Thursday 8 September 1664

Up and to the office, where busy all the morning. At noon dined at home, and I by water down to Woolwich by a galley, and back again in the evening. All haste made in setting out this Guinny fleete, but yet not such as will ever do the King’s business if we come to a warr. My wife this afternoon being very well dressed by her new woman, Mary Mercer, a decayed merchant’s daughter that our Will helps us to, did go to the christening of Mrs. Mills, the parson’s wife’s child, where she never was before. After I was come home Mr. Povey came to me and took me out to supper to Mr. Bland’s, who is making now all haste to be gone for Tangier. Here pretty merry, and good discourse, fain to admire the knowledge and experience of Mrs. Bland, who I think as good a merchant as her husband. I went home and there find Mercer, whose person I like well, and I think will do well, at least I hope so. So to my office a while and then to bed.

8 Annotations

Terry F  •  Link

James, Duke of York, to Sandwich
Written from: St, James'
Date: 8 September 1664

Shelfmark: MS. Carte 75, fol(s). 216
Document type: Original

Communicates advices which have been received of the design of the Dutch to send their Guinea-Fleet through the Channel. His Majesty, considering how unequal his strength is, at present, for any encounter, thinks that Lord Sandwich should sail to Spithead, with the Squadron named in the margin of H.R.H.'s letter, & remain there until further order. Desires, also, that certain other specified ships should be sent, some to Yarmouth; others to the Buoy of the Nore.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"My wife this afternoon being very well dressed by her new woman, Mary Mercer, a decayed merchant's daughter that our Will helps us to..."

Hmmn...Apart from the interesting historical coincidence-another Mercer, likewise daughter to a "decayed" gentleman of reduced means, will be causing havoc to a famous couple in 250 years...Seems Sam is more willing these days to take the risk of a girl who, based on lost family prosperity, might harbor ideas above her station. Not quite as "gallant" as Ms. Ferrabosco perhaps but... I can see poor Bess' insecurities surfacing sure as the sun rises.

Terry F  •  Link

Spithead is a channel (strait) between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, England, east of the Solent.

This takes Sandwich's fleet out of danger in the Channel and posts monitors on the east coast above and at the Thames.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I wonder if the whole point in sending Sandwich out was to lure the Dutch into delaying their Guinea counteroffensive while the new English Guinea force Sam mentions was prepared.

Bradford  •  Link

The descriptive term "decayed" can refer to a decline in health, financial position, morals, or some combination thereof---perhaps in this context a useful one-word condensation of "come down in the world."

Cum Grano Salis  •  Link

Decayed otherwise known as genteel poverty. [ shortage metal stuff not deficiency of mind ]

OED decayed no 1 reason for it to be used be as a verb be:
1b. To decline from prosperity or fortune.

decayed, ppl. a.[f. DECAY v. Cf. med.L. decheium in Du Cange.]

1. Fallen off, impaired, or reduced in quality, condition, health, freshness, prosperity, fortune, etc.; spec. in phr. decayed gentlewoman.
1605 VERSTEGAN Dec. Intell. Pref. Ep., A restitution of decaied intelligence.

2. Physically wasted or impaired; that has begun to crumble or fall in pieces or to rot; ruined.
other meanings be later.
[f. DECAY v. Cf. med.L. decheium in Du Cange.]

1. a. The process of falling off from a prosperous or thriving condition; progressive decline; the condition of one who has thus fallen off or declined.

b. Formerly sometimes = Downfall, destruction, ruin; poet. fall, death. Obs.

[an interesting viewpoint {cgs}]
1674 WOOD Life (O.H.S) II. 300 The decay of study, and consequently of learning, are coffy houses.

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