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François Ier et Henri VIII. Deux princes de la Renaissance (1515-1547)

 | 
Roger Mettam
, 
Charles Giry-Deloison

Henry VIII'S Attitude Towards Royal Finance: Penny wise and pound foolish?

Sybil M. Jack

Texte intégral

1A prince is not brought up to be a bookkeeper. Such was the gist of the abuse which Mary hurled at some retreating privy councillors in Edward's reign as she demanded the return of her controller, imprisoned for hearing mass. There is no doubt that her father would have concurred. There is no evidence that Henry enjoyed the routine hearing of accounts. Richard Gibson in preparing his first account for the Revels perhaps caught the spirit in which Henry might have found such medicine palatable - for it is full of rhetorical flourishes and compliments. There were however many officials ready and willing to undertake the ordinary drudgery of matching warrants to entries, goods ordered to goods delivered, querying suspicious records, missing vouchers, probable double entries and generally watching over fraudulent practice. There was a statement of the underlying philosophy of this which suggests that the monarch must be freed to attend to larger matters.

  • 1 HL, Ellesmere MS 482, f° 255.

2«The majesty royall is of so great dignyte that yt can nether gyve nor take nor have knowledge of any thing but by matter of record. There can no folyt [fault] or other naturall defect or imperfection be imputed unto it. The king is charged with the publick and general care of all his subiectes to maynteyn godes true religion amongst them and to defend theym against foreyn and ho[cu]me enemies to preserve them in tranquillity and peace, to mynister equal justice to all and to protect the law by which justice is to be mynistered, And in respect herof the kynge is not bounden to regard his private affayres But the law taketh the charge of his private causes and requireth every private subiecte to be carefull of theym and the law wylleth that true and certen informacion be gyven to the king where losse and preiudice may fall unto hym by such grants as he maketh wherein the subiect is to search for and take knowledge of such former grants of record as the king hath made and must use no fraud nor deceit but informe the king fully and truelly of the whoele»1.

  • 2 Ibid., f° 256.

3«The crowne and Majesty Royall dye not but contynuew stylle and in the king there is a perfect corporation»2.

  • 3 Frederick C. DIETZ, English Public Finance 1485-1641, London, Frank Cass and Co., 2nd ed. 1964,2 v (...)
  • 4 PRO, E 315/317.
  • 5 Roger S. SCHOFIELD, Parliamentary Lay Taxation, 1485-1547, University of Cambridge Ph. Dissertatio (...)

4A prince might not be brought up a bookkeeper, but he might well be brought up to appreciate the wisdom of concealing the true state of his wealth - or lack of it - from the inquisitive eyes of his royal fellows. Amongst the somewhat garbled late Elizabethan and Jacobean accounts of administrative developments in the finances of Henry and his father, one note sounds true - they abolished the Exchequer issue roll, it was alleged, because they sought for privacy. Any attempt to reconstruct Henry VIII's finances in fact, must be like a mirage - always receding as you approach. Accurate figures for Henry's income are very hard to establish, and the true costs of various types of expenditure almost impossible. It would be rash to assume that we, from the partial records available to us, can make better estimates than contemporaries or near contemporaries and yet the figures are so far apart that they are hard to reconcile. Dietz, working from the records of the receipt produced customs figures for early in Henry VIII's reign which average about £42,000 down to 1519 and drop in the early 1520s to £35,000 and lower thereafter due to a sharp fall in the wool subsidy. He acknowledged that the merchants of the staple at Calais paid the garrison there which would increase the yield by £8,000 odd3. How are we to explain, however, contemporary estimates for 1506-1509 of £81,000 and for 1515-1518 of £82,000? The permanent assignment of fixed sums of money for the Household and the Wardrobe may explain part of the discrepancy. The customs, especially at Southampton were often drawn upon by the clerk of the ships for repairing and making new royal ships4 which may not be included in Dietz figures. The puzzle, nevertheless, remains. The assessment may be gross - which since the customs were expensive to collect in terms of customers, controllers, searchers and surveyors at each port may explain some difference from the net sum calculated by Dietz but only further work will provide a complete answer. Similarly, contemporary estimates of the yield from the subsidies and clerical tenths in the Exchequer and its auditors' own archives are much higher than the £30,000-£40,000 a year which Roger Schofield painstakingly calculated from the accounts - little more than the ossified fifteenth and tenth sum5. Figures this low make the sums that passed through the hands of the treasurer of the Chamber in 1512 and 1514 (around £269,000 and a massive £699,000) hard to explain. It is not, however, the purpose of this paper to rewrite the figures or to attempt to unscramble the payments system, but to consider Henry's control over finance, and, to use an anachronistic term, his management approach.

  • 6 PRO, E36/1, f° 37.
  • 7 Ibid., E36/1, 29 July 3 Henry VIII.

5From the start, Henry clearly liked having a multitude of treasuries. John Heron continued as keeper of the king's books and treasurer of the Chamber, but he was already partly «out of court» with a room in Westminster abbey, and his assistant, Richard Treis, and John Jenyns kept separate account books which have now vanished. With them, Henry maintained his father's practice, with two duplicate books where he put his hand to one and the accountant to the other. From the start, Henry took money into his own hands which was not then further accounted for - £1,000 at a time6. His personal interest and direction of some expenditure is implied by the difference in phraseology which Heron uses for ordinary payments by warrant and others. On these he notes «Paid by our commandment to Robert Brygandyne, clerk of our ships...»7.

6Over the years of his reign, Henry had innumerable private treasuries as well as the public official ones - the receipt of the Exchequer, the treasurer of the Chamber, the Court of Wards, the Court of Augmentations, the Court of First Fruits, the duchy of Lancaster, the duchy of Cornwall, the Mint. This is not to include other departments which could become treasuries at need, and at the king's will or whim, the Household, or the Jewelhouse, or the hanaper of the Chancery. The movement of money from one treasury to another makes the likelihood of double counting of money very high - and this may have been part of the object Foreign ambassadors, dutifully attempting to report home their assessment of the kingdom's resources and its expenditure found it hard to come by accurate summaries.

  • 8 For the pensions paid 1514-1521, see supra, p. 124-127,135.
  • 9 PRO, E 315/160.

