Marlborough, p.77
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       Marlborough, p.77

           Richard Holmes

  confirms sentence on Elnberger, 75

  Marlborough confers with on French threat to Bruges, 89

  at battle of Boyne (1690), 16, 93

  and sinking of Gloucester, 98

  nicknamed by Anne and Sarah, 105

  and Monmouth rebellion, 114

  and British military opposition to James II, 135

  invasion of England and advance to London, 137, 142, 145–9, 155

  issues Declaration, 145–7

  appoints Feversham master of Royal Hospital, 155

  tensions with Marlborough, 157

  reforms army, 158–9

  praises Marlborough for Walcourt victory, 162

  suspected of homosexuality, 163

  and Anne’s funding, 164

  campaign in Ireland, 164, 166–9

  praises Marlborough for Irish campaign, 171

  and War of League of Augsburg, 173–4, 181–2, 210

  dismisses Marlborough from appointments and court, 175–6

  and Marlborough’s arrest and imprisonment, 180

  Mediterranean strategy fails, 182–3

  Shrewsbury urges to reinstate Marlborough, 185

  and death of Mary, 186

  Jacobite assassination plots against, 187, 193

  recognised by Louis XIV as monarch, 188

  reinstates Marlborough, 190–1

  and succession to throne, 191

  and War of Spanish Succession, 193

  death, 194, 198

  and government of United Provinces, 198, 200

  and payments to Marlborough, 461

  Wilson, Sergeant John:

  as source, 8, 225–6

  on march to Danube, 264, 268

  at Donauwörth, 273

  on plundering of Bavaria, 277

  on battle of Blenheim, 294

  on siege of Tournai, 420

  in battle of Malplaquet, 427

  disparages French fighting, 430


  bishopric, 355

  Windsor Castle:

  Charles II at, 57

  Windsor Great Park:

  Ranger’s Lodge, 268, 473

  Winston, Sir Henry, 40

  Wissembourg, 249

  Withers, Lieutenant General Henry, 75, 226, 264, 272, 423, 425–6, 428, 430–2

  Witt, Jan de, 67

  Wolfenbüttel, Prince of, 275

  Wolseley, Field Marshal Garnet Joseph, Viscount, 79

  Wood, Major General Cornelius, 275, 291, 431


  election (1710), 223

  Woodstock manor, Oxfordshire:

  given to Marlborough, 299

  Wotton (house), Surrey, 14

  Wratislaw, Johann Wenzel, Count, 252–3, 255, 302–3, 322, 362

  Wren, Sir Christopher:

  church designs, 14

  loses post of surveyor general, 22

  and development of Whitehall Palace, 57

  designs Marlborough House, 408

  Wren, Christopher, Jr, 408

  Württemberg, Alexander, Prince of, 397

  Württemberg, Carl Rudolph, Duke of, 264, 276, 280, 346

  Württemberg, Ferdinand William, Prince of, 169–70, 210

  Wycherley, William, 63

  Wynendaele, battle of (1708), 21, 36, 399

  Yarborough, John, 247

  York, Anne Hyde, Duchess of, 29, 47, 83, 88

  Young, Robert, 178, 180

  Ypres, 393, 418, 454

  Zandvliet, 326

  Zenta, battle of (1697), 250

  Zurlauben, Lieutenant General von, 292


  Celebrated military historian and television presenter Richard Holmes is famous for his BBC series such as War Walks and Wellington. He is the author of the bestselling and widely acclaimed Redcoat and Tommy and more than a dozen other books, including The Western Front, Dusty Warriors and Sahib. He is general editor of the definitive Oxford Companion to Military History. He taught military history at Sandhurst for many years and is now a professor at Cranfield University and the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. He lives near Winchester in Hampshire.


