3 Annotations

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Pepys initial fear that the Act would not work seems to have been overcome by 12 May, 1666:

“… to Westminster and White Hall about business and among other things met Sir G. Downing on White Hall bridge, and there walked half an hour, talking of the success of the late new Act; and indeed it is very much, that that hath stood really in the room of 800,000l. now since Christmas, being itself but 1,250,000l.. And so I do really take it to be a very considerable thing done by him; for the beginning, end, and every part of it, is to be imputed to him.”

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The Act for an Additional Aid of £1 1/4 m. (17 Car. II c.i) would be “a new venture in English public finance” (L&M) in which bills would be paid by the Exchequer on credit.

Pepys was initially skeptical of financing on credit (a concern he will share with Carteret and the bankers), but the scheme is a success.


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The involvement of Sir George Downing, MP in the Additional Aid Act:

The Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1665 was Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Lord Ashley. But as the former Chancellor, according to his House of Commons biography, Downing retained the title of Teller of the Exchequer from 1660 until his death.

In that capacity, when he finally came back from The Hague (where he was Dutch envoy extraordinary, obtaining intelligence with ‘the keys taken out of De Witt’s pocket when he was a-bed’) in 1665 Downing set himself to improving government credit, much to the disgust of Chancellor Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, who believed that he was chiefly concerned to increase the income from his tellership.

Resuming his seat for the Oxford session, Sir George Downing MP was supported by Secretary of State Sir Henry Bennet and Charles II in taking over from Heneage Finch the management of supply, in which his principal achievement was the Additional Aid Bill.

Aiming to revolutionize public borrowing by appealing to the small investor, Sir George Downing MP revived the principle of appropriating the revenue to specified purposes; but his great innovation (resisted by Chancellor Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon as an entrenchment on the prerogative) provided for the repayment of loans ‘in course’ instead of by treasury whim or favor.

Returning to London, which was still infected by the plague, Sir George Downing MP used every publicity device available, including advertisements in Sir Joseph Williamson's Gazette and personal application to his acquaintances, to make the loan a success. Exhausted by Sir George Downing MP’s volubility and pertinacity, one reluctant investor confessed: ‘the beginning, end, and every part of it is to be imputed to him.’

In the next Parliamentary session Sir George Downing MP again took the chair of a committee on trade, which on 8 Oct. 1666 recommended a total prohibition of French imports.

So Downing's not "running" the Exchequer, but he is reforming it (and doubtlessly lining his own pocket at the same time).

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.