CLARGES, Sir Thomas (c.1618-95), of Piccadilly, Westminster and Stoke Poges, Bucks.

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



1656 - 1658
1656 - 1658
1656 - 1658
13 Mar. 1666 - Jan. 1679
Mar. 1679 - Mar. 1681
1685 - 1687
1689 - 4 Oct. 1695

Family and Education

b. c.1618, o. s. of John Clargis, farrier, of Drury Lane, Westminster by Anne Leaver.  educ. G. Inn 1662; Wadham, Oxf. matric. 1689.  m. 29 Sept. 1646, Mary, da. of George Proctor, yeoman, of Norwell Woodhouse, Notts. and coh. to her bro. Edward, 1s.  suc. fa. 1648; kntd. 8 May 1660.1

Offices Held

Commissary-gen. of musters 1660–71; clerk of the hanaper Mar.–June 1660; commr. for maimed soldiers Dec. 1660–1; PC [I] 1663.2

Dep. keeper, Hampton Court, Mdx. 1660–70; commr. for recusants, Mdx. and Surr. 1675; freeman and bailiff, Oxford 1687–Feb. 1688.3

Commr. public accts. 1691–d.


By the beginning of the 1690 Parliament the elderly Clarges was the doyen of the Country Tories, with a substantial record as an outspoken critic of government. He was pre-eminent among the diminishing stock of ‘old Parliament men’ whose service in the Commons dated back to the 1650s, and could claim seniority over all the major Country party figures with whom he would be actively associated in his final years. A ‘bigoted’ High Churchman, Clarges, with his modest London origins, could hardly be regarded as an archetypal country gentleman. Though he later came to own much land in the home counties, his chief interests and links were always metropolitan. He bought and built extensively in the St. James and Piccadilly areas and his distinguished rent-roll included such court ?gures as the Duke of Shrewsbury and Lord Ranelagh (Richard Jones*). Even in the last years of his life he showed little inclination for the steadier life of a country gentleman and seldom left the capital. Self-conscious of his acquired genteel status, he was attached to the ‘succession of posterity’ which he regarded as ‘one of the greatest blessings and felicities of this life’. Clarges’ rise from obscurity took effect after 1653 when his sister married General Monck (George†). It was as one of Monck’s close confidants that in the 1650s and 1660s he made some headway as a public servant, mainly in the army administration. Yet he proved to be no natural-born servant of the Court. In the 1660s, he emerged as an articulate man of principle: a severe judge of ministerial conduct; a defender of the rights and liberties of the subject before the law and of the concept of habeas corpus; an earnest upholder of Commons privilege over the Lords and the crown; a rabid anti-papist; and a hater of foreigners, above all the French. Devoted to monarchy in its traditional form, and loyal to the person of the King, he nevertheless frequently criticized the later Stuarts for their religious inclinations, financial demands, and choice of ministers. Alongside these prejudices were clear-minded notions of responsible government. Clarges looms large in the debates of the earlier 1690s, though very little is known of his personality. Much truth, however, can be discerned in Bishop Burnet’s description of him as ‘an honest but haughty man’, his constant emphasis on economy in public expenditure suggesting an austere and conceited character.4

During the Convention Clarges was regarded by Court managers as one of a number of ‘commoners eminent in Parliament, useful men but not to be trusted’. However, in the early days of 1690 Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) courted him in his endeavours to establish the Church party in the good opinions of the King. He was one of several High Churchmen to whom Nottingham offered the prospect of senior posts in the administration. Quite how Clarges viewed this possibility is not on record, but it is doubtful if office held any real appeal for one who had been so long a back-bencher and who, as reported at the time of his death five years later, had long repented of his associations with Charles II’s court. But for all his subsequent criticism of royal policies he retained a £500 pension payable from duties on Newcastle coals with which he had been rewarded in 1661. In February 1690 he was re-elected for Oxford University alongside Nottingham’s brother, Hon. Heneage Finch I. Such was their popularity as stalwart Churchmen that they were unanimously acclaimed by convocation at the election. The continuing possibility that Clarges might still prove a trusty servant of the Court was reflected in Lord Carmarthen’s (Sir Thomas Osborne*) classification of him on the eve of the new Parliament as a Tory and probable Court supporter. Indeed, at the outset of proceedings on 20 Mar., Clarges seconded the Court Tory candidate for the Speakership, Sir John Trevor, who was duly selected. Two days later, Clarges and Sir Joseph Tredenham obtained the censure of the House upon several ‘libellous’ anti-Tory pamphlets and blacklists hawked in the elections by the Whigs. On the same day, when the King’s Speech was debated, Clarges cautioned against embarking too hastily upon matters rightfully belonging to the supply committee before other parts of the speech had been considered. His only other recorded speech this session on supply-related business was on 31 Mar. in connexion with the army, but its tenor was wholly consistent with his abiding scepticism towards the workings of government. In the midst of this debate he declared himself ‘puzzled’ by the revenue accounts and could only surmise that there had been ‘great mismanagement’ of public money owing to the ‘unskilfulness of the managers’. He wondered why as many as 36,000 men were needed for the army when the treaty arrangements with the States General required only 20,000. In a typical aside, he recalled his own experience in army administration, which he saw as a golden era when greater care was taken, and slender public revenues could be stretched to support much larger forces. The ministers, he felt, were obliged ‘to explain what condition we are in’. But, confessing weariness at finding fault, he concluded somewhat loosely by moving ‘for what sum shall be necessary, and what sum we can have towards this out of the revenue’. Clarges was echoing the general anxiety of Country Members over the difficulties of obtaining reliable figures on which they could adequately assess what money to grant, or indeed whether the sums granted had been sufficient or properly expended. Not surprisingly, he was prominent in the efforts this session to pass a bill establishing a commission of public accounts, being named first to a committee for drafting the bill on 14 Apr.5

Much of Clarges’ attention in the course of the 1690 session was directed upon the range of measures generated to stabilize William III’s accession. He can be seen as a Tory trying anxiously to square his unalloyed attachment to dynastic principle with the facts and implications of the Revolution. The Lords’ ‘recognition’ bill sought to recognize William and Mary as ‘rightful and lawful’ rulers and to declare the Acts of the Convention Parliament ‘of full force’. When the bill reached the Commons, Clarges was one of several Tory MPs who found it necessary to scruple over limitations over William’s right by disputing the key phrase devised by the Lords that William and Mary ‘were and are’ King and Queen. When the bill was debated at its second reading on 9 Apr. he could not accept that they had been monarchs before the Convention had made its formal offer in February 1689. His belief was that the Crown had devolved automatically on Princess Mary as the next Protestant heir, and he had thus voted against the transfer of the crown to William and Mary jointly. He had, however, declared his acceptance of the majority decision that the throne was ‘vacant’, and that in consequence the new monarchs owed their title to parliamentary vote. The present Parliament, Clarges averred, owed its existence not to the old Convention, but to the oaths framed under the ‘original contract’ whereby William and Mary had in February 1689 taken upon themselves the government. Only in that context could he ‘give them all the authority that may be’, but he would not declare that they ‘were and are’ King and Queen. He thus spoke for committal with a view to changing this formula. Clarges seemed keen to emphasize that it had been a parliamentary act to make them King and Queen, a ‘vacancy’ having occurred in the succession which Parliament had correctly taken upon itself to supply. This clearly marked an advance on his previous thinking, that parliamentary intervention on matters concerning the succession threatened to make the throne elective, evoking apprehensions of ‘a commonwealth’. On 24 Apr. the House debated Hon. Thomas Wharton’s* motion for a bill requiring all office-holders to abjure King James. Clarges was naturally concerned at the suggestion that such a bill should contain permanent provision to suspend offenders from their rights of habeas corpus. As the leading promoter of the 1679 Act, Clarges condemned its ‘hasty repeal’ in the Convention and reasserted his old attachment to ‘liberty of speech’ as ‘a right inherent in us’. ‘I value liberty more than life, or estate’, he concluded, ‘that’s my passive obedience; I cannot consent to it.’ Despite these fundamental objections he was named to the committee to draft the bill, though it is doubtful if this body ever sat, for Wharton introduced his bill the very next day. Clarges spoke against the bill at its second reading on the 26th. He considered that the ‘short’ oath of allegiance and the new Recognition Act constituted a perfectly adequate ‘renunciation’ of King James. Further oaths would weaken rather than strengthen the new King’s ‘interest’: ‘to put a buttress to a building is a sign the building is weak, and he builds ill that does so, and worse, that shows the weakness.’ He was, of course, only too well aware of the difficulties which such an oath would place in the way of ministerial Tories, many of whom in conscience would be bound to refuse, thus jeopardizing their positions in government. Desirous of seeing more positive steps devised to ensure the security of the new regime, and to demonstrate that Tories were not irresponsible backsliders in time of crisis, he advocated the appointment of a select committee to produce an outline bill for these purposes. To the Whig Edward Harley* Clarges’ drift seemed to be ‘that the providence of God ought not to be limited’, an insinuation that Clarges and his kind wished to keep their consciences clear for King James. The opposition to Wharton’s bill secured its narrow defeat. Clarges’ proposal that alternative means be found for securing the government was debated on 28 Apr., though he was unable to offer a blueprint of his own for the problems of ‘security’, limiting himself to a general review of the nation’s circumstances. Indicating that the problem was one of degree, he expressed his belief that the nation’s predicament was not so acute as to disable the government from obtaining funds from the City, though at the same time he felt that the ministers’ lacklustre performance ‘will make despondency in the lenders’. The invasion of Ireland might not have been necessary, he told MPs, had the ministers acted more promptly upon his advice the previous session to field an army there. Despite his sturdy defence of the habeas corpus principle a few days earlier, he admitted the need for its possible ‘suspension’ in present circumstances, though he added, ‘our distraction is so great, and our condition so doubtful, I know not what to move’. When the security issue was considered further on the 29th, Clarges merely pointed out, in answer to Sir Edward Jennings’ suggestion that greater use be made of the militia, that lords lieutenant already had adequate powers of muster. Even so, having been the instigator of these proceedings, he was named to the select committee to prepare a bill according to the resolutions. On 1 May Clarges spoke somewhat equivocally on the Lords’ regency bill. He told the House that if reports were true, the situation in Ireland did not necessarily warrant the King’s presence there. While there could be no real objection to such a measure, he was anxious for some provision for ensuring ‘the public peace’. The real stumbling block, in his view, was that if William could not quickly reconquer Ireland ‘we shall not hope to keep England long’. He thus advised the House not to postpone the matter to some distant date but to sit ‘de die in diem until we have settled the thing’. Clarges’ equivocation on the regency issue was more obvious when the committee resumed on 5 May, though with reluctance he admitted that a regency was the only way of saving Ireland and ultimately of preserving England from the Jacobite threat. His speech exemplifies the delicately balanced attitudes of which he was so capable:

’tis plain we are in great exigency, and the King, as now advised, resolves to go for Ireland. I would not be hasty in advising. I would not raise such a heap of difficulties, that we know not which way to turn. The French king has committed such great cruelties; scarce such since the Roman persecutions. I would rather endure anything than that. Is Ireland in such a condition that his presence is so necessary there, or Ireland will be lost? What if the King does not go, and we advise him to it, and Ireland is lost, and he tells you, ‘By your advice I did not go.’ You are moved to give the Queen more power, the administration jointly in King and Queen, and to the Queen, in the King’s absence; shall the Queen’s hand be enough to warrants in the King’s absence? There are perplexities every way, all will be of no effect. If the King goes not out of England, or if the King goes into Scotland it relates to both purposes. I wish we apply the debates to amend the bill as well as we can; if he does go, that he may go. I see no great hurt of adding ‘administration’ to it. Something must be done that the King may be in a possibility of saving that kingdom.

