Sunday 31 January 1663/64

(Lord’s day). Up, and in my chamber all day long (but a little at dinner) settling all my Brampton accounts to this day in very good order, I having obliged myself by oathe to do that and some other things within this month, and did also perfectly prepare a state of my estate and annexed it to my last will and testament, which now is perfect, and, lastly, I did make up my monthly accounts, and find that I have gained above 50l. this month clear, and so am worth 858l. clear, which is the greatest sum I ever yet was master of, and also read over my usual vowes, as I do every Lord’s day, but with greater seriousness than ordinary, and I do hope that every day I shall see more and more the pleasure of looking after my business and laying up of money, and blessed be God for what I have already been enabled by his grace to do. So to supper and to bed with my mind in mighty great ease and content, but my head very full of thoughts and business to dispatch this next month also, and among others to provide for answering to the Exchequer for my uncle’s being Generall-Receiver in the year 1647, which I am at present wholly unable to do, but I must find time to look over all his papers.


37 Annotations

jeannine  •  Link

50Ls! In one month?!

Robert,remember how the month started--with 50L via the "exchange letter" from Deering/Luellin. Taken into consideration he's made zip outside of a "bribe", or should I say, he's made zip outside of a "payment for extraordinary past and future service duly recorded in a manner to leave no trace...."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Oh, I haven't forgotten the (in)famous Luellin incident, Jeannine...I just thought Sam deserved a little !! for all the "hard work".

Something tells me he's not told Bess he just made the equivalent of a good year's income this month.

Then, again...

"Can we roll in it one last time before you lock it up, Sam'l?" Bess, eagerly.

Bryan M  •  Link

"So to supper and to bed with my mind in mighty great ease and content..."

Hmmm. So much for poor Tom.

Michael L  •  Link

"I do hope that every day I shall see more and more the pleasure of looking after my business and laying up of money"

Goodness me, what naked avarice.

cumgranosalis  •  Link

"what naked avarice";-Tis 'is bludy pension plan, best have enough stashed away for a steady income when thee get the order of the boot, otherwise Virginny baccy picking, be they stoop job, when thee gets to forty. 'Tis another few centuries before thee qualifiy for the dole that thee paid into. Thee who spends it all on the now, will end up with 2d a week for thy daily rasher of bread.
Of course if thee live for the moment and indulge in the enjoying of all thy five senses at thee same time, usally rot like poor old young Wilmot and be asking for a extra place in yonder from a forgiving preacher, then thee do not need a place under the paliasse for thy farthings.

Jesse  •  Link

"answering to the Exchequer for my uncle's being Generall-Receiver in the year 1647"

What's this about, financial irregularities? And seventeen years ago? No telling 'em to sod off I suppose.

ruizhe  •  Link

"Hmmm. So much for poor Tom."

I wonder if consumption was considered a big event back then (since most people inevitably died of something other than old age). Or maybe Sam's just a cold-hearted bastard.

As for naked avarice, I gather that you or your family didn't grow up in a third world country (or even some of the slummier parts of town in the Western world). For most people throughout human history, money=security (at least to some degree; most folks couldn't control whether wars would start or other catastrophes could happen, but even then, it would be much better to be rich than to be poor).

ruizhe  •  Link

BTW, I would say that money=security for most people even now. Pepy's England is very much like a third-world country of today. It's probably akin to current-day Nigeria in terms of political stability, good governance, life expectancy, diseases, over all health, pollution, rich-poor gap, literacy, etc. (except that Nigeria is far more overcrowded but is richer on aggregate and values human life more).

AussieRene  •  Link

Well observed ruizhe.

Pedro  •  Link

"Poor old Tom"

Better born lucky than rich.

Bryan M  •  Link

Or maybe Sam's just a cold-hearted bastard.

Maybe, indeed. Although my thoughts are leaning more towards that he was a cold-hearted little pricklouse.

tel  •  Link

Or maybe Sam's just a cold-hearted bastard.

Aren't we forgetting that death in those days was, literally, part of everyday life? Disease was endemic, cures were unreliable. I feel that our modern equivalent to hearing of someone's likely demise would be to hear of someone losing their job - "bad luck, old chap, but maybe you'll get lucky".

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Perhaps it's compartmentalization... He did all he could on the Tom front the other day, today is monthly summing-up day, tomorrow, thoughts again of poor Tom. Lots happened today Sam never mentioned...How things were Besswise, the current office political sit with the Sirs W and J, how Will Hewer is getting on, the latest troubles with the domestic staff. For all we know Sam has been doing what he can all day to contact Tom and determine the real situation regards his illness. Though it would be nice to have seen a cautionary note..."All well save my thoughts of my poor brother's condition, which is said to be serious..."

