Julian Goodare of the University of Edinburgh will present on ‘the Octavians’.

The Octavians were a group of eight reforming financial administrators drawn from the lesser nobility. Initially part of the household of Queen Anna, they were formed in 1596 to attempt to tackle the calamitous state of James’ finances. They were led by the celebrated Alexander Seton, later first Earl of Dunfermline, one of the greatest Scottish patrons of the arts in the period.  Two years later, having largely failed in the impossible, they were disbanded, but each member continued to have some role in government. James’ finances went back to a state of chaos as his chamber took over.

Although they had some brief successes in bringing James’ exchequer into some sort of order, they attracted much criticism, partly because of their reforms, but partly because several of their number were known Catholics. Julian will talk about the origins of the group, their fiscal ideas and their later careers.


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