Friday 6 July 1666

Up, and after doing some business at my office abroad to Lumbard Street, about the getting of a good sum of money, thence home, in preparation for my having some good sum in my hands, for fear of a trouble in the State, that I may not have all I have in the world out of my hands and so be left a beggar. Having put that in a way, I home to the office, and so to the Tower; about shipping of some more pressed men, and that done, away to Broad Streete, to Sir G. Carteret, who is at a pay of tickets all alone, and I believe not less than one thousand people in the streets. But it is a pretty thing to observe that both there and every where else, a man shall see many women now-a-days of mean sort in the streets, but no men; men being so afeard of the press. I dined with Sir G. Carteret, and after dinner had much discourse about our publique business; and he do seem to fear every day more and more what I do; which is, a general confusion in the State; plainly answering me to the question, who is it that the weight of the warr depends [upon]? that it is only Sir W. Coventry. He tells me, too, the Duke of Albemarle is dissatisfied, and that the Duchesse do curse Coventry as the man that betrayed her husband to the sea: though I believe that it is not so. Thence to Lumbard Streete, and received 2000l., and carried it home: whereof 1000l. in gold. The greatest quantity not only that I ever had of gold, but that ever I saw together, and is not much above half a 100 lb. bag full, but is much weightier. This I do for security sake, and convenience of carriage; though it costs me above 70l. the change of it, at 18 1/2d. per piece. Being at home, I there met with a letter from Bab Allen, —[Mrs. Knipp]— to invite me to be god-father to her boy, with Mrs. Williams, which I consented to, but know not the time when it is to be. Thence down to the Old Swan, calling at Michell’s, he not being within, and there I did steal a kiss or two of her, and staying a little longer, he come in, and her father, whom I carried to Westminster, my business being thither, and so back again home, and very busy all the evening. At night a song in the garden and to bed.

23 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"many women now-a-days of mean sort in the streets, but no men; men being so afeard of the press."

As L&M note, it is clear what class of men are being pressed.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

re: what class of men

On July 1, Sam called them "poor patient labouring men and housekeepers," while the day before he wrote of them as "persons wholly unfit for sea, and many of them people of very good fashion." So, not entirely a "mean sort," I would think...

Pretty high fee from the moneychangers there -- I wonder if the sight of a high-ranking Navy official converting his "soft" assets in to hard cash raised any notice (and similar actions) among them...

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Todd, thanks for the reminder.

Perhaps L&M had also forgotten Pepys's earlier description of those who had been pressed and were in the Tower, as perhaps had Pepys himself, in the presence of today's parade of misery in the streets.

cgs   Link to this

17C check cashing industry
"...his I do for security sake, and convenience of carriage; though it costs me above 70l. the change of it, at 18 1/2d. per piece. Being at home, I there met with a letter from Bab Allen,..." 2000l.
3.5%? vig? or was it 6 farthings per gold coin?

cape henry   Link to this

"The greatest quantity not only that I ever had of gold, but that ever I saw together..." Given his observations concerning the effect of the "press" on the street scene, probably a fairly safe moment to be transferring so much money.

Paul Chapin   Link to this

I'm trying to work out exactly what Sam had in his money bag. Language Hat told us some years ago that a "piece" is a guinea http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1660/03/14/#c3091

Wikipedia says this about the guinea:
The first guinea was produced on 6 February 1663, and was made legal currency by a Proclamation of 27 March 1663. 44½ guineas would be made from one Troy pound of 11/12 finest gold, each weighing 129.4 grains.
The denomination was originally worth one pound, or twenty shillings, but an increase in the price of gold during the reign of Charles II led to its being traded at a premium. In 1670 the weight of the coin was reduced from 8.4–8.5 g to 8.3–8.4 g, but the price of gold continued to increase, and by the 1680s the coin was worth 22 shillings.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guinea_(British_coin)

If a guinea was worth 21s, there would have been 952 (and a bit) of them in 1000L. At 18 1/2d per piece, the exchange fee would be over 73L. If the guinea was worth 22s, there would be 909 of them in 1000L, and the exchange fee would be just over 70L.

There are 7000 grains in an avoirdupois pound. At 129.4 grains per coin, Sam's bag of gold would have weighed about 17 pounds, depending on the exact value of the coins.

What I wonder about is the form of the other 1000L that Sam collected. Surely not sterling, he wouldn't have been able to lift the bag.

Paul Chapin   Link to this

Here's what Sam's gold coins looked like:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Guinea_641642...

Bryan M   Link to this

"...though it costs me above 70l. the change of it, at 18 1/2d. per piece."

Thanks for the informative post Paul. It sounds like the value of a piece was 21s 61/2d, with the premium of 18 1/2d being the difference between the face value (1 pound) and the spot price.