Perhaps it's simply very hard for Sam to bear the thought of losing another sibling. Far easier to assume alls well since he was out and about...

Or, perhaps the "chb" explanation is best... We'll just have to see.

Bryan M  •  Link

True, it is easy to be judgemental about people whose lives were in many ways completely alien to our own. Not only did people often die early and unexpectedly, but in the case of disease no one understood why it happened. It really was a bit of a lottery.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

So to supper and to bed with my mind in mighty great ease and content, but my head very full of thoughts and business to dispatch this next month also...

The old protestant ethic/conscience never lets up

In regard to Sam's lack of mention of brother Tom's plight, I think RG's compartmetalization hypothesis is probably closest to right.

What we would consider untimely death was a part of life in Sam's day. People lived much closer to the grave. "Therefore never seek to ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee." I see the overt signs of Sam's reaction in his haste to get a will for himself. As for grieving, he may be following the advice of Ecclesiastes, and thinks or hopes that Tom's time has not come.

Jeannine, Sam's made more money than the "bribe," by a largish factor. Its just that he has also spent his ordinary income. Excuse me for the pedantry.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Sam's bookkeeping & life style

Two entries below, from July 31 and Dec. 31, 1663, record Sam's estimates of his growing estate, from 730 pounds in July to "above 800" pounds in December. And, today, to 858 pounds. A fairly rapid gain -- 30 percent on an annual basis. And thereby hangs a puzzle:

The third entry gives Sam's estimates of his income and expenditures for 1663, viz.,"I find that though the proper profit of my last year was but 305l., yet I did by other gain make it up 444l.., which in every part of it was unforeseen of me, and therefore it was a strange oversight for lack of examining my expenses that I should spend 690l. this year."

In response to these data, I can do no better than to quote Robert Gertz's comment on the Jan. 3, 1663/4 entry:

"'Proper profit?"' Lets see...350L per annum unless Coventry's awarded him a generous raise minus 100Ls to Mr. Barlow who presumably still annoyingly clings to life else we'd've have a muted but ecstatic mention in some entry...That leaves 250Ls honorably earned in the King's service. Where's the 55L, let alone the 444 presumably not so honorably earned. ("other gain"...Don't you love it?)

"Also, if he's spent 690L how the heck did he end up with 800L in ye piggy bank?"

http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1663/07/31/

http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1663/12/31/

http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1664/01/03/

A. Hamilton  •  Link

if he's spent 690L how the heck did he end up with 800L in ye piggy bank?

A thought. Maybe Sam's conscience won't let him record -- even in French! --some shady income that he dutifully records on the spending side.

the bean  •  Link

This may be a dumb question, but where did Sam keep his money, and how did he manage his accounts? I assume he didn't have all his worldly wealth in a box under his bed. Did he have the equivalent of a checking account? And how did he draw on it?

Glyn  •  Link

He probably does have a strongbox as do many people - remember the burglary and hanging that took place earlier this month.

However, for most prosperous people, the London goldsmiths have very thick vaults and will store your money for a fee (i.e. a bit like a safe deposit box, you pay them, they don't pay you interest). Also, I believe Pepys has most of his money looked after by Lord Sandwich, with receipts etc should Sandwich die prematurely.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"and laying up of money"
Calvinism in action.

Tom Burns  •  Link

Sam's bookkeeping & life style

Here is the first entry in which Sam tallies his overall wealth, which he finds to be 40 pounds - he has achieved a 200-fold increase in his wealth in only 4 years. A truly prodigious achievement, which serves to demonstrate how paying close attention allows remarkabke achievement.

http://www.pepysdiary.com/archive/1660/01/29

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"read over my usual vowes, as I do every Lord’s day"

Pepys does sometimes mention "read my vowes" at the end of a Lord's Day entry. Have we met with this declaration of a scheduled reading before? Are there "unusual vowes"? or are "usual vowes" those observed with regularity?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Last night it occurred to me that we hadn't heard anything recently about visiting Tom, and hoped Sam and Elizabeth would do it today, Sunday. Of course, they might be snowed in -- I note there are no visitors today.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

I kept a detailed diary for several years in the 1970s (some of which makes me cringe to read now.) I started it because I didn't want, at some point in the future, to look back on my younger self and see just an empty void. However, I couldn't and didn't record everything. I wrote about my friends, daily activities, and books which I read, but very little about my parents, to whom I was very close. A diary written mainly for one's own later perusal is bound to omit things one takes for granted. This doesn't mean that they aren't important, but rather that they are so embedded in one's being that there is no need for a written record. So I think it is with Sam.

