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Society of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce: George III: A new environment for the American merchants in London: Debt problems: Wilkes, the lightning rod of liberty: George III ascends the throne:

 

The Blackheath Connection

Chapter 10

 

The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce:

 

     In 1754 an organisation arose destined to be influential in the British Empire, The Society of Arts, or, The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce, linked also with The Royal Society, providing active encouragement to men developing new scientific applications. ([1]) This society began to provide an organised, scientific basis for the kinds of investment propositions which England had produced prematurely, as far as technology was related, about 1720, the time of the South Sea Bubble. In 1759 began the canal age of the English industrial revolution. The Duke of Bridgewater's canal was opened from Worsley coalfield to Manchester, enabling a reduction in coal prices. ([2]) By George III's time, advisers to Parliament had gained greater sophistication in financial analysis, in regarding the movement of prices, in the application of technology. They were aided also by the writings of analysts such as Adam Smith. At this point, they also stopped listening to America. As Olson notes in Making the Empire Work, in George III's time, formality and inflexibility set in. Traditional lobbying failed, and this became one reason Wilkes' tactics became so popular.

 

     The first ten years of the reign of George III were unstable. He needed tact and conciliation, he had only "a fussy or brutal honesty". He inherited a three-year-old Pitt-Newcastle combination. Jobbery was an essential oil for the wheels of his government, and Watson says the important thing about corruption was that it delivered such a small result - it was inefficient. Jobbery merely gave government a body of practical and partly organised supporters in the Commons, in an age where organised party factions were suspected as "unpatriotic". Broadly in society, the Commons was often distrusted as "the executive", bound to make incursions on liberties, as the Whigs well knew, or, suspected. ([3])

 

     The modern gilt-edged government stock market, Sampson reports, dates from the "Invention of the National Debt" which brought the Bank of England into being, William III needing one million pounds quickly for a war against Louis XIV, so he borrowed it from the public. In 1694 the Bank of England was established with a staff of 17 clerks, to fix the loan. ([4]) By 1763 the national debt had reached £130 million, with a related charge on revenue of £4.75 million. The debt was not consolidated and most of it existed as debts serviced by a mind-blistering myriad of specific and exclusive taxes. By 1760 there were 222 separate heads of revenue to be kept in distinct accounts in public offices, as such revenues needed to be accounted for overall debt servicing. There were no annual budgets, or stocktakings, until the Nineteenth Century innovations of Addington. ([5]) (After the American Revolution, in George Rose's time at Treasury, that department had an effective staff of 44).

 

     Worse, there was a credit boom at the end of the war in 1763, with a financial crisis looming as the boom subsided. ([6]) It is interesting to consider survivors. By about October 1776, Jacques Necker, the son of a Huguenot, Thelluson, Necker and Company, had become one of the great Protestant European bankers with connections in every European city. Necker came from Geneva, but in London during the Seven Years War he made a fortune speculating on the Exchange. He developed East India Company links in London and developed more fortune from a semi-peaceful partnership with French trade in India. Fleming considers Necker "a quintessential international financier", naturally considered to have no loyalty to any country. Necker became by 1776 the new financial wizard in France. There are reasons to hear more of Necker. ([7])

 

*      *      *

 

     One historian has written of seventeenth century politics as an "archaic racket". ([8]) The literature of eighteenth century British history is replete with tales such as: the Whig Charles James Fox at the Admiralty, 26-years-old, was the son of Henry Fox "one of the most corrupt politicians on the eighteenth century, ... who made an immense fortune out of his job as paymaster of the forces". Fox made his son C. J. a Lord of Admiralty, at the age of 21. ([9]) Fox Senior's accounts for the Seven Years War had not been completely audited by 1776! The handling of public money was alarmingly unpoliced. Henry Fox, "a shifty schemer", by about 1763 had long handled public money, as paymaster. Interest went into his own hands from the loan he had of all money set aside for war purposes. He could allot some contracts, and remained unwilling to give up the paymastership. It took until 1782 to disentangle his accounts and separate what was due to the state, and what due to his family. ([10]) With tax levying and collection was the typical inefficiency of the age. Corruption was so rife that if any individual should be identified as corrupt, a few grains of salt should be taken, since if that was how business was usually done, most businessmen would have had little choice but to go along. Meanwhile, as Watson writes, "In practice England was not a unitary state but a collection of corporations and groups, each with a life of its own," all cohabiting in the environment provided by the Revolution settlement of 1688. Yet, as a bottom line, all these groups shared a similar interest in retaining the custom of penal transportation whilst resisting the creation of a police force.

 

*     *     *

George III:

 

In the way he viewed the Pacific Ocean, George was almost a questing visionary, yet in the way he regarded the rebelliousness of the Americans, he could not see what was plainly in front of him. George III came to the throne in 1760, the middle of the Seven Years War, 1756-1763, the last year of which was a watershed for his reign. It is as though many people around George were increasingly alienated by the very tone of his political voice - except for one seductively important factor... by 1763, Britain had become the dominant world power.

