A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark. Originally published by R Baldwin, London, 1773.
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From the accession of queen Anne, to her death.
King William died March 8th, 1702, and leaving no issue, the princess Anne, wife to prince George of Denmark, succeeded to the crown, and received the congratulations of the city of London on her accession. On May 4th, war was declared against France and Spain (fn. 1).
The contentions that arose between the two rival East India companies, made government see a necessity of composing their differences by a coalition for the sake of public tranquillity. This union took place by an indenture tripartite between the queen and the old and new companies July 22d, which consolidated them into one body, under the name of The united company of merchants of England, trading to the East Indies (fn. 2).
The queen accepted an invitation to dine at Guildhall on the lord-mayor's day this year. The Orange and Red regiments of trained bands lined both sides of the street from Temple-bar to Ludgate; and her majesty with a numerous train of nobility and gentry, preceded by the Artillery company, went to the house of Mr. James Eaton linen-draper in Cheapside, facing Bow-church, from whose balcony she viewed the procession. Being then conducted to Guildhall by the sheriffs, she was most magnificently entertained; and in token of her satisfaction she conferred the honour of knighthood on Francis Dashwood; Esq; brother of the lord-mayor Sir Samuel Dashwood, Gilbert Heathcote Esq; Richard Hoar, Esq; and on Mr. Eaton abovementioned.
The following day arrived intelligence of our success at Vigo, and on this account as well as on that of the prosperous campaign of the earl of Marlborough against the French, the queen appointed November 12th, for a day of public thanksgiving. On this day the queen accompanied by both houses of parliament attended the service at St. Paul's cathedral; the street from St. James's to Temple bar, was lined with the Westminster militia, and from thence to Ludgate by the London trained bands: two companies of the foot guards were placed in the church and church yard.
The next year on Friday, November 16th, the nation was visited by one of the most destructive calamities in nature; a hurricance whose fury was astonishing and the effects terrible. The number of buildings in London and Westminster exposed the inhabitants particularly to the distresses attending the shattering of houses all around them; and how greatly they suffered by this extraordinary storm will be conceived by the short mention of a few particulars.
Our island first received the impressions of this singular storm, which in its course over Europe, traversed England, France, Germany, the Baltic-sea; and passing the northern continent of Sweden, Finland, Muscovy, and part of Tartary, lost itself at length in the northern ocean. The wind had blown exceeding hard for fourteen days preceding the fatal night of its extream violence. On the 16th it did not blow so hard but that most families in London retired to rest; at midnight its rage was so alarming, that few who were capable of any sense of danger were so hardy as to continue in bed under the hazard of being killed by the ruin of their habitations. Yet in the extream darkness of the night, no one durst quit their tottering houses; for whatever the danger was within doors, it was worse without, where the tiles, bricks, and stones, flew about in all directions, though their weight naturally inclined them downward. The height of the storm was about 6 o'clock, and had it not subsided soon after, the very skeletons of houses must have followed the downfall of their roofs and chimneys.
The points from which the wind blew, have been variously reported; it is certain however that all the day before it blew from S. W. and was thought to continue so until 2 o'clock; when from the impression made on the buildings, for no one durst look out, it veered to S. S. W. then to W. and about 6 o'clock to W. by N. and the more northerly it shifted, the harder it blew, until it turned southerly about 7 o'clock, when it gradually abated: though intermitting gusts of wind continued to the Wednesday following.
About 8 in the morning the wind was sufficiently moderate to suffer persons to peep out of their doors, when the distraction of the prospect struck every beholder, whose first care was directed to visits and inquiries after their relations and friends; and the next day or two afforded sufficient employment in viewing the universal havock all over the town and suburbs.
The fight was dismal! Some persons reckoned upward of 2000 stacks of chimneys blown down in and about London; the streets were covered with tiles and slates from the roofs of houses: the lead on the tops of churches, was rolled up like skins of parchment; and at Westminster abbey, Christ's hospital, St. Andrew's Holborn, and abundance of other places, it was carried clear off from the buildings. The palace of St. James's did not escape damage, the roof of the guard room at Whitehall, was carried entirely away, and the great weather-cock blown down. Two new built turrets on the church of St. Mary Aldermary, five pinnacles of St. Alban's Wood-street, one of the spires of St. Saviour's Southwark, four pinnacles at St. Michael's Crooked-lane, were quite blown off: the vanes and spindles of weather cocks in many other places were bent down; several houses near Moorfields were levelled with the ground; as were above twenty other whole houses in the out parts, with brick-walls and gable ends out of number. The weekly bills gave account of twenty one persons destroyed by the fall of buildings; 200 persons were maimed, beside those who were drowned in the river, and were never found.
A conjecture of the general damage in London by this storm may be formed by the great sudden advance in the price of tiles, which from twenty-one shillings, per 1000, rose to 6 l. and pantiles from fifty shillings, to 10l. Bricklayer's-labour was not to be procured under five shillings a day. The charges of repairs being so extravagant, caused a general neglect both in landlords and tenants, and an incredible number of houses were left uncovered and exposed to the inclemencies of wet and cold all the winter. Those who found it absolutely necessary to cover in their houses made use of sail cloth, tarpaulins or wood, as temporary expedients, till the season for making tiles came round and the exorbitant prices abated: whole ranges of buildings, as Christ's-hospital, the Temple, Aske's hospital, Hoxton square, Old-street, and many other places, continued covered with deal boards for some years for want of tiles.
It was very remarkable that the houses on London bridge, which stood high and without that shelter which the buildings in the streets afford to each other, received but little injury in proportion to what might have been expected from their situation. Whether the indraught through the arches below, diverted the force of the current of air, and thus eased its pressure against the buildings, or whatever else might operate in their favour, this was one among several other instances at the time that baffled all attempts at reasoning on the course or direction of the wind.
