The State and the Ruling Class: An Anthology of Key Works of Libertarian/Classical Liberal Class Analysis

Compiled by David M. Hart
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[Created: 16 August, 2016]
[Updated: 30 April, 2017 ]


John Wade, “Dedication to the People” (1 Feb. 1831)

Editing History

  • Item added: 30 Sept. 2016
  • 1st Edit:


John Wade, The Black Book: An Exposition of Abuses in Church and State, Courts of Law, Municipal Corporations, and Public Companies; with a Précis of the House of Commons, Past, present, and to come. A New Edition, greatly enlarged and corrected to the present time. By the Original Editor. With an Appendix (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1835).

  • “Dedication to the People” (1 Feb. 1831) <>

Editor's Intro




To the People our labours may be fitly inscribed—they are the tribunal of last resort,—also the victims of Misrule,—and to them, therefore, may be properly dedicated a record of the abuses from which they have long suffered, and of the means by which they may be alleviated.

All the blessings the nation ought to enjoy have been intercepted,—the rewards of industry, science, and virtue have been dissipated in iniquitous wars abroad—at home, in useless establishments, in Oligarchical luxury, folly, and profusion.

If we wanted proof of misgovernment—of incapacity and turpitude—Ireland affords a frightful example: it is not Mr. O’Connell who causes her agitation; he is only one of the fruits of Tyranny,—an effect, not the cause, of the disorders, which have originated in the neglect of her vast resources, in an unemployed population, an absentee proprietary, and a plundering church. To the wretchedness of Ireland, England is fast approaching, and just as little from the efforts of individual disturbers. It is not the manufacturing, but the agricultural districts which are now excited; these have always formed the exclusive domain of the Clergy and Aristocracy;—the rural population is exactly what tithes, game-laws, the country magistracy, Church-of-Englandism, and a luxurious and non-resident priesthood have made them. And what do we behold? The people have risen against their pastors and landlords, and have resorted to nightly outrage and revenge—the last resort of the oppressed for wrongs for which neither remedy nor inquiry has been vouchsafed.

We are not of the number of those who inculcate patient submission to undeserved oppression. A favourite toast of Dr. Johnson was, “Success to an insurrection of the Blacks!” Shall we say—Success to the rising of the Whites! We should at once answer yes, did we not think some measures would be speedily adopted to mitigate the bitter privations and avert the further degradation of the labouring classes.

A new era, we are told, is about to commence:—no more liberticide wars—no more squanderings of the produce of industry in sinecures and pensions—and, above all, reform is to be conceded. We wait in patience. Our diseases are manifold and require many remedies, but the last is the initiative of all the rest, involving at once the destruction of partial interests—of monopolies, corn-laws, judicial abuse, unequal taxation,—and giving full weight and expression to the general weal and intelligence. If Ministers are honest, they deserve and will require all the support the People can give them to overturn a system which is the reverse: if they are not, they will be soon passed under the ban of their predecessors, with the additional infamy of having deceived by pledges which they never meant to redeem. We have hope, but no confidence.

Public opinion, and not Parliament, is omnipotent; it is that which has effected all the good which has been accomplished, and it is that alone which must effect the remainder. Unfortunately, Government can never be better constituted than it is for the profit of those who share in its administration; they have no interest in change, and their great maxims of rule are,—first, to concede nothing, so long as it can with safety be refused; secondly, to concede as little as possible; and, lastly, only to concede that little when every pretext for delay and postponement has been exhausted. Such are the arcana of those from whom reform is to proceed, and it is unnecessary to suggest the watchfulness, unanimity, and demonstrations by which they must be opposed.

Some of the Ministers are honest—they are all ingenious, and, no doubt, will have an ingenious plan, with many ingenious arguments for its support, concocted for our acceptance,—a plan with many convolutions, cycles, and epicycles—and, perhaps, endeavour to substitute the shadow for the substance! But it will avail them nothing; the balance is deranged, and it must be adjusted by a real increase of democratic power. The remedy, too, must be one of immediate action, not of gradual incorporation; it must not be patch-work—no disfranchising of non-resident voters—the transfer of the right of voting to great towns—the lessening of election expenses—and stuff of that sort. Such tinkering will not merit discussion, and would leave the grievance precisely in its original state.

We have fully stated our views on the subject in the concluding article of our work: by their accomplishment a real reform would be obtained, and all good would follow in their train. Our last wishes are, that the People, to whom we dedicate our labours, will be firm—united—and persevering; and, rely upon it, we are on the eve of as great a social regeneration as the destruction of Feudality, the abasement of Popery, or any other of the memorable epochs which have signalized the progress of nations.





John Wade, Chap. I. “Church of England” (1835)

Editing History

  • Item added: 30 Sept. 2016
  • 1st Edit:


John Wade, The Black Book: An Exposition of Abuses in Church and State, Courts of Law, Municipal Corporations, and Public Companies; with a Précis of the House of Commons, Past, present, and to come. A New Edition, greatly enlarged and corrected to the present time. By the Original Editor. With an Appendix (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1835).

  • Chap. I. “Church of England”
    • Sect. II. “The Patronage of the Church” <>
    • Sect. III. “Sinecurism, Non-Residence, Pluralities, Church Discipline” <>
    • Sect. IV. “Revenues of the Established Church” <>

Editor's Intro




If the possessions of the clergy are not inviolate, the rights of patrons appear to have a still less substantial guarantee. It has, however, been affirmed by an eminent ecclesiastical judge, Dr. Lushington,* that, whatever opinion might be held on the general tenure of ecclesiastical property, there could be no doubt advowsons were strictly private property. As this is a point of great importance, it may be proper, before we give an exposition of the present state of church patronage, shortly to elucidate the nature and origin of patronial immunities. Our observations will, of course, apply solely to the rights of private individuals: of the tenure of the patronage vested in the king, the lord chancellor, the bishops, deans and chapters, there cannot be any difference of opinion; all these exercise their patronage ex officio, and unquestionably the same legislative power which has authority to regulate the functions of these offices, may make regulations as to the disposition of the ecclesiastical patronage appertaining to them.

A patron, as is well known, is one who has the right to present to ecclesiastical preferment. The exercise of this right is called a presentation, and the right itself an advowson. When the Christian religion was first established in England, the sovereign began to build cathedrals, and afterwards, in imitation of him, lords of manors founded churches on part of their demesnes, endowing them with house and glebe, reserving to themselves and heirs a right to present a fit person to the bishop as officiating clergyman. Hence most advowsons were formerly appendant to manors, and the patrons parochial barons: it was only by the corruptions of later ages the lordship of the manor and the patronage of the church were dissevered, and any one, however mean and disreputable, might, by purchase, aspire to the dignity of patron.

Still such presentative right, however valuable it might be as a provision for relatives and friends, was deemed purely an honorary function, from the exercise of which no lucrative benefit ought to accrue to the possessor. For the better security of this principle, severe laws have been enacted to punish patrons who dispose of spiritual preferment from interested motives. If a patron present any person to a benefice for a corrupt consideration, by gift, promise, or reward, the presentation is void, and, for that turn, lapses to the Crown. If a person procure a presentation for money or profit, and is presented, he is disabled from holding the living. Even general bonds given to resign a benefice at the request of a patron, or in favour of some particular person, have been declared a violation of the statutes.* Such transactions have been termed simony, from their supposed relation to the offence of Simon Magus, who offered, with money, to buy the Holy Ghost. The design of the Legislature was to prevent the obtrusion of improper persons in the ministry, and guard against the patronage of the Church being perverted to objects of mere lucre in lieu of promoting religion and virtue. For the same salutary end, bishops may refuse to institute the presentee of a patron who is not sufficiently learned, or labours under moral or canonical disqualification.

In practice, however, all these precautions are nugatory, and the laws against simony are as easily evaded as those against usury or the sale of seats in the House of Commons. Preferment in the Church is as regular a subject of sale as commissions in the army; and a patron would as soon think of rewarding an individual for his learning and piety with the gift of a freehold estate as a church living. Hence, the door of the church is open to all, whether they have a call or not, provided they possess a golden key; and, in the Metropolis, offices are openly kept in which spiritual preferment is sold as regularly as offices in the East Indies, medical practice, or any other secular pursuit. Not unfrequently, a cure of souls is brought under the hammer of an auctioneer, and a Jew, who maintains our Saviour was an impostor, may, if he please, purchase the right to select a proper person for the ministry of the Gospel. In short, church patronage is dealt with as a mere commodity, and the produce of tithe and glebe, instead of being employed as the reward of religious zeal and service, is bought, like a life annuity, as a provision and settlement for families.*

These abuses must always continue while the law tolerates the sale of advowsons; it is in vain to prohibit the corrupt presentation to an ecclesiastical benefice, if a third person may purchase the right to present, and, under the semblance of a gift, convey the benefice to his employer. But such perversion can in no way strengthen the claims of patrons, and entitle them to set up a mere incorporeal immunity as real property. The history of church patronage, as well as the enactments of the law, are repugnant to the idea of treating church patronage as houses and land. In cases of bankruptcy and insolvency, the assignees can neither sell nor present to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice; this is a personal function which cannot be delegated or assigned like a mere chattel, but must be discharged by the insolvent himself. Were, therefore, the Church reformed to-morrow, and all its ministers placed on an uniform salary of £250 a-year, the patrons of livings could not claim a compensation for the loss of tithe and church estate. They never, either in law or in equity, had a beneficial interest in the Church; their interests were purely honorary and functional: and were the patronage of livings continued to them under a reformed system, however much the value of advowsons might be depreciated in the market, whatever interest they legally possessed would have been abundantly respected.

Having shortly exhibited the origin and tenure of patronial immunities, we shall next explain the present distribution of church patronage, and the mode and purposes for which it is usually employed.

The patronage of the Church is in the king, bishops, deans and chapters, universities, collegiate establishments, aristocracy, and gentry. The king’s patronage is the bishoprics, all the deaneries in England, thirty prebends, twenty-three canonries, the mastership of the Temple, the wardenship of the collegiate church of Manchester, and 1048 livings. The lord chancellor presents to all the livings under the value of £20 in the king’s book, which are about 780; he also presents to six prebendal stalls in Bristol cathedral, and to five in each of the cathedrals of Gloucester, Norwich, and Rochester; the other ministers present to the remaining patronage of the crown. Upwards of 1600 pieces of church-preferment are in the gift of the bishops; more than 600 in the presentation of the two universities; 57 in the colleges of Eton and Winchester: about 1000 in the gifts of cathedrals and collegiate establishments; and the remainder in the gift of the aristocracy and private individuals.

The population-returns of 1821 make the number of parishes and parochial chapelries in England and Wales 10,674; which, divided into rectories and vicarages, exhibit the following classification of parochial patronage:—

In the gift of Rectories. Vicarages.
The crown 558 490
The bishops 592 709
Deans and chapters 190 792
University of Oxford 202 112
University of Cambridge 152 131
Collegiate establishments 39 107
Private individuals 3,444 3,175

In addition, there are 649 chapels not parochial, making the total number of benefices in England and Wales, without allowing for the consolidation of the smaller parishes, 11,342. To this number ought to be added 227 new churches and chapels erected under the authority of the Church-Building-Acts, and which must hereafter greatly augment the patronage and revenues of the established church. All these churches and chapels constitute, by the statutes, so many separate benefices, their ministers are incumbents, and bodies corporate, empowered to take endowments in land or tithes.

The benefices now in the gift of the Crown were reservations, when the manors to which they were appendant were granted away, or were acquired by lapse, or conferred on Henry VIII. and his successors, by act of parliament, at the dissolution of the monasteries to which they belonged. The livings belonging to the bishoprics, the deans and chapters, the universities, and colleges, were the gifts of their munificent founders. Those in the hands of private individuals have come into their possession along with their estates, or they have purchased or inherited the advowson dissevered from manorial rights.

Directly or indirectly the entire patronage of the church may be said to be vested in the Crown. No one is eligible to church-preferment, unless first ordained by the bishop; when eligible, no one can enjoy any benefice unless instituted by a bishop: the bishops, therefore, by ordination and institution, have a double power to exclude obnoxious persons: and the bishops themselves being appointed by the king, the latter has, virtually, the whole patronage of the church, having a veto on all ecclesiastical appointments by the aristocracy, the gentry, cathedrals, and other bodies in which church patronage is vested.

It is easy to conceive how much the power of the Crown is thereby augmented. The clergy, from superior education, from their wealth and sacred profession, possess greater influence than any other order of men, and all the influence they possess is as much subservient to government as the army or navy, or any other branch of public service. Upon every public occasion the consequence of this influence is apparent. There is no question, however unpopular, which may not obtain countenance by the support of the clergy: being everywhere, and having much to lose, and a great deal to expect, they are always active and zealous in devotion to the interests of those on whom their promotion depends. Hence their anxiety to attract notice at county, corporate, and sessional meetings. Whenever a loyal address is to be obtained, a popular petition opposed, or hard measure carried against the poor, it is almost certain some reverend rector, very reverend dean, or venerable archdeacon, will make himself conspicuous.

It has been before remarked that church patronage is a regular article of sale. Besides being sold for money, spiritual preferment is devoted to political objects, and to the emolument of powerful families, chiefly the nobility. Few individuals attain high honour in the church, unless remarkable for their devotion to government; any show of liberality or independence is fatal to ecclesiastical ambition, as may be instanced in the history of a Watson, a Paley, or a Shipley. On the contrary, hostility to reform, subserviency to ministers, and alacrity in supporting them on all occasions, is sure to be rewarded. We do not think the conduct of the Bishops in voting against the reform bill any objection to this imputation. They, doubtless, calculated, as Lord Brougham remarked, on “tripping up the heels” of the Whig Ministers. That they have mostly thriven by subserviency, will be apparent from adverting to the claims to promotion of the individuals rewarded by mitres under Tory administrations. Two of them are generally known as “the Lady’s Bishops,” from the nature of the court influence to which it is supposed they were indebted for their exalted stations. Marsh, one of the most orthodox, was a political pamphleteer, who wrote a book in favour of Pitt’s war; after which he received a pension, then a bishopric. Blomfield owed his first preferment to a noble lord, whom he had pleased by his dexterity in rendering some Greek verses; his subsequent elevation is said to have been purchased by a compromise of principle on the catholic question: he did not vote on the first introduction of the reform bill, divided, probably, by a sense of gratitude to his early patron lord Spencer, and uncertainty as to future events. Dr. Monk is also an eminent haberdasher in “points and particles.” He was raised to the throne of Gloucester, from the deanery of Peterborough and rectory of Fiskerton; and to which elevation it is not unlikely he paved the way by a fulsome dedication of his “Life of Bentley” to his friend and patron, the bishop of London. The tergiversations and subserviency of Dr. Philpotts are too notorious to require description. The archbishop of Canterbury is, as far as we know, without any particular trait of distinction, either in his history or character. He was formerly dean of the Royal Chapel, and tutor to the prince of Orange; he seems a man of great singleness of mind; for in one of his charges to the clergy, he deplores the absence of that “humble docility” and “prostration of the understanding” which formerly rendered the people such apt subjects, either of religious or political knavery. The bishop of Durham is of Dutch extraction, and some years since underwent a severe prosecution for non-residence on a benefice in the City, of which he was then incumbent. Burgess is a protégé of lord Sidmouth, who is now living in retirement on a pension of £3000 a year, granted for “high and efficient” services to church and state. Coplestone is the writer of a satirical squib, called “Hints to a Young Reviewer,” directed against a well-known northern periodical. John Bird Sumner is considered a person of some merit, and has written several articles in the Edinburgh Encyclopedia. Carey, too, who was sub-almoner to George III. is also an author and has published a sermon, preached on the occasion of the famous “Jubilee.” With the exception of Bathurst and Maltby little is known of the rest; they have mostly been indebted for promotion to marriage, or to their connexions with the aristocracy, either by relationship, or from having filled the office of tutor or secretary in their families. In this roll of services, of accident of birth, of situation, and connexion, there is evidently no claim of public service or utility to entitle the bishops to their princely revenues and vast patronage.

One of the greatest abuses in the disposal of patronage is monopoly, in a few individuals, of influence and connexion, sharing among them the most valuable emoluments of the church. In all spiritual offices and dignities, there is a great difference in value, and also in patronage; and the great object of ecclesiastical intrigue is, to secure not only the most valuable, but the greatest number of preferments. Hence arises the present disposition of church property. Scarcely any preferment is held single; the sees, dignities, rectories, and vicarages, being mostly held with other good things, and the most valuable monopolized by the relations and connexions of those who have the disposal of them; namely, the Crown, the Bishops, and Aristocracy. The bishops are frequently archdeacons and deans, rectors, vicars, and curates, besides holding professorships, clerkships, prebends, precentorships, and other offices in cathedrals. Their sons, sons-in-law, brothers, and nephews, are also pushed in to the most valuable preferments in the diocese. We shall give an instance of the manner of serving out the loaves and fishes of the church in particular families, from the example of Sparke, bishop of Ely, who owed his promotion to the circumstance of having been tutor to the duke of Rutland. The exhibition is limited to the two sons and son-in-law of the bishop, without including appointments to distant relatives. In the shiftings, exchanges, resignations, movings about, and heaping up of offices, we have a complete picture of the ecclesiastical evolutions which are constantly being performed in almost every diocese of the kingdom.

1815. The Rev. John Henry Sparke, the eldest son, took his degree of B.A.; he was then about 21; he was immediately appointed by his father to a bishop’s fellowship in Jesus College, Cambridge.
1816. He was appointed steward of all his father’s manorial courts.
1818. He took his degree of M.A., and was presented to a prebendal stall in Ely Cathedral, on the resignation of the Rev. Archdeacon Brown, who had been holding it one year: he was also presented to the sinecure rectory of Littlebury, and in the following month he was presented to the living of Streatham-cum-Thetford, by an exchange with the Rev. Mr. Law for the living of Downham, which last living had been held for three years by the Rev. Mr. Daubeny, the bishop’s nephew, who now resigned it in favour of Mr. Law, and retired to the living of Bexwell.
1819. The Rev. J. H. Sparke had a dispensation granted him from the archbishop of Canterbury, permitting him to hold the living of Cottenham with his other preferments.
1818. The Rev. Henry Fardell, the bishop’s son-in-law, was ordained deacon.
1819. He was presented to a prebendal stall in Ely, the degree of M.A. having been conferred on him by the archbishop of Canterbury.
1821. He was presented to the living of Tyd St Giles.
1822. He was presented to the living of Waterbeach, on the resignation of the Rev. Mr. Mitchell.
1823. He resigned Tyd St. Giles, and was presented to Bexwell, on the resignation of the Rev. Mr. Daubeny, the bishop’s nephew, who was presented to Feltwell; but in a few weeks, when the value of Feltwell was better understood, Mr. Daubeny was required to resign Feltwell and return to Bexwell. This, it is said, he did with great reluctance; he was, however, presented to Tyd as well as Bexwell, and the Rev. Mr. Fardell was then presented to Feltwell.
1824. The Rev. J. Henry Sparke was appointed Chancellor of the diocese, and this year he resigned the prebendal stall he held, and was presented to the one which became vacant by the death of the Rev. Sir H. Bate Dudley; the house and gardens belonging to the latter stall being considered the best in the College.
1826. The Rev. Edward Sparke, the bishop’s youngest son, took his degree of B.A., and was immediately presented by his father to a bishop’s fellowship in St. John’s College, Cambridge, on the resignation of Charles Jenyns, Esq. a friend of the family, who had been holding it three years. He was also appointed Register of the diocese.
1827. The Rev. J. Henry Sparke resigned the livings of Cottenham and Stretham, and was presented to the rich living of Leverington.
1829. The Rev. J. Henry Sparke was presented to Bexwell.
1829. The Rev. Edward Sparke took his degree of M.A. and was presented to a prebendal stall on the resignation of Rev. Ben. Park (another friend of the family) who had been holding it three years.
He was also this year presented to the living of Hogeworthingham, and to the living of Barley.
1830. He resigned Hogeworthingham, and was presented to Connington. This year he resigned Barley also, and was presented to Littleport.
1831. He resigned Connington, and was presented to Feltwell, at the same time he resigned his prebendal stall, and was presented to the one become vacant by the death of the Rev. George King—the rich living of Sutton being in the gift of the possessor of the latter stall.
1831. The Rev. Henry Fardell resigned Feltwell, and was presented to the rich living of Wisbech.

The Rev. J. Henry Sparke now holds the living of Leverington, the sinecure rectory of Littlebury, the living of Bexwell, a prebendal stall in Ely Cathedral, is steward of all his father’s manorial courts, and Chancellor of the diocese. The estimated annual value of the whole, £4,500.

The Rev. Henry Fardell now holds the living of Waterbeach, the vicarage of Wisbech, and a prebendal stall in Ely Cathedral. The estimated annual value of his preferments, £3,700.

The Ref. Edward Sparke holds the consolidated livings of St. Mary and St. Nicholas, Feltwell, the vicarage of Littleport, a prebendal stall in Ely, is Register of the diocese, and Examining Chaplain to his father. The estimated annual value of his appointments not less than £4000.

The bishop’s see of Ely and dependencies, £27,742.

Total income of the Sparke family, £39,942.

In the Ordination-Service a bishop is said to be intrusted with office for “the glory of God, and the edification of the Christian flock.” He is particularly enjoined not to be “covetous,” nor “greedy of filthy lucre,” and he promises to be “faithful in ordaining, sending, and laying hands on others.” How far bishop Sparke has observed these matters, we shall not presume to say; it is obvious, however, that the faithful discharge of the duties of his office does not allow the “sending” of relations and connexions on the service of the church, unless duly and properly qualified. For any thing we know, his sons and son-in-law may be amply qualified for these numerous endowments; indeed, they must be men of extraordinary capabilities, to be able to discharge the duties of so many and important offices.

Bishop Sparke is not the only prelate who has shown regard to the temporal welfare of his family. Other prelates seem to agree with lord Plunket and sir R.Inglis, in considering church property of the nature of private property, which cannot be better employed than in providing handsome marriage portions for their sons and daughters. Several prelates are of too recent elevation to have had time to send off numerous branches into the church; but an example or two from their immediate predecessors on the bench will illustrate the ordinary working of the system. The late archbishop Sutton is an eminent instance of the perversion of ecclesiastical patronage. The Suttons remaining in the church are very numerous; among seven of them are shared sixteen rectories, vicarages, and chapelries, besides preacherships and dignities in cathedrals. Of the eleven daughters of the archbishop, several had the prudence to marry men in holy orders, who soon became amply endowed. Hugh Percy, son of the earl of Beverly, married one daughter; and, in the course of about as many years, was portioned off with eight different preferments, estimated to be worth £10,000 per annum; four of these preferments were given in one year, probably that of the nuptials, and intended as an outfit. This fortunate son-in-law is now bishop of Carlisle, to which see he was translated from Rochester. According to law he ought to have resigned all the preferments he held at the time of being promoted to a bishopric; but somehow he has contrived to retain the most valuable prebend of St. Paul’s, worth £3000 per annum, and also the chancellorship of Sarum. Another daughter of the archbishop married the Rev. James Croft, who is archdeacon of Canterbury, prebendary of Canterbury, curate of Hythe, rector of Cliffe-at-Hone, and rector of Saltwood—all preferments in the gift of the archbishop.

Archbishop Sutton kept a favourable eye towards collaterals as well as those in a direct line. A sister married a Rev. Richard Lockwood, who was presented, in one year, with the three vicarages of Kessingland, Lowestoff, and Potter-Heigham: all these livings are valuable, and in the gift of the bishop of Norwich, and were presented by his grace when he held that see. The archbishop left the Rev. T. M. Sutton and the Rev. Evelyn L. Sutton, chaplains to the House of Commons, and a nephew with several livings; but we cannot state particulars.

The late bishop of Winchester is another instance of a man who provided well for his family out of the revenues of the church. This prelate first held the sea of Lincoln, and changed his name from Pretyman to Tomline, on acceding to a large estate bequeathed by a relation. He had been tutor to the “heaven-born Minister,” to whom he was indebted for his earliest preferments. His children, it will be seen, from the subjoined enumeration, are not left destitute in the world.

  • G. T. Pretyman:

  • Chancellor and Canon Residentiary of Lincoln,
  • Prebendary of Winchester,
  • Rector of St. Giles, Chalfont,
  • Rector of Wheat-Hampstead,
  • Rector of Harpenden.
  • Richard Pretyman:

  • Precentor and Canon Residentiary of Lincoln,
  • Rector of Middleton-Stoney,
  • Rector of Walgrave,
  • Vicar of Hannington,
  • Rector of Wroughton.
  • John Pretyman:

  • Prebendary of Lincoln,
  • Rector of Sherrington,
  • Rector of Winwick.

The younger Pretymans had, also, some nice pickings out of the Mere and Spital charities, the wardenship of which the father got hold of by the exchange of a living in his gift; but as the subject has already been before the public, we refrain from dwelling upon it.

The Sumners, Blomfields, and Marshes are growing thick in the church calendar, but, as before remarked, they have been too recently planted to have yet struck their roots wide and deep in the Lord’s vineyard. The death of a bishop causes a movement in the church, like a change of ministers in the state. Expectations are excited, numerous removes follow, the adherents and connexions of the deceased are got out of the way as fast as possible, and all vacancies filled with the followers of the new diocesan. No regard is apparently paid to “the faithful ordaining, sending, or laying hands on others;” the great object is to secure the dignities, the fat living, the fine living, the noble living to the next of kin. The excessive greediness of filthy lucre has long been the reproach of the episcopal bench, and it is known that former diocesans of London, Durham, Winchester, and Canterbury, have died loaded with the spoils of the church. The wealth they amassed was due to the poor, to God, and the unfortunate of their own order. In the epistle which is read at their consecration, it is required of them that they should “be given to hospitality:” they, likewise, solemnly promise to assist the “indigent, and all strangers who are destitute of help.” But who ever heard of a bishop being generous, of being given to hospitality, or assisting the unfortunate? who ever heard of them employing their immense revenues in any useful work; of their patronage of science, of literature, or the arts? Most of them have been only intent on amassing immense fortunes, and leaving behind them their million or half million, like Jew-jobbers, loan-contractors, and commercial speculators. They live out of the world, consuming, in solitary indulgence, the spoil of the industrious, and without sympathy with the misfortunes and vicissitudes of life. They have no bowels even for the indigent of their own class: in the rich diocese of Durham it is known begging subscriptions are had every year for the poor clergy and their families; and measures introduced into Parliament for the general relief of the inferior clergy have usually failed from the opposition of the higher class of ecclesiastics.

In the disposal of Parochial Patronage there is the same abuse and monopoly as prevail in the higher departments of the church. The most valuable benefices, like the most valuable sees and dignities, fall into the hands of those whose chief claims are their families and connexions. By bringing forward the poor livings, it is usual to make out a favourable case for the parochial clergy; but from the small number of individuals among whom parochial preferments are shared, there are few except the curates entitled to much sympathy. We shall illustrate this point by laying before the reader a list of incumbents, selected almost at random, which will at once show the measureless rapacity that directs the disposal of church-preferment.

Robert Affleck, prebendary of York; rector of Silkston, with Bretton-Monk and Stainbury chapelries; rector of East Mediety; rector of West Mediety, Tresswell; perpetual curate of Thockerington; vicar of Westow.
Henry Anson, vicar of Buxton, with rectory of Oxnead and rectory of Skeyton; rector of Lyng with vicarage of Whitwell.
H. Bathurst, archdeacon of Norwich; rector of North Creake; rector of Oby with rectory of Ashby and rectory of Thurne.
J. W. Beadon, precentor and prebendary of Wells; precentor of Brecon; rector of Farley Chamberl; rector of Christian-Mal.
J. T. Casberd, prebendary of Wells and Llandaff; also, one rectory, four vicarages, and two chapelries.
Charles W. Eyre, prebendary of York; rector of Carlton, in Lindrick; rector of Hooton-Roberts; vicar of Kilnwick-Percy; vicar of Pocklington with the chapelry of Yapham.
John Fisher, archdeacon of Berks; canon-residentiary of Sarum; also, two vicarages and three chapelries.
Dr. Forester, prebendary of Worcester; rector of Broseley; rector of Little Wenlock, with the chapelries of Barrow and Benthall; vicar of St. John’s, Worcester.
Dr. Goddard, archdeacon and prebendary of Lincoln; chaplain to the king; vicar of Bexley; vicar of Louth; rector of St. James, Garlichythe, London.
Dr. Goodall, provost of Eton; canon of Windsor; vicar of Bromham; rector of Hitcham: rector of West Ilsley.
Dr. E. Goodenough, dean of Bath and Wells; prebendary of Westminster; vicar of Carlisle; rector of York; vicar of Wath, All Saints-on-Dearne, with the chapelries of Adwick and Brampton Bierlow.
W. Goodenough, archdeacon of Carlisle; rector of Mareham-le-Fen; rector of Great Salkeld.
Hon. T. de Grey, archdeacon of Surrey; prebendary of Winchester and chaplain to the king; rector of Calbourne; rector of Fawley with the chapelry of Exburg; rector of Merton.
Earl of Guildford, rector of New and Old Alresford, with chapelry of Medstead; rector and precentor of St. Mary, Southampton; master of St. Cross with St. Faith’s.
A. Hamilton, archdeacon of Taunton; prebendary of Wells; chaplain to the King; rector of Loughton; rector of St. Mary-le-Bow, of St. Pancras, and of Allhallows, London.
W. Hett, prebendary and vicar-choral of Lincoln; vicar of Dunholme; rector of Enderby Navis; vicar of St. John’s and rector of St. Paul’s, Lincoln; minister of Greetwell and Nettleham chapelries; rector of Thorpe-on-the Hill.
Hon. H. L. Hobart, dean of Windsor and of Wolverhampton; rector of Haseley; vicar of Nocton; vicar of Wantage.
Dr. Hodgson, dean of Carlisle; vicar of Burgh-on-Sands; vicar of Hillingdon; rector of St. George’s, Hanover-square.
Hon. E. S. Keppel, rector of Quiddenham, with rectory of Snetterton; vicar of St. Mary’s and All Saints, Shottisham; rector of Tittleshall with rectories of Godwick and Wellingham.
Dr. Madan, prebendary and chancellor of Peterborough; chaplain to the King; rector of Ibstock, with chapelries of Dunnington and Hugglescote; rector of Thorpe Constantine.
Herbert Marsh, bishop of Peterborough; rector of Castor, with chapalries of Sutton, St. Michael, and Upton; rector of St. Clement and St. John, Terrington.
Dr. Oldershaw, archdeacon of Norfolk, with perpetual curacy of Coston; vicar of Ludham; vicar of Ranworth, with the vicarage of St. Margaret, Upton; rector of Redenhall with chapelry of Harlestone.
Hon. G. Pellew, dean of Norwich; prebendary of York; and rector of St. Dionis Backchurch, London.
F. D. Perkins, chaplain to the King; vicar of Foleshill; rector of Hatherley-Down; rector of Sow; rector of Stoke; rector of Swayfield; rector of Ham.
Lord Wm. Somerset, prebendary of Bristol; rector of Crickhowel; rector of Llangallock, with ohapelries of Llanelly and Llangenneth.
Lord John Thynne, prebendary of Westminster; rector of Kingston-Deverill; rector of Street, with chapelry of Walton.
Wm. Trivett, vicar of Arlington; rector of Willington; rector of Ashburnham, with rectory of Penshurst; rector of Bradwell.
James Webber, dean of Ripon and prebendary of Westminster; vicar of Kirkham; rector of St. Mary, Westminster.
Fras. Wrangham, archdeacon of York and prebendary of York and Chester; rector of Dodleston; vicar of Hunmanby, wtth chapelry of Fordon; vicar of Muston.

Abundant other examples of equal or greater enormity will be found in the List of Pluralists subjoined to this Article. But nothing, in a small compass, attests more strikingly the abuses in patronage, and the scandalous manner in which offices are heaped on favoured individuals, than a comparison of the whole number of ecclesiastical preferments with the whole number of persons among whom they are divided. This is a test which may be applied with perfect accuracy. The only description of ecclesiastics whose number cannot be ascertained with precision are the curates and the inferior classes connected with cathedral and collegiate churches; the rest may be easily reckoned up from the Clerical Guide, which contains the names of all the episcopal, dignified, and beneficed clergy. From this work we find that the whole number of prelates, dignitaries, rectors, vicars, and perpetual curates, in England and Wales, is only seven-thousand six-hundred and ninety-four. Those who make the established clergy amount to 18,000 must needs include the parish-clerk, sexton, and grave-digger; but these functionaries of the church not being in holy orders, they certainly ought not to be included in the ecclesiastical corps, any more than the groom, valet, or other menials of clergymen. Neither ought curates to be included: they are merely the hired deputies of their principals, without institution or induction, and always subject to removal at the pleasure of the bishop or incumbent. Omitting these classes, we affirm that the whole number of endowed and beneficed clergy is, as we have stated, 7694, and by this diminutive number are the whole preferments of the church monopolized. These preferments are, as we collect from Cove and other sources, as under:—

Sees 26
Chancellorships 26
Deaneries of cathedral and collegiate churches 28
Archdeaconries 61
Prebends and canonries 514
Minor canonries, priest-vicars, vicars-choral, and other dignities and offices, without including lay-offices in cathedrals 330
Rectories, vicarages, and chapelries 11,342
Total 12,327

Thus, there are 12,327 places of preferment divided among 7694 individuals, affording nearly two for each. This extraordinary monopoly of offices accounts for the vast number of pluralists. The whole number of incumbents in England and Wales is 7191; of this number, 2886 hold two or more rectories, vicarages, and chapelries. From data in the last edition of the Clerical Guide, published in 1829, we have drawn up the following classification of parochial patronage, exhibiting the number of individuals and the number of parochial preferments enjoyed by each.

PAROCHIAL PATRONAGE, showing the Number of Individuals, and the Number of Rectories, Vicarages, and Chapelries held by each.
Number of Individuals. Livings held by each. Total Number of Livings.
1 11 11
1 8 8
5 7 35
12 6 72
64 5 320
209 4 836
567 3 1701
2027 2 4054
4305 1 4305
7191 11,342

According to strict ecclesiastical discipline, no minister ought to hold more than one living;* and, for the better care of the souls of parishioners, he ought to reside on his benefice. Laws have been made, and are still in force, imposing forfeitures and penalties on clergymen who, having one living, accept another, or who absent themselves from their parishes. These laws, however, in practice, like the representation of the people in the lower house of parliament, are little more than the theory of church government. By dispensations and licenses, a clergyman may hold as many livings as he can get, and he need not reside on any of them. Hence it is that considerably more than one-third of the whole number of incumbents are pluralists. Many have five, four, and three livings. Majendie, late Bishop of Bangor, who died in 1830, held no fewer than eleven parochial preferments. These preferments we presume are held by his successor, and what an extraordinary divine he must be to be able to administer his various episcopal and parish duties! In the above classification are not included cathedral dignities, fellowships in the universities, chaplainships, professorships, masterships of grammar-schools, and other offices held by incumbents, and to which members of the Establishment are exclusively eligible. It merely shows the cutting-up of parochial benefices, and it is hardly necessary to add that those who are in possession of the most valuable and greatest number are connected by birth, marriage, politics, or in some other way, with those who have the disposal of them. Indeed, it is impossible to peruse the list of dignitaries and highly-beneficed clergy, without remarking that many of them are “honourable lumber,” who have been turned over to spiritual pursuits from inability to succeed in the more arduous professions of the law, the army, or the navy. In the church, as in the state, those chiefly work for the public who have no other dependence, who are of plebeian extraction, and without support from family interest or aristocratic connexion.


Sinecurism abounds more in our ecclesiastical than civil establishment. In the church almost every thing is done by deputy,—a consequence naturally resulting from her great wealth; for where large salaries are annexed, great duties are seldom discharged. Those with large incomes have various reasons for not burthening themselves with official toil. First, they can afford to pay for a deputy; secondly, they can purchase or influence the connivance of others for neglect of their own duties; thirdly, they have the means for indulgence and recreation, which, consuming much time, leave little leisure for more serious avocations. Hence has arisen sinecurism in both Church and State; presenting the singular spectacle of one class receiving the pay, and another, born under less favorable auspices, doing the work for which the pay is received.

Among the different orders of our ecclesiastical polity, there are none, with the exception of the curates and a few beneficed clergy, who reside and do the duties of their parishes; the remainder being clerical sinecurists, filled with the Holy Ghost, to share in the rich endowments of the church. The bishops are most amply remunerated, and, as is usual in such cases, perform the least service. They employ archdeacons to visit for them; rural deans and others to preach for them; and a vicar-general to issue licenses, hold courts, and perform other drudgery; if otherwise engaged, they employ a brother bishop to ordain for them. They have their own chaplains, commissaries, and secretaries; in short, their work must be light, and chiefly consists in keeping an eye to the next translation, and the falling in of the rich livings. In the Ordination Service, however, they are enjoined strict and abstemious duties. It is there said a bishop must be “blameless,” they are admonished diligently to preach the word, and be conspicuous examples of various Christian virtues.” They are now chiefly known among the people by their grotesque attire. They are the only men (save exquisites) who continue to dress in imitation of the female sex, or take pains to disguise themselves under uncouth habiliments. The shovel, or coal-scuttle hat is particularly distinguishable. It is the remains of the old hat worn by Roman Catholic priests in their days of splendour, and still to be seen on the Continent. Under this chapeau is a bush of false hair, plastered and twisted into a most unnatural size and ridiculous shape, resembling any thing but what we may suppose to have been the fashion among the apostles. To these distinctions may be added the long gaiters and “lady’s maid apron,” from the hips to the knees only, so that the gaiters may not be concealed. These gaiters are of vast importance, importing that the wearers are meek and lowly, and constantly walking about doing good.* Nevertheless they often ride in dashing style through the streets, attended by grooms in purple liveries, and some of them are very Nimrods in the country.

Many of the church dignitaries are distinguishable by peculiarities of dress, as the shovel hat and kirtle. Their duties are less onerous than those of the bishops. For instance, what are the duties of the very reverend Dean? he is chiefly known among sextons and monument-builders. Mr. Gordon, in the debate on the Curates’ Salary Bill, said he knew a clergyman who was dignitary in no fewer than six cathedrals. Were there any duties to perform, how could a man discharge the duties of so many different offices, in so many different places, perhaps at the distance of some hundred miles from each other? Archbishop Cranmer, in a letter to Cromwell, in the reign of Henry VIII., denounces the canons and prebendaries as a “superfluous condition.” He says, a prebendary is neither a “learner nor a teacher, but a good viander, who wastes his substance in superfluous belly cheer.” If they were a “superfluous condition” under a Popish regime, they must be much more so under a Protestant establishment. The prebends, however, are very valuable, some of them worth £3000 a year, which will be a good reason with many for retaining them as a part of the venerable establishment. What further adds to their value is, that, being benefices not having cure of souls, they may be held with other preferment without a dispensation for plurality.

The Parochial Clergy are, for the most part, a mass of sinecurists. In one respect, Church of Englandism is an improvement on the original simplicity of the gospel, by rendering the discharge of its duties almost a mechanical operation. No long and expensive course of education is requisite to prepare her ministers: all her service is written; no extempore preaching or praying; it requires no mind, merely to be able to read is enough. To perform such a puerile and heartless ceremony, it is not surprising a majority of the clergy conceive it unnecessary to reside on their benefices. Of the violation of the law in this respect, of the penalties incurred by this violation, and of the Bill of Indemnity passed by our immaculate representatives to screen the delinquents, we shall relate an extraordinary example.

It is necessary to premise that, under the 43d Geo. III. c. 84, every spiritual person, possessed of any archdeaconry, deanery, or other dignity or benefice, is required to reside on his preferment; if he absent himself without license from the bishop, or some special cause of exemption, he is subject to penalties varying from one-third to three-fourths of the annual value of his dignity or benefice, recoverable by action of debt by any person suing for the same. This act was passed to amend a statute of Henry VIII. as regards the residence of the clergy; it has been subsequently modified by the 57th Geo. III. c. 99, and was introduced by Sir William Scott, (now Lord Stowell,) and solemnly enacted, in the year 1803, by king, lords, and commons. In the year 1811, Mr. Wright commenced nearly 200 different actions against the incumbents in the dioceses of London, Ely, and Norwich, to recover the penalties under the statute. This gentleman had been secretary to four right reverend bishops—the bishops of London, Norwich, Ely, and some other prelate—and, of course, had enjoyed the most ample opportunities for procuring correct information of the conduct of the clergy. These opportunities appear not to have been neglected. In a series of letters published in the Morning Chronicle, betwixt the 6th November, 1813, and the 11th March, 1814, he favoured the public with many curious disclosures which had come to his knowledge during the discharge of his official duties.

In his letter of November 20th, he says that he has selected from well authenticated documents 10,801 benefices, on which there are only 4,490 incumbents, even said to be resident, so that there are 6,311 confessedly non-resident incumbents; to supply whose places 1,523 resident curates are employed, which leaves 4,788, which are acknowledged to have neither a resident curate nor incumbent. The whole number of curates, whether resident or not, employed to supply the place of non-resident incumbents, is only 3,730, and only 1,793 of these are licensed; whereas, according to the canon and statute law, no person has a right to officiate until he is licensed. In one diocese, he says, one-third of the livings have had duty reduced from twice to once on a Sunday; and in another diocese, one-third of the parsonage-houses were returned in bad repair, as an excuse for the non-residence of our gentlemen pastors. Speaking of the false pretences made use of by the clergy, in order to avoid residing among their parishioners, and the scandalous lives they lead, he says,—

“Now ill-health of the incumbent himself, or his wife, or daughter, is a common pretext, when no other legal cause can be found of avoiding residence. Of twenty-two licenses granted in one diocese for this reason, three only of the persons are in a state of health to warrant it, and the benefices from which they so absent themselves are very valuable. Whether the ministers whom I thus challenge as using false pretences deserve the imputation, will best appear by the mode of life they adopt. Some live in town during the winter; and although night air certainly cannot benefit a valetudinarian, they may be constantly seen at card parties, routs, or the theatres. In summer, enjoying the amusements of fashionable watering places; whilst, too often, their curates, by the parsimonious stipends they afford them, are with a numerous family in a state of the greatest poverty. Others have beneficial schools in the neighbourhood of London. Others are continually to be met with near their residence in more pleasant parts of the country, enjoying the sports of the field, or vigorously endeavouring to detect some poor countryman who may have an unfortunate inclination to taste game! Others may be seen most days driving their own carriage! Some are in debt, and some are Curates near the Fens! and all to observers seem perfectly healthful; yet a certificate from a medical man is deposited with the bishop that they are not so; probably it is six or eight years before when there might have existed a degree of temporary ill-health, but after the cause ceases, the same plea is continued; and a license once granted, is renewed as a matter of course.”—Lett. IV. Jan. 6, 1814.

Thus we see how these reverend gentlemen are employed; not in administering spiritual instruction to the ignorant, comfort to the afflicted, or alms and clothing to the naked. Oh! no; these are ignoble pursuits, the mere theory of the profession. They pretend sickness in order to obtain a license for non-residence, that they may bawl at the card-table, frequent the playhouse, tally-ho, shoot, play at cricket, brandish the coachman’s whip, and bully at fashionable watering-places. Remember, these jovial spirits are all filled with the Holy Ghost,—empowered to forgive or not to forgive sins—have the cure of souls; that their poor curates are starving on a wretched stipend, and that, in the maintenance of both, the industrious are deprived of the fruits of their labour, and the necessary comforts of their families wasted in the profligate and dissipated lives of their parochial ministers.

In Letter V. Jan. 18th, 1814, Mr. Wright gives the following statement, collected, he says, with infinite pains, of the state of the ecclesiastical discipline in the small diocese of Ely, in 1813, compared with the year 1728:—

In 1728. In 1813.
On 140 livings, 70 Resident Incumbents. On the same 140 livings, 45 Resident Incumbents.
Thirty-four who reside near and perform the duty. Seventeen who reside near and perform the duty.
Thirty-one curates who reside in the parish or near it. Thirty-five curates, some of whom reside eight, ten, or twelve miles off.
The population was 56,944 souls. The duty was performed 261 times every Sunday. The population is 82,176 souls. The service is performed about 185 times every Sunday.
And their income £12,719 per annum. And their income is now £61,474 per annum.

This is singular—duty neglected in proportion as it became more important and better paid. The population increased one-half, and the number of times service is performed diminished one-third. The revenues increased almost fivefold, and the number of resident incumbents decreased one-third. What sincere and conscientious labourers in the vineyard of the Lord! How strikingly it confirms the observation that “Religion brought forth wealth, and the daughter devoured the mother.”

“The number of these (says Mr. Wright, Lett. II.) who have neglected their duty in contempt of the law, and in direct violation of solemn oath and bond, are far more than can be contemplated without a considerable degree of alarm.” One vicar obtained a license from a bishop for non-residence on one living, stating that he was going to reside near another in a different part of the kingdom. On inquiring for him at the place where he was supposed to reside, he was gone to a more fashionable part of the country. On another, to ‘encourage him,’ the great tithes were settled, worth near £1200: when he was instituted, he took an oath to reside, which he afterwards neglected to observe. A rector, holding two valuable rectories worth £1200 per annum, to obtain which he gave bond to the archbishop that he would constantly reside on one, and keep a resident curate on the other, himself preaching on the benefice where he did not reside thirteen sermons every year: this worthy son of the church contrived to evade these conditions, and got a poor devil of a curate to do the work of both livings for £84 a year. Another rector holding two livings, one worth £500, the other £400—he lived 200 miles off, and had neither resident nor licensed curate!

