Tuesday, November 7, 1693.
[The Parliament met, when his Majesty, in the House of
Lords, made the following Speech to both Houses:
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
"I am always glad to meet you here, and I could heartily
wish that our satisfaction were not lessened at present, by reflecting upon the Disadvantages we have received this Year at
Land, and the Miscarriages in our Affairs at Sea. I think, it
is evident, that the former was only occasioned by the great
number of our Enemies, which exceeded ours in all Places:
For what relates to the latter, (which has brought so great a
Disgrace upon the Nation,) I have resented it extremely; and
as I will take care that those who have not done their Duty
shall be punished, so I am resolved to use my utmost endeavours, that our Power at Sea may be rightly managed for the
future: And it will well deserve your consideration, whether
we are not defective both in the number of our Shipping, and
in proper Ports to the Westward, for the better annoying
our Enemies, and protecting our Trade, which is so essential
to the welfare of this Kingdom.
"I am very sensible of the good affection wherewith you
have always assisted me to support the Charges of the War,
which have been very great; and yet I am persuaded, that the
Experience of this Summer is sufficient to convince us all, that,
to arrive at a good end of it, there will be a necessity of increasing onr Forces, both by Sea and Land, the next Year.
Our Allies have resolved to add to theirs; and I will not doubt,
but you will have such regard to the present exigency, as that,
you will give me a suitable Supply to enable me to do the like:
I must therefore earnestly recommend it to you, Gentlemen of the
Honse of Commons, to take such timely Resolutions, as that
your Supplies may be effectual, and our Preparations so forward,
as will be necessary both for the Security and the Honour of
The House being returned, adjourned to Monday.]
Monday, November 13.
On the King's Speech.
Mr Foley.] The King's Speech is short, but of two
parts, viz. The Disadvantage our Forces have had at
Land, and the Miscarriage at Sea. Considering the
time of the Year, and the condition of the Navy,
that is the greatest Consideration, and first to be considered. But before we give Supply, the condition of
Affairs is to be considered, and the Miscarriage the last
Summer. They cannot excuse themselves. Our Enemies are enriched by our Losses. If the Miscarriages
had been before considered, it might have prevented
much. We had a powerful Fleet; had they done their
Duty, they might have destroyed the French Fleet; but
instead of that, we have had great Losses, and are
become a scorn and contempt to other Nations. We
do not our Duty to the King, and the Nation, and
what all the World expects from us, if we examine not
the Miscarriages. But before we can know where to lay
the fault, it is requisite that we have the Papers before
us. I move for a short day to consider the Miscarriages
of the Fleet, and Navy-Affairs.
Mr Charles Montagu.] I like what is moved; and
for what day you will appoint, I am as ready as any
body. I am one of those that think that you have been
downright betrayed. I know not who did it, but
am sure it is strange, that the French King should
leave five hundred Miles of his Shore exposed, and
draw off all his Fleet: That plainly shows he had some
good assurances. But I would not postpone the greatest matter. The King says, "the Enemy is stronger
than he considerably in Land-Forces," and that was the
only Reason of his Disappointment. Some of our
Countrymen did not behave themselves so well as they
should. But, being deserted by the Foreigners, 'tis no
wonder that they shifted for themselves, for their own
safety. I have observed, that the English are contrary
to all the World; they are frighted into their wits.
A Party was suspected formerly to carry on Popish designs; another complied with the present temper,
Popery: Whereas, then we had no Deliverer—We must
not expect another Deliverer. I wish Gentlemen would
lay aside all little heats, and fooleries, and lay their
hands to the great Affair. If we do not suddenly provide for our safety, the Enemy will be much forwarder
than we. I hope we shall be quicker in our Resolutions. Several things retard our Proceedings—One is,
Places. A noble example lately of my Lord Keeper, in
disposing his Places! I wish all Places were well filled,
and that men would not thrust themselves into Offices,
and never look after them. 'Tis high time to come to
some Resolution. We have more Enemies than we
had last Year. I move, for your Reputation, that you
will resolve to support the King, and defend the Government, and assist them in a Parliamentary way for
carrying on the War with France, and supporting the
Sir Thomas Clarges reads part of the King's Speech reflecting on the Miscarriages.] I am sorry any body should
be so unhappy as to prostitute the Honour of the King.
Where the Reputation of the King sinks, the King
sinks with it. Unhappy Ministers that advised the
King to head such Armies, as are not for his Reputation! If they think they can be governed without
him, they may say they will not be governed with him.
Kings formerly had their Council with them in foreign
Expeditions, This may be the last meeting in this
Assembly, if we provide not better for our safety.
Littleton told you, "That, formerly, the Pensioners
perverted good Laws;" pray God 'tis not so still !
I find some, who arraigned the former times, now in
Offices; generally such People are distrusted—The
Trade of the Nation is gone, and Land will be worth
nothing, if Trade be not supported. By Trade, London makes up your Rents. I always told you, that
our safety is the Sea—In 1692, the Navy was two
Millions in Arrear. It was said heretofore, "That we
should be Monarchs of the Sea;" but for all I see,
we are like to be Vassals, and bow to other Nations.
I hope you will particularise the Miscarriages. You
have lost a Million of Capital Stock in the City of
London, besides the Ships you have furnished to your Enemies. It is come to a moot Point, whether we shall
save England or Flanders. I think we are undone, if
we go not by the ancient way of Parliament, to address that our Grievances may be redressed before we
give Aid; which is the natural way of aiding the King.
The King told us, when he came over, "That we
should make such Laws, that we should never fear our
Liberties;" but God knows, we are betrayed; and if
there be such unhappy men to take Money to betray
their Country, find them out. We have some resemblance to the first Christianity, where were twelve Apostles, and one of them was a Devil: He kept the
Purse; for thirty Pieces of Silver he betrayed his
Master: And that will betray us, and by that we shall
lose all our Privileges. I should enlarge farther, but
I hope Gentlemen of greater Abilities will supply
me: But I move, as before, for a day to consider the
Miscarriages of the Fleet.
