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Corruption, Party, and Government in Britain, 1702-1713

ISBN : 9780198738787

Aaron Graham
336 Pages
148 x 223 mm
Pub date
May 2015
Oxford Historical Monographs
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Corruption, Party, and Government in Britain, 1702-1713 offers an innovative and original reinterpretation of state formation in eighteenth-century Britain, reconceptualising it as a political and fundamentally partisan process. Focussing on the supply of funds to the army during the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-13), it demonstrates that public officials faced multiple incompatible demands, but that political partisanship helped to prioritise them, and to hammer out settlements that embodied a version of the national interest. These decisions were then transmitted to agents in overseas through a mixture of personal incentives and partisan loyalties which built trust and turned these informal networks into instruments of public policy. However, the process of building trust and supplying funds laid officials and agents open to accusations of embezzlement, fraud and financial misappropriation. In particular, although successive financial officials ran entrepreneurial private financial ventures that enabled the army overseas to avoid dangerous financial shortfalls, they found it necessary to cover the costs and risks by receiving illegal 'gratifications' from the regiments. Reconstructing these transactions in detail, this book demonstrates that these corrupt payments advanced the public service, and thus that 'corruption' was as much a dispute over ends as means. Ultimately, this volume demonstrates that state formation in eighteenth-century Britain was a contested process of interest aggregation, in which common partisan aims helped to negotiate compromises between various irreconcilable public priorities and private interests, within the frameworks provided by formal institutions, and then collaboratively imposed through overlapping and intersecting networks of formal and informal agents.


1. The British Fiscal-Military States, 1660-1830
2. Public Finance and the Pay Office
3. The Pay Office under Charles Fox, 1702-1705
4. The Pay Office in Northern Europe, 1705-1710
5. The Pay Office in Southern Europe, 1705-1710
6. James Brydges and the Pay Office, 1710-1714
7. Conclusion: A Partisan-Political State, 1660-1830

About the author: 

Aaron Graham received his doctorate from Oxford in 2012, and is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow and Junior Research Fellow in History at Jesus College, Oxford. He has also been Earhart Foundation Fellow in American History at the William L. Clements Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and an Andrew M. Mellon Fellow at the Henry E. Huntington Library in San Marino, California, and has published articles in English Historical Review and Historical Journal. His research examines the intersections of politics, finance, and government in Britain and its empire between 1660 and 1840.

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