Sixth Session of King William's Second Parliament.
On Monday November the 12th, the Parliament met at
Westminster, and with the usual Solemnity, the King made
this Speech to both Houses.
The King's Speech.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
I am glad to meet you here, when I can say our Affairs
are in a better Posture both by Sea and Land than when
we parted last.
'The Enemy has not been in a Condition to oppose our
Fleet in these Seas, and our sending so great a Force into
the Mediterranean, has disappointed their Designs, and
leaves us a Prospect of further Success.
'With respect to the War by Land, I think I may say,
that this Year a stop has been put to the Progress of the
'Gentlemen of the House of Commons,
'I have had so much Experience of your good Affection
to me, and of your Zeal for the Public, that I cannot
doubt of your Assistance at this Time: I do therefore earnestly recommend to you, to provide such Supplies, as may enable me to prosecute the War with vigour; which is the
only Means to procure Peace to Christendom, with the
Safety and Honour of England.
I must likewise put you in mind, that the Act of Tonnage and Poundage expires at Christmas; and I hope you
will think fit to continue that Revenue to the Crown:
which is the more necessary at this Time, in regard the
several Branches of the Revenue are under great Anticipations, for extraordinary Expences of the War, and subject to many Demands upon other Accounts.
'I cannot but mention to you again, the Debt for the Transport Ships employed in reducing of Ireland, which is a
Case of Compassion, and deserves Relief.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
I should be glad you would take into your consideration,
the preparing some good Bill for the Encouragement of our
Seamen: You cannot but be sensible, how much a Law of
this nature, would tend to the Advancement of Trade, and
of the naval Strength of the Kingdom, which is our great
Interest, and ought to be our principal Care.'
Mr. Harley brings in a Bill for frequent Parliaments.
The Commons adjourn'd to the 19th of November; when
the first thing they did was to order Mr. Harley to prepare
and bring in a Bill for (fn. *) the frequent meeting and calling of
Parliaments, which they had been so earnest for in former
Sessions, and were resolved to insist upon in this. The Bill
was easily drawn up, and presented November the 22d, and
read with dispatch the third time, and past December the
13th and sent up to the Lords, who on December the 18th,
gave it their concurrence, without any Amendments.
Which pass'd both Houses.
The Commons likewise went chearfully on with the Supply, and having examin'd the Estimates for the next Year's
Service for the War; the Accounts of the Monies paid to
the Fleet, to the Army, to the Allies, and for Forage, and
enquir'd into the Quota's the Confederates were severally to
furnish, they voted
2,382,712 l. for the Navy.
2,382,000 l. for the Army.
To be rais'd by
Royal Assent given to Tonnage and Poundage and Triennial Bills.
Four Shillings in the Pound Land-Tax, and other Subsidies. They continu'd the Duties of Tonnage and Poundage
five Years longer; and his Majesty past that Bill, and the
Triennial Bill, at the same time, December 22.
Both Houses condole the Loss of the Queen.
The 31st, (the Queen dying the 28th) both Houses of
Parliament immediately address'd his Majesty, to condole the
great Loss, and give him Assurance of their firm Adherence
to his Interest. To the Lords, who presented their Address
in a Body to his Majesty at Kensington, he was pleas'd to say
in these few Words of Sorrow:
The King's Answer.
'I heartily thank you for your Kindness, but much more
for the Sense you shew of our great Loss, which is above
what I can express.
To the Commons:
'I take very kindly your Care of Me and the Public,
especially at this time, when I am able to think of nothing
but our great Loss.
The Commons look back into Abuses and Corruptions.
While the Commons were raising Money, they wisely
enquired into the disposal of former Taxes; and discover'd so
much Corruption, as was high time to punish and prevent.
The Occasion of looking back, was given by a Petition of
the Inhabitants of Royston, complaining of the great Abuses
committed by Officers and Soldiers in exacting SubsistenceMoney.
This Petition was read in the House on January the 12th,
and after examining Mr. Tracy Pauncefort, Agent of Colonel
Hastings's Regiment, and the Officers complained of; it was
resolved, 'That the Officers and Soldiers of the Army demanding and exacting Subsistence-Money in their Quarters,
or upon their March, is arbitrary and illegal, and a great Violation of the Rights and Liberties of the Subject. And it
was thereupon ordered, 'That the Commissioners for taking
and stating the Public Accounts, do upon Friday Morning
next, lay before this House, their Observations of the Abuses
and ill Practices, committed by the several Agents of the
Regiments of the Army, and that the Commissioners should
lay before them the Names of such Agents, as have neglected
to attend them upon Summons. And that Agent Pauncefort
lay before the House, a particular Account of all the Moneys received from the Earl of Ranelagh, and how he has
paid or disposed of the said Money.'
Several Agents examin'd. Mr. Pauncefort order'd to the Tower for a Contempt.
Pursuant to this Order, on January the 25th, Mr. Harley,
from the Commissioners for taking and stating the Public
Accounts, presented to the House their Observations of the
Abuses and ill Practices committed by the several Agents.
On January the 28th, Mr. Tracy Pauncefort presented his
Accounts, and was examined to the truth of them. Agent
Roberts, Agent Wallis, Lieutenant Turner, Colonel Hastings, and Major Montall, were likewise examined: The two
latter were discharged, the others were taken into Custody.
Mr. Pauncefort was brought in Custody to the House on February the 12th, where refusing to answer to several questions
demanded by the House, it was resolved, 'That by obstinately
refusing to Answer to a Matter of Fact demanded of him by
this House, he had thereby violated the Privilege, and contemned the Authority of this House, and the fundamental
Constitution thereof.' For which he was brought to the Bar,
and upon his Knees received the Judgment, of being committed Prisoner to the Tower of London.
On February the 15th upon his Petition, acknowledging
his Offence, and expressing his Sorrow, he was again brought
to the Bar of the House; but not giving satisfactory Answers,
he was remanded back to the Tower.
And Mr. Guy a Member.
His Brother Mr. Edward Pauncefort was likewise called in
and examined; and on February 16, it was resolved, That
Mr. Edward Pauncefort, for contriving to cheat Colonel
Hasting's Regiment of five hundred Guineas, and forgiving
a Bribe to obtain the King's Bounty, be taken into Custody.
And that Mr. Henry Guy, a Member of the House, for
taking a Bribe of two hundred Guineas, be committed Prisoner
to the Tower of London. And the House at the same time
agreed, that a Committee be appointed, to prepare an humble
Representation to be made to his Majesty, laying before him
the several Abuses, ill Practices, and intolerable Exactions
of the Agents of the Regiments of the Army, upon the inferior Officers and common Soldiers, whereby they have
been forced to raise their Subsistence on the People: which
said Representation was as follows:
Representation of the Commons.
'We your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects the
Commons in this present Parliament assembled, do from a
true and unseigned Zeal for your Majesty's Person and Government, (which God long preserve). and from the Obligation that lieth upon us in behalf of those whom we represent, most humbly lay before your Majesty the Grievances
we lie under, by some of the Officers and Soldiers of the
Army, in raising Money upon the Country, under pretence
of Subsistence; which is such a Violation of the Liberty and
Property of your Subjects, that it needeth no Aggravation.
'This is, in great measure, occasion'd by the undue Practices of some of the Agents and Officers; the Particulars of
which, we beg leave to lay before your Majesty, in order to
the more effectual preventing the like Miscarriages for the
'I Some of the Agents, amongst other their ill Practices,
have detained the Money due to the Soldiers, in their hands;
and made Use of it for their own Advantage, instead of immediately applying it to the Subsistence of the Officers and
Soldiers, for whom they were entrusted.
'II. Their intolerable Exactions and great Extortions
upon the Officers and Soldiers, for paying Money by way
of Advance; their charging more for the Discounts of Tallies,
than they actually paid: By which fraudulent imposing upon
those who serve in your Majesty's Armies, it appeareth,
that, notwithstanding they have a greater Pay, than is given
in any other Part of the World, they are yet reduced to Inconveniences and Extremities; which ought not to be put
upon those, who venture their Lives for the Honour and
Safety of the Nation.
'III. In particular, Colonel Hastings hath compelled
some Officers of his Regiment, to take their Clothes from
him at extravagant Rates, by confining and threatning those
that would not comply therewith: By which the Authority,
that may be necessary to be lodged in the Colonel over the
inferiour Officers in some Cases, is misapplied, and extended
so as to promote a private Advantage of his own, without
any Regard to your Majesty's Service, or to the Discipline
of the Army.