On the subject of pluralities and of non-residence together, the Secretary to four bishops says, “In one diocese there are about 216 clergymen, who each hold two livings; 40 who hold three each; 13 who hold four each; 1 who holds five; 1 who holds six, besides dignities and offices: and although many of these thus accounted single benefices are two, three, four, or five parishes consolidated, yet a great part of these pluralists do not reside on any of their preferments.” In Lett. VII. he says, “I will prove that there are pluralists holding more than seven benefices and dignities.”

It might be thought these statements of Mr. Wright were exaggerations or the result of personal pique, had they not been fully supported by the Diocesan Returns laid before the Privy Council, and ordered by the House of Commons to be printed. Prom these returns in the years 1809, 1810, 1811, and 1827, we shall insert an abstract, and then a few explanations: it will shew at once the state of church discipline both at present, and when the Secretary was arrested in his attempt to bring the delinquents to justice.

1809. 1810. 1811. 1827.
1. Resident on other benefices 1240 1846 2059 2163
2. Absent without licence or exemption 672 650 1033 405
3. Exemptions not notified 817 363 155 9
4. Infirmity of incumbent or family 465 389 396 395
5. Want or unfitness of parsonage-house 944 943 1068 1389
6. Incumbents residing in the neighbourhood, and doing duty 565 348 301 815
7. Unenumerated cases confirmed by the Archb. 54 35 26 13
8. Dilapidated churches 23 34 56 39
9. Sinecures 233 70 68 33
10. Livings held by Bishops 26 35 21 10
11. Recent institutions —— 54 33 71
12. Miscellaneous cases 1271 38 51 41
Total open to connivance 6310 4903 5268 5383
Total of non-residents 7358 5840 6311 6120
Total of residents 3836 4421 4490 4413
Total of residents and non-residents together 11,194 10,261 10,801 10,533

The first of these totals contains the twelve preceding classes, in each class of which there is room for connivance on the part of the bishops to whom the returns are made, and of falsehood and evasion on the part of the incumbents. The second total exhibits the whole number of non-residents; and the fourth, the total number of residents and non-residents together, in England and Wales. Hence it appears, that considerably more than one-half of the whole number of incumbents do not reside on their benefices; receive large salaries for nothing; and the little duty that is performed is performed by their curates.

As the Diocesan Returns for 1827* are the latest printed, it may be proper to exhibit more particularly, as follows, the state of church discipline in that year.

Resident in the parsonage-house 3598
Resident within two miles of the church or chapel, there being no parsonage-house 815
Total-residents 4413
Non-residents exempt 2619
Non-residents licensed 2147
Cases which could not be included among licenses or exemptions 1313
Miscellaneous cases 41
Total non-residents 6120
Total number of benefices returned 10,533

Thus, only 3598 incumbents consider the parsonage-houses good enough to reside in; the rest are absentees. According to Mr. Wright, want or unfitness of parsonage-house is a common pretext for obtaining a license for non-residence: in one diocese, he says, one-third of the parsonage-houses were returned in bad repair. In 1827, this aversion of the clergy to their domicile appears to have augmented; in that year 1398, or more than one-eighth of the whole number of parsonage-houses in the kingdom were returned as not fit places for our aristocratic pastors to reside in; or, in other words, as an excuse for a license to desert their parishes, and roam about the country in quest of more lively amusements than churching, christening, and spiritually instructing their parishioners.

Among the clergymen exempt from residence, a large portion consists of those who reside on other benefices; that is, holding more livings than one, they cannot, of course, reside on both. The exemptions also include such privileged persons as chaplains to the nobility; preachers and officers in the royal chapels and inns of court; wardens, provosts, fellows, tutors, and ushers in the universities, colleges, and public schools; the principal and professors of the East-India college; and officers of cathedral and collegiate churches. The duties of many of these offices are such as ought to disqualify the possessors altogether from church preferment. For instance, what reason is there in masters of the Charter-house claiming exemptions; in other words, seeking to hold benefices and dignities in addition to their other offices and duties? Surely the management of a great public foundation, with upwards of 800 scholars, and incomes of near £1000 per annum, afford sufficient both employment and remuneration, without incurring the responsibility of a cure of souls. The same remark applies to the heads of colleges, and the masters and teachers of endowed charities. With so many friendless curates in the country, starving on miserable stipends, there is no need that any class of persons should be overburthened with duties, or corrupted by the aggregation of extravagant salaries.

Of the other cases of non-residence, mentioned in the above table, we shall offer only some brief remarks. The cases of those who plead sickness and infirmity have been sufficiently illustrated by an extract from Mr. Wright, page 34. Sinecures hardly need explaining; they are offices yielding masses of pay without any duty whatever. Livings held by bishops present a curious anomaly; the right reverend prelates commit the very offence of absenteeism, which it is their duty to prevent being committed by the subaltern clergy of their diocese. Lastly, among the miscellaneous cases are included those livings held in sequestration. In these instances, the incumbent being insolvent, possession, at the instance of some creditor, had been taken of the benefice, to raise money for the discharge of his debts. In 1811 the number of livings held by sequestration was seventy-eight; in 1827, forty-eight.

Such is a brief exposition of the state of church discipline, as exhibited by official documents, and the averments of Mr. Wright, when that gentleman commenced his actions against the clergy. We have stated that the number of actions amounted to 200; and had Mr. Wright been allowed to recover, the penalties would have amounted to £80,000. To this sum he had an indisputable claim; a claim as sacred as any person can have to an estate devised by will, or on mortgage, or other legal security; his claim had been guaranteed to him by a solemn act of the legislature. Moreover, this gentleman had been basely treated by the right reverend bishops; and it was partly to indemnify himself for losses sustained in their service, that he endeavoured to recover the penalties to which the clergy had become liable by their connivance and neglect. In Letter I. he says, “At a committee of bishops, after a deliberation of nearly Two Years, it was decided that each bishop should give his secretary an annual sum of money. I have received it from not one of them, except my late lamented patron, the Bishop of London.”——“Commiseration may have been given, (Letter VII.) but it was all I ever received from any one, and that would have been unnecessary, if the sums had been paid which were acknowledged to be my due.”——“Two secretaries have, within the last ten years, fallen victims to depression of mind, arising from a want of sufficient income.”

Most merciful bishops! most Christian bishops! What, not pay your poor secretaries their stipends! drive two of them to despair by your barbarous avarice! Surely you might have spared them the odd hundreds, out your 10, 20, and 40,000 pounds per annum. But you are right reverend fathers, you can lisp about charity, turn up your eyes, talk about treasures in heaven, but your treasures are all in this world; there your hearts are fixed upon translations, pluralities, fat livings, and heavy fines on leases and renewals.

These, however, are private anecdotes betwixt Mr. Wright and his right reverend employers. Let us speak to the public part of the question. It is clear, from what has been said, that Mr. Wright was in possession of valuable information; he had resided in the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple, and was intimately acquainted with the secret management of the holy church. The clergy were terribly alarmed at his disclosures: they resorted to every artifice to avert the storm, and save their pockets: clubs were formed among the higher order of ecclesiastics: lies and calumnies of every shape and description were vomited forth to blacken the character of Mr. Wright; he was stigmatized as an “informer,” who, availing himself of his official situation, was in part the cause of and then the betrayer of their guilt. In short, he became exposed to the whole storm of priestly cunning, malignity, and fury. But facts are stubborn things; and this gentleman had secured too firm a hold of his object to lose his grasp by the wiles and malice of the church. Their guilt was unquestionable; there was no chance of escape from the verdict of a jury; but that protection which it was in vain to expect from an English court of justice, they found in the great sanctuary of delinquency, a boroughmongering House of Commons.

On the 17th November, 1813, Bragge Bathurst brought in a bill to stay all legal proceedings against the clergy on account of the penalties they had incurred under the Clergy Residence Act. This bill shortly after passed into a law, almost without opposition. The whigs were silent. Mr. Whitbread and Mr. Brand indeed said something about the absurdity of enacting laws one day, and abrogating them the next; of the injustice of tempting people by rewards, and after they had earned them, interfering to prevent their being granted. But this was all. These gentlemen agreed it was necessary to protect the clergy; and, with the exception of the present Earl of Radnor, we do not find, in Hansard’s History of the Debates, a single individual who raised his voice against the principle of this nefarious transaction. Mr. Wright, too, finding it vain to hope for justice from such a source, ceased his communications to the public relative to the clergy: the Parsons’ Indemnity Bill passed into a law, and the church received a complete white-washing from the State for all its manifold sins and transgressions.

After the passing of the Bank restriction Act, Gagging Bills, Seditious Meeting Bills, Press Restriction Bills, and of the Habeas Corpus Suspension Bills, it can hardly excite surprise that a bill passed to indemnify the clergy. In the latter case, however, there appears something more unprincipled and contemptible than in the former unconstitutional measures. The law imposing the penalties which Mr. Wright sought to recover had only been enacted in 1803: the professed object was to remedy the crying evil of non-residence; and to give greater encouragement to prosecutions, the act provided that the whole of the penalties should be given to the informer. Only eight years elapse, an informer comes forward, relying on the faith of parliament; prosecutions are commenced; when the legislature interferes—in utter contempt of justice and consistency—belying its former professions, violating its pledge, robbing an individual of his reward, and screens the delinquents which its own laws had made liable to punishment. It is impossible for the people to feel any thing but contempt for such a system of legislation. Laws, it is clear, are not made to principles, but to men, and are only terrible to the weak, not to the wicked.

Since the memorable actions of Mr. Wright, nothing has intervened to improve the state of church discipline. An act of parliament,* passed some years after, was rather in favour of the clergy than otherwise, by abolishing the oaths formerly exacted of vicars to reside, by augmenting the monitory power of the bishops, and increasing the difficulties in the way of prosecution. Accordingly, the great abuses in ecclesiastical discipline remain unabated. Lord Mountcashell states that, since 1814, the number of incumbents has decreased to the amount of 2,500; consequently, there has been a proportionate increase in pluralities. Of the number of resident and non-resident incumbents, the latest returns printed are for the year 1827; in that year, we have seen, the returns were from 10,583 benefices in England and Wales, of which benefices 4,413 had resident, and 6,120 non-resident incumbents. Many incumbents who reside on their benefices do no duty; they are only attracted to their parishes by a fine cover for game, an excellent trout-stream, or, perhaps, they seek a quiet retreat, having worn out the better part of their existence in the dissipation of a town life.

Even those who reside and do duty, and are called the working clergy, perform a service requiring so little intellectual exertion, that it hardly merits the remuneration of a tide-waiter. They have scarcely ever occasion to compose and deliver an original sermon. The late Dr. Johnson, before he received his pension, was regularly employed in the manufacture of this description of commodity. The market is now overstocked; we seldom turn over a newspaper without meeting with advertisements for the sale of MS sermons, which, next to manufactures, seem the most abundant of all things. Sometimes parcels are advertised in lithographic type; this type being an imitation of writing, sermons composed in it pass with the congregation for original compositions, and the minister has the credit of propounding a good discourse, the result of the previous week’s hard study and preparation. A lot of sermons of this description would be invaluable, and might be transmitted from father to son, like a freehold estate. If they became stale, they might be sold or exchanged with a neighbouring incumbent: this is a common practice with ministers who wish to indulge their parishioners with novelty; they exchange one old batch of sermons for another, from a different part of the country.

But enough of this. One is at a loss to imagine what the bishops have been doing while the church has been running to seed. These right reverend prelates are expressly appointed to watch over the morals and conduct of the inferior clergy; they are amply endowed, and have numerous corps of officers to assist in the discharge of their episcopal functions. Yet they have been strangely remiss in attention to their subaltern brethren. Translations have tended greatly to produce this apathy; they divest the bishops of a permanent interest in their dioceses, and prevent them becoming intimately acquainted with the character and demeanour of incumbents. Until they attain the summit of prelatical ambition, they consider themselves only birds of passage; in their sees, what they chiefly take an interest in is, to fill up the vacant commissions, and then keep a steady eye on Durham or Winchester.

Under the primacy of the late Archbishop Sutton, energetic measures of reform were not likely to be countenanced; the career of this mild but rapacious prelate was not an inapt exemplar of the favourite priestly motto on the Lambeth arms,—“Unite the meekness of a dove with the subtlety of a serpent.” His grace and his grace’s family shared too largely in the advantages of the existing system to relish innovation. His lordship had profound views of the true policy of our spiritual establishment; was always for yielding a little to keep things quiet, rather than make a noise; knowing that the less was said about the church the more she would shine. Some of the primate’s successors, on the episcopal bench, appear hardly yet so rife in the mysteries of ecclesiastical dominion. A few years since, Marsh, of Peterborough, was tormenting his clergy with some unintelligible points of doctrine, and Bishop Blomfield lately astounded the inhabitants of London and Westminster with a “Letter on the Profanation of the Lord’s Day.” Had the strictures of this right reverend prelate been directed only against the baneful habit of drinking to excess, and other vices which disgrace the Sabbath, they might have passed without animadversion; but when he assails the Sunday press, and those innocent relaxations, conducive only to health and harmless enjoyment, he betrays a puritanism unsuited to the age. His lordship seems to opine a poor man is born only to work and pray, while a lord or a bishop may have his concerts, card-parties, and grand dinners every day, not even excepting the seventh. Such idle cant deceives no one; it only excites contempt or disgust. Men’s professions now pass unheeded; every thing is put into the scale and taken at its intrinsic worth. People quietly ask why should the clergy take ten millions annually out of the produce of land and industry? What services do they render society? Do they instruct the rising generation? No; they teach them little that is useful and a great deal positively injurious. Are they administrators of justice? No; God forbid they should. Are they profound statesmen? Do they often originate or encourage measures for the good of the country? No; they are most miserable politicians, and as to any project for bettering the condition of the great body of the people, they appear not to have a single idea. Well, but they are ministers of religion! Very few of them are so employed, and as to that the Dissenters are not less teachers of their flocks, and they receive no tithes, build their own chapels, and altogether do not cost one-tenth as much as the mere sinecure rectors of the Establishment.


It is impossible to produce a complete and accurate statement of the revenues of the clergy. The bulk of ecclesiastical revenue consists of tithe; but besides tithe, an immense revenue is drawn from other sources. The clergy are almost in entire possession of the revenue of charitable foundations. They hold, exclusively, the professorships, fellowships, tutorships, and masterships of the universities and public schools. Immense landed property is attached to the sees, cathedrals, and collegiate churches. The clergy have also a very considerable income from glebe-lands, surplice-fees, preacherships in the royal chapels, lectureships, town-assessments, Easter-offerings, rents of pews in the new churches, stipends of chapels of ease, chaplainships in the army and navy, chaplainships to embassies, corporate bodies, and commercial companies; besides which they monopolize nearly all profitable offices in public institutions, as trustees, librarians, secretaries, &c.

The bishops, who hold the chief estates of the church, and to whom the parochial clergy, on obtaining licenses for curates and dispensation for plurality, are required by law to state the yearly value of their benefices, could furnish the most valuable information relative to the incomes of the clergy. But even this would be insufficient; nothing would throw complete light on the subject, but every member of the establishment, whether in lay or spiritual capacity, making a return of his income and emoluments. The times, we doubt not, are fast approaching when this defect in public statistics will be supplied, and one of the first objects of a reformed parliament be an inquiry into the amount and distribution of ecclesiastical revenues. Until this period arrive, we are compelled to rely on collateral and inferential evidence. The endowments of the church are nearly as ancient as the first introduction of Christianity into Britain, and we know from the results of recent inquiries into the incomes of grammar-schools and other charitable foundations, which are nearly of cotemporary antiquity, that the increase in the value of ecclesiastical estates must be immense. The returns in Liber Regis are usually relied upon, in estimating the revenues of the church, and, perhaps, with other helps, it is the best authority to which we can resort. Of the vast increase in the value of land since the Valor Ecclesiasticus was obtained, the history of St. Paul’s School affords a striking and appropriate exemplification. The estates of this foundation are situated in various parts of the kingdom; in A. D. 1524, they produced an income of £122:0:11; in the year 1820, the yearly income derived from the same estates was £5252:2:111/2.* Here is an increase in value of nearly fifty fold, under the wasteful and negligent management of a city company. The colleges of Eton and Winehester were endowed for the education and maintenance of only seventy poor and indigent scholars; their revenues amount respectively to £10,000 and £14,000 a year. The founder of Hemsworth’s hospital in Yorkshire estimated its revenues not to exceed £70 a year; they are now more than £2000. Leeds’ grammar-school was endowed in the reign of Philip and Mary, for the maintenance of two masters, and the endowments probably calculated to yield £80 a year; they now produce £1595. Birmingham grammar-school has a revenue of near £5000 per annum. The valuation of the rectory of Alresford in the king’s book is only £8 a year; the composition now paid for tithes by the parishioners is £300 per annum, being an increase of more than thirty-seven fold. The rectory of Stanhope, Durham county, Mr. Phillpotts admits to yield an income of £2500; the valuation in Liber Regis is £67:6:8. Ilfracombe, in Devonshire, is returned at £50:4:4: the tithes are leased to a layman, and worth £1000 a year. The tithes of the adjoining parish of Morthoe are also leased out to a layman for £700 or £800, although the valuation in the king’s book is only £19:19:3. Besides affording a curious illustration of the increase in the value of ecclesiastical property, we may observe, in passing, that the two last mentioned parishes are a curious example of the state of church discipline. Ilfracombe is attached to a prebendal stall of Salisbury 120 miles distant; Morthoe belongs to the dean and canons of Exeter; although the tithes are so considerable, the working minister of each parish receives only a stipend of £100 a year. In Morthoe the glebe is also leased out,—the vicar, having no residence, lives five or six miles off, and service is performed once on Sunday, which is all the return the parishioners receive for their tithe-assessment of £800 per annum.

Other facts might be cited to illustrate the increase in the value of church property since the ecclesiastical survey of the sixteenth century; but we consider the examples we have selected from various parts of the kingdom sufficient to afford a criterion of the proportional increase in the revenues of the church. The increase in population, by increasing the number of church-fees, has tended, as well as the increased value of land, to swell the revenues of the church, and no doubt many benefices are worth two hundred fold what they were at the time of the Reformation. The vicarage of Hillingdon, held by the present rector of St. George’s, Hanover-square, is an instance of the vicissitudes in clerical income. This, it appears, from the original record preserved in the archives of the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s, was a mere trifle, the great tithes of which, in the year 1281, were bestowed on the Bishop of Worcester towards defraying the expenses of his journeys to the metropolis, and for repair of the church, the small tithes being reserved for the maintenance of a vicar, to be appointed by the Bishop of London. That part of the contract relating to the expense of repairs has always been left to be performed by the parishioners, the Right Reverend Prelates of Worcester contenting themselves with receiving their share of the tithes, and reading a sermon to the inhabitants about once in a twelvemonth. These tithes have been of considerable value, and the management of them not a little extraordinary. The practice has been to let them to the highest bidder, by granting a lease of them for three lives, the purchaser paying down, in ready money, about £8000. Even on these terms it is said to have been a profitable bargain; the last speculator in this spiritual traffic was the late Lord Boston, of whom the Bishop demanded the exorbitant sum of £8000, for the insertion of a new life, one of the former having dropt. His lordship neglecting to complete the agreement, the lease was nominally made over to the bishop’s daughter, who gave receipts in her own name for the amount of tithes collected.

Affairs continued in this state until the year 1812, when an act of parliament was obtained for enclosing and exonerating from tithes certain lands in the parish of Hillingdon; which was promptly acted upon, and a distribution of lands took place, by which 765 acres were set apart and appropriated in lieu of rectorial and vicarial tithes for ever. By this arrangement the bishop and vicar have obtained a fine estate in exchange for £16 a year, the valuation of the living in the time of Henry VIII. All parties are more independent of each other—no contention about tithes nor compositions for tithes. The bishop repairs a chapel in lieu of the church; the vicar is an absentee, leaving a curate for the spiritual welfare of the inhabitants; and the only parties who have sustained any loss are the poor, in being deprived of the rights of common which their forefathers enjoyed.

Leaving these incidental illustrations of church property, let us endeavour to ascertain, upon some general principle, the amount of the revenues of the clergy. The estimates, by individuals, of ecclesiastical revenues are mostly limited to a valuation of tithe and the landed estates of the church. Of the unfairness of this mode of proceeding we shall hereafter speak; at present we shall submit to the reader two estimates of the revenues of the church, drawn up on very different principles, and by parties who entertain very different views of the state of our ecclesiastical establishment. The first statement is from the third edition of a work, entitled “Remarks on the Consumption of Public Wealth by the Clergy.”

Estimate of the Revenues and Property of the Established Church in England and Wales.
Annual value of the gross produce of the land of England and Wales £150,000,000
One-third of the land of England and Wales not subject to tithe for the clergy, being either tithe-free or lay-impropriations 50,000,000
Leaving the amount on which tithes for the clergy are levied 100,000,000
Supposing the clergy to levy one-sixteenth, they get 6,250,000
Tithes 6,250,000
Estates of the bishops and ecclesiastical corporations 1,000,000
Assessments in towns, on houses, &c. 250,000
Chapels of ease stipends 100,000
Total £7,600,000
From the Quarterly Review, No. 58.
Total number of acres in England and Wales 37,094,400
Deduct waste land, about one-seventh 5,299,200
Number of acres in tillage 31,795,200
Abbey-land, or land exempt by modus from tithe, one-tenth 3,179,520
Number of acres actually subject to tithes 28,615,680

This number, divided by 10,693, the number of parishes, gives 2,676 tithable acres to each parish.

In the Patronage of the Crown, the Bishops, Deans and Chapters, the Universities and Collegiate Establishments.
1733 Rectories, containing 4,637,508 acres, at 3s. 6d. £ 811,563
2341 Vicarages, containing 6,264,516 acres, at 1s. 3d. 391,532
Annual value of Public Livings 1,203,095
In the Gift of private Patrons.
3444 Rectories, containing 9,216,144 acres, at 3s. 6d. 1,612,825
2175 Vicarages, containing 5,820,300 acres, at 1s. 3d. 363,768
1000 Perpetual curacies, averaging £75 each 75,000
649 Benefices, not parochial, averaging £50 each 32,450
Annual value of Private Benefices 2,084,043
8000 Glebes, at £20 each 160,000
Total income of parochial clergy 3,447,138
Income of bishoprics 150,000
Income of deans and chapters 275,000
Total revenue of the Established Clergy £3,872,138

We shall first solicit attention to the estimate from the Quarterly Review, which is such an unfair and misleading representation of the revenues of the clergy, that we ought almost to apologize to the reader for laying it before him. Arthur Young, who is no bad authority in these matters, says the revenue of the church was five millions in 1790, and how greatly it must since have augmented from the vast increase in population and produce. Notwithstanding the evasions and omissions under the Property-Tax, the returns for 1812* make the tithe of that year amount to £4,700,000, and, allowing for the increase in produce and fall in prices, it is not likely a less sum would be returned at present. During the war, the tithe was usually estimated at one-third of the rent; it is not much less now, but, suppose it only one-fourth, and the rental of England and Wales £31,795,200, or one pound for every acre in tillage; then the whole amount of tithe collected is £7,948,200; from which, if we deduct one-third for lay-tithes and land exempt from tithe, the church-tithes alone amount to £5,297,200.

Upon whatever principle we test the statement in the Quarterly Review, its erroneousness is apparent. The reviewer supposes the rectorial tithes to average only 3s. 6d. per acre, and the vicarial tithes only 1s. 3d. Both these sums are assuredly too low. The vicarage tithes, in consequence of the turnip-husbandry and other improvements in agriculture, are often more valuable than the parsonage. The returns to the circular inquiries by the Board of Agriculture make the tithe throughout the kingdom, in 1790, average, per acre, 4s. 01/4d.; in 1803, 5s. 31/2d.; in 1813, 7s. 91/2d. Adopting the rate of tithe of 1803, and taking, with the reviewer, the land in tillage at 31,795,200 acres, the whole amount of tithes collected is £10,267,200; from which, if we deduct, as before, one-third for lay-tithes and tithe-free land, the amount of church-tithes is £6,844,800 per annum.

Again: the reviewer greatly misrepresents the proportion between rectories and vicarages. It is well known to every one the impropriate livings barely equal one-third of the whole number. Yet the reviewer makes the number of vicarages 4516; whereas, according to Archdeacon Plymley, there are only 3687 vicarages in England and Wales. But it suited the sinister purpose of the writer to exaggerate the number of vicarages, in order to calculate the tithes of so many parishes at only 1s. 3d. per acre.

The estimate of the income of the Bishoprics at £150,000 is greatly below the truth. The revenues of the four sees of Winchester, Durham, Canterbury, and London alone exceed that sum. A vast deal of mystery is always maintained about the incomes of the bishops; but the public has incidentally been put in possession of some certain data on this point. In 1829, the late Archbishop Sutton applied for a private act of parliament to raise a loan of £37,000, to assist in altering and improving Lambeth-palace; when it came out that the revenue of the see of this poor member of the “college of fishermen” was only £32,000 per annum. This is the representation of his own officer, Doctor Lushington. Mr. A. Baring stated that the revenue of the see of London would, by the falling in of leases, shortly amount to £100,000 a year.* The Bishop of London, in reply to this, alleged that his income, allowing for casualties, did not amount to one-seventh of that sum. His lordship, of course, meant his fixed income, and did not include fines for the renewal of leases, nor the value of his parks, palace, and mansions. We can assure this right reverend prelate that the public never, in truth, thought his income, or that of his Grace of Canterbury, was so extravagantly high as on their own showing they appear to be. The see of Winchester is supposed to be worth £50,000 per annum. In one year the bishop of this diocese received upwards of £15,000 in fines for the renewal of leases.

But let us ascertain the total income of all the sees. In Liber Regis, the King’s book, we have an anthentic return of the value of the bishoprics in the reign of Henry VIII. As this return was to be the foundation of the future payment of first fruits and tenths, we may be sure it was not too much. However, in these returns, the See of Canterbury is valued at £2682: 12: 2 per annum; the See of London at £1000. This was at a time when a labourer’s wages were only a penny a day. Now, it appears, from the admissions of Doctor Lushington and the Bishop of London, that the present incomes of these sees are £32,000 and £14,444 a-year. So that one see has increased in value twelve and the other more than fourteen-fold. The other bishoprics have, no doubt, increased in a similar proportion. Hence, as the incomes of the twenty-six sees in Liber Regis amount to £22,855 a-year, their present value cannot be less than thirteen times that sum, or £297,115, instead of £150,000, as stated in the Quarterly Review. This does not include the dignities and rectories annexed to the sees, or held in commendam, nor the parks and palaces, the mansions, villas, warrens, fines for renewals, heriots, and other manorial rights, enjoyed by the bishops, and which would make their incomes equal to, at least, half-a-million per annum.

The revenues of the Deans and Chapters may be approximated to on the same principle. Their incomes, like those of the bishops, arise principally from lands and manors, and certain payments in money. In the King’s Book, the deans and chapters are valued at £38,000 a-year; consequently, they do not amount, at present, to less than £494,000 per annum, instead of £275,000. But the returns in the Valor Ecclesiasticus are far from complete; several deaneries, prebends, and other offices are omitted; it follows, our estimate is far below the annual worth of the ecclesiastical corporations.

The Reviewer considers each glebe to be worth only £20 a-year; but, when he is desirous of illustrating the penury of the church by comparing its endowments with those of the Church of Scotland, he values the glebes of the latter at £30 per annum. The writer omits to estimate the value of the parsonage-houses: they must be worth something, as they save rent to the incumbents or their curates.

But enough of the estimate in the Quarterly Review. The principles and purposes of this publication are so notorious that every one is on his guard against receiving, implicitly, any representations relative to the church from so suspicious a source. The first statement, from the “Remarks,” &c. contains some inaccuracies and omissions which we shall endeavour to supply. Before, however, we submit a complete view of the revenues of the church, it will be proper shortly to advert to some items of ecclesiastical emolument usually omitted in inquiries of this nature.

Besides tithe and the landed estates of the church, there are, as before remarked, various other sources from which the clergy derive very considerable advantages. Of these, the first we shall notice are Public Charities. The inquiries by the Royal Commissioners, so far as they have proceeded, tend to confirm the accuracy of Lord Brougham’s estimate of the revenues of charitable foundations at nearly two millions a-year. From the tenure of charitable endowments, the clergy have almost entire possession of this immense fund. In England and Wales, according to the returns under the Gilbert Act, there are 3898 school charities, of which the clergy enjoy the exclusive emolument; and, in the remaining charities, they largely participate as trustees, visitors, or other capacity. The pious credulity of our ancestors induced them to place implicit reliance on the clergy, little foreseeing how their confidence would be abused. Three-fourths of charitable property, at least, were thus placed at the mercy of ecclesiastics. It is certain that, in the inquiries recently instituted into charitable foundations, the worst abuses have been found under their management. The school of Pocklington, in Yorkshire, was a flagrant instance, in which a member of the established church was receiving a snug income of nine hundred pounds a-year for teaching one scholar. A right reverend prelate, who had been left in trust, and his family, had appropriated the funds of the Mere and Spital charities. The grammar-schools in almost every town have become mere sinecures, seldom having more than two or three foundation-scholars; and the buildings piously intended for the gratuitous accommodation of poor scholars, have been perverted into boarding and pay schools for the emolument of their clerical masters. Bristol and Bath, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Ripon, and Preston, are striking examples of this sort of abuse and perversion. In the principal foundations in the metropolis and neighbourhood, in the Charter-house, Christ’s Hospital, the great schools of Westminster, St. Paul’s, Harrow, Rugby, and the Gresham Lectures, they derive great advantages as wardens, visitors, provosts, high masters, senior masters, ushers, lecturers, and assistants. Many of these offices are held by pluralists, who are, also, dignitaries, and yield salaries of £800 a-year, besides allowances for house-rent, vegetables, and linen, and large pensions of one thousand a-year, or so, on retirement. The present head-master of the Charter-house, and the late and present head-master of St. Paul’s School, are examples of this sort of monopoly. In the colleges of Eton and Winchester, again, the established clergy have a nice patrimony. The government of these foundations is vested in a certain number of reverend fellows, and a provost, who is a reverend also. The value of a fellowship, including allowances for coals, candles, and gown, is about £1000 a-year; and a provostship, in good years, has netted £2500 per annum;* besides which, the fellows generally help themselves to a good fat living or two, which are in the gift of the colleges. Again, the established clergy have exclusive possession of the revenues of the Universities, to the exclusion of dissenters, and all persons of delicate consciences, who are scrupulous about taking oaths, and subscribing to articles of faith they neither believe nor understand. The value of a university fellowship is generally less than a fellowship at Eton or Winchester; though the incomes of some of the fellows are handsome enough to induce them to prefer celibacy and college residence to a benefice in the country: add to which the professorships and tutorships, which, bringing the possessors in contact with the youth of the aristocracy and gentry, lead to livings and dignities. Numerous livings are also in the gift of the Universities, as well as in the other foundations we have mentioned, believe some of the offices in the Universities are incompatible with church-preferment.

From these details we may conclude the established clergy share largely in the revenues of Public Charities; supposing the college and school charities average only £175 each, they will produce £682,150 a-year.

Church or Surplice Fees, as they are commonly called, form another abundant source of revenue to the clergy. Originally, surplice-fees were paid only by the rich, and were intended for charity: what was formerly a voluntary gift has been converted into a demand, and, instead of the poor receiving these donations, they are pocketed by the clergy, and poor as well as rich are now compelled to pay fees on burials, marriages, churchings, and christenings. The total sums netted from this source we have no means of estimating correctly. In London, church-fees are supposed to be equal to one-third of the priest’s salary. Besides the regular fee, it is usual, on the burial of opulent people, to get a compliment of a guinea or more for hat-band and gloves: at marriages, five guineas; at christenings, a guinea. In Ireland, the surplice-fees, aided by a few voluntary gifts, form the only maintenance of the catholic priesthood: and, in this country, the total revenue derived from fees and gratuities, is little short of one million a-year. The late Rev. Dr. Cove, whose estimate of church property is seldom more than one-half of its real amount, calculates the annual value of the glebe and surplice-fees of each parish, on an average, at £40 a-year, making, according to him, a tax upon the population of half a million per annum.

Easter-Offerings, Oblations, &c. form a third source of ecclesiastical emolument. These Offerings, or Dues, as they are sometimes called, are certain customary payments at Easter and all church-festivals, to which every inhabitant-housekeeper is liable. Their amount varies in different parts of the country. In the North, they commonly pay sixpence in lieu of an offering-hen; a shilling in lieu of an offering-goose or turkey; one penny, called smoke-penny; one penny-halfpenny for every person or communicant above the age of sixteen, and so on. We have no means of judging the annual value of these good things. All that we can say is, that in some parts they are very pertinaciously levied, and considered by the established clergy as part of their “ancient rights.”* Probably, the value of Easter-offerings may be taken at £100,000 a-year.

The Lectureships, in towns and populous places, are another branch of clerical income. Where there is no endowment for a lectureship, the parishioners, if they desire a novelty of this sort, in addition to the ordinary routine of church-service, provide one at their own charge. The value of a lectureship, of course, varies with the number and liberality of the subscribers. No person can officiate as a lecturer unless approved by the incumbent and diocesan. Frequent squabbles arise from this cause; the parishioners choosing a popular preacher, who, from a miserable feeling of jealousy, is not approved by the less gifted incumbent. The lectureships are generally held with other preferments. Their total value may be stated at £60,000 per annum.

The next branch of revenue we shall notice are Chaplainships and those public offices which the Clergy may be said to hold ex officio, and to which they have always the preference. The value of chaplainships to the nobility, to ambassadors, public bodies, and commercial companies, must be considerable; but of the value of these, and of the places held by the clergy in public institutions, it is hardly possible to estimate. Suppose £10,000 a-year.

Beside all these sources of ecclesiastical revenue, another and onerous burthen is imposed on the people by the New Churches erected under the authority of the Commissioners appointed for that purpose. The sum of £1,367,400 in Exchequer-bills has been already issued in aid of the voluntary contributions towards this undertaking.* The salaries of the secretary, surveyors, office-keepers, and other underlings of this commission cost the country more than £5,000 a-year. One hundred and nine churches and chapels have been completed, and one hundred and five more are in different stages of progress: what is the whole number intended to be erected, or the total expense, nobody can tell, for the Commissioners have been recently incorporated, and in all probability their pious labours will be protracted for ages to come. Had the rich clergy contributed their just share to the First Fruits Fund, there would have been no necessity for imposing this additional tax on the public. But the first outlay is far from being the worst part of this extraordinary proceeding. All those new churches and chapels will have to be kept in repair by rates levied on the parishioners—dissenters as well as churchmen, and this, though many have opposed their erection as unnecessary. Then there are the stipends of ministers, clerks, beadles, pew-openers, and though last, not least, the guzzlings and feedings of sextons, churchwardens, and chapelwardens to be provided for; for though the patronage of the new churches is given to the patron or incumbent of the mother-church, yet the salaries of the minister and other officials, instead of being deducted from the income of the rector or vicar, are to be raised by a charge for the rents of pews. Only think of this novel device for augmenting the revenues of the ecclesiastical order! Notwithstanding the immense sums levied for the maintenance of the established religion, and though the frequenters of the new churches are actually compelled to pay tithes to the incumbents of their parishes, yet they are obliged to contribute an additional sum in pew rents to enjoy the benefit of the national communion, and if they desire a third service on Sundays, they must contribute additional for that too. How much the revenues of the clergy will be ultimately increased from this source, we have not the means of estimating. The incomes settled on some of the new ministers by the Commissioners are very considerable; that of the minister of St. Peter’s, Pimlico, is £900 a year; and those of the rectors of the three new churches in the parish of St. Mary-le-bone are £350 per annum each. Suppose the annual charge of each new church £450 per annum, it will shortly add to the other permanent revenues of the church a yearly sum of £94,050.

We shall now collect the different items and exhibit a general statement of the revenues of the Established Clergy. The sum put down for tithe is church-tithe only, after deducting the tithe of lay-impropriations, and allowing for abbey-land and land exempt by modus from tithe. The church-rates are a heavy burden on the people, but being levied at uncertain intervals, for the repair of churches and chapels, they do not form a part of the personal income of the clergy, and are omitted.

Revenues of the Established Clergy of England and Wales.
*The see of Sodor and Man is not in charge in the King’s Book, and is omitted in this estimate.
Church-tithe £6,884,800
Incomes of the bishoprics 297,115*
Estates of the deans and chapters 494,000
Glebes and parsonage-houses 250,000
Perpetual curacies £75 each 75,000
Benefices not parochial £250 each 32,450
Church-fees on burials, marriages, christenings, &c. 500,000
Oblations, offerings, and compositions for offerings at the four great festivals 80,000
College and school foundations 682,150
Lectureships in towns and populous places 60,000
Chaplainships and offices in public institutions 10,000
New churches and chapels 94,050
Total Revenues of the Established Clergy £9,459,565

We are confident several of these sources of emolument are rather under-rated. Perhaps it may be alleged that some items do not properly appertain to ecclesiastical income—that they are the rewards pro opera et labore extra-officially discharged by the clergy. But what would be said if, in stating the emoluments of the Duke of Wellington, we limited ourselves to his military pay, without also including his pensions, sinecures, and civil appointments? The sums placed to the account of the clergy are received by them either as ministers of religion, or from holding situations to which they have been promoted in consequence of being members of the Established Church. There are several sums annually raised on the people which we have omitted, but which, in strictness, ought to be placed to the account of the clergy. Large sums are constantly being voted by Parliament for building churches in Scotland, as well as in England; more than £21,000 has been granted for building churches and bishops’ palaces in the West Indies; £1,600,000 has been granted for the aid of the poor clergy, as they are called, and who have been also favoured by their livings being exonerated from the land-tax; nearly a million has been granted for building houses and purchasing glebes for the clergy in Ireland; upwards of £16,000 a-year is voted to a society for propagating Church of Englandism in foreign parts;* and more than £9,000 is granted to some other Society for Discountenancing Vice,—a duty which one would think especially merged in the functions of our established pastors. All these sums have been omitted; they certainly tend to augment the burthen imposed on the public by the Church: but as it is to be hoped they do not all form permanent branches of ecclesiastical charge, they are excluded from our estimate of clerical income.

The next consideration is the Number of Persons among whom the revenues of the Church are divided. It has been already shown that the number of prelates, dignitaries, and incumbents, is only 7,694, and by this diminutive phalanx is the entire revenue of £9,459,565 monopolized, affording an average income of £1,228 to each individual. Except the clergy, there is no class or order of men whose incomes average an amount like this. The average pay of officers in the army or navy will bear no comparison with that of the Clergy. Take the legal classes—the most gainful of all professions; add together the incomes of the lord-chancellor, the judges, the barristers, conveyancers, proctors, special-pleaders, and every other grade of that multitudinous craft—the pettifogger of most limited practice included—and divide the total by the number of individuals, and it will yield no average income like that of dignitaries, rectors, and vicars. Still less will the fees and gains of the medical classes—the physician, surgeon, and apothecary—bear a comparison with the Church. The pensions, salaries, and perquisites of employés in the civil department of government are justly deemed extravagant; but compare the united incomes of these with ecclesiastics, from the first lord of the treasury to the humblest official in the Stamp Office, and the difference is enormous. The Church is a monstrous, overgrown Crœsus in the State, and the amount of its revenues incredible, unbearable, and out of proportion with every other service and class in society.

An average estimate of the incomes of the Clergy, however, affords no insight into the mode in which the enormous revenues of the church are squandered among its members. Next to pluralists, the greatest abuse in the establishment results from the unequal amount of income possessed by individuals of the same rank in the ecclesiastical order, and the unequal burthen of duties imposed upon them. The incomes of some bishops, as those of Llandaff, St. Asaph, and Bangor, barely equal that of a clerk of the Treasury, or of rectors and vicars whose conduct they are appointed to superintend; while the incomes of others exceed those of the highest functionaries in the land. Yet we are told, by Mr. Burke, that the revenues of the higher order of ecclesiastics are to enable them to rear their “mitred fronts in courts and palaces to reprove presumptuous vice.” But if one bishop requires a large revenue to support his dignity in high places, so does another. Among the archdeacons is like inequality, their incomes varying from £200 to £2000 a-year. And among the dignitaries and members of cathedral and collegiate establishments is similar disproportion. Many of the deaneries, as those of Westminster, Windsor, St. Paul’s, Salisbury, Lincoln, Exeter, and Wells, are very valuable, yielding, probably, to their possessors, incomes of £10,000, £8,000, £5,000, £2,000, £1,900, and 1,500 respectively. The prebendaries and canonries vary in amount from £250 to £2,000 a-year. Some of the precentorships are worth not less than £900 a-year; and many of the chancellorships, treasurerships, succentorships, and we know not how many other official ships, afford snug incomes of £400, £500, and £800 per annum. The minor canons some of them have £250; the vicars-choral £350; the priest-vicars, the chanters, and sub-chanters, and a hundred more popish names and offices, are all amply, though unequally, remunerated for their services.

In the incomes of the parochial clergy there is similar diversity and injustice. Many rectories, as before observed, are more valuable than bishoprics, having incomes from £8,000 to £10,000 a-year. The same may be said of the vicarages, being possessed of large glebes or large endowments, and sometimes both. While, again, it cannot be denied that there are some rectories, and in particular vicarages, whose tithes are in the hands of laymen, and without even a parsonage-house. In some instances, the deficiency of income has been so great, that it has been found necessary to unite the incomes of two or three parishes to produce an adequate maintenance to the officiating minister, who, in the care of so many churches, cannot have time to officiate at any of them properly; and thus, no doubt, are many souls lost which might be saved; some, straying into the fold of sectarianism, become jacobins and dissenters, to the great injury of the mother church, and the eternal reproach of the right reverend bishops, the very reverend deans, the venerable archdeacons, and other reverend dignitaries, who waste, in the pomp, vanities, and luxuries of the world, the sums which ought to be appropriated to the augmentation of these poor livings.

The penury of one part of the church is not less objectionable than the bloated and sinecure opulence of another.* At the establishment of Queen Anne’s bounty, in the beginning of the last century, there were 5597 livings (above one-half of the whole number) whose incomes did not exceed £50 per annum. The Diocesan Returns in 1809 gave the following classifications of poor livings under £150 per annum:—

£ Livings.
Not exceeding 10 12
——— 20 72
——— 30 191
——— 40 353
——— 50 433
——— 60 407
——— 70 376
——— 80 319
——— 90 309
——— 100 315
——— 110 283
——— 120 307
——— 130 246
——— 140 205
——— 150 170
Total 3998

It is by grouping these poor livings with the rich ones, and averaging the whole, that a plausible case is often attempted to be made out in favour of the clergy. One writer, for instance, whose statement has been often quoted, makes the average income of each living in England and Wales only £303 per annum.* The Rev. Dr. Cove, adopting different principles of calculation, makes the average income of the parochial clergy only £255 each. Both these estimates, it is apparent from what has been advanced, are very wide of the truth. There are 11,342 benefices, and only 7,191 incumbents; and these incumbents engross the entire revenue of the parochial clergy arising from tithe and other sources. Turning to the statement at page 52, and deducting from the total revenues of the established clergy the incomes of the bishoprics and ecclesiastical corporations, it will be found that the parochial clergy alone have a total revenue of £8,668,450, which, divided by the number of benefices and the number of incumbents, gives £764 for the average value of each benefice, and £1,205 for the average income of each incumbent. From this enormous income, the paltry stipends of £40 or £60 a-year, paid by some of the beneficed clergy to their curates, are, of course, to be deducted.

The representation which the Quarterly Review, and other misleading publications, is desirous of impressing on the public is, that there are about 10 or 11,000 benefices, held by about as many individuals—rectors, vicars, and perpetual curates—whose average income is the very moderate sum of £255 or £303 each. Such a statement, if true, would render the amount of the revenues of the clergy, and the distribution of these revenues, very little objectionable indeed. But we will soon show this is all mystification and delusion.

The real situation of the Parochial Clergy is this: in England and Wales there are 5098 rectories, 3687 vicarages, and 2970 churches neither rectorial nor vicarial; in all, 11,755 churches.* These churches are contained in 10,674 parishes and parochial chapelries; and, probably, after a due allowance for the consolidation of some of the smaller parishes, form about as many parochial benefices. Now, the whole of these 10,674 benefices are in the hands of 7191 incumbents; there are 2886 individuals with 7037 livings; 517 with 1701 livings; 209 with 836 livings; 64 with 320 livings. Look again, at page 31, and the whole mystery of parochial monopoly is solved. Or let any one look into the Clerical Guide, and he will find nearly one-half the whole number of incumbents are pluralists. Some are rectors at one place, vicars at another, and curates at another; some hold three or four rectories, besides vicarages and chapelries; some hold two vicarages, a chapelry, and a rectory; in short, they are held in every possible combination. But what does the secretary to four bishops, Mr. Wright, the “Informer,” as the late Bragge Bathurst termed him, say on this subject: in one diocese the majority of the clergy held three livings, some five, and some six, besides dignities, and “yet a great part of them did not reside upon any of their preferments.”

This is exactly the way in which the property of the church is monopolized. Some persons imagine that there are as many rectors as rectories, vicars as vicarages, prebendaries as prebends, deans as deaneries, &c. No such thing: the 26 bishops, 700 dignitaries, and about 4000 non-resident incumbents, principally belonging to the Aristocracy, enjoy nearly the whole ecclesiastical revenues, amounting to more than nine millions, and averaging upwards of £2000 a-year.

