30th June 1696. ‘The Darling Object of my Life’.(1)
The Dutch Wars of the mid 17th century were a catalyst for rebuilding the Royal Navy and Britain’s global power.
However William III’s shortage of funds and the war against France from 1689, resulted in the creation of the Bank of England in 1694, to support the increasing debt.
Of the 1.2 million pounds raised in 12 days, half was to go to the Navy.
After the accession of Mary and William in 1689, the English and Dutch allied against Louis XIV who supported the return of the deposed Catholic James II to the throne.
However the French was routed at Cape Barfleur and La Hogue in 1692, and the transports ready for an invasion were burnt. (2)
One magnificent outcome of the wars was a Charter to found the Greenwich Hospital for Seamen, in October 1694, with the foundation stone being laid Today in 1696.(3)
Daniel Defoe the author of Robinson Crusoe who owned a brick works at nearby Tilbury was to supply bricks for the project, being mentioned in payments in 1701. He later gave up brick-making, when he suffered imprisonment.
Wars with the consequent raising of new money always drive economic demand, and with a four-fold rise in sailors along with need for a timber, copper, nails and sail and other materials, this resulted in a prosperity for the now enlarged kingdom of Queen Anne which included Scotland after 1707.
(1) Queen Mary wife of William of the Dutch House of Orange. She was the daughter of the deposed James II.
(2) We had 56 ships in action, with the Blue Squadron under Ashby, with names such as Hope, Woolwich, Deptford and Ossory, and the Red under Russell.
Barfleur was the decisive battle in the Nine Years’ War, or the War of the English Succession and was to be the subject of a painting by Richard Paton.
(3) After the death of his wife, William back-dated the Hospital’s Charter to a time before her death, so it could be issued in two names. The Diarist John Evelyn aged 75, a friend of architect ChristopherWren, became the Treasurer.