'IV. Colonel Hastings's Agent hath presumed fraudulently to detain five hundred Guineas, out of a Bounty given
by your Majesty to the Officers of that Regiment, under Pretence of giving them as a Bribe to obtain the same, to the
Dishonour of your Majesty, and Injury to the Officers thereof.
And hath taken two Pence per Pound, out of the Money due
to the Officers and Soldiers; for which Deductions there being no Warrant, the Colonel, whose Servant the Agent is,
'V. Colonel Hastings's Agent hath refused or neglected
to give an Account of the Pay due to the Captains of his
Regiment, and their Companies; which tends apparently to
the defrauding the Officers and Soldiers.
'VI. Some of the Agents assume to themselves the Liberty of making great Deductions: Which, since they know
not how to justify, they endeavour to cover, by putting them
under the shelter of the uncertain Head of Contingencies;
which giveth them the better Opportunity of hiding the
Frauds and Abuses, that would otherwise be more liable to
'VII. Colonel Hastings hath discharged an Ensign, by
putting another in his room, contrary to the true Discipline
of an Army, from which the Colonels have no Right to exempt themselves, to enlarge their own Authority, to the
Prejudice of your Majesty's Service, and of the Officers who
serve under them.
'VIII. Colonel Hastings hath taken Money for the recommending to Commands in his Regiment, to the great
Discouragement to the Officers who are to serve in your
Majesty's Armies; who ought to be such as deserve their Commands, and not such as pay for them.
'These things we most humbly represent to your Majesty, in Confidence of having them redress'd by your Majesty's
Justice and Wisdom.
'Your loyal Commons, as they have been always ready to
supply your Majesty, cannot but be sensible of such Miscarriages, as may either diminish the Strength of your Armies,
or the Affections of your People: And it is from a Principle
of the highest Duty, that we take this way of applying ourselves to your Majesty for redress; having an entire assurance
that this our most humble Representation will not only be
graciously accepted, but that our Expectations from it will be
To this his Majesty was pleas'd to reply:
The King's Answer.
'I will consider your Representation, and take all care
possible to have the Grievances redressed.
[Accordingly Colonel Hastings was immediately cashiered,
and his Regiment given to Sir John Jacob, his Lieutenant
Colonel. And while the Complaint was depending, the
King in Council was pleased to order, February 19. That
the chief Officers of the Army should meet twice a Week,
in the great Chamber of the Horse-Guards, to receive and
examine all Informations and Complaints, that should be
brought before them, of any wrong or injury, done by any
Officer or Soldier of his Majesty's Land-Forces, in order to
redress the same. And on March 11. His Majesty issued out
a Declaration for the strict Discipline of the Army, and due
Payment of Quarters; strictly forbidding to exact or demand
any Subsistence-Money, or to commit any Spoil or Disorder,
or to use any Violence or threatning Words, or otherwise
to misbehave themselves, under pain of cashiering and loss of
Contractors for cloathing the Army, examin'd.
To prosecute the Discovery of ill Practices, Mr. James
Craggs, one of the Contractors for cloathing the Army, was
summoned to attend the House: And after he had given in
his Answer to the Commissioners for taking and stating the
Public Accounts, it was demanded of him March 7. whether he would produce his Books, and be examined before
the said Commissioners upon Oath: He excused himself, and
refused to produce his Books. Upon which it was resolved,
that for so refusing, and thereby obstructing the Enquiry of
the House into the disposal of the Public Monies, he be
committed Prisoner to the Tower of London. Soon after
Mr. Harley reported the farther Examination of Mr. Edward
Pauncefort, and acquainted the House, that Mr. Richard
Harnage, another of the Contractors for the Cloathing of the
Army, had refused to be examined upon Oath, before the Commissioners: Whereupon it was ordered, That a Bill be brought
in, to oblige Mr. Edward Pauncefort to discover how he disposed the Monies paid into his Hands, relating to the Army,
and for punishing him in Case he should not make such Discovery; and that Mr. Tracy Pauncefort, Mr. James Craggs,
and Mr. Richard Harnage, be included in the said Bill.
Petition of the Hackney-Coach-men.
Amidst the Noise of Bribery and Corruption, there was
a Petition to the House of Commons, of Thomas Kemp and
others, on behalf of themselves and others, the ancient four
hundred licensed Hackney Coach-men; which being referred
to a Committee, it was their Opinion, that the Petitioners the
Hackney-Coach-men, had proved the Substance of their Complaint, and were worthy the Consideration and Relief of the
House: And that several of the Commissioners for licensing
and regulating Hackney-coaches, and Stage-coaches, had, by
receiving Bribes, and by other unsue Means, acted corruptly and arbitrarily, contrary to the Authority and Trust reposed in them by Act of Parliament. Thereupon the House
ordered the Committee to distinguish the Commissioners,
which they accordingly did; and by their Report on March 20.
Henry Ashurst and Walter Overbury Esqs; were honourably cleared, and the others were declared guilty: And an
humble Address was made to his Majesty, that he would remove
Henry Killegrew, Henry Villers, and Richard Gea Esqs;
from the Commission for licensing Hackney-coaches; and they
were accordingly removed.
From these Discoveries a commmon Murmur arose, that an
universal Corruption had overspread the Nation; that Court,
Camp, City, nay and the Parliament itself were infected
more especially when the following State of the Accounts of
the East-India Company was presented to the House, according
State of the East-India Company's Accounts.
|On the 31st of October 1694, the Ballance of their Cash was
|Which Sum their Cashier a little while after cou'd give no Account of.
|Besides this, there were Contracts for Stocks, to the Value of 67383 l. 1s. 6d. which was jobb'd up and down, and at last became lost to the Company, for the same Uses as the other Sum.
|And upon the Company's Account of Charges general, there was paid out of Cash in 6 Years for special Service.
Hereupon, to wipe off the Suspicion from the honourable
Members, and to expose the Guilty, on March 7. the House
appointed Paul Foley Esq; Sir Richard Onslow, John
Pollexsen Esq; Sir John Thompson, Foot Onslow Esq;
Thomas Tekham Esq; Sir Samuel Bernardiston, Thomas
Wharton Esq; and Francis Gwinne Esq; as a Committee to
inspect the Books of the East-India Company, and also the
Books of the Chamberlain of London.
Mr. Foley's Report thereon.
On March 17. Mr. Foley reported from the said Committee,
That as soon as they came to the East-India House, they called
for an Account of all Moneys paid for the special Service
of the Company; upon perusal of which, observing, that
the greatest Payment was in the Year 1693, they searched
for the Orders for the issuing that Money; the chief of which
were,. one dated the 13th of April 1693. another dated the
24th of November 1693, and another the 22d of January,
1693–4. In pursuance of which, the Sums of 22,275 l. 24,983 l.
and 30,000 l. were severally paid cut of the Casn, amounting
in all to 77,258 l. besides several smaller Sums amounting in
the whole to 10,144 l. which with the former Sum makes
87402 l. all issued in the Year 1693, while Sir Thomas
Cooke was Governor, and Francis Tyssen Esq; Deputy
Governor, for the special Service of the House, and obtaining a new Charter. That they found by examination of most
of the Persons, present at the Committees of the East-India
Company, where the said Orders were made, that the Governour in the said Committees, did only in general inform what Sums he hath disburst, without naming the particulars to whom, or to what Service, which several of them
said was a new Course, since Sir Thomas Cooke came to be
Deputy-Governor, or Governor. That in a State of the
Company's Cash, dated at the East-India House the 7th of
March 1694–5. and drawn up by several Members of the
Company, empowered for that purpose, near all the aforesaid
Sums were observed to be paid, and placed to the Company's
Account of Charges general, paid out of Cash, viz. In 1688
and 1689, Sir Benjamin Bathurst Governor, and Sir Josiah
Child Deputy-Governor, 2230 l. 14 s. In 1690 and 1691,
Sir Joseph Herne Governor, and Sir Thomas Cooke DeputyGovernor, 13,532 l. 9 s. In 1692 and 1693, Sir Thomas
Cooke Governour, and Mr. Tyssen Deputy-Governour,
87,402 l. 12 s. in the whole 103,165 l. 15 s. That upon Examination of the Company's Cash-book, having found the
Ballance of the 31st of October, 1694 was 124,249 l. they
demanded of Mr. Portmans the Cashier, if he had the
same in Cash? That he replied, he had not; but instead
thereof, laid before them in writing that 90,000 l. was lent
upon Sir Thomas Cooke's Notes, (which he produced) with
other Particulars, which made up the above-mentioned Ballance. That in his Note Sir Thomas Cooke owned the Receipt of 90,000 l. which he had disburst, and paid for
99,197 Pounds Stock in the East-India Company for their Account; tho' they did not find any Warrant for the said
Sum, or any of that Stock transferred in the Company's
Books for their Account, exceeding 18,300 l. Stock, the 16th
of January, 1694–5. The Committee of the House of
Commons further reported, that they found a Contract dated
the 26th of February, 1693, for 200 Tun of Salt-petre, to
be brought home in the Ship Seymour from India, to pay
12,000 l. for the same, and 25 l. freight per Ton, besides all
Charges here. That 2000 l. which was the Sum sent out to
purchase the said Salt-petre, was actually paid out of the
Company's Cash, and that a Bond for the remaining 10,000 l.