7As well as the major treasuries the king had the privy purse, the purse held by the groom of the stool and various temporary treasurers. Henry had secret reserves - money that apparently passed through no account known to us. These probably included the French pensions8. When Anthony Denny towards the end of the reign was put in charge of a large collection of different businesses, he received the money from a variety of sources but quite frequently, and for sizeable sums of up to £20,000 at a time, simply from «his grace's own hands». Occasionally his account is a little more forthcoming and mentions «his graces removing coffers», or «from his grace's removing coffers in his majesties withdrawing chamber». Another source was the king's «secret jewelhouse at his palace of Westminster», not to be confused with the Jewelhouse proper whose records contain no such entries9.

  • 10 Ibid., E101/424/10.
  • 11 Ibid., E 358/22. Morgan Philips alias Wolf paid £499 15s. 9d.; Sir Ralph Sadler £666 13s. 4d.; Wri (...)

8The source from which such moneys came can only be guessed at - probably this was where such convenient windfalls as the French pensions and the money paid for the surrender of Tournai were put away, as well as New Year gifts and other trifles. Henry also took money for offices - Cavendish paid £1,000 for the treasurership of the Chamber10 - which may well have gone into the reserves. Some of the money from the sales of land was also directed into the king's own hands. After the establishment of Augmentations and a formal Court of General Surveyors it is possible to identify large sums of money, particularly from the sale of lands, that were paid not to the Chamber but to the king's own hands. In all, over £7,000 passed this way in two and a half years11.

9Henry may have been no bookkeeper, but it seems that he was in many ways his father's son with a shrewd appreciation of the value of money. It may have suited his political purposes to appear lavish, generous, openhanded but in matters of detail, from the beginning, he had a strong sense of financial reality and a prudent concern for the pennies. Expenditure on Household stuff, materials for costumes, pageants, masks, disguisings and jousts, undoubtedly rose. He and his Chamber were to be appropriately arrayed and occasionally - very occasionally - he gave to the courtiers who wore them, the raiment he had provided for them to wear. But not always - or even often. The unfortunate Richard Gibson, as the «unsubstantial pageants» faded, had the unenviable task of attempting to recover those «wracks» which should have been left behind. Confrontations with the powerful resulted in entries in the accounts which noted despairingly the complete refusal of many nobly born lords and ladies to surrender the garments. From time to time, they also note the total destruction (for practical purposes) of the jewel adorned garments the king himself had worn.

10Henry knew the value of money, but it seems he also knew the importance of turning a blind eye to the moderate abuse of perquisites. A household such as the royal court with courtiers coming and going, visitors great and small, innumerable tradesmen making provision - an open court where even the humblest citizen if decently dressed could expect to have access to the outer court - was almost impossible to police. Paget wrote sourly when discussing reform under Edward, that Gardiner had once proved that more beer was spent in twenty-four hours in the court than could run from a barrel with its tap permanently open, each one as it emptied replaced by another «and got himself many enemies thereby» but such wastage - if such it was- might be a small price to pay for a court which both attracted the powerful country families and the nobles, and was acceptable to the towns and countryside through which it passed.

  • 12 BL, Landsdowne MS 3113. The amounts given here refer to food and drink only. The much larger amoun (...)
  • 13 C.S.P. Ven., vol. IV, p. 357.

11Whether expenditure in the various departments «below stairs» which fed and watered the court, stabled some of its horses and maintained the various palaces, was excessive is debateable. The Board of Green Cloth checked the accounts at regular meetings every other day and the daily expenditure which at the beginning of Henry's reign amounted to £100-£15012 and rose towards the end to around £150 (and of course, was much higher on the occasion of the great feasts) must be set against a court which numbered in the thousands. The conscious intention of display which was the objective was successfully realized, if one can trust the Venetian ambassadors report late in the reign that «the service and state of those who take meats at court daily is a very superb sight»13. These were not of course the total costs accounted for by the cofferer who was also responsible for some wages, fees, alms, rewards and many miscellaneous matters. Nor was the cofferer solely responsible for such matters - similar costs were paid by the treasurer of the Chamber. Some wages and fees were paid in the Exchequer and yet others assigned on the customs.

12Henry does appear to have kept an eye on the running of the Household. He did not of course preside at the Board, but he was clearly accessible to those who had a grievance, and not unwilling on occasion to intervene. Despite endless attempts at «reform» the inexorable pressure of inflation made Henry's cost modest conpared to his successors. Beneath the veneer of generosity, one may discern a degree of parsimony. Lord Lisle, sent somewhat against his will to be deputy of Calais in the 1530s, was promised assistance from Henry in the provision of appropriate apparel, in particular the costly but essential armour. Turning promise into reality proved hard - the loan of second hand gear even to one whom by definition was his «stand-in» did not appeal to Henry.

  • 14 PRO, TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/177.
  • 15 Ibid., E159/294, Recorda, Trinity 7 Henry VIII, rot 19.
  • 16 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/486.
  • 17 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/149.
  • 18 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/240.
  • 19 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/152.
  • 20 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/213.
  • 21 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/216.
  • 22 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/238.
  • 23 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/373.

13In some matters involving financial control, Henry was close to obsessive. From the date of his majority14, if not before he was heavily involved in the buying, exchanging15 and selling of lands, to consolidate, extend and improve his parks and forests and the various palaces, hunting lodges and progress houses he possessed around the country16. He put pressure on the unfortunate owners of lands he coveted thus acquiring by exchange the site of the priory of Sheen17 the manor of Hampton alias Hampton Court from William Weston prior of the hospital of St John of Jerusalem in 1531 (the end of a complex series of transfers)18; a messuage in Chancery lane, the manor of Bridewell amongst others19. On 5 September 1531 he was able to bring to a conclusion his plans for Westminster. In a series of deeds he obtained by exchange with John Islip, abbot of Westminster, Petty Calais with its appurtenances in Westminster20; by exchange with the provost of Eton, the house of St James in the Fields in Westminster and 185 & 1/2 acres of land in the vicinity of Charing Cross, Angel Hill, Knightsbridge, Ternes Mede, Chelsea Mede and manor in Fulham21; and on 1 November the hospital of St James from the provost of Eton.22 He obtained Nonsuch despite a plea by Richard Cuddington, its owner, that he would suffer greatly by the exchange of Cuddington for Ixworth (in Northamptonshire)23.