Sir John Thompson.] All of us come here full of
Affection to serve our King and Country; but it must
be confessed, that never Parliament was under such
discouragements as we are; but would it not
grieve any Englishman, that the Treasure of the Nation should be spent in such extravagant Bounties, and
Pensions to Foreigners ? A man must no more talk
of Miscarriages at Court, than of News in the Camp.
Do but consider the last Session; our Bills for the Security of the Nation, all proved abortive. Though
we have had so many gracious Promises, they all
languish under disappointment of Performances. Have
we not seen Preferments, as if the displeasure of this
House were the greatest Letters of Recommendation?
Lord Torrington was questioned, and tried for
his Life; yet he brought home the Fleet. Admiral
Russel fought, and was accused when he came home.
I hope, whatever is said abroad, that Persons will not
be so mollified with Places, as to betray their Country.
Sir John Lowther.] Upon the deliberation of the
House all will depend. Miscarriages have been unfortunate, but must be proved, and then I shall concur to punishments. But do not judge men before
they be heard—They are said to be Judas's, "because
they carry the Purse"—As to Offices, can the Nation
subsist without Offices? If you can find honest Officers,
encourage them; if otherwise, prove them, and make
them examples to others. What will Men think of
us, if, in these great exigencies, we complain, and no
more? The Treasury have had no assistance from the
Commissioners of Accounts—When we consider, that the
last money came short; we can never answer it to our
Country. We in our Ports, when the Enemy was at
Sea! I am indifferent which Question you put first;
whether you will examine the Faults, or give the King
Supply. Do all the parts requisite to the Government, and take the Questions together, and I hope
you will not preclude any thing; but, amidst your discontents, do not ruin the Nation.
Sir Edward Hussey.] In the last Session, the Triennial
Bill was rejected: I would know who advised that, and
the delay of the Smyrna Fleet? Former Parliaments
had Grievances redressed before they gave Money. I
move, to consider the Miscarriages of the Fleet last
On the Miscarriages of the Fleet.
Sis Edward Seymour.] It is a great dissatisfaction to
enter into this Debate. One consideration weighs more
with me than all; without Supply, for support of the
Government, we are lost. Here is an Account prepared
for you, to see that the Money is not mis-spent, for the
use of the Nation. I say, with the greatest sadness,
that we have lost the Discipline of the Fleet, and, I
am afraid, our Honour too—The House will never go
along chearfully, till enquiry be made into Miscarriages. Words have done no good, of a vigorous War
against France; but I fear it may be termed a vigorous War against England. I move to add to the
Question, "That we will support the Government to
the utmost of our Power."
Colonel Titus.] A great Sum was given last Year to
set out the Fleet, which brought home nothing but
infamy. The Fleet should have convoyed the Turkey
Fleet out of danger, and it convoyed them into danger. They fiddled and danced at Torbay, and we must
pay the Music. If you enquire not into these Miscarriages, you will be as popular a Parliament as the
Fleet is a Fleet. But be angry, and sin not, and revenge the Quarrel upon yourselves. Your case now
is to satisfy your justice, and provide for your safety at
the same time. But it is an affront to the Government
to take care of Trade, and none of the Government;
therefore, I would put in the Words, &c.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] Shall it ever be said, to
the disgrace of the House of Commons, that we do
not examine Miscarriages? The affections of the People are not changed to the King, but accidents in Government that prove unfortunate, You are told, "If
you have not a greater care than formerly, your Money will be of no effect;" but let us not be ensnared
by any Vote to take away the freedom of Debate. I
conclude, "For the Preservation of the Government,
and Trade of the Nation."
Mr Howe.] I think none so simple as to think an
English Parliament will not support an English Government. The Words offered for the Question are so
large, they include all things. I will not say, nor any
man, there are not Miscarriages; but they must not be
called Misfortunes. I think the Opposition of the
two violent Parties is equally honest, and equally well
intentioned to the Government. I care not which is
uppermost; if they be uppermost they care not what
becomes of the Government, if they have safety in
their own animosities. It is to this we may attribute
all our Misfortunes. Let us show the Nation, that it is
worth preserving. As to the faults of the Fleet, one part
lies upon one, and another upon another. Prop the
Building first, and then enquire where the defect is.
[Resolved, Nem. con. That this House will support their Majesties and their Government, and will, on Wednesday morning
next, enquire into the Miscarriages of the Fleet the last Summer; and take into their Consideration the Preservation of the
Trade of the Nation.
Ordered, That the Commissioners of the Admiralty (who
are Members of this House) do, on Wednesday morning next,
inform the House, why the Streights Fleet was stopped till the
main Fleet went out.
Ordered, That the Admirals, that commanded the Fleet last
Summer, and Sir George Rooke, and the Turkey Company, or
such as they shall appoint, do attend this House on Wednesday
[November 14 Omitted.]
Wednesday, November 15.
The Turkey Company, according to Order, gave an Account,
at the Bar, of the Orders for the failing of the Fleet, and the
number of Dutch and English Ships for the Convoy.
[Sir George Rooke informed the Speaker, by Letter, that he was
very ill, and could not at present attend the House. So he was
ordered to attend, together with the other Admirals, on Friday.]
Thursday, November 16.
[Mr Foley, from the Commissioners for taking the Public Accounts, presented to the House a State of what Money had been
given for maintenance of the Fleet during the War, and what
they had received thereof.]
Sir Thomas Clarges.] Misapplication of Money by Assignments—But one Reason may be, the Treasury cannot resist superior Commands; and one great Reason of
this misapplying is, the Commissioners of the Treasury
are not upon Oath. Formerly, in King James I's
time, there were Commissioners of the Treasury, till
a Lord Treasurer was named, but now not to be
upon Oath, and to have the disposition of all the
King's Treasury!—I hope you will consider of it. At
the Grand Committee for the Fleet, I believe there
was a Million owing to the Navy. All issues are for
service done, and to be done, and that makes the confusion. I hope, there will be remedy for the future.