The watermen reckoned above 500 wherries lost on the Thames, some sunk, others dashed to pieces against each other, or against the ships; above 60 barges were found driven foul of the bridge; and as many more sunk or staved between the bridge and Hammersmith. Those that drove through the bridge took their fate below, among the shipping; and it was strange to find all the ships, four excepted, forced from their moorings; about 700 of them were found between Shadwell and Limehouse, driven ashore in the greatest imaginable confusion. One vessel lying undermost, would have the bow of another over her waste, the stem of another on her forecastle; the boltsprits of some were driven into the cabin windows of others; they were squeezed and huddled together, heads and sterns, one over another, with their masts, yards, rigging, carved work, and boats, all torn and beat to pieces (fn. 3). If the height of the storm had not happened at full flood of a spring tide, the losses might have been more fatal; as it was, 14 or 15 men of war were cast away, and 1500 seamen with them: those merchant vessels that were driven out to sea were safe, some few only being overset.
The parliament being then sitting, the commons addressed the queen on this dismal occasion, promising to assist her in repairing the losses of the navy by the storm, by building such other capital ships as her majesty should think necessary. In two or three days after she issued a proclamation for a general fast, which was observed throughout England on January 19th 1704, with great signs of sincere devotion (fn. 3).
The regulation of the nightly watch in the city of London was taken into the consideration of the court of common-council this year; and on June 16th, it was enacted, "that the deputy and common-councilmen of every of the wards should have power to oblige every person occupying any house, shop, or warehouse therein, either to watch in person by rotation, or to pay for an able-bodied man, to be appointed thereto by the said deputy and common-councilmen; and that the said watchmen should be provided with lanthorns and candles, and be well and sufficiently armed with halberts. That one constable in each ward, and the aforesaid number of watchmen so provided and armed, should watch every night in each ward respectively, from nine in the evening till seven in the morning, from Michaelmas to the first of April, and from ten till five from the first of April to Michaelmas (fn. 5)."
This law is like most other laws of the present age, in which forms are indeed delusively preserved, while the essential spirit of our constitution is evaporating very fast. The method we have now learned of compounding by money for personal service, has the most pernicious tendency; and is one of the worst consequences resulting from our growing luxury. We substitute our money on all occasions, without perceiving that we deprive ourselves of all real power by the exemptions we purchase; and are content to be served by hirelings in all capacities. Hence our militia is become another standing mercenary army; and hence the nightly guard of the city is turned over to the decrepid, who ought rather to be considered as objects of compassion and charity; or to the needy, who by the extensive system of bribery, too frequently confederate with the open violators of our peace and property.
The duke of Marlborough having gained the glorious victory over the French at Blenheim, in the campaign this year, and Sir George Rook, having also taken the important fortress of Gibraltar from the Spaniards; the queen appointed September 7th, for a day of thanksgiving, which she celebrated as before at St. Paul's cathedral, with equal pomp, excepting that the lords, and commons were not present. The standards taken at Blenheim, were on January 3d 1705 carried by a detachment of horse and foot guards from the Tower of London, and hung up in Westminster-hall: on the 6th of the same month, the duke by invitation dined with the lord-mayor and aldermen of London, at Goldsmith's hall.
August 23d 1705, being appointed a day of thanksgiving for the duke of Marlborough's forcing the French lines in Brabant, the queen with the prince her husband attended divine service at St. Paul's with the usual state: as she also did on June 27th 1706, on occasion of the battle of Ramilies. The colours taken at this victory, were brought by a detachment of horse and foot from Whitehall, December 19th, presented to the city, and hung up in Guildhall. The duke of Marlborough, with a great train of nobility, were entertained on this occasion by the lord-mayor, and aldermen, at Vintner's-hall (fn. 6). On the 30th, being a thanksgiving day, for the successes of the last campaign in Spain, and Italy, the queen made another procession to St. Paul's. In such holidays, and shews, devotion is perhaps less consulted, than their effects on the spirits of the people; who provided they are thus reminded of our successes against our enemies, inquire little what those successes are worth, or what they cost, in lives and money.
The long wished for union between the two kingdoms of England and Scotland was happily effected in the year 1707 (fn. 7). This union was indeed dictated originally by nature; as one island under one government, was far more formidable, than while divided by separate interests. Scotland was not only the smallest, but also the least fertile part of the island, by its northern situation; and though the bravery of the natives inspired them with a desire to rival their southern neighbours, history shews that even the equitable claim of independency was very ill supported by the dangerous aid of foreign alliances, in these ill judged contests. Henry VII. in an age when men began to entertain right apprehensions of things, made the first attempt to bring the two nations under one government (fn. 8); and this in process of time produced the desired effect. Henry VIII. attempted to renew the connexion, but he was so unpolite as to court the young queen Mary for his son Edward, sword in hand; a mode of address that justly offended the Scots, and inclined them to send her to France. Her son however by lord Darnly, succeeded to the crown of England, and attempted an union between his two kingdoms; but could only effect a repeal of the hostile laws. The antipathy between the church party and the puritans, with the political confusions in the reign of Charles I. suppressed all thoughts of this nature during his reign; and though the long parliament resumed the design after his death, it was defeated when Cromwel turned that parliament out of doors. Scotland being then reduced, Cromwel on April 12th 1654, published an ordinance for uniting Scotland with England; and while this temporary union lasted, it is said the Scottish nation were never more easy, nor justice more impartially administered.