  Pounds, Shillings and Pence

  English money at the time in which this book is set was reckoned in pounds, shillings and pence, with twenty shillings to the pound and twelve pence to the shilling: a guinea was worth thirty shillings prior to the recoinage in 1696, and twenty-one shillings thereafter. Simple multiplications do not catch the subtleties of the real value of money, although one reliable source suggests that £1 in 1700 was worth the equivalent of £125 in 2006. Scots money was worth rather less: in 1703 five dragoon broadswords cost £24 Scots, but just £2 Sterling. Soldiers and merchants had to take local currencies as they found them, and relative values were generally on the move. By the beginning of the eighteenth century the French livre was worth about twenty louis d’or, and one of the latter was worth about a guinea. The Dutch guilder contained twenty stivers, and a stiver roughly equated to an English penny. The Spanish pistole, widely used in the Spanish Netherlands, in which so much of Marlborough’s campaigning took place, was worth much the same as a louis d’or. There were other currencies about, their value easily reckoned up by those like the jovial Irishman ‘Captain’ Peter Drake (his rank stemming from self-granted courtesy, not formal commission) with an eye to the main chance. In 1702 he slit a corn bag in Nijmegen castle and found ‘a hundred silver ducatoons, value about five shillings and tenpence each, near £30 Sterling’.1

  Incomes differed hugely. Near the top of the social scale, Sir William Cowper met lord treasurer Godolphin on 11 October 1705 and agreed to become lord keeper ‘on condition I had the same money for equipage (£2,000) and salary of £4,000 as my predecessor had, and a peerage next promotion’. Before he could take office he had to swear the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, paying a fee of £26 for each. In the period 1706–08 his income did not fall below £7,000 a year.2 This was wealth indeed: in 1688 Gregory King estimated the yearly average income of noble families at £3,200 apiece. However, at the height of her power Sarah Marlborough made £9,500 a year from all her court offices (that of groom of the stole alone was worth £3,000), and one apparently well-founded contemporary estimate put her husband’s total income in 1704 at the staggering sum of £54,825.3 The merchant princes of the age, like Sir Peter Vansittart and Sir Theodore Jensen, left fortunes of more than £100,000, and most London merchants of the middling sort, bringing in £200–£400 a year, might leave £5,000–£15,000. It cost perhaps £1,000 to be sworn apprentice to a ‘Turkey merchant’ trading with the east, £400–£600 to other merchants, and £200–£300 to wholesale dealers like linen drapers.

  In 1667 Bab May suggested that £300 a year was quite enough for any country gentleman, coming quite close to Gregory King’s 1688 estimate of £450 a year for the average annual income of esquires – the rank between knight and gentleman – and £280 for plain gentlemen.4 Although King thought that ‘persons in greater offices and places’ averaged £240 a year, Samuel Pepys, a rising young official, had clearly done rather better. He reckoned himself worth £650 in 1662, £2,164 (and an inherited estate) in 1665, and £6,700 in 1667.

  Army pay changed little across the period. A colonel of horse received twelve shillings a day for his colonelcy, plus another ten shillings as captain of a troop in his own regiment (the work was actually done by his captain-lieutenant), and allowances for servants, horses and forage that took him to a total of forty-one shillings a day. Much of this allowance would indeed have been spent, but he could expect to make a profit on the difference between money allocated for clothing and equipping his regiment and that actually laid out: in a dragoon regiment in Anne’s reign this might come to £1 per man per year, say £400 a year. Tight-fisted colonels undoubtedly made more, but many took their soldiers’ welfare very seriously and made less. Robert Molesworth, a well-to-do Yorkshire squire on a little under £2,000 a year, found his soldier son Dick a con
stant financial burden. When the young man joined the army ‘he must be furnished with a hundred pounds or he cannot stir a step. He has both horses, clothes and equipages to buy.’ Even when Dick was a colonel with a regiment of his own his zeal encouraged him ‘to lay out £600 above what is allowed him, so well he loves the service’.5 An infantry captain, with pay and allowances of ten shillings a day, made about the same as Gregory King’s ‘persons in the law’ and ‘lesser merchants’, well below the standard of a country gentleman, to be sure, but respectably off.

  At the bottom of the scale, a private in the infantry (his pay, across the ages, a disgraceful marker of the bottom end of the national salary scale) was entitled to eight pence a day, about £12 a year, but compulsory deductions often reduced that to about four pence ‘all found’. Gregory King thought that ‘labouring people and outservants’ received about £15 a year, and ‘cottagers and paupers’ just £6.10s. The poor were, at least in theory, maintained by their parishes. The London parish of St Katherine Coleman spent 80 per cent of its revenue on the poor, giving Ellinor Elliston, for example, 2s.6d a week to maintain herself and her two children. It was not even cheap to be in prison. The keeper of Newgate, the worst of London’s many prisons, paid £5,000 for his office and recouped his outlay by fleecing those inmates who could afford to pay. ‘Garnish money’ payable on admission to prison rose from nine shillings to seventeen, and those who did not have the sum to hand were ‘presently conveyed to a place they call Tangier, and there stripped, beaten and abused in a very violent manner’.