Many of the Seamen take service from the King of
France. If some remedy be not taken to provide for
and encourage the Seamen, they will desert.
Mr Montagu.] I suppose no man can expect any
great matter from a Paper read, as has been said, tumultuously. I have been but two Years in the Treasury, but I find the great occasion was, the first Year
of all, a great Debt was left upon the Navy.—And so
went on upon that Subject.
Several of the Treasury, and Commissioners of Accounts,
spoke to it.
[Friday, November 17.
The Turkey Company presented to the House a Narrative, in
writing, of what they declared on Wednesday at the Bar of the
Lord Falkland presented also several Papers relating to the
Instructions and Orders concerning the Turkey Fleet, &c. And
the Admirals, that commanded the Fleet last Summer (fn. 1) , being
called in, delivered the results of the Council of War, and a Narrative of their Proceedings, &c.
Sir George Rooke, being so lame of the Gout, that he could not
stand, was brought to the Bar in a Chair, where he delivered a
Narrative of his Proceedings, &c. And (in respect of his indisposition) he was then dismissed for the present.
Resolved, That, upon Examination of the Miscarriage of the
Fleet, and the loss the Turkey Company hath sustained this
Summer, this House is of Opinion, That there hath been a notorious and treacherous
(fn. 2) mismanagement in that Affair.
To proceed on Monday.
Saturday, November 18.
Lord Falkland presented to the House an Estimate of the
Charge of the Navy for the Year 1694, amounting to
2,346,132 l. for 118 Ships, and 40,000 Men.
Resolved, That 400,000 l. be granted to their Majesties, towards a Supply for Maintenance of the Fleet for the Year 1694.]
Monday, November 20.
[On the Miscarriages of the Fleet.]
Lord Falkland.] We have now an Admiral, and are
without a Secretary. If Mr Russel be put in, the Secretary (Nottingham) will go out. The Commissioners
of the Admiralty sent for an Account of the Execution
of their Orders; and that Account was not sent for a
long time after. They ought either to have executed
their Orders, or sent word why they did not. Two things
were to be considered by the Fleet, the Coast of England
to be guarded, and the Streights Fleet—They knew
nothing of the Mediterranean Fleet, nor the Brest Fleet;
and so the Admirals did neither. If Orders were found
impracticable, with respect to the Board, they ought
to have had notice. The Council of War thought
them impracticable: If they were ill Orders, why was
it not represented? If good, why not obeyed? The
loss was a great misfortune to the Nation, and all by
mismanagement. It was a great Charge for Sir George
Rooke to be sent away without Orders—Such a chain of
Causes all along, that I cannot think all this was done
by Chance. If some Course be not taken, all will be
lost, and it is no where to be done but here. Those
that sit at the Helm, how can they serve the Kingdom
and King James too?
[Ordered, That the Admirals do attend to-morrow.]
Tuesday, November 21.
Admiral Killegrew gave an Account of what Lord Falkland
charged, and Rutter's Information was read. He was ordered
to be sent for, and confronted with the Admirals.
Captain Kerr, who took Rutter.] He gave no Account
to the Admirals of the Brest Fleet being out, nor to me, nor to
any of my Company. I took him pretending to exchange Prisoners at Nantz, but he brought Currants from Nantz, &c.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] By the Act, there is to be no correspondence with France, and this Rutter was employed
to exchange Prisoners, and then falls to trade with
France, with Currants from Nantz. He tells you a
story, but that has little weight upon me, if he
be not a Man of Credit. How many have sworn in
Westminster-Hall, and yet stood in the Pillory!
Mr. Hampden.] I have observed, that an unreasonable Defence, as well as an unreasonable Accusation,
will prejudice a Man. I never saw this Rutter, but
you have his Examination, and his Answer, upon Oath.
It seems, it is thought slight because Rutter gives it—
I observe, that it is strange, he should be so long with
the Admirals, and not utter fix Words of the Brest
Fleet being out; which makes me think him not so
candid and ingenuous as he should be. As I would accuse nobody, so I would condemn nobody, hand over
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Rutter might hear at Nantz
that the French Fleet was laid up—He says, upon Oath,
"It was not so much as enquired by the Admirals,
what became of the French Fleet."
Mr Montagu.] I would have Rutter's Information
read, because some heard it not—It was a little too
forward, to accuse Rutter before you heard him.
Mr Foley.] I have read Rutter's Affidavit, and I
think it is the fairest way to have Rutter and the Admirals face to face, and then you are ripe for Judgment. I would send for Rutter presently.
[Rutter's Information was read, and he was ordered to be
Sir Edward Seymour.] Since observation has been
made, why the Admirals did not confront the Evidence
sooner, [I would ask,] whether they had any notice that
such Information was made? Without the best Evidence in the World, I would not have the Admirals
discouraged in their Service.
[They were ordered to attend again the next day.]
Wednesday, November 22.
[Debate on the Miscarriages of the Fleet resumed.]
Mr Papillon.] The Admirals had nine Weeks Provision. The Captains give still less Provision in than
they have—They have had, upon all accounts, rather
more than less.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] You cannot have who is
in the right, or who is in the wrong, till you have the
Account. There should be an Indenture betwixt the
Purser and the Victualler, who understands always the
Purser—There has been great clamour, that they had
Mr Montagu.] You have delivered your Opinion,
"That there has been a traiterous Mismanagement,
&c."I think it proper to hear the Admirals; a thing
so much discoursed upon! I believe the Admirals are
ready to give you account. Rooke's Misfortune was
the 17th of June—They came not till the 22d; and
might have had Beverage upon the Portugal Coasts.
