Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 9, 1667-1687. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1802.
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Die Jovis, 31 Octobris, 19 Car. 2di.
Committee of Privileges.
Barker's, &c. Petition.
Ordered, That this Petition be referred to the Committee of Grievances; to examine the Matter of the Petition; and report it, with their Opinions therein, to the House: And the Committee are hereby ordered, to sit on Wednesday next; and to take this Petition into Consideration: And, that no other Committee do sit that Day.
Privilege- Assault of a Member.
Information being given to the House, of a great Misdemeanour, and Breach of Privilege, committed by one Mr. Coventry, in assaulting Mr. Edw. Seymour, a Member of this House, in the Palace Yard, upon the Rising of the House;
Miscarriages of the War.
Ordered, That Mr. Williamson do, from time to time, attend the Committee appointed to examine the Miscarriages of the late War, as often as he shall be required, with the Papers of the Lord Arlington: And, that he do produce the Papers; and give what Information he can, therein.
Ordered, That the Earl of Anglesey be attended, by the Lord Ancram, Sir Ralph Banks, and Sir Tho. Clergis; and desired to give what Information he can, concerning Abuses in paying the Seamen by Tickets; or any Miscarriage, in the late War: And, that Report thereof be made to the House.
Miscarriages of the War.
Sir Robert Brookes reports, that his Grace the Duke of Albemarle had also been pleased to deliver to him, in Writing, a Narrative of the Miscarriages in the late War; to be communicated to the House: Both which Narratives being delivered in at the Clerk's Table, and read;
"I DO esteem it as a very great Happiness, that my hearty Services for the King and Kingdom, in the late War, are so well accepted by the House of Commons. And since it is desired, by them, that I should impart what Miscarriages I have observed in the Management of the said War; and that I should give a particular Account, concerning the Division of the Fleet, in the Year 1666; I shall faithfully do it, upon the best Collection I can make."
"I begin with the first Summer's Expedition, when his Royal Highness commanded; and thereupon, shall only say in short, if the Duke's Orders (as they ought) had been strictly observed, the Victory which was then obtained had been much greater; nay, in Probability, the whole Fleet of the Enemy had been destroyed. What other Miscarriages happened that Summer, I cannot speak to, but upon Hearsay; being commanded home as soon as that Fight was over; and had not any Hand in any other Action of the War, until it pleased the King the next Summer to join me with the Lord General in the Command of the Fleet: In which Expedition, That which first appears of Moment, is- The Separation of the Fleet: Whereof, I can say thus much, that That Counsel was founded upon the Intelligence which was brought, of some Ships of the French King's being at Bell Isle; and that some others were expected there out of Brest, and with the Duke de Beauford. It was also encouraged by other Intelligence, that the Dutch Fleet was not likely to come abroad in some Weeks: So that it was conceived, a Squadron of our Ships might be spared to look after the French, and return time enough to the Body of the Fleet, before an Engagement with the Dutch."
"With these Counsels, and in pursuance to the Orders I had then newly received from the Duke of Yorke, I set sail upon Tuesday the 29th of May; leaving the main Body of the Fleet with the Duke of Albemarle, in the Downs; where he concluded there could be no probable Danger from the Enemy, in case they should come out, because the same Winds, which should bring them into the Channel, would also serve to bring down our Fleet to a Conjunction with the Squadron under my Command: And I stood my Course Westward, till, by Stress of Weather (which happened the Friday following, being the First of June) I was driven back again, and came to an anchor in St. Helen's Road: Where, by a Ketch which I had sent before to Portsmouth for Intelligence, I received the first Notice, of the Dutch being abroad; and his Royal Highness' Order, bearing Date the 30th of May, for my Return to the Fleet; which I was thereby directed to find, either in the Downes, or at the Gunfleet. Whereupon I made all the Haste back to the Downes: But the Duke of Albemarle, it seems, by Order he had received after my parting from him, was gone thence for the Gunfleet; and in passing met the Dutch, upon the said First of June; and I, meeting no Intelligence in the Downes, steered my Course on towards the Gunfleet also; and on Sunday, the Third of June, met the English and the Dutch Fleets, who had then been some Days engaged."
