Russell: a tale of the reign of Charles II V1

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Occupancy of the Chair had also given him expertise in procedure, which made him a highly effective parliamentarian when allied to his prodigious talents as an orator. According to one commentator, he was. The motive for espousal of the Church party was primarily political. Whatever the case, Seymour was not taken into office, and his opposition to the Court soon became apparent. In the debate on 22 Mar. When supply was again discussed on 31 Mar. On 17 Apr. He began a debate on 8 Apr. He was accordingly appointed on 8 Apr. The remodelling of the commission of the London lieutenancy, which had counterbalanced the number of Whigs by adding Tories, gave another opportunity for him to exploit the politics of the capital.

The credit Seymour gained among Church and Country Tory MPs from initiating the debates on London and the lieutenancy was increased during the debates over the abjuration bill. On 24 Apr. His attack on the administration continued on 1 May in a committee of the whole on the regency bill. On 1 May Seymour warned that failure to punish the pamphlet set a bad precedent, and successfully demanded its condemnation.

Seymour moved the dismissal of Carmarthen, but Musgrave and the rest said little, and the Whigs showed no sign of joining in. He continued to carp at Carmarthen, but found his support among the Church party evaporating whenever he tried to lead it into a factious campaign. In September Seymour was asked to provide completed accounts for his unaudited period as treasurer of the navy under Charles II, a matter which was to dog him for the rest of his career.

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Despite this warning about his own vulnerability, his harrying of the government continued into the next session. Opposing the supply requested by the Court on 12 Oct. According to one report, he wished to show that a land war with France would always prove onerous to England, and demanded to know what advantage was gained by capturing four or five towns which would have to be garrisoned with more troops. He even questioned whether it was worth beggaring three kingdoms just to regain the principality of Orange, and insinuated that while England risked everything for war with France, Holland was likely to conclude a separate peace.

The next day he was even more inflammatory, arguing that only 4, troops were needed in Ireland and that the war with France should only be defensive. Laying so much emphasis on the usefulness of the navy, Seymour was naturally a sharp critic when the fleet was misused, particularly if he could thereby further discomfort the Court.

It may have been partly to restore some of his battered credit that he bewildered contemporaries by voting against his own party over the contested elections at Sandwich and Cirencester. Yet even at the beginning of the session he had shown an unusual tenderness to Whig electoral fortunes. It is possible that, with the declining importance of religious issues, Seymour had found his support ebbing away and that he had been deliberately trying to broaden his appeal, perhaps looking for Whig allies in his attack on Carmarthen.

When it was clear that the Whigs regarded him with suspicion, he was forced to reassess his strategy. He remained ominously quiet for the remainder of the session, though on 1 Jan. In any case, before the government could make use of the information, Seymour fell seriously ill in April, probably suffering a minor stroke or fit induced by diabetes. Although he missed the opening of the session in October , it was clear when he did appear in the House at the end of the month that he intended to articulate Country grievances and antipathy to Carmarthen.

Members listened attentively, and although no one seconded him, he resumed his attack on 6 Nov. On 16 Nov. Perhaps sensing ministerial defensiveness, Seymour also attacked the Privy Council, claiming on 6 Nov. On 7 Nov. Moving away from his erstwhile Country colleagues, on 19 Nov. Bonet claimed that many West-country MPs had supported an increase in the number of soldiers in order to protect their vulnerable province from the French, though Seymour himself had supposedly been ready to press for a reduction. His departure from the Commons on 17 Dec.

His activity for much of the —2 session was thus a mixture of opposition to Carmarthen but not to Nottingham, pursued through an appeal to Country sentiment that was constantly being tempered by the prospect of office and the threat of prosecution. Although his moderation was taken as a sign of compliance with the Court, Seymour continued to rank himself on most issues with the Church and Country elements in the House, aware that they were his source of influence and his lever into office.

On 10 Nov. On 21 Nov.

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On 25 Nov. On 1 Dec. He again championed the position of the country gentleman by moving on 3 Dec. On 29 Jan. This suggestion allowed him to retain his Country credentials and complain about the conduct and burden of the war, while at the same time appearing to the Court as if intent on making a constructive contribution to the levying of supply. Although he further suggested other forms of taxation, on 20 Jan.

The question of national finances was also to the fore in the debates during the —2 session about the East India Company. On 27 Nov. Seymour made it plain that he was. On 2 Dec.

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On 26 Jan. On 6 Feb. When the House agreed, he moved that it be presented to the King by the Privy Councillors of the House. Having demonstrated his ability to raise money without abandoning the interests of the gentry, Seymour paraded his suspicions of the encroaching power of the Upper House, perhaps in order to quell reports that he would soon take a peerage himself or to show his concern that the Commons retain control over supply.

On 28 Jan. On 5 Feb.

Nevertheless when, on 15 Feb. On the less controversial matters that came before the House in November and December , Seymour continued to side with the Church and Country elements, presumably in order to maintain his credibility. On 20 Nov. On 9 Nov. When the issue was debated on the 25th, he gave a digest of proceedings, warning the House not to insist on its amendments if this meant that the bill would be lost.

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On 11 Dec. Thomas Wharton on 22 Jan.

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On 16 Feb. On 20 Feb. On 23 Feb. The story may have been one put about by Seymour at a later stage, for all the evidence from his activity in the House and from reports of observers and newswriters suggests that he had been actively courting preferment. Seymour was finally rewarded on 1 Mar. The manner in which he accepted office also caused controversy, since he disputed precedence with Hampden.

This ominous start highlighted the paradox of taking Seymour into the ministry: it had been necessary to include him more because of his nuisance value than for his ability to bring over to the Court many of the Country opposition, yet within government he threatened to remain an unsettling factor, unable or unwilling to work easily with Whig colleagues. The question for the King in his relationship with Seymour always remained how far he could afford to let him attack from without, and whether he could permit him to disturb the government from within.

His effectiveness in government was also questionable when he failed to attend Privy Council or Treasury meetings between 1 July and 8 Aug. He did however show himself surprisingly sensitive to fears that the Jacobites had sought to make use of him. Seymour was said in November to be visiting the King by the back stairs, and at the beginning of the —3 session duly acted his part of Court spokesman well. He moved on 4 Nov.

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On 23 Nov. So strong had his support for the war become that the next day he asked. On 27 Dec. Similarly, Seymour supported the Court over the triennial bill, though here his opposition was more of a piece with his attitudes in the early s. Seymour was so strongly identified with opposition to the bill that during the division on 7 Feb.

Seymour also abandoned his former position in favour of the commission for public accounts.


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On 14 Feb. At least if you are resolved to have such a commission I desire other gentlemen may take their turn as well as these.

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Seymour had already defended Coningsby on 16 Dec. On 12 Nov. I think you ought to examine matters a little better before you so severely reflect on the gentlemen who, though perhaps they had not the experience requisite at first, yet now I believe they have it at your costs, and therefore I think they may be serviceable.

On 5 Dec. Although Seymour had reversed his position in favour of the Court on so many significant issues, he remained constant on matters relating to trade. Yet, protecting traders in his own constituency, he did seek to encourage the export of woollens. On 19 Jan. He found its title fraudulent, for. Local trading concerns were also apparent on 27 Feb.

Similarly, on 6 Mar. On 14 Nov.

On 18 Nov. On 7 Dec. In a committee chaired by his Treasury colleague Charles Montagu, he supported an address on 25 Feb. On some other matters Seymour continued to side with anti-Court elements, perhaps in an attempt to regain credit and also as a means of exerting pressure on rivals within the administration. Thus, on 15 Dec.