VERNON, James I (1646-1727), of Frith Street, Westminster, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. - July 1679
1695 - 1698
1698 - 1702
1705 - 1710

Family and Education

bap. 1 Apr. 1646, 2nd s. of Francis Vernon of Covent Garden, Westminster by Anne, da. of George Smithies, Goldsmith, of London, and wid. of William Welby of Gedney, Lincs.  educ. Charterhouse; Christ Church, Oxf. matric. 1662, BA 1666, MA 1669; incorp. at Camb. 1676.  m. lic. 6 Apr. 1675, Mary (d. 1715), da. of Sir John Buck, 1st Bt., of Hamby Grange, Lincs., 2s. 2da.  suc. bro. 1677.1

Offices Held

Sec. to ambassador to France 1672–3, to Duke of Monmouth 1673–at least 1679, to Prince of Orange Dec. 1688–Feb. 1689, to ambassador to Turkey 1691–2; deputy-sec. at war 1678–9; gazetteer by Oct.–Dec. 1688; under-sec. of state 1689–90, 1693–7; commr. prizes 1693–8; sec. to lds. justices 1695–7; sec. of state (northern dept.) Dec. 1697–Dec. 1698, May 1699–June 1700, Jan.–May 1702, (sole) Dec. 1698–May 1699, June–Nov. 1700, (southern dept.) Nov. 1700–Jan. 1702; PC 5 Dec. 1697–d.; teller of Exchequer 1702–10.

Clerk to supreme court, Jamaica 1691–?d.

Recorder, Penryn by 1702–?d.

Trustee, poor Palatines 1709; commr. taking subscriptions to S. Sea Co. 1711.2


Vernon remains an enigma to historians, a senior minister at the faction-ridden court of William III, who in general had little impact on national affairs. There can be little doubt concerning his Whiggish principles, and his letters do not suggest political naivety, but he studiously avoided too close an attachment to any particular group. Indeed, while some historians have credited him with a burning ambition, he himself reflected that ‘it has been my ill fate, or management, to please neither party’. Despite such trimming, he could not avoid the pitfalls of high office, and several times risked disgrace alongside his fellow ministers. Thanks largely to his outstanding abilities as a civil servant he managed to survive many upheavals, his professional merits having already promoted him to high office above the pretensions of more influential figures. The support of King William was instrumental to his longevity, as was the backing of two powerful patrons, Lords Sunderland and Shrewsbury. According to his son, James Vernon II*, he ‘owed the rise of all his good fortune in life’ to Sunderland’s friendship, while Shrewsbury proved a close and dependable ally in return for Vernon’s ‘laborious and faithful services’. He appears an unlikely courtier, for John Macky remarked upon the ‘candour’ with which he approached business, and even Shrewsbury admitted that some of Vernon’s ‘many good qualities . . . one would not expect under so rough an outside’. Nevertheless, politicians of all parties admired the efficiency and tireless work-rate of this ‘drudge to the office’, attributes which are immediately apparent from the vast range of his surviving correspondence, one of the most important personal archives for the period. Historians have long complained of the lack of spirit with which he imparted news, but the tenor of his writings reflects the priorities of this quintessential servant of the crown, who proudly boasted ‘it is my humour to deal plainly and sincerely with all men’.3

Having gained the employ of James II as gazetteer in the final months of a toppling regime, Vernon proved his political staying-power by becoming secretary to William at the Revolution. In February 1689 he was appointed under-secretary to Shrewsbury, thereby embarking on a close and fruitful working relationship. However, there were still doubts concerning his loyalty to the Williamite regime, and in July the Marquess of Halifax (George Savile†) recorded that William ‘suspected’ Vernon. Only two months later, Shrewsbury confirmed to the King that Vernon’s ‘morals in general’ were mistrusted, but the Earl was prepared to continue him in service, and Halifax himself noted that Vernon ‘seemeth to grow’ in the King’s opinion. Such uncertainty may well have checked Vernon’s advancement in the early years of the reign, but with the aid of Shrewsbury he managed to establish his credentials as a loyal servant, surviving a reform of the southern department in the autumn of 1689. His subsequent handling of Jacobite conspirators helped to dispel lingering uncertainties, even though his duties as secretary made him vulnerable to the bitter reflections of unrewarded informers, several of whom tried to discredit his name. He was thus ever on guard for new allegations against himself, but did not allow such pressures to divert him from his service of the state.4

Possibly still under a Jacobite cloud, Vernon revealed little political ambition at the general election of 1690, refraining from contesting any seat. More encouragingly, his professional standing continued to rise, and in February a ‘Mr Vernon’ was touted as a replacement for the secretary at war, William Blathwayt*. Following the removal of Shrewsbury as secretary of state in June, he was employed by the lord steward, the Earl of Devonshire (William Cavendish†). On the appointment of Lord Sydney (Henry Sidney†) as secretary of state in December, there was speculation that Vernon might again become under-secretary, but such hopes went unfulfilled. However, the following year his services were rewarded with the sinecure of the clerkship of the supreme court of Jamaica, and he also managed to secure a post in the royal household for his son.5

In late 1691 Vernon recommenced his diplomatic career, acting as secretary to William Harbord* on his embassy to Turkey. He never reached his posting, for in April 1692 he travelled from Vienna to Brussels, where he was enlisted for the King’s service. There followed speculation that Vernon might be sent to Berlin, but this report proved groundless, prompting him to observe that ‘there are enough in England who have good opinion enough of themselves to brigue these employments, and I have never made it a secret that I don’t think myself proper for it on many accounts, who find enough to do to acquit myself in a lower station’. Throughout the summer of 1692 he relayed news from the King on campaign, but fell ill and returned home in October. He later declined an offer to return to Flanders in 1693, observing that ‘I have been too long exposed to an unsettled life’.6

Fortunately for Vernon, in March 1693 he was able to find employment as under-secretary in the southern department following the appointment of Sir John Trenchard* as secretary of state. With the aid of Blathwayt he also gained a place on the prize commission, which, because of his time-consuming governmental duties, became a sinecure. Such was his reputation that in November Lord Capell (Hon. Sir Henry Capel*), one of the recently appointed lords justices for Ireland, specifically asked for Vernon to deal with Irish affairs, but he in fact shared that responsibility with his colleague William Bridgeman. In March 1694 he was re-united with his patron Shrewsbury, who returned to office after Trenchard’s death. His master’s ill-health and well-known aversion to the business of government ensured Vernon a high profile, and burdened him with the full responsibilities of the northern department. His involvement in the inquiry into the trials following the Lancashire Plot brought him to the attention of the Commons, which examined him on 6 Dec. 1694. Having moved with Shrewsbury to the southern office, he was called to give testimony at Westminster again in May 1695 concerning the escape of a witness relating to the impeachment of the Duke of Leeds (Sir Thomas Osborne†). In that month he received the most important endorsement of his professional ability to date, when appointed secretary to the lords justices. Further evidence of the King’s regard for him came in October, when he accompanied William on his extensive progress.7

