrant delivered to the said Jennings.
The next Day, upon Application to my Lord Chief Justice Holt, he likewise granted his Warrant, to the said Jennings, for the keeping in Custody the said Frogat, till he should be legally discharged: But notwithstanding all these Cautions to the Gaol-keeper, the said Frogatt made his Escape upon the 3d Day of May: Upon which, Complaint was made to the Lord Chief Justice, who summoned the said Jennings to appear before him; and, upon his Appearance, bound him over to the Sessions, to answer the Escape of his Prisoner.
Jennings did acknowledge his having received the Warrants, both of the Justice of Peace, and my Lord Chief Justice: That he did give strict Charge to all his People, to take care of the said Frogatt, that he might not escape: But confessed, he went at large among the other Prisoners; and upon the 3d Instant, in the Evening, when he was abroad, the Turnkey opening the Door, to let some Persons in, the said Frogatt rushed by, and made his Escape; that the Turnkey, who was an old Woman, called after him; but he got quite away from her. The said Jennings promised to use his utmost Endeavour to retake him.
Mrs. Carveth, at whose (fn. 1) [House] the said Frogatt lodged, did confirm what was said by Mr. Avent: As did also Mrs. Ruthin, a Person lodging in the same House.
The Constable, Mr. Palmer, did produce the Letters taken in the said Frogatt's Lodgings; and such as had any Directions at all left, were directed to Members of Parliament; but great Numbers had the Writing Part tore out, as also the Superscription.
Mr. Barns, the Headborough, said, That Frogatt being first apprehended for Debt, he was sent to search his Chambers, and therein found a great Number of Keys; which he produced at the Committee: And it appeared, That some of them had been filed, in order to make Pick-lock Keys on.
The said Frogatt was retaken by Mr. Wilcocks, one of his Majesty's Messengers; and, upon Order of the Committee, brought before them upon the 10th Instant; who, upon his Examination, did acknowledge, That he had, from the 4th Day of April last, every Post-day, constantly taken Letters out of the Boxes at the Lobby-Door, till such time as he was put in Prison for Debt, which was upon the One-and-twentieth of April:
That his Friends had been unkind to him; and hath had great Misfortunes, which reduced him to low Circumstances; and that, by this means, he was in Hopes to meet with some Bills of Exchange, to have enabled him to have gone beyond Seas: That he was a younger Son of a Gentleman in Derbyshire, and had but a small Fortune: That he had disobliged his Friends, by marrying a Woman of an ill Reputation; which made them take no Care for his Subsistence.
Being asked, Whether he had received any Benefit by the Letters he had so intercepted? he positively denied, that he had.
That he did own, he employed a Person in Hungerford Market to receive a Bill of Exchange for 30l. 15s. drawn upon Mr. Poley in the Temple, payable to Mr. Archdale Palmer; but that the Bill was not paid.
He was likewise asked, If he had any Accomplices who joined with him in this Practice, or were to be Sharers of the Benefit he hoped to receive by it? He positively affirmed, That no Person whatsoever was privy to it; but that he transacted it altogether by himself.
He was also asked concerning the Pick-lock Keys; and answered, He never made use of them; but did not disown his having it in his Thoughts, that, some time or other, he should be reduced to supply himself with some Money, by making use of them.
He confessed, That in some other Letters, finding several Things were sent up by the Carrier to several Members, he designed to have intercepted them; but never did any such thing.
Leonard Wigington, who was the Person employed by the said Frogatt, to receive the Bill of 30l. 15s. of Mr. Poley, did say, That the said Frogatt was altogether a Stranger to him; but, upon his giving him the Bill, he did carry it to Mr. Poley's Chamber; where he was told, the Bill would be paid next Day, if he would come himself: And Frogat afterwards came to him, the said Wigington, to go with him to Mr. Poley's; but, when they came to Covent-Garden, Frogatt made an Excuse to call in some Alley thereabouts, and gave him the Slip: And that he had not one Farthing for his Pains.
It did not appear to the Committee, That the said Wigington was known to the said Frogatt before that time.
Upon the whole Examination, it likewise appeared to the Committee, That there had been several Members Letters taken out of the Boxes, both before the time Frogatt confessed himself to be guilty of this Practice, and likewise since he was in Custody: So that there is Reason to suspect, there are other Persons, who are Accomplices with him, or guilty of the like ill Practice: But, to prevent the like Miscarriages for the future, the Committee came to the Resolutions following; viz.
Resolved, That it is the Opinion of this Committee, That, as a proper Means to prevent the Intercepting of Letters belonging to the Members of the House, for the future, the Person appointed to bring them from the General Post-Office shall constantly (fn. 2) [every Post-day] attend two Hours, at the least, at the Place appointed for the Delivery of the said Letters; and take care, during his Stay there, to deliver the same to the several Members, to whom they shall be directed, and no other.
Resolved, That it is the Opinion of this Committee, That the said Officer, upon his going away, shall give such Letters as shall remain undelivered, to one of the Servants belonging to the House; who shall take care to deliver the said Letters to the several Members, to whom they are directed, their known Servants, or to such Persons who shall produce a Note under the Hands of the Members who shall send for the same.
Resolved, That it is the Opinion of this Committee, That a more convenient Place should be appointed, from whence the Letters may be delivered; or that the Place from whence they are at present delivered be enlarged.
The said Resolutions, being severally read a Second time, were, upon the Question severally put thereupon, agreed unto by the House.
Ordered, That Mr. Attorney-General do prosecute the said Richard Frogatt for the said Crime.
Preventing false Election Returns.
Resolved, That this House will, upon Monday Morning next, resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider of the Bill for making more effectual an Act, made in the 23d Year of the Reign of King Henry the Sixth, for remedying false and undue Returns of Members of Parliament; and also to prevent Double Returns.
Embezzlement of Naval Stores.
An ingrossed Bill for enforcing the Laws against such as steal and embezzle his Majesty's Ammunition, Sails, Cordage, or other Habiliments of War; and for pre venting divers Cheats and Frauds, in the paying of Seamen serving on board his Majesty's Ships; was read the Third time.
Resolved, That the Bill do pass: And that the Title be, An Act for the better preventing the Embezzlement of his Majesty's Stores of War; and preventing Cheats, Frauds, and Abuses, in paying Seamens Wages.
Ordered, That Mr. Norris do carry the Bill to the Lords, and desire their Concurrence thereunto.
Supply Bill; purchasing Annuities.
Mr. Lowndes, according to Order, presented to the House a Bill for enlarging the Time for purchasing certain Estates, or Interests, in several Annuities, therein mentioned: And the same was received; and read the First time.
Resolved, That the Bill be read a Second time.
Ways and Means.
The House resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider further of Ways and Means for raising the Supply granted to his Majesty.
Mr. Speaker left the Chair.
Sir Thomas Littleton took the Chair of the Committee.
Mr. Speaker resumed the Chair.
Sir Thomas Littleton reported from the said Committee, that they had come to several Resolutions; which they had directed him to report, when the House will please to receive the same.
Ordered, That the said Report be made To-morrow Morning.
Ordered, That all Committees be revived.
And then the House adjourned till To-morrow Morning, Nine a Clock.