The restoration disconcerted every thing done in this interval, and Scotland was placed on the same establishment that subsisted before the civil war began; greatly to the discontent of the Scots, who made heavy complaints of the passing and execution of many negative acts relating to trade, without any redress. The Scots parliament in 1670, made the first advances toward a treaty, which after two months deliberation came to nothing. James II. had an union with Rome more at heart than an union of his dominions, but when king William came in, the convention of the Scots estates proposed it again, and appointed commissioners to treat with England on the subject; but though king William recommended it to the consideration of the English parliament, so little notice was taken of it that no answer was sent to Scots parliament. In 1700, the king in answer to the lords address against the Scots settlement at Darien, took that opportunity to remind them of the advantages that would attend an union; upon which they passed a bill authorizing commissioners to treat of it, which was once more overturned by the commons refusing their concurrence.
A negociation begun at the accession of queen Anne, unhappily miscarried; yet so important was the work esteemed, that it was undertaken once more: and those who thought the negociation would employ many years, saw it beyond their expectations commenced and finished in one. The commissioners on the part of Scotland were appointed February 27th 1706, those on that of England, on April 10th; they met on the 16th at the council chamber in the Cockpit, Whitehall, and after several consultations laid the terms they agreed on, before the queen on July 23d, who confirmed them by her approbation (fn. 9). The articles were 25 in number, but that which comes more particularly under our view is the 4th article, which declares "That all the subjects of the united kingdom of Great Britain, shall, from and after the union, have full freedom and intercourse of trade and navigation, to and from any port or place within the said united kingdom, and the dominions and places thereunto belonging; and that there be a communication of all other rights, privileges and advantages, which do or may belong to the subjects of either kingdom, except where it is otherwise expressly agreed in these articles."
The commercial privileges to which the Scots are intitled by this article, amply compensate the limited representation they are allowed in the parliament of Great Britain; and this though much complained of by them at the time, is proved to be in larger proportion than their contribution of taxes toward the national expences amounts to (fn. 10). It is farther to be noted that an equivalent was given them by the 15th article, for their share of taxes toward payment of the debts of England contracted before the union; and that they continue to enjoy an ample portion of the places and emoluments under the British government: a remark which is by no means intended as a reflection, the Scots being generally found to execute the trusts reposed in them with great fidelity and honour.
The articles of union after much contest both in the Scots and English parliaments, were confirmed, and took place May 1st, 1707, which was ordered to be observed as a day of public thanksgiving on so happy an event; when the queen repaired to St. Paul's in great state. Congratulatory addresses came in from all parts of the kingdom, the university of Oxford excepted; the Scots too remained silent on the occasion (fn. 11), which argued an unthankful reluctancy in exchanging nominal independency for solid advantages. Antient prejudices however were then to be allowed for, but as both nations have now one interest, the person who may attempt to stir up animosities between them, can be no sincere friend to either.
So many fires happened this year in and about London, which were ascribed to the carelessness of servants, that an act of parliament was passed for preventing fires and punishing servants by whose negligence they might happen (fn. 12) : by order of the common-council, the clause relating to servants which subjected them on conviction of occasioning fires by negligence, to 100l. penalty, or on default of payment to 18 months confinement and hard labour (fn. 13); was printed and distributed to every house for their information.
In the latter end of this summer, such prodigious quantities of flies pestered the city, that the impressions of people's feet in the streets where they lay, are said to have been as perceptible as upon snow: but though some hundreds of bushels were swept into the kennels, yet happily the inhabitants escaped without having their health injured by them.
Three enthusiastic Frenchmen, Cevennois, commonly called Camisars, who had come over to England about the close of the year 1706, raised the curiosity of their countrymen and gained many followers by their extatic convulsions and pretensions to the gift of prophesying. This gave great offence to the generality of the French refugees, and the ministers and elders of the French chapel in the Savoy, (the head of the French congregations in Westminster) thought it behoved them to examine into the mission of these new prophets. By the authority of the bishop of London, their ecclesiastical superior, they summoned the three Camisars, Elias Marion, John Cavallier, and Durand Fage, to appear before them; which two of them refused, but the third complied and boldly justified their pretensions to inspiration. Upon this the church declared them impostors and counterfeits, and their act was confirmed by the bishop of London. Notwithstanding this anathema, the prophets and their followers continued their assemblies in Soho, branded the ministers of the established church with odious names and characters, and denounced the heaviest judgments against the city of London and the whole British nation. They published predictions under the title of "Prophetical warnings of Elias Marion, &c." full of incoherent jargon; but a mixture of artifice being suspected in the affair, they were prosecuted at the expence of all the French churches in London, as disturbers of the public peace, and as false prophets. By sentence of the court of Queen's-bench, Marion, with Nicholas Facio, and John Daudé, were on the 1st and 2d of December, exposed on a scaffold at Charing-cross, and at the Royal Exchange, with a paper denoting their offence (fn. 14).
On October 28th, 1708 died prince George of Denmark, husband to queen Anne; this prince was duke of Cumberland, lord high admiral of Great Britain and Ireland, generalissimo of all her majesty's forces both by sea and land, and warden of the Cinque-ports: he meddled little in business, and left an exceeding good character behind him (fn. 15).
An old law of James I. for the well garbling of spices in London (fn. 16), being by length of time found useless, if not prejudicial, was now repealed (fn. 17); and an equivalent was given to the city of London, for the profits formerly made of the Garbler's office, by laying a tax of 40 s. yearly, to be paid to the chamberlain of London, by all brokers, who if they acted as such, without regular admittance, were now to forfeit 25l. Nevertheless, the lord-mayor, aldermen, and common-council, may still, if they think sitting, appoint a garbler, who at the request of the owner of any spices or drugs, garbleable, and not otherwise, shall garble the same, at such fees as the lord-mayor, &c. may appoint.