 

       George III's reign reflected many repressive tendencies. Certainly, the Americans found repression, and mightily revolted against it. The number of convicted persons rose, yet the jails system was not improved, it was allowed to rot. ([11]) Property was valued far more than life. J. H. Plumb in The First Four Georges, writes, "Perhaps the most obvious but least recognised feature of English life in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century was its love of aggression ... This may seem paradoxical, for in no other age was enthusiasm so constantly deplored". A bewildering array of laws and institutions was deployed to aim social aggression from the ruling classes, against those who interfered, however mildly, with the primacy of the institution of private property. The portrait of the eighteenth century British convict is a mini-portrait also of a nation partly insane with a distortion of values; manslaughter was punished more lightly than petty larceny.

 

     By 1763, the creation of a large standing army in America was taken as a sign of autocracy. Autocratic habits are often said to characterise the Second Founding of the British Empire. Atkinson for example says the naval authority could be pernicious, with naval press gangs a source of complaint, taking men unpredictably from their families and sailors from merchant vessels, though the West Indians were strong enough to have the practice banned. ([12]) (The press gangs recognised working sailors ashore by their distinctively scarred hands). ([13]) Where legislation was enacted, little attention was given to clearing away outdated legislation, resulting in a choking incoherence, an impossibility to gain a clear overview. ([14]) The press remained only semi-free until the 1770s, and was regularly harassed. Journalists and editors could be suborned to write material favourable to the government, or intimidated if they adopted "radical" views. ([15]) The anti-democratic position (and most unrealistic and unreasonable it was) was put with brevity in 1784, when a man opposed to press freedom, Philip Yorke, claimed "The publication of the debates and opposition speeches have lost America." ([16]) The implication was that ultra-secrecy would have gained or kept something useful, but the point remained unprovable.

 

     "One of the features which distinguished England in the eighteenth century not only from the England of today, but even from most of the other countries of Europe at the time, was the very small part taken by the central government in the local administration of the country. Local authorities were much left to their own devices with new matters, and had little if any assistance from central authority, and so Williams says the secretaries of state never interfered with local administration except in cases of civil strife or rebellion." Their methods remained more or less an `historical scrapbook' of measures, customs and procedures... ([17])

 

*    *    *

 

A new environment for the American merchants in London:

 

    In 1763, the departure of the Duke of Newcastle ended "an informal 45 year alliance between the old Whig government and the London moneyed interest". From then, fewer moneyed men joined the opposition ranks, says Olson. ([18]) (According to the secret service accounts of the Duke of Newcastle, one-fifth of a total of about £40,000 per year was spent on "electoral work"). ([19]) The British secret service is a matter to which we shall have to return while mentioning Duncan Campbell). After 1760, a great many Newcastle-era dynamics became difficult to sustain, due to the credit crisis of 1763, post-war financial difficulties, the need to defend an expanded empire.

 

    Olson notes that by, say, 1765, the Board of Trade was losing authority and American lobbyists began losing ground as parliament began dealing with American issues in a way the usual lobbying could not cope with. By 1765, with the appointment of Rockingham as prime minister, merchants began an easier four-year period of relations with government, but by 1769, Wilkesite issues were beginning to intrude on older-style merchant-government relations. ([20]) Many of the American core-group merchants identified with Rockingham. Olson dates the meetings of the umbrella group of "core merchants" from August or Winter of 1763.

 

     During December 1763, Campbell visited the Virginian planter, Col. Landon Carter in Virginia. (An appendix lists captains of tobacco ships mentioned in Landon Carter's diary. Landon Carter died on 22 December, 1779 aged 69). And in March 1763, Coldham notes, John Stewart had made a bid, that seems outrageous, to acquire a "nation-wide franchise" on convict contracting, asking for a 21-year contract. Treasury was unimpressed and gave him a seven-year contract for his existing territory. ([21])

 

     Merchants' old habits became difficult to sustain after 1763. The focus of colonial authority was shifted from the Board of Trade to Parliament, and Parliament began to make moves affecting several colonies at once. No merchant appeared before the Board of Trade after 1764. It is reputed that from 1764, some 50-60 West India voters could re-balance the House of Commons whichever way they pleased. (The Lancashire cotton interest was not nearly so strong). ([22]) From 1769 a radical Wilkesite model for conducting negotiations crept in, and this tended to dismay, then to fragment the mercantile lobby. ([23]) On the British side, the lobby groups had allowed men in authority to perceive how matters were perceived in the colonies, in turn allowing government to be responsive, tolerant and "lubricated". All this broke down between 1760 and 1775. The Americans lost their influence on administration, and the British became unable to develop policies on the basis of a realistic appraisal of colonial affairs. Other factors were: the British wanted more trade elsewhere in the world; some political opposition to the king concentrated at the Guildhall, amongst the City men, the aldermen - especially with the influence of the radical Wilkes. ([24]) So in 1763 the departure of the Duke of Newcastle ended comfortable days for merchants. ([25])

 

     Newcastle himself saw the wish of the court in the changes he felt around him as he went. A trend was unfolding, subtle, but bound to be potent. The American colonies were individual, but Britain was intending to regard them with a unified policy, as it never had before. This affected merchant views. The result was that the American colonies unified - and rebelled. But it should also be said, that Britain in the American colonies was applying a financial system that contained the seeds of its own destruction. A financial noose beyond the control of any single London merchant or colonial planter was inevitably tightened. This created financial strictures that alarmed London merchants and suffocated the Americans. No economy can tolerate being garrotted, so the Americans rebelled, their financial and economic resentments feeding their other resentments of Britain's arrogance, authoritarianism and insensitivity. So we meet the knotty question of the gathering indebtedness of the American colonies.

