CAREY, Anthony, 5th Visct. Falkland [S] (1656-94), of Great Tew, Oxon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1685 - 1687
1689 - 1690
1690 - 24 May 1694

Family and Education

b. 15 Feb. 1656, o. s. of Henry Carey†, 4th Visct. Falkland, by Rachel, da. of Anthony Hungerford† of Blackbourton.  educ. Winchester 1668; Christ Church, Oxf. 1672.  m. June 1681, Rebecca (d. 1709), da. of Sir Rowland Lytton† of Knebworth, Herts., 1da. d.v.psuc. fa. 2 Apr. 1663.1

Offices Held

Treasurer of the navy 1681–9; groom of the stole to Prince George 1687–90; ld. of the Admiralty 1691–Apr. 1693, first ld. Apr. 1693–Apr. 1694; PC 17 Mar. 1692–d.; envoy extraordinary to States General c.May 1694–d.2

Freeman, Portsmouth 1682–d., Wallingford 1685.3


Lord Falkland had rescued himself from debt by marrying ‘a very great fortune’, and had had the further good luck to invest in 1686–7 in a highly profitable expedition for the recovery of sunken treasure. Not all his ventures were so opportune, however: a trading voyage to the West Indies and South Seas, in which he participated, lost almost £43,000. Partly because of this, his finances were not robust enough in 1690 for him to afford to forgo the remuneration of office; nor, indeed, for him to contemplate an expensive county election when he could be brought into Parliament more cheaply elsewhere. The offer from an ‘old friend’, possibly Francis Stonehouse*, of a ‘secure’ return at Great Bedwyn easily dissuaded him from seeking re-election in Oxfordshire, where a contest was in prospect. Classified as a Tory and Court supporter in one of Lord Carmarthen’s (Sir Thomas Osborne†) lists of the new Parliament, and again as a Court supporter in another Carmarthen list, he spoke on 9 Apr. 1690 against committing the recognition bill, and on 26 Apr. against the abjuration bill at its second reading, although on both occasions he took pains to proclaim his loyalty to the Williamite regime. ‘I am as much for the interest of this bill as anybody’, he declared of the former, and while he regarded the abjuration bill as at best futile and at worst counter-productive – ‘destructive to the government’ – he added the disclaimer, ‘I have suffered too much in the last government ever to desire it to come back’. Early in June he lost his place as groom of the stole to Prince George, having asked permission to remain in England rather than attend the Prince on the Irish campaign, ‘upon the score . . . of private business’. At first the Prince had granted him leave, but when his colleague Lord Cornbury (Edward Hyde*) made a similar request, an angry Princess Anne intervened, and prevailed with her husband to replace both men. It was presumably not long after his dismissal, and as a consequence, that Falkland figured on a list of ‘managers of the King’s directions’ in the Commons, as one who was ‘discontented’. In October, after Parliament had reopened, he sent a promise of support to Robert Harley* over his election petition for New Radnor. His support for Whigs against Tories in several election disputes in late October and early November, in which he was accompanied by Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt.*, aroused considerable comment. This separation from the rest of his party culminated in his telling on two occasions (on 4 and 25 Nov.) for John Grobham Howe* in the Cirencester election, which was popularly explained as arising from an antipathy to one of Howe’s opponents, Henry Powle*. More important may have been the fact that Howe was the courtier among the three candidates. Falkland could already have received some prior assurance of his imminent re-employment, in the Admiralty commission, to which he was officially appointed in January 1691, although news writers had the story by 20 Dec. At any rate he was included in another list compiled by Carmarthen in December, probably of Members on whose loyalty Carmarthen could rely in the event of a Commons attack on his ministerial position.4

Falkland proved a conscientious placeman, giving an early instance of his dutifulness in the hostility with which he responded in March 1691 to the investigations of the commissioners of accounts. In the 1691–2 session he was named to four drafting committees, and on 9 Nov. to a committee to inspect the naval estimates, having spoken for the Court in the preceding debate. On 14 Nov., having delivered to the House copies of Admiral Russell’s (Edward*) orders for the summer’s expedition, he made several further interventions on the Court side in the adjourned debate on the estimates, and a week later spoke in defence of Sir Ralph Delaval*, and the Admiralty commission, in the affair of the intercepted French documents. He was one of the Court speakers on 15 Dec. when it was the turn of the army estimates to be scrutinized, supporting the resolution of the select committee that Dutch forces on the English establishment be paid according to English rates. He also twice defended the East India Company, in debates on 17 and 18 Dec. He told on 7 Jan. 1692 against agreeing with the Lords’ request for a further conference on the treason trials bill, and again on 12 Feb. against a proposed rider to the Irish forfeitures bill that would have reserved a third of those lands for veterans of the Irish campaigns. Two days after he had opposed Hon. John Granville’s* motion of 15 Feb. to tack to the poll tax bill a clause reviving the commission of accounts, he presented on behalf of the Court the excise loan bill. His reward for the session’s work came the following month, when he was sworn a Privy Councillor.5