The French protestants who had come over here after the revocation of the edict of Nantz, had indeed been well received, but with more reserve than in the united Provinces, Brandenburg and Prussia; and had long endeavoured to be incorporated by an act of naturalization, with a people among whom they had taken refuge. The whig interest that now had a majority in parliament, and whose maxim was to countenance foreign protestants, at length granted their desire; though many objections were made on the conflux of aliens that would be invited over by such a measure, and on the bad consequences that might result therefrom. But both houses appearing convinced, as the preamble to the bill expressed, "that the increase of people is a means of advancing the wealth and strength of a nation," it passed into an act for naturalizing all foreign protestants, upon their taking the oaths to government, and receiving the sacrament in any protestant church (fn. 18).
The effects of this act appeared about the beginning of May 1709, when vast numbers of Palatines, Suabians, and other German Lutherans, being driven from their habitations by the oppressive exactions of the French, and the desolation of their native country by the violence of war, came over here; so that by the middle of June they amounted to 12,000: that they did not assert their claim to the naturalization act, proceeded in all likelihood from their poverty. They consisted of handicrafts of all professions, and being destitute of necessaries for subsistence, they must have perished, had not the queen immediately distributed a daily allowance to them, and ordered a sufficient number of tents to be delivered out of the Tower for their encamping on Blackheath, and in a large field near Camberwell. She afterward in compliance with a petition from the justices of the peace for Middlesex, granted a brief for the collection of charity within that county; which brief was shortly afterward extended throughout Great Britain: at the same time the lord-mayor and aldermen of London, with other persons of the first distinction were appointed trustees and commissioners for receiving and disposing of the money thus collected. But the reports of the kind reception which these distressed fugitives found in England, encouraged so many other Germans to follow their countrymen, that the secretary at the Hague was directed to put a stop to their coming over: and as a considerable number of German catholics had mixed with these protestants, such of them as did not voluntarily change their religion, were sent back to Holland at the queen's expence, with money to defray their charges home again. The palatines who staid behind, were some of them entertained in England, some sent to Ireland, to strengthen the protestant interest there, others to Carolina, but the greatest part to New York under the direction of the commissary Du Pré, who sailed with them in the beginning of April 1710, together with governor Hunter (fn. 19), where they settled and proved a valuable accession to that colony.
The parties of whig and tory, still more inflamed by the change of government at the revolution; were now so far ripened as to give vent to their religious and political animosities by the most outrageous excesses. Dr. Sacheverel, a bold insolent man of the tory party, with a very small share of religion, virtue, learning, or good sense, resolved to force himself into preferment and popularity, by petulantly railing at low churchmen and diffenters; which he did in several sermons and defamatory writings, full of indecent and scurrilous language. At the summer assizes at Derby, where he preached before the judges August 15th this year, and particularly on November 5th at St. Paul's, before the lord-mayor and aldermen of London (fn. 20), he indulged himself in such violent declamation, that both the man and his discourse were generally condemned. He asserted the doctrine of non-resistance to government in the utmost extent; reflected severely on the act of toleration, and said the church was violently attacked by her enemies, and loosely defended by her pretended friends: he animated the people to stand up for the church, for which he added, he founded the trumpet; and defired them to put on the whole armour of God. The lord-mayor, Sir Samuel Garrard, however, undertook to propose to the court of aldermen that they should return the doctor thanks for his sermon, and desire him to print it; but though the motion was rejected, it proved sufficient encouragement to Sacheverel for publishing it with a dedication to his lordship. The tory party magnified this sermon so highly, that about 40,000 were soon dispersed over the nation; the queen, though she leaned to the tory side, seemed highly offended at it, and the ministry looked upon it as an attack that was not to be despised.
On December 13th, these sermons were complained of in the house of commons as advancing positions directly opposite to revolution principles, to the present government and to the protestant succession. Sacheverel being ordered to attend them the next day, was then examined, owned the two sermons, and pleaded the encouragement given him by the lord-mayor to the printing the latter: Sir Samuel being a member of the house was asked whether he authorized the publication; which he chose to deny. It was resolved to impeach Sacheverel of high crimes and misdemeanors, which was done at the bar of the house of lords in the name of all the commons of Great Britain; a committee was appointed to draw up articles against him, and he was taken into the custody of a serjeant at arms (fn. 21).
The clergy in general espoused Sacheverel's cause, whom they esteemed as their champion standing in the breach; many sermons were preached both in London and other places to provoke the people, which unhappily succeeded too well. There were other circumstances that concurred to put the populace in an ill humour; it was a time of scarcity, so that the poor were greatly distressed: the coming over of the Palatines, and the great contributions raised for their relief, filled the poor with indignation, who thought they had a better right to those charities thus intercepted by strangers; and all those who were disaffected, studied to heighten their resentments. On February 27, 1710, Sacheverel was brought to a solemn trial in Westminster-hall before the house of lords, and he was followed by multitudes, both going and coming, who shewed great reverence by thronging about him, and striving to kiss his hand. Could a person so far devest himself of compassion for his fellow-creatures, their folly under occasional delusions, would almost dispose him to think they deserved to be wholly under the power of their temporary political idols: but such a wish is shocking to humanity, as punishment is only due to the intentionally wicked; and too many of those who ensnare the affections of the people come under this distinction.