  • 24 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/58,59.
  • 25 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/160.
  • 26 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/528.
  • 27 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/207.
  • 28 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds,E41/152.
  • 29 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/180.
  • 30 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/366.

14Royal involvement is made clear by the king's sign manual on the deeds. Since the acquisitions were always done nominally through a group of trusted individuals who acted for the monarch, one gets, across the reign, a view of those close to him in such matters financial and legal. They include a mixture of leading ministers, lesser financial officials, barons of the Exchequer, general surveyors and others. Thus, in 1519 those acting as royal nominees in land transactions, private dealings with foreign merchants and the like were Thomas Wolsey, William Fitzwilham, Richard Rokehy, Hugh Ashton, Robert Temys, Thomas Henage, William Elis (a baron), Richard Pace and William Shelley24. An other times one also finds, Bartholomew Westby, baron of the Exchequer, John More, Richard Broke, and Antony Fitzherbert serjeant-at-law, Robert Turbervile, George Skipwith, Thomas Waren, Edward Danyell25 Andrew Wyndsore knight (the master of the Great Wardrobe) Thomas More, John Daunce, John Roper26. In 1523 there was Wolsey, Sir Henry Wyatt, treasurer of Chamber, Sir Andrew Wyndsor and Sir John Daunce27; in 1531 William Paulet, Christopher Hales, attorney-general, Baldwin Malet and Thomas Cromwell28; in 1533 Audley, keeper of the great seal, Brian Tuke the treasurer of Chamber, Thomas Cromwell master of Jewels; Christopher Hales, attorney-general, and Baldwin Malet29; in 1539 he is using Audley, Cromwell and Tuke30.

  • 31 Richard Mody was auditor, ibid., E163/11/46 f° 3.
  • 32 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/219 lead mines on Dartmoor.

15Henry, in these operations, did not rely on the formal structures which supervised the management of the crown estates although they would eventually be assigned to the auditor of the king's purchased lands31 When he is selling land under the control of general surveyors they, however, formally make the grant32.

  • 33 Ibid., LR, 6/97/3.

16The costs involved in the transactions were usually met by Henry directing a warrant to any one of a number of convenient treasuries - a warrant which that accountant would ultimately use as the voucher to his account. Thus in 1538 when he was busy buying property on the Kent-Sussex border through Sir Robert Southwell, who spent several weeks staying at Knole and Penshurst, the bills were paid by the local receiver of the new Court of Augmentations, Thomas Spilman33.

  • 34 EHR, t XXXH, 1917, p. 367.
  • 35 PRO, TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/190.
  • 36 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/438, with Christ College, Cambridge 5 September 23 Henry VIH: Roydo (...)

17Henry also took a personal interest in the building of his new palaces and decided the amounts to be allowed in prest, giving them priority over all others. The only real evidence of his having any interest in regular budgeting in fact comes from a document dating from about 1520 - saying that the king has appointed every year «towards his building til the same shall be perfected as well at Bridewell as at New Hall after such plattes as His Grace intendith to devise £6,000»34. Henry VIII's building works were almost exclusively secular. His first new houses were Bridewell in London and New Hall in Essex, both built between 1515-1522 at a cost of some £39,000. Henry had obtained the site of New Hall on 12 May 1517 from Sir Thomas Bulleyn35 and continued to add land near it by exchange36 It is, perhaps, worth noting that Henry was getting used to the idea of possessing the land of dissolved priories well before the general dissolution.

  • 37 Howard M. COLVIN, Reginald A. BROWN and Alfred J. TAYLOR, ed., The History of the King’s Works, Lo (...)

18After Wolsey's disgrace he expanded at Whitehall, Hampton Court and Nonsuch37, clearly keeping a weather eye on developments. Building of course also lent itself to minor peculation and pilfering no matter how many clerks or tallymen were employed, but Henry here too was evidently well aware of what was going on. Anthony Denny was described as «keeper of our manor beside Westminster and paymaster of our buyldings there» and it was he who received £662 from Augmentations for building the council chamber and the Evidence house. He had general oversight over what went on, but in 1534 the king had also appointed one David Marten as controller of the works. Marten however, found himself politely or not rebuffed by the clerks and went to the king who encouraged him to pursue the defalcations he believed he had identified.

  • 38 BL, Add. MS 25460, f° 36 (copy).

19Open scandal threatened, the king was displeased, and Denny was threatened with involvement. Robert Dacre wrote to Denny about an inquiry that he and «my Lord of Westminster», and the bishops were conducting into the allegations made by Marten. They had examined William Kendall «first as concerning any knowledge in him by any way of means of any deceyt in you or any yours concerning the king his affairs here, who being sworn upon the evangelist saith that he never knew any such things in you nor any yours nor that you or any yores shuld be or wer pryvy or party to any such matter». Kendall however said that Russell the carpenter «the first day of the month shuld say to him that Gaben and divers others the king's workmen had resceved some £30 and such the like suyms when ther dewties was but £20 and when they have so reseyved above the due have much marvelled to themself and then within two or three days after one Goodier clerk of works under Marten hath come to them in Marteyn's name and fetched the surplus to his master». This was confirmed by Russell, and Henry Romayns smith, Thurstan the playster and Dawley the bricklayer38.

  • 39 Gilbert J. MILLAR, Tudor Mercenaries and Auxiliaries 1485-1547, Charlottesville, University Press (...)

20So far, perhaps, we have painted a portrait of a man who was penny wise - but was he pound foolish? That would certainly be the impression given in most pen portraits. As recently as 30 March 1991 Jonathan Clark in the Times «Saturday essay» speaks of Henry «squandering» two thirds of the capital assets of the former monastic lands, most of it on «futile» military adventures in France; of his navy as «an expensive luxury» resting unstably on a merchant marine and seafaring economy too small to make it a lasting achievement. Determining the truth of such general allegations is difficult Global figures for the costs of Henry's various wars, in 1511-1515, in the early 1520s and again at the end of the reign are used by his biographers with considerable abandon. They are remarkable principally because they vary so widely which is unsurprising if one considers that no investigation has been done into what is and is not included in the totals and for what purpose they were produced39.

