Page images
PDF
EPUB

SIR THOMAS MANNERS SUTTON, KNT.

ONE OF THE BARONS OF THE COURT OF EXCHEQUER.

V

THIS Judge, the ninth child of Lord George Sutton by Miss Diana Blankney, a Lincolnshire heiress, is a younger brother of the primate. He was educated with the Archbishop at Emanuel col. lege, Cambridge, and was one of the wranglers there in 1777, on which occasion he obtained a degree. This facilitated his admission to the bar, by diininishing the period of probation required by the society of Lincoln's-inn, of which he was a member.

Being a young man of promising talents, the ho mburs of the profession were, of course laid open to hiin. He accordingly obtained a silk gown, with a patent of precedency; and was appointed first Justice for Anglesea, Carnarvon, and Merionethshire. He was also nominated Solicitor General to the Prince of Wales, and one of his highness's counsel as Duke of Cornwall.

Mr. Sutton early in life was returned a member for the borough of Newark in Nottinghamshire, and sat as one of its representatives during part of no less than five succeeding parliaments. In the course of a career of such long duration he had frequent op. portunities of delivering his sentiments on a variety of subjects; but he chiefly distinguisbed himself in the affairs of the Prince of Wales, whose claims were stated with such precision, and whose pretensions were brought forward with such a luminous arrangement, that they made a deep impression both on the House of Commons and the public.

were

On the 17th of February 1802, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer rose to move for a commitice relative to the expenditure of his Majesty's civil list, Mr. Sutton called the attention of the House to a subject intimately connected with the question theo before them.

“ It was pretty generally known," he observed, “that the duchy of Cornwall belonged to the crown till the birth of a Prince of Wales, and that it was then separated from it, and vested in the heir apparent. The infant prince instantly became Duke of Corn. wall; and as such '

was entitled to the revenues of the duchy." These were in general allowed to accumulate during his minority, and afforded a sum from which his establishment might be formed on his coming of age. In this instance, however, they had not been secured for the benefit of the Prince, but applied to the uses of the civil list; for which, had it not been for this, other resources must have been found.

“Some might imagine that the present was a question between bis Majesty and the Prince of Wales, but in fact it was a question between the Prince of Wales and the public: had it been otherwise, his Royal Highness never would have applied to this Hause ; and would have sacrificed interests of much grearer moment to duty, affection, and respect, for his father and his sovereign."

After quoting the opinion of Mr. (now Sir James) Mansfield and others on this subject, and observing that both principle and precedent were in his favour, he stated that the period during which the arrears had accrued was from 1762 to 1783; and added, that the sum was little short of four hundred thousand pounds, but with interest amounted to nine hundred thousand pounds.

“ It

may be said," added he, " that there should be an allowance for the expences incurred by his Royal Highness's education ; and that a deduction should be made for the sums of twelve thousand pounds and sixteen thousand pounds, which had been paid into the privy purse. Giving 'credit, however, for one hundred thousand pounds on these accounts, three hundred thousand pounds would still remain, which, if vested in the funds, would now have amounted to between six and seven hundred thousand pounds.

“That this claim had not been satisfied would appear from the - following statement: In 1783 sixty thousand pounds had been voted to his Royal Highness to defiay the charges incurred by him on setting out in life. . In 1787 one hundred and eighty-one thousand pounds, had been voted him out of the civil list, to pay his debts, and to be laid out in Carleton House. In 1795, upon his marriage, twenty-eight thousand pounds had been voted hion for the payment of bis debts, and fifty-six thousand pounds to compleie Carleton House; but it would be unreasonable to consider the money expended on that building as voted personally to the prince, it being realized for the good of the crown.

