Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 10. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.
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Tuesday, November 7, 1693.
[The Parliament met, when his Majesty, in the House of Lords, made the following Speech to both Houses:
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I am always glad to meet you here, and I could heartily wish that our satisfaction were not lessened at present, by reflecting upon the Disadvantages we have received this Year at Land, and the Miscarriages in our Affairs at Sea. I think, it is evident, that the former was only occasioned by the great number of our Enemies, which exceeded ours in all Places: For what relates to the latter, (which has brought so great a Disgrace upon the Nation,) I have resented it extremely; and as I will take care that those who have not done their Duty shall be punished, so I am resolved to use my utmost endeavours, that our Power at Sea may be rightly managed for the future: And it will well deserve your consideration, whether we are not defective both in the number of our Shipping, and in proper Ports to the Westward, for the better annoying our Enemies, and protecting our Trade, which is so essential to the welfare of this Kingdom.
"I am very sensible of the good affection wherewith you have always assisted me to support the Charges of the War, which have been very great; and yet I am persuaded, that the Experience of this Summer is sufficient to convince us all, that, to arrive at a good end of it, there will be a necessity of increasing onr Forces, both by Sea and Land, the next Year. Our Allies have resolved to add to theirs; and I will not doubt, but you will have such regard to the present exigency, as that, you will give me a suitable Supply to enable me to do the like: I must therefore earnestly recommend it to you, Gentlemen of the Honse of Commons, to take such timely Resolutions, as that your Supplies may be effectual, and our Preparations so forward, as will be necessary both for the Security and the Honour of the Nation."
The House being returned, adjourned to Monday.]
Monday, November 13.
On the King's Speech.
Mr Foley.] The King's Speech is short, but of two parts, viz. The Disadvantage our Forces have had at Land, and the Miscarriage at Sea. Considering the time of the Year, and the condition of the Navy, that is the greatest Consideration, and first to be considered. But before we give Supply, the condition of Affairs is to be considered, and the Miscarriage the last Summer. They cannot excuse themselves. Our Enemies are enriched by our Losses. If the Miscarriages had been before considered, it might have prevented much. We had a powerful Fleet; had they done their Duty, they might have destroyed the French Fleet; but instead of that, we have had great Losses, and are become a scorn and contempt to other Nations. We do not our Duty to the King, and the Nation, and what all the World expects from us, if we examine not the Miscarriages. But before we can know where to lay the fault, it is requisite that we have the Papers before us. I move for a short day to consider the Miscarriages of the Fleet, and Navy-Affairs.
Mr Charles Montagu.] I like what is moved; and for what day you will appoint, I am as ready as any body. I am one of those that think that you have been downright betrayed. I know not who did it, but am sure it is strange, that the French King should leave five hundred Miles of his Shore exposed, and draw off all his Fleet: That plainly shows he had some good assurances. But I would not postpone the greatest matter. The King says, "the Enemy is stronger than he considerably in Land-Forces," and that was the only Reason of his Disappointment. Some of our Countrymen did not behave themselves so well as they should. But, being deserted by the Foreigners, 'tis no wonder that they shifted for themselves, for their own safety. I have observed, that the English are contrary to all the World; they are frighted into their wits. A Party was suspected formerly to carry on Popish designs; another complied with the present temper, Popery: Whereas, then we had no Deliverer—We must not expect another Deliverer. I wish Gentlemen would lay aside all little heats, and fooleries, and lay their hands to the great Affair. If we do not suddenly provide for our safety, the Enemy will be much forwarder than we. I hope we shall be quicker in our Resolutions. Several things retard our Proceedings—One is, Places. A noble example lately of my Lord Keeper, in disposing his Places! I wish all Places were well filled, and that men would not thrust themselves into Offices, and never look after them. 'Tis high time to come to some Resolution. We have more Enemies than we had last Year. I move, for your Reputation, that you will resolve to support the King, and defend the Government, and assist them in a Parliamentary way for carrying on the War with France, and supporting the King.
Sir Thomas Clarges reads part of the King's Speech reflecting on the Miscarriages.] I am sorry any body should be so unhappy as to prostitute the Honour of the King. Where the Reputation of the King sinks, the King sinks with it. Unhappy Ministers that advised the King to head such Armies, as are not for his Reputation! If they think they can be governed without him, they may say they will not be governed with him. Kings formerly had their Council with them in foreign Expeditions, This may be the last meeting in this Assembly, if we provide not better for our safety. Littleton told you, "That, formerly, the Pensioners perverted good Laws;" pray God 'tis not so still ! I find some, who arraigned the former times, now in Offices; generally such People are distrusted—The Trade of the Nation is gone, and Land will be worth nothing, if Trade be not supported. By Trade, London makes up your Rents. I always told you, that our safety is the Sea—In 1692, the Navy was two Millions in Arrear. It was said heretofore, "That we should be Monarchs of the Sea;" but for all I see, we are like to be Vassals, and bow to other Nations. I hope you will particularise the Miscarriages. You have lost a Million of Capital Stock in the City of London, besides the Ships you have furnished to your Enemies. It is come to a moot Point, whether we shall save England or Flanders. I think we are undone, if we go not by the ancient way of Parliament, to address that our Grievances may be redressed before we give Aid; which is the natural way of aiding the King. The King told us, when he came over, "That we should make such Laws, that we should never fear our Liberties;" but God knows, we are betrayed; and if there be such unhappy men to take Money to betray their Country, find them out. We have some resemblance to the first Christianity, where were twelve Apostles, and one of them was a Devil: He kept the Purse; for thirty Pieces of Silver he betrayed his Master: And that will betray us, and by that we shall lose all our Privileges. I should enlarge farther, but I hope Gentlemen of greater Abilities will supply me: But I move, as before, for a day to consider the Miscarriages of the Fleet.
