Diary of George Marsh 1722-1800 Commissioner of the Navy
This diary was written in manuscript towards the end of George Marsh's life. On the spine there is the remains of a hand written lable which appears to say:
Memorandums that I have heard my Father's and Mother's their relations and what has happened to myself George Marsh.
Inside the diary reads as follows:
In 1741 there were . . .
Admirals - none were inserted in the list of this year.
Post Captains - - 204
Masters & Commanders 69
Lieutenants - - 467 740
Admirals . . . 30
Post Captains . . . 231
Masters & Commanders . . . 94
Lieutenants . . . 574 929
Admirals . . . 102
Post Captains . . . 520
Masters & Commanders . . . 350
Lieutenants . . . 2000 2,900
No doubt but the Navy is wonderfully increased in 1789 but for the sake of Patronage new Officers have been more employed, and the old ones permitted to receive half pay and follow other employments, and many others wish to serve who could not get employed at sea.
Some years since an estate was advertised of about 1000 per annum, which had been property of William Marsh Esq. of Hertfordshire, who died intestate (no will), and was descended from one of that name, who formerly resided near Romney Marsh in Kent. Which imported that whoever could prove themselves the heirs at Law would be immediately put in possession of it. Whereupon, I took a great deal of trouble from what I had heard my Father say, of his Father and Grandfather (see page 13) but as I was not enabled to prove myself the heir to this estate, it became an escheat to the Crown. This circumstance induced me to commit to writing the following memorandum of what I had heard from my Father and Mother of their Families, and what I knew of my own, in order to leave to my Es:; being satisfied from the above mentioned circumstance, and for other reasons, a chronology from Father to Son, would be very proper, and afford information and perhaps pleasing entertainment to successors.
See my own situations and the account and occurrences from my own life from page 60.
[later note written in the hand writing of Elizabeth Louisa Marsh Caldwell] My Great grandfather G.M. was cousin to Herbert Marsh the Bishop of Peterborough's Father and used to make him an annual visit as I have heard my Father and Grandfather say. Louis Marsh.
The account of my family with some particular circumstances respecting the Marquis of Montrose as related by my Mother. Viz.
Her maiden name was Elizabeth Milbourne whose Grandfather John Milbourne Esq. had a capital fortune in the North of England, where he resided when the great Marquis of Montrose defeated by the Kings enemies, who after suffering very great hardships in living in disguise in woods and Barnes several days, escaped from the very great extraordinary search made all over the country for him, and came to his house by night for protection, in a most wretched condition as he well knew he was a faithful subject of the Kings, and that he had a very great respect and affection for himself; but before he would take refuge there
he nobly told him the consequences, namely that if he should be found under his protection it would be death to him and all his family; who nevertheless was very happy to see him safe, and eagerly expressed his earnest desire of taking him under his care, who thereupon wished to be put in some secret place as soon as possible arguing that he was certain they were hunting for him in every house and place in the Country; and therefore would most probably soon come to his. For that purpose; Mr Milbourne was in the habit of buying most of the Scotch Cattle and had a Farm yard or home field of near three acres of ground in which he kept them till sold to London dealers, to be sent to Romney Marsh in Kent to fatten, which was well furnished with Barns and outhouses for that purpose. In one part of this Ground was a large pen of partly dryed up in which was a large broken useless trough to where
straw used to be kept for them, in a great degree covered with mud and dirt, laying not quite upright which he prepared and laid him in, after a short refreshment, with lose clean straw, throwing some which was dirty carelessly on, and about the same, after which he had just washed and wiped his hands, when a small party of his enemies came to his house in quest of him, who immediately examined all the outhouses in a very particular manner and going from them to the house to do the like, one of them in a kind of frolick cryed what is in there, and immediately ran into the mud and jabbed his sword between the Marquis's legs, but concluded he was not in so filthy a thing, did not run his sword in a second time, but proceeded with the party to the house and examined every room and place about it, behaving with great insolence and cruelty in running their swords in the beds and after eating and drinking
what they pleased to seize, they departed in the morning from it, but not without violent threats to him and his family, if it should ever appear he had secreted the Marquis . The house was so situated that they could see any Passengers for near a mile around it. So that soon after they were gone, he placed a faithful person to look out, and give timely notice if he should observe anybody coming towards it, and then took the Marquis out of the trough, when he found him all over in a violent perspiration, who exclaiming in tears O' my dear friend Milbourne I never knew I was a cowing before, I endangered the lives of you and yours, in the manner I have done, to save my own, and said he was however determined never to do the like again, having death, of which he thanked god he was not afraid. Then taking a little more refreshment he begged to have a prayer book and to go into a private room to prepare
himself for it, and to make his peace with God and at night took his leave and kissed Mr. Milbourne and all his family leaving him with thanks and all possible gratitude for his particular kindness and friendship to him and signified he would go a contrary way from the house to prevent suspicion, to Lord Custon's with whom he wished to speak about his family affairs, as having been a friend and follower of his:- but added he had fixed a revelation that he would afterwards go and deliver himself up to his enemies to do with him whatever they pleased, for he said he shuddered on reflecting how narrowly he escaped being found in the trough when the sword went between his legs, and that he was affected to his heart in thinking how nearly death and destruction was to him and his family for his friendship to him. And not withstanding any argument was used to dissuade him and that his narrow escape in
the trough seemed to presage Providence and preserved his life for Noble purposes, he could not be prevailed upon to change his mind:- Upon his entering Lord Aston's house he treacherously, either through fear or from meaness through sake of the reward, seized and delivered him up to his enemies at Edinburgh where he was shamefully and ignominiously hanged on a gallows thirty feet high for the space of three hours; his head cut off and fixed upon Edinburgh Toll booth, his legs and arms on the gates of the cities of Stirling, Dundee, Glasgow and Aberdeen and his body buried. The Marquis's progenitors were of ancient extraction and had held the highest places in Scotland and had been allied to the Crown. He was a man of intrepid courage and his virtues far exceeded his faults, and well deserved to have his memory preserved amongst the illustrious persons of the age, which Mr. Milbourne used to say he should adore to his last
moments, and always kept the print of him in his chamber which is now in the Family of his descendents. On the 28th May 1661 eleven years after his execution the Marquis of Argyle , his avowed enemy and principle promoter of his degradation and cruel death was hanged at Edinburgh, his head and limbs fixed up in the same places, and the remains of the Marquis's of Montrose's taken down, and a most pompous princely burial made for them attended with all possible magnificence, which the Marquis of Argyle had the mortification of seeing just before himself was executed:- soon after the death of the Marquis of Montrose, Mr Milbourne had intimation from friends that it was known he had secreted him, and that therefore it would not be safe to continue in his house. Who thereupon buried all his plate and valuables in an old dry well, and flew with his
family into an obscure part of Scotland; of which information having been given, a party came to his house in a few days after he was gone, opened the well, took possession of his effects, burnt his house and all his barns and outhouses and almost ruined him and his family; with which, however, he often declared he was not so much concerned of as he was by the approbious cruel treatment of the most noble Marquis, for whom he had the utmost affection, which so prayed on his mind that he fell into a decline and died in a few months after;-
His son John Milbourne my mother's father did some years after obtain part of his valuable estate consisting chiefly of a small colliery Vc [etc] and lived in a very genteel manner near Morpeth and Alnwick in Northumberland, highly esteemed by the nobility and gentry of the country in so much that he was intrusted and had the management of several of their large estates
as their land steward;- Soon after the death of his wife he unfortunately was bound for a nobleman's son for 20,000, who proved false to him which occasioned his sudden departure from his house leaving five daughters at a boarding school and immediately to seek protection 'till his affairs could be settled. For this purpose he got on board a ship of war stationed on that coast, commanded by Captain Townshend [Sir Isaac Townsend 16??-1731] to whom he told his case and entreated his protection for a few days, although he was a total stranger to him, who most humanely and kindly gave it, and even insisted that he should live with him, and have a bed put up for him in his state room to sleep by him.
Mr Milbourne was of very genteel engaging manners a fine handsome person, a good scholar and of great abilities, and as the Captain found he was an excellent Pen man, and Mr Milbourne wished
to be as useful to him as possible, whilst he remained on board his ship, and at this time the Ministry corresponded with the Captain respecting some very important business, it was intended that he should be sent upon to one of the Courts in Germany, he desired him to write all his letters for him in the execution of which he was so pleased that when Mr Milbourne in about a fortnight after his first going into his Ship, had advise that the Nobleman had satisfied his son's creditors, and that he might return to his house and family; the Captain entreated him to go with him to the German Court to transact the business for him, who first returned to his house to put his affairs into proper hands, and then went back to the Captain agreeable to his desire and proceeded with him to the Coast of Holland, he having entertained the utmost gratitude and indeed affection for him for his great kindness and protection to him.
They had not made the Coast but a few hours before a violent storm came on in which the ship foundered and half the crew were drowned, but as the Captain and himself were of the number saved, they proceeded on the Captain's business to the German Court where they were so lucky as to accomplish it in a very few days to the great satisfaction of the Ministry, insomuch that upon the Captain's return to London an account came from Portsmouth that the Commissioner of the Navy residing there was dead, he Sir Isaac Townshend was appointed to succeed him as Commissioner of the Navy there. Upon which he further requested Mr Milbourne to go with him to that place and that they might never separate till death should part them, which he also complied with, and had good appointments there by the Captain's interest. Mr Milbourne being seized in the year 1722 with a violent fever made a
Will and took leave of his five daughters, and told them not above an hour before his death, that he had left his fortune equally between them. Immediately after they had retired out of his room a female who was his housekeeper and managed his house and servants got a low fellow of a lawyer to the house, who made a Will, leaving the whole of his fortune to her, and though the signing was not his handwriting nor could he be in his senses when it was said he executed it, yet as no other Will could be found and the lawyer took an oath it was his handwriting and that he was in his perfect senses when he signed it, she got possession of the whole fortune and effects.
[note added] This portion & . . . several pages following are not in Commissioner Marsh's own writing. Probable copies by a Clerk.
My Father's Grandfather was a considerable land owner and grazier within about sixteen miles [was six but changed to sixteen] of Dover in Kent and had an estate in Romney Marsh. He had three sons one settled at Titchfield in Hampshire and another in Hertfordshire and the third remained with him. My father was the son of him [Francis Marsh] who settled at Titchfield, who became Captain and owner of a small ship and trading from Southampton to Lisbon in which he had been so successful that he had intended to settle on shore upon his fortune, but in coming home on his last voyage his ship was drove in a violent storm up the Channel to the east end to the Isle of Wight, and there foundered and every person in her was drowned but himself. He was said to be an excellent swimmer, but in such a sea he had not the least hopes of saving his life. He had prepared and always carried with him to sea an oil skin bag in
[note added relating to first sentence after landowner and grazier] and descended from an old Saxon family - and at one time called 'De Marisso' These old Yeoman families in Kent held the same rank as 'Esquires' in the Shires and 'Lairds' in Scotland.
the shape of a hammock in which he proposed to put his valuable papers and lash around him and over his arms in case he should be forced by any accident at see, to throw himself therein, with the hope of saving his life and thereby swimming. In going this last voyage he was earnestly entreated by a gentleman and his son who was a near neighbour, to take the latter with him for pleasure who was a most amiable boy of fourteen years of age, who was very much admired by him and everyone else who knew him.
He therefore consented to take him and when he found there was no hopes of saving either of their lives or the ship he was quite miserable with regard to this fine boy who upon finding the danger they were in, clung to him as he was undressing himself and securing the aforementioned oil skin bag around him in such a manner as affected him beyond expression more especially as it was totally out of his power to assist
or save him from drowning; and when he found the ship was sinking very fast and the seamen run up the rigging to keep as long as they could from the dreadful prospect before them, he was forced to shove the child from him, and commit himself to the sea, from which time he saw no more of the ship or the crew as she soon after sank and every person in her was drowned.
He had put into the oil skin bag his bank notes and his valuable papers, together with a small family bible, not above 7 inches long, 4 or 5 inches broad and about 1 inch and a half thick which is remarkable for containing the Old and New Testament, the reading and singing Psalms, the latter set to music, the Apocryphy and every chapter in the Old Testament explained by question and answer, which remained in the bag when he was miraculously drove on shore on the beach at the East end the said island, but was then totally senseless and void of the strength
insomuch that as the waves drove him up the beach, he rolled back with them, but in a short time after a man at work in a field at a considerable distance discovered something washing up and down the beach with the surf of the sea which appeared very large and very uncommon, who thereupon went to see what it was, and on discovering a man he thought not dead tho' senseless, he run up to the nearest house got a short ladder and help and carried him to it, whereafter the water was pretty well got out of his body, he by medical assistance came to his senses in about two hours, told the particulars of his misfortune, but could give no account of his wonderful preservation, and asked if the bag was found lashed round him, and if his books and papers were safe, observing if a man could be found on the island who could preserve the book he should not regard any expense; fortunately such a one could be found upon a visit from London to some of his
friends who very judiciously did so, which is now in my library.
After this event he lived many years in peace and happiness reflecting on the goodness of God to him for his wonderful deliverance and escape from drowning, for which he daily returned thanks to the day of his death. His son, my father, died a naval officer in HMS Dockyard Chatham [two lines difficult to read as they have been written over] in the 71st year of his age after living a comfortable happy with and of the best of women, by whom he had nine children, and tho' he had but a slender income, by good management and prudence, he brought them up genteely. He was a remarkable fine person, walked upwards of six feet high, was very upright and well proportioned, amazingly strong and healthy, so that there was great reason to suppose he would have lived many years had he not by an
unfortunate circumstance strained himself in the following manner, which put a sudden end to his existence, to the great grief of his wife and family, to whom he was a most affectionate husband and father Viz; some caulkers being at work on board his ships, had not caulked the deck under where a small anchor stood, and upon his reprimanding of them for this neglect, they said, tho' there was four of them, they could not move it upon which he replied they were strong enough to throw it over board into the river, and in a passion took it up himself and removed it from the spot, by which he not only strained himself but broke some blood vessel, and died in a few days after. Milbourne his eldest son was many years Naval officer at Port Mahon [Minorca] and Gibraltar and died his Majesty's Naval Agent Victualler at Chatham; who was a most faithful and excellent officer. [unreadable line as it is written over]
Isaac the third son was Sir Peter Warren's first Lieutenant and died in London: Mary the only daughter married Mr John Duvall . . . [difficult to read as it has been written over] after his death . . . [difficult to read] lived with her daughter and son-in-law, James Morrison Esq, Deputy Master of the Mint, a most worthy sensible good man. (The various changes of my own life, and to be seen fully further on in this book The rest of my father's family died young.)
His eldest son Milbourne left two sons and a daughter, Francis Milbourne Marsh, his eldest died Major of the 90th Regiment of Foot was a sensible man and a good scholar. His second son John was many years his Majesty's consul at Malaga, he was afterwards at the breaking out of the war with Spain in the year 1779, appointed Agent for the Navy Board at Cork for the examining of all the provisions shipped from thence for our armies abroad, and in every situation in which
he served he conducted himself and transacted his business in such an exemplary manner as gained him many friends, and great honour to himself and family, as will appear by an extract from a letter written in Cypher dated Gibraltar, 9th July 1778 from Lord Heathfield [Gen George Augustus Eliott 1st Baron Heathfield 1717-1790] to Lord Viscount Weymouth [Thomas Thynne, 1st Marquess of Bath, 3rd Viscount Weymouth, 1734-1796 ], then Secretary of State, taken from the original and bound up with his official correspondence (See letter, pages 44-58).
The like will also appear between those pages by copies of letters from Mr Richard Burke, who was then Secretary of the Treasury, by order of the Duke of Portland, and from Lord Heathfield in the year he died.
The daughter, Elizabeth was contracted to Captain Towry of the Navy when at Minorca, before which Mr James Crisp, Captain of the Minorca Pacquet paid his addresses to her but he was not thought a suitable match for her, tho' a fine handsome man and rich. Soon after Captain Towry was ordered
to England, her father was ordered to go to Gibraltar to be Naval Officer there, and the French having landed at the east end of Minorca, she and her mother were sent to Barcelona, and thence to England, upon her arrival there her father received a letter from Captain Towry in London importing that his cousin Mr. Clevland [John Clevland 1707-1763 ] then Secretary to the Admiralty insisted upon his marrying a lady, he had provided for him, which was a great disappointment and shock to her father and herself.
They nevertheless thought it adviseable for her to proceed to England to me, and accordingly agreed with a Master of a merchant ship who he could depend upon for her passage. They had not sailed from Gibraltar above four days before they were attacked and taken by a Saffee Rover [Barbary Pirates who were often operating from Sallee, now Rabat] the 8th May 1756 and carried into that port the 14th of the same month and when all the crew and passengers were ordered upon deck
she was exceedingly surprised to see Mr Crisp, her former admirer amongst them, who was who was coming to England to settle in London as a Spanish merchant:- The Moors took her only out of the ship into their own, which was so nasty and full of bugs that she could not sit down or hardly breath, they did not however behave amiss, except pointing and laughing at her:- Soon after she and the other passengers and ships crew were put in a prison and an express sent to the Emperor of Morocco of the event. In the interim her father sent an express of it from Gibraltar to Lord Anson [Admiral George Anson, 1st Baron Anson, 1697-1762 ], then First Lord of the Admiralty, and an express was immediately sent out to Gibraltar to Sir Edward Hawke [Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke, 1705-1781 ], then Commander in Chief there to demand her and the other prisoners, but before that got there the Emperor had ordered her and the other prisoners to be carried to him at Morocco, in which three weeks journey she suffered much in going over the hideous barren mountains, where their tents were
frequently pitched to rest themselves, which were strictly guarded by the Moors, as the wily boars came continually running towards them, and had they not made a light by burning a parcel of straw upon these occasions, which frightened and drove them away, otherwise they would have been demolished by them. When they came near the city the officers of the Moors ordered them to halt and examine their baggage, and made her put on the finest clothes she had which were trimmed with silver, and as Mr Crisp was the only gentleman passenger they made him showeyest cloths he had, and not finding any laced boots, but very rich laced waistcoats, they obliged him to put them on, and over the other, then put them upon asses and made them ride through the city to the Court, and the rest of the passengers and crew of the ship following together close after them amidst innumerable bodies of the natives following and rejoicing.
