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formerly the Excise Office; then the South Sea Company's office; from which it is known by the name of the Old South Sea House. The new building, in which the company's affairs are now transacted, is a magnificent structure of brick and stone, about a quadrangle, supported by stone pillars of the Tuscan order, which form a fine piazza. The front in Threadneedle Street is beautiful, of the Doric order, and the walls are of a great thickness. The several offices are admirably disposed: and the great ball for sales, the dining room, galleries and chambers, are very beautiful and convenient. Under all are arched vaults to preserve what is va. Juable from accidental fire.
The South Sea Company had its origin in the purchase of seamen's tickets in the reign of Queen Anne; they being so badly paid, that the necessitous were obliged to part with them at 401, and sometimes 501. per cent. consequently a debt of 9,177,9671. 15s. 4d. accumulated in the hands of those avaricious usurers, by this and other accounts; unprovided for by parliament. This society of men taking the debt into their hands, obtained an act of parliament, in 1710, to make them a body politic. The year following, the debt being discharged, this company was made perpetual; and her majesty incorporated them by the name of " The Governor and Company of Merchants of Great Britain trading to the South Seas and other parts of America, and for encouraging the Fishery.” And in 1714, when lending the government an additional sum of 822,0321.4s. 8d. the capital of the company was, by act of parliament, enlarged to ten millions; for which the members received six per cent. interest, or 600,000l. per annum.
By an act of parliament in 1720, this company was further favoured with the sole privilege of trading to the South Seas, within certain limíts, and enabled to encrease their capital, by redeeming several of the public debts. Which proved the ruin of the subscribers. For by the arts used on this occasion by some in power, the capital stock of the company was soon raised to 33,543,2631. ; as we have more fully stated in the first part of this work.
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However, the company was not dissolved: and in the year 1733, it was enacted by parliament, “ That the capital stock of the South Sea company, which then amounted to 14,651,1031. 8s. 1d. and the shares of the respective proprietors, should be divided into four equal parts: threefourths of which should be converted into a joint stock, attended with annuities after the rate of four per cent. till redemption by parliament; and should be called the New South Sea annuities : whilst the other fourth part should remain in the company as a trading capital stock, attended with the residue of the annuities or funds, payable at the exchequer to the company till redemption.”
Notwithstanding the terms of their charter, by which we are to look upon this company as merchants, it is observable that they never carried on any considerable trade. And now they have no trade. They only receive interest for their capital, which is in the hands of the government; and 8000l. per ann. out of the treasury, towards the ex, pence attending the management of their affairs; which is done by a governor, sub-governor, deputy governor, and twenty-one directors, annually chosen on the 6th of February, by a majority of votes. Such members of the company as have 10001. in the capital stock in their own names, having one vote; such as have 30001. two votes; such as have 50001. three votes; and such as have 10,0001, or more stock, four votes; and none above.
No person is eligible to be governor, sub-governor, deputy governor, or director, while he is governor, deputy governor, or director of the Bank of England.
Lower down in this street is
MERCHANT TAYLOR'S HALL. In the reign of Edward III, a gentleman named Edmund Crepin did, during the year 1331, for a certain sum of money, make a grant of his principal messuage in the wards of Cornhill and Broad Street, then held by Sir Oliver Ingham, to John of Yakesly, the king's pavilion maker, for the use of this company. The building was therefore called the New Hall, or Taylor's Inn, to distinguish it from
their old Hall, which stood originally in Basing Lane, near Friday Street. This hall continued till the Great Fire, and being destroyed, the present handsome fabric was constructed. The principal room is very spacious, and elegant; on which account it is often used for the dinners of public corporations, particularly for the annual assemblage of the great characters in church and state, which compose the CORPORATION FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE SONS OF THE CLERGY.
Among the pictures in the different apartments of the whole building, one of the principal is Henry VII. presenting the charter of incorporation to the company, painted by Mr. Nathaniel Clarkson, of Islington, a member of the court of assistants. The king is attended by archbishop Warham, lord high chancellor of England. Next to the archbishop is Fox, bishop of Winchester. Another of Henry's courtiers, on the left hand, is Willoughby, Lord Brooke, steward of the houshold, with bis white wand; and in the foreground, the clerk of the company exhibits a list of the royal freemen of the company.