Sir John Thompson.] All of us come here full of Affection to serve our King and Country; but it must be confessed, that never Parliament was under such discouragements as we are; but would it not grieve any Englishman, that the Treasure of the Nation should be spent in such extravagant Bounties, and Pensions to Foreigners ? A man must no more talk of Miscarriages at Court, than of News in the Camp. Do but consider the last Session; our Bills for the Security of the Nation, all proved abortive. Though we have had so many gracious Promises, they all languish under disappointment of Performances. Have we not seen Preferments, as if the displeasure of this House were the greatest Letters of Recommendation? Lord Torrington was questioned, and tried for his Life; yet he brought home the Fleet. Admiral Russel fought, and was accused when he came home. I hope, whatever is said abroad, that Persons will not be so mollified with Places, as to betray their Country.
Sir John Lowther.] Upon the deliberation of the House all will depend. Miscarriages have been unfortunate, but must be proved, and then I shall concur to punishments. But do not judge men before they be heard—They are said to be Judas's, "because they carry the Purse"—As to Offices, can the Nation subsist without Offices? If you can find honest Officers, encourage them; if otherwise, prove them, and make them examples to others. What will Men think of us, if, in these great exigencies, we complain, and no more? The Treasury have had no assistance from the Commissioners of Accounts—When we consider, that the last money came short; we can never answer it to our Country. We in our Ports, when the Enemy was at Sea! I am indifferent which Question you put first; whether you will examine the Faults, or give the King Supply. Do all the parts requisite to the Government, and take the Questions together, and I hope you will not preclude any thing; but, amidst your discontents, do not ruin the Nation.
Sir Edward Hussey.] In the last Session, the Triennial Bill was rejected: I would know who advised that, and the delay of the Smyrna Fleet? Former Parliaments had Grievances redressed before they gave Money. I move, to consider the Miscarriages of the Fleet last Summer, &c.
On the Miscarriages of the Fleet.
Sis Edward Seymour.] It is a great dissatisfaction to enter into this Debate. One consideration weighs more with me than all; without Supply, for support of the Government, we are lost. Here is an Account prepared for you, to see that the Money is not mis-spent, for the use of the Nation. I say, with the greatest sadness, that we have lost the Discipline of the Fleet, and, I am afraid, our Honour too—The House will never go along chearfully, till enquiry be made into Miscarriages. Words have done no good, of a vigorous War against France; but I fear it may be termed a vigorous War against England. I move to add to the Question, "That we will support the Government to the utmost of our Power."
Colonel Titus.] A great Sum was given last Year to set out the Fleet, which brought home nothing but infamy. The Fleet should have convoyed the Turkey Fleet out of danger, and it convoyed them into danger. They fiddled and danced at Torbay, and we must pay the Music. If you enquire not into these Miscarriages, you will be as popular a Parliament as the Fleet is a Fleet. But be angry, and sin not, and revenge the Quarrel upon yourselves. Your case now is to satisfy your justice, and provide for your safety at the same time. But it is an affront to the Government to take care of Trade, and none of the Government; therefore, I would put in the Words, &c.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] Shall it ever be said, to the disgrace of the House of Commons, that we do not examine Miscarriages? The affections of the People are not changed to the King, but accidents in Government that prove unfortunate, You are told, "If you have not a greater care than formerly, your Money will be of no effect;" but let us not be ensnared by any Vote to take away the freedom of Debate. I conclude, "For the Preservation of the Government, and Trade of the Nation."
Mr Howe.] I think none so simple as to think an English Parliament will not support an English Government. The Words offered for the Question are so large, they include all things. I will not say, nor any man, there are not Miscarriages; but they must not be called Misfortunes. I think the Opposition of the two violent Parties is equally honest, and equally well intentioned to the Government. I care not which is uppermost; if they be uppermost they care not what becomes of the Government, if they have safety in their own animosities. It is to this we may attribute all our Misfortunes. Let us show the Nation, that it is worth preserving. As to the faults of the Fleet, one part lies upon one, and another upon another. Prop the Building first, and then enquire where the defect is.
[Resolved, Nem. con. That this House will support their Majesties and their Government, and will, on Wednesday morning next, enquire into the Miscarriages of the Fleet the last Summer; and take into their Consideration the Preservation of the Trade of the Nation.
Ordered, That the Commissioners of the Admiralty (who are Members of this House) do, on Wednesday morning next, inform the House, why the Streights Fleet was stopped till the main Fleet went out.
Ordered, That the Admirals, that commanded the Fleet last Summer, and Sir George Rooke, and the Turkey Company, or such as they shall appoint, do attend this House on Wednesday morning next.]
[November 14 Omitted.]
Wednesday, November 15.
The Turkey Company, according to Order, gave an Account, at the Bar, of the Orders for the failing of the Fleet, and the number of Dutch and English Ships for the Convoy.
[Sir George Rooke informed the Speaker, by Letter, that he was very ill, and could not at present attend the House. So he was ordered to attend, together with the other Admirals, on Friday.]
Thursday, November 16.
[Mr Foley, from the Commissioners for taking the Public Accounts, presented to the House a State of what Money had been given for maintenance of the Fleet during the War, and what they had received thereof.]
Sir Thomas Clarges.] Misapplication of Money by Assignments—But one Reason may be, the Treasury cannot resist superior Commands; and one great Reason of this misapplying is, the Commissioners of the Treasury are not upon Oath. Formerly, in King James I's time, there were Commissioners of the Treasury, till a Lord Treasurer was named, but now not to be upon Oath, and to have the disposition of all the King's Treasury!—I hope you will consider of it. At the Grand Committee for the Fleet, I believe there was a Million owing to the Navy. All issues are for service done, and to be done, and that makes the confusion. I hope, there will be remedy for the future. Many of the Seamen take service from the King of France. If some remedy be not taken to provide for and encourage the Seamen, they will desert.
