Introduction to the Secret Service Payments
The four volumes of Secret Service Accounts kept by the Secretary
of the Treasury (successively William Jephson, Henry Guy and
William Lowndes) cover the reign of William III from 20 April,
1689 to its close and the reign of Anne from the 25th June, 1701 to
9 August, 1710: viz. as follows:
T 38. 734 (William Jephson). Vol. 1
extends from 20 April, 1689 to 5 June, 1691.
T 38. 735 (Henry Guy). Vol. 2.
extends from 3 July, 1691 to 19 April, 1695.
T 38. 736 (William Lowndes). Vol. 3.
extends from 29 April, 1695 to 23 June, 1701.
T 38. 737 (William Lowndes). Vol. 4.
extends from 25 June, 1701 to 9 August, 1710.
These dates indicate that the volumes are in unbroken sequence
and that there is no real gap, but only a quasi-interregnum interval,
between the first of them and the volume of "Secret Services of
Charles II and James II" published by the Camden Society in
1851 (Camden Society Old Series, Vol. 52). That volume extended
from 30 March 1679 to 25 December, 1688 and was drawn in the
form of a ledger account: Debit side viz: issues out of the Exchequer.
Credit side: payments made thereout to
This ledger account form is preserved in Volumes 1 and 2 of the
present series here printed. But Volumes 3 and 4 (Lowndes's
volumes) contain only the acquittances of the payees with autograph
signatures and only an intermittent skeleton statement or form of
It is clear however from the note under date 1690 October 24
infra p. 595 that Jephson kept a similar book of receipts as quite a
separate record from his mere ledger account.
In view of the pattern set up by the Camden Society's volume it
has been decided to print the material of these William III and
Anne Secret Service payments in an integral form as a separate
appendix. The alternative procedure of dispersing the entries
chronologically in and amongst the general material of the Treasury
Calendar would have destroyed the unity of the record and its value
to historians from the point of view of availability and synthetic
treatment. At the same time such a treatment would have produced
a false impression of duplication. The Treasury records proper
contain all the authorised warrants for issues of money to the various
payee agencies employed, i.e. the Secretary of the Treasury, the
Secretaries of State etc. As quite distinct from this type of entry,
these Secret Service books contain either a ledger account or the
voucher entry of the disbursement of the sums so issued, the voucher
being in each case the autograph signature of the recipient testifying
his receipt of so much on such a date and stating frequently the
service or consideration in virtue of which the payment had been
ordered to be made. Thus the two sets of entries though referring
frequently to one and the same fact or person differ very materially
in their nature.
In view of the decision to print these Secret Service Books as a
separate record in unbroken sequence it was necessary to wait until
the Treasury Calendar for the whole of William's reign was in print
before the Secret Service record for the same period could be printed.
They are here given for the whole of the reign and therefore contain
the text of Volumes I, II and III as above enumerated.
In a similar way Volume IV of this record covering the Secret
Service of the reign of Anne will be printed when the Treasury
Calendar has reached the end of that Queen's reign.
With regard to the nature of the contents of the volumes and the
light which they throw—or do not throw—on the real secret service
system of the time it is perhaps unnecessary to repeat what was
stated in the Introductions to Volume IV of the present Calendar,
pp. xlvi–xlvii and the Introduction to Calendar of Treasury Papers,
vol. 1735–8, pp. ii–xi.