21I am not saying that wars are cheap. The question of whether they should be fought at all is a quite separate issue. The question of whether, once the decision for war is taken, the costs are financed and the money managed in an efficient manner with as little waste as possible, we may consider, particularly since there is no doubt that this was expenditure in which Henry was deeply interested. The issuing of warrants for prests and payments was generally one delegated to leading ministers, since the exigencies of a campaign prohibited waiting for the king's own hand. In 1522-1523 Wolsey and in his absence the bishop of Durham and the lord admiral could sign warrants to Sir Henry Wyatt who had been treasurer for the forced loan raised to pay for the war. A warrant signed by Henry in such circumstances is good evidence of his personal involvement in the control of the finances.

  • 40 PRO, E 315/4.

22Judging the efficiency of war management is very difficult. Those forecasting the need for money had certain rules of thumb about costs. Early on in the reign, a thousand foot would cost in pay approximately £1,000 a month in wages. Fourteen thousand over three months would cost £42,000. But that was only the beginning. They had to be fed, they had to be transported, there were problems over the equipment they brought and the clothes they wore. The victuallers lot was not an easy one. They had to supply food - and sea transport for that food - for what amounted to a good sized Tudor town. They received one set of instruction - the food was dispatched - and then the instructions were countermanded. The sorry tale of the victuallers in 1513 may serve as an exemplar of the victuallers problems. They gathered the victual at divers places in Norfolk and Suffolk. Beef, store fed over the winter, were brought together, pastured for a month while the instructions were awaited, then slaughtered, salted down and put into casks. Meanwhile other necessaries such as beer had been gathered and ships hired to take the goods from Lynn, Boston and Sandwich to Portsmouth. When it got there «the said Lord Lisle went not to the sea and then it was commanded to be delivered unto my lord admiral there at Hampton what he had nede off and to whaft over him to Sandwich and from thence to Hampton again. The rest that he received not was layd aland there at Hampton in August - and the substance of the beere were lost because it was not drunk in season»40. Captains might turn down goods when they were offered. Unwanted goods were supposed to be sold - they were sold, but often for a low price and the victuallers had endless problems in getting their accounts settled. Given the difficulties of preserving food at the time, it is hard to see where the fault lies, or who could have done better, but it is in such accounts that the costs mount up.

  • 41 L.P., I,2, no 2598; from PRO, SP 1/230 f° 97. 3002 the Ordnance account for 5-6 Henry VIII.
  • 42 PRO, E159/288, Brevia directbaronibus, Michaelmas 1 Henry VIII, rot 19.
  • 43 PRO, E159/290, Brevia direct baronibus, Easter 3 Henry VIH, rot 4d.

23The wars required special treasurers and the situation is complicated by the appointment of men like Sir Edward Belknap, who have other official positions, to temporary positions for providing the army, and with commissions which were vague or inadequate. Belknap was with Sir Sampson Norton responsible for the Ordnance41. Heron was not only the treasurer of the Chamber but involved with the Hanaper42. The main paymasters for this war were John Heron, Sir John Daunce, Sir John Cutte, the undertreasurer and John Dawtre who was the collector of customs at Southampton. As such he accounted in the Exchequer who had to have special orders to allow him a fee of £55 and so on43.

  • 44 L.P., vol. 1,2, no 3611 (2).
  • 45 L.P., vol. 1,2, no 3614, p. 1517 no 169.
  • 46 Ibid., vol. 1,2, no 3612.
  • 47 Ibid., vol. 1,2, no 3612 (58).
  • 48 Ibid., vol. 1,2, no 3613.

24These temporary treasurers had the responsibility of issuing money in prest to a plethora of lesser officials with specific duties. Thus they gave money to Cornelius Johnson, the king's gunmaker, for guns, and to Robert Dobbez for canvas, to John Hopton for repair of ships and to Brian Tuke, then one of the clerks of the signet, for the costs of postal services all of which had later to be accounted for. It was not only money that had to be accounted for - the issue of the use and return of goods not spent, aggravated the position since some goods could deteriorate or be unsaleable. The lists of goods required is effectively endless and the quartermasters' job of oversight, was even more difficult when an army was on the move44. Men normally paid by the Household were to be paid by the army, and the problem of double or quits arose45. As in all wars, warrants go out to various collectors to pay over money as a matter of urgency. Where one paymaster has exhausted his coffers another may be persuaded to take on the responsibility so that a warrant addressed to Heron may be paid by Daunce and so on46. Files of warrants cumulate and become confused, particularly when a single warrant dormant to Cutte at the Exchequer for £6,000 is to be drawn upon by subsidiary warrants from a long list of people, any two signing together - in this case the earl of Shrewsbury, Charles Somerset Lord Herbert, Thomas Lovell, and Edward Poynyngs47. At the same time there might be other warrants dormant with a slightly different list of signatories - only Shrewsbury, Herbert and Lovell for instance48. The king was taking an active part - many of the warrants are sign manual, and Wolsey was attempting some general supervision.

  • 49 Ibid., vol. IV, 3, no 2557.
  • 50 Frederick C. DIETZ, Finances of Edward VI and Mary, Northampton, Massachusetts, (Smith College Stu (...)
  • 51 PRO, E 36/1, f° 37.

25Were the accounts heard? Palsgrave in 1529, mounting an attack on Wolsey, claimed that Wolsey «sought to break the order of the Exchequer» and that the Exchequer «which was wont after war finished to make process against all such as were charged...» but that did not happen and that Wolsey himself said «we neither have nor can give account therof save only that there came out of the Tower employed by our disposition £1,300,000»49. The claim that this had been a routine task of the Exchequer in recent years was clearly false. The treasurers for wars, surveyors of victuals and so on were nearly always heard either by the Council50 or by a commission reporting to the Council and were sometimes signed by the king in person51. They were not the responsibility of any particular court although in the absence of instructions to the contrary the Exchequer would routinely summons anyone who had any money in prest which had issued from the receipt.