When Mr Crisp had an opportunity to speak to Miss Marsh in the prison after they were landed he intimated that unless she would consent to call him her husband, he was certain the Emperor would detain her in his Seraglio, to which previous to their journey she consented to do, and he called her his wife, and in order to corroborate this, he got a plain ring from one of his fellow prisoners and wrapped it up very carefully in a certificate he got written of their marriage which he as carefully placed at the bottom of one of her trunks: so that on her being carried into the Emperor's Court, he acted the part of a madman, crying out for his wife and wanted to follow her, but was prevented by the guards; and she on her part cryed terribly after her husband, and the certificate and ring being found it was really thought they were married.
The Emperor behaved civil to her and observed to his courtiers that tho' she was married, she was
very pretty and would be remarkably so, when she grew fatter (he being very fond of fat women) indeed she was rather too much inclined to be fat. He told her if she would stay with him she should never want for the finest clothes and the most curious gold and silver muslin were there upon brought to show her, and he even desired and insisted that she should go into and see his Sergalio, for which purpose one of the women of it conducted her through. In which she said there were a vast number, and so fat that they could hardly walk, and all finely dressed in rich muslins and sashes around them ornamented with gold and silver who all seemed wonderfully surprised at her dress, particularly her stays.
During the time she was there she cried very much for her husband, and one of the women whispered in her ear that the Emperor was a tender hearted man and she was sure he would not (as she was married) detain her against her will.
She was soon after ordered to be conveyed to a room in a prison where all the other prisoners were but she was frequently brought to the court and was tempted with great promises to stay and live with the Emperor, at length the express arrived from Sir Edward Hawke in the Kings name demanding her and the other prisoners, and as he could not prevail with her to continue with him, he consented to permit her and them to have their liberty after a confinement of three months observing that had it not been for the insolence as he termed it, of Ambassador Parker, in coming to his Court with dirty boots on, he never should have detained any of the King of England's subjects.
This was Captain Sir Hyde Parker [Vice Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, 5th Baronet, 1714-1782 ], senior, whose head he said he would have had for it, if he had not got immediately afterwards out of his country. He then put on her wrists a pair of what he called 'Bracelets' which were of silver and more like horse shoes than anything else and wished her safe to England. Whilst he was
doing this she saw a young European slave running full speed across a large court, and a Moor after him with a drawn sabre, with which he cut off his head at one stroke, which she afterwards heard was for striking a Moor. A Minorcan who was a great favourite with the Emperor and constantly attended him knowing and having heard something of her father, when Naval Officer at Minorca was particularly attentive and kind to her, so that when the Emperor had given her and the other prisoners their liberty, he had provided the quickest conveyance to carry them to the Port of Safee, off which His Majesty's Ship Portland, Captain Jarvis Maplesdon, was waiting for them, and sent boats on shore for the like purpose, which they all hastily and with the utmost joy got into and proceeded to the ship. In a few days after she left Morocco the Emperor changed his mind with regard to her, and sent a party of Moors with orders to use
the utmost speed after them, and to bring her back, but she was fortunately got on board the Portland before they reached the sea coast. On their arrival at Gibraltar Mr Crisp applied to her father for his consent to marry her, to which she was willing to give her's and upon his reflecting on his great care of his daughter and of this extraordinary event, he wisely approved thereof, and they were accordingly married at Gibraltar.
After which they came to England and he settled in London as a Spanish merchant and with his wife's and his own fortune began with a very considerable capital, and continued many years very successfully as such; but as he and his wife were both too much inclined to ape the fashion and expenses of people of very great fortune in all kinds of entertainments and ruinous follies he became in about fourteen years a bankrupt and he appeared to have no good principles for he never could obtain a certificate.
He had been a play fellow with Sir Eyre Coote [General Sir Eyre Coote, 1726-1783] and they renewed their acquaintance at Minorca, when Sir Eyre was a Subaltern Officer there, and he was Captain of the Packet, upon Mr Crisp's getting out to the East Indies Sir Eyre was therefore disposed to a great friend to him insomuch that from his recommendation he flourished in trade there very fast, and sent to England for his wife who accordingly proceeded there in one of His Majesty's ships commanded by Captain Dent; leaving two infants, a son and a daughter, and when the son was about four years of age, they sent for him, and his grandfather agreed with Sir - Hutchinson, a Captain of an Indiaman then residing at Eltham to take care of the child and carry him to Calcutta to his parents for the sum of eighty guineas, and desired he might be conveyed to Gravesend when the
ship was there and put on board under his charge, if he should not be there himself, of whoever might be the commanding officer, to whom he requested he would pay this sum. He did so accordingly to Mr Raymond Snow, the chief mate, and made handsome presents to the Captain's Steward for his particular care and attention to the child who was a manly beautiful boy.
Two days afterwards Mr Snow was a bankrupt and as the Captain said he only gave verbal directions for the payment of the money, he could not be forced to keep to his agreement, nor could he afford to lose so much money; at length he said if his grandfather would give him fifty pounds more he would carry the child which he was therefore obliged to comply with, but when he delivered him to his parents instead of taking proper care of, he suffered him to be the utmost destroyed with vermin and filth. In about a year after his arrival a Persian merchant who had
concerns with his father was so struck with the boy that he begged he might go with him to Persia and learn that language which he agreed would be the means of making a fortune upon his return to Calcutta.
With much persuasion his parents permitted it, where he resided a considerable time, and when returned to Calcutta he became very successful, and was appointed a writer upon the Bengal Establishment, and is now a senior merchant there.
Some time after Mrs Crisp came to England to see her father who was in a very declining state of health, with whom her daughter resided, and was well educated and accomplished, very handsome and uncommonly sensible. And as his death happened in a few months after her arrival in England, she returned with her daughter to India in a Kings Storeship commanded by Lieutenant Bechino, and on arrival she found her husband
had extended his trade so much as to ruin himself and others who were concerned with him, which destroyed his spirits and health, and occasioned his death about two months before her arrival. Her son had, however, prepared a house for her and his sister, who lived very happily together. Her daughter married to George Shee Esq [Sir George Shee 1754-1725]. Judge of the Court of Judicature at Dacca, a very honorable worthy opulent man. Soon after this Mrs Crisp had a violent cancer in her breast which she had revolution enough to have cut off, taking care that her son and daughter should not be on the spot when the operation was performed. In it she suffered excruciating pain, and when it was taken off it weighed upwards of five pounds. She lived a few months after and died the 30th April 1785 when she was about forty six years of age. Her daughter, Mrs Shee, and her husband about three years after returned to London, where they now reside, since which he bought an estate and lived in Ireland and was created a Baron and was appointed Surveyor of the Ordinance at Dublin. Mrs Crisp was a
handsome and very engaging woman with great abilities. She wrote and published a book with an account of her being taken and carried to Morocco entitled the Female Captive.
Although it was not my meaning to make any memorandum of more distant branches of my relatives, there are such extraordinary events and circumstances in the life of Mr Milbourne Warren who was my mother's sister's son, that I think them truly worth recording; This Mr Warren had been several years in the East Indies, but had not been fortunate there, soon after his return to England, it so happened that he went there again and was Master Carpenter of His Majesty's ship Norfolk, on board which was Rear Admiral Cornish's flag [Sir Samuel Cornish, 1715c-1770], by whom he was very much esteemed insomuch that when it was foreseen as the fleet lay at an anchor in the Madrass - that a monsoon or storm was coming on and
then the Admiral had consulted with the Officers, what was best for them to do for the preservation of themselves, their ships and the fleet, they all agreed to strike yards and topmasts and make the ships as snug as possible, and ride it out at their anchor there; but the Admiral said where is Mr Warren, he is an old experienced East Indian I do not see him amongst us: Upon which he was sent for from some duty he was performing in the ships hold, and upon the Admiral informing him that they all agreed that it would be the best security for the fleet to remain at their anchors and ride out the storm by them as aforementioned and asking him for his opinion, he replied he was very sorry to differ from them, but he was very certain there would be less danger in running out to sea and there making the ships as snug as possible.
The Admiral and all the Officers agreed to follow his advice and His Majesty's ships, Norfolk, Weymouth and America ran out to see accordingly
but such was the violence of the storm on the 20th, 21st, and 23rd of October 1763, that there was great fear that they would founder, particularly the Admiral's ship, the Norfolk, the butt of a plank at her counter having started off, by which the sea broke in and filled her so fast, as rather to gain upon the Pumps, whereupon Mr Warren desired that he and a stout young man he had brought up, might be lashed with rope and lowered over the Quarter of the ship, with mauls and spike nails in their hands in hopes of getting it to again and securing it; but as the ship rolled violently they were a considerable time in great danger before they succeeded therein which was on the 22nd October 1763, and just before they had done so, the ship had pitched so deep as to ship such a see as carried away all the bulkheads and cabins into it. Before this event as the fleet was ordered
home and the Admiral meant to sail for England very soon, and knowing Mr Warren had got about 1,600 which he had no opportunity or remitting home, he permitted him to make a warehouse on one side under the forecastle, for all the goods he had bought with this money, for that purpose (as it was then peace) three of the guns were ordered to be struck down the hold.
In this sea the warehouse and the goods were also carried away, and upon the officer upon the quarter deck calling out to Warren to immediately to acquaint him therewith, he replied, my loss is nothing compared with that I hope we have effected viz:- to save all our lives. Soon after they were pulled up upon the Quarter Deck very much wounded and bruised by the ships rolling, particularly Mr Warren who received such a wound upon his ankle as he never recovered.
After the storm abated the Admiral was so sensible of his service that he all the Officers and
the other ships companies all subscribed to his great loss, the Admiral gave him 100 and every person in the three ships in proportion to their abilities. So that the sum collected exceeded his loss, and I have now a silver hammered punch bowl made by an Indian out of part of the dollars given to him by the common men, with the ships and a particular account of the event engraved thereon. Most of the private ships that trusted to their anchors in the Madrass Road foundered there in the storm. Soon after this event the Admiral ordered Mr Warren, with proper assistance, to go up the country to look for trees for masts to replace or repair those broken or damaged by the storm. When at a great distance from the sea he found a young English gentleman almost at the point of death with a violent bloody flux in a miserable hole belonging to one of the poor natives without money or friends - whereupon he
engaged a black doctor to attend and caused him to be supplied with all possible necessaries, the whole of which he engaged to pay for. The Doctor directed a bird to be boiled and covered with Kyan Pepper and made him suck it, which stopped the flux, and he recovered in a few days. Mr Warren paid all expenses and gave the gentlemen ten guineas to enable him to get to the sea coast and obtain a passage to England, and then took his leave of him with thanks and blessings. Upon Mr Warren's return in the ship and with the fleet to England he found his wife had been a very bad women and run him greatly in to debt which very much affected him. In a few years after he had been in England my brother Milbourne was removed from being Naval Officer at Mahon to be Storekeeper of His Majesty's Yard at Deptford; whereupon Admiral Cornish waited upon Lord Egmont [John Perceval, 2nd Earl of Egmont, 1711-1770 ], then First Lord of the Admiralty, to beg that
Mr Warren might succeed him, setting forth his services and abilities, and asserted that such he knew was his worth, that he would go barefooted from one end of London to the other to serve him, as in gratitude he said he ought to do for saving under Providence his and the ships Companies lives. I also confirmed his good character and added he was a first cousin of mine. He was therefore appointed Naval Officer at Mahon [Minorca] accordingly, and then being in distressed circumstances, I furnished him with three hundred pounds to fit him out.
And as his wife begged forgiveness of what was passed, and assuring him she would make it her constant and future study to deserve his love and protection, he took her out with him, and in about three years after she was caught in bed with an Officer in the Army, on which he immediately applied to me to get him divorced, and as the officer was very poor, and knew great damages or imprisonment
would ensue, he turned evidence against her for which however, none of his Brother Officers would afterwards mess with him. They were accordingly divorced from Bed and Board and though he had no fortune with her, I persuaded him not to suffer her to starve, but to allow forty pounds per year for her life which he complied with. He had a son by her who died a Captain in the Army. In about six years after Mr Warren had been settled at Mahon, he signed a bill of lading of a ship bound to Grand Cairo which is situated quite at the head of the Mediterranean Sea, and on her arrival there this Bill of lading came into the hands of the Bey's or Governors Secretary who upon seeing the name particularly the Christian name, he was struck with surprise and after great enquiry found he was the very man who had been so humane and kind to him in the East Indies about fourteen years before. Who thereupon procured an Arabian stallion and sent
to him at Mahon, but as the ship stopped at Leghorn it was a considerable time before another offered to carry him from thence there, where he was very much admired by all judges of horses, an - in about three months after Mr Warren sent him to Gibraltar in his way to England as a present to me, and there again he was kept many months before a ship offered.
At length within a year and half from Cairo he was landed at Woolwich and brought up from thence to the Navy Office, where he was also kept several months (as it was winter time). The admirations of vast numbers of people who continually came to see him, but as it was in the War I had neither time or indeed knowledge enough of horses to know how to dispose of him. So that I sent him to a famous livery stable near Hertford Street, Mayfair, and grew quite uneasy at the vast and continued expense of him, whereupon Dr Hugh Smith said, though he was very fond of horses and had a
great many of them, he would give me fifty guineas for him to put an end to my expense, which I readily accepted; indeed he observed he might be worth a thousand or more pounds for breed, however I parted with him to the Doctor with the loss of about forty guineas by my present, as the charges of freight and keep cost me about ninety. I was nevertheless equally obliged to Mr Warren. He covered many mares but in about two years after the Doctor had him he was kicked by one of them, had his leg broken and was afterwards shot. Mr Warren had been very useful to the Danish fleet at Mahon for which I received in London and sent to him two very large silver tureens with dishes with an inscription on them importing they were a present from the King of Denmark to Mr Warren for the great service he had rendered to his fleet which were valued at three hundred pounds which he left to me at his death and I presented them to my
son William. Some time before Mr Warren's death he obtained leave from the Navy Board to go to Beriges Mountains which divide France from Spain famous for water that has been found useful to old wounds and from the blow he received on his ankle in endeavouring to secure the butt of the plank at the Norfolk Counter, he not only ever after lame but suffered great pain, he did not however find any relief from it, and soon after his return to Mahon it terminated in his death, which happened in the beginning of the year 1783.
Extract of a letter written in Cypher and dated Gibraltar 9th July 1778 from the deceased Lord Heathfield to Lord Viscount Weymouth, taken from the original, and bound up with his official correspondence to the Secretary of State.
"I have all this from Consul Marsh. I must entreat your Lordships forgiveness once more, reminding you of his unremitted zeal, and very material exertions for His Majesty's Service, which I hope will appear to you in such a light as may obtain for him some mark of the Royal favour."
Copy of a letter from General Elliot to Mr Marsh dated Gibraltar 6th Sept 1779
"Dear Sir, I wish you safe in England with all health and happiness and shall always esteem
myself fortunate to be again connected in business with a gentleman who has the Public Service so much at heart. You know my opinion of Ministerial favours, they are never obtained unless the candidate has it in his power to command them by his capacity and diligence. I will therefore not despair, but hope to find my earnest wishes may be attended with success. I suppose the enemy means to make a trial of our strength, they do go on, but in truth Poco a Poco.
I have the honor to be
Copy of General Elliot' letter to Lord Viscount Weymouth dated Gibraltar 6th September 1779
Consul Marsh having left Malaga on this occasion and proposing to go from Lisbon to London desires me to give him an introductory letter to your Lordship as the person I have so frequently mentioned in my letters, and to whom (on behalf of the public) I have been so much indebted for the most authentic and essential information wherever his Majesty's Service was concerned; I will therefore presume to recommend him to your Lordships protection as a gentleman who not only has, but may be extremely serviceable where business requires exertion and abilities.
I am my Lord etc
Pall Mall, 26th April 1783
The Duke of Portland [William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland,1738-1809] received yesterday your letter of the 11th instant, together with a copy of that which you had before written to Mr.Rose.
I have his Grace's commands to inform you that he is not unacquainted with the Honourable and essential services which you have rendered to the public, in your present department, and to assure you that it is not his intention to confine the acknowledgement of those services to words only.
His Grace conceives that your abilities may be more usefully employed than in the Consulship of Malaga, and I have his orders to say that he hopes to find some early opportunity of employing those abilities in such a manner as to reconcile a reward for the part with the
securing your futures services to the public. This is what I have had in command and it is a great satisfaction to me that in obeying it, I express myself to a gentleman for whose public and private character, I have a very high, because it is a very just, respect.
I have the honour to be Sir
Your most obedient and very humble servant
Signed Richard Burke
John Marsh Esq.
Purnham Green, 2nd March 1790
Nothing can contribute more to the restoration of my health than the interest kind friends express for it and their frequent enquiries, especially those that come from Mr Marsh, whose regards for the Public Service furnished me with means whilst we were together in the Mediterranean to faithfully discharging my duty in such manner as to draw down from the bounteous hand of my Gracious Sovereign such honour and favour as I can not have the presumption to say were owing either to my zeal or talents alone, but if those affairs have taken a right turn, the success was entirely founded upon the excellent materials of early information and timely notice carefully transmitted to me from Malaga, for indeed to you
my dear friend and your friends, me and mine owe such unexampled Royal favours. We have been long enough acquainted for you to be assured these declarations are sincere and without flattery, indeed my official correspondence with the King's Ministers inn those times will furnish sufficient testimonials of my unaffected veracity in these declarations of the infinite obligations I was daily under to you towards carrying on the Public Service.
I beg to offer my respects to Mrs Marsh to whom I am impatient to make my bows.
I have the honour to be dear sir etc
John Marsh Esq.
Mr Marsh's answer to Lord Heathfield's letter.
Battersea, 15th March 1790
I received the honor of your Lordship's letter and beg leave to assure you I am at loss how to sufficiently express the due sense of the acknowledgment I entertain for the kind and flattering manner in which you therein are pleased to notice my conduct at Malaga previous to the last war with Spain.
I can say with great truth my Lord, that the desire I had of being useful was in no small degree heightened by the example of your Lordships unwearied attention to the duties of the important trust that you held at so critical a juncture, and the almost daily assurances that I received from you that my
exertions in obtaining authentic information of the real designs of the Court of Spain, were considered by you as proof of my zeal for the Public Service; and I was still the more anxious of discharging my duty in a business of such importance, from a doubt whether or not Government were disposed to believe that Spain had any serious intention of taking part with France, much less to set about preparing for such an undertaking as that of laying siege to Gibraltar. Your Lordship had no doubts whatever thereon, and the event fully proved how fortunate it was for this Country that your measures were so timely and provident. Accept my Lord, my hearty wishes for the restoration of your health, and do me the justice to believe that I am with the sincerest and most respectful attachment.
Most Faithful Servant
Bedford Row, 19th March 1790.
