Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14

Enrichment of the Aristocracy

Enrichment of the Aristocracy.

Henry himself alienated to Court favourites the greater part of the religious houses' confiscations. The ministers of Edward VI. gorged themselves upon further pillage of the Church estates. Queen Mary gave back to the Church the parsonages, glebe-lands, impropriate tithes, and other good things, and Elizabeth sold off large areas to avoid the unpopularity of taxing her subjects. James I. went to unbounded lengths in his grants to the aristocracy, and by sale of lands for his own benefit realized £775,000. A valuation made about the year 1609 shows the rental then coming from Crown Lands to have been as follows:—
Manors, Lands, and Tenements £40,054 10 1[unclear: 1]
Fee Farms and Reserved Rents 16,781 12 10[unclear: 7]
Manors, Lands, &c., within the Duchy of Lancaster 10,034 0 1
£66,870 3 1
page 138

Charles I. sold much of this goodly property to pay his government expenses. At one time he gave the Crown estates to the City as security for a loan of £320,000. Under the Commonwealth almost all the Crown Lands were sold, their yearly value then being £120,000. At the Restoration in 1660, Resumption was of course made of the whole of such property, but by connivance, favouritism, and concealment, large portions were still left in private ownership. At this time the yearly revenue had risen to £263,598, but three years later Charles II. had whittled it down to £105,000 by grants and sales, and later still he sold the fee-farm rents to help pay his accumulating debts. In 1695, William III. drew on himself the chastisement of the House of Commons for a wholesale land-grant made to the Duke of Portland, and recalled the grant so made, but the next year he gave the Duke several other manors and £24,000 of fee-farm rents to boot.

At the close of this lavish monarch's reign only £15,000 a year remained of all the Crown Property, and this sum was inclusive of £9,000 from the Duchy of Cornwall.

The Scotch Land Revenues were until 1882 managed by the Barons of the Scotch Exchequer, but since that year they have been combined with those of the United Kingdom under the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. At the time of transfer they were bringing in £15,589 yearly, and were loaded with temporary and permanent grants to about the sum of £4,660 per annum.

In 1702, on Queen Anne's accession, the Crown was for ever restrained from further alienations, and then for 84 years the subject of the Crown Lands never came before Parliament. In 1786, however, Commissioners of Enquiry were appointed, who brought to light a state of gross and wasteful mismanagement which even in that day was hard to match. For instance, of the Welsh Lands they found that so great had been the neglect that the revenue no longer sufficed to meet the fixed charges upon it, arrears unrecovered amounting to £31,314, and in some counties the bulk of the rents were totally lost. This arose from the Welsh Receiverships being treated as sinecures, and jobbed away by the Crown, and even with such criminal negligence proved against its aristocratic officials, the nation had patiently to wait till 1819 that their posts might become vacant by death and resignation. One intelligent and active Receiver was then appointed for Wales, who in three years' time trebled the revenues and recovered vast arrears.

The Irish Lands were transferred to the Commissioners in 1827, at which date it appeared that there were insolvent arrears of £83,980, solvent arrears of £29,168, and fixed charges of £64,777 per annum burdening the revenue. This delightful state of things had come about under the management of the Irish Commission of Excise.

The revenues of Alderney and of Man were included in the functions of the Woods and Forests Department in 1827-8.

In 1832 the administration of Public Works and Royal Parks was added to their duties, but in 1851 transferred to a separate department under a First Commissioner, as at this day.