Journal of the House of Lords Volume 35, 1776-1779. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1767-1830.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
June 1779 21-30
DIE Lunæ, 21o Junii 1779.
Ds. Thurlow, Cancellarius.
Comes Gower, Præses.
Ds. Willoughby Par.
I return you Thanks for this loyal and affectionate Address. I have the strongest Reliance on your Support; and I trust that the Spirit and Vigour of My People, under the Divine Protection, will enable Me to repel every hostile Attempt against My Dominions, the Honour of My Crown, and the Rights of My Subjects."
DIE Veneris, 25o Junii 1779.
With a Bill, intituled, "An Act for removing certain Difficulties with respect to the more speedy and effectual Manning of His Majesty's Navy, for a limited Time;" to which they desire the Concurrence of this House.
DIE Sabbati, 26o Junii 1779.
DIE Lunæ, 28o Junii 1779.
And the Earl of Chesterfield reported from the Committee, "That they had been in Consideration of the said Bill, and had made some Progress therein, and desired that another Time may be appointed for the House to be in a Committee again, to consider further of the said Bill."
The Order of the Day being read for the House to be put into a Committee upon the Bill, intituled, "An Act for removing certain Difficulties with respect to the more speedy and effectual Manning of His Majesty's Navy, for a limited Time;" and for the Lords to be summoned;
DIE Martis, 29o Junii 1779.
Moved, "That the Bill, intituled, "An Act for removing certain Difficulties with respect to the more speedy and effectual Manning of His Majesty's Navy, for a limited Time," be now read the Third Time."
Pr. 2. L. 10. After the word ("Nine") insert ("Provided nevertheless, that the Suspension of the above mentioned Acts, so far as they relate to Persons serving on Board of Ships and Vessels employed in the Coal Trade, shall not continue longer than One Calendar Month, to be computed from the Sixteenth Day of June aforesaid.")
Because the Re-committment of this Bill, which was moved, but which the House has thought proper to negative, appeared to us, to be absolutely necessary for the Introduction of such Alterations as might (we hope) have enabled the House to concur unanimously in the Suspension of those Acts of Parliament which stand in the Way of the extraordinary Supply of Men wanted for equipping the Fleet in the present Emergency. An Unanimity at this Time certainly desirable; which we have shewn our Readiness to produce, by offering to acquiesce in Measures of considerable Hardship and Oppression, on Account of the deplorable Situation to which this Country is reduced; although that Situation, so far from being imputable to us, is to be ascribed solely to that obstinate Adherence to a System, of which we have constantly foretold the Consequences we now so unhappily experience.
We wished, in the Committee, not to have suffered the Day of the Commencement of this Bill to remain, as it now stands, the Sixteenth of the present Month; a Period antecedent, by Fourteen Days, to the passing of this Bill; whereby it has a retrospective Operation, and becomes an ex post facto Law, contrary to every Principle of Justice, contrary to Parliamentary Faith, and contrary to true Policy.
We wished to have accompanied this Alteration in the Committee, with an Act of Indemnity for the avowed Breach of the Laws now in being. We offered to consent to this Indemnity in the fullest Manner that could be wished, although the Proofs we repeatedly called for, of the Extent of the Benefit, were refused: Proofs which we did not require to be attended with that Degree of Strictness which could render it difficult to produce them: Proofs which in common Cases form an essential Part of the Grounds on which the Infractor of Law is to be saved harmless, but which in the present Instance we would have dispensed with in favour of the Intention.
We wish by no Means to discourage future Ministers from extraordinary Exertions, when warranted by sufficient necessity, but we think it due to the Dignity of Parliament, as well as to the Safety of the Constitution, on all Occasions, but more especially where the Parliamentary Faith has been so deeply pledged, to give to Acts of Indemnity all possible Solemnity; that they may never come to be considered as Acts of Right, but as Acts of the last Necessity; recognizing upon the Face of them the Force of the Law, and stating, as far as the Occasion will admit, the Necessity of the Violation. A Precedent in Point stands in the Statute Book, the Seventh of George the Third, Chapter the Seventh.
In direct Opposition to this Precedent, the present Bill does not in the Title, Preamble, or in any Part, directly mark its immediate Object; it no where directly recognizes the Power of the Law; it no where states the Necessity, nor the obtainable Advantage which can alone justify the Proceeding; both the Violation itself, and the Indemnity it is to obtain, come only incidentally and indirectly under the last Clause. It has been hurried through Parliament in a most uncommon Manner, and establishes a new, dangerous and most alarming Precedent.
