Tuesday 17 March 1662/63

Up betimes and to my office a while, and then home and to Sir W. Batten, with whom by coach to St. Margaret’s Hill in Southwark, where the judge of the Admiralty came, and the rest of the Doctors of the Civill law, and some other Commissioners, whose Commission of Oyer and Terminer was read, and then the charge, given by Dr. Exton, which methought was somewhat dull, though he would seem to intend it to be very rhetoricall, saying that justice had two wings, one of which spread itself over the land, and the other over the water, which was this Admiralty Court. That being done, and the jury called, they broke up, and to dinner to a tavern hard by, where a great dinner, and I with them; but I perceive that this Court is yet but in its infancy (as to its rising again), and their design and consultation was, I could overhear them, how to proceed with the most solemnity, and spend time, there being only two businesses to do, which of themselves could not spend much time. In the afternoon to the court again, where, first, Abraham, the boatswain of the King’s pleasure boat, was tried for drowning a man; and next, Turpin, accused by our wicked rogue Field, for stealing the King’s timber; but after full examination, they were both acquitted, and as I was glad of the first, for the saving the man’s life, so I did take the other as a very good fortune to us; for if Turpin had been found guilty, it would have sounded very ill in the ears of all the world, in the business between Field and us. So home with my mind at very great ease, over the water to the Tower, and thence, there being nobody at the office, we being absent, and so no office could be kept. Sir W. Batten and I to my Lord Mayor’s, where we found my Lord with Colonel Strangways and Sir Richard Floyd, Parliament-men, in the cellar drinking, where we sat with them, and then up; and by and by comes in Sir Richard Ford. In our drinking, which was always going, we had many discourses, but from all of them I do find Sir R. Ford a very able man of his brains and tongue, and a scholler. But my Lord Mayor I find to be a talking, bragging Bufflehead, a fellow that would be thought to have led all the City in the great business of bringing in the King, and that nobody understood his plots, and the dark lanthorn he walked by; but led them and plowed with them as oxen and asses (his own words) to do what he had a mind when in every discourse I observe him to be as very a coxcomb as I could have thought had been in the City. But he is resolved to do great matters in pulling down the shops quite through the City, as he hath done in many places, and will make a thorough passage quite through the City, through Canning-street, which indeed will be very fine. And then his precept, which he, in vain- glory, said he had drawn up himself, and hath printed it, against coachmen and carrmen affronting of the gentry in the street; it is drawn so like a fool, and some faults were openly found in it, that I believe he will have so much wit as not to proceed upon it though it be printed. Here we staid talking till eleven at night, Sir R. Ford breaking to my Lord our business of our patent to be justices of the Peace in the City, which he stuck at mightily; but, however, Sir R. Ford knows him to be a fool, and so in his discourse he made him appear, and cajoled him into a consent to it: but so as I believe when he comes to his right mind tomorrow he will be of another opinion; and though Sir R. Ford moved it very weightily and neatly, yet I had rather it had been spared now. But to see how he do rant, and pretend to sway all the City in the Court of Aldermen, and says plainly that they cannot do, nor will he suffer them to do, any thing but what he pleases; nor is there any officer of the City but of his putting in; nor any man that could have kept the City for the King thus well and long but him. And if the country can be preserved, he will undertake that the City shall not dare to stir again. When I am confident there is no man almost in the City cares a turd for him, nor hath he brains to outwit any ordinary tradesman. So home and wrote a letter to Commissioner Pett to Chatham by all means to compose the business between Major Holmes and Cooper his master, and so to bed.

26 Annotations

Bradford   Link to this

A day of high hot wind everywhere.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

the charge, given by Dr. Exton ...

Sounds like the Admiralty equivalent of the Assize Sermon.

For an interesting description and discussion of the changing case load and jurisdiction of the London Admiralty Court in the C 17th. see:-

Stecky, George F.
Collisions, Prohibitions, and the Admiralty Court in Seventeenth-Century London. Law and History Review Vol 21, No 1 (Spring 2003)


Joe   Link to this

"...there being nobody at the office, we being absent, and so no office could be kept."

Such a pretty justification to go back out, no?

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

"a talking, bragging Bufflehead ... [whom] no man almost in the City cares a turd for"

Gosh, Sam, why not tell us how you *really* feel?

Great stuff -- can't you just *see* my Lord Mayor drinking and bragging, while the others roll their eyes?

dirk   Link to this


The real Bufflehead...

A. De Araujo   Link to this

word reference.com
small North American diving duck. Bucephala albeola.
But Dirk, if it is North American, although not impossible, it is highly improbable that Sam would be acquainted with it.

TerryF   Link to this

Bufflehead \Buf"fle*head`\, n. [Buffle + head.]
1. One who has a large head; a heavy, stupid fellow. [Obs.]