At the general election of 1695 Vernon successfully stood for Penryn, facing no opposition. He had little familiarity with the town, but as under-secretary he had performed several services for the town leaders, who obviously hoped for further aid from this rising civil servant. He certainly relished the prospect of becoming a Member, enthusing to Lord Lexington that his reporting of parliamentary business would be much improved because he no longer had to ‘take things upon trust and by hearsay’. However, in contrast to his industriousness in office, he proved an inactive Member, failing to make any significant contribution to Commons business in the first two sessions of the 1695 Parliament. More predictably, his political allegiance was firmly with the Court, and he was bracketed with its supporters on 31 Jan. 1696 by a forecast for a division on the proposed council of trade. Furthermore, he signed the Association in February, and the following month voted for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. His inactivity in the latter part of the session can be attributed to the inquiries which followed the discovery of the Assassination Plot, and on 3 Mar. he bemoaned the fact that he was ‘so over-employed with the examination of prisoners’.8

For the rest of the year Vernon’s workload was dominated by investigations into the plot, particularly after he was saddled with the major responsibility of examining Sir John Fenwick†. Although unaware of Fenwick’s earlier disclosures to the Duke of Devonshire, which had incriminated Shrewsbury, on 23 Sept. the under-secretary conducted an eight-hour interview with the conspirator, during which Fenwick made a confession. Shortly afterwards, while noting rumours of Shrewsbury’s complicity in the conspiracy, Vernon expressed fears for his own position, sensing that the unpredictable Earl of Monmouth was angry that the matter ‘should only be committed to me’. Despite such jealousies, the Fenwick confession ensured that Vernon played a significant role in the proceedings against the conspirator in the 1696–7 session. From the outset Vernon was most industrious in Shrewsbury’s defence, visiting Members to drum up support for the Duke, and on 6 Nov. he rejoiced to see the Commons dismiss charges against him. Ten days later he presented papers concerning Fenwick to the House, and gave an account of the methods used to delay the conspirator’s trial. The next day he rose in the House to demand that Fenwick show proof that Shrewsbury had been ‘in treaty’ with James II, and gave further evidence later that day. Moreover, he spoke in favour of the bill of attainder on 25 Nov., and duly voted for it later in the day. His involvement in the Fenwick affair did not end there, however, for Monmouth continued to menace both Shrewsbury and Vernon by giving encouragement to Matthew Smith, who complained that Shrewsbury’s office had failed to reward him for helping to discover the plot. Smith gained a hearing before the Upper House, and forced Vernon to testify there on the 12 Jan. 1697, but the Lords subsequently vindicated Shrewsbury’s department for their handling of the informer.9

The Fenwick trial also highlighted Vernon’s fraught relationship with secretary of state Sir William Trumbull*, who harboured lingering bitterness against Shrewsbury’s office, accusing its members of having usurped his authority over Fenwick, and absconded with his most remunerative work. Vernon certainly regarded Trumbull as an opponent, observing that the latter’s speech to the House on 6 Nov. hinted at mismanagement by the southern department, and he even suspected Trumbull of promoting Smith’s allegations. More generally, Vernon’s correspondence betrays the bitterness of this feud, with the under-secretary delighting in his rival’s mistakes, thereby giving a rare glimpse of a more competitive spirit. Vernon evidently enjoyed a scoop on 7 Dec. 1696 when a letter from his Parisian correspondent Matthew Prior* allowed him to break the news to the House that France was ready to recognize William as King. However, although basking in the moment, he does not appear to have coveted Trumbull’s position. Indeed, it was a most anxious Vernon who later revealed that during the winter of 1696–7 he had been secretly approached by Lord Sunderland to become secretary of state in succession to Shrewsbury. Vernon made strong disclaimers of sufficiency for the post, displaying an innate modesty, as well as an awareness that he might become a pawn in Sunderland’s power-struggle with the Junto Whigs, who favoured Lord Wharton (Hon. Thomas*) for the office. Controversy was averted for a time when Shrewsbury was importuned to remain as secretary, but, to Vernon’s dismay, Sunderland continued to treat him as the next incumbent.10

Such uncertainties plagued Vernon throughout 1697, especially since he knew that both Shrewsbury and Trumbull remained eager to relinquish office. In July Vernon received some encouragement when Lords Sunderland, Shrewsbury and Portland helped his son gain a clerkship of the council. However, Shrewsbury’s ill-health caused Vernon much anxiety, and in September he was looking for another post in the belief that his noble patron would be granted retirement in the near future. It was at this juncture that Vernon revealed to Shrewsbury that Sunderland had pressed him to seek the secretaryship, displaying understandable concern that the lord chamberlain was looking for ‘little men . . . such as were framed for a dependence on a premier minister’. Vernon was still consumed by financial worries, anticipating the imminent loss of his prize commission with the onset of peace. Not surprisingly, given the absence of both secretaries from London during that summer, he was also worn out by the cares of office:

what I have gone through these three summers successively, without having the least ease or leisure in the winter, by reason of a constant attendance in the House of Commons, I find is such a fatigue, that one who is turned of 50 can’t expect to hold it out longer. If there be any that have a tolerable opinion of me, I fear it is that they think me a pains-taker in this station, and therefore fit to be worn out in it.