was given under the Seal of the Company, payable the
31st of March, 1695, whether the Ship arriv'd in safety
or not: With this Limitation only, that if two hundred Ton
of Salt-Petre be not laden upon the said Ship, then to repay
in proportion to the want thereof. So that the Result of
this Contract was, that the Company ran the Adventure of
12,000 l. for that which cost only 2000 l. and must consequently lose 12,000 l. if the Ship miscarried: And on the
contrary, the Seller on the other hand, got ten thousand clear,
without disbursing, or running the hazard of one Penny;
and what is yet more, a certain loss of 9 or 10000 l. would
attend it, if the Ship arrived in Safety. That the Committee
having examined the Members of the Company, concerning
this Contract, they owned it to be true, that the 2000 l. was
paid, and the 10,000 l. Bond given to Mr. Thomas Colston.
That about the same time this Contract was made, so many
of the Interlopers as would sell their Shares in the Interlopers to the East-India Company, were allowed their
first Cost, and 25 l. per cent. advance; which was done by
giving them Credit for so much in the East-India Books.
That the Committee found Sir Samuel Dashwood, Sir
John Fleet, John Perry Esq; Sir Joseph Herne, and Sir
Thomas Cooke, were present at the Court of Committees,
when the Orders above-mentioned were made; but they being all Members of the House of Commons, the Committee
did not think fit to examine them. That the rest of the Committees, who were present at making those Orders, and most
of whom had been examined, could give no Account of the
Disposal of the Money issued out, during the time of Sir Joseph Herne, and Sir Thomas Cooke's Government; but only
that the same was paid for special Service, and that a great part
thereof was put into the Hands of Sir Basil Firebrace. That
one of them, viz. Sir Benjamin Bathurst, said, Sir Joseph
Herne had the greatest part of the 13,932 l. 9 s. to dispose of;
and Sir Benjamin Bathurst would have called for an Account
thereof, but Sir Thomas Cooke desired he would not. That
the Company's Committee of nine, had often called upon
Sir Thomas Cooke, to give an account to whom he had
distributed the Money he received, which he had some
time promised, and afterwards declined to do: So that the
Secret of that Service, and the placing of that Money,
lay principally with Sir Thomas Cooke, and Sir Joseph
Herne. That Sir Benjamin Bathurst finding so great a Sum
as 30,000 l. charged for secret Services, he had some warm
discourse with Sir Thomas Cooke about it, to know how it was
disbursed: But Sir Thomas refused to give him any particulars, and told him he should remember he was bound by
his Oath to the Company, to keep their Secrets. To which
Sir Benjamin replied, he was under the same Obligation, to
be true to the Interest of the Company. Sir Benjamin Bathurst further said, that about April, 1694. understanding
that they were in want of Money, he looked into the Cashbook, which casting up, he found a considerable Sum in Cash;
and taking some Persons with him, discoursed Sir Thomas
Cooke about it, who said, the 90,000 l. he had received,
was to gratify some Persons in case the Bill should pass. As
for the Contract about Salt-petre, Sir Benjamin Bathurst said,
that it was made by Sir Thomas Cooke, and Sir Basil Firebrace,
but he knew nothing of it, till it came into Court.
The Committee likewise reported, that Sir Basil Firebrace
being examined, owned he had received upwards of 16,000 l.
which was for buying Shares of Stocks, and of which the
Company had allowed: But said, he knew no ground the
Committee of nine had to say, that a great Part of the other
Sums were put into his hands. He confessed he invited several Persons to come into the Company; and offered to lay
down Money for several, and that if they liked it not at the
Year's End, he would then take it off their hands; which
Offers he made to Members of the House of Commons, among others, and gave an account to the Company of his
doing so, who promised to indemnify him. That concerning
the Accommodation with the Interlopers, the Company had
a Letter from the Lord Nottingham, That it was the King's
Pleasure, that they should come to an Agreement with the
Interlopers: That the Proposal to them was 25 per Cent.
for bringing in their Stock to the Company, and one half of
the Profit besides; which one half of the Interlopers accepted: but Mr. Godfrey and some others, standing upon 30
per cent. Mr. Colston went off with them, and did not come
into the Company. That Mr. Ward said it was agreed by
the Interlopers, that only 2000 l. should be employed in
buying of Salt Petre; that Mr. Colston was to have the advantage of it, which he believed was not for Mr. Colston himself, but for some other Gentleman; and lastly, that the original Inducement to the Leave of the Interlopers going out,
was that Agreement with Mr. Colston.
Report of corrupt Practices in procuring the Orphans Bill.
The same Committee of the House of Commons reported,
That having inspected the Chamberlain of London's Books,
they found an Order made by a Committee of the CommonCouncil for the City of London, (appointed to consider of
ways and means for satisfying the Debts due to the Orphans
of the said City) and dated the 12th of February, 169¾, by
which Mr. Chamberlain was directed to pay to Sir John
Trevor Speaker of the House of Commons, the Sum of
1000 Guineas, so soon as a Bill was passed into an Act of
Parliament, for satisfying the Debts of the Orphans, and other Creditors of the said City; which Sum was paid and
delivered to Sir John Trevor, on the twenty-second of June
1694, in the Presence of Sir Robert Clayton and Sir James
Houblon. That they observed that the Order of the Committee of the Common Council, which now stood dated the
12th of February, and that the Person named therein, was
put in a different hand: That examining who first writ the
Warrant, Mr. Borret the City Sollicitor, owned it was his
Hand-writing; and at first said, that he believed the Blank
at first left therein, was filled up with the Speaker's Name,
before the Committee signed it, because he believed they
would not set their Hands to a Blank. But all the Committee who signed it, and who appeared upon Summons,
declared most of them positively, that there was a Blank for
the Person's Name, when they signed it; and the rest being
doubtful, Mr. Borret then said the Blank might be filled
up afterwards, though he could not tell the time: However,
he owned he filled it up with another Pen. That they found
another Order of the said Committee, dated 26th of April,
1693, directing the Chamberlain to pay to Paul Jodrell
Esq; the Sum of 100 Guineas, for his Pains and Service in
assisting the Orphan's Bill to pass in Parliament; which
Sum was paid him the 22d of June 1694. That in the Chamberlain's Books were entered several Sums paid to Mr.
Borret, to defray the Charge of drawing the Bill, making
Copies thereof, and of the Petitions and Orders relating to
the same; amongst which Payments they found 5 Guineas paid
to Mr. Sollicitor General, for his Advice therein, 5 Guineas
to Mr. Harcourt, 20 Guineas to Mr. Hungerford, Chairman of the Grand Committee, for his Pains and Service,
and 60 l. 9 s. to Mr. Jodrell. That they understood that
the Orphans, for the procuring of this Bill, had given
Bond to Mr. Smith and Mr. Charles Nois, to allow them
12 d. in the Pound, when the Bill was passed, for their Pains
and Charges in that matter, which Contract being made
void in that Bill, the Court of Aldermen were impowered
to satisfy them their real Expences. That upon this, Smith
and Nois applied themselves to the Court of Aldermen, and
got a Petition to be signed by many of the Orphans, that
they were willing, notwithstanding the Act of Parliament,
they should be allowed 12 d. in the Pound. That the said
Nois and Smith brought in a Bill to the Committee of the
Common Council, of their Charges, amounting to 3457 l.
16 s. but, as was alledged, they pretended to be more than
10,000 l. out of Purse; by which Argument they got Subscriptions to the said Petition; in which Bill there was
charged 1650 l. paid to Mr. George Finch for carrying on
the Act. That Mr. Nois and Mr. Smith being examined,
they did utterly deny that they had given any Money to any
Member of Parliament, on the account of the said Bill, or
knew of any to be given; but they were willing to get
what they could, having taken a great deal of pains in long
solliciting the same; and that they did say, that notwithstanding they did charge 1650 l. to be paid Mr. George
Finch, yet they had not paid him any Money; but having
delivered up his Bond for the 12 d. in the Pound, they valued his Share of the Orphans Debt to amount to that Sum.
