Sarah's Loans to the Government

31st May (1708 or before)

By Ruth Herman

Tuesday the 31st of May (1708 or before)[1]

This is in the first place to enquire how my  dear Lady Cowper does and in the next to desire when your lord is quite at leisure that he will look in his closet, where I believe he will find one of my tallys[2] upon the [debt?] of four thousand pounds.[3] I have all the orders for the whole sum which he was so good as to take care of for me, which was enough to receive the interest, but now the money is paid in to the exchequer upon that fund I was sent to for the tallys and I find I want one, which if it be lost  tis no great matter but if you can find it, it will save some trouble. As soon as I have dined I intend to go with Mrs Clayton[4] to Acton to see the bishop of Salisbury[5] if he is there, if not his lady, and if dear Lady Cowper should think the exercise would do her good it would be a great addition to my pleasure.  I will call you unless you like to come to me in a chair [litter] if you order me to do it.


[1]This letter must have been written no later than 1708 as Burnet’s wife Elizabeth died on 3 February 1709.

[2] Tally: A stick or rod of wood … marked on one side with transverse notches representing the amount of a debt or payment. The rod being cleft lengthwise across the notches, the debtor and creditor each retained one of the halves, the agreement or tallying of which constituted legal proof of the debt, etc.; the official receipt formerly given by the Exchequer for a tax, tallage, etc. paid, or in acknowledgement of a loan to the [government]. Oxford English Dictionary. These were stored in the Houses of Parliament and the brittle old wood was the seat of the fire that destroyed the original buildings in 1834. 

[3] Now worth over £300,000

[4] Charlotte [née Dyve] she married William Clayton who was a close friend of the duke of Marlborough, for whom he acted as a manager (and later executor) of the duke’s estates while Marlborough was abroad in 1713. She was a friend of Lady Mary and Sarah. In 1714, with Sarah’s help, she was appointed a woman of the bedchamber to Caroline, princess of Wales.

[5] Burnet,  Gilbert  (1643-1715), bishop of Salisbury and historian. Burnet was committed to a ‘broad church’ and anti-catholic. He went into exile during James II’s reign and returned as chaplain to William III at the Glorious Revolution in 1688. He was made Bishop of Salisbury in 1689. Politically he was a committed Whig and generally voted with them in the Lords. Despite Queen Anne’s dislike of Burnet he was appointed tutor to her son the Duke of Gloucester until the boy’s death in 1700.  He counted the Marlboroughs and the Cowpers among his most intimate friends.

This page was added on 27/02/2016.

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