Wednesday 27 July 1664

Up, and after some discourse with Mr. Duke, who is to be Secretary to the Fishery, and is now Secretary to the Committee for Trade, who I find a very ingenious man, I went to Mr. Povy’s, and there heard a little of his empty discourse, and fain he would have Mr. Gauden been the victualler for Tangier, which none but a fool would say to me when he knows he hath made it his request to me to get him something of these men that now do it. Thence to St. James’s, but Mr. Coventry being ill and in bed I did not stay, but to White Hall a little, walked up and down, and so home to fit papers against this afternoon, and after dinner to the ‘Change a little, and then to White Hall, where anon the Duke of Yorke came, and a Committee we had of Tangier, where I read over my rough draught of the contract for Tangier victualling, and acquainted them with the death of Mr. Alsopp, which Mr. Lanyon had told me this morning, which is a sad consideration to see how uncertain a thing our lives are, and how little to be presumed of in our greatest undertakings. The words of the contract approved of, and I home and there came Mr. Lanyon to me and brought my neighbour, Mr. Andrews, to me, whom he proposes for his partner in the room of Mr. Alsopp, and I like well enough of it. We read over the contract together, and discoursed it well over and so parted, and I am glad to see it once over in this condition again, for Mr. Lanyon and I had some discourse to-day about my share in it, and I hope if it goes on to have my first hopes of 300l. per ann. They gone, I to supper and to bed. This afternoon came my great store of Coles in, being to [“ten” according to L&M. P.G.] Chaldron, so that I may see how long they will last me.

16 Annotations

Terry F  •  Link

"my great store of Coles in, being ten Chaldron, so that I may see how long they will last me."

So transcribe L&M. Pepys is experimenting and may tell us when this delivery of 10 chaldrons runs out. He did not do so as he hoped for the 10 chaldron delivered to Seething Lane 16 September 1661.

The definition of "Chaldron" elicited a lively and inconclusive discussion, it being treated as either a measure of volume or one of weight. Not cited was L&M's Select Glossary which says it is: "1 1/3 tons (London measure)" which is unclear to me. If such a ton = 2,240 pounds, a chaldron then = 2,986.67 pounds.

Wikipedia notes that later "A chaldron was a dry English measure, beginning in 1826, of 4 quarters or 32 bushels. More recently, it has been applied exclusively to coal, for which a chaldron is equal to 36 bushels heaped up. On shipboard, 21 chaldrons of coal was the allowance to the score. The use of the unit ended in 1963 with the reform of the Weights and Measures Act."

The 1661 delivery was split, Pepys taking in 8 chaldron, "and with the other to repay Sir W. Pen what [he had] borrowed of him a little while [earlier]." -- suggesting to me that he was measuring a volume, despite the view of L&M et al.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Chaldron -- a measure of both volume and weight

"Numerous measurement units were used by the London trade Coal was loaded in the north using the Newcastle chaldron (NCh) - a weight measure, whereas it was unloaded in London using a volumetric measure - the London chaldron (LCh). The LCh was defined as 36 coal bushels, but there was no consensus on exactly how much quantity was contained in this measure. Modern and contemporary estimates have ranged from 288 to 396 gallons, or from 25.7 cwt to 28.5 cwt when measured by weight."

Aashish Velkar, 'Market Transparency, Uniform Measurements and Standardized Quantities: Institutional Change in 19th Century Britain'

Terry F  •  Link

Michael, Thanks for explaining why the previous, vain discussion was so long!

Australian Susan  •  Link

This is a very large quantity of coal! His cellar must have been very commodious.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

the previous, vain discussion was so long

We do seem to be in distinguished company with this difficulty:-

"...The British Almanack, which is published by the Society for promoting useful Knowledge, states that the Heap Measure of a Bushel of Coals in London contains 2,815½ Cubic Inches, and that a Chaldron of Coals contains 58? Cubic Feet; whereas my own Experience goes to prove that even on Coals imported, that is under the very best of Circumstances to get both good Weight and good Measure, a Chaldron of Coals seldom exceeds Fifty-four Cubic Feet in solid Contents, (i.e. a Measure of a Cube Yard twice filled,) and therefore the Bushel can be only 2,592 Cubic Inches, instead of 2,815½ Cubic Inches. It has been generally understood that the Weight of a Chaldron of Coals was Twentyseven Cwt., whereas it is much nearer only Twenty-four or Twentyfive Cwt., even under good Circumstances; and the poorer Consumers in London, I am satisfied, do not very often get more than Twenty-one Cwt. for their Chaldron. I have seen the Bushel of Coals, as delivered from a small Dealer in London, weighing only from Sixty-six to Seventy Pounds, and that was considered a very good Bushel, whereas it ought to be Eighty-one or Eighty-two Pounds Weight. ...