Mr Montagu.] I suppose no man can expect any great matter from a Paper read, as has been said, tumultuously. I have been but two Years in the Treasury, but I find the great occasion was, the first Year of all, a great Debt was left upon the Navy.—And so went on upon that Subject.
Several of the Treasury, and Commissioners of Accounts, spoke to it.
[Friday, November 17.
The Turkey Company presented to the House a Narrative, in writing, of what they declared on Wednesday at the Bar of the House.
Lord Falkland presented also several Papers relating to the Instructions and Orders concerning the Turkey Fleet, &c. And the Admirals, that commanded the Fleet last Summer (fn. 1), being called in, delivered the results of the Council of War, and a Narrative of their Proceedings, &c.
Sir George Rooke, being so lame of the Gout, that he could not stand, was brought to the Bar in a Chair, where he delivered a Narrative of his Proceedings, &c. And (in respect of his indisposition) he was then dismissed for the present.
Resolved, That, upon Examination of the Miscarriage of the Fleet, and the loss the Turkey Company hath sustained this Summer, this House is of Opinion, That there hath been a notorious and treacherous (fn. 2) mismanagement in that Affair.
To proceed on Monday.
Saturday, November 18.
Lord Falkland presented to the House an Estimate of the Charge of the Navy for the Year 1694, amounting to 2,346,132 l. for 118 Ships, and 40,000 Men.
Resolved, That 400,000 l. be granted to their Majesties, towards a Supply for Maintenance of the Fleet for the Year 1694.]
Monday, November 20.
[On the Miscarriages of the Fleet.]
Lord Falkland.] We have now an Admiral, and are without a Secretary. If Mr Russel be put in, the Secretary (Nottingham) will go out. The Commissioners of the Admiralty sent for an Account of the Execution of their Orders; and that Account was not sent for a long time after. They ought either to have executed their Orders, or sent word why they did not. Two things were to be considered by the Fleet, the Coast of England to be guarded, and the Streights Fleet—They knew nothing of the Mediterranean Fleet, nor the Brest Fleet; and so the Admirals did neither. If Orders were found impracticable, with respect to the Board, they ought to have had notice. The Council of War thought them impracticable: If they were ill Orders, why was it not represented? If good, why not obeyed? The loss was a great misfortune to the Nation, and all by mismanagement. It was a great Charge for Sir George Rooke to be sent away without Orders—Such a chain of Causes all along, that I cannot think all this was done by Chance. If some Course be not taken, all will be lost, and it is no where to be done but here. Those that sit at the Helm, how can they serve the Kingdom and King James too?
[Ordered, That the Admirals do attend to-morrow.]
Tuesday, November 21.
Admiral Killegrew gave an Account of what Lord Falkland charged, and Rutter's Information was read. He was ordered to be sent for, and confronted with the Admirals.
Captain Kerr, who took Rutter.] He gave no Account to the Admirals of the Brest Fleet being out, nor to me, nor to any of my Company. I took him pretending to exchange Prisoners at Nantz, but he brought Currants from Nantz, &c.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] By the Act, there is to be no correspondence with France, and this Rutter was employed to exchange Prisoners, and then falls to trade with France, with Currants from Nantz. He tells you a story, but that has little weight upon me, if he be not a Man of Credit. How many have sworn in Westminster-Hall, and yet stood in the Pillory!
Mr. Hampden.] I have observed, that an unreasonable Defence, as well as an unreasonable Accusation, will prejudice a Man. I never saw this Rutter, but you have his Examination, and his Answer, upon Oath. It seems, it is thought slight because Rutter gives it— I observe, that it is strange, he should be so long with the Admirals, and not utter fix Words of the Brest Fleet being out; which makes me think him not so candid and ingenuous as he should be. As I would accuse nobody, so I would condemn nobody, hand over head.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Rutter might hear at Nantz that the French Fleet was laid up—He says, upon Oath, "It was not so much as enquired by the Admirals, what became of the French Fleet."
Mr Montagu.] I would have Rutter's Information read, because some heard it not—It was a little too forward, to accuse Rutter before you heard him.
Mr Foley.] I have read Rutter's Affidavit, and I think it is the fairest way to have Rutter and the Admirals face to face, and then you are ripe for Judgment. I would send for Rutter presently.
[Rutter's Information was read, and he was ordered to be sent for.]
Sir Edward Seymour.] Since observation has been made, why the Admirals did not confront the Evidence sooner, [I would ask,] whether they had any notice that such Information was made? Without the best Evidence in the World, I would not have the Admirals discouraged in their Service.
[They were ordered to attend again the next day.]
Wednesday, November 22.
[Debate on the Miscarriages of the Fleet resumed.]
Mr Papillon.] The Admirals had nine Weeks Provision. The Captains give still less Provision in than they have—They have had, upon all accounts, rather more than less.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] You cannot have who is in the right, or who is in the wrong, till you have the Account. There should be an Indenture betwixt the Purser and the Victualler, who understands always the Purser—There has been great clamour, that they had no Victuals.
Mr Montagu.] You have delivered your Opinion, "That there has been a traiterous Mismanagement, &c."I think it proper to hear the Admirals; a thing so much discoursed upon! I believe the Admirals are ready to give you account. Rooke's Misfortune was the 17th of June—They came not till the 22d; and might have had Beverage upon the Portugal Coasts.