Col. Cornwall.] They were ready, with a fair Wind,
from the 6th of June to the 14th. Why so great a
Fleet as seventy-five capital Ships, and make no use of
that Wind to go over to the Coasts of France ?
Mons. Tourville was not ready to come out. This I
take to be the ground of all, not hindering the Enemy from coming out; and, instead of that, did not
sail till the 3d of May.
Sir John Parsons.] This will appear a lame excuse
of the Admirals—They were ordered four months
Mr Wharton.] I am of opinion with Parsons, "That
want of Victuals is a lame excuse." I would ask the
Admirals, when they parted with Rooke, whether they
took any survey of what Provisions they had on
The Admirals [Killegrew, Delaval, and Shovel] at the Bar.
The Speaker.] What day did the three Admirals
go on board the Fleet?
The Admirals.] We beg the favour to have the Questions
in writing. We went on board the latter end of April.
Question. From April to the 22d of May, what survey was taken of Provisions?
Answer. The Ships were not all together; they were in several Ports. We cannot make Answer to the survey, till we
look over our Papers. There were seventy-five great Ships at
Spithead, on the 6th or 7th of May—It was the 13th or 14th
before the Dutch came in.
The Speaker.] The House is informed, that, from
the 6th of May to the 14th, the Wind was fair to come
before Brest, to prevent the French coming forth.
Answer.] Our Orders came not to our hands till the 20th.
So great a number of Ships do great mischief to one another,
when the weather is not settled. Our Orders were to take
Rooke into our company. He answered, "He wanted some
Provisions." He wrote to the Commissioners of the Admiralty,
and we could not sail till the 30th. The Wind was against
us—Several Ships were ready, but they wanted Provisions. But
it can never be expected, that we should keep account of our
Provisions. We issue out our Orders to every Flag, and they
to the Captains, who return the wants to the Admiralty-board.
Question. To what time did the Provisions last?
Admiral Killegrew.] 'Tis impossible to give an Answer to
that. I hope this House will exact nothing impossible from
us. We came to Torbay the 21st. We cannot carry Numbers
in our heads—We sent a particular account to the Admiralty
of all Ships, from Torbay, when we got all our Ships together—
We took account of the Captains, two or three days after
parting from Rooke—For account of Beer, we cannot rummage
the Ships; for other Victuals, we took account but in part.
Question. When you were surprized that your Instructions were contrary to the Council of War, did
you represent it?
Answer. We received our Orders the 20th, and called another Council of War, and resolved to sail the 24th; but the
Wind was not good; and hearing nothing from the Council,
we supposed them to be their Orders. We took it to be our
duty to obey Orders. We thought it not fit to capitulate. When
we had positive Orders we must obey.
Question. Why did you part with the Turkey Fleet,
before you knew whether the French were come out?
Answer.] We had Instructions to go as far with Rooke as
we thought necessary; and the Resolution of the Council of
War was our Opinion—Though we knew the French Fleet
was out, yet we were to obey Orders—We find we are
mightily blamed for our Orders to Rooke—All our Opinions
were, that it was an improper Order, and not to be executed—
We all desire to give our Answers to the Questions in Writing. They withdrew.
Lord Falkland.] They answer, "They had no Orders till the 19th of May." 'Tis true, there were no
Orders till then for Rooke; but they had Orders, in
March, "That they should do their best to annoy the
Enemy"—They tell you, "They had no account of
their Provisions but at random."—But did ever men
go to sea, without knowing what Provisions they had
on board?—'Tis easy for a man to know from the
Pursers. They tell you, "They were surprized with
the Orders of the 14th;" and they say, "It was not
their business to capitulate."—They had the Turkey
Fleet in their hands—They say, "Their Orders were
not practicable;" and yet not represent it!—We never
heard this the 15th of May, nor the 23d. We never heard
of it till July—How could we give those Orders, without knowing whether the French Fleet was out? There
was no impossible thing required of them, the Wind
and Weather permitting. Their fault was, they did
not know whether the French Fleet was out, and not
they that gave the Orders.
Sir John Parsons.] This might have been easily
rectified, without rummaging the Ship, by the Purser's
Indentures in Kind, Credit, and ready Money. I was
formerly a Commissioner of the Victualling-Office, but
now a Contractor. I thank God, I was no Commissioner
during these Miscarriages.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] I have heard the Commissioners of the Navy make great complaint of the
Victuallers. You are told of "Credit, and ready Money."—I think it no great "Credit" for Papillon to
imitate Parsons. There is something of this that we
do not know, which I would enquire of from the
Commissioners of the Navy. I would know, from
Falkland, whether all were ordered to go together?
I think it was the Opinion given by all the Flag-Officers, to deliver to the Admiralty what their Opinion
was—Upon the 19th comes the Order, by his Majesty's Command, before whom this Opinion of the
Council of War was. I wonder that an Order came,
and no notice taken of their Opinion, a thing of so
great weight!—Upon this Order, transmitted to the
Admiralty, they conclude to conduct the Turkey Fleet
to Ushant. Now, in business of so great moment, why
were not their directions from the Admiralty? There
were no Instructions before the Separation.—But I
think it was to justify themselves, come what will. I
think the Order was a very lame Order. If the Resolution was not well grounded, they ought to have had
Lord Falkland.] They had full power to sail when
they thought fit. We have no reason to think the Orders were not practicable, because they said they would
be executed. We could not know whether the French
Fleet was got out; but they should have known it.
This is only that we should be kept in the dark—
This shows they would neither obey the Orders, nor
Mr Smith.] Supposing the Orders ambiguous, they
never sent to desire those Orders to be explained; but
sailed away without it.
Mr Montagu.] You have examined the Admirals
to one particular point. The excuse, in defence of the
Admirals, is, "That they had not Provisions:" If they
had, then 'tis their fault. Pray first consider that
You have asked the Admirals several Questions. They
make exact Answers to some things, and are short in
others—To take account of Provisions, surely, is not
the part of an Admiral—If they had had their quantity,
they might have fought the French Fleet, and then
any Country would have given them Credit. I propose this Question, "That there was a sufficient quantity of Beer to convoy the Turkey Fleet out of these Seas."
