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Part 5 – Over 100 English Peers and 450 MP’s guilty of Ripping off the Public Purse – and Scots suffered the imposition of more taxes to make good their losses

 

 

 

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1720 – The South Sea Bubble

This was, in its time the largest financial Ponzi Scheme ever created and it involved almost all of Englands’ Peers of the realm, politicians and their toadies who were hell-bent on gathering money to themselves at the expense of the public.

In 1720, in return for a loan of £7 million to finance the war against France, the House of Lords passed the South Sea Bill, which allowed the South Sea Company a monopoly in trade with South America.

The company underwrote the English National Debt, which stood at £30 million, on a promise of an extortionate 5% interest from the Government.

Shares immediately rose to 10 times their value, speculation ran wild and all sorts of companies, some lunatic, some fraudulent or just optimistic were launched.

one company floated was to buy the Irish Bogs, another to manufacture a gun to fire square cannonballs and the most ludicrous of all “For carrying-on an undertaking of great advantage but no-one to know what it is!!” Unbelievably £2000 was invested in this one!

The country went wild, stocks increased in all these and other ‘dodgy’ schemes, and huge fortunes were made.

Then the ‘bubble’ in London burst!

The stocks crashed and people all over the country lost all of their money.

Porters and ladies maids who had bought their own carriages became destitute almost overnight.

The Clergy, Bishops and the Gentry lost their life savings; the whole country suffered a catastrophic loss of money and property.

Suicides became a daily occurrence.

The gullible mob whose innate greed had lain behind this mass hysteria for wealth demanded vengeance.

The Postmaster General took poison and his son, who was the Secretary of State, avoided disaster by fortuitously contracting smallpox and died!

The South Sea Company Directors were arrested and their estates forfeited.

There were 462 members of the House of Commons and 112 Peers in the South Sea Company who were involved in the fraud.

Frantic bankers thronged the lobbies at Parliament and the Riot Act was read to restore order.

As a result of a Parliamentary inquiry, John Aislabie, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and several members of Parliament were expelled in 1721.

King George, I also became involved as his two mistresses, the Countess of Darlington and the Duchess of Kendal, were heavily involved in the South Sea Company and were blamed by the populace as being responsible.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Robert Walpole sorted out the terrible financial mess by splitting the National Debt, (of the defunct South Sea Company), between the Bank of England, the Treasury, and the Sinking Fund, (income put aside each year to cover exigencies).

In doing so he saved many of his fellow peers, royals, and politician speculators from bankruptcy by recovering lots of money for them.

But someone had to pay and Scots were duly hammered with the imposition of an extended period of austerity in which many new commodity taxes were imposed on those who could least afford it.

The rich remained rich at the expense of the poor!!!!.

I am minded of the 2007/2008 banking crash which was attributable to the same 1% of money grabbers.

And they were bailed out at the expense of UK taxpayers by the most incompetent group of Labour and Tory politicians ever to hold office.

And many of them are still around the city of Westminster, government, and banking when they should be in custody.

 

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The Three Amigos (George’s)

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George, I was Elector of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) in the Holy Roman Empire from 23 January 1698, and was crowned King of Great Britain and Ireland in 1714.

His reign ended with his death in 1727.

A largely absent monarch he passed political power to Robert Walpole and the Twigs.

 

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George II

German-born, George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) and a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, was crowned King of Great Britain and Ireland at the age of 43 and reigned between 1727 – 1760.

He was a short-tempered, boorish man who defied his father and associated with opposition peers, (whom his father mistrusted) and they were at loggerheads for many years.

This eventually led to him and his wife Caroline being banished from the King’s court and barred from seeing their children, who were held by the king.

A situation only resolved when they finally reconciled towards the end of his father’s life.  But he did not attend his father’s funeral.

Many thought that he would dump Walpole but the wily old ratbag persuaded parliament to increase the King’s civil list allowance by around 50% and gained the friendship of Queen Caroline who George adored.

Caroline persuaded her husband to retain Walpole who enjoyed a substantial majority in Parliament.

