Monday 3 March 1661/62

All the morning at home about business with my brother Tom, and then with Mr. Moore, and then I set to make some strict rules for my future practice in my expenses, which I did bind myself in the presence of God by oath to observe upon penalty therein set down, and I do not doubt but hereafter to give a good account of my time and to grow rich, for I do find a great deal more of content in these few days, that I do spend well about my business, than in all the pleasure of a whole week, besides the trouble which I remember I always have after that for the expense of my money. Dined at home, and then up to my chamber again about business, and so to the office about despatching of the East India ships, where we staid till 8 at night, and then after I had been at Sir W. Pen’s awhile discoursing with him and Mr. Kenard the joiner about the new building in his house, I went home, where I found a vessel of oysters sent me from Chatham, so I fell to eat some and then to supper, and so after the barber had done to bed. I am told that this day the Parliament hath voted 2s. per annum for every chimney in England, as a constant revenue for ever to the Crown.1

  1. Although fumage or smoke money was as old as the Conquest, the first parliamentary levy of hearth or chimney money was by statute 13 and 14 Car. II., c. 10, which gave the king an hereditary revenue of two shillings annually upon every hearth in all houses paying church or poor rate. This act was repealed by statute I William and Mary, c. 10, it being declared in the preamble as “not only a great oppression to the poorer sort, but a badge of slavery upon the whole people, exposing every man’s house to be entered into and searched at pleasure by persons unknown to him.”

14 Annotations

chris   Link to this

I am intrigued by the oysters. Sam has taken delivery of barrels of oysters before, and he never seems to pay for them. Are they perks of office? Also, would they be fresh ones that he has to open for himself, or preserved, smoked,or pickled ones such as are still found in Australian Fish'n' Chip Shops.No doubt one among you Pepysophiles will know the answers.

Pauline   Link to this

"...bind myself in the presence of God by oath to observe upon penalty therein set down..."
I sure wish he had set the penalty down in his diary as well. Wonder if this financial plan and the oath have survived in his papers?

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

re: Oysters

Chris, you can find more info here:

And Pauline, I agree -- would be interesting to read Sam's oath and proposed punishment. I can't parse from the sentence whether or not he did it in the presence of others, though. Looks as if it might have been simply between him and God.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Sam has not confided to his diary what his restrictions on expenses are going to be. I suppose it is too much to hope that he did write these strictures down and that they were preserved amongst other papers? I took it that this swearing was just between him, God and the Family Bible. Eating oysters was obviously not one of his forbidden pleasures - wonder if buying them for other people is? And is anyone out there taking bets on how long before he goes to the Theatre again!!

vicenzo   Link to this

The Oath beseeched. He has discovered that the day after he dothe buy trinket it be no longer fun, and worrying about debt as he rushes a round paying up his markers, he has seen first hand the trouble Debt can bring, see the final outcome of bankcrupcy as done to his former leader of the Navy [ ]
and to family members, He realises he has a wonderful income, if only he can keep it, the purchasing power that he commands is excellent. {He may not voice it but he now knows that he must watch those pence, The Pound can take of it self [for example, people tell me that would like 500$ for an airfare, but there they be, gulping Cafe Lattes at $5.0 a go or 1850$ a year.]
Easy come easy go.
Colchester Oysters, Best bet, it be thanks for putting P.O. for Masts or meely biscuits or even moustrap cheese the presenter's way. Today we leave the room, for a sec. leaving an insider tip oo the latest stock exposed, Oh! much more subtle means of Baqsheesh.
The punishment be a to walk to the fields.

vicenzo   Link to this

Hearth Tax.
Ordered, That a Bill be brought in, for laying an Imposition upon Chimney Hearths, towards the Supply of his Majesty's Revenue.
A Bill for laying an Imposition upon Chimney Hearths, towards the Supply of his Majesty's Revenue, was this Day read the First time.
Ordered, That this Bill be read the Second time on Monday next.