As the Commission of American Claims expires on the 25th instant, I take the liberty of acquainting you that Mr Marsh, one of the Commissioners who has been in it from it's first institution in 1783, will then be without any employ and without any provision whatsoever, and when I have related the peculiar situation as well as long and important services of this gentleman, I flatter myself you will not think it officious in me to have submitted them to your consideration.
Mr Marsh had been eleven years His Majesty's Consul at Malaga when the War broke out with Spain in 1779, and as to the manner in which he acquitted himself in that
department I understand the besides the general tenure of his conduct, Lord Heathfield has taken an opportunity since he came home of representing to the Secretary of State for the Foreign Department what he had frequently before stated to his predecessors, namely the important communication made by Mr Marsh previous to the last rupture with Spain, and I beg to assure you that I heard Lord Heathfield declare, a short time ago, that if it had not been for the vigilant conduct and early intelligence of Mr Marsh at the period, he doubted whether the garrison at Gibraltar would at this time have belonged to the Crown of Great Britain.
On coming home in 1779, he was appointed to inspect and receive the provision contracted for and sent from Cork for the use of the troops to
North America and the West Indies in how he executed that trust appears from a letter written by the Commissioners of the Navy to the Board of Treasury the 24th January 1783, of which the following is an extract "As the present appearances of Peace will naturally put an end to the employments of Mr Marsh and Mr Cherry [George Cherry, Chairman of the board of commisioners for vitualling the navy] at Cork, and at Cowes we think it our duty in justice to the Public as well as these gentlemen to represent to the Lord Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury, that the trust reposed in Mr Marsh and Mr Cherry has been of such a nature as to have enabled them to have made considerable fortunes at the Public expense if they been so inclined. But we have the best ground for assuring their Lordships that they have carried on the branch of duty with such integrity, ability and indefatigable zeal
that we are at a loss to say to which quality the Public have been most indebted."
In July 1783, the an entire stranger to Lord John Cavendish [1732-1796], then Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr Marsh was appointed a Commissioner of American Claims, and tho' his character and merit are too high and too well known to require any representation from me, yet I cannot forbear, on this occasion, giving my testimony and opinion of his service in this Commission for seven years, namely that they have been those of exerting the most useful talents, the most unwearied diligence and the most exemplary integrity and zeal for the Public, in a trust of the most delicate and arduous nature.
I submit, therefore Sir, to your consideration whether after the exertion of so much ability and integrity in the Public Service for 22 years
Mr Marsh has not a fair claim on Government for a liberal and permanent provision at one of the Boards of Revenue, or Auditors of the Public Accounts, or on some other establishment equally respectable, tho' I conceive that his character and talents peculiarly qualify him for either of the above departments. I beg leave to add that Mr Marsh is very well known to Mr Molleson who I believe would be very glad of Mr Marsh's assistance whenever there should be a vacancy in either of the Commissions to which he belongs. I flatter myself you will think the circumstances I have stated sufficient to justify me in troubling you with this address, as without your protection Mr Marsh will have no provision whatever at the expiration of his commission, and as it has been one of the characteristic features of your administration to reward those who distinguished
themselves in the Service of the Public.
I have the honor to be Etc
Rt.Hon William Pitt [1759-1806] etc etc.
Having enjoyed uncommon and various blessing and success through life, I think it proper to make the following memorandums, to show my situation at different periods of it, and how wonderfully I have been brought forward in the world; of which I am so truly sensible and thankful to God Almighty, that I hope I have ever shewn and shall continue to show, by my Actions and conduct, I have a constant and proper sense thereof.
Now in my 70th year
Note. The following memorandums have been written in a hurry, consequently not correct or properly connected, for indeed at my time of life I thought not time should be lost in making them, as I wished to do, for the perusal of my successors, and to show that by the blessing of God Industry and prudence how successful I have been.
Went with my Father in His Majesty's ship Nowark [HMS Newark] from Chatham to Spithead, Sir George Walton's [Sir George Walton 1664?-1739] Flag flying on board her, viz, the Blue at the main top mast head: who was very fond of me, insomuch that I was almost always with him. At this time I was about 12 years of age and was intended to be brought up to the sea service had he continued in it.
He caused a neat cot to be hung near the bulk head of the wardroom on the middle gun deck for me, a birth of green cloth and canvas hung round it, and appointed one of his own black servants to make it, and attend me, and as he generally took me on shore with him, I went on the 5th Nov this year, to dine with him at his Captain's house in Stoke Bay, whose name was Trevor commonly called Wouldham Trevor for his having a house at that place near Rochester in Kent, and to distinguish him from others of the same name.
A few days before this I discovered my body full of pimples and itched to that degree, as to be almost unbearable; and as I had entertained an idea that the salt sea water would cure all complaints, I got out after dinner and went to the beach facing Spithead, and tho' the water as well as the weather was exceedingly cold, I fixed a resolution to go into the sea there and striped and ran into it accordingly, on which the pimples immediately disappeared, and I reflected what a wonderful virtue there was in salt water, but on my return the same
night with the Admiral on board the ship, to whom I had not mentioned my complaint, or what I had done I was seized with a violent fever and the itch, of which the surgeon being informed, he cured me of it in about three weeks, and the black man who gave it me, was sent on shore to the hospital for it. We returned with the said ship the latter end of this month to Chatham where she was paid off.
Sir George Walton was persuaded to retire upon a pension to make a vacancy for Vice Admiral Cavendish to be made an Admiral, who succeeded Sir George as Admiral of the Blue accordingly, and in a few years after Sir George died, who was famous for having wrote a remarkable letter to the Admiral he was under when he was a Captain, as having sunk burnt and destroyed a great number of the enemy's ships, which he says therein, as p [indicated in the] margin, which margin, contained more lines twice over, than his whole letter.
This day I was bound an apprentice to Mr Charles Middleton, a Petty Officer in Chatham Dockyard . . . [written over], my father not being able to purchase me a clerkship in the said yard, which I very much wished to obtain. He
was brother to Mr Middleton Surgeon General of the Army and as well bred, Gentleman like man, and of as good a disposition as ever was created, who on a visit to Mr Ward, the Master Shipwright of that yard he was so pleased and struck with seeing models of ships, that he begged his brother to bring him up to that business who accordingly put him prentice to Mr Ward, to whom he gave three hundred guineas with him. And as I could not obtain a Clerkship and as acquainted with, and loved Mr Middleton, who had served out his time viz seven years and was appointed a measurer of timber in the said yard, and thereby entitled to take an apprentice, I wished to be his and was apprenticed to him accordingly.
29th Sept 1743
After having served Mr Middleton upwards of six years, and got instructed in the speculative part of the business as well as the experimental part of it, Mr Middleton being tired of the line of life, and the people he was obliged to converse with, he quitted his employment and went to sea with Mr Ward's son, Captain Henry Ward in His Majesty's ship Tartar, with whom he was in the habit of particular friendship, and wanted me to go with him, the Captain having promised him he would rate me a Midshipman as well as himself, and said if I would go with him, he would ever use his interest with the Captain for me, and that whilst he had a shilling he would divide it with me
but as I did not like the Captain and could not foresee any prospect of advantage in going with him, we parted and he gave me up the Indenture and I was discharged from the yard this day at my own request.
Mr Middleton went the voyage and I heard did not meet with that kind friendly treatment he had reason to expect, the Captain being a weak proud haughty man, who could not bear prosperity and power, and therefore became tyrannical. Mr Middleton died at Virginia soon after his arrival there, to the very great concern of all the ship's company and of every person who knew him. [later on George Marsh worked with Admiral Charles Middleton 1726-1813) who may have been related]
5th May 1744
After anxiously waiting from the day of my discharge from Chatham yard, to get into some employment in the clerk line, having always detested the connections a shipwright must necessarily have; I was entered Commissioner Whorwood's clerk at Deptford, who was appointed Commissioner of the Navy to reside and superintend the business of that yard and Woolwich, by offering myself to him by letter, representing I was brother to Mr Milbourne Marsh who had served in his under his command . . . [over written] and for whom I knew he had
a great regard. This great appointment he obtained after being struck off the list of Captains for quitting the Duke when she as ordered on Service at sea, by intimating to some friend of Lord Winchelsea soon after, that he meant to appoint him his heir, he being he said, a distant relation and had a seat near his in Kent, and was at this time first Lord of the Admiralty. The bate took, his Lordship visited him, and soon after obtained the said appointment for him.
5th Feb 1745
Commissioner Whorwood was superseded, occasioned by a change in the Ministry, on a pretence too that he was so indolent that he even had a stamp made to save him the trouble of signing his name to procections only which however he used on the several Naval Bills made out in those yards, which being a fact, he was superseded from the aforementioned charge.
He died the latter end of this year at his seat near Canterbury and left about 60,000 to a college at the interest of it for her life to Miss . . . [Caroline?] Scott of Scott's Hall in Kent, tho' it was said he never was in the college. He had 50,000 which his wife, who was a very sensible but mean looking woman, who he left in rather distressed circumstances, signifying in
his in his will that she had been a disagreeable deformed companion to him, but indeed he was a great brute void of gratitude or civilillity.
7 June 1745
Upon Mr Whorwoods being superseded my brother clerk and myself were of course discharged this day and returned to my father's house at Chatham.
10th Oct 1745
I was this day recommended by Lord Winchelsea to Mr Clevland [John Clevland 1707-1763] Clerk of the Acts of the Navy, and as I was acquainted with the business of the dockyards, and no clerk of the Navy Office was so, except Mr Snelgrave who could not be spared from the branch he was at the head of, viz of the Surveyor of the Navy Office, I was employed in collecting and making a calculation of the expense of Queen Ann's War with Spain (it being called for by the House of Commons) under the Heads of Stores, disbursements abroad, and of ships built in merchants yards, or purchased. The first five years and nine months was compared yearly as well as totally under these heads, with the expense of an equal time of the late war with Spain under
His Majesty George the 2nd, viz from October 1739 to June 1745 inclusive. See the abstract of the account with my Naval papers. This account I completed in about four months, so much to the satisfaction of the Navy Board that immediately after it was finished, I was entered an Extra Clerk to Mr Haddock [Captain Richard Haddock 1673-1751] Comptroller of the Navy, in his office for bills and accounts; but having set too closely from 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning til 8 or 9 o'clock at night from October to the end of January, I became troubled with a disorder in my head attended with such dizziness that I fell several times in the street, and therefore found it necessary to carry constantly in my pocket a memorandum who I was and where I lodged. I was usually taken with an absolute stupidity and obstruction of sight, with a cloudy vapour playing before my eyes, but not a total deprivation of sight, when I became sick and very faint. In about half and hour after I was so seized my sight generally came clear again but left my head in a very heavy dull state. I was advised to live in the country but that advice I had not in my power to follow.
By Jan 1745
At the end of this month I was employed on the current business of the Comptroller's Office for bills and accounts in making out Bills of Exchange, pilot
and demurrage bills, in examining and casting various other bills for stores and goods supplied the dockyards and in examining Clerk of the Cheque's accounts.
Remaining in a very alarming state of health occasioned from what I have before mentioned and Commissioner Compton being this day appointed from the Navy Board to reside at Deptford to superintend that and Woolwich yards, and he being totally unacquainted with the business of them, I was desired by the Comptroller Mr Haddock at the request of Mr Compton to change with his Clerk Mr McBie to go with him to Deptford, which I did do accordingly.
Began business in Deptford yard, and agreed with my brother clerk, Mr Charles Frankland to divide the perquisite with him.
10th Jan 1747
From some imprudent conversation the Commissioner had with the Duke of Bedford [John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford,1710-1771] First Lord of the Admiralty, he observed to him if he was not made an Admiral he would quit, to which declaration the Duke kept him, and because he would not be superseded without
having a reason to assign for it, he this day set up for Member of Parliament for Portsmouth against Government, without being certain of a single vote, and was superseded by Commissioner Davies of the Victualling Board, and did not obtain one vote, if he had, he must have been returned as such, one of the other two candidate being dead abroad when the election was made. Mr Compton was a very imprudent proud man, and assumed much on his being of the Earl of Northampton's family, and lived in great constant pain from his having when young with some other ridiculous young officers, agreed when they had drank out many bottles of wine, to eat their glasses, of which two of them soon after died. He obtained after his failure at Portsmouth superannuation as a Commissioner of the Navy, and lived, tho' he suffered much to a great age and at last hanged himself.
16 Sept 1748
Commissioner Davies, tho' not a man of business always behave like a gentleman, and informed me this day that a Peace would soon happen when he as a Commissioner of the Navy for the business of Deptford and Woolwich yards, should of course be left out of the patent for the Navy Board, when I should consequently
be discharged, and at the same time he offered me his very best service and interest. Hereupon I applied to my worthy friend Admiral Mathews [Admiral Thomas Mathews, 1676-1751] for whom I had transacted some important private business on his Tryal; for a recommendation to the Lords of the Treasury for an order to attend the custom house keys to qualify myself for a Kings waiter land waiter, or gauger there, having no hopes of getting re-established a Clerk in the Navy Office Mr.Haddock being dead, and the new Comptroller having many followers, as well as the other Commissioners of their own serve. In consequence of having obtained this order, I did by the permission of Commr. Davies attend the Custom Keys from Deptford yard every morning by day light, and returned every day about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, from which time I did the business of the office except what my Bro' Clerk did, and as this attendance at the Custom House wharf happened in the winter six months I went through a great deal of bad weather, and to save all possible expense I walked to the upper port of Rotherhithe and crossed over the river to Tower Wharf and back again every day the same way to my lodging at Deptford to dinner, which at that late
hour was always cold and uncomfortable, but I was blessed with good spirits and established health, so as to have but trifling returns at times of my disorder and was wonderfully supported with the strongest hopes of prosperity, tho' I had no good reasons for such hopes, by seriously reflecting on my then situation. My mind too at times was rather unsatisfied by reflecting on the way of life I was pursuing, so directly contrary to my inclination, for intemperance was always my aversion. The first day I attended with my order addressed to Mr White, a land waiter, I was upon the keys about 7 o'clock in the morning, which was very cold and frosty where I found him sitting under a shed receiving the goods from a Hamburgh shop wraped up in such a manner that no part of his face was to be seen, but his nose and mouth, with half a hot roasted pig, and a bowl of strong hot rum punch just brought to him.
The idea of this and the unseasonableness too at that time in the morning gave me great dislike of the employment. However, as nothing better offered, having miscarried in a recommendation from Mr Compton to be appointed a Naval Officer at Antigua, I persevered in my attendance every day
to 17 March 1740 when I was called upon from my own application by the Board of land surveyors to the Custom house to pass an examination having attending the keys near six months as well as the gaugers office and produced proper certificate there, and was accordingly put into a little room and a sheet of paper filled with questions for me to resolve, set by Mr Sankeys one of the Surveyors whose turn it was to examine pupils, who then locked me in, and returned in about an hour and examined the same, and tho' it was very cold, I perspired with fear least I should be deficient in the business, and began with observing to him I had done all his questions, except those relating to marvel pillers and Fir bauks, which were article I never saw received, consequently did not know the method of measuring them for the King's duty. To this he made no answer, but examined the whole of the questions and my working of them and then took me by the hand and introduced me to the Board of Surveyors and signified to them that he would be answerable for my being fully qualified for a King's waiter, a land waiter or a Gauger in the Port of London or any other port of England, a certificate
thereof their Secretary wrote accordingly which they all signed as well as the Gaugers. When I first went to the gaugers office one of them behaved very uncivil because I had not attended them sooner, observing that an idea was conceived that one months attendance on them was sufficient, but they found many pupils could not qualify themselves in two or three months for their business, to which I replied I hoped that would not be my case, he then roughly asked when I meant to begin I answered that minute if he pleased, upon which he gave me a book and directed me to read it, in the first leaf of which was written that every pupil who had that book to read must pay a Guinea, which I immediately complied with, and after looking over it, I told him it would be no use to me, for that I could gauge any vessel or cask by figures or the common seale but was totally ignorant of the method and use of their rules. Upon which he set me many questions and having answered them to his satisfaction he became very kind and was very pleased to say one weeks attendance on them would do for me. Commissioner Mead of the Customs was related to my intended wife, but nevertheless I made no interest with him in passing my examination but endeavoured to qualify myself by study and application
so as to want no favour on that account.
As it was usual to give a dinner to the land surveyor who examines pupils, also to the land waiter to whom the order was addressed for attending the keys, and for such others of them as I was the least acquainted with as well as the gaugers, I was obliged to order one at a tavern in Thames Street for which I was the least qualified either from my turn of mind or depth of my pocket, which was therefore the most disagreeable part I had to go through, which however I performed as well as I could, and my company professed themselves much pleased with, but I cannot omit observing that from bad habits those belonging to this house are very luxurious men in general and make it a constant practice to drink two or three gils of wine before noon every day. The dinner and fees I had paid cost me about ten guineas and I thought myself well off compared to the expense of some others on the like occasion. A very handsome full certificate of my qualifications was then sent to the Commissioners of the Customs and by them transmitted to the Lords
of the Treasury, but I found without particular interest there, all this would avail to nothing.
6 May 1749
This day a new patent came out for the Navy Board in which Mr Davies was not included.
1 June 1749
He received an official letter from the Navy Board importing that he was left out of the new patent.
7 June 1749
I removed my bed, books and clothes etc from my office in Deptford yard, to my lodgings in Butt Lane, Deptford.
6 December 1749
At my request Mrs Long [Mary Long nee Mead] and her daughter removed from Chatham and took lodgings near mine.
19 March 1750
I married Miss Ann Long [1720-1784], and Mr Pentecost Barker, a particular acquaintance of my brother who was purser of the Barfleur proposed to me our joining stocks and going into the wine trade and said his father was a wine cooper and the he himself perfectly understood the business, and that he was sure with his connections it would prove more advantageous than being a placeman, the income of which being very small; and as I had been out of empolyment
from June 1740 and experienced many disappointments, and many a weary walk and fruitless long attendance in London in hopes of obtaining some place or employment, and being now more anxious than ever to be settled in some business, I did with my mother Long's and my wife's consent, agree to enter into partnership with the said Mr Barker and went with him and my brother to Maidstone in Kent to look for a house, proposing to set up in the Wine Trade there, but there being no house to let suitable for it, we returned to London, and took one in Savage Gardens near Tower Hill; and we also agreed to transact business as Naval Agents, Mr Barker having signified he had great interest and acquaintance with the Admirals Captains and Officers of the Navy, having acted as Admiral Mathew's secretary.