Sir Thomas Rowe, Merchant Taylor, lord mayor in 1568, dressed in a bonnet, ruff, and scarlet gown. We have in another part of this volume made mention of his vast benefactions.
Sir Thomas White, Merchant Taylor, lord mayor in 1553. His illustrious deeds are also before noticed.
The first patent for the arms of this company (then called Taylors and Linen Armourers) was granted anno 1480, and in the year 1501 they were incorporated by Henry VII. by the name of Merchant Taylors, and their supporters were granted them in 1586. They are a most numerous and
company, composed of merchants, mercers, drapers, taylors, and some other trades, and are governed by a master, four wardens, about 40 assistants, and there are on the livery four hundred and eighty-five, the fine for which is 151.
The Merchant Taylors bear for their armorial ensigns, argent, a tent royal between two parliament robes gules,
lined ermin. On a chief azure, a lion of England. Crest, a holy lamb in glory proper. Supporters, two camels or. Motto, Concordia parva res crescunt.
The following List, as noble as it is extraordinary, is subjoined of distinguished Characters, who have been enrolled Freemen of the Merchant Taylors Company.
PRINCES. John of Gaunt, duke of Lan- Richard, duke of York 1434 caster
1385 George, duke of Clarence 1462 Edmund of Langley, duke of Henry, prince of Wales 1607 York
1390 The prince of Bavaria 1607 Thomas,duke of Gloucester 1390 Henry, duke of Gloucester 1661 Humphrey, duke of Gloucester George, prince of Denmark
Dukes. Thomas Holland, duke of Surrey Lodowick, duke of Lennox 1607
1399 George, duke of Buckingham John, duke of Norfolk 1438
1661 Delapole, duke of Suffolk James, duke of Ormond 1662
duke of Monmouth 1674 John, duke of Norfolk
1469 Henry, duke of Grafton 1675 George, duke of Bedford Francis, duke of Somerset 1677 Edward, duke of Buckingham Christopher, duke of Albemarle
LORDS SPIRITUAL. Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Rob. de Braybroke, bishop of Canterbury 1401 London
1382 Simon de Sudbury, bishop of John, bishop of Durham London
1373 Walter, bishop of Durham 1391 William de Courtenay, bishop of Edmund, bishop of Exeter London 1378
Nicholas Bubbewich, bishop of Thomas, lord bishop of Ely 1444 London
1 406 John, lord bishop of Rochester Henry, lord bishop of St. David's
1445 1411 Thomas Kemp, lord bishop of Henry, lord bishop of Win idon
1412 William, lord bishop of WinPhilip, lord bishop of Worcester chester
1452 1422 George, lord bishop of WinJohn Kemp, lord bishop of Lon chester, and chancellor of don 1425 England
1459 William Gray, lord bishop of Laurence, lord bishop of Durham London 1 428
1469 Thomas, lord bishop of Wor- John, lord bishop of Exeter 1469 cester
1 432 John, lord bishop of Rochester Marmaduke, lord bishop of Car
1432 William Laud, lord bishop of Robert, lord bishop of Salisbury London
1632 1437 Hon. Henry Compton, lord bi. Robert Fitz Hugh, lord bishop
shop of London 1676 of London
EARLS. Roger, earl of March 1351 Edmund, earl of March 1414 Humphrey, earl of Hereford Thomas, earl of Salisbury 1414
1373 Henry, earl of Northumberland Edmund, earl of March 1377
1420 Henry, earl of Northumberland The earl of Northampton 1427
1379 William, earl of Eu 1429 Johưi, earl of Pembroke 1379 Johı, earl of Oxford 1434 Thomas,earlof Nottingham 1388 William, earl of Arundel 1440 Edmund, earl of Rutland 1390 John, earl of Worcester 1451 Thomas, earl of Warwick 1390 Richard, earl of Warwick 1452 Thomas, earl of Nottingham Henry, earl of Dorset 1 453
1390 John, earl of Shrewsbury 1466 John, earl of Huntingdon 1390 John, earl of Oxford 1468 William, earl of March 1397 The earl of Suffolk
1469 Edward, earl of Kent 1407 Charles, earl of Nottingham Richard, earl of Warwick 1411
1607 John, earl of Huntingdon 1412 Thomas, earl of Suffolk 1607 James, earl of Ormond 1412 Thomas, earl of Arundel 1607 2