And for what service? what duties do they perform? what benefit do the people derive from their labours? The bishops ordain the priests; sometimes visit their dioceses; sometimes preach; and this we believe is the extent of their performances, and which, in our opinion, amount to very little. As to the venerable, very reverend, and worshipful dignitaries, they perform still less. Let any one visit the cathedral or collegiate churches; go into St. Paul’s, Westminster Abbey, or York Minster, for instance; and observe what is doing in those places. No service is performed which interests the public. Persons may be found admiring the stone and mortar; but the vicars-choral, the priest-vicars, the chanters, or sub-chanters, or fifth or sixth canons, are very little regarded; and as to the dignitaries themselves, why they are never to be seen; many of them probably reside some hundred miles off, in more pleasant parts of the country, enjoying the amusements of the chase, or whiling away their time at card-tables or watering-places. Then, as to the non-resident incumbents, it must be admitted they are sinecurists, whose duty is performed, and for which they receive the salary, by deputy. Thus, it appears, that these three classes, without performing any duties of importance, absorb almost the entire revenues of the church.

The labouring bees in the established church are the curates, who receive a very small share of its emoluments. In a parliamentary paper, ordered to be printed on the 28th of May, 1830, containing the diocesan returns relative to the number and stipends of curates in England and Wales, we find that, for the year 1827, out of 4254 individuals of that class, there were 1639 with salaries not exceeding £60, and only eighty-four out of the whole number with salaries exceeding £160. There were fifty-nine curates with incomes between £20 and £30, and six with incomes between £10 and £20. There were 1393 curates resident in the glebe houses, and 805 more resident in their parishes. So that, either for want of parsonage-houses, or other cause, a vast number of parishes had neither resident curate nor incumbent. Supposing the stipends of the curates average £75 a-year, which is higher than the bishops, under the 55 Geo. III., have in many cases authority to raise them, their share of the church-revenues amounts only to £319,050. Yet it is this useful and meritorious order which performs nearly the whole service of the national religion.

To the curates we may add the possessors of the poor livings, as a portion of the clergy who really discharge some duties for their emoluments. These livings may be considered the mere offal, or waste land of the church, on which those who have neither rotten boroughs nor family influence, are allowed to graze. Their incomes not being sufficient to allow for the maintenance of a curate, many of the incumbents reside on their benefices and perform the duties of their parishes. But even this class is not in the indigent state some persons are apt to imagine. The returns we have cited of the value of poor livings in 1809, were considered, at the time, a gross imposition on the public and parliament. In consequence, however, of these returns, true or false, the incomes of the poor clergy have subsequently been greatly augmented. Besides Queen Anne’s bounty, £100,000 has been voted annually by parliament; the benefactions in money, by private individuals, amount to upwards of £300,000; other benefactions, in houses for the residence of ministers, in lands, tithes, and rent-charges, are very considerable: to which we may add the advantages small benefices have derived from being exonerated from the land tax, and from the increase in population, and in the value of tithes from agricultural improvements.

Another point necessary to be borne in mind, in considering the situation of the poor clergy, as they are called, is, that they are, like the non-resident aristocratical incumbents, nearly all pluralists. Few, indeed, only hold one living; and, probably, the whole 3998 livings under £150, are held by 1500 or 2000 individuals. That this is the case, is evident, from the returns made to the Commissioners appointed to exonerate small benefices from the land-tax, and which are now lying before us. In these returns for 1820 we find 2137 livings, or other ecclesiastical benefices of less than £150 in clear yearly value, had been exonerated from the land-tax.* Of 419 benefices exonerated from the land-tax in 1814, there were only ninety-two with incomes of less than £100 each, held without other preferment. Hence we conclude that the poor clergy, whose incomes Dr. Cove made about £80, have, from pluralities, consolidation, and the other advantages mentioned, incomes of at least £150 each, and that, with the exception of curates, there are few poor clergy in England.

We have now afforded the reader, without exaggeration or distortion of facts, a complete and intelligible view of the total amount and disposition of the immense revenues of the Established Clergy. The chief points to be borne in mind are the diminutive number of the beneficed clergy, their sinecurism, and relative efficiency in the discharge of religious duties, and the monstrous inequality in their incomes. These points will best appear from the succinct statement we subjoin.

Statement, showing the Mode in which the Revenues of the Church, amounting to £9,459,565, are divided among the different Orders of Clergy.
Class. Average income of each individual. Total incomes.
The value of the deaneries, prebends, and other dignities, is calculated from the returns in the King’s book, allowance being made for the increase in the value of ecclesiastical property in the proportion of thirteen to one. The result is, we are aware, an average value greatly below the truth. Some single prebends, as the golden ones of St. Paul’s, Winchester, Ely, Lincoln, and Durham, are worth from £800 to £2000 a-year. But, in the absence of more authentic information, we have been reduced to the alternative of either proceeding on the general principle mentioned, or of relying on private reports—and we preferred the former.
EPISCOPAL CLERGY, { 2 Archbishops £26,465 £52,930
{ 24 Bishops 10,174 244,185
DIGNITARIES, &c. { 28 Deans 1580 44,250
{ 61 Archdeacons 739 45,126
{ 26 Chancellors 494 12,844
{ 514 Prebendaries and Canons 545 280,130
{ 330 Precentors, Succentors, Vicars-General, Minor Canons, Priest-Vicars, Vicars-Choral, & other Members of Cathedral and Collegiate Churches } 338 111,650
Carried forward £791,085
Brought forward £791,085
PAROCHIAL CLERGY, { 2886 Aristocratic Pluralists, mostly non-resident, and holding two, three, four, or more livings, in all 7037 livings, averaging each, tithes, glebes, church-fees, &c. £764 } 1863 5,379,430
{ 4305 Incumbents, holding one living each, and about one-half resident on their benefices } 764 3,289,020
{ 4254 Curates, licensed and unlicensed, whose average stipends of about £75 per annum, amounting together to £319,050, are included in the incomes of the pluralists and other incumbents.
Total £9,459,565


The above statement affords room for important remarks, in order to distinguish the over from the under paid, and the useful and meritorious from the mere sinecurists, in our ecclesiastical polity.

Every thing in this country is formed upon an aristocratic scale. Because some noblemen have enormous incomes, ergo the bishops must have enormous incomes, to be fit and meet associates for them. Thus, one extravagance in society generates another to keep it in countenance; because we have a king who costs a million a year, we must have lords with a quarter of a million, and bishops with fifty thousand a year; and as a consequence of all this, a labourer’s wages cannot be more than 10d. a day—he must live on oatmeal and potatoes, and have the penny roll not bigger than his thumb. But why should the income of a bishopric so far exceed that of the highest offices in the civil department of government? Burke’s argument is not consistent. A Secretary of State has to show his “front in courts and palaces,” as well as a bishop; he is in constant intercourse with dukes and princes, yet his salary does not exceed £6000 a year. The bishops have their private fortunes as well as others, and there is no just reason why their official incomes should be so disproportionate to that of a lord of the Treasury, or Chancellor of the Exchequer.

An Archdeacon is considered the deputy of the bishop, and assists in the discharge of the spiritual duties of his diocese. As such, we think the deputy ought to be paid out of the income of his principal, and the revenues of the archdeaconries applied to a fund to be raised, in lieu of tithes. Many bishops are not overburthened with duty, and have little need of assistants. One bishop of the United Church, it is well known, spent all his time in Italy, where he dissipated the revenues of an immensely rich see. Some English bishops do not reside in their dioceses. We knew a bishop who resided, within the last eight years, not more than a mile from St. James’s Palace; he lived till he sunk into a state of dotage and imbecility; he was in fact left to the care of a wet-nurse, who treated him like an infant: we never heard the church sustained any injury from the suspended services of this right reverend prelate, and he, or some one for him, continued, till his death, to receive the revenues of his see.

The Dean and Chapter, consisting of canons and prebendaries, are considered the council of the bishop. This is about as much of a farce as O’Connell’s great crucifix in Merrion-Square, or the virtues of relics and holy water. It is notorious, the bishop and his chapter are oftener at open loggerheads, than sitting in harmonious conclave to devise measures for the good of the Church. The bishop of St. David’s is his own dean, and so endeavours to avoid such unseemly dissensions by being part council to himself. One of the most important offices of the dean and chapter, is to elect the bishop; that is choose the appointee of some court favourite, and in the exercise of which franchise, they discharge as virtual functions as the electors of Cockermouth or Ripon, who adopt the nominees of Earl Lonsdale and Miss Lawrence. The deaneries, prebends, canonries, and other cathedral dignities, are in fact honorary offices of great value; they are endowed with vast estates, numerous manors, and other good things, and have valuable livings in their gift; all of which advantages are so much public income idly squandered. We have before adverted to the sinecure nature of these appointments before the Reformation, and, as a further proof that they are offices without duties, we may mention that nominations to them are sometimes suspended. In 1797, when the cathedral of Lichfield was about being repaired, an act of parliament was obtained to defray the expense, by sequestrating the revenues of two vacant prebends. If the duties of these two offices could be suspended for an indefinite term, they might for perpetuity, and the revenues of all similar situations appropriated to the establishment of a fund in lieu of tithes, for the maintenance of the Working Clergy.

Next in order come the Aristocratic Pluralists. These are so many clerical sinecurists who receive immense incomes, without rendering any service to the community. They are mere men of the world, whose element is the race-course, the ball-room, and billiard-table. They seldom see their parishes: their residence is in London, at Paris, Naples, or Florence. If they visit their benefices, it is not in the capacity of pastor, but of surveyor or tax-gatherer, who comes to spy out improvements, to watch the increase of stock and extension of tillage, and see how many hundreds more he can squeeze out of the fruits of the industry and capital of the impoverished farmer. The poor parishioner, who contributes his ill-spared tithe to the vicious indulgence of these spiritual locusts, is neither directed by their example, instructed by their precepts, nor benefited by their expenditure.

From the preceding table, it is evident that about 2152 incumbents,* and 4254 curates, discharge nearly the entire duties of the established religion; that their average income is £301, which is more than the average income of the Scotch clergy; more than the income of the dissenting clergy in England, and the catholic clergy in Ireland; that, therefore, £1,974,503, the total revenue of these classes, constitutes nearly the whole expenditure the national worship requires for its maintenance and the discharge of its spiritual functions.

It is further evident that the Bishops, Dignitaries, and Non-resident incumbents, amounting to 6,025 individuals, receive £7,485,062 per annum, or seven-ninths of the revenues of the church; that these classes hold either merely honorary appointments, discharge no duties, or are greatly overpaid; that, in consequence, by abolishing non-residence, stalls, and other sinecures, and by reducing the salaries of the higher clergy to a level with those of appointments in the State, or to a level with those of the best paid clergy in Europe, several millions of public income might be saved, to be applied either to the establishment of a fund for the maintenance of the operative clergy, in lieu of tithe and other ecclesiastical imposts; or, it might be applied, as a great portion of it was originally intended, as a provision for the maintenance of the poor; or, as a substitute for those public taxes whose pressure on “the springs and sources of industry” tends to produce national poverty and embarrassment.

Further, it is clear, from an impartial inquiry into the origin and tenure of church property, that it has been always considered public property; that it was dealt with as such in the reign of Henry VIII., and by parliament in the reigns of George III. and IV., and the same policy has been pursued towards ecclesiastical possessions in every European state: that, in consequence, the legislature, after making a provision for the life interests of the present possessors of the church revenues, as was done at the time of the Reformation, is authorized by precedent and the example of other nations; and may, without injustice or inhumanity, adopt such measures for introducing a new disposition of clerical endowments, as is most conducive to the general interests of the community.

Lastly, it appears, on the authority of the ablest writers on ecclesiastical polity, that a religious establishment of any kind is no part of Christianity—it is only the means of inculcating it; that a church establishment is founded solely on its utility;* that the public endowment of any church implies, it is intended to be subordinate and auxiliary to the public good; that the endowments of the Church of England were not originally granted for the support of a particular sect of religionists, but the general support and diffusion of the Gospel: that, in consequence, our episcopalian establishment is not an essential part of religion, but a mean of social advantage, and its policy and duration ought to be determined solely by its bearing on the public interest; and, that, on any future interference with the revenues of the church, the two most important considerations are—first, that if appropriated to the maintenance of religion at all, they ought to be appropriated to the maintenance of the teachers of Christianity generally, without distinction of creed; and, secondly, that the amount and proportion in which they are so appropriated, ought to be determined by one sole object—the only true end of religion, government, law, and every social institution—namely, the general prosperity and happiness of the People.

We cannot, perhaps, more appropriately conclude this section than by a comparative estimate of the cost of Church of Englandism and of Christianity in other countries. England affords the only grand monument of ecclesiastical wealth remaining to shew the intellectual bondage of men in times of superstition, before the more general diffusion of knowledge and education. Except in this country, the people have every where cast off the prejudice impressed upon them during the dark ages, that it was necessary to yield up a large portion of their property and the fruits of their industry, to be consumed by a numerous body of idle and luxurious ecclesiastics. Abroad those clergymen are only respected and supported who zealously labour in their ministry, and are the real spiritual pastors of the people. Formerly clergymen were almost the only persons who knew how to read and write; they took an active part in the administration of the laws, and were in universal request as secretaries and clerks. This was some excuse for their number and endowments. But these days are past, and the subjoined comparison will show that the churches of the Roman Catholic faith present as singular a contrast with their ancient endowments as with the present enormity of Church of England opulence.

Comparative Expense of Church of Englandism and of Christianity in all other Countries of the World.
Name of the Nation. Number of Hearers. Expenditure on the Clergy, per Million of Hearers. Total Amount of the Expenditure in each Nation.
France 32,000,000 £62,000 £2,000,000
United States 9,600,000 60,000 576,000
Spain 11,000,000 100,000 1,100,000
Portugal 3,000,000 100,000 300,000
Hungary, Catholics 4,000,000 80,000 320,000
Calvinists 1,050,000 60,000 63,000
Lutherans 650,000, 40,000 26,000
Italy 19,391,000 40,000 776,000
Austria 18,918,000 50,000 950,000
Switzerland 1,720,000 50,000 87,000
Prussia 10,536,000 50,000 527,000
German Small States 12,763,000 60,000 765,000
Holland 2,000,000 80,000 160,000
Netherlands 6,000,000 42,000 252,000
Denmark 1,700,000 70,000 119,000
Sweden 3,400,000 70,000 238,000
Russia, Greek Church 34,000,000 15,000 510,000
Catholics and Lutherans. 8,000,000 50,000 400,000
Christians in Turkey 6,000,000 30,000 180,000
South America 15,000,000 30,000 450,000
Christians dispersed elsewhere 3,000,000 50,000 150,000
The Clergy of 203,728,000 people receive 9,949,000
England and Wales 6,500,000 1,455,316 9,459,565

Hence, it appears, the administration of Church of Englandism to 6,500,000 hearers costs nearly as much as the administration of all other forms of Christianity in all parts of the world to 203,728,000 hearers.

Of the different forms of Christianity the Romish is the most expensive. A Roman Catholic clergyman cannot go through the duties of his ministry well for more than 1000 persons. The masses, auricular confessions, attendance on the sick, and other observances, make his duties more laborious than those of a Protestant clergyman with double the number of hearers: add to which, the cost of wax lights, scenery, and other accompaniments peculiar to Catholic worship. Notwithstanding these extra outgoings, we find that the administration of the Episcopalian Reformed Religion in England to one million of hearers, costs the people fourteen times more than the administration of Popery to the same number of hearers in Spain or Portugal, and more than forty times the administration of Popery in France.

Dissenters, like churchmen, are compelled to contribute to the support of the ministers and churches of the established religion, besides having to maintain, by voluntary payments, their own pastors and places of worship. In France all religions are maintained by the state, without distinction; all persons have access to the universities and public schools: in England, only one religion is maintained by the state; and all dissenters from the national worship are excluded from the universities and colleges, and from the masterships of grammar-schools, and other public foundations, endowed by our common ancestors, for the general promotion of piety and learning.

Dr. Paley, a writer of great eminence, and whose principal work has been adopted as a text-book at Oxford and Cambridge, has shown that it is the policy of every government which endows a particular form of religion, to make choice of that religion which is followed and believed in by a majority of the people. This principle, however, is not acted upon in this country. Notwithstanding the immense endowments of the established clergy, their gradation of rank, and protection by the state, it seems that, owing to laxity of discipline, want of zeal, defects in the Liturgy, or other causes, the adherents of the privileged worship constitute a minority of the nation.

England and Ireland are the only countries in the world where a tenth of the produce is claimed by the clergy. In Popish Italy the ecclesiastical tithe is only a fortieth, and is taken in kind. A prosecution by a clergyman for tithe is nearly unknown; whereas, in the United Kingdom, tithe causes, often forming the most costly and intricate source of litigation, are of frequent occurrence. In France the expense of all religions, Protestant and Catholic, is defrayed out of the taxes, like other branches of the public service. In the United States of America all the different modes of worship are maintained by their respective followers.

The monstrous excess in the pay of the English clergy appears from comparing their average income, with the incomes of the clergy of equal rank in other countries. In France an archbishop has only £1041 a-year; a bishop £625; an archdeacon £166; a canon or prebend £100; a rector £48; a curate £31. In Rome the income of a cardinal, the next in dignity to the pope, is £400 to 500 a-year; of a rector of a parish £30; of a curate £17: compare these stipends with the enormous incomes of the English clergy; and, making allowance for difference in the expence of living in the respective countries, the disparity in ecclesiastical remuneration appears incredible.



House of Commons, April 27th, 1830.


31 Eliz. c. 6; 12 Ann, stat. 2, c. 12; also, the cases of Bishop of London v. Ffytche, and of Fletcher v. Lord Sondes.


All the offices of the Church being professedly of a spiritual nature, and executed for spiritual objects, an American bishop, Dr. Hobart, during his sojourn in this country, felt much scandalized by reading the following details of secular traffic in the Morning Chronicle, July 13, 1824:—

“The church livings in Essex, sold on the 1st instant, by Mr. Robins, of Regent-street, were not the absolute advowsons, but the next presentations contingent on the lives of Mr. and Mrs. W. T. P. L. Wellesley, aged thirty-six and twenty-five years respectively, and were as under:—

Place. Description. Estimated Annual Value. Age of Incumbent. Sold for.
Wanstead Rectory £653 62 £2,440
Woodford Rectory 1,200 58 4,200
Gt. Paindon Rectory 500 63 1,600
Fifield Rectory 525 59 1,520
Rochford Rectory 700 62 2,000
Filstead Vicarage 400 50 900
Roydon Vicarage 200 46 580

The biddings appeared to be governed by the age and health of the incumbents, residence, situation, and other local circumstances, with which the parties interested seemed to be well acquainted.”


For the sense in which the term living has been used in the preceding classification, see the Explanations prefixed to the List of Pluralists at the end of this article.

Statutes 21 Henry VIII. c. 13, and 57 Geo. III. c. 99.


The Church and Nothing but the Church, p. 12.

Bentham’s Church of Englandism, p. 250, where this curious epistle is inserted at length.


Parliamentary Paper, No. 471, Sess. 1830.


57 Geo. III. c. 99, the act which now regulates the residence of the clergy.

House of Lords, May, 4, 1830.

Parliamentary Paper, No. 471, Sess. 1830. After what has been explained, it is perhaps unnecessary to observe that there are not actually so many individuals as the number of resident and non-resident incumbents in the Returns import. The apparent inconsistency results from pluralities. Every benefice with cure has an incumbent; but, as each incumbent often holds two or more benefices, it reduces the number of individuals to the amount we have stated, (page 30,) namely, 7191.


Third Report of the Charity Commissioners, p. 230.


Nos. 248 and 250, for 1814 and 1815.

Charge to the Clergy of the County of Salop.


House of Commons, April 27, 1830.


Evidence of Dr. Goodall, Third Report of Education-Committee.

It is to this hour the practice at one of the Universities, in obedience to the statutes of Laud, to demand of every student on his matriculation, provided he have attained the mature age of twelve years, his written assent and consent to all and every of the thirty-nine Articles of religion!—and at the other, where candidates for the degree of Master of Arts are, for the first time, required to subscribe, I can solemly declare,—from my own positive, personal, knowledge,—that the most reckless levity—the most dangerous trifling with the sacred engagements of truth, are found to prevail on these occasions! I ask are such the approved methods of laying the foundation of a national morality? I ask are these mockeries an exemplification of the position so recently proclaimed by Captain Basil Hall,—that ‘it is the aristocratical classes, and they alone, who can give a right tone to manners, by setting the fashion in everything which is true in principle, or practically wise in morals and in politics?’—The Church: its Civil Establishment indefensible.—Hunter, London, 1831.


Trial of Peter Watson, in the Consistory Court of Durham, for the substraction of Easter Offerings.


Eleventh Annual Report of the Commissioners, Session, 1831.

Church-Building-Acts the 58 Geo. III. c. 45; 59 Geo. III. c. 134; 3 Geo. IV. c. 72; 5 Geo. IV. c. 103; 7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 72; 9 Geo. IV. c. 42.


The efforts to promote Church of Englandism by expensive establishments are attended with as little success in the Colonies as in the mother country. In Upper Canada, out of 235 clergymen, only 33 are clergymen of the church of England. The Moravians are the sect whose mission is most successful in the West Indies. They mix familiarly with the Indians, instruct them in the arts of agriculture and building, and thus hold out to them advantages more readily comprehended than the mysteries of the Trinity, election, and the incarnation.


The poverty of the Welch clergy is proverbial; many of the curates receive no more than £10 or £15 per annum. They seldom taste animal food, a meagre allowance of bread and potatoes being all their scanty means afford. In North Wales we have heard (Church Regeneration and University Reform) there is a clergyman of the establishment who receives no more than the miserable stipend mentioned. He has a wife and six children. In the day-time he contrives to scrape together a few pence by conducting a boat in which passengers cross a river: he is the barber of the village, shaves for a penny every Saturday night; and five evenings in the week he teaches the children of the poor villagers reading and writing, for which he receives a small acknowledgement. O, ye ecclesiastical potentates, ye Blomfields and Sumners, for one moment lay aside your silken attributes, stop your postillions at the foot of Snowdon, and visit a poor afflicted brother!

In Liverpool, Mr. Morgan Jones affirms, within these last five years there have been discovered among the prostitutes of that dissolute sea-port no less than twenty-five young women the daughters of Welch clergymen.


Quarterly Review, vol. xxix. p. 554.

Essay on the Revenues of the Church, p. 124.


Archdeacon Plymley’s Charge to the Clergy of the County of Salop.


Parl. papers, vol. xi. No. 303, Session 1820.

Parl. Papers, vol. xii. No. 474, Session 1815.


The Diocesan Returns, laid before the privy council, for 1827, state that, of the non-resident incumbents, 1590 do duty; but the amount of duty they discharge is not stated. Many incumbents who reside do no duty. Allowing for the non-residents who do duty, and the residents who do none, we believe the number of incumbents, who actually perform the duties of parishes, is not greater than we have mentioned.

Hallam’s Constitutional History of England, p. 78.


Paley’s Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, book vi. chap. 10.



John Wade, Chap. V. “Civil List” (1835)

Editing History

  • Item added: 30 Sept. 2016
  • 1st Edit:


John Wade, The Black Book: An Exposition of Abuses in Church and State, Courts of Law, Municipal Corporations, and Public Companies; with a Précis of the House of Commons, Past, present, and to come. A New Edition, greatly enlarged and corrected to the present time. By the Original Editor. With an Appendix (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1835).

  • Chap. V. “Civil List” <>

Editor's Intro




Having fully explained the nature, amount, and application of the ancient hereditary revenues, we next come to the modern parliamentary grant, substituted in lieu of them, denominated the Civil List, which is a sum yearly set apart from the general income for the personal maintenance of the sovereign, and to support the honour and dignity of the Crown.

Since the Revolution of 1688, it has been usual, at the commencement of a new reign, to enter into a specific arrangement with the king, by which the hereditary revenues of the Crown are surrendered in exchange for an equivalent life-annuity. A similar course has been pursued in respect of William IV.; but before explaining the alterations and arrangements introduced into the new civil list, it will be convenient to premise some explanations of the chief departments of the royal expenditure,—the king’s household establishment; the privy purse; pensions on the civil list, and other branches of disbursement; and conclude with some observations on the character and policy of the last two monarchs, and the total expense their profusion entailed on the country.

The first and most important charge on the civil list is the royal household. This forms a ponderous establishment, and affords, by a reduction of useless offices and extravagant salaries, scope for retrenchment. It is the great nursery of indolence, parasites, and courtiers. It is formed upon manners and customs that have long since expired,—upon old baronial customs and arrangements. It not only retains traces of its feudal origin, but it is formed also on the principle of a body corporate; and has its own law-courts, magistrates, and by-laws.

In ancient times, these establishments were supported on a system of purveyance and receipt in kind! The household was then vast, and the supply scanty and precarious. The king’s purveyor used to sally forth from under the gothic portcullis, to purchase provisions, not with money, but power and prerogative. Whole districts were laid under contribution by the jackals of the royal table, who returned from their plundering excursions loaded with the spoils, perhaps, of a hundred markets, which were deposited in so many caverns, each guarded by its respective keeper. Every commodity being received in its rawest state, it had a variety of processes to pass through before it was prepared for the king and his guests. This inconvenient mode of receipt multiplied offices exceedingly; and hence has arisen the butchery, buttery, pantry, and all that “rubble of places,” which, though profitable to the holder, and expensive to the state, are almost too mean to mention.

Let us hear what Burke said on this subject, in his reforming days:—“But when (says he) the reason of old establishments is gone, it is absurd to preserve nothing but the burthen of them. This is superstitiously to embalm the carcass, not worth an ounce of the gums that are used to preserve it. It is to burn precious oils in the tomb: it is to offer meat and drink to the dead,—not so much an honour to the deceased as a disgrace to the survivors. Our palaces are vast inhospitable halls: there the bleak winds, ‘there Boreas, and Euras, and Cauras, and Argestes, loud,’ howling through the vacant lobbies, and clattering the doors of deserted guard-rooms, appal the imagination, and conjure up the grim spectres of departed tyrants,—the Saxon, the Norman, and the Dane; the stern Edwards and fierce Henries,—who stalk from desolation to desolation through the dreary vacuity and melancholy succession of chill and comfortless chambers. When this tumult subsides, a dead and still more frightful silence would reign in the desert, if, every now and then, the tacking of hammers did not announce that those constant attendants on all courts, in all ages, jobs, were still alive; for whose sake alone it is that any trace of ancient grandeur is suffered to remain. These palaces are a true emblem of some governments; the inhabitants are decayed, but the governors and magistrates still flourish. They put me in mind of Old Sarum, where the representatives, more in number than the constituents, only serve to inform us that this was once a place of trade, and sounding with the ‘busy hum of men,’ though now you can only trace the streets by the colour of the corn; and its sole manufacture is in members of parliament.”* The royal abodes at present, we apprehend, are neither so ghostly, chill, nor comfortless, as here described, otherwise the public has been saddled with the enormous bills of Messrs. Wyattville, Nash, and Seddon, to very little purpose.

The great branches of the household are under the direction of the lord chamberlain, the lord steward, and the master of the horse. The office of the lord chamberlain is to take care of all the officers and servants belonging to the king’s chambers, except those belonging to the king’s bed-chamber, who are under the groom of the stole. He has the oversight of the officers of the wardrobe, of tents, revels, music, comedians, handicrafts, and artizans; and, though a layman, he has the oversight of all the king’s chaplains, heralds, physicians, and apothecaries. It is his office to inspect the charges of coronations, marriages, public entries, cavalcades, and funerals; and of all furniture in the parliament-house, and rooms of address to the king.

The lord steward has the estate of the household entirely committed to his care, and all his commands in court are to be obeyed; his authority reaches over all officers and servants of the king’s house, except those of the king’s chamber and chapel. The counting-house, (where the accounts of the household are kept,) the treasurer of the household, comptroller, cofferer, and master of the household, clerks of green cloth, &c. are under his control.

The master of the horse has the charge and government of all the king’s stables and horses. He has also the power over equerries, pages, footmen, grooms, farriers, smiths, saddlers, and all other trades any way connected with the stables. He has the privilege of applying to his own use one coachman, four footmen, and six grooms, in the king’s pay, and wearing the king’s livery. In any solemn cavalcade, he rides next behind the king.

Beside these officers, is the lord privy seal, whose office is to put the seal to all charters, grants, and pardons, signed by the king. Before the privy seal is affixed to any instrument, it receives the royal sign manual; it then passes under the signet, which is a warrant to the privy seal; after the privy seal, it receives the great seal from the lord chancellor, which is the finale. The performance of these different formalities costs the public, perhaps, £20,000 a-year, while the whole of the duties might be discharged as well by any honest man and his clerk for about £400 a-year. The remaining functionaries are the lord president of the council, whose office is to manage the debates in council, to propose matters from the king, and to report to him the resolutions thereupon; the commissioners of the treasury are also considered part of the household: but these, as well as some of the preceding officers, more properly appertain to the civil departments of government, and have been so considered in the new arrangement of the civil list.

The little necessity for this immense household establishment was evident during the limitations on the Regency. At that time the regent discharged all the duties of the executive with only his establishment as Prince of Wales. It did not appear then, no more than now, there was any want of attendance to give dignity and efficiency to the first magistrate. Burke mentions, in his time, that at least one-half the household was kept up solely for influence. He also mentions that one plan of reform, set on foot by lord Talbot, was suddenly stopped, because, forsooth, it would endanger the situation of an honourable member who was turnspit in the kitchen! Whether the duties of this important office continue to be discharged by a member of the honourable house we are not sure; but, in looking over a list of the household, we observe that two noble lords occupy situations little inferior in dignity and utility: the duke of St. Alban’s is master of the hawks, salary £1372, and the earl of Lichfield is master of the dogs, salary £2000. These offices sound rather degrading to vulgar ears; but “love,” as the poet says, “esteems no office mean;” and no doubt it is the love of the sovereign rather than £3000 of the public money which actuates these noble personages. In 1811 there were no fewer than twenty-six peers and four commoners who held situations in various departments of the household.

The parade of useless offices is not less great, and still more ridiculous, in the counties palatine of Durham and Chester, and the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall, and the principality of Wales. These have all separate establishments, sufficient for the government of a kingdom, while their jurisdiction is confined to a few private estates. There are courts of chancery, ecclesiastical courts, chancellors, attorney-generals, solicitor-generals, privy councillors, registrars, cursitors, prothonotaries, auditors, and all the other mimicry of royal government. They bring nothing into the public treasury, but greatly add to the patronage of the Crown, whose dignity they degrade. In one part of his kingdom the sovereign is no more than Prince of Wales; go to the north, and he dwindles down to the duke of Lancaster; turn to the west, and he appears in the humble character of earl of Chester; travel a few miles farther, the earl disappears, and he pops up again as count palatine of Lancaster. Thus does the king, like Matthews in the play, perform all the different characters in his own drama.

Before the reign of George III. no such thing as a privy purse was known. The king’s income was always considered public property attached to the office, but not to the person of the monarch. The first time any mention is made of the privy purse, is in Mr. Burke’s bill, in 1782, and then again in the 39th of Geo. III.; but it was not till the time of the regency, when it was vested in the hands of commissioners, that it was recognised as a fixed annual sum, the private property of the king. But though this anomaly has been only recently acknowledged by any public act, it has been deemed a fixed charge on the civil list for the last seventy years. When the sum of £800,000 was set apart for the royal expenditure, the king was at liberty, with the advice of his ministers, to apply what portion of it he thought proper for his private use. The sum at first set aside for this purpose was £48,000; and the king’s family increasing, it was extended to £60,000. No part of this fund is applied to defray the expense of the household, nor of any other function of the regal office; it is limited entirely to personal expenses, and may be more properly denominated the king’s pocket money than his privy purse. Why it should be separated from the general income of the civil list, unless to gratify a puerile avarice in the monarch, it is not easy to conjecture. From this source, and the revenues of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, the private property of the king is supposed to accumulate.

The next considerable charge on the civil list consists of pensions payable chiefly to servants of the household, and to the personal favorites of the sovereign and his ministers. Up to the time of the 22 Geo. III. commonly called Mr. Burke’s act, court pensions were granted without limit and controul. In that act it was provided the amount granted on the English civil list should be reduced to £95,000; the same principal of limitation was subsequently applied to the Scotch and Irish civil lists; the pensions to be granted on the former being limited to £25,000, and on the latter to £50,000, making the total amount of pensions chargeable on the civil lists of the United Kingdom £170,000. At this amount the civil list pensions stood on the accession of the king. After the death of George IV. the Court Pension list was published, and excited in the public mind a considerable sensation. Most of the “splendid paupers” inscribed upon it had never been heard of beyond the purlieus of the court; two thirds of them were females; many were the late king’s personal friends, or the apothecaries, relatives, and attachés of successive viceroys of Ireland, and of the great burghmonger of Scotland; some were the mothers, sisters, and nieces of peers, ministers of state, and great borough proprietors in England: but in the whole number there was hardly one (Robert Southey perhaps excepted) eminent for science, literature, or the arts, or distinguished by any kind of public worth or claim. Worthless, however, as the elect of court favour were, their annuities have been continued to them during their lives, under an impression that to rescind them might be productive of individual distress, and a departure from established usage on the accession of a new sovereign. But in the sequel it will be seen that the Court Pension list, in future, is not to exceed £75,000 per annum.

The remaining charges on the civil list consist of certain ancient payments for charity; a sum for special service at the disposal of the lords of the Treasury; and the secret service money of the Treasury.

Other charges heretofore paid out of the civil list have been transferred to the consolidated fund; such were the payments to the judges, to the lords of the Treasury, to foreign ministers, to the speaker of the House of Commons, to the universities, and various miscellaneous items to the city of London, and corporations in the country. The amount of these, and also the expenditure under the several heads of the civil list we have described, will appear from the official documents which will be subjoined to this article. At present let us give a brief summary of the progress and augmentation of the civil list, and an account of its present settlement.

From the year 1804 to 1811, the average annual expenditure of the civil list amounted to £1,102,683. On the commencement of the Regency, this branch of expenditure increased enormously. From 1812 to 1816, the average annual expenditure of the civil list was £1,371,000, being an increase of £268,317 over the expenditure of George III. This augmentation arose chiefly from the profusion in the royal household; from the expense of furniture and tradesmen’s bills; of upholsters, jewellers, glass and china manufacturers, builders, perfumers, embroiderers, tailors, and so on. The charge for upholstery, only for three quarters of a year, was £46,291; of linen-drapery, £64,000; silversmiths, £40,000; wardrobe, £72,000. To provide for these additional outgoings, Lord Castlereagh introduced the Civil-List-Regulation-Bill of 1816. By this Bill, no check is imposed on the profusion of the court; it only provides that various fluctuating and other charges, heretofore paid out of the civil list, should be transferred to the consolidated fund, or provided for by new grants from parliament: in other words, that the civil list should be augmented to the amount of its increased expenditure. By this arrangement, an additional burden was imposed on the public, amounting to £255,768, being the total of the charges of which the civil list was relieved.

Among the charges transferred from the civil list was £35,000, payable to the junior branches of the royal family, and which was to be paid out of the consolidated fund; also salaries, to the amount of £3,268, to certain officers and persons. All the charges, for the outfit of ministers to foreign courts, or presents to foreign ministers, incidental expenses in the Treasury, deficiencies of fees to secretaries of state, and in the law department, amounting to £197,000, were to be provided for by new grants from parliament. Various charges for furniture and other articles, heretofore provided by the lord chamberlain for public offices; the expense of collars, badges, and mantles for the orders of the Garter, Bath, and Thistle; and all expenses for repairs of public offices and buildings at the Tower, Whitehall, and Westminster; for works in St. James’s Park and private roads, estimated at £25,000, were to be provided for by new grants; the total deduction of charges being, as before stated, £255,768.

Now it is obvious that to the amount of these charges the income of the Crown was augmented, and that the scale of extravagant expenditure, in the first four years of the Regency, from 1812 to 1816, formed the basis on which the civil list of George IV. was provided. On the accession of the late king, in 1820, no alteration was proposed in the Civil-List-Regulation-Bill of 1816; it passed, as is observed by the writer of a ministerial pamphlet of the day, with “the entire approbation of all parties; that is, “all parties,” without inquiry or examination, concurred in making a permanent addition to the king’s income of a quarter of a million over that enjoyed by his predecessor.

But to judge of the immense disproportion in the incomes of the two sovereigns, it is necessary to advert to the alteration in the value of money. The average expenditure of George III. from 1804 to 1811, was £1,102,683. The average price of wheat, from 1804 to 1811, inclusive, was 87s. 6d. per quarter. The average price of wheat, during the ten years of the last reign, from 1820 to 1830, was 58s. 4d. per quarter; indicating a rise in the value of money, as measured by corn, of above 33 per cent. The price of labour, profits, tithes, rents, and interest, all fell in nearly the same proportion; so that it would not be too much to reckon an income of £67 equivalent to an income of £100 in the period selected for comparison; and, consequently, that the expenditure of George III. of £1,102,683, in a depreciated currency, was not more than an expenditure of £638,797 at the value of money during the last reign. Had, therefore, the civil list of George IV. been fixed at the same nominal amount as the civil list of George III. it would have been virtually 33 per cent. greater; but, besides being fixed at nearly the same nominal amount as that of his predecessor, one-fourth less was to pay out of it; so that the real addition to the income of George IV. was not less than fifty-eight per cent.—an arrangement, we are told, with the “entire approbation of all parties.”

The extravagant nature of the settlement of the civil list of George IV. must be plain: we have compared it with the latest expenditure of George III. and, allowing for the alteration in the currency and the charges transferred to other funds, the difference was more than half a million. George III. was by no means a cheap sovereign; but in considering his expenditure, it ought to be borne in mind that he was liable to many outgoings from which his successor was exempted. Of this nature, were a large family—sums expended in the improvement of Windsor-castle—the charge of furnishing and decorating the apartments in the palaces for the princesses—their removal to and from Windsor, estimated at £20,000—the journeys to Weymouth about general Garth’s affair—and furnishing apartments in Kensington-palace for the Princess of Wales; all which tended to swell the royal expenditure in the seven years selected for comparison.

But it is proper to observe respecting this pattern-king, as many considered George III., that his income never equalled his expenditure. Allowing for the sums granted by parliament to liquidate the debts of the civil list during his reign, amounting to upwards of three millions and a half, it renders the disparity between his actual expenditure and that of his successor less than we have mentioned. George IV. incurred no debts after the settlement of his civil list, and the course adopted to avoid future incumbrances was first, by relieving the civil list of all public charges of an expensive and fluctuating amount; and secondly, by granting to the king an allowance framed on the most extravagant scale of expenditure ever known in this country, and such as experience had shewn to be adequate to his most lavish demands. By these precautions, and with the hereditary revenues always ready to meet any unexpected outgoing, it would have been wonderful had not the scheme realised the expectations of the projectors. Another feature in lord Castlereagh’s bill was the appointment of a new officer under the name of auditor of the civil list. The latter regulation can excite no surprise, for it cannot be forgotten that in all attempts to economize by Tory ministers they generally contrived to keep up the same amount of patronage by new creatins. An instance of this occurred on the abolition of certain sinecures in 1817, when a bill, the 57 Geo. III. was immediately introduced to provide pensions in lieu of them. Another instance was afforded in the consolidation of the revenue departments of England and Ireland, when a vice-treasurer and his deputy were appointed, with a salary of £3000 a-year, apparently for no other object than to keep up the patronage of the Treasury. Again, when the further granting of pensions from the Leeward-Islands-fund was prohibited, ministers set up the West-India church-establishments. The ostensible functions of the auditor of the civil list were to superintend the accounts of the lord chamberlain, lord steward, and master of the horse; but certainly these were the duties which ought to have been performed by the heads of these departments, and for which they receive their salaries. Was it probable the public would be better secured against profusion in the royal expenditure when confided to the watchful vigilance of a commoner than when confided to three peers of the realm? The precaution was futile, but answered the purpose of a pretext for dipping into the pockets of the people. Mr. Herries was the first auditor appointed; his previous office, commissary-in-chief, had been abolished, and, we presume, ministers were at a loss how otherwise to dispose of him.

The Whig ministry have annexed the auditorship to the Treasury, by which a saving of more than £1500 a-year has been effected.


Having adverted to the civil lists of the two last reigns, let us next advert to the civil list arrangement concluded with the present King. William IV. is so deservedly popular for his firm and enlightened adherence to the great renovating measure of parliamentary reform, that we are sure the people will not begrudge his Majesty any income conducive to his personal comfort and real dignity. But it is not our province to act the part of parasites, who mislead monarchs and ruin empires, but to submit to our readers the truth, and nothing but the truth. We shall then briefly state the arrangement of the civil list established by I Will. IV., c. 25., and which received the royal assent April 22, 1831.

The leading principle of the framers of the act was to relieve the civil list of every charge not strictly connected with the royal expenditure. Hitherto many expenses had been included in the civil list which had no immediate connexion with the king’s household or the regal office; expenses which, in fact, were the expenses of the civil government of the country, and as such ought always to have been under the cognizance, and subject to the control of parliament. All charges of this description have been dissevered and transferred to the consolidated fund, to be provided for out of the general produce of the taxes. In lieu of the civil list consisting of nine classes of payment, they have been reduced to the five following; first, the privy purse of the King, £60,000, and the establishment of the Queen, £50,000, making the total sum allotted to this class £110,000 per annum. Second, the salaries of the royal household, including the departments of the lord chamberlain, £64,450, lord steward, £36,500, master of the horse, £28,500, and master of the robes £850, making the total sum allotted to this class £130,300. The third class consists of the expenditure in the several departments in the second class, amounting to £171,500. The fourth class consists of royal bounty, alms, payments to the poor of London, special service, and home secret service money, amounting to £23,200. The fifth and last class is pensions, which is limited to £75,000. The mode in which the reduction has been effected under this head, was by consolidating the three pension lists of England, Ireland, and Scotland in one alphabetical list, and by providing that pensions to the amount of £75,000 on the first part of the alphabetical list should be charged on the civil list, and the remainder, to the amount of £95,000, be charged on the consolidated fund. By this arrangement the public will receive the benefit of the pensions which fall in from that part of them which are charged on the consolidated fund, while the King has the advantage of the vacancies which occur in those payable from the civil list.

£ s. d.
First Class. For their Majesty’s Privy Purse 110,000 0 0
Second Class. Salaries of His Majesty’s Household 130,300 0 0
Third Class. Expences of His Majesty’s Household 171,500 0 0
Fourth Class. Special and Secret Service 23,200 0 0
Fifth Class. Pensions 75,000 0 0
£510,000 0 0

An important question now arises—What is the amount of saving effected by the new arrangement? There has been a shifting of weights we have seen, there has been a transfer of charges from one fund to another, but the vital question to the public is, how much less will the support of the new king cost than the old. Let us enquire.

The civil list granted to William IV. is £510,000; the civil list granted to his predecessor (the Irish civil list included) was £1,057,000; the difference is £547,000. But the saving is by no means to the amount of this difference. The civil list of the King has been relieved of four entire classes of disbursement, the expenditure in which amounted to upwards of £400,000, and which are now provided for by annual grants from parliament. Notwithstanding this, we find, on comparing the corresponding classes of the two lists, that there has been an absolute and positive reduction. In the second class the reductions have been to the amount of £10,300; in the third class to the amount of £37,500; in the fourth class to the amount of £3000; and in the fifth class to the amount of £95,000. In the first class there has been an augmentation to the amount of £50,000 on account of the establishment of the Queen. The net reduction in the royal expenditure, below the amount in the preceding reigns, is £95,000.

We have now submitted, as clearly and correctly as we are able, from the official returns to parliament, the new arrangement of the civil list. In our opinion, it is a material improvement on those which have preceded it, and does credit to Earl Grey’s administration. It is simpler in form and more economical. The cutting down of the infamous pension list is not only a saving, but a constitutional improvement in the executive government, by destroying the miasm of the court atmosphere. Other advantages have accrued: the masses of revenue, the nature of which was explained in the last chapter, have been withdrawn from the irresponsible disposal of ministers. By the transfer of charges to the consolidated fund, a sum of no less than £696,000 has, for the first time, been brought within the cognizance and control of parliament, and which cannot fail, ultimately, to lead to a very considerable reduction of expenditure.

Against these advantages we have only two drawbacks to mention. First, it does not appear from the civil list act, the revenues of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster have been included in the surrender of the hereditary and casual revenues of the crown. The income from these royal appanages, we believe, is about £25,000 per annum. The king enjoys the revenue of the former in the absence of a Prince of Wales, and of the latter in his own right as Duke of Lancaster. They are considered by some as the private property of the sovereign, and, as such, not within parliamentary cognizance any more than the income of his grace of Norfolk, or any other nobleman. But we cannot see the reasons for this construction. The king is only known in his public capacity of chief magistrate, and we apprehend the revenues of Lancaster and Cornwall might have been as legally surrendered as the casual and hereditary revenues. The duchies are notoriously great nurseries of abuse and sinecurism, and have long wanted bringing before the public.

The second objection we have to urge is, our apprehension lest the hereditary revenues have not been sufficiently secured from ministerial grasp. In the twelfth section of the Civil List Act various powers are reserved to the Crown, among others, to grant rewards out of the admiralty droits for meritorious conduct. May not this leave a door open for the future encroachments of the servants of the king on these funds? However, this is a contingency, which can only occur from the supineness of the legislature.