Col. Cornwall.] They were ready, with a fair Wind, from the 6th of June to the 14th. Why so great a Fleet as seventy-five capital Ships, and make no use of that Wind to go over to the Coasts of France ? Mons. Tourville was not ready to come out. This I take to be the ground of all, not hindering the Enemy from coming out; and, instead of that, did not sail till the 3d of May.
Sir John Parsons.] This will appear a lame excuse of the Admirals—They were ordered four months Provisions——
Mr Wharton.] I am of opinion with Parsons, "That want of Victuals is a lame excuse." I would ask the Admirals, when they parted with Rooke, whether they took any survey of what Provisions they had on board?
The Admirals [Killegrew, Delaval, and Shovel] at the Bar.
The Speaker.] What day did the three Admirals go on board the Fleet?
The Admirals.] We beg the favour to have the Questions in writing. We went on board the latter end of April.
Question. From April to the 22d of May, what survey was taken of Provisions?
Answer. The Ships were not all together; they were in several Ports. We cannot make Answer to the survey, till we look over our Papers. There were seventy-five great Ships at Spithead, on the 6th or 7th of May—It was the 13th or 14th before the Dutch came in.
The Speaker.] The House is informed, that, from the 6th of May to the 14th, the Wind was fair to come before Brest, to prevent the French coming forth.
Answer.] Our Orders came not to our hands till the 20th. So great a number of Ships do great mischief to one another, when the weather is not settled. Our Orders were to take Rooke into our company. He answered, "He wanted some Provisions." He wrote to the Commissioners of the Admiralty, and we could not sail till the 30th. The Wind was against us—Several Ships were ready, but they wanted Provisions. But it can never be expected, that we should keep account of our Provisions. We issue out our Orders to every Flag, and they to the Captains, who return the wants to the Admiralty-board.
Question. To what time did the Provisions last?
Admiral Killegrew.] 'Tis impossible to give an Answer to that. I hope this House will exact nothing impossible from us. We came to Torbay the 21st. We cannot carry Numbers in our heads—We sent a particular account to the Admiralty of all Ships, from Torbay, when we got all our Ships together— We took account of the Captains, two or three days after parting from Rooke—For account of Beer, we cannot rummage the Ships; for other Victuals, we took account but in part.
Question. When you were surprized that your Instructions were contrary to the Council of War, did you represent it?
Answer. We received our Orders the 20th, and called another Council of War, and resolved to sail the 24th; but the Wind was not good; and hearing nothing from the Council, we supposed them to be their Orders. We took it to be our duty to obey Orders. We thought it not fit to capitulate. When we had positive Orders we must obey.
Question. Why did you part with the Turkey Fleet, before you knew whether the French were come out?
Answer.] We had Instructions to go as far with Rooke as we thought necessary; and the Resolution of the Council of War was our Opinion—Though we knew the French Fleet was out, yet we were to obey Orders—We find we are mightily blamed for our Orders to Rooke—All our Opinions were, that it was an improper Order, and not to be executed— We all desire to give our Answers to the Questions in Writing. They withdrew.
Lord Falkland.] They answer, "They had no Orders till the 19th of May." 'Tis true, there were no Orders till then for Rooke; but they had Orders, in March, "That they should do their best to annoy the Enemy"—They tell you, "They had no account of their Provisions but at random."—But did ever men go to sea, without knowing what Provisions they had on board?—'Tis easy for a man to know from the Pursers. They tell you, "They were surprized with the Orders of the 14th;" and they say, "It was not their business to capitulate."—They had the Turkey Fleet in their hands—They say, "Their Orders were not practicable;" and yet not represent it!—We never heard this the 15th of May, nor the 23d. We never heard of it till July—How could we give those Orders, without knowing whether the French Fleet was out? There was no impossible thing required of them, the Wind and Weather permitting. Their fault was, they did not know whether the French Fleet was out, and not they that gave the Orders.
Sir John Parsons.] This might have been easily rectified, without rummaging the Ship, by the Purser's Indentures in Kind, Credit, and ready Money. I was formerly a Commissioner of the Victualling-Office, but now a Contractor. I thank God, I was no Commissioner during these Miscarriages.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I have heard the Commissioners of the Navy make great complaint of the Victuallers. You are told of "Credit, and ready Money."—I think it no great "Credit" for Papillon to imitate Parsons. There is something of this that we do not know, which I would enquire of from the Commissioners of the Navy. I would know, from Falkland, whether all were ordered to go together? I think it was the Opinion given by all the Flag-Officers, to deliver to the Admiralty what their Opinion was—Upon the 19th comes the Order, by his Majesty's Command, before whom this Opinion of the Council of War was. I wonder that an Order came, and no notice taken of their Opinion, a thing of so great weight!—Upon this Order, transmitted to the Admiralty, they conclude to conduct the Turkey Fleet to Ushant. Now, in business of so great moment, why were not their directions from the Admiralty? There were no Instructions before the Separation.—But I think it was to justify themselves, come what will. I think the Order was a very lame Order. If the Resolution was not well grounded, they ought to have had a better.
Lord Falkland.] They had full power to sail when they thought fit. We have no reason to think the Orders were not practicable, because they said they would be executed. We could not know whether the French Fleet was got out; but they should have known it. This is only that we should be kept in the dark— This shows they would neither obey the Orders, nor represent them.
Mr Smith.] Supposing the Orders ambiguous, they never sent to desire those Orders to be explained; but sailed away without it.