In the prosecution of Sacheverel, the populace conceived the ruin of the church was intended by the contrivance of the presbyterians. On the second day they grew still more riotous, crouding about his coach and obliging all persons they met to pull off their hats to him; those who refused compliance were sure to be abused, and among these were several members of parliament. In the evening, the rioters broke all the windows in Mr. Daniel Burgess's meetinghouse in New-court, Carey-street; and breathed destruction to all dissenters. On the third day, the mob, after conducting Sacheverel to his lodgings in the Temple, ran again to Burgess's meeting-house, and tearing down the pulpit, pews, benches, and all that was combustible, made a bonfire of them in Lincoln's-innfields, shouting for High-church and Sacheverel. To such a height did their fury rise that could they have found Daniel Burgess, they proposed to have burnt him in his pulpit, in the midst of the pile. Other parties of them demolished the meeting-houses of Mr. Earl in Hanover-street, Long-Acre, Mr. Bradbury's in New-street, Shoe-lane, Mr. Taylor's in Leather-lane, Mr. Wright's in Blackfriars, and Mr. Hamilton's in Clerkenwell: they also threatened to pull down the houses of the lord-chancellor, and of all the other managers of the prosecution. These disorders did not want leaders, for some hackney coaches were observed to follow the mobs, from which messages were carried to them. The directors of the Bank being apprehensive of danger, applied to Whitehall for a guard, which was sent, while other soldiers were directed to disperse the mob; the guards at Whitehall and St. James's were doubled, the Westminster militia was kept under arms, and one regiment of the London trained bands was kept on duty, during the remainder of the trial.
The lords having found Sacheverel guilty of the charges exhibited against him by the commons, sentence was passed on him March 21st, by which he was suspended from preaching during three years; his two sermons were ordered to be burnt before the Royal Exchange, by the hands of the common hangman, in the presence of the lord-mayor of the city of London, and the sheriffs of London and Middlesex. The lord-mayor was not a little mortified at being obliged to assist at the burning of a sermon which he had approved, and as Sacheverel asserted in his dedication, commanded to be printed: he therefore moved that he might be excused attending this execution, being a member of parliament. A debate arising, it was deferred until the house was informed what answer his lordship returned to the sheriffs, when they should require his attendance; and so that business was dropped.
Some of the rioters had been apprehended, of whom two were sentenced to die, but neither of them suffered; the remissness in punishing so great a disorder was looked upon as an encouragement to new tumults, and there was a secret management in the whole affair that caused general amazement. As soon as it was known what a mild sentence the lords had passed on Sacheverel, those who supported him during his trial, expressed inconceivable gladness, as if they had obtained a victory; and bonfires with illuminations and other marks of joy, appeared not only in London, but all over the kingdom (fn. 22).
These proceedings were but the prelude to the victory which the tories gained soon after, by a total change of the ministry, and dissolution of the parliament; which made it evident that the queen was got into bad hands since the death of prince George of Denmark. On September 28th she caused the seals to be put to a commission for renewing or changing the lieutenancy of the city of London, by which several whigs who were in the former, were left out, and tories put in their places. This new commission was chiefly intended, both to prevent Sir Gilbert Heathcote, then near the chair, and governor of the Bank, who had offended the queen by his application in favour of the late ministry, from being chosen lord-mayor; and to strengthen the interest of the highchurch party, in the city election of members to parliament, which generally influences other elections. But this scheme was to late to deprive alderman Heathcote of his election, as mayor, though the tories set up Sir Richard Hoare against him. When the new lieutenancy presented their address to the queen, she took that opportunity to desire them "as they had great fortunes of their own, that they would use their endeavours to support the public credit." It was expected that this hint would have engaged the tory party to advance money to government, or to employ their strength to support the public funds; but neither of these events happened, for the stocks continued sinking to the great uneasiness of the new ministry (fn. 23).
Under the surprise from the unexpected dissolution of parliament during the ferment raised by Dr. Sacheverel's trial, the high-church party far outnumbered those elected on the contrary side. The prepossessions of the populace were particularly seen in the election for the city of Westminster, where Mr. Medlicot and Mr. Cross, being set up by the high-church party, those who offered to give their votes in favour of their competitors general Stanhope, and Sir Henry Dutton Colt, were knocked down, and so ill treated, that many were deterred from polling; by which means the former candidates obtained a very great majority. It was expected that the election for London, would balance that for Westminster, but by the industry of the tory interest in the court of aldermen, Sir William Withers, Sir Richard Hoare, Sir George Newland, and Mr. John Cass, all of the same complexion, were chosen. Illuminations, ringing of bells, and bonfires, proclaimed the infatuation of the vulgar, who broke all the windows that were unlighted; and had been guilty of a great outrage on the person of Sir Gilbert Heathcote, lord-mayor elect, and one of the whig candidates; who in going out of Guildhall was not only insulted with reproachful language, but had his face spit upon.
Sir Gilbert Heathcote was according to custom sworn into his office at the Exchequer on October 30th, but the pageantry and some other parts of the solemnity were omitted, as he well knew he was not acceptable to the common people; some of whom insulted him in the cavalcade.
The statute intitled Assiza Panis & Cerviciae of Hen. III. being by the alteration of circumstances rendered improper for the present times, a standard more suitable was thought necessary for regulating the sale of so important a necessary of life as bread. So much therefore of the above-mentioned law as concerned the assize of bread, was now repealed; and power was given to the court of lord-mayor and aldermen of London, or to the lord-mayor alone by order of the said court, and the mayor, bailiffs, aldermen or other chief magistrates of other cities or corporations, or to two or more justices of the peace, in such places where there shall be no such mayor, &c. to ascertain and appoint, within their respective jurisdictions, the assize and weight of all sorts of bread, according to the price which the grain, meal or flour, of which such bread is made, shall bear in their respective public markets; making reasonable allowance to the bakers for their trouble. It was also enacted that no bread shall be made for sale, but those distinguished by the names of white, wheaten, and household, or such other sorts as shall be publicly licensed and allowed by the before-mentioned magistrates of London and other places. All bakers were likewise to mark their loaves as the said magistrates should direct (fn. 24).