  • 52 Ibid., E 36/1, f° 37.
  • 53 Ibid., E 36/1, f° 39.

26Whether Wolsey himself in any sense accounted for the whole expenses of the war may be doubtful but the subsidiary accountants did. In the first years of Henry VIII's reign Heron extracted payments for military matters which were kept in a separate volume. This shows that John Daunce kept his accounts in two parallel books, and, as Henry's note says, «one signed with our hand and to the said John Daunce for his discharge in the premysses delivered, the other written and subscribed with the hand of the said John Daunce in our own custody for our more perfytte remembrance in that behalf remaining more at large ys expressed and declared as hereafte ensueth». These accounts were heard by the auditor Thomas Tamworth who was also an Exchequer auditor52. Some of the payments are then noted in detail. Heron's volume casts light on some matters of detail - where presumably no particular account was kept - so we have the fine detail of the provision of a mill in July 3 Henry VIII as well as details about the new forge at Greenwich built for the Brussels armourers53.

  • 54 Ibid., E 315/315.

27Many of the small subsidiary accounts also survive. Thus we have the account of the money paid by Sir Thomas Wyndham, treasurer of the army 4 Henry VIII to Walter Devereux Lord Ferrers, who was captain of the Trinity Sovereign [1,000 tons] of which William Trevanyon was master. The master signs for his share and Ferrers servant, Thomas Fowler, for the costs of Ferrers retinue (439) and the mariners (239) and gunners (40) and the deadshares. Similar accounts survive for the Maria de Loreta [800 tons] the Katerina Forteleza [700 tons] the Mary Rose [600 tons] the Peter Pomegarnett [450 tons] and a list of twelve smaller ships and the barks of the larger ships54.

28Henry's direct involvement in the ordinary structure of the financial courts which were concerned with the raising of revenue, or the collection of parliamentary taxes from the laity and tenths from the clergy granted by Convocation is another matter. One reason for this is that it is often easier to chart a change in the financial structure than to associate it with an individual promoting that change. Accounts of financial changes in Henry's reign are often written as though they came about without any human intervention, let alone Henry's. Alternatively, they assume that whoever was the king's principal minister - Wolsey or later Cromwell - was consciously controlling what was happening; intended precisely what came about and sometimes did not even inform the king.

29This seems somewhat unlikely. Wolsey's part in raising extraordinary taxation is undoubted but evidence for his detailed interest in the ordinary day to day management of revenue is less abundant Cromwell is credited with the creation of a series of individual courts - one might say departments - to handle different aspects of finance. Only one of these however, the Court of Augmentations, was actually erected before his death and Gostwick as treasurer of First Fruits was effectively Cromwell's private treasurer. One could equally well argue that Cromwell too preferred personal control.

30What was Henry's attitude to the structure through which revenue should be raised? There is no evidence that it was a subject for his obsessive personal interest but that does not mean that he did not have an attitude towards a matter which was of considerable significance for his main interests. One cannot assume that this attitude remained constant throughout the reign. Nevertheless one can plausibly argue that his general ideal was of a regular delegation of duties and powers to individuals who assumed responsibility for the work they undertook. This he preferred to be done in such a way that it provided them with adequate power and authority to fulfil their responsibility and Henry with an appropriate lever against them should they default, in the bonds and obligations which he held. This can be seen in all aspects of his behaviour.

  • 55 Ibid., E159/228, Communia, Easter 1 Henry VIII rot 5,19.
  • 56 Ibid., E159/288, this roll is full of matters pertaining to the island.
  • 57 Ibid., E159/288; E 368.

31The beginning of the reign is particularly tricky for Henry was only seventeen and his Council appears to have been principally his father's named executors, less Empson and Dudley. It is usually assumed that Henry was too concerned with his courtly pleasures to take an interest This interpretation of Henry's personal role is problematic. He sits with the Council; he signs the warrants, and a number of writs to the Exchequer have a personal touch - in matters of long debate Henry seeks to appear both kingly and generous - «it is clear to us and our Council» the missives run «not wishing the matter in debate to be prejudiced to the disadvantage of the subject»55. He seems in particular to have a personal concern with the Isle of Wight whose government was always a little different56. At the same time, he seems to be following in his father's footsteps. Heron starts two new books as the treasurer of the Chamber and various other books relating to particular matters. Henry duly signs one copy of these after perusal as his father had done, and indeed, so far as we can tell continued to do so for the rest of his reign. Although it looks as if Henry is taking over his father's system without alteration, appearances are deceptive. He did not immediately reappoint the earl of Surrey lord treasurer. The patent is 28 July 1 Henry VIII (enrolled in the following Michaelmas) and the Exchequer rolls in the interval refer to his as Nuper lord treasurer57. In the meantime, he formally appoints people by letters patent to posts where in his father's day they had operated without a patent. The policy to tackle the problems of his father's manner of management had a clear intention to reverse actions which ran counter to the accepted relationship between monarch and subject Not only are there the politically expedient pardons and cancellation of bonds and obligations but either Henry himself or his Council attempt to rectify the status of the auditing that has been done. Throughout Henry's reign, the problem of the legality of accounts and any decrees or orders taken about them, not produced in a court of record - such as the Exchequer -, in terms of their privilege as records, remained a crucial financial issue.

  • 58 HL, Ellesmere MS 2655, no 67.

32Some notes on the deliberations of the Council in his first year record that «Such courts as were occupied besyde the court of common law was likewise had in communicacion and it is thought by all the council necessary and requisitye that all such by courts which be of noe record shold be fordone and that everyman from thensforth may resort to such courts and judges as they did before». This was because «the subject cannot be discharded by any of such byecourts so the subject was troubled». All such were to be annuled and that parties that have paid sums of money may be discharged of the same by privy seal, 11 October 1 Henry VIII. On 14 November there was more consideration of these courts and the loss of profits by the seals58.

  • 59 PRO, E 368, Recorda Trinity 2 Henry VIII.
  • 60 Ibid., E159/292, Recorda Trinity, 2 Henry VIE, rot 18.

