Introduction, Part 1
The Revolution of 1688 forms the dividing line between
modern systems of government and the mediæval system,
for in the main the Tudor and Stuart conceptions of
monarchy and ideals of government were only a prolongation
of the mediæval system. The basic difference
did not express itself in the spirit of the Administration,
for at all times the English monarchs had been as patriotic
and as humane as their Parliaments, frequently indeed
much more patriotic and paternal. This assertion is as
true of the Stuarts as it is of the Tudors or of the
Plantagenets. Indeed, the time is ripe for a complete
reversal of the accepted verdict of history as to the ideals
and constitutional loyalty of the Stuart Kings.
And again, in the matter of the control of the executive
machinery of government, the revolution of 1688 did not
produce the instantaneous change which our constitutional
text books hastily formulated. It took practically another
century of development before a workable system of
Parliamentary control of the executive was evolved.
Neither Parliamentary rule nor Cabinet Government date
from 1688. They grew slowly as from that date. Indeed,
it would be a misconception to suppose that from 1688
onwards the Parliament was anxious to seize the control
of the executive. William's Parliaments showed as little
alacrity or ambition in that respect as did Charles the
Second's Parliaments : nor did William III. ever make
such magnanimous offers of surrender of the kingly prerogative
as did Charles II.
In the forlorn hope of beating down the factious,
unpatriotic opposition of the House of Commons Charles
had even offered to share with Parliament the control of
foreign policy—an amazing offer of surrender of royal
prerogative, and one which William III. would have left
the English throne rather than contemplate. Charles II.'s
Parliament declined the offer, knowing its own complete
unfitness for the task. It shirked the responsibility and
William III.'s Parliaments, though incomparably more
patriotic than Charles's, showed no whit more of prescience
or resolution in regard to this point of constitutional
Once again it would be misleading to assert that the
main point of difference between Stuart and Post-Revolution
rule lay in the fact that the control of finance passed
finally in 1688 to the Parliament. Even if we had not the
evidence of the Journals of both Houses, such an idea
would be largely negatived by the present instalment of
Treasury records. In these pages we see the King attending
the meetings of the Treasury Board just when he
pleased and nearly as often as Charles did ; and when it
is not convenient for him to attend in Whitehall he summons
the Treasury Lords to Kensington House or to
Windsor to deliberate finance with him and with other of
his Privy Councillors. Even when not present his word
is decisive whether as to personal matters or as to estimates
and expenditure, and the Treasury Lords report to him
just in the same way as the subordinate branches of the
executive report to them.
If it were necessary to express in a single phrase the
gist, the historic import, of the Revolution of 1688 it might
be admissible to assert that it lay in the passing of the
mediæval concept that the King should live of his own—
that out of "his own" income he should run the country
and should only come to Parliament for financial help on
extraordinary occasions, such as war, etc. Originally the
King's "own" hardly needed reinforcing by Parliament,
for his possessions were so extensive that he could and
actually did run the country out of his own pocket. But
as the State expanded the King's "own," his land revenues
and feudal dues and casualties, and all the droits attaching
to the prerogative became less and less adequate to the
costs of government. The methods by which the King's
"own" was thereupon reinforced by Parliament were
different at different periods : in the Stuart period it
became stereotyped as a set formal bargain between the
Crown and the Parliament. In return for the King's
surrender of this or that oppressive prerogative right the
Parliament gave to him for the whole of his reign such
and such a new source of income. This was the nature
of the abortive Great Contract between James I. and his
Parliament. Similarly at the Restoration the surrender
by the Crown of the feudal tenures and wardships in return
for a grant for life of the Hereditary Excise was arranged
as a set formal bargain between Charles II. and the
It will be at once clear that from the moment such a
concept of a formal bargain entered the constitutional
domain the King's "own" took on a different complexion.
It was no longer composed solely and entirely of his
hereditary and inalienable feudal property and rights.
Such property and rights composed henceforth only one
moiety of his own : the other moiety was what Parliament
gave him for the whole of his reign. Once granted by
Parliament this moiety was as much the King's own as
his feudal property. The Parliament never required an
account of it, and the Crown would never have consented
to give an account of it. But whereas the one was hereditary
the other was only for life. The hereditary moiety
descended with the Sovereign title itself ; the Parliamentary
moiety lapsed on the decease of the Sovereign and
had to be renewed by Parliament. It was this distinction
which enabled the constitutional lawyers of William III.'s
reign to defraud the Bankers of part of their debt.
The Courts held that Charles II. had not the right to charge
the Bankers' debt in perpetuity on the Temporary Excise.
He could charge that revenue with the Bankers' annuity
so long as he was alive, because it was his "own," but he
could not charge it in perpetuity because as a source of
revenue it lapsed with his death.
I am not concerned with the chicanery of this process
of defrauding the first registered holders of English public
funded debt. Let that pass. I am only concerned with
the concept of the King's "own." It is not a little
remarkable that our constitutional hand books overlook
the steady advance in constitutional practice and theory
which took place under the Stuarts in respect of the practice
of voting the King's "own." In the case of Charles II. and
James II. the Parliamentary proceedings connected with
the transaction were not merely formal but exhaustive.
A real and honest attempt was made by the House of
Commons to ascertain or estimate the ordinary cost of
running the country, and when an apparently reliable
figure had been arrived at an equally real and honest
attempt was made to provide such funds or sources of
income for the whole of the King's reign as would cover
that ordinary cost of government. The mere assertion of
the Parliamentary origin of this revenue and of the necessity
of Parliamentary sanction before it could be legally collected
at the commencement of the new King's reign was of far
greater constitutional importance than the impeachment
of Danby or than the device of appropriation of supply.
If the constitutional development of the 17th century
had been harmonious one would have expected progress
along the line thus marked out, and the eighteenth century
might have witnessed a gradual absorption by the House
of Commons of the financial control of the country without
any desire on its part of assuming the executive control as
well. The King might have been left in possession of his
"own" and in possession of the executive control of the
State, but with a closer dependence upon the House. If
so, the struggle between George III. and Parliament might
have been avoided.
The speculation, however, is useless, for the promising
constitutional development of Charles II.'s reign was cut
short by the Revolution of 1688. The idea of the King's
"own" was thrown aside, not at once but gradually and
tentatively and with much uncertainty : and with it there
gradually passed away the idea that the King should
run the ordinary government of the country out of his
"own." Parliament assumed the responsibility for providing
the ordinary charge of government and thereby
laid the basis for its ultimate seizure of the control of the
executive machinery of the State. And it is in this
change that lies the distinctive outstanding constitutional
achievement of the Revolution of 1688.
It is not to be supposed for a moment that the evolution
of such a new concept of government was instantaneous or
intentional or aforethought. It was only when the Civil
List separated off and assumed its later and narrower
character of a fund for the King's State that the process of
the evolution became constitutionally important : and we
only reach this stage in the reign of Anne. At the outset
the Convention Parliament evidently contemplated proceeding
in the same way as at the Restoration or at the
accession of James II., and it was only the gradual drift
of circumstance which evolved and crystallised a different
conception of financial policy.
The episode of the abolition of Hearthmoney is an apt
illustration of the general attitude of mind of the Convention
Parliament and its early debates. As this Hearthmoney
was not an "Aid" but was part of the King's
"own," the proposal for its abolition originated quite properly
with the King himself. Grey's account (Grey's
Debates, Vol. X, pp. 128-9) of the procedure followed is
very significant :—
Friday, March 1st, 1688-9.
Mr. Comptroller Wharton : I am to deliver a message
from his Majesty. The paper in my hand will
express the matter better than I am able to do it.
