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 Veneris, 14 Februarii, 1667.
Defrauding the King.
Defaulter's Fine remitted.
Sir Job Charlton reports from the Committee of Elections, the Case between Sir Trevor Williams and Mr. Herbert, touching the Election for the County of Monmouth; that the Committee had examined the Matter, and found, that Sir Trevor Williams had the Majority of Voices by much; and that he was duly elected, and ought to sit.
Miscarriages of the War.
Sir Robert Brookes reports from the Committee appointed to inquire into the Miscarriages of the War, the State of the Matter, so far as the Committee had proceeded: Which being contained in several Papers in Writing; (being Seven in Number) which he read in his Place, and afterwards delivered the same in at the Clerk's Table; and the same being again read, are as followeth; viz.
The Want of Intelligence from Abroad appeared in Two Particulars: The First was, in that of the French Ships being at Bell Isle, and that some others were expected at Brest, with the Duke de Beanfort, when they were yet in the Mediterranean; by which Occasion, that fatal Resolution was taken of dividing the Fleet: Which was also encouraged by Intelligence given by Sir Wm. Coventry, and Sir George Carterett, on the 14th of May, when they came to the Fleet about it; which was, that the Dutch would not be out in Six Weeks; whereas (which is the Second Particular) their Fleet came out Seven Days after; viz. on the 21st of May; and no Advice thereof was sent to the Duke of Albemarle, except a Letter from the Lord Arlington, of the 24th of May, (which came to him the 27th) intimating that the Dutch would be suddenly out, without mentioning any Time of their coming; and, on the 25th of the same Month, Prince Rupert had Orders to divide from the Fleet with Twenty Ships, and some Fireships. It appears moreover, by a Letter from his Royal Highness to the said Duke of Albemarle, dated 31 Maii, (which came to him after the Fight) that his Majesty had no Intelligence of the coming out of the Dutch till the Day before, viz. 30th May in the Evening; which was Nine Days after they came out: And so great was the Negligence entrusted by his said Royal Highness with a Letter he writ at Midnight that Day to recal the Prince, that it came not to him till 1 Junii, Nine in the Morning, in St. Helen's Road near Portsmonth, where he came to an Anchor; and he had not had it then, but that he sent his Boat to Portsmouth to inquire after Intelligence.
May 21. Speaks-"the Dutch Fleet to be designed to come out the latter End of June, stilo novo, if they came out at all: Which, 'tis believed, they will not, except the English Fleet retire; that so, they might come out and without Dishonour avoid fighting; which they cannot do unless the English keep the Sea."
May 25. Tells, that-"upon Advice of the English Fleet being ready to come out, Three of Four Deputies were immediately sent away by the States to the Texell, with Orders to unman such Ships as were most unserviceable; whereby they hoped to man the rest fully.-A Fast hath here been kept for the good Success of the Fleet; which is upon the point of going out, and will infallibly be all out before the End of this Week."
May 25th. Speaks-"the Return of the Deputies who went to the Texell to hasten out the Fleet; and that they talk much of the Excellency of their Fleet, and of the great Resolution of the Officers and Mariners; and that their Fleet consists of Eighty-five Ships.-The Manner of the Fight, which is kept as a very great Secret, and is to be in Three Squadrons; Trump in the Van; Ruyter in the Middle; the Zealand Fleet in the Rear.- Men are wanting in several Ships; but France desired not to delay, lest the Duke of Beaufort run any Risque; for there is Advice of his passing Alicant the 8th of May.- Probably the Holland Fleet alone will find the First Assault of the English; who are likewise at Sea. The French and Danish Ships will serve for a Reserve."
Miscarriages of the War.
May 30. Speaks- "all Hopes of Accommodation past; for that the Dutch are resolved to try the Hazard of one Battle more, having put their Fleet to Sea on Tuesday last, consisting of Seventy-two Ships, besides Fireships. - The Fleet continues yet upon the Coast, in Expectation of Five or Six good Ships more, which will suddenly be ready."
Letter, received May 30. Speaks - "the Fleet have set sail from the Texell on Tuesday last, consisting of Seventy capital Ships, besides Fireships, and other Ships; the Squadron of North Holland being likewise ready to follow."
