Violet, Thomas (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

VIOLET, THOMAS (fl. 1634–1662), writer on trade, was a goldsmith and alderman of London. In 1634 he was fined by the company for not attending the warden's dinner (Prideaux, Mem. of Goldsmiths' Company, 1896, i. 161). He was imprisoned for twenty weeks in the same year for exporting gold and silver from the kingdom, and obtained his pardon on condition of discovering like offenders, and on paying into the king's privy purse a fine of 2,000l. Accordingly, in the following year a number of merchants were brought on his information before the Star-chamber and heavily fined. He claimed that he spent 1,960l. in this matter, ‘but received never a penny’ (cf. ib. i. 174). Soon after the outbreak of the civil war Violet was imprisoned for refusing to pay his share in the parliamentary taxation, and in 1643 he became one of the main instruments in Sir Basil Brooke's plot for winning over the city of London to Charles I's side (Gardiner, Civil War, i. 269). In December 1643 he went to Oxford to see the king and to bring a letter from him to the city of London; he was committed by parliament to the Tower of London on 6 Jan. 1643–4; and did not regain his liberty for four years, his estates in Essex and elsewhere being meanwhile sequestered. In 1652–3 he was occupied, in behalf of the Commonwealth, in prosecuting in the admiralty court suits against the owners of the ships Samson, Salvador, and George, who had been detected in the attempt to take silver out of the country. Harleian MS. 6034 is a thin folio ‘shewing the case of Thomas Violet, goldsmith, who secured to the state 278,000 pounds arising from the silver in the ships Sampson, Salvador, and George, wherein is contained his petition to his highness Richard, Lord Protector …’ The state papers from 1650 to 1662 contain many petitions presented by him to parliament, embodying his views on the ‘transportation’ of gold and silver, projects for arresting the decay of trade, and proposals for rectifying abuses at the mint. Most of these petitions are embodied in the numerous pamphlets which he published against the exportation of coin. It does not appear that his petitions met with success. He was probably a restless, meddling man, who failed to please his friends, while he certainly displeased his enemies. In 1660 Richard Pight of the mint complained in a petition of Violet's conduct to him, and in the same year a pamphlet was printed to disclose his practices ‘to trapan the Jews and ruin many families in and about London.’ His ‘Humble Declaration … touching the Transportation of Gold and Silver,’ 1643, was reprinted at Hull about 1812.

[Violet's pamphlets; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650 to 1661–2; Lords' Journals, vii. 58; Commons' Journals, ii. 107; Hist. MSS. Comm. 4th Rep. App. p. 58; Ruding's Annals of the Coinage, 1840, i. 390, 391, 421; Shaw's English Monetary History, 1896, p. 83. The titles of Violet's pamphlets are given in the Brit. Mus. Cat. and in Lowndes's Bibliogr. Manual.]

C. W. S.