George Marsh Diary – aged 38 in 1750
Milbourne Marsh – aged 41 in 1750
Admirals . . . 30
Post Captains . . . 231
Masters & Commanders . . . 94
Lieutenants . . . 574 929
George Marsh Diary
19 March 1750
I married Miss Ann Long [1720-1784], and Mr Pentecost Barker, a particular acquaintance of my brother who was purser of the Barfleur proposed to me our joining stocks and going into the wine trade and said his father was a wine cooper and the he himself perfectly understood the business, and that he was sure with his connections it would prove more advantageous than being a placeman, the income of which being very small; and as I had been out of employment from June 1740 and experienced many disappointments, and many a weary walk and fruitless long attendance in London in hopes of obtaining some place or employment, and being now more anxious than ever to be settled in some business, I did with my mother Long’s and my wife’s consent, agree to enter into partnership with the said Mr Barker and went with him and my brother to Maidstone in Kent to look for a house, proposing to set up in the Wine Trade there, but there being no house to let suitable for it, we returned to London, and took one in Savage Gardens near Tower Hill; and we also agreed to transact business as Naval Agents, Mr Barker having signified he had great interest and acquaintance with the Admirals Captains and Officers of the Navy, having acted as Admiral Mathew’s secretary.
7th April 1750
Removed from Deptford to my house in Savage Gardens for which I was to pay thirty guineas per annum and he, Mr Barker, was to have two rooms in it, to come to occasionally.
26 May 1750
I advertised to transact Naval business and gave printed bills for that purpose.
9 June 1750
Miss Scott the late Commissioner Whorwood’s niece being very intimate with Mr Mostyn [Rear Admiral Savage Mostyn, 1713c-1757] now Comptroller of the Navy, represented that to oblige the late Comptroller Mr Haddock and the Navy Board, I went from his office to Deptford with Commissioner Compton, and had an account of the Peace been discharged from thence.
26 November 1750
There being a great contest between Mr Mostyn Comptroller of the Navy, and Sir Peter Warren [1703-1752] for the Elder Brothership of the Trinity house, the former put up by the Ministry, and the latter by the public Voice, he being at this time a very popular man. The number of votes for each were equal, when my friend Admiral Mathews called on me in Savage Gardens, and desired I would show him the way to the Trinity house and go with him, which I did accordingly just as the meeting were breaking up, when he gave his vote to Mr Mostyn who was immediately chosen one of the Older Brothers, which made him very happy and thankful to Mr Mathews, and as he Miss Scott and my late Commissioner Davies, all earnestly pressed Mr Mostyn to enter me again in his office when a vacancy might happen, I was this day re-entered the 4th Clerk in his office for Bills and accounts in the room of Mr Wooden deceased, whose desk would have been my right had I continued in this office, and not gone with Commissioner Compton to Deptford. This Mr Mostyn did for the reason before mentioned upon Admiral Mathew’s earnest and repeated applications to him; for he was not moved to do it from justice, humanity or friendship, be being totally void of these feelings.
9 April 1751
This day Mr Mostyn ordered me to attend the Honourable George Edgecumb to write orders and letters for him, he being just appointed to command and fit out a fleet at Plymouth for the Mediterranean. I accordingly attended him every day for about three weeks frequently at Whites in St.James’s Street, and by way of parade and show of business of importance, I often set down with him at a table in one corner of the room where the indolent unhappy nobility were playing high at card, and some sauntering about the rooms with all the hiped melancholy sodden countenances that can be imagined, for want of actual employment for mind and body. I observed the gamesters played but one game with one pack of cards, and then threw them on the floor, so that it was partly covered with them.
30 April 1751
Commodore Edgcumb [Admiral George Edgcumbe, 1st Earl of Mount Edgcumbe,1720-1795] set out for Plymouth and made me a present of Five Guineas for my trouble and Coach hire.