Such an Act of Indemnity as was proposed, would have preserved the Principle, that Laws are sacred, that nothing less than the Legislative Power itself can protect those who infringe them, and that such Protection is given only in Cases of extreme Necessity. The Objection, that a great Service already obtained, by the Number of Men impressed since the Sixteenth of this Month, would be lost, by their being to be discharged, if the Act had no Retrospect to the Time when they were seized, by no Means applies to the Question of Re-commitment, which the House has rejected. It appeared in Debate, that of the Number of Men pressed on this Occasion, and which has not even been computed to be very considerable, by far the greater Part had only Admiralty Protections, and were not protected by the Acts now proposed to be suspended. And it was by no Means impossible but that such Bounties or Encouragements might have been suggested in the Committee, as would have in duced the greater Part of those who had the Faith of Parliament for their Security, to enter voluntarily into the Service at this critical Conjuncture.
Every good Purpose, therefore, of this Bill, might have been obtained, and probably a general Concurrence in its Support produced, by simply acquiescing in a proper Security for the Observance of Law.
But when we see this Proposal refused, when we see that Part of the Preamble pertinaciously adhered to, which aims at establishing as a general Principle, that whatever may be deemed an arduous and difficult Conjuncture, makes it equally just and expedient to infringe Law. When we see a proposed Amendment for confining that Reasoning to the Case which gives Rise to the Measure, namely, the present Conjuncture, rejected; we cannot but see, with a jealous Eye, this and every Opportunity taken of establishing some Doctrine subversive of Liberty, and our happy free Constitution.
At such a Time as this, when Ministers avow their just Fears of foreign Invasion, which their Misconduct has invited, to create fresh Jealousies in respect to that Liberty which is alone worth contending for, which is the best Support of His Majesty's Crown, and the surest Foundation of that true Affection of His People, on which His Majesty can alone rely for effectual and general Resistance to a foreign Yoke, is a Degree of Infatuation we cannot comprehend!"
("And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That when the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty shall grant any Protections from impressing, the same shall be given gratis; and that no Fee shall be received, taken or demanded, by any Person or Persons whatsoever, for or on Account of the said Protections.")
Because the Acquiescence of the Country in the Mode of impressing Seamen (tolerated only because the Necessity of the Measure is alledged by Persons of great Experience in Naval Matters, and hitherto is not disproved) has been, by positive Acts of the Legislature, intercepted and determined, with respect to the several Persons Objects of this Bill, who have therefore not only all the Rights of this Kingdom in common with their fellow Subjects, but the Security of especial Acts of Parliament, made expressly to check and curb that Acquiescence with respect to them.
2dly, Because the Protection given by such Acts, in Confidence of which these Persons have engaged in their respective Occupations, has, in my Opinion, the Nature of a Contract, and is by every Rule of Equity indissoluble, except by the voluntary Consent of the Parties, or upon a Compensation satisfactory to, and accepted by them, or in extreme Necessity, on the Tender of such Advantages as the Wisdom of the Legislature should direct, and its Justice should make a complete, adequate and ample Equivalent for such an Infringement of their Rights.
3dly, Because, at the very Time Protections thus held out by Parliament to certain Persons as Invitations and Encouragements to undertake certain Services were boldly violated, the customary Exemptions of certain Watermen, licenced by the Members of this House, unauthorized (as I conceive) by any Law, and unknown to any Court, though stated in the House, by the same Noble Lord who has infringed these Protections, to be constructively disclaimed by a Vote of this House, were yet declared by him to be from Deference and Respect held sacred.
First, with respect to the Persons to be indemnified, as it does not contain an honest Avowal of the Transgression, as it does not stake the Minister to an intentional Violation of the Law for the Public Good, to be subsequently approved, and justified on that Ground by a Public Indemnity, but contents itself with the Abatement of Suits and Actions:
And secondly and chiefly, with respect to the Constitution of the Kingdom, to which it offers no Satisfaction for the Violation of the Law, as it acknowledges only by Construction and a Reference to Dates, that it has been violated, as it attempts to confound the just Ideas of prospective Legislation by authorizing a Measure from a Day, which has already long elapsed, and as it totally omits to state not only that the Effect has been adequate to the Measure, and that therefore the Measure has been salutary, but that it has had any Effect whatever."