7th April 1750
Removed from Deptford to my house in Savage Gardens for which I was to pay thirty guineas per annum and he, Mr Barker, was to have two rooms in it, to come to occasionally.
26 May 1750
I advertised to transact Naval business and gave printed bills for that purpose.
9 June 1750
Miss Scott the late Commissoner Whorwood's neice being very intimate with Mr Mostyn [Rear Admiral Savage Mostyn, 1713c-1757] now Comptroller of the Navy, represented that to oblige the late Comptroller Mr Haddock and the Navy Board, I went from his office to Deptford with Commissioner Compton, and had an account of the Peace been discharged from thence.
26 November 1750
There being a great contest between Mr Mostyn Comptroller of the Navy, and Sir Peter Warren [1703-1752] for the Elder Brothership of the Trinity house, the former put up by the Ministry, and the latter by the public Voice, he being at this time a very popular man. The number of votes for each were equal, when my friend Admiral Mathews called on me in Savage Gardens, and desired I would show him the way to the Trinity house and go with him, which I did accordingly just as the meeting were breaking up, when he gave his vote to Mr Mostyn who was immediately chosen one of the Older Brothers, which made him very happy and thankful to Mr Mathews, and as he Miss Scott
and my late Commissioner Davies, all earnestly pressed Mr Mostyn to enter me again in his office when a vacancy might happen, I was this day re-entered the 4th Clerk in his office for Bills and accounts in the room of Mr Wooden deceased, whose desk would have been my right had I continued in this office, and not gone with Commissioner Compton to Deptford. This Mr Mostyn did for the reason before mentioned upon Admiral Mathew's earnest and repeated applications to him; for he was not moved to do it from justice, humanity or friendship, be being totally void of these feelings.
9 April 1751
This day Mr Mostyn ordered me to attend the Honourable George Edgecumb to write orders and letters for him, he being just appointed to command and fit out a fleet at Plymouth for the Mediterranean. I accordingly attended him every day for about three weeks frequently at Whites in St.James's Street, and by way of parade and show of business of importance, I often set down with him at a table in one corner of the room where the indolent unhappy nobility were playing high
at card, and some sauntering about the rooms with all the hiped melancholy sodden countenances that can be imagined, for want of actual employment for mind and body. I observed the gamesters played but one game with one pack of cards, and then threw them on the floor, so that it was partly covered with them.
30 April 1751
Commodore Edgcumb [Admiral George Edgcumbe, 1st Earl of Mount Edgcumbe,1720-1795] set out for Plymouth and made me a present of Five Guineas for my trouble and Coach hire.
3 May 1751
The Comptroller being in want of a clerk in his office for paying seaman's wages who would undertake to go to Chatham immediately to pay the claims of the former Treasurer of the Navy Mr Doddington [George Bubb Dodington Baron Melcombe 1691-1762] his books, the possession of tickets for them having been kept out of their money from three to seven years for political reasons. These payments to be made every day, and an account transmitted every night to the Comptrollers of the sums paid, the labour of which the old clerks foreseeing would be very great they made interest and some of them got excused from going there upon this service, whereupon the Comptroller sent his first clerk in this branch Mr Mason to ask me if I would quit his branch for Bills and Accounts, and be removed to that
and undertake this business. Upon answering in the affirmative, he removed me this day accordingly, and sent me to Chatham in the room of Mr Nelson who had been who had been an old pay clerk in his office, and although I was at this time totally unacquainted with casting seamans wages and was sensible the labour of paying every day except Saturday, on which we were to make up and agree our accounts for the week, would be very great, yet I hoped by close application I should be able to preform this service which would add greatly to my income, -- the other branch I had but 50 per annum and in this I should be allowed seven shillings per day in addition to the like salary, I cheerfully undertook the same.
13 June 1751
Removed to Chatham.
15 June 1751
Began to recall and pay all the claims on Mr Doddington's books, which I found very laborious indeed, however by persevering it became by practice much less so, as I gave up my whole time and thoughts to it, in order to be as quick and correct therein as possible.
6 March 1752
My dear wife and child came from London to Chatham to me where I had taken a house near my father's and brother's houses.
10 December 1753
After having been blessed with good health and encreased my income I returned with my family this day to my house in Savage Gardens near Tower Hill, London, the payments at Chatham being completed, with the pleasing reflection and satisfaction that by industry and application, most difficulties and labour may be got over, and that in general, success in life is the consequence.
In the course of this year I was frequently sent on payments to Chatham, Sheerness, the Nore, Deptford and Woolwich yards, and also in carrying on payments in Broad Street, London.
Upon the appointment of Sir Arthur Scott Esq who was a Captain in the Navy, to be Commissioner of the Navy to reside in Chatham yard, I became very much respected by him for two reasons, the first was he was sensible Admiral Mathews had a great regard for me, who he much honoured and loved. The second reason was (and perhaps not the least powerful) that I was enabled and actually drawed out accounts and instructions for
him which were infinite service to him, in his new appointment as a Commissioner of the Navy and on dining with him this day (14th January 1755) at the Star and Garter in Pall Mall, he asked me if I would undertake some business for Lord Percival member of Parliament for Bridgewater, who was just come to his Title Earl of Egmont, who he observed was one of the most learned and most able men in England [John Perceval, 2nd Earl of Egmont, 1711-1770]. He observed the business related to a vast number of widows of Bridgewater who had money due in some public office, which the Earl could not get any information of from the Admiralty or Navy Boards, in short he did not know where or what to enquire for, he had got a vast number of certificates of the times of death of seamen belonging to and trading from Bridgewater and of the names of their widows. I replied to Mr Scott that I would to oblige him most certainly undertake to get the business settled, tho' the fact was I knew no more about it than either of them but concluded I should be able to find it out. Whereupon he immediately carried me to the Earl's house and introduced me to him. His Lordship expressed the utmost pleasure
in having a prospect of settling this business, and gave me all the papers relating to it, and begged to know when it would be finished, to which I answered it was not in my power to mention the time but that his Lordship might be assured I would not lose a moment's time in bringing it to a conclusion. In a few days after I heard that the Naval Officer at Mahon was dead, upon which I applied to Mr Scott for his interest for my brother to succeed him who was appointed accordingly. After examining and arranging the papers Lord Egmont gave me, I saw plainly the purport of them and that there must be an office some where in London where there was a fund for paying money to the widows of seamen who had served and died in the Service of Merchants at Bridgewater, in proportion to the time of their service which was supported by voluntary subscriptions, but where it was, I was at a loss to know, but after making all the enquiry I could think of to no effect. I thought of an elderly gentleman who had left off business who I had often some years before conversed with at different times who was born and lived in London, and had knowledge of most of the transactions there, I made enquiry after him at a coffee house he used to frequent
and at length found him out, who was as glad to see me, as if I had been his son, who was in a bad state of health in consequence of old age. Upon relating this business to him he directed me to an office at the top of the Royal Exchange, and upon my application and telling my business there, a clerk gave me hopes he would soon settle it, after he had received the papers, which I immediately went home for, and delivered to him, with a hint that if he would favour me with dispatch, I should be sensible of his favours by making a proper acknowledgment, which he therefore promised, and in about a weeks time, he settled it, and paid me about 300 for these widows and I gave him two Guineas, for which he was very thankful, and I immediately waited upon the Earl of Egmont with it, who was so thankful and pleased that he tendered me Forty Guineas for my trouble, which I declined to accept of, arguing that I did not undertake the business with any such view, but was extremely happy to oblige his Lordship and Mr Scott. He then repaid me the two guineas and said he feared he never should have it in his
power to show his gratitude to me. I replied I had such view neither in undertaking it, and was sufficiently rewarded by the pleasure it gave me to be any way serviceable to his Lordship. After about two hours conversation with his Lordship I took my leave of him, when he pressed and assured me, it would give him great pleasure if I would very frequently call on him, for he was very fond of Naval affairs of which he said he observed I was well acquainted, and added I could not make my visits too often, for there would always be a plate ready to be placed at his table for me. However I looked on all this merely as compliment and civility, and as my whole time was engaged in the public and my private business, having no inclination neither to pay too much court to great people, or to the luxuries of their tables, I omitted to even call on his Lordship for many years after, as will be seen in its proper place in point of time, further on in this book. His Lordship's interest became so powerful at Bridgewater in consequence of this event that he put in both Members of that Borough.
12 February 1755
Mr Mostyn the Comptroller of the Navy being appointed an Admiral, he sent for me late last night and directed me to be ready this morning to set out with him to Plymouth where he was going to take the command of, and equip a Fleet there as fast as possible, to act as his Secretary till his own Secretary could get there to him, without giving me any previous notice. I accordingly set out with him this morning at 5 o'clock, after being most of the night with my wife packing up my things and from her hurry of spirits on this occasion she was brought to bed of my dear William in a few after I was gone and about ten days sooner than she expected.
5 April 1755
Returned from Plymouth after having gone through very great fatigue from 5 o'clock every morning till 9 or 10 o'clock at night, every day I was with him, tho' such great attendance was not necessary but from vanity and an ostentatious show of great
business he would have me in the office by candle light every morning and night, and make me write letters to every poor constable etc etc round the country, under pretence of getting men to man the fleet, and of a night would bring all his Captains into the office to show the vast number of letters he wrote every day, which were spread abroad on the table for that purpose and to show what vast business he went through.
In short he was a man of great vanity, good natural parts mixed with a very tyrannical inhumane turn of mind, and having always had great powerful friends, his prosperity was too much for him. He was so absolute that he never would let me go to my lodgings to breakfast or suffer it to be brought to me, arguing that eating and drinking must give way to public business, at the same time he took care very regularly to eat and drink himself. Indeed he would have me dine with him every day or rather every night, for he never dined until 6 o'clock, when he took clear to make it very uncomfortable
to me by frequently sending to the office for some thing he pretended he wanted to know. (5th April 1755) He was very cruel in this respect to me, who had ever been habituated to regularity in diet and everything else. In consequence hereof I became very ill for a few days, when he boasted he had killed me with business, but to do him justice he was during my absence from the office remarkably attentive to me, and desired I would send for anything he had which he said I should command. And when we parted he assured me of his utmost service and interest in anything I might wish for. He caused me to be paid as a pay clerk, and as his secretary too for the time I was with him, which was together about one guinea per day, but by choice I would not go through the same business, treatment and confinement in every respect, with such a man again for twenty guineas a day. He sailed from Plymouth in the Augusta and I returned to London this day.
8 May 1755
Agreed with Mr Barker to dissolve our partnership having sold but 3 or 4 pipes of wine during it (see page 76) and did not get payment for the greatest part thereof, so that we lost very considerably thereby, but my the agency, which was all got by me, I cleared about 500. The dissolving this partnership therefore gave me the greatest pleasure, Mr Barker being a very artful avaricious tho' sensible man, and as he found I should every year increase my income by the agency of which he had, and was to have half, without the least trouble or interest of his, he wished much to continue it, but my very sincere worthy and learned friend Mr Joseph Hart, happily brought it to a conclusion, for whom Mr Barker had the highest esteem and veneration.
1 June 1755
I was this day ordered to Portsmouth to attend the payments at that port and to pay the fleet two months advance which was fitting out there, upon the breaking out of a war with France, so that I was almost every day at Spithead or St Helins on this service for a great length of time.
My sons were inoculated by Mr Lindsay of Portsmouth the soldiers there having the smallpox broke out amongst them to a violent degree. Upon this operation my dear William was very much alarmed, being not above 14 months old, and to amuse him during it (the operation) I gave him a new guinea which in his fright at the Doctor, he put into his mouth and swallowed to the great surprise of the several Doctors our friends who were with us at the time, and particularly to Mr Lindsay, and to the great uneasiness of my wife and self, however after it had been out of the childs mouth about 5 minutes, Mr Savage the Surgeon gave me the hint, and I took him into another room from my wife who was in great agony about it, and run his finger as far into his throat as he could which occasioned his bringing it up again to the very great pleasure of us all present, but it had so hurt his throat he was some few days before he got well.
10 Oct 1757
After residing about two years and a half at Portsmouth as happy as possible with my family, and with constant great labour and attention, I had very much increased my income and should have obtained a considerable fortune if I had been permitted to remain there, Mr Deveral the Treasurers first Clerk being a man of such low spirits he could not do much business, Sir xx Temple Bart the second clerk, did not attend to it, and Roderick Richardes a Welsh Magistrate was the clerk from the Ticket Office, who was an idle man, so that I had almost the whole private business of the Port, and my commissions amounted to a great sum every month. On one particular day, it was 30.1.0 I got thereby. To finish the business of the day, with the day required very close application, insomuch that I was up early and late to do so. A vacancy in the Comptroller Office occasioned a remove of the clerks, and tho' it was not my turn to be placed in the Pay Office in Broad Street, London, yet I was ordered to remove
to London which I did do accordingly this day tho' very much against my will for the reasons before mentioned, but not before poor Deverel shot himself.
21 October 1757
Took a house in Colchester Street Savage Gardens.
23 October 1757
I was ordered to carry on the payments in Broad Street, and to be one of the set for making up the Treasurer of the Navy his accounts, on ships books, and began on this business this day.
As I found I had wonderfully increased my private business as an Agent, I continued to carry that on in London.
24 October 1757
Captain Gilchrist [Captain James Gilchrist, 17??-1777] of His Majesty's Ship Southampton and his ships company appointed me their Agent for L'Emerode a French prize and for the St.Denis which they had taken.
16 March 1758
Having sold both these prizes I made up the accounts and paid the prize money.
3 April 1759
I was this day appointed one of the Agents to the Danae prize taken by Captain Gilchrist in sight of other of our Ships, in which the brave Captain was terribly wounded, but in reward for his great services, he having behaved most nobly in many other engagements, King George the second settled a pension of 300 a year upon him in addition to his whole or half pay, and directed that all his expenses for the cure of his wounds should be paid and that he should be allowed a year's wages also which altogether amounted to upwards of 800, as he lay many months at Yarmouth and was attended by surgeon etc from London by the King's express order.
Two thirds of the Ball and cup of his shoulder bone being shot away by a cannon ball, of which wound he languished (tho' to appearance healed up, with the loss of the use of his arm) about two years, and died at his house called Ansfield near Hamilton in Scotland. And in regard to his service and gallant behaviour I got his good worthy wife a pension of 100 per annum. He was as honest and as good a man as I ever knew
1 May [1759 or 1760]
Took a lodging at Dolston (Dalston ?) near Hackney and discharged it in October following.
Finding my agency business encreased very fast and have constantly great confinement and public business at the Navy Office from 10 o'clock in the morning 'till 3 and from 6 o'clock in the evening 'till 9 I was obliged to be up
early and late and take every opportunity to carry on my Agency business, so as to finish that dayly, otherwise I should soon have been in great confusion therewith.
20 June 1760
I this day took Henry Creed a youth recommended tome from Bristol to copy letters etc. When it was known to my neighbours I meant to take a youth in my office, many begged me to take their sons to initiate them to business, without any pay for the first year, after which, to allow them what I pleased, but as I had premised Mr Creeds friends I would not go from it, tho' it might have been a great saving to me as well as a great convenience. The first year I found him of very little service to me, but as he was a sober industrious good hearted lad, I encreased his salary every year till it amounted to 60 per annum and with some other allowances to 120.
30th September 1762
The Hon. Augustus Hervey, afterwards Earl of Bristol [Augustus John Hervey, 3rd Earl of Bristol, 1724-1779], in coming into the chops of the Channel in His Majesty's ship Dragon with the news of our
having taken Havanna, took a French Frigate of War of 10 Guns named the Francis Lewis, to which he appointed me this day sole agent, and tho' she was claimed by an English Merchant as his private property, and not a ship of War, and he prosecuted me for her as such in Doctors Commons, I cast him there by proving to the Court that she was commanded by a Lieutenant of the French Navy whose pennant was flying on board her and as such she was so condemned accordingly, by which I got a moiety of her, instead of one eighth and all lading consisting of Brass Guns, cloth, linen, buckles, buttons etc etc etc bound to Newfoundland, which was at this time in possession of the French, and notwithstanding the Law suit, the prize money was paid in less than four months after she was taken which amounted not to about 6,000.