  Peter Drake was sentenced to death as a traitor after his capture aboard the Jacobite privateer Nightingale in 1708. He discovered that ‘even the condemned are not exempt from extortions in Newgate’, and had to pay to have his irons struck off, but was eventually able to enlist the interest of ‘six … great personages’ to gain his pardon. The Roman Catholic captain of the privateer, condemned to die at Execution Dock at Wapping, turned down the prison chaplain’s last services. The Reverend Paul Lorrain whined that he was still entitled to his perquisites, but the brave Captain Smith ‘took the clergyman by the arm, and bidding him begone, asked if it was a proper time to be talking of perquisites, when he came to exhort him for the good of his soul’.6 The chaplain had to rub along on the £35 a year he received from the City of London, but boosted this by last-minute tips from the penitent, and the sale of sheets printed, well ahead of the event, with the ‘last words’ of the condemned: they fetched three to six pence each. The public executioner earned £90 a year. His perquisites included the clothes of his victims, many of whom went to the gallows dressed in fine style, and tips from the Barber-Surgeons Company for helping their servants secure the corpses that were allocated to them for dissection in what was often a ghastly brawl at the foot of the gallows.

  Gregory King’s estimate, based on hearth-tax returns, suggests that of a total English population that he put at 5,500,520, about 21,500 families (just under 194,000 souls) had a family income of £240 or more. This book is largely peopled by folk who come well into this upper bracket, and the sums that they gambled, drank or spent on luxuries would have been regarded as absurd by that great majority of households getting by on perhaps ten shillings a week. When Marlborough told Godolphin that he should give the bearer of a victorious dispatch no more than £500, it was not a token of the duke’s avarice, but a recommendation that would give this officer enough money to buy a good-sized house.

  However, things were never as simple as they may seem. People at the bottom of the heap, especially in the country, had recourse to traditional acquisitions: cottage vegetable patches, gleaning at harvest-time, penny tips for services like gate-opening or horse-holding. Garments passed down the social scale as they became outmoded or ill-fitting. In London, links were often looser and there was a growing number of out-of-work day labourers, prone to assemble in unstable groups for which contemporaries were just beginning to use the word ‘mob’ (from mobile vulgus, excitable crowd).

  Even in cities there was still extra money to be had, sometimes doled out, like the tips bestowed on watchful urchins in modern carparks, to avert mockery or mire. Isabella, Duchess of Grafton in her own right, was married to the High Tory MP Sir Thomas Hanmer, who gave her £500 a year ‘pin money’ for her domestic expenses. Her account book shows that in early 1712 she spent eighteen shillings on a pair of black silk stockings and a pair of black gloves, £6.19s.9d on ermine, and gave ten shillings to the tooth-cleaner. In February alone she paid chairmen, the bearers of the sedan chairs that were the equivalent of today’s taxis, £16.14s, and in March she lost £7.10s.6d to her husband at cards. In March that year 2s.6d was simply ‘given to the mob’, in 1714 the finder of a lost diamond earring was rewarded with £1.1s.6d, and ‘Matt the postillion’ received the same sum for finding another missing diamond. Isabella also spent fourteen shillings on ‘two quarts of usquebaugh’, which says nothing about the lady’s philanthropy but much about her regard for Scotch whisky.7 It may also tell us something about her marriage, for her husband extended his fastidious ways to wearing white gloves in the marital bed, and the relationship was not notably passionate.

  Official salaries and other payments were often in arrears. Officers might find themselves arrested for debt because their soldiers’ subsistence money had not arrived but they had engaged themselves to tavern-keepers or sutlers. The unlucky Colonel Michelbourne spent years in the Fleet prison as a debtor, and at the end of Anne’s reign his regiment was still short more than £198,000, owed since the siege of Londonderry in 1690. In 1706 the officers and men of Harvey’s Regiment were still trying to lay hands on back-pay owed since 1689–92.8 It was not always wise for private individuals to draw debts to the attention of the great. When Peter Drake reminded Colonel Pocock that he owed him money, the colonel roared, ‘“I’ll pay you”; and without saying any more, he fell to caning me.’ Drake would have lugged out had they not been in the Duke of Marlborough’s quarters, but contented himself with throwing the colonel down and so losing his post as quartermaster: ‘I now commenced trooper …’9