And the Earl of Chesterfield reported from the Committee, "That they had been in Consideration of the said Bill, and had made some Progress therein; and desired, that another Time may be appointed for the House to be in a Committee again, to consider further of the said Bill."
DIE Mercurii 30o Junii 1779.
The Lord Chancellor acquainted the House, "That His Majesty had been pleased to issue a Commission to several Lords therein named, for declaring His Royal Assent to several Acts agreed upon by both Houses of Parliament."
Then Three of the Lords Commissioners, being in their Robes, and seated on a Form placed between the Throne and the Woolsack, the Lord Chancellor in the Middle, with the Archbishop of Canterbury on his Right Hand, and the Lord Amherst on his Left; commanded the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod to signify to the Commons, "The Lords Commissioners desire their immediate Attendance in this House, to hear the Commission read."
His Majesty not thinking fit to be personally present here at this Time, has been pleased to cause a Commission to be issued under the Great Seal, and thereby given His Royal Assent to divers Acts, which have been agreed upon by both Houses of Parliament, the Titles whereof are particularly mentioned; and by the said Commission hath commanded Us to declare and notify His Royal Assent to the said several Acts, in the Presence of you the Lords and Commons assembled for that Purpose; which Commission you will now hear read."
George the Third, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of Faith, and so forth: To Our Right Trusty and Right Well-beloved the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and to Our Trusty and Well-beloved the Knights, Citizens and Burgesses, and the Commissioners for Shires and Burghs of the House of Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, Greeting. Whereas We have seen and perfectly understood divers and sundry Acts agreed and accorded on by you Our loving Subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons in this Our present Parliament assembled, and endorsed by you as hath been accustomed, the Titles and Names of which Acts hereafter do particularly ensue, (that is to say) "An Act for enabling His Majesty to raise the Sum of One Million, for the Uses and Purposes therein mentioned." "An Act for granting to His Majesty a certain Sum of Money out of the Sinking Fund; and for applying certain Monies therein mentioned for the Service of the Year One thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine; and for further appropriating the Supplies granted in this Session of Parliament." An Act to explain, amend and render more effectual the several Laws now in being, relative to the Militia Forces of this Kingdom; and for making certain Provisions relative to the Fencible Men in that Part of Great Britain called Scotland." "An Act for extending the Provisions of an Act, made in the Twelfth Year of the Reign of King George the First, intituled, An Act to prevent frivolous and vexatious Arrests;" and for other Purposes." "An Act to explain and amend the Laws relating to the Transportation, Imprisonment and other Punishment of certain Offenders." "An Act to dissolve the Marriage of Charles François Dumergue with Ann Catherine his now Wife, and to enable him to marry again; and for other Purposes." And albeit, the said Acts by you Our said Subjects the Lords and Commons, in this Our present Parliament assembled, are fully agreed and consented unto, yet nevertheless the same are not of Force and Effect in the Law, without Our Royal Assent given and put to the said Acts: And forasmuch as for divers Causes and Considerations We cannot conveniently at this Time be present in Our Royal Person, in the Higher House of Our said Parliament, being the Place accustomed to give Our Royal Assent to such Acts as have been agreed upon by you Our said Subjects the Lords and Commons, We have therefore caused these Our Letters Patent to be made, and have signed the same, and by the same do give and put Our Royal Assent to the said Acts, and to all Articles, Clauses, and Provisions therein contained, and have fully agreed and assented to the said Acts; Willing that the said Acts, and every Article, Clause, Sentence and Provision therein contained, from henceforth shall be of the same Strength, Force and Effect, as if We had been personally present in the said Higher House, and had openly and publickly in the Presence of you all, assented to the same: And We do by these Presents declare and notify the same Our Royal Assent, as well to you the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons aforesaid, as to all others whom it may concern: Commanding also, by these Presents, Our right trusty and Well-beloved Counsellor Edward Lord Thurlow, Our Chancellor of Great Britain, to seal these Our Letters Patent with Our Great Seal of Great Britain; and also commanding the most Reverend Father in God, Our right trusty and Well-beloved Counsellor Frederick Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate and Metropolitan of all England; Our said Chancellor of Great Britain; Our right trusty and right Well-beloved Cousins and Counsellors Granville Earl Gower, President of Our Council; William