Twice listed as a placeman in 1692, once by Carmarthen, in parliamentary terms Falkland was the most active and prominent of the Admiralty commissioners, presenting various papers and estimates in November and early December, and was always to the fore when naval matters were discussed. After joining other Court party men on 15 Nov. in pressing for immediate consideration of the King’s Speech, against Country party delaying tactics, he made a stout defence of the Admiralty on 21 Nov. in a debate on advice to be tendered to the King. This included calls for a new commission to be constituted of men with some practical experience, which would supersede the present ‘land admirals’, as Falkland and the other commissioners were nicknamed. His opinion was that ‘the true cause of these mischiefs complained of proceeds from the want of cruisers and convoys’, and reminded the House that ‘I told you so the last year that your service would suffer . . . when you denied the building of four’:

Then his lordship reflected on the merchants’ petition and the report from the committee thereon, took notice of some omissions therein and reflected on the same, and concluded he doubted not but the chairman [John Granville] had made a report according to his ability. So there was some contest between Colonel Granville and the Lord Falkland about it, on which Sir Thomas Clarges* called to the orders of the House – that when a matter is reported from a committee and the House hath approved it, it is not very usual to have the chairman or committee arraigned as that noble lord hath.

Despite the ‘pleading’ of Falkland and his fellow commissioner Sir Richard Onslow, 3rd Bt.*, the address was voted. Falkland’s reaction was that ‘if this committee be of opinion that I am not fit I will submit, but it is hard to be condemned upon common fame’. He continued his opposition when the resolution to address was reported, speaking ‘very handsomely’ and in particular answering points made by Colonel George Churchill* to such good effect that Churchill exempted him from further criticism, ‘as having better experience than the ignorant major part which govern’. Two more interventions of his in debates on naval affairs are recorded this session. On 29 Nov., having first informed the House as to the disposition of men in the service, he spoke in favour of the motion to build eight new fourth-rate ships, ‘as necessary as any in the estimate’, adding, with a reference back to his previous claims regarding losses, ‘for want of which you suffered much this summer’. He repeated this recommendation two days later. His other contributions were as befitting a placeman. He opposed on 21 Nov. 1692 demands for the removal of foreign general officers, arguing that any such decisions ought to be left to the King, ‘who I doubt not will care therein’. He was a teller on 28 Nov. on an amendment to the treason trials bill. He spoke for the Court on 3 and 13 Dec. in the committee of supply and ways and means. He supported the abjuration bill at its second reading on 14 Dec., in a sharp volte-face from his opinion of two years before, on the grounds that now ‘there is [an] absolute need to settle this government’ and that to reject the bill would have ‘ill consequences’ abroad and greatly encourage ‘the enemies of the government’ at home. He served again as a teller on 2 Jan., against calling over the House. He spoke against the place bill at its third reading on 22 Dec.; and he both spoke and told against the triennial bill when it was reported on 9 Feb. 1693, because, he said, of his concern for the King’s prerogative and his having observed that ‘your enemies without doors and such as refuse the oaths to this government are best pleased with this bill – nay, I am told some of them are making interests to be chosen in your new Parliament’. His last known speech of the session occurred on 6 Mar., when he gave his support to a bill to set aside amendments in the records of a fine and two recoveries in Wales, on behalf of Lord Pembroke (Thomas Herbert†). Once more he was rewarded for his efforts, being promoted to first lord in April 1693, and he was included in three lists of placemen during the year, including that of Samuel Grascome.6

As first lord, Falkland was busier than ever in the House on naval affairs. In the first weeks of the 1693–4 session he laid before the House a series of papers, accounts, estimates and lists. On the question of naval mismanagements he adopted a very aggressive approach, and sought to excuse his own board by throwing all blame for the loss of the Smyrna convoy on admirals Delaval, Killigrew (Henry*) and Shovell (Sir Clowdesley*). He had already clashed with Killigrew during the Privy Council inquiry, the admiral having objected that in reading out a letter from Killigrew and his colleagues Falkland had suppressed a crucial passage which would have helped their cause, and Falkland in turn protesting when one of Killigrew’s friends made this allegation public. In Parliament he took a place in the vanguard of the Whig attack on the admirals, his speech of 20 Nov. making a trenchant statement of the board’s case, and insinuating in broad terms worse than incompetence on the part of those responsible for the summer’s catastrophe:

The commissioners of the Admiralty sent for an account of the execution of their orders; and that account was not sent for a long time after. They ought either to have executed their orders, or sent word why they did not . . . If orders were found impracticable, with respect to the board, they ought to have had notice. The council of war thought them impracticable: if they were ill orders, why was it not represented? If good, why not obeyed? The loss was a great misfortune to the nation, and all by mismanagement. It was a great charge for Sir George Rooke* to be sent away without orders – such a chain of causes all along, that I cannot think all this was done by chance. If some course be not taken, all will be lost, and it is nowhere to be done but here. These that sit at the helm, how can they serve the kingdom and King James too?

Two days later, after Killigrew had replied to Falkland’s charges, and the three admirals had been examined at the bar, Falkland reopened the onslaught against them, pouring scorn on their claims not to have had orders in time: ‘we could not know whether the French fleet was got out, but they should have known it’. But it was his speech on 27 Nov. that created the greatest stir. A foreign observer reported that

Mylord Falkland . . . qui de Tory est devenu Whig et ennemi des Amiraux cassés fit une forte harangue contre leur conduite et même contre les ministres d’état Toris sans les nommer, qui ont eu la direction des affaires pendant trois ou quatre ans et dont la négligence est cause qu’on n’a rien fait d’utile pour leur Majestés et pour la nation: que si l’on ne faisoit pas mieux à l’avenir ce seroit encore un argent perdu que celui des subsides qu’on va donner, mais qu’il y a tout sujet d’espérer que la conduite sera dorénavant meilleure puis qu’on a changé de mains et que les nouveaux directeurs ne négligeront pas le bien de l’état et ne favorisent pas l’intérêt des Jacobites, prenant a témoin les Membres des provinces éloignées si les Jacobites n’y sont pas devenus insolens depuis que quelques seigneurs du gouvernement les favorisent . . . il a loué la conduite de Mylord Torrington [Arthur Herbert†] lors qu’il se laissa battre par les Français, ou pour mieux dire lors qu’il laissa battre les Hollandais sans les secourir. Il dit qu’ayant sauvé la flotte il fut au hazard de perdre sa vie parce qu’un secrétaire d’état soit son ennemi. Il loua ensuite la conduite de l’Amiral Russell à la bataille de l’année dernière mais que cela n’avoit point empêché la même secrétaire de lui être contraire afin qu’il ne commandât pas la flotte cette année. En un mot il dit tous de choses et si différentes qu’on a de la peine à comprendre quel a été son but si ce n’est pas de se faire des amis nouveaux pour se mieux soutenir dans son emploi.

Any mystery surrounding Falkland’s donning Whig colours, his desire for new political friends and his anxiety to retain his place would soon be dispelled when the commissioners of accounts reported on 7 Dec. Meanwhile he spoke on 28 Nov. against an amendment proposed by Harley to the triennial bill, and on 6 Dec. made another, less spectacular contribution to the debate on the miscarriages at sea. The accounts commissioners’ report depicted him as still in need of funds, and as having made himself vulnerable by resort to irregular means to obtain them. It transpired that in the previous March he had approached Francis Rainsford, the Admiralty receiver, with a demand from the King for the payment of £4,000 in banker’s notes, £2,000 in the name of Randolph Keine, a Dutch usher in the King’s household, and £2,000 in various other names, the transaction to be kept secret. Keine’s money had been accounted for, but not the rest. At first Falkland provided little or no evidence as to its ultimate destination, other than to tell the Commons that he had attended the King in April 1693 and had been promised directions, and to declare that he had not made any of the bills over to MPs. He relied on having acted by the King’s order. However, when it was proposed on 7 Dec. that he withdraw and the sense of the House be taken, he volunteered the further evidence that he believed the money to have been intended for the King’s ‘immediate use’ and that he had in fact been told to pay it over to the clerk of the closet for this purpose. But at this stage the Commons’ concern was less with the demand for and payment of the money itself, which, though shady and irregular, was not obviously criminal, given that the King had authorized it, than with Falkland’s suppression of evidence, to which Rainsford had testified and which he himself had admitted. While the accounts commissioners’ investigations were under way Falkland had sent for Rainsford and on being shown the original of the letter in which the demand for the money had been made, had taken hold of it and kept it. As Falkland waited at the door of the House, visibly ‘dans une grande inquiétude’, his conduct was debated for two hours. Only the staunch backing of the leading Court Whigs, and in particular a strong statement on his behalf by Edward Russell, prevented him from being sent to the Tower, a motion for his committal being defeated by 38 votes in a House of over 300. Instead he was reprimanded. He also survived further revelations by the accounts commission of having received secret service money, claiming that it had been given for ‘important considerations’ and disposed of for the King’s service. But on 9 Feb. 1694 the affair of the missing £2,000 reared up again. The accounts commissioners reported evidence Falkland had given them on 8 Dec., the day after his censure by the House, in which for the first time he acknowledged that the names on the bills, other than Keine’s, were fictitious; that he had only recently informed the King of his receipt of the bills; and, most damaging of all, that at the outset of the business he had made a proposition to the Speaker (Sir John Trevor*) to join with him in procuring a sum of money by this means. It was now undeniable that the extra £2,000 had been destined for his own pocket, though he refused to say whether the King had promised it to him, and when asked if he had expected it replied, ‘I have deserved more than that from this government, having been a great loser since the Revolution, and served it faithfully’. This time Russell could not save him, and on 16 Feb. 1694 he was sent to the Tower for ‘a high misdemeanour and breach of trust’ in ‘begging and procuring’ the £2,000 from the King ‘contrary to the ordinary method of issuing . . . money’. After three days, and on a petition presented by Thomas Erle*, he was discharged.7