 

       The new way of looking at the American colonies might actually have been more efficient. The problem was, it caused coolness, suspicion, distrust, an urge to use force, and finally revolt. Olson remarks, the mercantile linkage and lobbying especially declined, coolness set in on both sides. the British side saw the Americans as being rebellious, and the British wished to expand trade elsewhere in the world. ([26]) To do so with maximum profit, it would have been necessary to keep the British resources in the West Indies and North America in the mostly prevailing harmony that had been enjoyed since the 1720s - a management task which proved impossible anyway.

 

         By 1760 as well, some historians insist, some important trading companies had grown "moribund", The Hamburg, the Russian and Eastland companies had become useless, the Turkey Company was considered oppressive. The Mediterranean trade was in decline. That strange dinosaur left over from the incredible South Sea Bubble speculation of the 1720s, the South Sea Company, had in practice become a financial clearing house managing part of the national debt, expressing little real interest in southern seas. ([27]) But are such views wrong-headed? The Russia Company helped managed Britain's import of necessary naval stores, and the only problem here was the logistical and political vulnerability arising from reliance on a single supplier. The Continental traders did probably as well as the restrictive Navigation Laws allowed them, more so if Barbary piracy is considered a factor.

 

     The Russia trade was necessary to keep the navy maintained, and curiously enough, little has ever been written about Russia merchants. Merchants involved in the trade seem honourable; or at least, historians have left them alone. To the end of the century, many promoters of the anti-slaving movement, including the Clapham Sect, were Russia merchants, the point being, their money was clean, untainted by contact with slavery. Russia merchants could remark idealistically in public and not be laughed down for hypocrisy. Britain exported only £70,000 worth of goods to Russia, but imported goods worth £950,000, and here, while the navy was viewed as indispensable to both facts and beliefs about British trade and naval security, the navy remained costly. Trade and war potential were regarded as synonymous; it was a freebooter's philosophy still, merely with a veneer now added, laminated from virtue made into necessity. Hypocrisy flourished, and the press remained unable to discuss issues clearly, logically or honestly. To speak thus would have contradicted common sense and "patriotism", which also were seen as synonymous. ([28]) The greatest common sense detectable in the Britain of George III was within the limited horizons of the solid and presumably decent country squire. Yet English aspirations in reality went far beyond those horizons. The England of George III was not a tableau of calm and impressive common sense; it behaved more like a bag of cats at a fireworks display.

 

*     *     *

 

Debt problems:

 

     Increasing debt problems were partly due to series of parliamentary actions, and because Britain had never extended the new sophistications of its developing monetary system to its colonies, which was a grave mistake. Colonists were forced to market most of their products in Britain and buy their manufactures there, paying for imports with exports such as tobacco, rice, indigo, naval stores or even ships. Or, they purchased bills on London from those who gave them credit. Or, they acquired silver to send to Britain. (Silver which might then have made its way east in East India Company ships). Some traders sent fish for silver in Portugal, or to the West Indies where silver was in more free circulation, from Spanish sources. If such trade went to non-British islands, it was then illegal.

 

     After 1763, the British government suffered shortage of income, and thought there was more silver in colonies than actually existed, so it began to institute measures in the colonies to fix rates of exchange in sterling for silver. First came the Revenue Act of 1764, which extended the range of duties to be paid on imports. In 1765 came the Stamp Act, with stamps for business varying in price in silver from a penny to £10. In America, John Adams objected, as among other things, business was "embarrassed", it would reduce the colonies of cash. ([29]) And it did. Economic life was garrotted. ([30]) After the Stamp Act fracas, a historian wrote, in 1765, "The Exchange of London was in dismay. Half the firms of Bristol and Liverpool were threatened with bankruptcy. In Manchester and Nottingham it was said that three artisans out of every ten had been turned adrift. Civil war seemed to be at hand." ([31])

 

     Between 1763-1769 - in the minds of Americans - some London aldermen, especially Sawbridge, and even some American merchants in London - the case of John Wilkes linked George III's name with Tyranny at Home. ([32]) After George's early infatuation with the Scots Earl of Bute ([33]), North was found as a prime minister who would do George's bidding. One of George's great fears was that he would become the king remembered for losing the American colonies. His fear became frighteningly real, almost as though a fear attracts the very problems which provoke it. But there was a highly ethnocentric tinge to British notions of Liberty which produced contradictions, including anti-Papism, including prejudice against Scots. ([34])

 

     It is said there prevailed an "uncontrollable English contempt for Scots", not eased till the time of George III, and then it revived, due to dislike of Bute's influence on the young king. ([35]) In March 1761, Bute was made a secretary of state. Bute, who had married a coalminer's daughter, was then 48-years-old and a connection of the Duke of Argyll, who had remained a Scottish peer through 1737-1741. Bute had endured ten years in obscurity, sometimes botanising, and he had some influence on the development of the later Kew Gardens inherited by Joseph Banks. The death of the Duke of Argyll in 1761 ([36]) left the Scottish interest of 45 MPs leaderless, though some sixteen Scots peers were anyway all government-line men. Bute also inherited some 3-9 English seats he could control, and his situation overall reflected changes in the political linkages between Scotland and England which had been stirring since the Union of 1707. ([37])  Which might suggest that Scottish Enterprise had recovered from the disasters of the Darien Company. It had tested its wings, and now wanted to fly.

