Debates in 1675: April 24th-26th

Pages 34-49

Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 3. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.

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In this section

Saturday, April 24.

Mr Pepys, [according to order] gave an account of the present state of the navy, and the stores thereto belonging, and delivered the several particulars thereof in writing in at the Clerk's table.]


Mr Secretary Coventry.] Would have no copies of this account go abroad, but would have it lie upon the table.

Mr Sacheverell.] Is glad to see we are so near our neighbours, in the number and strength of our navy. We are it seems but four ships difference from France, therefore is not afraid to have this account of the navy entered into the journal—And would have time to see whether these accounts are as they are given in, and if so small a sum as Pepys has mentioned will set the fleet out; if so we have no need of giving any thing now.

Mr Garroway.] There are lists of the navy abroad in the nation as exact as this given in by Pepys; these things are known all Europe over, as well as in this House—It needs not this ceremony of concealing, if the navy be in so good repair as is represented—Would have thanks given to the King for it; but would have no private committees for further inspection in the business.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] Would take this occasion to enquire into the whole revenue, how things are spent; possibly the committee may think fit to send to Chatham, to view the ships and stores. In July 1668, the King sat in Council to consider his revenue and the whole charge upon it was 7 or 800,000l. In that, 300,000l. were dormant privy seals, but now the whole revenue goes in privy seals. If there has been any male-versation or practice in these things, he desires that the committee may consider of it.

Colonel Titus.] Doubts not but Clarges has made a good motion, but 'tis not the thing in question—It being whether the accounts should be exposed to view, or referred to a committee. A General that took a spy, has purposely showed him his army and strength—But you would not have Ambassadors know all the privacies of the nation. You are sure that such as you name of the committee will not keep any thing they shall find out from the knowledge of the house—Would commit it.

Colonel Strangways.] Would have things done in a parliamentary way; every man here has an equal right to attend a committee, though not to vote at it, unless named of the committee—Would have no more long parliament-committees, to impose upon the house.

Sir Charles Harbord.] In the year 1601 the French had but three ships of war; they were afraid of Queen Bess, and durst build no more—The French increasing at this rate in shipping, as you are told, 'tis high time to lay your hands upon your hearts and purses.

Sir Thomas Meres.] Would lay his hand upon his purse as Harbord does, to keep his money in it (fn. 1) —He is against a close committee to inspect this business of the navy—He has met with a paper abroad, almost as exact as this of Pepys—Would adjourn this debate till Monday, to have time to consider of it, and then you may impose it upon the honour of the committee not to divulge their enquiry.

Mr Powle.] By reports abroad fears the navy in a more dismal condition than it appears to be by the relation given, which may be very well supplied by the King's revenue; if 144,000l. will do, the King might have built ships of his own, upon the stocks, therefore moves for Tuesday next for the farther consideration, &c.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] Moves to state the revenue, and, if thought fit, that an account be brought as a ground work against Tuesday, seeing the defects of the navy so small, and the revenue fit to do it, he thinks there is no need of farther help.

Sir John Ernly (fn. 2).] The "keeping" the fleet out, as well as "setting" it out will require some hundreds of thousands of pounds—'Tis better husbandry to keep some ships in, and build new ones—'Tis worth your consideration to have some on the stocks,

Mr Secretary Coventry.] Are you sure that if we have war, there will be but one battle? If you have not a good fleet, you had as good have no fleet—Moves that the building of ships may be thought of, out of the real consideration how the nation may be defended—If you will have a fleet, examine the calculation that is given in, and see how you can defend the kingdom with so few.

Sir John Hotham.] Would have some of the revenue appropriated to the use of the navy. When you examine the revenue, you may see money gone out for forces, not the trained bands, but forces that you have condemned here—Moves to consider the state of the revenue against Tuesday, and to take off what is not public, or safe, out of the charge of the revenue, and to employ it to the use of the navy.

Sir Nicholas Carew.] Though you are told but of a small sum to set out the navy, yet there must go a great deal to maintain it—But as the charge of the navy increases so does the revenue—Tonnage and poundage were given for the use of the fleet only—Moves "that no part of the customs be surcharged, but to remain free for the use of the navy."

