Milbourne Marsh aged 61 in 1770
Daughter – Elizabeth Crisp (ne Marsh) aged 35
Son – Major Francis Milbourne Marsh aged 32
Son – John aged 23 (J.A.M.M.’s Grandfather)
George Marsh aged 48 in 1770
Son – George, Proctor in Commons, aged 21
Son – William, banker, aged 20 (Father-in-Law of Anne Marsh-Caldwell, Grandfather of Lady Mary Heath)
Daughter – Anne, aged 10. Died 1777
George Marsh diary.
Finding the concerns in Florida what I always feared they would prove to be viz a very expensive troublesome disagreeable business, I determined to drop it, for by my carrying on too a correspondence with rougues of agents who were continually drawing alarming bills on me, as the correspondent proprietor under Lord Egmont without assigning any reason for what they drew them, I was made very unhappy.
His Lordship had appointed one Martin Jolly his agent and allowed him £300 per year and Mr Hicks myself had appointed one fellow as ours for our part of the land who went there with his wife to settle at the rate of £50 a year. Lord Egmont’s agent was recommended to him by his apothecary Mr Robert Perreau who said he was his cousin and used to clearing land and making settlements abroad, in this Lord Egmont was confirmed by his brother Daniel Perreau who said he was himself so well acquainted and so good a judge of such business that by a statement on paper he made it appear his Lordship would have an estate there in 5 years worth £3000 a year, and as a prove of what he asserted his brother, the apothecary wished to have 1000 acres of the land as Mr Hicks and I had under his Lordship.
This bate fully answered their purpose and so pleased him that he told me he was sure from this information that we should all get good fortune there very soon, tho’ I never was of that opinion but dreaded the consequence of the undertaking. And I am persuaded the money Lord Egmont’s agent drew on him for, between September 1768 and March 1770 which was upwards of £20,000 came into the hands of the Perreaus or at least a great part of it, for no men in London made a better appearance at Court, and they were both detected some years after in a fraud, and hanged together for it.
With respect to my concern Mr Hicks and myself quitted with a lost of about £1,000 to each of us. And as observed before, what with the weight of this disagreeable concern, the abuse of Mr Henry Stracey, the particulars of which shall follow, and the uneasiness of mind at this time was almost too much to bear, my eldest son too, acted and turned out in his expenses and conduct in a most heart breaking manner. However by the help of God, my own reflections of the uprightness of my own conduct and by the help of constant labour, both of mind and body in my public concerns, I went through it all as well as possible.
To return to Mr Henry Stracey. This man was bred a lawyer and a very sensible able man he was, and when Admiral Bryon went the voyage round the world, he asked me at Lord Egmont’s house at the Admiralty if I could recommend any gentlemen to go with him as his secretary, I replied I could not but would however inquire for one and Mr Ommaney recommended Mr Stracey to me who had been Captain Clevland’s clerk and had acted as his secretary when he was sent on public business to the Emperor of Morroco, and tho’ the Captain had the greatest regard for him, and his Father [John Clevland] was Secretary of the Admiralty at the time, he could not get him a purser’s warrant.
Upon my discoursing Mr Stracey I thought him a very proper fit person for Mr Byron, and recommended him to him accordingly, and signified as the Dolphin had on purser appointed to her, I was sure if he would ask Lord Egmont he would appoint Mr Stracey which would make it worth his while to go such a voyage as secretary and purser too, and he was so appointed, who loaded me with thanks for it. Lord Egmont promised by the King’s command that all the Officers and Petty Officers who went this voyage and who Mr Byron should represent had behaved well and were deserving, should be promoted on their return home, and that the seamen should have double allowance of provisions.
Mr Stracey went the voyage and as the common allowance of provisions was more than the men had expended, Mr Byron having bought at all the places he touched at fresh meat etc etc, Mr Stracey got near £4,000 during the voyage, for I have been told Mr Byron was mean enough to make an agreement with the purser Stracey to share his profits with him and gave him written orders and vouchers for many articles he never bought, and that the latter was so bad a man also, to refuse complying with his agreement, and even to oblige him never the less to recommend him to Lord Egmont as a very worthy man and in every respect deserving of promotion, otherwise he told him he would expose his conduct and report the false vouchers to the Admiralty, and in the public papers, he therefore so recommended him accordingly.
Upon this ship being ordered to go a second voyage Stracey got one Harrison a purser to change with him for duty and to allow him at the rate of £100 a year ’till his return who went the second voyage as purser of the Dolphin with Captain Wallace. When she was returning to England Stracey was very uneasy that no opportunity had offered for him to be promoted, knowing he should be out of employment upon her arrival as she bore no purser then in Ordinary; and through his friend Mr Ommaney he got Mr Bately a purser to write to the Admiralty to quit for Mr Stracey, upon some private agreement between them, who brought the letter to me to give to Earl of Egmont, which I did immediately do, having so great a liking to Stracey that I most earnestly wished to render him my best services, not knowing at the time the detestable part of his character.
When Lord Egmont opened the letter he asked me if I knew the contents, I replied that he had informed me that Mr Bately had applied to quit the Neptune of which he was purser. His Lordship thereupon gave it to me to read observing it was a very improper letter, as it expressed that Mr Bately desired to quit for Mr Stracey and thereby dictating to the Admiralty that they should appoint him. I replied that it was so improper a letter his Lordship should not receive or produce it. Lord Egmont then desired me to give Stracey back the letter observing that he supposed it was a job between the two pursers which I replied it certainly was but submitted it to his Lordship whether it was of any consequence to the public or to him which of them was purser of the Neptune and as he had expressed a desire of promoting Stacey (Stracey ?) and no opportunity had offered before if he might not be served on this occasion.
