Tuesday 3 September 1661

This day some of us Commissioners went down to Deptford to pay off some ships, but I could not go, but staid at home all the morning setting papers to rights, and this morning Mr. Howell, our turner, sent me two things to file papers on, very handsome. Dined at home, and then with my wife to the Wardrobe, where my Lady’s child was christened (my Lord Crew and his Lady, and my Lady Montagu, my Lord’s mother-in-law, were the witnesses), and named Katherine (the Queen elect’s name); but to my and all our trouble, the Parson of the parish christened her, and did not sign the child with the sign of the cross. After that was done, we had a very fine banquet, the best I ever was at, and so (there being very little company) we by and by broke up, and my wife and I to my mother, who I took a liberty to advise about her getting things ready to go this week into the country to my father, and she (being become now-a-days very simple) took it very ill, and we had a great deal of noise and wrangling about it. So home by coach.

32 Annotations

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

A couple of questions:

1) Their turner (which my dictionary defines as "one who forms articles with a lathe"), sends them "two things to file papers on very handsome." Not quite sure what this means, but it could give us some good insight into the previous discussion about what it is exactly that Sam does when he gets his papers in order. Ideas/info, anyone?

2) How can Lady Montagu be "my Lord's mother-in-law"? Wouldn't that be Lady Crew?

I'm getting more convinced that Sam's POV about his mother's simplemindedness has more to do with her unwillingness to heed his (or his father's) counsel in all things than with her actual mental acuity. Ya know?

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"had a great deal of noise and wrangling about it" his mother is not at all impressed with his success in life; for her he is still a child;I know some mothers like that.

Josh   Link to this

Sam's "two things to file papers on"---maybe just more table-space? Of course, once you have something the size of a dining-room table, even that winds up not being big enough.
My suspicion is that "file" here means "sort." We file papers IN things nowadays, but it seems an unlikely preposition shift (unless it's a slip of the pen).

Lorry   Link to this

When Sam took the liberty to advise his mother, it might've sounded like an order to his mother which is why she put up an argument with him.

Pauline   Link to this

"...a great deal of noise and wrangling about it."
Sam is clearly saying, again and again, that she "has become" different than she was before these reports began early this year. No doubt in my mind that she is suffering a mental deterioration. Well, actually she probably feels fine, those around her are suffering in trying to deal with her irrationality and frustrated outbursts.

Pauline   Link to this

"...Lady Montagu, my Lord's mother-in-law…”
Sam must have meant “my lord’s” step mother—or “my lady’s” mother-in-law.

Claire Tomalin spells this fourth and last Montagu daughter as ‘Catherine’. She has five brothers and will gain a 5th in 1964.

Pauline   Link to this

actually, in 1664

No mention of the King as godfather....

vicente   Link to this

"...This day some of us Commissioners went down to Deptford to pay off some ships..."
'I say ol chap, I'm not a B***** nobby clerk ye know. Let me say.......'
I may be a majority of one, but his garters are cutting deep. Then high about dear ol mum.
"...and she (being become now-a-days very simple) took it very ill, and we had a great deal of noise and wrangling about it...."

vicente   Link to this

A guess by one not knowing: "... our turner, sent me two things to file papers on very handsome...." I doth think they be weigh bills [bills of laden] that have been extremely well written, itemised, clear of all imperfections like blots of ink and erasures and other unseemly unpolished work done by one whose brainwashing is not by Granta or Isis , but an artesian who is proud of 'wot 'e do'..

vicente   Link to this

P.S. An artesian that would shame a quill pen pusher , [ one whose 3R's be well done, readin' ritin' and reckonin'.

vicente   Link to this

re: Failing Mum: another angle:I remember one of the local families daughter's went off to the big U [the first in the modern times] and up to leaving, was so compatible with her Mum, after two years, Mum IQ's drop 50% in the daughter mind, only years later, did mum get smarter again. 'Tis a failing of those whose ladder has up rungs only and fails to keep an even keel.[ failing to remember that what goes up, can come down , and the 'ead don't 'alf 'urt if one does slide down and failed to be nice on the way up]

vicente   Link to this

qu?:"...Parson of the parish christened her, and did not sign the child with the sign of the cross..." which level of C of E. show Catholic symbols?.

dirk   Link to this

"two things to file papers on"

