HC Deb 06 June 1821 vol 5 cc1126-8
Mr. W. Courtenay

rose to bring forward his motion on this subject. The hon. member entered into a variety of arguments to show that the loyalists, who had been ruined in their property in consequence of their allegiance to their sovereign, were entitled to particular consideration. There was, he contended, a broad distinction between those who had lost their property in consequence of their loyalty, and those merchants whose losses had arisen from the ordinary circumstances of war. He then moved, "That this House will resolve itself into a Committee, to consider of an Address to his Majesty, praying for Compensation to the American Loyalists now remaining uncompensated.

Sir Scope Moreland

contended, that the misfortunes of the individuals alluded to arising as they did out of their inviolate allegiance, entitled them to the peculiar consideration of the House.

Mr. Buring

said, that if the claims of the loyalists were good for anything, the claims of the merchant creditors were equally so. There were three descriptions of loyalists: 1st, The landed proprietors; 2nd, Persons resident in America, who had claims in America, but against whom the courts of justice had been closed. 3rd, Merchants who were in a similar situation. After the struggle in America had terminated the House had made compensation to the first class. No compensation was made to the others; because the British government thought that the difficulties in the claims of those persons would have been removed. After much negociation, a commission was opened at Philadelphia on the subject, and there the question was mooted, whether those claimants were entitled to redress. The majority of the commissioners decided in favour of their claims, but the Americans, contrary to good faith, broke up the commission, and thus the matter ended. Under the advice of lord Liverpool, their claims were subsequently entertained by the American government, and a fund of 600,000l. was put at the disposal of commissioners. Under that commission the present claimants put in their claims; an award was published, at they actually received 50 percent, of their demand. The british government, in appropriating that fund to their wants, did not bind itself to make any further grant; and those persons having received their shares of that fund were not entitled to come forward with demands, which ought to have been pressed forty years ago.

Mr. Wynn

said, that from the best Consideration be was able to give the case of those persons, he thought their claims were founded policy and justice.

Mr. Money

Contended, that the persons whose claims were before the Houses were, after their long sufferings, entitled to the sympathy and Consideration of parliament.

Mr. Wilberforce

said he had, nearly forty years ago, supported the claim of these same persons. He had then thought that to refuse their claim would be unjust. Had the promise been made by parliament? Undoubtedly it had. Were they loyalists? They really and truly were. Their claim could not, therefore, consistently with the good faith of parliament, be rejected

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

opposed the motion, contending, that it was to the American government, and not to this Country, that these loyalist sought to appeal. By the act of 1783, they had received as much compensation as the circumstances of the country could afford.

Mr. W. Smith

contended, that the promises held forth in the proclamations of our generals were binding on this country; and denied that the inability to make compensation could be urged with effect, when larger compensations were allowed to persons whose claims were not so strong.

The House divided: Ayes, 77 Noes, 60.