Saturday 3 August 1667

Up, and to the office, where busy all the morning. Then at noon to dinner, and to the office again, there to enable myself, by finishing our great account, to give it to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury; which I did, and there was called in to them, to tell them only the total of our debt of the Navy on the 25th of May last, which is above 950,000l.. Here I find them mighty hot in their answer to the Council-board about our Treasurer’s threepences of the Victualling, and also against the present farm of the Customes, which they do most highly inveigh against. So home again by coach, and there hard to work till very late and my eyes began to fail me, which now upon very little overworking them they do, which grieves me much. Late home, to supper, and to bed.

10 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

John Evelyn's Diary

3d August, 1667. Went to Mr. Cowley's funeral, whose corpse lay at Wallingford House, and was thence conveyed to Westminster Abbey in a hearse with six horses and all funeral decency, near a hundred coaches of noblemen and persons of quality following; among these, all the wits of the town, divers bishops and clergymen. He was interred next Geoffry Chaucer, and near Spenser. A goodly monument is since erected to his memory. Now did his Majesty again dine in the presence, in ancient state, with music and all the court ceremonies, which had been interrupted since the late war.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Brodrick to Ormond
Written from: [London]
Date: 3 August 1667

Lord Bridgman, like many other wise men, thinks the "convening us [the Parliament] to Westminster very unseasonable, & the rather because he doubts it will put a necessity on the King of allowing their Assembly" [on] "Oct 15th, which his Majesty might, without the least umbrage, have again prorogued to the next year; but many members, disappointed in their passionate expectations, will be yet more exasperate, if denied to vent their petulant humours in a full Assembly, and spread the infection through their respective counties" ...

... "The Commissioners of the Treasury make strict disquisition [so in MS.] into the fees of all officers, and will not admit to the new Treasurer of the Navy to take poundage of the Victuallers ... As to the King's Household, ... it is said that whereas there was a frank allowance called 'waste', viz. when officers of the Household carried their friends into the cellar, pantry, pastry kitchen, &c, they might entertain them & be allowed it, on account of 'waste'; Now that no house is kept, no cellar stored, or any person but themselves ... admitted the waste exceeds the proportion of the most lavish of K. James, K. Charles I, & K. Charles II whilst the ables were [kept] up". ...

Arlington to Ormond
Written from: London
Date: 3 August 1667

The nearer the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury look into our condition, the more deplorable they find it. The writer may tell his Grace, & him only, that two millions will not pay the precise [so in MS.] debts of the Crown. In what state shall we be when, to the other exceptions the people have to the government, this shall [also] be known?- "And we are [now] in a regular established way of spending £600,000, above the income of his Majesty's Revenue". ...

... Some account of the Advices received from the Continent is added. ...

Sir William Coventry to Ormond
Written from: [London]
Date: 3 August 1667

Has received his Grace's letter of July 27. ... His Royal Highness, as Admiral, has not the disposal of Guns,- which belongs to the Office of Ordnances, nor that of Prizes, which belongs to the Lords Commisioners, or to his Majesty's immediate direction; so that, in either capacity, the matter referred to [by the Lord Lieutenant] "is regularly out of his Royal Highness' direction".

Need not repeat anything of de Ruyter's threat 'to pull Sir Jeremy Smith out of Kinsale'. The writer does not believe that he will attempt it; still less, that he can do it. ...…

JWB  •  Link

Farm of the customs:

"Variable, but dominant proportions of revenues from indirect taxes continued (as had been the practice for centuries) to be farmed out to private contractors or syndicates under a variety of complex legal arrangements, designed to ensure acceptable levels and stable flows of income into the Exchequer year after year. Tax farming offered restored Stuart monarchs an alternative to royal bureaucracy, seen as open to antagonism and political interference from parliament, as prey to corruption and prone to promote private over the king's fiscal and financial interests.6
Farming indirect taxes had functioned since the Middle Ages within a legal framework in which the state had set rules for the assessment and collection of duties; as well as the scope of tax farms. These rules included: the periods and
terms for leases, provisions for default of contract and proper accounting procedures. For example, royal farms could be created and leased for the collection of duties upon a single commodity or as great farms they could include a penumbra of duties. Farms could be co-extensive with counties, towns or bounded to tax trade passing through particular ports. Their extent and specialisation could be changed to take advantage of prospects for increased administrative efficiency or to tap into mercantile and local expertise concerning taxable production, distribution and services. Franchising pleased the Commons, anxious about any expansion in the numbers of public servants owing allegiance to the Crown. Farming created opportunities for peers and parliamentarians to share in royal income, accruing from regal rights to customs and excise duties.7
For the King's purposes, the devolution of fiscal administration into the hands of business syndicates provided him (as the system did throughout Europe before the evolution of modern capital markets# with an institutional mechanism for raising loans. In common with their continental rivals, English monarchs expected to borrow on the security of tax revenues that accrued in the first instance to their agents. For their part farmers stood prepared not only to manage the assessment and collection of taxes but to risk investing their own and #through their networks of affluent clients# other people's money in the form of credit and loans extended to the Crown because repayments, with interest, could be guaranteed and deducted from the fixed annual rents #i.e. taxes) they had contracted to deliver to the Exchequer in London.8
Farming of the royal customs worked best when the kingdom's foreign trade remained free from cyclical downswings and unimpeded by warfare at sea. Farming excises levied on domestic production also became less productive whenever the economy suffered from recessions connected with bad harvests, plagues or business cycles. At such times farmers often submitted claims for defalcations on their contracts to deliver fixed annual sums as rents on farms they found to be subject to unpredictable fluctuations in the amounts of taxation collected upon trade and production.9 6
Yet whenever they failed to offer stable flows of revenue, a major rationale for the franchised assessment and collection of taxes looked weak. When farmers made inflated demands for their knowledge and services, the case for nationalisation became stronger. That occurred in 1670 when Charles II and his ministers found themselves in protracted dispute with a powerful metropolitan syndicate over terms for the renewal of the lease for customs duties. Apparently the farmers rashly offended the King by demanding prior commitments about defalcations allowable in the event of another war with Holland. Unwilling to concede that 'monied men' could raise questions about royal policy, ministers cancelled the contract, repaid loans, put into place and depended thereafter upon the king’s own customs’ service for the assessment and collection of duties on imports.10"

'Fiscal Exceptionalism: Great Britain and its European Rivals
From Civil War to Triumph at Trafalgar and Waterloo'
Patrick K. O’Brien…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Explaining the current situation (August 1667)

JWB, thanks for that -- and thanks to Patrick K. O’Brien. No wonder there is financial frustration all around.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Here I find them mighty hot in their answer to the Council-board about our Treasurer’s threepences of the Victualling"

L&M note the Treasury objected that the recent patent appointing Anglesey Navy Treasurer had allowed him the usual poundage, although the Poll Tax and Eleven Months Tax had reduced it. For the Poll Tax reduction of this fee see…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

" by finishing our great account, to give it to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury; which I did, and there was called in to them, to tell them only the total of our debt of the Navy on the 25th of May last, which is above 950,000l.."

L&M: Cf. the Treasury minute: 'Mr. Pepys called in and is desired to take care to insert the prices of goods in the Navy certificates. Mr. Papys [sic] offers a state of the Navy debt, whicj is 951,000l. in May 25 last' (CBT, ii. 53). For details of the debr, see BM, Add. 36782, f. 60v.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Here I find them mighty hot in their answer to the Council-board about our Treasurer’s threepences of the Victualling, and also against the present farm of the Customes, which they do most highly inveigh against."

L&M: Arrangements for the new custons farm were not concluded until 6 September. The Treasury (not fully consulted) objected to the rent fixed by the Prive Council: Carte 35, f. 624r.

Timo  •  Link

According to SDS’s Bank of England inflation calculator, the navy debt would be around £250 million in today’s money. That would only buy you an F35 fighter, with a little change left over nowadays.

Thinking about it tho, just one of those wold have quite easily taken care of that annoying Dutch fleet... Dracarys!

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

How right you are, Timo ... but we still have to deal with deficit spending; much as the mess they were in financially was devastating, they slowly got out of it without making their grandchildren paupers.

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