Tuesday, November 2.
In a Grand Committee on the Ships. Sir John Trevor in the Chair.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Of eighty guns, and upwards, we
have eleven ships, and the Dutch but ten. Five are as
many as we have need of.
Sir Thomas Lee.] If of forty you want but eleven,
five in number, of ninety guns, are an adequate proportion. In great ships we are already proportionable to
our neighbours. You want only nimble sorts of ships,
to catch them when they run away.
Sir Charles Wheeler.] Is for light ships, to catch them,
as is said, but would not divide the bear's skin before
he be dead. The last naval war has given us experience of great ships, that they maintain the fights. You
must have so many great ships, to make a good stand
against the enemy. 'Tis a maxim in the Civil law, that
what is fit, is as fit as the fittest. If you bring enough
for your purpose, 'tis your safety, and your walls. That
which is said "of their building more ships, and therefore we must do so to" is no argument—Then you have
your flag-ships so seconded as will be a navy fit to encounter your greatest enemy. Therefore moves that
two of the second rate ships may be built.
Sir Henry Capel.] Would have Pepys asked, why eleven
of the second rate are requisite to two of the first
Mr Pepys.] Propounds but what is needful, without
which he thinks the fleet of England not safe. The
course of the Debate seems as if forty ships were to be
built, and first to provide twenty. But if no more
than twenty, then to lay the most force upon them.
Therefore he cannot propose under nine second rates.
Sir William Coventry.] Is not convinced that there is
a necessity, that every flag should be in a first rate ship.
The fleet have none to follow but the flag, and if
the enemy govern themselves in shoals and shallows, we
must remove the flag to lesser ships. We aimed, that,
whatever we do, the ships may be perfected in two
years. Pepys told you, that the first and second rates
can be built in the King's yards only. The London
was not, but perhaps most conveniently. The first and
second rates are most conveniently built in the King's
yards—Should we, to build one new ship, lay aside
three or four old ones? If the Docks be so clogged, that
no reparation of them can be made, we are then in a
worse condition than we were before—He supposes in
truth; because not contradicted, that we have of eighty
guns more than our neighbours, and from fifty guns,
and upwards, our strength is less than our neighbours, to
the second rate. Less in the third rate. And 'tis necessary to equal them even in that—That relates to summer service only. Unless you have third rates; they are
stronger than you in winter; because great ships then are
not so useful. He remembers that they durst not take
charge of the first and second rates, when the design was
to attack de Ruyter—Would be glad we could build
forty, but thinks five second rates sufficient.
Sir John Ernly.] Agrees with Coventry, that we want
third rates. You are offered five second rates. You
have four second rates. But what good are we like to
have out of four old ships, mostly above thirty years
old? Since you have but twenty ships, let them be as
strong as you can. You cannot have less than nine of
the second rate. And he would have you see the proposals of the officers of the navy.
Mr Boscawen.] Not that you make this a constant
rate to supply the ships; this is only for this time.
If you are superior in great ships, you are better in all
strength; unless you fight on shoal waters. Great ships, if
old, do decay, and there is a remedy for providing
for them out of the customs.
Sir Thomas Meres.] We had sufficient moneys in the
Customs; 150,000l. might have been easily had there
Sir Eliab Harvey.] Hopes if we find these new ships;
that the old navy may still be kept up, and not lie
by the walls. If the fleet be out at sea seven or eight
months, you must have second and third rates.
Mr Pepys.] Fewness of places hinders expedition of
building ships. The Docks are but thirteen, and the
slips fourteen. There are but twenty seven docks and
slips capable of building.
Sir William Coventry.] Would not insist too much
upon the age of ships; we grow not young again, but
ships may, and prove as good when repaired as new built.
Some ships, in this time, have been so faulty, as to
fit to be cast, that is, broken up. One may seem better than the other, but when ransacked thoroughly they
cost as much repairing, as a new one building—The
other without extraordinary charge went through the
Dutch war, and had many knocks, but was unfortunately run aground. The third rates we built, will supply the second rates, being ships of great force, and are
winter as well as summer ships, for service. If you
build third rates, they will supply the least of the second
rates, and be for winter service, which second rates are
not found so good for. 'Tis said there are twenty
seven ships and docks for first, second, and third rates.
But believes he can recollect, that 'tis not fit to build in
all the docks at a time, and have sufficient for other
uses, as repairs, and building merchantmen. If two
years will be employed in building twenty ships, and
if you build six great ships, he knows not how reparation can be made of the old ones.
Mr Pepys.] Thinks that some body said "That a
ship of the first rate must be two years a building,"
but believes we may build of one and the other rate
one in a year. As for the materials, he knows no body
has said they cannot be had.
Sir Thomas Lee.] One day, these ships are in good
repair, and another day, old and good for nothing.
Notwithstanding they are fifty years old, yet very little
timber in them is so old—Most new and repaired.
Mr Pepys.] Three of the old ships have the most
part old timber still.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Here we are fighting from dock
to dock, and slip to slip. Five is your number proposed to the Question.
Sir William Coventry.] 'Tis plainly and absolutely
necessary, that a considerable number of these docks be
left free. Will not suppose the old ships not useful, as
the old James, the Unicorn, and Triumph. When ships
that have been abroad, come home strained, the docks
must be left free for them. The London was built at
the City charge for a present to the King, and all the
reason there was in the world to hasten the building,
and it took up sixteen or seventeen months, and timber
was then much more plentiful than now. The timber to
build these ships is scarce, and yet unfelled. So 'tis
not possible in shorter time, and the third rates will
supply the second.