 

*      *       *

 

Wilkes, the lightning rod of liberty:

 

     Early in George's reign, the son of a wealthy distiller, John Wilkes, became the lightning rod of a new view of English liberty. He led a life of controversy and vice, and was a member of the notorious Hell-Fire Club. He was a militia colonel, a gambler, wit, rake and a literary man. What Wilkes was not, was a hypocrite. He cut through humbug with unrelenting gusto and generally without apology, exposing the hypocrisies of the age for what they were. From 1762, after he established North Briton, which was designed to provoke, he said he was trying to find how far the liberty of the press could be extended. ([38]) When he once had to escape to France, in December 1763, to avoid being tried for seditious libel, it was due to an often-unconvincing, knee-jerk response of the authorities of the age - to claim that if the result of a legal action was protested, this became a libel on the judges, not a possible detection of an arguable defect in the law or its interpretation.

 

     Wilkes' case aroused strong feeling in the humbler classes, and in America. ([39]) Wilkes is notorious, in fact a cliché to mention. But as we shall see, it seems that historians could fruitfully have concentrated on his sister, who was also a remarkable personality. And also her husband, George Hayley, who like Wilkes was a London alderman. ([40]) A radical businessman, George Hayley was influential at Lloyd's amongst marine underwriters, was a whaling investor, and oddly enough he was closely associated with the controversial 1773 Tea Deal that provoked the Boston Tea Party, in ways that might have been examined more closely before today. ([41])

 

Meanwhile, as Olson shows, a Wilkesite model for conducting political and commercial negotiations crept into "the American attitude", tending to fragment the American-London mercantile lobby. (It ended in driving the conservative Duncan Campbell to distraction). Amongst Wilkes' coterie were Alderman John Sawbridge, a Wilkesite with a radical-republican sister, Catherine Macaulay, who wrote pamphlets in support of Wilkes. A common councilman Wilkesite was James Sharp, brother of Granville Sharp. Such as these were joined by Arthur Lee, a young Virginian law student, with his brother William, who in 1770 had established himself as a tobacco merchant in London. There was also Stephen Sayre from Long Island, a financial and political adventurer. From 1768 Arthur Lee sought parliamentary reform, wanted less authoritarian policies seen from government in the colonies and at home, and he made his way into City politics. Meanwhile, other radical organisations included The Club of Honest Whigs, (friends of Science and Liberty) for "Commonwealthmen"; and a centre of sympathy for Americans, a Bill of Rights Society. London's Court of Common Councilmen was 236 common councilmen, plus 26 aldermen. In May 1775 was elected an alderman for Aldgate Ward, William Lee, the abovementioned American merchant, later sheriff. ([42])

 

*     *     *

 

The British historian Linebaugh by 1991 produced his thesis, The London Hanged, ([43]) linking notions of capital, as in capital, and capital as in capital punishment. His thesis is that technological change worked to change society and some class relations. As the middle class grew, working class people were deprived of their old, feudal wage rights, where part of a wage had been in kind, or truck, or some form of non-money useful for barter. Included as "currency" were exchanges of reciprocally  understood obligations. A way of life was being changed by "Science". During the Industrial Revolution, the time sense of the population became more organised around the clock. The form of wages was changed more toward money only, and real wages dropped. Seeking their ancient perquisites, seeking wage justice as defined in older terms, workers were newly seen as "stealing". What they stole was the equivalent of their old perquisites, and here can be seen some origin of notions about "organised crime". Money itself was being redefined, wages were redefined, types of work were redefined, some notions of property itself were changed. Technology changed. Workers had only a lower standard of living. ([44]) If they agreed on taking perquisites, such as offcuts of wood in dockyards, or a tailor taking offcuts of cloth, their social superiors responded by redefining the crime of theft of property, and extending the range of sentences for crimes against property.

 

     Here, Linebaugh's theses reveal the Rule of Law as a more supple and dynamic way for the upper class to discipline the lower orders, than has been thought. Linebaugh's views here on economic crime cannot be related to the more timeless kinds of crime, such as rape or murder, but they well reflect the changing ideology of the day, and the way the Rule of Law could be used to discipline the lower orders. To apply any modern notion of "efficiency" to economic life in Britain in the eighteen century would be to misapply concepts of money, finance, to misperceive views of family life and working life, as old ways were prised apart, to conjure up a life that no social class in an already authoritarian Britain could have comfortably borne. But importantly in Linebaugh's thesis, as the institution of property was redefined in working life, the definition of a crime against property was reworked. For the proletariat it was double jeopardy. In that jeopardy was the origin of "the convict" to be coerced into labour - a type of offender  distinct from the genuine criminal. For in fact, with the use of the vague classification known as "the transportable convict", there was always small hope of the prospect of rehabilitation as the felon grew older, or changed their ways in a new environment.