33An act in Henry's first Parliament regularized Heron's status, but it looks for a time as if more work is to be handled through the Exchequer. In 1510 Sir Robert Southwell, who was one of the general surveyors of lands, was admitted by mandate of the king and several of his Council beyond (that is above) the old number of five auditors and was presented to the court by Thomas earl of Surrey59. At the same time there was a supersedeas to the Exchequer concerning a string of accounts which had been heard by the old general surveyors but this was a tidying up measure60 This did not include the cofferer, the wardrobe, the mayor and staple of Calais.

  • 61 Ibid., E159/293, Recorda Trinity, 5 Henry VIII, rot 22.
  • 62 Ibid., E 315/313a.
  • 63 Ibid., E19/295, Recorda, Trinity, 8 Henry VIII, rot 31.
  • 64 Walter C. RICHARDSON, Tudor Chamber Administration 1485-1547, Baton Rouge, Louisiane State Univers (...)

34It is generally assumed, however, that as Wolsey came to power Henry left financial matters to him, that Wolsey preferred to restore the handling of most accounts to general surveyors and that Norfolk was not influential in financial matters. It must be remembered however, that Robert Southwell and Bartholomew Westby who were appointed by letters patent to superintend the land revenue accounts in Easter 1513 after an act of Parliament «for Robert Southwell» was passed in the session 12 November - 20 December 1512, were also Exchequer officials61. The act was intended to confer, on the accounts that Southwell and Bartholomew Westby had already heard and any they heard subsequendy as well as their decrees and orders62, the status of those taken in a court of record. It is clear from the registers of their decrees and orders that the hearings before them were managed in all respects as if they were a court It must be remembered however, that both were also Exchequer officials and so was Southwell's successor, Blagge63, although Belknap was not, and that until 1522-1523 the accounts were recorded also in the lord treasurer's remembancers roll, a necessary preliminary for Exchequer action against defaulters, for which formal accounts of record were necessary. Henry's requirements however were satisfied by the annual summary or declaration of account which Southwell made to him64.

35This was the pattern of financial management throughout the reign. Trusted officials acquired a range of offices which enabled them to operate in a number of different courts. Heron becomes a chamberlain and a clerk of the Hanaper; Daunce chief buder, general surveyor, teller of the Exchequer; Belknap buder, master of wards, general surveyor; Blagge a baron as well as a general surveyor and so on. It is possible that beyond this, the precise bureaucratic procedures was something that could be left to the officials, provided that they did not present any political threat.

  • 65 PRO, TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/76, 129, 130; State Papers King Henry the Eighth, London, Record Comm (...)
  • 66 PRO, E101/518/10.

36In this way, the management of finances remains very personal. Direction is necessarily central because the delegation of power is usually specific and for a limited time. For many matters Henry operated as his father had done by taking bonds and obligations which from time to time he would chase up. His interest in money may be indicated by the commission to administer and work all mines of gold, silver and lead in Devon65. Henry did not hesitate to set up special accounting processes for particular events. The hearing of the accounts for the Field of the Cloth of Gold were handed over to the master of the Savoy, William Holgill, who was authorized to hear all accounts, to summon accountants, to imprison recalcitrants and to give them a sufficient quittance66. Wolsey cannot be shown to have been involved in many of these financial activities. Henry for example, gave particular individuals letters patent to collect particular sorts of money. On 12 September 1526 James Moryce was authorized to collect outstanding debts. These are mainly amounts due on recognizances, and the task seems similar to that Henry VII had given Dudley. The account he prepared was to be rendered to General Surveyors, though one cannot assume that it passed in this form, has the formula at the end that it is allowed by General Surveyors on the advice of Brian Tuke, by that time, treasurer of the Chamber (i.e. after 1528). Tuke however was less than impressed. He thought the patentee was inflating the stuns by including money recovered outside the time of the account before him. The account is covered in his critical comments. The comments illuminate some of the problems in this sort of accounting procedures and the extent to which it is dependent on one man's memory and knowledge. It also reveals that the procedure may hamper recovery of the debts as the patentee does not s*art the process for entry onto people's lands.

  • 67 .LP., vol. ΙII, 1, no 153.
  • 68 PRO, TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/5,42,43,45.
  • 69 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/91.

37Thus there is a small group of individuals who regardless of their formal post are routinely called upon to deal with financial matters and who must have known one another very well but who do not appear to have had any corporate existence. There is a slow turn-over in the group as men die or more rarely are disgraced. Whatever the accounts to be heard, certain names crop up. When Tournai was surrendered its accounts were handled by Heron, Bensted and Jerningham67. Management of the Wards - critical politically between 1513 and 1520 was in the hands of Sir Thomas Lovell, Sir Richard Weston and Thomas Magnus receiver-general68 but John Heron, John Erneley the attorney-general, and John Port also had some role69. This was apparently how Henry chose to exercise control. So far as the management of the crown estates is concerned it locks as if neither Henry nor Wolsey had a burning interest in the administrative detail providing the process was orderly and that certain trusted individuals were in charge.

  • 70 J. C. SAINTY, «The Tenure of Office in the Exchequer», EHR, t LXXX, 1965, p. 450 et sq.
  • 71 PRO, E 159/302, Recorda, Hilary 14 Henry VIII, rot 24; BL, Add. MS 35183; ibid., Cotton MS, Titus (...)

38Politics, rather than administrative efficiency, explains some of the shifts and changes. The position of the lord treasurer for instance is either overlooked or ignored in most of the financial accounts of the reign. Yet throughout Henry's reign, the successive dukes of Norfolk held the position and in all other matters the role of the Howards is clearly crucial. Yet, for some reason, perhaps because papers relating to their treasurership have not survived, they have been dismissed as irrelevant Historians speak of them being «bypassed» without any reflection on why there was a need to bypass the lord treasurer who had in the Exchequer a personal fief - a major source of patronage. If a political reason for bypassing the Exchequer is sought it may well be found in a much neglected article of Dr Sainty70. This makes clear the enormous patronage which the lord treasurer had at the beginning of Henry's reign, patronage the monarch only slowly recovered. Henry VII was apparently the first monarch to appoint the lord treasurer's remembrancer which he did in 1505 appointing Edward Denny, possibly with Norfolk's agreement. The lord treasurer still appointed the clerk of the pipe and until 1540 at least, the six auditors; the foreign apposer, the clerk of estreats, the undertreasurer until 1543; the four tellers until William Daunse appointment in 1528 and the two officers of receipts including the writer of tallies. Surrey, appointed on 14 December 1522 in his father's lifetime, had to be re-appointed in 1524 when he became 2nd duke of Norfolk71. Changes in the Exchequer in that year seem to have been associated more with a change of personnel and the desire to limit his power, than with clearly thought out financial restructuring. The act once again tried to give the General Surveyors an authority equivalent to that of a court of record, apparently unsuccessfully.