Sir Henry Ford.] 'Tis for your honour and safety to
give handsomely—Would have nine ships of the second
Sir John Ernly.] Our neighbours have forty ships
more than we. If you come not up to them in number, he hopes you will in force. What already are,
are wind and weather tight, and in as good repair as
Mr Powle.] Would have you consider what is best
for the King and subject. Some little consideration must
be had, how this money is to be raised—Fears, by a
Land tax, and therefore would not burthen the people
more than needful. There must be two years time for
building these ships, so that but one of the first rate,
and five of the second rate, can be built in that time
in the docks. But had the Customs been applied to
the use they were given, you had not needed this.
The Bill of appropriating the Customs may, for the
future, sufficiently do this. If you have a navy sufficient
to employ all your seamen, more ships will be useless,
and lie by the walls, let our neighbours have what
number they will.
Sir Winston Churchill.] Saving money is no argument,
when saving the nation is the case. We are now upon
the shallows, upon the fewest ships; but we consider not
the great man on t'other side the water, the King of France,
(He was called upon to name him, "the French King,")
who has built great ships so considerably. Would have
the greater number put first to the Question. If you
put five before nine, if we vote not five, how shall we
vote nine? If nine be put first, then five may come
naturally. If you'll put five, then moves for the previous Question.
Debate upon the previous Question.
Mr Sacheverell.] From sixty guns, and upwards, we
have more ships than the French. From ninety guns,
and upwards, the Dutch have none. Of them we have
thirty six, and the French but thirty four. We are
lowest of the second rates; of third rates the Dutch have
more than we.
Sir John Duncombe.] About twelve tons difference—
Gives himself over in particulars to them that know
better than he.
Sir Tho. Littleton.] Professes he is not for starving the
business. Sees not yet the business over that the officers of the navy can build the ships in that time, and
whether they can repair the capital ships, and have dock
room. You will in two years end be far stronger, if
you build but five ships.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Finds not those that have the honour to command in the navy, tell you that second rates
are so useful. Has heard Sir Fretchville Holles say, he
could do more service in a third rate than in a second,
and could keep better in a line. It appears to him
that third rates, are much more for the service of the
nation than first and second rates.
Capt. Legge.] Understands one of the first rates to be
agreed, and 'tis that rate that bears the burden of the
fight. The flag must have good seconds, in case of
shifts, to remove into—Would have at sea rather more
of the third rate than the second; 1300 ton is the least
any three deck ships can have—Would have as many
third rates as can be in a line; the rest may be for seconds, but not for engagements. When the line is once
broken, a three deck ship will better bear a countenance
than a two decked. We have better ports than France—
He is troubled that 'tis thought we cannot build them
under two years—But he is sure we cannot cap ships
with France, who has bought of the Dane and Hollander, and built some. If we make not up the number,
hopes we may the quality, and they may be built in a
year and half's time.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Our Question is of another nature. We must not neglect the old capital ships, which
may put things in a condition and posture, to look an
enemy in the face.
Col. Birch.] Is of the number of those that do, and
shall do this business, not to save money only, but
what is most agreeable to our safety. Thinks that all
men, when they engage, consider with whom they are
to engage. You are told that God has denied the Dutch
the benefits of ports for great ships. Our fear then is
of the French. If they had double the number of ships,
yet they can never bring them into our channels. What
if a storm happen, they cannot be lodged in our ports—
In the channel he cannot draw them—He hopes we
shall build these ships in one year, and if need be, we
may do it again. 'Tis visible to him that we cannot be
good husbands, if we repair not as well as build. If
we talk of the money, that's another Question. But
of safety, five ships are most for our advantage,
Sir Charles Wheeler.] One thousand three hundred ton
is the burden but of one ship that is in dispute between us.
The Question was carried for five ships of the second rate,
182 to 170.
Sir Thomas Meres.] This we build now is 1400 ton
for the first rate by measure.
Which passed the Question.
Mr Garroway.] Moves that those five second rates
be eleven hundred ton.
Mr Sacheverell.] By Pepys's motion we are turning
first rates into second rates by 1300 ton.
Mr Garroway.] By an extract out of Pepy's papers,
there is not one ship of the second rate of eleven hundred ton, but all under.
Mr Love.] One thousand four hundred ton, he fees,
draws on the argument for the rest. Appeals to Pepys, whether he did not acknowledge, in his discourse,
the first rate at 1200 tons, the second rate 900, and the
third rate 700—And said, that, by repairing and girdling, they were made stiffer to bear fail—But never heard
that it increased burden to that high rate.
Sir William Coventry.] Remembers and knows ships
larger in their rates than formerly, and shipwrights complained of—But so many guns more is still the best ship.
You are told by Pepys, that some had been girdled, and
therefore of greater burden; but thinks the Victory is
under 1100 tons, and yet she carries more guns than the
Royal Catherine. Is not this a good pattern to go by?
All the increase will be thrown by in winter. The Victory is
under 1100 tons and 80 guns; and therefore thinks it
one of the best of the second rates—Moves that the proportion of the second rate may be 1100 tons.
Mr Pepys.] The practice of the seamen is concerned
in this. It has been the fault of our predecessors to build
their great ships streight, so that they cannot play their
guns. For the great advantage of the—— (fn. 1) make
them; 200 tons.