 

*     *      *

 

    Blackstone commented and wrote on the law from 1758, not published till 1765. His thought became a watershed in legal history, offering the first explanation of the origins of British law. (It is often helpful when confronted with a "first" to ask: why it did not happen earlier). Later, Jeremy Bentham thought Blackstone too complacent with the state of the law. ([45]) Blackstone has earlier thought there was too little study of the law for men who would later practice law. Many who attained eminence as judges were "notorious for feathering their nests with great profit to themselves and their families". ([46]) Blackstone's own views are a curious amalgam of respect for the appropriate terror the law could induce in malefactors once it was made less abstract, as a judge gave sentence, and compassion. Yet in 1769, mystified, Blackstone once quoted, "It is a melancholy truth that among the variety of actions which men are daily liable to commit, no less than a hundred and sixty have been declared by act of parliament to be felonies without the benefit of clergy, or, in other words, to be worthy of instant death. So dreadful a list, instead of diminishing, increases the number of offenders." ([47]) Once he'd made his overview of the penal laws, he commented, "It is a kind of quackery in government ..... It is, it must be owned, much easier to extirpate than to amend mankind."

 

     Brutal laws reflected views on property held almost as sacred. By 1760, up to 160 felonies were deemed worthy of death. Some of this was achieved by Acts passed in the recent decades respecting sheep stealing, or petty larceny. There was no police system to protect property, so the Rule of Law did it in a "mistaken belief", Williams says, that severity would prove an effective deterrent. The custom of transportation was supposed to be an amelioration to such excesses, a form of compassion, as were arbitrary local decisions with some cases, where a reduction in the severity of the offence was reported so that the offender was not subjected to the death penalty. (Here arose the "forty shilling law" - over forty shillings was a hanging offence).

 

Counter-productively, in practice, the excessive severity reduced the significance of gradations of punishment, since offenders developed a "better hung for a sheep than a lamb" logic. ([48]) Other brutalities were built into the age. In the naval wars of 1739-1748, more men died of scurvy than in battle. ([49]) Some 75 per cent of Anson's crew died during his famous circumnavigation of the world. ([50]) (K. S. Allen in his book on Bligh "The Bounty Bastard" suggests that Duncan Campbell was related to John Campbell, who had been around the world with Anson and by 1781 was a rear-admiral, but this has proved difficult to verify).

 

 *       *       *

 

     George III also inherited the British fondness for annoying the Spanish on the water, a matter which would disturb his otherwise almost-visionary outlook on the Pacific. In August 1766, Wallis had set off into Pacific in Dolphin, accompanied by Phillip Carteret in Swallow. Interest rose anew in lands in the southern hemisphere. The Frenchman Bougainville sailed with two ships the same year to investigate possibilities for a French colony "somewhere in terra australis". By 1756, in typical get-rid-of-them mode, de Brosses was advising France to settle Dampier's discovery of New Britain with her "foundling beggars and criminals". Between 1700-1750, some 109 French ships went into the Pacific (and none "discovered" Australia). ([51]) Wallis arrived to Tahiti's Matavi Bay on 17 June, 1767; Furneaux annexed Tahiti as Wallis became too ill to do it himself. The British left on 26 July, 1767. Bougainville came to Tahiti on 2 April, 1768, for only 13 days. Before long, the islanders began to suffer one of the rottener fruits of European civilisation - VD. ([52])

 

    The American historian Barbara Tuchman. writing on the American Revolution in The March of Folly, says the British simply were not curious, due to their arrogance and complacency. But this is not true for the way Britain regarded the Pacific during the reign of George III. About 1739, with Anson's circumnavigation in the service of the sailor pirate - and it seems the novelist Creasey chose his year well - there was ushered in a period "one of the most glorious in England's naval annals", as Williams regards it.

 

*    *    *

 

    George III presided over a time of change he could not control, perhaps not even understand - the Industrial Revolution. The lower orders were dislocated and demoralised. Money went into new ventures. Where reform and new ideas were given birth it was mostly due to individuals, and chief amongst them was Pitt the Younger, son of Pitt the Elder, The Great Commoner, a political genius who must have suffered enormous frustration during his career.

 

     There was Dr Samuel ("the King can do no wrong") Johnson. ([53]) Dictionary-writing Johnson, the crustily witty, ever-quotable, near-fascist commentator of his authoritarian age, who once said of one of his own friends, the threat of being hanged concentrated a man's mind wonderfully. Johnson once wrote, "The age is running after innovation; all the business in the world is to be done in a new way. Tyburn itself is not safe from the fury of innovation! No Sir! It is not an improvement; they object that the old method drew together a number of spectators. Sir, executions are intended to draw the spectators". ([54]) One feels, that one of the reasons Johnson is quoted so often is that he was one of the few men in England who actually had the courage to speak his mind. For survivability, Johnson's remarks have all too few competitors!

 

     As George III presided over a time of manifold social upheaval, his conservative government ministers used a heavy hand in maintaining social control. For Australia, an outcome was that it is still difficult to find sensible reference to links between Britain and Australia, even references to the existence of Australia, in British books specifically concerned with the reign of George III. ([55]) This is remarkable, more so when it is considered that George III, "Farmer George", remained quite interested in the Pacific region, and did more to encourage that ocean to be opened to British shipping than any British monarch before him. There is something more than incidentally quite wrong with the way British scholars regard George III and the Pacific, and what Britain did with Australia. For example, in 1960, J. Steven Watson completed his book, The Reign of George III 1760-1815.  ([56]) The book was part of a series of books by Oxford scholars (at the Clarendon Press) on English history from Roman Britain to 1914, a series in train since 1937. Neither New South Wales, nor Australia, nor "convicts" are mentioned in the index to Watson's book. Presumably, in Oxford's view, the Australian continent simply "materialised". Magically? Somewhat after the loss of the American colonies? Watson's  index does have one reference to Botany Bay, in the context of the Scottish Martyrs only, who were political prisoners whose offences were duly noted as having been perpetrated in both London and Scotland. So Britain in the reign of George III acquired the Australian continent, but this is not worth mentioning, according to Watson.

