Debates in 1678: March (1st-12th)

Pages 213-223

Grey's Debates of the House of Commons: Volume 5. Originally published by T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London, 1769.

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In this section

Friday, March 1.

In a Grand Committee. On the Poll-Bill.

Mr Mallet.] I would have Serjeants that come to that Dignity, and have not read, (illiterate, &c.) rated double, in the Poll, to them that have read. The Posy of their Ring is, "Ex gratia regis, non operibus legis." And I move that "Dutchesses younger sons" may be rated likewise (reflectingly.)

Saturday, March 2.

[In a Grand Committee. On the Poll-Bill.]

Mr Sacheverell.] I move for a farther power to the Committee to inflict penalties on retailers of French Commodities, after a time limited for the vending those Commodities; and after such a day none to be imported, and Instructions given to the Committee accordingly.

Mr Secretary Williamson.] Unless you expedite this Bill, no more assistance can be sent into Flanders, than is already; unless more Money be raised, which this Bill must give the King Credit to raise.

Mr Mallet.] I would not have Williamson reflect upon the House. I have been present at giving many great sums, and never greater expedition was made in any Bill than this, &c.

Monday, March 4.

In a Grand Committee. On the Poll-Bill.

On the Clause for prohibiting of French Commodities, reported by Mr Sacheverell.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] When a War has been without Prohibition of Commodities, and in Peace a Prohibition, &c. 'tis improper for either. If it be Peace with France, this Prohibition of a total and universal Commerce is without precedent. In War this Prohibition is practicable. If you say "during War, or in relation to War," you cannot make an Act of Parliament for the durance of the French War. You make French Commodities "a Nusance, for a year and a half," which is a malum in se, perpetual and eternal. Therefore I would have you enumerate the principal Commodities we are damnified by. I am not against that, but would not make an universal Prohibition.

Mr Sacheverell.] I moved not at first for the general words; only for five or six Commodities. But the House has ordered all, and now 'tis not to be altered. As for what is said of "a Nusance to be perpetual," stop a Light for a year, and 'tis a Nusance as much as if stopped for ever. The Nusance is the opposition of your Law, as much as the thing, as in that of Irish Cattle. (And so he opened the Order of the House, &c.) "No Wine, &c. or other Commodities of the Growth, Product, and Manufacture of France, to be imported for three years." Last Saturday the Committee had power from the House to inflict Penalties, &c. for importing them after such a day. The design is to consider, not the Commodity so much a Nusance, but the breach of the Law.

Sir George Downing.] I desire that the particular Commodities may be enumerated, &c.

Sir Thomas Lee.] Takes Downing to Order, &c.

Mr Garroway.] Pray read the Clause, paragraph by paragraph, and pass it so. I am as earnest for this as any man whatsoever, but not for putting it so exclusive as to all Commodities, but strictly to hold us to "Salt, Brandy, Wine, Silk, Paper, and Linnen," Nothing will do but downright to prevent the King of France from keeping an Army to destroy us, by this trade. Go paragraph by paragraph, and you may retain what Commodities you please.

Sir John Ernly.] I am for the Prohibition of these six Commodities mentioned; but withall to prohibit Commerce will not do. It is to show your teeth and not bite. It occurs to me that the Victuallers have made a great Provision of Brandy, and beveridge, for the Navy. All the rest I agree to.

The Committee went to the House for farther directions, and received them.

[Debate in the House.]

Col. Birch.] This Clause coming from you, I question whether the Committee can leave out any thing of it. First, here is not a word of Ireland in this. If Ireland be named, then it is bound by our Law; if not named, 'tis not bound, and French Commodities may be poured into Ireland, and so this Prohibition do no good. You say, "upon their Importation, vessels shall be staved, &c. and goods burnt, unless they be prize goods." You say, "the Importer shall be punished." You will never know the Importer, and the Informer will do nothing, for he will have nothing for his labour. I would have the Clause run thus; "That the goods being condemned for French, &c. the Informer shall have so long time to export them beyond sea." When you formerly expected 2 or 300,000l. upon forfeitures on the Prohibition of Brandy, the Importer cast Liquorice, or Aniseeds, into it, and no Jury could ever find it to be Brandy, and so the Law was eluded.

Mr Garroway.] Liquorice, &c. may be cast in on shipboard, &c. but I would have the vessel that imports it, forfeited.