We repeat, therefore, in spite of these drawbacks, that the Whig civil list is a substantial improvement on its predecessors. Many, however, will still think, and we think so too, that the allowance of more than half a million per annum for the maintenance of one man is a very great sum. But it is necessary to bear in mind the state and institutions of the society in which we live. No one can reasonably expect that a king of England should have a less annual income than the greatest of his subjects. Before reducing lower the royal income, we must reduce the incomes of the grandees of the church and aristocracy, by the amputation of tithes and corn laws. Till then we do not imagine his Majesty could well discharge the duties of his high station with a smaller revenue; especially while he has the gorgeous civil list of the citizen king of the French to keep him in countenance. While, therefore, the monarchical and aristocratic institutions of the country subsist, the people will be compelled to make a great pecuniary sacrifice to mere state and graduated rank, and be under the necessity of declining the tender of the worthy Scotchman, who offered to discharge all the duties of the regal office for £300 a year, and find good security for the performance!


The state of the civil list has varied so much during the reigns of George III. and IV., that it may be useful to give a brief sketch of the total amount of public money applied to the support of this department of expenditure, and in extricating the Crown and the members of the royal family from pecuniary embarrassments.

At the commencement of the reign of George III. the king accepted the fixed sum of £800,000 per annum in lieu of the hereditary, temporary, and other revenues. This sum was successively augmented by parliament as follows:

1 Geo. III. c. 1. £800,000
17 Geo. III. c. 21. 100,000
44 Geo. III. c. 80. 60,000
52 Geo. III. c. 6. 70,000
Surplus of exchequer fees, applied by 23 Geo. III. c. 82. 50,000
Surplus of Scotch revenues, applied by 50 Geo. III. c. 87. 10,000

In 1804, when £60,000 was added, the civil list was relieved of annual charges to the amount of £82,000. The debts of the king, paid by parliament, were as follows:

In 1769 £513,511
1777 618,340
1784 60,000
1786 210,000
1802 990,000
1804 591,842
1805 10,458
1814 118,857

Parliament granted, towards the extraordinary expenses of 1814, £100,000, making £3,213,061; and in January, 1815, there was a further debt on the civil list to the amount of £421,355. To these grants to the king must be added the monies granted to the royal family, and to defray those charges of which the civil list had been relieved, amounting to £9,561,396.* Besides which there was applied, either in aid of the civil list, or to liquidate arrears thereon, £1,653,717 out of the hereditary revenues. So far brings the royal expenditure to January, 1815. In the following year the civil list expenditure amounted to £1,480,000; making the total expenditure, from the accession of George III. to January, 1816, £64,740,032.

This brings us down to the period when there was a general parliamentary investigation of the civil list; and when it was settled on the basis on which it continued, without material alteration, till the recent demise of the Crown. As we have before explained the profuse character of lord Castlereagh’s settlement, and the vast augmentation the civil list received, we shall not repeat our statement, further than by recapitulating the chief provisions.

In 1816 the civil list was relieved of public charges to the amount of £255,768, and the future provision for it was fixed at the sum of £1,083,729. £100,000 more was granted for the support of the establishment of George III. at Windsor-Castle, and £10,000 per annum to Queen Charlotte, afterwards continued to the Duke of York, for superintendence. In the same year £60,000 was voted for the establishment of the Princess Charlotte and Prince Coburg. With the exception of the saving of £10,000, by the premature death of the Princess of Wales, in 1817, all these arrangements continued until the accession of George IV. in 1820, when the civil list was fixed at £1,057,000, and so continued to the end of that monarch’s reign.

Having obtained the ordinary charges of the civil list, we next inquire, what extraordinary aids flowed into this insatiable gulph. Like his predecessor, George IV. was constantly receiving, in addition to his regular income, refreshers out of the Admiralty droits, Gibraltar duties, and other branches of the hereditary revenues, either in aid of the privy purse, to defray travelling expenses among his lieges, or to meet extra outgoings in the household. Besides these, many items ordinarily inserted in that annual budget of miscellanies, the civil list contingencies, ought in justice to be placed to the account of the sovereign. Then, again, what masses of money have been swamped in the royal palaces. Upwards of £600,000 has been already granted for the repair and improvement of the Pimlico residence. On Windsor-castle the sum already expended amounts to £894,500;* and £190,670 more is requisite to finish this gothic barbarism. It is said that the pavilion at Brighton cost a million of money; and on the cottage in the Great Park half a million was expended. For the two last facts we have no official authority, but they are traits of extravagance not improbable in a king who, in one year, spent £5000 and more in the single article of robes; whose stud of horses, though he seldom journeyed beyond the limits of his own pleasure-grounds, was upwards of 200; and whose old clothes, white kid inexpressibles with white satin linings included, after his death, actually sold in the heap for £15,000! Such are the blessings conferred by a monarch of taste, who, through the agency of servile ministers and a patient people, obtained ample means to gratify his most fantastic desires.

Nothing has been yet said of the burthen imposed by the younger branches of the royal family. The pensions of these are paid out of the consolidated fund, and form a distinct charge from the civil list. The annuities payable at the time of the late demise, exclusive of military pay and official emoluments, amounted to £248,500 per annum.

Every change in the personal relations of the royal family entails additional expense on the community, whether it be a marriage, a christening, or a burial. In the first case, there is a grant for an outfit; in the second, a grant for support and education; and in the last, a provision for the servants of the deceased. The public is now paying upwards £30,000 per annum for the servants of George III., Queen Charlotte, and Queen Caroline.* In 1825 an annuity of £6000 a-year was granted to the Duke of Cumberland, to support and educate his son, Prince George-Frederick-Alexander-Charles-Ernest-Augustus of Cumberland, (gracious heaven, what a long name this child has got); in the same year a like annuity to the Duchess of Kent, for Alexandrina-Victoria, which, in 1831, was augmented to her royal highness by an additional grant of £10,000. One might suppose these high personages had never been married, and the fact of having offspring was among the accidents of life for which they were totally unprovided.

People naturally wonder what becomes of the heaps of money abstracted from them in taxes; they are, in fact, only imperfectly acquainted with the costliness of the institutions under which they live, and the profusion with which the produce of their industry and skill is lavished: we shall, however, endeavour to open their eyes on these subjects. Let us see, then, what has been the total cost of the two last reigns; after the preceding explanations the reader will be better able to comprehend and verify the subjoined recapitulation.

SUMMARY of the Royal Expenditure, from the Accession of George III. to the Death of George IV.
From the accession of George III. to January 5, 1815, the income of the civil list, and parliamentary grants to liquidate debts thereon £51,623,564
Parliamentary grants to the royal family, and for judges and other services, of the charge for which the civil list was relieved 9,561,390
Monies applied out of the hereditary revenues 1,653,717
Debts on the civil list, January 1815 421,355
Civil list expenditure for the year ending January 5, 1816 1,480,000
TOTAL royal expenditure from the accession of George III. to the year 1816 64,740,026
From 1816 to 1820, the income of civil list by 56 Geo. III. c. 46 4,334,916
Windsor-castle establishment during the same period, including allowance for custos 440,000
Parliamentary grants for pensions, salaries, and services, of which the civil list was relieved 1,358,072
Pensions and official salaries of the royal dukes and princesses, including Prince Coburg and Queen Caroline 1,335,344
Monies applied in aid of the king and royal family from the hereditary revenues 350,000
Revenues of the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster 100,000
Allowance to Queen Charlotte to her death in 1818 116,400
TOTAL royal expenditure, from 1816 to 1820 8,034,332
Carried forward £72,774,358
Brought forward £72,774,358
From 1820 to 1830, the income of the civil list, by 1 Geo. IV. c. 1 10,570,000
Parliamentary grants for pensions, salaries, and services, of which the civil list was relieved 3,397,680
Pensions, salaries, and allowances of the royal dukes and princesses, including Prince Coburg 3,575,000
Monies appropriated to the use of the king and royal dukes, out of Admiralty droits and Gibraltar duties 150,000
Revenues of the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster paid into the privy purse 250,000
Allowances to the late servants of George III., Queen Charlotte, and Queen Caroline 350,000
Expense of repairing and improving Buckingham-palace, to 1830 496,269
Grants for the alteration and improvement of Windsor-castle, to January 5, 1830 527,500
TOTAL royal expenditure, from 1820 to 1830 19,316,449
GRAND TOTAL of the Royal Expenditure, from the accession of George III. to the death of George IV £92,090,807

The pensions and official emoluments of the royal dukes, from first entering into public life to the year 1815, are not included; and there are various fees and perquisites of which they were in the receipt, and annuities to the princesses on the Irish civil list, of which we have not been able to obtain authentic returns. The total amount of the incomes of the king and royal family, for the last seventy years, cannot have been less than £100,000,000 sterling, making the average expenditure of a single family £1,428,571 per annum.

The people of England have been so long familiarized to the lavish expenditure of their rulers, that we fear they are unable to appreciate the importance of one hundred millions of money. The best way to bring the mind rightly to estimate the magnitude of this sum, is, to reflect for a moment on the amount of evil it might have averted, or the good it might have accomplished, had it been judiciously appropriated to the attainment of objects of national utility. An annual revenue of £1,428,571 is equal to one-third of all the sums levied in poor-rates during the two reigns, and would maintain two millions of poor people. By the saving of such a sum how many trumpery taxes might have been repealed, which harass and impede the industrious citizen! What a fund it would form to mitigate the sufferings constantly recurring from changes in the seasons and the vicissitudes of commerce! It is calculated that the annual application of a quarter of a million would enable to emigrate the whole of the redundant industry yearly accumulating from the progress of population. How much more, then might be effected by the application of £1,428,571 per annum. What an impulse it would give to our mercantile navy, by creating employment for shipping in the conveyance of settlers:—what stores—what implements of agriculture, and other necessaries, it would furnish to families! Internal industry would be stimulated; new communities founded; the waste and desolate parts of the earth reclaimed and peopled; and by opening new channels of employment and demand, some of the evils, which most embitter our social state, alleviated.

A republican, perhaps, would contend that nearly the whole of the hundred millions might have been saved to the community, and point to the people of the United States of America for an example of frugal government. Their king only costs five thousand a-year, instead of a million; and their other functionaries are equally cheap and reasonable. As for lords of the bed-chamber, grooms of the stole, master of the hawks, master of the robes, and other masters and lords, they have none of these things. And where is the loss they have sustained? Their government never appeared deficient in dignity or efficiency at home or abroad; and the duties of the executive magistracy have been discharged quite as well as in this country.

There is much truth in this; but the British people seem to have a taste for monarchy, and it is a point now hardly disputed, that every community has a right to choose its own form of government. It is true our chief magistrate is not the most efficient of public servants; neither fighting the battles of the country, conducting its negotiations, nor personally exercising judicial administration. Still, we do not consider him quite so useless in his station as “the gilded globe on the dome of St. Paul’s,” to which the capital “of the Corinthian column” has been rather absurdly compared. Every society must have a head—a king, president, or dictator; and, in fixing the amount of his revenue, it is necessary to have regard to the state and income of his subjects. A richly endowed church and aristocracy demand a richly endowed king to match: simultaneously with the curtailment of the income of the monarch ought the revenues of the priesthood and nobility to be curtailed, by the abolition of tithes, the repeal of corn-laws, and a more equal partition of national burthens.

The superior income of the sovereign, however, does not comprise all the advantages he enjoys over his lieges. The king pays no house-rent or taxes; and if he travels he pays no turnpikes. If he marries there is an outfit; if he has a child there is a portion; if he dies he is buried at the public charge, his widow receives £100,000 a year out of the taxes, and has two splendid mansions wherein to mourn her loss. Thus all the relations and vicissitudes of life are so amply provided for that one is at a loss to conceive what the king can have to pay, or on what objects his immense income can be expended. Here is certainly a mystery. The conclusion seems to be, that the functions of the regal office have degenerated into etiquette; and the exalted individuals who discharge them have become, as one of the number observed, little more than a ceremony, whose duties are nominal, and whose outgoings—great though they be—consist only of trappings, attendance, and pageantry.

In what, for example, consist the duties of a king of the old European fashion?—At first sight they appear great and manifold: he holds courts and levees—opens and prorogues parliament—chooses ministers of state—examines and signs all public grants and documents. These functions appear quite sufficient to occupy the attention of one individual; but if we examine them more closely, we shall find they are vain, shadowy, and unimportant.

What, for instance, is a court?—A pageant, a farce, in which a train of useless officers, gaudily attired, assemble, and those who have obtained an appointment, a pension, or place, express their gratitude by kissing the royal hands!

What is a levee?—A larger muster, a presentation of titled mendicants and others, who move in procession before the king: they bow, and he bows, and sometimes smiles; they pass on, another and another, as “great a fool as t’ other;”—and this is a levee.

How does the king authenticate public documents? He writes W. R., or W. Rex, at the top or bottom of a piece of parchment, vellum, or paper: this was done by a machine in the last reign, and many were in hopes that it would have been retained, and a similar contrivance extended to other regal functions, by which the monarch would have been able to retire on half-pay, or with a superannuation allowance.

What is the opening of parliament?—The king going in great state to the house of peers; reading about a dozen lines prepared for him by his ministers, containing nothing either rich or rare, and then returning in the same state.

What is a prorogation?—Much the same as the last; with this difference, that the rogues are sent to kill partridges, instead of being called together to talk, and talk, and nothing but talk.

How does the king choose his ministers? He does not choose them at all; they are chosen by a majority of the parliament, which is chosen by one hundred and fifty-four individuals called boroughmongers, who have been chosen by God knows whom, but who appear to have been a visitation inflicted on the people as a punishment for apathy and gullibility.

Are not kings the fathers of their people?—They are so called, but they are very unlike fathers, since, instead of feeding and protecting their children, their children feed and protect them.

Kings are called the sovereigns of their respective states?—They are so styled, certainly, but this is another fiction of feudality and priest-craft. The sovereignty is in the people; and, as every day affords experimental proof of the truth of this position, there are now few to call it in question.

Such is a catechism of the duties and attributes of what may be denominated feudal kings: as to citizen kings, our experience of them is yet too limited to decide whether or no they are an improvement. But of the elder sort it may be truly affirmed they have little claim on the gratitude of mankind: formerly they were great destroyers of their species, and latterly they have been great consumers of victual. “When we see,” says Rabelais, “the print of Garagantua, that has a mouth as large as an oven, and swallows at one meal twelve hundred pounds of bread, twenty oxen, a hundred sheep, six hundred fowls, fifteen hundred horses, two thousand quails, a thousand barrels of wine, six hundred peaches, five hundred pine-apples, &c. &c. who does not say—That is the mouth of a King?”


Having dwelt so long on the pecuniary affairs of the late reigns, our readers will, perhaps, have patience with us while we submit a few strictures on their political and social bearing.

The personal character of George III., and the predominant maxims of his reign, are too well known to require elucidation in this place; but one part of his policy has either not obtained the attention it deserves, or is not so generally understood. It is thought this prince, like his predecessor, was held in thraldom by the boroughmongers: this is an error. Although the intellectual endowments of the king were not of a high order, he is entitled to the praise of being the first of his race who, if he did not emancipate himself from, at least lightened, the yoke imposed on the executive by the aristocracy.

The great families who had mainly contributed to the Revolution of 1688 claimed, for their services, an exclusive right to the government of the kingdom; having averted the despotism of the Stuarts, they sought to establish a despotism in themselves, and transmit the divine right of power, wrested from the monarch, to their own posterity. Parliamentary reform had not been agitated; and the people being of little political importance, the sovereign was the only obstacle to this oligarchical pretension. Hence their intrigues and encroachments were exclusively directed against the Crown. They sought to render the regal office a mere name; the king a puppet, to be moved by wires, of which they held the strings, to be brought out, like the unfortunate Montezuma, on show days, decked out in the habiliments of royalty, to inspire the multitude with respect for authority. William III. groaned under this system; Queen Anne patronized its opponents; the first and second George, having little knowledge of our institutions, and by nature not much qualified for the exercise of authority, submitted to it quietly; but to the credit of George III., he openly rebelled against aristocratic usurpation. The king perceived, and his mother, the princess-dowager, in concert with lord Bute, demonstrated to him the galling bondage in which his predecessors had been held by the arrogance of the Devonshire, the Pelham, the Portland, and other towering families. “George,” said the princess, “be King;” and the prince obeyed her constant exhortation, and became so not only in name but reality. The design was laudable, and even constitutional; the king his prerogatives, and the people their representatives, being the whole creed of reformers. But it was only the first, not the second, the king regarded; while grasping at the prerogatives of the Stuarts, he was equally averse to the rights of the Commons.

Lord Bute was appointed the first minister on the new system. Being a man of little capacity, ignorant of public affairs, and the management of parties, he was compelled to retire. But the king did not abandon his object. Partly by the untractableness of his own character, partly by the adroitness with which he played the factions against each other, but most of all from the immense increase in the power of the Crown, from taxation, the augmentation of the peerage, the establishment of the banking interest—aided with the money-jobbers, contractors, and speculators, he succeeded in breaking the aristocratic fetters. His independence may be dated from the American war. That contest was purely his own. It is even said he first suggested the stamp-duty. So much, however, was it considered the king’s personal quarrel, that those who did not concur in it were branded as disloyal.

The last attempt of the aristocracy to reduce the king to a state of pupilage was made in 1783, by the famous India Bill of Mr. Fox. This great measure, framed by Mr. Burke, was intended to establish a counterpoise to the influence of the Crown, by vesting the patronage of India in fifteen individuals chosen by parliament; in other words, by the coalition administration. Nothing could have been devised more effectual for the purpose; for it would have placed the sovereign of England at the mercy of the sovereigns of Bengal, and erected a mound from which the palace of St. James’s might always be maintained in dutiful and respectful obedience. But the king penetrated the snare that was laid for him; and, by a vigorous exertion of court influence and the artful excitement of popular clamour, the bill was thrown out, and the Whigs, driven from power in disgrace, sunk into complete insignificance. Their union with lord North exposed to the country the profligacy and rottenness of their public principles. It was the death-blow to party. “From the moment,” says the bishop of Llandaff, “the coalition was formed betwixt lord North and the men who for many years had reprobated in the strongest terms his political principles, I lost all confidence in public men. I clearly saw that they sacrificed their public principles to private pique, and their honour to their ambition.” The observations of Sir N. Wraxall are to the same purport. Mr. Nicholls, in his “Recollections,” says, “from the death of lord Rockingham they became a faction, and their efforts were no longer employed for the attainment of any great public object.” These writers speak from contemporary impression, and consequently represent the general feeling excited by their conduct.

The subsequent history of this party is too fresh in public recollection to require illustration. There are some Whigs yet, as there are some Jacobites, Bourbonites, and Johannites; for sects and parties hardly ever become extinct, however absurd their dogmas. But upon the whole, both Whiggism and Toryism may be considered defunct superstitions; and the impostures having been unmasked, men are now only shocked at the grossness of the idolatary by which they had been so long enslaved.

Upon the conduct of the Whigs, in their endeavours to controul the executive, one or two observations may be made. That the influence of the Crown, after its enormous augmentation during the American war, required abridgement, there can be no question; but the means employed for this purpose were highly objectionable. The Whigs attempted to throw the weight into the wrong scale; they saw the preponderance of the Crown, but were insensible or indifferent to the humiliation of the People: they looked only to themselves, and instead of raising the popular branch of the constitution, sought only their own aggrandizement, and, by providing sinecures and places for their adherents, balancing the patronage of the monarch. Hence the real friends of the people viewed their policy not only with contempt but abhorrence; for it contained no invitation to popular support—no guarantee for public liberty, and was merely the selfishness of party struggling for the influence and emoluments of regality.

Yet the Whigs have complained of ingratitude, of the people having been deluded from their “Natural Leaders!” But is not this a faithful history of their conduct? Is it not notorious, from the Revolution to the end of the last reign, the people had no alternative, save despotism in the sovereign, or despotism in an oligarchy? Is it surprising that they revolted from both these propositions; that they repulsed with equal scorn the open partizans of absolute power, and those who, under hollow and hypocritical professions, sought to inveigle them out of their liberties, or render them the passive instruments of personal ambition? From such “natural leaders” it was time the people separated, and established a party for themselves. That the secession was at length accomplished, may be ascribed to the persevering and patriotic efforts of sir Francis Burdett and the electors of Westminster, who were the first successfully to erect the standard of revolt from aristocratical domination.

These strictures on the aristocratical factions, it is needless to remark, apply only to their public conduct during the period under review. Both Tories and Whigs have recently undergone a change for the better; the administration of lord Wellington was better than any preceding administration formed from the same class of politicians: many Tories avow sentiments which their predecessors would have repudiated with horror; and the existing Whig ministry we feel confident, from all we can observe up to the moment we are writing, (December 22d, 1831,) is sincerely bent on reforming the popular branches of our institutions, on reducing the government expenditure, and on improving—if that be possible—the condition of the great body of the people of the United Kingdom. The fact is, there has been a progression (sir C. Wetherell would say, a retrocession) of parties; the more liberal Tories have adopted the sentiments of the Whigs, and the Whigs have adopted the sentiments of the more intelligent Radicals. But to what is the change to be ascribed? Why solely to events—events too obvious to be here enumerated. Had the people remained quiescent, the Whigs would have continued Whigs still, and the Tories would have been unchanged. But the people have become enlightened from experience of the evils inflicted by bad government; they have tasted of the forbidden fruit of knowledge—of that fruit which many would gladly have kept out of their reach; they have, in short, read the Black Book, and the consequence is, they no longer continue the duped spectators of the tracasseries of faction; they will no longer suffer the legislature of a great empire, instituted solely for their service and benefit, to be merely an arena for aristocratic contention, intrigue, and selfish ambition; they care nothing about men—who is in or who is out, but insist on the adoption of measures advantageous to themselves—and these measures are an efficient reform of an insulting mock representation—of an oppressive church—of an absurd and plundering legal system—of monopolies and taxes partial and unjust. More of these subjects hereafter; at present let us return to our task, from which we have deviated in order to escape for a moment the tedium of statistical detail.

The great theme of the panegyrists of George III. is his private virtues. For a king to discharge his duty to the people, it is not sufficient that he is neither passionately addicted to wine, nor women, nor gaming, and that he does not amuse himself occasionally, after the fashion of the East, by cutting off the heads of his lieges. Betwixt private men and those who fill important public stations there is a wide difference. The former may live and die as it has pleased Heaven to make them, and society has no right to complain, provided they observe the laws, and neither burthen the parish nor their friends. But the condition of a king is widely different: he has no privilege to be inept; he is the retained servant of the community, who has grave duties to discharge, and, his fees being enormous, it is not sufficient he is harmless and inoffensive, he ought to be actively beneficial. To judge of the blessings accruing from the reign of George III. it would be sufficient to contrast the state of the country when he ascended the throne with the condition to which it was reduced when his intellectual twilight subsided into total darkness. It is hardly possible to imagine how any career could have been more reckless, profligate, and regardless of ultimate consequences than that which entailed the paper currency, the monstrous debt, the poor-rates, and a vastly increased population dependent for subsistence on the uncertain demands of commerce and manufactures. Private virtues are a poor set-off against national calamities, especially if produced by inveterate obstinacy and error, as was unquestionably the case with the two great ruinous wars—those against America and France—in which George III. was engaged. Although the mental endowments of the king were very moderate, and he possessed no strength or originality of mind to carry him beyond the notions of religion and politics impressed during his education, yet, like others of the same intellectual grade, he had a quick sense of whatever tended to interfere with his own interests. He fully comprehended the effect likely to be operated on the status of his order by the French revolution. When that mighty movement began to manifest itself, he put (says Mr. Nicholls) Burke’s incendiary publication into the hands of every one he met. He said to every courtier who approached him, “If a stop is not put to French principles there will not be a king left in Europe in a few years.” In fact, he was the greatest alarmist in his dominions. Mr. Burke and the duke of Portland were only second and third to him. Mr. Pitt was averse to the war, but acquiesced from that truckling love of place, which was the prominent feature of his own character and that of most of his adherents. In like manner the Grenville Whig administration consented to abandon Catholic Emancipation, on the condition of royal service. But the renunciation was not sufficiently explicit to satisfy the jealous scruples of the king.

To conclude, George III. was not a tool of the boroughmongers, but a leading and active partner in the Oligarchy. He left the Crown to his successor in more complete sovereignty—more independent of aristocratic influence—disputed title—favouritism, or any other control, than it had been held since the conquest. His reign (as Bishop Watson observes) “was the triumph of Toryism. The Whigs had power for a moment—they quarrelled amongst themselves, and thereby lost the king’s confidence, lost the people’s confidence, and lost their power for ever; or, to speak more philosophically, there was neither Whigism nor Toryism left; excess of riches and excess of taxes, combined with excess of luxury, had introduced universal selfism.*

As we consider the next reign nothing more than an elongation of that of George III.—the government being conducted on precisely the same principles and maxims—we shall be very brief in our notice of it.

George the Fourth always appeared to us nothing more than a man of pleasure, whom the accident of birth had made a king. His means of indulgence were ample, and he did not spare them. At first he affected Whigism; but this might arise from his favourite companions in horse-racing, drinking, and intriguing being of that persuasion. Still he appears to have been one of the orthodox sort; for, like the party generally, he only adhered to his Whig principles while out of place, and became a Tory on his accession to power. But the politics of princes and poets are seldom worth investigating; whatever a King of England may profess while heir-apparent, or whatever popular principles may be held by a Whig lord while out of office, the only principles compatible with the borough system, and on which they can act on the assumption of power, are those of Toryism—that is corruption and intimidation; and this is no new discovery, since Mr. Pitt declared, almost fifty years ago, that no honest man could carry on the government without a reformed parliament.

In the choice of his ministers, as in other things, the king considered his personal ease. At the commencement of the Regency, a slight effort was made to bring into the administration his early friends; but, finding them fastidious, pragmatical, and disposed to meddle in his household establishment, the design was abandoned, and never again seriously resumed. Castlereagh, Canning, Huskisson, and Sidmouth were the most appropriate servants for a voluptuous monarch. These men held no principles that could interfere with his most lavish desires; their objects were limited to the enjoyment of power and its emoluments: how little they cared about the general weal may be instanced in the fact that, though they managed the affairs of the empire during a long period of profound peace, they never set about reforming the most glaring and admitted abuses in its public administration, not even endeavouring to reform the currency, economize the expenditure, reduce the debt, improve the laws, nor the commercial system, for even that originated in another quarter. Their object was only to carry on the government and enjoy the spoil, and this they were ready to do by the aid of any shallow and temporary expedient, totally regardless of the ultimate loss and misery it might entail upon the country. There is one event connected with Canning deserving of notice, since it evinced both discernment and firmness of mind in the sovereign. When the poor drivelling statesmen, Eldon, Bathurst, and Melville—the Polignacs and Peyronnets of the cabinet—refused to act with Mr. Canning as First Lord of the Treasury, as much, we believe, from personal jealousy as aversion to his more liberal ideas, the king stood manfully and magnanimously by his minister; and it is due to some of the Whigs to say, that they did not refuse their aid in the moment of peril. Mr. Canning was the best of his set, but not to be greatly admired for his patriotism: he was clever and accomplished, but a political adventurer merely, whose polar star was his own aggrandizement; had he lived, he would not, we apprehend, have been long premier, and, before his death, he evinced symptoms that showed he would prove neither a very useful nor very profound statesman.

It is not our intention to enter into any personal history or delineation of George IV.; for, in truth, we have nothing to communicate on these points but what is known to all the world. He always appeared to us to afford a striking confirmation of Lavater’s theory—his physiognomy and conduct being in such admirable keeping. Some have imagined a resemblance between him and the Emperor Tiberius. Both disappointed the expectations formed of them previous to their accession to power. One lived secluded from the sight of his subjects at the island of Capri; the other at Windsor. Women, wine, and mere sensual indulgence formed their chief employment and amusement. Neither of them knew how to forgive, and both were implacable in personal resentments. The persecution, by the King, of the unfortunate Caroline, and all who supported her, was mean, ungenerous, and unrelenting. His love of dress and etiquette was coxcomical, and detracted from the regal dignity. His love of seclusion is not difficult to explain: George IV. was a spoiled child, who, through life, had been accustomed only to do what ministered to his own gratification. In his latter days, neither his vanity nor desires were likely to be flattered by a frequent appearance in public; age had deteriorated his charms and enfeebled his powers, and to mingle among the “high-born dames” of the aristocracy, to select an object to whom to cast the royal handkerchief, was not among his urgent necessities.

To conclude: “God is just in all his ways!” George IV., Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Canning, and Mr. Huskisson are all gathered to their fathers, and will soon be forgotten. They lived for themselves, and the public will not cherish any lasting or grateful remembrance of their memories. The monarch expired on a chaise percée—what a death-bed for an “exquisite!” Lord Castlereagh perished by his own hands. Mr. Canning, after indulging in some unseasonable jokes on the infirmities of poor Ogden—of which no doubt he repented—died of internal inflammation. Mr. Huskisson’s death was deplorable. But what ought we to learn from these catastrophes?—Neither to envy the great, nor refuse sympathy to the unfortunate!


No. 1.: Expenditure in the Department of the Lord Steward of his late Majesty’s Household.—Parl. Paper, No. 17, Sess. 1830.

1820. 1823. 1826. 1829.
£ £ £ £
Bread 1,422 1,377 1,946 2,565
Butter, Bacon, Cheese, and Eggs 2,405 2,507 4,264 4,269
Vegetables 307 382 546 679
Butcher’s Meat 5,785 4,741 7,132 7,283
Poultry 3,467 2,624 3,315 2,922
Fish 1,768 1,574 1,619 1,325
Ale and Beer 2,491 2,438 2,746 2,466
Wax Candles 3,011 3,021 3,692 3,813
Tallow Candles 989 663 655 720
Grocery 2,414 2,714 2,686 3,222
24,059 22,041 28,601 29,264
Brought over 24,059 22,041 28,601 29,264
Oilery 1,518 1,606 1,134 1,446
Fruit and Confectionary 622 521 445 1,056
Milk and Cream 718 725 1,046 1,246
Wines, Liqueurs, Spirits, Mineral Waters, Corks, Bottles, &c. 8,732 4,480 5,539 7,161
Lamps 7,030 6,580 5,184 6,758
Washing Table Linen 1,702 1,805 2,290 2,582
Fuel 7,194 7,478 0,314 7,665
Stationary 628 445 572 697
Turnery 206 251 272 340
Braziery, Ironmongery, and Cutlery 367 730 693 769
China, Earthenware, and Glass 1,641 494 1,040 860
Linen 3,317 2 34 337
The Royal Gardens 19,831 13,782 15,187 13,309
Maunday Expenses 283 274 274 272
Royal Yachts 1,107 387
H. R. H. the Duke of Cumberland 319
Board Wages to Servants 3,111 3,286 3,283 3,313
Travelling Expenses of Servants 480 361 318 357
Allowance for Table Beer 608 427 439 301
Salaries to Extra Servants, pay of hired Assistants, &c. 1,354 2,004 1,900 2,622
Board Wages to Yeomen of the Guard 2,230 2,315 2,230 2,230
Compensation in lieu of Articles formerly issued in kind 5,542 3,549 3,183 2,783
Sundries and Disbursements 12,495 7,492 8,213 8,212
Amount paid in each year 104,789 81,372 88,210 93,597

No. II.: Expenditure incurred in the Department of his late Majesty’s Robes.

1820 £3,513 0 21/2
1821 5,249 16 11
1822 4,625 12 5
1823 4,632 18 101/2
1824 6,152 6 31/2
1825 4,773 15 2
1826 5,687 15 8
1827 6,819 19 6
1828 5,955 18 3
1829, ending 5th January, 1830 6,673 17 5

No. III.: Expenditure of the Master of the Horse’s Department.

1820. 1823. 1826. 1829.
£ £ £ £
*These expenses are such as water-rent, pew-rent, sand, wheeler’s work, sweeping chimneys, blacking, spirits of wine, and in short all articles not included in the foregoing heads. The disbursements included in the charge for travelling expenses are those of the clerks of the stables, for women employed to clean the stable-servants’ rooms, make the beds, &c. and the allowances to servants in lieu of hair-powder, wigs, and silk stockings. *By an act of the Session of 1831 an additional annuity of £10,000 is granted to the Duchess of Kent; £4000 thereof to be paid during the life of her royal highness, and £6000 during the life of the Princess Victoria. The provision for the queen, by 1 and 2 Will. IV., c. 11, in case she survives the king, is an annuity of £100,000; also Marlborough House and the rangership of Bushy Park. *In case of the demise of any of the four princesses, or upon the marriage of any one of them, on the payment of a marriage portion of £40,000, the interest of such princess so dying or being married shall cease, and the annuity of £36,000 shall accrue and remain in the three other princesses; but none of the above princesses can receive more than £12,000 each, under the provisions of the Act 52 Geo III. c. 57, s. 2. The Duchess of Gloucester and the Princess of Hesse Hombourg receive, in addition to their annuities out of the consolidated fund, a pension of £1000 each out of the 41/2 per cent. Leeward Island duties.—Parl. Paper, No. 284, Sess. 1831. Prince Leopold resigned his pension in July, on accepting the crown of Belgium; stipulating for annuities for his servants, and the keeping up of Claremont House.
Liveries 7,729 7,530 9,057 7,560
Forage 6,556 5,010 6,368 6,308
Farriery 1,566 906 1,103 1,217
Horses 6,682 5,392 5,687 3,246
Carriages 8,354 944 3,782 4,029
Harness 798 472 785 702
Saddlery 2,053 1,820 817 1,906
Bitts and Spurs 181 48 117 143
Whips 129 135 133 165
Lamps, Gaslights, &c. 505 580 1,012 1,108
Coals and Wood 838 1,076 1,299 1,251
Stationary 99 53 48 57
Turnery Articles 152 208 190 196
Candles and Soap 165 158 172 167
Washing 120 121 132 140
Ironmongery 48 105 65 79
Allowances for Lodging 439 367 477
Sundry other small expenses* 637 576 607 649
Travelling expenses and disbursements 1,600 1,487 1,984 1,701
Post horses 649 652 1,488 1,130
King’s Plates 2,126 2,126 2,336 2,338
Stud Bills 6,705 621 1,666 1,196
Hunt Bills 3,654 3,673 4,313 4,588
Treasury and Exchequer Fees 586 400 494 641
51,932 34,532 44,024 40,994
Deduct Proceeds of useless Horses sold 915 2,179 2,856 1,226
Net Expense 51,017 32,353 41,168 39,768

No. IV.: An Account of the Application of the Monies paid from Admiralty Droits, Gibraltar Duties, and other Funds than Civil List, at the disposal of the Crown, between 1820 and 1830.

The expenses of his late Majesty’s journey to Ireland 58,261
The expenses of his late Majesty’s journey to Scotland 21,439
The expenses of his late Majesty’s journey to Hanover 13,206
Brought over 92,906
The expense of fitting up the state rooms at St. James’s 54,947
The expense of certain repairs to the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park 14,966
The expense of repairing the stables at Brighton 7,113
The expense of furnishing the Royal Mews at Pimlieo 10,083
The amount issued to his late Majesty’s privy purse 86,573
The amount issued by his late Majesty’s command as contributions to charities 17,648
The expense of furniture purchased for Windsor Castle 10,000
The expense incurred on account of the visit of the Queen of Wirtemberg 16,206
The expense of fitting up the apartments of his present Majesty as Duke of Clarence 9,166
The amount advanced to the executors of H. R. H. the Duke of York 6,440
Of the foregoing Amount, there was applied,—
To Privy Purse £ 86,573
To Charities 17,648
Services conducted by the Lord Chamberlain 110,024
Services conducted by the Lord Steward 46,956
Services conducted by the Master of the Horse 14,459
Services conducted by the Office of Works 22,080
For the Journey to Hanover 13,206
Expenses of Yachts, Pursuivants, &c. connected with the Journeys to Ireland and Hanover 1,011
For expenses connected with the Journey to Ireland, incurred by the Irish Government 7,653
To the Executors of H. R. H. the Duke of York 6,440


Return of all Sums of Money paid from the consolidated Fund to the several Branches of the Royal Family, exclusive of the Civil List.—Parl. Paper, No. 186, Sess. 1831.
Pension. Granted.
Duchess of Kent 6,000 58 Geo. III.
Princess Victoria for education 6,000 6 Geo. IV.*
Duke of Cumberland 6,000 { 46 Geo. III.
{ 47 Geo. III.
Duke of Cumberland 15,000 { 18 Geo. III.
{ 1 Geo. IV.
Prince George for education 6,000 6 Geo. IV.
Duke of Sussex 6,000 { 46 Geo. III.
{ 47 Geo. III.
Duke of Sussex 15,000 { 18 Geo. III.
{ 1 Geo. IV.
Duke of Cambridge 6,000 { 46 Geo. III.
{ 47 Geo. III.
Duke of Cambridge 15,000 { 18 Geo. III.
{ 1 Geo. IV.
Duke of Cambridge 6,000 1 Geo. IV.
Duke of Gloucester 14,000 { 46 Geo. III.
{ 47 Geo. III.
Duchess of Gloucester 9,000 52 Geo. III.
Duchess of Gloucester 4,000 { 50 Geo. III.
{ 1 Geo. IV.*
Princess Elizabeth of Hesse Hombourg 9,000 52 Geo. III.
Princess Elizabeth of Hesse Hombourg 4,000 { 56 Geo. III.
{ 1 Geo. IV.
Princess Augusta 9,000 52 Geo. III.
Princess Augusta 4,000 { 56 Geo. III.
{ 1 Geo. IV.
Princess Sophia 9,000 52 Geo. III.
Princess Sophia 4,000 { 56 Geo. III.
{ 1 Geo. IV.
Prince Leopold 50,000 56 Geo. III.
Princess Sophia of Gloucester 7,000 { 46 Geo. III.
{ 47 Geo. III.
TOTAL £210,000


Windsor Castle.
Expenditure for the building, which has already received the sanction of parliament £594,000 0 0
Additional sum which has been sanctioned for additional works by the report of the select committee in 1830, is 177,000 0 0
For the building 771,000 0 0
Amount already granted for furniture, is £267,000 0 0
Further amount required 13,670 9 2
For furniture 280,670 9 2
The amount which has been already granted for the purchase of land and houses, is 33,500 0 0
TOTAL sum required 1,081,170 9 2
The amount already granted being 891,500 0 0
There is still required 190,670 9 2
On account of which it is proposed to grant in 1831, for the building as recommended by the select committee of 1830 50,000 0 0
To pay the charge already incurred for furniture beyond the grant 3,670 9 2
For furniture required for new rooms 10,000 0 0
63,670 9 2
Leaving to be granted in future years, according to the report of the select committee of 1830 127,000 0 0
Buckingham Palace.
The amount required towards defraying the charge incurred of debt for work done and contracts made prior to the appointment of the select committee in 1831, is 100,000 0 0
Windsor Castle, as above 63,670 9 2
To be granted in 1831 163,670 9 2
Parliamentary Paper, No. 271.

No. VII.: Ancient Payments heretofore charged on the Civil List of England, Ireland, and Scotland, but now payable out of the Consolidated Fund: with Notes on the Origin of some of these Annuities.

The Clerk of the Hanaper (expenses) 2,000 0 0
The Chief Justice in Eyre, North of Trent 2,110 10 6
The Chief Justice in Eyre, South of Trent 2,155 16 10
The Chief Justices in Eyre are to be abolished on the expiration of existing interests.
Master of the Hawks 1,372 10 0
King James II. by Letters Patent, dated 5th July, in the third year of his reign, granted to Charles Duke of St. Alban’s, and the heirs male of his body, the offices of master and keeper of the Hawks of his said Majesty, his heirs and successors, after the decease of Thomas Felter and William Chiffinch, who then held those offices, and with the same allowances as were enjoyed by them, viz. £30 per month of twenty-eight days, and 10s. a day; and, also, £800 per annum, that is, £50 per annum each for four Falconers, and £600 for the provision and maintenance of Hawks; in all, £1,372 : 10s.
£ s. d.
Keeper of the Lions in the Tower, including extra allowance for the maintenance of the animals 435 16 3
The King having presented the Tower Menagerie to the Zoological Society, the public, in future, will be saved the salary of the keeper; also the charge for extra allowance to the animals.
Knight Harbinger (to cease on expiration of the existing interest) 140 13 5
Keeper of the Tennis Courts (to cease on expiration of existing interest) 89 1 3
Keeper of Records, Tower, including Clerks 1,236 5 4
Keeper of Records, Court of Exchequer 851 7 0
Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs of London, for Imposts on Wine 95 16 6
University of Oxford; viz.
For a Preacher perpetuity 8 10 0
Professor of Divinity perpetuity 11 13 8
— Law perpetuity 37 5 0
— Physic perpetuity 37 1 0
— History perpetuity 379 10 0
— Botany perpetuity 189 4 0
University of Cambridge; viz.
On a perpetuity 8 10 0
For a Preacher 8 10 0
Professor of Divinity 11 13 8
— Law 37 1 0
— Physic 37 1 0
— History 379 10 0
— Botany 189 4 0
Emanuel College, Cambridge, perpetuity 14 16 10
These university endowments are royal grants, the earliest instituted by Margaret, countess of Richmond, mother of Henry VII. The professorships of history were established by George I. and the professorships of botany by George III.
Dean and Chapter of Lichfield, perpetuity 6 5 0
Vicar of Lichfield 9 17 3
Master of the Temple 26 3 7
Reader at Hampton Court Chapel 38 1 0
Fellows of Eaton, perpetuity 39 3 8
Dean and Chapter of Westminster, for French Ministers, Savoy 42 9 0
Ministers, Isle of Man 93 19 0
Charles II. by Letters Patent, in the 27th year of his reign, granted an annuity of £100, to be paid for ever, to the poor Ministers of the Isle of Man, out of the Hereditary Excise.
Bishop of Chester, for four Preachers 187 14 0
Queen Elizabeth established four Preachers in the county of Lancaster, to be nominated by the Bishop of Chester for the time being. Letters of Privy Seal have been issued at the commencement of each reign ever since for the payment of £200 per annum to the Bishop of Chester, for the use of these Preachers.
Vicar of the Tower perpetuity 4 1 4
Minister of St. Botolph, Aldgate perpetuity 5 9 0
Churchwardens of St. John the Baptist, for the Poor, perpetuity 6 4 3
Churchwardens of St. Michael, Cornhill for the Poor, perpetuity 10 10 3
Churchwardens of St. Magnus for the Poor, perpetuity 19 1 6
Schoolmaster of Southwell, perpetuity 8 6 6
Corporation of Dartmouth perpetuity 37 1 0
The first grant to this Corporation was dated A.D. 1481; it was for the building of a strong Tower, and for the furnishing and keeping in repair a chain to secure the harbour.
Mayor of Macclesfield 35 1 6
Macclesfield is a Chapelry in the large Parish of Prestbury. The Chapel was built by Edward I. and endowed by Edward VI. with £56 : 6: 8 per annum for ever. James I. in consideration of the smallness of the stipend, added £50 per annum during pleasure. The grant has been renewed at the commencement of each reign, by letter patent, directing £50 yearly to be paid to the Mayor for a “preacher to instruct the people of the town of Macclesfield and the neighbouring villages in the true knowledge of God according to the doctrine of the Church of England.”
Corporation of Lyme Regis 95 19 0
Corporation of Lyme Regis for repairing the Pier 95 19 0
Corporation of Berwick, for repairing a bridge over the Tweed 93 19 0
Christ’s Hospital 360 4 3
College of St. David’s 400 0 0
Representative of Sir John Hynde Cotton, perpetuity 3 19 11
Heirs of Colonel Fairfax perpetuity 71 9 0
A grant of Charles II. dated in 1660, and originally charged on the Custom Duties of Hull.
Heirs of Nicholas Yates, perpetuity 79 11 6
A grant of James II. to Nicholas Yates and his heirs, in consideration of Francis Yates and Margaret his wife, having been particularly instrumental in the preservation of King Charles II. from the hands of the Rebels after the battle of Worcester, and not having received any marks of favour, by reason that the said Francis died soon after the Restoration, leaving his son Nicholas an infant.