Carl in Boston   Link to this

who is it that the weight of the warr depends [upon]? that it is only Sir W. Coventry. ... Sam has started the shift from administration by a Great Mann to administration by a bureaucracy. It will be a century before bureaucracies arise to do most of government business.
....
The greatest quantity not only that I ever had of gold, but that ever I saw together, and is not much above half a 100 lb. bag full, but is much weightier. This I do for security sake..... Sam has a stout chest with a lock, possibly attached to the floor, he has a sword when others don't, his house sits in the middle of the Navy Offices which might have a security perimeter, and I doubt any burglar would attempt to steal from Sam.

JWB   Link to this

Then there's the opportunity cost-the 4-6% paid on deposit by goldsmiths foregone.

A. Hamilton   Link to this

Bryan, Paul, Todd

Excellent work. Using Bryan's plausible conjecture, the
exchange fee for converting silver to 1000L in gold guineas was 70L 11S 4P, or a little over 7 percent.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...in preparation for my having some good sum in my hands, for fear of a trouble in the State, that I may not have all I have in the world out of my hands and so be left a beggar. Having put that in a way, I home to the office, and so to the Tower; about shipping of some more pressed men..."

Did he see the irony? Perhaps on some subconscious level at least Sam does fear God's justice for these poor men. Of course, to be fair, he must be aware that he is the logical "fall guy" scapegoat for the Naval Office should things get worse; no title, no fortune, nothing but the favor of the Duke and Coventry now that even Sandwich has no ability to protect him.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"Being at home, I there met with a letter from Bab Allen, —[Mrs. Knipp]— to invite me to be god-father to her boy, with Mrs. Williams..."

One wonders how the morose Mr. Knipp took that, though Elizabeth was clever in asking Abigail as well...Allowing it to be sold to Chris as a gesture for getting in good with those mid-level types powerful enough to help her career. Which it may have been...

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"Thence down to the Old Swan, calling at Michell’s, he not being within, and there I did steal a kiss or two of her, and staying a little longer, he come in..."

Step three I guess, if we go by Tomalin, in Sam's perfect seduction plan...

Ruben   Link to this

Now we know were his money was.
I do not remember reading about Sam making a deposit in Lombard St. He probably had a piece of paper after every deposit. It was safer than having the money at home and may be he got some small percent on his deposit.
This was a lot for our hero but small change for the rich for whom he worked.

Bradford   Link to this

"This I do for security sake, and convenience of carriage; though it costs me above 70l. the change of it."

"There is a Substantial Penalty for Early Withdrawal."

Though even if the State collapses, apparently Pepys thinks gold values will remain at par?

Mr. Gunning   Link to this

"a man shall see many women now-a-days of mean sort in the streets, but no men; men being so afeard of the press."

Please bring back the press-gangs! It might clear the city centres of cocky chavs!

Ruben   Link to this

"chavs":
from my dictionary: "derogatory slang term in the United Kingdom for a subcultural stereotype fixated on fashions derived from American hip hop such as imitation gold poorly made jewellery and fake designer clothing, combined with elements of working class British street fashion. The term appeared in mainstream dictionaries in 2005. in Scotland they are called neds."

Paul Chapin   Link to this

Bryan, that's a good thought, which hadn't occurred to me. Assuming you're right, that means that Sam might have paid the premium out of his 1000L, in which case my calculations of the number of coins would be right, or else he might have paid the premium on top of the 1000L, in which case he would be bringing home 1000 coins, weighing about 18.5 pounds.

GrahamT   Link to this

Re: "Perhaps on some subconscious level at least Sam does fear God’s justice for these poor men"
Probably not. These men are fighting for "God and Country" so, although he is upset that they are not getting their fair dues, he probably believes it is their proud fate to fight and die in defence of their homeland.
Does anyone think the various officials that sent conscripted men to die in their millions in the two World Wars, Vietnam and other modern conflicts, feared God's justice?
I don't imagine that Robert McNamara - the "Architect of the Vietnam War" - thought he would burn in the fires of hell for the 60,000 young Americans that died in Vietnam, nor would Pepys for his small part in the impressment of men for defence against the Dutch.

Mr. Gunning   Link to this

I never before considered the idea that conscription is just a new word for the press gang. Of course what they never had in Sam's day was the 'conscientious objector' concept. However, getting conscientious objector status is not easy, of the 61000 British applicants in WW2 only 3000 were awarded complete exemption. Most others had non-combatant roles.

I guess the most famous 'conchy' was Muhammad Ali and they threw him in jail.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

Mr. McNamara was recently documented by Errol Morris as being quite conflicted and tormented by his actions, even going so far as to admit he felt he would have deserved the title "war criminal" for his role in planning the fire-bombing of Tokyo. In fairness to him, his title as architect of Vietnam is probably a distortion. According to conversations recorded in the Oval Office with President Kennedy in October 1963, he urged that a pullout from Vietnam be planned.

Sam may well tell himself he is only following orders but he knows the role he plays in taking these men from their families and guilt can surface in odd ways.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

"Though even if the State collapses, apparently Pepys thinks gold values will remain at par?"

Bradford, if I remember history correctly, gold prices usually rise along with risks to the State...

Interesting annotations today!

Log in to post an annotation.

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