(The letter from the King imported "to desire the
House to regulate the abuses in collecting the
Hearthmoney ; or if it be a grievance to the
subjects, his Majesty will consent to take it away,
as the House shall advise.) I cannot but say
this is the greatest honour the King can do me to
make me a messenger of this. I have seen messages
for money, but it is the first I ever heard of of this
kind, for the King to part with a revenue. I am
to acquaint you further, a little more fully than in
this paper, viz. that the King was the first that
moved this in Council. He did it for the ease of
the people and would always do so. He and
only he is to have the honour of it.
Sir Robert Howard : It was very late, when nobody
expected any such thing, that the King made this
motion in Council. The King said "it was much
in his thoughts." I could wish the House had
heard his discourse of all this business ...
Sir Thomas Clarges : I move that both Houses would
join in an address to the King with their humble
sense and thanks ...
Sir Thomas Littleton : We cannot but have a great
sense of this gracious condescension of his Majesty,
perhaps the most grateful and the greatest grace that
has been done by any King formerly. And as this is a
great favour from his Majesty so I hope we shall take
care in due time that his Majesty may be no loser.
Col. Birch : I stand up to second not only our hearty
thanks, with the concurrence of the Lords ; but
this being such a revenue that we were in no hopes
ever to have an end of it, I would also signify this
extraordinary favour to the nation and give the
King an extraordinary compensation.
Sir Thomas Lee : I move to have an addition to the
thanks etc., "that the King need not doubt of the
affections of his people to supply his occasions from
time to time."
Mr. Hampden : First resolve on thanks etc. and then
you may add as has been moved : but not to join
the Lords in anything relating to aid the King by
way of compensation. You may appoint a Committee
to draw up the address.
On this point, therefore, the procedure was in complete
accordance with the set formal precedents of the Stuart
period. As a result of the debate the House addressed the
King to thank him for agreeing to the taking away of the
objectionable tax :
"We humbly crave leave to present this assurance
to your Majesty that we will make such grateful
and affectionate returns and be so careful of the
support of the Crown that the world may see ...
that your Majesty reigns in the hearts of the
people." (fn. 1)
That is to say that as Hearthmoney was part of the King's
"own" the removal of it must perforce take the form of
a bargain with the King and the House must in honour
undertake to replace it by an equivalent source of permanent
income. It may serve to make clear the constitutional
principle involved in this procedure if it is borne
in mind that the provision of extraordinary supply in the
form of an "Aid" to the King (for the purpose of war)
was under consideration at one and the same moment,
but the two issues were not confused. To provide an
Aid to the King for any extraordinary occasion was one
thing ; to settle the King's permanent ordinary revenue
for the whole of his reign was quite another one, and the
debates on the two were on the whole kept asunder. The
procedure would be equivalent or comparable to the
modern practice of fixing the King's Civil List at the
commencement of a new reign, but for the important
distinction that to-day there is no constitutional problem
involved in the voting of the Civil List, whereas in the
17th century the fixing of the King's revenue involved a
serious constitutional problem. In the time of William III,
and for a portion of the reign of Anne also, the Civil List
was simply a part of a bigger whole. It had not separated
off as a distinct part of the King's ordinary revenue. What
the Parliament was doing or contemplating for William III.
(just as had been the case for Charles II.) was the fixing
and the providing of the ordinary revenue of the country.
It was called the King's revenue and was to be given to
him for the whole of his reign, but it was intended to be
such a revenue as would enable him to run the ordinary
service of the country, the ordinary Army, the ordinary
Navy and the summer Guard of the seas, the ordinary
ambassadorial service, the ordinary Civil service and legal
service etc., etc., all this as well as the maintenance of the
Royal State or pure Civil List as we conceive it to-day.
Debates And Proceedings Of William's First Parliament
Relative To The Fixing Of The King's
How then did the Convention proceed? In brief, the
only constitutional hold which Parliament in February,
1688-9, thought it had over the King was to fix such an
income as would not make him independent in times of
peace ; for an independent King would probably prefer
never to call his Parliament together. It seems clear that
at the outset the obvious constitutional expedient of not
voting the King's revenue for life, but only for annual
periods, had not occurred to the Convention Parliament,
and that for a time the House of Commons persevered in
the attempt to solve the simple constitutional problem on
the old Stuart lines.
The Convention Parliament met on the 22nd January,
1688-9, but it was not until the 11th March that it passed
a vote authorising the bringing in of a Bill for the collection
until the following 24th June of all the revenue which was
legally collectable under Charles II. and James II. The
intention of such a vote was not merely to legalise the
position until a formal grant of revenue could be made,
but also to re-assert the right of the Parliament to give
such authority for collection. For at the commencement
of his reign James II. had collected the Customs and
Excise for a period of over three months before the
Parliament had granted those revenues to him and his
Parliament had proved so subservient that such (really
illegal) action on his part passed quite unchallenged.
Independently of this assertion of its right to grant or
to withhold the grant, the Parliament turned to the question
of the revenue necessary for the ordinary expense of
government. On the 26th February, 1688-9, (fn. 2) a Committee
of the whole House was ordered to consider of settling a
revenue on the King and Queen. The debate which took
place on this day, and which ended in the vote appointing
the said Committee, was one of the utmost constitutional
importance. It dealt at large with the question whether
the permanent revenue granted for life to James II. had
lapsed with the demise of the Crown, or in other words
with the departure of that monarch, or was still inherent
in him or in his successor, or in the alternative whether
it was constitutional for Parliament to re-enact it or to
re-grant it to William III., and in this latter case whether
the Convention when turned into a Parliament had the
power to so re-grant.
(fn. 3) Mr. Garroway : We heard yesterday from the gentlemen
of the long robe that the revenue is not ceased
by the demise of the King. ... If there be a doubt
upon it we must go some other way. But if you
declare the revenue settled it may end all discourses.
Sir William Williams : You are told of the long robe's
discourses of the revenue. If any doubt or question
be upon it, clear it. The measure of the matter
before you must be the revenue certain upon the
Crown and you may measure by it. I take it from
the Acts of the last Parliament (made in great
haste), which are very doubtful to me, and I
would be cleared and come speedily to a resolution
if it be a good revenue for the use of the Prince.
If not, declare it so.
Sir Thomas Clarges : I was with an honourable person
discoursing of the revenue that I was not free to
grant it for life. Learned men are of opinion that
all of the revenue granted for life of the late King
is to the benefit of this King jure coronae. If it be
so I shall acquiesce in it.
Mr. Pollexfen : What opinion I was then of I am
now and am ready to tell my reasons. If the
revenue goes not with the Crown, where is it?
Where the Crown is gone the revenue is gone. It
always goes where the public capacity goes. I
never knew the contrary. "But the revenue," it
may be said, "is granted to the King for life." I
would have the words of that Act read (which was
read). ... Then next whither must the revenue
go? Shall it go from the succesion? Then this
being granted to succession it follows the Crown
must have it for maintenance of the State and
government of the kingdom ...
Sir William Pulteney : Under favour I think estates
given to James II. are expired and determined, he
having abdicated the government and thereby the
throne become vacant. Whatever relates to James
II. is determined ... But our case stands upon
another bottom. ... 'Tis our security as well as
support of the Crown to have the revenue in our
disposal. Though I am not against granting it,
yet I would have it from three years to three years,
to secure us a Parliament ...
Serjeant Holt : ... If King James be alive the
revenue continues : and who must take it? The
King [William III.] takes it in his political capacity,
which is not dead but remains. If King James
be still alive I see no reason that the revenue is
determined. ... I hope you will not say the King
is dead as to the vacancy of the throne and alive
as to the revenue.
Mr. Peyton Ventris : I should be 10th the King's
revenue should depend upon doubt. Revenue given
to the King is to his successors where the Act runs
"the King shall be paid it." ...