39Norfolk retained the office of lord treasurer until 27 January 1547 and withholding further power from him may explain much about the history of the period. Howard influence at the lower levels in the Exchequer produced a number of appointments from families identifiable as part of their clientage, and some of these individuals also obtained posts in the Household, Wards, and General Surveyors.

40Suspicion of Howard power may explain why Wolsey chose to involve himself in the collection of the subsidy and the other parliamentary taxes, except perhaps at first the payments from the magnates, although the accounts were heard in the Exchequer. When levying money was a matter of critical importance, as it became in the forced loan of 1522 and the anticipation of the subsidy in 1523, Henry played a clear part for he signed the warrants requiring people to contribute. This raises the issue of his knowledge of the Amicable Grant - where it would seem that Sir Robert Wingfield had persuaded him at Wolsey's direction of its general legitimacy but not perhaps of his intention to demand a set sum. A decade later, the establishment of a separate Court of Augmentations, to handle the management of the property of the monasteries, may again have been bypassing Norfolk. It bypassed General Surveyors too because there seems to have been a need felt to distinguish clearly the basis of the king's title to the land, since houses which fell by attainder were given to General Surveyors and those within the county of Lancaster, were given to the duchy.

41Henry apparently viewed this as a matter of indifference - he had a clear intention from the start to grant away a sizeable chunk of the lands, sometimes doing so before the commissioners and other officials appointed could arrange for an orderly transfer, so that the receivers accounts can only assert that any matters relating to particular houses were the responsibility of particular gentry or nobles «who must answer to the king for it». Moneys from such grants went directly to the king.

42Cromwell, as vice-gerent, was left to manage First Fruits, for all that was established was yet another treasurer - John Gostwick, who had originally been a client and member of Wolsey's household. The bishops accounts for the annual tenths were heard in the Exchequer although the money was paid to Gostwick. The tedious business of compounding with all the prospective incumbents of parishes was left to two of Cromwell's clerks, leaving unresolved where disputes over them were to be heard.

43After Cromwell's fall, Henry could have allowed the whole managment to pass by default into the Exchequer and perhaps might have done so had the Howards not once more fallen into disgrace and suspicion. Instead, he preferred to see another court established to which the whole management of finances derived from the secular church establishment including the tenths voted by Convocation were assigned and which as a court of record could hear cases. General Surveyors and Wards were also finally given the same status; General Surveyors in a clearing up act designed to answer all the legal doubts and questions which had arisen over the jurisdictions of the various financial institutions. Henry allowed a structure in which what could have been internal departmental operations, became independent offices. It was politically convenient rather than administratively economical and effective. The different courts found it necessary to employ attorneys in each others courts and some business tended to disappear down the cracks.

  • 72 PRO, E 315/248.
  • 73 PRO, E 315/12,60.
  • 74 In 1553 laborious investigation suggested that £181,179 had been spent since 1539 on fortification (...)

44It kept power, however in Henry's hands and in those of his Council but it made any budgetting process long drawn out and somewhat haphazard and helped to conceal the true costs of government. Establishing where various things were paid could be tedious. For example, the costs of the Council of the North was paid from General Surveyors72 The Council in the Marches was paid from Chester. Estimating the true costs of the construction, maintenance and garrisoning of fortifications around the English coast, on the borders against Scotland and in the Calais pale would have required certificates from various surveyors of the Works, Augmentations (who paid the moneys both centrally and in various local receivers accounts), and General Surveyors (who heard the accounts of «the castles upon the downs») and Robert Lord as paymaster73, from the treasurers of Calais and Berwick and their controllers, and from the Ordnance74. This fragmentation of the accounting process was increasingly inadequate for any budgetary purpose and the true costs of defence were effectively concealed.

  • 75 Gilbert J. MILLAR, op. cit., p. 76-96, shows the problems Henry had with the demands made by merce (...)
  • 76 L.P., vol. XXI, 1, no 172, 473474, 531-535, 581, 687. See also Penry WILLIAMS, The Tudor Regime, O (...)

45Henry appears to have remained satisfied to deal with expenditure simply in terms of the surplus which could be raked off into his central and often private coffers after payments had been made at the local and perhaps central level. Money in such coffers provided an increasingly spurious sense of resources and the rule of thumb budgetting with which he had got by at the beginning of his reign was increasingly unreliable. It is clear from the letters of William Paget and Wriothesley as they struggled to supply a king committed to war that budgets had been made (an estimate of £250,000 was arrived at), but that costs had escalated in ways that were unforeseen and unmanageable75. Sales of lands, debasement and levies on subjects had to be used to top up the military coffers. The system which had coped, although barely, with warfare in the first decade of Henry's reign before inflation had set in was breaking down under the new pressures. Henry in his penny wise mood was attempting to restrain costs by refusing to pay English cavalry men more than £1 a month, whereas the foreign mercenaries demanded and got £376. Such actions did not help the war.

  • 77 NRO, Delapre FH 84/13; this is repeated in the BL, Cotton MSS, Titus BIV copy.

46No monarch, hereafter, would be able to attempt, as Henry had done, to keep personal, private control of his own finances. Memory of what Henry had attempted with his finances rapidly became blurred. In his daughter's reign complaints against the auditors mention the «miscarrying of Tuke, Heron and Lovell's accounts by Henry VIII's innovations», thus blaming the son for his father's practices77 but ignoring the real difficulties, and indeed it may be argued that Henry's real folly was the absence of capacity for strategic financial planning which was caused by a fragmented lack of system.