He answered that what I remarked was very true. Upon returning the letter to Stracey, he immediately went into Hampshire to Mr Bately with it, and wrote another letter to the Admiralty desiring to quit only, and upon my giving it to Lord Egmont he expressed himself much displeased with me more than he had ever done before, indeed he never had been the least displeased with me ’till then, and when I repeated the conversation we had on the former letter he owned he was out of his humour and was sorry he had expressed himself in such an illnatured manner to me, but said he could not do so do as requested and gave me back the letter which I also returned to Mr Stracey and told him what his Lordship had said thereon. Some time after Lord Egmont had quitted the Admiralty, Lord Byron signified to him at Court that he never knew him to fail of his promise but to him in not promoting Mr Stracey his brother’s fury upon which he was positive he had done it, but on his assuring him he had not, he said it must then be the fault of Mr Marsh who was his secretary. When his Lordship told this to Stracey, he was so violent and ungrateful to me, as to abuse me in all the pubic newspapers in various letters, and tho’ I was conscious that not one word of it was true, it nevertheless affected my mind and hurt me very much. He even asserted that all the appointments Lord Egmont had made I was paid for, that I had £1,000 for Mr Davies – when he was appointed agent Victualler at Gibraltar, and that I had been £500 for every Captain he had named for their appointments etc etc.
I therefore insisted upon Lord Egmont’s directing his attorney to draw out affidavits in the strongest manner he could and send to all this persons Stracey had named, and also one for me to make that I never received any money or valuable from any person whatever for any promotion of Lord Egmont’s. His Lordship wished to decline this, arguing that he was quite satisfied the aspersion was false and entirely groundless, but as much abuse on him and one of his sons had been also published in the news papers about selling of places, which I believe was equally groundless, some time before, and he had permitted Stracey into his presence several times after his abuse of me in the news papers, I seemed to think he rather encouraged him therein rather than otherwise, perhaps with a view of taking off this reflection upon him and his son by it resting on me.
Be that as it may I was determined to convince him and the world I was totally innocent of the charge for I thank God avarice or injustice was no part of my character. Those affidavits were therefore made by all the persons Stracey had mentioned and sent to Lord Egmont, with voluntary strong letters of assurance of the villainous falsity of the assertions in every part that had been made in the public news papers. Soon after this Mr Purdy a purser sued Mr Stracey for declaring therein that he gave me for his promotion £200 and when the case was tried before Lord Mansfield in the presence of Lord Egmont Stracey’s Council owned that his client could not prove any part of the charge, he had imprudently made from being disappointed of promotion, and hoped the jury would give a small verdict only.
Whereupon it amounted to £10 only with the cost of suit which might be £100 more. Lord Mansfield declared it was a paltry verdict, but observed to Lord Egmont he could not help it, the jury were low men who could not see the consequences of the charge. After this trial I also intended to prosecute Stracey, on the same affair and gave the necessary directions accordingly, but before the trial came on Lord Egmont died, and Stracey’s Council obtained another trial with Purdy before Lord Mansfield and two other Judges, when it was agreed the words in the news papers were not actionable Lord Mansfield himself pronounced this, so that the former verdict was done away and each party paid his own expenses.
From this wonderful uncertainty of the Law, my Council advised me to drop my prosecution, which I therefore did. Some few years after an account of Stracey’s fell to my lot in my branch of Office to examine and state, in which he claimed some allowance which the Board had refused to make him, judging them of such sort as never had been allowed to others, but in examining several other persons accounts I found their these allowances had been made to persons in cases exactly similar, and stated the same to the Board, who thereupon allowed them and passed his accounts.
My conduct in this business did not fail however of surprising them greatly, as they knew what a scandalous ungrateful manner Stracey had behaved to me, and he himself was equally surprise and astonished when he heard the allowance was made to him from my statement and representation of the case, insomuch . . . that the impression it had made on his mind deprived him for some little time of utterance. When he returned from his voyage he brought me a hogshead of excellent Madeira and was so full of gratitude for my kindness to him he wanted me to accept of it, which I would not do arguing that I was better able to pay for it than he was, but as I much wanted the same I should be very thankful for it, provided he would let me know the cost and expenses thereof, which he did do, and I paid him the same, and had great reason to be very glad after what afterwards followed as before mentioned that I did so. Indeed he was a very sensible and as I thought upon his return from his voyage a very conversable intelligent pleasing man, insomuch that during the Ships going a second voyage I gave him a general invitation in consequence of which he dined with me once or twice every week.
And tho’ from his abominable ungrateful conduct to me afterwards I was determined never more to have any conversation or the least connection with him, but not to do him any injury, on the contrary would render him any service that fell within my circle of action, but never more intended even to speak to him, nor did I, or even see him for some years after I was a Commissioner of the Navy, for when we have reason to drop an old acquaintance, let him have done us ever so much injury, I think it mean and denotes a revengeful spirit to do him the like, it being more blessed to do good for evil, than to render evil for evil.