Sir Robert Sawyer : There are three sorts of revenue,
some for life, and some for successors etc. The
only question is that for life and admitted in his
political capacity, but with limitation for his natural
life ; 'tis not so long as he shall continue King but
for his natural life. 'Tis argued "that any grant to
the King in his political capacity is now determined
that carries a trust with it." Other gentlemen
say "this is but in the nature of an ordinary
conveyance." ... If it be granted to the King in
his political capacity it goes with the King in present.
'Tis most plain the trust is for the public. ...
Sir John Guise : What is given to the King I conceive
is not as he is King but for the support of the
nation, to take care of it. If so given, then 'tis
not the King going away who was to receive it.
'Tis not come to be nothing, but is fallen upon the
Lords and Commons. ... Therefore I would declare
it in the King.
Lord Falkland : Being settled on King James for life,
you cannot do it for King William during King
James's life. You have declared the throne vacant.
... If the revenue did cease when the throne was
vacant, I know not how it can be revived but by
Act of Parliament. ...
Sir George Treby : ... I think 'tis mighty plain that
this crown is an hereditary crown. ... I have
spoken of this [matter of the revenue] variously
and was not determined in my thoughts till this
morning, but now am of opinion it rests in the
life of James II. From the opinion of the last
Parliament and of this too the revenue is of inheritance
of years and life. That upon which the question
arises is that of the Customs and half the
Excise given to the King and limited to his life
... which implies that 'twill go to his successor,
notwithstanding his demise or abdication ...
When the Prince of Orange was happily arrived
and the Lords and Commons were summoned they
advised the Prince to take the administration of
affairs upon him, civil and military, and the public
revenue. He put out a declaration of the great
disorder in collecting the Customs and appointed
officers to receive and collect the same till the
22nd of January, the time the Convention was to
meet. Then you addressed him with thanks and
desired him to continue the receiving the revenue,
which could have no other interpretation than what
revenue was then in being, and it is strange it
should not be continued and [in all this there is
implied] nothing of consent in Parliament. ...
Sir Thomas Clarges : I do not labour this, but I offer
only that if there be any doubt you will put it
Mr. Howe : One would have the revenue [to be]
during King James's life and another during King
William's. But I would make no such leases but
from time to time by Parliament. I hope Westminster
Hall shall never decide our purses, what we
are to give ...
Mr. Godolphin : I am willing to divide with both
opinions. I believe that Parliament that gave this
revenue intended not to give it to King William,
for there were no thoughts then of King James's
abdication. If any doubt be in the House it is in
your power to put it out of doubt.
Sir Jonathan Jennings : It is highly necessary to come
to an end of this debate. There have been many
cases put, and I hope some come up to our case.
We are told "some of the revenue is for years and
some for life and is in the present King as it was
in King James." ...
Sir William Williams : What is given of this nature
is the gift of the Commons only and the Crown is
to take it as it is given. The people are the donors,
the King is the donee. All agree 'tis in the Crown
as a trust. Be it either way, I propose "that you
will give it to the King for three years."
Sir Richard Temple : You have had a long debate
and 'tis hard to know what to advise you in this
case. You have heard the gentlemen of the long
robe who tell you "the revenue is still in being
and applicable to King William ; but you must
still declare it in King William by Act of Parliament,"
meaning should you do it by vote alone it will not
be so satisfactory. The reasons offered do not
take away all doubt. 'Tis said "the revenue is
granted to the late King, but with limitations, for
life." I would know whether in his natural capacity
or political. His political capacity ceases and you
have empowered the Prince of Orange to reign.
But where was it during the vacancy when one of
the capacities is gone? I would have it explained.
This being the case, King William will hold it upon
mighty uncertainties if during the life of King James.
Therefore I would have a Bill brought in to declare
the revenue as you shall think fit.
Col. Birch : 'Tis very convenient that this matter be
cleared. I perceive 'tis a doubt amongst learned
gentlemen. I cannot think that this being given
for King James's life is intended longer than his
reign when he does not protect and defend you.
Could it be intended if you give it King William for
life if he cannot reign over us? No doubt it is a
revenue which fell into [the hands of] the same
power and authority that the Government fell into,
which was Lords and Commons. Though King
William be sufficiently indemnified by Act of Parliament
etc., and though you did think fit to give the
Kingship out of yourselves you will bear me witness
I was one of the forwardest to part with it : and
so I would do with the revenue. But our greatest
misery was over giving it to King James for life
and not from three years to three years, and so
you might have often kissed his hands here. I
do not believe that King William would have it
longer. Perhaps persons would make it their interest
to keep us asunder but such a grant will keep us
Sir George Treby : This gentleman has commended us
of the long robe for our learning. But as for his
reason "that he has had Kingship in him and knows
King William's mind," he is too hard a match for
me to deal with him. ...
Col. Birch : ... As to my knowing King William's
mind, if it is his mind to have some for life then
by chance it is beyond the intention of this House.
Mr. Finch : The revenue without all manner of
objection is better for the nation than disputable,
and that there should be a revenue necessary to
support the Crown and you. The law allows no
distinction of capacities in the King as his political
and natural capacity. ... You will find all along
the revenue collected in the name of King James,
collected and administered in his name. I think
that no argument to continue longer than political
capacity. To give the King for the safety and protection
of the kingdom in his political capacity,
then you give to all the succession in political
capacity. 'Tis most proper [to Parliament] to give
such a revenue, and I move to give the King a revenue
to support the Crown.
Mr. Somers : This case of the revenue is of great
consequence and certainly 'tis manifestly a doubt.
Settle it in the most solemn and perfect way.
Settle it as you please.
Sir Robert Howard : As it has been moved by the
learned person, let us go upon certainty. ... I
cannot understand how King James abdicated the
Crown and not the revenue. I deal freely with
you. Tallies are [still] struck in the King's name,
but [as Auditor of the Receipt] I have prepared an
instrument to the contrary. If you are not in a
condition to dispose of the revenue how came it
into your hands to dispose of the Crown? I think
both are inseparable. Suppose he that hath the
Crown retire into a monastery and is incapable to
govern, and a revenue is given him for life, is his
not the case of a private man? He is no longer a
King. 'Tis my opinion that the revenue of the
Crown is from the people and the nation ; as you
have disposed of the one you may dispose of the
other : and so you may proceed to show how it
shall be disposed of by Act of Parliament.
Sir Christopher Musgrave : ... Your vote will not
make law ... It must be by Act of Parliament :
and the greatest security to the Crown is not to
put that question, but to bring in a Bill.
Sir Thomas Lee : If we bring in a Bill it must be a
Bill to grant a revenue and it is not to begin here
[in Grand Committee] but from the whole House.
'Tis most proper to put the question whether the
revenue be in the King and then the House to go
into a Grand Committee. I have heard the gentlemen
of the long robe with great attention. But
one thing sticks with me. There is a great difference
betwixt what was anciently and now. Formerly
the Crown subsisted by lands of its own, but now
by what arises out of the subject. ...
Sir Henry Capel : I think this matter relates to
money ; therefore 'tis proper to be in a Committee
of the whole House.
Sir Robert Howard : The question may have inconveniences :
therefore resolve the House into a
Hereupon this illuminating debate concluded with a
Resolution that on the following day the House would
resolve itself into a Grand Committee to take into consideration
the King's revenue.
The technical nature of this conclusion may possibly
hide the essential importance of the decision arrived at.
By not putting the question the House had in effect swept
away all the legal subtleties of the gentlemen of the long
robe and had determined to originate a fresh grant of the
revenue to William III., just as if he had succeeded to the
Crown upon the decease of a predecessor. The procedure
of resolving itself into Grand Committee was the then
normal procedure for the origination of a Bill of supply
or of grant.