Mr Montagu.] You have examined the Admirals to one particular point. The excuse, in defence of the Admirals, is, "That they had not Provisions:" If they had, then 'tis their fault. Pray first consider that You have asked the Admirals several Questions. They make exact Answers to some things, and are short in others—To take account of Provisions, surely, is not the part of an Admiral—If they had had their quantity, they might have fought the French Fleet, and then any Country would have given them Credit. I propose this Question, "That there was a sufficient quantity of Beer to convoy the Turkey Fleet out of these Seas."
Sir John Lowther.] None of the Victuallers say the Fleet had four Months Provisions. When the Lords of the Council went down to the Fleet, they were so far from being victualled, that they were still carrying on board.
Lord Falkland.] The Admirals confessed they had forty-eight days Beer on board.
Mr Foley.] I find, upon the whole matter, that one third of the Victuals were not delivered in kind. They had all other Provisions; but the Beer is the Question. The Return made by the Pursers to the Admiralty, was forty-three days Provision—They might have fallen in with Rooke, at that time. But I observe that this survey of the Beer was not till the Admirals parted from Rooke. The mischief of allowing this way of victualling will be of great inconvenience—Because the Victual was so strait, they stayed till it was too late to go. The Victuallers had two Men of War to convoy them to Plymouth; but a French Privateer took two, and they looked on.
Sir John Parsons.] They had express Orders to victual for four months—As soon as they came to Sea, they put six men to four mens allowance; which might have been Victual till Christmas. But I am apt to believe there was not so much—The whole of the Beer, for four months, was put on board the Ships for the Descent.
Mr Finch.] Give me leave to remind you, how this Debate began, and how it has been proceeded in— 1. You have adjourned hearing Rutter. Then the Book of Orders for Reasons why they stayed at Torbay, and did not go out, pursuant to Orders—Then the state of the Victuals in May. Then you called in the Admirals, and asked, Why they stayed from the 6th to the 16th, and did not go out? "1. They were not under Orders." "2. The Line of Battle was not full. And, "3. They wanted Victuals." I remember, it was said, "They were under general Orders to annoy the Enemy;" if they had advice of it, then how pursued? When that comes, you have opportunity to search that to the bottom. This is a Question that involves the consideration of the whole matter, which depends not upon the Victual. How far they were to go to convoy them from the Brest Fleet, and Toulon Squadron; whether they were to go to Cadiz, or how to proceed with respect to the Toulon Squadron, you will understand better, when Gentlemen please to open that matter. This does accuse, or excuse those Persons. As to the Victuals, the matter is of weight. Now, whether these Ships had reason to stay in Torbay, for want of Victuals? Therefore have the Commissioners of the Navy to give you account what Victuals were on board. The Question is not, what Beer was on board them for Lagos-Bay, but whether, by Order, they were to part from the Fleet at Cadiz, or go farther.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I make no doubt but their Orders were "to annoy the Enemy," if they met with no opposition but Wind and Weather—But as to the Victuals, when setting out the Fleet, I called for an Account; and the Victuals were said to be for four Months; but now 'tis explained, "that a third part was in Specie, a third part in Credit, and a third part in Money." As long as this is so, 'tis impossible to say what Provisions were on board. If they went off from the Coast, at Sea they could neither have Victuals for Money—Therefore have the Commissioners of the Navy before you, and know what was on board in Specie. What I mean is, the Columns of Indenture between Purser and Victualler. If so, then the Victual in Specie is only for five Weeks.
Sir John Lowther.] See the Account of the Victuallers, and the Survey taken on board; then you will see, by comparing, to make a judgment. I agree with Wharton, "that there are several other things as material;" but as for this Question, you are not ripe, by any means, for it; you have not the matter before you; the Gentlemen have better information than myself, that are ready for this Question about victualling. The Admirals deny the matter of fact, and that is not yet rectified.
The Speaker.] The Objection against the Question is, "That there is not yet given in what Victuals they had in Specie." What Beer they had at Torbay you have not. The Question is, "Whether they had sufficient Beer to convoy Rooke out of danger?"
Mr Boyle. (fn. 3) ] You have not yet Evidence to give a Vote upon; and therefore put the previous Question.
[To proceed on Monday.]
[November 23, 24, and 25, Omitted.]
Monday, November 27.
[Debate on the Miscarriages of the Fleet resumed,]
The Commissioners of the Navy being called in, said, "The Fleet had forty-six days Beer."
Mr Howe.] I would not give my Vote, like the Admirals, that go to Sea with oracular Instructions.
Mr Comptroller Wharton.] Whether the Admirals had Beer enough to go to Sea, to carry the Smyrna Fleet out of danger? Whether they had Provision enough to keep out to Sea, to convoy the Smyrna Fleet out of danger? Whether they obeyed their Orders like wise men, and honest men, to leave the Turkey Fleet before they were out of danger? is your Question.
Mr Finch.] Is this a proper Question, and fit to be put? If they had no Orders, and knew not where the French Fleet were, 'tis not the Question—The meaning of the Question is, having thirty-nine days Provision, to convoy them out of danger of the Brest-Fleet—But they were not out of danger of the Toulon Squadron. Had they Provision sufficient to convoy them from the Brest Fleet, and Toulon Squadron? So this Question supposes they had Orders, and that they knew the French Fleet was in Lagos-Bay.
Sir Robert Rich.] Something was spoken, by Finch, of "the rubbish part of Palmes's Speech." I have seen "rubbish" make good mortar. Suppose they had said, "they wanted nothing but Anchors and Cables"— The Commissioners of the Navy have told you, "they had full Victual." If Orders were good, and they not in a capacity of obeying them——
Mr Sollicitor Trevor.] One Excuse of the Admirals is, they wanted Victuals—Consider what the Admirals have for their justification! The want of Victuals. This Question will justify the Victuallers, but not condemn the Admirals. But when this Question is over, then 'tis a proper time to enquire, whether that proportion was sufficient.
