Monthly Archives: July 2009

Royalist Composition

I have been doing some work with the Royalist Composition Papers lately, so I thought I would discuss what I’ve learned so far.  I haven’t found a guide beyond what is in the introduction in the fifth volume of the Calendar of the Proceedings of the Committee for Compounding, which is better than anything I’ll give here, but I thought I’d do it anyway.

The general practice, fairly well established by 1645, was for the properties of known recusants or delinquents (royalists) to be seized by commissioners in the counties.  There were two committees in London, the Committee for Sequestrations and the Committee for Compounding, though these were eventually merged into the latter.

The potential compounder was expected to take the Covenant and the Negative Oath and submit a particular of his estate, including the yearly value of each property.  If he misrepresented his property, by an order of the House of Commons, the compounder would have to pay four times the property’s value and lose the advantage of compounding.  The commissioners in the counties would do their own examination to verify the particular.  I could be mistaken on this; it seems that the compounder may have been allowed to reconcile the particulars without being fined extra.  It may have been only if a property was discovered after he had already been fined.

Upon petitioning to compound, the clerks of the committee would be ordered to examine what records they could find to determine the level of the fine.  The fines ranged from a tenth to two-thirds of the estates’ value.  The difference between a tenth and two thirds was large, but somewhat diluted by the calculation, the tenth was calculate for 20 years’ purchase, and the two thirds at 12 years.  The fines in the middle were progressively rated between the two extremes.  The wealthier or worse offenders were charged more, those less active or poorer less.  From what I have seen, most of the fines were set around one third.  The compounder would also be allowed to make deductions from the fine for debts owed, jointures to be paid, or other holds in their properties.

There were two acts for sale of sequestered properties that had not been compounded.  There were, apparently, a great deal of problems with these acts.  Some of the cases I have looked at involve the reclamation of the lands by the heirs of a dead delinquent, who had only been seised for life in a particular property.  While, most often, the claimant was simply handed the rents from the land in question, it could get stickier on occasion.

All of the cases I have looked at have required at least a year if not two or three to see a person go from delinquent to compounded and pardoned.

As to the Calendars themselves, I have run into several errors.  I am not trying to fault too greatly the work that went into compiling them.  However, the compilers generally neglected the depositions in many of these cases, and have thus misidentified persons, types of sequestration, or misnarrated the case more generally.  In fact, they seemed to have relied entirely on the persons name and home town to identify them, which turns out can be rather problematic though certainly practical from their point of view.  On a side note, I was astounded at the number of Lancelots running around in Civil War England.  I never thought of it as a common name.

So if you want to be certain about a particular case, you need to look up the materials at Kew yourself.  The depositions are tedious, but chalk full of goodies.  There are a few indexes available.  I got started by looking at the suggestions on the inside cover of the first volume of the Calendar in the Maps and Large Documents Room at Kew, so I guess I would recommend that for others, too.  Of course, the Calendars have references as well, but I found much more in the National Archives than what was listed in the them.

Anyway, that’s my post for now.  Hope it helps someone.  Actually, I really hope that someone helps me.  Anyone seen anything on the Committee for Compounding anywhere else?

PS. Thank you to everyone for your comments and submissions for my turn hosting Carnivalesque.  It was a surprisingly rewarding experience.  As well, thank you to everyone who drummed up my blog stats by stopping to take a look at it.


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Carnivalesque 52

I apologize for the lateness of the post.  I had imagined getting this done early enough that many of you might be able to spend a lazy Sunday looking over these posts, but instead it is only still Sunday if you live west of the Rocky Mountains.  Nonetheless, the Carnival is here:

The Proceedings of the Council of State, 9 Julii 2009.

1.  Counsell heard from Wynken de Worde on the fruits of blogging.

2.  Mercurius Politicus petitions to closely examine secretaries and newsbook editors.  So ordered.

3.  That examination be made into the teaching of students.  Ordered that Blogenspiel carry out said inspection.

4.  Investigation to made by Executed Today into a particularly successful saint.  Note: investigation delayed until further report from the Congo.

5.  Airs, Waters, Places to be allowed 4s. for counsell on avoiding monstrous births.

6.  Investigations of a Dog to be admitted to the treasury commission for finding a bright side to archival funding cuts.

7.  Wonders and Marvels to be committed to the Fleet for discussing  a blasphemous relic.

8.  Reports heard from Historian’s Craft on how to use newspapers and 1200-year-old sunken cargo.  Approved with great satisfaction.

9.  Ordered, that Westminster Wisdom review Mark Stoyle’s Soldiers and Strangers and report to this Council in seaven-night.

10.  A special embassy to be sent to welcome Early Modern Underground.

11.  Report by Tudor History that there is a plot to build onto Westminster Abbey.  Ordered, that the Abbey be secured until further notice.

12.  Report by Early Modern History on the Heads of the Proposals.  Debate postponed.

13.  Letter received from Early Modern Notes on some of the reasons that the RHS Bibiliography is so expensive and far better than wikipedia.  Committee appointed for reply.

14.  The Long Eighteenth, imprisoned for questioning modes of information, to be released upon security.

15.  5 l. to Bookn3rd for these medical manuscripts.  To be paid out of the moneys for sequestrations.


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I will be hosting the next Carnivalesque in one week (July 19) !  Please make your submissions for your favorite or otherwise interesting blog entries.

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Write to your congressman . . .

I find myself once again apologizing for my long absence.  I ended up getting a TAship for the first half of summer quarter at the last minute, and between that, ballad work, and dissertating, I haven’t had much time to spare.  I did, however, make it up to my parents’ place for the fourth of July weekend and had a good time, which was much needed after weeks of hard mental labor.  There is something very refreshing about taking a break from writing about the British by celebrating not being one.

I’ve been chugging away at my dissertation, but I thought I would share with you something I found that is not related to my dissertation.  It is a letter in the CSPD for 1652-3, sorted with the documents from March 25 [1652/3].  It followed a defeat at the hands of the Dutch the previous November for which Appleton was largely responsible.

Capt. Hen. Appleton to —, M.P. for Hull. The disaster befallen the commonwealth in these southern parts will be rung in your ears long before the receipt of this, but that the truth may appear, I have written it to the Council of State, and fearing lest it should miscarry, I enclose a copy to you, as burgess for the town of Hull, of which I am a member, and desire you will see it delivered. I am loth to burden any man, but I am sure if Capt. Badiley, with his squadron, had come to my relief, we should have gone away victors, notwithstanding the blowing up of the Bonadventure by her own powder, and the firing of the Sampson by the Dutch fireship. If I could have had my will, the Leopard would never have been surrendered to the Dutch, although no hope of saving her was left, for I would have blown her up, but was restrained by my own company, in doing which they put my shoulder out of joint. As divers members of Parliament can testify to my readiness and former good service for the State, I beseech you to move for my enlargement, that I may appear to give an account of my actions.

What I perhaps find most interesting about this letter is that he thought his best recourse was to write his MP.  I find myself wondering if this was a more common practice or just the act of a desperate man.  Unless accompanied by a bribe, would a letter like this have had much of a chance?  However, the letter’s resting place in the State Papers would suggest that his MP, perhaps Sir Henry Vane, was inclined to bring it forward.  Appleton was a fairly well respected member of Hull, so it is also possible that the corporation was inclined to give weight to Appleton’s request.  I’m afraid I don’t have very many answers, as I don’t have the time to look more deeply into this one.  I thought it merited a post, nonetheless.

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