That Mr. George Finch being examined, did deny to have
received any thing from Mr. Nois and Mr. Smith, or his
paying any Money to any Member of Parliament: But wavering in his Discourse, and being again asked if he ever
did distribute, or know of any Money distributed on account of the Orphans Bill? he said it was a hard thing
to be asked such Questions. That however he owned, that
upon Suggestion that there were Obstructions to the Bill,
which must be removed by Money, he applied himself to
several of the Orphans, and did receive 100 l. from Mr.
John Chadwick, 100 l. from Mr. Harvey, 100 l. from Mr.
Scot, 50 l. from Mr. Herne, and had a Promise of 100 l.
from Sir John Smith, which was not yet paid. And lastly,
they reported that Mr. Chadwick and Mr. Herne proved
the Payment of the Money to Mr. George Finch, but could
give no account what he had done with it.
The Speaker charged with Corruption.
The Commons having debated and weighed these Reports, came to this Resolution on March 12th: That Sir
John Trevor Speaker of the House, receiving a Gratuity
of a thousand Guineas from the City of London, after passing of the Orphans Bill, is guilty of a high Crime and Misdemeanour.
Leaves the House. ; Mr. Foley chosen Speaker.
Upon this Sir John did not think fit to justify himself, but
sent the Mace to the House, and wisely absented himself.
So on March 14th the Commons resolv'd to proceed to
the Election of a new Speaker: Sir Thomas Littleton and
Paul Foley Esq; were proposed; the Majority inclined to
chuse the former; but Mr. Wharton, Comptroller of the
King's Houshold, speaking up for him with more than ordinary Zeal, the Majority did from thence presume that Sir
Thomas Littleton was too much in the Court Interest, and
upon that Prejudice only they elected Mr. Foley; who on
the next day, Friday March 15. was approved by his Majesty
on the Throne.
Sir John Trevor the late Speaker expelled.
On March 16, the Commons proceeded upon the Report
from their Committee, and resolved, 'That Sir John Trevor late Speaker of this House, being guilty of a high
Crime and Misdemeanour, by receiving a Gratuity of a
thousand Guineas from the City of London, after passing the
Orphans Bill, be expelled this House.' And so he retired to
enjoy his other beneficial Place, the Mastership of the Rolls.
Mr. Bird reprimanded on his Knees for offering Money to a Member.
On March 18, Mr. Bird made his excuse for offering
Money to a Member of the House, to present a Petition against a Bill depending in the House, and upon his Knees
had a Reprimand from Mr. Speaker. And it was then resolved, 'That whosoever shall discover any Money or other
Gratuity, given to any Member of the House, for Matters
transacted in the House, relating to the Orphans Bill, or
the East-India Company, should have the Indemnity of the
House for such Guilt.' And to carry on the needful Inquisition, they ordered, That Mr. Charles Nois, Mr. James
Smith, Mr. George Finch, Mr. Dowse, Mr. Herne, Mr.
Chiswell, and Mr. Chadwick, should attend the next Morning. They did so, and it was then resolved, that Mr.
Charles Nois having to several Persons pretended he was
out of Purse, or engaged to give great Sums of Money to
several Members of this House, in order to pass the Orphans Bill, which on his Examination he denied to have
given or promised, has been an occasion of Scandal to this
House and the Members thereof; for which he was taken into
the Custody of the Serjeant at Arms. And the House proceeding to clear and purge themselves, did soon after resolve, That
Mr. Hungerford a Member of the House, having received
twenty Guineas for his pains and service, as Chairman of the
Committee of this House to whom the Orphans Bill was
committed, is guilty of a high Crime and Misdemeanour.
Farther Proceedings of the Commons against Bribery and Corruption.
On March the 26th, the Commons proceeding on the Report relating to the Members of this House taking Money;
Resolved, That Mr. Hungerford a Member being guilty
of a high Crime and Misdemeanour, by receiving twenty
Guineas for his pains and service, as Chairman of the Committee to whom the Orphans Bill was committed, be expelled the House. And ordered, that Sir Thomas Cooke,
a Member, having refused to give an account of the
Money of the East-India Company by him distributed,
be committed Prisoner to the Tower; and a Bill be brought
in to oblige him to give such account. This Bill was presented by Mr. Bridges on March the 28th, and received
and read the first time: The next day it was read a second
time, and the Cashier to the East-India Company, according
to order, produced the Warrants for the Sums paid for special Service or Charges general.
On March the 30th, Sir Basil Firebrace delivered in an
account of Monies by him paid for the Service of the EastIndia Company; and Sir Thomas Cooke petitioned the
House, that he might be heard by Council before the Bill
do pass, which was granted.
On April the 2d, the Commons in a grand Committee
went through the Bill, and made Amendments, which were
reported the next day.
The 6th, Sir Thomas Cooke's Council were heard, and
the Bill was read a third time and passed, and sent to the
Lords for their Concurrence, where it stopt.
The 13th, their Lordships sent a Message to the Commons, desiring that Sir Thomas Cooke might be permitted
and ordered to appear at the Bar; and the Commons did
accordingly order by Warrant from the Speaker, that Sir
Thomas should attend the Lords at their Bar: Which he
did, and was by them referred to a Committee; who prevailed with him to promise a Discovery within seven Days on
condition a Bill of Indemnity should be pass'd in his favour. With this the Lords comply'd, and sent down a Bill
of that nature to the Commons, where it pass'd with some
Amendments: to which the Lords agreed April 19.
Royal Assent given to several Bills.
On the 22d of April, his Majesty gave the Royal Assent,
to the Act for Annuities: That for Duties on Marriages, Births
and Burials: That for Duties on Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate: For
the Transport-Service: And other Acts, public and private.
After which his Majesty spoke as follows:
King's short Speech.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
'I Take this Occasion to tell you, that the Season of the
Year is so far advanc'd, and the Circumstances of Affairs are so pressing, that I very earnestly recommend to
you, the speedy dispatching such Business as you think of
most Importance for the Public Good, because I must put
an end to this Session in a few Days.'
His Answer to the Address relating to the Officers in Ireland. ; And to another, concerning the Expence of the War.
The next day, Sir Henry Goodrick acquainted the House
of Commons, that their Address for obliging the Colonels
and other Officers employ'd in the Reduction of Ireland,
to account for what Money they had receiv'd to pay the Inferior Officers and Soldiers, had been presented to the King,
who was pleased to answer, 'That he had already given
Orders, as well in Flanders as in England, for the doing
what is mention'd in the Address; and that some Officers,
who neglected to comply with the Directions, had been
cashier'd; however, that he will repeat those Orders, under
the severest Penalties to such as shall disobey them.' Mr.
Comptroller Wharton acquainted the House the same day,
that their Address had been presented to his Majesty, praying,
'That his Majesty, in his great Wisdom, would please to
take care for the future, that this Kingdom be put upon an
equal Foot and Proportion with the Allies, in bearing the
Charge of the present War.' And that his Majesty was
pleased to answer in these Words, 'In this, as in every
thing else, I shall always endeavour to have a due Regard
'to the Interest, and to the Honour of the Nation.'
Sir Thomas Cooke's Account of Moneys disposed of by him for the East-India Company.
In pursuance of the Act to indemnify Sir Thomas Cooke,
a (fn. *) Committee of both Houses was appointed to receive the
Discovery to be made by him. He appeared before them on
April the 23d, and being sworn, he delivered in writing an
Account of the Disposal and Application of several large
Sums: As of 10,000 l. delivered to Francis Tyssen Esq;
12,000 l. to Mr. Richard Acton; 338 l. to Mr. Nathaniel
Molineux; 220 l. to Sir John Chardin; 350 l. to Paul Dominicque, Esq; 382 l. to Captain John Germain; 1000 Guineas
to Colonel Fitz-Patrick; 545 l. to Charles Bates, Esq; and
40,000 l. to Sir Basil Firebrace. All which Sums were said
to be paid for special Service of the East-India Company,
to defray the Charges, and acknowledge the Pains and Services of those Persons and their Friends, on solliciting to
prevent a Settlement of a new East-India Company, and to
endeavour to establish the Old; besides 500 Guineas paid to
the Attorney-General; 200 to the Sollicitor; and 200 more
to Mr. Sambrooke.