Mr Montagu.] When you adjourned the Debate, it was because you had not the whole matter before you. If this Question before you be not proper, no Question can be proper. When you find they had sufficient Provision, &c. the next is, what Orders?— They had sufficient Provision to prevent France from over-heading us again, and they might have done it. Lagos is a great and deep Bay, and they might have preserved the Smyrna Fleet from danger, and the whole Fleet too.
Lord Falkland.] There is more concern in the Question than the Admirals. If they had not Provision sufficient, the fault is somewhere; if they had not Orders, somewhere else—Rooke's Fleet fell into the French hands eleven days after the Admirals left the Fleet.
Sir Robert Rich.] The most eminent Merchants never feared the Toulon Squadron. Rooke had strength enough to fight the Toulon Squadron. Most of the opinion of the Merchants was, that the Count D'Estrees was as much afraid of Rooke, as Rooke of him.
Sir William Whitlock.] I wonder the Admiralty should not give directions to convoy them out of danger of the Toulon Squadron, as well as of the Brest; they, it seems, thought as much of the one as the other.
[Resolved, (on a Division, 188 to 152) That there was sufficient Beer on board the main Fleet, when Sir George Rooke separated, to have convoyed Sir George Rooke's Squadron, and the Merchant-Ships, out of danger of the Brest Fleet.]
Wednesday, November 28.
An ingrossed Bill for more frequent Elections of Parliaments, (brought in by Mr Brockman) was read the third time.
Sir John Lowther.] Declare the matter of the King's Negative Voice, and let the word "holden" stand.
Mr Harley.] I am for the word "Parliament holden," because you are possessed of it; and it is not for the interest of England to part with a word, in so many Laws made use of.
Sir Robert Rich.] A doubt arises from them against the word, that the King's Prerogative of dissolving Parliaments is taken away; but if it be only meant and intended, that a Parliament must be every year, if others intend something else, let them say so.
Lord Falkland.] This Bill is of great consequence; the intent of it is good, and to have frequent Sessions of Parliaments, and a new Parliament. I am for the intent of the Clause. Instead of the word "holden," I move, that it may be a Parliament to meet once a year, at least.
Mr Montagu.] To the word, "declare." If it be the intention for annual Sessions, give me leave to offer my opinion why I am against it. Though those Acts mentioned do enjoin it, yet there have been no complaints for not calling Parliaments so frequently. In King James I's time, when the Commons did insert all their rights and liberties, they make no mention of these laws. But the Constitution of the Nation was quite otherwise then, for the Parliament judged causes, and made explanations of Laws, upon the desire of the Judges, which now they do in Westminster-Hall: But to determine to meet actually, whether there be occasion, or not, I think not proper.
Mr Harley.] I keep strictly to the word "declare." You have been told that no complaints have been made, that those have not been annual Sessions; but there were complaints for want of Parliaments, and so enacted 50 Edward III, "That there should be annual Parliaments. There was an Act already, and it should be observed." The Bishop of St Asaph opened the Parliament from the King—That there were not frequent Parliaments, but as for that of King James I, they tell the King, "that if Kings were immortal, they had no need of such Laws," but they proceeded farther; "they know not what Kings may come, therefore to provide against oppressions"—The Prerogative always increases, but the Liberties of the People are at a stand.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I could wish our condition such, that we might support the Government, without Parliament. I would willingly bate my share in Parliament to have a share in that condition. I am not very fond of these words, because we had them three or four hundred years ago, and are never the better for them. Is the Prerogative of the Crown less than in Edward II's time? At that time all the Laws of a Parliament were but one Law, in Items. In those times the King took one and rejected another, and so the Judges were in doubt, what passed for a Law, and what not. Some Laws that passed are not in the Roll. Will you put in a word that may be doubtful, when there is no need of it? I know not what improvement may be made, in time to come, of a word doubtful.
Sir Charles Porter (fn. 5).] I think it absolutely necessary that this be put to some certainty; else Parliaments would be in power to sit as long as they please, and the King not have power to prorogue nor adjourn them. If you pass this Clause without a plain explanation, it may be of ill consequence. I would so explain it, that it may not be a question hereafter. Sometimes the Crown, and sometimes the Commons, differ in expressions of words, and this is a word that may be fundamental. I move that this may be so explained, that what you intend may not encroach upon the Prerogative of the King.
Sir Christ. Musgrave.] You have no Clause before you, only the word, "declare;" that word is only moved. I see no reason of the difficulty why you should not insert the word, "declare." Is it not always meant, you have a right when you declare? It was a right the subjects had to frequent Parliaments; and if you now enact, and not declare, I fear your right commences from that time only.
Mr Palmes.] Frequent Parliaments, and the Dissolution of this, was the thing I aimed at before, and so I do now.
[The Clause was rejected 129 to 89. And the Bill was rejected, 146 to 136.]
[On the King's Speech.]
Mr Hampden.] You have considered the Fleet, and another part of the King's Speech, very material, viz. The Land Forces, is behind. Unless you grant a Supply, I know not how you can support the Government, the Treasury is so low. Nothing at all has yet been said of it. 'Tis so necessary to have a consideration of it, that I move, That you would grant the King a Supply for the Land Forces.
