CHAPTER 3: II—OFFICE OF THE PAYMASTER-GENERAL
History of the Site.
The Office of the Paymaster-General occupies, for the greater part,
the site of a portion of the old Horse Guards building, but the northern
annexe is built on the site of a house erected, soon after the Restoration, by
Sir Robert Holmes.
(i) Site of the main portion.
It has been seen (p. 9) that the north-west portion of the old Horse
Guards building was in 1713 occupied by the house and office of the Paymaster of the Forces. It would appear that from the beginning the Paymaster
was provided with a residence as well as offices. The first clear reference to
this occurs in 1676, when Sir Stephen Fox was instructed (fn. 1) to "deliver upp,
unto such Person or Persons as shall succeed you in your Office of Pay Master
of the Forces, Your two office Roomes, with Chimneys and a Clossett next to
Our Parke of St. James's, and a Lodging Roome without a Chymney. And
that you have and reserve to your use the other part of the house there, now in
your possession, for the dispatch of your affaires, and to keep your Clerkes
together untill all your Accompts are and shall be declared," and, in view of
Fox having spent £200 of his own in "makeing Conveniences in the said
house," (fn. 2) to such further time "as the said two hundred Pounds shall be
reimbursed to you by such Person or Persons as shall succeed you in your
Office." The fact that the "rooms used for the said Office" are in early
documents almost invariably described as "in the Tiltyard adjoining the
Horse Guard" (fn. 3) suggests that the building formed a more or less distinct
entity, and the suggestion is confirmed by a reference to the "house" in
1689 (fn. 4) as one of three (the other two of which were certainly quite distinct (fn. 5) )
adjoining the Horse Guards.
Sir Stephen Fox
Kip's view of Whitehall (Plate 1) shows the old Pay Office on the
Some new building apparently took place in 1693, (fn. 6) but details are
wanting. In 1732–33 the premises were entirely rebuilt. (fn. 7) The exact date
of the decision to undertake the work has not been traced, but on 20th
October, 1732, a royal warrant refers to "the Work begun by Our Order of
Rebuilding an Office for the Paymaster Gen1 of Our Forces and Stables
for Our Horse Guards," and approves a payment of £1,000 on account. (fn. 8)
The complete accounts were passed on 19th June, 1733, (fn. 9) at a total of
£3,842 10s. 11d. (including the £1,000 already paid), the work being specified
as "pulling down Rebuilding and Repairing the Office of Our Paymaster
General of Our Forces and the House thereunto belonging—The Office of
Commissary General of the Musters The Office of the Commrs of Our Royal
Hospital near Chelsea And part of the Stables of Our Horse Guards." The
sum included £44 for "the Rent of a House wherein the Office of the
Paymr Gen1 of the Forces and Commissary Gen1 of the Musters was kept for
one Year due and ending at Ladyday 1733." The work was carried out by
John Lane, Surveyor of the Horse Guards. (fn. 10)
The portion of the Horse Guards Stables thus provided was "under
the Paymaster General's Office" (see p. 22), and has now been converted to
(ii) Site of the northern annexe.
On 21st September, 1671, George Kirke, "housekeeper" of Whitehall Palace, who, in right of his office, held the custody of certain premises
in what had originally been the northern portion of the Tiltyard (see the plan
of 1670, p. 8), sold (fn. 11) to Sir Robert Holmes (fn. 12) his interest in part thereof,
described as "severall parcells of ground formerly part of the Tilt yard and
part of Walsingham Garden, whereupon the said Sir Robert Holmes hath
lately built and inclosed a yard with a Brick Wall, abutting East on the kinges
highway thirty five foote & an halfe, South on Sir Stephen Foxs Alley
thirty seven foot … North on Sir Gilbert Pickeringes house and West on
Walsingham Garden, and all those other parcells of ground from the said
new building in length Sixty one foote … forty three foot of the said
Sixty one foot fifteene foot in breadth and abbutts on the said Sir Stephen
Foxs Alley South and on Walsingham Garden North, the other Eighteene
foote next the Parke Wall but twelve foot in breadth." Sir Robert, who had
already erected a house (fn. 13) on the ground, finding that the premises belonged
to the Crown and that his title was somewhat insecure, petitioned for an
Exchequer lease, and on 25th May, 1672, obtained a grant of the premises (fn. 14)
from the Crown for thirty-one years. There is no evidence to show how long
Sir Robert himself resided at the house, but it is recorded that his brother
(Sir John Holmes) died at Sir Robert's house on 28th May, 1683. (fn. 15) This
suggests that Sir Robert was still resident, but, if so, he did not occupy the
house much longer, for the ratebooks (fn. 16) show that William Blathwayt was
there in 1686.