10th October 1763
Upon reading in the newspaper this evening at my Lodgings in Peckham that the Earl of Egmont [John Perceval, 2nd Earl of Egmont, 1711-1770] was appointed first Lord of the Admiralty, who I had not seen or waited upon since Jan 1755 (see page 82) I wrote to an acquaintance of his the following morning as soon as I entered into my house in Savage Gardens which was about 6 o'clock, and sent a Porter with the letter, in which I signified what had passed between his Lordship and myself at that time, and if his Lordship thought I could be of any service to him, I would do myself the honor to of waiting upon him. Upon his reading my letter sent an Admiralty messenger to me, and requested I would go to him as soon as I could, upon which I waited upon him this 18 Oct 1763, who expressed concern for my not having accepted his general invitation or even called upon him since the aforementioned time, for which I made the best apology I could, he declared he had not only great gratitude but a very particular for me, and asked what was my present income, desiring I would be quite open with him in all my affairs, as he intended to be so with me in all his;
he having entertained the highest and best opinion of me. I replied I had from the Crown as a pay Clerk about 160 per annum, but that I had cleared by my private business as an agent the year before this 1500, whereupon he remarked he had nothing in his gift that would amount to any thing near that sum, of which I observed I was very sensible thereof, but at the same time signified to his Lordship, I should be glad to obtain rank, and wished to be appointed a Commissioner of the Navy or Victualling, which he assured me I should be, the second vacancy that might happen, he having promised the first to his relation Mr Fortry, who by misfortune had lost a great estate, and desired to know if I would accept of being his private secretary, as he should stand in great need of my assistance in Naval affairs, adding that I could not be allowed any salary for it, but I should be permitted to have
leave from the Navy Office for that purpose where my salary etc should be continued to me, which I most readily agreed to. But he observed he would not advise me to drop my private advantageous business as an agent, which I had acquired with great labour and industry, but take a partner therein. For which purpose he would not wish me to attend him 'till I had settled my private affairs. This advice coincided with my own opinion and intention. As soon as it was known that I was appointed his Lordship's private secretary two young gentlemen's fathers of rank and fortune proposed [to] lay down half the sum I was in advance to the Officers to whom I was agent, and one of them offered me a premium of 1,000 in addition thereto if I would take his sone as my partner, and the other offered 300. Though both the young men were very capable, sober and very fit for it in all respects but from their age, I did not think it advisable to trust so great a concern with such young men;
but thought of proposing it to Mr Edward Ommaney who was a Clerk in the Clerk of the Survey's office in Portsmouth yard, and who had transacted business for me therein for near two years, and who was very careful, diligent and capable, and was too of a proper age, being about 20 years old. I wrote to him and proposed the same to him, whereupon he came up to my house in Savage and saw my books and accounts and was astonished to see what I got in the business, he imagining I did not get above one third of the sum, and added that he and his family should be bound to pray for me. I therefore engaged with him, without any premium, and signified that the rent of the house, the Clerk's salary and every other expense should be abated from the sum annually gained by the business, and the neat sum equally divided between him and myself, and on his
part he as to execute and have the whole charge of the business with the assistance of Mr Creed my clerk, and tho' he was not well acquainted with it, Mr Creed was and would instruct him in it, and he had also me to apply to for any information he could not give him. We therefore had writings drawn up, and agreed the partnership accordingly for eleven years, and at the expiration of that time, to continue it as much longer as we should think proper. I therefore took him from a clerkship of 35 a year only, and placed him in a situation in which he gained for his part in the first year upwards of 700, and the business from my connections dayly increasing. But I too soon found he was a person who could not bear prosperity for he became unbearably insolent to the various Offices or rather to the clerks in them in which we had any business, and would therefore have been kicked out of many of them, but out of regard to me they did put up with therewith. Tho' not without great
expense and in one instance, in which he accused a person of forgery in a public office before all the clerks, who immediately prosecuted him for it, and for two months before the Tryal was to come on, he could not rest night or day, and was dayly applying to me to use my interest to get the matter made up, which I did with great difficulty accomplish by paying all the expenses, and giving 50 to the injured person, and desired him to charge me with half of the whole, and be very cautious, and conduct himself with more propriety in future. In about six years after the commencement of the partnership I articled my eldest son to a proctor in Doctor Commons named Mr Green, and my youngest son seemed inclined to go into my office in the agency business. I therefore spoke to Mr Ommaney thereon, and proposed, when our partnership ended, he should take my son as his partner, when I would quit
the business entirely to them, as by that time he would be so well acquainted with it, as to be able to conduct it with the clerk, and take all the labour of it from him, but tho' I had before to oblige him consented to take another clerk in the office at 50 per annum, whose name was Page, and a relation of his, he declined taking my son into the office, which however he did at last do tho' very unwillingly, but for the few months he was therein he did not behave to, or introduce him to any of my friends who came to the office, or care to employ him in the business. I therefore took him from thence and entered him a clerk in the Victualling Office where I was appointed a Commissioner the 20 instant. Mr Ommaney said nothing to me thereon or even asked my reason for so doing, but rather seemed pleased that he was removed from it, although he had often expressed a great regard for him, but said he should be miserable to trust any person with his property, as I had trusted him with mine. At the same time owned he did know a more worthy
youth. Soon after Mr Ommaney came into the partnership Mr Creed applied and wished to leave the office he having found such a change and he so disagreeable man in every respect that he had no kind of comfort in it. I advised him however not to do so, 'till he could get something better, and that I was and ever shoud be his fast friend. He therefore remained in it. About a year before the partnership expired Mr Ommaney came to me and said he was very unhappy in thinking I and everybody who knew what I had done for him, would think him a very ungrateful man, and even cryed with the reflection, and tho' I was sensible this conduct was all deceit and proceeded from a bad heart, I replied I should not think any more about it, and related my plan as soon as the partnership should expire, which was that I would set my son up in the business and take Mr Creed as a partner, and recommend them to all my friends, but assured
him I would not apply to or attempt by any means whatever to get any of his acquaintance from doing business with him, but then I should expect the like conduct on his part. He again forced tears and said this act of forgivingness so filled him with gratitude that so long as he breathed it would be uppermost in his mind. He nevertheless soon after began to write letters privately to all my friends and signified that as soon as our partnership expired and had declared I would have nothing more to do with the business, which therefore naturally devolved to him, and hoped for their favours, and was uncommonly kind and obliging to them all for that purpose. The most remarkable instance was with Lord Mulgrave [Constantine John Phipps, 2nd Baron Mulgrave, 1744-1792], who when a Captain wanted the loan of 1000 and the largeness of the sum alarmed Mr Ommaney who came to consult me about it, his Lordship having employed me from his youth as his agent through his uncle Lord Bristol who was also a Captain in the Navy. And
as I knew Lord Mulgrave was a man of honour and great property, I observed we should advance that sum to him. Whereupon he wrote to his Lordship and made it a great obligation to him, in his doing so, and tho' it was equally at my risque, he claimed the whole merit of it, and thereby insured him to do business with him in future and to recommend all his friends to him, observing that I intended to decline all kind of private business. When I found he had acted so base a part with all my friends, I then wrote to them, but as many of them were greatly indebt to the house, which they thought was to him only, they promised to continue with him after the partnership should expire.
Others left him and appointed my son and Mr Creed their agent notwithstanding they had promised to appoint Mr Ommaney, arguing that he had obtained that promise in consequence of a false representation and very ungrateful behaviour.
Lord Mulgrave however continued with him, as he told me out of gratitude for the loan of the 1000 which he concluded was from him only. So that I lost one of the beset friends I had, and by whom Mr Ommaney did not get less afterwards from him and through his interest in being appointed agent to very rich prizes than 10,000.
When the partnership expired I told Mr Ommaney I never more would have the least connection with him, and that I should ever despise his principles and ungrateful conduct. In the eleven years of our partnership we gained 22,000 the half of which he got entirely through my favour to him. My son and Mr Creed have continued in the business together very happy and successfully ever since, and I have reason to be thankful that my son was not connected with so avaricious bad principles a man, so contrary in respect to his turn of mind.
20 Oct 1763
Lord Egmont (turn back to page 99) observed to me soon after he had appointed me his private secretary that he had put me to great expense in attending him, and therefore he anxiously wished to show his gratitude in getting me some good appointment the first opportunity that might offer, for tho' he had promised Mr Fortry the first vacancy he should certainly give it to me, at the same time hinting that he might not long preside at the Admiralty, indeed it was then strongly reported he would soon be First Lord of the Treasury. From this hint and knowing Mr Rule one of the Commissioners of the Victualling had been long ill, I wrote him an anonymous letter signifying that I would give him 1000 and insure him superannuation too if he was inclined thereto. As soon as he received the letter had answered it and wished to see me. Whereupon I took a hackney coach and went to his house the same night, who on seeing me, and being quite satisfied of my interest, applied the next day
for superannuation viz 21 October 1763.
2 November 1763
Mr Rule was superannuated and I was appointed one of the Commissioners for the Victualling of His Majesty's Navy in the branch of the Cutting house which is to see the oxen and hogs killed there for the use of the Navy were good and agreeable to contract, and cut up and cured agreeable to the rules of the Navy which was the duty of the Officer under me to see who is called the Storekeeper of the Cutting House. And I was by Lord Egmont's desire continued to attend him at the Admiralty.
Mr Rule from a worne out constitution, did not live long after this transaction.
7 November 1763
Took my seat at the Victualling Board.
1 December 1763
Executed the agreement for Partnership with Mr Ommaney for eleven year's certain, but to continue it afterwards as much longer as we should agree to do so.
4 December 1763
I hired a Chariot by the month as I was obliged to go every day to the Admiralty.
10 April 1764
Took a lease of a house at Camberwell Green for 14 years.
13th May 1764
Set out with Lord Egmont, Lord Howe [Admiral Richard Howe, 1st Viscount Howe, 1726-1799] and Lord Carysford [John Proby, 1st Baron Carysfort, 1720-1772] with Mr Stephens to visit the Dockyards.
11 July 1766
Articled my dear son George to Mr Green, a proctor in Doctors Commons, and gave him two hundred guineas with him.
13 August 1764
Lord Egmont quitted the Admiralty, upon Mr Pitt's coming into the Ministry, tho' the King and Mr Pitt desired he would not, but he observed Mr Pitt and he were of different political opinions, and tho' they had only differed as gentlemen, he did not think it would be to his honour to serve with him, but observed to me, he was sorry on my account for this event, as he had it not in his power he was pleased to observe, to do anything for me, and had put me to great expense and given me much trouble, but added he would not have me be concerned for it, he having recommended me to the King, to be removed to the Navy Board when a vacancy might happen there. And then observed
that Mr Burchett the Comptroller of the Receivers Accounts [George Ann Burchett, died 1766] of sixpence of Man a Month abated from seamans wages for the Royal hospital at Greenwich, had through powerful interest applied to him, for a gentleman to succeed him, as he desired to quite his office, which he would not comply with foreseeing he should not remain long at the Admiralty, and that it might be a desirable appointment for me in addition to my place as a Commissioner of the Victualling, or for my eldest son but concluded Mr Birchet wished to make terms and come to some agreement, which if I thought moderate and worth my while to agree to, he would permit him to quit. I thereupon called on and discoursed Mr Birchet, who said he would readily resign if he could have security for the payment of his full salary during his life. On these conditions many of my friends thought it no desireable bargain whilst others did not think I run any risque as he was and had been a very debauched man, full of diseases and so offensive that there was no bearing the room where he was, consequently there was
very little probability of his living many months.
13th August 1766
After maturely considering this offer and the observations of my several friends upon it, I determined to agree to give him the security he desired upon his quitting the office which he did do accordingly, and I was this day appointed to succeed him, as my son was thought too young. I judged it prudent however to immediately insure 1000 upon my life which cost me upwards of 40 and would be an annual expense tome to that amount, but by doing so I made my mind easy, for tho' I was blessed with good health I was sensible I was liable to sudden death and various accidents, and that if I should die before him my family would be obliged to pay 100 a year the whole amount of his salary as long as he lived, and as the insuring this sum would in that case pay him the same for more years than it was thought he could possibly live, I was quite happy I had done so. About two months after
Mr Burchett died at the age of about 50 after dragging on a short but very miserable life. He was the son of Mr Secretary Burchett [Josiah Burchett, 1666?-1746] and Queen Ann was his God Mother, who was therefore named George Ann Burchett.
I now became possessed of the whole income.
13 September 176
Parted with the lease of my house at Camberwell.
17th Feburary 1768
I took a farm at Mottingham near Eltham with a view of purchasing it, with about 150 acres of land, having heard it was in chancery and would be soon sold, for which I agreed to give 100 a year. I had not placed a person in it above a month before I found that no one could prove themselves heir to it but that tow or three lawyers pretended they were employed by the heir, who had cut down and sold trees and very much hurt the estate, and as a Mr Hoddart, a vary old and rather insane man was the last possessor of it, as well as near 500 acres more land in that neighbourhood, I applied to the Lords
of the Treasurer and fully represented the case and signified that it now thought the whole estate would prove an Escheat to the Crown, and that if their Lordships would grant me a leave of it upon my proving it so, at the rate Sir John Shaw paid for the Crown land near it for 7 per acre, I would at my own expense file Bills in Chancery against the pretended heirs and sue out the Escheat, and they having agreed thereto I proceeded and made them give up their claims accordingly. But soon afterwards a Mr Bowman of the Isle of Wight proved himself to be the heir at Law, and his attorney came to me, and having satisfied Lord Bathurst and myself that he was so, and it being far from my wish to keep any man out of his right or to do any kind of injustice, I put him in possession, who his lawyer said was so sensible to my kindness in driving out all the pretended heirs, and of the
vast trouble I had therein, that he had orders to offer the whole or any part of the Estate to me to purchase, and to pay all the expense I had been at, and whatever I should reasonable require for my trouble in the affair, I thereupon produced receipts for what I had paid amounting to about 110 which he immediately repaid me, and I desired to purchase part of the land at the market price in the neighbourhood which was then 30 years purchase, which he said was a very fair price, and that I might depend on having the same. I observed as to the trouble I had in the affair which tho' very great and the little petty expenses of Coach hire etc etc of which I had kept no account, I should give that up, and was very glad that I had been the means of Mr Bowman's getting possession of his lawful right, and then parted in full expectation of having that part of the estate that I desired, but I did not see, or could get any latter, either from himself, or his lawyer afterwards, but in about six months after
I heard the estate was sold at 28 years purchase to a particular friend of the lawyer.
10 May 1768
Being desirous of a summer retreat from London I hired a lodging at Mr Rhode's at Lewisham and left it the 25th October following.
21 September 1768
Having for some time been continually pressed by Earl of Egmont to take land under him in St John's River East Florida where he had a grant of 120,000 acres, observing he was certain he should raise a considerable fortune there, and next to his own family, he wished most heartily success to me and mine, I did this contrary to my reason and opinion join with Thomas Hicks Esq in accepting a grant of land from him of 1000 acres between us for which we were to pay him 20 shillings a year ground or quit rent. This I consented to merely out of gratitude to his Lordship who earnestly wished me to do so.
13 February 1769
Took a house and about 22 acres of grassland of Peter Thompson Esq at Lewisham, which I afterwards hired of the lxxxx Mr Siborne a farmer there for 25 years, at 80 per annum, and he was to keep the house and premises in repair and pay all the taxes.
I was appointed by Sir Edward Hawke afterwards Lord Hawke who presided at the Admiralty Board to be one of the Directors of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich.
23 May 1769
Quitted the farm at Mottingham
Finding the concerns in Florida what I always feared they would prove to be viz a very expensive troublesome disagreeable business, I determined to drop it, for by my carrying on too a correspondence with rougues of agents who were continually drawing alarming bills on me, as the correspondent proprietor under Lord Egmont without assigning any reason for what they drew them, I was made very unhappy. His Lordship had appointed one Martin Jolly his agent and allowed him 300 per year and
Mr Hicks myself had appointed one fellow as ours for our part of the land who went there with his wife to settle at the rate of 50 a year. Lord Egmont's agent was recommended to him by his apothecary Mr Robert Perreau who said he was his cousin and used to clearing land and making settlements abroad, in this Lord Egmont was confirmed by his brother Daniel Perreau who said he was himself so well acquainted and so good a judge of such business that by a statement on paper he made it appear his Lordship would have an estate there in 5 years worth 3000 a year, and as a prove of what he asserted his brother, the apothecary wished to have 1000 acres of the land as Mr Hicks and I had under his Lordship. This bate fully answered their purpose and so pleased him that he told me he was sure from this information that we should all
get good fortune there very soon, tho' I never was of that opinion but dreaded the consequence of the undertaking. And I am persuaded the money Lord Egmont's agent drew on him for, between September 1768 and March 1770 which was upwards of 20,000 came into the hands of the Perreaus or at least a great part of it, for no men in London made a better appearance at Court, and they were both detected some years after in a fraud, and hanged together for it. With respect to my concern Mr Hicks and myself quitted with a lost of about 1,000 to each of us. And as observed before, what with the weight of this disagreeable concern, the abuse of Mr Henry Stracey, the particulars of which shall follow, and the uneasiness of mind at this time was almost too much to bear, my eldest son too, acted and turned out in his expenses and conduct in a most heart breaking manner.
However by the help of God, my own reflections of the uprightness of my own conduct and by the help of constant labour, both of mind and body in my public concerns, I went through it all as well as possible.
To return to Mr Henry Stracey. This man was bred a lawyer and a very sensible able man he was, and when Admiral Bryon went the voyage round the world, he asked me at Lord Egmont's house at the Admiralty if I could recommend any gentlemen to go with him as his secretary, I replied I could not but would however inquire for one and Mr Ommaney recommended Mr Stracey to me who had been Captain Clevland's clerk and had acted as his secretary when he was sent on public business to the Emperor of Morroco, and tho' the Captain had the greatest regard for him, and his Father [John Clevland] was Secretary of the Admiralty
at the time, he could not get him a purser's warrant. Upon my discoursing Mr Stracey I thought him a very proper fit person for Mr Byron, and recommended him to him accordingly, and signified as the Dolphin had on purser appointed to her, I was sure if he would ask Lord Egmont he would appoint Mr Stracey which would make it worth his while to go such a voyage as secretary and purser too, and he was so appointed, who loaded me with thanks for it. Lord Egmont promised by the King's command that all the Officers and Petty Officers who went this voyage and who Mr Byron should represent had behaved well and were deserving, should be promoted on their return home, and that the seamen should have double allowance of provisions. Mr Stracey went the voyage and as the common allowance of provisions was more than the men had expended, Mr Byron having bought at all the places he touched at fresh meat etc etc, Mr Stracey got near 4,000 during the voyage, for I have been told
Mr Byron was mean enough to make an agreement with the purser Stracey to share his profits with him and gave him written orders and vouchers for many articles he never bought, and that the latter was so bad a man also, to refuse complying with his agreement, and even to oblige him never the less to recommend him to Lord Egmont as a very worthy man and in every respect deserving of promotion, otherwise he told him he would expose his conduct and report the false vouchers to the Admiralty, and in the public papers, he therefore so recommended him accordingly. Upon this ship being ordered to go a second voyage Stracey got one Harrison a purser to change with him for duty and to allow him at the rate of 100 a year 'till his return who went the second voyage as purser of the Dolphin with Captain Wallace. When she was returning to England Stracey was very uneasy that no opportunity
had offered for him to be promoted, knowing he should be out of employment upon her arrival as she bore no purser then in Ordinary; and through his friend Mr Ommaney he got Mr Bately a purser to write to the Admiralty to quite for Mr Stracey, upon some private agreement between them, who brought the letter to me to give to Earl of Egmont, which I did immediately do, having so great a liking to Stracey that I most earnestly wished to render him my best services, not knowing at the time the detestable part of his character. When Lord Egmont opened the letter he asked me if I knew the contents, I replied that he had informed me that Mr Bately had applied to quit the Neptune of which he was purser. His Lordship thereupon gave it to me to read observing it was a very improper letter, as it expressed that Mr Bately desired to quit for Mr Stracey and thereby dictating to the Admiralty that they should appoint him. I replied that it was so improper a letter his Lordship should not receive or produce it. Lord Egmont then desired
me to give Stracey back the letter observing that he supposed it was a job between the two pursers which I replied it certainly was but submitted it to his Lordship whether it was of any consequence to the public or to him which of them was purser of the Neptune and as he had expressed a desire of promoting Stacey (Stracey ?) and no opportunity had offered before if he might not be served on this occasion. He answered that what I remarked was very true. Upon returning the letter to Stracey, he immediately went into Hampshire to Mr Bately with it, and wrote another letter to the Admiralty desiring to quit only, and upon my giving it to Lord Egmont he expressed himself much displeased with me more than he had ever done before, indeed he never had been the least displeased with me 'till then, and when I repeated the conversation we had on the former letter he owned he was out of his humour and was sorry he had expressed himself in such an illnatured manner to me, but said he could not
do so do as requested and gave me back the letter which I also returned to Mr Stracey and told him what his Lordship had said thereon. Some time after Lord Egmont had quitted the Admiralty, Lord Byron signified to him at Court that he never knew him to fail of his promise but to him in not promoting Mr Stracey his brother's fury upon which he was positive he had done it, but on his assuring him he had not, he said it must then be the fault of Mr Marsh who was his secretary. When his Lordship told this to Stracey, he was so violent and ungrateful to me, as to abuse me in all the pubic newspapers in various letters, and tho' I was conscious that not one word of it was true, it nevertheless affected my mind and hurt me very much. He even asserted that all the appointments Lord Egmont had made I was paid for, that I had 1,000 for Mr Davies - when he was appointed agent Victualler at Gibraltar, and that I had been 500 for every Captain he had named for their appointments etc etc.
