Act in favour of [John Hamilton], lord Belhaven and partners, tacksmen of excise from September 1695 to March 1697

Her majesty's high commissioner and the estates of parliament, having heard the petition of the Lord Belhaven and the other principal tacksmen of the 5d excise from September 1695 until March 1697, humbly showing that where by the report from the commission for auditing the public accounts the petitioners are found due in a balance of £526 sterling, they humbly craved leave to represent to their lordships that, considering the great trouble and expenses the petitioners have been at during the time of ten years bypast, it is evident that they have expended far more considerable sums than the balance found due by the report from the commission, and that they have made faith that all the money was collected and which the country did yield was paid in to the receivers. Therefore, in consideration of the petitioners' faithful and most painful services to the government in that calamitous times, and in making effectual to the public such considerable sums of money out of such broken and deficient funds, they being often forced to advance of their private money, the quarterly payments not answering the exigencies of the government, as is well known to many of their lordships, humbly craving his grace and the honourable estates of parliament to take the petitioners' case to their consideration, and not only discharge the foresaid balance but also, in justice, to remit to the foresaid commission the distribution of the abatement of £17,307 sterling, as per act of parliament for that effect, amongst them and their subtacksmen, with a special regard to their expenses for managing this whole affair, and with a special regard to these places where the2 calamity was most sensible, as the said petition bears. And, having also heard the report of the commission of parliament appointed for stating and examining the public accounts relating to the said matter, bearing that by the minutes of parliament dated 25 August 1704 it being remitted to the commission to inquire into the arrears of the tack duty of the Lord Belhaven's tack of excise in the terms of the deliverance of parliament thereupon in his favour, the said commission before acquainting their lordships of the inquiry they made into this affair, judged it proper to lay before them the foresaid deliverance of parliament in the Lord Belhaven's favour, to the end they might see how far it agreed with what they were to report. By the parliament of 1698 it was ordered that of what was paid by the Lord Belhaven and his partners of their tack duty to his majesty nothing should be given back, that what more should be found to be uplifted from the country than was paid, either in bonds or money, should be given to his majesty and that the tacksmen should be liable for the same whether it had been uplifted by them, their subtacksmen or collectors, and the tacksmen are declared no further liable and that what shall be abated after this manner shall be proportioned amongst the subtacksmen at the sight of the lords of treasury, that the commission might satisfy the remit of parliament in the terms of this deliverance. All imaginable enquiry has been made and particularly they called the Lord Belhaven's partners, subtacksmen and collectors before them and examined them upon oath as to the extent of their tack duty and collections, and of the payments made by them, either in money or by bonds, and whether there were any promise made or gratifications given for concealments. All these depositions, with all the other instructions and documents relative to this matter, the commission laid before his grace and their lordships, wherein they would find: firstly, that the extent of the Lord Belhaven's tack duty of excise for eighteen months amounted to £8,800 sterling. Secondly, that his lordship has paid to the treasury the sum of £58,029 8s 10d sterling. Thirdly, that by several acts of the exchequer his lordship had allowed him £4,862 13s 4d sterling as an abatement upon the account of guards, garrisons and manufactories, as is ordinarily given to other tacksmen of the excise. These two last sums being added together make £62,892 13s 4d sterling, so that there remains £18,007 17s 10d sterling. If this £18,007 17s 10d sterling had never been uplifted by his lordship, his subtacksmen and collectors, nor any part thereof, from the country then, by the foresaid deliverance of parliament in his lordship's favour, the total ought to be allowed. But by the enquiry the commission have made, they find: firstly, that the tacksmen have intromitted with the sum of £526 11s 10d sterling not as yet accounted for. Secondly, that Thomas Beaton, subtacksman for Fife, has collected the sum of £159 2s 6d sterling which he retains in his hands. Thirdly, that William Bernard, subtacksman for East Lothian, retains in his hands £140 11s 11d sterling. Upon the whole the commission were of opinion that, when these three last sums are paid up, there will remain £17,181 11s 7d which, having never been paid by or collected and uplifted from the country, ought to be allowed to the Lord Belhaven and partners according to the foresaid deliverance of parliament, together also with a full discharge of their tack duty, as the said report also bears. And her majesty's high commissioner and the estates of parliament, having fully considered the said petition with the foresaid order of parliament anent the above-mentioned excise in 1698, with the remit from the parliament to the commission for the public accounts for making enquiry in the terms of the said order of parliament, and the commissioners' report above-written thereupon, and being therewith well and ripely advised, they found and hereby find that the principal tacksmen paid in of their tack duty to the lords of treasury the sum of £62,892 13s 4d sterling, in manner mentioned in the report, and that they intromitted with £526 11s 10d sterling, for which the tacksmen have not yet accounted, and that there is in the hands of Thomas Beaton, subtacksman of Fifeshire, £159 2s 6d sterling and in the hands of William Bernard, subtacksman for East Lothian, £140 11s 11d sterling, which sums completes the petitioners' tack duty, except the sum of £17,181 11s 7d sterling which, after enquiry, was found not to be uplifted from the country. And therefore, her majesty's high commissioner and the estates of parliament, discharged and do hereby discharge the principal tacksmen and their subtacksmen and the country of the said sum of £17,181 11s 7d sterling not uplifted from the country, in manner foresaid, and also, in consideration of the petitioners' faithful services in managing the matter of the said excise, exonerated and discharged and do, by this act, exonerate and discharge the petitioners of the said £526 11s 10d remaining in their hands not accounted for, and of the said tack itself and whole clauses thereof, and sums therein contained, and ordained and hereby ordain the £159 2s 6d in the hands of Thomas Beaton, and the £140 11s 11d sterling in William Bernard's hands to be paid to George MacKenzie, tacksman of the northern shires, in consideration of his damages. Extract.

  1. NAS. PA2/39, f.75v-77.
  2. 'stress of the' inserted in APS.