Sir Robert Holmes
Holmes died in 1692, leaving as his heir and executor his nephew,
Henry Holmes, who in 1702 petitioned (fn. 17) for a renewal of the lease. This was
granted on 12th July, 1703, for another term of thirty-one years. In 1729
both Henry Holmes and the Earl of Kinnoull (then sub-tenant of the house)
applied for a new lease, the former alleging that the house was now so old
that it must soon be rebuilt or substantially repaired "at a great charge." (fn. 18)
Neither was successful, and on 17th February, 1734–5, letters patent were
issued granting to Townshend Andrews a lease of the property for fifty years.
Andrews rebuilt the premises, and shortly afterwards died. His widow,
Catharine, on 9th June, 1737, disposed of the lease (fn. 19) to Sir Thomas Robinson, (fn. 20)
who on 9th August, 1753, obtained a fresh lease to make up the existing term
to fifty years. In Sir Thomas's petition (fn. 21) he states that the house was then in
the occupation of the Earl of Ashburnham. (fn. 22) In 1758 Sir Thomas sold (fn. 23)
the premises, stated to have been "late in the tenure … of Sir William
Lowther, Baronet, deceased, and now in the tenure … of Henry Lyell
Esquire," (fn. 24) to the Bishop of Bangor. (fn. 25) The Bishop (then of Lichfield) in
1769 obtained a reversionary lease of the premises for sixteen years from
9th August, 1803, and in 1770 sold the property, then "in the tenure …
of Charles Townley, Esquire," (fn. 26) to Thomas Foley. From him it passed to
Charles Townley (fn. 27) (24th June, 1774 (fn. 28) ), and on 25th March, 1775, was sold
to Richard Payne Knight (fn. 29) for £5,000. According to the latter, he "was
induced to pay so large a sum … by the pleasantness of the situation,
which commanded a view of St. James's Park." The house erected for the
First Lord of the Admiralty in 1786–8 partly obstructed this view, and in
1788 Knight petitioned the Treasury for compensation in respect of the
diminution in value of his property and for expenses incurred in connection
with the building of the First Lord's house. (fn. 30) In this, however, he was
unsuccessful. (fn. 31) In 1804 Knight applied for a further lease. In the report (fn. 32)
on his application it was pointed out that not only was the building in bad
condition (fn. 33) and built on a disadvantageous plan, but that it projected about
20 feet before the front of the First Lord's residence, and so destroyed
the effect of the regular elevation "of that new and substantial building,"
and obstructed its light and air as well as the view from the windows. It was
therefore decided not to grant a new lease, but, on the contrary, to purchase
the remainder of Knight's term, and pull the house down. On 7th August,
1805, Knight parted with his interest for the sum of £1,500. (fn. 34) The house
was soon after demolished, and on the site was erected an addition to the
John, Earl of Ashburnham
John Egerton, Bishop of Bangor
Herewith is reproduced a plan of the premises as existing in 1804. (fn. 35)
It will be noticed that it includes a slip of ground (marked by the letters a,
b, c, d) extending to the Horse Guards Parade. This, which was on the further
side of the site of the old wall of St. James's
Park, was not included in the original
grant nor in any of the subsequent leases,
but was first enclosed under the authority
of a sign manual licence granted on 10th
October, 1738, and from that date had
always been enjoyed rent free as an
appendage to the house.