What makes you stare so, bufflehead? --Plautus
(trans. 1694).

Xjy   Link to this

OneLook.com is a useful place for dic refs.

Pedro   Link to this

Similar to the North American Bufflehead.

Very much like the Bucephala albeola, Sam may know the Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), a winter visitor to our Isles.

Pedro   Link to this


Background shows Cannon Street, that was known formerly as Candlewick Street.


Australian Susan   Link to this

Over here, the Mayor would be referred to as a "bloody great galah" - a pink and grey parrot emblematic of noisy stupidity here in this great brown land. Come to think of it, I have heard of several Mayors being called just that....plus ca change etc.
Picture: http://kookaburra.typepad.com/photos/snaps/gala...

Pedro   Link to this

“no man almost in the City cares a turd for him”

(Purely as another use of the expression, and not reflecting any view of my own!)

Later, in reference to the Dutch, Charles would write to his sister…

“You know the old saying in England, the more a turd is stirred, the more it stinks, and I do not care a turd for anything a Duthman says to me,”

Pedro   Link to this

Correction to above...

Charles of course would have been better at spelling tham me and said Dutchman.

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"the more a turd is stirred, the more it stinks"
Somehow I think Charles must have learned this from his wife: "bosta quanto mais mexe,mais fede"

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Sir John sounds reminiscent of some of our old-time (and latter-day) political bosses, though most were not quite as stupid. I remember the saga of a politico in Worcester, Massachusetts just before I moved down to Atlanta who ordered a son's rival (the son was to step into a chosen representative's slot in the state legislature) who grew angry when a rival refused to step down whom by coincidence bore his son's name, rendering Dad's outlay on posters, ads, etc useless. Dad then commanded the bug be politically eliminated but shortly learned this wasn't the 19th century and he wasn't Boss Tweed.

But Sam, you still haven't told us if Field's charges...Not to mention the charges against your man Turpin were true.


I take it Sam and the boys would like to be made Justices of the Peace in the City so as to deal with future Fields with ease.

Pedro   Link to this

"Charles must have learned this from his wife"

If Catarina had learned this during her convent education, then maybe she would have been more prepared for English Court life!

adam w   Link to this

Oyer and terminer
To hear and to determine - Norman French.
This helpful site gives a more detailed definition - 'one of the commissions by which a judge of assize sits' - the commission instructs them to make diligent enquiry (hear and determine) into offences in the relevant area. Or I think that's what it means - any lawyers out there?

If we ever doubted that Pepys is a born administrator - how many of us could drink all evening (to 11pm) with a bufflehead of a mayor, then go home to write a "letter to Commissioner Pett to Chatham by all means to compose the business between Major Holmes and Cooper his master"? How good do you think the letter looked the following morning!

language hat   Link to this

"In our drinking, which was always going, we had many discourses"

Timeless truth!

This is one of those entries that makes it very clear why we're so addicted to this diary.

TerryF   Link to this

"pulling down the shops...[to] make a thorough passage quite through the City...which indeed will be very fine."

Urban renewal by the powerful, the gas-bag Lord Mayor being the tool of the Livery Companies.

Pity the poor shopkeepers, one of whom used to be the father of the Diarist, whose sympathies appear to have changed, as he himself has risen in power?

TerryF   Link to this

A newer, wider Cannon Street.

Sam, a true Baroque man, loves the spectacular!

It would be fine as wine!

Pauline   Link to this

..."to my Lord Mayor’s, where we found ... in the cellar drinking..."
Puts me in mind of those US basement Rec Rooms of the 50s where men got to be men and teenagers got to be teenagers without messing up the 'showcase' on the ground floor above. Something timeless.

Great entry. 'Bufflehead' alone did it for me---"cares a turd" was pure icing.

tonyt   Link to this

Speculation in alternative history. If Bufflehead had succeeded in driving his passage through the city it would have created a fire-break. No Great Fire of London? Perhaps Bufflehead was a genius ahead of his time!
(Unfortunately for this bright idea it looks as though the passage would have been east-west whereas to stop the Great Fire it would have needed to be north-south.

Nix   Link to this

"That being done, and the jury called, they broke up, and to dinner to a tavern hard by" --

I was called to jury duty on the 16th, and it was remarkably similar to this description.

Araucaria   Link to this

"and to dinner to a tavern hard by"

I used to think that "between a rock and a hard place" meant just what it seems to say in modern english. Two difficult choices, neither pleasant.

But is there possibly a pun in there, with "hard" meaning "very close"? This gives a very vivid image of being pinned by a falling rock about to hit the ground, not just having two bad options to choose from.

Is LanguageHat reading this?

language hat   Link to this

No, your original thought was correct.

Patricia   Link to this

Wonderful entry! Now I can at last forgive Sam for his unspeakable treatment of Mrs. P over the letter. He has won me back with words.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.