By late September, having discounted more avaricious designs on the post office or the excise commission, he appeared ready to settle for the provost marshalship of Jamaica, an office reputedly worth £400 p.a., and for which he had been acting as ‘trustee’. However, despite Shrewsbury’s kindness in broaching Vernon’s candidacy for the colonial post, events conspired to deny him such advancement.11

Rivalry with Trumbull only added to Vernon’s troubles, with Sir William further antagonized by Vernon’s arrogation of responsibility for the Treaty of Ryswick. Moreover, in September Sunderland renewed his advances to Vernon, prompting the under-secretary to lament ‘that I would beg it as an alms to be left in obscurity, when I think what a figure I must make in the bedchamber, at the councils, and in the Parliament House’. Although suspecting that he could be easily sacrificed in any future ministerial crisis, he also recognized the potential perils of refusing office, perceiving that any reticence on his part would leave him ‘despised and crushed’. Family obligations also played on his mind, causing him to remark that ‘my business is to know how to live, and not to be great’. He thus hoped that Shrewsbury could be persuaded to continue in office, or that Wharton would be chosen in Shrewsbury’s place, an unlikely occurrence given the King’s known hostility towards Wharton.12

By the end of October 1697 the affair had become ‘a strange intricacy’, with Sunderland backing Wharton in public, and Vernon in secret. Matters took another dramatic turn on 1 Dec., when Trumbull’s decision to resign the seals ended months of speculation, and allowed Sunderland to seize the opportunity to install Vernon as successor before his Junto rivals had time to react. The new incumbent made bitter protestations to both the King and Sunderland, again disclaiming credentials for the post, but his objections were brushed aside. However, as momentous as this political coup appeared, no storm of outrage followed Vernon’s appointment. Even Lords Orford (Edward Russell*) and Wharton greeted him cordially, possibly in the expectation that such a humble political figure could be no more than a temporary replacement. Vernon himself thought that he would not remain in office, opining that ‘meteors raised on a sudden were never designed to last long’. In contrast, news of his promotion was received ‘with a general satisfaction’, in recognition of the fact that he had been secretary in all but name during Shrewsbury’s long absences. Portland had no doubt about his abilities, assuring Shrewsbury that Vernon was capable of taking care of both departments.13

Having survived immediate reaction to his appointment, Vernon found himself exposed at the end of December by Sunderland’s resignation as lord chamberlain. Vernon tried to persuade him to remain in the ministry, but to no avail, and it was to Vernon that Sunderland yielded his key of office without having obtained William’s permission to retire. The secretary led the overtures to Sunderland to reconsider his decision, but all such attempts failed, raising great concern in Vernon, who still harboured admiration for his patron as ‘an able and an active man’. Vernon then had the unenviable task of persuading the reclusive Shrewsbury to take up the post instead, again without success. In the first half of 1698 he faced further frustration when acting as go-between in negotiations for an accommodation between Sunderland and the Junto. He again feared that he might be ‘ill-looked upon’ for his efforts, but disclaimed any partiality for Sunderland, believing that he was acting in the public interest. Despite these uncertainties, Vernon quickly established himself as secretary, and no concerted opposition rose against him. Among his new duties was the responsibility for passing messages between the King and the Commons, in which capacity he presented several items of information to the House during the 1697–8 session. Further demonstration of his loyalty to the Court came in connexion with the standing army issue, for he expressed great anxiety at the eagerness of some Members to disband, fearing that such haste would leave the country vulnerable to future French aggression.14

The summer of 1698 saw Vernon again trying to overcome the reticence of patron Shrewsbury, who had received assurances from the King that he could resign at the end of the session. Vernon was as keen as William to have him retain the seals, and the Duke was persuaded to remain in office a little longer. The attempted reconciliation between the Junto and Sunderland was an altogether more ambitious goal, and Vernon gave little hope for it, particularly with the prospect of an imminent general election. Away from ministerial intrigues, the priority of his office at this time lay with religious affairs, most notably a crackdown on English Catholic divines officiating in the chapels of foreign emissaries in the capital. He betrayed little sympathy for Catholics, but was most concerned not to appear their persecutor. On the other hand, he expressed no qualms when investigating the activities of the societies for the reformation of manners, which were believed to have been infiltrated by anti-court elements. Indeed, Vernon regarded their members as ‘zealots’, and expected that they would ‘not much advance real honesty or virtue’. Although capable of taking a tough line in spiritual matters, he subsequently proved an active supporter of several religious initiatives, becoming one of the earliest subscribers to the SPCK, and a benefactor of local charity schools.15

Ample recognition was given to Vernon’s status at the general election of 1698 when he was put up for a prestigious seat at Westminster alongside Charles Montagu*, chancellor of the Exchequer, a partnership which suggested that he had come to a rapprochement with the Junto. This ministerial ticket was strenuously opposed by Sir Henry Dutton Colt, 1st Bt.*, who campaigned feverishly against the corrupting influence of the Court, supposedly personified in the shape of Vernon and Montagu. The secretary viewed this as the common experience of government candidates at that election, observing that the polls showed ‘a strange spirit of distinguishing between the Court and Country party’. The virulence of Colt’s attack, however, reflected not only political rivalry, but also a personal antipathy towards Vernon for failing to acknowledge his contribution as an informer. Vernon clearly regarded Colt as a nuisance, and had often expressed exasperation with his eagerness to discover Jacobite plots, characterizing him as ‘the manager of any foolish or malicious accusation’. The contest was a violent affair, and went to a poll, much to the discontent of Vernon, who complained that it took him away from pressing matters of state. However, he defeated Colt by over 600 votes. In contrast, his re-election at Penryn presented few problems, the corporation being again keen to enlist his services. Vernon was duly returned for Penryn, no doubt thankful for a safe seat as he awaited a challenge from Colt over the Westminster election.16

While beset by electoral calculations, Vernon was closely involved with the secret ratification of the first Partition Treaty. In August 1698 he was contacted by Portland, who sought assurances of his own suitability for negotiating with the French over the Spanish succession. Vernon encouraged him to take up that responsibility, and subsequently became a conduit through which the English ministers abroad strove to gauge opinion at home, the King directing Vernon to contact ministers whom he thought necessary to advise on the proposals put forward by the French. Only a handful of ministers were let into the secret, and Vernon later travelled with Montagu for a key meeting with Lord Somers (Sir John*) at Tunbridge Wells on 27 Aug., in the wake of which Somers sent his celebrated letter of advice to William, expressing reservations on likely reactions to the French plan. Soon afterwards Vernon sent Somers an instrument to authorize official negotiations with the French, which included blanks for the names of the English treaty commissioners to be inserted. In late September he again contacted Somers to seal the treaty itself, which included two secret articles, known only to Somers and Vernon. Three years later, these activities became the focus of one of the most bitter party battles of the reign, but for the moment they had little impact on Vernon’s career, simply confirming his position as one of the King’s most trusted officials.17