Plan of house on the site of the northern annexe of the Paymaster-General's
Office, 1804. Copied from plan in the possession of H. M. Commissioners
of Crown Lands
A good representation of the
house is contained in Scott's picture of
Whitehall circa 1750 (Plate 31). It
comprised a vaulted basement storey
(retained in the present building), three
square storeys above and garrets in the
Description of the Structure.
The elevation of the PaymasterGeneral's office to Whitehall shows a
dignified treatment of brick with stone
dressings. The design displays a vertical
composition of three parts, the pedimented gable adding importance to the
centre. As has been mentioned above, the
main portion of the building was erected
in 1732–3, by John Lane. The northern
annexe was added in 1806, and efforts
were made to effect a harmony with the
main front (Plate 32).
The present stone facade to the
western front of the building was originally the park front of No. 37, Great
George Street, (fn. 36) and was taken down
and re-erected in its present position by H.M. Office of Works in 1910
(Plate 34). It took the place of a plain brick front, relieved with brick bands
at the various floor levels, as shown in the view reproduced on the next page.
Certain internal alterations were carried out at the same time, including the
provision of a new kitchen and refreshment-room on the topmost floor.
Some of the rooms have their walls panelled, and contain moulded
Room No. 1, at the ground level, was originally used as stables for
the Horse Guards. It had a brick-vaulted ceiling, which has recently been
removed and the room converted into an office.
Paymaster-General's Office, west elevation before 1910
The most important room in the building is that of the PaymasterGeneral on the ground floor. The walls are panelled in deal in two heights,
and finished with an enriched entablature comprising a modillion cornice,
a pulvinated frieze with laurel and entwined ribbons, and a moulded architrave. It should be noted that the cornice and the frieze are in plaster. The
mantelpiece, which is the central feature of the southern end of the room,
comprises a carved wood surround with a broken pedimented overmantel
(Plate 40). The northern end is divided by Ionic pilasters into three bays,
consisting of an arched recess with a doorway on either side and circular
lights over (Plate 40). The panelling was originally fixed in the house
(demolished in 1806) on the site of the northern annexe. From Plates 38)
and 39 it will be seen that it was found necessary to make certain alterations
to admit of the panelling becoming adaptable for its present position, and
that when the new western front was erected further alterations had to be
made on account of the positions and sizes of the new windows.
Room No. 1 before conversion
Room No. 1 after conversion
The lobby adjoining is panelled and has decorative features complementary to the room (Plate 41).
Room No. 10 on the first floor has the walls panelled in two heights
and finished with a moulded cornice.
Room No. 11 has the walls covered with square panelling, with a
cornice similar to that in room No. 10. The mantelpiece consists of a mitred
architrave moulding in stone around the fire opening (Plate 42).
and a good ornamental cast-iron grate (Plate 42).
Room No. 25 on the second floor has plain square panelling and
a shallow moulded cornice. The fireplace has a moulded stone architrave
and a good ornamental cast-iron grate (Plate 42).
In room No. 14 is a handsome grandfather clock in a walnut case
(Plate 41). The clock face bears the name "Windmill, London," with the
date 1710 and the Royal Arms over.
The staircase to the front portion leading from the
first to the second floor has turned balusters and a closemoulded string (Plate 43). The main staircase leading from
the hall by the Paymaster-General's room has a more substantial balustrading (Plate 43). A small winding staircase
(Plate 44). which leads out of room No. 33 on the second floor
gives access to the attics, and appears to be of an earlier date.
Paymaster-General's Office, staircase leading out of room No. 33
Condition of Repair.
The duties of the Paymaster-General, as consolidated by the Acts 5 and 6 William IV,
cap. 35 (1835), and 11 and 12 Victoria, cap. 55 (1848), comprise those carried out before the
passing of those Acts by a number of officers in the following different offices, viz.: (fn. 37)
The Army Pay Office, at Whitehall, the present site of the consolidated office.