Sir George Carteret.] When a ship is built, they look
at dimensions; heights, and breadths, proportionable, without which you cannot resolve. The Victory may be a
Capt. Legge.] Thirteen hundred tons is as little as any
three-deck ship can have; you must have breadth below,
as well as above, and scope to vent the powder, else the
people will be choaked. When he has been to fight and
work his ship, he has found the inconveniency of streightness below. A ship has measured 1100 tons within her
girdle, and 1300 without; such a ship will require 700
men, and the decks are so streight they poison one another: Therefore would not have the second rates under
Sir Thomas Meres.] Would know the definition of
these rates. No man could think but that they are, at
the rates we have now—Was willing to have a great ship
for the first rate; but no reason to be run high upon
every one of them; but they are every day enlarged and
girdled in Pepys's papers. What can we do when we
have no establishment of papers? In none of these papers we have 1100 tons. The Victory is not so much, nor
near, before girdled. He says, he knows not the end of this.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] You are advised by Carteret, the
oldest seaman in the House, to take the Victory for your
pattern, which is not above 1100 tons.
Sir John Duncombe.] If the Victory be so narrow a ship
that men are almost stifled in her, mend the fault of the
Sir John Ernly.] The port-holes must be wider; you
cannot else traverse your guns, if under that burden.
Sir William Coventry.] Has not heard that to be the
Victory's fault, only some say she is not broad enough;
but has heard that the St Michael, the French ship, is
not above four inches wider. If you alter quality in
breadth, you may in length also, at this rate; and so
make second rates first rates.
Col. Birch.] Is mightily pleased with this Debate—
Hopes, in time, he may be informed for a higher form.
The second rates we have not; but, by former precedent,
he abides by it, they were not above 1000 tons at a medium. He must go to Holland to fight; they'll not
come to us. 'Tis said, "there is not room enough for
their men, in a ship of that burden, and the men are
smoaked." How comes it to pass that we must have
700 men, and the Dutch come to sea with 500 men, in
a ship of the same rate? They were over-numbered in
the ships, and that makes them be stifled. So many
men have lost our honour—And if you intend the best
precedent, for burden, as for use, not above 700 men
to 1100 ton.
Sir Charles Wheeler.] All third rate ships, lately built,
and the Harwich, are 950 and 960 tons.
Sir William Coventry.] Some third-rates have 400 men,
and others not 300 men: But he is not for pinching this
****matter; is far from it. Some are not 800 tons, and yet
good third-rates, as the Fairfax. Many others not 600
tons; and every one has its time of use in the battle.
He reckons that the business you aim at is 850 tons; but
would not bring the less sort to 600 tons neither.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Eight hundred and fifty tons is
the Debate. The officers of the yards love to over-do,
and over-build—'Tis natural for those of the Navy to
over-speak the matter—Therefore put the medium to
Sir Robert Holmes.] Hopes he shall have a share in
the danger and trouble of this fleet—Suppose you build
for yourselves, and 20,000 l. is ill spared.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Thinks it not a fault to overreckon. He believes it to be natural. 'Tis an error on
the right side.
Capt. Legge.] He takes the Cambridge and the Defiance to be of about ten years standing, and to be 900
tons, or somewhat less—Finds not the Harwich much
insisted on; she is somewhat over-burdened.
Col. Birch.] Legge told you, "that perhaps the Harwich was somewhat over-burdened"—From what he said,
put the Question at 850 tons.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] Of the first and second
rates, some are higher, and some lower. 'Tis said, if
we send to Algiers, the third-rates may serve. Those
services are more than provided for by the third-rates;
but the defence of the nation, in time of war, is the case.
All other forts of services are more than provided for.
It is insisted on, that the least sum should be put first,
to which this is tant-amount—Would agree to 900 tons.
Mr Powle.] When we come to raise the money for
these ships, we shall not find the subjects very full. You
are told, the Harwich is rather over-burdened; and 'tis
said, the rest are 900 ton, and somewhat less. The tonnage will be the same which ought to be put; and he
believes will go current.
Sir William Coventry.] When we give the King money,
and not ships, as this infallibly will be money upon the
people, therefore the less charge, according to custom,
must be put first, Since he had no call to look into the
Navy, has enquired into it; but on his old papers he finds
that the Harwich was built by contract, and that makes
her burden the greater; and the builder can make his
measure more, and have no deeper hold. Some measure
900 tons, as the Warspite; and also the Cambridge, and
she measures 900 tons, and somewhat better—Not built
by contract. But what gain you? Whether more force?
937 tons is the Cambridge's burden, and she has no more
guns than the Rupert, which is but 827 tons. In this,
much less burden, and the same proportion of guns as
the bigger in measure has—As it is the interest of the
ship-builder, it may not be amiss that some be 850, and
some less—He is for 850 tons.
Mr Sawyer.] There have been many precedents in former Parliaments, and in this Parliament, that the least sum
has not been put first. If you are tied up to that, does not
hear answered, why 900 is not the fittest proportion. You
are to consider what the latter fleet has been; none built
under 900 tons. To take a measure from both ancient
and modern rates, the ancient were only fit for scouts.
Thinks 900 a medium; and fears it not safe for a battle
under that burden. 'Tis certain 'twill end in money,
and it is to be laid out in ships. The safety of the Kingdom is only in our eye; and if you will have the most
serviceable, 900 ton is a proportionable rate.
Sir Thomas Lee.] You cannot find any such Order as
Sawyer mentions, writ down, and asserted, that 'twas the
current Order of the House; but he never yet heard it
till lately; if anciently, very rarely.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] Observes, by the list, twenty-three
ships, third rates, and not above seven of them 800 tons.
Sir George Downing.] If there be not above seven of
800 tons, 'tis all the reason the rest should be supplied.
Sir Thomas Meres.] An old Parliament-man of eighty
years of age enjoined him strictly to keep to that Order
of the lowest sum first to be put. Whatever is the event
of 850 tons, he matters not at all: He is for preserving
the Order; for he speaks now for the House of Commons.