Earl of Ranelagh.] I second the Motion. I must tell you, the Army is in very ill condition. In their quarters in Flanders they have no money, and no credit.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] A Supply is moved for, but I cannot allow we have an Army in Flanders; you have no obligation to have an Army in Flanders. Vast sums have gone thither, which can never return; besides our loss at Sea. If the Privy-Council advises not the King, we must do it. Had we attended the Sea, the French could have done little in Flanders. It goes to my heart that the King of England should be at the head of a Confederate Armies. I hope that, when it comes to be debated, you will think the Army is for defence of the Kingdom. We had no assistance in conquering Ireland from the Confederates; we needed them not—The year's expence of Cromwell's Army was but 600,000 l. If we come to that pass that our Army cannot preserve us, we shall be a despised people—By the fundamental Law of England, no Englishman can be forced out of England, without his own consent. Men have been found sent to the Tower, that would not go beyond sea, and if well proved you might impeach the Lieutenant of the Tower. In the year 1672, France took three of their Provinces—The Duke of Brandenbourg sent then 30,000 men, and now but 6000—They took the three Provinces again, and made a good Peace for themselves— The Hollanders rather get than lose by this War—They provide for our Army, and their own too—Butter, Cheese, &c. If two Millions go out of your main stock, what will become of you? Let us not talk of giving money, and not know where to raise it, to the derision of all the World.
Sir Edward Seymour.] Time is too precious to delay. I wonder what Clarges understands the Parliament should make exceptions to. What these Land-Forces are, and how to employ them to another purpose—I move, That a Supply may be granted for the Land-Forces.
Col. Cornwall.] I ask pardon if I do not very well understand the Question. If you mean to supply the Army as the Fleet, I can come up to it. I desire they may have 3 or 400,000 l. for present supply.
The Speaker.] You cannot go into that Motion without going into a Grand Committee.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] You can only make a Motion, and then consider whether you will go into a Committee of the whole House.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] Seymour said, "I spoke little to the purpose." I am so used to reflections that I take little notice of them. When Lord Ranelagh brought up the Forces to be 60,000 men, I thought it my duty not to let that go so. I observe that, when the Apostles spoke the truth of the Word, it was opposed by the Silversmiths that made the Shrines for Diana's Temple.
Earl of Ranelagh.] Though he makes that comparison, I am sorry for reflections—As for the 60,000, I said nothing of 60,000 men. You voted 54,000 last Session. I said, "The Forces in Flanders are in a starving condition for the present." What is proper to be done now, is only, That a Motion being made, &c. this House will consider of that Motion.
Wednesday, November 29.
[Debate on the Miscarriages resumed.]
John Rutter was called in.
The Speaker.] This House has been informed that you can give account of the Brest Fleet, &c.
Rutter.] I have given my Narrative upon Oath made to the Council. When I was before Admiral Killegrew, taken as a Prize, for taking in Currants from Nants, without Orders, I said, "I had done nothing but what I had orders for the 7th of May." In the morning I discovered six of the French Fleet, at anchor, and heard a Gun to give signal—I was carried before the Admirals, and gave account of fifteen sail of French, and four more sail—I saw that nobody took notice of what I said—He took my Pass from betwixt his fingers, and bid me withdraw— Killegrew was hot upon me about my loading—Shovel did ask me something, what it was I cannot say; I believe something of what I did see, and discover. He took my Pass, and so I did withdraw. Capt. Kerr was by, at some part of it, but his business was to get me as a Prize, which would be worth 2000 l. to him. He said nothing, but "that I must deliver my loading to the Prize-Office." Capt. Kerr met me on the Deck, when I did withdraw; only his Lieutenant came on board my Ship. I am not able to say what passed from Kerr, but being distracted about my Prize, I cannot remember—I met some coming out of the Channel, I suppose the Smyrna Fleet—I told it my Ship's Company—I am not able to say whether I did discourse of it to Capt. Barker, Captain of the St Vincent Fire-Ship, but I supposed I might say something to him—'Twas spoken often amongst my Ship's Company—They might have some Prizes coming out of Dunkirk. I observed some Ships coming out of Brest, just as the Sun came from the Horizon—I had eleven Sailors in my Ship—I had two more that were sick in the Cabbins. I told my Ship's Company, who were most sick and dying, I would make all the haste I could to Conquest-Road—I met with a Privateer, a tier of 6 Guns and 10 Patteraroes—The Lieutenant told me he was chased the day before, and if they had followed, he must have been taken—I never related any thing to Capt. Kerr, that the Brest Fleet was sailed up—I came ashore at Portsmouth the 14th of May—I came not up hither in three weeks—As soon as I came up, I went to the Prize-Office about my Cargo of three or four Ton of Currants taken from me. I was in the Prize Office, with Mr Parkhurst, and told him, in the Garden, the same I have done here. Major Churchill was concerned in the Cargo, and one Mr Alston. I was at Portsmouth some days after I landed—Mr Alston can give account of the time—I did sign my examination before the Council. No person whatever has been with me to make good this examination.
Mr Parkhurst.] There was a sale of these Currants on the 14th—Hearing what he had said of the French Fleet, I was willing to hear him, and he gave us this relation, as you have heard— All his men were sick, but three, and he had not men to sail his Ship—He got one.
Rutter.] I told Capt. Kerr, "That someShips were stirring, and if I did not make sail, I must bury my sick men"—I suppose then the French Fleet were out, and I told my Mate, Castle— They came out of Nantz River on the 6th, and I saw this on the 7th—All my Company but two and a boy were buried at Nantz. Capt. Kerr would have pressed my men, but I had none, but my two Prisoners that I brought from Nantz, and two men and a boy. The rest were all sick. My Ship was 120 Tons.
The Speaker.] Why did not you discover this intelligence to others besides Mr Parkhurst, and Major Churchill?