King William had little choice but to remove Falkland when the Admiralty commission was remodelled in April 1694, but although discredited he was not abandoned. Rumour had it that he would be raised to the English peerage, and, a new departure for him, be appointed an ambassador. Early in May he was indeed named envoy to the States General, and his appointment must have been confirmed by 21 May when the King signed a warrant for his allowances. Already, however, he was ‘very ill’ with smallpox, and he died on the night of 24 May, being buried in Westminster Abbey. Despite Falkland’s recent disgrace, John Evelyn, a family friend, could write of him as ‘a pretty brisk, understanding, industrious young man, had formerly been faulty, now very much reclaimed . . . Had been advancing extremely in the new court. All this now gone in a moment.’ To Evelyn and to other less well-informed commentators, Falkland’s signal achievement appeared to have been his reconstruction of the family fortune. But while his wife was satisfactorily provided for, from her own property and from the manor of Great Tew, settled on her and her heirs at marriage after her mother had bought out a previous mortgage, his own personal estate was insufficient to cover his debts, including the amount he still owed the crown from his treasurership of the navy. His successor in the viscountcy, a second cousin, became a Jacobite peer, and no member of the family sat again in Parliament until Lucius Ferdinand Cary, MP for Bridport 1774–80.8

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. CJ, xiv. 118; Her. and Gen. iii. 40.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1694–5, p. 114.
  • 3. R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 366; J. K. Hedges, Hist. Wallingford, ii. 239.
  • 4. CJ, 118; Evelyn Diary, v. 182–3; HMC Lords, n.s. vi. 59; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1557–1696, pp. 335–6, 457; HMC Portland, viii. 28; Newberry Lib. Chicago, case mss E5, C5434, f. 31, Clarendon to Abingdon, 15 Feb. 1690; Grey, x. 45, 77; Bodl. Rawl. A.79, ff. 71–72, 84; Clarendon Corresp. ii. 315; A. Browning, Danby, iii. 179; Add. 70230, John Hampden† to Harley, 15 Oct. 1690; Morrice ent’ring bk. 3, p. 218; H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm. III, 81; CSP Dom. 1690–1, p. 225; Wood, Life and Times, iii. 348–9; Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 150.
  • 5. EHR, xci. 45; Luttrell Diary, 10, 19, 82, 87–88, 187; Bodl. Carte 130, f. 328; Grey, 183; Luttrell, ii. 387, 390.
  • 6. Luttrell Diary, 228, 245–6, 252, 265, 267, 282, 287, 290–1, 312, 315–16, 335, 415, 469; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Bentinck) mss PwA 2389, rep. of debate, 21 Nov. 1692; Carte 130, f. 340; Grey, 253–4, 270, 296.
  • 7. Horwitz, 118, 125, 128; Luttrell, iii. 210, 214; HMC Lords, n.s. i. 251–2; Add. 17677 NN, ff. 320–1, 324–5; Grey, 319, 323–4, 329–30, 347–56; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 786; HMC 7th Rep. 215, 218; Ranke, vi. 225; Wood, 444.
  • 8. Horwitz, 132; Wood, 446, 453; Luttrell, iii. 280, 299–300, 314, 317; HMC Buccleuch, ii. 65, 68; CSP Dom. 1694–5, p. 144; Evelyn Diary, v. 182–3; CJ, 118; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 838.