Sir John Lowther.] None of the Victuallers say the
Fleet had four Months Provisions. When the Lords of
the Council went down to the Fleet, they were so far from
being victualled, that they were still carrying on board.
Lord Falkland.] The Admirals confessed they had
forty-eight days Beer on board.
Mr Foley.] I find, upon the whole matter, that one
third of the Victuals were not delivered in kind. They
had all other Provisions; but the Beer is the Question.
The Return made by the Pursers to the Admiralty,
was forty-three days Provision—They might have fallen
in with Rooke, at that time. But I observe that this
survey of the Beer was not till the Admirals parted
from Rooke. The mischief of allowing this way of
victualling will be of great inconvenience—Because the
Victual was so strait, they stayed till it was too late
to go. The Victuallers had two Men of War to convoy them to Plymouth; but a French Privateer took
two, and they looked on.
Sir John Parsons.] They had express Orders to victual for four months—As soon as they came to Sea,
they put six men to four mens allowance; which might
have been Victual till Christmas. But I am apt to believe there was not so much—The whole of the Beer,
for four months, was put on board the Ships for the
Mr Finch.] Give me leave to remind you, how this
Debate began, and how it has been proceeded in—
1. You have adjourned hearing Rutter. Then the Book
of Orders for Reasons why they stayed at Torbay, and
did not go out, pursuant to Orders—Then the state
of the Victuals in May. Then you called in the Admirals, and asked, Why they stayed from the 6th to
the 16th, and did not go out? "1. They were not
under Orders." "2. The Line of Battle was not full.
And, "3. They wanted Victuals." I remember, it was
said, "They were under general Orders to annoy the
Enemy;" if they had advice of it, then how pursued?
When that comes, you have opportunity to search that
to the bottom. This is a Question that involves the
consideration of the whole matter, which depends not
upon the Victual. How far they were to go to convoy
them from the Brest Fleet, and Toulon Squadron;
whether they were to go to Cadiz, or how to proceed
with respect to the Toulon Squadron, you will understand better, when Gentlemen please to open that
matter. This does accuse, or excuse those Persons.
As to the Victuals, the matter is of weight. Now, whether these Ships had reason to stay in Torbay, for want
of Victuals? Therefore have the Commissioners of
the Navy to give you account what Victuals were on
board. The Question is not, what Beer was on board
them for Lagos-Bay, but whether, by Order, they were
to part from the Fleet at Cadiz, or go farther.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I make no doubt but their
Orders were "to annoy the Enemy," if they met with
no opposition but Wind and Weather—But as to the
Victuals, when setting out the Fleet, I called for an
Account; and the Victuals were said to be for four
Months; but now 'tis explained, "that a third part
was in Specie, a third part in Credit, and a third
part in Money." As long as this is so, 'tis impossible
to say what Provisions were on board. If they went off
from the Coast, at Sea they could neither have Victuals
for Money—Therefore have the Commissioners of the
Navy before you, and know what was on board in
Specie. What I mean is, the Columns of Indenture
between Purser and Victualler. If so, then the Victual
in Specie is only for five Weeks.
Sir John Lowther.] See the Account of the Victuallers, and the Survey taken on board; then you will
see, by comparing, to make a judgment. I agree
with Wharton, "that there are several other things as
material;" but as for this Question, you are not ripe,
by any means, for it; you have not the matter before
you; the Gentlemen have better information than
myself, that are ready for this Question about victualling.
The Admirals deny the matter of fact, and that is not
The Speaker.] The Objection against the Question
is, "That there is not yet given in what Victuals they
had in Specie." What Beer they had at Torbay you
have not. The Question is, "Whether they had sufficient Beer to convoy Rooke out of danger?"
Mr Boyle. (fn. 3) ] You have not yet Evidence to give a
Vote upon; and therefore put the previous Question.
[To proceed on Monday.]
[November 23, 24, and 25, Omitted.]
Monday, November 27.
[Debate on the Miscarriages of the Fleet resumed,]
The Commissioners of the Navy being called in, said, "The
Fleet had forty-six days Beer."
Mr Howe.] I would not give my Vote, like the Admirals, that go to Sea with oracular Instructions.
Mr Comptroller Wharton.] Whether the Admirals
had Beer enough to go to Sea, to carry the Smyrna
Fleet out of danger? Whether they had Provision
enough to keep out to Sea, to convoy the Smyrna
Fleet out of danger? Whether they obeyed their Orders like wise men, and honest men, to leave the Turkey Fleet before they were out of danger? is your
Mr Finch.] Is this a proper Question, and fit to
be put? If they had no Orders, and knew not where
the French Fleet were, 'tis not the Question—The
meaning of the Question is, having thirty-nine days
Provision, to convoy them out of danger of the Brest-Fleet—But they were not out of danger of the Toulon
Squadron. Had they Provision sufficient to convoy
them from the Brest Fleet, and Toulon Squadron? So
this Question supposes they had Orders, and that they
knew the French Fleet was in Lagos-Bay.
Sir Robert Rich.] Something was spoken, by Finch,
of "the rubbish part of Palmes's Speech." I have
seen "rubbish" make good mortar. Suppose they had
said, "they wanted nothing but Anchors and Cables"—
The Commissioners of the Navy have told you, "they
had full Victual." If Orders were good, and they not
in a capacity of obeying them——
Mr Sollicitor Trevor.] One Excuse of the Admirals
is, they wanted Victuals—Consider what the Admirals
have for their justification! The want of Victuals.
This Question will justify the Victuallers, but not
condemn the Admirals. But when this Question is
over, then 'tis a proper time to enquire, whether that
proportion was sufficient.