Accordingly on the following day, February 27th,
1688-9, the House commenced the general debate on the
King's revenue. This debate is, if anything, by reason of
its disorder, of even greater constitutional significance
than that of the preceding day. The sharpest division
of opinion arose on the question of the term of the
grant, whether it should be limited to three years or not.
In consequence of the absence of ministerial guidance
or management, and also of the absence of accounts or
estimates, the debate proved inconclusive and wandered off
not unnaturally but quite illogically into the side alley
of the charges on the revenue and in particular of the
(fn. 4) Sir Thomas Clarges : I do not well comprehend Sir
Robert Cotton, who desires that the revenue may be
a million. ... I think we ought to be cautious of
the revenue. ... If you give this revenue for three
years you will be secure of a Parliament. ... I
move that the revenue may be settled for three
Sir Robert Sawyer : I believe Sir Robert Howard [the
Auditor of the Receipt of the Exchequer] can
give you an account of the yearly value of the
Sir Thomas Clarges : When you have overcome this
I would have it determined whether the temporary
part of the Excise and the Customs are in being
before you proceed to any farther matters.
Mr. Lowe : I find there will be occasion of discourses
what the revenue is. Therefore I move that Howard
may give you the revenue. When all is before you,
you may consent to such a revenue as may make
the King great to all the world.
Sir John Lowther : ... I doubt not but the King
will call Parliaments often. If I had thought him a
man of that temper as not to call Parliaments I
should never have ventured my life and fortune
Sir Edward Seymour : ... What you settle on the
Crown I would have so well done as to support
the Crown and not carry it to excess. We may
date our misery from our bounty here ... If we
settle the revenue I would enquire into it. If you
know not the value of what is given you cannot
do it effectually. ... Before you make any settled
resolutions enquire into it ; and, if possible, that
the whole revenue granted may be at one time certain,
and not a part temporary. To enquire into
the revenue is the best method.
Sir Francis Drake : ... I would give the Prince the
best acknowledgment we can, but not to prejudice
the people. ... 'Tis proposed "that you calculate
what is necessary to support the honour and dignity
of the Crown." I believe you will have an account
given in a short time. I would appoint to-morrow
Sir Robert Howard : I wish I could give the House
satisfaction concerning the revenue now. ... Be
careful of excess, but coldness now will have more
fatal effects. ... The question now is whether you
will grant the revenue for life or years. I have
heard the argument for granting it only for three
years. ... When a Popish King has received such
testimony of kindness from the Parliament as to
have the revenue for life, if a Prince [who has] come
in to save your religion and laws should not have
the same confidence it will be thought a great coldness.
... Perhaps arguments of so short a term
as three years may give encouragement to your
enemies when 'tis said that all must depend on the
condition of the revenue. You yourselves when you
shall see the condition of the revenue may more
easily settle your thoughts what you will do [i.e.
whether] for three years or longer.
Mr. Eyre : I move that the debts of the Crown may
be brought in with the charges upon the revenue.
Sir Robert Clayton : I am afraid that will not do your
business. I apprehend that there may be legal
charges on the revenue, as the Bankers' debt and
other legal charges : and if the Courts of Justice do
well they will recover it on the King.
Mr. Garroway : The Bankers' debt is named. I
believe it is [charged] upon that part of the Excise
which legally ought not to be charged. There are
solicitors at the door in this business already.
Sir Thomas Clarges : Since the Bankers' debt is named,
when you come to look into the revenue you will
see whether the Bankers' debt be legally due and
[one] which ought to be paid. The case will be
whether the Crown has power to sell all the revenue
not settled by Parliament. ...
Sir Henry Capel : For fear of the Bankers' [debt] I
would not neglect the security of the kingdom, but
if it be charged upon a branch of the revenue which
it ought not to be, it is no debt.
Sir Robert Howard : I had the honour to be one of the
members appointed to examine Coleman, who said
"that a considerable sum was to be given to secure
the Bankers' debt." ...
Sir Thomas Lee : I know not how this debate of the
Bankers comes regularly before you. ...
Mr. Boscawen : The Bankers agreed with Coleman for
such a sum of money. ... I would have it brought
in. If legal, it may be thought of ; if illegal, made
Mr. Pollexfen : I am of the mind of the gentleman,
to give the King that which may not deceive him,
and, in him, ourselves. I would have the whole
debt and charge [of the country] brought in.
Mr. Sacheverell : I have known this of the Bankers
formerly. If you look upon it as a debt from the
beginning and examine the accounts it may probably
last you till Midsummer.
Mr. Garroway : When the King that now is was here
as Prince of Orange I walked with him, and discoursing
of the Bankers I told him they might have
had all their debt paid would they have discounted
at 7 per cent.
The debate ended in two formal resolutions (fn. 5) : (1) That
Sir Robert Howard, Auditor of the Receipt of the Exchequer,
be directed to bring in the yearly value of the
several branches of the revenue. (2) That the debate in
Grand Committee should be resumed on the following day
to consider further of settling a revenue for the King and
Queen. The debate on the following day, February 28th,
however, was apparently confined to the question of an
Aid, viz. the Six Months' Assessment, and it was not until
the 1st March that Sir Robert brought in his abstract of
the revenue. This abstract was as follows (fn. 6) :—
|The average of the Customs by the
medium of the four years, 1685-8
(including the wood, coal, salt and
the average of the Excise by the
medium of the same four years
Post Office, about
small branches of the revenue, about
the special impositions granted to
James II. produced further as
follows in the year ended 1688,
wine and vinegar
tobacco and sugar
French linen, brandy and silks.
No debate was held upon these figures at all and for
nearly a fortnight the subject lay neglected, but on the
8th March William made a speech to both Houses emphasising
the necessity of settling the revenue. (fn. 7) "I must also
recommend the consideration of the revenue to you, that
it may be so settled as that it may be collected without
dispute." The result of this appeal was that on the 11th
March the House resumed the discussion in Grand
Committee. As before, the order and logic of the debate
suffered from want of ministerial management and for
want of proper accounts and estimates. (fn. 8)
Sir John Guise : There are three points touched upon
in the King's speech relating to money. ... The
third is the revenue, of which I would have all the
branches before you, that you may consider whether
it shall be settled for life or years.
Mr. Papillon : The consideration of Ireland, the fleet
and Holland all depend upon the revenue, of which
some is for life, some for a term of years. Some
the other day thought all the revenue was vested
in the King ; others did doubt it ; therefore we
ought to put it beyond doubt. Therefore I move
for an Act to give and grant the revenue to the King,
that it may be collected without dispute, and an
indemnity for the collecting it since the vacancy :
and if the state of the revenue be ready I would
have it delivered in by Sir Robert Howard.
Sir Thomas Clarges : I would have the redundancy
of the Crown revenue, after the Government is
supplied, applied to the uses desired in the King's
speech. I mean, take the Customs to be 600,000l.
one year with another. The Excise is a revenue
by itself. See to have also the Addition upon linen,
brandy and silk and 400,000l. taken up [on loan]
upon them ; and little to be depended on them.
The Hereditary revenue. The end of my proposition
is whether the Committee will take the revenue
as given in or as I have reported it. I humbly
propose whether you will grant it for life or for
years. I leave it to you.
Mr. Garroway : The paper I have come by agrees
with Clarges' account : but I think you are not
ripe to come to that question [until you have decided]
whether the revenue be standing or not ; whether
the charges for particular persons' uses, upon the
revenue, shall continue. Begin upon a fair clean
paper, these charges whether they shall be continued
or taken away.
Mr. Sacheverell : I take it the revenue ceases : 'tis
rasa tabula and I would have a short Bill to declare
it so. Then you may declare such a part hereditary.
But I shall be against a great revenue, as [great
that is as] in former time. If all may begin anew
I am ready to agree.
