Friday 4 January 1660/61

Office all the morning, my wife and Pall being gone to my father’s to dress dinner for Mr. Honiwood, my mother being gone out of town. Dined at home, and Mr. Moore with me, with whom I had been early this morning at White Hall, at the Jewell Office,1 to choose a piece of gilt plate for my Lord, in return of his offering to the King (which it seems is usual at this time of year, and an Earl gives twenty pieces in gold in a purse to the King). I chose a gilt tankard, weighing 31 ounces and a half, and he is allowed 30; so I paid 12s. for the ounce and half over what he is to have; but strange it was for me to see what a company of small fees I was called upon by a great many to pay there, which, I perceive, is the manner that courtiers do get their estates.

After dinner Mr. Moore and I to the Theatre, where was “The Scornful Lady,” acted very well, it being the first play that ever he saw. Thence with him to drink a cup of ale at Hercules Pillars, and so parted. I called to see my father, who told me by the way how Will and Mary Joyce do live a strange life together, nothing but fighting, &c., so that sometimes her father has a mind to have them divorced. Thence home.

  1. Several of the Jewel Office rolls are in the British Museum. They recite all the sums of money given to the King, and the particulars of all the plate distributed in his name, as well as gloves and sweetmeats. The Museum possesses these rolls for the 4th, 9th, 18th, 30th, and 31s. Eliz.; for the 13th Charles I.; and the 23rd, 24th, 26th, and 27th of Charles II. — B.

25 Annotations

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"Will and Mary Joyce do live a strange life together" this is the second time in the last few days that Pepys' father has badmouthed this couple,but no details, really frustrating... gossip is an art after all!

Emilio   Link to this

"he is allowed 30; so I paid 12s. for the ounce and half over what he is to have"

This transaction is somewhat cryptic to me, but I suppose that Montagu received some sort of voucher from the King for a piece of gilt weighing up to 30 oz, so that Sam only has to pay for the weight in excess of that?

Also, this is not just the second time Sam has dissed the Joyces:

26 Jan 59/60: "Will did heartily vex his father and mother by staying. At which I and my wife were much pleased."

29 Jan 59/60: "I heard by my brother Tom how W. Joyce would the other day have Mr. Pierce and his wife to the tavern after they were gone from my house, and that he had so little manners as to make Tom pay his share notwithstanding that he went upon his account"

1 June 1660: "[My wife] writes word how the Joyces grow very rich and very proud, but it is no matter, and that there was a talk that I should be knighted by the King, which they (the Joyces) laugh at."

20 July 60: "I did this time show so much coldness to W. Joyce that I believe all the table took notice of it."

So far Sam has had nothing good to say about them; I picture them as the sort of obnoxious couple who regularly take advantage of others' politeness, and who Sam tries to have as little to do with as possible.

Alan Bedford   Link to this

"The Scornful Lady" was a comedy written by Beaumont and Fletcher, first acted about 1615 and first published in 1616. Sam saw this play on 27 November, where it was discussed in the annotations.

vincent   Link to this

Then "The Scorn-full Lady"

Mary   Link to this

'what a company of small fees...'

The transaction over the gilt tankard seems fairly straightforward, but these 'small fees' less so; is Sam being called upon to make up the difference in payment for the gifts to other prominent men, and if so, why does he feel obliged to do so? He doesn't specify Naval Office or Exchequer men (with whom he has some professional connection) just 'courtiers'.

If the additional payments were for the benefit of men who might look to Sandwich for patronage, one wonders whether Sam has had prior warning that he may be called upon in this way or whether he's exercising his own discretion on Sandwich's behalf.

David A. Smith   Link to this

"what a company of small fees I was called upon to pay"
Following Mary, I think Yes, Sam is indeed 'expected' to pick up the small overages. It's one more reminder that The Nobility Are Different, and I think it's deliberate selective amnesia on their part. Such folks may be mean and miserly with their own capital, then make up their generosity out of the public fisc, an attitude especially easy to adopt when king = state. But casual commingling of personal and political may (spoiler alert!) get our King into future trouble ...

David A. Smith   Link to this

"sometimes her father has a mind to have them divorced"
If I'm following the family tree correctly, Mary is a cousin (Sam's mother's niece) and Will an in-law, the sort of full-mouth-laugher whom we all suffer at extended-family get-togethers. This diary note ups the stakes (thanks, Emilio, for the chronicle!): Mary's father (Sam's uncle-in-law?) is now talking divorce.

Mary   Link to this

' have them divorced.'

L&M footnote states that this would have been by a decree of divorce issued by an ecclesiastical court and would not (unless the whole marriage were pronounced a nullity) have given rights of re-marriage.

Pauline   Link to this

"what a company of small fees I was called upon to pay"
I think these fees are in addition to and unrelated to the overage. They might be (very roughly) comparable to paying a sales tax today. That little extra your purchase requires that goes to fund the state or municipality — or, in this case, the courtiers. Not unlike the fees Sam collects at the Privy Seal Office.

How would we define courtiers? Defined and undefined positions at court? Excluding the lords and clerks?

And the Jewell Office? Part of the Exchequer?

