6 January 1670

Navy Office

6 January 1670

My Lords and Gentlemen

Your Lordships’ silence to what I (now some weeks since) presented you with relating to the common defence of this Office, joined with what hath lately come to my notice touching your acceptance of separate answers on the same subject from some particular members thereof, leads me to the thinking it seasonable for me to put into your Lordships’ hands something of what may hereafter come more amply to you in right to myself. The distinct duty of whose place as Clerk of the Acts being not to be denied to have shared in the increase of trouble occasioned by a war, equal (at least) to that of any of my fellows, especially those of them who, standing charged with little of the active, were at more leisure to attend only the consultive part of the Office, I cannot conceive any person conversant in the business thereof will scru-ple to allow the well executing my single share thereinfor a task sufficient to exercise the best industry of one man, without the additional charge of an accountableness for the reasons and actions of others.

To give your Lordships therefore a summary account of the method wherein I have in my particular place endeavoured to discharge my duty to his Majesty, both in the diligence of my attendance on it, the effects of my performance of it, and upright-ness in both, give me leave to say:

First — That for what respects my diligence: as no concernments relating to my private fortune, pleasure or health did at any time (even under the terror of the Plague itself) divide me one day and night from my attendance on the business of my place, so was I never absent at any public meeting of this Board but upon the especial commands of the Lord High Admiral, and that not thrice during the whole three years of the war. To which let me add that in my endeavours after a full performance of my duty I have neither made distinction of days between those of rest and others, nor of hours between them of day and night, being less acquainted during the whole war with the closing my day’s work before midnight than after it.

And that your Lordships may not conceive this to arise from any vain assumption of what may be grounded more upon the inability of others to disprove than my own capacity to justify, such have ever been my apprehensions both of the duty and importance of my just attendance on his Majesty’s service that among the many thousands under whose observation my employ-ment must have placed me, I challenge any man to assign one day from my first admission to this service in July 1660 to the determination of the war August 1667 (being a complete apprenticeship) of which I am not at this day able upon oath to give an account of the particular manner of my employing the same.

Secondly — That although this resignation of my whole time and strength to the service of his Majesty might in other cases be admitted for the equallest method of rating my performances, and albeit that other, by which alone your Lordships seem inclined to measure the same, namely the exactness of their conformity to and compliance with the ancient Instructions of the Lord High Admiral, calculated for a time of peace and small action, will not (I conceive) either in the reason, practicableness or intention thereof be upon examination insisted upon as such during a war, yet to the end that when your Lordships shall find me reasonably urging the same in behalf of the Board in general, you may not apprehend me interested in the behalf of that argument from any use I have to make of it in reference to my particular, to whom the meanest article of a Navy Officer’s duty ever seemed of too much moment to be left unexecuted without the communication of it and the reasons thereof to the Lord High Admiral, let it not be thought ostentation for me to own the result of my humble labours in his Majesty’s service by pretending to the having stric-tly answered every part of those Instructions incumbent on myself; and that in such method as to be willing to submit the same (while under the most tumultuous difficulties of a war) to be compared with and censured by what can be found of most methodical in any of my predecessors during the most leisurely time of peace, though (to say more) your Lordships shall at the same time find the work of my place to have exceeded by little less than a tenfold proportion that of my predecessors in the busiest time of their war. Wherein your Lordships are humbly referred to the written evidences of both, now extant.

And yet, that after having thus acquitted myself in my particu-lar duty I may not be found unmindful of what your Lordships seem to expect from each member in the justification of the acts of the whole, I shall take upon me further to say that though the fullness of my proper employment may (I doubt not) be reason-ably offered in defence of my necessary concurrence with others in matters foreign thereto, yet forasmuch as through the frequent absences of my fellow Officers during the late war (and that sometimes for weeks together) hundreds of letters and warrants have for the dispatch of his Majesty’s service been necessarily issued under my single hand and advice, I shall alone undertake for every such act, without the support of any defence for the possible imperfections thereof, deducible from my want of their advice, who stood equally obliged to an attendance with me on the same.