From: British History Online
Source: House of Commons Journal Volume 8: 1 March 1662. Journal of the House of Commons: volume 8, (1802).
URL: tax 1662
Date: 04/03/2005

E   Link to this

The reasons for repealing the Hearth Tax are most interesting when considering how the UK's Television Licence scheme works today. The licence fee is used to fund our state broadcaster, the BBC.

Television ownership is very nearly universal in the UK, and each "household" (technically including for instance each student in shared university accomodation) must buy a licence -- exemptions only for the over-75s, reductions for the blind. So the licence fee is levied at a flat rate on nearly everyone, making it effectively a regressive tax and thus more of an oppression "to the poorer sort". And yes, sadly, if there is no licence registered for your address it exposes "every man's house to be entered into and searched at pleasure by persons unknown to him”.

Bring back William and Mary?

Bradford   Link to this

The problem, as Pepys has demonstrated before and will again, is that the mere heaping up of money is, however welcome, monotonous, and there are generally only two ways to do it, legal or illegal. With pleasures, however, if you tire of one, there are twenty others yet to be tried. N.B.: Don't write down anything you may not want yourself bound by later.

JWB   Link to this

Commodity prices
Interesting historical perspective here:
Approx. 1% compounded /year for the last 200 years. I assume can be projected another 140 yrs back to Sam's time. If you have dial-up, wait for it.

Clement   Link to this

Re: AusSusan "Sam has not confided to his diary...his restrictions on expenses"
It's less conspicuous to toss a sheet of foolscap to the hearth than to cut a page out of your journal!

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

re: hearth tax/license fee

Not to worry, E, it seems as if what you consider the modern-day hearth tax might be on its way out, courtesy of the 'net:,,2-15086...

As a Yank, all I can say is that I wouldn't mind a license fee if it did something to stem the tide of "reality" TV shows currently sweeping the nation's airwaves ... what I see of the BBC over here is usually heads and shoulders above the crap on American TV and its race for the bottom.

vicenzo   Link to this

How do you want your butter?:
Packing Butter.
A Bill for the regulating Abuses in the Packing and Weighing of Butter, was this Day read the Second time.
And a Petition of divers Freemen and Inhabitants of the City of London, trading in Butter and Cheese, being tendered;

From: British History Online
Source: House of Commons Journal Volume 8: 3 March 1662. Journal of the House of Commons: volume 8, (1802).
Date: 05/03/2005

Kevin Peter   Link to this

Regarding Oysters:
I believe that Sam sometimes gets gifts of oysters from merchants who are involved (or want to be involved) with supplying the Navy.

It's the equivalent of modern contractors lavishing gifts on certain government employees, so that they will be more likely to get profitable government contracts in the future.

That kind of thing may be questionable now, but appears to be perfectly acceptable back then.

cum salis grano   Link to this

"...That kind of thing may be questionable now, but appears to be perfectly acceptable back then..."

The only way to get things accomplished, is to stimulate greed, but it has to be controlled [ but how???????], first it was the fear of eternal damnation, fear of not eating.
As pointed out there is nothing worse than fear itself.
So educate, now no fear, so any thing goes but it is essential that one uses the loop holes in the legal but not necessary the moral, to get thy share of the prizes in life, now we call them stock options.
[ if legal = moral , a nice bonus]
In Samuell's day it was a little incentive of tasty morsels, we all like to be appreciated, thus now it is to read a tip on the market that has been left carelessly on the copy machine, always helps.
Humans have always found ways to ahead of the game of making some more privilege than others, if all else fails then a nice coup will do.
The Parliaments of CII were trying new methods of unbalancing the playing field, thus see how the successful ones in getting wealthy were creating new laws to change the flow of graft. A good read be the laws that were put into place especially on those that were short changing the weight of a loaf of bread, at one end, diluting the gold at the other end.

Twas why Hobbes and et al were a jolly read.

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