Sir Robert Cotton : If you declare all the revenue
fallen with King James, consider that all the revenue
has been wrongfully collected since he abdicated.
Sir Thomas Lee : I hope you may have a shorter way.
I remember, when the debate was the other day,
some were of opinion that the revenue discontinued ;
the Hereditary revenue was in another
condition. But the House avoided that question
and referred it to a Committee. The Hereditary
part of the Excise is not above 300,000l. per an.,
granting it to be in the King and his successors
from such a day, from the time you have declared
Col. Birch : I think the Parliament was very prudent
in the year 1661. The case was then directly as it
is now. The revenue was supposed to cease and
many [merchants, importers etc.] in London and
elsewhere hesitated the payment. You will not find
it in your journal but in another place, and they
declared that it should be collected as legally as it
was for about six weeks, by reason that in the
meantime they might settle it as now it is. Pass
therefore a Question that the revenue be collected
as legally it might have been etc. till further
consideration be had of it. In short, the country
do generally hesitate and keep all in their hands
except 15d. the barrel [Excise]. Therefore first
put the Question [so] that the money may come
in to the respective Offices ; and I would now
order a Bill accordingly.
Mr. Garroway : I think you are not yet come so far.
You say it shall be collected, but you do not say
to what end. Will you be tied up by such a vote
before you determine whether it be a standing
revenue or an Aid. We know the burden of it
if you had in Charles I.'s, Charles II.'s or James II.'s
time declared it so. You will have a hard task to
alter it, without declaring it now, to alter it hereafter.
Declare it one part as [standing] revenue,
the other as an aid and supply, otherwise I shall
be against the Question.
Mr. Pollexfen : From doubting one part of the [King's
standing] revenue or another we may come to think
there is no [King's standing] revenue at all, and
now settle it by Bill. You have brought in question
the collecting of the revenue and given indemnity
to those that gathered it and in the meantime
you give the revenue to nobody. This is so
great a loss of time that it is not serviceable to you
nor the present occasion of the nation, nor for the
reputation of your affairs abroad. I thought it
was taken for granted that it was a revenue in the
Crown etc., and when you have done three months
hence you will be in the same doubts. You will
have as much to do in this as to determine whether
it shall be for life or years. To talk of assisting
the King with your lives and fortunes and not to
enable the King! To give him power to take the
revenue and now to declare it is no revenue! Settle
it one way or other without anything of gathering
it for three months upon uncertainty. This will
lead you into such a course that you will not know
the end of it.
Sir Thomas Lee : I think this does not lose your time
if you will settle the revenue. You saw, since
Pollexfen declared his opinion, the people have been
still more in doubt. The motion is made for all
the revenue in the lump and this may be passed in
two or three days. Then you will consider ships,
the King's family, ambassadors, judges, the Army
and a part for the King's necessary support. Then
you will find what may be spared for the public
and how to supply it : till this be considered what
in time of peace is requisite and what in war, if
three months be too little make it six. When the
State [or expense] of War is known you will know
how near this [revenue] will go to the payment.
Sir John Lowther : I will speak plainly what every
man's heart is full of. The King has expressed
himself in all kindness. He has trusted you with
all he had in the world and given into your hands
a considerable part [Hearthmoney] of the revenue ;
and if you have the same jealousy of him after all
he has done and may do this will gratify the Jesuits
and France more than 200,000l. distributed and
well given in the House of Commons to bring about
their [French] interest.
Sir Christopher Musgrave : Since you have not taken
notice, Mr. Hampden, of what has been said to the
orders of the Committee, I do take notice of it.
Sir John Lowther : What I said of money I meant
to particular persons. There have been people who
have received [French] money ...
Sir Thomas Clarges : I am sorry that at this time
when all manner of duty has been expressed to the
King from this House there should be reflection of
"200,000l. well given here." I remember [that]
persons and former Parliaments had places [of office]
and were to receive the money they gave, therefore
were freer to give money than others. ... I cannot
make the revenue be for longer time than has been
proposed. Is it not fit that you should have three
months to turn you in, that abuses may not be
[meanwhile] in the collection of the revenue?
Therefore it is fit that for this temporary Bill you
give it [the revenue and collecting of it] for three
months or as long as you please.
Sir William Williams : ... We are not now a Parliament
of officers [office holders]. We represent
now all the people, the wise and the weak. ...
Sir John Lowther : I was mistaken [misunderstood]
in not giving the revenue for three months but
only [so long] for collecting what revenue King
James had ; and that question you have had ready
for you. A safe, wise and a sudden resolve. The
King did distinguish between the collection of the
revenue and the settlement [of it]. I would declare
it [collectable] for three months.
Sir Richard Temple : I would have all arguments
forborne of distrust between the King and us. I
am very far from desiring the short [three months
collection] Bill to be brought in for [any idea of]
delay of settlement of the revenue. Can it be
imagined that Bills should be brought in for all the
revenue on a sudden? I would make no distinction
in the Bill of what is continued and what not.
Not by way of grant.
Sir Robert Howard : I speak not for the poor or the
rich, the weak or the strong of the House. I have
an office, but in some offices I would not have been
employed (reflecting upon Williams). By the way,
I would show by a motion to continue the Grand
Committee and to proceed on the settlement of
the revenue ; though for the present we proceed
only on the temporary [collection] Bill.
Mr. Boscawen : According to course of Parliament, if
you grant the King an Aid and he accept it, the
answer is grandmerciey ses bons sujets etc. If this
be no grant, what answer shall the King give to
this Bill? If as a grant of subsidy, the King thanks
for it. There is not so much danger in the fault of
collecting it [in the interim without authority] as
in going this way. I am of opinion rather of a vote
of the Lords and Commons to strengthen it for the
present. I shall agree to it, but it is an ill expedient
and you will be in this box and not know how to
get out of it.
Mr. Eyre : If this be determined you arrive not at
your end. I see, in this matter of the revenue, we
go on very heavily. In a matter of this moment
to support the honour of the King, whatever you
do in this Bill, if it goes as is proposed, you do
less than nothing, to the joy of your enemies and
sorrow of your friends. Therefore I propose a vote
that you grant a revenue for life of 1,200,000l. per
an. made of such items as in the particular etc. A
great revenue has been a great grievance, but it
was by no other method than we had put in their
[the late King's] hands. Such a revenue will be
an evidence of affection to the King and will support
the necessary charge of the kingdom. And
while this is the standard it can have no oppression,
and less than this proposed cannot be thought of.
It will be in a Protestant hand and you cannot
doubt but the spareable part will be treasured up
for the good of the subject.
Sir Thomas Littleton : It has been well moved a great
while since, and I wonder at no conclusion upon it.
To settle [the collection of] if for three months is
the most acceptable and expeditious thing you can
do. The King does not expect that you should
settle the revenue immediately without great caution
and consideration. Therefore that the King may
be in no inconvenience settle [the collection of] it
for three months, which will be so far from a distrust
that it is kindly and gratefully done by the people
and the King will take it well from you.
Mr. Finch : You give the King double the revenue if
you do it for three months. You give him the
revenue and the hearts of the people. This you
will do in two days, and perhaps the other way
not in two months.
Mr. Pollexfen : If you say "I will not give the King
this revenue, but those that pay it shall not be
under all the penalties as if it was given," this will
raise all the jealousy and shame upon us imaginable
Sir Henry Capel : 'Tis not the intention of any man
here to give the King the revenue for three months,
and Pollexfen mistakes the thing. We are beholden
to those gentlemen who put us in this method at
first. The Book of Rates, the Act for the Excise
we do not yet know. There are complaints of the
ill administration of them ; now is the time to
correct it. I speak it to the honour of the gentleman
that made the motion, that you will have no
delay in the thing. Then you will see the whole
establishment and the expenses and what to give
for an established revenue. Tis not a time to
name the revenue now : 'tis the doubt of some
persons whether the revenue is or is not sunk [by
the abdication] : but continue the revenue entire
for three months for support of the Crown and all
will agree to it.