That it appears to the Committee, that his Royal Highness, on the 27th of December 1666, directed the Commissioners of the Ordnance to send some knowing Person down, to view the Ground at or near the Point; who were to report where the Platform was fittest to be made.
That the View was hereupon made; and, on the 23rd of March, or shortly after, the said Commissioners had Command from his Royal Highness, for making the Fort there. On the 27th of April 1667, Captain Valentine Price was sent down with Instructions from the said Commissioners to look after the Works, with Direction also to take care for the Payment of the Workmen employed.
That from the said 27th of April, to the Time of the Attempt made by the Dutch, the Prosecution of the Work was so dilatory, that it was not in any measure defensible; occasioned by the Want of a sufficient Number of Workmen; there being seldom more than Ten at one Time employed; although, as this Committee was informed, there were Men enough to be hired: And, if this Work had been perfected, which might have been as soon done as that at Woolwich, with the like Number of Men, or with a smaller Number in Three Weeks Time, the Navy probably had been secured: And it is the humble Opinion of this Committee, that the Firing of his Majesty's Ships in the River of Medway, to the great Dishonour of the Nation, was chiefly occasioned by the Neglect of finishing the Fort at Sheernesse.
That, it appearing to this Committee, by the Testimony of his Highness Prince Rupert by his Information to the House, that, if the Orders of his Royal Highness had been (as they ought) strictly observed in the First Summer's Engagement, the whole Fleet of the Enemy had probably been destroyed; it is the Opinion of this Committee, that the not prosecuting the Victory in that Engagement was one of the Miscarriages in the Conduct of the late War.
That the Admiral's quitting of the Fleet, about the Month of October in the Year 1665, and drawing off the Ships, whereby the Dutch infested the Coast, to the great Hazard, Dishonour, and Loss of the Kingdom, is one of the great Miscarriages of the late War.
That it be reported to the House, as a Miscarriage, That, notwithstanding his Majesty had Eighteen thousand Men in Pay, in dispersed Ships, in the Year 1667, there was not a sufficient Number of Ships left to secure the Rivers of Medway and Thames.
The First Time any Ships in his Majesty's Service were discharged by Tickets, was in the Month of May 1665; in which Month, the Nonsuch, and the Phænix, were so discharged; and, betwixt that time and the End of February in the same Year, about Fifty-five Ships more were at several times discharged in the same Manner; all which, except the Lizard, the Bear, and the Golden Lion, were Merchant Ships, Victuallers, Tenders, Water Ships, and Hospital Ships: Which was all done by Order of the Commissioners and principal Officers of the Navy. And his Royal Highness, in his Letter to them of 28 October, 1666, when he was pleased to give Orders for the Payment of the First and Second Rate Ships then coming into Chatham, and the Buoy in the Nore, he was so satisfied of the ill Consequences that followed the discharging of Ships with Tickets in the Year before, that, amongst other Directions in that Letter, he expressed himself in these Words:
"Because the Prejudice which may arise to the King's Service by the Want and Disorder of the Great Numbers of Men discharged by Tickets, where there is not Money to pay them, may be greater than the Benefit arising by that Discharge; I chuse therefore not (as formerly) positively to order the immediate doing thereof; but desire you to consult with the Treasurer; and by his Advice to make the best Progress you can in it, when you find yourself in Condition for the doing of it."
Nevertheless, when the great Ships came into Chatham, about that Time or shortly after the Date of that Letter, the Lord Brunkard, one of the said Commissioners, repaired thither; and, without any Order for so doing by the said Commissioners (as the Clerk of their Acts informed this Committee) he discharged all the Officers, Soldiers, and Mariners, out of the great Ships, without any Money; giving them Tickets only for their Service: And, being acquainted by Sir Fretchvile Hollis, at that time, of the dangerous Consequence of such Payment, he would nor thereby be deterred; but answered, He knew his own Business. His Manner of proceeding was, first to put all the Men out of Wages and Diet, without Payment; and, as soon as he came to view the Muster of such particular Ship, all that he found absent, after being so put out, he noted as Runaways, thereby to debar them of any Manner of Satisfaction; and to the rest he gave Tickets. In the Ship Henry, whereof Sir Robert Holmes was Commander, he noted Eighty-three for Runaways, who had therefore no Tickets, though the Men were as stout and deserving as any in the Fleet, and such as had not forsaken the Ships till they were put out of Diet and Wages, and went abroad only to get Subsistence.