Notes

1 HL, Ellesmere MS 482, f° 255.

2 Ibid., f° 256.

3 Frederick C. DIETZ, English Public Finance 1485-1641, London, Frank Cass and Co., 2nd ed. 1964,2 vol., vol. I, English Government Finance 1485-1558, p. 88-158.

4 PRO, E 315/317.

5 Roger S. SCHOFIELD, Parliamentary Lay Taxation, 1485-1547, University of Cambridge Ph. Dissertation, 1963.

6 PRO, E36/1, f° 37.

7 Ibid., E36/1, 29 July 3 Henry VIII.

8 For the pensions paid 1514-1521, see supra, p. 124-127,135.

9 PRO, E 315/160.

10 Ibid., E101/424/10.

11 Ibid., E 358/22. Morgan Philips alias Wolf paid £499 15s. 9d.; Sir Ralph Sadler £666 13s. 4d.; Wriothesley £500; George Owen £100; Wiliam Buckley £200; Paget £1,000 and later another £2,908; George Somerset £100; Sir John Mason £100; Sir Thomas Palmer £666 13s. 4d.; Walter Dormer £390 6s. 8d. and John South £100.

12 BL, Landsdowne MS 3113. The amounts given here refer to food and drink only. The much larger amounts include the other Household costs for which the cofferer was responsible

13 C.S.P. Ven., vol. IV, p. 357.

14 PRO, TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/177.

15 Ibid., E159/294, Recorda, Trinity 7 Henry VIII, rot 19.

16 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/486.

17 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/149.

18 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/240.

19 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/152.

20 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/213.

21 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/216.

22 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/238.

23 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/373.

24 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/58,59.

25 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/160.

26 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/528.

27 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/207.

28 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds,E41/152.

29 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/180.

30 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/366.

31 Richard Mody was auditor, ibid., E163/11/46 f° 3.

32 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/219 lead mines on Dartmoor.

33 Ibid., LR, 6/97/3.

34 EHR, t XXXH, 1917, p. 367.

35 PRO, TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/190.

36 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/438, with Christ College, Cambridge 5 September 23 Henry VIH: Roydon for the site of the priory of Broomhill. PRO, TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/452, with the abbey of Waltham Holy Cross: Stansted Abbots for the site of the priory of Blackmore.

37 Howard M. COLVIN, Reginald A. BROWN and Alfred J. TAYLOR, ed., The History of the King’s Works, London, HMSO, 1963-1982,4 vol., vol. III, 1485-1660 (parti), p. 1-2.

38 BL, Add. MS 25460, f° 36 (copy).

39 Gilbert J. MILLAR, Tudor Mercenaries and Auxiliaries 1485-1547, Charlottesville, University Press of Virginia, 1980 prudently does not attempt any such calculation.

40 PRO, E 315/4.

41 L.P., I,2, no 2598; from PRO, SP 1/230 f° 97. 3002 the Ordnance account for 5-6 Henry VIII.

42 PRO, E159/288, Brevia directbaronibus, Michaelmas 1 Henry VIII, rot 19.

43 PRO, E159/290, Brevia direct baronibus, Easter 3 Henry VIH, rot 4d.

44 L.P., vol. 1,2, no 3611 (2).

45 L.P., vol. 1,2, no 3614, p. 1517 no 169.

46 Ibid., vol. 1,2, no 3612.

47 Ibid., vol. 1,2, no 3612 (58).

48 Ibid., vol. 1,2, no 3613.

49 Ibid., vol. IV, 3, no 2557.

50 Frederick C. DIETZ, Finances of Edward VI and Mary, Northampton, Massachusetts, (Smith College Studies in History, vol. III, 2), 1918, p. 63 thinks that these accountants had to appear before the Council in Edward's reign.

51 PRO, E 36/1, f° 37.

52 Ibid., E 36/1, f° 37.

53 Ibid., E 36/1, f° 39.

54 Ibid., E 315/315.

55 Ibid., E159/228, Communia, Easter 1 Henry VIII rot 5,19.

56 Ibid., E159/288, this roll is full of matters pertaining to the island.

57 Ibid., E159/288; E 368.

58 HL, Ellesmere MS 2655, no 67.

59 PRO, E 368, Recorda Trinity 2 Henry VIII.

60 Ibid., E159/292, Recorda Trinity, 2 Henry VIE, rot 18.

61 Ibid., E159/293, Recorda Trinity, 5 Henry VIII, rot 22.

62 Ibid., E 315/313a.

63 Ibid., E19/295, Recorda, Trinity, 8 Henry VIII, rot 31.

64 Walter C. RICHARDSON, Tudor Chamber Administration 1485-1547, Baton Rouge, Louisiane State University Press, 1952, p. 183.

65 PRO, TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/76, 129, 130; State Papers King Henry the Eighth, London, Record Commission, 1830-1852,11 vol., vol. ΙII, 2, p. 1045.

66 PRO, E101/518/10.

67 .LP., vol. ΙII, 1, no 153.

68 PRO, TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/5,42,43,45.

69 Ibid., TR, Ancient Deeds, E 41/91.

70 J. C. SAINTY, «The Tenure of Office in the Exchequer», EHR, t LXXX, 1965, p. 450 et sq.

71 PRO, E 159/302, Recorda, Hilary 14 Henry VIII, rot 24; BL, Add. MS 35183; ibid., Cotton MS, Titus BIV, f° 13, for life.

72 PRO, E 315/248.

73 PRO, E 315/12,60.

74 In 1553 laborious investigation suggested that £181,179 had been spent since 1539 on fortification of the south and east coasts and £120,675 on Calais and £27,457 on Scottish border, see Howard M. COLVIN, op. cit., vol. III, 1, p. 1-2 quoting PRO, SP 10/15, no 11 and Bod. L., MS Bodley Add. D43.

75 Gilbert J. MILLAR, op. cit., p. 76-96, shows the problems Henry had with the demands made by mercenaries.

76 L.P., vol. XXI, 1, no 172, 473474, 531-535, 581, 687. See also Penry WILLIAMS, The Tudor Regime, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1979, p. 119-120.

77 NRO, Delapre FH 84/13; this is repeated in the BL, Cotton MSS, Titus BIV copy.

Auteur

University of Sydney

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