Sir John Holt : For time to consider the revenue I
do not oppose it ; but as to the Hereditary part of
the revenue if that be determined [by the abdication]
there will be no need of such a [three months'
collection] Act. Some are of opinion that it is
determined, but I have not heard one reason for it.
If the King accepts this the Question is determined ;
and it is in being ; the revenue was given to the
Crown of England and annexed to the office of
King William and Queen Mary ; it continues and
stands in no need of a temporary Act of Parliament.
Mr. Wogan : It would be strange if the [Hereditary
Excise] revenue granted to the Crown [in 1660]
upon a valuable consideration instead of the Court
of Wards should determine with the late King
James. Was it granted on any other consideration?
Sir Thomas Lee : I am indifferent whether you put
it on the Hereditary or Temporary Revenue. If you
had gone according to the opinion of the learned
gentlemen you had made no Act but let them go
on to collect the revenue. The Hereditary revenue
is so little that I believe the House will supply it.
The reason why it is asserted is that part must go
with the Crown of England. But when the King
must alien this to the Bankers this must make such
men as me scruple the matter.
Sir William Williams : 'Tis not the opinion of five
or six men of the robe that will guide, but what
the law is.
The debate ended in a Resolution passed this day by
the House on report from the Grand Committee "that
this House doth agree with the Committee and accordingly
doth order that leave be given to bring in a Bill that all
those branches of the revenue which were due and payable
by law in the reigns of Charles II. and James II. be collected
to the use and service of the Crown until the 24th
day of June, 1689, as by law they might have been during
either of those reigns : with a clause to indemnify all such
as have collected any part of the aforesaid branches since
the 5th day of December, 1688, and before the 13th day
of February then next ensuing." (fn. 9)
It is only necessary to add that the Bill was read a
first time on the 18th April and received the royal assent
on the ist May as an 'Act for preventing doubts and questions
concerning the collecting the Public Revenue.'
For over a week the subject of the King's fixed peace
revenue was not reverted to : save incidentally in connection
with the question of repaying the Dutch for the
expenses of William's expedition. But on the 19th March
the debate in Grand Committee was renewed. For that
day's discussion we unfortunately lack the illuminating
guidance of Grey's Debates, but it ended in a resolution (fn. 10)
directing Sir Robert Howard to bring in "such accompts
and estimates as upon the debate [just had] he shall think
necessary for the service of the House in considering the
revenue and the constant necessary charge of supporting
the Crown : and further directing Col. Birch [the Auditor
of the Excise] to similarly bring in an account of the
Excise according to his books."
As Auditor of the Receipt of the Exchequer Howard
was the only person who could supply the exact figures
of income and expenditure. Officially he was a civil
servant merely ; as a member of the House he was a
private member merely : in neither the one capacity
nor the other was he a Minister in the modern sense,
but this was only because the conception of a Ministry
had not yet emerged. On the following day, the 20th
March, he laid before the House an abstract of the
expenditure under James II., with further notes on the
charges or anticipations on the Customs and Excise and
the debts on the Army and Navy and the arrears on the
The figures as set out on pp. 37-38, 54-55 of Vol. X.
of the Commons Journals require correction and expansion
from the material printed in the preceding volume of the
present Calendar (Calendar of Treasury Books, Vol. VIII,
Introduction, pp. xxvi.-xxx.). According to Sir Robert
Howard's figures (which the Parliament accepted without
question), James II.'s revenue, his "own," had averaged
1,916,437l. 10s. 3d. per an. throughout his reign, and his
expenditure had averaged 1,699,363l. 2s. 9d. In the above
connection I have shown that the last quoted figure of
expenditure is quite inadequate and that the mere payments
out of the Exchequer (therefore not counting
assignations, nor fixed charges on the revenue, nor the
ascertained arrears due to the Departments or Services,
nor the growing and unascertained debt of the respective
Departments or Services) exceeded 1,900,000l. per an. on
an average for the whole of the reign.
But even taking the accounts as submitted to the House
and recognising fully that the Commons could not go
behind such figures or canvass them, it is significant of the
whole constitutional theory of the time that it straightaway
resolved to settle on the King for his reign a standing
revenue much below what those figures indicated as necessary.
The resolutions which the House passed on the
20th March, 1688-9, (fn. 11) were as follows :
Mr. Hambden reports from the Committee of the
whole House that the Committee had taken into
their consideration the revenue and the constant
necessary charge of supporting the Crown and
the State of Ireland.
Resolved nemine contradicente that the House do
agree with the Committee that there be a revenue
of 1,200,000l. settled upon their Majesties for the
constant necessary charge of supporting the Crown
in time of peace.
Resolved that a Committee be appointed to consider
and report to the House what sum may be necessary
to allow by the year for the charge of a summer
and winter's Guard at sea and Guards and Garrisons
by land and Office of Ordnance in time of peace
out of the 1,200,000l. per an.
It need hardly be pointed out that the figure here fixed
was the same which the Restoration Parliament had fixed
for Charles II.'s "own" or fixed revenue and that in
following such a course the Convention Parliament was
deliberately ignoring the natural expansion which thirty
years of growth had brought about in both the taxable
capacity of the country and the national expenditure.
The account in Grey's Debates, Vol. IX., pp. 176-80, of
this day's speeches which ended in the resolutions just
quoted is as follows :
In A Grand Committee On The Revenue.
March 20th, 1688-9.
Sir William Williams : I take the revenue to be
1,580,000l. ; out of this certainly I deduct the
Hearthmoney, 200,000l. Your immediate charge
then is the constant charge of the Crown. If you
give the Crown too little, you may add at any time ;
if once you give too much, you will never have it
back again. Therefore I would declare the constant
charge of the Crown.
Mr. Sachevrell : I agree that it is necessary to consider
the constant charge of the Crown in time of
peace. By the charge of the Navy and Army in
King James's time we cannot make computation,
nor from the calculation made from King Charles's,
when the expense was extravagant. Rather then
compute the moderate charge in King Charles's
time. I would know whether, in the years 1673-74-75-76,
the Customs did not arise to as much as
in all the severe way of management. It is necessary
that you agree what the common expense of
the Government is, under heads, as it was drawn up
in the time of Sir William Coventry ; the pensions
were never heard of until Mr. Guy's time. Expenses
are much lessened and the revenue advanced.
Bating the Navy and the Army, I would see if the
constant charge is not above 400,000l. per an.—As
if 600,000l. for an Army for ever.—To find all the
Navy out of repair, and cost as much as when in
service, I cannot agree. Because the Army and
Navy cannot but be maintained, therefore I am
of opinion that the Navy and Army are not to be
considered in the constant charge. I doubt not but
we shall give what is necessary, but I would consider
the Navy and Army as an extraordinary
Mr. Guy : I hear my name mentioned upon the head
of great sums, though under the denomination of
secret service. The reason was to ease the charge
of the Great Seal. But, be it what it will, I am ready
to give account, to a penny, of what I received.
Mr. Garroway : I am ready to serve you to come to
an end. I agree not to the medium, but if you will
come to make a revenue for the King we cannot
say the revenue will stand to 1,000l. or 10,000l.,
there being several variations of the Customs in
several years. We are now providing for a war,
and something of the revenue may be applicable
to it. I except not against the accounts of the
several particulars of the small branches of the
revenue, but I hope the King will contribute to the
war as well as we ; it is for his safety. Shall we be
worse husbands now than in the late King's reigns,
in all the extravagances of expenses? Compute the
necessary charge of the Crown, and let the remainder
be applied to the charge of the war.