 

*       *        *

 

     The industrial revolution found fertile ground in English attitudes regarding the production, consumption and distribution of manufactured goods. But that did not mean the life of ordinary working people, particularly those used to a traditional rural life, had to be treated as callously as they were as the industrial revolution progressed. In fact, as one browses in The House of Commons Journal, seeking references to the management of convict hulks on the River Thames in the 1770s, petitions to Parliament for the enclosure of land are often encountered. It is possible to be quite specific about who were making such petitions, and who were shifting the rural folk away from traditional life!

 

     In all, Williams conveys a sense of unreality and corruption in the politics of the period, and here, too, influence peddling, which George himself found difficult to accept as it offended his noble ideals. All this gives rise to suspicion that the business deals of the day were often shady and shonky, that this overtone was normal for the day. Hence, the historian needs to be cautious in judging business operations; it is all too easy to impute corruption to the negotiation of a deal that in its day was quite normal. ([57])  The more adventurous commercial men, Whigs, were regarded with distrust. (Scots in the 1750s in London were regarded with distrust, as potential Jacobites if nothing else). The rise of the English working class and even the middle class was anathema to the authorities, more so after Britain became afraid of the spirit of the French Revolution, that was "violent democracy". Men and women interested in bettering the conditions of the working class were hounded. ([58])

 

*    *    *

 

George III ascends the throne:

 

     By 1760, as George moved to ascend the throne at age 22, some sceptics asked, "What shall become of a man so young?"

 

     On 22 September, 1761, London was preparing for the new king's coronation dinner. At the dinner, due to economy measures by the Lord Steward of the Household, the Knights of Bath, the aldermen of the city of London and the Barons of the Cinque Ports found themselves without sufficient seating. (About now, Sir Samuel Fludyer was Lord Mayor). This became an affront which London never forgave George. Something strange happened. One garbled story is that the Lord Steward's horse [was?] backed in to allow Talbot, to signify to the king, [a horse's arse?] as a satiric comment. At the dinner, anyway, there was too much attention paid to the dignity of the Crown, and economy, and less to comfort. One could not obtain enough to fill one's belly, it was complained. And a jewel fell from the crowns. The loss of the jewel signified to the omen-mongers the loss of something very valuable to the crown. The omen mongers took this up, and mysteriously, destiny meant they were as correct as omen mongers ever can be. Meanwhile, the affront to the City festered. By November 1761, during London Lord Mayor's Day, there was much celebrating, much congestion on the roads. Bute was abused by the mob. George received a frigid reception at the Mayor's, due to moves orchestrated by the powerful Jamaican planter and outspoken Whig, William Beckford. ([59])

 

[Finis Chapter 10]

 

Words 6059 words with footnotes 8078 pages 14 footnotes 58



[1] D. G. C. Allan, `The Society of Arts and Government, 1754-1800: Public Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in Eighteenth Century England', Eighteenth Century Studies, Vol. 7, No. 4, Summer, 1974., pp. 434-452. Robert Marsham, second Baron Romney, (1712-1793), FSA, spouse of Priscilla Pym an heiress of St Kitts, was president of the Marine Society from its foundation in 1756 till his death. He was also the first vice-president in 1755 and the second president of the  Society of Arts till his death in 1793. His son, Charles Marsham, third Baron Romney, (1774-1811) in 1793 was a member of the Board of Agriculture. He was also president of the Marine Society, and a vice-president of the Society of Arts. GEC, Peerage, Romney, pp. 85-86.

[2] Watson, Geo III, pp. 27-29.

[3] Watson, Geo III, pp. 7-9, p. 19.

[4] Anthony Sampson, The New Anatomy of Britain. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1971., p. 543. By 1920, the Debt stood at £33,070,000,000, made of three million separate accounts; six million payments a year were made to stockholders.

[5] Watson, Geo III, p. 19, p. 270.

[6] Richard Sheridan, `The British Credit Crisis of 1772 and the American Colonies,' The Journal of Economic History, 20, June 1960., pp. 161-182, here, p. 164.

[7] Thomas Fleming, 1776: Year of Illusions. New York, W. W. Norton and Co., 1975., pp. 446ff.

[8] J. H. Parry, Trade and Dominion: European Overseas Empires in the Eighteenth Century.  London, Cardinal, 1974.

[9] Fleming, 1776: Illusions, pp. 195, 486, Note 2; the accounts for payment of the forces in the Seven Years War ending in 1763 had not been completely audited by 1775. J. E. D. Binney, British Public Finance and Administration. Oxford, 1958., cited by Fleming. Ketchum [Winter Soldiers, p. 68] notes Charles James Fox as a great debater, gross and dissolute, but speaking with brevity where the brilliant Burke was verbose. CJ's father, Henry Fox, had married Lady Caroline Lennox, the daughter of the Duke of Richmond. Fox the elder was paymaster- general of the army in the Seven Years War, when £50,000,000 had passed through his hands, some of it allegedly staying with him.

[10] Watson, Geo III, pp. 94-95, p. 61.

[11] David Mackay, A Place of Exile: The European Settlement of New South Wales. Melbourne, Oxford University Press, 1985., p. 10.