I therefore insisted upon Lord Egmont's directing his attorney to draw out affidavits in the strongest manner he could and send to all this persons Stracey had named, and also one for me to make that I never received any money or valuable from any person whatever for any promotion of Lord Egmont's. His Lordship wished to decline this, arguing that he was quite satisfied the aspersion was false and entirely groundless, but as much abuse on him and one of his sons had been also published in the news papers about selling of places, which I believe was equally groundless, some time before, and he had permitted Stracey into his presence several times after his abuse of me in the news papers, I seemed to think he rather encouraged him therein rather than otherwise, perhaps with a view of taking off this reflection upon him and his son by it resting on me. Be that as it may I was determined
to convince him and the world I was totally innocent of the charge for I thank God avarice or injustice was no part of my character. Those affidavits were therefore made by all the persons Stracey had mentioned and sent to Lord Egmont, with voluntary strong letters of assurance of the villainous falsity of the assertions in every part that had been made in the public news papers. Soon after this Mr Purdy a purser sued Mr Stracey for declaring therein that he gave me for his promotion 200 and when the case was tried before Lord Mansfield in the presence of Lord Egmont Stracey's Council owned that his client could not prove any part of the charge, he had imprudently made from being disappointed of promotion, and hoped the jury would give a small verdict only. Whereupon it amounted to 10 only with the cost of suit which might be 100 more. Lord Mansfield declared it was a paltry verdict, but observed to Lord Egmont he could not help it, the jury were low men who could not see the consequences of the charge. After this trial I also intended
to prosecute Stracey, on the same affair and gave the necessary directions accordingly, but before the trial came on Lord Egmont died, and Stracey's Council obtained another trial with Purdy before Lord Mansfield and two other Judges, when it was agreed the words in the news papers were not actionable Lord Mansfield himself pronounced this, so that the former verdict was done away and each party paid his own expenses. From this wonderful uncertainty of the Law, my Council advised me to drop my prosecution, which I therefore did. Some few years after an account of Stracey's fell to my lot in my branch of Office to examine and state, in which he claimed some allowance which the Board had refused to make him, judging them of such sort as never had been allowed to others, but in examining several other persons accounts I found their these allowances had been made to persons in cases exactly similar, and stated the same
to the Board, who thereupon allowed them and passed his accounts. My conduct in this business did not fail however of surprising them greatly, as they knew what a scandalous ungrateful manner Stracey had behaved to me, and he himself was equally surprise and astonished when he heard the allowance was made to him from my statement and representation of the case, insomuch . . . that the impression it had made on his mind deprived him for some little time of utterance. When he returned from his voyage he brought me a hogshead of excellent Madeira and was so full of gratitude for my kindness to him he wanted me to accept of it, which I would not do arguing that I was better able to pay for it than he was, but as I much wanted the same I should be very thankful for it, provided he would let me know the cost and expenses thereof, which he did do, and I paid him the same, and had great reason to be very glad after what afterwards followed as before mentioned that I did so. Indeed he was a very sensible
and as I thought upon his return from his voyage a very conversable intelligent pleasing man, insomuch that during the Ships going a second voyage I gave him a general invitation in consequence of which he dined with me once or twice every week. And tho' from his abominable ungrateful conduct to me afterwards I was determined never more to have any conversation or the least connection with him, but not to do him any injury, on the contrary would render him any service that fell within my circle of action, but never more intended even to speak to him, nor did I, or even see him for some years after I was a Commissioner of the Navy, for when we have reason to drop an old acquaintance, let him have done us ever so much injury, I think it mean and denotes a revengeful spirit to do him the like, it being more blessed to do good for evil, than to render evil for evil.
To my great surprise about 1776 he came to me at the Navy Office when he was dying in a consumption, and after shedding many tears he said he could not be easy in his mind or leave the world without begging my forgiveness for his villainous ungrateful abuse and conduct to me. On observing he was very sensible hereof, and very unhappy from his own reflections thereon, I replied that I had totally forgot and sincerely forgive him for it, and tho' I would never more have any connection with him I should always be happy to render him any service in my power, as a proof I did not bear in mind the injury he had done to me. He said I had by actions convinced him thereof and then took his leave with blessing me for all my goodness to him, particularly for forgiving him for all his horrid false aspersions of me. In about a fortnight after he called upon me again, and said he was then near his end, but could not go out of the World, without again coming to thank, bless and take his leave of me, and died the following week.
I have been so prolix in this memorandum, because it was a concern that gave me the most uneasiness together with other disagreeable circumstances that at the same time happened viz in March 1770 see the bottom of page 119, that ever I experienced and could safely take an Oath I never received any sum or sums of money for any kind office I have rendered any person whatever during my being at the Admiralty with Earl of Egmont. Even the common presents of wine etc that are often made from one friend to another did not amount for the whole time I was with him to twenty pounds, for indeed covetiousness or the love of money was never any part of my character, having ever had much more pleasure in giving than taking presents, and tho' I would always get (as in duty bound to my family and relations) as much money as I could, consistent with honour honesty and justice and my own reason and feelings, yet I would not intentionally act contrary thereto for all the money in the world.
I should rather chose to save money by confining my own desires and expenses so much within my income as to be able to assist my relations and friends or those who may be in distress. On the one hand I do not think we should squander our substance in expensive living and pleasure, so on the other we should not be miserably miserly, to save money or debar ourselves of every comfort or pleasure agreeable to our fortune and reason.
With respect to my conduct whilst with Lord Egmont at the Admiralty, I can reflect thereon with pleasure, but am convinced the only part of it, in which I have been wrong is by holding myself to cheap to all my acquaintance, from a good tho' imprudent motive, of showing I was not lifted up with pride in that exalted powerful situation in rendering them service. I ever had the utmost pleasure in rendering kind offices and in making others happy, but was the time to come over again, I have seen the folly of such a conduct in being too easy of access, and therefore in such a
situation that should not be the case again tho' I would always do all the service I could but would never make myself so cheap to discourse with them upon their respective affairs.
17 December 1770
I was this day appointed a Commissioner of Sewers before which I was chosen one of the Commissioners of Turnpikes on the Kent Road, and was inserted in commission of the Peace for Kent and Surrey.
4 October 1772
This day Lord Sandwich [John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, 1718-1792] told me the King had been pleased to order me to be appointed a Commissioner of the Navy in the room of Thomas Hanway Esq deceased of which his Lordship gave me joy and professed great respect for me, and made many very flattering compliments to me on the occasion.
8 October 1772
Wrote to the Secretary of the Admiralty to quit my employment as Comptroller of the Office for receiving B & Man & Month from all seamen employed in the Merchants service for the support of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich, which I could not properly hold as a Commissioner of the Navy.
10 October 1772
This morning I received the Admiralty order for my taking my seat at the Navy Board and for inspecting the books and papers there previous to the passing my Patent.
I waited upon Lord Chancellor Bathurst [Henry Bathurst, 2nd Earl Bathurst, 1714-1794] who had been on many occasions very kind to me, and expressed great pleasure on my promotion, and desired he might have the honour to present me at Court to the King.
13 October 1772
Took my seat at the Navy Board.
14 October 1772
Went to the King's Levee [King George III], and as Lord Chancellor was not there in time to present me to His Majesty, Lord Bruce [Thomas Brudenell-Bruce, 1st Earl of Ailesbury 1729-1814] the Lord in waiting did it, and after kissing His Majesty;s hand, he asked me how long I had been in the Navy, and observed tho' a young man (I was then 49) I was an old Officer, and he was glad he had got so good a one.
15 October 1772
At the Queen's drawing room and was presented to Her Majesty [Queen Charlotte] by Lord Delawar [John West, 2nd Earl De La Warr 1729-1777] and kissed Her Majesty's hand.
3 November 1772
Delivered my patent to the Navy Board and began business there by signing the letter warrants etc etc.
17 November 1772
Mrs Elizabeth Ray came to live in my family.
14 December 1772
Removed from my house at the Victualling Office to that at the Navy Office.
17 June 1773
Set out with the Hon. Mr Bateman for Portsmouth to meet the rest of the Navy Board, in order to attend the King there.
22 June 1773
The King came to Portsmouth. See the particulars together with the expense, so far as the Navy Board was concerned in it, in a marvel covered quire of paper among my other Naval papers.
26 June 1773
The King returned to London. All the time he was in Portsmouth yard he expressed great pleasure and satisfaction. He directed me to attend him every morning early, for he would not go out of the Commissioner's house 'till I got to it which was generally about 5 o'clock, observing frequently to me, that he perceived I was well acquainted with all the affairs of a dock yard etc etc
26 June 1773
This morning Mr Stephens the Secretary of the Admiralty informed me that Lord Sandwich had signified to him, it was the King's command, I should be appointed to the branch of Clerk of the Acts of the Navy, in the room of Edmund Mason Esq deceased, who was supposed with many other gentlemen to have been poisoned, by something in their wine or food they drank and eat unfortunately, at a dinner at Salt Hill. This appointment very much surprised me, as I had not been consulted at all about it. The King thought it was promotion for me, and Lord Sandwich hinted it was so, and that he much wished it. I was therefore obliged to accept the same accordingly tho' it is a branch of the most labour and confinement at the Board, from which the Clerk of the Acts should never be absent when the rest of the Board are sitting not only to consult with them and give his opinion on all cases or applications that comes before them, but to make dayly minutes and keep a regular register thereof, which from the great increased Navy is now every day, at least during War, and generally five days in every week in time of Peace. This branch
is attended with no increase of income, and in the branch I had before as Comptroller of the Victualling Account of the Navy, I might or not, attend the Board every day, just as suites my will or convenience. A little empty honour indeed was gained by it as the leader of the business and first branch in rank of the Clerk Comm, as the Comptroller, Surveyor and Clerk of the Acts branches make them the three first Commissioners, and sign all papers first accordingly, and have the principal share in conducting and executing the Duty of the Navy Board, and were originally entitled the Principle Officers and Commissioners of the Navy, but since more Commissioners have been added, the title of the Board is so.
5 July 1773
Took my seat at the Navy Board as Clerk of the Acts, at the right hand of the Comptroller who sits as Chairman at the head of the Board, the Surveyor at his left hand, and all the other Commissioners as they are named in the Patent, in which order they sign all
John Robinson 1727-1802
papers The assistant to the Clerk of the Acts commonly called the Secretary sits at the bottom of the table.
Bought the lease of my house in Dartmouth Row for £695 upon which I have laid out upwards of £500 but could not find an heir to it 'till 1780, and tho' I had the money ready to pay for it at my Bankers, I was obliged to pay £4 per cent interest for the whole sum for that time.
18 February 1776
Mr Suckling [Captain Maurice Suckling, 1726-1778, Controller of the Navy] and myself attended a Council held at the Admiralty in Lord Sandwich's room from 6 to 11 o'clock this evening respecting the taking up foreign ships for transports, to carry foreign troops to America, as none were to be now got in England there being at this time upwards of one hundred and thirty eight thousand tons of English ships employed as such.
Lord North [Prime Minister, Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford 1732-1792],
Sir Hugh Paliser [Lord of the Admiralty, Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser, 1st Baronet 1723-1796],
Mr Robinson, Secretary of the Treasury [John Robinson 1727-1802],
Lord Weymouth [Thomas Thynne, 1st Marquess of Bath, 3rd Viscount Weymouth, 1734-1796],
Mr Suckling [Controller of the Navy, Captain Maurice Suckling, 1726-1778],
Lord Dartmouth [William Legge 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, 1731-1801],
Sir Jn Williams [Surveyor of the Navy, Sir John Williams],
Lord George Germain [George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville, 1716-1785],
Mr Marsh [George Marsh the writer of the diary],
Lord Sandwich [First Lord of the Admiralty, John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, 1718-1792].
And after much consideration and conversation it was agreed at 20 or 30 thousand tons more were wanted to carry about 16,000 German troops to America, that the King had a power to hire Foreign ships for his own service, and that a Commissioner of the Navy should be send abroad for this purpose and take one of the Principal Officers of Deptford yard with him to be sent to Amsterdam, and proceed himself to Hamburgh
21 February 1776
Commissioner Palmer was therefore sent for by the Navy Board to proceed on this service he being at this time on a visit to his father in the country. Soon after he came to town, Lord Sandwich sent to speak to me this 23rd February 1776, and said he had a favour to beg of me, which was to put an old servant of his into employment which I promised to do, but he said that was not the only favour he wanted of me and added if it was not particularly inconvenient and disagreeable to me, he knowed the King would chuse me to go to Hamburgh on this important service, and I should also very much oblige himself
if I would go there thereon, arguing that Mr Brett [Charles Brett 1715-1799] was too fat and heavy to undertake such a journey, and Mr Palmer was too young and not so proper a person for it. I therefore immediately understood they had been both making there interest with him to get off from such hazardous, disagreeable business. This request struck me with great surprise, not having the least idea from the Branch I held at the Navy Board of being ever sent from it, being by my patent directed to be always present with the body of the Board that is to say with the Comptroller and Surveyor, which I observed to his Lordship, who said that was very true, but I knew as well as he did, that he had a power to alter the patent when he pleased but that he would do nothing contrary to me, upon any account whatever. I therefore plainly saw I must go, for as to what he said of the King I was sensible that was deceit. I then observed that as I found it was his Lordship's pleasure that I should go, I would tho' very disagreeable and very inconvenient to me as married and had a family . . . . . . . . and as he wished
me to set out as soon as possible I got ready and set off for Harwich this day (27th February 1776). Note we had such heavy falls of snow between December last and this time attended with very hard frosts, that even the roads in many parts of England were not passable, insomuch that at the latter end of January they were obliged to cut a large hole through the snow at the foot of Shooter's Hill for the stage coaches, it was so wonderfully risen in that spot by drifting there. Got to Harwich with my son George who went with me as my secretary, about 8 o'clock after a very disagreeable and dangerous journey from the causes aforementioned. Soon after Mr Jonas Hanway who was a Commissioner of the Victualling joined me to go to Hamburgh to provide provisions for the Foreign Troops going to America together with Mr Tovery a Shipwright Officer ordered to attend me to survey and report the condition of the ships I might hire with Mr Jennings a clerk in the Victualling Office to attend Mr Hanway. Mr Butt, Clerk of the Survey at Deptford was also there to go to Amsterdam and follow my orders.
We found at Harwich that one of the Princes of Hess Castle had hired the Packet for himself and friends but upon my writing to him representing who we were and the business we were going upon, he very politely came to us to the Inn, and desired we would go with him in the packet, my carriage and Mr Hanway's were immediately sent on board her, and we sailed for and arrived at Helvoetsluys the next morning the 28th of February 1776 after meeting with great kindness and many civilities from the Prince and an invitation to his house at Amsterdam, he being in the Dutch Service. We did not however go there but made the most haste we could to get to Hamburgh. The particulars of this journey etc see in a journal of it, written from my minutes by my very much esteemed friend the Rev Henry Swann which is with my other papers.
10th March 1776
Arrived at Hamburgh after the most disagreeable and dangerous a journey as I could possibly have had, Holland and the whole country from it being so overflowed with the melting of the snow and the river breaking over the banks and afterwards freezing.
After surmounting many difficulties and an infinite deal of trouble I accomplished the business I was sent upon and may be more fully seen in the journal aforementioned. I set off this day (26th May 1776) with my son, and Mr Tovery and Jennings in another carriage for Calais. Note Mr Hanway thought proper to continue longer at Hamburgh and take a tour of pleasure through Germany, so that he did not arrive in London for three months after me, and put the public as I thought to a very improper expense, tho' in his general conduct, no man thought or acted better.
I crossed the Elbe and laid at Harburgh this night.
27th May 1776
Proceeded through the following places from thence to Calais viz
Zarendorff, Osnaberg, Rosamond, Burcan,
Wickendorf, Langerish, Massick, Halle,
Zell, Munster, Bekham, Enghim,
Enganven, Dulmen, Tonjen, Ash,
Hanover, Burbaum, St.Arnd, Leuze,
Hozenburgh, Wasol, Tralemond, Tournay,
Dupenau, Goldern, Louvain, Pont St.Tressin,
Bohlme, Tolgern, Brussels, Lyle,
Armentia, Baillard, Mount Cassell
St Omers, Ala, Recourse, Andres and Calais.
4 June 1776
Arrived at Calais this day, sold one of my carriages and hired a packet boat for Dover, and gave leave to a great number of persons to have a passage with me in her. Sailed from thence about noon and arrived at Dover between 9 and 10 o'clock this night and went to the sign of the ship, but could not proceed from thence 'till my baggage was examined by the Custom house Officers who were all making merry with the Mayor and Corporation if being the King's birthday. I therefore wrote a note to the Mayor saying who I was, and the business I had been upon, and desired he would not suffer me to be detained, but order them to the sign of the ship to examine the same, who happened to be an acquaintance of mine and therefore immediately came himself with all his company two and two with the mace carrying before him, all so drunk with the hind part of their wigs before, that I never saw a more laughable site. At their request I gave them a large bowl of strong arrack punch, drank the King's and their healths and set off in a post chaises from Dover at 2 o'clock this morning (5 June 1776). Note I had 70 pounds worth of Dresden china and about 40 worth of linen with me
which I bought at Hamburgh not knowing it was seizable which I packed up myself in a very large trunk in the fore part of the carriage, but on finding it was so, I have me servant two guineas to give the Custom house Officers not to be too nice in their examination, so that they only opened the trunks and wished me a good journey to London as well as men quite drunk could speak.
5 June 1774
Got home to the Navy Office by 3 o'clock this day to the great surprise but joy of my dear wife and family after the most perilous fatiguing journey it was possible to have had. Of my preservation I was truly sensible and thankful, as well as for the good health I was blessed with during the same.