The famous South-sea company that afterward occasioned so much disturbance, was incorporated September 8th this year; and the occasion of erecting this company is thus related. There happened to be a very large arrear of navy, victualling, and transport debentures, without any established funds to put them in a regular course of being discharged; for this reason principally, as well as partly on account of the change of the ministry, they were at a large discount in the market. If therefore a fund could be created for the regular payment of the interest of the said large arrear, and at the same time plausible means devised to give the creditors hopes of farther advantages by a new and alluring branch of commerce, the earl of Oxford thought he might turn the scheme to account. Certain proposals had been handed about for making settlements in the South Seas, in contemplation of the immense commercial profits that might thus be reaped, which were plausible allurements for an enterprising commercial nation. The queen was therefore impowered to incorporate the proprietors of these debts by act of parliament (fn. 25), certain duties were assigned for paying the interest, and an allowance made for the charges of the company. A royal charter passed in consequence, incorporating the company of merchants trading to the South Seas, in the customary form; and the stock continuing to rise in price, the general court of the company, on the queen's assurances of assisting them with a sufficient force to establish their trade, resolved to carry on the said trade with a cargo to be prepared for the year 1712, of 200,000l. value: the cessation of arms however that then took place, retarded their proceedings for some time (fn. 26).
On the 6th of November, the queen came from Hampton court to St. James's palace, where the next day the kept the general thanksgiving for the successes of the last campaign, in the royal chapel. Two days after a remarkable advertisement was published in the London Gazette, signed by Henry St. John, then secretary of state, importing "that some evil minded persons having unscrewed and taken away several iron bolts out of the great timbers of the west roof of the cathedral church of St. Paul, her majesty for the better discovery of the offenders was pleased to promise her most gracious pardon and a reward of 50 l. to any person concerned therein, who should discover his accomplices." This advertisement gave rise to a report of a plot to destroy the queen and the court, by the fall of the roof of St. Paul's on the thanksgiving day, when it was supposed she would have gone thither: and this pretended screw plot as it was called, the tories and their emissaries were ready enough to charge upon the whigs. It is to be observed that the new cathedral was not then quite finished, and it appeared upon inquiry that the missing of these iron pins was owing to the neglect of the workmen, who supposed the timbers were sufficiently fastened without them (fn. 27).
A petition from the parish of Greenwich to the house of commons for asistance in building their church, started a consideration, under the great increase of the metropolis, what churches might be wanting for the accommodation of the inhabitants; in which the convocation and the queen concurred: and it appeared that the suburbs of London contained 200,000 people, more than could possibly resort to the churches already built (fn. 28). An act was therefore passed for building fifty new churches in and near the populous cities of London and Westminster; the duty laid on coals for the building St. Paul's, being on the finishing of that pile, farther continued for these new churches (fn. 29).
An act was also passed which licensed 800 hackney coaches, which were to pay five shillings weekly, and 200 sedan chairs, at ten shillings each yearly, within the weekly bills of mortality: their fares were thus settled; coaches were to go one mile and a half for 1s. two miles for 1s. 6d. above two miles for 2s. and greater distances in the same proportion; the rule for chairs was, that they should have the same money for two thirds of those distances (fn. 30). By an act of the next session (fn. 31) 100 more chairs were added; but the above rates of carriage are still in force.
By the report made this year to the commissioners of the public accounts, the proportion of the amount of the customs received at the port of London, to the amount of the customs in all the out-ports, was as 1,268,095 l. was to 346,081 l. which is considerably above 3½ to 1 (fn. 32).
On the 5th of January 1712, prince Eugene of Savoy, commissioned by the emperor to engage our court to continue the war, arrived in London; but the change of the ministry, in which the disgrace of the duke of Marlborough was involved, made the prince meet with a cool reception from the ministry, and a warm one from all the people in the whig interest (fn. 33); particularly from the citizens of London. Sir Alexander Cairnes, and Sir Theodore Janssen, waited upon his highness, who having kindly received them, was pleased to say, that he was extremely obliged to the citizens; since the raising of the siege of Turin, and the glorious consequences thereof, were next to God, owing to their seasonable supply of money; the citizens of London having by her majesty's permission lent Joseph, emperor of Germany, the sum of 200,000 l. upon the security of his revenues in Silesia. The gentlemen replied, that when the citizens made that loan, they had not the improvement of their money so much in view, as the honour of being serviceable to the common cause, and of having an opportunity to shew their respects to a prince so greatly distinguished for his many glorious actions: and as they reckoned themselves particularly obliged to his highness's integrity, for the punctual payment of their interest and principal; so, if in the course of the present war he should have occasion for any greater sums, they would readily advance them upon his highness's own security. They concluded with a desire, that he would be pleased to accept of a small entertainment, which they intended to give him in the city, and that he would fix a day for that purpose. The lord-mayor and aldermen, most of whom were concerned in the Silesian loan, proposed to shew their respect to the prince also, and make it a joint entertainment. But one of the court suggesting that they would do well to know how the queen would take such an invitation to prince Eugene, two aldermen were sent to consult the earl of Dartmouth on that point; their commission however being only verbal, lord Dartmouth wrote to the lordmayor, that her majesty would return no answer to any message that was not brought with the same respect that had always been paid by the city to her predecessors. As the occasion did not in truth call for that formality, the advantage thus taken to discountenance that act of civility, only shews how great persons will sometimes expose their littleness to indulge party resentments: the aldermen did not think it fitting to take any farther steps in the affair, to the great mortification of the generality of the citizens.
The act for naturalizing foreign protestants was now repealed (fn. 34); this repeal had been attempted last year, when the lords threw it out, but it now passed both houses and received the royal assent. The French refugees had made less use of the act in their favour than might have been expected; but in the interval between the former motion for repealing it, and its rejection by the lords, above 2000 were naturalized.