I get rather annoyed by the glee with which some annotators rush to judgement, both over what Sam *has* recorded, and now what he has not.

mountebank  •  Link

I agree with that. I've been keeping a diary* for about a decade, probably even longer than Sam, and I realised a long time ago that without spending vast amounts of time writing it up at enormous length it would at best just contain fragments of my day. Sometimes when I re-read it (a very rare event) it looks to me like a collection of the shiny things that caught my eye over the course of a day. It is difficult to write a diary reporting continually on the minor details of dull day-to-day life.

My diary is not for anyone else to read (I'm not convinced it's even for me to re-read) and yet it contains many of the characteristics that other commentators have pounced upon as proof that Sam wrote for the eyes of others. Much of this "proof" I instead put down to Sam being a thorough and curious chap who wanted to write about the interesting stuff in a lucid and coherent way.

* if anyone were to read it they'd think more Pooter than Pepys

Louise Hudson  •  Link

When did personal bank accounts as we know them become available in England? Anyone know? I hadn't thought about where people kept their money in those days until I read today's entry. So many things we take for gramted today that would be alien to Pepys et al. And what about people with really large sums of money and assets, such as the king? I suppose he might have had a counting house and people to look after the contents.

John G  •  Link

Excellent comments Sasha and Mountebank. Many thanks.

Australian John

Louise Hudson  •  Link

When did personal bank accounts as we know them become available in England? Anyone know? I hadn't thought about where people kept their money in those days until I read today's entry. So many things we take for granted today that would be alien to Pepys et al. And what about people with really large sums of money and assets, such as the king? I suppose he might have had a counting house and people to look after the contents.

Linda  •  Link

Mountebank, thank you so much for the reference to Pooter. His diary is hilarious, a real treat.
And Louise, all I know about the location of the royal guineas is "The king was in his counting-house, counting out his money."

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Where did merchants keep their money?

"In 1642, during the reign of King Charles I, the merchants in London had been in the habit of depositing their bullion and cash in the Tower of London for convenience and security, under the guardianship of the Crown; but the King, in order to pay his debts, seized their property to the amount of £30,000. This act caused great consternation, and the merchants decided in future to keep their capital under their own control.

So says Mr. Easton in the "History of a Banking House," p. 57, this is precisely what Thomas Smith did in Nottingham. He lived on the premises, and underneath the shop was a basement kitchen. Beneath this he made in the solid rock sandstone, three separate cellars, approached by a trap-door and ladder, and another set below them approached by steps, and partly under the public street, and the basement wall shows that there was once access to the basement of the adjoining house, for the business so increased that additional room had to be provided, and then the two kinds of business — the mercery and the banking, had to be divided, and other premises were secured 30 yards more to the southwest, ... "

For more information, mostly about Nottingham, see: http://www.nottshistory.org.uk/articles/mellors...

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

More on banking for Louise:

info taken from: http://www.xat.org/xat/moneyhistory.html

THE TALLY STICKS (1100 - 1854)

King Henry I produced sticks of polished wood, with notches cut along one edge to signify the denominations. The stick was then split full length so each piece still had a record of the notches.

The King kept one half for proof against counterfeiting, and then spent the other half into the market place where it would continue to circulate as money.

Because only Tally Sticks were accepted by Henry I for payment of taxes, there was a built-in demand for them, which gave people confidence to accept these as money.

Henry I could have used anything, so long as the people agreed it had value, and his willingness to accept these sticks as legal tender made it easy for the people to agree. Money is only as valuable as people’s faith in it, and without that faith even today's money is just paper.

The tally stick system worked really well for 726 years. It was the most successful form of currency in recent history and the British Empire was built under the Tally Stick system, so how is it that most of us are not aware of its existence?

Perhaps the fact that in 1694 the Bank of England at its formation attacked the Tally Stick System gives us a clue as to why most of us have never heard of them. They realized it was money outside the power of the money changers (the very thing King Henry had intended).

StanB  •  Link

And of course lets not forget it was the burning of Tally Sticks 16 October 1834 that did what Catesby,Fawkes and co failed to do in 1605 !!!

gustavo woltmann  •  Link

clear, which is the greatest sum I ever yet was master of, and also read over my usual vowes, as I do every Lord’s day

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Thanks so much to San Diego Sarah for that detailed and interesting information, and to Stan B for the story about burning tally sticks. Linda, the first place I ever heard about a counting house was in the nursery rhyme, too. I might have heard reference to it later in novels, biographies and Masterpiece Theater, without really knowing what a counting house looked like or how it functioned. I pictured a table piled with gold coins and a seated figure, perhaps the king himself, counting them out, one by one.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

We'll learn more in future years about the problems our hero has in securing his wealth from fire, damp and nosy neighbours:

‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal . . ‘ - still just as true in 2017.

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