Sir John Coventry.] Perhaps we shall also make enquiry who has destroyed the navy—Enquiring into the customs is told that the Duke of Lauderdale has 3000l. per ann. out of the customs—Wonders not, if such pensions be granted, at the defects of the navy.

Mr Sacheverell.] Seconds Coventry's motion—'Tis seasonably moved to have the state of the revenue before you, and how it is laid out—If we do it not now, we shall never do it—Moneys that are brought into the Exchequer are conveyed out into private hands, and private treasuries. The revenue is now so great, the nation is able to bear no more charge—The excise and customs are to the King worth 1,300,000l. and cost the people 1,500,000l. per ann. together with the first fruits and chimney money—He lays the balance upon what we know—If a fifth part of all the revenue be not able to maintain the fleet, 'tis a dismal prospect—Tonnage and poundage were never intended to be given away, but for the ships, and to raise a bank against necessity—And would see whether the course of the Exchequer be not so diverted as never to come to an account.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] The appropriating the customs must be by Act—And in the mean time the customs are all run away with by anticipations—Would not have that rod hang over us—We may possibly be prorogued as we were formerly, and in October no ships built—Moves "that the farther anticipation of the customs for England and Ireland may be voted a disservice to the King, and kingdom."—By way of forming a law—Otherwise we shall do a great disservice to the King and kingdom.

Sir Thomas Clarges.] Would have the thing come in method of Parliament, because as yet we know not certainly what these anticipations are—We suppose them only, and he would have the enquiry for your better information referred to a committe.

Lord Cavendish.] This vote has no retrospect for what is past, but to provide for the future, for the safety of your sons.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] The kingdom may be lost for want of anticipitations upon the King's revenue—He knows no government but does it—And should it be voted, you take off many mens security for money they have lent the King.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] He thinks the motion goes on too fast—This of the customs is the great branch of the King's revenue, and is now under the charge of the King's house, and necessary expence, and thinks that as necessary a part as any—Till you give the King money, pray take not away his credit—We have had war with Tripoly, now 15 days since—That war cannot be supplied, but by credit—Therefore would not go too fast in this motion.

Sir Tho. Littleton.] This motion ties not up the King's hands, but for a few days—The question is, whether we are to be trusted—We shall never tie up the King's hands for useful anticipations, till farther care be taken.

Mr Boscawen.] The stopping these anticipations will be no great matter in point of the King's credit—Would have the customs diverted from those payments that are of no use, and a proportion applied to the navy—And anticipations taken off, till further provided for.

Sir Charles Wheeler.] He was alive in 1641, and in the height of the discontents and grievances then in that Parliament, things [were] not altered till dispatched in Parliament—If our vote be for stopping anticipations, but for ten days, it seems to be a binding up the King.

Sir Thomas Meres.] Tho' we be prorogued, and prorogued, and prorogued again, we must speak plain English—'Tis plain there has been a neglect of building ships, and that we are behind our neighbours—Would now so prepare the thing that this vote may keep us from a prorogation—If we stop it not now, we are going just on again to anticipitate the revenue as formerly—We offer at no branch of revenue, but the customs—The advances that are upon them may be for the building of ships, and is but what it ought to be—If men have not hearts to come up to this, the kingdom will sink.

The Speaker, Proffering, as Treasurer of the navy, to speak to the point,

Sir Thomas Meres.] Told him, That by the orders of the House he ought not to speak, before he had first asked leave to do so.

Sir William Lewis.] Regularly the Speaker ought to be heard, when he proffers to speak, but if he speaks not to orders, another member must be heard that speaks to orders.

Sir John Coventry.] What inconvenience do we now lie under, when we have a Speaker that breaks our orders?

Sir William Lewis.] If the Speaker offers to clear any thing in doubt, you must hear him.

Sir Thomas Little on.] Though the Speaker may deliver himself, under the notion of stating matters of fact, it must be done "with leave"; he may speak in other matters, of order, and collecting the sense of the House, but not else.