During the residence of prince Eugene here, another strange panic seized the people, of which it is difficult to give any consistent account; it may only in general be noted as has been hinted on another occasion, that such popular prepossessions commonly happen when the minds of the people are strongly distempered by party animosities. In the month of March, some nocturnal disor ders committed in the streets by rakes and drunken soldiers, gave birth to a report, that great numbers of disaffected persons, under the name of Mohocks or Hawkabites, had combined together to disturb the public peace; and in an inhuman and barbarous manner, without the least provocation, assaulted and wounded those they met by night, by slitting or flatting their noses, cutting off ears, gagging, or distending their mouths with an iron instrument, and many other dreadful cruelties. This report was so industriously improved, that printed papers were daily cried about, giving accounts of the apprehending and committing of many persons to prisons for such barbarities, among whom, it was insinuated, were divers persons of great distinction. This rumour gaining universal credit, struck such a terror among the credulous and timorous, that at the approach of night many durst not stir abroad, for fear of being mohocked.
These fictitious stories prevailed so far as to occasion the queen to issue out a proclamation for the suppressing of riots, and apprehending of such as had been guilty of the late barbarities within London and Westminster, and parts adjacent; and, as an encouragement to apprehend all such offenders, a reward of 100 l. was promised for every person, who, since the first of February last, had without any provocation wounded, stabbed, or maimed, or who should, before the first day of May, wound, stab, or maim any of her majesty subjects. This proclamation gave sanction to these reports; however, it does not appear, that any person was convicted of such crimes; but the agents of the men in power were shrewdly suspected of attempting to throw an odium on the whigs by starting and propagating the alarm.
Some overtures for peace having been made between the contending powers, a motion was made in the court of common-council on June 12th, for an address to the queen on that subject; which was objected to by Sir Gilbert Heathcote and Sir Charles Peers, who alleged that the making peace or war being the prerogatives of the crown, they ought not to meddle with it. But the majority who knew such a step would be acceptable to the court, carried the motion for an address, which was presented two days after, together with another from the court of lieutenancy; when the queen knighted John Cass and William Stuart the sheriffs, and Samuel Clarke. Upon the example thus set by the corporation of London, addresses were promoted every where, full of gross flattery, magnifying the present conduct, and severely reflecting on the former ministry, which some carried as far back as king William's reign: but these addresses could not restrain the murmurings of the whigs, and even of many tories, who were discontented with the terms of peace mentioned in the queen's late speech (fn. 35).
Many complaints being made of the intrusion of foreigners, who contrary to the laws and customs of the city, and to the great prejudice of the citizens, exercised several manual operations and carried on trades by retail; it was enacted by the common-council, on the 4th of July, "that no person whatever, not being free of the city, shall by any colour, way, or means whatsoever, directly, or indirectly by himself or any other, use, exercise, or occupy, any art, trade, mystery, manual occupation, or handicraft whatsoever, or keep any shop, room, or place whatsoever, inward or outward, for shew, sale, or putting to sale, of any wares or merchandize whatsoever, by way of retail, within the said city, or the liberties thereof, upon pain to forfeit 5 l. for every such offence. And that if any freeman should set any person, that is not free, on work, knowing and having notice given to him that such person, is a foreigner, he shall forfeit 5 l. And that the freeman, who employs a foreigner to sell by retail, shall also forfeit 5 l. for every offence."
"Provided that nothing in this act shall be construed to the prohibiting any citizen from keeping in his service any person under the age of twenty one, upon trial in order to be bound apprentice, for any time not exceeding three months: nor to prohibit any citizen dealing in coarse heavy goods, from employing any yearly servant living with him, in the weighing, rummaging, lading or unlading such merchandize; or in any labour not concerning the art, skill, and mystery of the same: nor to extend to felt makers, cap thickers, carders, spinners, knitters, or brewers."
On the 16th of March, 1713, the committee, to whom the enquiry into complaints against the office of coal-meters in London, had been referred, made their report to the court of lord-mayor and aldermen. In which, after reciting the right of the city to the said office, and several acts of common-council for the regulation thereof, made in the 24 Henry VIII. 44 Elizabeth, 18 Jac. I. and on March 3, 1653, declared, "We are therefore of opinion, that the ancient order and method of the coal-office ought to be observed and kept, and that it is incumbent on the alderman of Billingsgate-ward to see the same performed. And that as well the master-meters, as the under-meters, are liable to be punished, by suspension, removal, or otherwise, as this court shall think fit. That the said master-meters have no right to employ what deputies, or under-meters, they please; but that it is the right of the lord-mayor and aldermen to allow of the deputies, or under-meters. That the said deputies or under-meters, ought not to be displaced, but upon a reasonable cause, and that upon application to the lord-mayor and aldermen for that purpose: but the alderman of the said ward may suspend an under-meter, till the pleasure of this court is known therein. That the books of the coal-office do concern the right of the inheritance of this city, and ought to be used and inspected by this court, as they shall find occasion, &c. That no under-meter ought to begin to work in coals, before a cocket of permit has been issued from the lordmayor's office, &c." Which report being read, it was approved of by the said court, and ordered to be entered in the repertory. And it was thereupon ordered, "that the said master-meters do observe the ancient method and usage of shipping their under-meters, according to their seniority. And that the under meters do not take their fellow's labour out of their turns, upon pain of "being suspended by the alderman of Billingsgate-ward, or his deputy, until they shall appear to answer complaints."
The suspension of Dr. Sacheverel expiring March 23d, that day was celebrated in London and other parts of the kingdon, with extraordinary rejoicings. The Sunday following he preached for the first time at his church of St. Saviour's, to a thronged audience; his text was Luke xxiii. 34. "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do:" and his sermon contained an implied parallel between his sufferings and those of Jesus Christ. Not long after, the house of commons to shew their disapprobation of his former prosecution, desired him to preach before them at St. Margaret's Westminster on the 29th of May, the anniversary of the restoration of Charles II. an excellent opportunity for distinguishing himself in favour of the prevailing court-principles; and he had the thanks of the house for his discourse. Nor was the court backward in rewarding and encouraging so zealous an agent, for upon the vacancy of the rectorship of St. Andrew Holbourn, he was promoted to that valuable benefice (fn. 36).
