James I - Finance


Non-Parliamentary Grants : Crown Lands

Crown lands were good revenue. In Elizabeth's reign, £800,000 worth of land had been sold off, and it was not the best way to make revenue as:

- Economic rent extraction was disliked. 

- Leases on favourable terms could be used as a convenient method of rewarding courtiers and officials, patronage. 

As one financial crisis gave way to another, the crown lands were sold off by lord treasurers as a quick way to make money.

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Customs Revenue

This was taxes on imports and exports, and tonnage and poundage was the second most significant source of income. By 1621 nearly three times the amount of revenue was made from customs over crown lands. 

In 1604, the customs were farmed out to a syndicate of merchants, and the customs farmers had to pay annual rent to keep the revenue:

- Farmers made more than customs were worth, an indirect tax which Parliament gawked at. 

- James gained support from merchants who could offer patronage in Court, and loans in financial crisis.

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Bates' Case + Impositions

In 1606, John Bates, a merchant, refused to pay duty on currants, claiming that the duty was not Parliament sactioned. Judges decided the monarch had the right to regulate trade for realm security, and in 1608 new impositions, customs on specific goods, were introduced as a means to further regulate 1400 items, with no pretence of benefits to merchants. £70,000 was brought into the crown additionally, and by the end of the 1630s the Crown was dependent on half of its income for customs. 

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Feudal Tenures and Wardships

Feudal tenures and wardships were a strand of Crown income from the Middle Ages, and had lost their justification. 

- In the Middle Ages, major landowners had duty of military service to the King, and the King was entitled to their property if they died and left a minor or a woman as an heir. 

- Wardships gave management of the estate if the landowner died before the heir came of age or was an unmarried woman. It rewarded courtiers, and for a family two or more wardships could bring ruin. By 1610, £65,000 was given to the Crown, and many wanted this system to end.

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Purveyance was where courtiers, who moved often around the country when it was introduced, could buy items at a discount, hitting no particular regions too harshly. 

However, in James' reign, courtiers moved around less and corrupt officials would buy items in excess to sell them off for profit. It affected a small section of the country due to less travelling, and was worth £40,000 to the Court. Parliament was very anxious to end this.

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Conspicuous Consumption

By 1603, ordinary revenue failed to reach the annual cost of running the country. But James' extravagance worsened matters. 

James spent £400,000, increasing to £520,000 in peacetime by 1614, compared to Elizabeth's <£300,000. 

He spent money on conspicuous consumption of Scottish foreigners such as Lord Hay, where James spent £2200, (£480,000 today), on a meal which took 12 days to cook with 30 cooks, for the French Ambassador. He had paid Lord Hay's debts, and could live more comfortably if he practised some economy.

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Robert Cecil

Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, issued the Book of Bounty in 1608, where it prohibited the crown from giving away major items such as land, impositions, or customs, BUT...

- Did not stop James from giving out cash, he was forced to give £36,000 in the last four months of 1610. 

- Anybody who valued their position could not oppose James long. 

Salisbury suggested transfer of Sir Walter Raleigh's manor at Sherborne, (he had been guilty of high treason in 1604), to Robert Carr, the new favourite, earning James and Carr's gratitude which meant more to him than financial viability. He bent rules.

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Military Expenditure

Though war with Spain ended in 1604, military expenditure rose beyond other costs. 

Between 1603-8 £600,000 was spent in Ireland, and alongside this garrisons in the Netherlands in return for Elizabeth's efforts to promote their freedom had to be maintained. 

MPs ignored inflation and the falling subsidy seeing incompetence, and royal officials siphoned off money to the crown.

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The Earl of Salisbury, in 1609, received £1400 from a wardship as master of the court of wards, over the crown receiving £370. 

In 1610, he decided, as lord treasurer, to renew silk duties on original terms despite expansion, and made £7000 a year over £434.

Despite this he still negotiated the Great Contract.

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Parliament I

Assessments to pay subsidies were grossly underestimated. 

Lionel Cranfield, Lord Treasurer, had total wealth £90,000, but only was taxed £150. 

In comparison, Buckingham, the richest in the land after James, was only taxed £400. Death caused subsidy rolls to shrink. In Suffolk, 66 were assessed in 1557 on land and goods with £521 but by 1628 this fell to 37 with £77. 

James' extravagance allowed Parliament to ignore the fact that subsidies were falling in value. 

The 1624 Subsidy Act granted £300,000 for james, inadequate for his needs, but the Commons felt generous. 

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Parliament II

The first session of Parliament made no supply due to Elizabeth's grant but the second in 1606, after the Gunpower Plot, was generous with £400,000, misleading James to believe they would always pay his debts, but it only celebrated te fact they were still alive and was passed by a one vote majority. 

Between 1606-21 James only received one grant under £100,000, and by 1620s people became more disillusioned with the Crown's finance handling.

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Great Contract Intro

Salisbury in 1610 proposed the Great Contract, persuading Parliament to offer James £200,000 a year, alongside a £600,000 grant to end purveyance, wardships, and feudal tenures. However, they only wanted to pay £100,000 in a writ already voted to discharge debt. 

Charles would have impositions legalised but Parliament could control it and prevent new ones from being issued.

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Limitations of Great Contract

Parliament feared James would continue to pocket feudal revenues, and disliked funding extravagance, fearing money would enter the Scot's pockets, 'to what purpose to draw a silver stream into the royal cistern if it shall daily run out thence by private [stop] *****?' 

James would lose £115,000, putting net gain at £85,000 a year, which was unlikely to rise with inflation but could be exploited. 

Success would prevent James from expanding revenue with impositions, which had capability to increase significantly. 

Surrender of wardship would end this useful source of patronage, where royal debts could be paid by granting rich manors to courtiers. 

Rejected in November 1610 Parliament. 

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Selling Titles

Henry and Salisbury died in 1612 of fever and old age, and James set up a committee. He did not want a chief minister, but couldn't fulfil the roles as treasurer and secretary of state himself.

In 1614 Parliament didn't grant money, so James sold titles such as baronet, but this saturated the market, and prices fell from £1095 to £220 by 1622. Earldoms at £10,000 were successful and the number of earls increased from 28 in 1615 to 65 by 1628, though many were appalled that such a title could be sold to anybody with enough money. 

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In 1614 Earl of Suffolk became Lord Treasurer. 

Over 4 years, he was highly corrupt and built Audley End for £80,000, which was 'too big for a king, but fit for a Lord Treasurer.'

By 1618, debt almost doubled from £500,000 to £900,000 and Suffolk was dismissed, 1618, convicted of embezzlement. 

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Lionel Cranfield

Cranfield was appointed master of the wardrobe, 1618. If he reduced costs from £42000 to £20000 he could keep additional savings and made profits of £7000 a year. 

He saved in the ordnance and navy, where costs fell respectively £34,000-£14,000, and £53,000-£30,000 by reusing candles and using accurate budgeting and accounting. He eliminated corrupt and unnecessary officials. 

In 1621 he was made lord treasurer and Earl of Middlesex, and demanded stopping of payment of pensions, insisting he screen all new grants, but James couldn't control courtier greed.

He lasted for 2.5 years when he tried to promote his nephew Arthur Brett as a new favourite while Buckingham was in Madrid and at insistence of him and Charles, he was impeached or corruption. £80,000 was added to royal income, but he couldn't restrain James. 

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