The Speaker.] Has the honour of serving the King as Treasurer of the navy, and derives it from the honour he has of sitting in your chair, as your servant—In the time he has been Treasurer of the navy, he has received 1,400,000l. and is ready to give an account of it to a farthing.

Sir John Coventry.] Is not unwilling to hear the Speaker, but not without leave of the House.

Mr Sacheverell.] Would be informed whether this money has been out of the customs, or the other revenue.

Sir Robert Howard.] Take the condition of the navy to be in a war, when there was not one shilling towards it—Has seen this house always take precedents from what is clearly before them—Would have all windows open as to this business—As on the one side he will not dispute the jealousies, and fears of any man—This vote will not further prorogation, being no act—Believes the French will never forget our taking leave so suddenly of them, when we made peace with the Dutch, nor the Dutch, the surprize of the Smyrna fleet—This is our condition—Perhaps our jealousies are reasonable enough—New forms being taken—You may have your ends in this vote, and yet pay your respects to the King and nation—Would have it instead of a vote, an address to the King and have it voted, "That whoever advises the King to it, is an enemy to the King and you;" and then you hold forth that terror you would hold forth.

Sir William Coventry.] As to Howard's notion of "the French and Dutch remembering us," he hopes and believes they will not resent it both together, and would willingly keep them divided—He has the same wishes as other gentlemen have for sitting here and doing something for the nation, and would not so bind the King as to occasion a prorogation—The inconveniences objected, are arguments to him for the vote—There cannot be such a necessity of such vast anticipations upon the customs, but that the Parliament may be called to supply them—That all the customs should be anticipated, is the most destructive thing to the nation in the world—He hoped that the stop of payment in the Exchequer might have prevented these anticipations, but sees it has not. An address to the King for taking them away may do well; but hopes that preventing the anticipation but of one half of the customs, may remedy the thing, and would change the vote into an address to the King, "That no farther anticipations may be made 'till money be provided for the navy."

Mr Powle.] As to the account the Speaker has given you, he wonders that a greater sum has not been laid out for the navy. There was in the Treasury, when this Lord Treasurer came into office, 60,000l. of the prize money—The Dutch money, and advance above 150,000l.—Great advances by extraordinary ways, and yet not for the fleet. He wonders at the advance! 'Tis most necessary for us to prevent anticipations; should all the revenue be anticipated [it would be] the most dangerous thing imaginable upon any emergency.

Mr Sacheverell.] Is against this address to the King, for you to supplicate for what is your right already, unless you will found your address upon the Act of Parliament which appropriates the customs to the use of the navy—If the address be so, he is for it.

Mr Garroway.] Would have it in the address particularised what Act you mean—For one Act appropriates to the payment of debts, and therefore would be clear in the matter.

Resolved, That an address be presented to the King to prevent any farther anticipation [or charge] upon his Majesty's customs of England and Ireland, [it being a disservice to the King and Kingdom.]

Monday, April 26.

The Bill against transportation of persons beyond the seas, for offences, &c. and illegal imprisonment; and that of levying money without Act of Parliament, were committed.

Mr Russel.] Was glad to hear, on Saturday last, an account that the navy was in so good a condition—But thinks all we give is too little when the Treasury is managed to set up private men and their heirs. The Earl of Danby has acted in it in a high and arbitrary manner, and disposed of the treasure as he pleased—And has publickly declared at the Treasury "that a new proclamation is as good as an old law,"—Moves "that he may be removed from the King and his employments," and that an impeachment be drawn against him.

Sir Samuel Barnardiston.] Has no malice against this Lord, but if the King be well served, he cares not by whom. He has articles to present the House against him for his ill management of the treasury, and his arbitrary proceedings in it.

The Speaker.] The nature of the articles must be first opened, before delivered by the orders of the House.

Sir Samuel Barnardiston, opens them.] They contain many miscarriages in the management of the Treasury. And that he should there say, "that a new proclamation is better than an old law,"—Causing a person to be banished that prosecuted, &c.—And his arbitrary proceedings in the marriage of his second son to Mrs Hyde.

