William III: Undated 1698

Pages 441-444

Calendar of State Papers Domestic: William III, 1698. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1933.

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Undated 1698

The following undated documents are among the papers relating to the year 1698.
A brief memorandum concerning the design of uniting protestants. Signed, John Durie, minister. Endorsed, from Mr. Durie. 1¼ pp. [S.P. 32. 11. ff. 63–64.]
[1692–1694.] Proposals of Nathaniel Whetham and others with him concerned, humbly offered to the consideration of the Parliament, for increasing their Majesties' revenue, with a great ease and benefit to the subject.
The authors of the proposals following has had them by 'em these two years past, as is well known to some eminent persons who are ready to attest it; yet some person or persons have surreptitiously got the paper and proposals, and caused them to be printed and tendered to several of the worthy members of Parliament as their own, though not finished; and who are not able to give reasons, which the original proposers and authors are further ready to do, and to answer all objections when this honourable House shall think fit to appoint any to examine; it being matter not only to the advancement of their Majesties' revenue, but also of great consequence and security to the subject in general.
That whereas by an injunction of 35 H. 8. it was ordered that the church-wardens of every parish throughout England, Wales and Ireland, should keep a book for entering the exact time of all christnings, marriages, and burials, and be there kept in every church, from age to age, for resolving such doubts and redressing such inconveniencies as often arise upon the uncertainty of time, when such christnings, marriages etc. were solemnised: that notwithstanding the good design of the injunction, sundry inconveniencies have happened and daily arise through the notorious neglect of the due observance of an order of such vast consequence, viz.:
I. The imbezeling the registers or books of records by church-wardens and parish-clerks, whose livelyhood (in some places) depends only of the income of a small tiplinghouse or ale-house, exposeth them to such mischiefs as several families have cause to lament.
II. The loss of them by fire or the death of the custodian.
III. The expense and difficulty in searching after the exact time of the celebration of such marriages, christnings, etc.
Lastly the great detriment and loss that does frequently accrue (from the uncertainties of such registers so unduly kept) in matters of law, and otherwise, whereby the end of so useful an injunction is wholly perverted.
It is therefore offered that an Act of Parliament be made for a general register's office to be constituted in or about London and a subordinate office in every county in England and Wales for registering births, christnings, marriages and burials, and that church-wardens and parish clerks be obliged to make a return to the register of the county, every half year, and he to transfer it in a book every half year to the general register's office, whereto all persons may have recourse.
The conveniencies that arise to the subject from this office are very great, viz.:
I. The many abuses of those that have two wives, or more, or those who live together and are not lawfully married, will be the easier discovered and remedied.
II. The true committing of administrations to the next of kin, will be more perfectly understood and justly disposed of.
III. The nonage of all infants will be known that sell their lands and enter into bonds and assurances of debt etc. during their minority.
IV. All frauds and perjuries, which are too frequent, (and many whereof are at this day in question, notwithstanding the late Act made to prevent them) will be hereby avoided.
V. The places certain will be known where the poor were born, and what parish ought to relieve them.
VI. A manifest proof will be hereby made of the natural born subjects of this realm of England and Wales, and of aliens and strangers, whereby that common fraud at this day, and formerly practised, will be prevented, when they endeavoured to shift off the payment of duties upon imported goods as denizens, as also the double subsidy when supplies were (or may be) in that manner granted, as likewise for laying claim to other rights and inheritances contrary to the meaning of the law.
VII. A more undoubted proof may be made of the age of a party that bringeth a writ of error to reverse a fine or recognizance, or vouchee of a recovery, which is usually done by inspection, viz.: by the judges seeing the party, and giving his determinate judgment of his age, a practice altogether uncertain as well as deceitful: because, although the godfathers, or parents, do attest the age of the party at the time of the fine, or recognizance acknowledged, as aforesaid, yet such their allegations shall be of no credit, but it shall be left to the judgment of the judge, which may prove as fallible as the parties age is doubtful: whereas an exact register would be of greater authority, than such a questionable inspection of a judge.
The increase of revenue from this office will be greater.
I. If it be enacted that at the time of registering the birth or christning of every child, the parent or parents be obliged to pay sixpence, by every such parent that shall be worth in lands, or goods, ten pounds, and if worth twenty pounds, to pay one shilling, and if worth forty pounds, to pay two shillings, and if worth one hundred pounds to pay two shillings and sixpence; and for every one hundred pounds that shall be more, threepence (or sixpence) in the hundred only, as shall be judged most reasonable.
II. That every man at his marriage shall pay one penny per pound (or two pence) that he shall receive of his wife's dowry or portion, both real and personal.
III. That every executor or administrator shall after funeral charges and debts satisfied, pay one penny (or two pence) in the pound out of every pound of the yearly value of the real, and so proportionably of the personal estate of the deceased, viz.: if his real amount to £5 per annum, and his personal to £10 as aforesaid, otherwise nothing to their Majesties.
Which payments made as above will (by a modest computation) amount towards the augmentation of their Majesties revenue to 80 or £100,000 per annum, or thereabouts.
Obj. 1. But it may be objected that this register will prove of very ill consequence to the subject, in that it lays open the value of every person's estate and thereby exposes the reputation of men of trade etc.
Answer. It will make no new discovery now because all estates both real and personal are or ought to have been discovered by former Acts of Parliament, and the late Acts of Poll Money and the Land Tax; puts it out of dispute.
Obj. 2. That this office of registry will prejudice the present registers of christnings, marriages, etc., and all others depending on the registry, and who derive their profits from it, and seems to entrench on the jurisdiction of the Prerogative Courts, and those of the bishops.
Answer. That it will in no wise intrench on the just jurisdictions of the said Courts, nor injure the bishops common register, nor any person therein concerned; because the time of the birth, marriage and death, and who is heir, is only triable by common law, and not by the certificate of the ordinary: besides the ordinaries, parish clerks, etc., shall be allowed their usual fees, notwithstanding this register. Printed. 1 p. [S.P. 32. 11. f. 65.]
Proposals offered to Parliament for raising money for their Majesties service: viz. that inn-keepers, alehouse-keepers, victuallers and brandyshops take licences. [There are other similar proposals.] Printed. 1 p. [Ibid. f. 66.]
Edward Greene, living in Thames Street, to Sir Joseph Williamson, living at Cobham Hall near Gravesend; offers to furnish him with a hogshead of claret. 1 p. [Ibid. ff. 67–68.]
John Woodwaft[?] to Sir Joseph Williamson at Mount Eafram, near Tunbridge Wells: informs him that his old servant, Mr. Mandam, is out of prison and intends to be at London very suddenly to pay his respects to Sir Joseph. 1 p. [Ibid. ff. 71–72.]
Jo. Chamberlayne to [Sir Joseph Williamson]: offers to wait upon him as a gentleman of his train, and to assist his secretary. [Ibid. f. 73.]
'A new ballad to the tune of Lillybullero,' chiefly about Chancellor Methuen: seven stanzas, 1¼ pp., with a note 'for the better understanding of this.' 1 p. [Ibid. ff. 76–77.]
Memoranda of precedents on the subject of the powers of the House of Lords as to Money Bills. 1¼ pp. Annexed, Notes on Treaties. 1 p. [Ibid. ff. 78–79.]