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For the Treaty and Bargain, certainly it were fit it were made with the farmers if it may be, both because in honour and conscience it were better the possessor were established than another to come in over his head; and because it may justly be doubted that no man else will be forward to deal with the King. For it is not every man's case to be willing to charge himself and his estate with a payment annual for many years together, for which he shall receive no profit at all: for although many can be content to give a sum of money for a dry reversion for posterity's sake, when they find their purse strong, and the payment made their pain is past; yet to subject themselves to an annual charge and payment for a long time, it is more harsh.
On the other side, the dealing with farmers and those that have estates hath two inconveniences; the one that they will conceive that the bargain is fit for no man else, and so will offer the less; the other is the perplexity and difficulty which will be found, where there be divided estates, as where there be estates for lives successivè, or where there be leases in possession to one and reversion to another.
But as for divided estates, it may be that emulation or competition will do the King no hurt; though for my own opinion I think he that hath the immediate interest next to the reversion in fee, is like to be the best man, for he when he is once in shall continue, the other shall be in and out.
Again, for those that have nothing at all in the land, but are strangers, yet no doubt there will be found men of full estates that will be content to take the reversion in fee simple, although it be charged with an annual payment for some time. For it is but like the case, as when a man purchaseth a reversion, where perhaps there is a lease for 100 years in being, with a red rose or a pepper corn reserved, and yet nevertheless he shall pay perhaps a tenth or chief rent to the Lord. So for this point, with whom the King shall deal, the commission must be without restriction, and without so much as an instruction of preferment of tenant or other, but left to the commissioners to take the best offer for the King.
For the Limitations and Cautions, there be but two principal. tations and The one that there be a good large time left for the King to sever and sell the Timber, for if he shall do it suddenly I fear
he will be much abused; and this time I would think should be 5 years at the least.
The second is, I would have it set down positively that at the least one third part of the K's lands thus fee farmed be with a reservation of a Tenure by Knight's service in capite; one other third part by Soccage in chief; and one third part only at the most by Soccage as of a manor. The application of this in particular may be left to the discretion of the commissioners to make use of it for the King's best service, with some instruction to reserve upon the stateliest and best things the best tenures; but the distribution I wish to be positive, which if it be done, this project, besides the other profit of it, will yield to the King a great augmentation of revenue in his Wardships, Liveries, and Alienations.
For the Security, I meet with a shrewd difficulty, for it is clear The secuin law that if there be a rent de novo reserved upon the fee rity. simple, it is not chargeable upon estates that were granted precedently; so as the King shall not have his ordinary remedy of distress or seisure upon the land during such precedent estates, which point drives the King almost to a necessity to deal only with the farmers; and in that case also, where the estates are divided the same difficulty remains.
But nevertheless I am still of opinion that the King should not be bound to the farmer: for that would shrink his bargain exceedingly; neither is it a weak security of the K. when he deals with strangers, making his choice of landed men, to join together with the reservation upon the land so granted (which will be good whensoever the estates are expired) an assurance in the mean time of a rent-charge out of other lands to a competent value, which course taken (considering also the K's prerogative by law, whereby he may distrain for his rent over all the lands of his Tenant charged or not charged) may be held for a sufficient assurance.
There remaineth now to consider the reasons for and against The Arguthis proposition, and first for the proposition.
ments pro et contra.
1. The principal reason is, the great addition of revenue that Reasons will be raised hereby in certainty to his Majesty, amounting for the to the sum of 60,000l. at the least annual, towards the supply tion. of the inequality of his revenue.
2. Another reason is the addition likewise which will ensue to
Reasons against the proposition with
the casual revenue of Wardships, Liveries and Alienations, which must needs grow upon so many new tenures created. 3. A third reason is that it is like to be good for the commonwealth, and the patrimony of the kingdom, because men will improve, husband and manure the land better when they are owners than now that they are but farmers. For the arguments against the proposition, there are many and weighty.
First, it may be in popular account taken for a dishonour for the King to become no more a King of land but a King of rents, and to be put as it were to his pension and stipend, whereas divers of his subjects shall be great lords in demesne and service.