Col. Birch.] But I put this, as to shallops, who take wool away, and have it tumbled in, in Creeks, as they may likewise land these French goods.

Sir Tho. Lee.] The Debate is not lost by speaking to it in the House. One thing is necessary; consider one sort of people, Valet de Chambres, who are hawkers of French goods, and, perhaps, live in better places, that the Constable cannot reach them. Wine may be sold out of the King's Cellars, and Ladies may sell Points. I would therefore have directions given to the Officers of the Green Cloth, that search may be made at Court, for [French] Silks, points, and Wine, &c. which they sell there, under colour of privilege of the place.

Sir George Downing.] I move that the Clause of Appropriation of the Money to the French War may be reported, before the House goes into a Grand Committee.

In a Grand Committee.

Sir Robert Sawyer.] A Writ of Apprisal goes out from the Exchequer, and then letters of compounding are obtained, which, perhaps, are for a third part of the value, and they agree for much less; so more is got by the Prohibition of these goods, by selling them accordingly, than if the trade was free. Your design is to exclude them totally; they pack the prohibited goods up with things not forbidden—Multitudes of prohibited Commodities, if found, are seized; as painted glasses, and hobby-horses, &c.

Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] I would not have the Clause run, "All things particularly forbidden already by Law." It will put the tradesmen upon difficulties to search for such Laws; therefore either name the Commodities particularly, or name the Acts wherein they are.

Sir Robert Sawyer.] The Customers know all the prohibited goods, and there is not one Officer in the Custom-House, but knows all the Laws without book.

Mr Swynfin.] You are now prohibiting French Commodities, by name, and now 'tis offered to make the Clause, "All other Commodities prohibited by any Law in being." These two cannot stand in the same Clause. "Brandy, Wine, Silks, &c." you prohibit after such a day; but if you put in "those in Law already forfeited," those that are not may in the mean time be brought in; and you in a manner lessen those Laws in being. It weakens the Law in being, and I am against its standing in the Question.

Mr Sacheverell.] The Question is only, whether these six Commodities prohibited be not effectual to make an experiment for three years.

Sir George Downing.] Wrought Silks do not comprehend Gold-wrought work, but in the Exchequer are confiscated ad valorem—Else they are wrought Gold.

Mr Garroway.] I would have a competent time, for the whole Kingdom. I care not how doubtful it is, so it be not a snare—And in such manner as may be encouraged.

Sir Thomas Lee.] In that Clause of "Royal Assent," which the Lords put into Sir John Coventry's Bill, we differed with the Lords upon the account of uncertainity, and the Session of the Old Bailey was put off upon that uncertainty of Royal Assent—For what has been really and honestly bought, before this time, in France, I would not have them in a snare, therefore I would put it to a certain day; but not upon the issue of Royal Assent given, for that is an uncertain issue.

Col. Birch.] You do not intend a long day, to store you with these Commodities. I would have the farthest day to be Easter Eve, the 29th of March.

Mr Garroway.] I am against putting in "Ireland." The time will be too short. I would not have the Merchants wander up and down with their goods, and attempt stealing them in here. I would only have that time for England, and Wales, and town of Berwick upon Tweed, Guernsey, and Jersey.

Mr Powle.] I know no reason why Guernsey and Jersey should be prohibited this trade; 'twill be but a small quantity of French goods that will be brought in thither. I know not that you ever did it in any Act of Parliament. These being the depository of goods, and the Dutch being the universal Carriers, they may put in and land them, in order to vending them elsewhere.

Sir Richard Temple.] I fear it dangerous to be a depository there, and you may have them, by that means, brought hither.

Sir George Downing.] The Isle of Man will certainly store Lancashire with French goods, if not comprehended, and Jersey and Guernsey will store other places. I would therefore have them within the Bill; and I would have these words added to the Clause, "Goods brought in by Land, or imported."

Mr Garroway.] The main prospect of the Bill is to keep these goods from coming on shore. Goods deposited have been embezzled in the King's very Warehouse, and rags and rubbish put in their stead.

Mr Secretary Coventry.] How can a man tell but the Wine is let out into another vessel, and they have pretended leakage?

Mr Garroway.] The vessels are to be staved, and so the Wine can never come ashore.

Tuesday, March 5.