"The next Miscarriage I shall mention, was, the intolerable Neglect in supplying of Provisions, during that whole Summer's Expedition; notwithstanding the extraordinary and frequent Importunities of our Letters, which, for the most part, was directed to Sir William Coventry, as being the fittest Person to represent our Desires to his Royal Highness, and the Commissioners of the Navy; of which Number he was then also one: And, in this particular Instance, the Neglect was so great, that we were enforced, by Three repeated Orders in that Summer, to bring the whole Fleet to short Allowance, from the Second of August to the 23d of October, when I brought home the Fleet. I know, upon our Complaints, Accounts were sent us, that all had been supplied according to our Orders: But I remember also, we did then complain, that great Quantities of wood-bound Casks were staved; and, much of the Provisions, upon Surveys, proved defective: Also, that the Gauge of the Beer-vessels were Twenty Gallons in a Butt short of what it ought to be; and that the Bills of Credit came with the Pursers to the Fleet, instead of Provisions in Specie."
"This want of Provisions did manifestly tend to the extraordinary Prejudice of his Majesty's Service, in that whole Summer; but most especially after the Victory obtained in the July Fight; when he had carried the Fleet on the Enemy's Coast, and lay there before the Vly, in the Way of all their Merchant Ships, we were enforced, merely for want of Provisions, to quit our . . . . to Sole Bay."
"And, now I have made mention of that Second Fight, I must not forbear to tell you my Judgment, that the Blue Squadron was, in that Action, guilty of a great Miscarriage: Otherwise, in Probability, the whole Zealand Squadron had fallen into our Hands. The Want of Seamen was also too great to be forgotten; which, I believe, was occasioned, partly by the Hopes they had to go into Merchant Ships and Colliers, where the Pay was greater, and the Hazard less; and partly by the ill Management of those who were intrusted to impress them."
"In the next Place, I must remember the horrible Neglects of his Majesty's Officers, and the Workmen of his Yards. For the Proof thereof, there needs but Two Instances: The one, That of the Fire-ships, which we desired to have supplied unto us after the second Fight, we having spent the greatest part of ours, in that Fight, and in the Action of the Vly: After above Five Weeks Importunity, we were told, we should have Five Fireships out of the Thames, and Chatham, where all Necessaries were at hand: Whenas, in as many Days, we provided as many Fire-ships ourselves, at Sole Bay: And those that were promised out of the River, came not to us till the Want of them were over. The next is as considerable: That whereas we were in great Expectation, against the second Fight, of having the Loyal London, Warespight, Cambridge, and Greenwich (which were all Ships of so great Force, that we thought it not fit to sail, till they were ready); after we had, with all imaginable Importunity, in vain, desired the sitting and sending of them; we were enforced, at last, to send up Sir Robert Holmes, with some of our own Numbers out of the Fleet for the Three latter; and Sir Jeremiah Smith for the Loyal London: Who in few Days brought the said Ships to the Fleet; where we fitted them ourselves. And though these are very considerable Instances; yet the late Miscarriage at Chatham doth more eminently prove it. From that Expedition, where we commanded, I returned home in the Beginning of October: But, before I came in with the Fleet, I sent it as my humble Advice to the King, amongst other Things which I thought for his Majesty's Service, that Care should be taken to prevent an Attempt upon Harwich; which was to be apprehended some time or other from the Enemy, after the Fleet should be come in: And his Majesty's Commands were accordingly afterwards issued forth for the fortifying both of Harwich and Sheerenesse: Which would have prevented any such Design. But though many Months passed before the Dutch made their Attempt; yet nothing had been done to render Sheerenesse defensible against an Enemy: To which Neglect, we may justly ascribe the burning of the Ships at Chatham; and the Dishonour that attended it."
"Last of all, I do esteem it none of the least Miscarriages that hath been observable in the late War, that no Fleet was kept in a Body the last Summer; especially since the Enemy was well known to be arming; whereas we had above Eighteen thousand Seamen, all the while, in Pay abroad, in dispersed Ships; of which, if but a Part had been kept together in the Thames, it had probably prevented the Mischief which ensued."