*All charges on the Irish Civil List which follow this, expire on the cessation of existing interests.
Clerk of the Crown and Hanaper 886 12 4
Deputy of the Crown and Hanaper 96 4 0
Constable of the Fort of Hillsborough (hereditary)* 216 3 4
Master of the Riding House 200 0 0
Physician to the State 325 2 4
Surgeon to the State 325 2 4
Master and Composer of Music 88 1 0
Deputy and Composer of Music 88 1 0
Attendant on Balls 91 16 4
Kettle Drummer 61 16 4
Serjeant Trumpeter 61 16 4
5 Trumpeters at £17 : 7 each 86 15 0
7 Violins at 17 : 7 each 121 9 0
2 Tenors at 17 : 7 each 34 14 0
2 Hautboys at 17 : 7 each 34 14 0
2 French Horns at 17 : 7 each 34 14 0
4 Bass Viols at 17 : 7 each 69 8 0
Dulcimer 8 9 8
Usher to Council Chamber 266 10 4
House and Wardrobe Keeper, Dublin Castle 535 10 0
Assistant and Wardrobe Keeper, Dublin Castle 132 16 4
Housekeeper of the Phœnix Lodge 39 8 8
Inspector and Director of the Gardens, Phœnix Lodge 39 8 8
The Chief Chamberlain 47 6 0
Chief Serjeant at Arms 92 6 4
Second Serjeant at Arms 354 17 8
Clerk of the Council 1,249 18 4
Compiler of Dublin Gazette 276 18 8
Joint Solicitor in Great Britain 361 7 0
Keeper of Records, Birmingham Tower 461 11 0
Keeper of State Papers 461 11 0
Constable of the Castle of Dublin, including Lodgings 401 11 0
Constable of the Castle of Limerick 336 18 8
Constable of the Castle of Castlemain 184 12 4
Chairman of Committees, late House of Lords 1,332 5 8
3 Messengers, late House of Lords, at £65 : 4 : 8 each 195 14 0
3 Doorkeepers late House of Lords, 65 : 13 each 196 19 0
Housemaid 6 7 4
2 late Masters in Chancery, at £96 : 4 each 192 8 0
Seneschal of his Majesty’s Manors 276 18 8
Customer of Wexford 9 4 8
Customer of Waterford 13 17 0
Searcher of Waterford 6 3 4
Customer of Youghall and Dungarvan 381 11 0
Comptroller of Cork 461 11 0
Comptroller of Kinsale 92 6 4
Customer of Killybegs 92 6 4
Comptroller of Killybegs 92 6 4
Customer of Galway 12 6 4
Customer of Drogheda, Dundalk, and Carlingford 376 3 4
Searcher of Dundalk and Carlingford 4 12 4
Searcher of Carrickfergus 6 3 4
Searcher of Strangford and Donaghadee 929 4 8
Commissioner of the Board of Works 553 17 0
One other of the Board of Works 369 4 8
One other of the Board of Works 369 4 8


His Majesty’s Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1,950 0 0
The Hereditary Usher of the White Rod 242 15 0
Ten Chaplains at £50 each 500 0 0
Six Trumpeters at 16 : 16 : 4 each 100 18 0
Limner 276 10 0
Hereditary Keeper of the Palace of Holyrood House 45 10 0
Under Keeper of the Palace of Holyrood House 50 0 0
The Porter of the said Palace 37 15 6
Under Falconer 50 0 0
First Physician 97 0 0
Second Physician 50 0 0
Apothecary 40 0 0
Clock-maker 16 13 4
Master of the Wardrobe 53 0 0
First Underkeeper of the Wardrobe 37 10 0
Second Underkeeper of Wardrobe 20 0 0
Deputy Keeper of Regalia 300 0 0
Clerk of the Stores 30 0 0
Historiographer 184 0 0
Secretary to the Order of the Thistle 276 10 0
Dean of the Order of the Thistle 50 0 0
Usher to the Order of the Thistle 27 0 0
The Principal Masters and Professors of the University of St. Andrew’s 1,010 0 0
The Principal and Professors of the Marischall College in Aberdeen 1,397 0 0
The University of Glasgow, for their Professors 1,360 0 0
The University of Edinburgh, for the Professors and for the Botanic Garden and Museum 1,819 3 0
The Procurator for the Church, for defraying the charges of Church affairs in Scotland, with the salaries of the Officers 1,100 0 0
Charities and bounties to such indigent and necessitous persons as shall be approved of by the Barons of Exchequer in Scotland, and to be distributed amongst them quarterly; including £120 as salary to the Almoner and Deputies 2,250 0 0
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1,950 0 0
John James Edmonstone, Esq. retired allowance as late Sheriff Depute of the Shire of Bute 138 5 0
King’s Plate, to be run for at Edinburgh 100 0 0
King’s Plate, Royal Company of Archers, or Body Guard 20 0 0
King’s Plate, Caledonian Hunt 100 0 0
For the Clerks of the Auditor, until the office shall be regulated on the cessation of the existing interest 230 0 0



Works of Burke, vol. iii. pp. 277-8.—Speech on Economical Reform.


Parl. Report on the Civil List, Session 1815.—Ordered to be reprinted July 6, 1830.

Ibid. p. 5.


Parl. Report, No. 27, Sess. 1831.


Annual Finance Accounts, Session 1830, p. 134.


Anecdotes of the Life of Bishop Watson, p. 194. This work, with the Memoirs of Sir N. Wraxall, and the admirable Recollections of the Reign of George III. by Mr. Nicholls, comprise valuable materials for forming a true estimate of the public men and measures that distinguished the last century. They have, we believe, been either unnoticed or greatly misrepresented by the reviewers; but this is a point of no great consequence, since Truth is in her nature buoyant and insinuating, and must ultimately triumph over every disadvantage. The monopoly of the press, like every other monopoly opposed to the general welfare, is fast tending to a consummation. The Memoirs of Lord Waldegrave is another useful publication for illustrating the factious nature of the government from the Revolution, and the entire want of public principle in the men who directed it. It is impossible to help commisserating the situation of George the Second, surrounded by venal statesmen, not one of whom would render him the least service without first bargaining for a batch of places and pensions for his relatives and dependents. Even Chatham, with whose name it had been usual to associate better things, appears, from the noble author, to have been no better than his compeers, and ready at any time to sacrifice his public duty to his selfishness and ambition. These repeated disclosures must, at length, convince the most incredulous; and all classes allow that the government, for the last century and a half, has been the prey of mercenary adventurers, whose sole objects were to plunder the people and tyrannize over the monarch.



John Wade, Chap. VII. “The Aristocracy" (1835)

Editing History

  • Item added: 30 Sept. 2016
  • 1st Edit:


John Wade, The Black Book: An Exposition of Abuses in Church and State, Courts of Law, Municipal Corporations, and Public Companies; with a Précis of the House of Commons, Past, present, and to come. A New Edition, greatly enlarged and corrected to the present time. By the Original Editor. With an Appendix (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1835).

  • Chap. VII. “The Aristocracy"
    • Section V. Incomes of the Aristocracy - John Wade, The Black Book: An Exposition of Abuses in Church and State, Courts of Law, Municipal Corporations, and Public Companies; with a Précis of the House of Commons, Past, present, and to come. A New Edition, greatly enlarged and corrected to the present time. By the Original Editor. With an Appendix (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1835). <>.
    • Section VI. “Sources of Aristocratic Monopoly” <>

Editor's Intro




Almost imperceptibly to ourselves, we are drawn through the different departments of our undertaking in heraldic order: first, we explored the Church in all its ramifications; next the revenues of the Monarch; afterwards the monarch’s chief council, and his representatives in the persons of his ambassadors, envoys extraordinary, and ministers plenipotentiary; and now we come to the Aristocracy, which, according to the established rules of precedency, ought to follow the Clergy and the Crown.

Before entering on the more serious details of our present subject, we cannot help pausing a moment, on the threshold, to felicitate ourselves and readers on the triumphs already achieved by the progress of knowledge. Three centuries are only a step in the history of nations, yet, within that period, how many fictions of feudality and priestcraft have been dissipated, and which are now only reverted to as sources of amusement, like the delusions of witchcraft and demonology. Only think of the supremacy of the Clergy, in the fifteenth century, when they enjoyed almost impunity for every crime, by exemption from secular jurisdiction. It strikingly demonstrates the influence of mind over ignorance; for ecclesiastics, at that era, as much excelled the laity in mental attainments as in the magnitude of their possessions. Such pre-eminence is either lost or fast disappearing: in science and information they are manifestly behind other classes of the community; their moral influence is insignificant; the chief advantages they retain are their revenues, and the permanent enjoyment of these not being founded on any claim of right or social utility, public conviction has decreed against them, and the general verdict waits only to be carried into execution,

Among the fictions of Regality the most preposterous was the claim of divine right, which has become too common place a drollery even for mirth. Still it cannot be forgotten, that, so recently as the last of the Stuarts, this dogma had many disciples, and some remains of this singular faith are now to be found. An attempt has been made to erect a new idol in the pretensions of Legitimacy: but, in an age of discussion, imposture cannot long maintain its ground, and this was soon trampled under foot. Previously to the introduction of this idolatry, the English had shown their contempt for hereditary right by the transfer of the crown to the Prince of Orange; the French subsequently by the expulsion of Charles X. and the adoption of Philip I.; and the non-interference of the European powers in the mighty movement of 1830 has put an everlasting seal on this species of secular superstition.

Let us next advert to the fictions of the Third Estate: by some accident the English Aristocracy have contrived to retain a greater proportion of their ancient influence and endowments than any other privileged order of the community. The circumstances to which this may be ascribed appear principally the following. First, the English nobility had the good sense to give up in time a portion of their more revolting usurpations, by which they have been enabled to preserve entire, in a more palmy state of enjoyment and for a longer term, the remainder, than any similar class in Europe. Secondly, at an early period of our annals they obtained a hold on popular support, by aiding the people in resisting the encroachments of the clergy and the prerogatives of the Crown. Lastly, and latterly, the more enlightened portion of them have conciliated the favour of the influential classes by the adoption of liberal principles, and by impressing them with the belief that a conservative principle identifies the immunities of their ‘order’ with the general peace and welfare. Some of these sources of respect and power are manifestly losing ground in popular estimation. For what services the Aristocracy have rendered to civil liberty they have been amply remunerated by the long exercise of the political franchises of the People, by the receipt of enormous rents, and by the absorption of public taxes. The assumption of a community of interest with the People is partly belied by their own legislative acts, in which they obviously consider they have an interest different from that of other classes of society. In short, the time has arrived, when the power and institutions of the privileged orders may be fitly passed in review; they have already conceded many immunities, and it is not improbable the period has arrived when they will be called upon to make further concessions to the spirit of the age.

There was a time, as every body knows, when lords were petty despots on their-domains. They had their dungeon-castles, in which they could, at their own arbitrary will, torture, imprison, and even execute, their fellow-creatures. They could, when it suited their sovereign pleasure, sally forth on the public highways, and, with impunity, rob and maltreat whatever luckless traveller they happened to meet. They had even immunities still more revolting to human feeling. One, it is true, can hardly bring the mind to believe that such monstrous usages as those which gave rise to borough-English and child-wit ever existed; yet that they did is unquestionable, and the memorials of these customs, subsisting in the borough of Stafford, in the county of Essex, and other parts of the kingdom, place the facts beyond dispute. By the former usage the lord claimed the trifling perquisite, on the occasion of a marriage on his estate, of sleeping the first night with the bride; and the latter designates a penalty which a woman had to pay who had suffered herself to be begotten with child without the lord’s permission. Thank heaven our seigneurs have abated something of their ancient privileges; still the bare knowledge that such usages once existed—that they are associated with the name—is sufficient to make the mere titles of lord, baron, and duke, an offence—an insult to human reason—an abomination—which modern and civilized Europe ought no longer to tolerate.

Having adverted to a few of the ancient impostures and usurpations, chiefly to show to what a depth of degradation human nature may be reduced, we shall proceed to illustrate the immunities and advantages enjoyed by the Aristocracy, and which they have been enabled to arrogate and maintain by a monopoly of political power. It is a subject of vast importance, and one, we believe, when fairly placed before our countrymen, about which there will hardly exist diversity of opinion.

In contemplating the English government, one peculiar feature may be remarked in every branch of our civil and ecclesiastical polity: in each branch there is an entire departure from the original object of its institution. In the ecclesiastical state, no such abuse as clerical sinecurists was formerly known; every order had some duties to discharge, for which they received their incomes: but now we find that the episcopal, dignified, and one-third of the parochial clergy receive four or five millions annually, for which it is hard to say any service whatever is rendered to society. The House of Commons, originally intended to represent the property, intelligence, and population of the state, has become the mere organ of the Aristocracy; who, according to the constitution, ought not to have the least influence over its deliberations. The executive, by the delegation of its powers to ministers and judges, exhibits a similar dereliction from civil and military duties: and, lastly, in the House of Peers we find a corresponding abandonment of civil functions; the dukes, earls, and barons had all, formerly, as their names import, important duties to discharge in the commonwealth.

The object of reform is not to destroy the established church, pull down the two houses of parliament, nor invade the rights of the Crown; but to restore, as far as the altered state of society will allow, those different orders to the exercise of their legitimate authority.

Of the different innovations on the ancient system, there is none more flagrant than those of the Aristocracy: it has swallowed up not only the rights of the people, and the prerogatives of the Crown, but also the immunities of the church. At no former period of history was the power of the Aristocracy so absolute, nor did they enjoy a tithe of their present advantages. During the Norman Kings, and the first kings of the house of Plantagenet, down to the passing of Magna Charta, though the power of the Crown, in many instances, proved but a feeble barrier to the encroachments of the barons, yet, when united with the influence of the clergy, it was at all times able to set some bounds to their authority. After the passing of the Great Charter, the growth of manufactures, and the diffusion of knowledge among the people, gave rise to the Commons. This order, unknown to the preceding period, gradually rose into great importance, and ultimately became able not only to prescribe bounds to the Aristocracy, but also to the Monarch. Under the tyranny of the Stuarts, the Commons brought one monarch to the block, and abolished the House of Peers. But its ascendancy was of short duration. The return of Charles II.—the restoration of the rotten boroughs, which had been struck out of the representation during the protectorship of Cromwell, to the right of returning members of parliament,—the introduction of parliamentary corruption in the reign of Charles II.—more systematically and openly practised under William III. and perfected under the administration of Walpole, in the reign of George II.—completely annihilated the powers of the Commons, and gave to the Aristocracy its uncontrolled and irresponsible ascendancy.

Having obtained the power, the Aristocracy have exercised it as uncontrolled power usually is exercised, namely, solely for their own advantage: they have rid themselves of what duties were anciently annexed to their order, and monopolized nearly all the honours and emoluments of society.

The ancient nobility had not only to provide a sufficient military force for the defence of the kingdom, but they had also the administration of justice, the coining of money, and, in short, the whole internal government of the country committed to their care.* On such conditions, their estates were originally granted: these they retain; but as to the duties annexed, they have placed them on the shoulders of the other classes of the community. It is the Commons now, who either discharge, or pay for being discharged, all the duties of the state. If we only examine the list of taxes, as we shortly intend to do, we shall find that the aristocracy have, comparatively, exempted themselves from impost, while the burthen falls exclusively on the people. The duties imposed by the corn-laws are a tax paid directly for the support of this order; while, with the exception of the land-tax, a trifling impost, all other duties, the assessed taxes, excise, customs, stamps, post-office duties, fall with disproportionate weight on the middling and working classes, and scarcely touch the massive incomes of the nobility.

This is one of the great evils resulting from the political supremacy of the peerage. Instead of bearing the burthen of taxation, which, in fact, is the original tenure on which they acquired their territorial possessions, they have laid it on the people. Nothing can be more unjust and oppressive. The comforts of one class ought never to be encroached upon, while another class remains in the enjoyment of redundant luxuries. It is the legitimate object of good government to prevent the extremes of wealth and indigence, and diffuse equally, through all classes, the bounties of nature. But the aristocratic system is the reverse of this principle. It weighs chiefly on want and penury; it tramples on those already depressed; and crushes, almost to annihilation, the most useful classes by its unceasing exactions.

It is not our purpose to investigate the utility and origin of an hereditary privileged class. It is, no doubt, a questionable hypothesis—not supported at least by the cotemporary illustration of many noble families—that wisdom and fitness for the administration of national affairs are inheritable endowments. Besides which, men seldom take pains to cultivate superfluous acquirements: consequently, it is a strong objection to hereditary honours, that those born to them have no necessity for cultivating the virtues by which, perhaps, they were originally acquired. A principal motive for the institution of hereditary right has ceased to be of weight. Originally it was intended to guard against disputed succession, and prevent the division of powers essential to the security of communities and property. But the introduction of the representative principle in governments, the more general diffusion of intelligence, of habits of order, of respect for individual claims, has rendered these precautions no longer essential to the maintenance of social institutions. Leaving, however, the general discussion of the question, we shall proceed to notice, categorically, the real and practical grievances entailed on the commons of England by the advantages and immunities of the Aristocracy.


For the last ten years a great deal has been written and said, and justly too, on the evils of monopolies; but hardly any one has touched upon the monopoly of land. Many, even of the Aristocracy, have been zealous and persevering in their endeavours to establish unrestricted freedom in commerce; they perceived the advantages of liberty in the exchange of commodities, but they have been indifferent or silent on the advantages of liberty in the exchange of the soil. Yet, what is the right of primogeniture and the law of entail, but a monopoly as grievous and pernicious as that of the Bank of England and East India Company? What right had an assembly of half-civilized men, some five hundred years ago, to tie up the great estates of the country in perpetuity; to enact that, whatever changes of society might intervene, they should never be subdivided, nor severed from their lineal heirs as long as they endured? Was not this creating a monopoly? Did it not interpose insuperable obstacles to the sale and division of property—keep up the price of land to an artificial height—impede fair competition—limit the market of buyers—and impose restrictions on the freedom of those who might be disposed to sell?

Moreover, the statute De donis, or of “Great Men,” as it is frequently called, perpetuated a landed interest; that is, an order of men with interests distinct from those of the community, and who, armed with the power of the state, have been able to treat with special favor their peculiar class, by imposing upon it lighter burthens, by protecting it from competition, and other expedients which tended directly to their own greatness and emolument by the sacrifice of the general welfare.

The motives which originated this feudal institution, as before observed, have, in great part, ceased to exist. In the disorderly era of Edward I. the right of the first-born to the undivided possession of his ancestor was a law of peace; and, by consolidating indisputably the power which the entire property gave in the hands of a single person, it was a law of security. To divide the inheritance was to ruin it, and to expose the dwellers upon it, who depended on the proprietor for protection, to be oppressed and swallowed up in the desolating incursions of neighbouring and ferocious rivals. In the existing state of society no such pretexts can be urged. The poor as well as the rich enjoy personal security, and the owner of a single acre of land is as secure in the enjoyment as the owner of 100,000. The right of primogeniture, however, still subsists; and as, of all institutions, it is the most adapted to flatter the pride of great families, it will be tenaciously upheld by the Aristocracy. In other respects it is an unmixed evil; it is even injurious to the real interests of the landowners; for nothing can be more contrary to the welfare of a numerous family than a right which, in order “to enrich one, beggars all the rest of the children;” and reduces them to the alternative of obtaining subsistence either as mendicants or depredators on the bounty and involuntary contributions of the community.

The same reasoning applies to entails, which are the natural consequence of primogeniture. They were introduced to preserve the lineal succession of which primogeniture first gave the idea, and to hinder any part of the original patrimony from being conveyed out of the proposed line, either by gift, devise, or alienation, either by the folly or by the misfortune of any of its successive possessors. When great landed estates were a sort of principality, such curtailed inheritances might not be indefensible. Like what are called the fundamental laws of some communities, they might frequently hinder the security of thousands from being endangered by the incapacity or extravagance of one man. But, in the existing state of Europe, when property is so well secured, when small as well as great estates derive their security from inviolable laws, nothing can be more absurd than such defensive restrictions. They are founded upon the most absurd of all suppositions, the supposition that every successive generation of men have not an equal right to the earth and to all that it contains; but that the property of the present generation should be fettered and regulated by barbarians who died centuries ago. Entails, however, are still respected in England; and it is only in particular cases, by means of legal fictions, prompted by the spirit of commerce, and new views of social expediency, that estates tied up by them can be alienated.* They are deemed essential to the maintenance of the monopoly of the aristocracy in the enjoyment of political power, honour, dignities, and offices; having usurped many advantages over their fellow citizens, lest their poverty should render them ridiculous, it is thought reasonable that they should have others. It is, however, an oppressive and indefensible grievance. In the present state of society there is no utility in guaranteeing to particular families the perpetual enjoyment of vast masses of property—that this property shall not be liable to the ordinary vicissitudes of life—that it shall not, like personal estates, either be deviseable or saleable—and that all, except members of the privileged order, shall be irrevocably interdicted from ever becoming proprietors of the soil—of that soil which is the common inheritance of the whole community.

Other evils result from this feudal institution. Primogeniture enriches one, and leaves all the other members of a family destitute. Hence they are thrown, like mendicants, on the public for support; but they are unlike mendicants in this—that the public has no option, whether they will support them or not. The Aristocracy, usurping the power of the state, have the means under various pretexts, of extorting, for the junior branches of their families, a forced subsistence. They patronize a ponderous and sinecure church-establishment; they wage long and unnecessary wars, to create employments in the army and navy; they conquer and retain useless colonies; they set on foot expensive missions of diplomacy, and keep an ambassdor or consul, and often both, at almost every petty state and every petty port in the world; they create offices without duties, grant unmerited pensions, keep up unnecessary places in the royal household, in the admiralty, the treasury, the customs, excise, courts of law, and every department of the public administration: by these and other expedients, the junior as well as elder branches of the great families are amply provided for out of the taxes. They live in profusion and luxury; and those by whom they are maintained alone subsist in indigence and privation.

It is only in the less civilized states of Europe, in Hungary, Bohemia, Poland and Russia, that primogeniture is retained. Countries enjoying the benefits of political regeneration have abolished this remnant of feudality, and introduced the law of equal partibility. The happy effects of this reform are visible in the condition of France and the Netherlands; in the greater harmony subsisting among the different classes of society—in the absence of the miserable jealousy and exclusiveness that embitter domestic intercourse in England—in the public spirit, unanimity, and personal independence of the inhabitants, produced, no doubt, by a conviction of common interests, reciprocal obligations, and equal participation in all the advantages and enjoyments of the social state.


There are other laws originating in the same aristocratic spirit, and directed to the maintenance of similar exclusive privileges, as those described in the last section. Such are the Insolvent Laws. Lest the dignity of a peer should be violated, his person is privileged from arrest for debt. Why should this be tolerated? He is not ostensibly entrusted with representative functions, like the members of the lower house. He represents only himself, with the exception of the sixteen peers of Scotland and the twenty-eight peers of Ireland. Why, then, should his person be protected from imprisonment, if he is so inexcusably improvident, with all the advantages he enjoys, as to incur debts he cannot pay? A Scotch peer, though not one of those sitting in parliament, is privileged from arrest, as appears from the case of Lord Mordington. This lord, who was a Scotch peer, but not one of those who sat in parliament, being arrested, moved the Court of Common Pleas to be discharged, as being entitled, by the Act of Union, to all the privileges of a peer of Great Britain; and prayed an attachment against the bailiff; when a rule was granted to show cause. Upon this, the bailiff made an affidavit, that when he arrested the said lord he was so mean in his apparel, as having a worn-out suit of clothes, and a dirty shirt on, and but sixteen-pence in his pocket, he could not suppose him to be a peer of Great Britain, and, therefore, through inadvertency, arrested him. The Court discharged the lord, and made the bailiff ask pardon.

A peer, sitting in judgment, is not required to give his verdict upon oath, like a commoner, but upon his honour. What a stigma on the other classes of the community! Just as if a peer alone had honour, and all others were base perfidious slaves, from whom truth could only be extorted when they had been forced into the presence of their Creator.

A member of the lower house is the deputy or representative of others, and cannot delegate his powers; but a peer represents only himself, and may vote by proxy on any question, even though he has never been present to discuss its merits.

If a thief breaks into a church, and steals the surplice or cushion, it is not like stealing a ledger or cash-box from a shop or counting-house—it is sacrilege. If a man scandalizes a peer by speaking evil of him, it is not common scandal, it is scandalum magnatum, that is, great scandal, subjecting the offender to indefinite punishment.

If a peer job in the funds, as many of them do; or if he get up bubble companies, as some of them have done, to dupe credulous people; and if he involve himself in debt by these fraudulent practices, you cannot imprison him to enforce payment; neither can you make him a bankrupt, and sequestrate his estates. The property of a peer, like his person, has a dignity about it, and must not be violated. You may knock down Nathan Rothschild, though he is a very rich man, or a worshipful alderman, or even a right honourable lord mayor, and the justices will only charge you a few shillings for the liberty you have taken; but if you knock down a peer, though he is ever so insolent, it is almost as bad as murder.

Peers being great landowners, therefore land, as well as their persons, enjoys immunities which do not attach to chattel property. A noble lord may run into as much debt as he pleases, and then, with impunity, defraud all his creditors. He may live in the utmost profusion; he may borrow money to support his extravagance, or for providing portions for younger children, making the most solemn promises, or even giving his written engagement to repay it; or he may raise loans, and with these loans buy houses and land, and when he dies leave the houses and land purchased with this borrowed money to whom he pleases: and in all these cases the lenders who have trusted to the honour of a peer have no power to touch a shilling worth of his real estates.

These are a few of the privileges of peers; we shall proceed to illustrate other results of aristocratic legislation.


Nothing can demonstrate more incontestibly the necessity of the different interests in society being represented in the general government than the course of fiscal legislation. The political power of the state, we need not repeat nor explain, is in this country consolidated in the aristocracy. If we only glance at public burthens we shall see with what admirable adroitness they have been distributed, so as to press as lightly as possible on those who imposed them, and with disproportionate weight on those who had no share in their imposition. Does not this show better than all the general reasoning in the world the utility of universal representation; otherwise, whatever interest is unprotected will assuredly be sacrificed, and this injustice will be perpetrated by the dominant party, however exalted this dominant party may be by birth, by station, by education, by wealth, or other adventitious circumstance.

Let us appeal to facts in illustration of this principle. The landed interest is the primary interest of the Aristocracy; whatever tends to enhance the value of land or its produce tends directly to augment their incomes. Hence, their leading policy has been to protect agriculture, to encourage husbandry, by abstaining from burthening it with imposts, to impose no additional tax on land, and above all things to secure the home market against competition from abroad. For this latter purpose they have passed laws the most unjust and outrageous; the importation of some articles they have absolutely prohibited; others they have loaded with heavy duties; so that they have been able to sell their own produce at a monopoly price.

The following list of articles of foreign production, and the import duties to which they are subject, will show to what extent the landowners have availed themselves of political power to promote their own interests, by excluding foreign competition.

£ s. d.
Bacon, per cwt. 1 8 0
Beer, per thirty-two gallons 2 13 0
Butter, per cwt. 1 0 0
Bristles, not sorted, per lb. 0 0 3
Bristles, sorted 0 0 4
Cider, per ton 21 10 4
Cheese, per cwt. 0 10 6
Cucumbers, ad valorem 20 0 0
Eggs, for every 120 0 0 10
Hay, per load 1 4 0
Hair, cows and oxen, per cwt. 0 2 6
Hair-powder, per cwt. 9 15 0
Hops, per cwt. 8 11 0
Hemp-seed, per quarter 2 0 0
Hemp, undressed, per cwt. 0 4 6
Lard, per cwt. 0 8 6
Madder, per cwt. 0 6 0
Mules and asses, each 0 10 6
Horses, each 1 0 0
Oil, rape and linseed, per ton 39 18 0
Peas, per bushel 0 7 6
Perry, per ton 22 13 8
Potatoes, per cwt. 0 2 0
Seeds, clover, hay, &c. 1 0 0
Spirits, foreign, per gallon (I. M.) 1 2 6
Rum, per gallon 0 8 6
Tallow, per cwt. 0 3 2
Tares, per quarter 0 10 0
Timber, per load 2 15 0

Wheat 16s. 5d. a quarter to 1s. according as the price rises from 61s. to 70s. a quarter.

Barley 13s. 10d. a quarter to 1s. according as the price rises, from 32s. to 40s. a quarter.

Oats 10s. 9d. a quarter to 1s. according as the price rises from 24s. to 31s. a quarter.

Beef, lamb, mutton, pork, sheep, and swine are prohibited to be imported, by 6 Geo. IV. c. 117.

While the landowners have been strenuously exerting themselves to close, hermetically, if possible, the home market against foreign agricultural produce, they have, with admirable consistency of policy, been at the same time endeavouring to throw it wide open for the admission of foreign manufactures. This places their conduct in a most conspicuous light. Surely, if a free trade in manufactures was for the benefit of the community, so was a free trade in the produce of the soil. But, then, our feudal Solons do not deal in cotton, nor silk, nor hardwares; they are only dealers in corn, and that makes all the difference. The working and effects of this abominable system has been justly and spiritedly versified in the following lines:—

    • Ye coop us up and tax our bread,
    • And wonder why we pine;
    • But ye’re fat, and round, and red,
    • And fill’d with tax-bought wine.
    • Thus twelve rats starve, while three rats thrive,
    • (Like you on mine and me);
    • When fifteen rats are caged alive
    • With food for nine and three.
    • Haste! havoc’s torch begins to glow,
    • The ending is begun;
    • Make haste! destruction thinks ye slow;
    • Make haste to be undone!
    • Why are ye call’d ‘my Lord’ and ‘Squire,’
    • While fed by mine and me:
    • And wringing food, and clothes, and fire
    • From bread-tax’d misery?
    • Make haste, slow rogues, prohibit trade,
    • Prohibit honest gain;
    • Turn all the good that God hath made
    • To fear, and hate, and pain.
    • Till beggars all—assassins all,
    • All cannibals we be;
    • And death shall have no funeral
    • From shipless sea to sea.
    • Corn-Law Rhymes.

It is not a difficult problem to ascertain the annual burthen imposed on the community by the corn-tax. It appears, from the resolutions submitted to the House of Commons by Lord Milton, that the average price of wheat in this country, in the year ending February 1830, had been 64s. 2d. per quarter. The average price on the Continent and in America, during the same period, had been 46s. 3d. per quarter. Now, if there were no restrictions on the importation of corn, the price in England would be nearly the same as in Poland or in the United States; but, in consequence of the boroughmongers’ tax, the price is about 20s. per quarter higher: so that, if the annual consumption of corn by the community be 48 millions of quarters, they pay exactly so many pounds additional, in order to swell the rents of the landowners.*

A tax upon bread is the most oppressive and unjust that could be imposed on the industrious classes. A man with £50 a-year consumes, individually, as much bread as a man with £50,000, and consequently sustains as great an annual loss by the artificial enhancement of its price. All taxes on articles of ordinary consumption fall in the same disproportionate manner. They are like a fixed per-centage on income, levied indiscriminately on every person, without regard to large or small revenues. Sugar, tea, and malt are articles of general use; and the labourer and artisan contribute exactly in the same proportion as a lord on their individual consumption of those commodities. In fact, it is to duties of this description the Aristocracy have always shown a marked partiality; the excise, it is known, being the most productive branch of the revenue. Mr. Pitt used to say that the high price of labour in England arose chiefly from the excise; three-fifths of the wages of a poor man passing into the exchequer. But no such proportion of the incomes of the Aristocracy flows into the public treasury.

Yet it is the incomes of the landed interest, as we shall briefly illustrate, which form the most legitimate and unexceptionable fund for taxation. A person who employs himself in making a pair of shoes or inexpressibles adds nothing to the value of the leather or cloth beyond the price of his labour. Land, however, is a more profitable material to work upon; yielding not only a produce adequate to defray the expenses of its culture, but also a surplus; and this surplus constitutes the landlord’s rent. But the soil of every country belongs to the people; consequently, the rent or surplus revenue it yields is not so much the property of a particular class of individuals as of the whole community. It follows that the landowners are only so many pensioners or sinecurists, paid out of a revenue which originally constituted the sole fund out of which all the exigencies of state were provided. Instead of the “Lords of the Soil” taxing every article we eat and drink, and impeding, with vexatious imposts, every operation of industry, they ought to have laid a direct tax on rent, which would have been easily and economically collected. They have acted quite the reverse. The Land-Tax continues to be levied at this day according to the defective valuation in the reign of William III.; and, in 1798, it was made perpetual at 4s. in the pound on the inadequate estimate of the rental at the Revolution. In France the foncier, or land-tax, amounts to one-fourth of the whole annual revenue;* in England it does not amount to a sixtieth part. The proportion of our excise, customs, and assessed taxes to similar taxes in France, is as forty-five to twenty; while the proportion of the public revenue of the former to that of the latter is as three to two.

Need we say any thing further to illustrate the tendency of aristocratic taxation, or the selfish purposes to which the political power of the Oligarchy has been perverted? Yes, we shall briefly add a few more facts.

When the income-tax was imposed, or rather when it was screwed up by the Whigs, in 1806, lands and tenements were assessed at 2s. in the pound. Precisely the same assessment was laid on incomes arising from professions, trade, or other vocation. Thus was as heavy a tax levied on revenue not worth five years’ purchase as on revenue worth thirty years’ purchase; in other words, the tax was six times heavier on the industrious than on the unproductive classes of the community. A merchant, attorney, tradesman, or shopkeeper, whose income depended entirely on his personal exertions—which ceased at his death—and by savings from which he could alone make a provision for his children after his decease, was taxed six times to the amount of the landowner, by whom the burthen was imposed—whose property was entailed, and protected from all liability for debts however extravagantly incurred.

If the Boroughmongers ever charge themselves with any burthens, they are always prompt to get rid of them the first opportunity, though they touch them ever so lightly, and have been rendered necessary by their own infatuated measures. Thus, immediately after the peace, before any reduction in the public establishments, or in the amount of the monstrous debt they had contracted, the income-tax was abolished. Again, the duty on horses employed in husbandry has been long since repealed, but the malt-tax is still continued, and the beer-duty—the most unfair and oppressive of all duties—was only repealed within these two years.

From some duties the peerage is exempted altogether. A lord of parliament sends and receives all letters free of postage; he usually franks the letters of all his relatives and friends; he enjoys, also, the privilege of sending a letter from London by the post on Sunday—a sort of sabbath-breaking which would be considered impiety or perhaps blasphemy in another person.

It would be tedious to go through the whole roll of taxes, to show how indulgent our legislators have been to themselves and how unjust towards the rest of the community. If a lord by inheritance succeed to an estate worth £100,000, he has not a shilling to pay to government. If a rich merchant dies, and bequeaths as much to his children, they are taxed to the amount of £1500, or, if there is no will, to the amount of £2250. If a poor man buy a cottage for £10, he has 10s. or one-twentieth part of the purchase-money, to pay for a conveyance. If a nobleman buy an estate worth £50,000, the stamp-duty is only one-hundred-and-eleventh part of the purchase-money, or £450. A similarly unequal tax is incurred in borrowing small sums on bond or mortgage, while special favour is shown to those who borrow large sums. If a man has eight windows in his house he is assessed 16s. 6d.; if he has one more he is charged 4s. 6d. for it. If a lord has 180 windows he is charged £46 : 11 : 3; and if he has one more he is charged only 1s. 6d.; and he may have as many more additional windows as he pleases at the same low rate of assessment. If a poor man’s horse, or his ass, pass through a toll-bar there is something to pay, of course; but if a lord’s horse pass through, provided it is employed on the lord’s land, there is nothing to pay. If a cart pass through a toll-bar, loaded with furniture or merchandize, there is something to pay for the cart, and something extra to pay according as the wheels are broad or narrow; but if the cart is loaded with manure for his lordship’s estate, the cart is free, and the wheels may be any breadth the owner pleases without liability to extra charges. If a stage-coach, or hackney-carriage, which a tradesman sometimes indulges in, pass through a turnpike, it must pay toll every time it passes; but the carriage of a lord or gentleman may pass through 100 times a day, if he please, for once paying. The tax on a nobleman’s carriage is, per year, six pounds; the tax on a glass-coach, which a poor man keeps to get a living by, and which is hired by those who cannot afford to keep a carriage, is, per year, about £160; the tax on a stage-coach, which is paid by those who cannot afford to hire even a glass-coach, is, per year, about £260. A Paddington stage, running every hour, pays, daily, for mile-duty, 12s.; while some stages run more than 100 miles daily; if 100 miles, then the daily mile duty is 25s., which must all be paid by the passengers who cannot ride in their own carriages, which travel without duty. Riding or walking, eating or drinking, there is inequality. If a poor person refreshes himself with a glass of spirits (though beer would be better for his health and pocket) he is taxed seventy per cent; but if he takes a glass of wine, which is a lord’s drink, he is only taxed seventeen per cent. Lords do not smoke, though they sometimes chew, therefore a pipe of tobacco, which is a poor man’s luxury, is taxed 900 per cent. If a poor servant-girl advertises for a place of all work, she is taxed 3s. 6d.; if a lord advertises the sale of an estate he pays no more. The house-tax falls heavily on the industrious tradesman, but lightly on the lord and esquire; the former must reside in town, and occupy spacious premises, which make his rent large, and the tax being proportionate, it deducts materially from income, while the latter may reside in the country, occupy a fine mansion, and not be rented more than £50 per annum. Lastly, lords, sinecurists, pensioners, and gentlemen may retire to Paris, Florence, or Brussels, for any thing they have to do, or any good they are capable of doing, by which they avoid house-tax, window-tax, and almost every other tax; but the tradesman and shopkeeper are adscriptæ glebæ,—they must stick to their counting-houses and warehouses, and expiate, by toil and frugality, the follies and extravagance of their rulers.

These are a few specimens of our fiscal regulations, and must, we imagine, demonstrate, practically, to merchants, copyholders, shopkeepers, tradesmen, and the middling and working orders generally, the advantages of having a friend at court—that is, of having political rights—that is, of having real representatives—that is, of not being taxed without their consent—that is, of having a reform in the Commons House of Parliament, instead of leaving public affairs to the exclusive management of noble lords and their nominees.


A salmon from the pool, a wand from the wood, and a deer from the hills, are thefts which no man was ever ashamed to own.

Fielding’s Proverbs.

We learn from this old Gaelic apophthegm,—the sentiment is very ancient,—that an exclusive right to game and other feræ naturæ does not rest on the same basis as property. Mankind will not be easily convinced that stealing a hare or partridge is as criminal as stealing a man’s purse. While this continues the popular feeling, it is vain to multiply acts for the preservation of game. Laws, to be efficacious, should be in accordance with public opinion; if not, they only disturb the peace of society, excite ill-blood and contention, and multiply instead of diminishing offences.

Since the preceding edition of this work was printed in 1831, the legislature, by the Game Act of last session, has torn out one of the leaves of The Black Book: we then declared that, for this single object—that of getting rid of the demoralizing, detestable, ferocious, and preposterous game code; we said “for this one object alone, without adverting to the church, the rotten boroughs, the dead weight, or other national grievance; only to sweep away this one national stigma would be well worth the three days’ fight of the Parisians, or even the four days’ battle of the Belgians.” Our declarations may have hastened the abatement of one of the most insolent oppressions ever exercised over a civilized people, and accelerated the introduction of the new measure by which qualifications to kill game are abolished, and game is allowed to be sold like other commodities, by taking out a license. These concessions have removed the chief objects of our former animadversion, and, therefore, what we have to say will be rather for the benefit of the next than of the present generation; our purpose will be to place on record a specimen of the revolting tyranny exercised over the people of England by an usurping Oligarchy even to the last days of its existence.

Be it known then that the Boroughmongers, down to the twelfth hour of their reign, persisted in claiming for game greater protection than had ever been awarded to property; they persisted in having it considered as something more inviolate and sacred than household goods; they arbitrarily fixed on certain fowls of the air and beasts of the field, and these, in their sovereign pleasure, they decreed should be endowed with peculiar privileges distinct from all others; in a word, that they should be aristocrats like themselves, and it should be highly criminal in any base-born man to kill them, or eat them, or buy them, or sell them, or carry them, or even to have them in his possession, or to have in his possession any engine or instrument by which the dear and favoured creatures might be slain, maimed, or injured. In pursuance of these lordly whims they framed a code of laws to which we will venture to say, in subtlety and refinement of insult, nothing equal could be found in the records of the vilest despotism ever established to experiment on the limits of human endurance; we will venture to say that, in no other country in the world, with the least pretence to freedom and civilization, was there to be found a body of laws so partial, so repugnant to the common sense and subversive of the common rights of mankind, as the game laws of the English aristocracy!

To enforce their haughty immunities the Boroughmongers fixed on certain fantastic conceits, which they called qualifications to kill game. These qualifications were not founded on any rational consideration of wealth, intelligence, or social usefulness. A rich merchant or manufacturer had no right to kill game; his warehouses might be filled with valuable merchandize; he might give employment to thousands of people, as some of them do in the North, yet he had no privilege to meddle with the aristocrats of the air nor of the field! His wealth was base—it was not feudal, it had not been acquired by war, plunder, and confiscation, and did not qualify to spring woodcocks, no, nor even to pop at a snipe, nor a teal, nor a quail, nor a land-rail. A parson, however, who had a living worth £150 per annum, though his estate was only for life, might kill as much game as he pleased.

But the sages of the King’s Bench (blessed be their names!) were more indulgent than the boroughmongering parliament: they determined that even plebeians should have a little sport, and accordingly ruled that a qualified person might take out a tradesman, stock-broker, clothier, attorney, surgeon, or other inferior person to beat the bushes, and see a hare killed, and he should not be liable to penalty. But beware of the man-traps and spring-guns of the law; if any of the aforesaid ignoble beings ventured to meddle, without first being invited by a lord or gentleman so to do, he was fined, or else imprisoned in the House of Correction.* Ah, these boroughmongers, how they have stabbed us! how they have kicked us! how they have laughed at us!

Although an unqualified man was not allowed to kill game, it might be thought, by a rational mind, he would be permitted to buy it of those who were. No, he was not. What, the lords of the soil become dealers and chapmen! degrade grouse and black-cock into mere commodities of traffic, like broad cloth and calico! Impossible! Therefore they passed laws that game should neither be bought nor sold; that higglers, victuallers, poulterers, pastry-cooks, and other mean persons should not carry it, nor have it in possession, nor should any unqualified person have in his possession any deadly or dangerous weapon for its injury or destruction. If an unqualified person were suspected—barely suspected, mind—of having game, or any dog, gun, or snare for killing or wounding it, his house might be searched, and if any net or snare, pheasant, partridge, fish, fowl, or other game were found, the offender might be forthwith carried before a justice and fined, or sent to the House of Correction, and there whipped and kept to hard labour. If a man only happened to spoil or tread on the egg of a partridge, pheasant, mallard, teal, bittern, or heron, he was fined or imprisoned. But if he went forth in the night for the third time, with the full intent of catching an aristocrat bird, a coney, or other game, he was transported beyond the seas for seven years, or imprisoned, and kept to hard labour, in the House of Correction for two years; and if he ran away in order to avoid this merciful infliction, or resisted the land-owner or his servants, either with club, stick, or stone, rather than be apprehended, he was guilty of a misdemeanour, subjecting him either to transportation or imprisonment.

Now, mark the commentary afforded by the Nimrods themselves on these arrogant and savage enactments. Within very few years three parliamentary committees were appointed to inquire into the state and administration of the game-laws; the results of their inquiries were—that poaching could not be prevented—that buying and selling game could not be prevented—that the game-laws were the fruitful sources of crime and immorality, and filled the gaols with delinquents,* and that the only means of remedying the evils were by allowing game to be openly sold like other commodities, and by altering the qualifications, so that every owner of land might not only have the liberty to kill game on his own estate, but be empowered to grant a similar indulgence to any other individual. Instead of acting on the knowledge so communicated, or the suggestions recommended; instead of repealing the laws which were the sole cause of game being so highly prized, and of the deadly nocturnal encounters between keepers and poachers; instead of doing any of these, the only measures that were carried—and which, by the by, still remain in force—were the 7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 29, and the 9 Geo. IV. c. 69, which greatly augmented the sanguinary character of a code already too ferocious, and the everlasting opprobrium of the misnamed free and enlightened community by which it was tolerated.

But observe what was disclosed respecting the sale of game, about which the descendants of the Normans appeared so extremely fastidious. From the inquiries of the committee of the House of Lords, in 1828, it was discovered that game was a regular article for sale in all the principal markets of the metropolis: the penalties, indeed, which were imposed on the traffic were easily evaded; since, by one sapient and moral act of our legislators, the 58 Geo. III. if a person, who had incurred them to any amount, would only inform of some other person who had bought or sold game within the preceding six months, his penalties were remitted and he received the informer’s reward, for this neighbourly, and, as it was often practised, friendly treachery. One salesman sold, on the average, 500 head of game in a week; in one year he sold 9628 head of game. The sale was mostly on commission, at two-pence or three-pence a head. It naturally excited surprise how all these waggon loads of game could be conveyed to London, and by whom supplied. The poor labourer, mason, or weaver, who perilled his life, his limbs, and his health, in the covert attempt to catch a hare or partridge, could not possibly be adequate to support a commerce like this. No, it was not done by poaching exactly; the wholesale dealers were the law-makers themselves—those who had interdicted the traffic—noble lords and men of title, who had condescended to supply the London poulterers and salesmen with game, on commission, as a means of augmenting their territorial revenues.

This perhaps is enough by way of record of the proceedings of the boroughmongers and their game laws, which Mr. Justice Blackstone denominated a “bastard slip of the forest laws.” But the fact is, they were a refinement in insult on the savage code of William Rufus. The territorial jurisdiction of the forest-laws, though extensive enough in all conscience, had its local boundaries; at least, it did not extinguish the old common-law right every proprietor exercised to kill and have all animals, feræ naturæ, found on his own land. These inroads on the most obvious rights of property and the common sense of mankind, were left for a much more recent period,—a period subsequent to the glorious Revolution of 1688: for, though the Qualification Act was passed in the reign of Charles II. the statutes which first made it penal to sell game, or for an unqualified person to have game in his possession, were not passed till the reigns of William III. and George II.


We are not partizans of Agrarian laws, and we believe the number of political reformers of any sect is extremely diminutive who wish to see or who ever expect to see a Spencean division of property. Industry, perseverance, sobriety, and prudence will mostly acquire wealth, and deserve to acquire it, and to enjoy it, and to transmit the enjoyment, after death, to those they most esteem. These are elements of society which few, indeed, would ever wish to see violated. They are primary laws of social organization, of which every one almost instinctively feels the justice and utility.

Neither are there many, we apprehend, who wish to abolish civil distinctions. A legislator sufficiently wise and experienced to discharge his high functions; a judge or magistrate qualified by probity and learning to adjudicate civil and criminal wrongs; a great public officer meriting and filling a high civil appointment; or a great commander, able and brave, to direct the military power of the state: these are all distinctions which every one must respect and venerate; and if it be necessary to distinguish the holders by other symbols than the official titles—by a velvet cap, a coronet, or ermined robe, with two, three, or four guards, or a golden epaulette—they will respect and venerate these too. Nay, there are not many, we believe, who care because there is “my lord” this, or “his grace” of that, or the “most noble” t’ other thing; these are not matters of pith and moment—they are too childish, we would hope, either to mislead the beholder, or corrupt the possessor.