Mr Montagu.] When you adjourned the Debate,
it was because you had not the whole matter before
you. If this Question before you be not proper, no
Question can be proper. When you find they had
sufficient Provision, &c. the next is, what Orders?—
They had sufficient Provision to prevent France from
over-heading us again, and they might have done it.
Lagos is a great and deep Bay, and they might have
preserved the Smyrna Fleet from danger, and the whole
Lord Falkland.] There is more concern in the Question than the Admirals. If they had not Provision
sufficient, the fault is somewhere; if they had not Orders, somewhere else—Rooke's Fleet fell into the French
hands eleven days after the Admirals left the Fleet.
Sir Robert Rich.] The most eminent Merchants never
feared the Toulon Squadron. Rooke had strength enough
to fight the Toulon Squadron. Most of the opinion of
the Merchants was, that the Count D'Estrees was as
much afraid of Rooke, as Rooke of him.
Sir William Whitlock.] I wonder the Admiralty
should not give directions to convoy them out of danger
of the Toulon Squadron, as well as of the Brest; they,
it seems, thought as much of the one as the other.
[Resolved, (on a Division, 188 to 152) That there was sufficient Beer on board the main Fleet, when Sir George Rooke
separated, to have convoyed Sir George Rooke's Squadron, and
the Merchant-Ships, out of danger of the Brest Fleet.]
Wednesday, November 28.
An ingrossed Bill for more frequent Elections of Parliaments, (brought in by Mr Brockman) was read the third time.
Sir John Lowther.] Declare the matter of the King's
Negative Voice, and let the word "holden" stand.
Mr Harley.] I am for the word "Parliament holden,"
because you are possessed of it; and it is not for the
interest of England to part with a word, in so many
Laws made use of.
Sir Robert Rich.] A doubt arises from them against
the word, that the King's Prerogative of dissolving
Parliaments is taken away; but if it be only meant
and intended, that a Parliament must be every year,
if others intend something else, let them say so.
Lord Falkland.] This Bill is of great consequence;
the intent of it is good, and to have frequent Sessions
of Parliaments, and a new Parliament. I am for the
intent of the Clause. Instead of the word "holden,"
I move, that it may be a Parliament to meet once a year,
Mr Montagu.] To the word, "declare." If it be
the intention for annual Sessions, give me leave to offer
my opinion why I am against it. Though those Acts
mentioned do enjoin it, yet there have been no complaints for not calling Parliaments so frequently. In
King James I's time, when the Commons did insert all
their rights and liberties, they make no mention of these
laws. But the Constitution of the Nation was quite otherwise then, for the Parliament judged causes, and made
explanations of Laws, upon the desire of the Judges,
which now they do in Westminster-Hall: But to determine to meet actually, whether there be occasion, or
not, I think not proper.
Mr Harley.] I keep strictly to the word "declare."
You have been told that no complaints have been made,
that those have not been annual Sessions; but there
were complaints for want of Parliaments, and so enacted
50 Edward III, "That there should be annual Parliaments. There was an Act already, and it should be
observed." The Bishop of St Asaph opened the Parliament from the King—That there were not frequent
Parliaments, but as for that of King James I, they tell
the King, "that if Kings were immortal, they had no
need of such Laws," but they proceeded farther; "they
know not what Kings may come, therefore to provide
against oppressions"—The Prerogative always increases,
but the Liberties of the People are at a stand.
Sir Edward Seymour.] I could wish our condition such,
that we might support the Government, without Parliament. I would willingly bate my share in Parliament
to have a share in that condition. I am not very fond
of these words, because we had them three or four hundred years ago, and are never the better for them. Is
the Prerogative of the Crown less than in Edward II's
time? At that time all the Laws of a Parliament were
but one Law, in Items. In those times the King took
one and rejected another, and so the Judges were
in doubt, what passed for a Law, and what not. Some
Laws that passed are not in the Roll. Will you put
in a word that may be doubtful, when there is no
need of it? I know not what improvement may be
made, in time to come, of a word doubtful.
Sir Charles Porter
(fn. 5) .] I think it absolutely necessary
that this be put to some certainty; else Parliaments would
be in power to sit as long as they please, and the King
not have power to prorogue nor adjourn them. If
you pass this Clause without a plain explanation, it may
be of ill consequence. I would so explain it, that it
may not be a question hereafter. Sometimes the Crown,
and sometimes the Commons, differ in expressions of
words, and this is a word that may be fundamental. I
move that this may be so explained, that what you intend
may not encroach upon the Prerogative of the King.
Sir Christ. Musgrave.] You have no Clause before you,
only the word, "declare;" that word is only moved.
I see no reason of the difficulty why you should not insert the word, "declare." Is it not always meant, you
have a right when you declare? It was a right the subjects had to frequent Parliaments; and if you now enact,
and not declare, I fear your right commences from that
Mr Palmes.] Frequent Parliaments, and the Dissolution of this, was the thing I aimed at before, and so I
[The Clause was rejected 129 to 89. And the Bill was
rejected, 146 to 136.]
[On the King's Speech.]
Mr Hampden.] You have considered the Fleet, and
another part of the King's Speech, very material, viz.
The Land Forces, is behind. Unless you grant a Supply, I know not how you can support the Government,
the Treasury is so low. Nothing at all has yet been
said of it. 'Tis so necessary to have a consideration of
it, that I move, That you would grant the King a Supply for the Land Forces.