6 June 1774
Waited upon the King, Lord Chancellor Bathurst and Lord Sandwich. His Majesty said he was glad to see me safe back to England after so bad a journey as I must have had, at such an uncommon severe season. Lord Chancellor desired me to dine with him which I did do and observed I had executed the business quite to the satisfaction of the Ministry. Lord Sandwich was also pleased to express the utmost satisfaction with all I had done, having hired and caused to be properly
fitted and victualled thirty four thousand tons of shipping to carry to America seventeen thousand foreign troops there at the expense of upwards of 200,000, who all arrived there in perfect health.
In this journey I got nothing but repayment of all my expenses. Had my Earl of Egmont been alive or Lord Sandwich had been my particular friends, I should no doubt have had some great distinguished reward. The American War was no doubt a very unhappy business, but I had nothing to do with that but as an individual, I was sorry for it, or that Government judged it necessary.
6 June 1776
Removed my family to my house in Dartmouth Row, Blackheath for the summer.
11th August 1777
My dearest daughter [Anne Marsh, 1760-1777] died this day of a consumption in the 18th year of her age, who was as pretty a figure and as genteel a person as I ever saw, but above all she was well accomplished and of a sweet sensible engaging good disposition.
Nothing material happened tome or mine since August 1777, I only experienced great difficulty in my situation to keep clear of disagreeing with my brother Commissioner (contention being my mortal aversion) and where 7 or 8 gentlemen are connected together with equal power that is no easy thing to do, for as being the leader and recorder of all the transactions of the Board, and constantly there myself, nothing is more easy or common for those who come and go from the Office when and as they please to find fault and be zealous of him or them who conduct the business.
22 April 1778
Set off with Mr Hunt [Edward Hunt] the Surveyor of the Navy to Chatham to attend the King there.
25 April 1778
His Majesty arrived at Chatham from the Augusta yacht this day, and viewed the several storehouses in the dockyard, then returned on board the yacht and sailed back to Greenwich, being viewed Sheerness in his way.
28th June 1778
I set of from London for Portsmouth.
2 May 1778
The King and Queen came to Portsmouth and visiting the Fleet at Spithead which was a beautiful sight the sea being covered with vessels and yachts full of various colours. After visiting the Fleet and sailing round all the ships at Spithead viewing the dock yard, Victualling Office, Ordnance, the Garrison and lines their Majesties returned to London from the Commissioner's house the 9th instant.
During these different attendances Their Majesties did me the honour to ask me many questions and talked a great deal to me. The King said he was sensible how much duty I had to do, and the great confinement and constant attendance of my branch and was pleased to add many civil expressions to me on the occasion.
His Majesty put an old Lady under my care soon after his arrival at Portsmouth to show her the yard and Garrison etc and as it proved a fine day&ldots;the King and Queen went to Spithead and I took her under my charge from His Majesty and ordered a barge to carry us to the Garrison but just
before we got there, Spithead opening to us and all the Fleet and vessels of every kind so ornamented as struck the Lady with the utmost but agreeable surprise who was called Madame Heron, she had another Lady with her as attendant. Perceiving how much they were both pleased with the sight, I asked Madam Heron if she would go to Spithead and see the Fleet, she replied if I thought there was no danger she should be glad to go there. Whereupon I ordered one of the sailing vessels to be sent to me from the dock yard, and ham cold chicken bakes wine coffee and tea etc to be sent to me from my lodging and proceeded there accordingly, but as the wind began to blow fresh I was afraid my charge might get cold I therefore put a rough great coat over her and as we sailed by the yacht the King and Queen were in, the Queen saw her and pulled the King to show her to him when they both shook their hands and appeared as well as the old lady very much pleased.
After sailing through the Fleet I carried her to Portsmouth Garrison and from thence to the Commissioner's house in the dock yard, for which she was remarkably thankful. When the Queen came on shore up to the Commissioner house. The Lord in waiting, nor none of the Navy Board but myself were there to received her from the coach, I was at a loss what to do, but immediately hold up my elbow which she put her hand upon and turned round as soon as she was out of it, made a curtsey and thanked me for my care and kindness to her good old lady.
Madame Heron invited me strongly to visit her and dine with her at Court on my return to London, but I never did. Perhaps it would have been right and that I should have made the most of this event and powerful interest, for promotion or honour, but I was not of the turn of mind to make the most of it being also quite contented with my situation, and upon reflection and very doubtful whether, if I could attain either, or both, it would increase my happiness, and whether a greater income might not lead me into connections that might be destructive
to my health and my composed comfortable manner of living, for although I was and am sensible it is the duty of every man to obtain all possible wealth and honour in the situation providence had placed him, consistent with honesty and prudence, a duty to his family and friends, yet I did not chose to run the risque of losing my present happiness, by the gain thereof, and time and experience has justified that idea, and I am well pleased that I have declined both honour and higher employment, which I was offered and could have attained through the interest of my hearty friend the Earl of Bristol who had power at a certain time of promoting me into a very exalted station and pressed me much to accept it, which he was sure from his recommendation and the King's knowledge of me I should succeed to, and even gave me two days to consider of when for the reasons before mentioned I had fortitude enough to resist the same. For I was always
afraid of great connections which most probably would lead me into the fashionable expensive destructive habits and manner of living, destroy my health and peace of mind. I was well acquainted with the business I was at the had of, which I have ever endeavoured to leave when death should happen to me, properly kept up and executed as a pattern for my successor, and for the public service, in which every man should conduct himself in his different employment, as if he was to hold it and live for ever, whereas too many care not what may happen after their time, but with respect to our own existence we should so conduct ourselves as if we were to die in a few hours, and therefore be always prepared for it.
1 April 1784
My dear wife [Ann Marsh nee Long, 1720-1784] died between 10 and 11 o'clock this morning after a long dropsical illness. We have been married thirty five years, and never had a separate purse or separate interest in any of our concerns, who was a very nice affectionate woman.
27th October 1785
My dear son William was married this day Thursday to Miss Amelia Cuthbert at St. Mary L'bone Chapel
Her father, sister, her uncles Alexander Cuthbert and Colonel Hopkins, Miss Dove and myself. Her father gave her £40,000 of which £10,000 he desired might be settled upon her, but my son desired to make it £15,000 which he settled upon her accordingly. At this time his fortune and income were equal to hers, so that if riches will produce happiness they have a very large share to begin the world with, and the greatest prospect of it.
We returned to Mr Cuthbert's house in Berner Street where we met Mrs Hopkins Mr Cuthbert's mother-in-law, my son George, Mr John Marsh and his wife, and proceeded from thence to Mr Cuthbert's house called Woodcott Park near Epsom and spent several day together.
27 January 1786
This day I am 63 years of age, and bless God in perfect health, and as cheerful and happy, as perhaps it is possible for a human being to be. Although at times I have been very uneasy in my mind on account of the bad conduct of my eldest son, but in general have been well enabled to keep up cheerful spirits, from my reflections on my own conduct to him and all persons with whom I have had any connections.
18 July 1786
My dear grandson Arthur Cuthbert Marsh was born this day.
29 August 1786
We finished business at the Navy Office in Crutched Fryers and removed all the books and papers to that at Somerset place in the Strand, and took possession thereof this day.
20th January 1788
Mr Cuthbert died this night and left his brother myself my son William, Mr John Marsh and Mr James Morrison his executors and 500 to each of us.
21 December 1788
My dear grand daughter Amelia Marsh was born this day.
30th May 1789
Mr Josa Thomas my assistant commonly called Secretary of the Navy Board died who was a vary able but corrupt bad principled man. Just before his death Sir Charles Middleton acquainted me (who was then the Comptroller of the Navy) that Lord Chatham desired not, to have any recommendation from the Navy Board and myself in particular, as had ever been usual, for a person to succeed to that appointment, who it is always mentioned in the letter from the Navy Board to the Admiralty is approved of by the Clerk of the Acts who also joins with the other members of the Navy Board in the recommendation by signing the letter and applies too personally for the person so recommended. However as Sir Charles had delivered this message to me, I did not apply immediately to the Navy Board to join in writing a letter to the Admiralty to recommend Mr John Margetson my head clerk for this appointment, which they would have most readily have done, as they approved of him as well as myself. But in the course of the same week
I reflected upon this affair and thought it extraordinary that Lord Chatham should send such a message to me and therefore waited upon his Lordship, who told me he had not sent such a message, but that Sir Charles had requested of him not to appoint any person immediately to succeed Mr Thomas, whereupon I recommended Mr Margetson as the properest person for that employment in which the Board also joined me, but his Lordship desired it might rest 'till some Naval arrangement then before the Council should be settled.
Soon after this a person named Ramsay [James Ramsey 1733-1789] died at Sir Charles Middleton's house who was said to be a Methodist parson, who it was also said Sir Charles wished very much to have this appointment, but be that as it may it was not made 'till 28th December 1789, when Mr Ambrose Serle [1742-1812] produced his Warrant to me, and said Lord Chatham particularly directed him to follow my orders. I replied to Mr Serle that I was very sorry for his appointment, for if I could have had my wish my first clerk should have had it, but as superior interest had prevailed, I would nevertheless give him
every information and rendering him my utmost assistance in the business of the Office and dayly advice for his conduct in the execution of it (for I conceived he was no way to blame to endeavour to obtain so valuable tho' very laborious confined an employment.) This very uncommon appointment was brought about by the very great interest of Sir Charles who artfully got the Earl of Dartmouth to ask Lord Chatham for it, for Mr Serle (who was said to be a Methodist) so that it might not appear to be done by him.
When Sir Charles was appointed Comptroller of the Navy which some misinformed people suppose for want of knowing the Navy Board's instructions that form the words Comptroller of the Navy, that he is Comptroller of the Navy Board, which is not the case, they each member having a power to Comptroll him in any business he may want to contrary to their opinion or the public interest or service, for neither himself or any other of the Board can give any order but such must be signed by three members of the Board, and if they disagree on any business it is to
be executed by the order of the majority of the members of the Board. Of late years the people in power have however looked upon the Comptroller only, as the head and even director of all business at the Board, not only to the great prejudice of the public, but also of the King's Service, for instead of a checque upon him, he takes upon him in consequence of his being so noticed to order whatever expenses he thinks proper, tho' ever so contrary to the most excellent instructions of the Navy Board. In short I have known those who would have sold the Navy if they could have done it, without detection. How imprudent is it therefore, to encourage such a power in any one member of the Board, to make private contracts and have the principal power in disposing of two or three million of money every year in the civil department of the Navy, and that too by one member of it, that knows the least of the business thereof, and in general Captains in the Navy are the most unfit persons to be members of the Navy Board, as they know nothing of the civil department and are too, from their education and habits, very absolute and consequential, this was Sir Charles's case who made all the knowledge he got from others his own
so that he was deemed by people in power the best and most able Commissioner of the Navy Board who was also thought to be an excellent servant and economist to the public, and so he was in all matters that did not concern himself or friends but for these purposes he was very extravagant of the public money and went unbounded lengths with it.
People in power found it very convenient, however, to support his, for it is a much easier matter to get a contract or great allowances for their friends or doing an improper irregular thing through one member of the Board, than by three. In short he was of the consequence to them he got created a Bart and chosen Member of Parliament for the City of Rochester, and first Commissioner of the Land Revenue Office, in addition to his appointment as Comptroller of Navy, and has also got appointed a Rear Admiral tho' he never served much at sea.
Notwithstanding his ill treatment to me, he was sensible that most of his Naval knowledge
he had from me, as well as various important accounts all which as before mentioned he made his own, but was so ungrateful after about four years great intimacy and to appearance friendship, he was base enough to privately insinuate to Lord Chatham the whole business was conducted by him few of the other members ever attended, and that tho' I was well acquainted with it in all its branches, yet I did not care to give myself any trouble about business. If I had been possessed of proper spirit, I could and indeed ought to have opposed many of his actions, but by nature I could never bear contention, for if I ever had the least difference with any person, I was unhappy 'till we were reconciled, but upon his conduct to me in many cases particularly with regard to my assistant or secretary and his private insinuation respecting idleness in business, I was so much provoked (being very sensible that my whole time was constantly devoted to it, and that I really made it my pleasure, constantly and daily attending it) that I told him in the Board room a man might pray morning noon and night with his servants about him, and not have the spirit of
a Christian in him, and asked him if he should like any man to act the base ungrateful false part by him, as he had done by the Navy Board but particularly to me, and then added I most heartily detested and despised his principles, having experienced that his actions were very different from his professions. To sum up Sir Charles Middleton's true character, he is a person of very great abilities is indefatigable in business, but cannot bear any person to know anything of it but himself, and to acquire this character with the King and Ministers has basely privately and treacherously depreciated that of his brother Commissioners. By his manner he appeared to be a religious just man, but by his actions he proved himself the contrary in various particulars thereof, and tho' the son of exciseman in Scotland, he frequently tho' privately observed to people how low bred and of what poor parents most of his colleagues in office were. In short he was in general a deceitful proud despicable character.
I must own his ungrateful and unchristian like conduct to me has occasioned me rather more uneasiness of mind, than I ever had before from any connections in public office, but I thank God upon turning my thoughts inwards and consulting my own heart upon my past conduct both public and private, it produced in general, that happy reflection and invaluable blessing my own self approbation, which supported me in good spirits to bear with, and go through the many difficulties and mortifications I did do from this man. Surely nothing is truly pursuable to such an animal as man, except what is correspondent or at least not contrary to justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude, which are esteemed for their importance the very hinges of all morality.
15 March 1790
Sir Charles Middleton quitted his office as Comptroller of the Navy as he could not get a deputy Comptroller appointed. Most of the clerks were in the Hall of the Navy Office to meet and tell me of it, as I went to it this morning, expressing the utmost pleasure on the event, and to my great surprise in going
to my room I met him, and he took by the hand and told me he had quitted (tho' I had not spoke to him for months before, but in business) and had been and was very uneasy ever since he had differed with me and therefore begged my pardon for whatever he might have said or done to my prejudice or contrary to my opinion and added that he had and ever should have the greatest regard for me. I own this astonished me very much and caused me to reflect how very few men can conduct themselves with propriety who suddenly obtain great power and riches with unexpected honours. I am also confirmed in my opinion that no man can be happy in himself who acts by others unjustly, or in any manner in which he should not like to be treated himself. And indeed I doubt whether this condescension of him did not arise from fear of my exposing him in the public papers, by publishing an account of all his actions in office, but be that as it may, I so far forgive
him, that I shall always have great pleasure in rendering him or his friends my very best services, but I never shall be intimate with such a man, so as to visit him.
There is an unaccountable weakness even in artful unjust designing men, it often happens by the unguarded part of their conduct, that Providence makes them the instruments of their own detection and overthrow.
It will appear that I have been very particular in relating this business and event which happened to me, the reason of my being so is, I really suffered great uneasiness of mind at times on account of it.
The Clerk of the Acts of the Navy should be possessed of great prudence and good disposition, for by leading this great variety of business, and registering the dayly occurencies of the letters received, and the answers thereto with all the contracts bargains allowances etc etc and in short of all accounts and papers that comes to, or is sent from that Board, his duty is very great and important and should constantly attend to it as I faithfully have done for he too often
meets with disagreeable events and reflections even from his brother Commissioners many of whom attend it just as they please, which is not very constantly and it is much easier to find fault than to remedy anything that is done amiss, and as they have equal power, it too often happens that they do so. And tho' the Clerk of the Acts is the first Clerk officer in rank at the Board it is a very laborious and a very confined one, if he does his duty.
16 April 1790
Mr John Margetson was appointed my assistant upon Mr Serles quitting by my application to Lord Chatham and instead of being called in his Warrant Secretary to the Navy Board as Sir Charles Middleton got Mr Serle to be, he was named assistant to the Clerk of the Acts of the Navy, as it was always usual before. This I wished very much to be done for the Clerks of my office, who have double the labour and confinement of any other clerks in the Navy Office and as being regularly bred in it, should regularly
rise therein, and if capable and fit in other respects, the head Clerk to the Clerk of the Acts of the Navy, should on the vacancy of his assistant be appointed thereto, for no stranger to the business of the Office is fit for it, or can be so without many years experience.
21 May 1790
Mary Marsh's death should have been inserted here - see page 169
14 July 1790
My dear son George died who was borne 29th December 1749 who from bad connections particularly with women neglected the very great business of a Proctor in Doctors Commons which he had and might have had, and fell into every other bad destructive habit, insomuch that I advanced some thousands to keep him from Bankruptcy, tho' he might have got a fortune in his situation with honour and honesty, he having also a seat in the prerogative Office there as a mere sinecure of about �200 per annum. I ever had a most fatherly love and affection for him, although his bad conduct to often gave me great very great uneasiness. But now he is no more, all his imprudence vanishes, and his fine
person is uppermost in my mind with his genteel amiable manners and various other good qualities, which has occasioned some unpleasant reflections, that I have not made those allowances I ought to have done for the imperfections of human nature, or rendered him all the service and assistance with money, which I had it in my power to do. But upon as strict examination of my heart hereon, I knew my readiness to do my utmost for him, if I had thought it would not have fed his vices and idleness, rather than have been of service, and would too have put it out of my power to provide for him hereafter when they might bring him into the utmost distress, I would have given him as much as was in my power, with the greatest pleasure. From this self examination, I therefore found great comfort, being conscious I have . . . . . supplied him with money from time to time 'till I found it answered no good end, and that he did not reclaim and follow my advice tho' frequently given it in the mildest friendly manner possible.
Having therefore acted my own part, as I ought to do, I have no reason to be uneasy for any event that has frequently happened to him or my family, on the contrary I am sensible it is my duty to submit thereto, and make the best of all things which has or may happen to me or them, being totally ignorant of what is best for us, or will tend most to our happiness. He was buried the 20th July 1790 in the vault I built in Gillingham Church, Kent.
21 May 1790
My cousin Mrs Mary Marsh died and was buried in Camberwell Church yard. She left to me and my sons 6,400 in the 3 & 6th Bank consolidated Anns which Mr Warren meant to leave to me, but by a mistake he made in writing his own will, who was also my first cousin - see page 33.
(note this memorandum should have as in page 167)
My son George left two illegitimate children a son named George who turned out a very bad youth so that tho' we had interest enough when he went to the East Indies to have made his fortune he conducted him so bad in every respect, that nothing could be done for him, and after going to Botany Bay and several other voyages without the least amendment, he last entered for a soldier in the East India Company's service and
changed his name for Smith, since which I have not heard anything of him.