It is not civil distinctions, but the nuisance of civil usurpations the just and enlightened wish to see abated. An aristocracy of office, of acquirement, and desert, is a natural aristocracy; but an aristocracy of birth is a feudal barbarism which honours the shadow in place of the substance, and dissevers merit from its just reward. Hereditary right to property we can comprehend, but hereditary right to be legislators, bishops, post-captains, military commanders, and secretaries of state, shocks common sense. One is a private immunity, transmissible from father to son; the other are public functions, which can never be alienated to any order of men; they belong to the living, and cannot be bequeathed and regulated by the dead; they are adjuncts to the present not to a past generation.

The claims of property are so self-evident, and have formed, in all ages and in all places, (Sparta alone perhaps excepted,) so inseparable an adjunct to the social state, that one would have thought their utility would never have been called in question. Yet it is a fact—and it has not escaped the observant attention of the Editor of the Morning Chronicle—that there are many in both France and England who dispute the advantages of so old fashioned an institution. The followers of St. Simon and Mr. Owen are deeply impressed with the evils resulting from the individual or competitive system, and to escape them would fly to remedies by which they would be augmented a hundred fold. Crime, penury, and ignorance exist to a frightful extent; they have always existed—but evils which are now partial would, under the proposed “New State of Society,” become universal. Without the stimulus of property there could be no industry—no eminence moral or intellectual. Who would sedulously devote themselves to the useful arts, to agriculture, manufacture, medicine, or navigation, if superior application, superior enterprize, or superior endowments were not rewarded?

For competition Mr. Owen would substitute co-operation. But do not the several classes of society already co-operate to the common advantage of all? One class is occupied in rural industry, another in manufactures and commerce, another in science and letters. Each is rewarded—not always perhaps, but mostly—in proportion to desert: but the claims of merit would not be recognized under Mr. Owen’s system; the indolent would reap the rewards of the industrious, the vicious of the more deserving. This is not co-operation, it is corporation, the principle of the old monastic institutions and commercial monopolies—associations of whose stagnating, debasing, and injurious tendency the world has already had sufficient experience.

We always respect the motives of men whom we see constantly devoting their means and energies to the good of mankind, and should, therefore, regret to utter any thing harshly of Robert Owen. There is at all events no imposture about him: his propositions are brought openly forward, and he challenges inquiry and discussion: submitted to such a test, good may result from them, but they cannot possibly be productive of lasting evil. There is one suggestion we cannot help offering to this gentleman,—namely, that if he were to aim at less, he would accomplish more. The idea of abrogating the empire of the laws, of abolishing the right of property, and of resolving old communities into little bartering co-operative societies, are projects too wild and puerile to be thought of a moment. But, if in lieu of these, Mr. Owen would endeavour to improve the system of education throughout the country by impressing on parents and teachers, more strongly than it now is, the vast influence of external circumstances in the formation of the juvenile character, some good might result from his zealous exertions.

We have thought it advisable to preface this section, by glancing at some of the novel opinions abroad on a delicate subject, lest our present purpose might be misconstrued.

Our intention is to say something of the possessions of the Aristocracy, and we were apprehensive lest it might be imagined we meditated spoliation, or beheld, with jealous eye, the magnitude of their acres and rental. All such constructions we disclaim. It is nothing to us, nor is it much to the public, that the marquis of Stafford has £360,000 per annum; the duke of Northumberland, £300,000; the duke of Buccleugh, £250,000; and that there are other dukes and marquesses with nearly as much. Such magnificent revenues are not enjoyed by noblemen alone. There are lords of the loom in Lancashire and Yorkshire who have accumulated incomes nearly as great, and, perhaps, not more humanely nor honourably. But, if such masses of wealth be evils, they are evils which would remedy themselves, were they not fostered and upheld by vicious legislation. Abolish the laws which consecrate these vast accumulations and minister to family pride and personal caprice, and the mere diversities in the characters of succeeding possessors would soon disintegrate the great properties.

It is neither the mansions nor parks of the peerage that excite popular cupidity; it is the hereditary monopoly—not by constitutional right, but usurpation—of the political franchises of the people which begets hostile feelings; because it enables the privileged legislators to tax others and not themselves—to engross all public honours, offices, and emoluments—in a word, to make all the great social interests of a vast community, of which, in number, intellect, and even wealth, they constitute a most insignificant portion, subservient solely to the purposes of their own vanity, folly, indulgence, and aggrandizement. Here is the national grievance; and let us inquire whether, from the adventitious circumstance of property, they have any claim to inflict this great wrong on society.

The most authentic data for ascertaining the distribution of the property and revenue of the different classes of society are the returns under the property-tax. But it is to be observed that these returns only include the annual value of property liable to the tax, and, consequently, do not exhibit the annual value of the smaller incomes, nor the amount of that great mass of revenue accruing from the wages of labour. Bearing this in mind, we shall submit a statement of the annual income arising from property, professions, public annuities, profits in trade, pensions, and offices: and the amount of the gross assessments on the several descriptions of revenue arising from the different sources of income. The return is for the year ending April 5th, 1815—the last of the income-tax—and is abstracted from the Parliamentary Paper, No. 59, Session 1823. We have omitted shillings and pence, which make some trifling inaccuracies in the totals, and, to render the statement more intelligible, have added the titles of the schedules and rate of assessment from the 48 Geo. III. c. 65. The rise in the value of the currency has probably depressed the nominal amount of incomes below the contemporary increase in produce and industry; but, as this change affected all classes alike, with the exception of annuitants and those enjoying fixed money payments, it has not materially altered the relative proportions of revenue, as exhibited by the returns of 1815, possessed by the different divisions of the community. Here follows the statement:—

Schedules. Annual Value. Gross Assessments.
(A.)—Lands, tenements, and hereditaments, for every 20s. of the annual value 2s. 60,138,330 5,923,486
(B.)—Occupiers of lands, dwelling-houses, and tenements, 1s. 6d.; Scotland, 1s. 38,396,143 2,734,450
(C.)—Annuities and dividends arising out of any public revenues, 2s. 28,855,050 2,885,505
(D.)—Increase and profits from professions, trade, or vocations, 2s. 38,310,935 3,831,088
(E.)—Public offices, pensions, and stipends, 1s. 6d. 11,744,557 1,174,445
Total £177,451,015 £16,548,984

The most important item for our purpose is the property charged in schedule A. consisting of lands and tenements which were assessed on the rack rents, and profits from mines and quarries. Under this head the assessment charged on land, houses, mines, &c. appears, from the parliamentary return, to which reference has been made, to have been as follows:—

Lands chargeable under the general rule 39,405,705
Houses so chargeable 16,250,399
Particular properties chargeable on the annual profits, viz. tithes, manors, fines, quarries, mines, iron works, and non-enumerated profits 4,473,224

From this it appears that the entire rental returned in the last year of the property-tax was £39,405,705, and which has been reduced since the peace, in the opinion of Mr. Lowe, to twenty-five millions. Now the question is, what portion of this rental is received by the four hundred and eighteen members of the House of Peers. The Scotch and Irish peers, to the number of one hundred and eighty, who only sit in the Upper House, by their representatives, we exclude from consideration; the object being to get at the incomes of those who exercise the political power of the empire. For this purpose it will be necessary to analyze the component parts of the landed interests, and separate the peers from those who share with them the territorial revenues of the kingdom.

The number of baronets is 658, and many of them enjoy landed incomes as great or greater than lords. Then there is the squirearchy, more numerous than Pharoah’s host, who draw freely from the surplus produce of the soil. To these must be added the great loan-contractors, merchants, manufacturers, and others, appertaining to the monied, mercantile, and trading classes, many of whom possess extensive estates, and who rival, and, in part, have superseded the ancient nobility. Dr. Colquhoun supposed the gentry, and the classes we have enumerated, as enjoying large incomes, to amount to 46,861, and their incomes, from land and other sources, to amount to £53,022,110. Besides which, allowance must be made for the estates of the younger children of noble families, and for lands appertaining to lay and ecclesiastical corporations, and to charitable foundations. From all these considerations we should conclude that the rental of peers, sitting in parliament, does not exceed three millions per annum. Some of the members of the Upper House, we are aware, enjoy vast revenues, but the average income of each, from the soil, does not exceed £7,177.

Mr. Hallam says the richest of the English aristocracy derive their possessions from the spoils of the Reformation. He ought, also, to have added the spoils of the crown-lands, for they have helped themselves freely to the possessions of both church and king, as well as the people. The Bentinck, the Pelham, and other families inherit vast properties from leases and alienations of the royal domains. The houses of Cavendish and Russell, it is well known, made their acquisitions at the Reformation. The foundation of the Fitzwilliam estates was advantageous purchases at the same era. The Lonsdales have dug out their wealth from coal mines. The Buccleugh property has been an accumulation from heiresses, including here in England the possessions of the duke of Montague. The Gower estates have, also, mainly come by marriages; but the grand augmentation was by the canal-property of the late duke of Bridgewater, to which are now to be added the Sutherland estates of the present marchioness—a principality in themselves. The Grosvenor riches came mainly from an heiress, who brought, in marriage, the London building land about two generations back. The Northumberland estates are, principally, the old feudal inheritance of the Percys. In the whole peerage there are only eighteen commercial families, and these form the only houses which can be said to have acquired their wealth by habits of peaceful and honest industry.

Granting, then, that by means of marriages, and other favourable circumstances, some few of the nobility have accumulated vast revenues, still there are others whose poverty is notorious, and, altogether, they do not enjoy a landed revenue exceeding three millions per annum. What right, then, it may be inquired, have an Oligarchy of 418 persons, possessing so small a share in the general wealth of the community, to monopolize political power. Three millions per annum is not one-hundredth part of the annual revenue of the kingdom.* Yet, to a body of men, having so diminutive a stake in the general weal, are confided the destinies of the empire.

The revenues derived by the peerage from the taxes and church revenues have been estimated to amount to £2,825,846 per annum, being nearly equal to their territorial revenue. This vast addition to their legitimate income they have been able to acquire from having usurped the franchises of the people. Whether the sum they draw from the church estates and the public is more or less, it is not our present purpose to investigate. Our object has been to demonstrate that the wealth of the peerage, of which they can justly claim the possession, is insignificant, when compared with the entire wealth of the country; and that the aristocracy, by direct or indirect means, exercising the political power of the state, the government, as at present constituted, neither represents the number, intellect, nor property of the community. The two former propositions have been often demonstrated, but the latter was a desideratum in general information.

There is another mode of viewing the distribution of the revenues of society, which it will, perhaps, not be unpleasing to our readers, if we submit to their consideration. The whole social fabric rests upon the industrious orders, and, we believe, they are only imperfectly acquainted with the magnitude of their power and resources. The late Dr. Colquhoun, who was a bold, but, as experience has proved, a very shrewd calculator, formed an estimate of the number and income of the different classes into which the community is divided. From the data exhibited by this gentleman, in his “Treatise on the Resources of the British Empire,” we have drawn up a statement which will afford a curious insight into the subject about which we are occupied. It is hardly necessary to remark that the Doctor’s conjecture of the incomes of the clergy is greatly below the truth. Indeed, it is to be observed that all statistical tables, drawn up prior to the restoration of a metallic currency, are chiefly useful in showing proportions, and do not express the present numerical value of either income or property.

Different Classes of Society, and their respective Incomes.
DESCRIPTION OF PERSONS, Number of Persons, including their Families and Domestics. Total Income of each class.
ROYALTY 300 £ 501,000
NOBILITY 13,620 5,400,000
GENTRY, including baronets, knights, country gentlemen, and others having large incomes 402,535 53,022,590
CLERGY:—Eminent clergymen 9000 1,080,000
Lesser clergymen 87,000 3,500,000
Dissenting clergy, including itinerant preachers 20,000 500,000
STATE AND REVENUE, including all persons employed under government 114,500 6,830,000
PENSIONERS, including those of Greenwich, Chelsea, and Kilmainham Hospitals 92,000 1,050,000
LAW:—Judges, barristers, attorneys, clerks, &c. 95,000 7,600,000
PHYSIC:—Physicians, surgeons, apothecaries, &c. 90,000 5,400,000
AGRICULTURE:—Freeholders of the better sort 385,000 19,250,000
Lesser Freholders 1,050,000 21,000,000
Farmers 1,540,000 33,600,000
TRADE:—Eminent merchants 35,000 9,100,000
Shopkeepers, and tradesmen retailing goods 700,000 28,000,000
Innkeepers and publicans, licensed to sell ale, beer, and spirituous liquors 437,000 8,750,000
WORKING CLASSES:—Agricultural labourers, mechanics, artizans, handicrafts, and all labourers employed in manufactures, mines, and minerals 7,497,531 82,451,547
Paupers, vagrants, gipsies, rogues, vagabonds, and others supported by criminal delinquency 1,548,500 9,871,000

The preceding statement affords room for curious and important inferences. The industrious orders may be compared to the soil, out of which every thing is evolved and produced; the other classes to the trees, tares, weeds, flowers, and vegetables, drawing their nutriment, supported and maintained on its surface. Leaving out of consideration the professions of medicine, law and religion, and the unproductive or ornamental parts of society, let us attend to the number and incomes of the following orders:—

Numbers. Incomes.
Freeholders of the better sort 385,000 £19,250,000
Lesser freeholders 1,050,000 21,000,000
Farmers 1,540,000 33,600,000
Eminent merchants 35,000 9,100,000
Shopkeepers 700,000 28,000,000
Innkeepers and publicans 437,000 8,750,000
WORKING CLASSES 7,497,531 82,451,547

These may be considered the active machinery—the solid substratum—upon which the social pyramid is based. When mankind attain a state of perfectibility; when vice, crime, and ignorance are more circumscribed; when we shall seldom require physic to cure diseases, laws to punish offences, or the terrors of superstition to deter from evil; these will be the chief classes in existence. They are the chief classes which ought to exist in a perfect state. The other classes have mostly originated in our vices and ignorance. As mankind become more perfect, or, which is the same thing, as knowledge is more extensively diffused, then will the honorary, legal, medicinal, and ecclesiastical classes disappear: having no employment, their name and office will cease in the social state.

It is from the useful classes the public revenue, for the maintenance of the army, navy, and general government is chiefly extracted. We have before shown the iniquitous principle on which our fiscal regulations have been framed, owing to the political ascendancy of the Aristocracy. Nearly all our taxes are taxes on the ordinary transactions of business, or on the ordinary articles of consumption; and press on the industrious like an inquisitorial and remorseless income-tax, levied without distinction of small or large revenues. It has been the gradual working of this oppressive system that has mainly produced the revolting extremes now observable in the condition of different classes of the community, that has enabled one class to riot in profusion and the wanton enjoyment of redundant incomes, while others have been steeped in indigence, subjected to unceasing and unrequited toil, and barely able to procure the commonest necessaries. That this is not assertion merely, we will demonstrate by an appeal to facts; we will show that the imposts, which constitute almost the entire revenue, are chiefly levied on the property, avocations, and consumption of the working and mercantile orders of the community. The produce of the customs and post-office is usually referred to as an exponent of commercial activity; that of the excise as the index of internal comfort and enjoyment—and for this reason; that the last, which constitutes considerably more than one-third of the public income, is chiefly contributed by the great body of the people.

Statement of the Gross Produce of Taxes for the Year ending 5th January, 1831, chiefly paid by the Industrious Classes.—Annual Finance Accounts, Session 1831.
*The custom duties are for the United Kingdom; the duties of excise, taxes, and stamps are for Great Britain only.
Windows £1,185,478 8 41/2
Inhabited houses 1,361,825 0 51/4
Probates of wills and letters of Administration 903,938 10 0
Legacies 1,223,260 11 6
Bills of exchange 458,511 8 6
Bankers’ notes, including compositions for duties thereon 110,647 3 8
Receipts 220,960 16 10
Marine insurances 220,007 15 6
Fire insurances 768,855 6 9
Stage coaches 418,604 9 61/2
Post-office 2,053,720 11 21/4
Tea 3,387,097 13 91/2
*Coffee 579,844 19 7
Sugar (exclusive of drawbacks) 4,776,568 0 0
Malt 3,505,453 14 7
Hops 121,451 8 11/2
Beer (duty ceased October 10th, 1830) 2,390,310 18 41/2
Spirits (British) 3,708,713 0 61/2
Spirits (Foreign) 4,081,281 11 3
Licenses 737,497 11 01/2
Soap 1,513,149 19 91/2
Butter 102,881 18 10
Cheese 55,093 12 9
Corn, grain, meal, and flour 798,082 6 7
Eggs, bacon, and hams 20,700 14 0
Tallow 180,947 0 0
Tobacco and snuff 2,938,050 10 10
Wines of all sorts 1,575,438 6 9
Coals and culm, carried coastwise, (duty ceased March 1, 1831) 979,197 5 6
Total £40,337,574 19 71/2

Thus on the gross receipt of revenue for Great Britain of £54,995,262, the sum of £40,337,574, is levied either wholly or very disproportionately on the necessaries of the industrious orders, and does not touch the luxuries of the great, unless the articles of wines, snuff, and tobacco can be considered such. The duties on wills and legacies, on bills, notes and receipts, on fire and marine insurances, on postage and stage coaches, fall heavily on the mercantile and manufacturing classes. The taxes on articles of daily use and consumption operate, as before observed, like an undiscriminating income-tax, augmenting in the exact ratio of every individual’s unavoidable expenditure. This monstrous state of our fiscal system is solely owing to non-representation, and consequent monopoly of political power by the Aristocracy, which has enabled them to throw the public burthens on the productive classes. Those who are the chief source of the wealth of the community, and who defray the charges of the general government, have had no efficient control over its administration; nay, have often not been treated with ordinary courtesy, and by an usurping Oligarchy the inferior orders have been considered little better than an ignorant rabble!

  • “How various and innumerable
  • Are those who live upon the rabble!
  • ’Tis they maintain the Church and State,
  • Employ the priest and magistrate;
  • Bear all the charge of government,
  • And pay the public fines and rent;
  • Defray all taxes and excises,
  • And impositions of all prices;
  • Bear all the expense of peace and war,
  • And pay the pulpit and the bar;
  • Maintain all churches and religions,
  • And give their pastors exhibitions!”

The aristocratic privilege of an exclusive right to impose taxes, and comparative exemption from their pressure, is strikingly evinced in the present partial mode of rating to the inhabited house duty, the splendid seats of the nobility and gentry. In Chester, which contains many residences of a very high class, there is but one mansion, (Eaton, we believe,) assessed so high as £300 a-year. That magnificent palace would be under-assessed probably at £10,000. In Westmoreland, which contains Lowther Castle, as fine a place or nearly so as Eaton, there is not one house assessed so high as £200. In Durham, which contains Raby Castle, and Lambton Castle, and Wynyard, and Ravensworth, and Brancepeth Castles—to say nothing of other mansions—the two first we believe, nearly equal to either of those before mentioned—there is not a single house assessed so high as £100, and but two above £70 per annum, which last is about the rate of assessment of our friend Loudon in his little cottage at Bayswater. In the rich and fine county of Hereford, containing Eastnor Castle, there is not a single house assessed so high as £90 per annum, and but three at or above £70. In Leicestershire, which contains Belvoir Castle, there is not an assessment so high as £200 per annum. In Northamptonshire, containing Althorp and various other fine seats, there is but one house rated so high as £110 per annum. In Northumberland, which contains Alnwick Castle, there are but two assessments of £200 and upwards. In Oxfordshire, which contains the stately and far-famed Blenheim, there is but one assessment so high as £300. Lastly in Yorkshire, which contains Wentworth Castle, and Harewood House, and Castle Howard, to say nothing of other numerous and splendid seats, there is not a single house assessed so high as £400 per annum, and but four so high as £300.

Compare these assessments of the Aristocracy with the sums levied on the Shopocracy, as the middle orders have been termed, in the metropolis and manufacturing towns, and we shall find additional reasons for the political representation of all interests in the great council of the nation.


The members of the Upper House, succeeding to legislative functions by hereditary right, are exempt from the salutary influence which controls the deliberations of a representative assembly. Their interests are purely oligarchical, and severed from the general interests of the community. It cannot, therefore, excite surprise that any augmentation in a body of exclusives like this—separated from the mass of society by education, by family pride, by privilege, and usurped power—should be viewed with dislike and apprehension.

Other reasons render an increase in the aristocratic branch of parliament inimical to general feeling. It has been ascertained that the nobility afford a striking illustration of Mr. Malthus’s theory of population.* Possessing, in abundance, the comforts and conveniences of life, they are placed in those circumstances most favourable to a full development of the procreative principle, and it is a singular confirmation of the doctrine of the enlightened writer that noble families are actually as prolific as those of the United States of America. Peers are mostly marrying men. After visiting the European capitals, and committing a few follies and eccentricities, they usually settle down at about twenty-five or twenty-eight years of age, and the results, on the average, are a progeny of five children, or about twenty-five per cent. more than other people. The eldest inheriting the estate, the rest would be destitute, were not the parents, by means of their vote and borough-interest, able to quarter them on the public. Hence it is the people contemplate, with feelings corresponding to those entertained by an Irish absentee who sees the increase of his cotter tenantry, any unavoidable addition to the peerage; knowing that, in consequence of primogeniture and entail-laws, another family will be thrown upon them for support, and that their own chance of honourable promotion in the army, navy, civil departments, or other branch of national service, is impeded by new rivals, with whom exists no prospect of equitable competition.

Having explained one or two of the popular objections to an increase of the peerage, we shall briefly notice the extraordinary augmentation it has undergone during the reigns of George III. and George IV.

A creation of peers generally takes place on the accession of a new family, the commencement of a new reign, or when some political measure is to be carried. On the death of Elizabeth, the peers only amounted to fifty-six. James, being the first of a new dynasty, raised the number to one hundred and five; and Charles I. to one hundred and thirty-five; Charles II. created fifteen dukes, (six of whom were his natural children,) one marquess, thirty-seven earls, three countesses, two viscounts, and twenty-nine barons. At the Revolution of 1688, William III. to ingratiate himself with the great families, raised eight powerful earls to dukedoms; created eighteen earls, three viscounts, and nine barons. Anne increased the peerage to one hundred and seventy. The accession of the Hanover family rendered new creations necessary: George I. either created or elevated no fewer than forty-nine peers. George II. left one hundred and eighty-four. It is evident that the great increase of the peerage was in the reign of George III. being more than doubled. In 1777 a batch of peers was drafted from the Commons to the Lords, to effect a ministerial majority. This expedient was frequently resorted to by Mr. Pitt. In 1797 ten peers were made. He nearly created the order of marquesses: he made ten marquesses in England where there was but one, and nine in Ireland where there was none—all men eminent, of course, for their services. Knighthood was still more profusely lavished. In short, he was as prodigal in wasting the honours of the Crown as the money of the people, and for a similar purpose.

The peers created during the reign of George III. have been classified as follows:—

*Quarterly Review, No. 84, p. 314.
Landed commoners 46
Irish peers 56
Scotch peers 24
Law 25
State 25
Army 13
Navy 10
Younger sons and younger branches of peers 17
Renewals 7
Confirmations 7
Peeresses 5
Extinctions 74
Addition 161*

George IV. added 64 members to the Upper House. In this number are included individuals who have been raised to the peerage, or in whose favour an abeyance has been terminated, as well as peers of Scotland and Ireland who have obtained English baronies. No notice, however, is taken of Scotch peerages which have been recently restored, nor of the creations of peers of Ireland; of claims to English peerages which have been admitted, nor of elevations of English peerages to higher honours. The average rate at which peers have been created during the last two reigns has been about four per annum; and was the same rate of increase to continue for the next century, it would double the existing number of parliamentary lords.

Toryism being the ascendant school of politics during the last reigns, the character of the peers created was of course determined by that of the minister from whom the honours were obtained. The effect of this was strikingly evinced on the first introduction of the Reform Bill into the House of Lords. Of the old peers of the United Kingdom, there was a majority of two for the second reading of the bill. Of the new peers of the United Kingdom created subsequent to 1792, the majority was against the second reading of the bill, and their number was only balanced by the creations under the Whig ministry. The subject will be made clear from the following statement copied from a recent publication.*

Voted against the Bill. Voted for the Bill.
Peers of the United Kingdom created previously to the end of 1792 79 81
Peers of the United Kingdom created subsequently to 1792 (including the creations during the administration of Earl Grey) 66 66
Archbishops and Bishops 21 2
Representative Peers for Scotland 12 4
Representative Peers for Ireland 19 4
Royal Dukes 2 1
199 158

It thus appears that of 54 votes against the bill there were 43 which were the votes of—

  • 21 Bishops against 2; being above 10 to 1.
  • 12 Scotch peers against 4; being 3 to 1.
  • 19 Irish against 4; being nearly 5 to 1.

The inference from which representation is that the bill was defeated in 1831 by the bishops, and the Irish and Scotch peers, who had obtained their promotions or been elected under Tory influence.

The necessity of an augmentation of the peerage to balance the anti-reform interest created subsequent to 1792, became manifest; it was not only essential to strengthen the ministry and carry the bill, but also to effect those ulterior improvements in public administration of which this great national measure is justly considered the parent.

The abolition of an hereditary peerage in France cannot fail to have the greatest influence on the future status of the ‘order,’ and will probably lead to the abolition of an institution in other countries so little consonant to the existing state of society. Because one man is a great lawyer, statesman, or commander, it is no pledge that his lineal descendant will be gifted with the same endowments as those which entitled his progenitor to the exercise of legislative functions. A senate, or upper chamber for life, consisting of individuals eminent for wisdom, experience, or national services, is a defensible institution; but to make them hereditary, and erect legislators into a caste, is quite as preposterous as to make the functions of the astronomer royal hereditary, or the colleges of surgeons and apothecaries. Such manifest irrationalities must speedily disappear from European communities.


The magnitude of the territorial revenues of the Aristocracy is not such as to be in extreme disproportion with the incomes of many others in a community of great commercial opulence, and forms not any portion of the vice of their institution. Whether some noble lords have augmented their rental out of the spoils of the Church and the Crown is a question merely of historical curiosity, and can never be of any practical utility: it is occasionally adverted to as a set-off to oligarchical pride and pretension; beyond which it has no available application. By the law of England, the quiet possession of an estate for sixty years gives a clear and valid title; and we believe there are few noblemen who cannot adduce legal proof of the undisturbed enjoyment of their parks and mansions for a much longer period. So far, then, as the acres are concerned they are perfectly safe; whatever political changes may intervene—and great ones are impending—the legitimate incomes of the peerage can never be endangered, unless they blindly and pertinaciously oppose a regeneration which the wants of the age render indispensable; unless they emulate, in fatuity and crime, Charles Capet and his guilty accomplices.

Aristocratic monopoly and abuse do not result from enormous landed revenues, but from hereditary rights of legislation, from primogeniture and entail-laws, and from nomination boroughs. None of these, however, are essential constituents of an upper chamber; only two-thirds of the nobility are entitled, by birth, to seats in parliament; primogeniture and entails are feudal barbarisms void of utility in modern society; and the usurpation of the franchises of the people is such a manifest subversion of constitutional immunities, so inimical to the general freedom and prosperity, that it cannot be defended on any pretext of justice or expediency. Abolish these corruptions, and all things will work together for good, without spoliation, without civil convulsion; and the Devonshires, the Lansdownes, and Northumberlands enjoy, undisturbed, their wide-spread domains, and retain, without murmur or complaint, their social distinction and supremacy.

The great fount of evil has been the decayed boroughs; these have been the Pandora’s box, from which have flowed national calamities, desolating wars, lavish expenditure, and the monstrous debt and dead weight. They have been the obstacles to every social melioration—civil, commercial, legal, and ecclesiastical. By means of them, the nobility have been enabled to double their private revenues, appropriating to themselves the dignities and livings of the church; pensions and grants out of the public purse; and filling, with their connexions and dependants, every lucrative office in the army, navy, and public administration. There are only two descriptions of offices, namely, those requiring talent and industry, the duties of which cannot be discharged by deputy, that the boroughmongers have denied themselves. Unfit for the higher stations in courts of law, they have condescended to fill the profitable situations of clerk, registrar, messenger, usher, or receiver, and carry bags and wands in the trains of those whose ability alone made them their superiors, and to whom they were compelled to pay this homage as a penalty for their own indolence and cupidity.

In consequence of the boroughs, all our institutions are partial, oppressive, and aristocratic. We have an aristocratic church, aristocratic bar, aristocratic taxation, aristocratic corn-laws, aristocratic laws of property, and, till recently, aristocratic game-laws; in short, the aristocratic spirit pervades every thing—all is privilege, prescription, monopoly, association, and corporation. But why, it may be asked, has it so long continued,—why did not a wealthy, spirited, and enlightened community exert itself long before to abate the general oppression? The chief reason was this—we had also an aristocratic press! By this little key-stone was the entire Gothic arch of antiquated abuse and imposture upheld.

How has it happened the Aristocracy have been so extremely sulky in regard to the memorable events of July 1830; that they have kept their purse-strings so tight; that they kept aloof from all participation in the general exultation? Did they consider, as Napoleon did, that “a revolution in France is a revolution in Europe?” This second national uprising, however, was attended with no popular massacre, no confiscation, no obtrusion of infidelity; all was brave, wise, and moderate—merely a great community rising, with one accord, to defeat an insane attempt to subject it to the yoke of despotism and superstition. Yet they sent forth no carmen triumphale on the sublime occasion. Is it possible that they contemplated, at a distance, the mighty swell which was to submerge their own proud pretensions? If it were so, does it not show that their interests are personal; that they are not in common with the people; that they are merely a corporation in the state, and that they feel their corporate immunities imperilled? But what is it which renders them insulated monopolists—strangers in the land? It is not the magnitude of their estates, for they are not objects of popular concern. No; it is not what they rightfully possess, but what they have surreptitiously obtained—the franchises of the people, and the money of the people, which make them fastidious and apprehensive. Be just and fear not, is our advice, and they are still safe!



Blackstone’s Comment. b. iv. ch. iv. and v. and Smith’s Wealth of Nations, b. iii. ch. iv. where the nature of the ancient tenures is investigated.


Humphreys on the Laws of Real Property, 2d edit. p. 31.


We suppose all our readers have read Colonel Thompson’s Catechism of the Corn Laws, price six-pence. His True Theory of Rent, price three-pence, is another admirable publication. The public is indebted to this gentleman for having placed the science of Political Economy on its legs again: it now stands much where it did when Adam Smith left it, after a perilous escape through the thick cloud of darkness in which it had been enveloped by the misleading subtleties of Mr. Ricardo and his followers.


Lowe’s Present State of England, p. 318.


5 Ann, c. 14, and decisions thereon; Loft, 178; 15 East Reports, 462.


In England and Wales in 1830, the number of convictions for criminal offences was 12,805. The number of convictions under the Game Laws was 1987, being nearly one-sixth of the total number of offenders of every description.


Lowe’s Present State of England, App. p. 65.


Edinburgh Review, No. 162, p. 316.

Letter to the Duke of Wellington on creating Peers for Life.


Letter to Earl Grey on the Adjustment of the House of Peers.




John Wade, Chap. IX. “Taxation and Government Expenditure” (1835)

Editing History

  • Item added: 30 Sept. 2016
  • 1st Edit:


John Wade, The Black Book: An Exposition of Abuses in Church and State, Courts of Law, Municipal Corporations, and Public Companies; with a Précis of the House of Commons, Past, present, and to come. A New Edition, greatly enlarged and corrected to the present time. By the Original Editor. With an Appendix (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1835).

  • Chap. IX. “Taxation and Government Expenditure” <>

Editor's Intro





We cannot do better than preface the subjects of this chapter by stating a few general principles of taxation and finance; they are principally taken from Adam Smith and Dr. Hamilton, and for the most part are so self-evident that it is superfluous to adduce any argument in their support or elucidation; and the others may be inferred by a very obvious train of reasoning. Yet measures inconsistent with them have not only been advanced by men of reputed abilities, but have been acted on by successive administrations, annually supported in parliament, and extolled in political publications. This may create a necessity for a few explanatory observations, and which we shall subjoin in a separate paragraph immediately after each consecutive proposition.

I. The annual income of a nation consists of the united produce of its agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and industry. This income is the source from which the inhabitants derive the necessaries, comforts, and luxuries of life; distributed, according to their stations, in various proportions, and from which the public revenue, necessary for civil government and external administration, is derived.

In every nation a part of the annual income must be withdrawn from the inhabitants for the support of the army and navy, the administration of justice, and other public purposes. The sum thus withdrawn, however reasonable and necessary, is abstracted from the funds which supply the wants of the people, and, consequently, lessens their means of enjoyment. Taxation, therefore, though necessary, is a positive evil, and it is a poor set-off to allege against this evil that it may, when gradually augmented, operate as a motive to greater industry and economy in the people. The natural desire of advancement in life and to participate in its pleasures, are sufficient inducements to frugality and industry without the artificial goad of the tax-gatherer. But taxes have not only encroached on luxuries, but on the comforts and necessaries of the productive classes, and it is mere sophistry to allege that they are either harmless or beneficial; that they either return by other channels, or are a spur to industry. That which is taken and consumed can never be returned by any channel; and that can never form a spur to industry, which lessens the rewards by which industry is excited and put in motion.

II. The portion of national income, which can be appropriated to public purposes, and the possible amount of taxation, are limited; and we are apparently advanced to that limit.

That the amount of taxation is limited, and that we have reached that limit, is pretty evident from the generally low rate of profits and wages. The burthens which peculiarly press on productive industry have been enumerated (p. 279). “When,” says Mr. M‘Culloch, “the taxes which affect the industrious classes are increased, such increase must either immediately fall wholly on profits or wages, or partly on the one and partly on the other. If it fall on profits, it makes, of course, an equivalent deduction from them; and if it fall on wages, it proportionally depresses the condition of the great body of the people.”* We have arrived at the anomalous state in finance when two and two do not make four. Were additional taxes imposed, instead of increasing, they would probably diminish the total amount by impairing the sources from which they would be derived. The effect of augmented taxes beyond national ability was finely exemplified in the case of Ireland. The revenue of Ireland, in 1807, amounted to £4,378,000. Between that year and the conclusion of the war taxes were imposed, which, according to the calculations of chancellors of the exchequer, were to produce £3,400,000, or to augment the revenue to the extent of £7,700,000. What was the result? Why, that in the year 1821, when that amount ought to have been paid into the Treasury, the whole revenue of Ireland amounted only to £3,844,000, being £553,000 less than in 1807, previously to one farthing of these additional taxes having been imposed. Take another example of the effect of a seasonable reduction of taxes in the United Kingdom. Between the years 1823 and 1827 taxes were repealed to the amount of £9,182,571, but the nett loss sustained by the revenue was only to the amount of £3,308,316: the enormous difference of £5,874,255 being made up by increased consumption. The Whig ministry repealed duties to the amount of £4,477,000 in 1831, but the depression in all the great branches of national industry has prevented the loss sustained by the revenue from being supplied by increased consumption in the proportion experienced by their predecessors.

III. The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government as nearly as possible in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state. The expense of government to individuals is like the expense of management to the joint tenants of an estate, who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective interests in the estate. In the observance or neglect of this maxim consists what is called the equality or inequality of taxation.

IV. The tax which every individual is bound to pay ought to be certain and not arbitrary. The time of payment, the manner of payment, the quantity to be paid ought all to be clear and plain to the contributor and to every other person. When it is otherwise, the tax-payer is put more or less in the power of the tax-gatherer, who can either aggravate the tax on any obnoxious contributor, or extort, by the terror of such aggravation, some perquisite or advantage to himself.

The Assessed Taxes, especially the inhabited house duty, and most duties of Excise, contravene this principle.

V. Every tax ought to be so contrived as both to take out and keep out of the pockets of the people as little as possible, over and above what it brings into the public treasury of the state. A tax may either take out or keep out of the pockets of the people a great deal more than it brings into the public treasury in the four following ways:—First, the levying of it may require a greater number of officers, whose salaries may eat up the greater part of the produce of the tax, and whose perquisites may impose another additional tax upon the people. Secondly, it may obstruct the industry of the people, and discourage them from applying to certain branches of business which might give maintenance and employment to great multitudes. While it obliges the people to pay, it may thus diminish, or perhaps destroy, some of the funds which might enable them more easily to do so. Thirdly, by the forfeitures and penalties which those individuals incur who attempt unsuccessfully to evade the tax, it may frequently ruin them, and thereby put an end to the benefit which the community might have received from the employment of their capitals. Fourthly, by subjecting the people to the frequent visits and odious examination of the tax-gatherers, it may expose them to much unnecessary trouble, vexation, and oppression; and though vexation is not, strictly speaking, expense, it is certainly equivalent to the expense at which every man would be willing to redeem himself from it.

Our Excise and Custom Duties, which form the great sources of public income, are mostly a violation of this principle of Dr. Smith. The two principal objects of our aristocratic legislators have been, first, to tax necessaries, not luxuries; secondly, to tax industry, not property. Thus they have been cutting away, not at revenue, but the sources of revenue; they have been reaping the seed, not the ripened fruit, and have finally exemplified the Fable of the Goose which laid golden eggs. Those who recommend a direct tax on property are right; nothing less will enable the country to meet its pecuniary difficulties, and get rid of the waste and folly of our fiscal administration.

VI. In time of war taxes may be raised to a greater height than can be easily borne in peaceable times; and the amount of the additional taxes, together with the surplus of the peace establishment, applied for defraying the expense of the war.

It is not intended to affirm that the power of a nation to bear taxes is increased in consequence of its being engaged in war. The contrary is always the case. Labour, agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, are the sources from which all revenue is derived. Some of them may be ameliorated, but they are depressed on the whole, and do not attain the solid prosperity they would have attained, had not war intervened. But the necessity of the war, real or imaginary, has a powerful influence on the public mind, and reconciles the community to submit to privations, which, in peaceable times, would be accounted insupportable. The latter is the sense in which the proposition is intended to be understood.

VII. The expense of modern wars has been generally so great, that the revenue raised within the year has been insufficient to pay it; hence the necessity of having recourse to the system of funding, or anticipation.

Various causes may be assigned for the increased expense of modern wars: the nature of our military weapons; the entire separation of the character of the soldier from that of the citizen; the system of colonies and foreign settlements, in consequence of which a contest, that a few centuries ago would have been decided by a battle on the frontiers of the contending nations, now extends the ravages of war to every part of the globe: and, since the imaginary system of the balance of power has prevailed, large sums have been granted by states, like England, more opulent than wise, as subsidies to others, supposed to be interested in the common cause. While these causes have led to great expense, the increase of national wealth has supplied the means, and the Rulers of this nation, in particular, by artfully supporting the illusion of a Sinking Fund, and a well regulated system of transfer of stock, have been able to draw forth a larger proportion of the wealth of the people than any other government in the world.

VIII. In every year of war, where the funding system is adopted, the amount of the public debt is increased; and the total increase of debt, during the war, depends on its duration, and the annual excess of the expenditure above the revenue.

IX. In every year of peace, the excess of the revenue above the expenditure ought to be applied to the discharge of the national debt; and the amount discharged during any period of peace depends upon the length of its continuance, and the amount of the annual surplus.

X. If the periods of war, compared with those of peace, and the annual excess of the war expenditure, compared with the annual savings during the peace establishment, be so related, that more debt is contracted in every war than is discharged in the succeeding peace, the consequence is a perpetual increase of debt; and the ultimate consequence must be, its amount to a magnitude which the nation is unable to bear.

XI. The only effectual remedies to this danger are the extension of the relative lengths of the periods of peace; frugality in peace establishments; lessening the war expenses; the increase of taxes, whether permanent or levied during war.

XII. If the three former of these remedies be impracticable, the last forms the only resource. By increasing the war taxes, the sum required to be raised by loan is lessened. By increasing the taxes in time of peace, the sum applicable to the discharge of debt is increased. These measures may be followed to such an extent, that the savings, in time of peace, may be brought to an equality with the surplus expenditure in time of war, even on the supposition that the periods of their relative duration shall be the same, for centuries to come, that they have been for a century past.

The difficulty, and even impossibility, of a further increase of taxes has been considered. Every new imposition, as the limit to taxation approaches, becomes more oppressive and more unproductive; and if Government adhere to an expenditure beyond the ability of the country to support, it is impossible to escape national, or more properly government bankruptcy. So long as the practice was followed of defraying almost all the war expenses by loans, and imposing taxes only for the payment of interest, the burdens of war were so lightly felt, that the promptness of the Aristocracy to engage in war was scarcely under any restraint. Had the supplies been raised within the year, and most of them by direct taxation, the pressure would have been so great, that it would have probably stimulated the people to restrain their rulers from engaging in hostilities for remote and delusive objects. Justice to posterity required this. Every generation has its own struggles and contests. Of these and these only it ought to bear the burden; and the great evil of the Funding System is, that it enables nations to transfer the cost of present follies to succeeding generations.

XIII. When taxation is carried to such an extent that the supplies adequate to meet a war expenditure are raised within the year, the affairs of the nation will go on under the pressure of existing burdens, but without a continual accumulation of debt, which would terminate in bankruptcy. So long as taxation is below this standard, accumulation of debt advances; and it becomes more difficult to raise taxation to the proper height. If it should ever be carried beyond this standard, a gradual discharge of the existing burdens will be obtained; and these circumstances will take place in the exact degree in which taxation falls short of or exceeds the standard of average expenditure.

XIV. The excess of revenue above expenditure is the only real Sinking Fund by which public debt can be discharged. The increase of the revenue and the diminution of expense are the only means by which this Sinking Fund can be enlarged, and its operation rendered more effectual; and all schemes for discharging the National Debt, by Sinking Funds operating by compound interest, or in any other manner, unless so far as they are founded on this principle, are illusory.

Both these propositions have been sufficiently established in our exposition of the Funding System.


The labours of Mr. Hume and Sir Henry Parnell are an instance of what the ability and perseverance of a few individuals may accomplish. It is not, however, so much the good effected as the evil prevented that entitles them to the gratitude of the country. Under the long leaden and unprofitable administration of Lord Liverpool, all the great branches of public expenditure had been annually augmenting; and how far this progression would have extended, had not Mr. Hume, supported by a small phalanx of honest persons, commenced his exposures, it is impossible to say. His mode of attack could not be parried: though an unofficial man himself, he showed as intimate acquaintance with the details of the public accounts as John Wilson Croker, Peregrine Courtenay, or any other veteran placeman. Even Sir T. Gooch and Lord Wharncliffe were constrained to admit the value of his services, and the reductions effected in the public departments, prior to the formation of Earl Grey’s ministry, are chiefly attributable to him and the gentleman we have mentioned.

In the course of this section we purpose to bring together some of the more palpable abuses in the government expenditure, and for a knowledge of many of which the public is indebted to a valuable work of Sir Henry Parnell, On Financial Reform. We intend to avail ourselves of this gentleman’s publication, though we cannot say the member for Queen’s County is an object of our exclusive admiration: he is too much of a doctrinaire for us, and appears to repose too implicit confidence in the dogmas of the Ricardo school,—the disciples of which know as much about the internal state of the country, and the causes and remedies of its embarrassments, as the natives of Kamschatka. But this infirmity of the honourable Baronet does not impair the utility of the facts he has published, nor depreciate the important information collected by the Finance Committee of 1828, over which he so ably presided.

The following is Sir Henry Parnell’s list of the several departments entrusted with the business of expending the public money, pursuant to the general appropriation of it by parliament:—

1. The Treasury, including the Commissariat Department in 1827, £80,542
2. The Exchequer 48,000
3. The Audit-Office in 1828 32,977
4. The Bank of England, do 267,597
5. The Commissioners of the Sinking Fund, do 10,350
6. The Civil Department of the Army, do. 108,837
7. Do. of the Navy, do. 179,647
8. Do. of the Ordnance (the Tower and Pall Mall,) do. 57,961

The expense of the Treasury department was, in 1797, only £44,066; so that it has nearly doubled; although the revenue, the superintending of which constitutes the chief business of the treasury, was as great as in 1827. Does not this show the profusion with which salaries have been increased, and offices multiplied? There are no fewer than fifteen clerks in the treasury, who receive salaries amounting to £1000; five of these fifteen receive £1,500 a-year each and upwards. Their duties are little more than nominal; they seldom attend their offices but to look over the newspapers; many of them hold two or more offices and sinecures; yet with all their official appointments, so little are they engaged in the public service, that they may be mostly seen driving about town in their stanhopes, and whiling their time in the club-houses.

The Exchequer.—This is one of the most absurd and lucrative establishments under government. As the chief duty of the exchequer is that of superintendence, in taking care that there are no issues of public money by the Treasury contrary to parliamentary direction, it ought to be discharged by a very few officers, or altogether abolished. However, neither economy nor common sense are objects sought to be attained. The forms by which business is carried on are extremely antiquated and ridiculous, and as remote from modern practice as the conveyance of merchandize by packhorse and bells is from the cheapness and despatch of a rail-road. Our limits will only admit of a brief description of the constitution of this office, and the mummery and nonsense daily perpetrated there.