Mr Powle.] Always had, and still has, an unwillingness to accuse great men, it looking like faction; they being more exposed in their actions than other men, are thereby more liable to exception—What he does is out of discharge of his duty here—Is not for removing of one man to mend the prospect of another—All things are managed in the Exchequer by him by colourable and fictitious practices—The Exchequer constitutions are very excellent—All things managed there must be by persons sworn, and are equally liable to the King's debts, as if persons that acknowledged a statute staple—The checks and controuls there are perpetual evidence of what is done, no money being paid or received, but a record is kept of it—But this Lord Treasurer has removed the money into other hands, that thereby no record may be kept of it—By this means the money is got into private hands, without record for it in the Exchequer—By this means, no enquiry, either for the King or the subject, can be made, what becomes of the money. Formerly the trade crept in by small sums, which made way for greater—But now by whole sums, tallies by anticipation entered; but he has gone farther—Such a patent he has obtained for his office as no age yet ever saw, and hopes no future age ever will see. There is a patent granted for the customs, but he passes it to another to keep it in his hands, till his order for disposing of it, the better to invest himself in them. The patent for the excise makes the account to be passed in the Exchequer, or else-where. In the preamble of that patent 'tis said to be done by the advice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer [Sir John Duncombe,] (who at present is not here) but doubts not he will truly acquaint you whether by his advice. The taking these two great branches of the revenue, is like a Steward who takes all the domains into his own hands, and leaves the Lord of the Manor a few tenements—By this way of farming, he takes all he can into his hands, and disposes of it how he pleases. Here have been extraordinary advances upon these farms, besides the ordinary revenue spent—But is the fleet repaired, or debts paid, or stores laid in? All this spent without applying any thing to that use—The patents are on record, and may be seen by any body—The punishment of one great officer of state, in such cases as these, is better than any laws you can make—First, let us settle the King at home, and then let us look abroad—And he will undertake the proof of these articles himself rather than they shall go without.

Mr Garroway.] Sees the charge against the Lord Treasurer wherein he is concerned in several things, viz. "The precharging the revenue of the customs with sums of money," but he that sees what is transmitted to the Exchequer from thence, will not find that Article against the Lord Treasurer so considerable—Except some pensions, does not know any thing charged on the Exchequer account, viz. Prince Rupert's pension, the Bed-chamber men's, and the allowance to the commissioners of the customs. On his cognizance, knows no more—But whether the House will take cognizance of proceedings in the Exchequer, where the Lord Treasurer of England is so trusted, and when he has consulted with the King's Counsel in the drawing his patent—Will you let no man sit easily in his employments? When you consider his power, he has a vast one by law—And he would see the patents, before you make his actions crimes—When you come to see whether this patent was surreptitiously gotten, and whether Sir John Duncombe knows of this patent, then you will be better informed to give your judgments. For that charge of the Lord Treasurer's saying, "A new proclamation is better than an old law", remembers the charge against Lord Chief Justice Keeling about Magna Charta (fn. 3). If interlocutory discourses may be wrested, there is an end of all conversation. For the charge about "banishing the man mentioned," he knows the Lord Treasurer's tenderness so much in his actions, that when the commissioners of the customs but turned out a man that had an office in the customs, for misdemeanour, they were to justify it before the Lord Treasurer. For the charge "of the marriage of his second son to Mrs Hyde," he has heard discourses, but knows nothing of it. If there be any thing in it, 'tis cognizable at law, and why should we take up the cudgels for another man, without that man's petitioning us about it? If he can have no redress at law, let him come hither—Would have the patents seen here, before you proceed any farther.

Sir Richard Temple.] In all cases, he has observed the Treasurer to take the best advice he could, and has made the law his rule in all things within his observation. The customs were never so little charged as in this Lord Treasurer's time. For the other charges against him, which are not public, we do not the nation service in charging these little things, which have more found than substance—Would appoint another day for viewing the patent, and farther examination of the matter.

Sir Nicholas Carew.] Agrees not with Temple's moti on for "another day," he would not have any criminal made innocent here, nor innocent, criminal—Would have the articles read, one by one, and so receive them or reject them, as they shall be made out.