And what do the numbers in the footnote mean? “the 23rd, 24th, 26th, and 27th of Charles II”

Nix   Link to this

"23rd, 24th, 26th, and 27th of Charles II" —

Porbably a reference to regnal years. As in “reign”, not “kidney”. English statutes and some other legal records historically were dated by regnal years rather than (or in addtion to) anno domini.

vincent   Link to this

Jan 1649 was beginning of CRII's reign [ interregnum was just an absence of king] so this year does make CRII's 12th? year .

upper_left_hand_corner   Link to this

"weighing 31 ounces and a half, and he is allowed 30"

Does Sam choose this plate at the Jewell office? Is this like an advertisers showroom or the Home Shopping Channel? If so, I wonder if the items might be subtly made or chosen to weigh slightly larger than round-number amounts, in order to increase the number of small fees that various people might have to pay.

Pauline   Link to this

"made or chosen to weigh slightly larger than round-number amounts, in order to increase the number of small fees"
I wouldn't think so. Isn't "plate" made and offered as a means of storing money value? Its weight determines its value. If it weighs slightly more than a value in question, there would be "change" given, overage paid. Making it heavier would make it cost more up front too. I still think the small fees Sam mentions are unrelated to the overage.

Does the design add value?

vincent   Link to this

price vs weight vs design; my guess it was very little value added for design as 1 oz of gold was worth in 1655: £2 10s 3?d. excess 1.5 ozs penalty being only 12 s.

tc   Link to this

Weight of gold...

I wonder what the actual "gold" of Sam's day was in terms of degree of refinement and purity. While today we are familiar with 14 karat, 24 karat, etc. perhaps someone knows if "gold" in those days was assayed quite to the extent we know today.

(Karat = a twenty-fourth part; 24 karat = pure gold)

I am reminded of the story of the beautiful "solid gold" trophy the Kaiser had made in the glory days of pre-WW1 yachting, which was presented to the winner of a Transatlantic race, I believe. When The Great War broke out, the trophy was given to the British government to be melted down and the proceeds to go to the war effort...but it was discovered that the beautiful gold trophy was lead...

I suspect unscrupulous operators in Sam's day pulled a few tricks like that.

E   Link to this

"what a company of small fees I was called upon to pay"

Hmm, I think I know what he means. In developing countries, official “free” health care is unaffordable for many people because of such extras. You need to pay off so many people such as the clinic’s gatekeeper, the clerk in charge of the queue, and the doctor’s receptionist. You then get the doctor’s examination for free, but services like writing a prescription can cost extra, and you hope she is not going to ask for tests which if you are lucky will be the same sort of “free”. (Paying for the prescribed medicine is another question altogether.)

Part of the real evil of systems running on bribes is the fact that they involve a flow of cash from the poor to those with power. It sounds as though Sam doesn’t feel too stung — presumably “my Lord” will reimburse him.

E   Link to this

I chose a gilt tankard, weighing 31 ounces and a half, and he is allowed 30

Upgrading your gift gives you a bigger status symbol to display as your token of the King's favour.

vincent   Link to this

'tis why the French serated the gold coins at this time to stop gold from being nicked.[so true tc][ where there is mook, there is money , where there is money there is a thief ]
O cives, cives, quarenda pecunia primum est;
Virtus post nummos.
Citizens, citizens, the first thing to acquire is money. Cash before conscience!
Epistles bk. 1, no. 1, l. 53

language hat   Link to this

Virtus post nummos:
By "Epistles" the good sir vincent is referring to Horace's First Epistle (to Maecenas):

Grahamt   Link to this

This means gold-plated (silver) rather than solid gold, I believe, or has the meaning changed over the years?

Stewart   Link to this

Sterling Silver, Gold & Gilt

To tc, Vincent and Graham

English silver and gold have been tightly controlled since at least 1300 and this is probably the best system of consumer protection in history. The penalties were such that there were remarkably few abuses.

Sterling standard silver is and was an alloy of 925 parts per thousand of pure silver, with added or residual amounts of copper, etc.

Gold was generally 22 carat or 22/24 pure, until 18 carat was introduced in 1798, as pure gold is too soft to be worked usefully.

Gilt does mean sterling silver gilded with pure gold - this by coating the piece with an amalgam of gold and mercury and then burning the mercury off - very attractive but very deleterious to the health of the workmen involved breathing the poisonous mercury fumes.

A piece of (silver) plate was charged by weight with two amounts, one per (Troy) ounce for the actual weight of bullion used, and the second also per ounce for the workmanship, less for plainer, more for ornate.

Since the coinage passed at the actual bullion content of the coins (or close to it) we know what an ounce of silver was worth, so the "overage" was approximately eight shillings for the ounce and a half of bullion, and four shillings for the "making".

The relatively high value of the bullion to the wages of the craftsmen made silver plate a very attractive way of storing value up against a rainy day, while enjoying both the use and display of the piece - Pepys becomes something of an addict to fine plate.

Pauline   Link to this

Thank you, Stewart!
Very helpful

tc   Link to this

Ditto, Pauline, your thanks to Stewart!

One of the best things about this site is the sharing of such knowledge.

vincent   Link to this

"gilt" thanks Stewart: and I always thought it was a way of turning a young sows [known as a gilt ME]ear into silk purse.{known as guilding a lily-sorry!} [guilding: ME gilden to overlay with thin layer of gold ;another meaning from old English: make bloody{such a luverly english word} or unnecessary ornamentation]

Glyn   Link to this

A good entry Stewart.

Now you have to work out where in "Background Information" to copy it, so that the data doesn't get lost.

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