Britain reopened hostilities with France in 1743.

This was extended by George, to include succession rights in Austria on the death of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI.

He believed Charles’s daughter Maria Theresa should succeed in the Austrian dominions.

A 12,000 strong force was raised and sent to Europe and led by George, fought alongside Austrian, Dutch, Hanoverian and Hessian troops and defeated the French at the Battle of Dettingen on 16/27 June 1743.

George, without conferring with his British ministers, retained the British force near Hanover fearing another French incursion.

The British public was appalled that British soldiers had been deployed to fight in Europe in support of Hanoverians and the government was censured after a heated debate in parliament and was subsequently removed from office in 1746.

Like his father, George II was an absent monarch who passed political power to Robert Walpole and the Twigs.

 

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Frederick

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His son George III

 

Frederick (George)

In the absence of his father, away in Germany Frederick actively campaigned for the opposition in the 1741 British general election which resulted in a hung parliament.

Walpole approached him with the promise of an increased allowance and offered to pay off his debts, but Frederick refused.

This forced Walpole’s resignation and he bowed out of politics in 1742.

English born, the eldest son, Frederick, had a difficult relationship with his father.

He died unexpectedly in 1751, nine years before his father with the result that George II was succeeded by his grandson, George III (mad George) who went on the lose the American colonies.

 

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Part 4 – The English Government Tightens the Screws of Oppression on the Scots – Just Putting Them in Their Place so to Speak

 

 

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General Wade

 

 

Walpole and the Whigs

The Whigs fared badly at the 1724/5 election and lost many supporters but Cock-a-hoop with their malt tax victory Walpoles new government put the boot in and forced more commodity taxes on Scotland.

An increased Scottish presence at Westminster counted for nothing since with a built-in majority guaranteeing its power England cared not a jot for Scottish opinion.

Mindful of General Wade’s attack on Glasgow and the murder of civilians just a year or so before Scots were well aware of the threat of the English military should any violence occur and took a new tack by forming into political groups.

These, in turn, merged and over the next ten years of the Whig government, the movement developed into a potent political force at Westminster.

But victories were not so significant as to cause Walpole to worry unduly.

An early version of the Scottish National Party!!!

But England was not without its problems on the political front as an increasing number of Whigs became disillusioned with Walpole’s authoritarian style of leadership and his foreign and economic policies which alienated the United Kingdom from Europe and the world.

Adopting the title, “The Patriots” a new political grouping evolved and claiming to be the protectors of the unwritten English constitution soon attracted a significant following and the support of the Scottish politicians at Westminster.

At this time also the English press was just taking off with its reach extending outside London into the provinces and the “patriots” were quick to use the new medium to inform the public of their aims and aspirations.

But achieving change was a slow process and political guerilla tactics adopted by the Patriots took time to wear down Walpole and his ultra-right-wing English centred supporters who had ruled the roost for so long years.

The election of 1734 provided an opportunity to challenge Walpole’s Whigs and the “Patriots”, in an alliance with Scottish peers did just that making maximum use of the media to get its message across to the nation.

And the message was!! That there was nothing wrong with the recently formed United Kingdom.

The way forward was to embrace and enhance a fully integrated nation-state under a Protestant monarch.

Scots peers responded positively and support for Walpole’s Whigs in Scotland began to waver.

A new newspaper, the “Thistle” published weekly, was widely circulated in the central belt, less so in the highlands who had not been persuaded to the “Patriot” cause preferring a return of the Stuart divine-right monarchy.

The political message, “there is another way” resonated well with Scots.

The problem for many was “which way”.

 

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Walpole

 

The “Patriots” agenda promoted the message that a victory for the “Patriots” would bring with it a “return to a political system true to the content of the Acts of Union ensuring equal rights for all”.

The strategy failed because of the limited reach of the campaign.

The “Patriots” concentrated their efforts in the professional sectors of Glasgow and Edinburgh and failed to extend it to the rest of Scotland.

So not enough people got the message!!! But they did make inroads in the cities!!