[12] Alan Atkinson, `The First Plans for governing New South Wales, 1786-1787', Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 24, No. 94, April 1990., pp. 22-40, here, p. 7-9.

[13] Marcus Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750. New York, Cambridge University Press, 1987.,  p. 12.

[14] Leon Radzinowicz, A History of English Criminal Law and its Administration from 1750. The Movement For Reform . London, Stevens and Sons Ltd., 1948.

[15] Francis Williams, Dangerous Estate: The Anatomy of Newspapers. Arrow, London, 1959.

[16] Jeremy Black, `Newspapers and Politics in the Eighteenth Century', History Today, Vol. 36, Oct. 1986., pp. 36ff. Twelve London papers were published in 1712, 52 by 1811. Jeremy Black, The English Press in the Eighteenth Century. London, Croom Helm, 1986.

[17] Williams, Whig, p. 43.

[18] Olson, `London Mercantile Lobby', pp. 26-29.

[19] Watson, Geo III, p. 59.

[20] Olson, Making the Empire Work, pp. 140-144.

[21] Coldham, Emigrants in Chains, pp. 82ff.

[22] Mintz, Sweetness, p. 170.

[23] Watson, Geo III, p. 64. The Wilkesite faction was regarded by many as destructive simply on the grounds they were discourteous about questions regarding the royal administration. Here was "patriotism" as sought by the king and the country MPs, who thought, when all was said and done, there was a simple correct course to be followed by men of good intentions.

[24] Coutts Bank on the Strand became the most fashionable of West End Banks.

[25] Olson, `London Mercantile Lobby', pp. 28-29.

[26] Olson, `London Mercantile Lobby', pp. 21-22.

[27] Watson, Geo III, pp. 24-25.

[28] Watson, Geo III, pp. 24-25.

[29] Kellock, `London Merchants', p. 110.

[30] Clarence L. Ver Steeg, Robert Morris: Revolutionary Financier (with an analysis of his earlier career). New York, Octagon, 1972., p. 5. Willing and Morris were much against the British position the Townshend Acts; Willing's name heading the list of Philadelphia protesters of  the Non-Importation Acts.

[31] William Graham Sumner, The Financier and the Finances of the American Revolution. 1891., Vol. 1, ; 108-109, treats the non-importation agreement of 1765; quoting from Macaulay's Chatam, p. 165. Gov. Hutchinson at Boston feared the effect in Britain of a colonial refusal to send trade to Britain.

[32] Valerie Hope, My Lord Mayor: Eight Hundred Years of London's Mayoralty. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Corporation of the City of London, 1989.

[33] John Stuart, fourth Earl Bute, first Marquis Bute, first Viscount Bute:  (Namier-Brooke, The History of Parliament: House of Commons, 1754-1790, Vol. 3, p. 502; GEC, Peerage, Bute, p. 442ff; Hertford, pp. 510ff; Macartney, pp. 321ff; Mountjoy, p. 349; Northumberland, pp. 745ff; Portarlington, p. 579; Townshend p. 814; Wharncliffe of Wortley). One of his wives was linked to the Herberts, Earls of Pembroke. (On his wife's father see F. M. L. Thompson, `Life after Death', p. 57.) John Stuart, third Earl Bute, a Lord of Treasury, was the mentor of George III. One of the Bute family grouping was the diplomat to China, Lord George Macartney, a friend of Henry Fox and George Selwyn.  Macartney was rewarded for his refusal in India to take bribes or presents, even customary ones, by a handsome pension from the East India Company. He was a  Tory MP,  envoy to Russia, governor of Caribbean islands in 1775, but had to surrender Grenada to the French. He was governor of Madras, June 1781 to June 1785, to be replaced there by Sir Archibald Campbell. Macartney had been offered the governor-generalship of India but declined; he was a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1792, a trustee of the British Museum. H. P. Clodd, Malaya's First British Pioneer: The Life of Francis Light. London, Luzac and Co., 1948., p. 45. Some descendants of London alderman John Shakespear appear in the Bute line. (See J. Shakespear, John Shakespear of Shadwell and his Descendants, 1619-1931. Newcastle, UK, Self-Published. 1931.) Edna Healey, Coutts and Co., 1692-1992: The Portrait of a Private Bank. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1992., genealogical tables. F. M. L. Thompson, `Life after Death: How Successful Nineteenth-century Businessmen disposed of their Fortunes', Economic History Review, Series 2, Vol. 43, No. 1, 1990., pp. 40-61., here, p. 57.

[34] Rude, Wilkes-Liberty, pp. 175-186. Other Wilkes supporters included Richard Oliver and Samuel Vaughan (a Jamaica planter name).

[35] Williams, Whig, p. 256.

[36] Archibald Campbell the third Duke of Argyll, who in 1706 had been created Lord Oronsay, Dunoon and Arase, Viscount Islay, Earl of Islay, which honours became extinct in 1761 when he died. The third duke was born June 1682 at Ham House, Petersham, Surrey; he died 15 April, 1761, in London, a prominent politician of the early Hanoverian period. He was appointed treasurer of Scotland in 1705, in 1706 one of the Commissioners for the Union of Scotland and Ireland, among the first 16 Scots Peers to sit in the First Parliament of Great Britain; became privy councillor in 1711, keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland in 1721, and keeper of the great Seal of Scotland in 1733. He played an important role in the movement led by Duncan Forbes of Culloden to promote Scots loyalty to the Hanoverians by raising Highland Regiments from the Whig clans. In 1743 he succeeded his brother, rebuilt Inverary Castle, collected a valuable private library; he died without legitimate issue and his title went to his cousin John Campbell of Mamore, second son of the ninth Earl of Argyll, to be succeeded by his cousin John Campbell the fourth Duke, son of Hon John Campbell MP, second son of the ninth earl, and died in 1770.