Sir John Birkenhead.] Challenges Meres to produce
one line in the Journal of Q. Eliz. K. James, or Cha. I.
where the greater sum is not named first, for this reason;
if the greater sum be denied, you may have a second
Question; but if the least be denied, you cannot come to
Sir William Coventry.] We ought not to depart from
Order, till gentlemen versed in Records can inform you
farther; in the mean time, to stick to the usual Order.
On the one hand, you are charging the Subject; and on
the other, giving to the Crown. On this ground, votes
freely, and would avoid ill manners to the Crown. Suppose 300,000l. should be necessary, and a motion be
proposed by one near the Chair, and seconded for a greater
sum; and he be put upon the indecency of giving a Negative upon the Crown. When the sum is higher and
higher, in every step we proceed with decency. Does it
appear nothing, hastily to throw away method? This
Order of the House is worth more than the ships; it may
be double. Put the Question.
Mr Sawyer.] No Journal ever affirmed this to be an
Order. He has searched them for your service. He that
denies the lesser Question, a fortiori, denies the greater.
When such a standing Order is showed, will acquiesce.
Mr Cheney.] Has heard say, "the House is not confined to Order, but arbitrary."
Mr Boscawen.] Of various Questions, when they are
proposed, that is put which the Chairman shall collect.
The usual way formerly was by Subsidy; now we give
by a newer way, Land-tax. Lord Chief Justice Vaughan,
when here, said, "that if any man moved for five Subsidies, they gave more than they had;" it being against
the old rule.
Mr Waller.] You are upon Order of the previous
Question. He has a Journal by him of 1 James (before
the Long Parliament) where he finds the previous Question, Nothing more ancient, nor natural; not new in
its own nature, and very natural; a Question, whether
the Question shall be put, or no.
Mr Secretary Williamson.] Waller says, 'tis necessary,
by way of expedient; for one part of the House calls for
the Question; another not; so that's the use of a previous Question. But now, whether an expedient betwixt
magis and minus applies it to the previous Question. In
this case, 'tis no expedient—In the last Question, those
who are for a greater sum, were precluded—He could
not say no, for five—The greater sum must be first put,
else you preclude all for the less.
Col. Birch.] In the Convention, the longest time, and
lowest sum, was the current custom. Believes, now great
sums are talked of, we shall be weary of it.
Sir Charles Harbord.] Has heard, that the Question in
King James's time, of a previous Question, was to make
a modest silence in a thing the House would not grant.
Sir John Birkenhead.] Harbord says, "it was in King
James's time;" but Henry Elsing told him, that young Sir
Henry Vane was the first that invented it; and he did not
believe that tattered and torn book to be the Journal of
1 James, but only mistaken and scattered Notes. Elsing,
to his dying day, denied it to be a Journal.
Sir Charles Harbord.] Sir Dudley Digges gave his testimony of that Journal to be authority, long before Elsing
Sir Charles Wheeler.] Moves, as an expedient, that
the Speaker may take the Chair, and propose the Question.
Sir Thomas Lee.] The Speaker can take no cognizance
of any thing done at the Committee, but what is reported by the Chairman.
Sir Richard Temple.] If any difficulty arises, the Speaker
may and ought to take the Chair.
The Speaker.] Suppose the Debate should be of giving
500,000l. and it be moved, and seconded, that the
sum should be 100l. will you put that lesser sum to the
Mr Waller.] Cannot say that always the lesser sum
has been put first, but plerumque, for the most part, it
has been so, and 'tis most expedient. God loves a chearful giver; so does the King
The Speaker took the Chair, and the Committee had leave
to sit again the next day.
Wednesday, November 3.
[In a Grand Committee.]
Debate on the Ships resumed.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Whose interest do we stand up for
in contending for this? The peoples. He grants that,
once or twice, this Order has been over-run in a torrent
of money; the twenty-five hundred thousand pound Act
in one vote. Would have that man sent to the Tower,
that should hereafter move for such a sum. In the
Lords House they have standing Orders and Rules Mr
Vaughan and Mr Prynne had once the Chair for Orders,
and went a great way in them. There are no records
of your standing Orders, but delivered from man to man
by tradition. In the next place, look into your books,
and you find not what other sum was mentioned with it.
The Irish cattle and the corn exported; when rates were
set upon them; and in tonnage and poundage—Eightpence and twelve-pence in the Scotch cattle; the eightpence put to the Question first; in that other, forty shillings for wheat, first the lower sum was put, and so rose
higher. These are remembrances, not specified by the
Clerk in your books, but were passed. 'Tis essential
to the good of the nation. He speaks this, not only for
the Commons of England, but as the most dutiful way
of proceeding, to the King, to go higher and higher—
Therefore the Question.
Mr Mallet.] Possibly the higher sum was put to the
Question, when they were sharp set to raise money to
Col. Titus.] The Debate is, whether the smaller sum,
and longer time, should be first put to the Question;
which is as much as to say, whether you will not make
the charge as easy upon the people as you can. Who are
their representatives? He never heard it contradicted till
yesterday, and we were told, the greatest sum to be put
first was a standing Order, from the Chair itself, yesterday. He believes we shall not find it in our books, that
the Question first put that is first seconded, is yet taken
for granted to be an Order. 'Tis his opinion, if it be
not a standing Order, to make it one: The rules of prudence advise the method. Suppose you build a house,
and you call workmen, and, after the dimensions and
figure are taken, one says, he will build it for three, another for five thousand pounds. If he be cozened two
of the five, believes the workman will not refund it again.
Suppose a war with France, and at the same time one
moves for five, another for forty thousand pounds, and
an army is raised, drums and feathers in every street,
and France immediately makes a peace with us, and
2,500,000l. given for it; it may make no Parliaments
in England for ever after. All the world knows, that,
if five be not put, then in the consequence ten must.
