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Gentleman Spectator (May 20, 1676)

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A Collection of news and editorials since April 14th)




Struggles continue in seeking a solution for the back pay of the sailors in the Royal Navy. Ideas considered include revenues from a new Royal Bank of England, increased tariffs, a new naval penny tax, and revenue savings from cutting back on corruption in the naval department.


At the most recent session of Lords, Chief Minister and Treasurer Thomas Osbourne, the Earl of Danby, proposed an investigation into the corruption allegations surrounding Admiral Newbury and others. If found to be guilty, they stand to lose office and title. In addition, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains would be appropriate as well.


The Banking Bill has passed the House of Lords but remains stymied in the House of Commons as the Country Party calls for less royal involvement and greater involvement of Parliament, a body that is often at odds with itself.


The rebellion in Virginia has yet to be addressed, but look for bills involving the dispatch of troops to support the Governor.


The House of Lords voted narrowly against a show of support for the new London regiment being raised by Major Charles Whitehurst, Earl of Langdon. The arguments of the opposition were centered around the notion that more soldiers in London were a greater risk to freedom than more criminals and enemy forces. The regiment is being raised privately by the Earl and therefore requires no funds from Parliament. Clearly, the Country Party has a problem with funding the salaries and sailors of this great kingdom, trusting instead the peaceful intentions of England's enemies, and the willingness of brave men to risk their lives for no pay. Perhaps this is why no regiment has yet been raised for the defense of Virginia.


Both Houses of Parliament seemed quick to welcome the selection of Karoline von der Pfalz of the Palatinate as the new Queen of England. The French candidate has returned to France amid whispers of cooling relations with France. Mignonette de Rovere, the Savoyard, remained as is said to have wed Sir James Winchester, a physician of some renown. This fueled great speculation at court.


With the prospect of a Protestant Queen, there has been a loss of interest in the Exclusion Act of late. The proposed Act would exclude Catholics from the throne, depriving the Duke of York of his birthright thereby. There is also talk as to whether the Duke's eldest daughter Mary should be wed to her cousin the Prince of Orange.


Other anti-Catholic bills are said to be discussed in the House of Commons, including a second Test Act. These seem fueled by whispers of Catholic plots and provocations. No doubt there are whispers in Catholic circles of Protestant plots and provocations as well, with a focus upon the murder of the Papal Legate recently. His Majesty has called for moderation and understanding, noting that conflict serves no one.




The royal wedding is to be the highlight, scheduled to occur in the Fall.


There are any number of ladies at court vying for the opportunity to be a Lady to the Queen. Lady Mountjoy is said to have the Queen's confidence to be her lead Lady in Waiting. It is expected that Queen Karoline would bring some from her homeland. As for the rest, we shall see which candidates shall emerge.


The winner of the royal lottery is said to be named on the King's birthday. Should it be a lady, it is expected that she would be added to the Queen's household as well, according to a source close to the situation.


As noted above, Lady Mignonette married Sir James. Other betrothals have been announced this season. Lucille Killington, sister of the Earl of Basildon has become betrothed to Francis Seymour, Duke of Somerset. Sybilla Nutting, niece of the Earl of Derwick has become engaged to Samuel Pepys, of the Naval Department. Lady Rebecca Halifax has been betrothed to Sergeant Hale of His Majesty's Life Guard. The Earl of Chilchester is said to be betrothed to Wilhemena Boyle, daughter of tobacco tycoon Peter Boyle.


Restoration Day is just around the corner. As usual, there will be celebrations across the Kingdom. There will be a ball in the King's honor Saturday evening. It is expected that Princess Karoline will be in attendance.




The West Indies Company is set to debut this summer with headquarters in Pall Mall London, and facilities constructed in Portsmouth and the New World. With a royal charter and a royal warrant for a sugar monopoly in the West Indies, the company is assured of success. The Chairman of the Board is to be the Earl of Basildon, also the Treasurer of the Royal Household. It is said that both the King and the Duke of York are to be invited to sit on the board, as well as other notables at court and men of business. It is said that shares of the new company will be offered to court insiders and then offered to the public at large, with shares traded on the Royal Exchange in London.

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