Although present at these crucial deliberations, Vernon remained on frosty terms with the Junto, who still regarded him with lingering suspicion on account of his connexions with Sunderland. The election of the Speaker in the new Parliament fuelled this mistrust, with the Junto convinced that the secretary was acting as an agent for the Country Whigs against their own candidate, Sir Thomas Littleton, 3rd Bt.* In particular, Vernon’s access to the King was seen as a potential threat to their plans, and Sunderland’s known enmity towards Littleton made the secretary vulnerable to such allegations. Sir Thomas himself informed Vernon that Montagu and John Smith I* thought him ‘neither their friend, nor [that he] cared for their party’. Whether Vernon was guilty of such caballing is far from certain, especially as his correspondence suggests that he fully endorsed Littleton’s candidacy. However, he had aired disapproval of Montagu’s seizure of the auditorship of the Exchequer in early September, which may have given the Junto cause to suspect him. In desperation, the secretary turned to Somers as an intercessor with the Junto, but the lord chancellor only added to Vernon’s woes, informing Vernon that the previous winter ‘it was taken notice of as if there was a more than ordinary familiarity between the Speaker [Paul Foley I*], Mr [Robert] Harley and myself [Vernon]’. Nevertheless, Somers was still willing to act as his ‘compurgator’, and Shrewsbury again proved a valuable ally at this critical juncture. The beleaguered secretary expressed his readiness to resign office, but the Junto did not seek his removal, wanting him to use his position to promote Littleton to the King. Vernon obliged them in an audience with William on 4 Dec., on which occasion he stressed the need to settle the chair as soon as possible. Two days later the Commons elected Littleton by a convincing majority, and Vernon found himself ‘loaded with compliments and assurances of friendship’ by the Whig ministers. However, despite Vernon’s role as mediator, there was more than a little menace in Somers’ observation to Shrewsbury on 15 Dec. that Littleton’s victory was

so much to the secretary’s advantage . . . that he has had the particular thanks of my Lords Orford and Wharton, and of Mr Montagu and Mr Smith; and I think all sort of suspicion is so far removed as never to revive, but upon new occasions, which, I am well assured Mr Secretary will cautiously prevent.

As if to emphasize the precarious position in which Vernon found himself, Shrewsbury resigned office the same month, leaving him sole secretary.18

Vernon appeared to adhere to the advice of the lord chancellor in the first session of the 1698 Parliament, helping the Court wherever possible to stem the onslaught of its opponents. Well before the session he had anticipated a stormy Commons, and soon found his own position under attack from Colt. The elections committee quickly resolved the matter, completely vindicating Vernon and Montagu by its report on 22 Dec., and ruling that Colt’s petition was ‘frivolous, vexatious, and scandalous’. The House agreed with the committee, and Vernon subsequently declared that he would sit for Westminster, thereby leaving a vacancy at Penryn. However, having gained this decisive victory in the Commons, he was unable to secure the seat for his son James II at the ensuing by-election.19

As for all Court supporters, Vernon’s greatest battle in the 1698–9 session concerned the standing army. On 23 Dec. he seconded a motion for the committee on the disbanding bill to have liberty to alter the number of troops, thereby showing a stubborn defence of the ministerial line. Moreover, following the King’s exhortation to his supporters to pursue the matter with greater vigour, Vernon motioned in a similar vein on 4 Jan. 1699 as the House went into committee on the bill. The opposition was prepared for this counter-attack, and after a five-hour debate the motion was lost without a division. Undeterred, before the key vote on 18 Jan. he warned of the dangers of leaving the country undefended, and predictably backed the standing army in the division, but all his endeavours were insufficient to obstruct the bill. The failure of the Court party on this issue was symptomatic of ministerial weakness in the Commons, where Vernon did not pretend to play a forceful role. Frustratingly, it is not possible to be certain whether Vernon’s newly acquired status as sole secretary influenced his role in the Commons, because there were several ‘Mr Vernons’ (George Vernon I and II) who sat in the 1698 Parliament. However, it is clear that the secretary continued to act as royal messenger to the House, where he is identified as ‘Mr Secretary Vernon’.20

At the end of the session Vernon’s burdens of office were eased following the appointment of Lord Jersey as secretary of state. Vernon cheerfully accepted the less prestigious northern department, and even protested when he benefited from an exchange of allowances between the two offices. Acutely aware of having ‘but few friends’, he assured Shrewsbury that he had no greater ambitions, recognizing that he would undermine his own position by seeking further reward ‘in this envious, ill-natured age’. He still felt under pressure, observing of this new arrangement to Richard Hill that ‘perhaps some will censure it who yet wish me lower. You will judge more cordially of it, who know it is not good clambering up a precipice.’ Although cautious, he continued to give offence in some Whig circles, particularly by supporting the retention on the Admiralty Board of Sir George Rooke*, whom Vernon admired for his professional skill. In May he wisely moved to mend divisions with Rooke’s rival Orford, but still maintained the principle of choosing officers on ability rather than political persuasion, even while confessing that ‘these notions are perhaps for Utopia and impracticable everywhere else’. During the summer of 1699 he was again concerned with the removal of Catholic priests from London, but, as he argued in the Commons in the ensuing session, when defending the ministry against charges of negligence for allowing papists to enter the country, he did not seek to enforce the laws too strictly, not wishing to emulate the intolerance of the Catholic powers.21

The session of 1699–1700 proved as stormy as its predecessor, with Vernon and other Court supporters on the defensive. The scandal of the ministry’s involvement with the pirate Captain Kidd gave the opposition much ammunition in the early stages of the session, and on 3 Dec. 1699 Vernon attended a Whig meeting to prepare for attacks on that issue. The next day he presented to the Commons papers which purported to show that Kidd had been apprehended as soon as possible, but the opposition was more concerned for evidence that Kidd had been sponsored by Whig ministers, which Vernon actually supplied on 6 Dec. to a committee of the whole House. Following this embarrassment, he endeavoured to halt the passage of the Irish resumptions bill, and thus can be plausibly identified as the Vernon who on 15 Jan. 1700 successfully moved to adjourn debate on the matter to allow tempers to cool. Three days later the secretary half-heartedly proposed an instruction to the committee on the bill that a third of the forfeitures be reserved for the King’s disposal, but the motion was rejected without a division. Even ministers had expressed reservations about the prospects of this motion, and Vernon admitted that ‘we were pretty well rapped over the fingers’. In spite of this defeat, on 13 Feb. he rose to make a spirited defence of royal grants when the opposition directed their attack towards Somers, insisting that ‘a public minister may have a grant which he very well deserves’. However, he was unable to prevail when the King sought to promote a union with Scotland, his arguments on 5 Mar. failing to save the bill to appoint commissioners to pursue that matter. His routine activity is again, however, difficult to disentangle from that of other Vernons in the House.22