To my great surprise about 1776 he came to me at the Navy Office when he was dying in a consumption, and after shedding many tears he said he could not be easy in his mind or leave the world without begging my forgiveness for his villainous ungrateful abuse and conduct to me. On observing he was very sensible hereof, and very unhappy from his own reflections thereon, I replied that I had totally forgot and sincerely forgive him for it, and tho’ I would never more have any connection with him I should always be happy to render him any service in my power, as a proof I did not bear in mind the injury he had done to me. He said I had by actions convinced him thereof and then took his leave with blessing me for all my goodness to him, particularly for forgiving him for all his horrid false aspersions of me. In about a fortnight after he called upon me again, and said he was then near his end, but could not go out of the World, without again coming to thank, bless and take his leave of me, and died the following week.
I have been so prolix in this memorandum, because it was a concern that gave me the most uneasiness together with other disagreeable circumstances that at the same time happened viz in March 1770 see the bottom of page 119, that ever I experienced and could safely take an Oath I never received any sum or sums of money for any kind office I have rendered any person whatever during my being at the Admiralty with Earl of Egmont. Even the common presents of wine etc that are often made from one friend to another did not amount for the whole time I was with him to twenty pounds, for indeed covetiousness or the love of money was never any part of my character, having ever had much more pleasure in giving than taking presents, and tho’ I would always get (as in duty bound to my family and relations) as much money as I could, consistent with honour honesty and justice and my own reason and feelings, yet I would not intentionally act contrary thereto for all the money in the world.
I should rather chose to save money by confining my own desires and expenses so much within my income as to be able to assist my relations and friends or those who may be in distress. On the one hand I do not think we should squander our substance in expensive living and pleasure, so on the other we should not be miserably miserly, to save money or debar ourselves of every comfort or pleasure agreeable to our fortune and reason.
With respect to my conduct whilst with Lord Egmont at the Admiralty, I can reflect thereon with pleasure, but am convinced the only part of it, in which I have been wrong is by holding myself too cheap to all my acquaintance, from a good tho’ imprudent motive, of showing I was not lifted up with pride in that exalted powerful situation in rendering them service. I ever had the utmost pleasure in rendering kind offices and in making others happy, but was the time to come over again, I have seen the folly of such a conduct in being too easy of access, and therefore in such a situation that should not be the case again tho’ I would always do all the service I could but would never make myself so cheap to discourse with them upon their respective affairs.
17 December 1770
I was this day appointed a Commissioner of Sewers before which I was chosen one of the Commissioners of Turnpikes on the Kent Road, and was inserted in commission of the Peace for Kent and Surrey.
Elizabeth Marsh at Chatham with her father Milbourne Marsh
Elizabeth’s husband became bankrupt and she was left at home with Milbourne in Chatham where she wrote “The Female Captive” about her time in Morocco. Later she went with her daughter to India to meet up with her husband, leaving her son, Burrish behind. However in 1771 her daughter was sent back and her son Burrish was shipped to India with Milbourne paying the cost of £80. However, the ship’s chief mate ran off with that money so Milbourne had to pay out another £50 for the passage. Burrish arrived in Madras in 1772 in a not very good state, and then was sent off with a merchant to Tehran for a few years to learn Persian which was the official language of the East India Company and the of the Mughal court.
Diary of George Marsh
4 October 1772
This day Lord Sandwich [John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, 1718-1792] told me the King had been pleased to order me to be appointed a Commissioner of the Navy in the room of Thomas Hanway Esq deceased of which his Lordship gave me joy and professed great respect for me, and made many very flattering compliments to me on the occasion.
8 October 1772
Wrote to the Secretary of the Admiralty to quit my employment as Comptroller of the Office for receiving B & Man & Month from all seamen employed in the Merchants service for the support of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich, which I could not properly hold as a Commissioner of the Navy.
10 October 1772
This morning I received the Admiralty order for my taking my seat at the Navy Board and for inspecting the books and papers there previous to the passing my Patent.
I waited upon Lord Chancellor Bathurst [Henry Bathurst, 2nd Earl Bathurst, 1714-1794] who had been on many occasions very kind to me, and expressed great pleasure on my promotion, and desired he might have the honour to present me at Court to the King.
13 October 1772
Took my seat at the Navy Board.
14 October 1772
Went to the King’s Levee [King George III], and as Lord Chancellor was not there in time to present me to His Majesty, Lord Bruce [Thomas Brudenell-Bruce, 1st Earl of Ailesbury 1729-1814] the Lord in waiting did it, and after kissing His Majesty;s hand, he asked me how long I had been in the Navy, and observed tho’ a young man (I was then 49) I was an old Officer, and he was glad he had got so good a one.
15 October 1772
At the Queen’s drawing room and was presented to Her Majesty [Queen Charlotte] by Lord Delawar [John West, 2nd Earl De La Warr 1729-1777] and kissed Her Majesty’s hand.
3 November 1772
Delivered my patent to the Navy Board and began business there by signing the letter warrants etc etc.
17 November 1772
Mrs Elizabeth Ray came to live in my family.
14 December 1772
Removed from my house at the Victualling Office to that at the Navy Office.
17 June 1773
Set out with the Hon. Mr Bateman for Portsmouth to meet the rest of the Navy Board, in order to attend the King there.
22 June 1773
The King came to Portsmouth. See the particulars together with the expense, so far as the Navy Board was concerned in it, in a marvel covered quire of paper among my other Naval papers.