At the report on the regency bill on the 6th there were continued misgivings that its terms seemed to allow for the potentially conflicting situation of ‘two co-operative powers’. Clarges, however, could perceive no such contradictions and hoped that if any others were apparent the wisdom of the House would prevail to amend them. He was subsequently a member of the committee appointed on 13 May to confer with the Lords on the matter.6

The forthcoming campaign in Ireland led the House to debate on 13 May the motion proposed by Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., to consider measures for the preservation of peace and security in the King’s absence. Seymour’s main intention, abetted by Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt., and others, was to question who would counsel the Queen in the King’s absence, and thereby throw further opprobrium upon Carmarthen. According to Roger Morrice, Clarges stood out as a moderating influence in the midst of some heated exchanges. He tried to steer the debate away from Carmarthen (for which he was later chided by Seymour), declaring there was no point in the motion, the House having already considered means of putting the militia on the alert and for disarming Papists. He did, however, feel there was more scope for action against Catholics, ‘the persons most likely to endanger us’, whom he had heard now formed ‘confederacies’ in northern parts. But on the 14th he warned against excessive persecution and criticized the lord lieutenant of Gloucestershire’s high-handedness in raising a force of ‘auxiliaries’ – ‘I say it is levying war and no better’ – while on the 15th, when a Lancashire Papist appeared at the Commons’ bar to testify concerning Catholic subversion in various parts of the country, Clarges tried to divert inquiry ‘and was so fervent therein, diverse Members took notice of it’. Far from being a Jacobite, Clarges was principally concerned with the avoidance of the kind of unsettling extremes witnessed in late years. Clarges’ prominence as a wealthy property-owner in and around Westminster gave him notable influence in City politics. As a Tory he took a prominent part in the eradication of Whigs from City government. On 8 Apr., the Tories having defeated a radical Whig attempt both to nullify the 1683 quo warranto judgment and to restore ‘ancient rights’ to the City’s governors, Clarges was one of several Tory MPs named to a committee to prepare a bill that simply reversed the judgment. Clarges’ pre-eminence in this work is indicated by his report from the committee and his presentation of the resultant bill on the 14th. A few days later, on the 17th, he condemned a petition from leading Whig citizens which requested the restoration of ‘ancient liberties’, and welcomed the King’s recent remodelling of the militia command which, had this not been undertaken, would have made it impossible for William to venture out of London. Not surprisingly, his remarks angered Whig Members, and during the hearing of counsel against the bill on 24 Apr. several clashed angrily with Clarges. As soon as the committee proceedings closed, Clarges pursued his point by moving to thank the King for his care of the Church in the recent removal of Whigs from the City lieutenancy, inciting a furious response from Paul Foley I*. He spoke much to the same purpose on 12 May in connexion with the Lords’ request that two Members, Sir Robert Clayton and Sir George Treby, attend them with a list of the reconstituted lieutenancy, ‘to know whether the King has done well or no’, and sternly denied that the Lords had any right to cross-examine MPs about the correctness of the King’s actions. But far from achieving for City Toryism an acceptably conceived measure for reversing the quo warranto, he was blamed after the bill passed for a misdrafting which enabled the Whigs to retain control over the offices of lord mayor and chamberlain.7

Throughout the session Clarges’ attention was engaged in a variety of other matters. He was, for example, a particularly assiduous champion of several Tories in disputed election proceedings, in which, as Paul Foley noted, he stood out as one of the ‘old Parliament men’ who ‘commend their zeal for the Church by their diligence and constancy to effect what they desire’: for instance, in opposing the Whig attempt to unseat the Tories returned for Plympton Erle (24 Mar., 14 Apr.). Similarly, he allowed his anxieties about popery to intrude into issues not directly concerned with internal security. A clause offered to the poll bill on 14 Apr. to compel the commissioners intended under the bill to take the new oaths to William and Mary provided him with the opportunity to fulminate upon what he saw as an unchecked growth of Catholicism. He also took it upon himself to defend his fellow Tories from Whig innuendoes of disloyalty. On 2 May he became embroiled in a debate on Anthony Rowe’s* pamphlet reflecting against the government and naming Tories opposed to the declaration of William and Mary as King and Queen, in which he unsuccessfully attempted to add words of censure to the proposed motion to adjourn. His wide knowledge of affairs was reflected in the heavy demands made of him as a committee-man. On 2 Apr. he was first-named to a committee on the regulation of the East India trade, and on 8 May was also the first appointee to the second-reading committee on the bill for confirming the Company’s charter. On 21 May Clarges was selected a commissioner under the bill establishing a commission of accounts, taking fourth place in the ballot with 133 votes. The bill was lost, however, with the close of the session two days later. During the summer recess Clarges conscientiously prepared for the next session by monitoring military and naval developments. He felt that the King’s victory at the Boyne was ‘in some sort qualified’ by the earlier defeat of the allied fleet at Beachy Head. He attended the adjournment meeting of the House on 7 July at which, he noted, the intelligence from Ireland ‘was received (as it ought to be) with inexpressible joy’; and despite a report towards the end of the month that the French were at anchor in the English Channel, he was cautiously optimistic of English superiority.8

In the autumn of 1690 Lord Carmarthen nursed hopes that Clarges, as one of a number of key Members across the political spectrum, might be encouraged to become a ‘manager of the King’s directions’ in a coalition of Whigs and Churchmen. Similarly, Lord Sydney (Hon. Henry Sidney†) and Lord Coningsby (Thomas*) were under no misapprehensions about his pre-eminence among High Churchmen, and thought it imperative to include him in the cross-party managerial team which they proposed to Lord Portland as essential to the transaction of business during the coming session. They presumed his co-operation could be secured ‘by honour . . . or otherwise by giving the promise of some considerable employment either to himself or [his] son, together with an assurance of the King’s supporting the Church to which he is the greatest of all bigots’. However, Clarges’ behaviour during the course of the 1690–1 session would suggest that he disappointed all ministerial hopes of his becoming a Tory manager for the Court. On 6 Oct. he headed the list of nominees to the committee to prepare the Address. It was probably at his prompting two days later that a committee was appointed to prepare a bill to reform the procedures involved in treason trials, Clarges being the first-named appointee. Similarly, his continued advocacy of an accounts commission is highlighted in his nomination on the 11th to the committee ordered to prepare a new bill for that purpose. He spoke for a reduction of the land forces on the 13th, while a few days later, in the debate on meeting the £4,000,000 voted for the supply, his proposals were adopted for increased customs duties. He was also first-named on 20 Oct. to the committee to prepare an address requesting the forfeiture commissioners’ report on the Irish rebels’ estates. However, the terms of the address which he reported on the 22nd were rejected by the House, and instead the more forthright course was adopted of a bill to attaint rebels in both Ireland and England and to apply their forfeited property to the cost of the war, Clarges being included on the drafting committee. Another important committee on which it was evidently felt that Clarges would serve with effect was that of 25 Oct. to examine the navy and army estimates: in the list of appointees, his name immediately followed Paul Foley’s. The work of this committee anticipated the accounts commission, and seems to have marked the beginnings of Clarges’ close association with Foley, whose ‘Country’ notions on matters pertaining to supply and government finance were similar to Clarges’ own. Their respective business interests may also have helped to consolidate their friendship. The fact that Clarges may have been critical at this time of the effectiveness of naval power, particularly in view of the summer’s setbacks, is suggested by his appointment on 10 Nov. to a committee to prepare an address urging the King to ensure that steps be taken to ensure that the fleet was sufficiently manned. On 8 Dec. Clarges spoke in favour of the City common council’s petition (presented on the 3rd) for a bill to amend the shortcomings of the recent quo warranto measure. The principal source of complaint was that the recent Act had facilitated the election for a second year running of Sir Thomas Pilkington† as lord mayor, an ‘independent’ who, it was said, ‘never went to the public Church’. However, the matter was postponed, and afterwards lapsed. On 26 Dec., following the ballot for the accounts commissioners, Clarges was declared elected in joint second place with Foley. At the announcement of the result, Clarges tried to demur on grounds of age and infirmity, but his excuses were overruled by the House. He may possibly have flinched at the prospect of serving with a predominantly Whig set of men, a difficulty which was apparent to such contemporaries as Roger Morrice, who noted that, as High Churchmen, Clarges and a fellow commissioner, Sir Benjamin Newland*, were ‘of a sense different from all the rest’, the others having Nonconformist backgrounds. Clarges’ political standpoint during this session is best described as equivocal. In the early weeks of the session it was apparent that leading Country Tories and Country Whigs were moving towards a more amicable relationship. This had been obvious when Clarges, Seymour and Sir Joseph Williamson had lent their support to the rising Country Whig star Robert Harley in his efforts to unseat Sir Rowland Gwynne* at New Radnor. Clarges’ liking for young Harley stemmed from his ‘personal respect’ for Harley’s father, Sir Edward*, while Harley may well have seen in Clarges the model of a government opponent from whom there was much he could learn. Towards the close of the session in December, Carmarthen still regarded Clarges as a government supporter, designating him as such in two lists, while in April 1691 Robert Harley identified him as a Country supporter. Clarges affected to be unenthusiastic about his new role as an accounts commissioner, writing to his friend George Clarke*, the secretary at war in Ireland, ‘I have the ill luck to be a commissioner . . . to take the public accounts of the kingdom, which is a very invidious employment. I endeavoured to avoid it but could not, and now I am in it I will do the best service I can in it both to the King and his people.’ Undoubtedly the most experienced parliamentarian on the commission, and well practised in the scrutiny of government accounts, Clarges quickly emerged at the forefront of proceedings alongside Harley and Foley, who both admired and valued his industry. Though he found the work onerous, he was mindful of its significance. Far from envisaging the commission as an instrument of criticism of the Court, he saw it as crucial to the processes of government:

if it be not executed the Parliament and the whole kingdom will be much dissatisfied for after greater subsidies and supplies than ever were given in so short a time, if there be not some accounts taken and examined to justify the occasions of them, men may be discouraged at another season to make the like concessions.