Earl of Dartmouth, Keeper of Our Privy Seal; Our right trusty and right entirely beloved Cousins and Counsellors Augustus Henry Duke of Grafton, Thomas Duke of Leeds, Hugh Duke of Northumberland, Master of Our Horse; Our right trusty and right Well-beloved Cousins and Counsellors William Earl Talbot, Steward of Our Household; Francis Seymor Earl of Hertford, Chamberlain of Our Household; John Earl of Sandwich, First Commissioner of Our Admiralty; William Henry Earl of Rochford, Hugh Earl of Marchmont, John Earl of Ashburnham, Groom of Our Stole; Wills Earl of Hillsborough, William Earl of Mansfield, Our Chief Justice assigned to hold Pleas before Us; Our right trusty and Well-beloved Cousins and Counsellors George Viscount Townshend, Thomas Viscount Weymouth, One of Our Principal Secretaries of State; and Our right trusty and Well-beloved Counsellor Jeffery Lord Amherst, or any Three or more of them, to declare and notify this Our Royal Assent, in Our Absence in the said Higher House, in the Presence of You the said Lords and the Commons of Our Parliament, there to be assembled for that Purpose; and the Clerk of Our Parliaments to endorse the said Acts with such Terms and Words, in Our Name, as is requisite, and hath been accustomed for the same, and also, to enrol these Our Letters Patent and the said Acts, in the Parliament Roll; and these Our Letters Patent shall be to every of them, a sufficient Warrant in that Behalf: And finally, We do declare and will, that after this Our Royal Assent given and passed by these Presents, and declared and notified as is aforesaid, then and immediately the said Acts shall be taken, accepted, and admitted good, sufficient, and perfect Acts of Parliament, and Laws, to all Intents, Constructions and Purposes, and to be put in due Execution accordingly; the Continuance or Dissolution of this Our Parliament, or any other Use, Custom, Thing or Things, to the contrary thereof notwithstanding. In Witness whereof, We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent.
In Obedience to His Majesty's Commands, and by virtue of the Commission which has been now read, We do declare and notify to you the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in Parliament assembled, That His Majesty hath given His Royal Assent to the several Acts in the Commission mentioned; and the Clerks are required to pass the same, in the usual Form and Words."
Then the Clerk Assistant, having received the Money Bills from the Hands of the Speaker, brought them to the Table, where the Deputy Clerk of the Crown read the Titles of those, and the other Bills to be passed, severally, as follow; (videlicet)
2. An Act for granting to His Majesty a certain Sum of Money out of the Sinking Fund; and for applying certain Monies therein mentioned for the Service of the Year One thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine; and for further appropriating the Supplies granted in this Session of Parliament."
3. An Act to explain, amend and render more effectual the several Laws now in being, relative to the Militia Forces of this Kingdom; and for making certain Provisions relative to the Fencible Men in that Part of Great Britain called Scotland."
4. An Act for extending the Provisions of an Act, made in the Twelfth Year of the Reign of King George the First, intituled, "An Act to prevent frivolous and vexatious Arrests;" and for other Purposes."
To return the Bill, intituled, "An Act for removing certain Difficulties with respect to the more speedy and effectual Manning of His Majesty's Navy, for a limited Time;" and to acquaint this House, That they have agreed to their Lordships Amendment made thereto.
Upon reading the Petition and Appeal of Elizabeth, Margaret and Herriot Graham, the Infant Children of William Graham Younger of Gartmore Esquire, now deceased, by Mrs. Margaret Porterfield, Daughter of Doctor William Porterfield, Physician in Edinburgh, also deceased, and of Robert Graham of Gartmore Esquire, and others their Guardians; complaining of an Interlocutor of the Lords of Session in Scotland, of the 25th of this instant June; and praying, "That the same may be reversed, varied or altered, or that the Appellants may have such other Relief in the Premises, as to this House, in their Lordships great Wisdom, shall seem meet; and that Alexander Greig and Margaret Porterfield may be required to answer the said Appeal:"
It is Ordered, That the said Alexander Greig and Margaret Porterfield may have a Copy of the said Appeal, and do put in their Answer or respective Answers thereunto in Writing, on or before Wednesday the 28th Day of July next; and Service of this Order upon the said Respondents, or upon any of their Counsel or Agents in the Court of Session in Scotland, shall be deemed good Service.
The House being moved, "That John Spottiswoode of Sackville Street, Saint James's, Gentleman, may be permitted to enter into a Recognizance for Elizabeth, Margaret and Herriot Graham, and others, on Account of their Appeal depending in this House, they residing in Scotland:"
And the Earl of Chesterfield reported from the Committee, "That they had gone through the Bill, and made several Amendments thereto, which he was ready to report, when the House will please to receive the same."