"BEING desired, by the House of Commons, to impart what I have observed or known of any Miscarriage in the late War; and particularly, concerning the Divisions of the Fleet in the Year 1666; I shall herein relate all I can, during my being at Sea, with respect to the Shortness of Time, and the Want of many of my Papers, occasioned by the Loss of Sir William Clarke, who attended me in the Sea Service, and was slain in it."
"The first what I remember of the Division of the Fleet, is as followeth; viz. Sir George Carterett and Sir William Coventry came to us to the Buoy of the Nore, on the 14th Day of May 1666; and there acquainted us, that there might be good Service done, if we could spare a Squadron of Twenty of our Ships, with some Fire-ships, to fall upon Part of the French Fleet, which was gathered together at Bell Isle; and this made so great a Secret, that we could not have the Advice of our Flag Officers in it: And they said, the Dutch Fleet would not be out in Six Weeks. I was much surprised at his Proposition: But I told them, if, upon their going to London, it should be resolved to send away such Part of our Fleet, as is aforesaid, I could not be able to engage the Dutch, till I should be recruited. All that was done at this Time, was, to agree of the Names of the Ships; and that our whole Fleet should sail to the Downes to lie there for their Orders. On the 27th of May, at Night, I received a Letter from my Lord Arlington, dated the 24th; importing, that he heard the Dutch Fleet would be out suddenly; but he mentioned no certain Time of their coming out: And the Prince had Orders, on the 25th, to sail away with his Squadron, in Prosecution of the fore-mentioned Design: And on the 29th, at Ten at Night, I received Orders, dated the 28th, to go to the Gunfleet; and the next Day I called the Officers together, and acquainted them with it. They thought it very inconvenient to go to the Gunfleet; alleging, that if the Wind should be Easterly, and the Dutch come out, and send Fire-ships among us, being at Anchor, they might put us into Disorder,; and therefore they rather advised we should sail to the Swym, betwixt the Gunfleet and the Middle Grounds, as a Place better for Safety, and for taking in Provisions for the Fleet. I then dispatched an Express to his Royal Highness, with the Result of this Consultation: And, as soon as I had squadroned my Ships, and got all our Men from Shore, (which was by the 31st of May) I set Sail that very Afternoon. I had with me, when the Prince was to go, Fifty-six Sail: But the Advice having broken Head, the Expedition went with his Highness in her place; and another of my Ships, that was out to scout towards Dunkirk, came not in, till the Fight was over; so that I had but Fifty-four Ships, when we had Sight of the Dutch Fleet: Which we described the First of June, about Eight in the Morning, lying at Anchor off the North Foreland; consisting of about Eighty Men of War, besides Fire-ships and Ketches. We expected them not so soon, having never heard before they were out of their Harbour, or so much as drawn to any Rendezvous; tho' it is well known they came out the 21th of May; as I had Advice, after the Fight. Considering the Condition I was in; most part of the best Sailors being gone with the Prince; and that those with me, were very heavy Ships, and many of them Merchant-men, and Dutch Prizes; I thought fit to advise, if we might not get into the River, without fighting: And, in order thereunto, I called together all the Flag Officers and Captains on board: Who, after some Consideration, unanimously agreed, that, in regard most of our Fleet were heavy Ships, we could not avoid fighting: And thereupon the Resolution was, to fall upon them as they lay at Anchor. The Description of our Engagement is not very pertinent to this Narrative: But, notwithstanding all the Disadvantage, we had but Two Recruits added to the Dutch Fleet; we lost but Ten Ships; and they had above Twenty sunk, and burnt."
"By a Letter from his Royal Highness of the 31th of May, I found, that a Letter was writ the Day before to recall the Prince; and his Highness came to us the 3d of June at Night. The Fourth of June, being Monday, we sailed towards the Dutch Fleet, and fought with them that Day, till towards Night; and then they sailed towards the Holland Coast, and left us: And his Highness Prince Rupert's Ship, and mine, being both disabled, we were not able to follow them that Night. So, upon a Consultation, it was resolved, that we should sail with our Fleet to the Buoy in the Nore; to repair our Ships, and to recruit them."