Sir John Birkenhead.] 'Tis moved by Titus, "if this
be not an Order already, to make it one." A standing Order must be either in the Rolls, or the Journal.
One Vowel, a Western man, published his observations a
hundred years ago: He was eight times a Parliamentman, and Chairman to the Committee of Privileges. He
made a book, and quoted his observations out of the
Journal. After him, H. Elsing, 18 James, showed his
book to Mr Selden, who needed his relief. If one Order,
or one word, be in those books, that the least sum should
be first put, would have it showed him. He has read
all the Journals, and not one Journal has a word of it.
Scogell, the Clerk of the Rump Parliament, does say, it
has been done; but no other gives the least shadow
Mr Powle.] Has heard this Order so often cited, and
so little contradicted, that, since this Debate, he has enquired into it. Finds, that if any fear or terror should be
in any man, to be ill represented to the King, therefore
he is for the lowest sum, so not to give a negative to the
King's desires, thereby not to undergo any harsh constructions—He principally rises up to tell you, what precedents former times have met with, but have been very
rare. In Q. Elizabeth's time, there was no Question put
of more or less, but the sum was granted without contradiction, what was asked, such was the felicity of her
times. But in the beginning of K. James, (3 Ja. 14th
March, Friday) there was a Debate about a Subsidy, and
several motions for four Subsidies, and eighteen fifteenths.
Some were so resty they would give none at all. There
was a long Debate about it. The first Question was,
"whether there should be a general, or a particular
Question; a particular sum, or whether Supply." The
next Question was, "Whether the King should have a
Supply?" It was carried in the affirmative. The third
Question was, "Whether a Supply by the usual way of
Subsidy, or fifteenths?" Carried in the affirmative for "the
usual way." The next was, "for one Subsidy, and two fifteenths"—Through all these gradations, the least charge
was first put—To what is said, "that thus men cannot
clearly have their Vote" on the Question, whether put
or no, there follow clear Negatives and Affirmatives.
Of later times, it has been otherwise, but overborne,
unfortunately, in the great sum mentioned; which he
hopes he shall never see again.
Sir Anthony Irby.] Nothing does the King more honour, than an unanimous found from hence. Will not
say, for these 47 or 48 years, it has been a positive Order,
the least sum put first. But it has been a constant custom,
the least sum first put.
Upon the Question, [the House did resolve and declare it an
ancient Order of the House] that the least sum ought first to be
put [and the longest time] to the Question—To be a standing Order for the future.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] Moves to have two or three gentlemen to withdraw, to preface this Order, with the reason of making it. The Order else is but an oral tradition—The Grand Committee report the matter resolved,
to the House, and no particulars are entered into the Journal, and so you find no written Order in the case.
The House agreed with the Committee, that one ship of the
first rate should be of the burden of 1400 tons, and five ships
of the second rate at 1100 tons.
Sir Henry Capel.] Moves for fourteen ships of the
third rate, 900 ton measure.
Sir William Coventry.] This Order of the House made
great Debate yesterday, and now is settled to your satisfaction. Capel's motion is no violation of the Order,
since you have not two sums in motion before.
Resolved, That the third rate ships be 900 tons, one with
Mr Pepys.] To the value. One thing is worth your
consideration, if you build one, two, or three—But
the inevitable price of building so many—Greater
number are of sizes, and must be built by contract—
Few, in the King's yards, of them. In building of a
house, dimensions, thickness of walls, and timber, are
considered; the bricklayer else may cheat. He propounds, for the first rate 15 l. per ton, for the second rate
14l. per ton, and for the third rate 10l. per ton. The
Harwich was built for 9l. per ton. But there is an
inevitable necessity of increasing the rates of prices, when
so many are to be built.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Has heard often, that the London
was built for 12l. 10 s. per ton. He believes that 13l.
will do; but rather than do it scanty, will move for 14l.
per ton, though he be checked for it.
Mr Spry.] Ships of war ought to be much stronger, and
more costly built, than merchant-men—Therefore moves
for fourteen ships of the second rate, at 15l. 10 s. per ton.
Mr Pepys.] The London was but a second rate ship,
but a great one; 1300 tons.—Built by contract, but not
Sir Eliab Harvey.] Merchants tell him, 14l. per ton
will do it extravagantly. The London was so good a ship,
that they took her very keel to build upon her.
Sir John Ernly.] This is the worst money you can
save. For instance, in the Charles. Though old decayed
timber be cheaper, yet what you save in this being lost,
he would have it at 15l. per ton.
Mr Pepys.] No merchant can be a proper judge of
this work, 'tis so different from their way of building.
Sir Thomas Clarges.] The Edgar was a third rate, but
had the tonnage of a second rate; and cost but 9l. per
ton, built at Bristol.
Sir Thomas Lee.] We may conclude, that 13l. per ton
will do it: But observes, that the reasons, one day, to
raise your number, are the same another day, to raise the
sum. He supposes they build these in the King's yards,
and 'tis not for their interest to build ill; and as you
bargain, you may save; for you are like to have no farther account of your money.
Sir Nicholas Carew.] The raising in this will be a
reason for raising the whole. It may be about 100,000l.
in the matter.
Mr Boscawen.] If you buy timber, what will not go
to the building of great ships may serve for the less.
The more houses you build, the cheaper will the bricklayer undertake the work, because his materials may
serve for several uses. In building, you make articles,
and have satisfaction for non-performance; and he ought
to be defaulted in his price. When it may be done for
8l. 10s. he wonders at the confidence of the motion
Sir Thomas Meres.] Finds the 8l. 10s. not denied to
be the contract at Bristol. He is for building at Bristol,
that can build so cheap. He spoke it, upon Sir John
Knight's unwillingness to build at Bristol.