His Examination thereon.
The Original being read by Sir Thomas Cooke, the Committee conceived it was imperfect, and not such as the Act
required; and therefore they acquainted Sir Thomas, that
they expected a more particular Account from him. Upon
this Sir Thomas began to be more plain, and said; 'That
as to the first Sum of 10,000 l. paid to Mr. Tyssen, he gave
him no Directions how it should be disposed, but it was in
expectation to have the Charter of the East-India Company
confirmed; that it was intended for the Service of the King,
tho' he could not say the King had it; but he believed, that
Mr. Tyssen told him, that he delivered it to Sir Josiah Child,
who presented it to his Majesty, as a customary Present;
for the like had been done in former Reigns, as by the
Books of the Company might appear. That as to the 12,000 l.
next mentioned, it was paid to Mr. Richard Acton, who declared, he had several Friends capable of doing great Service to the Company's Affairs, and several of them would
speak with Parliament-men; that he could not particularize
who they were, but the End aimed at, was to get an Act of
Parliament. That Mr. Acton did again say, he could tell
some Persons employed in that Affair; that he did understand
that this Money was to be laid out for promoting their Affairs in Parliament: That he could not say to whom it was
given, but understood it went no further than the House of
Commons; and that he found no good Fruit by such Distributions. As to the 338 l. paid to Mr. Molineux, Sir Thomas said, that Mr. Molineux told him this Money was to be
disposed of to the Lord Rivers; but since his Confinement,
Molineux had told him that my Lord never had it, but he
had made use of it himself. As to the 1000 Guineas paid
to Mr. Fitzpatrick deceased, Fitzpatrick told him, he had a
great Interest with the Lord Nottingham, that he would
try what he could do, and he did not doubt but he might do
great Services, provided he had such a Sum of Money; yet
he believed, Fitzpatrick kept the Money himself, and that
there was a Promise of a further Sum, if the Act for a new
Company did not pass. That the 345 l. was to be paid to
Mr. Charles Bates when the Charter was settled, and was
accordingly in October 1693; that he had no Acquaintance
with Mr. Bates: But Sir Basil Firebrace told him, that Bates
had Acquaintance with several Lords, and named the Marquis of Carmarthen, now Duke of Leeds. That as to the
first 10,000 l. paid to Sir Basil Firebrace in November, 1693.
it was always his Apprehension, that Sir Basil kept it for
himself, to recompense his Losses in the interloping Trade:
And as to the several other Sums, compleating the Sum of
thirty thousand Pounds paid to Sir Basil, he presumed he
had occasion to distribute it to several Persons. As to the
Sums paid to Sir John Chardin and Mr. Dominicque, he
believed they were expended in the Company's Service.
As to the 382 l. to Captain Germain, it was paid to bring
him off from the Interlopers, and engage him in the Company's Interest.
Reported to the House.
On April the 24th, Mr. Comptroller reported this Examination to the House of Commons; upon which the Debates
were very warm.
Debates on that Occasion.
'A. Inform'd the House that Earl Rivers, who upon the
Examination was said to have receiv'd 300 and odd Pounds
of the Money, protested he never had a Penny, and tho' he
was now of another House, he had the same Esteem and
Honour for this House as heretofore; and that he had mov'd
the House of Lords, and they had sent for Molineux, who
had said he had receiv'd that Money.'
'B. Observ'd, that as to all the little Sums, Sir Thomas
Cook knew very well to whom they were given, but he
could never learn to whom Sir Basil Firebrace deliver'd the
Money he had receiv'd; for Sir Basil would not give him
any Account of that Matter, tho' often ask'd by him to do it.
Acton would have told him, and he would not hear him, so
between these two we were sawn. You have it among you,
'C. Took notice of Sir Thomas Cook's long Preamble,
that he had inspected his Powers, reduc'd his Account into
Writing, and deliver'd it in that Paper. Whereupon he was
examin'd by the Committee, and it was with great difficulty
that what they had was drawn from him. As to the first
10,000 l. they had but an Hearsay: Tyssen told him, he
gave it Sir Josiah Child, who said he gave it the King. [And
here note by the way, that in the fore-mention'd Examination it was said to be a customary Present; and that in King
Charles's and other Reigns, the like had been done for several Years, as appears by the Company's Books.] As to the
second 10,000 l. to Acton, he proffer'd to tell him the Particulars, and he was unwilling to hear him; but did not
doubt but Acton would give a particular and satisfactory
Account of all distributed by him; and yet at the same Moment being ask'd where and in what Condition this Acton
was, he declar'd he was a distracted Man, and not able to
give the House any Account at all. As to the 40,000 l. to
Firebrace, he believ'd he kept 10,000 l. for himself, and
for the rest he refus'd to tell him to whom, or for what, or
when it was issu'd. That he mention'd Contracts to the Value
of 60,000 l. on account of procuring a new Charter, and
also 40,000 l. for an Act of Parliament. They were not
Fools, but they parted with their Money very easily, their
Proprietors were little beholden to them.'
'D Said, No Man is innocent, if every Man was guilty;
the Members could not be innocent, if they did not lay
their hands on these Men, that had betray'd them and the
Company, and he hoped themselves; he would have them
go as far as they could, then they should not be in fault; and
mov'd that Firebrace and Acton should be order'd to attend
the next Day.'
'E. Seconded the Motion, and mov'd that they should
not forget a Member of their own, who was accus'd for receiving a considerable Sum.'
Conference of both Houses.
In the midst of these Debates, a Message came from the
Lords, desiring a present Conference in the Painted-Chamber; which was immediately had. Their Lordships proposed, that all future Examinations of any of the Persons
mentioned in the Report of Sir Thomas Cooke, be had before a Committee of both Houses. To which the Commons
Examination of Sir Basil Firebrace, in a Committee of both Houses.
This Committee met the same day: And Sir Basil Firebrace there deposed, that the first ten thousand Pounds were
given to him, as a Gratuity for his Losses, some time before
the Charter for the East-India Company passed: That ten
thousand more was received by him, by virtue of a Contract
with Sir Thomas Cooke, for Favours and Services done. That
the Stock at the time of the Contract valued at 150 l. per
Cent. falling afterwards to 100 per Cent. the Difference was
thirty thousand pounds; which they made up to him. He
was positive, the 10,000 l. and 30,000 l. were for himself,
and for the Use of no other Person, except 500 l. paid to
Mr. Powell, because he had good Interest amongst the Interlopers. The Committee asked Sir Basil, What particular
Service he did, or was to do, for procuring a new Charter?
To which he answered, that he was unwilling to take too
much upon himself: that he thought he did great Service
to the Company in solliciting their Cause; but wished he
might be excused to another time, being now much indisposed.
The next day, Sir Basil Firebrace being again examined,
further deposed, 'That having had a Treaty with Mr. Bates,
whom he thought able to do Service in passing the Charter,
and to have Acquaintance with several Persons of Honour; he
gave two Notes for 5500 Guineas to Mr. Atwell, payable to
Mr. Bates or Bearer; one Note for 3000 Pounds, the other
for 2500 Guineas, intended for the doing Business. That
he had these Notes from Sir Thomas Cooke, and was accountable to him for the same: That he believed Sir Thomas did not know how these Notes were to be disposed of;
but that he had told Sir Thomas, that Mr. Bates had Acquaintance with several Lords; naming the Lord President,
and others. That the Deponent could not tell who this
Money was designed for, or what Bates did with it, for that
Bates would not deal on such Terms of telling Names.
That Bates did introduce him several times to the Lord
President; who made some Scruples in point of Law, which
were removed by the Attorney-General. That one day last
Week, the five thousand Guineas were offered by Bates
back again to him; Bates saying, that this might make a
Noise. That on Tuesday last, 4400 Guineas were brought to
this Deponent; and that the other 400 Guineas were still in
Bates's hands.—That they found great Stops in the Charters, which they apprehended proceeded sometimes from my
Lord Nottingham, and sometimes from others. That Colonel
Fitz-Patrick received a thousand Guineas on the same
Terms with others, if the Charter passed. That he pretended great Interest with the Lord Nottingham; and that
he could get Information from the Lady Derby, how the
Queen's Pleasure was. That Colonel Fitz-Patrick said, he
would try to prevail with the Lord Nottingham, for five
thousand Guineas upon passing the Charter, and five thousand
Pounds on the Act of Parliament: But that the Earl of Nottingham absolutely refused to take it. That the Deponent
heard, a Note signed by Sir Josiah Child, and Sir Thomas
Cooke, for fifty thousand Pounds, was lodged in Tyssen's
hands for about a Year, to be paid in case the Act passed;
and that it was refused, as he understood, by my Lord Portland, to whom he had offered it.'