The Navy Pay Office, in Somerset House.
The Ordnance Pay Office, in the Tower.
The Ordnance Pay Office, in Dublin.
The Office of the Paymaster-General of the Civil Services, in the Treasury.
The Office of the Paymaster of Civil Services, in Dublin.
The Office of the Paymaster at Chelsea Hospital.
The Office of the Receiver of the Constabulary, in Dublin.
The Office of the Clerk of the Bills and Receiver of Fees, at the Treasury.
The Pay Branch of the Office of Public Works and Buildings, at Whitehall.
In addition to these offices in which the payments for the respective branches of the public service
were conducted, there were also various accountants with balances in their hands who were charged
with the payment of the salaries and contingent expenses of their respective departments, and whose
payments have from time to time been transferred to the Paymaster-General.
The following is a list (fn. 38) of Paymasters of the Forces and Paymasters-General from the
Restoration to the present day. The official residence had been given up before 1836, (fn. 39) but it is
doubtful how many of the Paymasters of the Forces had availed themselves of it personally. It was
certainly at times in the occupation of a deputy.
|Paymasters of the Forces|
|1661||Sir Stephen Fox.|
|1676||Sir Henry Puckering alias Newton. (fn. 40) |
|1679||Sir Stephen Fox.|
|1680||Nicholas Johnson and William Fox. (fn. 41) |
|1685||Richard, Earl of Ranelagh.|
|1714 (fn. 42) ||Robert Walpole (afterwards Earl of Orford).|
|1715||Henry, Earl of Lincoln.|
|1721||Charles, Lord Cornwallis. (fn. 43) |
|1722||Spencer Compton (afterwards Earl of Wilmington).|
|1746||William Pitt (afterwards Earl of Chatham).|
|1755||Henry, Earl of Darlington, and Thomas Hay, called Lord Viscount Dupplin
(afterwards Earl of Kinnoull).|
|1756||Lord Dupplin and Thomas Potter.|
|1757||Henry Fox (afterwards Lord Holland).|
|1765||Frederick North, called Lord North, and George Cooke.|
|1767||George Cooke and Thomas Townshend (afterwards Viscount Sydney).|
|1784||William Wyndham Grenville (afterwards Lord Grenville).|
|1784||William Wyndham Grenville and Constantine John, Lord Mulgrave.|
|1789||Lord Mulgrave and James, Marquess of Graham.|
|1791||Dudley Ryder (afterwards Earl of Harrowby) and Thomas Steele.|
|1800||Thomas Steele and George Canning.|
|1801||Thomas Steele and Sylvester, Lord Glenbervie.|
|1803||Thomas Steele and John Hiley Addington.|
|1804||George Rose and Lord Charles Henry Somerset.|
|1806||Richard Chandos, Earl Temple, and Lord John Townshend.|
|1807||Charles Long (fn. 44) (afterwards Lord Farnborough) and Lord Charles Henry
|1813||Charles Long and Frederick John Robinson (afterwards Viscount Goderich and
Earl of Ripon).|
|1826||William Vesey Fitzgerald (afterwards Lord Fitzgerald and Vesey).|
|1830||Lord John Russell (afterwards Earl Russell).|
|1834||Sir E. Knatchbull, Bt.|
|1835||Sir Henry Parnell, Bt. (afterwards Lord Congleton).|
|1836||Sir Henry Parnell, Bt.|
|1841||Edward John Stanley (afterwards Lord Stanley of Alderley and Lord Eddisbury
|1841||Sir Edward Knatchbull, Bt.|
|1845||William Bingham Baring (afterwards Lord Ashburton).|
|1846||Thomas Babington Macaulay (afterwards Lord Macaulay).|
|1848||Granville George, Earl Granville.|
|1852||Lord Stanley of Alderley.|
|1852||Charles, Lord Colchester.|
|1852||Lord Stanley of Alderley.|
|1855||Edward Pleydell Bouverie.|
|1858||Richard, Earl of Donoughmore.|
|1859||Algernon George, Lord Lovaine (afterwards Duke of Northumberland).|
|1859||William Francis Cowper (afterwards Lord Mount-Temple).|