Mr Pepys.] As to that one ship, the Edgar, whatever.
is thought of the difference of Bristol and the Yards,
the additional charge of guns, keels, masts, and yards
sending to Bristol, with the hazard of winds and weather,
costs the King much more per ton than is mentioned.
She must have more time, and lie on ground so long,
that she may break her back before she comes to Portsmouth, and may cost the King above 3000l.
Mr Sacheverell.] Never found but 11l. per ton was
Col. Birch.] 'Tis spoken of building in the western
ports, at Bristol. The more diffusive this work is made,
the better it is for the nation. Hears spoken of the forest
of Dean—And no timber to speak of downwards. 'Tis
an old maxim of his, that interest goes a great way.
Has had occasion to ride through the forest of Dean
(the bravest echo of woods he ever heard) 'Tis said, in
the Lee Baily, there the timber is unfit for shipping—
For half a mile together, he saw not one in fifty decayed,
and of great height—At a venture, would have given
money (when he saw the certificate of their unfitness for
shipping) for a thousand of them. He came soon after,
and saw thirty of them cut down, in the fashion of that
country, four feet from the ground—They said they did
it for some extraordinary occasion; but 'twas given for
cord-wood—They were of great sizes, between four and
five feet over in diameter, and as fine, pure, and true
oak, and as well quartered, as ever he saw, But he did
not find, it seems, that 'twas for the interest of those
about London to build ships there. This timber is within
three miles of a navigable river, which may carry it to
Bristol. He never saw so fine a sight as the young wood;
but there were eight or nine score cattle in it. Why then
should this place, so natural for timber, be thus destroyed? And wonders that certificates should go abroad
Mr Somerset Fox.] Is told, by credible persons in the
country, that there is not timber in all that forest to
build two second rate ships, and two third rates.
Mr Pepys.] He speaks not by rote what he has propounded; but of all species of materials, by the opinion
of such as are as much masters of husbandry as the
judgment past. He speaks from Sir Anthony Deane, and
Mr Johnson, and would have them give you an account,
and be sent for.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Wonders that Mr Johnson should
be moved to be sent for, who is to build, and may set
the dye upon you. For the first at 14l. per ton, and the
second rate at 12 l. This is a great price.
Sir William Coventry.] As it is no man's interest to do
it slightly, so 'tis ours not to do this work scanty. The
Richard, which was afterwards the Royal James, had a
stem-piece defective. He saw it in the yard-place, when
one bought it at an extraordinary rate. He asked Commissioner Pett, how much money it would cost to put
that piece into a ship? He said, some thousands of
pounds. The very putting this piece in speaks this,
to go as far as you can, to have all well done. The
London now is not of the same dimensions the other London was, and the City gave 12l. 10 s. per ton. That
ship was built in a time of war, and the charge of workmen may come near the price of scantiness of timber—
Therefore moves for 11l. 10 s. the price of the former
Mr Pepys.] There is a worthy Member in his eye of
that profession [Wright]; refers it to him, whether the just
value of that ship was 1100 tons.
Mr Wright.] No shipwright will undertake it; 'tis
too great a mark for him.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Let it be put at 12l. 10s. because moved.
Resolved, That the second rates be at 12l. 10 s. per ton.
Third rates debated.
Sir William Coventry.] Doubts not but timber will
rise upon this occasion; but by the time some ships are
on the stocks, timber will fall. It must come from foreign markets, and time will make it cheap. The Harwich was built by contract, at 9l. per ton, and the last
was so built.
Sir John Ernly.] He has the papers of accounts from
him that built the ship Harwich. If any man will build
it for 10 l. per ton, he'll pay for it.
Mr Wright.] But one ship was then to be built; and so
being but one, the price was raised.
Mr Pepys.] Sir Anthony Deane assured him, the timber
cost twelve-pence a foot for the Harwich.
Sir Thomas Lee.] Wonders what ground there is to
believe that the rising of timber should be so great, as a
tenth part—These men, that hope to do it, raise it—
There is no rule to go by, but what has been done before. You cannot raise the price one tenth part, unless
the carpenter, and all other workmen, raise proportionably.
Mr Pepys.] Would ask, what merchants give for their
own ships per ton? Some of theirs are of five and six
hundred tons burthen. Appeals to them, if they pay not
from 8l. 2s. 6d. to 8l. 6s. 8d. per ton.
Sir Tho. Meres.] 'Tis granted that the Edgar was built
at 11l. 10s. per ton. It comes in the total to a very
great sum. Unless for better reasons than yet he has heard,
would stand upon 9l. per ton.
Mr Wright.] Merchantmen of five or six hundred tons,
come to no less than 8l. 10s. per ton.
Mr Pepys.] Increase of scantlings rises, and dimension
Sir John Fagg.] Though he is no ship-wright, he has
been a broken timber-merchant these seven years. You
are told of a difference of prices. 'Tis true, there is a
difference between knee-timber and ordinary compass
pieces but finds no difference betwixt great and small
pieces proportionably. But 'tis said, "There will be a
rise of timber, upon building these ships;" but he thinks
not. In the war, merchants have lain by the walls, and
not been used; but now they begin to build. Ever since
timber has borne a price, it has been preserved; and, on
his conscience, he believes there is twice as much timber
in his country [Sussex] as will build all these ships. He
knows a tree that has grown a foot in the diameter in
thirty years: What may that come to in time? So
that there is no scarcity of timber; and would put
the Question for 9l. 10s. per ton.
Mr Pepys.] Has bought many a load of timber at 30l.
per load, and has given 50l. but difference of figure is
much in the case. He can buy ordinary house-timber at
that rate of 30l. But if Fagg will furnish him for ships,
he will give 55l. a load.