Deposition of Mr. Acton.
Mr. Richard Acton being examined before the same Committee deposed, that he received the Sums of ten thousand,
and two thousand Pounds of Sir Thomas Cooke: That he
told Sir Thomas, he had Friends who would take pains to
do the Company Service; but they would have ten thousand
Pounds. That he had two thousand Pounds for his Trouble
in attending two Sessions; and that if the Bill for a new
Company had passed, he was to have had nothing. That
he did not distribute the ten thousand Pounds to Members,
but to those who had Interest with Members. That some of
them to whom he gave Money to be distributed, were Mr.
Craggs, with whom this Deponent was concerned in cloathing the Army, Mr. Wallis, Mr. Ridley, Mr. Dominicque,
&c. and that Colonel Goldwell, and Colonel Dean, (who
were since dead) were the only Persons which he himself
gave Money to.
Deposition of Mr. Bates.
The next day, April 26th, the Committee of both Houses
proceeded upon the Examination of the rest of the Persons
mentioned in their Report, and Mr. Bates being sworn, deposed, that Sir Basil Firebrace did apply himself to him, to
use his Interest for obtaining a Charter for the East-India
Company, the old Charter being forfeited, and told him,
they would be grateful: That the Deponent did use his Interest with the Lord President, who said, he would do what
Service he could. That the Lord President had delivered
his Opinion publicly, for confirming the Charter; and thought
the Forfeiture a Hardship. That having received Notes for
five thousand five hundred Guineas, he told the Lord President what Sum he had, and would have pressed it upon my
Lord, but he refused it. That thereupon in regard he could
not very well tell Money himself, he did ask leave of my
Lord, that his Servant might tell the Money; to which my
Lord answered, he gave leave, and accordingly Monsieur
Robart did receive the Money. That after Monsicur Robart had received it, he brought the same to the Deponent,
in whose Possession it remained, till he paid 4400 Guineas
thereof back again to Sir Basil. That as to the 600 Guineas
remaining of the 5000, he said he had spent some of them.
That the Reason he paid back the 4400 Guineas, was the
Noise that it made; and that People might think that he
did not deserve them; and that the whole 5500 Guineas,
were for his own private Use. However, being soon after
re-examined he owned, that the 4400 Guineas which he
paid back, were brought to him by Monsieur Robart.
Sir Basil Firebrace re-examined.
Sir Basil Firebrace being once more examined, deposed,
That Sir Thomas Cooke, and others, observing him active,
and to have Interest among Noblemen, applied themselves to
him to endeavour the procuring a new Charter. That Sir
Thomas Cooke was apprehensive, that it stuck with the
Duke of Leeds; and told the Deponent, that some way
must be found out to the Duke. That he thereupon applied
himself to Mr. Bates, who would not pretend to talk with the
Duke; but said, the Deponent must tell him what the Company would do. That he told Mr. Bates, he thought a Present might be made of 2 or 3000 l. That Mr. Bates told him,
he went to St. James's, and said he had spoke with his
Friend; and that more had been offered him by the other
side: And that at another time Bates said, that 5000 l. had
been offered him by another hand on the same side. That
it was at last agreed, that if the Duke did act in favour
of the Company, he should have 2 or 3000 Guineas,
and Bates 500 Guineas to himself. That from the time the
Notes for the 5500 Guineas were given to Bates, they had
free Access to my Lord President; and found him easy and
willing to give the Company his Assistance. That Mr. Bates
was shy, and called it, his Friend at St. James's. That the
Condition of one Draught of a Counter-Note, which Mr.
Bates brought, was worded, In case the Lord-President did
not assist the Company in passing the Charter; to which this
Deponent made an Alteration, by putting out my Lord's
Name, and making it not payable, in case the Charter should
not pass. That about a Week before the Money was brought
back again, this Deponent went to Bates about it, who then
told him, it was all for himself. That the Deponent did
intend a Distribution of the above-mentioned Sum of thirty
thousand Pound, in manner following: To Sir Edward
Seymour, Sir John Trevor, and Mr. Guy, ten thousand
Pounds, in case the Charter and Act of Parliament passed;
to the Merchants Interlopers ten thousand Pounds, and to
himself ten thousand Pounds. That as to five thousand
Pounds, part of the said thirty thousand Pounds, he did design one third thereof to Sir Edward Seymour, one third
to Sir John Trevor, and one third to Mr. Guy. That Mr.
Guy, to whom he made the Proposal, told him, they did
not desire to meddle with the Stock, but would do any Service they could to promote getting the Charter. That Sir
Edward Seymour afterwards meeting this Deponent, chid
him for making that Proposal, and told him, he would
never have any thing to do with him, if he ever made any
such Offers. That the Deponent thought himself obliged in
honour, to pay two thirds of the five thousand Pound, when
received, to Sir John Trevor and Mr. Guy; and intended
to keep the other third, (which Sir Edward Seymour refused) for himself. And that Sir John Trevor did some
time afterwards give him some Hints of his Expectation.
Sir Josiah Child being examined, said, he never disposed
of ten Pounds of the East-India Company's. That he did
recommend it, that a Present of fifty thousand Pounds should
be made to the King, if his Majesty would so far wave his
Prerogative, that an Act of Parliament might be passed for
settling the Company; that Mr. Tyssen had told him, the
King would not meddle in that matter, as he had been informed from my Lord Portland.
Debates of the Commons thereon.
These Examinations being reported to the House of Commons, April 27. one of the Members stood up, and spoke
'A. Mr. Speaker, I conceive there is a Necessity to search
this Matter to the Bottom, the House has a Thread in their
Hands. They ought to provide Laws for the future to
prevent the Members of this House taking Money. All imaginable Endeavours have been used to stifle all Discoveries;
and Mr. Bates appears an unfortunate Person, whom the
Care of his Friend the Duke of Leeds, and the Sense of his
Oath, have caused to make such Contradictions. I move
that the House would put the Matter in such a Method, as
becomes their Justice, and as the shortness of their time will
'B. Mr. Speaker, I do fully agree with the Gentleman
near me, there never were greater and more general Instances of Corruption and Necessity of speedy Remedy. It is
very fit this House should let the World see they are in
earnest. I ask leave to put you in mind what Practice and
Arts have been used to stifle and stop your Discovery; so
that what you have, is, as it were, by the utmost Force and
Constraint; you cannot wonder at it, when you now find so
great a Man at the bottom. But there is no Person in a Post
so high, that this House cannot reach, no Man's Practice or
Art so deep that this House cannot discover. Here have
been all imaginable Endeavours used to obstruct this Enquiry; first, his Majesty's Name was made use of at the Committee, with Hopes perhaps that that might stop any further
Enquiry; and if it was made use of there, you may reasonably
expect it was made use of elsewhere. But that appear'd so
far from being a Reflection on the King, that Sir Josiah
Child often complain'd of it as a Rudeness to his Majesty,
that what other Kings had yearly as a Present, they had not
offer'd to his Majesty in three Years. It was indeed, if not
a Matter of Right, a Matter of Custom. Then a noble
Lord, who may be named for his Honour on this Occasion,
the Earl of Portland, when the great Sum of 50,000 l. was
press'd upon him, did absolutely refuse it, and told them he
would for ever be their Enemy and Opposer, if they offer'd
any such thing to him. Having thus mention'd the Innocent,
I must say somewhat of the Guilty: A Stop having been put,
the Duke of Leeds must be apply'd to. Certainly there never was a more notorious Bribery, and that in a Person,
whom we might have thought to have been free from such
a Crime; whether you respect the Greatness of his Place,
or of his former Obligations. It is fit to speak plainly on
such Occasions, that the House ought to endeavour to remove such a Person from the King's Council and Presence:
what Security can the Nation have when we are bought and
sold to one another? We have seen our Designs defeated,
our Attempts betray'd, and what wonder is it? Can any
Man think it more strange, that our Councils should be sold
abroad, than that Charters should be sold at home? Certainly a Man may reasonably believe, that he who will sell
the Subjects, will sell the Kingdom if he can have a sufficient
Bribe: what Prince can be safe in such Councils, which are
given for private Advantage? Several Proposals for a Remedy may be here offer'd, as that this House should address
his Majesty to remove the Duke of Leeds; but with Submission, an Address is too mean and too low a thing for the House
to do at this Time, and upon such an Occasion; I therefore
move we may lodge an Impeachment.'