3 May 1751
The Comptroller being in want of a clerk in his office for paying seaman’s wages who would undertake to go to Chatham immediately to pay the claims of the former Treasurer of the Navy Mr Doddington [George Bubb Dodington Baron Melcombe 1691-1762] his books, the possession of tickets for them having been kept out of their money from three to seven years for political reasons. These payments to be made every day, and an account transmitted every night to the Comptrollers of the sums paid, the labour of which the old clerks foreseeing would be very great they made interest and some of them got excused from going there upon this service, whereupon the Comptroller sent his first clerk in this branch Mr Mason to ask me if I would quit his branch for Bills and Accounts, and be removed to that and undertake this business. Upon answering in the affirmative, he removed me this day accordingly, and sent me to Chatham in the room of Mr Nelson who had been who had been an old pay clerk in his office, and although I was at this time totally unacquainted with casting seamans wages and was sensible the labour of paying every day except Saturday, on which we were to make up and agree our accounts for the week, would be very great, yet I hoped by close application I should be able to preform this service which would add greatly to my income, — the other branch I had but £50 per annum and in this I should be allowed seven shillings per day in addition to the like salary, I cheerfully undertook the same.
13 June 1751
Removed to Chatham.
15 June 1751
Began to recall and pay all the claims on Mr Doddington’s books, which I found very laborious indeed, however by persevering it became by practice much less so, as I gave up my whole time and thoughts to it, in order to be as quick and correct therein as possible.
6 March 1752
My dear wife and child came from London to Chatham to me where I had taken a house near my father’s and brother’s houses.
10 December 1753
After having been blessed with good health and encreased my income I returned with my family this day to my house in Savage Gardens near Tower Hill, London, the payments at Chatham being completed, with the pleasing reflection and satisfaction that by industry and application, most difficulties and labour may be got over, and that in general, success in life is the consequence.
In the course of this year I was frequently sent on payments to Chatham, Sheerness, the Nore, Deptford and Woolwich yards, and also in carrying on payments in Broad Street, London.
Upon the appointment of Sir Arthur Scott Esq who was a Captain in the Navy, to be Commissioner of the Navy to reside in Chatham yard, I became very much respected by him for two reasons, the first was he was sensible Admiral Mathews had a great regard for me, who he much honoured and loved. The second reason was (and perhaps not the least powerful) that I was enabled and actually drawed out accounts and instructions for him which were infinite service to him, in his new appointment as a Commissioner of the Navy and on dining with him this day (14th January 1755) at the Star and Garter in Pall Mall, he asked me if I would undertake some business for Lord Percival member of Parliament for Bridgewater, who was just come to his Title Earl of Egmont, who he observed was one of the most learned and most able men in England [John Perceval, 2nd Earl of Egmont, 1711-1770]. He observed the business related to a vast number of widows of Bridgewater who had money due in some public office, which the Earl could not get any information of from the Admiralty or Navy Boards, in short he did not know where or what to enquire for, he had got a vast number of certificates of the times of death of seamen belonging to and trading from Bridgewater and of the names of their widows. I replied to Mr Scott that I would to oblige him most certainly undertake to get the business settled, tho’ the fact was I knew no more about it than either of them but concluded I should be able to find it out. Whereupon he immediately carried me to the Earl’s house and introduced me to him. His Lordship expressed the utmost pleasure in having a prospect of settling this business, and gave me all the papers relating to it, and begged to know when it would be finished, to which I answered it was not in my power to mention the time but that his Lordship might be assured I would not lose a moment’s time in bringing it to a conclusion. In a few days after I heard that the Naval Officer at Mahon was dead, upon which I applied to Mr Scott for his interest for my brother to succeed him who was appointed accordingly. After examining and arranging the papers Lord Egmont gave me, I saw plainly the purport of them and that there must be an office some