Sir John Fagg.] Has called himself a timber-broker—
There is a fort of knee-timber, and several other names
and variety of pieces—How they buy in the King's yards,
he knows not; but how he sells; he knows—And they
come not near Pepys's price.
Col. Birch.] Observes, the steps you have gone have
been with the usual frankness and freeness of the House
of Commons. 'Tis said, the Harwich was built at 9l.
per ton. When the House is making the King a present,
would rather over-do than under-do the thing. Do it to
the utmost; you may gain your desires from the King:
Pray then to have it well done; put it to 10l. per ton.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Every ten pounds is ten thousand
to the people. Has heard, that 850 tons burden is a
good ship. It is nothing, when we talk of tons; but we
know the money. We have thrown away 6000l. already this morning; and if the thing be pressed, will give
but 6000l. this morning.
Sir George Downing.] If you were giving so much for
hoods and scarves in France, that would be giving it;
but this is for your safety; and what you do, do generously—Moves for 10l. per ton.
Sir Tho. Lee.] Would have gentlemen consider, that now
you are making a bargain of ill husbandry for the Crown.
Has heard that rough timber is a fifth part of the cost—
A strange way to persuade you to be frank!—But if to
raise money for other uses, if there be an overplus of 40
or 50,000l. you'll hear of no more ships; and if it goes
into the Exchequer, he knows not what may become of
it; by the former dealings there.
Sir Charles Harbord.] This money is not a present to
the King, but pro salute regis et regni. Therefore would
have it complete.
Sir Thomas Meres.] This is giving 1200l. more to
the shipwrights, who will measure at the highest. It may
be 40 or 100 tons more by measure. But he dreads
another thing. There will be no end of building ships,
if we appropriate not the Customs. They being appropriated will build all the ships for the future, and
perhaps, they may do so now. You are not to lay
a foundation of a body of shipwrights, to be so raised
as the brewers were, to be worth 40,000 or 100,000l. a
man. Ergo, He insists upon 9l. 10 s. per ton.
Sir William Coventry.] Will not conclude that it cannot
be done for 9l. 10 s. because a shipwright will not undertake it. Horse-coursers never will come near the price
they will take, till they see you will buy, and money
is stirring. You are told, the last ship was built for that
price. Possibly prices may now rise, on the first notice, but believes they will fall afterwards, when we shall
have timber from foreign markets. It is a notable deduction in telling you the value of timber—It cannot
suffer much for raising—Upon your old rule, now established, would put the less sum first.
Resolved, That the third rates be at 9l. 10 s. per ton.
Sir Tho. Meres.] Put the Question upon the whole
valuation at the rates mentioned.
Mr Pepys.] If for the hulls only, he agrees with the
Motion, but for the entire ship differs.
Sir Tho. Meres.] It it be expected that we must find
stores for them, we have sufficient, and can make it
out that the Customs are for the whole. Our business
is, building the King so many ships; but as to
ropes and fails, 130,000l. a year out of the Customs
to improve stores, in three years will plentifully do
this, and to spare. But as to the money, (not but
that you have enough for all) would have that now upon
the calculation agreed upon.
Mr Pepys.] Appeals if there was a ship ever used,
unless with all her furniture, as fails, &c. Without it,
'tis to be understood like a coach without wheels.
Sir Tho. Lee.] The Question is, Whether the shipwrights that contracted, did provide all things besides
Sir Tho. Littleton.] The last Session, the Customs being appropropriated were thought sufficient to do all
these things now, and for the future. Deserves no
credit, and shall not have it, if not made good that
the Customs to be appropriated are 400,000l. per ann.—
The ordinary charge of the Navy 250,000l. per ann.
the Ordnance 10,000l. makes the ordinary charge of
the Navy in peace 200,000l. per ann. Shall the rest
of the Customs be thrown away? But say some, "The
King shall want bread"—Would have them put together—Not as the two in a field, the one taken and the
other left (in the Gospel)—We were told "that the anticipations of the Customs were between 7 and 800,000
pounds, and if not taken off, the King would want bread."
He fears we have been abused in it. There is one anticipation of the Excise, the farmers fine 200,000l. and
the chimney money, though the tallies are struck for
it, yet it hinders not the course of the revenue, for
whoever takes the farm next, the fine is continued,
like a fore rent in a man's estate; so that his anticipations hinder not the revenue, and this hinders
not the King from bread—Anticipations to the Navy
100,000l. and 40,000l. of that is over put in
hands. So this is to be deducted. A great part of
that of the Excise is not spent, besides on the rest 40
or 50,000l. unspent, and the great noise is about
250,000l.—For the guards and other charges of the
Government, 150,000l.—48 unappropriated—And
that of the Wine duty—Does not mention this as
money that ought to be employed—In all 700,000l.
Excise, with the rest of the revenue 900,000 l. per
ann. and this no immoderate calculation. There is
another great sum in Ireland, The standing charge there
is 170,000 l. per ann. and the standing revenue is
240,000l. per ann. Thus this great noise of anticipations—And by the calculation he has made, you may
judge whether the King cannot live.
Mr Leveson Gower.] The point is "Ships" or Hulls."
Put the Question, that every man may show his inclination.
Sir William Coventry.] Gower has given him an invitation of speaking, but was more inclined to speak then
than now, because he knows not how the Committee
will like diverting this Debate. What he intended
before, was on the single point of building ships.—
Consider whether straining points has been for your service—More readily complied with, when not struggled.
'Tis said, that building of ships is rigging and sitting
them. Those which Pepys delivered in the list, he called
"ships," though not fitted. Would know, whether
these contracts mentioned were for rigging—But
they trusted not that in his time to contract, mens lives
depending on them. That was not done by contract.