Vernon did not spare the Junto when apportioning blame for the Court’s current dilemma, observing on 5 Mar. 1700 that Somers and Montagu ‘are still called the ministers, though there are none that I see who take upon them any management’. During the session Vernon had even shown willingness to retire from office if it would help bring about a reconciliation between Country leader Robert Harley and the King. All efforts to effect this accommodation failed, and Vernon remained disheartened by his political prospects, bemoaning that ‘I find myself the unfittest man in the world for mysterious managements’. However, even though he celebrated the end of the session and the avoidance of a major breach between the Houses over the Irish resumptions bill, he incurred the displeasure of Somers by passing evidence concerning Kidd to the Admiralty Board, rather than to the less public domain of the Privy Council. Vernon felt that he had not acted improperly, observing that ‘if it be error, I shall be glad to resign to those who commit none’. The ensuing resignation of Somers ensured that confrontation was averted, but Vernon remained unsettled, particularly by renewed overtures from Sunderland, who wished to gain Shrewsbury’s backing for a reshuffle to shore up the Junto’s position. As he confessed, ‘I find myself under Lord Sunderland’s circumstances, and apprehend myself so suspected . . . that silence will best become me on all accounts’. Unlike his ministerial colleagues, he still trusted Sunderland, but the scheme failed, leaving him to lament that ‘if some of both sides do not show an inclination to support the government, it will quickly fall into confusion’.23

Vernon’s thoughts once again returned to retirement, since he did not want ‘to stay in a court where I now lose the prospect of having any one friend remaining’. However, in June Vernon again become sole secretary on the appointment of Lord Jersey as chamberlain. Although keen for another secretary to be appointed, he declined the King’s request for a recommendation, and was only concerned that a peer be chosen so that he could avoid the southern department. His position was still very vulnerable, and, as his friend John Methuen* confided to him in early July, ‘you seem with good reason to be in some uneasiness to be alone secretary, at a time when the prospect of affairs looks very angrily, and I fear will be very troublesome in the next session’. Vernon was still in favour of an accommodation between Whig and Tory, and even met with Harley on several occasions to discuss ministerial changes. However, he acknowledged that he could contribute ‘but little’ towards any political accord, a candid self-assessment mirroring the verdict of a recent pamphlet, which portrayed the secretary as ‘a mere tool’ of government. Most worryingly for Vernon, the meetings with Harley only succeeded in arousing suspicion of his motives, and he learnt that Junto leaders still felt ‘that there was a coldness and misunderstanding between me and the Whigs’, an animus which he once again attributed to his connexion with Sunderland.24

Despite constant anxiety over his political future, Vernon managed to survive a reform of the ministry in November, when Sir Charles Hedges* was appointed to the northern department, as one of several moderate Tories brought in to boost the flagging administration. This left Vernon as senior secretary, an appointment which reflected his professional expertise, rather than his political influence. Perhaps in response to these ministerial changes, in December Vernon was ready to compromise his political principles by standing alongside the Tory Thomas Crosse* at the Westminster election. Another bitter contest ensued, but both Vernon and his partner managed to gain a comfortable victory. The calling of the new Parliament proved of little advantage to the ministry, but Vernon was given several early opportunities to go on the offensive, successfully moving on 14 Feb. 1701 a resolution to support the crown in defence of the nation’s security, the Protestant religion and European peace. Later that day he rebutted charges made by John Grobham Howe* concerning secret service payments by pointing out that the French had a considerable invasion force ready to sail. The next day he had another altercation with Howe, Vernon urging him to address the present emergency, rather than rake over past controversies. In order to bolster the Court’s case, on 17 Feb. he triumphantly produced an intercepted letter between Jacobites Lord Melfort and Lord Perth detailing renewed invasion plans, but it excited little interest in the Commons and only made ‘the ill-natured wits sharp’.25

These heated debates, however, proved only skirmishes to the great contest of that Parliament, the impeachment of the ministers involved in the Partition Treaties. At the outset the first Partition Treaty was still a closely guarded secret, and thus Vernon was initially put to task for his involvement in the second treaty of March 1700, which the opposition attacked for being concluded without the consultation of Parliament. He was heard on this matter before a committee of the Upper House on 17 Mar., but gave little away. Four days later he tried to block the reading of the second Partition Treaty in the Commons, but was unsuccessful and earned a stinging rebuke from the opposition, who suggested that he only wanted to delay the matter to protect himself. However, later that day he was able to persuade the House not to debate the King’s proposals to the French.26

Such a rearguard action could not be fought indefinitely, and the scandal finally broke when the Upper House examined Portland, who directly alluded to his exchanges with Vernon over the first treaty, and even claimed that Vernon had persuaded him to enter negotiations ‘against his will’. The Commons learnt of these revelations on 10 Apr. following a conference with the Lords, and the next day the secretary was ordered to lay before the House all his correspondence with Portland concerning any partition agreement. It was later alleged that in an effort to ‘avoid the storm breaking in upon themselves’ the King’s Dutch ministers had directed Vernon ‘to instruct several Members what papers to call for’, but there is no evidence to suggest he actively promoted these disclosures. Indeed, he was perceived to have shown ‘all the averseness imaginable’ in handing over the letters, and when presenting 27 of them to the House on 12 Apr. he reportedly had tears in his eyes. Having been translated by a committee, to which Vernon was first-named, the contents of the letters caused a sensation two days later when they were used as a pretext to launch impeachment proceedings against Somers, Orford and Halifax. On that day Somers appeared before the Commons to make a spirited defence of his actions, and could not resist taking a swipe at Vernon, observing ‘that Secretary Vernon might write what he pleased, [but] that he was certain he had no authority to write what he did’. Other reports suggest that Somers and the Junto leaders regarded Vernon as a Judas for having complied so readily with the Commons’ orders, an impression which was enforced by Vernon’s escape from prosecution. Lord Haversham (Sir John Thompson*) subsequently brought public attention to the partiality of the Commons by asking why Vernon and other ministers involved in the treaties had not been put on trial.27