Sir John Coventry.] Has an honour for this great Lord, but has it for no man that would alter the Government—The articles are new to him, but doubts not but in due time they will be made good, and that some Members will make them every one good. If you find matter in them, punish him, if not, clear him.

Lord Cavendish.] Hears few say that the articles are not a ground of impeachment against this Lord—It may be the first article is doubtful in law.

Mr Vaughan.] At the first sight, these articles are of a high nature—He thinks the persons that have undertaken them, have a hard part to manage, and it has been ill fortune to accuse men in this House, since to accuse is to strengthen court parties—For the articles read, men must give their opinions of them with their judgments, and must come with all their judgments—He would not hastily find a man guilty.

Mr King.] Would take time to consider of these articles, and not proceed hastily upon them—He has known great good the Lord Treasurer has done—He has paid off the navy and army—These articles are high, and should be well considered of.

Earl of Ogle.] Moves to put off the Debate for two or three days—Is sure that no such thing as is alleged the Lord Treasurer should say about the proclamation, was ever said in the Council.

Sir Thomas Meres.] Here are articles brought you, and men undertake to prove them. This was thought sufficient to impeach in Lord Clarendon's case—But now people are disproving them before they are proved—At this rate, every man will be acquitted that shall be accused—Joins with Vaughan's motion, "That whoever is next bring the articles as these are,"—and he'll go to the Lords bar with them—Putting the thing off to another day, is but a bye way to lose time, to destroy it—Let the patents be brought hither to morrow—This is not the Duke of Lauderdale's, nor the Duke of Buckingham's case—But to have enough to induce you to impeach this Lord at the Lords bar.

This went off without a question.

Sir Courtney Poole.] Speaks to the method of proceeding—This is a great crime, and a great man—Supposes that those gentlemen that brought them in, know how to prove them, and are prepared to do it; and that others that are not, may have time to consider of them—Moves it.

Mr Powle.] He has no intention to engage you in a hasty vote—But he thought these alleged, great crimes —Would have a day appointed to consider—And the patents brought, and let the officers of the Exchequer compare them with former grants—If they be found legal, shall comply as much as any man.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] Many things must go to the making a man so criminal as fit for notice in this House; they ought to be great. Sometimes a minister of state, in favour, carries things higher than other men have done in their place—Would not have the House engaged in that which they may not go fairly off from—No man can be against the thing going on fairly; and moves for Wednesday.

Sir Thomas Lee.] There must be divers questions before you come to impeachment. He would do nothing to draw an ill precedent upon this House, for any man's sake. All agree that the impeachment when passed, must be carried to the Lords Bar, and you are at your liberty for your method of proceeding—Members undertake the proof of the articles, and will not you accept them? Then comes the whole question, Whether upon the proofs you have matter to proceed to impeachment? This way you must go, and have always done, unless you will lose all method of proceeding—The man is equal to him, in all respects.

Sir Charles Harbord.] If there be no such thing as these articles, you give a wrong judgment—He has had the honour to serve the King under seven or eight Lord Treasurers, and by the duty of his place he is to advise with all things relating to the revenue—He has endeavoured all his time to save the Treasury, but sees he cannot do it—So far as he has been acquainted with the Lord Treasurer he has not found his understanding defective in it; and has wondered at it, that a young man, and a country gentleman, should understand it so soon. In this business would go as faithfully and as truly as any man—As he has charity for the gentleman that brought in these articles, so he knows many of these things to be otherwise—Would have you view the state of the revenue first, and, if proper, then would enter into the merits of the cause—He can disprove many of these things alleged.

Mr Garroway.] He thinks it for the interest of the Treasurer that you should proceed in the articles—But would wave that article "of the Treasury", till the patents are viewed, and would have that done to morrow.

Mr Secretary Williamson] You cannot do a greater right to the Treasurer and your own justice than to proceed—He cannot give his judgment that any of the articles are criminal, though proved—The proceedings of the Treasury must be compared with former times—You are not ripe for the thing now—Therefore moves for Friday.