Clarges, it seems, was less interested than Foley in the pursuit of deliberate opposition towards the government. His overriding objective was the improvement of the Commons’ ability to scrutinize ministerial action. The commission commenced its proceedings at the beginning of March 1691, and Clarges rarely missed a meeting. When he finally allowed himself a retreat to his Buckinghamshire estate late in the summer, he and Harley maintained their new-found political relationship in an amicable correspondence about current affairs.9

The 1691–2 session saw Clarges become more distinctively oppositionist in his attitudes, as his association with the new Country leaders grew closer. Among the leading Country Tories, Clarges and Musgrave were at this juncture particularly notable for their willingness to co-operate with Country Whigs. Robert Harley commented at the end of December 1691 that Clarges and Musgrave ‘have got the character of Commonwealthmen’. Clarges’ sights were, as usual, trained upon a multifarious range of business, though his involvement with the accounts commission ensured that concern with supply and ‘frugal management’ were uppermost. The influence of his work for the commission, with its concentration upon the minutiae of administration and expenditure, is evident from many of his speeches. On 27 Oct. he spoke against Sir Charles Sedley’s motion to proceed next day on the King’s Speech, knowing that many MPs were still en route to Westminster. Initial acquiescence in William’s requirements soon evaporated. As part of a pre-arranged plan, Paul Foley and his associates blocked ministerialists from proceeding immediately upon supply business by insisting that attention first be given to shortcomings in the administration of the army and navy which had been found by the accounts commissioners. An immediate outcome of this initiative came on 3 Nov. when Clarges and several of his colleagues supported the proposal for a bill to prevent false musters in the army. The same day he also seconded an unsuccessful attempt at a measure designed to inform the King of incompetent naval officers. When supply business was allowed to begin on 6 Nov. Clarges moved that the House be apprised of next year’s war plans before arriving at any binding resolutions. In so doing, he stressed the need for trusting relations between King and Parliament, mentioning how James I’s courtiers had ‘filled his head with odd notions about his prerogative’. Later in the same debate he opposed giving any consideration to the army until the fleet had first been considered, and was supported by Harley and Foley. Clarges also supported Foley’s call for a statement of the nation’s military obligations under existing treaties. Though the King had intervened to forestall the Whigs’ attack on the ministers over naval ‘miscarriages’, projected for the 7th, Clarges was not deterred from launching his own full-scale condemnation of Admiral Russell’s (Edward*) conduct, telling the House that his capacity as an accounts commissioner required it of him. He delivered a step-by-step exposé of events, drawing upon a log book made available to him by the Tory Admiral Henry Killigrew*, which showed how the fleet had failed to engage and destroy the French fleet in the English channel when opportunity presented. He concluded, ‘be it knavishness or ignorance, it is all one to me’. An hour’s heated exchange then took place between Russell and Clarges, in which Clarges demanded that the fullest written evidence be produced before a select committee. While denying any wish to ‘injure’ the admiral personally, he stressed ‘it is the wisdom of Parliament to see through things’: ‘discourses are transient’. His subsequent motion that Russell be required to present his ‘journal’ of the fleet’s actions was subjected to further dispute, it being thought ‘unparliamentary’ for Members to interrogate their fellows in the House. But his desire that the House probe more deeply into the miscarriages, to investigate suspicions that Russell’s apparent incompetence arose from orders he received from higher authority, was put in motion with the scheduling of a committee on the ‘state of the nation’. In the meantime, consideration of the naval estimates began two days later, on 9 Nov. Clarges opened the debate by stating that the King, in expecting aid from his people, should be prepared to accept their ‘advice’, though this could not be tendered until the House was in possession of fuller accounts. The only effective way, in Clarges’ view, of examining estimates was methodically, item-by-item, and in a select committee rather than in the more unruly committee of the whole, in accordance with ‘the ancient parliamentary way’, which he said had been the practice until the last Parliament. He reiterated his point with effect later in the debate with a simple analogy: ‘it is very hard that we must give our money and yet must not inquire how it is to be disposed, but must lump it as we pay bills at eating-houses, without inquiring into particulars’. He gave short shrift to Musgrave’s view that too much detailed attention would cause delay with possible ‘fatal’ results, observing that it was ‘for the King’s service, and not delay, to examine these things’.

These arguments carried weight and a select committee on the naval estimates was appointed, with his own name heading the list. The report made by Harley on the 14th set out the items of naval expenditure agreed by the committee, which were immediately referred to the supply committee. The most controversial proved to be the expenditure of £28,864 on four new fourth-rate ships, which Clarges opposed with other Country MPs on grounds of cost. The plans made earlier at his behest for a comprehensive Commons inquiry into ministerial culpability in Admiral Russell’s failings were superseded when fresh developments seemed to cast the direction of naval strategy in an even more sinister light. The contents of papers captured from the French by Admiral Delaval (Sir Ralph*) were thought to suggest that the Tory ministers, Lord Nottingham especially, had been engaged in some form of collusion with the French. On 23 Nov., when Delaval was examined by the House, Clarges hinted that these innuendoes might well bear an element of truth as it certainly seemed to explain why English ships were required to engage the French only when instructed to: ‘We are strangely unhappy in the management of our sea affairs. When our ships meet with the enemy’s, they are not to fight without orders. This seems to me very strange, for if matters be thus managed our naval war will signify very little.’ Though investigations went on until mid-December, Clarges had little more to say on what became a confused and low-key business ending in Nottingham being exonerated.10

The army estimates were not so easily despatched. Clarges played his part in tactics which succeeded in dragging out proceedings for the next seven weeks or so. In supply on 12 Nov. he opposed a Court motion to refer the estimates for a total force of 65,000 men to the same select committee examining the navy estimates, believing that progress would be slowed. On the 18th, when the Court in some desperation anxiously tried to initiate consideration of the army estimates, Clarges, supported by Foley, called for further ‘light into the alliances, and what men are designed for England, [and] what for Ireland’. He also supported the Country Whig Sir John Thompson, 1st Bt., in a later, though abortive, motion to address the King for an account of how the forces were to be distributed. The Court, anxious to proceed on the army, assured MPs that this information would be forthcoming, and the committee finally embarked upon the estimates the next day, the 19th. In his first intervention in this debate Clarges repeated his oft-stated opinion that the war strategy was misconceived and that ‘the only way for you to oppose France is to strengthen yourselves by sea . . . I think your main care ought to be that of your fleet’. Later in the debate he refuted insinuations that it was men such as he who ‘hindered’ the King’s business: ‘we are all here to advise what is to be done’. The cost of maintaining an army of 65,000, he declared, was ‘half the current cash of the nation’. Military requirements on this scale, he argued, would seriously hamper the nation’s future ability to defend itself, owing to the crippling and lasting effects of the present loss of specie in deploying almost 40,000 men abroad. He condemned once more the restrictive practice of considering the estimates in toto, which effectively dictated the overall sum to be voted, a procedure which he compared with that of the Parlement de Paris, and which gave little scope for economies. The ‘naming’ of a sum commensurate with the entire estimate took away, he believed, the Commons’ right to ‘advise’. He intervened at least seven times on 25 Nov. when the supply committee resumed, on the first occasion stating that since the Revolution military ‘establishments’ cost a third part more than formerly, and that the estimate given for 65,000 men was sufficient for 200,000. In a mild way he took issue with Paul Foley’s motion to impose the cost of forces serving in Ireland on the Irish, believing the House ‘not yet ripe for the question’. But what ‘scandalized’ him above all else, he declared, was that the House had resolved on 64,500 men without subjecting the estimates to itemized scrutiny. On the subject of the Irish establishment, he contrasted its present extravagance with the regimental economies achieved in Charles II’s reign; and was especially puzzled by the fact that only 20,000 of the 39,000 men deployed in Ireland had actually been present at the recent battle of Aughrim. When Richard Hampden I proposed to address for reductions in the Irish establishment to the levels in force during Charles II’s reign, Clarges urged the more forthright course of passing an immediate resolution to this effect, which was accordingly done. At a later point he caused ministerial grief by inquiring whether the overall troop figure also included officers, and forced them to concede that it did not. This led him to propose that the 12,960 men intended for Ireland in 1692 include both men and officers, which after some debate was approved. The ministry was also forced to accede to his proposal for a select committee (to which he was named in second place) to establish the cost of the army in Ireland for 1692 and how much revenue would be forthcoming from the Irish. When, on 28 Nov., Lord Ranelagh (Richard Jones*) presented lists of officers and schedules of garrisons, Clarges made the grave charge that the ministry would, as it had the previous year, attempt to secure additional cash under the pretence of paying for extra troops, while the accounts showed that in fact considerably less had been employed. On the 30th he gave vent to his irritation that the Commons was not being allowed a free hand to consider the various military estimates, on which he believed a saving of £150,000 might be made, and demanded the appointment of a ‘private’ or select committee whose special purpose would be to compare the present with previous establishments. After much debate such a body was appointed, with Clarges among the nominees. It is almost certain that he spoke in the next supply proceedings on 4 Dec., when the land tax was sanctioned, being the first of five Members named to prepare the bill. On the 14th the report was made from the select committee on the army estimates, and his objection that vital information had been omitted was exposed as short-sighted. In supply on the 15th he argued that regimental companies could be increased in size from 50 to at least 80 men so as to economize on the cost of officering them. On 30 Dec. he spoke against the employment of foreign officers as being ‘a great discouragement to the English’, and put forward an alternative establishment for the Irish forces in which the reduction of officers was a prominent feature, reducing costs to 1682 levels and saving £360,000. These proposals were adopted in a thin House in place of those worked out in the select committee. Agreement on Clarges’ proposals was reached in the supply committee on 1 Jan. 1692, but at the report the next day they came under heavy fire from the Court, particularly over the disbandment of officers. Despite efforts by Clarges himself, Foley and Musgrave, the most salient elements of his proposals for a cheaper army in Ireland were lost. His disappointment is apparent in the fact that he made no recorded intervention on the 4th when the charge of the Irish forces received further attention. He did, however, make several interventions in supply on 12 Jan., in which he supported Foley’s proposals to allocate £200,000 for war expenditure, and criticized the proposed civil list, ‘the highest that ever was’, hoping that Household expenses might be as strictly regulated as they were under Charles II. He was guarded about Foley’s suggestion to take advantage of the bankers’ willingness to lend £1,000,000 at 5 per cent if steps were taken to liquidate the debt to them arising from Charles II’s Stop of the Exchequer. ‘The seizing of their money was a most wicked thing and the keeping it from them now is I think as bad’, but certain ‘difficulties’ stood in the way of what Foley had now proposed, which required the attention of a select committee. Clarges’ advice was followed, and a committee ‘to receive proposals for a fund of perpetual interest’ towards raising supply was appointed on which he himself was included.11

