Thursday 13 August 1663

Lay long in bed with my wife talking of family matters, and so up and to the office, where we sat all the’ morning, and then home to dinner, and after dinner my wife and I to talk again about getting of a couple of good mayds and to part with Ashwell, which troubles me for her father’s sake, though I shall be glad to have the charge taken away of keeping a woman. Thence a little to the office, and so abroad with my wife by water to White Hall, and there at my Lord’s lodgings met my Lady Jemimah, with whom we staid a good while. Thence to Mrs. Hunt’s, where I left my wife, and I to walk a little in St. James’s Park, while Mrs. Harper might come home, with whom we came to speak about her kinswoman Jane Gentleman to come and live with us as a chamber mayde, and there met with Mr. Hoole my old acquaintance of Magdalen, and walked with him an hour in the Parke, discoursing chiefly of Sir Samuel Morland, whose lady is gone into France. It seems he buys ground and a farm in the country, and lays out money upon building, and God knows what! so that most of the money he sold his pension of 500l. per annum for, to Sir Arthur Slingsby, is believed is gone. It seems he hath very great promises from the King, and Hoole hath seen some of the King’s letters, under his own hand, to Morland, promising him great things (and among others, the order of the Garter, as Sir Samuel says); but his lady thought it below her to ask any thing at the King’s first coming, believing the King would do it of himself, when as Hoole do really think if he had asked to be Secretary of State at the King’s first coming, he might have had it. And the other day at her going into France, she did speak largely to the King herself, how her husband hath failed of what his Majesty had promised, and she was sure intended him; and the King did promise still, as he is a King and a gentleman, to be as good as his word in a little time, to a tittle: but I never believe it. Here in the Park I met with Mr. Coventry, where he sent for a letter he had newly writ to me, wherein he had enclosed one from Commissioner Pett complaining of his being defeated in his attempt to suspend two pursers, wherein the manner of his doing it, and complaint of our seeing him (contrary to our promises the other day), deserted, did make us laugh mightily, and was good sport to think how awkwardly he goes about a thing that he has no courage of his own nor mind to do. Mr. Coventry answered it very handsomely, but I perceive Pett has left off his corresponding with me any more. Thence to fetch my wife from Mrs. Hunt’s, where now he was come in, and we eat and drunk, and so away (their child being at home, a very lively, but not pretty at all), by water to Mrs. Turner’s, and there made a short visit, and so home by coach, and after supper to prayers and to bed, and before going to bed Ashwell began to make her complaint, and by her I do perceive that she has received most base usage from my wife, which my wife sillily denies, but it is impossible the wench could invent words and matter so particularly, against which my wife has nothing to say but flatly to deny, which I am sorry to see, and blows to have past, and high words even at Hinchinbrooke House among my Lady’s people, of which I am mightily ashamed. I said nothing to either of them, but let them talk till she was gone and left us abed, and then I told my wife my mind with great sobriety of grief, and so to sleep.

15 Annotations

Patricia  •  Link

The Pepys have come up in the world too fast: so that neither Mrs. P knows better than to bandy words with her maid (especially in front of the Sandwich household!), nor Sam knows better than to listen to a maid complain against his wife; and the maid hasn't been born to service or she would know better than to sass her mistress and then complain to the master when the mistress slaps her. What a mess poor Sam is in. Please remember Sam, which side your bread is buttered on......

Robert Gertz  •  Link

From Ashwell's pov, she's not a maid but an experienced teacher and lady's companion. I suspect though I'm right in thinking she embarrassed Bess somehow in front of my Lady with reference to her lack of ability in dance or music. Probably she's a bit too independent and strong-willed in her own right for a young woman as insecure in her role as wife of an up-and-coming fellow as our Bess is and it's time for her to depart the scene.

I would bet that we'll see Bess wanting to return with vigor to her lessons in dance plus perhaps music.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

She needs a job, Sam. And with her energy and charm she'd be great as a sort of unofficial ombudswoman to the sailors' and officers' wives, checking on living conditions, taking complaints, and making you look great as the one member of the administration who cares... The little deferences from the wives would flatter her ego and she has the worldly experience to properly commiserate with the different families' ups and downs in life, plus she's tended to other women before.

But no chance, I know...

aqua  •  Link

The rules of pecking be in a state of flux, 'twas why Charles I lost his crown's resting place, he wanted complete obeyance. Just the other day [Sams that be], the Quakers be given bed and no board at the local nick for not doffing the cap to the powers to be. The Levellers etal, be having the differing of opinion about equality. The streets be full of silly talk that the serfs be same as those that ride in fancy carriages how ridiculous, it permeated all stratas. This was the era where a butcher boy has become an Admiral, but now that the C of E wants the old system back,strict lines of communication between penitant and the Laudly ones, bringing back the separation of mob from clergy by reinstalling the Alter rail.
These horrible ideas of blue blud and and red bludded ones being on the same levell be under attack.
Such a modern idea Equality, arn, Know thy place aqua

andy  •  Link

and then I told my wife my mind with great sobriety of grief, and so to sleep

no nookies tonight then.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...then I told my wife my mind with great sobriety of grief..."