Sir Thomas Meres reports an appropriating Clause, [to be added to the Poll Bill;] viz. "All Moneys raised by this Act, except the Fees of the Exchequer, shall be applied and appropriated to a War against the French King, and no other use, &c."

Mr Secretary Coventry.] I suppose you intend this Appropriation, and Penalties, &c. "for otherwise disposing this Money than to a War against the French King, when the War shall be begun."

Sir Thomas Littleton.] I hope, before the Act be passed, of this Money, the War will be begun. This Money is to enable the King to enter into a War now. Two months hence, when the War is begun, and two or three thousand men have been killed, "to enter into a War," is a contradiction. The words "entering into a War," may be a trap to the Officers of the Exchequer in issuing out the Money, &c.

Sir Thomas Meres.] What is done is for a War, and 'tis hard for us to send men by sea, or land, &c. and not have Money to pay them, when they come home. So the words in the Clause are plain.

Sir Tho. Clarges.] The words are very well in the Clause, as now they are. We were told before, "Give Money, and there was a War;" and 'twas "taking the King of France by the beard." If so, what need all these difficulties? This that we are about to give is a great sum, and I know not when we shall speak here again. If we have no War, there will be no farther use of us. All Letters from Holland say there is a complaint of the Confederates, that they do nothing; they are quite down, because we talk of War, and declare it not. When we took the Smyrna Fleet from the Dutch, we made War, and declared it afterwards. If there be a doubt of War, I would have us address the King to declare it, though, for politic reasons, it seems, 'tis not declared already.

Sir John Ernly.] Till such time as it be known to be War, I will not sign any Warrant of the Exchequer, for issuing out this Money, and no Officer of the Exchequer can be safe to sign any till it be a known War.

Sir George Reeves.] I would have a word, or two, to mend this Clause, that Commissioners may serve you securely, viz. "For, and towards, a War with the French King."

Sir Charles Wheeler.] Is it your meaning that when an account is called for, this Money shall not reach to that, if shortly a War be declared? And for all the preparations at land and sea? Shall not this Money be admitted into the account of War?

Sir George Downing.] Any debt incurred, though in Peace, yet is for the use and service of this War. If you pass this, and doubt in the Exchequer to sign Warrants, it will stop all issuing of Money, &c. though in War.

Mr Garroway.] If this be simply for preparation for this War, the sum to be raised is too great; but I hope 'tis for a real carrying on the War, and then there can be no difference in the thing.

Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] The design of the Money is for a War against the French King. If it be a War, there must be preparation. I hope it will be a War, and Money must be spent for preparation. If an Officer does not wilfully offend, he may be protected by Law. If that matter for a War against the French King, be expressed, the Officers of the Exchequer may safely pay the Money, and if they sign a Warrant according to the Act of Parliament, 'tis a good justification in Law. If Gentlemen are doubtful in penal Laws, 'tis good to be as plain as may be.

Mr Mallet.] There was War betwixt Rome and CarthageBellum ought to be according to your sum of Money. The King told you "That he could not speak nor act, without 600,000l." This now is Belli preparatio, and we give 400,000 l. more. So, I think, the words may stand in the Clause without alteration.

Wednesday, March 6.

Sir Edward Dering reports several Amendments, Clauses, &c. agreed by the Committee to be added to the Poll-Bill.

On the Clause for prohibiting of French Commodities.

Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] Calvin's Case of Naturalization, &c. It will require consideration, whether Ireland be bound by our Law, &c. My Lord of Ormond's Act was framed here, to settle Lands in Ireland, but the better to cram down the Act in Ireland, which had passage there as adventurers.

Sir Thomas Littleton.] I move that Printing-paper, by reason of the great works in printing, now in hand, (which cannot be carried on without paper of several sorts, and so will constrain men to print beyond sea, to the great detriment of trade) may have a year longer for bringing it in. Some great works cannot be printed in a year or two.

Sir Thomas Lee.] It was moved for time for persons, who, in a fair way of trade, had contracted for their Wines at Bourdeaux—But the Colliers, who support our Navigation, go for those Wines.

Sir Eliab Harvey.] It was a month ago that you ordered a Bill to be brought in for prohibiting this French trade, and that was timely notice sufficient.

The Speaker.] This is modestly asked, that the Merchants should bring in so many Commodities as will serve you for the three years, that you have forbidden them.