Quite apart from his ingrained ‘Country’ instincts in supply matters, Clarges’ activities as an accounts commissioner could only have enhanced a strong sense of public duty and responsibility. He quickly emerged as a leading spokesman for the commissioners. It was he who on 9 Nov. notified the House of a satirical tract against the commission entitled Mercurius Reformatus and moved for its author and printer to be taken into custody as a breach of privilege. Country Members were clearly in a state of high anticipation about the commissioners’ report, for the next day Sir Edward Seymour moved that the commissioners be ordered to present their audited accounts with little further delay. Clarges replied immediately, stressing the lack of co-operation they had encountered from ‘several’ officials and the patent inadequacy often found in the accounts they had examined. He promised that an account of receipts and disbursements, ‘but not the truth of them’, would soon be presented. Accordingly, the accounts were ordered to be laid before the House on 23 Nov., but when that day arrived he had to report that work was still unfinished: ‘ever since you made the order for bringing them in, we have spent two hours every morning and three hours in the afternoon to prepare them’. ‘A book of the state of incomes and issues of public revenues’ was finally presented on 1 Dec. by Paul Foley, and received consideration on the 3rd. Clarges testily defended the commission on the latter occasion when Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. II, highlighted certain ‘material’ omissions and mistakes: ‘I did expect after what that honourable gentleman had said . . . we should have been called to the bar as delinquents.’ He then outlined the problems and obstructions which the commissioners had faced and the difficulties in obtaining ‘particular accounts’ relating to the army, navy, Ireland and the Ordnance. Though admitting that his failing memory prevented him from dealing with every objection Lowther had raised, ‘we cannot’, he continued, ‘be wiser than God has made us, nor, I believe, that gentlemen neither’. He asked Members to give their attention to the ‘observations’ accompanying the accounts. Answering later complaints about the incompleteness of the accounts, he explained that the commissioners had no powers of coercion over government officials, and in the case of several government departments had had to grapple with chaotic accounting procedures. In these circumstances, the accounts were as perfect as could be reasonably expected. Clarges apparently did not participate in the debate that day, or on 12 Dec. on the more controversial ‘observations’ such as those concerning the disposal of secret service money, pensions and allowances. Thereafter, interest in the commissioners’ findings lapsed. On 28 Jan. 1692, however, when the bill for renewing the commission was returned by the Lords, amended with the names of four additional commissioners, Clarges cited precedents to show ‘that the Lords have nothing to do in the matter of money’ and ‘have no foundation of right to name commissioners’. Consequently he was named to the committee to prepare a statement of disagreement to the Lords. During the ensuing stalemate over the bill, Clarges was prevented by lameness from attending, though when the possibility arose of tacking a clause to renew the commission to the poll bill, he was able to advise Harley of a precedent in William Hakewill’s treatise on procedure. It was only through this device that the commission was renewed for a second consecutive year.12

One of the more controversial measures to employ Clarges’ attention during the 1691–2 session, and one by which he set great store, was the reform of the procedures in treason trials. This notorious area of abuse had been highlighted in the preliminary draft of the Declaration of Rights. The attention which Clarges gave to the issue during the session makes it seem probable that he had supported Sir William Whitlock’s* previous bill for reform. On 9 Nov. he seconded the motion for the second reading of the new bill, and on 11 Dec., after its return from the Lords, spoke in favour of an amendment allowing persons impeached for treason by the Commons to have the same advantages as those indicted for treason. He was also placed on a committee to state the Commons’ disagreement with other amendments made by the Upper House. The main bone of contention was the peers’ desire to be free of the crown’s arbitrary power of empanelling juries in the lord steward’s court when Parliament was not in session. Whereas many were opposed to a move which seemed to entail the strengthening of the Lords’ power against the monarch’s, Clarges was keen to promote a spirit of greater co-operation between Lords and Commons in the interests of constitutional well-being. Speaking on 13 Jan. 1692 in support of the Lords’ amendment embodying this change, he saw the opportunity to ensure that peers were accorded the same justice as ‘the rest of the people of England’, a move which would make them ‘honest’, free from Court influence, and ready to defend English liberties. He recalled the fact that the peers had been of great assistance in passing the Habeas Corpus Act, and had taken a ‘brave’ stand against King James. At further discussion of the bill on 25 Jan. Clarges restricted his comments to a procedural technicality. As in the previous session, the measure failed amid disagreement between peers and Commons. Clarges took the opportunity on 19 Feb. to indicate his continuing attachment to reform, when the House was upon the Lords’ bill to outlaw collusion with the King’s enemies, declaring that he saw little point in establishing new treasonable offences when there was still a pressing need for the reform of treason law and trial procedure. Another measure which closely engaged his attention was the bill appointing new oaths of allegiance in Ireland. He had been named on 27 Oct. to the drafting committee, and on the 30th was placed on the second-reading committee. After the bill’s return from the Lords, he spoke on 30 Nov. in favour of an important new clause allowing Catholic lawyers to practise on taking only the oath of allegiance. Although he was no friend to popery, Clarges’ subsequent efforts to preserve and perfect the bill underline his belief that a conciliatory attitude in Ireland was essential in securing the entrenchment of the Protestant ‘interest’ there. None the less, despite his enlightened views, he evidently felt that the Lords had gone too far in their phrasing, and became the chief mover in efforts to settle the ‘variance’ on the matter between the two Houses. He reported back on 5 Dec. from the second of two conferences, that the Lords insisted on a wording which threatened the integrity of the Treaty of Limerick by seeming to give latitude, not only to Catholic lawyers, but to ‘all the popish priests in Ireland’. His proposal that the conference delegation which he had led might examine the difference between the Lords’ clause and the treaty article was brushed aside, but his adjournment motion later, as an alternative means to facilitate further consideration, was accepted. On the 8th he offered a fresh amendment expunging the dubious wording inserted by the Lords, and at further conferences on 9 and 10 Dec., in which he led for the Commons, an acceptable formula was agreed, the bill eventually receiving the Royal Assent. On another measure concerning Ireland, the bill for vesting forfeited estates in the King and Queen, Clarges made a series of interventions in late January and early February, having already been added on 20 Jan. to the committee to receive proposals for raising money on the estates. At the committal of the forfeitures bill on 28 Jan. he proposed extra provision for a body of commissioners to deal with the claims of ‘several pretenders’ to estates, as allowed under the articles of Limerick; and later proposed that forfeited tithes, impropriations and appropriations be used to augment the pitifully inadequate livings of the Protestant clergy, in order to combat the spread of popery. This second proposal was adopted. He made several more interventions in committee, on 1, 2 and 5 Dec., provoking a lengthy debate on the 2nd when he offered a clause to exempt from the bill Protestants not in arms on 1 Sept. 1689, which was also accepted.13

In the proceedings on the East Indian trade Clarges featured as a defender of the East India Company. Its preservation, he told MPs on 27 Nov. 1691, was all the more essential since whenever the subject arose in the House he saw ‘so many foreigners [i.e. members of the new syndicate of interlopers] in the lobby’. He spoke on 2 Dec. against Sir Edward Seymour’s proposals for the establishment of the East India Company’s stock, and again in favour of the company on 18 Dec. By the 23rd, however, he seems to have accepted that the flotation of an adequate joint stock, as originally proposed by Seymour, would best preserve the operation of the existing company, but criticized as insufficient the £744,000 which they had proposed as security for the £1,300,000 claimed as the value of their stock. Even so, eager to see conciliation, he felt this ‘a good ground to work on to make sufficient security’. From these proceedings a bill emerged for establishing an East India company which, at first reading on 22 Jan. 1692, Clarges and others criticized as having been covertly drafted, and which effectively dissolved the existing company. Not surprisingly, on the 26th, when the bill reached its committee stage, he seconded Sir Thomas Littleton’s motion to allow any alterations which might subsequently be proposed. Clarges spoke on a variety of other occasions and topics. On 9 Dec. he opposed the payment of expenses to an informant who claimed he could reveal the identities of several Jacobite conspirators. On the 12th he brought to MPs’ notice that the roof of St. Stephen’s was in a perilous condition and moved that the King’s surveyor be ordered to report on the matter forthwith. Four days later he spoke in favour of a measure for the encouragement of privateering against France and to guard against collusion between English and French traders. Cautioning that such a proposal ought to receive preliminary consideration in committee of the whole, he proceeded to advocate the imposition of ‘a great duty’ on all French goods, and was consequently included among the Members appointed to oversee the bill’s preparation. Shortly after the Christmas recess, on 7 Jan., he and Sir Christopher Musgrave took the Speaker (Sir John Trevor*) to task for ‘debating’ the privileges of the House concerning conferences with the Upper House, both maintaining that the Chair had no right to debate ‘any matter whatsoever’. He spoke briefly on 15 Jan. against a minor addition to the mutiny bill, which he had helped to draft, and the same day opposed as procedurally irregular Hugh Boscawen I’s motion in the supply committee to provide more convoys for the protection of merchant shipping. When on 18 Feb. it was noted that the Irish forfeitures bill was still pending in the Lords, Clarges backed a motion to withhold the poll tax bill while a formal reminder was conveyed, insisting that it was ‘very regular and usual’ to hold back money bills until the peers had sanctioned ‘some good bills’. He was also involved in a number of matters which engaged his concern as a prominent London citizen. On 3 Dec. he spoke in support of a bill for the relief of London orphans, while on the 15th he presented a bill to furnish the recently created parish of St. Anne with its own church, and was first-named to the bill’s second-reading committee on the 18th, though it was his son Sir Walter who reported on the 24th. The problems suffered by the small traders of Westminster in the recovery of debts also preoccupied him so far as to induce him to present a bill on 19 Dec. to simplify the process at law. He reported from its second-reading committee on the 31st. As Member for Oxford University, he also supported the interests of the universities. On 7 Dec. he successfully offered a clause exempting both institutions from the payment of excise. Similarly, on 19 Feb 1692, having earlier espoused the statutory confirmation of his own university’s charters, he spoke in favour of a similar measure to confirm those of Cambridge.14