26 June 1773
The King returned to London. All the time he was in Portsmouth yard he expressed great pleasure and satisfaction. He directed me to attend him every morning early, for he would not go out of the Commissioner’s house ’till I got to it which was generally about 5 o’clock, observing frequently to me, that he perceived I was well acquainted with all the affairs of a dock yard etc etc
26 June 1773
This morning Mr Stephens the Secretary of the Admiralty informed me that Lord Sandwich had signified to him, it was the King’s command, I should be appointed to the branch of Clerk of the Acts of the Navy, in the room of Edmund Mason Esq deceased, who was supposed with many other gentlemen to have been poisoned, by something in their wine or food they drank and eat unfortunately, at a dinner at Salt Hill.
This appointment very much surprised me, as I had not been consulted at all about it. The King thought it was promotion for me, and Lord Sandwich hinted it was so, and that he much wished it. I was therefore obliged to accept the same accordingly tho’ it is a branch of the most labour and confinement at the Board, from which the Clerk of the Acts should never be absent when the rest of the Board are sitting not only to consult with them and give his opinion on all cases or applications that comes before them, but to make dayly minutes and keep a regular register thereof, which from the great increased Navy is now every day, at least during War, and generally five days in every week in time of Peace.
This branch is attended with no increase of income, and in the branch I had before as Comptroller of the Victualling Account of the Navy, I might or not, attend the Board every day, just as suites my will or convenience. A little empty honour indeed was gained by it as the leader of the business and first branch in rank of the Clerk Comm, as the Comptroller, Surveyor and Clerk of the Acts branches make them the three first Commissioners, and sign all papers first accordingly, and have the principal share in conducting and executing the Duty of the Navy Board, and were originally entitled the Principle Officers and Commissioners of the Navy, but since more Commissioners have been added, the title of the Board is so.
5 July 1773
Took my seat at the Navy Board as Clerk of the Acts, at the right hand of the Comptroller who sits as Chairman at the head of the Board, the Surveyor at his left hand, and all the other Commissioners as they are named in the Patent, in which order they sign all papers The assistant to the Clerk of the Acts commonly called the Secretary sits at the bottom of the table.
Bought the lease of my house in Dartmouth Row for £695 upon which I have laid out upwards of £500 but could not find an heir to it ’till 1780, and tho’ I had the money ready to pay for it at my Bankers, I was obliged to pay £4 per cent interest for the whole sum for that time.
18 February 1776
Mr Suckling [Captain Maurice Suckling, 1726-1778, Controller of the Navy] and myself attended a Council held at the Admiralty in Lord Sandwich’s room from 6 to 11 o’clock this evening respecting the taking up foreign ships for transports, to carry foreign troops to America, as none were to be now got in England there being at this time upwards of one hundred and thirty eight thousand tons of English ships employed as such.
Lord North [Prime Minister, Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford 1732-1792],
Sir Hugh Paliser [Lord of the Admiralty, Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser, 1st Baronet 1723-1796],
Mr Robinson, Secretary of the Treasury [John Robinson 1727-1802],
Lord Weymouth [Thomas Thynne, 1st Marquess of Bath, 3rd Viscount Weymouth, 1734-1796],
Mr Suckling [Controller of the Navy, Captain Maurice Suckling, 1726-1778],
Lord Dartmouth [William Legge 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, 1731-1801],
Sir Jn Williams [Surveyor of the Navy, Sir John Williams],
Lord George Germain [George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville, 1716-1785],
Mr Marsh [George Marsh the writer of the diary],
Lord Sandwich [First Lord of the Admiralty, John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, 1718-1792].
And after much consideration and conversation it was agreed at 20 or 30 thousand tons more were wanted to carry about 16,000 German troops to America, that the King had a power to hire Foreign ships for his own service, and that a Commissioner of the Navy should be sent abroad for this purpose and take one of the Principal Officers of Deptford yard with him to be sent to Amsterdam, and proceed himself to Hamburgh
21 February 1776
Commissioner Palmer was therefore sent for by the Navy Board to proceed on this service he being at this time on a visit to his father in the country. Soon after he came to town, Lord Sandwich sent to speak to me this 23rd February 1776, and said he had a favour to beg of me, which was to put an old servant of his into employment which I promised to do, but he said that was not the only favour he wanted of me and added if it was not particularly inconvenient and disagreeable to me, he knowed the King would chuse me to go to Hamburgh on this important service, and I should also very much oblige himself if I would go there thereon, arguing that Mr Brett [Charles Brett 1715-1799] was too fat and heavy to undertake such a journey, and Mr Palmer was too young and not so proper a person for it.
I therefore immediately understood they had been both making there interest with him to get off from such hazardous, disagreeable business. This request struck me with great surprise, not having the least idea from the Branch I held at the Navy Board of being ever sent from it, being by my patent directed to be always present with the body of the Board that is to say with the Comptroller and Surveyor, which I observed to his Lordship, who said that was very true, but I knew as well as he did, that he had a power to alter the patent when he pleased but that he would do nothing contrary to me, upon any account whatever.