We find Payment by Tickets to have always been in Use in the Navy, in some Cases; as, when a Man died, or was slain, the Heir or Administrator of such Person had a Ticket for his Pay; and when any Man, for Sickness, or Insufficiency, was discharged, he likewise had a Ticket made out for receiving his Pay: But the discharging of whole Ships by Tickets was never heard of or attempted till the Time before mentioned; which occasioned many great Inconveniencies: And that which made it yet a greater Grievance, was, the disorderly Payment of the Tickets, which was practised, not only in those that referred to the paying of whole Ships, but also of all other Tickets or Bills for Money due from the Treasurer of the Navy.
His Royal Highness was very careful to have all Tickets regularly paid, and gave therein Directions to the Commissioners and principal Officers of the Navy; who, in pursuance thereof, made Orders, that the Tickets that were First in Time should be First paid; which they themselves never observed: For, though they agreed to the Method in general, yet they still broke it singly; for one Commissioner being always present at each Pay-day, the Tickets of those only were paid, for the most part, who had his Friendship.
And, moreover, when by Bills sent up, whole Ship Companies were directed to come to the Office, to receive the Money due upon their Tickets and Bills at a Day certain, they were there delayed and made to attend many Months, till, being tired out they were by Necessity compelled to sell their Tickets and Bills at Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, and sometimes Ten Shillings in the Pound Loss; many of which, being once sold, we find to have been speedily paid: Which must imply a very corrupt Contrivance to have been between the principal Officers of the Navy and Treasury on the one Part, and the Buyers of the Tickets on the other: Amongst which, as this Committee was informed, one Robson, a Servant of one of the Commissioners, brought Tickets to the Treasurer's Office, at several times, amounting to the Sum of near One thousand Pounds, the Monies for which were paid to him by Mr. Stephens one of the Treasurer's Instruments: And most of those that appeared in buying of Tickets immediately from the Seamen were Persons of mean Condition, who for themselves received a small Reward at Three-pence or Six-pence in the Pound at most; yet did, and could, deal for great Sums; as, particularly, one Mrs. Swan, the Wife of a Purser, returned One thousand Pounds in a Week. By paying by Tickets, Opportunity hath been given, by making false and counterfeit Tickets; of which many have been discovered to this Committee; but it is supposed many more have been paid.
It hath alienated the Hearts of the Seamen from his Majesty's Service; and made many, that had no other Ways of Living, but going to Sea, rather go to the Enemy, than beg; as was evident, when the Holland Ships made the Invasion at Chatham, many of our discontented Seamen were seen.
It hath occasioned Supernumeraries, and disordered all Establishment; and made the Expence of the War much greater than it really was, and impossible to be known, till all be paid. Upon orderly Payment, which usually was by the Book, in the Office, the Treasurer and the principal Officers of his Majesty's Navy saw every Man; and so were Judges, in every Capacity, how they were to be paid, whether as able Seamen, or otherwise; but, to the great Discouragement of Seamen, by the Payment of Tickets, Captains and Pursers, for private Respect, prefer, as they please, Boys and Persons incapable, to be Midshipmen, able Seamen, or ordinary Seamen.
Mr. Fenn, one belonging to the Office of the Treasury of the Navy, being asked, why the Seamen were not paid in Money, since there had been so much granted by the Parliament, answered, That, from the Beginning of the Dutch War, which he computed to be at Michaelmas 1664, to Michaelmas 1667, there had not been Three Millions paid into that Office, in Money or Assignment, for the Payment of Seamens Wages, Merchants Goods bought into his Majesty's Stores, Workmen in his Majesty's Yards, and all other Necessaries relating to the War.
There be likewise some Particulars in the Narratives of his Highness Prince Rupert, and the Duke of Albemarle, relating to the Negligences of supplying the Fleet with Provisions and Ammunition, and the slow Dispatch of setting out Fireships, and other Ships, and other Matters of that Nature.