Clarges’ routine from late February onwards, when the House stood in recess, was again dominated by his work on the accounts commission. Not until August did he allow himself a period of leave from otherwise almost daily attendance. He continued to work closely with Foley and Harley, and when Harley fell ill in September and retired to the country, Clarges kept him supplied with ‘foreign prints and intelligence’. It was with a sense of gloom that Clarges regarded the approaching session. The summer’s actions at sea and on land had been limited yet expensive, and left him feeling ‘perplexed’ and downcast. ‘There never was more need of wise heads and stout hands since I knew England’, he lamented to Harley on 20 Sept. He was especially concerned as to whether the enormous subsidies paid to the allies were yielding value for money, thinking this a matter to which the House should devote attention. At the beginning of October he wrote with much the same despondency to Harley’s father, Sir Edward: ‘we have been unfortunate in our land campaigns this year; how we shall be next year, God only knows. Our main affair at sea was successful, and might have been more if we could have pushed it better.’ Family concerns had perhaps contributed to these forebodings. At the end of August he had been ‘much troubled’ when his only son’s young family had been visited with smallpox. His vain, if understandable, fear, was the extinction of his line. On the first day of the new session, 4 Nov. 1692, he was ‘sorry to see so thin a House when we are like to have affairs of such weight come before it’: his by now customary motion to adjourn for a few days was carried. His several interventions on the 10th during consideration of the King’s speech saw him very much at the forefront of the opposition offensive, and successfully dictating the course of subsequent proceedings. Though he supported an address of thanks which congratulated the King on his return from campaign, he did not accept Thomas Neale’s proposal to stand by the King in his prosecution of the war, with its implication of an automatic promise of supply:

I am for any congratulation you shall think fit but I am against the latter part; it is engaging the House beforehand in the matter of money, which I like not. I desire to see first how matters are and then we will give our advice and assistance as we are able. And in order to this I desire we may address to his Majesty that he will be pleased to order the leagues and alliances he has with any foreign princes [to be laid before the House], for this nation is in a very bad condition and great sums of money have gone out of it already, which impoverishes you mightily. I am for preserving order and method and going upon your address of thanks, leaving out the latter part of your question.

An assurance that the Commons would be ready ‘to advise and assist’ in the King’s crusade against the enemy was resolved upon none the less, and Clarges, presumably mollified by this wording, was included on the committee appointed to draft the address. In the same debate he replied to Hon. Goodwin Wharton’s motion for the accounts commission to present their auditings of government expenditure promptly, expressing hope that the House would not impose unreasonably upon the overworked commissioners, and assuring Members that the accounts were almost ready. Later on, at his further insistence, and supported by others, all current alliances were ordered up as a necessary foundation for deliberations upon war expenditure. Finally, Clarges moved to consider ‘the state of the nation’, invoking the time-honoured principle that the Commons should proceed upon grievances before supply. It was an attempt to open an inquisition into the shortcomings of Admiral Russell’s command of the fleet, a move that may have been preconcerted by the accounts commissioners since he was seconded by a fellow commissioner (and neighbour), Sir Peter Colleton. The next day, 11 Nov., Clarges was again seconded by Colleton, in a motion requiring Russell to attend the committee. He justified the inquiry by stating that ‘two general questions’ were ‘very material’: first, why the victory at Barfleur in May had not been followed up; and secondly, why mercantile shipping was given such inadequate protection. Responding to efforts by the Court to deflect the attack on Russell, Clarges observed that whereas a portion of the previous year’s supply, some £100,000, had been earmarked for a descent on France, the plans had been abandoned by a ‘council of war’ in favour of a descent upon Ostend, and called for the Admiralty to produce documentation showing who had advised this decision. The inquiry which Clarges had requested, scheduled to open on 12 Nov., was effectively side-stepped that day by the presentation of papers relating to the fleet’s summer actions. Clarges none the less persisted in attacking the Court over the conduct of the naval high command, with repeated demands for an explanation of why no attempt to launch a descent was made until July. He wanted to know who had been responsible for ordering the descent, and more pointedly, what instructions had been received by the commanders from Secretary Nottingham whose orders to the fleet were widely felt to have been misconceived. Moreover, he made no secret of his deep pessimism about the ministers’ ability to conduct the war, proclaiming that there was ‘not that zeal now to the Government, as there was then [viz. during the naval campaigns of Charles II’s reign]’. Clarges’ initial hopes of a major Commons inquest into the late naval campaign were further set back amid MPs’ calls for additional papers, though ironically these requests were probably inspired by Clarges’ own insistence on ministerial accountability. By 15 Nov. it was apparent that the leading commissioners of accounts, Foley, Harley and Clarges, had settled on a change of tactic. On the ministry’s motion to consider the King’s Speech, Clarges repeated earlier calls for the alliances to be examined first, as an essential prerequisite in providing the ‘advice and assistance’ which the King had requested: ‘and since his Majesty has been so very gracious in his speech to ask our advice, which is more than your kings of late have been used to, I desire we may with all duty give him the best we can’. Extreme though Clarges’ proposition was, the principle behind it obtained wide support, and Foley and other members of the Country party succeeded in delaying supply proceedings until after a day had been spent upon the King’s request for advice.15

The first of a series of committee sittings on ‘advice’ took place on 21 Nov. 1692, with Clarges opening the debate with an agenda-setting speech. He began by demanding clarification of the nation’s obligations in the war. So ‘deplorable’ did he find the nation’s condition that he expressed himself at a loss ‘to know in what particular to advise the King’. He could only recount, as on many previous occasions, the mishaps and mismanagements of the fleet, the harm done to trade, and the ineffectiveness of the land war over the previous three years; and question the wisdom of placing a massive confederate army in Flanders ‘where you draw all the strength of France’. Furthermore, in the King’s absence, administration and decision-making had been ‘very loose’, as nothing could be done by the Queen without directions from the King among his ‘foreign’ (Dutch) advisers. He hoped, having thus ‘opened some matters’, that Members would ‘touch upon a particular head to go upon’. Inevitably, the subsequent debate dwelt on the mismanagement of the navy, during which Clarges called Lord Falkland (Anthony Carey) to order for his aspersions upon the recent committee on the merchants’ complaints about inadequate convoys; accused the Admiralty of being careless of trade; and advocated a change of personnel throughout the naval establishment from the Admiralty commissioners downward, reflecting once more on Russell in saying that the entire fleet was ‘too great a trust to be lodged in one man’s hands’. The following day, 22 Nov., the Commons passed a general resolution for the supply, though typically, when translations of the treaties were afterwards presented, Clarges attempted to disrupt the unanimity with his observation that England’s financial obligations considerably exceeded those of the Dutch. When the House proceeded again on ‘advice’ on the 23rd, attention turned to army affairs. Clarges broached the problem of indiscipline among the Irish forces, which he attributed to an unclear division of responsibility between civil and military authorities there. In a lengthier intervention he drew attention to the administrative efficiency which had prevailed in Ireland in the early 1660s, when he had himself served on the Irish privy council. Widening the focus of his assault, he amplified the objections of other Country MPs against foreign generals and officers in the English army. Though there were highly experienced English officers available, he doubted if the King’s foreign advisers were sufficiently informed to vouch for their suitability: ‘from this ingratitude to the officers you have lost the discipline of the army’. He was able to draw upon detailed intelligence, received shortly before the session, about how the cowardice of Dutch commanders, led by Count Solmes, had resulted in the wholesale butchering of English troops at Steenkerk: ‘if we had an English general at Steenkerk, 6,000 English had not been lost’. The army and navy estimates, totalling some £4,200,000, were presented two days later, on 25 Nov. Whereas in the previous session the estimates had been severally referred to select committees, preventing discussion in the House, Harley now moved for their referral to the committee of the whole, which, as one scholar has suggested, ‘reflected the learning experience of the previous sessions and a belief that the estimates should become a part of the general indictment of the war’. Clarges pitied the fact that ‘poor England’ had to bear the cost of forces in Ireland and on the Continent and proposed that MPs be allowed several days to scrutinize the demands; otherwise there was the risk that the entire sum would, as in the previous session, be voted ‘all in a lump’. Accordingly, the supply committee was put off until the following week. When proceedings on advice resumed next day, 26 Nov., Clarges felt Sir William Strickland’s motion condemning the operation of a ‘Cabinet council’ did not go far enough, and ought to ‘name’ ministers against whom impeachments might be brought. On 29 Nov. he opened the debate on the navy estimates, regretting the ‘prodigious sum’ required but advising the House to proceed ‘head by head’. At his instance it was resolved that the first item, the ordinary of the navy, be financed from the civil list. Despite his advocacy of a more vigorous naval strategy in the war, he thought the number of seamen proposed excessive. Similarly, he opposed the government’s request for new bomb vessels and fourth-rate ships, repeating his objections on this score at the report on 1 Dec. On the 2nd he opposed the Court motion to proceed upon the army estimates until ways and means for the navy had first been settled. When the army estimates were reviewed on the 3rd he intervened several times, expressing apprehensions that ‘Dutch advice’ had demanded larger English forces than were required by treaty, and in the first instance would only support Harley’s motion to approve the force of 20,000 men designated for home defence. Sir Edward Seymour’s counter-argument, that the burden would have been so much the greater if England had stood alone, compelled Clarges to state his objections more forcefully. He warned that the Dutch and German allies regarded England as ‘an inexhaustible fountain’ and that the nation would soon be incapable of its own defence, so deprived would it be of manpower and specie. His work for the accounts commission doubtless reinforced his awareness of abuse and waste in the Ordnance and in the payment of officers, and in further supply proceedings on the 6th he suggested ways of reducing costs in these areas. He preferred, in particular, to see a lump sum granted for the payment of generals rather than the continuance of easily abused daily rates. He objected also to sums intended for foreign princes: ‘the Parliaments of England used to give supply to their own princes but never to strangers’. In the proceedings on advice on 8 Dec. he advised MPs that the drain of specie through foreign payments could only be partially rectified by the purchase of army stores at home, as much larger sums were required to subsidize foreign troops. Returning to this theme the following day, he enlarged upon the disparities between English and Dutch subsidy payments to the confederate powers, pointing out that the States General and the Emperor were ‘more concerned’ in the war than England. In some anger he bluntly suggested that responsibility for this sorry state of affairs lay with the King’s Dutch confidant, the Earl of Portland. When the army resolutions were reported on 10 Dec. he targeted another attack on the ‘extravagant’ establishments allowed the generals. As a result of his recent apprehensions about foreign payments he was on the 12th appointed to a select committee to consider how the English army abroad might be provisioned so as to minimize the export of coin. In the final sitting on ‘advice’ four days later, he repeated his prejudices against foreigners employed in the garrisons and other military establishments as being an encouragement to soldierly indiscipline.16