Speculation was rife that Vernon would be compelled to resign, and given his tearful performance before the House on 12 Apr., it is clear that he showed little stomach for the political fight, despite Bishop Burnet’s claim that the secretary ‘was ready to expose himself to the indignation of the House, and to refuse to show his letters’. Vernon’s self-justification to Shrewsbury on 21 Apr. suggested a less belligerent spirit, for he complained that Portland’s revelations had forced his hand, making it ‘impossible’ that he could have defied the Commons’ order. Moreover, he pointed out that Portland was ready to use his correspondence to defend himself against impending impeachment, and thus it would have been ‘to no purpose’ to have withheld the letters. He was ‘sorry’ for the ensuing proceedings against the Junto, but felt unfairly censured by them, thinking ‘it is not very just in them not to consider the necessity I was under’. Over three years later criticism still rankled with him, he observing that the matter ‘could never have been pushed so far if everybody have [sic] owned at first what they knew of it, and said as much for it as it would bear’. Vernon was probably targeted by the opposition as the weak link in the Junto’s armour, and a simultaneous inquiry into corruption at the prize office may well have been timed to put extra pressure on him. He wisely maintained a low profile during the succeeding summer, expressing concern for the prize office investigation, and again wishing himself out of office. As if to increase his anxiety, rumours circulated that in the King’s absence he had attempted to stall the removal of Lord Haversham as Admiralty commissioner. In the light of these reports, it was of no surprise that Country leaders still regarded the secretary as an enemy, with Harley identifying him in September as a minister whose removal he desired.28

The dramatic events of the year prompted Vernon to contest two seats at the second general election of 1701. He first stood with his son at St. Mawes, but could make little headway against the local interest of the Tredenhams. However, his involvement in the Partition Treaties appears to have had little effect on the Westminster electorate, since Vernon secured second place with some ease, finishing over 1,300 votes ahead of his nearest challenger. In the course of that election he re-established cordial relations with the Junto leader Halifax, although lingering bitterness was evident in Vernon’s remark that ‘all matters seem to be pretty well forgot, and perhaps there was no need of their having been remembered so long’. Vernon’s Whig loyalties were certainly evident in December, when he attended the meeting which endorsed the candidacy of Littleton as Speaker. In the ensuing Parliament both Vernon and his son petitioned against the return at St. Mawes, but on 5 Feb. 1702 were allowed to withdraw their protest, following Vernon jnr.’s appointment as envoy to Denmark. Unfortunately, the success of George Vernon II at Haslemere makes it difficult to delineate the secretary’s contribution to Commons’ business.29

Early in the session Vernon was reallocated to the northern department on the appointment of the Earl of Manchester, a move to which he appears to have happily consented. Moreover, in contrast to recent experience, he found the House responsive to the motions he made on the Court’s behalf. Increased support for the war made his task much easier, for on 9 Jan. 1702 he met no opposition in the committee of supply when he moved to raise a land force of 40,000 troops, and his proposal on 31 Jan. for a marine complement of 10,000 men was subsequently accepted. The Commons also readily assented on 28 Feb. to the message which Vernon brought from the crown requesting that an Anglo-Scottish union be debated. However, at the very moment when both Vernon and the Court seemed to be in their strongest position for several years, the death of William brought new uncertainty. Vernon conveyed the news of the King’s death to the Commons on 8 Mar., no doubt a duty of extreme sadness for one of William’s most loyal admirers. The remainder of the session saw little change in Vernon’s responsibilities, however, for he continued to act as the bearer of royal messages to the House. Moreover, he can be identified as an active sponsor of Court measures, including two addresses of support for the new Queen, and on 14 Apr. was, with John Conyers, ordered to prepare legislation to continue the imprisonment of conspirators against the late King. In addition, on 19th Mar. he was a member of the drafting committee for a bill to enable the crown to select commissioners to negotiate the Union, and later helped to draft another address to Anne with thanks for her speech and contribution of £100,000 to public use. However, his greatest concern was the House’s renewed proceedings against the prize office, ‘expecting to be fallen upon’ on that account, or ‘for having appeared against Mr Harley’s being Speaker in the King’s name’.30

Despite continued industry on behalf of the new sovereign, Vernon faced inevitable ejection once the Tories had gained the ascendancy at court. Reports of his imminent removal circulated well in advance of his replacement by Hedges in May, and on 8 Apr. Vernon himself acknowledged the impending change, commenting that ‘I make no difficulty in submitting’. It was subsequently suggested that the intransigence of Lord Nottingham (Daniel Finch†) had brought about his downfall, although Vernon only observed that ‘a party will have it so’. Lords Godolphin (Sidney†) and Marlborough (John Churchill†) assured him that ‘they did what they could’ for him, and were instrumental in obtaining reward for his outstanding service in office. He was initially led to believe that he would receive an annual pension of £1,000, but in fact was appointed a teller of the Exchequer in June, an office reputedly worth £1,500 p.a., while his son became a groom of the bedchamber to Prince George. He was clearly satisfied with the eventual settlement, having foreseen that ‘I shall have no reason to repine that I am turned out of company I could not have lived with, being made more easy in my fortune and my mind’.31

Desperate to avoid further buffeting in public life, Vernon did not contest the Westminster election of 1702, ‘though, perhaps, I might have depended upon the kindness of my electors as much as ever’. Content with his ‘quiet post’, he made little impression on national affairs, but still found himself the target of party jealousies. New legislation to render prize commissioners liable for their accounts gave him further cause for alarm, and in May 1703 he was even ready to take ‘a less plentiful condition with greater security’ if it would head off the investigation. Fortunately for him, Shrewsbury was willing to intercede on his behalf with Lord Treasurer Godolphin and Speaker Harley, thereby bolstering Vernon’s case when the House examined the prize office in the session of 1703–4. Although censured in the Commons for having taken a sinecure, Vernon escaped punishment, but he then had to justify his actions to the Upper House in late March. He also faced further parliamentary scrutiny on this issue in the next session, and the matter would be raised by the Treasury in April 1705 and November 1711.32

Although Vernon appeared unconcerned for further advancement, his name continued to be cited as a candidate for various offices. In August 1703 it was reported that he would travel to Venice as ambassador extraordinary, but he himself confessed that ‘I could have so little complied with it’. He expressed greater alarm in May 1704 when rumours circulated that he might be reappointed secretary of state, but later reflected that he was in ‘no danger’ of gaining a post destined for Harley. However, by 1705 he had sufficient ambition to recommence his parliamentary career at Penryn, where he was returned unopposed. The Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) regarded his victory as a Whig gain, and he duly voted for the Court candidate as Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705. A parliamentary analyst described him as a High Church courtier, an assessment which accurately reflected Vernon’s sincere Anglicanism, but which gave a misleading impression of his attitude towards the Tories.33