"After these Engagements, the Fleet drew into the Buoy of the Nore, to be repaired and victualled: Where I cannot but observe the great Negligence of the Commissioners of the Navy, in not providing for our Supply. We had not any thing we wanted, but by great Importunity: And, such was their Delay in sitting out our Ships, that, after they had represented it scarce possible to have the Loyal London, Warspight, Cambridge, and Greenwich, out that Summer, we sent some of our own Officers and Seamen, who brought them to us in a very few Days."
"The next Thing that I remember observable, is, that, when in the Month of August, in the same Year, our Fleet lay before the Vly and Scheeling; when we burnt and destroyed One hundred Fifty-two Merchantmen, and Four Men of War; and might have perfected this Success with very great Advantage (for, Fifty Merchant Ships, which came in Three Days after, must have fallen into our Fleet); we were forced, for want of Provisions, to draw off; notwithstanding that both his Highness and myself had, with great Instance and Importunity, often pressed for Provisions; and, that we might not put to Sea, at that time, with less than for Four Months."
"His Majesty having Intelligence, that the Dutch Fleet had, with their Cannon, beaten those from Sheernesse that were to defend the Place, was pleased, upon Monday the 10th of June, about Noon, to command me to repair to Chatham, to take the best Order I could, to defend and secure the Ships there: And his Majesty gave Order to the Commissioners of the Ordnance, to dispatch a Train after me, that very Day: Which I heard came that Night to Deptford, and the next Day to Gravesend: And I myself went from the Tower of London, at Four a Clock that Afternoon; and came to Gravesend the Evening. When I came there, I found the Fort on Kent Side with few Guns mounted; and That on Essex Side had not above Two in it mounted. I thereupon gave Order to Sir John Griffeth the Governor, to mount as many Guns as he could, and to repair the Fortifications, to be able to make the best Resistance he could, in case the Dutch should advance further upon the River; part of their Fleet being then sailed to the Hope. I also appointed Sir William Jennings, to command the Men of War and Fire-ships that lay by the Fort, till his Royal Highness should further direct in that Particular. And, in regard I found so few Guns in the Forts mounted; and seeing the Dutch Fleet on Tuesday Morning, with their Topsails loose, in Sight of Gravesend; I gave Order, that, when the Train of Artillery should come up to Gravesend, they should stay there till further Orders; for I was in hopes to find Chatham better provided than it was. After I had made this Provision there, I went early on Tuesday Morning to Chatham, where I found scarce Twelve of Eight hundred Men, which were then in the King's Pay, in his Majesty's Yards; and these so distracted with Fear, that I could have little or no Service from them. I had heard of Thirty Boats, which were provided by the Directions of his Royal Highness; but they were all, except Five or Six, taken away by those of the Yards; who went themselves with them, and sent and took them away, by the Example of Commissioner Pett, who had the chief Command there, and sent away his own Goods in some of them. I found no Ammunition there, but was in the Monmouth: So that I presently sent to Gravesend, for the Train to be sent to me; which got thither about Two of the Clock the next Day."
"After I had dispatched this Order, I went to visit the Chain, which was the next Thing to be fortified, for the Security of the River; where I found no Works for the Defence of it. I then immediately set Soldiers to work for the raising Two Batteries, for there was no other Men to be got; and, when I had employed them in it, I found it very difficult to get Tools; for Commissioner Pett would not furnish us with above Thirty, till, by breaking open the Stores, we found more. I then directed Timber and thick Planks to be sent to the Batteries; and Guns also, that they might be ready to be planted as soon as the Batteries were made; and I, in the next place, sent Captain Vintour with his Company, to Upnor Castle; which I took to be a Place very fit to hinder the Enemy from coming forward, if they should force the Chain: And, upon further Consideration, altho' I had Horse near the Fort, lest the Enemy should land there, I commanded Sir Edward Scott with his Company, for a further Strength of the Place, and gave him the Charge of it; with Orders to let me know what he wanted for the Security thereof."
