Thursday 12 July 1660

Up early and by coach to White Hall with Commissioner Pett, where, after we had talked with my Lord, I went to the Privy Seal and got my bill perfected there, and at the Signet: and then to the House of Lords, and met with Mr. Kipps, who directed me to Mr. Beale to get my patent engrossed.

But he not having time to get it done in Chancery-hand, I was forced to run all up and down Chancery-lane, and the Six Clerks’ Office but could find none that could write the hand, that were at leisure. And so in a despair went to the Admiralty, where we met the first time there, my Lord Montagu, my Lord Barkley, Mr. Coventry, and all the rest of the principal Officers and Commissioners, [except] only the Controller, who is not yet chosen. At night to Mr. Kipps’s lodgings, but not finding him, I went to Mr. Spong’s and there I found him and got him to come to me to my Lord’s lodgings at 11 o’clock of night, when I got him to take my bill to write it himself (which was a great providence that he could do it) against to-morrow morning.

I late writing letters to sea by the post, and so home to bed. In great trouble because I heard at Mr. Beale’s to-day that Barlow had been there and said that he would make a stop in the business.

15 Annotations

vincent  •  Link

"Engrossed " written in large hand but with special type of letters as Paul Brewster points out; Sounds so modern to have ones business presentation with all the right bar graphs, pies charts, etc., (not printers pies) with all the bells and whistles:
Talk about getting all ones little ducklings all in a row ; right paper, right words, right type style, correct signatures, ribbons et al. Oh what a day to get all signed ,sealed and delivered before that man turns up, may he will forget where his desk was, having away so long.

Arbor  •  Link

As a runner... it's nice to hear of Samuel running! But not so nice likely dressed up to the nines...

chip  •  Link

Sam is too young to realize that Barlow is too old to be a threat to the post and will be bought off with a bribe (which is probably all Barlow wants). It is amusing to think of Pepys dashing from office to office for a clerk free to do his bidding and finding none, waiting until 11 pm to get the job done.

Brad  •  Link

I'm assuming that there's a practical (rather than an esthetic) reason for needing this document to be done on the right paper, in the right hand, etc. Were such measures protection against accusations of forgery? Is all this business of symptom of Sam's concern about securing the office? Wouldn't the royal seal (I assume that's what he was doing at the Privy Seal) sufficient? Or is this just because it's a document he is proud of and expects to display?

Alan Bedford  •  Link

From about 1454 until Parliament abolished the practice in 1836, all "official" royal documents (appoitments, proclamations, etc.) were required to be written in Chancery-hand (hence the street full of clerks trained in the script.) This was in addition to the seal. Paul's citations, above, seem to be nice examples.

Nigel Pond  •  Link


Until the age of the word processor, the final signature versions of legal documents were referred to (at least in England) as "engrossments".

wisteria53  •  Link

At the large London law firm where I work, we still ask our photocopy dept for "engrossed" copies of agreements for signing (means velo bound on blue-gray paper).

The lawyers will also often ask to print the final copy of a letter on headed paper as "please engross this letter".

Rabbitears  •  Link

The usage wisteria53 mentions in London persists here in Singapore too. I was completely bewildered the first time I was asked to "ask the secretary to engross this letter so I can sign it" (i.e. print up a nice copy on a letterhead). I don't think I had heard the word in any context before then, and have not heard it outside the firm since!

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I went to the Privy Seal and got my bill perfected there, and at the Signet:"

Signet Office

"In many ways the secretariat thus became a competitor of the chancery. In addition, during the first half of the 14th century, the Signet Office was established, so called after the small seal (signet). The king’s secretary was also the head of this office."

Clerk of the Signet [dreary functionary that Pepys had thought he might be]

"The Clerks of the Signet were English officials who played an intermediate role in the passage of letters patent through the seals. For most of the history of the position, four clerks were in office simultaneously. / Letters patent prepared by the Clerk of the Patents were engrossed at the Patent Office and then sent by the Secretary of State to receive the royal sign-manual. The duty of the Clerks of the Signet was to compare the signed bills with a transcript prepared by the Clerk of the Patents, and then to rewrite the transcript as a bill of privy signet, which was returned to the Secretary of State to be signed with that instrument. / By the end of the seventeenth centuries, many of the Clerks of the Signet performed their work through deputies, with the office itself becoming a sinecure."

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Alan Bedford rightly posted: "From about 1454 until Parliament abolished the practice in 1836, all "official" royal documents (appointments, proclamations, etc.) were required to be written in Chancery-hand (hence the street full of clerks trained in the script.) " -- and the clerks in the Chancery Office. It was about jobs!

Bill  •  Link

1. To thicken; to make thick. Spenser.
2. To encrease in bulk. Wotton.
3. To fatten; to plump up. Shakespeare.
4. To seize in the gross. Shakespeare.
5. To purchase the whole of any commodity for the sake of selling at a high price.
6. To copy in a large hand. Pope.
---A Dictionary Of The English Language. Samuel Johnson, 1756.

Dick Wilson  •  Link

Bill, we are talking about meaning number 6. I practiced law for 30 years, and how anybody did it before the invention of the Xerox machine in a mystery to me. Everything had to be in triplicate at least. Here, we get glimpses of how things were done in Pepys' day. He seeks legal advice and gets an expert to draft his patent. He gets the King to sign it, but that's not enough. He gets special paper for the document. Then he has to go from clerk to clerk getting it copied and sealed with the proper seals, and this final copy "engrossed" -- written large, with special lettering, and re-sealed. The original reasons why are lost in antiquity. Now "It is done this way because this is the way it is done!" And now the reason for doing things this way is to engross (meaning #3) the clerks.

Bill  •  Link

Indeed, but I thought the entire definition from that other Sam's famous dictionary would be interesting. The way it was done in SP's day is the way citizens handle government paperwork in much of the third world today. You pay someone to do it. A roadside scribe perhaps. Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener is about just such a person in a nineteenth century law office.,_the_Scri...

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