Earl of Ranelagh.] I second the Motion. I must
tell you, the Army is in very ill condition. In their
quarters in Flanders they have no money, and no credit.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] A Supply is moved for, but I
cannot allow we have an Army in Flanders; you have
no obligation to have an Army in Flanders. Vast sums
have gone thither, which can never return; besides our
loss at Sea. If the Privy-Council advises not the King,
we must do it. Had we attended the Sea, the French
could have done little in Flanders. It goes to my heart
that the King of England should be at the head of a
Confederate Armies. I hope that, when it comes to be
debated, you will think the Army is for defence of the
Kingdom. We had no assistance in conquering Ireland
from the Confederates; we needed them not—The year's
expence of Cromwell's Army was but 600,000 l. If we
come to that pass that our Army cannot preserve us,
we shall be a despised people—By the fundamental Law
of England, no Englishman can be forced out of England, without his own consent. Men have been found
sent to the Tower, that would not go beyond sea, and
if well proved you might impeach the Lieutenant of
the Tower. In the year 1672, France took three of
their Provinces—The Duke of Brandenbourg sent then
30,000 men, and now but 6000—They took the three
Provinces again, and made a good Peace for themselves—
The Hollanders rather get than lose by this War—They
provide for our Army, and their own too—Butter,
Cheese, &c. If two Millions go out of your main stock,
what will become of you? Let us not talk of giving
money, and not know where to raise it, to the derision
of all the World.
Sir Edward Seymour.] Time is too precious to delay.
I wonder what Clarges understands the Parliament should
make exceptions to. What these Land-Forces are, and
how to employ them to another purpose—I move, That
a Supply may be granted for the Land-Forces.
Col. Cornwall.] I ask pardon if I do not very well
understand the Question. If you mean to supply the
Army as the Fleet, I can come up to it. I desire they
may have 3 or 400,000 l. for present supply.
The Speaker.] You cannot go into that Motion without going into a Grand Committee.
Sir Christopher Musgrave.] You can only make a
Motion, and then consider whether you will go into a
Committee of the whole House.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] Seymour said, "I spoke little to
the purpose." I am so used to reflections that I take
little notice of them. When Lord Ranelagh brought up
the Forces to be 60,000 men, I thought it my duty not
to let that go so. I observe that, when the Apostles
spoke the truth of the Word, it was opposed by
the Silversmiths that made the Shrines for Diana's
Earl of Ranelagh.] Though he makes that comparison, I am sorry for reflections—As for the 60,000, I
said nothing of 60,000 men. You voted 54,000
last Session. I said, "The Forces in Flanders are in a
starving condition for the present." What is proper
to be done now, is only, That a Motion being made, &c.
this House will consider of that Motion.
Wednesday, November 29.
[Debate on the Miscarriages resumed.]
John Rutter was called in.
The Speaker.] This House has been informed that you
can give account of the Brest Fleet, &c.
Rutter.] I have given my Narrative upon Oath made to the
Council. When I was before Admiral Killegrew, taken as a
Prize, for taking in Currants from Nants, without Orders, I said,
"I had done nothing but what I had orders for the 7th of
May." In the morning I discovered six of the French Fleet,
at anchor, and heard a Gun to give signal—I was carried before
the Admirals, and gave account of fifteen sail of French, and four
more sail—I saw that nobody took notice of what I said—He
took my Pass from betwixt his fingers, and bid me withdraw—
Killegrew was hot upon me about my loading—Shovel did ask
me something, what it was I cannot say; I believe something
of what I did see, and discover. He took my Pass, and so I did
withdraw. Capt. Kerr was by, at some part of it, but his business was to get me as a Prize, which would be worth 2000 l.
to him. He said nothing, but "that I must deliver my loading
to the Prize-Office." Capt. Kerr met me on the Deck, when
I did withdraw; only his Lieutenant came on board my Ship.
I am not able to say what passed from Kerr, but being distracted
about my Prize, I cannot remember—I met some coming out
of the Channel, I suppose the Smyrna Fleet—I told it my Ship's
Company—I am not able to say whether I did discourse of it
to Capt. Barker, Captain of the St Vincent Fire-Ship, but I
supposed I might say something to him—'Twas spoken often
amongst my Ship's Company—They might have some Prizes
coming out of Dunkirk. I observed some Ships coming out of
Brest, just as the Sun came from the Horizon—I had eleven Sailors in my Ship—I had two more that were sick in the Cabbins.
I told my Ship's Company, who were most sick and dying, I
would make all the haste I could to Conquest-Road—I met with a
Privateer, a tier of 6 Guns and 10 Patteraroes—The Lieutenant
told me he was chased the day before, and if they had followed,
he must have been taken—I never related any thing to Capt.
Kerr, that the Brest Fleet was sailed up—I came ashore at
Portsmouth the 14th of May—I came not up hither in three
weeks—As soon as I came up, I went to the Prize-Office about
my Cargo of three or four Ton of Currants taken from me. I
was in the Prize Office, with Mr Parkhurst, and told him, in the
Garden, the same I have done here. Major Churchill was concerned in the Cargo, and one Mr Alston. I was at Portsmouth
some days after I landed—Mr Alston can give account of the
time—I did sign my examination before the Council. No
person whatever has been with me to make good this examination.
Mr Parkhurst.] There was a sale of these Currants on the
14th—Hearing what he had said of the French Fleet, I was willing
to hear him, and he gave us this relation, as you have heard—
All his men were sick, but three, and he had not men to sail
his Ship—He got one.
Rutter.] I told Capt. Kerr, "That someShips were stirring, and
if I did not make sail, I must bury my sick men"—I suppose
then the French Fleet were out, and I told my Mate, Castle—
They came out of Nantz River on the 6th, and I saw this on
the 7th—All my Company but two and a boy were buried at
Nantz. Capt. Kerr would have pressed my men, but I had
none, but my two Prisoners that I brought from Nantz, and
two men and a boy. The rest were all sick. My Ship was
The Speaker.] Why did not you discover this intelligence to others besides Mr Parkhurst, and Major
Rutter.] I do not remember—I have been a Seaman these
30 Years, born in the Isle of Thanet, by the North Foreland.
I have been Master, and Mate, 20 Years and upwards; have
been eight years employed by Sir William Scawen, and Alderman Lucy, and others. I have traded in the French trade
21 Years and upwards. I have served 20 Years apprentice to a
Fisherman, and have my Neighbours ready to give account of
my conversation. Several Neighbours and Merchants can testify of me—I saw fifteen sail, and four more coming out of
Brest to windward, before the Wind, almost together. He
Sir William Scawen.] I have known Rutter these eight
Years, and he has always served me very honestly, and
has the same repute upon the Exchange.