"Having thus provided for Upnor, I considered where to sink Ships without the Chain, next to the Enemy, as a further Security to it. I found Five Fire-ships, and the Unity, upon the Place; and, advising with Commissioner Pett, and the Masters of Attendance, and the Pilot, how to do it, Pett told me, it was their Opinion, that, if Three Ships were sunk at the narrow Passage, by the Musle Bank, the Dutch Fleet could not be able to come up: And I, relying upon their Experience, who best knew the River, gave Orders accordingly for the doing of it: But when this was done, they said, they wanted Two Ships more; which I directed them to take and sink. After this, I ordered Sir Edward Spragg to take a Boat, and sound whether the Sinking of those Ships would sufficiently secure the Passage: Which he did; and found another Passage, which the Pilot, and Masters of Attendance, had not before observed to be deep enough for great Ships: But it was deep enough for great Ships to come in. I thereupon resolved to sink some Ships within the Chain, and provide some against there should be Occasion."
"I went then to look after the other Ships and Batteries, and to see Men and all things ready: But I found the Guns, which I had before ordered to be there, not yet come down; and, instead of thick oaken Planks, of which there were good store in the Yards, as afterwards it appeared, the Commissioner would only send thin Planks of Deal; saying, he had no other; which proved very prejudicial in the Use of them; for they were so weak, that at every Shot the Wheels sunk thro' the Boards; which put us to a continual Trouble to get them out."
"About Noon, before our Batteries were quite raised, the Enemy came on to the Place where our First Ships were sunk. I went on board the Monmouth, with Fifty Volunteers; and appointed Soldiers in other Ships, to make the best Defence we could, if they had proceeded: But they were so incumbered, before they could clear their Way thro' the sunk Ships, and find another Passage, that the Tide was spent; and therefore they made no further Advance that Day: Whereby we had Time to consider what to do against the next Attempt."
Miscarriages of the War.
"There was Two Ships ordered to lie within the Chain, to be ready to sink when Occasion should be; and, wanting One Ship more to sink in the Middle between those Two Ships, I, that Night, ordered the Sancta Maria, a great Dutch Prize, to be sunk in the deepest Place between the Two foresaid Ships: And I judged it so necessary to be done, that I charged Commissioner Pett, and the Masters of Attendance, on Peril of their Lives, to do it by Morning; they having Time enough, before the Tide served, to provide Things to carry her down."
"Commissioner Pett, who had received Orders from his Royal Highness, on the 26th March, to remove the Royal Charles above the Dock, had, for about Nine or Ten Weeks, neglected those Orders: And, when I was getting all the Boats I could, for I wanted many, for carrying Materials for the Batteries, and Ammunition and Soldiers for the Defence of all our Places, he came, and told me, he would carry her up that Tide, if he might have Boats: Which I could not then spare; for, if they were gone, all our Batteries must have been neglected; and I could not transport the Timber, Powder, Shot, and Men, to them, to resist the Enemies, next Day: And, besides, it was thought advisable, at that Instant, if the Dutch should have landed in the Marsh by the Craine, she might have been useful, and have hindered them; having Guns aboard."