The daughter married Lieutenant Gilbert Paterson about the year __ and has two children. I gave her £40 per annum for her life and various other sums who conducts herself very well, as does her husband tho' upon a very scanty income for his pay is not more than between £60 and £70 per annum. Note I have since increased her allowance £60 per annum and he is now a Captain in full pay of about £180 per annum.
2 December 1791
My dear grandson George the son of William was born this day (1790) Note in this year a great armament was prepared against Spain, but the dispute was made up and settled.
Another Armament was prepared against Russia also in this year, but the dispute was made up likewise.
21st January 1792
My dear granddaughter Ann [Anne Gabiou nee Marsh] was born this day.
William - born 18 October 1795
Frances Mary born 14 August 1797
Mary born 9 December 1798
Georgiana Nelson (after Lady Nelson) born 7th January 1807
Blackheath 27th January 1800 my birthday who am now in the 78th year of my age.
I have found by experience that by endeavouring constantly to act in every respect to all persons with justice, kindness and charity, and as we should like to be treated by them, and showing by our actions rather than by words, as pretensions the real goodness of our hearts, leads to happiness. We should too, limit our desires and expenses as much as possible within our fortune or income. We are all blessed with the innate knowledge and sense when we act right, or wrong, and we should constantly use our utmost endeavours to practice the former, and omit the latter, as much as we possibly can, so as fully to obtain our own approbation in all our conduct, and by regular exercise for the health and strength of the body, and constant employment for the support of cheerful good spirits would also add to our happiness, and by living temperately upon plain food, or rather abstemiously, more especially as age come upon us, going to rest soon, rising early and living cleanly, will likewise contribute thereto, but above all dayly kneeling and offering Praise to God, for all the blessing we enjoy, whose Throne is Universal and who seeith in secret, which would complete our happiness here as much as possible by raising an independence in the Soul, by thus conducting ourselves, superior to all contingencies and upon the source from which the noblest and purest of all earthly enjoyments is derived.
27th January 1800
With respect to different opinions and forms of religious worship. I am entirely in the same opinion with Pope who says.
For modes of Faith let graceless zealots fight,
He can't be wrong whose life is in the right.
[Sheet of paper inserted] Many divines assert that by faith alone our sins will be forgiven, and that we can do nothing of ourselves to atone for them, but it is in Scripture said, where the day of Judgement is set forth - Christ does not interrogate about the manner of believing but about a man's works, for the words are "I was hungry and you gave me meat, naked and you clothed me, in prison and ye came unto me." There is no mention of faith but of charity, and yet there were the righteous that should go into life eternal.
Indeed no judgement can be made of any man's goodness, religion or fear of God but by his works and actions.
Faith required of a Christian is not barely a belief that there is a God for in this case wicked men have --. Nor is a belief that Christ is the true messiah, for that to be a man may believe, and yet had a life very contrary to his precepts. But the true Christian faith is such a firm conviction of the truth and reasonableness of his s-doctrines as influences our conduct and naturally leads us to the practice of virtue and holiness.
Hence then appears the absurdity of those who put asunder what God hath joined together. They read
"that by Faith alone we are saved, and that therefore they conclude that good works are unnecessary, they do not consider that good works are the very essence of faith, and that faith without works is dead, being alone. True Christian faith worketh by love and charity, and by such works alone faith is made perfect for without holy actions, as well as holy thoughts, no man shall see the Lord. In sum this is the true and genuine doctrine of the Church of England. They believe that faith which is alone and unaccompanied with sincere obedience, is to be esteemed not faith but presumption and is no way sufficient justification, that though works of charity be not imputed to justification, yet they are required as a necessary disposition in the person to be justified, and that though in regard of their imperfection no man can be justified by them, yet that on the other hand no man can be justified without them." Chillingworth.
We should listen candidly to the voice of Scripture, the Apostle Paul every where testifies, that by no works of our own we can be justified, and that without Faith it is impossible to please God. The Apostle James as clearly shows, that Faith, if it be unproductive of good works, justifies no men. Between those sentiments, there is no opposition. It is a foundation which sends forth no stream, a tree which neither bears fruit, nor affords shade. Good works, again, without good principles, are a fair but airy structure, without firmness or stability. They reason that the house built on the sand, the reed which shakes with every wind.
We need join the two in full union if we would exhibit the character of a real Christian. He who set Faith in opposition to morals, or morals in opposition to Faith, is equally an enemy to religion. He holds up to view an imperfect and disfigured form, in the room of what ought to command respect from all beholders. By leaning to one opinion he is in danger of falling into vice, by the other, of running into impiety.
His opinion on this subject in 1799.
Tis would be a sparing of abstinence, highly pleasing in the light both of God and man, and would at once contribute most assuredly to that virtue to content of mind, and to the comfort of all around us. This would be indeed the just which God has chosen, and which is so sublimely described by the Prophet / Isiah / 18.104.22.168.9.10.11 / in form perfectly applicable to our present situation, and full of consolation and support to those who in confusion with other Christian virtues, require that truly evangelical one of charitable abstinence.
9 July 1792
This day John Baynard Esq. of Rochester died with whom I had been a brother Clerk in the Comptroller of the Navy's Office from 1744 to the time he quitted it.
He left his sister Mrs Elizebeth Baynard, spinster, who is about 80 years of age, executrix and myself executor.
He bequeathed to her for her life about £800 (£200 ?) per annum, and about £10,000 in bank stock, that is to say to that value, the stock being only £5,400, which she may dispose of by Will as she pleases.
He left me, my son and grandsons a freehold estate in land at Collin deep at the Hyde in the parish of Hendon Middlesex, of about 130 acres which cost him in the year 1756 about £4,000, now occupied by a Mr Edward Nicoll at £100 per annum, also a house, barn and a piece of ground at the Hyde which is copyhold, where Mr Nicoll lives, who has a
lease (page 174) for 14 years of the whole, from Michaelmas 1700, and for which he also pay £10 more per annum, so that the gross rent is £190 per annum, about land tax of £20.0.4 there remains neat per annum £169.19.0 or £84.19.10 per half year, which I received of him to Michaelmas last.
He also left to William Duffin Esq two farms in Northamptonshire which cost him about £10,000, and to Elizabeth Holworthy both descendents of the Haddock family, his houses etc, and in the Vines Rochester.
He likewise left me a legacy of £1,000 and my son £500. And to his distant relations, public charities and friends about £20,000 more.
5 July 1793
My son's wife Amelia Marsh died in her way home from Bristol hot wells, who left him five children, the youngest of which named Sarah also died the August following and they were both buried in my vault at Gillingham, the child was buried the 5th Sept and Mrs Marsh the 12th July.
Saturday, 15th November 1794
My son was married to Miss Frances Graham at St Margaret's Church, Westminster, present Mrs Graham [Mary Graham nee Shewen] her mother, Sir Henry Dashwood her sister's husband, with his lady [Mary Helen Lady Dashwood] and their daughter and son, Miss Graham's three brothers and myself [Frances' brothers being John Graham, William Graham and Col George Edward Graham].
21 August 1795
For various reasons I writ the following letter to Earl Spencer first Lord of the Admiralty [George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer, Viscount Althorp, 1758-1834].
I must rely on your Lordship's benevolence and candour to excuse my troubling you upon the subject of my own situation, but having been near sixty one years in His Majesty's Service, Thirty two of which a Commissioner of the Victualling and Navy, and twenty two thereof in he branch of the latter, termed Clerk of the Acts of the Navy, and have always executed my Duty with the utmost fidelity and attention, I trust and hope it may not be thought improper or unreasonable in mentioning the mortifications I have felt in seeing Baronetcies conferred on many of my brethren, who comparatively, have been but a short time in office, whilst I have been overlooked.
My Lord I consider your administration from the liberality and attention have shown to all the ranks
as a favourable opportunity for me to solicit your Lordship's influence to provide me a similar mark of His Majesty's Royal favour, in addition to such a pension as I should hope from my very long services, and my period of life (seventy three) your Lordship will think me worthy of.
Under such circumstances I should be inclined to resign.
I have the honour to be with the greatest respect, My Lord your Lordships most obedient and most humble servant.
Navy Office, 12 March 1795
5 January 1796
Mr Henry Creed who I brought up form a boy and who was my son's partner in the Agency business died at his house at Hampstead.
26 July 1796
Spencer George Townshend Gentn , produced his Warrant as paymaster of the contingencies of the Navy Office and Receiver of Fees, with an allowance of three hundred pounds a year.
3 August 1796
A new Patent was made out for the Commissioners of the Navy, by which the Comptroller is allowed £1,500 per annum, the deputy Comptroller £1,200 and the other Commissioners residing at the Board £1,000, to commence from 24 June 1796.
By this patent there is no branch as usual termed Clerk of the Acts of the Navy, so that I am now a Commissioner at Large without any branch.
In the Spring of this year an alarming violent mutiny broke out in the Fleet by the seamen. A good number of them were hanged for it.
The Bank has also alarmed the nation by stoping payment of Cash
10 February 1798
The present condition of Europe is apparelled in the Annals of the World, every man professing the belief of a deity, and enjoying the blessings of a well regulated society, under the influence of Divine and Moral Law, must shudder at the evils dealing out to them by the Republicans of France. Our existence as an independent Nation is at stake, the dreadful alternative of conquest or submission seem to hang over our heads, permit me therefore, to call to your attention to the awful moment.
Threatened with invasion similar to that which hath over run and transformed other Nations to be the slavish dependents of Gallic power, threatened also with the plunder of our property, the destruction of our Laws, and the loss of our liberty and lives, shall we supinely wait the coming tyrants and timely suffer the Altar the Temple of the God of our creation and of our hope to be profaned, his laws derided and our admirable constitution, the work of our wisest of ancestors
"dashed in pieces like the potter's vessel" by a host of Gallic spoilers? Forbid it Heaven! - Rather, like those Ancestors let us congregate in this moment of threatened danger, and strengthen by every effort That Constitution all of us have reason to support and maintain unimpaired and free from every inimical attack.
To what but an accumulated degree of wretchedness will our property tend, if it is not in some measure used for our general defence against the foe? - Come then, ye nobles by long, by high ancestry, ye Lords of extensive Domains. Come also, ye opulent by inheritance, or by the favouring hand of prosperity, bring your gifts to the Altar of God, and your Country, what consideration would not the suffering, the ruined emigrants be happy to offer to regain their confiscated property?
Let their dreadful situation be a warning to you my dear countrymen, and impel you to join my humble effort to assist in saving our country and ourselves from the impending ruin - the hearts of the poor shall bless you, and their honest brave hands be strengthened to resist the meditated attack. Gratitude be an additional spur to their loyalty and their natural courage (though the contest may be tough one) will rise superior to every endeavour to conquer and enslave them, for knowing that those whose means are ample, have amply offered them in aid of their country in the present contest, their zeal will be extended and their fidelity confirmed.
The many and very generous subscriptions for the relief of those brave men (seamen and soldiers) and their relatives who have been more immediately employed to check the efforts of the foe, fully evince that the spirit of true patriotism and brotherly love is eminently active amongst us, yet I hope I may with offending be permitted to suggest that such subscriptions, though highly useful and meritorious, are only palliatives - they do no seem to go far enough. As the danger is apparently great, now that the enemy is exerting very nerve of hostile preparation to assail us in our domestic empire, and therefore a National and Expective Union, in my humble opinion is at this time necessary to secure us from the consequences of their threatened visit. I will do more to repel the foe than millions raised under the coertion of taxation.
11th February 1798
On reading an account of the glorious action between the Mars and L'Hercule.
Herculean France is destined thus to bend
Whilst Britain hails the Godlike Mars her friend,
Hood hears the shouts of Victory rend the Skies
He gasps the Palm and then contented dies.
2nd August 1798
Mr Gambier [Admiral of the Fleet James Gambier, 1st Baron Gambier, 1756-1833] reported in the office my request was granted and was to be created Bart and have a pension of 500 year neat, and it was so published in the News papers. And a paragraph appeared therein on the 7th August in the following words Viz. Commissioner Marsh it is reported is about to retire from the Navy Office with a Barronetcy. Be that as it may we are fully persuaded that there is not a more faithful or more honourable servant of the public. I know not who published this respecting me, for I knew not myself the least about it.
The 7th August 1790 having business at the Admiralty respecting Greenwich hospital - Lord Spencer desired me to go into his room as he wanted to speak to me, which I did do accordingly. When he expressed great concern and surprise on reading the publication respecting the honor intended thereby to me and of my returning from the office. I replied I was as much surprised having had no intimation thereof from his Lordship but did not he said think it proper for various reasons to speak to the King thereon but asked if I would accept of knighthood which I absolutely refused.
This 27th January 1800 I am 77 years of age, and am truly thankful of God, I have passed my life to this time, I believe as happily as any man ever did, having been blessed in general with good health, peace of mind and very other comfort, with as few troubles or uneasiness thereof as falls to the lot of man, no more than perhaps were necessary to regulate my conduct through life and to convince me that I am mortal and not for a durance in this world.
20th January 1800
My dear sister Mary Duval died at my house at Blackheath in the 88th year of her age. Note she came down with me from London on a visit the 23 inst and was as well as any person could be and looked as well as any one of her age could do.
Blackheath 1st February 1800
Note the Quarton loaf is at this time . . . [16 1/2?] and everything else very dear.
Thoughts on the present scarcity of wheat and bread.
One mode of relief suggested has been that, the highest and middling rank of men limiting to a very moderate proportion the quantity of bread expended in their respective families. This is certainly in very point of view, a very benevolent expedient. The less bread consumed by the rich, the more of course there will be left for the poor, and the less temptation there will be for hoarding up wheat, or indeed want for this particular article, and the greater probability there is that the price will fall. Besides this, when the lower orders see their wealthy brethren voluntarily deny themselves some of the comforts of life, for their sakes, they will readily and patiently submit to the privation they must necessarily endure. It is to be hoped therefore that this salutary regulation, this wise and humane act of abstemiousness, will universally prevail among those whom providence had blessed with affluence or with competence. But do not let us stop here. Let us avoid all superfluities and luxuries and needless delicacies of the table, as much as possible, not for the purpose of parsimony or avarice, but for the direct applying the savings arising from this reform to the relief of our poor neighbours, and thereby render our frugality the source of their plenty.
How reasonable creatures can enjoy the living constantly luxuriously at a very great unnecessary expense at most xx of their lives, but more particularly at this, when thousands of our fellow creatures are starving for want it not to be accounted for, but from fashion and folly, to show their riches and power. General health and peace of mind, they cannot possess, and yet wonderful to reflect upon, it is evident that the highest and generally speaking the most sensible of the people, down to the lowest classes and clubs of men, do not act upon any, or indeed the most important business, without what is called great dinners as if their chief enjoyment consisted in eating and drinking to excess. O Man! Do you never reflect on this? Would it not be conducive to your health and happiness in this world to refine your desires by your reason, that you might be blessed with health and always with a cheerful mind, in giving up all superfluities for the benefit of the industrious distressed poor.
Nothing is truly pursuable to such an animal as man except what is correspondent or at least, not contrary to justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude, which are esteemed for their importance, the very hinges of all morality.
What if the stateliest buildings were thy own,
What, if the choicest fruits they table crown?
If thou hast heaps on heaps of gold in store,
And each succeeding year still adding more?
What if thou had it the fairest, kindest wife
To be the sweet companion of thy life?
If thou are blessed with sons, a large estate
And all around magnificent and great
What if thou'st comely valiant rich and strong
And teachest others in each act, each tongue,
If thou hast numerous servants at command
All things in store and ready to thy hand,
If thou wert king commander of a nation,
Full thousand happy years without vexation,
If fortune raised thee to the highest station
Of grandeur, wealth and dignity. What then?
Soon very soon, all ends and comes to nought.
Obey the Almighty's will, from hence arise
All happiness within, in this all glory lies.
The consciousness of meaning well, afford a sincere and heart-felt consolation, at that awful period of his existence who is blessed therewith, when all worldly prospects are shrouded in the gloom of approaching dissolution, when the reflection, on
One humane or meer well natured, deed, will be of more worth than all the riches, honours or applause, which the avarice, the ambitious, or the pride of humane nature so anxiously yet so vainly pursue.
The cheerful mind
Nor wealth, nor power experience shows can heal the minds tumultuous woes, nor lull those clam'rous cares to rest, which frequent haunt the great man's breast.
In vain the unsettled rover flies, in hopes of finding happier skies, in vain he changes climes and air, but still unhappy self is there.
The cheerful mind, above pomp or power, wisely enjoys the present hour, and stranger to the great man's fears, defies tomorrow and it's cares.
Thoughts on Doctor Dodds unhappy Fate.
Every day's experience ought more and more to convince the world that happiness in humane life, depends more on small virtues, than on splendid qualities, and that without several negative qualities, splendid qualities are of little use in the common transactions of the day. Let mankind then who would wish their children happy, rather than great, give them ideas and habits which will befriend them, in the common transactions of the day. Of these none are more valuable than economy.
[George Marsh, the writer of this diary, died 27 October 1800]
(George Marsh) (Images of pages from diary of George Marsh) (Marquis of Montrose) (Marquis of Argyle) (Captain Towry) (John Clevland 1707-1763) (Sir Isaac townsend) (George Augustus Eliott Baron Heathfield) (Thomas Thynne, 1st Marquess of Bath, 3rd Viscount Weymouth) (Admiral George Anson) (Sir Edward Hawke) (Admiral Sir Hyde Parker) (General Sir Eyre Coote) (Duke of Tichfield and Portland) (Lord John Cavendish) (William Pitt the Younger) (Admiral Sir Samuel Cornish ) (John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford) (Earl of Egmont) (Sir George Walton) (Captain Richard Haddock) (Admiral Thomas Mathews) (Admiral Savage Mostyn) (Admiral Sir Peter Warren) (Admiral George Edgcumbe) (George Bubb Dodington Baron Melcombe) (Captain James Gilchrist) (Pay Office in Broad Street, London) (Augustus John Hervey, 3rd Earl of Bristol) (Constantine John Phipps, 2nd Baron Mulgrave) (Admiral Richard Howe) (Royal Hospital at Greenwich) (Henry Bathurst, 2nd Earl Bathurst) (King George III) (Queen Charlotte) (Thomas Brudenell-Bruce, 1st Earl of Ailesbury) (John West, 2nd Earl Delawar) (Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford) (Captain Maurice Suckling) (William Legge 2nd Earl of Dartmouth) (George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville) (John Proby Baron Carysfort) (John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich) (Admiral Charles Middleton) (George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer, Viscount Althorp) (Admiral of the Fleet James Gambier)