Saturday, January 23, 2010

Question from Jessica - Monopolies cancelled by Elizabeth I

It is claimed that Elizabeth I cancelled some monopolies after much lively debate in the Parliament of 1601. Do you know which onopolies (or who held them) were cancelled?



Elizabeth M. said...

Herlast favorite, Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex held a monopoly on sweet wines, which she rescinded, I believe, when he was in high disfavor after his debacle in Ireland against the Irish rebels, when he made a truce he was not supposed to make.
Sir Walter Raleigh held a monopoly on tin, and Robert Cecil, son of Lord Burlegh, held a monopoly on starch.

kb said...

Jess - Where is this claim from?

Monopolies were a sign of royal favor and granted to those Elizabeth wanted to keep indebted to her. Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex did in fact have the 'farm of sweet wines' which were granted to him in succession (1589)from his step-father, Elizabeth's earlier great favorite Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It was not renewed in October 1600(?), at a time when Essex could least afford it and as a punishment for his conduct in Ireland.

Monopolies were indeed debated during the Commons session that started in October 1601. This was also a huge issue under James VI/I. For Elizabeth's reign, I don't have a handy dandy list of all the monopolies in effect in 1601. Much of the information would be in the Calendar of Patent Rolls.

The debate was regarding the development of economic markets, abuse of monopolies and the Queen's prerogative to dispense with England's wealth as she saw fit. You can read a re-telling of the debate here:

Sir Walter Raleigh held a tin monopoly out of Cornwall.(It's mentioned in the referenced link) Others held tin monopolies in other regions. Edward Hoby had a wool monopoly. Monopolies were granted for salt, tin, wool, finished cloth, fish, oil, vinegar, various spices, even starch.

Monopolies were granted to both men and women and women could inherit monopolies. In 1636, Lucy Percy inherited her husband's monopolies in Ireland. She was the daughter of Essex's sister Dorothy Devereux who married 2. Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland. Under Mary I's rule, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox was granted a wool monopoly.

Ladyhoby said...

kb I am I right in thinking that although these monopolies could be passed on through death, that Elizabeth review them say every 5 years or so. or did you just loose them if you fell out of favor with her. also did you ask for a particular one or was it pot luck?
I did try to read you link but my head started spinning I will have to take my time to understand it all

kb said...

Emma - Yes, monopolies were reviewed periodically. It was a good way for Elizabeth to keep everyone on their toes.

You could request specific monopolies but usually this was only in situations where you were the dominant regional power over a regional resource. However, generally the queen decided what she wanted to dole out or not.

The link I gave you is not an easy read but is very close to what actually happened.

If you are looking for a more readable secondary source about Parliament in general, then I am sure several people could make suggestions. You could start with Hartley, 'Elizabeth's Parliaments' and then if you're near a good university or research library you could check for Hasler, 'History of Parliament'.

Ladyhoby said...

Thank you
now you have got me thinking Sir Edward hoby's brother Thomas and his father inlaw both were councils for Scarborough and both were representative for parliament would they have been eligible for any monopolies and if so is there any way i can find out

kb said...

Emma -
Yes, both Thomas Posthumous Hoby, Edward's brother and Sir Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon were members of Parliament. In fact, the Carey kinship network was the largest in the Elizabethan Commons with at least 35 family members serving as MPs.

There are mini biographies with bibliographic references for members of Parliament under Elizabeth in "History of Parliament: House of Commons", Hasler (ed). I am not sure if monopolies are discussed in either of these bios.

All official grants of monopolies and 'farms' (right to skim profits from specific commodities) should be listed in the Calender of Patent Rolls. Not all of the Elizabethan ones have been published but the List and Index Society has done some good work on getting much of them printed up. You will need a good research library to find them though.

It's also possible that there is a good economic history secondary source for the period that has this information. I just don't know about it.

George Carey, 2nd Baron Hunsdon, Edward Hoby's brother-in-law, had a tin 'farm' for Cornwall - just FYI.

Ladyhoby said...

Thank you
will have to try to ask at our library there is a une in town unsure if anyone can use it. but if not a little information from time to time soon adds up and sometimes they connect. I have started to keep my own reference records since being on this site