"Nevertheless, upon Notice shortly after, that there was neither Sponge, Ladle, Powder, nor Shot, in her, I sent Capt. Millett, Commander of the Matthias, about Ten in the Morning, with Orders to Commissioner Pett, to carry her up as high as he could, the next Tide: Who pretended he could not then do it, because, there was but one Pilot, that would undertake it; and he was employed about sinking Ships: And, seeing she was not removed in the Morning, I myself spake to him, the said Commissioner Pett, in the Evening, in the Presence of Col. Mac Naughton, and Capt. Mansfeild, to fetch her off that Tide: But, notwithstanding these Orders, the Ship was not removed; but lay there, till the Enemy took her. On the same Morning, by Break of Day, I went to see what was done about the Sancta Maria; and found Men towing her along to the Place intended; and they had Tide enough to do their Business: But soon after I had dispersed my Orders to the other Ships, I looked, and saw the Sancta Maria, by the Carelessness of the Pilot, and Masters of Attendance, was run on ground: At which I was much troubled: For, if that Ship had been sunk in the Place where I had appointed, the Dutch Ships could not have got beyond those of ours sunk within the Chain; and thereby none of the King's Ships, within, could have been destroyed; in regard that our grand Ships, within our Batteries, would have hindered them from removing our sunk Ships. About Ten of the Clock on Wednesday, the Enemy came on with Part of their Fleet and Two Men of War, and Five or Six Fire-ships; and, some other Men of War seconding them, they first attempted the Unity, which was placed on the Right-hand, close without the Chain, to defend it, and they took her; and one of their Fire-ships struck upon the Chain; but it stopped it: Then came another great Fire-ship, and, with the Weight of them Two, the Chain gave way; and then the Ships came on, in that very Passage, where the Sancta Maria should have been sunk. They burnt the Two Guardships, and took off the Charles; wherein the Boatswain and Gunner did not do their Duties in firing her; though they say they did attempt it twice, but the Fire did not take. This was all that I observed of the Enemy's Action on Wednesday."
"Our next Care was to provide against the Tide served the next Day. I inquired what had been done by Sir Edward Scott, at Upnor; and sent him as many of those Things he needed as I could get Boats to carry to him; and sent likewise a Company more than was formerly ordered, to reinforce the Place, in case of Landing; and then directed Three Batteries to be made in the King's Yard; but could not get a Carpenter, but Two, that were running away. I also planted, that Night, about Fifty Cannon in several Places, besides those that came with the Train of Artillery, which were also planted. I staid all Night on the Place, by the Men; and having no Money to pay them, all I could do or say, was little enough for their Encouragement; for I had no Assistance from Commissioner Pett, nor no Gunners, or Men to draw on the Guns, except the Two Masters of Attendance."
"On Thursday Morning betimes, Upnor was in pretty Condition, and our Batteries ready. I got some Captains of Ships, and other Officers, Sea Volunteers, that came with me, to ply the Guns; and the other Land Volunteers did assist to draw them on the Batteries."
"About Noon, the Enemy came on with Two Men of War, and Six Fire-ships, and some more Men of War following them. The first Two anchored before Upnor, and played upon it, whilst the Fire-ships passed by to the Royal James, the Oak, and the London. The Two first Fire-ships burned, without any Effect; but the rest went up, and burned the Three Ships mentioned: And if we had had but Five or Six Boats, to have cut off the Boats of the Fire-ships, we had prevented the burning of those Ships: But these being burned, as soon as the Tide turned, they went back, and made no Attempt after."
"I had, in the Morning before this Action, received his Majesty's Command to return to London; but I thought it most for his Service to stay, till the Attempt was over: And then, having left upon the Place the Earl of Carlisle, and the Earl of Middleton, to command there until further Order, I came away about Eight in the Evening; and, by Two in the Morning, arrived at London."
Charges against Pett.
Commissioner Pett being accordingly brought to the Bar; and such Matters of the Narrative of the Duke of Albemarle, as did concern him, being read; he declared that many of the Matters objected against him were new; and desired Time to give Answer thereunto: And, being withdrawn,
Resolved, &c. That the Narratives of his Highness Prince Rupert, and his Grace the Duke of Albemarle, be transferred to the Committee appointed to examine the Miscarriage of the late War; and that the Matter concerning Commissioner Pett be referred to the further Examination of that Committee: And that they do sit this Afternoon.
Restraints on Juries.
Ordered, That the Attendance of the Lord Chief Justice, at the Committee concerning Juries, be excused this Afternoon; and that Sir John Heath, Mr. Comptroller, Mr. Trevor, Mr. Musgrave, Mr. Crouch, Sir William Lowther, and all the Members that serve for the Counties of Cornwall, Devon, and Somersetshire, are added to the Committee.