From mid-December the committee of supply turned to ways and means. In these proceedings Clarges combined his scepticism with a more constructive attention to such details as the revenue-raising capacity of various taxes and duties. Though the supply and ‘advice’ debates had seen him a strident critic of the conduct and cost of the war, on the ways and means side he showed a statesmanlike commitment to ensuring the sums agreed could be raised. On 13 Dec. he, unlike Harley, opposed a 4s. rated land tax in favour of a monthly assessment which would yield a more ‘certain’ revenue and was not liable to inequalities. He was apprehensive, too, that the pound rate, requiring the appointment of commissioners, would lead to a multiplication of oaths, an altogether unacceptable prospect to a High Churchman, and that it would increase the King’s reserves of patronage. It was the fiscal advantages of a rated tax, however, that prevailed with the House. On the 15th, he and Harley led the way in according warm approval to Paul Foley’s ‘million project’, though it was typical of Clarges that he should caution ‘great care’ in the penning of a bill for the scheme. Appropriately, he was later included among the five Members ordered to bring in the measure, the others being his fellow commissioners Foley and Musgrave, and the attorney- and solicitor-general. He was at the forefront of further proceedings on the 17th when he proposed a comprehensive set of additional duties on a wide range of commodities which he had devised with the assistance of several merchants, believing they ‘would raise a considerable sum’. On 21 Dec. he also suggested levying higher duties on French commodities, especially brandy, which he felt would raise an extra £80,000, and that steps might be taken to encourage effective privateering against French commerce. Most of these proposals, enshrined in 85 separate resolutions, were agreed by the House on 27 Jan. 1693 and a bill ‘for impositions on merchandises’ was ordered which Clarges was directed to draft with the attorney- and solicitor-general. On 23 Dec., when the Speaker himself took the initiative in scheduling committee proceedings on the land tax bill, Clarges upbraided him for a serious breach of correct procedure, though his outburst was just as likely to have been occasioned by his strong objections to the pound rate intended by the measure. In deliberations on the bill a fortnight later, on 6 Jan. 1693, he felt that the regulations should be changed to allow county commissioners to act within boroughs if no inhabitants met the property requirements. At the report on the 10th, Clarges took the lead in attaching an additional clause, ‘une condition désagréable’ as Bonet recorded, to suspend the grant of pensions during the war. But though initially accepted, it was rejected on reconsideration later in the debate. The land tax bill was returned from the Lords on 17 Jan. with a new clause to appoint a commission of peers to administer the tax on themselves. It was probably on account of his recent championship of the Upper House over the bill to regulate treason trials that Clarges was entrusted with the sensitive task of leading a conference to state the Commons’ objection that the Lords had no right to ‘meddle’ with money bills.17

The committee on ‘advice’ finally reported on 11 Jan. 1693, but surprisingly Clarges contributed nothing beyond a brief procedural observation. In ways and means on 4 Feb. he gave short shrift to Thomas Neale’s idea to lay taxes on all persons who married, the inheritors of legacies, and on burials. Indeed he saw a moral objection to Neale’s first proposal, preferring to see a tax on unmarried persons, ‘for marriage itself is already too much out of fashion’. On 6 Feb. he prompted the House to consider how much more was needed for the current year’s supply in the light of the £4,757,000 already provided, and which left no more than £200,000 still to raise. Sir Edward Seymour immediately took issue, doubting the revenue-raising capacity of the various proposals so far approved, many of which had come from Clarges, and concluded that the sum still needed should more realistically be estimated at £1,300,000. Responding, Clarges assured the House that the duties he had proposed in former sessions ‘have fully answered what I valued them at’. But, seeming to acknowledge Seymour’s warning that receipts might not meet expectations, he proposed that the ‘additional duties’ he had proposed back in December, which he calculated at £170,000 p.a., be turned into a three-year fund to raise £510,000 for the current year. However, when Sir John Lowther expressed concern about the dependability of this example of credit finance, Clarges advised the House that they might do well first to consider and estimate if any further revenue sources remained untapped. Two days later, however, on 8 Feb., he again outlined his scheme. So attractive was it to MPs that Charles Montagu’s* and Seymour’s scepticism about this and a similar scheme, funded on ‘continued impositions’, failed to impress. It only remained for Lord Ranelagh to point out that Clarges’ overall estimate was ‘neat money’ with no allowance for ‘interest and the charge of collecting it’. Clarges’ fund scheme was none the less eventually resolved upon, but for a term of four, instead of three, years. On 10 Feb. he took up John Grobham Howe’s proposal of a tax on hackney coaches, believing ‘a good sum’ might be raised from it, but preferred that such a tax be used ‘forever’ in the establishment and maintenance of a naval hospital ‘which will be a noble foundation for this kingdom which is an island and should give some encouragement to seamen on whom they [sic] so much depend’. On the 13th he advocated applying ‘a clause of credit’ to ‘a review of the poll’ in the event of a shortfall in anticipated receipts, though he was against extending it to deficiencies in the land tax. In the same debate he opposed as procedurally ‘irregular’ Sir John Lowther’s last-minute attempt to propose another £500,000 on East India goods as ‘collateral security’. Clarges was appointed on the 15th to draft bills based on the committee’s final resolutions which included his own scheme for ‘additional duties’. Although a stickler for procedure, Clarges’ own observance could be neglectful when it suited his own purposes. On 18 Feb., at the report on the ‘bill of impositions on merchandises’ (which he himself had done much to originate), his attempt to introduce a duty on an omitted commodity was overruled, money proposals being the exclusive preserve of the committee of supply. His move the same day to introduce a clause to appropriate £1,200,000 to the navy without prior leave was also deemed improper, though on the 20th he insisted on his point with a tenacious use of precedent. Clarges could thus hardly be considered an old-school Tory on financial matters, one with innate suspicions of the ‘monied interest’. On the contrary, his long-standing involvement in the metropolitan business world, and his own particular interests in property speculation, accustomed him to the benefits of credit finance, not least of which were the possibilities of limiting the burdens of direct taxation upon the landed classes. Although the accounts commission’s latest report (presented on 15 Nov. 1692) had been given no specific attention by the House, it was plain in the debates on ‘advice’, estimates, and ways and means that the commission did not miss the opportunity to make use of the insights and information accumulated in the course of their inquiries. It was as much for this advantage as for the original purpose of overseeing government expenditure that a bill for renewing the commission was sought in January 1693. Clarges benefited from his service as a commissioner in ways that differed from his more opposition-minded colleagues Foley and Harley. His involvement with the commission as a seasoned back-bencher gave added weight to his parliamentary role as a guardian of good government, and ensured for himself the continuing respect of Country MPs of both parties. At the second reading of the renewal bill on 14 Feb. he defended the commission’s raison d’être against Court detractors, asserting that its annual cost was no more than £5,000, and not £10,000 as Seymour had alleged. He admitted to MPs, ‘I find it is a sore place and I do not wonder that some gentlemen are angry at it’, but reminded them of their approbation of the commission’s first report and its accompanying ‘observations’. The commissioners, he also intimated, were willing to provide similar commentary on their second report, indicating somewhat tantalizingly that in unravelling ‘the mystery of the Exchequer’ they had uncovered matters needing urgent attention. It was also desirable, he said, that government departments, especially the Treasury, be made to release their accounts for inspection, but such a provision was not adopted. In the meantime MPs were invited to submit their observations on the accounts in writing, to which on 18 Feb. Clarges presented the commission’s written response. On 17 Feb. he skilfully deflected a clause put up by several courtiers, abetted by Seymour, requiring the commissioners to review the debt to the bankers occasioned by the 1672 Stop of the Exchequer, a move probably calculated to endanger the bill’s passage and the commission’s existence by seeming to encumber Parliament itself with the debt. Clarges condemned the attempt to reopen the affair as ‘very unreasonable’, the authenticity of the debts having already been established in the law courts.18

Unlike his prominent fellow commissioners, Foley and Harley, Clarges was not an active exponent of mainstream ‘Country’ measures in this session. The simple explanation, however, may have been his preoccupation with supply business when the place and triennial bills were pending during December and January, for his intervention at the first reading of the Lords’ triennial bill on 28 Jan. 1693 shows a deep sympathy with the impulse to purify the body politic. In his opinion, triennial Parliaments stood alongside the proper regulation of treason trials as a constitutional necessity: ‘I should be unworthy to sit here’, he said, ‘if I did not give my testimony to this bill. It is the best bill that ever came into this House since 25 Edward III of treasons, etc.’

The worst of Parliaments – even that which is so much run out against, that long pensionary parliament (as it was called) in King Charles II’s time – took care to regulate their privileges and keep out officers, the two scandals of Parliament. And if we must do nothing of that matter and have long parliaments, we shall become 500 grievances. And as to the objection that the bill came from the Lords I think it none at all for they may send you down any bill but one for money, nor do I think it any entrenching upon the prerogative, and therefore I am for it.