The King, in his Speech, asked of us "building of
ships," and you voted "building," and it can be understood nothing, but "hulls out of the contractors
hands." Will a man say, guns are a part of ships?
Many ships go to sea without guns. He does not tell
you what is his judgment to do, but would only clear the
matter. Littleton's discourse may be of great use; he
hopes, at another time more seasonable. All men are
for appropriating, if their own hearts were consulted,
and if the King cannot subsist without the Customs, none
are for it. Would now let the Speaker take the Chair
to adjourn the Debate.
Sir John Duncombe.] Would defer the Debate to some
other time, foreseeing that many things would fall into it.
You are told "that the anticipations upon the Customs, are
between seven and eight hundred thousand pounds;"
upon examining, fears they will prove more. He will
not pretend to be so knowing, as the officers whose
business it is, who will inform you the Excise is so anticipated, that the King has no profits of it. Would have
things seen and examined, together with that of Ireland
and would defer it to another day, that men may be
prepared in it.
Sir Thomas Littleton.] Is informed, that some are about
to give now 500,000l. per ann. for the Excise. There's
money reserved out of the Excise that comes neither to
the Exchequer, nor Privy purse.
Mr Sacheverell] Is for going forwards now with the
business in hand. Would dispatch it as soon as may
be—Never thought the quantum more than mentioned—
That then we may go on the other business. Else, if not,
he fears we shall have a slender account of this Session.
Sir Thomas Lee.] The quantum of money is the same
in the Exchequer, as when the last war was made without Parliament. He thinks that 210,000l. may be
sufficient for this purpose.
Sir John Hotham.] The last Session, and till now, we
heard nothing of rigging and equipage, and what you
give more than is asked, the country will not thank
The Speaker.] The Question is, "whether the intention of the House be to give money for hulls, and
no more." You are told, you have a good fleet, but
not comparable to your neighbours. If your neighbours have no rigging, nor guns, then you are as
well as they. Without it, you throw away your money. As the state of the revenue now is, you will let
these ships lie by the walls. 'Tis an easy thing to take
impression so as to do things out of order—As for the
charge of the Navy, we are now in peace—Those that
say, there is an ill management of the Navy, say generals, but no particulars—But selling the offices of the
Navy has occasioned this—(reflecting upon Sir William
Coventry) Since that was done, there has been such a
herd of vermin in the offices, that are not yet weeded
out, that 400,000l. per ann. is the Navy charge. The last
two years it has taken up more. The tonnage and
poundage is 500,000l. per ann. the whole but 600,000l.
with the additional duty upon wines. If a measure of the revenue be taken by this year, 'tis a mistake.
Would not farm it so after this year's product. Whoever
does it, will have an ill bargain. We are in peace, and
all our neighbours in war. Littleton is as much mistaken in the revenue of Ireland, as he is in that of England. He tells you of 100,000l. per ann. of it that
comes into the King's purse. The story is like a gentleman that made a horse-match, and took money of his
friends for shares: He won the match, and what with
paying his friends shares, and the reckoning for the
entertainment, he spent more than he had won by the
match. The establishment-money goes from hence to
pay the charges of the Kingdom, and if any man doubts
of it, would have a time appointed for the perusal of
the papers of the revenue, which you have so often rejected.
Sir William Coventry.] Something sell from the Speaker,
which concerns him to speak to. How necessary it was
for him to make that digression, he leaves you to
judge—Nothing of this matter required it. He avoided that of "selling of places," in all the course of his
life, under an awe of himself. 'Tis no news to this
House, that he did receive, (when in the employment
of the Navy) such profits (as he is able to prove) as
were taken in the last King's time. But as he could show
such long lists come into the Navy that gave him not
a penny for it, and yet received profit, so he was the
first that moved for reformation, and they were put out,
and had pensions for it. He defies any man to say that
there was the least protection of them from him, or
influence to do amiss. He denies it, and defies any man
to say the contrary. He supposed the thing had been
gone and past, but so much having been said, he thought
fit to say what he has said. He hopes the payments
in the yards are mended. But those "vermin" mentioned never amounted to a hundred part of the pensions (meaning the pensions paid to Lord Anglesea, &c.)
paid by an honourable person, whose place is now in
the Speaker. When those papers shall be produced, the
House may judge whether the King hath any benefit
by that honourable truck. But since so much has been
said, he could not be wanting to his own innocence to
say what he has done.
The Speaker.] The rubbish belonged to another man,
that was laid at his door—But says, the buying and selling
of offices has been as mischievous, as selling of powder in fight. But there is no such thing as "trucking"
mentioned in matter of fact.
Sir Thomas Meres.] Suppose that another man receives that pension mentioned, that has right to the
place of Treasurer of the Navy. But after all this, we
pay the reckoning; we pay the anticipation. But now
is not a time for this. Will make it good to reasonable men; if the House will go along with him in it,
will make it out, that there is money already for these
ships, and a full revenue, and we need lay no money
upon the people. But this is not to be done without
the help of the House to back him. The revenue is
not known, and this is the great skill of matters now
to conceal it, and ours to find it out—If men will go
about it, they will find such things discovered—But
he is for looking forward, and mending the matter—
But this Debate is not so much out of the way; this
must grease the wheels of this appropriating the Customs.
If they come in fairly, above 100,000l. over and above
the expence of the Navy—'Tis a proper Question now to
provide these hulls, and we will talk of rigging to
morrow. If you put the Question in words "not
exceeding"—If by a Land Tax assessment at 70,000l.
per month, would not have one month to make up a
short 10,000l. since 'tis not exceeding 208,000 l.