1692, the officers, innkeepers and clothiers that served in, quartered, and clothed the army raised in 1677 plead for financial redress

Transcription from ‘Petitions in the State Papers: 1690s’, in Petitions in the State Papers, 1600-1699, ed. Brodie Waddell, British History Online, The officers, innkeepers, and clothiers that served in, quartered, and clothed the army in 1677. SP 32/4 f. 27 (1692).

To the honourable the knights citizens and burgesses in Parliament assembled

The humble peticion of the officers, inkeepers, and clothiers that served in, quartered, and clothed the army raised by act of Parliament in 1677, and disbanded by an other act in 1679.

Humbly sheweth

That the said forces being raised to enter into an actuall warr against the French king (as by the acts appears) severall of your petitioners upon the credit of the said acts, did furnish the forces with divers necessary com= =modities, amounting to a very considerable sum, that in the year 1685 upon peticion to the honourable Hous of Commons a committee was appointed to inspect the accounts, and report the same, that an other peticion was also presented to the Parliament the 6th of May 1689, who were pleased to order a committee to examine the matter of fact of the said peticion, and to state, and report the same to the hous, upon reading whereof, the 16th day of July last it was resolved (nemine contra= dicente) to take the petitioners case into consideracion at their next meeting which was prevented by the suddain desolution.

That the satisfying of this so just a debt, would much in= =crease the credit of the Exchequer, and incourage men to bring in their mony freely, and give further incouragement to trust on the like occation, and would be a great releife to those who are in misery

Your petitioners do most humbly pray that this honourable hous will take their sad condicion, into their just and compassionate consideracion, that those in prison may be relieved, and others who are under miserable circumstances, may be preserved from utter ruin.

And as in duty bound they shall ever pray etc.

Report by Aelwyn Taylor

The officers, innkeepers and clothiers who submitted this petition had quartered and clothed the army raised in 1677, for the war against the French King, and disbanded in 1679. They claimed to have first petitioned in 1685, when a committee was appointed to validate their claim. A further petition was presented to Parliament on 6 May 1689, which set up another committee. However, Parliament was dissolved by the King before any action could be taken, so this petition in 1692 asked for redress.

The first standing army in times of peace was that of Charles II. Before that, armies had been raised in times of war but disbanded when hostilities ended. The 1670s were a time of arguments and distrust between Parliament and the King about the need and costs of military forces as well as religious policies. The session of Parliament in 1677 had been called by Charles II, in part to finance England’s re-entry into the Franco-Dutch war as he was short of money. Parliament was willing to agree to allocating funds provided the king joined the protestant Dutch side against the Catholic French. To increase the king’s credibility as a protestant, he arranged the marriage between his niece, James, Duke of York’s eldest daughter Mary, to the Dutch Stadtholder William III of Orange in November 1677. However, Parliament was unwilling to provide enough funds to raise an army unless England was going to war.[1] This annoyed Charles so he adjourned Parliament until January 1678. In late 1677 he signed a treaty with William III to re-enter the war, presenting it to Parliament when it re-opened as a fait accompli and convinced them that war was expected. After debate, Parliament agreed funding, but the French and Dutch (without England) signed the Treaties of Nijmegen and ended the war[2]. In July 1678, Parliament passed the Disbandment Act providing money for disbanding all the new forces by August 1678. Charles II took no notice of this and decided to use the money to maintain his forces. However, ‘this was an illegal act by the sovereign, as he had disregarded a statute of Parliament and had misused public moneys’.[3] The Second Disbandment Act was passed in May 1679 with the intention of providing money to disband all the troops formed since September 1677.

The petition is from those who had contributed to the anticipated war effort in the various capacities of officers, innkeepers and clothiers but in all cases had done so at personal financial cost and were now suffering as those expenses had never been repaid. This petition of 1692 also states that previous petitions had been presented to the House of Commons on the same issue: the first in 1685 and then another on 6 May 1689. No record of a petition from this specific group could be found in the Journals of the House of Commons for 1685 but on 27 May 1685, a petition was read from: divers inhabitants of several counties, towns, and boroughs of England and of the officers and soldiers who remain unsatisfied by the Commissioners appointed by an Act of Parliament, made in the one-and-thirtieth year of his late Majesty’s reign, for granting a supply of two hundred six thousand four hundred sixty-two pounds seventeen shillings and three-pence, for paying off and disbanding of the forces therein mentioned’, so they were not alone in seeking repayment of their expenses.[4]

The 1689 petition is recorded in the House of Commons Journal.[5] It states:

‘A Petition of the Officers, Inn-keepers, and Clothiers that served in, quartered, and clothed the Army raised by an Act of Parliament in 1677, and disbanded by another Act in 1679; setting forth, that the said forces being raised to enter into an actual war against the French King, several of the petitioners, upon the credit of the said Acts, quartered, maintained, and clothed the army; but, in regard, it was not disbanded within the time limited, and by other accidents, the money given fell short, to pay the Petitioners, about seventy thousand pounds, besides interest; and, forasmuch as the discharge of that debt, contracted upon the credit of two Acts of Parliament, would greatly encourage them, and others, to give a further credit upon the like occasion; they prayed that their condition might be considered, and speedy course taken for satisfaction of their debts, with reasonable allowance for their forbearance was read’.