I therefore plainly saw I must go, for as to what he said of the King I was sensible that was deceit. I then observed that as I found it was his Lordship’s pleasure that I should go, I would tho’ very disagreeable and very inconvenient to me as married and had a family . . . . . . . . and as he wished me to set out as soon as possible I got ready and set off for Harwich this day (27th February 1776). Note we had such heavy falls of snow between December last and this time attended with very hard frosts, that even the roads in many parts of England were not passable, insomuch that at the latter end of January they were obliged to cut a large hole through the snow at the foot of Shooter’s Hill for the stage coaches, it was so wonderfully risen in that spot by drifting there.
Got to Harwich with my son George who went with me as my secretary, about 8 o’clock after a very disagreeable and dangerous journey from the causes aforementioned. Soon after Mr Jonas Hanway who was a Commissioner of the Victualling joined me to go to Hamburgh to provide provisions for the Foreign Troops going to America together with Mr Tovery a Shipwright Officer ordered to attend me to survey and report the condition of the ships I might hire with Mr Jennings a clerk in the Victualling Office to attend Mr Hanway. Mr Butt, Clerk of the Survey at Deptford was also there to go to Amsterdam and follow my orders.
We found at Harwich that one of the Princes of Hess Castle had hired the Packet for himself and friends but upon my writing to him representing who we were and the business we were going upon, he very politely came to us to the Inn, and desired we would go with him in the packet, my carriage and Mr Hanway’s were immediately sent on board her, and we sailed for and arrived at Helvoetsluys the next morning the 28th of February 1776 after meeting with great kindness and many civilities from the Prince and an invitation to his house at Amsterdam, he being in the Dutch Service. We did not however go there but made the most haste we could to get to Hamburgh. The particulars of this journey etc see in a journal of it, written from my minutes by my very much esteemed friend the Rev Henry Swann which is with my other papers.
10th March 1776
Arrived at Hamburgh after the most disagreeable and dangerous a journey as I could possibly have had, Holland and the whole country from it being so overflowed with the melting of the snow and the river breaking over the banks and afterwards freezing.
After surmounting many difficulties and an infinite deal of trouble I accomplished the business I was sent upon and may be more fully seen in the journal aforementioned. I set off this day (26th May 1776) with my son, and Mr Tovery and Jennings in another carriage for Calais. Note Mr Hanway thought proper to continue longer at Hamburgh and take a tour of pleasure through Germany, so that he did not arrive in London for three months after me, and put the public as I thought to a very improper expense, tho’ in his general conduct, no man thought or acted better.
I crossed the Elbe and laid at Harburgh this night.
27th May 1776
Proceeded through the following places from thence to Calais viz
Zarendorff, Osnaberg, Rosamond, Burcan,
Wickendorf, Langerish, Massick, Halle,
Zell, Munster, Bekham, Enghim,
Enganven, Dulmen, Tonjen, Ash,
Hanover, Burbaum, St.Arnd, Leuze,
Hozenburgh, Wasol, Tralemond, Tournay,
Dupenau, Goldern, Louvain, Pont St.Tressin,
Bohlme, Tolgern, Brussels, Lyle,
Armentia, Baillard, Mount Cassell
St Omers, Ala, Recourse, Andres and Calais.
4 June 1776
Arrived at Calais this day, sold one of my carriages and hired a packet boat for Dover, and gave leave to a great number of persons to have a passage with me in her. Sailed from thence about noon and arrived at Dover between 9 and 10 o’clock this night and went to the sign of the ship, but could not proceed from thence ’till my baggage was examined by the Custom house Officers who were all making merry with the Mayor and Corporation it being the King’s birthday.
I therefore wrote a note to the Mayor saying who I was, and the business I had been upon, and desired he would not suffer me to be detained, but order them to the sign off the ship to examine the same, who happened to be an acquaintance of mine and therefore immediately came himself with all his company two and two with the mace carrying before him, all so drunk with the hind part of their wigs before, that I never saw a more laughable site. At their request I gave them a large bowl of strong arrack punch, drank the King’s and their healths and set off in a post chaises from Dover at 2 o’clock this morning (5 June 1776).
Note I had £70 pounds worth of Dresden china and about £40 worth of linen with me which I bought at Hamburgh not knowing it was seizable which I packed up myself in a very large trunk in the fore part of the carriage, but on finding it was so, I have me servant two guineas to give the Custom house Officers not to be too nice in their examination, so that they only opened the trunks and wished me a good journey to London as well as men quite drunk could speak.
5 June 1774
Got home to the Navy Office by 3 o’clock this day to the great surprise but joy of my dear wife and family after the most perilous fatiguing journey it was possible to have had. Of my preservation I was truly sensible and thankful, as well as for the good health I was blessed with during the same.
6 June 1774
Waited upon the King, Lord Chancellor Bathurst and Lord Sandwich. His Majesty said he was glad to see me safe back to England after so bad a journey as I must have had, at such an uncommon severe season. Lord Chancellor desired me to dine with him which I did do and observed I had executed the business quite to the satisfaction of the Ministry. Lord Sandwich was also pleased to express the utmost satisfaction with all I had done, having hired and caused to be properly fitted and victualled thirty four thousand tons of shipping to carry to America seventeen thousand foreign troops there at the expense of upwards of £200,000, who all arrived there in perfect health.
In this journey I got nothing but repayment of all my expenses. Had my Earl of Egmont been alive or Lord Sandwich had been my particular friends, I should no doubt have had some great distinguished reward. The American War was no doubt a very unhappy business, but I had nothing to do with that but as an individual, I was sorry for it, or that Government judged it necessary.
