Pall Mall, 26th April 1783
The Duke of Portland [William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland,1738-1809] received yesterday your letter of the 11th instant, together with a copy of that which you had before written to Mr.Rose.
I have his Grace’s commands to inform you that he is not unacquainted with the Honourable and essential services which you have rendered to the public, in your present department, and to assure you that it is not his intention to confine the acknowledgement of those services to words only.
His Grace conceives that your abilities may be more usefully employed than in the Consulship of Malaga, and I have his orders to say that he hopes to find some early opportunity of employing those abilities in such a manner as to reconcile a reward for the part with the securing your futures services to the public. This is what I have had in command and it is a great satisfaction to me that in obeying it, I express myself to a gentleman for whose public and private character, I have a very high, because it is a very just, respect.
I have the honour to be Sir
Your most obedient and very humble servant
Signed Richard Burke
John Marsh HYPERLINK “http://www.jjhc.info/marshjohn1823.htm”Esq.
Letter of 1790.
Bedford Row, 19th March 1790.
As the Commission of American Claims expires on the 25th instant, I take the liberty of acquainting you that Mr Marsh, one of the Commissioners who has been in it from it’s first institution in 1783, will then be without any employ and without any provision whatsoever, and when I have related the peculiar situation as well as long and important services of this gentleman, I flatter myself you will not think it officious in me to have submitted them to your consideration.
In July 1783, then an entire stranger to Lord John Cavendish [1732-1796], then Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr Marsh was appointed a Commissioner of American Claims, and tho’ his character and merit are too high and too well known to require any representation from me, yet I cannot forbear, on this occasion, giving my testimony and opinion of his service in this Commission for seven years, namely that they have been those of exerting the most useful talents, the most unwearied diligence and the most exemplary integrity and zeal for the Public, in a trust of the most delicate and arduous nature.
I have the honor to be Etc
Rt.Hon HYPERLINK “http://www.jjhc.info/MarshGeorge1800WilliamPitt.htm” William Pitt [1759-1806] etc etc.
1 April 1784
My dear wife [Ann Marsh nee Long, 1720-1784] died between 10 and 11 o’clock this morning after a long dropsical illness. We have been married thirty five years, and never had a separate purse or separate interest in any of our concerns, who was a very nice affectionate woman.
27th October 1785
My dear son William was married this day Thursday to Miss Amelia Cuthbert at St. Mary L’bone Chapel
Her father, sister, her uncles Alexander Cuthbert and Colonel Hopkins, Miss Dove and myself. Her father gave her £40,000 of which £10,000 he desired might be settled upon her, but my son desired to make it £15,000 which he settled upon her accordingly. At this time his fortune and income were equal to hers, so that if riches will produce happiness they have a very large share to begin the world with, and the greatest prospect of it.
We returned to Mr Cuthbert’s house in Berner Street where we met Mrs Hopkins Mr Cuthbert’s mother-in-law, my son George, Mr John Marsh and his wife, and proceeded from thence to Mr Cuthbert’s house called Woodcott Park near Epsom and spent several days together.
27 January 1786
This day I am 63 years of age, and bless God in perfect health, and as cheerful and happy, as perhaps it is possible for a human being to be. Although at times I have been very uneasy in my mind on account of the bad conduct of my eldest son, but in general have been well enabled to keep up cheerful spirits, from my reflections on my own conduct to him and all persons with whom I have had any connections.
18 July 1786
My dear grandson Arthur Cuthbert Marsh was born this day.
29 August 1786
We finished business at the Navy Office in Crutched Fryers and removed all the books and papers to that at Somerset place in the Strand, and took possession thereof this day.
20th January 1788
Mr Cuthbert died this night and left his brother myself my son William, Mr John Marsh and Mr James Morrison his executors and £500 to each of us.
21 December 1788
My dear grand daughter Amelia Marsh was born this day.
30th May 1789
Mr Josa Thomas my assistant commonly called Secretary of the Navy Board died who was a vary able but corrupt bad principled man. Just before his death Sir Charles Middleton acquainted me (who was then the Comptroller of the Navy) that Lord Chatham desired not, to have any recommendation from the Navy Board and myself in particular, as had ever been usual, for a person to succeed to that appointment, who it is always mentioned in the letter from the Navy Board to the Admiralty is approved of by the Clerk of the Acts who also joins with the other members of the Navy Board in the recommendation by signing the letter and applies too personally for the person so recommended.
However as Sir Charles had delivered this message to me, I did not apply immediately to the Navy Board to join in writing a letter to the Admiralty to recommend Mr John Margetson my head clerk for this appointment, which they would have most readily have done, as they approved of him as well as myself. But in the course of the same week I reflected upon this affair and thought it extraordinary that Lord Chatham should send such a message to me and therefore waited upon his Lordship, who told me he had not sent such a message, but that Sir Charles had requested of him not to appoint any person immediately to succeed Mr Thomas, whereupon I recommended Mr Margetson as the properest person for that employment in which the Board also joined me, but his Lordship desired it might rest ’till some Naval arrangement then before the Council should be settled.