Possibly small tables (with raised edges?), or small cabinets on turned legs with lots of small drawers (I've seen cabinets like this, but couldn't find a picture on the internet). "on" might be a misread for "in" (vowels in Sam's shorthand are not always clearly distinguishable).

vicente   Link to this

I do not think he was a cabinet maker, but I do think that he did work for the Navy and was submitting 2 bills. Sam was setting up his work sheets for keeping his debits and payments straight.[setting to rights, an expression of balancing the books, making appropiate adjustments.]
There are many expressions that taken without detail, do lead to false conclusions, i.e. cooking the books, not well I done I trust, just medium rare.

vicente   Link to this

To file can mean presenting to or submit to, to arrange or classify. Sam being the Clerk not the file clark, not to store away.

Pauline   Link to this

"...two things to file papers on very handsome."
Perhaps desktop cases with pigeon holes?

Mary   Link to this

"Lady Montagu, my Lord's mother in law"

L&M footnote states that this was Lady (Ann) Montagu, Sandwich's step-mother. Thus, not his natural mother but his mother in point of law.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

Thanks, Mary. And Vincent, interesting POV (as always!) about the "two things."

Bob T   Link to this

Mother-in-law
The meaning of this word(s) has changed since Sam's time. In Dickens' Pickwick Papers, Sam Weller often refers to his "Mother-in-law", where we would use the words Step-Mother.

A "turner" in Sam's time might well have been what we would now call a cabinet maker.

We can't simply take all the words that Sam uses, and translate them into modern usage. The English language is in a constant state of flux, where words come and go, and change their meaning too. When Sam "files" papers, he could be simply putting them in order, and not putting them in neatly labelled folders. And he certainly isn't putting them in folders, and then saving them to "My Documents" :-)

Stolzi   Link to this

Catholic symbols in C. of E.?

The sign of the cross is actually commanded, and mentioned in one of the prayers for Baptism. So it would be done even in "low-church" places where the sign of the cross would not be used generally.

I think Sam is offended by the Puritanism of this parson. Still a lot of Puritanism around, I am sure.

Here is the text from 1559 (a new Book would be established next year, 1662):

"Then the Priest shall make a Crosse upon the Childes forehead, saying:

"WE receive this Childe into the congregacion of Christes flocke, and do sygne him with the signe of the crosse, in token that hereafter he shal not be ashamed to confesse the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner against sinne, the worlde, and the devyll, and to continue Christes faithful souldiour and servaunt unto his lives ende. Amen."

In this case of course it would have been "she" and "her."

By the way, the Book also enjoins that the Baptism be held in the church on Sunday, if at all possible. I suspect this particular home christening is a case of "rank hath its privileges."

A. amilton   Link to this

One of the charms of the diary, to me, is puzzling out Sam's cryptic comments. What does he mean by setting papers to rights? Is it double entry bookkeeping, as suggested by Vincent, or organizing recent submissions into different categories for decision or further disposition by the board, or pretty much the whole range of his responsibilities as Clerk? Can the "two things to file papers on" refer (because of "things") to physical objects or, as Vincent suggests, more work for the Clerk? Why was the christening priest's failure to make the sign of the cross over the baby an ill omen? What is the root of the conflict between mother and son( and father and mother)? Each riddle draws me further into the inner and outer life of Sam in his times, especially because of the stimulus provided by the imaginative and scholarly work of the annotators.

Pedro.   Link to this

"failure to make the sign of the cross over the baby an ill omen?"

Maybe the lack of the sign of the cross would cast doubt that the baby had actually been baptised? Would this in turn mean, given the high mortality rate, that if the baby died, some would fear that it could not actually reach the kingdom of heaven?

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"sign of the cross"
we dont know if she went to Heaven,but we do know (spoiler) that she enjoyed this world for 97 years!!!!!

dirk   Link to this

"two things to file papers on very handsome"

I don't share Vicente's point of view here: the use of the adjective "handsome" seems to refer to something physical. I don't think anybody (nowadays or in the 17th c) would refer to bills or documents, or eve the act of filing, as being handsome.

