Life of Sir William Petty 1623 - 1687
SIR WILLIAM PETTY
1623 - 1687
ONE OF THE FIRST FELLOWS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY
SOMETIME SECRETARY TO HENRY CROMWELL
MAKER OF THE 'DOWN SURVEY' OF IRELAND, AUTHOR OF 'POLITICAL ARITHMETIC' &c.
CHIEFLY DERIVED FROM PRIVATE DOCUMENTS HITHERTO UNPUBLISHED
By LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
AUTHOR OF 'THE LIFE OF WILIAM, EARL OF SHELBURNE'
WITH MAP AND PORTRAITS
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET
The present work is mainly founded on the collection of MSS. now at Bowood, consisting of the papers originally belonging to Sir William Petty, which afterwards passed to his grandson, John Fitzmaurice, son of Anne Petty, Countess of Kerry, and afterwards Earl of Shelburne; and of the letters written by Sir William Petty to Sir Robert Southwell, which appear to have been added to the collection at Bowood by the third Marquis of Lansdowne, through a purchase made at the time of the sale of the MSS. of Lord de Clifford, the then representative of the Southwell family. The economic works of Sir William Petty have also been freely referred to, as they frequently throw light on the events of his life, as well as on his opinions relating to politico-economic subjects. I have also used a number of scattered MSS., mostly in the Sloane and Egerton collections at the British Museum, and in the Rawlinson collection at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Of the transactions connected with the Survey of Ireland, Sir William Petty has left more than one account: (1) 'The History of the Down Survey,' of which three MSS. exist: the first, originally the property of Sir Robert Southwell, to whom it was entrusted by Sir William Petty towards the close of his life, is now in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin; the second is in the Library at Bowood; the third is in the Library of King's Inn, Dublin. It is from these MSS. that 'The History of the Down Survey,' edited with notes by Sir Thomas Larcom for the Irish Archæological Society, was printed (Dublin, 1851), and the references are to that volume, the notes and appendices to which are of great value, from their combination of historical knowledge with a perfect acquaintance with the details of the practice of the art of surveying. (2) 'Reflections on some Persons and Things in Ireland,' which purports to be a correspondence between Dr. Petty and a 'candid friend,' but the whole of which is the work of Dr. Petty himself. It is a more popular account of the events with which 'The History of the Down Survey' deals in detail. (3) 'A Brief Account of the most Material Passages relating to the Survey managed by Dr. Petty in Ireland, anno 1655-1656.' This tract is reprinted in Sir Thomas Larcom's work, pp. xiii.-xvii., as an introduction to the 'History of the Survey.' (4) 'The Report to the Council of the Survey of the Soldiers' Lands,' of which only a small and imperfect fragment exists among the Petty MSS. at Bowood.
The MSS. of Sir Robert Southwell passed into the hands of the De Clifford family, and were sold in 1834. The copy of the 'Down Survey' in that collection was bought by Mr. James Weale, of the Office of Woods, and at his death by the Government. It was subsequently presented to Trinity College, Dublin. The copy at Bowood was removed to England from Shelburne House, Dublin, where it was seen in 1777.
In the British Museum is a valuable MS. volume from the Library in Dublin, which belonged to the late Dr. Nelligan. Besides a copy of the 'Political Anatomy' it contains the four papers described in the notes to Chapter IX. of this work, and also some memoranda by a contemporary writer on Dr. Petty's method of work while engaged on the Survey. I have referred to this volume under the title of the 'Nelligan MS.'
My work has been greatly lightened by the use of a syllabus of the most important of the Petty MSS. at Bowood, made by my late uncle, the Earl of Kerry, who a short time before his death, as stated in 'Moore's Diary and Correspondence,' commenced collecting materials for a 'Life of Sir William Petty.' The Earl of Kerry had also collected some information from extraneous sources. In a few cases, when I have not been able to identify the origin of it, I have referred in the notes to the MS. he left.
I desire to acknowledge the obligations I owe to the notes of Sir Thomas Larcom in his edition of 'The History of the Down Survey,' and to the studies on the 'Irish Surveys' by Mr. W.H. Harding, published in the 'Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy,' vol. xxiv., parts i. and iii. (Antiquities); and to Mr. Prendergast's work 'On the Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland' (Longmans, 1865).
The references to Röscher are to a study by that author on 'The English Political Economists of the 17th and 18th Centuries,' published in the 'Abhandlungen der philologisch-historischen Classe der Königlich Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften,' vol. ii. (Leipzig, 1857), which is probably the most complete account of Petty's work as an economist which has yet been published. I am indebted to Mr. Madden, Sub-Librarian of the Bodleian Library, for the opportunity I have had of reading a very careful dissertation on Sir William Petty, presented to the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Munich by Mr. W.L. Bevan, which as yet is only privately printed, but deserves a wider circulation.
The references to Evelyn's 'Memoirs' are to the edition of 1854, published by Colburn; and those to Pepys's 'Diary' refer to the edition of 1893. The references to the 'Bodleian Letters' are to the work generally known as 'Aubrey's Lives,' published in the second volume of the 'Bodleian Letters' (London, 1813).
I have received valuable assistance in the course of my work, which I desire to acknowledge, from Mr. G. Bickley and Mr. Jeayes, of the MS. Department in the British Museum; from Mr. Hubert Hall, Deputy-Keeper of the Record Office; from Mr. Wrix, of the Royal Society; from Mr. E. Nicolson, Librarian of the Bodleian Library; from Mr. George Scharf; from Mr. Charles Heberden, M.A., Principal of Brasenose; from Mr. A.C. Peskett of Magdalene College, Cambridge; and from Mr. C.H. Firth and Mr. Archibald Bence-Jones.
Through the kind permission of the Marquis of Bath I have been allowed to consult a MS. at Longleat containing some interesting details as to Sir William Petty's death and copies of some of his papers.
I desire to express my obligation to Mr. W.S. Taylor, the editor of 'England under Charles II.' in the 'Series of English History by Contemporary Writers,' published by Messrs. Nutt, for the references in that book to 'Rugge's MS. Diary' and the 'Secret History of Whitehall.'
In the Appendix is printed a complete list of Sir William Petty's Works, found in his own handwriting at Wycombe Abbey, and transcribed by Lord Shelburne in the last century on the fly-leaf of a copy of the 'Petty Tracts' published by Boulter Grierson (1769) at Dublin, which contains the principal works of Sir William Petty, and is the edition referred to throughout the notes in the present book, in the quotations from his writings.
By the kind permission of Mr. Charles Monck, I have been allowed to reproduce the picture of Sir William Petty, by Sir Peter Lely, now at Coley Park; and by the kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Magdalene College, Cambridge, I have been able to present the readers of this book with an authentic likeness of the celebrated 'double bottom' vessel, from the Pepysian Library at that College.
I desire to acknowledge specially the valuable help I have received in regard to several points in the seventh chapter from Professor Henry Sidgwick.
The map illustrating the settlement of Ireland was originally prepared for Mr. Charles Walpole's 'History of Ireland,' and is reproduced by the kind permission of Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, & Co.
- British Museum, Miscellaneous Series, 21128, Plut. clxiii. D.
- The references are throughout to Part I. except where otherwise stated.