6 June 1776
Removed my family to my house in Dartmouth Row, Blackheath for the summer.
Milbourne’s wife Elizabeth died at Chatham in 1776 and later Milbourne married a younger woman, Katherine Soan in December although he was in a very declining state. He revised his will and left property to the value of £5000. He provided for his new wife by leaving her all the linen, china, plate and household goods and furniture in the naval house in Chatham while buying a house nearby in Rochester for her to live in. He also left her £700 of consols. He left his eldest son Major Francis Milbourne Marsh the interest in £900 consols of government stock and forgave John Marsh the bulk of the debt owed. Elizabeth was to receive nothing so that it would not end up in the hands of her bankrupted husband, or his creditors, instead leaving £300 to her daughter, Elizabeth Maria. His daughter Elizabeth had come back from India at this time and they do not appear to have been getting on according to the letter he wrote to his brother George. He died soon after on 17 May 1779
George Marsh diary
11th August 1777
My dearest daughter [Anne Marsh, 1760-1777] died this day of a consumption in the 18th year of her age, who was as pretty a figure and as genteel a person as I ever saw, but above all she was well accomplished and of a sweet sensible engaging good disposition.
Nothing material happened to me or mine since August 1777, I only experienced great difficulty in my situation to keep clear of disagreeing with my brother Commissioner (contention being my mortal aversion) and where 7 or 8 gentlemen are connected together with equal power that is no easy thing to do, for as being the leader and recorder of all the transactions of the Board, and constantly there myself, nothing is more easy or common for those who come and go from the Office when and as they please to find fault and be zealous of him or them who conduct the business.
22 April 1778
Set off with Mr Hunt [Edward Hunt] the Surveyor of the Navy to Chatham to attend the King there.
25 April 1778
His Majesty arrived at Chatham from the Augusta yacht this day, and viewed the several storehouses in the dockyard, then returned on board the yacht and sailed back to Greenwich, being viewed Sheerness in his way.
28th June 1778
I set of from London for Portsmouth.
2 May 1778
The King and Queen came to Portsmouth and visiting the Fleet at Spithead which was a beautiful sight the sea being covered with vessels and yachts full of various colours. After visiting the Fleet and sailing round all the ships at Spithead viewing the dock yard, Victualling Office, Ordnance, the Garrison and lines their Majesties returned to London from the Commissioner’s house the 9th instant.
During these different attendances Their Majesties did me the honour to ask me many questions and talked a great deal to me. The King said he was sensible how much duty I had to do, and the great confinement and constant attendance of my branch and was pleased to add many civil expressions to me on the occasion.
His Majesty put an old Lady under my care soon after his arrival at Portsmouth to show her the yard and Garrison etc and as it proved a fine day&ldots;the King and Queen went to Spithead and I took her under my charge from His Majesty and ordered a barge to carry us to the Garrison but just before we got there, Spithead opening to us and all the Fleet and vessels of every kind so ornamented as struck the Lady with the utmost but agreeable surprise who was called Madame Heron, she had another Lady with her as attendant. Perceiving how much they were both pleased with the sight, I asked Madam Heron if she would go to Spithead and see the Fleet, she replied if I thought there was no danger she should be glad to go there.
Whereupon I ordered one of the sailing vessels to be sent to me from the dock yard, and ham cold chicken bakes wine coffee and tea etc to be sent to me from my lodging and proceeded there accordingly, but as the wind began to blow fresh I was afraid my charge might get cold I therefore put a rough great coat over her and as we sailed by the yacht the King and Queen were in, the Queen saw her and pulled the King to show her to him when they both shook their hands and appeared as well as the old lady very much pleased.
After sailing through the Fleet I carried her to Portsmouth Garrison and from thence to the Commissioner’s house in the dock yard, for which she was remarkably thankful. When the Queen came on shore up to the Commissioner house. The Lord in waiting, nor none of the Navy Board but myself were there to received her from the coach, I was at a loss what to do, but immediately hold up my elbow which she put her hand upon and turned round as soon as she was out of it, made a curtsey and thanked me for my care and kindness to her good old lady.
Madame Heron invited me strongly to visit her and dine with her at Court on my return to London, but I never did. Perhaps it would have been right and that I should have made the most of this event and powerful interest, for promotion or honour, but I was not of the turn of mind to make the most of it being also quite contented with my situation, and upon reflection and very doubtful whether, if I could attain either, or both, it would increase my happiness, and whether a greater income might not lead me into connections that might be destructive to my health and my composed comfortable manner of living, for although I was and am sensible it is the duty of every man to obtain all possible wealth and honour in the situation providence had placed him, consistent with honesty and prudence, a duty to his family and friends, yet I did not chose to run the risque of losing my present happiness, by the gain thereof, and time and experience has justified that idea, and I am well pleased that I have declined both honour and higher employment, which I was offered and could have attained through the interest of my hearty friend the Earl of Bristol who had power at a certain time of promoting me into a very exalted station and pressed me much to accept it, which he was sure from his recommendation and the King’s knowledge of me I should succeed to, and even gave me two days to consider of when for the reasons before mentioned I had fortitude enough to resist the same.