Peace being concluded between the British and French ministers, at Utrecht, April 28th, it was proclaimed at London May 5th, with the usual solemnities; but the people were in general dissatisfied with the terms of it, which were much agitated both in parliament and in print. The 7th of July was appointed for a day of general thanksgiving on the occasion, when the queen proposed to attend the service at St. Paul's, but being indisposed by the gout, both houses of parliament went thither without her, the lords going in their robes with great state: the whigs absented themselves for other reasons. In the evening grand illuminations were displayed and bonfires lighted throughout London and Westminster; and magnificent fireworks were played off on the Thames, over against Whitehall (fn. 37), and in West Smithfield.
The tory maxims by which the court was now guided, threatened great danger to the protestant succession, and the queen herself was strongly suspected of secretly favouring the claim of the pretender: thus much was evident, that papists and jacobites received great countenance from the distinguishing marks of favour shewn to the duke D'Aumont, ambassador extraordinary from France, who made his public entry into London in a most pompous manner. He was lodged at Powis house in Great Ormond-street, and while he continued to throw handfuls of money out from his coach among the populace, his liberality procured their acclamations; but when he discontinued that custom, they insulted him with the cry of No papist, no pretender! But though this alteration of conduct in him, might influence the most abject of the mob to treat him in this manner, there were not wanting other causes to influence them in the change of their stile. His domestics had smuggled over great quantities of wines, silks, and other goods, and vended them to the prejudice of the tradesmen in London and Westminster: some French merchants here took this opportunity also to bring over Burgundy and Champaign, which before the ambassador's arrival, were sold by retail at his house and other places, at lower rates than at the taverns. This produced a great clamour against him, many insults were offered before his house, which being resented, a scuffle insued; and it became necessary to order the constables of the parish to guard it.
A more remarkable affair happened at his house soon after, which excited much speculation. On January 26th, 1714, while the duke D'Aumont was entertaining the Venetian ambassador, the envoys of Sweden and Florence, lord Waldgrave, and other persons of distinction, at dinner; the company, about three o'clock were alarmed by a cry of fire which broke out in one of the upper rooms. In less than two hours the house was burnt to the ground; and all that the domestics could do was to save the plate, and some of the richest of the furniture. How the fire began, was then, and still remains, a mystery; many reports circulated on the occasion, one of which was, that Powis house was designedly burnt, to afford a pretence for removing the ambassador to Somerset house, where he was accommodated on that event, which lying on the banks of the Thames, any person might have more private access to him by water (fn. 38). Others said, that the Pretender came over with the ambassador, and had private interviews with the queen and some of her ministers; but that his residence here being suspected, the house was fired to favour his escape in the confusion. The house was afterward magnificently rebuilt at the French king's expence.
While the queen continued in an uncertain state of health, the friends of the Pretender believed, that all things were preparing for his restoration; those who favoured the Hanover succession, were not a little apprehensive of the destination of an armament said to be fitting out in the ports of France. A panic seized the monied men, and the funds fell greatly; the directors of the Bank represented the dangers that threatened public credit, to the lord treasurer, who received the application favourably, and promised his endeavours for their support. As the queen's illness was the immediate object of fear, she by the advice of her ministers wrote the following letter to Sir Samuel Stanier lord-mayor of London.
"Although an aguish indisposition, succeeded by a fit of the gout, has detained us at this place longer than we designed; yet, since it has pleased Almighty God to restore us to such a degree of health, that we hope to be able soon to return to our usual residence, we continue determined to open our parliament on Tuesday the sixteenth of this instant February, according to the notice given by proclamation.
"Thus much we have judged proper to communicate to you, and by you to the court of aldermen, and to our other loving subjects of our good city of London; to the intent that you may all in your several stations contribute to discountenance, and put a stop to those malicious rumours, spread by evil disposed persons, to the prejudice of credit, and the eminent hazard of the public peace and tranquillity.
"Given at our castle at Windsor, the first day of February 1713 (fn. 39), in the twelfth year of our reign.
This letter and the discovery of the pretended armaments being a chimera, dispelled the fears of the generality, and soon put a stop to the run upon the bank (fn. 40). An increase of public wealth may be fairly argued from an act of the insuing parliament, which reduced the legal interest of money, from six, to five per cent (fn. 41).
Two Irish officers, Hugh and William Kelly, being seized for enlisting men in the pretender's service, in London and Westminster, the ministers could not avoid taking notice of such open treasonable practices; a proclamation was therefore published, on June 23d, offering a reward of 5000l. for apprehending the pretender, whenever he should land, or pretend to land, in Great Britain. The commons, who thought this sum too little, offered in an address to the queen, to grant 100,000l. as a farther reward for that service (fn. 42). The citizens of London presented also an address expressing their satisfacton at this proclamation.
These measures began to be necessary, as the pretender's friends had arrived to such a degree of assurance, as to assert his right, and drink his health publicly: above 100 Irish papists held a feast at the Sun-tavern in the Strand, where the lord Fingal was chosen steward, and all the company were admitted by a printed ticket, in which was a representation of the pope treading heresy under foot (fn. 43).
Queen Ann died on Sunday August 1st, 1714, and with her ended the direct line of the Stuarts: the prejudices of her education, had a great share in sullying the glory of her reign, and co-operated with the patrons of the secret enemies of the constitution of this country. A loud noise for the church, prevented all attention to the calamity and destruction preparing for the state; and nothing but the queen's sudden removal prevented the execution of those schemes in favour of the pretender, which the makers of the peace had laid, and for which due preparation had been made. The national debt amounted to about 50 millions at her death.