For the sake of completeness:

turner: a lathe operator
From: Gendocs guide to "Ranks, Professions, Occupations and Trades"

turner: a person who turns wood on a lathe into spindles or similar items
From:
Dictionary of Ancient Occupations and Trades, Ranks, Offices, and Titles

See background info for the links: http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/329/#c9600
http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/329/#c12494

vicente   Link to this

'the use of the adjective "handsome" seems to refer to something physical’
Yes very true, bills of laden are a very physical item, paper not wood.
If they were working tables, I think Sam would have appreciated the gift[they be very expensive], and commented upon.
Presentation of documents were pieces of artwork: done up in scrolls and ribbons etc., not unlike document presentation today at Board meetings: People will go to great lengths and time {it has made a fortune for Kinkos, in helping to bedazell the CEO or Director with Fancy dress up presentations for conferences. To have the front page done up in bells and whistles, pies and bars colored too, a must now, never the facts, they must be on the back page in the last but 2 paragraphs. } People love parchments for telling us degenerate hoi poloi where they were dunked.
Time was even then taken, to have one make a great presentation. Very important if one wants to rise up in the world and get contracts. ‘Tis why the Seals and all those fancy Clerks for documenting Petititions, even to draggin’ them out of bed to get said paper work just right. Look at the bookbinding, works of art. Facade has been used for smoke screens for centuries.
Just my jaded view.
To-day the motto is ” Adequacy is enough” —”fimus est bonus”
When I was a litlle shaver, I was put to filing [smoothing not put into heaps z first] pieces of wood to make book ends and tea trays, in wood working. A skilled Table maker would take many days to make a nice little coffee table, mortise and tenon joints , chisel carvings galore, dowels, no iron nails, embellisments using and finally the intricate legs. These items being in Pepys house indicate not for the Office. May be latter he would get some fancy side work tables the house.
Just an opinion. nutin is carv’d in Concrete.

Mary   Link to this

Sam would have appreciated the GIFT?

What gift? At this point Howell is the officially appointed Turner to the Navy. I bet that these two, handsome 'things' have been commissioned by Pepys on Navy account, possibly made to his own design.

The fact that they have been delivered to his living quarters rather than to the office may represent simple precaution. Had Howell delivered them to the office at a time when Pepys was away from his desk, then one of the other clerks, or even one of the Sir Williams, might have thought, "Now, there's a handy article" and taken either or both for his own use.

George   Link to this

As a wood turner I have given this much thought and conclude that these were the bars that the papers or parchments were rolled on to.Rather like thin pastry pins with fancy finials turned on the ends.

George   Link to this

"this morning Mr. Howell, our turner, sent me two things to file papers on very handsome." I have visions of documents rolled up and stacked on shelves with their ends showing, tied in ribbons with tags and tassels to identify them. The lesser documents would have been just rolled around a pin and the pin removed but important ones with a seal would require something fancy (hansome) to be permanantly attached to.

vicente   Link to this

'bars that the papers or parchments were rolled on'.Makes eminent sense: thanks a niffty device

Bill   Link to this

"Lady Montagu, my Lord's mother-in-law"

NOVERCA, a Mother-in-Law, a Step-Mother.
NOVERCAL, of or belonging to a Step-Mother.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

Bill   Link to this

The Presbyterians were insistent that their children not be baptized with the sign of the cross and, actually, that the sign of the cross not ever be used. Sam was worried that "the Parson of the parish" was Presbyterian (!).

... since the putting the Laws in Execution against Protestant Recusants, those of them who were called Presbyterians have, on recollection of thought, and after Conference had with our Divines forborn their former Schismatical Separation from our Churches, and that particularly in our Metropolis they have in all things been ameinable to the Doctrine and Discipline of our Church, except as to the submitting to have their Children baptized with the use of the Sign of the Cross ...
---The happy future state of England. Peter Pett, 1688.

Peter Pett (lawyer): http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/14016/

The Surplice, the Sign of the Cross, the bowing at the Name of Jesus, and the kneeling at the Communion are to them so many Sins. They [Presbyterians] deal plainly with God, at least in outward appearance; and are resolved, as far as I see, to serve him without Ceremony.
---The New State Of England Under Their Majesties K. William and Q. Mary. G. Miège, 1691

Bill   Link to this

George, above, suggests that the "things" that SP has acquired to "file papers on" are "bars that the papers or parchments were rolled on to." He seems to be closest to the idea of these definitions:

A FILE, a Wire, &c, upon which loose Papers are strung.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

FILE, A thread or wire, whereon Writs or other Exhibits in Courts and Offices are fastned, properly called Filed, for the more safe keeping them.
---Nomo-lexikon: A Law-dictionary. N. Blount, 1691

(In Latin: filum = thread)

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