The Exchequer is divided into seven different departments; the tellers, the pells, the king’s remembrancers, the lord treasurer’s, the auditor’s office, the tally-court, and the pipe-office. The pipe-office alone has seven subsidiary absurdities; among these are the clerk of the nichills, the clerk of the estreats, and the cursitor baron; besides which, are eight sworn attornies, two board-end clerks, and eight clerks attached to the sworn attornies. From the inquiries of a parliamentary commission, it seems these are nearly all sinecurists. Two of the witnesses examined had been in the office, one eight and the other twenty-five years, and they stated, during that time, five out of the eight attornies never came near the office, living in the country at a considerable distance from London. The duties of their clerks were not more onerous. Three of them were at school long after being appointed to their situations. One of them admitted that, subsequently to his nomination, he was five years at school at Chelsea, two years in a conveyancer’s office, and that he now practised as a barrister, and might look into the office once in a month. The board-end clerks laboured under similar lack of duties; and as to the clerk of the nichills, the name is sufficient to indicate his heavy and responsible functions.

One of the duties of the Exchequer is, yearly to send down five great rolls of parchment to the sheriffs, containing accounts of supposed debtors to the crown during the last 300 years. The sheriff is bound to summon a jury, in order to ascertain what money is due to the crown on the roll. The sending of the roll down and up again, occasions considerable expense, and is as useless a task as the labours of Sisyphus. The farcical ceremony of passing the sheriffs’ accounts is of a piece with the rest, and resembles a game on the draught-board. Under the pretence of testing the account, the practice is to throw, in the presence of the cursitor baron, small copper coins behind a hat, from one little square of the cloth on the table to another; when the sheriffs’ accounts are correct, a person cries out “tot;” when inaccurate, another person cries “nel;” and according as these words are uttered, the copper coins are shifted from one part of the chequers to another. All these antics were, probably, of use prior to the invention of arithmetic and book-keeping, but are now as irrelevant as the idle pageant of a coronation or lord mayor’s show.

The manner in which the public money is paid in to the tellers is a similar burlesque on real life. There are four tellers, and each has a little pew or cabin, in which he or his deputy sits, with a suitable complement of clerks, for the purpose of receiving the produce of the taxes nominally paid to him, but in reality to the clerks of the Bank of England, three of whom attend in an adjoining room to receive the money paid out of the Bank to be paid into the Bank again. The tellers, under the mockery of receiving the stamp, excise, and other duties, sign a parchment, written in a mixture of Latin or Saxon, or other jargon, which is as unintelligible to any one but a teller as the unknown tongues of Mr. Irving. They next pass a roll through a pipe into a room below, and there it is cut into a particular shape, and carried to the auditors of the Exchequer. A wooden tally was formerly used, which, within the last two years, has been exchanged for one of parchment. But the inconvenience and absurdity of the formality is so great, that Exchequer payments have been lately abolished, and they are now managed by clerks of the Treasury.

From Madox’s History of the Court of Exchequer, it appears, scarcely any alteration has been made in this department since the reign of Henry II. The reason is obvious enough. There are vested rights, claims of seniority, and reversionary interests in the way; and no reform can be introduced till all these expectancies are satisfied, and it has been the policy hitherto to take special care such expectancies never shall be satisfied, by promptly filling up every vacant appointment the moment it occurs. The most valuable sinecures in the Exchequer are held by peers and their relatives, and the emolument, fees, and patronage are so great, that it can hardly excite surprise the carnival doings we have described have been so carefully preserved.

For the gratification of tax payers we subjoin a statement of the sums annually swamped in the “great Exchequer job.”

£ s. d.
Auditor’s Office
Salaries 13,004 9 21/2
Contingencies unknown from the want of documents, in an office professing to check all the other departments of the state.
Pells’ Office. Salaries £7,606 9 10
Contingencies 70 15 3
7,677 5 1
Carried forward £20,681 14 31/2
Brought forward £20,681 14 31/2
Tellers’ Offices.
Marquis Camden’s Salaries 5,700 0 0
Contingencies 312 2 11
6,012 2 11
Earl Bathurst’s Salaries 5,800 0 0
Rt. Hon. Charles Yorke’s Salaries 5,768 5 4
Spencer Percival, Esq.’s Salaries 5,396 14 0
Four Money Porters 1,020 4 0
Contingencies of the four departments, exclusive of stationery, the expense of which is unknown 113 4 3
£44,792 4 91/2

Of this sum about one-fourth is paid for sinecures, so complete, that in the words of the return, “the Teller is empowered by his patent to appoint a deputy, who transacts all the business of the office. The Teller himself does not, nor has it been usual for him, to execute any part of it whatsoever.”

The Auditor is virtually a sinecure; the money porters, who perform the heavy drudgery of carrying slips of paper and parchment, are paid indifferently well; and there are five heads of offices who have deputies to act for them “in the general superintendence of the office during any occasional absence.”

The following gives an account of the salaries received for “responsibility,” and of those paid for work.

£ s. d.
Total expense in salaries 44,296 2 41/2
Four Tellers at £2,700 per annum £10,800
One Auditor 4,000
Five Heads of Departments 5,400
Four Money Porters £1,020 4 0
Deduct as wages 320 4 0
Salaries { for Sinecures or “Responsibility” 20,900 0 0
{ for Work 23,396 2 41/2

The Commissioners of 1831 recommend that the whole of the present machinery should be entirely swept away, and suggest the erection of a new office upon a new system—but then, agreeably with the established routine in such cases, the public will have to provide double—salaries for the new, and pensions and compensations for the old officials!

The Audit Office.—This is as snug and delightful a retreat as any in the public departments. Were a proper system adopted in keeping the public accounts, this office might be dispensed with. In 1806, an attempt was made to improve the audit department, and the way this was set about is a very apt specimen of the mode of reforming government abuses in those days. A chairman of the Board was created, salary £1,500; four new members, each £1,200; a secretary, a foreigner, £1,000; six inspectors, each £600; and eight additional examiners; with numerous other appointments, which increased the expense from about £14,000 to £38,000; and after all the establishment was made less efficient than under the old and less expensive system.

Civil Department of the Army.—The office of paymaster of the forces is a sinecure. The business is performed by a deputy and three cashiers. As each of these persons has a power of drawing money out of the Bank of England on his own order, the effect of the office being a sinecure is to diminish considerably the security of the public.* It is also attended with this further inconvenience, that it multiplies the number of imprest accountants, and thus augments the difficulty of establishing a proper system of keeping the public accounts.

The account called Army Extraordinaries is liable to great abuse and mystification. Under this head, payments are made which have nothing to do with the army; the sums voted by parliament seldom exceed £900, while the sum expended commonly amounts to three millions. This scheme serves to conceal from the public a great deal of wasteful and illegal expenditure; for instance, the sum paid at home to colonial agents, and the sum drawn from abroad for colonial expenses, although they are wholly for civil colonial purposes, are paid as army extraordinaries, and without any previous vote of parliament; which is thus, according to the testimony of Sir H. Parnell, mislead by the annual production of an account with “a perfectly false title.”

The employing of Commissioners of Accounts abroad was suggested in consequence of the great accumulation of accounts during the war; but, since the conclusion of it, the motives which originated the plan have gradually ceased to have any force, and therefore the public ought to be saved the expense of such useless functionaries. Where too is the necessity for incurring the expense of having army agents? The accounts of the paymasters of regiments are examined at the War-office, and not by the agents; and all the agents do for the public is to receive money from the paymasters of the forces, and to pay with it the drafts of the regimental paymasters: the other duties are private, and for the benefit of officers of the army.

Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.—This establishment might be appropriated to much better purposes than the nursing of some dozen or so artillery and engineer officers. Long after the peace the Academy was maintained at an annual expense of £20,000 and upwards; the average cost to the public of the cadets admitted to commissions in the army, in 1820, was £920 each. The charge for civil officers, professors and masters, for the year ending in 1831, was £3402. Even this is too much; especially as the knowledge taught at the Academy is quite elementary, and might just as well be learnt at any private military school. If instruction were made to begin at the Academy just where it stops at present, that is, when the cadets are seventeen or eighteen years old, then there might be some reason in keeping it up; because the instruction afforded to officers might be of such a description in the higher branches of military art, as could not be attained elsewhere.

Department of the Navy and Dock Yards.—The first lord commissioner of the admiralty has a salary of £4,500, with an official residence, and four other commissioners £1,000 a-year with an official residence each; the first secretary £3,000, the second do 1,500; the comptroller of the navy has £2,000, with a residence, the deputy-comptroller of the navy has £1,200; besides which, are an immense number of commissioners of the navy, and commissioners of the dock-yards with salaries of £1,000 each. A most objectionable office kept up by the Tories was the treasurership of the navy—a mere sinecure; it has been consolidated by the Whigs with the vice-presidentship of the Board of Trade.

The expenditure in the Royal Dock-yards and arsenals is most lavish in storekeepers, clerks, chaplains, surgeons, measures, master-attendant, master-shipwright and others, many of whom are apparently kept up for mutual superintendence, and forming a gradation of office and multiplication of expense wholly unnecessary. Not a single trade is carried on without a master; there is a master-smith, bricklayer, sail-maker, rigger, rope-maker, painter, and others; they have each £250 a-year, and many of them have not above four or five men under their superintendence. How differently private and public business is conducted, was strikingly shown in the evidence of Mr. Barrow. There is a private builder who employs 250 shipwrights: he has one foreman, one measurer, two clerks, and ten labourers. In Woolwich yard, which comes the nearest to it, there are 248 shipwrights, eighteen clerks, six masters’ of trades, eight foremen, eight measurers, eleven cabin-keepers; besides surgeons, boatswain, wardens, and other people. The whole establishment of the officers, clerks, and other salaried persons at the dock-yard, amounts to £155,000, and the amount of wages paid for work done by artificers and labourers, &c. is £502,000. It thus appears that for every three pounds and a quarter paid to the men, there is a pound paid for superintendence.

The Paymaster of the Marines has a salary of £1,000, for the discharge of duties which might be very well annexed to the Navy-office. “As to the reasons,” says Sir H. Parnell, “that are given to the contrary, they are so plainly nothing more than ingenious pretexts for maintaining a lucrative office, that it would be a waste of time to notice them.”

The naval accounts, as indeed all the accounts of the public offices, are kept on a confused and most inconvenient principle, from the want of a well-arranged plan of book-keeping. Each description of expenditure has its distinct set of books, making thirty-three in all, and tending greatly to the increase of expense by the multiplication of clerks. At present the payment of officers and seamen’s wages is made in the presence of four clerks, in order to have three clerks checking the accuracy of every sum paid by the fourth. As these clerks are selected from different branches, and as each keeps a book, so many books are kept in triplicate, that they amount, in the whole, to 1580 supernumerary volumes.

Increase in Peace Establishments.—The following comparison of the peace establishments of 1792 and of 1831 is very instructive.

Year 1792. Year 1831.
*Annual Finance Accounts, p. 21. Sess. 1831.
Army £2,330,349 £ 6,991,163
Navy 1,985,482 5,309,605
Ordnance 444,863 1,613,908
Total charge £4,760,694 £13,914,676*

It thus appears the peace establishment of 1831 exceeds that of 1792 nearly threefold, and that, since 1815, upwards of 250 millions have been expended on soldiers, sailors, ships, and artillery; although we have been all the time in a state of general tranquillity. The only ground on which it is attempted to justify the expenditure, so enormously great in comparison with that of any former peace establishment, is the expediency of being at all times prepared for war. So that after expending upwards of eleven hundred millions in the purchase of a secure and lasting peace; after sacrificing millions in fortifying Belgium against French aggression; after erecting splendid and costly monuments to commemorate the glorious triumphs of Waterloo: after all these efforts, glories, and sacrifices, we cannot yet sit down in safety, without bristling on all sides with cannons and bayonets. Is this, we ask, any proof of progression in human affairs? Is this the boasted “settlement of Europe?” Are these the blessings of legitimate and constitutional monarchies? Are nations, in their relations to each other, always to exemplify the condition of man in a state of nature, with couched lance, watchful eye, and trembling heart, fearing to be the victim of beasts of prey or of the tomahawk and scalping-knife of his not less savage fellow-creature? If these are all the guarantees of social happiness which aristocratic governments can give, we say,—Away with them! let us try new men, new principles, and new institutions!

A principal cause of the vast increase in the military expenditure of the country is the number and establishments of the army. From the inquiries of the Finance Committee, it appears that, in 1792, the number of all ranks in the army was 57,251; and that, according to the statement of Sir H. Parnell, they were distributed as follows:—

Officers and Men
Great Britain 17,007
Ireland 11,901
East Indies 10,700
Canada, Nova Scotia, and Bermuda 6,061
Gibraltar 4,221
West-India Islands 6,886
New South Wales 475

In 1828, the number of all ranks was 116,738; the distribution was as follows:—

Great Britain 29,616
Ireland 23,969
Colonies 37,037
East Indies 26,116

The chief part of the increase is accounted for as under:—

Increase in the New Colonies 17,112
Increase in the Old Colonies 849
Increase in Great Britain 9,094
Increase in Ireland 10,363
Increase in the East Indies 14,287

Allowing that the extent of our foreign possessions has rendered necessary an increase in the army, this does not apply to the household troops, as they are never sent abroad in time of peace. Yet it is in this branch of the service, and in dragoons, that there has been the greatest augmentation. The following statement shows the increase of life and foot guards and cavalry at the two periods:—

RANK and FILE. Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers in 1830. Total of Men and Officers in 1830. Increase in Rank and File in 1830.
1792. 1830.
Life Guards 411 688 187 875 277
Horse Guards 261 344 86 430 83
Dragoon Guards 696 2,268 } 1,506 9,326 { 1,972
Dragoons 2,080 5,152 } { 3,072
Foot Guards 3,126 5,760 848 6,608 2,634
Total Number 6,574 14,212 2,627 17,239 8,038

These are the most expensive classes in the army, and chiefly kept for domestic use. The sums saved by the reduction of the cavalry force would be very considerable, since the expenses of every horseman are nearly as great as those of the junior clerks in the public offices, some of whom have been so unsparingly reduced that their superiors might enjoy, undiminished, their overgrown emoluments. The expense of a dragoon and horse, exclusive of forage, &c. is £57 a year, and of a life and horse guardsman £75 a year; whilst the charge for infantry of the line is only £31 per man.

The guards are chiefly intended for the maintenance of the peace in the metropolis, for the protection of the Bank, the Tower, and royal palaces. But there can be less need of this expensive corps now we have a military police, for the security of property and persons, and ready to aid the established authorities in case of civil commotion. Surely 4000 constables, trained, organised, and barracked, and under the entire control of Ministers, might enable them to dispense with at least one regiment of the household force.

Many millions have been unnecessarily expended, since the Peace, on our maritime establishments. In 1830, 30,000 seamen were voted, and £1,657,601 to defray the charges of their wages and victuals. With the exception of Russia and the United States, the naval force of every other power is less than at the breaking out of the war in 1793. Neither Spain nor Holland has any navy of consequence; and France, which at the commencement of the Revolution had eighty efficient ships of the line, has now not more than forty. What occasion, then, can there be for Great Britain to expend annually £1,300,000 on her dock-yards, and incur a naval expenditure, altogether, of more than five millions?

Expenditure of the Colonies.—These are a tremendous burthen on the resources of the mother country, chiefly to provide governorships, secretaryships, registrarships, agencies, and sinecures for the Aristocracy and their connexions. No parliamentary document shews what the whole expense is that is paid by English taxes on account of the colonies. It is generally estimated that from two to three millions are paid for the army, navy, and various civil charges; but in addition to this the public pay full two millions more for sugar and timber than they ought to pay, in consequence of the increased prices occasioned by the protection given to the colonists by the higher duties imposed on these articles when imported from foreign countries.*

There are only three ways that the Colonies can be of any advantage. 1. In furnishing a military force; 2. In supplying the parent state with a revenue; 3. In affording commercial advantages.

Instead of furnishing a military force, the colonies are always a great drain upon our military resources, particularly in war, when they occupy a large portion of the army and fleet in their defence. With respect to revenue, it has been declared, by the act of the 18 Geo. III. that no taxes or duties shall be levied on the colonies, except for their use. As to commercial advantages, if the colonial trade were quite free, our commercial relations with the colonies would resemble the intercourse between ourselves and independent countries; and, with our unrivalled superiority in capital, manufactures, machinery, and skill, what have we to fear from unrestricted competition? What have we lost by the independence of the United States? Nothing: the nobility have lost provincial governorships; but the population of both countries has been enriched and benefited by the vast augmentation in their mercantile intercourse.

The rage for colonies has been one of the great big blunders of our national policy, originating in the vain glory of conquest and aristocratic cupidity. England has neither conferred nor derived social happiness from territorial acquisitions. We may have imparted strength to others, but have received in return only the disease of monopolies and vast individual accumulations. How, indeed, could the results have been more favorable? A great nation, possessing within herself the resources of wealth and civilization, what advantage can she derive from exhausting her energies in rearing to maturity and fostering ingratitude in the unfledged offspring of future empires? Between old and infant communities there is not reciprocity of interest; the latter participate in the benefits of the experience, laws, institutions, warlike power, and riches of the former without yielding countervailing advantages: it is strength allying itself to weakness—the full-grown oak bending to the palsying embrace of the creeping ivy.

So convinced are we of the fatuity of our conduct in this respect, that we are sometimes inclined to think that we should have been a happier community had our sway never extended over the border. Scotland has benefited by the Union: her soil has been fertilised by our capital, and her greedy sons have enriched themselves by sinecures and pensions, the produce of English taxes; but what has England gained from the connexion? The generous and intellectual character of her Saxon race has not been improved by amalgamation with Scotch metaphysics, thrift, and servility. Again, what benefits have we derived from the conquest of Ireland? Her uncultivated wastes, too, will be made fruitful by English money, unless the connexion be prematurely severed: but what boon in return can she confer on England? Her miserable children have poured out their blood in our wars of despotism; our rich Aristocracy have been made richer by the rental of her soil; and the aggregate power of the empire has been augmented: but we seek in vain for the benefits communicated to the mass of the English population. Certainly we do not recognise them in the degraded situation of the “men of Kent,” depressed by competition with the Hibernian peasantry; neither have the moral habits of our rural and manufacturing population been bettered by commingling with the wretched and half-civilized emigrants from Munster and Connaught.

But these, at best, are only unprofitable lamentations; it is vain to repine at remediless evils; the union of England, Scotland, and Ireland, is, we presume, indissoluble: we are married, as the saying is, for better and worse, and we must make the best of an unprofitable alliance.

The chief advantage to be derived from colonies is in rendering them a desirable refuge to a redundant population. But the Aristocracy decline making them subservient to the purposes of an extensive plan of emigration, because of the expense; it would be a sacrifice not for the benefit of themselves, but of the industrious orders, and this they begrudge; they prefer subduing the clamours of a starving people by special commissions and improved man-traps rather than by providing the means by which the unemployed labourer and artisan may transport his superfluous industry to the banks of the St. Lawrence and the shores of Australia.

Although the Oligarchs are so parsimonious when the welfare of the people is concerned, they are reckless enough about expense when it ministers only indirectly to their own gratification and ambition. It appears, from the inquiries of the Finance-Committee, that the collective expenditure of five of our colonies has exceeded, on an account of ten and more years, the colonial revenues applicable to the discharge of it, so as to have constituted a deficiency of £2,524,000, and that this deficiency was paid by the Treasury, although the surplus expenditure had been incurred without previous communication with ministers; nor does it appear ministers had any previous knowledge either of the amount of the colonial revenues or the charges upon them. Can any thing more strikingly show the careless and lavish system on which the affairs of the nation have been conducted? We subjoin an abstract of the returns to parliament of the colonies to which we have alluded. It will be seen that the surplus revenue of the crown colonies above the civil expenditure amounted to £1,453,842, and this was all which remained applicable to a military expenditure of £3,733,939, leaving £2,280,097 to be paid out of the assessed taxes, the excise, and custom-duties of the people of England.

Statement of the Revenue and Expenditure of Five Crown Colonies referred to in Mr. Herries’s Letter to Mr. Wilmot Horton, of the 24th March, 1827.—Parl. Paper, No. 352, Sess. 1830.
Colonies. Years. Revenue. Civil Expenditure. Military Expenditure.
Ceylon 13 4,384,407 3,097,571 2,570,107
Mauritius 12 1,723,114 1,829,508 795,575
Cape of Good Hope 11 1,333,441 1,062,670 277,015
Malta 10 2,378,114 2,384,197 88,994
Trinidad 12 405,513 396,711 2,248
£10,224,589 8,770,747 3,733,939

Of these colonies, three of them—Ceylon, Mauritius, and the Cape of Good Hope—are chiefly of use to the East-India Company, who ought to defray the charges of their military protection. Many other of our colonies are equally valueless as objects of national utility. Of what use is the retention of the Ionian Islands, with Malta and Gibraltar in our hands? The settlements at Sierra Leone and on the west coast of Africa ought to be abandoned, having entirely failed in the attainment of the object intended. No reason can be shown why Canada, Nova-Scotia, and other possessions on the continent of America, would not be as available to British enterprise, if they were made independent states. Neither our manufactures, commerce, nor shipping would be injured by such a measure. On the other hand, what has the nation lost by Canada? According to Sir H. Parnell, fifty or sixty millions have been already expended; the annual sum payable out of English taxes is full £600,000 a-year; and there has been a plan in progress for two or three years to fortify Canada, at an estimated cost of three millions. Either the Boroughmongers or the people must have been absolutely mad to tolerate for so many years such useless waste of public resources.

The Slave-Trade.—On this subject Sir H. Parnell says,—“The great sum of £5,700,000 has already been expended in carrying into effect the measures of government for co-operating with other countries in putting down the slave-trade, and the annual current expenses amount to nearly £400,000. But the attempt appears to have altogether failed. The governments of France, Spain, and Portugal, according to the Parliamentary Papers, make no efforts whatever to enforce the laws for putting down the traffic; and the persons in authority in Cuba and Brazil not only neglect to execute the laws, but in some cases have been engaged in it themselves. So that our treaties and laws, where such parties are concerned, are so much waste paper, and spending money to try to give effect to them is perfect folly. The African Institution say, in their twentieth report, ‘The slave-trade has increased during the last year; and, notwithstanding the number of prizes taken, it continues to rage with unabated fury.’ Surely here are sufficient reasons for saving £400,000 a-year, now expended to so little purpose.”—Financial Reform, pp. 231, 232. Human suffering is equally painful to bear, whether inflicted on this or the other side of the globe, on black or white men, and we should be sorry, even for the sake of economy, that any measures should be adopted tending to revive the hellish traffic in Negroes. But, after all, we ought to look at home. The horrors of the ‘middle passage’ did not transcend those of the infernal factory system: in the former adults were the chief victims sacrificed to the Moloch of wealth; in the latter it is helpless infancy. If one remonstrate with any of the Crœsuses of the North on the cruelty of exacting such long and severe hours of labour from children and apprentices, their only defence is,—“If we did not do it, others would—we should be undersold in the market.” So with them it is a mere question of political economy—of profit and accumulation of capital—not of humanity. But we shall take leave to tell these lords of the loom that they have another alternative; they might be content with amassing something less, as a passport into the aristocratic circle, than a million or a million and a half of money by mutilating, misshaping, and abridging the lives of God’s creatures: but this they will not do; they will persist in realizing their cent. per cent., and rather than forego it will have their ‘pound of flesh,’—they will see orphans’ eye-balls start from their sockets, and their tendons crack, through unwholesome long-protracted toil—and this too in a country where society is hourly threatened with dissolution—where internal peace and the security of property are endangered by the multitude of unemployed artizans!

Expense of Civil Government.—The expense of conducting the civil government of the country, including the king, the three secretaries of state, lord-lieutenant of Ireland, the Mint, and judicial establishments, is about £2,000,000. The progressive increase of expense, in some departments, is as follows:—

Year 1706. Year 1829.
Home Department £14,423 £31,916
Foreign Department 34,495 65,681
Colonial Department 9,111 39,824
£58,019 £137,221

Thus, it appears, the charge of these three departments has more than doubled since 1796—a period of hostilities.

Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.—The vice-regal government of Ireland costs the country £100,000 per annum. This is extravagant, as it is well known that Irish affairs are chiefly managed at Whitehall. The keeping up this mimic sovereign tends to keep up those symbols of separation and hostility which a more rational policy would endeavour to obliterate. For any other purpose, in the present state of intercourse, we might as well have, once more, a lord-president at York—a king in Edinburgh—or a separate court for the marches of Wales, at Ludlow, or Monmouth. What then can be urged to justify the lord-lieutenancy? It has been alleged indeed by Irish secretaries, who receive £4000 a-year, that it is beneficial to the tradesmen of Dublin, among whom the money granted for the vice-regal establishment is expended. So then the community must be robbed of £100,000, that the Dublin shopkeepers may profit the odd farthings. This is the favourite round of arguing by corruptionists; they always deem it a sufficient justification for pillaging the people, if a portion of the spoil be returned to them in the way of alms or Christmas doles. By acting on this principle, the pride and interests of aristocratical government are both favoured; and the people, injured by its rapacity, are insulted by its compassion. But in this way the influence of the lord-lieutenant’s salary is, as regards the prosperity of a great city, contemptible: his whole salary, if spent in Dublin, is not equal to half the receipts of one of the ten thousand gin-shops in London. If, however, the effect was greater, the process is dishonest. If the lord-lieutenancy is necessary as an instrument of government—which has never been satisfactorily proved—it ought to be retained; if not, there is no earthly reason why the shopkeepers of Dublin should be supported by taxing the shopkeepers of the other towns of the empire. The viceroyship is a precious jewel in the eyes of the Aristocracy, and that it will not willingly be abandoned, we believe; but where pretexts are seen through easily, it is, perhaps, prudent to abstain from them. The man who merely robs you, does not offend you so much as the man who both robs you and insults your understanding by an awkward attempt at deceiving you.

Expenses of a Coronation.—The ministers of George IV. asked Parliament for a grant of only £100,000, to defray the expenses of his coronation; but the ceremony turned out something like palace-building, the actual cost greatly exceeding the estimate, amounting to £238,000.* The jewels of the crown were valued at £65,000, and 10 per cent. interest was paid to Rundell and Bridge for the loan of them. Either for the gratification of the monarch or his courtiers, the crown was kept four years, at an annual charge to the public of £6500; and it was only in consequence of a seasonable motion of Mr. Hume the royal bauble was at last divested of its borrowed plumage.

Upon the coronation of William IV. the Whigs certainly curtailed materially both the folly and expense of the feudal pageant, to the no small mortification of the antiquated admirers of chivalry, Punch, and Bartholomew fair. But it is time the oiling and kissing and other tom-foolery, perpetrated in the Abbey by the right reverend bishops, were omitted, and the whole reduced to a simple and economical process of inauguration. The king, the magistrates, and public officers take the needful oaths on the accession, and a coronation confirms nothing; it affords no stronger guarantee either on the part of the king or the people; it is an unmeaning ceremony, fit only to be exhibited among slaves, or a priest-ridden rabble, by an Eastern despot. It is something still more objectionable. Formerly it might be of use, when it was really what it professed to be—a solemn compact between the king and his lieges; but it has since degenerated into a mere mockery of sacred things, of religious rites, vows, and pledges.

Kingly governments are sinking fast in general estimation, and it is bad policy to depreciate monarchy lower by obtruding it in its most absurd and revolting forms. Instead of expending a large sum on a senseless spectacle, we would beg in lieu to suggest that the commencement of every new reign be commemorated by the building of a bridge, the construction of a rail-road, the completion of a Thamestunnel, the foundation of an university, or any other undertaking of national utility.



Principles of Political Economy, 2nd Edit. p. 493.


Sir H. Parnell on Financial Reform, p. 141.


Sir Henry Parnell on Financial Reform, p. 234.


Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates, New Series, vol. ix. p. 1107.


Works of Burke, vol. iii. pp. 277-8.—Speech on Economical Reform.


Parl. Report on the Civil List, Session 1815.—Ordered to be reprinted July 6, 1830.

Ibid. p. 5.


Parl. Report, No. 27, Sess. 1831.


Annual Finance Accounts, Session 1830, p. 134.


Anecdotes of the Life of Bishop Watson, p. 194. This work, with the Memoirs of Sir N. Wraxall, and the admirable Recollections of the Reign of George III. by Mr. Nicholls, comprise valuable materials for forming a true estimate of the public men and measures that distinguished the last century. They have, we believe, been either unnoticed or greatly misrepresented by the reviewers; but this is a point of no great consequence, since Truth is in her nature buoyant and insinuating, and must ultimately triumph over every disadvantage. The monopoly of the press, like every other monopoly opposed to the general welfare, is fast tending to a consummation. The Memoirs of Lord Waldegrave is another useful publication for illustrating the factious nature of the government from the Revolution, and the entire want of public principle in the men who directed it. It is impossible to help commisserating the situation of George the Second, surrounded by venal statesmen, not one of whom would render him the least service without first bargaining for a batch of places and pensions for his relatives and dependents. Even Chatham, with whose name it had been usual to associate better things, appears, from the noble author, to have been no better than his compeers, and ready at any time to sacrifice his public duty to his selfishness and ambition. These repeated disclosures must, at length, convince the most incredulous; and all classes allow that the government, for the last century and a half, has been the prey of mercenary adventurers, whose sole objects were to plunder the people and tyrannize over the monarch.


Blackstone’s Comment. b. iv. ch. iv. and v. and Smith’s Wealth of Nations, b. iii. ch. iv. where the nature of the ancient tenures is investigated.


Humphreys on the Laws of Real Property, 2d edit. p. 31.


We suppose all our readers have read Colonel Thompson’s Catechism of the Corn Laws, price six-pence. His True Theory of Rent, price three-pence, is another admirable publication. The public is indebted to this gentleman for having placed the science of Political Economy on its legs again: it now stands much where it did when Adam Smith left it, after a perilous escape through the thick cloud of darkness in which it had been enveloped by the misleading subtleties of Mr. Ricardo and his followers.


Lowe’s Present State of England, p. 318.


5 Ann, c. 14, and decisions thereon; Loft, 178; 15 East Reports, 462.


In England and Wales in 1830, the number of convictions for criminal offences was 12,805. The number of convictions under the Game Laws was 1987, being nearly one-sixth of the total number of offenders of every description.


Lowe’s Present State of England, App. p. 65.


Edinburgh Review, No. 162, p. 316.

Letter to the Duke of Wellington on creating Peers for Life.


Letter to Earl Grey on the Adjustment of the House of Peers.



John Wade, Chap. XV. “Places, Sinecures, Reversions, Half-Pay, and Superannuations” (1835)

Editing History

  • Item added: 30 Sept. 2016
  • 1st Edit:


John Wade, The Black Book: An Exposition of Abuses in Church and State, Courts of Law, Municipal Corporations, and Public Companies; with a Précis of the House of Commons, Past, present, and to come. A New Edition, greatly enlarged and corrected to the present time. By the Original Editor. With an Appendix (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1835).

  • Chap. XV. “Places, Sinecures, Reversions, Half-Pay, and Superannuations” <>

Editor's Intro




So far we have penetrated into the recesses of the Oligarchy! Our first entrance was into Holy Church, passing, with fear and trembling, through the venerable cathedrals, the collegiate establishments, the stalls, chapters, cloisters, and parsonages—glancing, as we proceeded, at the lawn sleeves, silk aprons, shovel-hats, surplices, hat-bands, and gloves. Next we ventured into the precincts of royalty, surveying the pomp and gorgeous pageants of courts and palaces; loitering, as we went along, in the pleasant retreats, in the woods and forests, the manors, chases, and crown-lands; afterwards we entered the domains of feudality, looking over the inheritances and possessions of the Percys, the Wentworths, Cavendishes, Pelhams, and other lords of the soil. Next, we plunged into the rookery among the wigs and gowns, the owls and owlets of Westminster; passing over thence into the treasury, the exchequer, and admiralty; from which we proceeded eastward into the purlieus of the India House and Threadneedle-street; and finally concluded our exploratory researches among the muniments, charters, trusts and revenues of Companies, Guilds, and Corporations.

After all this long and devious tour, without mentioning sundry off-sets and ramblings by the way, our readers, we fear, are only yet imperfectly acquainted with the System; they comprehend only its geography—its general departments and divisions—and know nothing of the various living creatures—the birds and beasts, and creeping things it contains. Our next object, therefore, will be, to introduce them into the menagerie of placemen, pensioners, sinecurists, reversionists, compensationists, superannuationists, and what not; first, describing their classes, genera, and species; and, afterwards, concluding with a catalogue of their names and qualities. This department of our work will be found a museum of rarities, embracing every link in the human creation, every description of men, women, and children. Like the ark of Noah, there has been nothing too great or mean in nature to find admission. It exhibits all the vice, the caprice, and injustice, of aristocratic government: the highest services to the state almost without notice, and the greatest gifts of the Crown lavished on profligacy, servility, and intrigue. It exhibits indolence and luxury devouring the bread for which poverty and industry have toiled, and for which they are now starving. It exhibits the strength, arcana, and machinery of the English government. It is a real picture of our boasted constitution—if not by law, as by practice established; and is a source whence a foreigner may draw far more correct notions of the checks, balances, and supports of the government, than from the visionary and panegyrical descriptions of Blackstone and De Lolme.

Before giving a list of the public cormorants, let us briefly describe their orders and degrees, beginning with the host of placemen filling the public offices.

From returns to parliament, it appears there are 22,912 persons employed in the public departments, whose salaries amount to £2,788,907.* This does not include the immense number of persons employed in courts of law, the royal household, nor the colonies, and which, if included, would almost double the number of functionaries and their emoluments. The following exhibits a statement of the principal branches of revenue, in which this vast army of tax-gatherers and collectors is distributed, and a comparison of their relative numbers and emoluments in 1797 and 1827.

YEAR 1797. YEAR 1827.
Offices. No. of Persons. Salaries. No. of Persons. Salaries.
The Custom returns for this year are incorrect, owing to the returns for the Port of London having been destroyed by fire in 1814. The persons employed in the Port of London, in 1815, were 2,043. The return of the amount of salaries, at the two periods, is accurate. To obviate another objection, it must be observed, that in 1806-7, and 18, fees to the annual amount of £40,000 were abolished, and equivalent salaries substituted. This, however, accounts only for a very small part of the enormous increase in the charge of this department.
Customs United Kingdom 6,004 £338,648 11,346 £964,750
Excise United Kingdom 6,580 413,281 6,491 768,795
Stamps United Kingdom 521 78,746 519 134,065
Taxes United Kingdom 291 58,331 347 74,190
Post-Office Great Britain 957 54,030 1,377 85,970
Post-Office Ireland 153 9,278 333 21,961

An important consideration is the comparative remuneration of placemen in 1797 and at present. In the year 1797 there were 16,267 persons employed in the public departments; and they received £1,374,561 a year. In 1827 there were 22,912 persons, and they received £2,788,907: the average income of each individual was £84 in 1797, and about £121 in 1827, being at the rate of thirty-three per cent. increase of salary.

Now, can any just cause be assigned, why the whole mass of salaries should not be reduced to the rate of 1797, thereby effecting a saving of upwards of one-third in an expenditure of £2,788,907 per annum. All the reasons which have ever been alleged for an augmentation in the pay of public servants have ceased to exist. The price of wheat in consequence of the corn laws is rather higher in 1832 than in 1797; but manufactured articles and articles of domestic use are mostly one-third or two-thirds cheaper than in 1797. How much better circumstanced are placemen now than in 1810; in that year there were 22,931 persons receiving £2,822,727, averaging about the same income as in 1827: but, at the former period, wheat was 105s. a quarter; while, at present, it is 61s. a quarter. Why should those who live on the taxes enjoy such advantages over those who pay them? Rents, profits, wages, every description of income, the produce of industry and capital, has fallen at least one-third since 1810, and why should not those who are paid by the public be compelled to retrench in an equal ratio? Do not let a suffering community be insulted by the declaration, that there is no room for retrenchment—that it has already been carried to the utmost limit. Here is the proof to the contrary; here it is shown that, without the least injustice to individuals, in the single item of salaries, one million per annum might be saved, which is nearly equal to the produce of the window-duties, and more than double the produce of all the taxes on newspapers, advertisements, and knowledge!

After all, it is not the clerks—the mere underlings of office—that we wish to see exclusively curtailed; it is the vultures of the system whom we wish to see scotched—the chairmen of boards—the commissioners of stamps, of the excise, the customs, and assessed taxes—the joint secretaries of the Treasury—the tellers of the Exchequer—the great officers of the king’s household—the judges, masters, registrars, secretary of bankrupt, prothonotaries, filacers, and custos brevium in the courts of law—the comptrollers, paymasters, treasurers, solicitors of taxes, and solicitors of stamps: it is these, the great birds of prey, whom we first wish to be brought down, and then the inferior race may be pounced upon.

The increase in salaries is not confined to civil offices; it extends equally to military, naval, and ordnance pay and allowances. In all these branches of service, there has been a great augmentation in consequence of the rise in the price of provisions, which is a reason that can be no longer urged against reduction. In 1792, the pay of a private soldier in the regular infantry was only £9 : 2 : 6 for 365 days; it is now £18 : 5. The pay of the regular cavalry has been increased in the same proportion. The pay of a commander in the navy, in 1792, was 20s. per diem; in 1829, 60s. per diem. The allowance to the widow of a colonel, in 1792, was £50 per annum; in 1827, £90 per annum.* A similar scale of augmentation has been applied to almost every other class; but the time has arrived when they ought all to be reduced to the rate before the war. The productive orders of society have long since been compelled to retrograde, and those who live on the produce of their industry must follow them. While the tide was at flood all officers and placemen were wafted too high on the beach; now the tide has fallen, they must either voluntarily glide or supinely wait to be forced into the common channel.

One of the greatest abuses in the public service is pluralities. When a single individual can adequately discharge the duties of half a dozen different offices, the duties of these offices must be either very small or unimportant, and consequently some of them might either be abolished or united, and the salaries saved or reduced. It is unnecessary to cite examples of either civil, judicial, or military pluralities; they will be found in abundance in our List of Places. The Whig ministers have consolidated some offices: they have also abolished some offices, and reduced the salaries of others: the changes they have introduced or contemplated we shall notice in a separate section; but it does not appear they have determined to act on the general principle of reducing all salaries and emoluments to the standard existing prior to the war. There is, however, no good reason why this course should not be followed. Look at the enormous fall in the prices of Sheffield cutlery and Birmingham hardwares recently published! All articles of domestic use and consumption, except bread, have fallen in a corresponding proportion, and many of them have fallen greatly below the prices they were at in 1797. In 1797 the average price of sugar, per cwt., was 60s.; in 1832 it is only 23s. per cwt.; in 1797 coffee was 124s., in 1832 it is 33s. 6d.; sheeting calicoes in 1797 were 1s. 6d. per yard, in 1832 sixpence; broad cloth 22s. 6d. per yard in 1797, in 1832 nine shillings; iron per ton in 1797 £23, in 1832 £5 : 10. While the prices of these articles have fallen from 60 to 75 per cent. below what they were in 1797, the price of corn has risen. In 1797, the average price was 44s. per quarter at Mark-lane; in January 1832 it was 61s. 6d. These are the different results of free and restricted trade—free, as respects manufactures—restricted as respects the produce of the soil.

The price of tea has been kept up from the same cause—monopoly in the East India Company. The high price of corn is no reason whatever for not returning to the standard before the war, because the high price is voluntary—the result of the selfish and pernicious policy of the Aristocracy—of those who chiefly profit not only by the exorbitant price of corn, which they have artificially created, but by exorbitant salaries.


The sums expended under the head of Dead Weight, consisting of retired full-pay, half-pay, civil superannuations, and allowances to the army and navy, are equal to the revenue of many powerful states. The number of military officers, on full-pay, is 6,173: the number of military officers on half-pay, is 6,009. In the navy, there are 5,528 officers: of this number, 200 are admirals, of whom only ten are in actual service; 803 are captains, of whom only seventy-nine are employed; 836 are commanders, of whom only seventy are employed; and 3,689 are lieutenants, of whom only 669 are employed. The total sum annually paid in retired full-pay, half-pay, superannuations, pensions, and allowances to officers in the army and ordnance; to militia-adjutants, local-militia-adjutants, and serjeant-majors; to foreigners on half-pay, and to foreigners receiving pensions, &c. is £3,314,632:17:7.* The total sum annually payable under similar heads in the navy, is £1,583,797 : 16 : 10. The Dead Weight altogether, including the superannuations, grants, and pensions, in the Metropolitan Police, Excise, Customs, Treasury, Stamp, Tax Offices, Revenue, and Military Boards, £5,363,640 : 7 : 111/2.

Such, in addition to the public debt of eight hundred millions, the conflagrations and special commissions, is the fatal bequest of aristocratic government; of that government which vainly sought to avert domestic reform by foreign war and intervention!

There is, however, something so peculiar in the Dead Weight, that it deserves more particular investigation. It might have been thought, during a period of peace and reduced establishments, and more especially by the deaths of annuitants, that the burthen imposed on the community under this head would have been lightened. But it is not so; the Dead Weight is too good a thing for the Aristocracy to be suffered to expire, and it seems likely to be, at least, co-existent with the system which created it. In 1822, this precious entail of the Borough-mongers’ war expenditure amounted to £5,289,087, which is only less, by £74,553 per annum, than it was in March, 1830. All the time government was loud and unceasing in professions of economy, of a desire to reduce every possible charge,—to make every possible saving; yet, in face of all this, one great and most objectionable branch of expense, under circumstances most favourable for reduction, was actually suffered to increase!

All the extravagance of which we complain has resulted from a negligent—not to say deliberate—and indefensible system of profusion. We do not complain of the expense of maintaining those who are actually worn-out or disabled in the public service, no more than we complain of supporting, by a poor-rate, the aged and infirm in civil life; but we may justly complain of supporting those who are in health and strength,—who never served their country, and have no claim on its gratitude. The half-pay of the Army and Navy, on the present plan, is decidedly objectionable. It is not a remuneration for past service; since every holder of a commission, though he has held it only for a day or an hour, is as much entitled to claim half-pay, when not actually employed, as another who has served for twenty years. Such being the rule of the service, ought not government to have adopted every precaution against the multiplication of claimants; ought it not to have guarded against new admissions into the naval and military departments, while there remained officers in abundance on half-pay able to fill up every vacancy? Their conduct has been the reverse of so obvious a principle. Thousands of new commissions have been given away in the Army and Navy, while, at the same time, we had upwards of 16,000 officers in both branches of service totally unemployed. Hence the perpetuity of the Dead Weight. The Aristocracy look upon the Army, the Navy, the Church, and Public Offices, as so many branches of their patrimony, and that a reduction in them would lessen the amount of patronage, diminish the funds for the maintenance of younger children, illegitimate offspring, collateral relatives, favourites, and dependents.

Besides the granting of first commissions, other causes have operated to keep up the amount of the Dead Weight. Previous to the year 1820, no half-pay was payable to officers holding any other office, civil or military, under the crown; but this regulation did not extend to officers on full-pay, the receipt of which was compatible with the holding of civil employment. Another regulation, previous to 1818, was that widows should not be allowed pensions, unless their husbands had been on full pay; and all widows having pensions ceased to receive them if they married. Further, in the Navy, a widow lost her pension if her income from any other source equalled twice its amount. All these regulations have been abrogated;* and the consequence has been an annual increase of charge to the amount of £147,624; and a loss to the public from 1818 of upwards of £1,300,000.

What we have said will, we apprehend, be sufficient to enable our readers to comprehend the nature of the Dead Weight, and the causes of its longevity. We shall proceed with other subjects, first referring to the Appendix for a more detailed statement of the Half-Pay and Superannuation Expenditure.


Sinecures are offices without employment! The bare description is sufficient to decide the fate of appointments like these; but how infatuated the government must be, which obstinately retains them amidst a discontented and famishing population. Let us shortly inquire into the origin and present state of these corruptions.

Sinecures have mostly originated from changes in the usages of society, from alterations in the management of the revenue, the administration of justice, and partly from the unions of the three kingdoms. They ought all to have ceased with the duties attached to them; but have been kept up for sake of patronage. Of the first description of sinecures, the office of master of the hawks, in the royal household, held, with a salary of £1,392, by the Duke of St. Albans, is an example. The chief-justices in Eyre, with salaries amounting to £4,566, have been kept up for centuries, after such a mode of administering the laws had terminated. In Scotland and Ireland is a host of offices of which the holders, without employment or responsibility, have only to receive their salaries and emoluments. Of this class are the offices of Vice-admiral of Scotland, held by general Lord Cathcart; the Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland, held by the late first Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Melville; the offices of Keeper of the Signet and Register of Sasines, held by the brother of Lord Melville: the office of Chancellor of Scotland, held by lieutenant-general the Earl of Rosslyn; and the office of Justice-general of Scotland, held by the late Lord Chamberlain, the Duke of Montrose. All these are absolute sinecures, with salaries varying from £1500 to £5000 per annum. The offices of Chief Justices-in-Eyre, now held by Lord Clarendon and the Right Hon. T. Grenville, are to cease with existing interests; but when that will be no one can tell, since many of these lucrative appointments have been made hereditary in particular families, or patent offices granted for a long term of years.

Next to absolute sinecures are offices of which the salaries are vastly disproportioned to the employment, and of which the duties are discharged wholly by deputy. This forms a very numerous class. As specimens may be mentioned, the Auditorship of the Exchequer, held by Lord Grenville, with a salary of £4000; the Registrarship of the Admiralty, held by Lord Arden, with an income, during the war, of £10,500; the four Tellerships of the Exchequer, each with salaries of £2700; and the four Clerkships of the Pells, with salaries of £1500, held by the Bathursts, Dundasses, and Percevals. In the departments of the Army, the Navy, and Revenue, are numerous sinecures, which ought to have been long since extinguished.

