23 May 2014

Charles Long's request for a pension

Charles Long, later 1st Baron Farnborough, by Henry Edridge (1805)

On January 10th, 1801, Charles Long wrote from the Treasury to William Pitt regarding his pecuniary situation. As a friend and political adherent, Long was hoping that Pitt could provide him and his wife with a yearly pension to supplement his salary and bolster his financial security. Long was aware that, amongst many other wartime pressures, Pitt was under tremendous strain as the Union with Great Britain and Ireland had just taken place. 

Long wrote:

“In the midst of many important considerations which necessarily occupy your mind, I have great reluctance in calling your attention at all to myself, and nothing would induce me to do so in any way which could be in any degree embarrassing to you. You probably know that independent of the Treasury I am not rich - in truth without being in debt my Income is not larger exclusive of my official Salary than when I was first appointed to the office I now hold. It is true, that I might have saved something since I have been in that situation, but I am not aware that I could have saved any thing material, and I believe I ought also to confess that I have yet something to learn on the subject of Economy. 

Mrs. Long’s [his wife] amount to about £1,700 a year to which if any circumstances should reduce us, I should not represent it as a Case of distress but as one which would oblige us to do that which is the best Philosophy in the world, [but] not pleasant - to alter entirely our Manner of Life. I am very sensible for ye uniform kindness that you will feel every inclination consistently with what is just to render my situation as unfortunate as possible, but I am also aware that it is much easier to feel the Inclination then to find the means - and I should wish extremely not to [oe] with the [oe] which others may have upon you - the only thing I have to suggest is a contingent Pension of 1,200 [£] P[er]An[num] - to take place whenever I ceased to hold my present office, or held an office of less than ——— with reversion of half to Mrs. L[ong]. 

This perhaps might not be thought unreasonable after a Service of ten years in a laborious office in the discharge of the duties of which I will only say of myself that I have endeavoured to be [oe] not to appear to be so. I wish you to consider this rather as asking your friendship & advice upon the subject, then as making a request for the particular thing I have mentioned. Your decision upon this point is of course very interesting to me, but a decision can[not] vary that attachment which is the Pride & Happiness of my Life. Ever sincerely yrs, Charles Long.” [1]

When Pitt resigned his position as First Lord of the Treasury the following month, Long followed him out of office, and was awarded a yearly pension of £1,500 in recognition of his services. The pension was £300 greater than what Long had requested.


1. Charles Long to William Pitt, January 10th, 1801. British Library Add Ms 89036/1/8, f. 3.

Image Credit:

Charles Long, later 1st Baron Farnborough, by Henry Edridge (1805). NPG 4046. Image Source.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't this a little bizarre? It's almost like Long knows Pitt is going to go out of office, and is preparing for the eventuality! (I also found it a little cheeky, particularly as £1700 p/a was not exactly deepest darkest poverty, but then they did things differently then!)