Nay further, forasmuch as though in the quality of my employ-ment it hath in an especial manner been esteemed my part to subscribe to the determinations of the Board, it may have so happened that my advice has nevertheless taken place in matters where one only of my fellow Officers may with myself have been present at the debates, I am contented also to stand personally accountable for every such act of this Office vouched but by one hand more than my own; leaving to your Lordships the consider-ing how far you will expect the like from me in cases where I shall be found subscribing only to the resolutions of a greater number, and those either by the nature or leisure of their proper places more concerned for and better instructed to guide the Board then and justify it now in the reasonableness of the same.

Thirdly — That as I expect not that either my diligence or best performances should be held worthy owning otherwise than as they are accompanied with integrity to my master and fair dealing towards those whom his service hath led me to have to do with, so I do with good assurance desire the whole world to allege one instance to the prejudice of the same, having the comfort of being able to affirm that my conscience in its strictest retrospections charges me not with any wilful declension from my duty, either in the faithfulness of my deportment therein, or care of rendering it the least expenseful to his Majesty - the execution of my place (under the utmost pressures of the war and the necessary increase of charge attending it) being to be found of less cost to his Majesty by one half than any other branch of the work of this Office, or what (by the necessary latitude given me with the rest of my fellows on that behalf) I might without censure have rend-ered my own to have been, and thereby not only gratified myself with a greater leisure of attending my private concernments, but prevented that untimely ruin of my eyes by the constancy of their night services during the war, which renders the remainder of my life of much less content or use to me than can be supplied by any other satisfaction than what flows from the consideration of that duty to his Majesty to which I sacrificed them.

And as to my behaviour towards others in reference to those gratifications which both practice and the quality of my place might justify an expectation and acceptance of, when (by the direction of the Lord High Admiral or the Board) employed in matters of lawful favour to private men, especially while the trust and burden of my place falling short of none of my fellows, no other reason than the consideration of such advantages incident thereto has been ever assigned for that difference of encourage-ment current amongst us by which the wages of the Clerk of the Acts stands inferior not only to what attends the lowest of his fellow Officers but to the avowed profits of some of their serv-ants, I shall with the same openness and truth wherewith your Lordships have in every other matter (relating no less to myself than others) found me ready to assist your inquiries humbly say:

First — That from the first hour of my serving his Majesty in this employment I did never to this day directly or indirectly demand or express any expectation of fee, gratuity or reward from any person for any service therein by me done or to be done them.

Secondly — That no gratuity, though voluntarily offered, hath ever met with my acceptance where I found not the affair to which it did relate accompanied with the doing right or advantage to his Majesty.

Thirdly — That the sums wherein I stand at this day in disburse on occasions wholly relative to the execution of my said employment during the war, and which (amounting to above £400) my fellow Officers have in their respective places either not at all known, or been reimbursed the same from his Majesty, do far exceed whatever profits have accrued to me from my said employment within that whole time.

Fourthly — Lastly, that I have in this place been in general so little solicitous in the study of my private fortune as to own with fullest and most humble thankfulness the favour and bounties of his Majesty to me under my low endeavours therein; though in exchange for near ten years’ service, and those the most valuable of my life for such improvements, I find not my estate at this day bettered by one thousand pounds from all the profits, salary or other advantages arising from my said employment beyond what it was known to be at my admission thereto.

Into the truth of all which I do not only invite but pray your Lordships to exercise your strictest inquisitions; being ready to justify the same not only by oath but by a double retribution of every penny or pennyworth of advantage I shall be found to have received either in manner or value different from what I have here declared.

Which leaving with your Lordships as an appendix in my own right to what you have already received from me on behalf of the Board in general, and submitting both to your disposal, I remain,

My Lords and Gentlemen,

Your Lordships’ most humble and most faithful servant


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