'(Said, I wonder the Gentleman who spoke last should say,
that which he did not believe, that that Lord should have
sold our Councils to France.'
'B. Reply'd; It is with some Uneasiness I stand up; but
the Gentleman forces me to it, for I do not take pleasure to
rake in a Dunghil; I was far from saying any such thing,
but argu'd only from Possibility, that it was as reasonable to
believe one as the other. That when Honour and Justice
were not the Rule of Mens Actions, there was nothing incredible, that might be for their Advantage.'
'D. I second and agree in the Motion for an Impeachment.
'E. God alone, who can produce Light out of Darkness,
can fully discover the dark Practices in this Affair. Such
Actions as these are a Blemish, if not a Scandal to the Revolution itself. I agree in the Motion for an Impeachment.'
'F. By what Law is it a Crime to take Money at Court?'
'G. If there be no Law, it is time there should be a
Law to prevent it.'
'H. The Law of God is against him, and broke by him.
He took an Oath as a Privy-Counsellor; Justice is not to be
sold, by the Common-Law. But there are Parliaments to
punish such Crimes, and 'tis hoped there will be still.'
'F. It seems doubtful whether there be Matter in this
Report for an Impeachment; therefore before the House goes
to an Impeachment, they ought to put the Question upon
the Report, and see whether it be a Crime.'
'K. Where there is no Law, there is no Transgression.'
The Question was then put, and it was Resolv'd, That
there does appear to this House, upon the Report of the
Committee of both Houses, appointed to examine the Persons
mention'd in the Report of Sir Thomas Cooke's Account;
that there is sufficient Matter to impeach Thomas Duke of
Leeds, Lord-President of his Majesty's most honourable PrivyCouncil, of high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
The Duke of Leeds voted to be impeach'd.
Resolv'd, That Thomas Duke of Leeds, &c. be impeach'd
of high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
While the Impeachment against the Duke of Leeds was
in Agitation in the House of Commons, that Duke being inform'd of it, went immediately from the Upper to the LowerHouse, and desir'd Admittance, which was granted, and a
Chair plac'd for him within the Bar. The Speaker told him,
that the House having receiv'd Information that he desir'd
to be heard, they were ready to hear him, that there was a
Chair for his Grace to repose himself, and that he might
please to be cover'd. Then the Duke sate down, put on
his Hat, and after a little Pause arose, uncover'd himself, and
made the following Speech.
His Speech in the House of Commons.
'Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House,
'In the first place, I thank you heartily for this Favour of
hearing me. I had attended sooner, if I had had the
least Intimation what the House was upon. I wish the Dispatch thereof had not been so quick. The Occasion of my
coming is from the two Votes, upon the Report from the
Committee of both Houses; I did all I could to be inform'd
of the Particulars, but could not, nor have I any Notes. I
was earnest therein, finding myself concern'd, and hearing
of a Report, a monstrous long Report, to the end that I
might not be under the Displeasure of either or both Houses;
it is a bold Truth, but 'tis a Truth: this House had not been
sitting but for me.
'I was formerly pursu'd by this House in two Points, for
being for the French Interest and for Popery; I had then,
if I might have been heard, justify'd myself, as I hope I have
since done, and shall by all the Actions of my Life. One
Firebrace was introduc'd to me by the means of Mr. Bates
whom I have long known, and if I am not much deceiv'd
in him, I cannot believe that Gentleman would have transacted such a Matter if put upon it.
'The Evidence is but Hearsay, and I hope you will not
condemn on Hearsay. I would not take up your time by
entering into Particulars; but there is a Money-Part, as
well as a Treaty Part; and as to the Money-Part, much of
it is false, what is true I have made no Secret. I can, and
do say, that neither directly nor indirectly, upon my Faith
and Honour, have I ever touch'd one Penny of the Money.
'I observe a great deal of Pains has been taken to hook
and draw Men in this Matter by a Side-Wind, and Firebrace thinks his Merit will deserve 10,000 and 30,000 l.
this 5000 Guineas was no Part of the 40,000 l. The Committee call'd in and examin'd several Witnesses; but Firebrace, after his first Hearing, desir'd to be call'd in again
himself, contrary to all Rules, which shews at least that he
is a very willing Witness.
'I have a Thread which I hope to spin finer, and make
it appear that this was a Design laid against me, long before the naming of this Committee; that Warning was given
me some time since, that this Matter would be prov'd against
me, and that Firebrace had been told, he should be excus'd
if he would charge the Duke: I ask no Favour but your
favourable Justice. It will be a most unfortunate thing in
point of time, to be under the Displeasure of this House, or
of the Nation. I pray that no severe Sense be put on what
will bear a candid one, and that if it may be, the House
would re-consider what is done, or at least preserve me from
Cruelty; and not let me lie on the Rack and be blasted,
until the Parliament shall sit again If you will proceed, I
hope it will be speedily, for I had rather want Council,
want Time, want any thing, than be under yours or the Nation's Displeasure. I thank you again for this Favour, and
pray if you will not re-consider, that this Matter may be
brought to a Determination, and that I may have at least
your speedy Justice.'
This Speech being ended, and the Duke withdrawn, Mr.
Comptroller attended by many Members, went up to the
House of Lords with the Impeachment; and the Committee
who were join'd with the Lords, were order'd to prepare
the Articles against the Lord-President.
The House of Commons taking the Duke's Speech into
consideration, a worthy Member said,
'By this noble Lord's Speech, the Point is now, whether
the House will arraign the Committee of both Houses, or
go on with their Impeachment. This noble Lord, when he
came to the Matter, would not enter into Particulars, but
pass'd it over with Excuse of wanting Time. He makes no
Excuse as to the Facts: His Argument of a Contrivance
was, that the 5000 Guineas charg'd on him, was no Part of
the 40,000 l. Firebrace was to account for. But this is an
Aggravation of the Crime; for Sir Thomas Cooke had a
double Account, one with, and one without the 5000 Guineas; and this is an Indication, that if there was a Contrivance, it was not by the Committee, but with Sir Thomas
Cooke, to stifle the Enquiry, and conceal the Corruption.
The speedy Justice of the House is to be wish'd and desir'd.
If there is such a Contrivance, such a Thread as is mention'd
by this noble Lord, 'tis not to be doubted but the House
where he is impeach'd will clear him.'
'Another Member mov'd, That a Committee might be
appointed to withdraw, to consider what was to be done, in
order to gratify that Lord by speedy Justice. His Friend
Mr. Bates's tricking and contradicting himself, is more than
the Evidence of Firebrace. Who was his Friend? Who
was his Servant? Those were Questions not to be ask
Monsieur Robart was a Servant of my Lord-President's, and
is fled. Mr. Bates said, he kept the Money in his House?
What was become of it? Sometimes he had spent it? Sometimes it was in his Closet. He did own the Money was not
in his House on Sunday, but on Tuesday Morning, Monsieur
Robart brought it to him; but he would never declare
from whence he brought it.'
A Message from the Lords.
In the middle of these Debates, a Message was sent from
the Lords, to acquaint the House of Commons, that it was
the Opinion of their Lordships, that the Discovery made
by Sir Thomas Cooke was not satisfactory, nor so full as to
entitle him to the Benefit of the Act to indemnify him, and
that their Lordships desired the Concurrence of the Commons. They thereupon pass'd a Vote, as the Lords had
done, and sent it up by the Lord Coningesby.
Bill for imprisoning Sir Thomas Cooke, &c. ; Articles against the Duke of Leeds.
On Monday April the 29th, the Lords acquainted the
Commons that they had passed a Bill entitled, An Act for
imprisoning Sir Thomas Cooke, Sir Basil Firebrace, Charles
Bates Esq; and James Craggs, and for restraining them from
alienating their Estates, to which they desired the Concurrence of the Commons. After the reading of this Bill,
Mr. Comptroller repeated the Articles of Impeachment against the Duke of Leeds; For contracting and agreeing
with the Merchants trading to the East-Indies, or their
Agents, for 5500 Guineas, to procure them a Charter of
Confirmation, and a Charter of Regulation; or by his
Agents and Servants, with his Privity and Consent. These
Articles were agreed to by the Commons, and by their
Order sent up to the House of Peers; where, upon reading
of them, the Duke of Leeds made another Vindication of
himself much to the same purpose; adding, That this Storm
which was now fallen upon him, was some time a gathering; and it was promoted by a Faction and a Party who
had a Pique against him, and an Intention to delay the
King's Business; that he had an original Letter which gave
him an Account of this, some time before it broke out, and
it appeared only levelled against him, because none else were
prosecuted; that there appeared a Joy they could catch at
this Pretension; and that Sir Basil Firebrace was treated
with to discover only this Part, and so he should be excused
from any other Discovery. His Grace concluded with
praying a Copy of the Articles of Impeachment, and of the
Report of the Committee of both Houses, which was readily
Who puts in his Answer.