Sir Charles Wheeler.] Doubts not but as common same leads this matter, it will be considered on the right hand as well as on the left—He believes the Treasury will appear as well to morrow as the navy did the other day—Would lose no time—He hears it said "that things come to be disproved before they are proved;" when one side says, "money is paid", the other "not paid", no wonder—He believes there is not one penny paid out of the Exchequer, but by order—If commissions have ran, legally and fairly, higher than formerly, if one Lord Treasurer by commission has more power given him by this patent than ordinary, 'tis not illegal.

Sir Edmund Jennings.] Would have no time lost, and is confident that if the noble Lord concerned was here present, he would be of that mind—Would postpone that first article, and proceed to the rest, and doubts not but the Lord, upon examination of the whole matter, will rather deserve the thanks of the House for his good management of the Treasury, than their accusation.

Col. Titus.] If the Treasurer has offended, it must be in the male-administration of his place in the revenue, and untill you inspect that, would defer the consideration of the articles.

Col. Birch.] If any thing had been done amiss in the excise, would have been so faithful a servant to the Treasurer as to have told him of it before he told the House—That the Treasury is gone is certain, but as to the Treasurer's being in fault, hopes he will come out purified like gold—If the Treasurer was here present, believes he would not have this business go over—Remembers that in Lord Clarendon's case, before he gave his consent to impeach him. he would have the articles proved; and if they are not so now, he will be of the same mind he was of then—Would have them read, head by head, and would have some light into them presently.

Mr Sacheverell.] Moves, as to the method of your proceeding—You must first judge whether these articles are criminal, abstractedly proved, and, though so judged, you must consider, whether [they are] such as you will proceed upon.

Sir Robert Howard.] You must consider whether the thing done be that, or no, and those, crimes, or no—Then your time is to give judgment, whether the things done are these crimes, or no.

Mr Attorney Montagu.] Strange that he should be so conversant in the Exchequer, and [yet] know not the least of this charge—For the patents, they must be seen, and for the charge of the proclamation, &c. no man walks by rule of law in his place more than this Lord Treasurer—Would have some short time appointed for the proof of the articles.

Col. Strangways, speaking after Sir Thomas Littleton, seemed to cast some reflective expressions upon him, viz.— Some men are of one mind when in office, and another when out of office; which Littleton taking exception at,

Mr Secretary Coventry said,] Strangway's reflection was not upon any particular Member, but he spoke it generally—If the words had immediately reflected, they must have been written down.

The Speaker.] The House is no more bound by one order than another; you are masters of it as in Bills to be read by order, and the question put, and the day sometimes altered.

Mr Sacheverell.] This is not a single order, but order of Parliament—You may as well order that a Bill shall be read but once.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] In Mr Harwood's case, who spoke against what he said,—In that case a man had spoken before the words were set down, and the matter debated, so that the words then could not be set down.

Sir Thomas Lee] If a Debate arises, what were the words interfering, you are passed writing down the words —If the Speaker will declare it so, he is well satisfied.

Sir Robert Howard.] Takes occasion to move that this Debate may be laid down and sleep, being a way to introduce a question upon a standing order—The most dangerous thing imaginable!

The Speaker.] Moved it to be made a standing order.

Sir Thomas Lee.] Would not have that now voted to be a standing order, that is one already.

Mr Vaughan] If once we debate reading of bills a third time, we shall make strange work—By the standing order, words are to be agreed upon before any Debate of them be; and wishes this Debate may slide over.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] Has not troubled you with any thing of his own concern, though he has had reason for it, as in razing records by a warrant from the King—After all his services, did little expect he should have been exposed—Them that wrested this from the King, he prays God to forgive—He came to his office of victualler of the navy, in a time when he thought he might have served the King—Just at the time of entering into the Triple Alliance—When no invasion of property or religion; but when the French court changed us, that matter changed too—But, he observes, that men are gone from him, more than he from them. No man runs more hazard for the service of his country in that office, than he does, even to his ruin.


  • 1. This repartee, Burnet says, was made in the next session and is ascribed by him to Sir Charles Harbord's own son. See Hist. of his own times, p. 386.
  • 2. A commissionen of the navy.
  • 3. See Vol. I. p. 62.