[37] Watson, Geo III, pp. 69-70.

[38] By 1768, hatred for the Scots formed some basis of enthusiasm for Wilkes. There was also anger at the high price of bread; Rude, Wilkes-Liberty, pp. 14-15. p. 20. Wilkes set up North Briton for satirical reasons as Bute had set up the pro-government newspaper The Briton, edited by Tobias Smollett. The North Briton was financed by Temple.

[39] Watson, Geo III, p. 98.

[40] Wilkes' support network is outlined in John Sainsbury, `The Pro-Americans of London, 1769 to 1782', William and Mary Quarterly, Series 3, Vol. XXXV,  January 1978., pp. 423-54, here, pp. 423ff. In Rude, Wilkes-Liberty, alderman George Hayley is given in 1774 at Cornhill, Armourers, Merchant, 18 Great Ayliff Street. Alderman John Sawbridge was MP for Hythe and a Justice for Kent; Framework Knitters, New Burlington Street.

[41] Some details on Hayley and Lloyd's are given in D. E. W. Gibb, Lloyd's of London: A Study in Individualism. London, Macmillan, 1957., pp. 62ff.

[42] Sainsbury, `The Pro-Americans of London, 1769 to 1782', pp. 426-428, citing A. R. Riggs, `Arthur Lee, a Radical Virginian in London, 1768-1776', Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, LXXVIII (1970)., p. 273.

[43] Linebaugh, The London Hanged.

[44] Also, `The British Background', an essay by R. M. Hartwell in G. J. Abbott and N. B. Nairn, (Eds.), Economic Growth of Australia, 1788-1821. Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1969., pp. 31-45.

[45] Williams, Whig, p. 55.

[46] Williams, Whig, p. 61.

[47] Gillen, `His Majesty's Mercy', p. 54, p. 56.

[48] Williams, Whig, p. 60.

[49] On treatments for scurvy first developed by Dr Lind, see Mark Staniforth, `Deficiency Disorder: Evidence of the Occurrence of Scurvy on Convict and Emigrant Ships to Australia, 1837 to 1839',  The Great Circle, Vol. 13, No. 2, 1992., pp. 119-132, also treating convict transportation.

[50] N. A. M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy. London, Collins, 1986., for references to Campbells, Ch. VIIA, p. 262: "Men like John Campbell, one of the inventors of the sextant, and his namesake Alexander Campbell, both of them prominent in experiments with mathematical and other instruments, were among the leading practical scientists of their day. It is interesting to note that both Campbells were of fairly humble birth, John the son of a Scots county minister, [John Campbell (?1720-1790) vice-admiral, son of John Campbell (d.1733) minister of Kirkbean in Kirkcudbrightshire, at an early age went to sea, sailed around world with Anson. Alexander Campbell was the son of a purser, which suggest that a good education may have been among the qualities which raised them, respectively, to vice-admiral and commander." [Alexander was killed in action, else would have gained higher rank].

[51] Glen Barclay, A History of the Pacific: From the Stone Age to the Present Day. London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1978., p. 39.

[52] Barclay, A History of the Pacific From the Stone Age, pp. 40-42.

[53] Fleming, 1776, Illusions, p. 73.

[54] A. Lloyd, The Wickedest Age: The Life and Times of George III. Newton Abbot, Devon, David and Charles, 1971., p. 5

[55] See for example, J. Fortescue, (Ed.), The Correspondence of King George III. London, Macmillan, 1927-1928.  Vol. 6., pp. 415ff.

[56] J. Steven Watson, The Reign of George III, 1760-1815. Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1960.

[57] Williams, Whig, p. 145.

[58] E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class. Penguin, 1980, Reprint. Thompson, pp. 19ff, details the origins of the London Corresponding Society in March 1792, and the repressive reaction from prime minister Pitt and others of the establishment.

[59] Valerie Hope, Lord Mayor, p. 119. William Beckford lived at Soho Square, a justice of Middlesex and also of Wiltshire. (Rude, Wilkes-Liberty, pp. 3-5 and pp. 141-149.) Beckford's houses were assessed at rates of £68 per year. Beckford was "lord of Fonthill", MP for the City of London; Beckford by 1752 was listed as Ironmongers, West India Merchant, Soho Square. (George Rude, Wilkes and Liberty: A Social Study of 1763 to 1774. Oxford, 1962.) In coal-heavers' affairs, and after 1758, William Beckford had taken on the administration of a scheme to aid gangs of coal-heavers, with attorney Francis Reynolds, who took about £500 or £600 of coal-heavers' money and was imprisoned. Beckford lost interest but later came back and used an agent, a publican, John Green. A Middlesex justice Ralph Hodgson ran a successful rival scheme for coal-heavers. Rude, Wilkes-Liberty, p. 96, pp. 140-141. Ekirch, Bound for America, p. 110, Note 2; Oldham, Britain's  Convicts, p. 19.

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