Sir Tho. Meres.] The first of April is the time to send fools on errands, and I would have the time limitted to that day.

Mr Papillon.] At Marseilles, there are many English ships, and because of the Algiers War they must have Convoys, and are now at Alicant, expecting Convoys, which cannot in that time arrive, to bring them home. I desire that a Proviso may be to exempt those six ships (fn. 1).

Mr Secretary Coventry.] If you take in the Proviso moved for, then fling out the Clause. Whether will you have a public, or particular advantage? I know that, above a month since, those ships were called home. They have had time, and how long has been the imagination of a War with France they cannot be ignorant. If this Clause of Prohibition, &c. be necessary, the Proviso is unnecessary.

Mr Papillon.] Six months since there was a kind of intimation of War with Spain; but it was not intended there should be no trade at all with Spain, because of such an intimation. And this intention of War here makes those ships stay at Alicant, as well for fear of the French as of Algiers.

Mr Sollicitor Winnington.] The person that complains of these ships, &c. has been zealous to show himself against France—There can be no War, but some Merchants will receive some injury. These ships, moved for, &c. have all the world to land in but England. The Merchants have got great Estates by the French trade, and may very well bear this inconvenience. And pray let us be unanimous in this, and show ourselves brisk by keeping French goods out of England.

Resolved, That French Commodities, &c. be prohibited for three years, &c. from and after the second of March. [And the Bill, with the Amendments, &c. was ordered to be ingrossed.]

[March 7. omitted.]

Friday, March 8.

The Poll-Bill passed, and was entitled, An Act for raising Money, by a Poll, and otherwise, to enable his Majesty to enter into an actual War against the French King, and for prohibiting several French Commodities.

[March 9 and 11. omitted.]

Tuesday, March 12.

An ingrossed Bill for the better collecting the duty of HearthMoney [was read the third time.]

Col. Birch.] The mischief of this irregularity [in collecting the Hearth-Money] is from the farming it. When the Money was gathered by the Constables, I remember not in the Country that I have had knowledge of any complaint. I am none of those that would take from the King; but when the Constables collected this duty, the returns to the King were 170,000l. per annum, and since it was farmed, 'tis reduced to 150,000l. per annum. We hear of War every day with France, but I cannot believe it, when that body of men that save England, are thus discontented by the vexatious collection of this duty. I love not to have to do with such a body of people when discontented, and all is for nothing—And it may be in the power of the Officer to make a Justice of Peace go a journey to London, or be made a Sheriff, if he gives a judgment upon the Act that does not please. At such a time as this, when a good understanding betwixt the King and his People must be our interest, I would not disturb it. 'Tis now got out of Westminster-Hall, but to keep it out from thence, put the Judgment final into the Justice of Peace's hands. But says one, "Will you put the Justices in balance with the Judges?"— But there is Money to be got by this; the Excise, &c. is finally in the Justice of the Peace. Can that be brought to Westminster Hall? That is kept out, and if ever it come to get thither, there will be more trouble in it, than with the man that got the Patent, for one, &c. to give him half a crown, or come up, &c. to show cause why he refuses. This Bill is to prevent such a kind of vexation, viz. You must pay the farmer two shillings, as he charges you, or go up to the Exchequer to show cause why; which this Bill will prevent, and I would pass it.

[The Bill passed.]

On the proceedings at a Conference with the Lords upon the Bill for preservation of the fishing in [the River] Severn (fn. 2).

Mr Powle.] If the Lords had regularly given reasons for the Amendments they have made in the Bill, it had been parliamentary, but instead of that they have only spoken in general. Particular reasons ought to have been for every Amendment, and I desire the Lords may give particular reasons, and that the right order of intercourse between the two Houses may be restored.

[A Conference was desired with the Lords, on the subjectmatter of the last.]

[March 13. omitted.]


  • 1. It appears by the Journal, that this Clause touching some shipa in the Streights, as well as that touching Printing paper (proposed above by Sir Thomas Littleton) was rejected without being read.
  • 2. This Conference was had on the 9th, on a Bill sent down from the Lords for preservation of the fishing in several Rivers in the Kingdom, in which their Lordships averred, "That the Amendments and Alterations which the Commons had made, had, in effect, made it a new Bill, as they had struck out of it all the Rivers, except only the River Severn"