...As there is no known Relation between the Ton and the Chaldron, it would be impossible to say what the Amount of Duty would be. If we could take a general Average, it might be done; but the Coals differ so much, unless I could be certain that the Number of Chaldrons of each Ton would agree, that is, the average Quantities agree in the Quantities sent up for the Duty to be collected on, of course I could not say what the total Amount would be."

Citation: 'Coal Trade: Minutes of evidence: 27 March 1830', Journal of the House of Lords: volume 62: 1830, pp. 1486-492. URL: Date accessed: 28 July 2007.

cape henry  •  Link

Might it be that the Chaldron was a sort of colloquial measurement like the elusive 'cord of wood' is today? In the country, a cord of wood is an enormous pile stretching to the farthest corner of the lot. In the suburbs or the city, when delivered, one looks at the 73 pieces of green something or other on the deck and ask, "$125.00 for that?"

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...I went to Mr. Povy's, and there heard a little of his empty discourse, and fain he would have Mr. Gauden been the victualler for Tangier, which none but a fool would say to me when he knows he hath made it his request to me to get him something of these men that now do it."

Sounds to me like Povey might have already heard about Alsop and in the midst of positioning himself to push for Gauden couldn't resist twitting Sam in the politest way...A bland smile on his face while a fuming Sam sneers behind his back. If so, Sam did end up getting the better of the fight in the afternoon, Povey perhaps being unable to bring himself to tread on poor Alsop's grave so quickly as was necessary.

Cumsalisgrano  •  Link

A pratikal measure for delivery of Newcastle's best, be a sack of coal that would hold a 112 lbs or there abouts or otherwise known as a hundred weight [cwt], it would in real terms hold coal filled to brim with some room for a man to grab the edge and lug it to the Coal area. At the Yard [cole], it may be weighed or not but as the recipient, one only counted sacks, not having a set of scales [there was a time when the hoi polloi got only one sack a week] there was always some spillage so that the urchins could and would pick up tho they should not the excess poundage .
So it was by weight at the loading dock and by volume when delivered [a sack at a time].
Every one trusted specific gravity for trusty measure, hoping that there be without the usual nuggets of stones.
The keel be the amount that a koler [coal boat] would haul down the North sea.

cauldron latin for kettle, there by getting coal kettle.
Caldron [basin MF] a unit of measure

Cole was the blud of London from the first Elizabethan age to the second Elizabethan age, it could be said that cole put steam into the ever growing wealth of the city.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Like cape henry, I thought of firewood as a modern example of a commodity whose purveyors sometimes try to sell it in fuzzily defined units for their own advantage. However, a cord is a precisely defined measure, 128 cubic feet of wood (nominally in a 4 foot by 4 foot by 8 foot stack). If somebody says he's selling you a cord (or fraction thereof) and it falls short of that volume, you can report him to the authorities. For that reason, less scrupulous dealers like to use measures like "rack," "rick," "stand," "face cord," "load," and so on, which have no precise definition. See Wikipedia:

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Well Lanyon, Andrews...Let us condole poor Alsop, for lambkins...We will live."

And, with any luck, thrive...

Bergie  •  Link

"I read over my rough draught of the contract for Tangier victualling..."

It's charming that the phrase "rough draught" (U.S.: draft) was in use so long ago. A surprise to me: I thought it was modern.

language hat  •  Link

"whom he proposes for his partner in the room of Mr. Alsopp"

"in the room of" = "in the place (or office) of, in lieu of, instead of, a person or thing" (OED).

Dan Jenkins  •  Link

As Paul explained, a cord of wood has a specific definition 8'x8'x4', however, in New Hampshire, at least, is was redefined by legislation as 110 cubic feet (to allow for settling, gaps between logs, etc.). So you had a cord-as-delivered versus a cord.

Pedro  •  Link

"I went to Mr. Povy's, and there heard a little of his empty discourse,"

Povy's discourse was not always empty. More information concerning Povy is now in the background as it may contain spoilers.

Harvey  •  Link

Cord; 128 cubic feet, for those who think in metric around 4 m3. A small truckful.

Pedro  •  Link

On this stormy wet day in the Downs, with the wind W.S.W...

Sam's Lord celebrates his birthday.

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