It was resolved that a Committee be appointed to examine the accounts of the petitioners and report back to the House.

On 16 July 1689, the petition was read again and the report of the Committee was presented. The report is detailed and recorded in the House of Commons Journal.[6] The Committee commented on the plight of the innkeepers and clothiers differently to that of the officers. It says that ‘as to the case of clothiers and innkeepers, the Committee is humbly of opinion that they have been very great sufferers by there not receiving their money in the time the Act seemed to give them hopes they should and that, for want thereof, several families have been ruined, and the rest very much damnified’.

For the officers, it states: ‘as to the case of officers, they have been informed, and do believe, that many of them, being gentlemen of good families, considering the intention of the Parliament in reference to a war against France, and in hopes they might have continued longer in employment, parted with their fortunes to put themselves into a capacity to serve their country: but the war not going forward (as was desired by the Parliament), they were not only disappointed of their desire of serving their country but ruined their fortunes also, by undertaking the said employments’.

It was resolved that the case of the officers, innkeepers and clothiers would be considered at the next meeting after the recess which as the 1692 petition shows did not happen because of the dissolution of Parliament.

The petitioners’ next application was read in Parliament and discussed on 2 February 1692.[7] Reference was made to the previous investigations of a Parliamentary committee. It was noted that the officers, innkeepers and clothiers had still not received any repayment of their debt and their miserable plight continued. Once more it was agreed that the petition should be referred to a committee who would report their opinions back to the house.

The report of that particular committee has not been identified but it obviously did not result in payment of the debt because five years later there was another petition which was read on 3 January 1697/8.[8] It began in the familiar way: ‘A Petition of the Officers, Innkeepers, and Clothiers, that served in, quartered, and clothed, the Army, raised by an Act of Parliament in 1677, and disbanded by another Act in 1679, was presented to the House, and read’. However, this petition then set out that the petitioners were owed £61,926 plus interest.

The pattern of events over the previous twelve-year period is also recognised in the petition: ‘that the petitioners have often petitioned this House for relief; who as often referred the same to Committees; who stated the said debt and reported the same to the House; who thereupon resolved into a Committee of the whole House for ways and means to pay off the same but the necessities of the late war prevented the petitioners relief’. It is no surprise, therefore, that the action taken on this petition was again ‘that the consideration of the said petition be referred to a committee and that they do examine and state the debts due to the innkeepers and clothiers and report the same to the House’. It does not mention the debts of the officers although they were still some of the petitioners.

The process of setting up a committee to establish the facts or make recommendations about an issue and report back is still practiced by Parliament today. The findings of such reports may or may not be implemented. The situation of these petitioners was further complicated by the fact that the army that was raised in 1677 was in the reign of Charles II, the 1685 petition was in the reign of James II, the petition of 1692 was in the reign of William and Mary and the 1697 petition was in the reign of William III. During this time there were eight parliaments, so reports got dropped between sessions and had to be revived.[9] Whatever their original motives for supporting the proposed war effort in 1677, the people involved in these petitions paid a heavy financial price and endured miseries over a prolonged period.


[1] ‘The Cavalier Parliament’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavalier_Parliament.

 [2] ‘Treaty of Nijmegen’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaties_of_Nijmegen.

[3] J. Childs, The Army of Charles II (2007), p. 227.

[4] House of Commons Journal Volume 9: 27 May 1685′, in Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 9, 1667-1687 (London, 1802), pp. 719-721. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/commons-jrnl/vol9/pp719-721.

[5] ‘House of Commons Journal Volume 10: 6 May 1689’, in Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 10, 1688-1693 (London, 1802), pp. 121-123. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/commons-jrnl/vol10/pp121-123.

[6] ‘House of Commons Journal Volume 10: 16 July 1689’, in Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 10, 1688-1693 (London, 1802), pp. 221-224. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/commons-jrnl/vol10/pp221-224.

[7] ‘House of Commons Journal Volume 10: 2 February 1692’, in Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 10, 1688-1693 (London, 1802), pp. 648-650. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/commons-jrnl/vol10/pp648-650.

[8] ‘House of Commons Journal Volume 12: 3 January 1698’, in Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 12, 1697-1699 (London, 1803), pp. 19-21. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/commons-jrnl/vol12/pp19-21.

[9] ‘The Parliaments of England’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_parliaments_of_England.

This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reigns of James II, William III and Mary II, 1685-1699’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.