where in London where there was a fund for paying money to the widows of seamen who had served and died in the Service of Merchants at Bridgewater, in proportion to the time of their service which was supported by voluntary subscriptions, but where it was, I was at a loss to know, but after making all the enquiry I could think of to no effect. I thought of an elderly gentleman who had left off business who I had often some years before conversed with at different times who was born and lived in London, and had knowledge of most of the transactions there, I made enquiry after him at a coffee house he used to frequent and at length found him out, who was as glad to see me, as if I had been his son, who was in a bad state of health in consequence of old age. Upon relating this business to him he directed me to an office at the top of the Royal Exchange, and upon my application and telling my business there, a clerk gave me hopes he would soon settle it, after he had received the papers, which I immediately went home for, and delivered to him, with a hint that if he would favour me with dispatch, I should be sensible of his favours by making a proper acknowledgment, which he therefore promised, and in about a weeks time, he settled it, and paid me about 300 for these widows and I gave him two Guineas, for which he was very thankful, and I immediately waited upon the Earl of Egmont with it, who was so thankful and pleased that he tendered me Forty Guineas for my trouble, which I declined to accept of, arguing that I did not undertake the business with any such view, but was extremely happy to oblige his Lordship and Mr Scott. He then repaid me the two guineas and said he feared he never should have it in his power to show his gratitude to me. I replied I had such view neither in undertaking it, and was sufficiently rewarded by the pleasure it gave me to be any way serviceable to his Lordship. After about two hours conversation with his Lordship I took my leave of him, when he pressed and assured me, it would give him great pleasure if I would very frequently call on him, for he was very fond of Naval affairs of which he said he observed I was well acquainted, and added I could not make my visits too often, for there would always be a plate ready to be placed at his table for me. However I looked on all this merely as compliment and civility, and as my whole time was engaged in the public and my private business, having no inclination neither to pay too much court to great people, or to the luxuries of their tables, I omitted to even call on his Lordship for many years after, as will be seen in its proper place in point of time, further on in this book. His Lordship’s interest became so powerful at Bridgewater in consequence of this event that he put in both Members of that Borough.
12 February 1755
Mr Mostyn the Comptroller of the Navy being appointed an Admiral, he sent for me late last night and directed me to be ready this morning to set out with him to Plymouth where he was going to take the command of, and equip a Fleet there as fast as possible, to act as his Secretary till his own Secretary could get there to him, without giving me any previous notice. I accordingly set out with him this morning at 5 o’clock, after being most of the night with my wife packing up my things and from her hurry of spirits on this occasion she was brought to bed of my dear William in a few after I was gone and about ten days sooner than she expected.
1755 became Naval Officer at Port Mahon in Menorca using contacts from his brother George. The post was a clerical administrative one. He left Portsmouth in March 1755 for Menorca in the Mediterranean. Also acted as Clerk of the Cheque which was the senior financial officer for the Menorca dock yard as well as acting as Clerk of the Survey which involved drafting maps and plans for new buildings and defenses. In late November of that year experienced the aftershocks of the Lisbon Earthquake. Due to the Seven Years War naval power was drained naval from the Mediterranean area.
George Marsh Diary
5 April 1755
Returned from Plymouth after having gone through very great fatigue from 5 o’clock every morning till 9 or 10 o’clock at night, every day I was with him, tho’ such great attendance was not necessary but from vanity and an ostentatious show of great business he would have me in the office by candle light every morning and night, and make me write letters to every poor constable etc etc round the country, under pretence of getting men to man the fleet, and of a night would bring all his Captains into the office to show the vast number of letters he wrote every day, which were spread abroad on the table for that purpose and to show what vast business he went through.