"You have been scandalously abused, Mrs. Pepys. The girl must go."

"But what about the horsewhipping and stocks?"

"If it were in my power, darling..."

"What good is it to be Clerk of the Acts if you can't have an uppity girl put in stocks and horsewhipped, Sam'l?"

"I shall be very sparing in my praise in her letter of recommendation, dear."


TerryF  •  Link

"Commissioner Pett...defeated in his attempt to suspend two pursers...a thing that he has no courage of his own nor mind to do."

This was predicted a fortnight ago, so why should it be risible?

1 August - Messrs. Coventry & Pepys "conclude that [Pett] is not able to [' to correct and suspend officers that do not their duty' ] in that yard...what with his old faults and the relations that he has to most people that act there."

Poor Peter Pett is not an administrator, he's a master shipwright.

Pepys seems bent on making men miserable who are mismatched to their positions. Is there no alternative to provide an efficient Navy - e.g., enhancing the pay-grade of men matched to their positions? It's all about performance, isn't it? Well, I guess doing that is above Pepys's own pay-grade.

Pedro  •  Link

“Poor Peter Pett is not an administrator, he’s a master shipwright. Pepys seems bent on making men miserable who are mismatched to their positions.”

I think you are right Terry. Sam has made other remarks, in the confines of his Diary, about others such as Lawson and Lord Windsor, but does not have the power to make them miserable.

The pursers seem, like many others, to have obtained their positions through patronage. As has been suggested previously, it would be hard to dismiss someone who has backing from above. This puts Pett in an unenviable position, and maybe someday Sam may be put in a similar situation, and we can have some good sport!

Some info from Gentlemen and Tarpulins by J.D.Davies…

“Pursers were usually former clerks from the dockyards, the Navy Board, or other government offices, and from 1662 onwards they had to pay substantial sureties, which varied according to the rate of the ship, before entering office.

Certainly, Edward Gregory, purser of the largest ship in the Navy, the Sovereign, in the early 60’s, admitted that he had purchased the post from his predecessor. The payment of fees to the secretaries of state and the Admiralty, and to their clerks, was an accepted part of the method of obtaining a commission or warrant…”

aqua  •  Link

Re: companion or mayde[ upstairs, downstairs],when no money is involved a compannion can converse and have a differing opinion without being asked to empty the chamber de nuit. When thee give monies then the Laud and master can become very cavalier and demand the works,[may not get them like they did pre king John]. Money rules, curtesy can be dismissed.

aqua  •  Link

Errata: courtesy in lieu of curtsey [which all good maydes learn to do, nice and low ] better than tugging forelock.

Bradford  •  Link

"I told my wife my mind with great sobriety of grief,
And thought, with Ashwell gone, we might from wrangles find relief."

Half a lovely fourteener, couldn't resist.

Australian Susan  •  Link


The problems which have arisen here demonstrate the uneasy position that ladies' companions were in (and also governesses). They are *not* servants, but they are not equal to the lady of the house either. In later centuries, this position became more clearly defined. Ladies'companions and governesses were often of gentle birth, but poor and however well-educated, were always kept in their place (cf any of the Bronte sisters'novels). In the 17th century, household/family were almost used as synonyms (Sam does this) and when Ashwell came to live with them, she was defined as a companion and accepted as a member of the family/household. Now they are trying to be rid of her, she has suddenly turned into a "mayde" - much easier to despise and dismiss. Unfair, Sam! (though by the end of today's entry, he does seem to be in two minds about all this).

dirk  •  Link

"My Lord" Montagu's family matters:

Walter Montagu to Sandwich [about My Lord's son, Hinchinbroke, who is completing his education in France]
23 August 1663 (new style)
= 13 August British calendar

"Upon consideration of what the Earl was pleased to impart about Lord Hinchinbroke, the writer is of opinion that Lord Sandwich will do well to leave his son at the Academy [in Paris?] for the winter, that he may perfect his exercises. In the Spring, he may usefully visit the rest of France, and such other foreign parts as the Earl may best like; and with "a discreet companion", armed with the due authority."

The Carte Papers, Bodleian Library

Joe  •  Link

"and so away (their child being at home, a very lively, but not pretty at all)"

I love Pepys' candor, but I do hope he didn't offer this reflection anywhere else but here.

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