Col. Birch : I would refer all the charge of the Government,
and that of the Household, to the Privy
Council, except that of the Navy : [as for] the [Royal]
Family that expense rises and falls upon occasion.
This being. presented to the House you will immediately
see the charge, else you will be long in
Mr. Harbord : Here have been several motions. You
may be sure that the money you give will not be
spent in debauchery and lewdness, but employed as
you would have it. Either to make particular provision
etc., or in gross I am indifferent. In
another thing you must give the King your helping
hand, or else you do nothing. There is a farm
given out of the Customs to the Duchess of Portsmouth's
children, which is the farmage of coals,
and that is in Papists' hands.
Sir Henry Capel : You are pretty near a question.
The [Civil] establishment of the Government is
agreed on all hands. There remains nothing but provision
for the Ordnance, Army and Fleet, though in
peace you'll allow for a summer Guard and in winter
for the safety of trade. The Plantations, Indies (and
they had more men of war there than we here),
these are to be considered in time of peace as part
of the Government in peace. I do not understand
that what is established for the Fleet and Ordnance
is for the sum total of the extraordinary charge.
The question is only now of having an account
brought you. You will have no head of it of secret
service to trouble you. There must be an establishment
for the Queen, and Princess Anne, who has
deserved very well of the nation.
Sir Thomas Clarges : What charge is for the Fleet in
time of peace must go into that in time of war.
There is a charge of the Ordnance of 80,000l. per an.
for yachts and ketches etc. The fairest way will
be to agree a certain sum for the revenue, and not
meddle with the distribution of it, and to refer it to
the King, who, if it be too little, will inform you by his
Ministers, if it be wanting, and you may supply it.
Sir Thomas Lee : I know not how the condition of
the war may leave you. I love not to please myself
with the names of a Navy and Army.—But not so
properly till we see how things stand abroad, how
alliances are concluded. But I think the debate
leads you to consider of Ireland, and to support
the charge of this year's war, and to know what
of the revenue will do. What the constancy of the
revenue must be, men are tender, but will be willing
to supply the present emergency.
Sir Christopher Musgrave : Tis absolutely necessary,
when you consider the revenue, that you consider
the summer and winter Guard, and likewise the
Ordnance and Garrisons, and all these must be in
your eye. As for the expenses of the Civil Government,
you have as much before you as is desired.
You must likewise consider the Queen, and the
Princess of Denmark, and when that is done I
would not be pinching to support the Government
at ease. I know we are under great necessities for
raising money : and for the charge of the Ordnance
I can do it to a farthing. I believe England can
never be without some standing Force. I deal
plainly with you.
Mr. Sacheverell : I would gladly settle the revenue,
but I would know, when you have voted the sum
for the revenue, how you can deduct anything.
Therefore I would have had particulars.
Col. Birch : I never was so puzzled in a question in my
life as in this. We are establishing a revenue as in
time of peace ; pray God we may see it. I understand
the debate to be this : they that know the
revenue [are] to bring in what particulars there are
for the Government. I really would vote 1,200,000l.
and I would have the world know that the King has
such a revenue ; and the Privy Council will tell you
what is for the Civil Government, else it is in effect
to settle a revenue of 400,000l. per an. only.
Writing of the above incident after an interval of more
than 15 years, Burnet's memory blurred the strict sequence
of events, but the general outline of the situation which
his words convey is essentially true :
"The next care was a revenue for the support of the
Government. By a long course and the practice of
some ages the Customs had been granted to our
Kings for life. So the King [William] expected
that the like regard should be shown for him. But
men's minds were much divided in that matter,
Some Whigs who by a long opposition and jealousy
of the Government had wrought themselves into
such republican principles that they could not easily
come off from them, set it up as a maxim not to
grant any revenue, but from year to year or at most
for a short term of years. This they thought would
render the Crown precarious and oblige our Kings
to such a popular method of government as should
merit the constant renewal of that grant. And
they hoped that so uncertain a tenure might more
easily bring about an entire change of Government.
For by the denying the revenue at any time (except
upon intolerable conditions) they thought that
might be easily effected, since it would render our
Kings so feeble that they would not be able to maintain
their authority. The Tories observing this
made great use of it to beget in the King jealousies
of his friends with too much colour and too great
success. They resolved to reconcile themselves to
the King by granting it, but at present only to look
on till the Whigs, who now carried everything to
which they set their full strength, should have
refused it. (Burnet, Vol. IV, p. 23.)
Burnet reinforces these words in a passage which
though later in his narrative appears to me to
belong to this period of about March, 1689. The
King, he says, "expressed an earnest desire to have
... the revenue of the Crown settled on him
for life. He said he was not a King till that
was done, without that the title of a King was
but a pageant. And he spoke of this with more
than ordinary vehemence, so that sometimes he said
he would not stay and hold an empty name unless
that was done. He said once to myself he understood
the good of a commonwealth as well as
of a Kingly Government, and it was not easy to
determine which was best ; but he was sure the
worst of all Governments was that of a King without
treasure and without power. But a jealousy was
now infused into many that he would grow arbitrary
in his government if he once had the revenue and
would strain for a high pitch of prerogative as soon
as he was out of difficulties and necessities."
(Burnet, Vol. IV, pp. 60-1.)
Having fixed a maximum limit of 1,200,000l. for the
King's own or for the ordinary revenue of the country,
the Commons proceeded to stultify themselves when, in
pursuance of their vote of March 20th, supra, p. xxxix,
they turned to the ordinary expenditure. Besides the
Civil services (including the Civil List as we now understand
it and ambassadorial service, secret service and
pensions), there were the three fighting services, Navy,
Army and Ordnance. The peace footing of the Navy
covered what was styled the ordinary of the Navy (the cost
of the Navy in port and home nucleus of organisation) and
the summer and winter Guard at sea. The Army included
the Guards and a fixed number of tiny garrisons and
blockhouse forts scattered round the coast.
The Committee which the House had ordered to consider
of the charge of these three fighting services in times of
peace reported on the 5th of April, 1689, that 48 men of
war, fire ships, yachts and ketches, with 7,040 men, are
necessary for a summer and winter Guard at sea in time
of peace, the Guard covering not merely the narrow seas,
but also the Plantations and Iceland, but not including
the Mediterranean. The Committee estimated this charge
of such a force as follows (fn. 12) :—
Charge of the ships and men
Ordinary of the Navy (a fixed and
Total Navy and peace estimate
Without setting out the details, the Committee fixed
the annual peace charge of the Guards and Garrisons
at 200,000l. and that of the Office of Ordnance
at 22,600l. All the items of this estimate were formally
agreed to and adopted by the House on the same
day. The fighting services thus made up a total of
After an interval of 20 days, the House returned to the
subject and voted unanimously 600,000l. as the limit of
the charge of the Civil Government of the country, including
therein besides the items already specified the allowances
to the Queen Regnant, the Queen Dowager, the Prince
and Princess of Denmark and Marshall Schomberg (25th
April). (fn. 13)
The total peace expenditure therefore by the Commons'
own decision was 1,318,680l. out of a revenue of only
1,200,000l., and this was after cutting down the Guards
and Garrisons to an impossible minimum.
Having reached this illogical position, the House realised
the necessity of overhauling the whole question of the
public fixed or peace revenue. It took up systematically
the consideration of the papers of accounts submitted by
Sir Robert Howard, the Auditor of the Receipt. These
accounts, containing lists of perpetuities and pensions
payable at the Exchequer and out of the Customs, Excise,
Post Office and smaller branches, as well as an account of
the petty farms and an account of the public debts, were
by order entered in full in the Journals. They showed in
brief that side of the unavoidable peace expenditure of the
State for which the votes of the House had as yet made no
provision at all :
Pensions etc. (per an.)