In short he was a man of great vanity, good natural parts mixed with a very tyrannical inhumane turn of mind, and having always had great powerful friends, his prosperity was too much for him. He was so absolute that he never would let me go to my lodgings to breakfast or suffer it to be brought to me, arguing that eating and drinking must give way to public business, at the same time he took care very regularly to eat and drink himself. Indeed he would have me dine with him every day or rather every night, for he never dined until 6 o’clock, when he took clear to make it very uncomfortable to me by frequently sending to the office for some thing he pretended he wanted to know. (5th April 1755) He was very cruel in this respect to me, who had ever been habituated to regularity in diet and everything else. In consequence hereof I became very ill for a few days, when he boasted he had killed me with business, but to do him justice he was during my absence from the office remarkably attentive to me, and desired I would send for anything he had which he said I should command. And when we parted he assured me of his utmost service and interest in anything I might wish for. He caused me to be paid as a pay clerk, and as his secretary too for the time I was with him, which was together about one guinea per day, but by choice I would not go through the same business, treatment and confinement in every respect, with such a man again for twenty guineas a day. He sailed from Plymouth in the Augusta and I returned to London this day.
8 May 1755
Agreed with Mr Barker to dissolve our partnership having sold but 3 or 4 pipes of wine during it (see page 76) and did not get payment for the greatest part thereof, so that we lost very considerably thereby, but my the agency, which was all got by me, I cleared about £500. The dissolving this partnership therefore gave me the greatest pleasure, Mr Barker being a very artful avaricious tho’ sensible man, and as he found I should every year increase my income by the agency of which he had, and was to have half, without the least trouble or interest of his, he wished much to continue it, but my very sincere worthy and learned friend Mr Joseph Hart, happily brought it to a conclusion, for whom Mr Barker had the highest esteem and veneration.
1 June 1755
I was this day ordered to Portsmouth to attend the payments at that port and to pay the fleet two months advance which was fitting out there, upon the breaking out of a war with France, so that I was almost every day at Spithead or St Helins on this service for a great length of time.
Diary of George Marsh
My sons were inoculated by Mr Lindsay of Portsmouth the soldiers there having the smallpox broke out amongst them to a violent degree. Upon this operation my dear William was very much alarmed, being not above 14 months old, and to amuse him during it (the operation) I gave him a new guinea which in his fright at the Doctor, he put into his mouth and swallowed to the great surprise of the several Doctors our friends who were with us at the time, and particularly to Mr Lindsay, and to the great uneasiness of my wife and self, however after it had been out of the childs mouth about 5 minutes, Mr Savage the Surgeon gave me the hint, and I took him into another room from my wife who was in great agony about it, and run his finger as far into his throat as he could which occasioned his bringing it up again to the very great pleasure of us all present, but it had so hurt his throat he was some few days before he got well.
By 1756 Menorca was considered dispensable. Milbourne was busy as Naval Officer in locating and purchasing old ships from around the Mediterranean to be converted in fireships to be sailed against an invading French fleet.
He supervised the splicing together of surplus masts and cables to make a 250 yard barrier that could be used to block the entrance of Mahon harbour. In April Milbourne Marsh was summoned by the island’s naval commander “Upon the French being landed on the island of Menorca Commodore Edgcumbe gave him an order to proceed from thence in His Majesty’s ship the Princess Louisa to Gibraltar, and there to take upon him the duty of Master Shipwright.” 120 French ships had landed on one side of the island, the British had five ships on the other. They left the following day, 22nd April 1756.
They arrived in Gibraltar on 30 April 1756. Three days later Milbourne compiled a report on naval facilities and defences. His report read, “The capstans, partners and frames entirely decayed, the mast house, boat house, pitch house, smiths shop and cable shed all decayed, and tumbling down; the yard launch wants a thorough repair, and in case there may be a necessity to careen or caulk any of His Majesty’s ships, there is neither floating stages for that service, or boat for the officers to attend their respective duties; the shed within the new mole gates that was used for repairing sails in, likewise the shed for the use of the artificers are both decayed and tumbling down.”