Of much more immediate concern to him, however, was the renewed attempt to pass a bill for the reform of treason trials. He seems to have hoped that its passage could be eased by cutting procedural corners. Seconding Sir William Whitlock’s motion on 11 Nov. 1692 for leave to introduce the bill, Clarges asked that the copy used the previous session might be presented immediately. Though the Speaker objected, Clarges prevailed in his rejoinder that the ‘asking of leave is but a new way and an innovation in the House’, upon which the measure was brought in and, on Clarges’ further motion, given a first reading. He seconded Whitlock again at committal on the 18th, though he could see no need to re-examine a measure which the Lower House had in effect already endorsed. In committee on the 28th he argued forcefully for the bill as ‘necessary . . . for the preservation of the government and the King’s person’. Its aim, he told MPs, was to rationalize and define ‘treason’ in order to prevent perversions of justice, a problem which had become acute in the preceding reign. Moreover, in their unreformed state the procedures for treason trials easily facilitated arbitrary rule: ‘the hardships the nation endured in constructive treason was one of the greatest inducements to the late change’. At the end of December, when the bill was under consideration in the Lords, there were differences over whether the Commons should accede to the peers’ request for a ‘free’ conference, or whether the more formalized conference procedure should be followed. Though Clarges supported the idea of a free conference, ‘he could not have the managers debate any matter but hear what the Lords will say and then acquaint them you will report it to the House’. Once more, however, the bill failed. Clarges also gave attention to a series of other matters which touched upon questions of liberty and fairness. One was the case of the moderate Tory MP (Sir) Carbery Pryse (4th Bt.), who was troubled with legal suits in the court of Exchequer in efforts to prevent him exploiting the lead mines discovered on his estates on the grounds that the ore belonged to the crown. Clarges presented the case to the House on 26 Nov. and moved that Pryse have protection from further harassment. He supported the royal mines bill introduced to guarantee Pryse’s rights, and on 20 Jan. 1693 indicated the impropriety of hearing King’s counsel against the bill, ‘for the Commons are his counsel’. The intention, Clarges claimed, was to maintain a prerogative ‘that is in no way useful to the crown but very grievous to the people and prejudicial to the kingdom in general’. Somewhat paradoxically with regard to Pryse’s predicament, but quite in accordance with his own principles, he supported John Howe’s proposal on 12 Dec. that the House consider facilitating private prosecutions against MPs. He recalled that before the Restoration no Member was allowed any privilege ‘but for his own person’. Named to the committee appointed, he spoke again when it reported on the 23rd: ‘as we pretended to remedy grievances, we should hereby prevent ourselves from being the greatest grievance by hindering our fellow subjects from their just rights’. He spoke to a more popular outrage against personal liberty on 2 Feb. when breach of privilege was alleged on behalf of Bussy Mansel* (or his cousin Thomas I*) regarding the impressment of a servant. Clarges condemned as ‘a great oppression to the subject’ the increasingly ‘common’ practice of ‘pressing for land service . . . under colour of pressing seamen for sea service’, and later moved for a ‘declaratory vote’ that impressment generally ‘was against the rights and liberties of the subject’. A further complaint, raised by Clarges on the 7th concerning a servant of the parliamentary diarist Narcissus Luttrell*, prompted the appointment of a committee to investigate abuses by pressmasters. Unusually, however, Clarges himself was not among those named. Among other privilege cases during the session, Clarges espoused (on 14 Nov. 1692) the cause of Christopher Musgrave, MP for Carlisle and son of Clarges’ friend and fellow commissioner Sir Christopher, who had been peremptorily disenfranchised and stripped of his freedom by Carlisle corporation. Such was Clarges’ advocacy that a breach of privilege was immediately declared, nemine contradicente. On the other hand, he saw no justice in the Whig Sir John Guise’s complaint of privilege on 18 Nov. regarding the mistreatment of his chaplain, who being the holder of a rectorship could not be considered a menial servant.19

Of Clarges’ remaining activity in the 1692–3 session, several matters are worthy of note. He continued, for example, to support the East India Company, arguing on 17 Nov. in favour of a bill to correct defects in its charter. But when the company’s future was debated on 25 Feb. 1693 he refrained from openly aligning with those who argued for its preservation. His Country aversion to ‘corruption’ came into play on the subject of abuses in military organization. On 2 Jan. he complained, with reference to the militia bill, that muster-masters often issued call-outs unnecessarily ‘for their profit’, and proposed the restriction of such powers to the King and Council. Similarly, on the mutiny bill, he spoke on 25 Jan. against the purchase of regimental commissions as a practice which adversely affected the well-being of ‘the poor soldier’. Clarges took part in the proceedings on 20–23 Jan. against Charles Blount’s King William and Queen Mary Conquerors (1693) and Bishop Burnet’s Pastoral Letter (1689) both of which expounded a view of William and Mary’s authority as being by right of ‘conquest’. Though Clarges was vaguely stated by Luttrell to have ‘inveighed’ against Blount’s pamphlet on the 20th, the substance of his objection is not clear. It is possible, however, that given his concern with the maintenance of liberty, he was keen to echo the terms of the initial complaint by Hon. John Granville that the notion of conquest undermined libertarian principles as guaranteed by law, and left them at the whim of the conqueror. While Edmund Bohun, the Tory licenser of the press, and a known exponent of ‘conquest theory’, was specifically targeted for allowing the two tracts to be published, the attack was also implicitly aimed at Bohun’s administrative senior, Lord Nottingham, for whom Clarges’ respect had waned in recent years. Even so, rather than commit the works to an immediate public burning, as desired by Foley and Musgrave, Clarges, with his usual propriety, felt that no censure would be valid until there had been proper inquiry by a parliamentary committee. His views in this respect, however, were overridden. Considering the interest Clarges had previously shown in Ireland, and the pride he took in his own administrative experience there, it is surprising to find him intervening only once when the House inquired into maladministration in the Irish government in late February. Even so, it was he, as an accounts commissioner, who set the tone of the first day’s proceedings on 22 Feb. by revealing that though forfeited lands and goods to the value of £167,000 had so far been seized, only £4,000 had accrued to the crown, a deficiency he left to the Treasury lords to explain. Widening his focus, he criticized the recent dissolution of the Dublin parliament, whose Protestantism he had previously hailed as an essential factor in securing the kingdom. He doubted, furthermore, that the 7,000-strong army in Ireland was capable of repelling a French invasion force, in consequence of which it ‘may cost you some millions before you beat them out’. Certain matters of secondary or local import also drew Clarges’ attention: on 6 Dec., a bill to provide the City with ‘convex lights’; on 15 Dec., a bill for preventing abuses by cheese and butter weighers; and on 2 Feb. 1693, a bill for outlawing hawkers which he opposed, thinking it ‘would establish monopolies by act of Parliament’. A greater local preoccupation, however, was with an initiative to reduce the City corporation’s debt to the orphans’ fund. Clarges presented a petition from the orphans’ agents on 17 Dec. though it was not given parliamentary attention until 16 Feb. He began the proceedings by outlining a scheme for a fund established from the surpluses of City revenues, and it was a refinement of this which the House accepted. Authorization for a bill was given next day, and Clarges and others were ordered to prepare it. He supported the second reading on 23 Feb., though on the 27th he was unable to fend off the corporation’s petition against the bill. In any event the measure lapsed shortly afterwards with the end of the session.20

With the cessation of Narcissus Luttrell’s diary at the end of the 1692–3 session the frequency and wide range of Clarges’ speeches in the House are no longer so readily apparent. But from the information available his vigour was plainly undiminished. Seconding Foley’s motion on 13 Nov. 1693 for an inquiry into the summer’s naval miscarriages, he set an angry tenor to the debate on supply. In one of his most blistering and impatient onslaughts against the Court, he condemned the ineffectiveness of the ministers’ direction of the war, a failing tantamount to a betrayal of the country. He lamented the decline of trade, the loss of £1 million of capital stock in the City, the continued destruction or capture of merchant shipping, and above all the inferiority of the nation’s maritime strength. These grievances, he insisted, demanded the urgent attention of the House before money was given. He drew, in conclusion, a provocative comparison between those by whom he believed the nation had been betrayed and ‘the first Christianity, where there were twelve apostles, and one of them was a devil; he kept the purse; for thirty pieces of silver he betrayed his master’. On the 16th, when Foley delivered the accounts commission’s report on the disposition of money given for the maintenance of the fleet, Clarges supposed that an important factor in the misapplication of resources was the Treasury’s inability to resist superior commands, and that the Treasury commissioners were not upon oath. This theme he pursued in proceedings on the army on 28 Nov. and 5 Dec., complaining in his usual fashion of the ‘vast sums’ spent on both English and allied forces in Flanders. As in previous sessions the mainspring of his general criticism of the conduct of the war was his suspicion that ‘foreign counsels’ had forced England to bear a disproportionately large share of the financial burdens. On the 28th he responded to Seymour’s accusation that he ‘spoke little to the purpose’:

I am so used to reflections that I take little notice of them. When Lord Ranelagh brought up the forces to be 60,000 men, I thought it my duty not to let that go so. I observe that when the Apostles spoke the truth of the word, it was opposed by the silversmiths that made the shrines for Diana’s Temple.

He was appalled on 5 Dec. when Ranelagh presented estimates for an unprecedented 93,635 men, costing £2,881,194, and moved for the papers to be signed by the lords of the Council, ‘that we may know whether this be Dutch or English counsel’. It was necessary, as he saw it, to inquire what new alliances necessitated such an increase, and insisted that ‘if aid be called from us, we must judge of the treaties’. Under considerable pressure, Sir Thomas Littleton, for the Court, was obliged to try and refute Clarges’ arguments. ‘Clarges is an able Member, and always speaks to instruction. He tells you of precedents etc. But was a kingdom ever in such a condition, the enemy stronger than you?’ Nevertheless, Clarges’ reasoning prevailed and an address for the alliances was ordered. These, together with a schedule of the proportion of forces furnished by the allies, were reviewed in the supply committee on 12 Dec. (not, as stated by Grey, on the 11th), at which Clarges elaborated upon the disparities between the English and Dutch provision of troops, and resented allied assumptions that England was ‘inexhaustible in treasure’. He also took the lead in raising the accounts commission’s charge of peculation against Lord Falkland (Anthony Carey*), a member of the Admiralty board. It was Clarges who notified the House on 4 Dec. that one of Falkland’s staff had refused to explain to the commission several discrepancies in his accounts. When the commission’s further report was debated on the 7th, Clarges deplored Falkland’s misconduct as a Privy Councillor in having obtained the issue of the money in question through an ‘order’ signed by the King rather than through the privy seal. In the supply debates on ways and means we find him on 18 Jan. 1694 proposing without success to exempt liability for non-rented or empty town-houses from the provisions of the land tax bill, having identified a need to alleviate the burden of the tax upon individuals like himself whose property lay mainly in the heavily assessed metropolitan area. Following the royal veto of the place bill, Clarges was first in the committee proceedings of 26 Jan. to open fire upon the King’s advisers:

I am sorry for the occasion of this committee. I will not say anything of his Majesty, only of the evil counsellors that presumed to advise the King . . . Formerly, just bills and grievances were first passed; and after that the money given. Now, in great respect to his Majesty, the order is inverted, and our grievances denied redress. I cannot think the King to blame, since his declaration hath been to concur with us in anything to make us happy. I should have been glad if the counsellors, or some of them, would have given some reason for the rejection of this bill. I believe that the people who sent us up will hate us for doing nothing but giving away their money, in effect, one to another, as in the Rump, which was their ruin and may be ours.