The former secretary was the only Vernon to be returned to the 1705 Parliament, and was generally inconspicuous. He was moved to speak on 21 Jan. 1706 when the House debated the ‘whimsical’ place clause in the regency bill, and was listed on 18 Feb. as one of the supporters of the Court on that issue. Soon after the end of the session it was ‘strongly reported’ that both secretaries of state might be dismissed, and Vernon was cited as one of the likely replacements. Significantly, Charles Davenant* favoured Vernon as Harley’s potential successor, regarding him as ‘a man of parts and a man of real worth’. Macky was another who still rated Vernon’s professional ability, describing him as ‘indefatigable in business’, and observing that ‘never any secretary of state wrote so many letters with his own hand as he, nor in a better style’. However, the expected ministerial reshuffle did not materialize, and Vernon steered clear of the political limelight. In July 1706 he was even cited as a possible replacement for Methuen, as envoy to Portugal, but the report proved groundless.34

In the session of 1706–7 Vernon was a most active Member. His duties covered a miscellany of issues, for he helped to draw up the Address, served on the drafting committee for the vicarages bill, and attended the conference on the bill to regulate the carriage of gunpowder through London. Moreover, at the behest of Shrewsbury he paid particular attention to the passage of the Droitwich salt bill. Later in the year his name was mentioned as a possible envoy to the Low Countries, and Godolphin endorsed his candidacy, observing to Marlborough that ‘nobody has better inclinations, and he wants neither temper, capacity, nor integrity’. However, even though Vernon informed Godolphin of his readiness to take up the office, William Cadogan* was appointed instead.35

Vernon made a prominent contribution to the work of the first session of the British Parliament, revealing greatest concern for church affairs. The completion of St. Paul’s Cathedral appears to have been an issue of particular importance to him, and he was a leading sponsor of a bill to extend the time for the return of clerical certificates. In the wake of the invasion scare he was a member of two committees to draft addresses in support of the Queen, and was also appointed to the conference committee on the bill to secure American trade. Predictably, he sponsored the passage of another Droitwich salt bill, but was again unable to achieve Shrewsbury’s objective. His loyalty to the ministry was demonstrated in February 1708 when he supported the re-election of Hon. Henry Boyle at Westminster, and in the same month he delighted in the failure of the opposition’s attack on the management of the Almanza campaign. At the May general election he found little difficulty in maintaining his seat at Penryn, but his activity in the 1708 Parliament is obscured by the presence in the House of his son. Neither was conspicuous in the Commons, although on 15 Apr. 1709 one of them was condemned by the Scottish Members for speaking ‘foolishly’ in a debate on the Union. Vernon snr. does not appear on the list of Members supporting the naturalization of poor Palatines in that session, but he was appointed a trustee for the collection of funds to alleviate their plight. Moreover, he maintained his Whiggish principles the following year by voting for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.36

In the summer of 1710 Vernon briefly re-entered high politics, acting as go-between for Godolphin and Shrewsbury as the ailing Whig administration desperately sought new allies. On 12 July Godolphin reported that Vernon was ‘sorry to see things so very far gone, and hoped it was not yet impossible to save a little and to bring things to some tolerable consistence’, but the treasurer did not share Vernon’s optimism, particularly regarding Shrewsbury’s likely success as mediator. These negotiations were unable to save the ministry, but they may well have helped to strengthen Vernon’s own position under the Harleyite regime. As a ‘staunch and firm gentleman in the Low Church party’, he lost his tellership in September, but was subsequently rewarded with a bounty of £700 and an annual pension of £600. In addition, Vernon’s eldest son was appointed an excise commissioner ‘to let the father fall easily’. Relieved of office, Vernon snr. ‘took the resolution of withdrawing himself from public engagements’ and did not stand at the general election of 1710. This time he kept his word, and although maintaining a keen interest in current affairs, he ceased to play any significant political role thereafter.37

Ill-health was already causing Vernon difficulty by the time of his retirement, and after the Hanoverian succession he had recourse to use an amanuensis, confessing that his own hand had ‘grown so weak that what I write would scarce be legible’. A lifetime’s work as a scribe had clearly impaired his faculties, but it had far from provided him with abundant financial reward. Always professing unpretentious tastes, he expressed delight at news that George I was ready to confirm his pension, remarking that he would now be ‘so easy in my circumstances as to have nothing more to ask on my own account’. He had used his contacts to find employments for his relations, but left them a modest estate, giving substance to the impecunious lament which frequently accompanied his thoughts on leaving office. Furthermore, after his death on 31 Jan. 1727, his sons published an obituary which boasted Vernon’s ‘disinterestedness’ in the service of the crown, ‘of which there can be no stronger proof than from his not having added anything to his private fortune from so long a continuance in such an employment’. Vernon spent his final years at Watford, where both he and his wife were buried. By the time of his demise, both his sons had gained experience in the House and had become public figures, particularly Admiral Edward†. Vernon’s grandson Francis† perpetuated these family traditions, but, in contrast to his grandfather, who never gained so much as a knighthood, was elevated to the Irish peerage for his services to the state.38

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Perry Gauci


The principal printed source for Vernon’s career, Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, contains many errors and omissions, as demonstrated by EHR, xlviii. 624-30. The originals in Northants. RO, Montagu (Boughton) mss have been cited where necessary.