Rutter.] I do not remember—I have been a Seaman these 30 Years, born in the Isle of Thanet, by the North Foreland. I have been Master, and Mate, 20 Years and upwards; have been eight years employed by Sir William Scawen, and Alderman Lucy, and others. I have traded in the French trade 21 Years and upwards. I have served 20 Years apprentice to a Fisherman, and have my Neighbours ready to give account of my conversation. Several Neighbours and Merchants can testify of me—I saw fifteen sail, and four more coming out of Brest to windward, before the Wind, almost together. He withdrew.
Sir William Scawen.] I have known Rutter these eight Years, and he has always served me very honestly, and has the same repute upon the Exchange.
Serjeant Thurban.] I have known this Rutter these 19 Years. He lives in Ramsgate within the Jurisdiction of my Borough. I have had no dealing with the man, but I always have heard a good Character of him. I have heard this from his Neighbours, and all give credit to his information.
Sir Samuel Barnardiston.] I enquired after him on the Exchange, and have not heard a better Character of any man.
Col. Lee.] I know not whether his Character will answer your expectation of Gentlemen. Upon the Revolution he behaved himself bravely. He applied himself to his owners to be a Privateer, who could never get any account from him, and so were not willing to let him be a Privateer.
Sir John Fleete.] I have no particular acquaintance with the man, but I have heard of him, to be an honest man, by all that have dealt with him.
Mr Machell.] I'll tell you a fault that perhaps this man cannot get off from, viz. That he took Lord Peterborough prisoner.
Mr Howe.] I shall only make this observation, that I have known many pass for very honest Gentlemen, and, in this corrupt town, five or six years ago, they have proved otherwise. I reflect not upon the man, but let every one judge.
Daniel Castle.] I was Rutter's Mate. Under St Matthew's Point, the 7th of May, Rutter said, "He saw some Ships at anchor, and some under sail, and heard a Gun for more Ships" Rutter ordered to loose the Main-sail, and steer, for fear of being stopped. I saw the Ships, when I was with Rutter on the Deck. Hearing the Guns fired, we made all the sail we could. We took them to be part of the French Fleet. I heard twentyfive Guns fired, as more came out. The two Prisoners that were aboard us, saw it. They assisted us in bringing home our Ship, and a Carpenter, a Prisoner; the rest of the Ship's crew were sick and weak in the Cabins. We took them to be a Squadron of the main Fleet. I did not acquaint any person with what I saw, but believe my Captain did on board the Lenox, and the Flag. I remember Captain Kerr came on board our Ship, but I was not well when he came on board—There was such a discourse in France that their Ships were unrigged. But they were pressing men—The Lenox took us as Prize, and carried us to Portsmouth. A French Privateer, off from the Lizard, told us he had been chased, and that either his Mast, or Yard, was broken, but I heard nothing of the reason why the Lenox did not take him. I was carried on board the Lenox, and the two Prisoners. I was never examined, nor ever acquainted any with what I saw, nor had any discourse. I came ashore on May 14. I was three days on board the Lenox. I discoursed with no man there, and came to London. Our Ship was an hundred and odd Tons; we had eight or nine men to sail her.
Major Churchill, of Portsmouth] Rutter has been employed by me to carry French and English Prisoners. I asked him "what was the news?" He told me, "the Brest Squadron was out: Five were at anchor, and four more were coming out." He said, "He was carried on board the Admirals, and gave them account of it." He told this to me, and twenty more, at Portsmouth. I believe it ten days after his coming, and soon after the Lords of the Council went away, I did tell this to abundance of friends, and relations, I had in town. Rutter told it, I believe, twenty times, in Company of Captain Barker, and Mr Alston. I have known Rutter above nine months—He observed, "That fifteen more French Ships were coming out, and by firing their Guns he believed they might be forty sail coming out." This discourse he had in my Compting-House, when he came from Portsmouth, as I was writing. I heard him speak it upon the Exchange. About the 7th of May he saw them come out of Brest. He never made but one voyage for me before— He persormed his voyage very well. A Broker brought him to me at first; he was of good credit, and employed by Merchants, Owners of Ships, for several years—He was on board the Britannia at Spithead, and acquainted the Admirals with all this matter that he has said; the Admirals took little notice of what he said, only Sir Cloudesly Shovel asked him several Questions, and was very inquisitive where the French Fleet was; and he told him all this matter.
Sir Francis Child.] Rutter did say, "That Admiral Killegrew turned from him, and took little notice of what he said; the rest of the Admirals were in the room, and he addressed himself to Sir Cloudesly Shovel for his Pass."
Rutter.] In Nantz, they asked me, "where the Turkey Fleet was?" I told them, "they were ready to set sail, with thirty Men of War." They laughed me to scorn, and said "they knew better." There was a discourse at St Malo's of laying up the Fleet, but nothing at Nantz. I never said a word that the Brest Fleet was unrigged—There was much pressing before I came away, sending to Brest with all expedition. Captain Barker's boat brought me on board the Britannia, with only the boat's crew, and the Coxswain. I went immediately to the Admiral's cabbin-door. I waited there a quarter of an hour—Some Gentlemen were standing at the cabbin-window, but said nothing. I expected to have been asked several questions, but I heard none.
Sir John Lowther.] Now Rutter tells you, he was asked no questions, nor gave any account of the French Fleet, but they told him of his being called in question, if the Parliament had sat, for carrying French Goods.
Mr Foley.] 'Tis time to make an end of this matter; and I know not how, unless you call in the Admirals, Carr, and Rutter, and his Mate, and confront them all together.
[The three Admirals and Captain Kerr were then severally called in and confronted with Rutter. The Admirals were afterwards called in, and heard; and then withdrew. And the Question being put, That it does appear to this House, that the Admirals, that commanded the Fleet the last summer, had, on the 11th day of May last, Information that part of the Brest Fleet was going out to Sea; it passed in the Negative, 170 to 161.]