His concluding motion ‘that the advisers of the rejection of this bill are enemies to the King and the kingdom’ was set aside, however, in favour of Harley’s less bellicose motion to represent to the King ‘how few the instances have been to deny assent’. Notwithstanding, he was named in third place to the committee appointed to prepare this address, and was appointed to another the following day to redraft the conclusion in softer terms. Clarges pursued his interest in the London orphans issue. Even before the session opened he was involved with other leading City dignitaries in preliminaries for a new bill, which on 17 Feb. he and others were ordered to prepare. From then until the end of the session in April there is no further record of Clarges’ parliamentary activity. But it was a sure sign of his lasting popularity with Country MPs that he was re-elected to the accounts commission in the ballot declared on 12 Apr., taking third place with 131 votes, and only 14 votes behind Harley in first place.21

Clarges’ contribution to proceedings in the 1694–5 session is even less well documented, and in the main it is only from references in the Journals that we can discern something of the continuing pattern of his preoccupations. What seems to have been a painful circulatory disorder kept him from his commissioner’s work during the latter part of September and throughout October 1694, and his condition was serious enough to have induced him to draw up his will. Though he had recovered by the beginning of the session, he may thereafter have been in decline. On the first day of business, 12 Nov., he as usual took note of the thinness of attendance, declaring to those present that ‘the country would take it very ill that they should dispose of their money till the rest of the Members were up’, whereupon an adjournment was agreed until the 19th. He presented two reports from the accounts commission: on 5 Jan. 1695, a state of the debt due on transport ships; and on 12 Feb. a state of the Irish arrears due to the army. In the ballot for new commissioners announced on 21 Mar. Clarges achieved second place after Harley with 183 votes. His old concern with corruption among army officers was exhibited anew in deliberations on the mutiny bill, as shown by his appointment on 2 Apr. to a small committee entrusted to draft an extra clause prohibiting officers from accepting bribes to excuse the quartering of men on public houses, which he himself reported next day. The accounts commissioners took their oaths at Clarges’ Piccadilly residence in May, and throughout the summer months he attended meetings with few intermissions. With the onset of the general election by September, he showed no resolve to retire from Parliament despite his recent ill-health and advanced years, while at Oxford University his re-election was regarded as a foregone conclusion. It was fitting that he should remain active in the service of the House almost until the day of his death. He presided in the chair of the commission on 1 Oct., but on either that or the day following suffered ‘a kind of apoplectic fit’, in all probability a serious stroke, which rendered him ‘insensible’, and, in the opinion of his physician John Radcliffe*, beyond all hope of recovery. He died on the 4th and was buried at Stoke Poges, bequeathing a considerable estate to his only son, Sir Walter (1st Bt.*), comprising land and property in Westminster, Middlesex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire reckoned at £6,000 p.a.22

Clarges had distinguished himself as an energetic and tenacious keeper of Country consciences. Some onlookers dismissed him as an aged and pernickety troublemaker, too fond of harking back to a better age of ‘good husbandry’ in government. Bishop Burnet accurately recalled that ‘he had Cromwell’s economy ever in his mouth, and was always for reducing the expense of war to the modesty and parsimony of those times’. There was, too, an irksome incongruity about him. Having enriched himself with public money he seemed constantly anxious that no one else should do the same. Yet, despite his obvious self-importance, the trenchant expression he gave to the instinctive grievances of many MPs made him a much-respected figure, and as Burnet had to admit, ‘very popular’. To the debates of the 1690s he brought warnings and strictures which he had enunciated since the 1660s, epitomizing Country values absorbed from older and more traditional precepts of good governance. But his rigorous approach to parliamentary politics undoubtedly appealed to a younger generation of Country MPs, and helped to educate them in the proper exercise of their responsibilities. As a critic of government his purpose was usually constructive. In the debates on supply he avoided party faction, preferring the role of disinterested commentator. During the early years of the post-Revolution settlement, he was an active spirit behind the ad hoc and often uncertain initiatives to establish and formalize the Commons’ lead in financing the requirements of government. He continually emphasized the importance of full information and thorough, methodical inquiry in proceedings on supply, an essential objective of which was to bring ministers to account; and often he had the satisfaction of seeing the House defer to his advice. Of no less significance was his enterprise in devising fiscal schemes to realize the appropriations granted. Quite apart from whether or not his own proposals were taken up, he set a vital example of senatorial responsibility. As one of the last of his generation, he epitomizes the class of parliamentarian who strove to guide the Commons through the more complex demands of the immediate post-Revolution years.

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. Bull. IHR, vi. 189; IGI, London.
  • 2. CJ, vii. 828, 873; viii. 213; CSP Dom. 1660–1, p. 432.
  • 3. Mdx. RO, MJP/CP5a; Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 1161; Oxf. Council Acts (Oxf. Hist. Soc. n.s. ii.), 191, 196.
  • 4. PCC 170 Irby; HMC Portland, iii. 498.
  • 5. Devonshire mss at Chatsworth House, ‘Devonshire House notebook’, 3 Jan. 1689[–90]; CSP Dom. 1689–90, pp. 384–5; H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm. III, 41, 52; DZA, Bonet’s despatch 8/18 Oct. 1695; Add. 10119, f. 82; PCC 170 Irby; Wood, Life and Times, iii. 325; Northants. RO, Isham mss IC2254, John Isham to Sir Justinian Isham, 4th Bt.*, 20 Mar. [1690]; Add. 33923, f. 481; Morrice ent’ring bk. 3, pp. 126–7; Bodl. Ballard 22, f. 15; Grey, x. 4, 26.
  • 6. Grey, ix. 55; x. 45, 46, 73, 83, 94, 96, 107, 116–17, 128; A. Browning, Danby, ii. 470; Bodl. Rawl. A.79, ff. 75, 83–86; Add. 42592, f. 137; 70014, f. 322.
  • 7. Grey, x. 55, 64, 65, 67, 133–4, 136, 141a; A. I. Dasent, Hist. St. James’ Square, 5; Dasent, Piccadilly, 56–57; PCC 170 Irby; Morrice ent’ring bk. 3, pp. 146–7, 151; G. S. De Krey, Fractured Soc. 65–66.
  • 8. Add. 70014, f. 321; Morrice ent’ring bk. 3, pp. 127, 135; Grey, x. 53, 109, 112–13; Trinity, Dublin, Clarke mss 749/1/62, 76, 81, Clarges to George Clarke*, 10, 22, 24 July 1690.
  • 9. CSP Dom. 1690–1, p. 211; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Bentinck) mss PwA 299a, Sydney and Coningsby to Portland, 27 Sept. 1690; Horwitz, 62; Dorset RO, Lane (Trenchard) mss D60/F56, Sir John Trenchard* to Henry Trenchard, 21 Oct. 1690; Add. 70114, Thomas Foley I* to Sir Edward Harley, 29 Oct. 1690; 70014, f. 391; 70015, f. 19; Morrice ent’ring bk. 3, pp. 222, 224; Clarke mss 749/2/488, 619, Clarges to Clarke, 24 Feb., 3 Apr. 1691; Harl. 1488, 1489 passim.
  • 10. Add. 70015, f. 272; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/059/1, Robert Yard* to Alexander Stanhope, 27 Oct. 1691; Luttrell Diary, 4, 9, 10, 35–37; Bodl. Carte 130, ff. 326–8; Grey, x. 167, 168, 182–3; A. Browning, Danby, i. 493–4.
  • 11. Luttrell Diary, 6, 7, 15, 26, 31, 32, 36–37, 39–43, 47–48, 51–52, 81, 97, 98, 105, 107, 122, 123; Grey, x. 163–4, 165, 167, 177–8, 180, 184–6; PRO NI, De Ros mss D638/13/63, John Pulteney* to Lord Coningsby, 7 Nov. 1691; Add. 70015, f. 240; Horwitz, 70; Brit. Lib. Jnl. xv. 177; Browning, i. 492; Stanhope mss U1590/059/1, Yard to Stanhope, [c.5 Jan. 1692].
  • 12. Luttrell Diary, 8, 12, 37, 59, 60, 161–2; Grey, x. 194–5; HMC Portland, iii. 489.
  • 13. Luttrell Diary, 8, 49–50, 62–65, 75, 128, 154, 159, 167–9, 172–3, 194–5; Grey, x. 189, 200, 201–2, 238–9; Carte 130, f. 336.
  • 14. Luttrell Diary, 46, 56, 64, 69, 75, 83, 88, 91, 115, 131, 148, 156, 193, 194.
  • 15. EHR, xci. 39; Add. 70260 (unfol.) George Tollet to Harley, 20 Sept. 1692; 70016, f. 124; HMC Portland, iii. 498, 499, 500, 502; Luttrell Diary, 214–19, 222, 229; Grey, x. 244–6; Carte 130, f. 341.
  • 16. Luttrell Diary, 242, 246, 249–50, 260, 263, 266–7, 269, 279, 284, 288, 290, 297, 299, 302, 304–7, 324–5; Grey, x. 253, 256, 270, 271–2; Carte 130, ff. 339–40; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Bentinck) mss PwA 2385, acct. of debate 23 Nov. [1692]; PwA 2387, acct. of debate 26 Nov. 1692; PwA 2792a, — to Ld. Portland, [1 Nov. 1692]; Brit. Lib. Jnl. xv. 182.
  • 17. Luttrell Diary, 312, 322–3, 326–7, 333, 353; Ranke, vi. 201.
  • 18. Luttrell Diary, 362, 369–73, 401–5, 410–11, 417, 419–21, 431–5; Horwitz, 113.
  • 19. Grey, x. 249, 285, 289, 299; Luttrell Diary, 218, 225, 236, 238, 261, 309, 338, 342, 346, 376, 397, 405.
  • 20. Luttrell Diary, 234, 296, 320, 326, 345, 376, 379, 381, 386, 396–7, 425–6, 438–9, 444, 449; N. and Q. ccxxiii. 527–32.
  • 21. Grey, x. 313, 317, 332–3, 339, 342, 349, 358–9, 375; Add. 29578, f. 444; 17677 NN, f. 369; Ranke, vi. 232; CSP Dom. 1693, p. 360.
  • 22. Add. 70217, Clarges to Harley, 24 Sept., 9 Oct. 1694; 70225 (unfol.), Foley to same, 23 Oct. 1694; 17677 PP, f. 151; Harl. 1494 passim; Carte 76, f. 531; 236, ff. 72, 74; Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletters 5, 8 Oct. 1695; Ballard 24, f. 92; Wood, Life and Times, iii. 490; HMC Portland, iii. 570; PCC 170 Irby.