  There was irregular inflation during the eighteenth century: prices in 1800 were about half as much again as they had been in 1700. In Marlborough’s active career there was fluctuation in both directions: one scholar suggests that £100 in 1701 would have been worth £132 in 1699, £89 in 1705, £135 in 1711 and £95 in 1717.10 Daniel Defoe maintained that the shortage of domestic servants in London forced up their wages. Writing in 1725 he thought that their pay had risen from thirty to forty shillings a year to £6–£8, and they now expected tips from dinner guests. ‘Now they make it a perquisite, a material part of their wages,’ he grumbled. ‘Nor must their master give a supper, but the maid expects the guests should pay for it, nay, sometimes through the nose.’11 Peter Drake, by then in the British army and a quartermaster ‘responsible for all sutlers and other dealers’ in camp, extracted £12–£14 a week from his tenants, but of this ‘I had five and thirty shillings only, exclusive of windfalls.’

  The staples of life were relatively cheap. In 1714 bread at Greenwich hospital was a penny a pound, and in 1700 a hundred eggs cost 5s.9d at Westminster School, and a pound of cheese was four pence. In 1712 fourteen pounds of ‘flesh’ cost two shillings at Greenwich hospital, which paid three shillings for fourteen pounds of beef and mutton.12 Moving up the social scale, a dish of coffee in one of the coffee houses that were even more popular in 1700 than Starbucks and Costa now are, cost a penny halfpenny, and a gallon of claret at Eton College cost seven shillings. After the Methuen Treaty with Portugal, port became cheaper, and this in turn helped bring down the cost of claret: it was just 3s.4d in 1721. A good meal could be eaten in London for a shilling, but John Evelyn might have to pay a guinea or two for dinner at the fashionable Pontack’s.

  In 1668 Samuel Pepys felt secure enough to buy his own coach, and paid £50 for ‘a fine pair’ of horses for it. The following year he met his ex-servant Deb, dismissed after Mrs P
epys found him with his hand up her skirt, and gave her twenty shillings after some more inconclusive fumbling down an alley, paying more for past guilt than for present gratification. A guided tour of Oxford cost him £1.2s.6d, and a barber 2s.6d. He thought Salisbury ‘a great city, I think greater than Oxford’, but found it horribly expensive: ‘£2 5s 6d servants, 1s 6d poor, 1s guide to the stones, 2s poor woman in the street, ribbands 9d, washerwomen 1s …’13 The Earl of Ailesbury’s son Lord Bruce, a peer in his own right after the 1712 promotion, paid £8.18s.6d for his own coronet and £5.15s.6d for his wife’s, and coronation robes cost the couple £6.5s.6d. In 1703 the architect John Vanbrugh spent £2,000 on the site for a theatre on the west side of the Haymarket, and seven years later Jonathan Swift was paying eight shillings a week for two decent rooms in London. Castle Howard cost the Earl of Carlisle £40,000 to build, the same as the original budget for the Marlboroughs’ Blenheim Palace, which eventually cost around £300,000, with Grinling Gibbons alone putting in his bill for over £4,000.

  Words and Dates

  I have generally modernised spelling and adjusted grammar where the original is too convoluted. It is worth noting that few of those whose words I use wrote what we might now call the Queen’s English. If Macaulay complained that Marlborough could not spell simple words in his own language, this observation can be extended across much of the political nation. People wrote words the way they heard them. Charles Mordaunt, Earl of Monmouth, succeeded as Earl of Peterborough in 1697 but always spelt his name Peterbrow. A song lamenting Marlborough’s dismissal as captain general managed to rhyme ‘now’ with ‘Marlborough’, suggesting that it was actually pronounced ‘Marlborow’. Percy Kirke, commander of the Tangier Regiment and moving spirit behind some of the post-Sedgemoor atrocities, actually spelt his first name Piercy, and probably pronounced it that way. Civil War royalists had quipped that their puritan opponents called on the Lord as ‘Laard’, and Sarah Marlborough, given to beginning her sentences with ‘Lord, Lord,’ probably sounded rather similar. Alexander Pope tells us precisely what ‘tea’ rhymed with:

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