The sum bona fide vated to his Royal Highness thus did not exceed two hundred and fifty thousand pounds; a sum much be. low what he was entitled to on his coming of age. His income would not for a moment be considered as, from its amount, in any degree a compensation to him for his just demands ; for in 1742 one hundred thousand pounds a year had been voted to Frederick Prince of Wales, the father of his Majesty, and grandfather to his Royal Highness. That Prince's family was then very small, and the House of Commons had no other object in view than to en able him to support the splendour becoming his elevated rank. When the present Prince first received a separate establishment, the annual sum allowed him did not exceed fifty thousand pounds. In 1787 this was raised to sixty thousand pounds; and in 1793, upo: his marriage, to one hundred and twenty thousand pounds, seventy-five thousand pounds being set aside to liquidate his debts : his Royal Highness, however, was obliged to reduce his establishment, and to avoid every expence not absolutely necessary." .., Mr. Sutton then proceeded to in er," that if in 1743 the path liament deemed one hundred thousand pounds a sufficiently soal!

sum

sum to support the rank of the heir apparent, when the rise was considered in all the necessaries and luxuries of life, it surely had not exceeded in liberality to his Royal Highness; and no one could imagine that debts due by bim to the public had been dis. charged by these allowances. Whoever inspected the accounts on the table must acknowledge that he had not received more than his due, and that instead of being the debtor he was the creditor of the public. He left it to the House to consider what steps it would be proper to take. If an investigation was judged necessary, he should be happy to yield all the assistance in his power ; but thought it much better that the subject should be conducted by some one of greater abilities, experience, and consideration with the public. He entercained no doubt that the House would continue to shew that mixture of justice and liberality which had formerly distinguished it; and that it would equally consult the interests of the public and his Royal Highness, well knowing that they are closely and inseparably united."

This specch, of which the above is only a faint ondine, produced such a sensation on the audience, that Mr. Sutton was complimented both by Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt; and hopes were entertained by the friends of the heir apparent that the house might be disposed, on some future occasion, to pay a more favourable attention to his demands than they had hitherto experienced.

Accordingly, early in the spring of the same year (March 15), the same gentleman, after a previous motion, entcred into a variety of details on this subject, which in the mean time had been canvassed with great attention. He stated that the claiin of his Royal Highness was founded upon a grant of Ed. ward III. to the Black Prince, to whom he conveyed the duchy and its revenue when he was only cight years of age.

" What

was

“ What Edward had in view by this grant," said Mr. S., “ to make over the property to his son, and to secure it to him in. dependent of the crown, that the Prince might be enabled to keep up the rank and splendour suitable to his high. birth and exalted station. The consequence of this grant has been, to vest the duehy in the Prince of Wales from the moment of his birth. The Prince of Wales is born Duke of Cornwall, en:itled to livery of possession from the moment of his birth, and is declared of full age, with regard to the revenues of the duchy, from that instant. Such being the nature and the operation of the grant,” adds he, “must it not appear rather extraordinary, that the King should be entitled to hold the revenues of the duchy till the Prince is of age, without being under any necessity of rendering an account of them? Yet doubts have been entertained upon this point by men of supereminent legal talents and erudition ; but with all the weight so justly due to these authorities, he could not bring himself to believe that they had ever pronounced a do cided opinion upon the matter.

“ One donbt was, whether the King, as guardian of his children, had not a jest claim upon the revenues of the duchy ?-This, however, was soon abandoned : for it was understood that guardianship in chivalry applies only to nonage ; and this unfair and oppressing principle of guardianship was abolished by the act of Charles II. Another doubt was, whether the King by his prerogative, or some other atıribute, was not entitled to receive the revenues of the duchy ? - But if there be any thing of prerogative in this, it inust arise out of the grant itself. That this is not the fact, will appear from a reference to the several reigns that have succeeded Edward lll. Upon the demise of the Black Prince, his son, afterwards Richard II., had livery of possession of the duchy. When Henry IV. ascended the throne, his son bad livery of possession, although then only ten years of age. Henry V, died abroad, when his son was no more than eight years of age, and therefore there was no time to give him livery of possession. But the reign of Edward IV. affords by far the most decisive case. In the year 1453, the birth of his eldest son, afterwards Henry VI., took place; and in the year 1455 an act was passed, stating, that as he was born Duke of Cornwall, and

« PreviousContinue »