In England Walpole’s Whigs took a beating but retained power which meant that Scotland was bang in the firing line for more harsh treatment at the hands of the Whigs.

 

 

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The Porteous Crisis 1737/38

The crisis brought Scots of all political persuasions together under the “Patriot” banner to protest against Whig government abuse and disrespect of Scottish legal and political autonomy.

It began in the spring of 1736 when two habitual burglars were done for breaking and entering and robbing the Collector of Customs building in Kirkcaldy.

A crime for which they were sentenced to Hang.

While awaiting their execution one of the prisoners aided by the other escaped custody.

The exploits of the condemned men brought support from the public who considered the sentence to be unjust.

But authorities ignored their pleas and went ahead with the execution.

The public execution in the Grassmarket was attended by a large crowd who were vocal in their protests and when the deed was done a few of them started to throw stones at the hangman and his helpers.

This was not an unusual occurrence and usually passed without further incident.

But on the occasion, there was an immediate and brutal response when city guard leader, Captain John Porteous fired into the crowd and ordered his men to do the same.

When the shooting stopped there were eight dead and much more seriously wounded.

The public protested vehemently and Porteous was charged with murder, tried, found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging in the same Grassmarket where he and his men had committed the atrocities.

 

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The unsavory incident would have been closed had the execution been carried out, but Whig peers petitioned the Queen Regent Caroline to suspend the sentence so that appeals could be gathered and presented to the courts.

She duly consented to their request and ordered the Scottish Lords of Justiciary to suspend the sentence for at least 6 weeks.

Edinburgh citizens, sorely aggrieved that they were being denied justice took matters into their own hands, dragged Porteous from the Tollbooth and hanged him in the Grassmarket.

News of the “riot” reached the Westminster government who immediately ordered General Wade and his English forces to Edinburgh to assist in the “speedy and exemplary punishment’ of the riots” “ringleaders and abetters”.

A second large body of English soldiers was moved into Edinburgh castle to patrol the area, conduct “stop and search” patrols and enforce curfews.

The Westminster Whigs also formed a view that the Edinburgh city authorities were at fault.

Opinions that were strengthened in the weeks that followed when no-one had been brought to account.

General Wade complained that: “the magistrates had conspired to allow the murder of Porteous and aided their escape from justice”.

His unfounded assertions provided the catalyst the Whig government had been waiting for and it speedily introduced a new act, the “Bill of Pains and Penalties” and used it against Edinburgh, with the charge that the City authorities had “insulted the royal prerogative”.

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost was arrested and many “Royal” privileges were removed adversely affecting traders and the city was placed in purgatory.

Edinburgh citizens were angry at the actions of the government and questioned the legality of the English moves against the city.

The question most raised was, “what right had been bestowed on Westminster that gave it the authority to punish Edinburgh for a crime involving Scottish citizens, that had taken place on Scottish soil?

Scottish politicians set their petty partisan quarrels and protests were raised at Westminster strongly condemning the Whig government for its, “contradiction to the express Articles of Union”.

But their protests fell upon deaf ears.

Edinburgh was made to pay a heavy fine to the exchequer and every church minister in Scotland was forced to read out a proclamation apologizing for the behavior of Edinburgh citizens.

 

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The Porteous affair was one of many incidents in which the Walpole government protected the military from its excesses, imposed “Martial Law” and committed acts of public violence against the people of Scotland.

What was particularly galling was the unequal treatment of Scottish protestors when rioting in English cities had never been subject to military occupation and martial law.

The Whig victory was pyrrhic since it confirmed what many Scots knew in their hearts that Scotland was not an equal partner in a Union of countries but a colony of England.

The indignities inflicted by Walpole’s Whigs drove some Scots to seek the overturn the British and to invite the return of the Stuart’s to Scotland, but people in the Central belt and lowland parts of the country preferred to remain with the Union hoping for the removal of Walpole’s Whigs and a return to the ideals of the Acts of Union.

Wishful thinking indeed!!!

 

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