|1865||George J. Goschen (afterwards Viscount Goschen).|
|1866||William Monsell (afterwards Lord Emly).|
|1866||Stephen Cave (afterwards Sir Stephen Cave).|
|1868||Frederick Temple, Lord Dufferin and Clandehoye (afterwards Marquess of
Dufferin and Ava).|
|1872||Hugh Culling Eardley Childers.|
|1873||William Patrick Adam.|
|1880||Hon. David Robert Plunkett.|
|1880||George Grenfell, Lord Wolverton.|
|1885||Frederick, Earl Beauchamp.|
|1886||Thomas John Hovell, Lord Thurlow.|
|1886||Frederick, Earl Beauchamp.|
|1887||Adelbert Wellington Brownlow, Earl Brownlow.|
|1890||Victor Albert George, Earl of Jersey.|
|1891||Robert George, Lord Windsor (afterwards Earl of Plymouth).|
|1892||Charles Hayne Seale-Hayne.|
|1895||John Adrian Louis, Earl of Hopetoun.|
|1899||Charles Richard John, Duke of Marlborough.|
|1902||Sir Savile Brinton Crossley.|
|1906||Richard Knight Causton (afterwards Lord Southwark).|
|1910||Hon. Ivor Churchill Guest (afterwards Lord Ashby St. Legers and Viscount
|1912||Edward, Lord Strachie.|
|1915||Thomas Wodehouse, Lord Newton.|
|1916||Sir Joseph Compton-Rickett.|
|1919||Sir John Tudor-Walters.|
|1923||Sir William Joynson-Hicks, Bt. (afterwards Lord Brentford).|
|1923||Major A. B. Boyd-Carpenter.|
|1925||George Granville Sutherland, Duke of Sutherland.|
|1928||Richard William Alan, Earl of Onslow.|
|1929||Sydney, Lord Arnold.|
|1931||Sir John Tudor Walters.|
|1931||Ernest Henry, Lord Rochester.|
In The Council's Collection Are:
(fn. 45) Elevation to Whitehall (photograph).
(fn. 45) South elevation overlooking Horse Guards stable-yard (photograph).
(fn. 45) West elevation to park before alteration (photograph, kindly lent by the late Assistant
(fn. 45) West elevation to park as at present (photograph).
(fn. 45) General views of the Paymaster-General's room(2) (photographs).
General view of the Paymaster-General's room (photograph).
(fn. 45) Panelled room, formerly in the house on the site of the northern annexe, from
drawing preserved in the Westminster Public Library (photograph).
(fn. 45) Details of panelling of Paymaster-General's room before alterations (copy of drawing in
the possession of H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. 45) View of room formerly stables of Horse Guards.
(fn. 45) General view of lobby adjoining Paymaster-General's room (photograph).
(fn. 45) General view of main staircase adjoining Paymaster-General's room (photograph).
(fn. 45) General view of staircase to front portion, showing top flight from first to second floor
(fn. 45) Attic staircase leading from room No. 33 on second floor (photograph).
General view of room No. 3 on ground floor (photograph).
(fn. 45) General view of room No. 10 on first floor (photograph).
(fn. 45) View of mantelpiece and panelling in room No. 11 on first floor (photograph).
(fn. 45) Grandfather clock in room No. 14 (photograph).
(fn. 45) View of panelling and mantelpiece in room No. 25 (photograph).
General view of cupboards across end of room No. 33 (photograph).
Plan of basement (copy of drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. 45) Plans of ground and first floors (copy of drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of
Plan of second floor and attic plan (copy of drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of
(fn. 45) Elevation to Whitehall front (measured drawing).
(fn. 45) Elevation of west front overlooking parade ground (copy of drawing in the possession of
H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. 45) Detail of panelling in Paymaster-General's room (copy of drawing in the possession of
H.M. Office of Works).