Soon after this a person named Ramsay [James Ramsey 1733-1789] died at Sir Charles Middleton’s house who was said to be a Methodist parson, who it was also said Sir Charles wished very much to have this appointment, but be that as it may it was not made ’till 28th December 1789, when Mr Ambrose Serle [1742-1812] produced his Warrant to me, and said Lord Chatham particularly directed him to follow my orders. I replied to Mr Serle that I was very sorry for his appointment, for if I could have had my wish my first clerk should have had it, but as superior interest had prevailed, I would nevertheless give him every information and rendering him my utmost assistance in the business of the Office and dayly advice for his conduct in the execution of it (for I conceived he was no way to blame to endeavour to obtain so valuable tho’ very laborious confined an employment.) This very uncommon appointment was brought about by the very great interest of Sir Charles who artfully got the Earl of Dartmouth to ask Lord Chatham for it, for Mr Serle (who was said to be a Methodist) so that it might not appear to be done by him.
When Sir Charles was appointed Comptroller of the Navy which some misinformed people suppose for want of knowing the Navy Board’s instructions that form the words Comptroller of the Navy, that he is Comptroller of the Navy Board, which is not the case, they each member having a power to Comptroll him in any business he may want to contrary to their opinion or the public interest or service, for neither himself or any other of the Board can give any order but such must be signed by three members of the Board, and if they disagree on any business it is to be executed by the order of the majority of the members of the Board. Of late years the people in power have however looked upon the Comptroller only, as the head and even director of all business at the Board, not only to the great prejudice of the public, but also of the King’s Service, for instead of a checque upon him, he takes upon him in consequence of his being so noticed to order whatever expenses he thinks proper, tho’ ever so contrary to the most excellent instructions of the Navy Board. In short I have known those who would have sold the Navy if they could have done it, without detection. How imprudent is it therefore, to encourage such a power in any one member of the Board, to make private contracts and have the principal power in disposing of two or three million of money every year in the civil department of the Navy, and that too by one member of it, that knows the least of the business thereof, and in general Captains in the Navy are the most unfit persons to be members of the Navy Board, as they know nothing of the civil department and are too, from their education and habits, very absolute and consequential, this was Sir Charles’s case who made all the knowledge he got from others his own
so that he was deemed by people in power the best and most able Commissioner of the Navy Board who was also thought to be an excellent servant and economist to the public, and so he was in all matters that did not concern himself or friends but for these purposes he was very extravagant of the public money and went unbounded lengths with it.
People in power found it very convenient, however, to support his, for it is a much easier matter to get a contract or great allowances for their friends or doing an improper irregular thing through one member of the Board, than by three. In short he was of the consequence to them he got created a Bart and chosen Member of Parliament for the City of Rochester, and first Commissioner of the Land Revenue Office, in addition to his appointment as Comptroller of Navy, and has also got appointed a Rear Admiral tho’ he never served much at sea.
Notwithstanding his ill treatment to me, he was sensible that most of his Naval knowledge he had from me, as well as various important accounts all which as before mentioned he made his own, but was so ungrateful after about four years great intimacy and to appearance friendship, he was base enough to privately insinuate to Lord Chatham the whole business was conducted by him few of the other members ever attended, and that tho’ I was well acquainted with it in all its branches, yet I did not care to give myself any trouble about business.
If I had been possessed of proper spirit, I could and indeed ought to have opposed many of his actions, but by nature I could never bear contention, for if I ever had the least difference with any person, I was unhappy ’till we were reconciled, but upon his conduct to me in many cases particularly with regard to my assistant or secretary and his private insinuation respecting idleness in business, I was so much provoked (being very sensible that my whole time was constantly devoted to it, and that I really made it my pleasure, constantly and daily attending it) that I told him in the Board room a man might pray morning noon and night with his servants about him, and not have the spirit of a Christian in him, and asked him if he should like any man to act the base ungrateful false part by him, as he had done by the Navy Board but particularly to me, and then added I most heartily detested and despised his principles, having experienced that his actions were very different from his professions.
To sum up Sir Charles Middleton’s true character, he is a person of very great abilities is indefatigable in business, but cannot bear any person to know anything of it but himself, and to acquire this character with the King and Ministers has basely privately and treacherously depreciated that of his brother Commissioners. By his manner he appeared to be a religious just man, but by his actions he proved himself the contrary in various particulars thereof, and tho’ the son of exciseman in Scotland, he frequently tho’ privately observed to people how low bred and of what poor parents most of his colleagues in office were. In short he was in general a deceitful proud despicable character.
I must own his ungrateful and unchristian like conduct to me has occasioned me rather more uneasiness of mind, than I ever had before from any connections in public office, but I thank God upon turning my thoughts inwards and consulting my own heart upon my past conduct both public and private, it produced in general, that happy reflection and invaluable blessing my own self approbation, which supported me in good spirits to bear with, and go through the many difficulties and mortifications I did do from this man. Surely nothing is truly pursuable to such an animal as man, except what is correspondent or at least not contrary to justice, prudence, temperance and fortitude, which are esteemed for their importance the very hinges of all morality.