  • 1. Survey of London, xxxiii. 152; IGI, London; Misc. Gen. et Her. 4th ser. iv. 174; Al. Carth. 28; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 1386.
  • 2. J. P. Kenyon, Sunderland, 13; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1001; HMC Lords, n.s. i. 448; London Gazette, 13–16 Apr. 1702; Pittis, Present Parl. 347.
  • 3. Robbins thesis, 172–4; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 223–4, 232–3; Add. 40794, f. 1; Epistolary Curiosities ed. Warner, ii. 5–9; Macky, Mems. 125; HMC Bath, iii. 335.
  • 4. HMC 7th Rep. 482; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. pp. v–vi; ii. 202; Foxcroft, Halifax, ii. 225; HMC Downshire, i. 335.
  • 5. Morrice ent’ring bk. 3, p. 118; PRO NI, De Ros mss D638/13/1, John Pulteney* to Thomas Coningsby*, 23 Dec. 1690; CSP Dom. 1691–2, p. 10; Bodl. Carte 79, f. 364; Add. 40791, f. 24.
  • 6. Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 384, 428; Add. 34096, ff. 2, 181, 333–4.
  • 7. Luttrell, iii. 133, 475; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 412–13; Dorset RO, Lane (Trenchard) mss D60/X20, Capell to Trenchard, 21 Nov. 1693; Debates and Procs. 1694–5, pp. 85, 87; Add. 28879, ff. 213–89 passim.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1689–90, pp. 217, 556; Lexington Pprs. 147–8, 181.
  • 9. Shrewsbury Corresp. 402–3; Add. 17677 QQ, f. 549; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 13–14, 18–19, 44–50, 53, 145, 155, 168–70; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 1051–2, 1054–8; Oldmixon, Hist. Eng. 159–60; HMC Lords, n.s. ii. 291–5.
  • 10. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 47–49, 110, 212, 260–1, 358–9; BL, Trumbull Add. mss 90, Trumbull’s case, c.1696–7; Montagu (Boughton) mss 46/57, Vernon to Shrewsbury, 21 Jan. 1697; HMC Bath, iii. 97–99.
  • 11. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Bentinck) mss PwA 1466, Vernon to Portland, 16 July 1697; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. pp. viii, 276, 288, 356–60, 374–6, 398–9, 404–6, 411, 423–4; Kenyon, 291; Luttrell, iv. 342.
  • 12. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 377–80, 390–2, 398–9, 405–6, 418–19.
  • 13. Ibid. 431–4; CSP Dom. 1697, p. 498; Add. 17677 RR, f. 521; 30000 A, ff. 382, 387; HMC Buccleuch, ii. 586–7.
  • 14. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 439, 448–52, 455, 470–8, 480–1, 483–4, 486–7; ii. 2, 8, 10–12, 24–25, 31–32, 44–47; Cole, Mems. 9.
  • 15. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 100, 105, 115–17, 119–20, 128–30, 132–4; Chapter in Eng. Church Hist. ed. McClure, 3; PCC 53 Farrant.
  • 16. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, i. 315, 319; ii. 143, 145–7; Add. 40771, ff. 236, 298; 40772, f. 313; Bodl. Rawl. lett. 51, ff. 160–1.
  • 17. W. L. Sachse, Ld. Somers, 146–9; Add. 29592, f. 19.
  • 18. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 148–9, 166–7, 170–1, 216–25, 229; Add. 40772, ff. 248–9, 324, 357; 40773, ff. 5, 9; Montagu (Boughton) mss 47/104, Vernon to Shrewsbury, 27 Oct. 1698; Shrewsbury Corresp. 569.
  • 19. Portland (Bentinck) mss PwA 1485, Vernon to Portland, 13 Sept. 1698.
  • 20. Cam. Misc. xxix. 371–2, 380, 385.
  • 21. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 231–2, 272–5, 277–83, 288–90, 292, 305–6; Montagu (Boughton) mss 47/183, 186, Vernon to Shrewsbury, 13, 17 May 1699; CSP Dom. 1699–1700, p. 170; Add. 17677 UU, f. 154.
  • 22. Sachse, 159; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 374–5, 379, 411–13; PRO 31/3/185, f. 20; Suff. RO (Ipswich), Gurdon mss 2, p. 93; Som. RO, Sanford mss DD/SF 4107(a), notes of debate, 15 Feb. 1699 [–1700]; Add. 17677 UU, f. 178.
  • 23. Montagu (Boughton) mss 48/41, Vernon to Shrewsbury, 5 Mar. 1700; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 435–6; iii. 29–35, 39–42, 64–67.
  • 24. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 73–76, 84–86, 88–91, 95–96, 101, 105–7; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 83; Poems on Affairs of State ed. Ellis, vi. 222; Montagu (Boughton) mss 48/97, Vernon to Shrewsbury, 23 July 1700.
  • 25. PRO, 31/3/187, f. 43; Add. 30000 E, ff. 44–45; Cocks Diary, 70.
  • 26. HMC Lords, n.s. iv. 221–2, 273; Cole, 345–6; PRO 31/3/188, f. 1; Add. 30000 E, f. 104.
  • 27. HMC Portland, v. 646; SRO, Hamilton mss GD406/1/6509, Ld. Orkney to Ld. Hamilton, 15 Apr. 1701; PRO, 31/3/188, f. 24; Cocks Diary, 92; Chandler, iii. 178.
  • 28. Add. 30000 E, ff. 108, 138; 17677 WW, ff. 201, 206; 70295, draft letter, 3 Sept. 1701; Burnet, iv. 485–7; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 142–5, 277–8; Cole, 367, 376; HMC Cowper, ii. 438–9.
  • 29. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 159–62; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/4, James Lowther* to Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I*, 18 Dec. 1701.
  • 30. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 163–4, 199–201; Add. 17677 XX, f. 169; 7074, ff. 85–86; Cocks Diary, 229.
  • 31. Add. 7078, f. 93; 7070, f. 55; Burnet, iii. 156; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 218–19, 221–2, 224–5; Add. 17677 YY, f. 119.
  • 32. Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 223–4, 229, 230–4, 236–9, 241–3, 246–9, 251–6, 274–6; HMC Bath, i. 58; HMC Lords, n.s. v. 448; Cal. Treas. Bks. xx. 220; xxv. 540.
  • 33. Luttrell, v. 326; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 238–9, 259–60.
  • 34. Cam. Misc. xxiii. 81; Add. 4291, ff. 60–61; Macky, 125; Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 27 July 1706.
  • 35. Add. 40776, ff. 40–41, 44, 57; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 874, 926–7, 933.
  • 36. Montagu (Boughton) mss 48/177, Vernon to Shrewsbury, 15 Jan. 1708; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 341, 354, 356; Trumbull Misc. mss 53, Trumbull to William Aglionby, 15 Apr. 1709; Boyer, Anne Annals, viii. app. 40.
  • 37. Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 1566; Boyer, Pol. State, i. 6; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxv. 142; Wentworth Pprs. 144; Add. 40794, f. 3; NMM, Vernon mss 1/1A-Q.
  • 38. Add. 61119, f. 18; 40836, ff. 52–53; Vernon mss 1/1C, Vernon to Edward Vernon, 13 Aug. [1715]; PCC 53 Farrant; VCH Herts. ii. 450; Clutterbuck, Herts. i. 266.