For I was always afraid of great connections which most probably would lead me into the fashionable expensive destructive habits and manner of living, destroy my health and peace of mind. I was well acquainted with the business I was at the head of, which I have ever endeavoured to leave when death should happen to me, properly kept up and executed as a pattern for my successor, and for the public service, in which every man should conduct himself in his different employment, as if he was to hold it and live for ever, whereas too many care not what may happen after their time, but with respect to our own existence we should so conduct ourselves as if we were to die in a few hours, and therefore be always prepared for it.
Diary of George Marsh
His (George Marsh b. 1683) eldest son Milbourne (1709-1779) left two sons and a daughter, Francis Milbourne Marsh (1738-1785), his eldest died Major of the 90th Regiment of Foot was a sensible man and a good scholar. His second son John (1747-1823) was many years his Majesty’s consul at Malaga, he was afterwards at the breaking out of the war with Spain in the year 1779, appointed Agent for the Navy Board at Cork for the examining of all the provisions shipped from thence for our armies abroad, and in every situation in which he served he conducted himself and transacted his business in such an exemplary manner as gained him many friends, and great honour to himself and family, as will appear by an extract from a letter written in Cypher dated Gibraltar, 9th July 1778 from Lord Heathfield [Gen George Augustus Eliott 1st Baron Heathfield 1717-1790] to Lord Viscount Weymouth [Thomas Thynne, 1st Marquess of Bath, 3rd Viscount Weymouth, 1734-1796 ], then Secretary of State, taken from the original and bound up with his official correspondence (See letter, pages 44-58).
Extract of a letter written in Cypher and dated Gibraltar 9th July 1778 from the deceased Lord Heathfield to Lord Viscount Weymouth, taken from the original, and bound up with his official correspondence to the Secretary of State.
“I have all this from Consul Marsh. I must entreat your Lordships forgiveness once more, reminding you of his unremitted zeal, and very material exertions for His Majesty’s Service, which I hope will appear to you in such a light as may obtain for him some mark of the Royal favour.”
Copy of a letter from General Elliot to Mr Marsh dated Gibraltar 6th Sept 1779
“Dear Sir, I wish you safe in England with all health and happiness and shall always esteem
myself fortunate to be again connected in business with a gentleman who has the Public Service so much at heart. You know my opinion of Ministerial favours, they are never obtained unless the candidate has it in his power to command them by his capacity and diligence. I will therefore not despair, but hope to find my earnest wishes may be attended with success. I suppose the enemy means to make a trial of our strength, they do go on, but in truth Poco a Poco.
I have the honor to be
Letter Milb Marsh to George Marsh – 11 Feb 1779
My dear Brother,
I have been so ill as not able to you since my last. I now understand the £60 you mentioned was part of the £200 I desired you to advance Mrs Crisp. I was afraid she wanted £60 more, which I will never advance a penny more to her, for had it been £600 instead of £60 she would a gott it all if she could, and not even left me a shilling to pay for the Victualling dept, or buried me, so much of her Husband’s principals has she imbued. I have altered my will and took from what I had left the girl as much as will pay my depts. Indeed brother she has gave me great uneasiness and wish she had not come home. It will be necessary to give her a hint, that should she get Frank Marsh, or anybody else at Portsmouth to advance her any money just before she sails (as she did Mr Ommany when she went out) that I will not answer any bill she may draw on me. I will know my dear brother you will do for me as if it was for your self. God bless you.
Note on envelope by William Marsh – Paper relating to my Uncle and his son Major Marsh’s affairs and the Copy of the Will of the latter
Letter from Mrs E. Crisp (Elizabeth Marsh) to her Uncle George Marsh (1722-1800)
Weevil 7 April 1779 returns thanks for kindness.
My Dear Sir
Weevil 7 April
We arrived here yesterday about six o’clock in the evening – our journey was pleasant and easy thanks to your kind care and advice. We have received a friendly welcome from Cousin Frank and wife, who have made many enquiries after yourself and my dear Aunt, who I hope is much better than when we left her. We wished to have taken a more particular leave of her, yet perhaps it may be better we did not, as our spirits were greatly agitated. I have much to thank her for: the tender regard she had always showed to my Poor Girl will ever be remembered with the highest gratitude, as well as all your kind and affectionate assistance; indeed my dear Uncle, I have not words to express all I wish and have no other way of ever making you the smallest return, buy by everlasting love and duty.
Bettsy is now entertaining the family at the Spinet, which was got nearly for her and a very great advantage. She sends her dear Aunt Marsh her love and a thousand good wishes for a return of health and spirits, do add mine to her also, with the same to yourself, and kindest remembrance to our cousins, being always my dear sir
Your affectionate and
If you see Mr Morrison please to give our loves to him and Aunt Duvell, I will write them tomorrow.
I beg leave to remind you of letters you said you believed you could get for Burry to Mr Weeller and Mr Francis of Bengal, Supreme Councellers.
He died on 17 May 1779 (or14 October 1779 – May seems more likely)
Katherine Marsh, his widow, moved to the house at St.Margarets Bank and a full inventory of the house was done at this time. This may have been to do with Milbourne’s will as, while providing for her, he intended his estate to go to his sons and his granddaughter eventually
Memorandum (from George Marsh). When my Brother died viz 17 May 1779 he had £2000 in the o&C consuls £900 of which he gave Major Marsh, £700 K Marsh to receive the Interest of the £700 only for her life and the remaining £400 was sold agreeable to his Will to pay his Victualling Office and all other his debts. He left his house and goods as / and the inventory herewith to his widow Kath Marsh for her life, then to be sold and divided between his sons the Major, John Marsh and his Niece Maria Crisp. The Residue of his effects he left to his said widow.