To this it may be said, That point of honour must give place to point of substance; That the K's royalties in respect of Tenures shall be multiplied and increased, and not diminished; That the command of Sovereignty is of that high nature, as it drowneth all other commands, and therefore needeth not the support of those petty commands of suit to Court Barons or the like, which subjects may be glad of; That for the matter of demesne, if the King's houses of access and lands about them, if the King's forests wastes and commons and principal timber plots of the kingdom, be reserved to him, for the rest it will be not much otherwise than it is now: for the King receives but rent now, and shall receive more rent then; That Kings in other countries do not much covet or esteem to be great landlords; That the Crown will fill again with lands by escheats, attainders, and the like.
A second objection is, That if the King or his posterity should have any extraordinary occasion to raise money by sale of lands upon any necessity or important accident of estate, he shall not beable to do it.
This was fully answered before; for upon any such occasion the sale of rents will yield more money than the sale of the same lands, and men will be as glad and as ready to buy them.
The third objection is, That although it might be good for the time present, yet it may be prejudice to the future times, when perhaps leases would wear out, and lands revert in possession.
To this it may be answered, That this augmentation of Re- Resp. venue is no less good for the Crown than for the King, and for the future time than for the present. For I suppose when the revenue is thus established, his Maty will make an annexation of it, as well as he did purpose to do of the lands; and we have had sufficient experience in Q. Elizabeth's time, which was a plentiful and frugal time, that the profits by renew of estates and accounts of stewards cannot possibly amount nothing near to so great a profit as this multiplication of rent in no time.
The fourth objection is, That at least for so much timber as Obj. 4. shall be sold, that can never return; so as that is profit which can be taken but una vice, and so the Crown inwardly the poorer.
To this I answer, that it is part of the proposition, that forests, Resp. wastes, and principal places planted with timber should be excepted; and for the rest it is very true, it is so much taken from the Crown, and therefore because his M. in this proposition may clearly appear to have an intent of augmentation of the Crown and not of disinherison, I wish that all moneys which shall be the procedure upon the sale of timber were never mingled with other treasure, but presently laid forth upon land, rent, or other inheritance to be comprised in the annexation.
The fifth objection is, That whereas now the King hath means to Obj. 5. reward servants with books of leases or fee farms and gifts of lands, he shall have no more means so to do.
To this I answer, that it will not be for the worst to turn those Resp. rewards into pensions, wherein he may both better discern what he gives, and which will wear out with lives. Besides, this reason cannot be fitly now alleged, when his M. by the late annexation hath debarred himself of furder gift of land, and as for leases the states are so full already as tis matter of small consideration. And lastly, as was touched before, there will be continually coming in into the Crown'new lands by escheats attainders and the like; which kind of land to speak truth is proper for rewards, and not lands of ancient revenue.
The sixth objection is, That when the King hath stripped Obj. 6. himself of his land, he is the liker to come upon his people in
To this I answer that the quite contrary is to be inferred that Resp. his M.now by this means advancing his revenue towards the equal
ling of his charge, shall the less need to trouble his people with contribution.
A seventh objection may be, That the K. if he sell away the manor shall not be able hereafter by law to improve the waste, because the old statute gives the improvement unto the Lord.
To this I answer that the statute may be understood of the Lord of the Soil, and not the Lord of the Manor. But to take away all scruple, I wish that wheresoever there is a waste or common reserved to the K. there should be reserved so much of demesne and services as should not destroy it to be a manor.
The eighth objection is the weakness of the security, because the King cannot resort to the land in respect of estates precedent.
This is answered before.
The ninth objection is the point of divided estates, which breedeth a perplexity, with whom the K. shall deal.
This is likewise answered before.
Thus have I, as I conceive, embraced all the considerations which fall into this weighty proposition, wherein though I have endeavoured to undo every knot, and to make plain every difficulty; yet I would be understood that I am rather provident and diligent to make the best of the proposition than confident to persuade it.1
The general hunt for ways and means of improving the revenue led to an examination of the condition of the Great Farms of Customs and Wines in both which it was alleged that the Crown had been deceived in its bargain. The Lord Chancellor and the Earl of Northampton were appointed to enquire into the question; Bacon and Sergeant Montagu to assist them.
Northampton, now the principal medium of communication between the Council and the Court, seems to have been beginning to find the value of Bacon in such services, if we may judge from the pains he took (there being no other bond of alliance between them) to bring his merits under the personal notice of the King. In a letter to Rochester on this subject, written apparently on the 20th of October, he says
1 It is set down in the report of the sub-commissioners June 1613, among the "projects not likely to prove well." See the next chapter.