Serjeant Thurban.] I have known this Rutter these
19 Years. He lives in Ramsgate within the Jurisdiction
of my Borough. I have had no dealing with the man,
but I always have heard a good Character of him. I
have heard this from his Neighbours, and all give credit
to his information.
Sir Samuel Barnardiston.] I enquired after him on the
Exchange, and have not heard a better Character of any
Col. Lee.] I know not whether his Character will
answer your expectation of Gentlemen. Upon the Revolution he behaved himself bravely. He applied himself
to his owners to be a Privateer, who could never get
any account from him, and so were not willing to let
him be a Privateer.
Sir John Fleete.] I have no particular acquaintance with
the man, but I have heard of him, to be an honest man,
by all that have dealt with him.
Mr Machell.] I'll tell you a fault that perhaps this
man cannot get off from, viz. That he took Lord Peterborough prisoner.
Mr Howe.] I shall only make this observation, that
I have known many pass for very honest Gentlemen, and,
in this corrupt town, five or six years ago, they have
proved otherwise. I reflect not upon the man, but let
every one judge.
Daniel Castle.] I was Rutter's Mate. Under St Matthew's
Point, the 7th of May, Rutter said, "He saw some Ships at
anchor, and some under sail, and heard a Gun for more Ships"
Rutter ordered to loose the Main-sail, and steer, for fear of being
stopped. I saw the Ships, when I was with Rutter on the Deck.
Hearing the Guns fired, we made all the sail we could. We
took them to be part of the French Fleet. I heard twentyfive Guns fired, as more came out. The two Prisoners that
were aboard us, saw it. They assisted us in bringing home
our Ship, and a Carpenter, a Prisoner; the rest of the Ship's crew
were sick and weak in the Cabins. We took them to be a
Squadron of the main Fleet. I did not acquaint any person
with what I saw, but believe my Captain did on board the
Lenox, and the Flag. I remember Captain Kerr came on board
our Ship, but I was not well when he came on board—There
was such a discourse in France that their Ships were unrigged.
But they were pressing men—The Lenox took us as Prize, and
carried us to Portsmouth. A French Privateer, off from the
Lizard, told us he had been chased, and that either his Mast, or
Yard, was broken, but I heard nothing of the reason why the
Lenox did not take him. I was carried on board the Lenox,
and the two Prisoners. I was never examined, nor ever acquainted any with what I saw, nor had any discourse. I came
ashore on May 14. I was three days on board the Lenox. I
discoursed with no man there, and came to London. Our Ship
was an hundred and odd Tons; we had eight or nine men to
Major Churchill, of Portsmouth] Rutter has been employed by
me to carry French and English Prisoners. I asked him "what
was the news?" He told me, "the Brest Squadron was out:
Five were at anchor, and four more were coming out." He
said, "He was carried on board the Admirals, and gave them
account of it." He told this to me, and twenty more, at Portsmouth. I believe it ten days after his coming, and soon after the
Lords of the Council went away, I did tell this to abundance
of friends, and relations, I had in town. Rutter told it, I
believe, twenty times, in Company of Captain Barker, and Mr
Alston. I have known Rutter above nine months—He observed,
"That fifteen more French Ships were coming out, and by
firing their Guns he believed they might be forty sail coming
out." This discourse he had in my Compting-House, when he
came from Portsmouth, as I was writing. I heard him speak it
upon the Exchange. About the 7th of May he saw them come
out of Brest. He never made but one voyage for me before—
He persormed his voyage very well. A Broker brought him to
me at first; he was of good credit, and employed by Merchants, Owners of Ships, for several years—He was on board the
Britannia at Spithead, and acquainted the Admirals with all this
matter that he has said; the Admirals took little notice of what
he said, only Sir Cloudesly Shovel asked him several Questions, and
was very inquisitive where the French Fleet was; and he told
him all this matter.
Sir Francis Child.] Rutter did say, "That Admiral
Killegrew turned from him, and took little notice of what
he said; the rest of the Admirals were in the room, and
he addressed himself to Sir Cloudesly Shovel for his Pass."
Rutter.] In Nantz, they asked me, "where the Turkey Fleet
was?" I told them, "they were ready to set sail, with thirty Men
of War." They laughed me to scorn, and said "they knew
better." There was a discourse at St Malo's of laying up the
Fleet, but nothing at Nantz. I never said a word that the Brest
Fleet was unrigged—There was much pressing before I came
away, sending to Brest with all expedition. Captain Barker's
boat brought me on board the Britannia, with only the boat's
crew, and the Coxswain. I went immediately to the Admiral's
cabbin-door. I waited there a quarter of an hour—Some Gentlemen were standing at the cabbin-window, but said nothing. I
expected to have been asked several questions, but I heard none.
Sir John Lowther.] Now Rutter tells you, he was
asked no questions, nor gave any account of the French
Fleet, but they told him of his being called in question,
if the Parliament had sat, for carrying French Goods.
Mr Foley.] 'Tis time to make an end of this matter;
and I know not how, unless you call in the Admirals,
Carr, and Rutter, and his Mate, and confront them all
[The three Admirals and Captain Kerr were then severally called
in and confronted with Rutter. The Admirals were afterwards
called in, and heard; and then withdrew. And the Question
being put, That it does appear to this House, that the Admirals,
that commanded the Fleet the last summer, had, on the 11th
day of May last, Information that part of the Brest Fleet was
going out to Sea; it passed in the Negative, 170 to 161.]
[November 30, December 1 and 2, Omitted.]