But the courts of justice present the most rank and unweeded garden of lucrative offices without employment, or of which the employment is executed by deputy. Among the foremost of these is Lord Ellenborough, who is clerk in the Court of King’s Bench, with an income of £9,625; he is also custos brevium of the same court. This pompous man threw out an insolent threat, last session, on some comment being made on the heavy contributions levied by legal sinecurists on suitors for justice. Lord Kenyon is joint custos brevium with Lord Ellenborough, with an income of £2,696; and his lordship’s brother, the Hon. Thomas Kenyon, is filazer and clerk of outlawries, with emoluments averaging £7,000 a year. Next, is the Duke of Grafton, sealer in the King’s Bench, £2,888, though we dare say his grace never sealed a writ in his life, nor ever once entered the dark and dirty hole in Inner Temple Lane, where that function is performed by his representative. Charles Short, clerk of the rules and orders of the King’s Bench, receives from fees, £5,172 per annum. What can be the grave and responsible duties of Mr. Short to entitle him to this enormous tribute, we cannot precisely state. Again; there is John Waters, clerk to the chief justice, from fees, £2,169. Lord Tenterden receives £10,000 a year as chief judge of this court; but his lordship’s office is no sinecure, whatever may be the offices held by his son and nephew, who receive, respectively, £2,985, and £1,000 per annum.

Let us next step into the Court of Common Pleas; we pass over the judges, whose salaries are well known, and perhaps not greatly to be complained of. Not so with others. The three prothonotaries have returned their emoluments at £7,800, “or thereabouts,” arising from “ancient fees, payable solely by suitors.”* Mr. Mansfield, filacer of the court, receives £1,450 for filing writs and affidavits, taking bail, and other small matters. Keene Fitzgerald, Esq. clerk of the warrants, £1,252; W. Woodroffe, Esq. associate of the chief justice, £1,198; the custos brevium, Sir E. Mostyn and partners, from fees on actions, £1,122; and last, and not least, William R. H. Brown, Esq. warden of the Fleet Prison, “£2,000, or something upwards,”—the words of the return. The Court of Chancery has been called the “Mint of justice;” but it is, in fact, a mint for coining into enormous fees the effects of minors, legatees, bankrupts, widows, orphans, and lunatics. The office of the chief fee-gatherer of the court is about to be regulated; that is, in lieu of gleaning £15,000 a-year from writs, petitions, supersedeas, &c. the Lord Chancellor is to be paid a fixed salary to an equal amount. The emoluments of the Rev. Thomas Thurlow amounted, in the year 1830, to £8,502, as patentee of bankrupts; and the emoluments of the same Reverend Person, in the same year, as clerk of the hanaper, amounted to £2,500. The sinecures, or offices nearly sinecures, in this court, are so numerous, that we must be content with indicating them in clusters, referring to the List of Places for particulars. The ten masters, whose chief duties consist in three or four hours’ attendance per day, in adjusting accounts and swearing affidavits, receive each, on the average, £4,500 per annum; and their chief clerks, each, £1,400 a-year. The Six Clerks, as they are termed, are nothing more than sinecurists, and their incomes average £1,200 each. The Registrar levies £4,861 in fees, for copying proceedings in equity, and the master of the Report Office as much, though his duties are of the same humble description, performed by hireling quill-drivers, who receive less than a curate’s stipend. Our task would never be finished, were we to pursue our inquiries minutely through the entire labyrinth of law in the United Kingdom. Edinburgh presents similar enormities in judicial administration, in the fees and emoluments of keeper of signet, and register of sasines, the clerks of sessions, sheriffs’ clerks, &c. Dublin has also her flight of vultures perched on the temple of Astræ, under the denomination of masters in chancery, prothonotaries, clerk of the hanaper, and clerks of papers, and what not. In the provinces justice is impeded by clerks of the peace, appointed by lords lieutenant of counties, and who have princely emoluments. Then what purlieus of sinecurism there are in the counties palatine and duchy courts of Lancaster, Durham, and Cornwall, in the nominal capacities of chancellors, registrars, receivers, attorney and solicitor-generals, auditors, king’s counsel, ushers, and other mimicry of the regal and imperial government!

Knowing, as we do, what a gradation of pillage the course of justice is in this country; knowing how the unfortunate suitor is fleeced at every step of his proceeding, by the harpies of the law; knowing all this, we do often wonder at the proneness of our countrymen to litigation, and cannot behold, without both surprise and indignation, the readiness with which they furnish pabulum to the monstrous legal extortions we have shortly indicated. We hear much said about the “hells” of St. James’s-street, and of the “hells” of Bond-street, where brainless creatures are stripped of their fortunes; but are these more ruinous and plundering than others, under a very different name, in the vicinity of Chancery-lane, Temple-bar, and Palace-yard?

We pass on to another description of sinecures, under the titles of governors, lieutenant-governors, town-adjutants, town-majors, constables, gunners, wardens, lord-wardens, and God knows what beside, of the cities, towns, forts, castles, garrisons, &c. of Great Britain and Ireland. Berwick-on-Tweed, Chester, Hull, Blackness-Castle, Dover-Castle, Edinburgh-Castle, Walmer-Castle, and Tilbury-Fort, are examples of these appointments, and which cost the country upwards of £35,000 per annum.* Numerous commissioners of revenue, comptrollers, inspectors of taxes, and distributors of stamps, are little more than sinecurists, the duties, where any exist, being discharged by deputies. But the chief nidus of sinecures is in the Colonies. The duties of nearly all offices in the West Indies, civil or judicial, are discharged by deputy, while the principal resides in England. They form an immense branch of patronage to the crown. It is impossible to estimate correctly their total value, the incomes being paid in fees, received by the deputy, who stipulates to pay a fixed annual sum to the principal. The total value of colonial sinecures, exclusive of those at the Cape of Good Hope, the Isle of France, and Malta, has been estimated at £76,546.

The subjoined statement, taken from the Supplementary Report of the Committee of Public Expenditure in 1809, shews the net value of the principal sinecures in the gift of the Crown, and otherwise. It is now twenty-two years since this report was made; and during that long iuterval, we doubt whether the profits of a single sinecure have been saved to the public: some which we have noticed are to cease on the termination of existing interests. The offices of patentee of bankrupts, and clerk of the hanaper, and of justice-general in Scotland, and a few more, have been abolished; but then the holders are to have compensations; so that, we repeat, we doubt whether, by the extinction of sinecures, the community has been saved a farthing; and this monstrous abuse is just as flagrant as ever, to the everlasting reproach of the members of both houses of parliament, who have not raised their voices, not only once but many times, against the further toleration of this shameless robbery, under any shape or pretext. Here is the return to which we have referred:—

Sinecures in the English Law Courts, mostly in the gift of the Judges 62,462
Sinecures in England, not in Law Courts 115,589
Sinecures in Scotland 25,523
Sinecures in Ireland 76,435
To which add Colonial Sinecures 76,546

Having spoken of Sinecures, we come next to their natural offspring—Reversions. It was very natural that the holders of situations, to which large emoluments and no duties were attached, should not only wish to preserve them during their lives, but also, if possible, transmit them to their relatives and friends after death: hence originated grants in reversion. Another reason, however, may be assigned; ministers not having situations in sufficient abundance to satisfy all their adherents, endeavoured to satisfy them by anticipation. Those for whom they could not immediately provide, they satisfied by obtaining grants from the king, making them the heirs of places at the death of the present possessors. Sometimes these reversions were granted to two or three persons at once; first to one, and if he or she should die, to another; and if he or she should die, to another; in this way have been granted most of the places on the Irish establishment for sixty or seventy years to come, and many of the most valuable legal sinecures in England.

The absurdity of this practice is sufficiently obvious. Nothing could be more ridiculous than to appoint persons to offices who were, perhaps, yet in the nursery, and of whose future capabilities it was impossible to have any knowledge. To be sure, many of these reversionary situations had no duties attached to them, and, of course, it could not be of much importance by whom they were discharged.

From the large emoluments of Sinecures, and the granting them in reversion, have originated some ludicrous incongruities. Many noble lords and their sons, right honourable and honourable gentlemen, fill the offices of clerks, tide-waiters, harbour-masters, searchers, gaugers, packers, craners, wharfingers, prothonotaries, and other degrading situations. Some of these offices are filled by women and some by children. The Countess of Mansfield receives £1000 a year from the Barbadoes planters; and the duchess dowager of Manchester £2928 a-year, as late collector of the customs outwards! Not long since a right honourable lady, a baroness, was sweeper of the Mall in the Park; another lady was chief usher in the Court of Exchequer; and the Honourable Louisa Browning and Lady B. Martny were custos brevium: some of these offices, we see, from the Law List, have been recently merged in and executed by the husbands and children of these high-born dames. Then of noble Lords; the Beresfords hold the appropriate offices of wine-tasters, storekeepers, packers, and craners, in Ireland; the Duke of Grafton, and Lords Ellenborough and Kenyon, with deputies to help, are clerks, sealers, and keepers of writs. Lord Henley is master in chancery; the late lord Walsingham was in the petty office of comptroller of first fruits in the Court of Exchequer; and Lord Wm. Bentinck, now located in India as governor-general of Bengal, is clerk of the pipe, part of whose office it is to attend or assist the man who holds up Lord Chancellor Brougham’s train!

We could enumerate a great many more, but they will be noticed in our List; we shall pass on to Pensions.

As nearly as can be collected from the various official returns submitted to Parliament, it would appear there are upwards of fifteen hundred pensioners, who receive about £805,022 per annum. This is exclusive of colonial pensions, and of all grants, allowances, half-pay, and superannuations for civil, military, and naval services. We subjoin a statement of the objects and sources from which this vast sum is paid.

*This and the preceding items are taken from the Fourth Report of Sir H. Parnell’s Finance Committee, page 67, Session 1828. Parliamentary Paper, No. 127, Session 1830. This item, perhaps, ought to be omitted, being only, we presume, a temporary allowance to individuals, many of whom had just claims on the hospitality of the country.
Pensions payable out of the consolidated fund of England and Ireland 455,444
Pensions payable out of the hereditary revenues of the Post Office and Excise 22,439
Pensions to American loyalists 5,056
Pensions to Toulonese and Corsican emigrants 14,380
Pensions to St. Domingo sufferers and Dutch naval officers 1,820
Pensions to ambassadors and other foreign ministers charged on the civil list 57,377*
Court pensions on the English civil list, about 95,000
Pensions on the Irish civil list, about 75,000
Pensions on the Scotch civil list 35,000
Pensions to Spanish refugees, who had co-operated with the British armies in the Peninsular war 18,040
Pensions payable out of the 41/2 per cent. Leeward Island duties 27,466
Total of Pensions £805,022

The funds out of which pensions are paid are so numerous that we are not sure, though we have all the official returns about us, some of them have not escaped our researches. However, we had rather be under the mark than be accused of exaggeration. Exclusive of sinecures, and the millions expended on objects nearly as unjustifiable, a Pension Roll, in times like these, to the amount of £805,022, is enough to make a man start from his seat, especially if he reflect, for one moment, on the dreadful state of the labouring population of the empire. In our humble opinion the salaries of public servants ought to be their only reward, and the granting of pensions is altogether unjustifiable, unless for casualties in the service of the country; but when they are squandered on persons of whom the public knows nothing, nor for what, they are an unbearable grievance. Who, for instance, knows any thing of the services of the Giffords, the Cockburns, the Bathursts, Arbuthnots, Hays, Fitzhums, and scores more who are living on the earnings of the industrious. Foreigners, too, are on the Pensions List; men have been brought from all parts of the earth, from America, from Germany, from France, and myriads from Scotland, to eat our bread, and devour the wages of labour and the profits of trade and agriculture.

It would be quite impossible, within reasonable limits, to enter into an analysis of the Pension List; but there is one class of pensioners who have got upon our backs in such a peculiar way, and they have such peculiar claims on national gratitude, that we must needs crave the reader’s patience while we shortly describe their origin and pretensions.

In the year 1817, there was a pretty general call for retrenchment, and a Select Committee of Finance, consisting mostly of placemen and pensioners, recommended as a sort of tub to the whale, the abolition of a few of the more obnoxious sinecures. Three acts were accordingly introduced to abolish certain useless offices; as supervisor of his Majesty’s printing-press, compiler of the Dublin gazette, master of the revels, chief justices in Eyre, clerk of the pipe, receiver of the bishop’s rents, and some others were to be abolished: all which are subject to existing interests. But mark the sequel: having recommended the abolition of these sinecures, the committee next recommend the creation of others; having cut down the places without any duties to perform, they create so many new pensions of retirement and superannuations, as actually to entail a greater burthen on the country after this mock retrenchment than before!

With this view, the 57th Geo. III. c. 65, was introduced. The act begins by reciting that, “the abolition and regulation of various offices, which deprive the crown of part of the means by which his Majesty has been heretofore enabled to recompense the service of persons who have held high and efficient civil offices;” and it modestly enacts, that, from henceforth and evermore, all the high and low “efficient public officers” of the country, from the first lord of the treasury down to the secretaries of the treasury, under-secretaries of state, clerk of the ordnance, first and second secretaries of the Admiralty, all included, shall be supported by pensions paid out of the pockets of the people. This was reforming with a vengeance! A committee, appointed expressly to abolish useless places, finishes by recommending the purchase of them, and the establishing of a perpetual fund to reward the holders thereof; most of the members of the committee themselves being the parties to be benefited by this admirable mode of retrenchment.

This truly extraordinary Pension Act assumes, as a principle, that the different sinecures are the absolute property of our hereditary legislators and their dependents; and thence concludes, because these offices are abolished, they have a claim to be provided for in some other way. “Here is a considerable mass of property,” they say, “taken from our grasp, and it must be made up to us by equivalent pensions.” This is exactly the principle, and what must the constitution of the government be which sanctions, by its authority, so monstrous an assumption?

What right had these “high and efficient public men” to compensation at all? The sinecures were abuses, and they ought to have been swept away without equivalent. If other classes are injured by reform or improvement, what compensation do they receive for their loss? The workman suffers by the substitution of machinery, the merchant and manufacturer by the vicissitudes of commerce, and the farmer by alterations of the currency; but they receive no equivalent; no fund is provided to make up the loss of their capital and industry. How many individuals have been ruined by the introduction of the steam-engine; yet no one thinks of making up the loss of the sufferers. No one thinks of establishing a perpetual fund to compensate the loss of the stocking-weavers, printers, cloth-dressers, or coach-proprietors: no one would think of compensating the loss of the publicans and brewers, from the throwing open of the beer trade. Yet the rights of all these classes are as sacred as those of the pensioners and sinecurists. They have all vested interests in their pursuits; they have all served apprenticeships or laid out their capital: and if the sacrifice of their property be a public good, they are as much entitled to compensation as the “high and efficient public men.”

Absurd as the principle is, it pervades the whole system: all abuses are private property, and you cannot reform them without raising an outcry that the interests of some class or other are violated. If you meddle with tithe, you are violating the property of the church. If you attempt reform in courts of justice, you are attacking the emoluments and patronage of the judicial classes. If you attack the rotten boroughs, you are accused of invading the property of the aristocracy. And, lastly, if you touch sinecures, they are the property of our “high and efficient public” men.

Under such a system there can be no reform; there can be only transformation of abuse; you can only transmute a sinecure into a pension, or an enormous salary into a superannuation; but, as to extirpating the evil altogether, it is chimerical. That can only be done by a reformed Parliament, which shall have no vested interests in the abuses it undertakes to remove.

Having explained the origin and principle of the Pension Act, let us next glance at some of the worthies who, up to this time, under the designation of “high and efficient public men,” have fastened their greedy talons on the earnings of the industrious. First on the list is Lord Sidmouth, £3000 a year for life: his lordship, besides, has Richmond-park Lodge, and for many years has been receiving, as deputy-ranger, from £1000 to £2000 per annum, out of the rents and profits of the crown lands. The sinecure of clerk of the pells was many years held by his son; and there are several other Addingtons in the church, and on foreign missions. Altogether £5000 a year may be put down as the reward of the famous circular, the memorable letter of thanks, to the Manchester magistrates, for the massacre of the 16th of August, and other high and efficient public services of Henry Viscount Sidmouth.

The next is the honourable Robert Ward £1000, late auditor of the civil list, we believe, and who has run through various ranks and degrees as clerk of the Ordnance, M.P. for Haslemere, &c. This gentleman is only to receive half his pension, if he hold office of less annual value than twice its amount.

The right honourable Henry Goulbourn £2000, the Duke’s luminous and most efficient chancellor of the Exchequer. Then follows a Mr. Hamilton £1000, of whom we know nothing, unless he be a late consul or clerk of the Treasury. Afterwards we have Thomas Peregrine Courtenay, M.P. for Totness, colonial agent for the Cape of Good Hope, and late secretary of the India Board. This is the “family man,” with a wife and fourteen children, for whom Canning once made so melting an appeal to the guardians of the public purse;—they must be provided for. Mr. Courtenay is the cousin of a peer—let him be put down for £1000, and his sons have the first vacancies in the Mint, the Treasury, or Exchequer!

Now, right honourable John Wilson Croker, come forth; don’t be ashamed; who can begrudge any thing to the paymaster of the widows’ charity, and a twenty-one years’ secretary of the Admiralty, with £3000 per annum. Put John down for £1500 a year for life—but stop; do not let him receive his pension, any more than his brother pamphleteer, Peregrine Courtenay, if he hold offices yielding £3000 a year.

Joseph Planta, Esq. we congratulate you; enrolled among the high and efficient public men; a secretary of the Treasury, with £3500 a year, and a pension for life of £1000 a year. Mr. Planta, you are a happy man; your calling and election are sure, and you are now placed beyond the risk of accident, by “flood or field.” Next to Castor and Pollux, whom you have so good a right to follow, you have been one of the most humble and industrious labourers in the borough vineyard.

We pass over Canning and Huskisson; at the time of their death, each was down for £3000; they were amongst the most greedy and audacious of corruptionists; but they are gone to their audit elsewhere;—not, however, without leaving long trails of calamities behind, of which more hereafter.

Next is a Hobhouse £1000; but we pass over him also to come to the last and greatest of our “high and efficient public men,” the right honourable Lord Bexley. How ought a statesman like this to be rewarded: the great Sieur Vansittart, the steadfast coadjutor of the “Thunderer,” the astounding financier, the man of infinite resource, who, in the period of our greatest tribulations, did, by the mere force of native genius, make a pound note and a shilling equal to a guinea, when the former was depreciated thirty per cent. Put Nicholas down for £3000 a year for life, and make him a Lord!

Here ends the muster-roll of “high and efficient public men.” There are other names; but these are enough to illustrate the application of the Pension Act of 1817, and the supplementary act to it in 1825, and which acts ought to have been long since repealed by the Whig ministry.

There is another description of pensioners whom we must shortly touch—the noble and learned lords:—Here is Lord Eldon still preying upon us, at the rate of £4000 a year. Surely £15,000 a year, and upwards, for more than a quarter of a century, and a disposition naturally parsimonious, afforded the means of making a comfortable provision for old age. Lord Manners, another ex-chancellor, draws £3,892 a-year; Wynford £3,756. Then there is lord Tenterden impending, and Bayley and others menace us in the distance. Lyndhurst for a time hung out a flag of distress, but, after receiving £505 : 14 : 111/4 (Finance Accounts, p. 122) as temporary relief, he retreated into the court of Exchequer. Brougham, or his friends for him, have put in a claim for £6,000 as a retiring pension,—but avast there, good lord! Surely such doings must have an end! At this rate the whole Bar may file through the judgeships, and come upon us, after a quarter’s service, for pensions for life, each of which, at the present rate of labourers’ wages, would maintain eight hundred persons.


A most indefensible principle has long been acted upon by the Government,—namely, if a person has only once been so fortunate as to have had the fingering of the public money, he shall for ever after be supported out of the public purse. It is exactly the principle of the poor-laws; let a man obtain a settlement, and he thenceforward claims subsistence from the parish, and let a placeman once get into a government office, and he immediately, and for ever, sets up the pauper’s claim of being fed and clothed at the charge of the community.

Exactly upon this principle was framed the infamous Act of 1817; most of the pensions, we have seen, were granted conditionally; provided the parties were not in office, then they should receive their £1000, £1500, or £3000 per annum, as a trifling allowance, to keep the poor creatures from starving while unemployed! What a pity such old and faithful servants should perish of hunger, especially as they could not possibly have had an opportunity, from the lowness of their wages, to lay up a store for a rainy day! Still we like even-handed justice to all mankind. Many object to that mode of administering the poor laws, which allows a labourer in health and strength his parishpay, merely because he happens to be out of work. But why not extend the same rule to state paupers? Why should such able-bodied men as Croker, Planta, and Courtenay entail upon the industrious classes such heavy rates, merely because they are just now in want of a job?

The practice of granting compensations and retiring allowances is just as indefensible as granting pensions. We have now before us two official returns of the session of 1830, the bare titles of which are enough to make one sick: one is—“Returns of all Persons who receive Compensation Allowances for the loss of their Offices until otherwise provided for;” the other a “Return of the Number of Clerks and Officers who have been superannuated, and who have been again introduced into the service.

What practices are these? on what principle can they be justified? A merchant or banker retires from business, reduces his establishment, or is forced into the Gazette, by alterations in the currency, or commercial vicissitudes, and what compensation does he give to his clerks and servants thrown out of employment? None: nor do they expect any, having previously received salaries equivalent to the value of their services. Let us revert to our former illustration; suppose that, by the discovery of a new machine, a certain manufacture can be carried on at a cheaper rate, and, of course, the public be benefited by its substitution for manual labour, owing to the less price at which they could obtain the manufactured articles. Again; suppose that, by some new mode of managing the business of government, a number of offices may be abolished, and, of course, their salaries saved to the community. Here, then, are two cases exactly similar; in one, a number of working people are thrown out of employment; and, in the other, a number of the officers of government. The public is benefited alike in both cases: in one, by saving of salaries; and, in the other, by the less price at which it purchases commodities. But how differently these two classes of sufferers have been treated. One receives a pension or compensation, perhaps to the amount of his salary; and the other is suffered to perish for want of employment, and his privations aggravated by contributing to the maintenance of persons whose claims at all events are not greater than his own.

The same gross injustice is perpetrated in lord Brougham’s Bankruptcy Court Act. Under this act, the monstrous sinecures of patentee of bankrupts and clerk of the hanaper, held by the Rev. Thomas Thurlow, and yielding £11,000 a-year, are abolished; but then the reverend sinecurist is to be compensated during his natural life by an equivalent annuity, payable out of bankrupt estates. This is not the worst part of the arrangement. Lord Eldon had granted these valuable sinecures in reversion to his son, William Henry John Scott, or William Henry Scott, (for with admirable precision he is called by both names in the 52d clause of the statute,) on the death of Thomas Thurlow; and thus during two lives the public will have to pay £11,000 per annum, without even the pretext of service, and when these lives drop, probably some device will be hit upon for inserting a third, in the same manner as the Dead Weight and other government annuities are perpetuated. Even the commissioners of bankrupts, many of whom had only just finished eating their commons, and whose very names were offensive as synonymous with all that is sponging, imbecile, and parasitical—even these are to receive pensions for life. And last, and not least, the purse-bearer to the Lord Chancellor is to be compensated by an equivalent life annuity. Only think of this, the lord chancellor having a purse or sack-bearer to carry his fees—just as if we lived in the time of the Henries or Edwards, and such a contrivance as bank notes had never been heard of. Really we are startled at the Gothic barbarisms of the system at every turn, whether we look into the law-courts, the Exchequer, the royal household, or the Church Establishment, and we almost despair of ever seeing it brought into usefulness and symmetry.

Much as we desire to see legal reforms, we had rather they were altogether postponed than accompanied with such interminable incumbrances. A bill is now in the house for abolishing fines and recoveries, but a long train of vested interests and expectances are to be satisfied and compensated before it can be carried. Our opinion is, we had better stop at once than proceed at this rate; we are evidently in a slough, and the further we go, the deeper we are in the mire. It is obviously better policy to leave abuses in a state of sufferance than to sanction their existence by act of parliament.

It was chiefly by a profuse grant of pensions and compensations to the members of the Irish parliament—which immaculate body Mr. O’Connell is so anxious to see revived—that Mr. Pitt, through the agency of lord Castlereagh and marquis Cornwallis, was enabled to accomplish the Union. From page 488, it appears that more than £75,000 is annually paid to persons for the loss of office, in consequence of that legislative movement. Sir Jonah Barrington relates that, “Among other curious claims for Union compensations, appears one from the Lord-lieutenant’s rat-catcher at the castle, for decrease of employment; another from the necessary-woman of the privy council of England for the increased trouble in her department; with numerous others of the same quality.” Besides compensations, there was super-added a liberal grant of peerages, and £1,500,000 was raised to compensate refractory members for loss of boroughs; Lords Ely, Shannon, Clanmorris, Belvidere, and Sir Hercules Langrishe, received £143,000, the first noblemen being paid £90,000 for their six members!

It is, however, to the fatal wars of the Aristocracy we are principally indebted for the immense number of compensations, as well as every other national calamity. The vast extent of our establishments, during the period of hostilities, and their reduction since the peace, has made one very considerable portion of the community sinecure dependents on the other for support; and the extent to which the public is now burthened, in providing for non-effective services, is almost incredible.

It appears from the inquiries of Sir H. Parnell’s committee, that the non-effective of the army, navy, and ordnance costs the country £4,904,499 a-year; while the effective of the same costs £15,616,354: so that nearly one-third, or thirty-three per cent., is paid for no manner of service whatever. Again, in the civil departments of the government, the sum of £4,371,000 is paid for salaries, and other effective services; and £440,000 for compensations, and other non-effective services, the latter being actually one-tenth part of the former.*

Such a monstrous system could never have grown up, except under a most negligent and lavish administration, directly interested in the corruptions it tolerated. It would be easy to cite examples of the most shameless abuses, in granting compensations and retired allowances. The attempts to fasten the sons of Earl Bathurst and Lord Melville on the public, under these denominations, must be still remembered. In the official returns, to which we have alluded, we find Mr. Penn, a clerk of the customs, was superannuated upon £750 a-year for his important services; but though superannuated for the customs, he was made agent for Ceylon, at a salary of £1050. In 1822, Alfred Johnson, agent-victualler at the Cape of Good Hope, retired on a pension of £400, and reappeared in 1826 as secretary to the commissioners of the navy at Plymouth. Thomas Alexander, store-keeper at Martinique, was superannuated in 1815, at £175 a-year, and just ten years after debouched again as store-keeper at Mauritius, at £400 salary.

Of those who are receiving compensations until otherwise provided for, the following may be taken as specimens. Henry Hallam, Esq. late commissioner of stamps, £500 a-year; Charles Jolly, examiner of taxes, £230; J. D. Smith, landing waiter, £375; Alexander Cleghorn, inspector of imports, £416; John Hughes, an unattached barrack-master, £182; W. R. Marshall, clerk of survey, Woolwich, £450; Pierce Edgecumbe, clerk, Chatham-yard, £416. Separately these pro tempore allowances are not of much consequence; but when the number of them comes to be considerable, it raises the total amount to a serious sum. After all, it is not clerks and other small fry whom we first wish to see cut down; it is the great consumers of taxes—the high Aristocracy, who, with extensive domains, enjoy valuable sinecures, and receive enormous salaries, and especially such pensioners as Eldon, Bexley, Grenville, Wynford, Sidmouth, and others of that calibre, whom we desire to see curtailed.

Commissioners of Inquiry.—These form a numerous and burthensome class, most of them receiving salaries of from £1000 to £1500. They are a sort of servants of servants; being set on foot by those who ought to be the servants of the people, to do the work which they themselves have been deputed to perform. The ostensible objects of most of the commissions now in operation are, to inquire into the laws and judicial administration, to inquire into the state of public charities, the national records, the duties, salaries, and emoluments in courts of justice in Ireland, the management in certain branches of the revenue in Great Britain, and the state of the Scotch Universities. The labours of some commissions, it cannot be denied, have been productive of the most beneficial results; others have been instituted merely as pretexts for jobs, to extort more plunder from the people. The unpaid services of parliamentary committees have contributed, more than any other form of inquiry, to the exposition and amendment of public abuses.


Great as are the salaries, pensions, and emoluments of individuals, it must be constantly borne in mind that these constitute the smallest part of the advantages, or perhaps we may term it corruptive influence, to which official men are exposed. The most important, the most seductive, and most tempting adjuncts to public offices of the higher grade are the vast patronage, the power and personal consideration they confer on the possessors. In this consists the great difference between government employments and the pursuits of trade and commerce. There are, we doubt not, individual merchants and manufacturers who do—or at least have—realized an annual profit equal to the salaries of a first lord of the Treasury, Secretary of State, the Chief Justice, or even the Lord Chancellor. But observe the difference in their respective situations; observe the dazzling and glittering elevation of the state functionaries; observe the good things they have at their disposal—the benefices, bishoprics, commissionerships of customs and excise; the clerkships, registrarships, and secretaryships, worth from £1000 to £10,000 a-year—and think of the opportunities afforded by these splendid gifts for enriching their families and friends—and think, too, of the delightful incense of adulation and obsequiousness the dispensers of such favours must inhale, and of the host of fawning sycophants, expectants, and dependents, they must every where raise up around them. Here are the real sweets of office, the delicious flavour of which can never be tasted by a mercantile man, however successful in his vocation.

What is it which makes individuals seek anxiously to be placed in the magistracy, or sacrifice a fortune for a seat in the House of Commons? It is not the direct salary or emoluments, for there are none; it is the power and the chance of obtaining power, and the personal consideration it gives. A directorship in the Bank of England, or in the East-India Company is comparatively unprofitable, except from opening a wide field for valuable appointments and individual influence. But if objects like these can rouse up to an intense degree human cupidity, how much more must it be excited by a chance of obtaining the great prizes of state, which yield not only great direct emolument, but boundless patronage, and an authority and pageantry almost regal!

In considering, therefore, the salaries of civil and judicial officers, it is always necessary to bear in mind that they form only a single element in the multifarious advantages of their situations. The patronage of most public officers would be ample remuneration; and were it limited to that alone, we have no apprehension there would be a dearth of candidates for official employments, no more than there are for the magistracy, shrievalties, custos rotulorum, lord lieutenancies, and other unpaid services.

We have been drawn into these observations from reflecting on a singular public document before us, and of the contents of which we shall give the reader some account. We have hitherto spoken of placemen and pensioners generally; we shall now direct attention to the highest class, whose emoluments exceed £1000 per annum, and of which a return has been made to parliament.* Why Sir James Graham restricted his motion to tax and fee-eaters of the transcendental order, it is not easy to conjecture; perhaps it is the intention of the Whig ministry to make £1000 the maximum of official remuneration,—a proposition which the community would hail with great thankfulness as one of the most effective blows ever aimed at sinecurism, deputyships, and aristocrat idlers. Our opinion indeed is that, with a few exceptions, the emoluments of no public officer ought to exceed £1000; few persons with higher incomes will work, and they only tend to generate a taste for luxury, equipage, club-houses, gambling, and the frivolities and dissipation of fashionable life.

To come, however, to an analysis of the return to which we have alluded. It comprises 956 individuals whose incomes amount to £2,161,927, averaging £2261 each; there are forty-two persons whose incomes are not less than £5000 each, and whose united incomes amount to £339,809; and there are eleven individuals whose incomes are not less than £10,000 each, and who altogether receive £139,817 per annum. Of the whole 956 names the following is a classification, showing the total income of the several classes, and the average income of each individual.

CLASSIFICATION of 956 Placemen and Pensioners whose Salaries, Profits, Pay, Fees, and Emoluments exceeded, January 5, 1830, £1000 per Annum.
No. of Officers. Description. Total Emoluments. Average Income.
350 Civil Officers £698,805 £1997
50 Court of Chancery 137,216 2744
112 King’s Bench and other Judicial Officers 338,651 3023
100 Ambassadors and Consuls 256,780 2567
134 Military Officers 240,847 1794
36 Ordnance and Artillery 50,155 1390
19 Naval Officers 39,835 2076
147 Colonial Officers 378,996 2578
8 Officers of the House of Commons 20,642 2567

The lawyers evidently profit most by the system; their average emoluments exceed those of any other class; the civilians of all classes are better remunerated than the military; and the officers of the army rather better than those of the navy. The worst paid are employés in the Ordnance; this branch of the service requiring men of science and application, is not sought after by the great families, and hence we observe the working of our aristocratical government in this department as in every other; the most meritorious and arduous duty not being performed by the Oligarchy and their dependents, it is rewarded by the fewest number and least valuable prizes.

It is not, however, by averaging the incomes of public functionaries that we see the iniquities of the System in its most conspicuous light. In the state, as in the church, the most flagrant abuse consists in pluralities, in the power which individuals of title, influence, and connexion have to heap upon themselves, families, and friends, a multiplicity of offices. Next to this abuse is that of patronage. We know that the direct income of a lord of the Treasury, or a secretary of state, is very considerable, and that of a lord chief justice or lord chancellor is enormous; but what is that to the value of their patronage. All their immense patronage is so much direct revenue, and we know that it is applied as such in making provisions for sons, sons-in-law, and collaterals. We might cite the Bathursts, Manners, Abbotts, Scotts, and others; but we think the subject has been already sufficiently illustrated, and further proof will be found in our Place and Pension List.

Of all classes who prey on the community the lawyers require to be most narrowly watched. By the classification above it is evident they have contrived to have more sumptuous pickings than any other description of employés, official, military, or naval. They are talkers by profession, and the gift of tongues enables them to set forth their claims and withstand reduction of emolument with superior effect and clamour. The claim for legal fees has been a principal obstacle to judicial reform, and it has only been by the most extravagant concessions this obstacle has been surmounted. The lavish settlement for the sinecures in equity under the Bankruptcy Court Act we have before noticed. It has been the same in the common law courts. Under the 1 Will. IV. c. 58, commissioners were appointed to ascertain the value of legal fees received in the superior courts, and fix a rate of compensation for them according to their average amount in the ten preceding years. But it was found on inquiry that several fees and emoluments had been received in the courts, the legality of which it was difficult to determine. Here then was a case of doubt, and the question was, who were to have the benefit of it, the public or the profession. The “Guardians of the Public Purse” certainly ought to have guarded the weal of the former; but they did not. Under the same legal intelligence, we presume, as that which advised the continuance of the payment of the Russo-Dutch loan, another act was passed the 1 & 2 Will. IV. c. 35, by which it was provided that all fees, whether legal or extortionate, which had arisen or been received within the preceding fifty years, should be allowed by the commissioners. Further, if any more doubts arose as to the legality or reasonableness of such fees, to whom does the reader imagine the commissioners were to refer?—To the lords of the treasury, to Mr. Gordon, or to some other impartial tribunal perhaps—No! by all that is inept and ridiculous, they were to refer to the judges of the court in which the questionable fees had been received, and by whom the fee-gatherers are appointed!


It is much more agreeable to our nature to praise than to blame, and we regret the subject of this section is not more copious. From some paragraphs in the newspapers we were led to infer the Whigs had effected great things in the public departments; but on examining more authentic sources of information we find that all they have effected is, to adopt the expressive phraseology of the Paymaster of the Forces, a mere flea-bite. It is only by a general reduction, as contended at the commencement of this chapter, of one-third or other fractional part in all public salaries, pensions, fees, and emoluments, that any material improvement can be accomplished. Next to this, a plan of direct taxation ought to be substituted for the expensive, trumpery, and inquisitorial fiscal system matured under Mr. Pitt and his successors. We have before alluded to this subject, and shall leave it to proceed to our more immediate object.

First, it appears that the salary of the Lord Chancellor is to be regulated, but it is not said it is to be reduced. We affirm, however, it ought to be reduced, and greatly too. It is monstrous that a man who, perhaps, the day before was squabbling at the circuit mess, or pleading some paltry cause for a five-guinea fee, should be at once thrust into an office worth £15,000 a year. It is an income enough for a king, and is a great deal too much for a king’s clerk. The salaries of the other equity judges, as also of the judges of the common law courts, ought all to be reduced; they are enormously too high, and wholly unsuited to the times.

The salary of the First Lord of the Treasury is to be continued at £5000 per annum, but if the office is held in conjunction with the chancellorship of the Exchequer, the salary of the latter is to be reduced one-half, making the net income of the two £7500. Here not a farthing is given up, but a contingent saving may be effected by the Whig successors in office, for whose benefit no doubt this admirable arrangmeent is intended.

The salary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is £5,398: it is to be reduced to £5000 net—Here, John Bull, £398 is saved—take it and be thankful!

The junior lords of the Treasury are paid £1220 each: they are to be reduced to £1200—Here, John, is a whole twenty pounds saved. This is economy at any rate. Upon my word this is cutting away right and left in grand style! But here follows something more substantial. The joint secretaries of the Treasury are to receive £2500 in lieu of £3500; the three principal secretaries of State £5000 in lieu of £6000; and the under-secretaries of State £1500 in lieu of £2000. My Lord President of the Council is to receive £2000, by which £840 : 17 : 4 is saved—a sum not to be sneezed at in these times, and for which many a man would be truly thankful. My Lord Privy Seal, who is my Lord Grey’s son-in-law, is to receive the net income of his predecessor in office: but lord Durham is a noble-minded man, and has declined receiving any salary. The first Lord of the Admiralty to be reduced from £5000 to £4500; the first secretary from £3000 to £2000, with an addition of £500 after five years’ service. Nothing is said about the junior lords of the Admiralty. The income of the President of the Board of Control to be reduced from £5000 to £3500; that of the paid commissioners from £1500 to £1200; and that of the secretary from £1500 to £1200. The Judge Advocate General is to be reduced to a net salary of £2000, which is enough during peace, when standing armies are unlawful. The reductions at the Ordnance Board are too meagre to merit special notice. The salary of the Postmaster General is to be continued, in consideration of his real duties, and of the laborious duties of Sir F. Freeling, who is amply remunerated at the rate of £5000 a year. The rangership of the parks, a sinecure, to be abolished. The Master of the Mint to receive £2000 in lieu of £3000. The Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland to receive nothing except fees. The chief secretary of Ireland to receive £5500—a responsible office—but too highly paid and out of proportion with the incomes of the Premier and Home Secretary. The auditorship of the Civil List has been annexed to the Treasury, by which a saving of £1500 a year has been effected. The offices of receivers general of the taxes, except in the London district, have been abolished, and their duties annexed to the offices of inspectors of taxes. Other offices abolished or reduced, are considerable; among them the Vice-Treasurer, king’s Stationer, and Post-Master-General in Ireland; the Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance and Clerk of Deliveries; Treasurer of the Military College and the Treasurer of the Military Asylum; sixty inferior offices in the Post-Office department; four Commissioners of the Navy and Victualling departments, two Commissoners of the Dockyards, seventy-one clerks, and the Paymaster of Marines; two Commissioners each of the boards of Excise and Customs: in all 210 officers have been reduced. Considerable savings have been made in diplomatic and consular charges and naval superannuations. The Board of Woods and Forests and Board of Works have been consolidated. Several offices too have been consolidated, which will be noticed in the List.

Upon the whole, after going more minutely into the subject than we had done at the commencement of this section, we are bound honestly to declare that the Whigs merit the gratitude and confidence of the country for the reductions effected; they have not been idle, and some allowance must be made for the momentous question they have had to battle in the Legislature, from the moment of first entering into office. They have, however, delayed too long the repeal of the vile Pension Act of 1817.

Having treated on the several subjects of this chapter, it only remains to recapitulate: the public documents, from which the several accounts have been taken, having been already cited, need not be repeated in the subjoined summary. It will also be observed, that the expenditure of the Crown and Royal Family is omitted, that having been fully detailed in a former part of this work.

A Statement of the Annual Expenditure of the United Kingdom, in Salaries, Pensions, Sinecures, Half-pay, Superannuations, Compensations, and Allowances.
Salaries of 22,912 persons employed in the public offices £2,788,907
Retired full-pay, half-pay, superannuations, pensions, and allowances in the army 2,939,652
Retired full-pay, half-pay, superannuations, pensions, and allowances in the Navy 1,583,797
Retired full-pay, half-pay, superannuations, pensions, and allowances in the Ordnance 374,987
Superannuated allowances in the civil departments of government 478,967
Pensions 777,556
Pensions in the nature of compensations for the loss of offices in England 12,020
Pensions in the nature of compensations for the loss of offices in Ireland, chiefly in consequence of the Union 89,245
Annual value of sinecure offices 356,555
Commissioners of Inquiry 56,299

Can any one believe that, in these few items, a saving of at least three millions might not be effected? And with a saving even to this amount, how many oppressive taxes might be repealed! If we further extend our view to other departments of the government, and to the courts of law, the civil list, the colonies, the monopolies of the Bank and East-India Company, the established church, and the corn-laws, what an ample field presents itself to our consideration for the relief of this suffering and oppressed community.

But will government ever avail itself of these vast resources as the means of national amelioration? Not under the existing system. Effective retrenchment, without a previous parliamentary reform, is a chimera. To retrench is to weaken; the true policy of the Oligarchy is to spend, not to save. There are, no doubt, scores, nay, hundreds of offices and establishments useless, indeed, to the people, but invaluable to their rulers. The greater the sinecure, the greater its importance to the Aristocracy; and the very reason urged by the people for its extinction, is the strongest argument for its retention by their oppressors. Could government only reward its servants according to their deserts, what inducement would there be to enter into its service? Who would incur the odium of such employment! How could it obtain adherents? How could it so long have had zealous supporters in every part of the empire, and carried on a detestable system, subversive of the rights, and incompatible with the happiness of the community?

Ever since the death of Fox and Pitt there has been scarcely an individual with the least pretension to the endowments of a statesman in the administration. Look over the roll of the Percevals, Vansittarts, Castlereaghs, Jenkinsons, Cannings, Sidmouths, Huskissons, and Scotts, and say, if there is one that did not deserve a halter, or whose proper place was not behind a counter, in lieu of directing the resolves of a legislative assembly. Yet by these, and such as these, were the destinies of this great empire swayed for upwards of twenty years. Can we wonder at the frightful results of their empyrical statesmanship? Can we wonder that they bequeathed to their successors, convulsion, decay, and death, in every fibre of the kingdom? But incapable, vile, and unprincipled as these men were, ignorant and reckless, as experience has proved them to be, of the ultimate issues of their measures; still these scions of the Pitt school were too sagacious ever to think that retrenchment and rotten boroughs were compatible elements of the constitution. They knew better; they had been too long familiar with the secret pulses and springs of the state machinery to commit so egregious a mistake. Their dependence was on force and corruption; on the bayonets of the military, and the annual expenditure of eighty millions of money. These formed the right and left hands, the master principles of their policy. The support they could not bribe they sought to intimidate. Such was their black and iron system; it lasted their time, or the time of most of the pillaging and hypocritical crew; and for any thing beyond they did not care a rush!

Let us hope that we are on the eve of better times, that we shall not be deluded by temporary expedients and professions, put forth merely to gain time for plundering, nor quack remedies to be followed by mortal maladies; in short, let us hope the Whig ministry will proceed on scientific principles, and that we shall have a parliamentary reform first, and next such an effective retrenchment and disposition of public burthens as will afford real national relief.

“Corruption wins not more than honesty;” and the true end of government is not difficult to attain. It is simply to augment social happiness—affording equal security to the property and persons of every individual,—protecting the weak against the strong,—the poor against the rich; in short, by guarding against the extremes of indigence and crime, luxury and vice, and spreading an equilibrium of comfort and enjoyment through all ranks, by good laws, wisely conceived, promptly and impartially administered.

It is a cheap and admirable contrivance, when established on the rights, and supported by the confidence of the public. There is then no need of standing armies in time of peace. There is no need of expending sixteen millions a year in support of naval and military establishments. There is no need of a Sinking Fund as a resource for future war. Government is strong in the affections of the people. It is prepared for every exigence, and must always be invincible against domestic foes and foreign aggressors. But, if government has not this support; if it is looked upon only as an instrument of rapacity and extortion; if it is looked upon as a legalized system of pillage, fraud, and delusion; if it is looked upon only as an artful cabal of tyrants united for plunder and oppression; then must such a government, instead of being a cheap and simple institution, be a complex and expensive establishment—strong, not in the people, but in its means of corruption, delusion, and intimidation.

The English government had been long approximating to the latter predicament. It had ceased to possess the respect and confidence of the people, and governed by over-awing the weak, deluding the ignorant, and corrupting the baser part of the community. The latter—its power of corruption—its means of rewarding its adherents by the spoil of the people, is the great lever by which it has operated. This power, its connexion and influence, as exhibited in the church-establishment, the judicial administration, the public offices and departments, chartered monopolies, and corporate bodies, we have fully exposed; and it only now remains to record the names and emoluments of those who chiefly profit by its abuses and perversions.



Parliamentary Paper, No. 552, Session 1828.


Parliamentary Paper, No. 594, Session 1830.


Parliamentary Paper, No. 185, Session 1830.

Ibid, page 5.

Parliamentary Paper, No. 424, Session 1826.


Third Report of the Committee on Public Income and Expenditure, Parliamentary Papers, vol. v. Session 1828.


Parliamentary Paper, No. 55, Session 1830.


Parliamentary Paper, No. 426, Session 1826.


Third Report on the Public Income and Expenditure; Parliamentary Papers, vol. v. Sess. 1828.

Parliamentary Paper, No. 450, Sess. 1830.


Parliamentary Paper, No. 23, Session 1830-1.