April the 30th, the Commons were acquainted by a Message
from the Lords, that the Duke of Leeds had put in his Answer
to the Articles exhibited against him, of which their Lordships had sent a Copy to them. Whereupon the Commons
ordered, That the Committee who were appointed to prepare the Articles against the Duke, should draw up a Replication to his Answer.
Message from the Lords.
On May the 1st, the ingrossed Bill from the Lords for
imprisoning Sir Thomas Cooke, &c. was read the third time
by the Commons, and sent up to the Lords by Sir Herbert
Crofts, with some Amendments. At the same time, a Message
was brought from the Lords, That their Lordships conceiving the Session may not continue much longer, they think
themselves obliged in Justice, to put the House of Commons
in mind of the Impeachment brought up against the Duke of
Leeds; to which the Answer of the Duke of Leeds having
been transmitted to the Commons, the Lords desire they may
be acquainted, when this House can be ready to make good
the Articles of the said Impeachment, to the end a certain Day
may be appointed by the Lords, for that purpose. The Commons resolved to send an Answer by Messengers of their own,
and to proceed according to the Course of Parliaments.
To offer Money, &c. to a Member voted High Crime and Misdemeanour, &c.
On May the 2d, the Commons resolved, That the Offer
of any Money, or any other Advantage to any Member of
Parliament, for the promoting any Matter whatsoever depending, or to be transacted in Parliament, was a high Crime
and Misdemeanor, and tended to the Subversion of the
English Constitution. Then Mr. Comptroller reported from
the Committee, That Monsieur Robart, who was a material Witness for making good the Articles against the Duke
of Leeds, had been summoned to attend the Committee, but
could not be found; and it not being yet known where he
was, they were of Opinion not to make any further Progress
in the matter to them referred, until they had the further
Direction of the House. Upon this Resolution agreed to by
the House, it was ordered, That Monsieur Robart should
attend the House to be examined, and should be summoned
by the Serjeant at Arms.
The 3d, Mr. Speaker of the House of Commons acquainted
them, That the Serjeant at Arms had informed him, that his
Messenger had been at the Duke of Leeds's, and spoke to
his Porter, and enquired for Monsieur Robart, to summon
him to attend this House; and that the Porter said, he was
not within, nor could tell when he would be; and that he
had not seen him for three days past; and that he believed
he was in the Country, but could not tell where.
A Conference between the two Houses.
Upon this the Commons desired a Conference with the
Lords, to which they agreed immediately in the painted
Chamber; where the Managers delivered a Paper to their
Lordships, importing that the Commons will make good
the charge against the Duke of Leeds, in Manner and Form
as in the Articles mentioned; that the Committee appointed
to draw the said Articles, had been daily employed in looking into the Evidences against the said Duke, but had met
with an Obstruction, in that Monsieur Robart, a material
Witness, was withdrawn since the Impeachment was carried
up, which hath been the Reason the Commons have not yet
acquainted their Lordships, when they can be ready to make
good the said Impeachment, the Commons being desirous that
Justice be done without any manner of delay.
On the same day, the House of Commons having read a
Report of the Committee of both Houses, proceeded towards
the Impeaching other Persons therein mentioned, and in
particular, Sir John Trevor: But they were interrupted by
the Black-Rod, and commanded to attend the King in the
House of Peers, where his Majesty was come to put an end
to the Session.
Ill State of the Coin.
We must observe, that amidst all these Disputes, a great
thing was done for the Honour and Interest of the Nation,
by redressing the bad State of the common Coin of the
Kingdom. This difficulty lay so heavy upon the Government, that a Stop was almost put to Trade and Taxes. The
current Silver Coin had for many Years began to be clipped
and adulterated; and the Mischief of late had been so secretly carried on, by a Combination of all People concerned
in the Receipt of Money, and so industriously promoted by
the Enemies of the Government, that all Pieces were so far
diminished and debased, as that five Pounds in Silver Specie
was scarce worth forty Shillings, according to the Standard:
Besides an infinite deal of Iron, Brass, or Copper, washed
over, or plated. The Nation had suffered most grievously
by this Evil, and the Cure of it could be no longer delayed,
without apparent and inevitable Ruin to the Public, and an
Obstruction to all private Commerce. Under this necessity,
the House of Commons on January 8th appointed a Committee to receive Proposals, how to prevent clipping of the
Coin of this Kingdom for the future, and the Exportation of
Mr. Scobel's Report concerning the Coinage
This Committee having sat several times, Mr. Scobel at
last reported their Opinion.
1. That the best way to prevent clipping the Silver-Coin,
was to new coin the same into milled Money.
2. That 1,000,000 l. was a sufficient Sum to make good
the Deficiency of the present clipped Coin of this Kingdom.
3. That the Money hereafter to be coined should be of
the present weight and fineness.
4. That the Crown Piece should go for 5 s. and 6 d. and
the Half-Crown for 2 s. and 9 d.
5. That all Money to be coined, under the Denomination
of the Half-crown should have a Remedy of six Pence in the
6. That for as much of the present Coin as any Person
brought into the Mint, he should have Weight for Weight,
and the overplus by a Bill or Ticket at — per cent. on a Fund
to be appropriated for that purpose.
7. That the present Laws against clipping be enforced
by some Additions.
8. That all Persons whose Professions require such like
Tools or Engines, as may be made use of for Coining or
Clipping, be obliged to register their Names and Places of
Abode, and that it should be penal on such as should neglect
to do the same.
9. That it be penal to all such Persons, as give more for
any Silver-Coin, than it ought to go for by Law.
10. That it be penal to all such Persons on whom Clippings
11. That no Presses, such as are used for Coining, be in
any other Place than his Majesty's Mint.
12. That it be penal in all such Persons as shall import
any clipt or counterfeit Money.
13. That it be penal in any Person to export English Bullion, and the Proof to lie upon the Exporter.
14. That it be penal in any Person to counterfeit any foreign Mark upon Bullion.
This Report lay some time neglected in the House of
Commons; till the Lords had passed an Act To prevent
counterfeiting and clipping the current Coin of this Kingdom; and
on March the 19th sent it down to the Commons for their
Concurrence. Then the former Resolutions of the Committee were taken into Consideration, and out of them several Amendments were inserted in the Lords Bill; to
which Amendments the Lords agreed, and so made that most
expedient Act ready for the Royal Assent.
Royal Assent given to several Bills.
In the midst of these Debates (fn. *) , the King came to the
House of Peers and gave the Royal Assent to the Act For
Duties on Glass Wares, Coals and Culm. An Act For a general
Pardon. An Act To prevent counterfeiting and clipping the
Coin. An Act For imprisoning Sir Thomas Cook, Sir Basil
Firebrace, Charles Bates Esq; and James Craggs, and restraining
them from alienating their Estates. But a Clause was inserted
to enable Sir Basil Firebrace, who was then about marrying
his Daughter to the Earl of Denbigh, to give her a Sum
not exceeding 20,000 l. in Portion.
His Majesty closed the Session with the following Speech.
The King's Speech.
'My Lords and Gentlemen,
'I am come to give you Thanks for the Supplies provided for carrying on the War, in which we are engaged;
and at the same time to conclude this Session, which cannot be continued longer, without manifest Prejudice to the
Ends for which these Supplies are given: The Season of
the Year making it so necessary for me to be abroad, that
it were to be wished our Business at home would have allowed me to have been there sooner.
'I will take care to place the Administration of Affairs
during my Absence, in such Persons on whose Care and
Fidelity I can entirely depend: And I doubt not, my Lords
and Gentlemen, but every one of you in your several
Stations, will be assisting to them. This is what I require
of you, and that you be more than ordinarily vigilant in
preserving the public Peace.'
Then the Lord-Keeper, by his Majesty's Command, said,
My Lords and Gentlemen, It is his Majesty's Royal
Will and Pleasure, that this Parliament should be prorogued
to Tuesday the eighteenth Day of June next; and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Tuesday the eighteenth
Day of June next.
On July 13th, his Majesty ordered a Proclamation to be
published, for dissolving the present Parliament, and issuing
out of Writs for the calling a new Parliament, to begin at
Westminster on November 22d.