Old debt (before 1671)
Charges on the
Arrear to the Army
Six years' arrears on
the Bankers' debt
charge or annuity
of 79,566l. 14s. 2d.
The total of these
representing an annual interest
charge of at least 100,000l., which,
together with the Bankers' debt
annuity of 79,566l. 14s. 2d., makes
a total annual debt service of
On the showing of these figures alone, there is therefore
at least 400,000l. a year to be added to the Parliament's
figure of 1,318,680l., thus making 1,718,680l. per an., all
of which would fall to be provided out of the voted figure
of 1,200,000l. per an. of the "King's" revenue or "public"
In addition to this manifest inadequacy of the King's
revenue, it must be borne in mind that the figure of 300,000l.
for the arrear to the Army and Navy was in itself inadequate
and that the other debt figures standing out on practically,
every Department are not included at all.
For the moment the House contented itself with specifically
voting only a few of these expenditure items (27th
April, 1689, Commons' Journals, Vol. X., pp. 105-6) :
(1) Resolved that the perpetuities amounting to 1,431l.
12s. od. per an. as follows are part of the charges of Civil
Dean and Chapter of Lichfield
Vicar of Lichfield
Poor of St. Botolph's, Aldersgate
Poor of St. Magnus
Poor of St. Michael, Cornhill
Poor of St. John Baptist, Walbrook
Master of St. Katherine's
Vicar of St. Peter's in the Tower
Sir Edw. Tyrrell and his heirs
Emanuel College, Cambridge, for maintenance
of five poor scholars
Cambridge University for a Divinity
Ditto for a preacher
Professor of Civil Law there
Physic Reader there
Ditto for a Divinity Lecturer
Professor of Civil Law there
Physic Reader there
The heirs of Sir Robert Long
Master of the Temple
Students of Grays Inn for a Chaplain
The heirs of Sir John Cotton for the
maintenance of a minister
The heirs of Lord Darcy
Dean and Chapter of Westminster for the
minister of the French Church in the
Governors of Christ's Hospital for the
maintenance of 30 boys
Poor of St. Martin's in the Fields
Poor of St. Margaret's, Westminster
Hospital of King Charles I. in Westminster
Poor of St. James's Parish, Westminster
Earl of Derby et al. for the maintenance
of poor ministers in the Isle of Man
Bishop of Chester for the four Lancashire
(2) Resolved that 18,209l. 15s, 4½d. per an. to the
Queen Dowager be part of the charges of the Civil
(3) Resolved that 13,800l. per an. for the Judges, Masters
in Chancery and Judges of Wales are part of the charges
of the Civil Government.
(4) That the perpetuities on the Customs (except the
100l. per an. to Col. Fairfax), amounting to 338l. per an.,
as follows, be part of the charges of the Civil Government.
Mayor and Aldermen of Hull for maintaining
the banks and gates there
Mayor etc. of Berwick for maintaining
the bridge there
Corporation of Lyme Regis for maintaining
the Cobb there
Bishop of Exeter for the minister of
Lostwithiel out of the revenue of the
Duchy of Cornwall
Lostwithiel Gaol out of same
Corporation of Dartmouth out of the
The heirs of Col. Fairfax for ever out of
(5) That the provision for the Prince and Princess of
Denmark be part of the charge of the Civil Government.
This last vote I will deal with separately as it became
a matter of hot political intrigue and led to the embittered
quarrel between Queen Mary and her sister Anne which
lasted till Queen Mary's death.
On the same day on which the House passed the
above five Resolutions it ordered that Sir Robert Howard's
papers of account submitted by him to the Committee
should be entered in the Journals. They are accordingly
so printed on pp. 106-109 of the Commons Journals,
Vol. X. In brief, they show, what is verifiable from
every page of the present Calendar, that the perpetuities
and pensions and fixed yearly sums payable out of
the Exchequer amounted to 159,562l. 1s. 1½d. per an. ;
the perpetuities payable out of the Customs amounted to
438l. ; the pensions payable not at the Exchequer but
out of branches of the revenue before such revenues came
into the Exchequer amounted to 53,270l. 5s. od. per an.,
to which ought certainly to be added the 79,569l. 14s. 2d.
per an. for interest of the Bankers' debt, making a grand
total for annuities, perpetuities and pensions of 292,870l.
os. 3½d. This is, of course, quite irrespective of Civil
service salaries and ambassadorial salaries, and it does not
include the fluctuating totals paid yearly for gifts of grace
or royal bounty, secret service and extraordinary rewards.
During the reign of James II. these latter items had in
the whole averaged roughly 150,000l. a year. This figure
with at least another 140,000l. per an. for interest payable
on departmental debts or arrears would make the total
annual dead weight or unproductive part of the national
expenditure 580,000l. to 600,000l., which was practically
one half of the total fixed revenue which the House of
Commons was contemplating as sufficient and proper to
maintain the whole of the annual national, State and
Furthermore, it must be borne in mind that in such an
attempt as the House of Commons was making or intending
or pretending to make in such a disjointed fashion the Commons
were only dealing with the barest essentials and
that many services and forms of expenditure which later
came to be regarded as customary or obligatory were not
provided for or even considered. This was the case for
instance with the question of the care of sick and wounded.
When on the 21st May, 1689, Admiral Arthur Herbert
received the thanks of the House for his indecisive handling
of the rencontre with de Chateau-Renault's fleet, he had
the audacity to put the House in mind of the support of
such as are maimed in the service and defence of their
country. "There is no sufficient provision made at
present," said the admiral, "in this kingdom, and indeed
it is too great a charge for the Crown." The Commons
thereupon passed a Resolution, "That the House will take
care to make a provision for such seamen as are or shall be
wounded in their Majesties' service and for the wives and
children of such as are or shall be slain therein." (Commons
Journals, Vol. X, p. 142.)
Nothing definite came of this Resolution, in spite of the
elaborate report of the following July 15th on the subject
(Commons Journals, Vol. X, p. 218), and it will be found
from the pages of this Calendar that throughout William's
reign the only grants for widows of men slain in the
service were made by the King on his own initiative and
were paid out of his own fixed revenue, or in other
words out of his own pocket. As a Civil administrator
as well as an admiral, Herbert knew full well that
the phrase which he used, "a charge for the Crown,"
meant in simplest language a charge falling on the
King's "own." The equivalent proposition to-day would
be that the King's Privy Purse Grant should bear the cost
of Chelsea and Greenwich Hospitals.
This item is merely typical of others, and I employ the
instance only to illustrate the general constitutional position
or conceptions of the time.
For two months, from April 27th to late in June, the
subject of the King's revenue was not referred to in
the House. Doubtless the multiplicity of business which
the Commons attempted to consider had the effect of
distracting and confusing its counsels, but there can be
little doubt that under the stress of the mere logic of
figures and accounts they were becoming more sensible
and conscious of the impossibility of adhering to their
original limit of 1,200,000l. for the cost of the Civil
Government of the country and that in their perplexity
they preferred to shelve the whole subject.
That the delay in settling his revenue (the Civil revenue)
caused William deep annoyance and distress is apparent
from the fragmentary notes of his conversations with the
Marquess of Halifax :
(On the occasion of the votes of April 27th, the King's
remarks are condensed as follows.)
"About the Bill of Revenue two things proposed, first,
to pass it as it is, leaving a fund of 50,000l. a year for
pensions to be considered by the next Parliament : the
second, not to consider it at all, but to leave it to be
completed by the next Parliament, and now only by
message press the payment of the Dutch money."
[The King] did not seem disposed to pay the Queen
Dowager's debts, notwithstanding what he had
said about it.
Complained of his Privy Counsellors in the House of
Commons, not without reason : could not get them
to move for the Dutch money.