19 June 1779. Mr Mathers account of my Brother’s account with the Victualling Board and that he left the Balance in Mrs K Marsh’s hands to pay to the Victualling Board. All settled.
On His Majesty’s Service
George Marsh Esq.
Commissioner of His Majesty’s Navy
Letter Mrs E. Crisp account for baggage. Received 2 June 1779 to her Uncle George Marsh (1722-1800).
My Dear Uncle,
I beg to mention a circumstance which is – that you will please to give a line to Mr E.Husher, His Captain or Mr Cuthbert by their ships, respecting our going in the store ships. They may have thoughts of sending to Bengal a vessel for stock stores etc about the time we may arrive, or a little sooner, when they might postpone it, on account of giving us a passage to Bengal, provided they are acquainted with our coming. The common Country ships are very rotten and dangerous, many accidents frequently happen, and all the India Men will have left Madras. But this is only my thoughts. You will be the best judge if such letters are necessary. Many thanks for those letters already received. Betty’s love and duty to Aunt and yourself. Please to accept mine also, and believe
My Dear Sir
Your most affectionate
And Obliged Niece
Ps And had the pleasure of a visit from Mr Swan yesterday.
Letter John Matthews presumably to George Marsh (1722-1800)
Rochester Vict Office 19 June 1779
This day were honored with yours, And am to inform you a letter from the Board to Mr Slade acquainting him an Impost Bill was made out in his name, in consequence this day I received directions from the Agent to pay the Office on Monday next and draw on him for the same, being £395.2.4. According will pay Mr Marsh £52 deducting 1 / 6 in the pound.
The Account of money received by the late Agent from 1st April last
To Balance from last Quarter £104.4.0/a
Ap-to an Impost Bill for Meal £120.0.0
Money paid before the Death of the late Agent —
5 April Mr Wilson for land, house, window, timber £7.9.1/2
Db Richard Bristow for ½ years quite rent £2.10.0
Db George Day for hire of his Vessels and Board and Order £12.0.0
8th James Green for Meal £120.0.0
6th- May George Day for hire of his Vessels £12.0.0
7th Thomas Tomlyn one years rent for G Marsh £5.0.0
Remains in hand of Mr Marsh £65.5.2 ¾
Postage of Letters not yet settled.
I shall pay due regard to your very obliging advice and send the Account to the Board when made out, advising you of the same.
I have paid due respect to Mr Slade with everything transacted.
This afternoon I loaded Mr Buller with empty cask for London, on her return to bring back the Agents furniture, as well put on board your chest, marble slab and frame. Dining and card table with the draft of Mahone who will sail tomorrow morning.
I am with the greatest respect,
Your most Obt most humble servant
John Marsh (Son of Milbourne Marsh, and Grandfather of J.A.M.M.)
Copy of General Elliot’ letter to Lord Viscount Weymouth dated Gibraltar 6th September 1779
Consul Marsh (John Marsh 1747-1823) having left Malaga on this occasion and proposing to go from Lisbon to London desires me to give him an introductory letter to your Lordship as the person I have so frequently mentioned in my letters, and to whom (on behalf of the public) I have been so much indebted for the most authentic and essential information wherever his Majesty’s Service was concerned; I will therefore presume to recommend him to your Lordships protection as a gentleman who not only has, but may be extremely serviceable where business requires exertion and abilities.
I am my Lord etc
Letter Mrs E. Crisp (Elizabeth Marsh) to her uncle George Marsh (1722-1800)
5 Nov 1779 upon her leaving London to proceed for Portsmouth. (Seems out of sequence as she seemed to be leaving in early April)
My Dear Sir,
The general opinion has been that we must set off for Portsmouth this morning. I have so much to say to you, that have not words to express myself as I –, indeed you will be so kind to – any defects in one at the present my mind being greatly agitated. I parted last night from two dearly beloved brothers and your two dear sons. I dread the chaise coming to the door, poor Betty, but we are too much distressed not to see you, and Parent, Uncle, friend; and prayers shall ever be offered up to the best of beings for your preservation and happiness. Please to embrace our Aunt Marsh for us and assure her with our kindest love that her affectionate attention to us will always be most tenderly and gratefully remembered. Should money which I am acquainted with, arrive before I reach India, you will please to make, dear Mr Morrisons little ones some present that you may think proper, our obligations to him can never be repaid. As also to settle with Frank Marsh, should I find (please Got I get safe) that remittance should not have been made, through any accident whatever, depend it shall be immediately done. Till such time I am quite certain Frank Marsh will not hear of payment. His friendship to us has been most particular. The Mentan Maker could not tell me when she fitted Betty, gown last night what her bill will be, but thinks about four pounds, the stay maker is to bring one pt of stays for her and a stomacher for me, which is all I owe. The streamer? I paid last night. These articles you will please to pay. Tea and some sugar I must get at Portsmouth. The Carriage of my things from here will be very heavy indeed but we cannot help it. I hope I shall be able to receive the letters you kindly said you would write. My cousin Billy is to forward you of one to Mr Swan. I shall write you as soon as I get down. Farewell my dear Uncle. May every good angel (spelt Angle) guard you – your affectionate and ever obliged Niece
Betty’s love and duty. I shall pay the Black girl’s board.