Admiral John Byng informs London, “I have taken upon me to give Mr Milbourne Marsh … and order to act as Master Shipwright &ldots; and have given him orders to use his best endeavours to put the wharf etc in the best condition he can, for very soon they will be wanted. Milbourne’s added responsibilities means his salary goes up from Â£150 to Â£200 as well as accommodation and food included. By July 1756 Milbourne’s son John Marsh is also working for him, working as a clerk to write Milbourne’s letters.
On the afternoon of 27th July 1756 sees daughter, Elizabeth off on the Ann back to London via Lisbon, but this ship looses its convoy of fourteen other ships and gets hijacked by Moroccan corsairs. The first Milbourne hears of it they see a newspaper report that the Ann has been seized or sunk by the French. He appealed to Lord Anson, First Lord of the Admiralty for help on the matter. Another one of the people on the Ann, Joseph Popham, manages to smuggle out a letter to Milbourne suggesting Milbourne sends over some practical comforts for his daughter while they are stuck at Salay (Azilah). The occupants of the Ann were unaware that Sidi Muhammad, Sultan of Morocco had ordered his ships to detain all British occupants as slaves. However Side Muhammad wanted to make a point of not having European intervention in Moroccan politics and he later agreed to free the crew and passengers of the ship Ann as a show of moderation and justice, as long as Britain sent a ship to pick them all up. They were all eventually conveyed to Gibraltar on the Portland arriving 27th November 1756.
George Marsh Diary
10 Oct 1757
After residing about two years and a half at Portsmouth as happy as possible with my family, and with constant great labour and attention, I had very much increased my income and should have obtained a considerable fortune if I had been permitted to remain there, Mr Deveral the Treasurers first Clerk being a man of such low spirits he could not do much business, Sir xx Temple Bart the second clerk, did not attend to it, and Roderick Richardes a Welsh Magistrate was the clerk from the Ticket Office, who was an idle man, so that I had almost the whole private business of the Port, and my commissions amounted to a great sum every month. On one particular day, it was £30.1.0 I got thereby. To finish the business of the day, with the day required very close application, insomuch that I was up early and late to do so. A vacancy in the Comptroller Office occasioned a remove of the clerks, and tho’ it was not my turn to be placed in the Pay Office in Broad Street, London, yet I was ordered to remove to London which I did do accordingly this day tho’ very much against my will for the reasons before mentioned, but not before poor Deverel shot himself.
21 October 1757
Took a house in Colchester Street Savage Gardens.
23 October 1757
I was ordered to carry on the payments in Broad Street, and to be one of the set for making up the Treasurer of the Navy his accounts, on ships books, and began on this business this day.
As I found I had wonderfully increased my private business as an Agent, I continued to carry that on in London.
24 October 1757
Captain Gilchrist [Captain James Gilchrist, 17??-1777] of His Majesty’s Ship Southampton and his ships company appointed me their Agent for L’Emerode a French prize and for the St.Denis which they had taken.
16 March 1758
Having sold both these prizes I made up the accounts and paid the prize money.
3 April 1759
I was this day appointed one of the Agents to the Danae prize taken by Captain Gilchrist in sight of other of our Ships, in which the brave Captain was terribly wounded, but in reward for his great services, he having behaved most nobly in many other engagements, King George the second settled a pension of £300 a year upon him in addition to his whole or half pay, and directed that all his expenses for the cure of his wounds should be paid and that he should be allowed a year’s wages also which altogether amounted to upwards of £800, as he lay many months at Yarmouth and was attended by surgeon etc from London by the King’s express order.
Two thirds of the Ball and cup of his shoulder bone being shot away by a cannon ball, of which wound he languished (tho’ to appearance healed up, with the loss of the use of his arm) about two years, and died at his house called Ansfield near Hamilton in Scotland. And in regard to his service and gallant behaviour I got his good worthy wife a pension of £100 per annum. He was as honest and as good a man as I ever knew
1 May [1759 or 1760]
Took a lodging at Dolston (Dalston ?) near Hackney and discharged it in October following.