Wednesday 12 June 1667

Up very betimes to our business at the office, there hiring of more fire-ships; and at it close all the morning. At noon home, and Sir W. Pen dined with us. By and by, after dinner, my wife out by coach to see her mother; and I in another, being afraid, at this busy time, to be seen with a woman in a coach, as if I were idle, towards The. Turner’s; but met Sir W. Coventry’s boy; and there in his letter find that the Dutch had made no motion since their taking Sheernesse; and the Duke of Albemarle writes that all is safe as to the great ships against any assault, the boom and chaine being so fortified; which put my heart into great joy.1 When I come to Sir W: Coventry’s chamber, I find him abroad; but his clerk, Powell, do tell me that ill newes is come to Court of the Dutch breaking the Chaine at Chatham; which struck me to the heart. And to White Hall to hear the truth of it; and there, going up the back-stairs, I did hear some lacquies speaking of sad newes come to Court, saying, that hardly anybody in the Court but do look as if he cried, and would not go into the house for fear of being seen, but slunk out and got into a coach, and to The. Turner’s to Sir W. Turner’s, where I met Roger Pepys, newly come out of the country. He and I talked aside a little, he offering a match for Pall, one Barnes, of whom we shall talk more the next time. His father married a Pepys; in discourse, he told me further that his grandfather, my great grandfather, had 800l. per annum, in Queen Elizabeth’s time, in the very town of Cottenham; and that we did certainly come out of Scotland with the Abbot of Crowland. More talk I had, and shall have more with him, but my mind is so sad and head full of this ill news that I cannot now set it down. A short visit here, my wife coming to me, and took leave of The., and so home, where all our hearts do now ake; for the newes is true, that the Dutch have broke the chaine and burned our ships, and particularly “The Royal Charles,”2 other particulars I know not, but most sad to be sure. And, the truth is, I do fear so much that the whole kingdom is undone, that I do this night resolve to study with my father and wife what to do with the little that I have in money by me, for I give [up] all the rest that I have in the King’s hands, for Tangier, for lost. So God help us! and God knows what disorders we may fall into, and whether any violence on this office, or perhaps some severity on our persons, as being reckoned by the silly people, or perhaps may, by policy of State, be thought fit to be condemned by the King and Duke of York, and so put to trouble; though, God knows! I have, in my own person, done my full duty, I am sure. So having with much ado finished my business at the office, I home to consider with my father and wife of things, and then to supper and to bed with a heavy heart. The manner of my advising this night with my father was, I took him and my wife up to her chamber, and shut the door; and there told them the sad state of the times how we are like to be all undone; that I do fear some violence will be offered to this office, where all I have in the world is; and resolved upon sending it away — sometimes into the country — sometimes my father to lie in town, and have the gold with him at Sarah Giles’s, and with that resolution went to bed full of fear and fright, hardly slept all night.

  1. There had been correspondence with Pett respecting this chain in April and May. On the 10th May Pett wrote to the Navy Commissioners, “The chain is promised to be dispatched to-morrow, and all things are ready for fixing it.” On the 11th June the Dutch “got twenty or twenty-two ships over the narrow part of the river at Chatham, where ships had been sunk; after two and a half hours’ fighting one guard-ship after another was fired and blown up, and the enemy master of the chain” (“Calendar of State Papers,” 1667, pp. 58, 87, 215).
  2. Vandervelde’s drawings of the conflagration of the English fleet, made by him on the spot, are in the British Museum. — B.

22 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

"Van Ghent's squadron now advanced up the Medway on 12 June, attacking the English defences at the chain. First Unity was taken by Van Brakel by assault. Then the fireship Pro Patria under commander Jan Daniëlsz van Rijn broke through the chain (or sailed over it according to some historians, distrusting the more spectacular traditional version of events), the stages of which were soon after destroyed by Dutch engineers commanded by Rear-Admiral David Vlugh. She then destroyed the Matthias by fire. The fireships Catharina and Schiedam attacked the Charles V; the Catharina under commander Hendrik Hendriksz was sunk by the shore batteries but the Schiedam under commander Gerrit Andriesz Mak successfully set the Charles V alight; the crew was captured by Van Brakel. Royal Charles, with only thirty cannon aboard and abandoned by her skeleton crew when they saw the Matthias burn, was then captured by the Irishman Thomas Tobiasz, the flag captain of Vice-Admiral Johan de Liefde, and carried off to the Netherlands despite an unfavourable tide. This was made possible by lowering her draught by bringing her into a slight tilt. The jack was struck while a trumpeter played "Joan's placket is torn". Only the Monmouth escaped. Seeing the disaster Monck ordered all sixteen remaining warships further up to be sunk off to prevent them from being captured, making for a total of about thirty ships deliberately sunk by the English themselves."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raid_on_the_Medway...

Michael Robinson   Link to this

" ... ill newes is come to Court of the Dutch breaking the Chaine at Chatham; which struck me to the heart ..."

Schellinks, Willem
The burning of the English fleet near Chatham, June 1667, during the second Anglo-Dutch war -- topo panorama -- oil
http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoeken/asse...

full engraved version -- showing Sheerness etc.
http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoeken/asse...
(The dutch date is 'new style')

The apotheosis of Cornelis de Witt, with the raid on Chatham, June 1667, in the background
http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoeken/asse...

The exuberant figural Dutch baroque frame is something to behold, large version folds out from tab on left -- quite the equal of the marble decoration of the main hall of Amsterdam Town Hall, finished a only a few years prior and at the time considered the eighth wonder of the world.

Linda   Link to this

Right in the middle of all this war urgency we have a flight into genealogy:
" . . . we did certainly come out of Scotland with the Abbot of Crowland."

Out of Scotland? At some point -- can't remember where -- Sam makes disparaging Johnsonesque remarks about the Scots.

Crowland (allegedly a medieval monk's misspelling of Croyland) is "a small but interesting town where Crowland Abbey was founded by King Ethelbald in 716 on an island in the fens where St. Guthlac made his home."

See also Wikipedia "Abbot of Crowland." But which abbot of this very long list of abbots came out of Scotland with the Pepys ancestor in tow, and when?

Michael Robinson   Link to this

" ... the Dutch have broke the chaine and burned our ships, and particularly “The Royal Charles,” ..."

Leyden, Jan van
The Dutch burning the English ships off Chatham; in the foreground (l) Dutch marines with sloped arms after disembarking.
http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoeken/asse...

Velde, Peter van de
The burning of the English fleet off Chatham, 20 June 1667: the seizure of the ‘Royal Charles’ shown in the center of the burning fleet.
http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoeken/asse...

Diest, Jeronymus van (II)
The seizure of the English flagship 'Royal Charles,' captured during the raid on Chatham, June 1667
http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoeken/asse...

Note the English ‘red duster’ shown flying upside down and from a broken standard below the Dutch flag on the stern. The painting was made for De Witt, see the inscription panel lower left.

The gilt and carved English Royal Arms from the 'counter' of the 'Royal Charles,' now collection Rijksmuseum.
http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoeken/asse...

Spoiler

Lockeman, Nicolaes
Presentation Commemorative Gold Covered Cup, made for De Ruyter,
polychrome enamel panorama showing the seizure of Sheerness etc.
http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoeken/asse...
The cup’s elaborate velvet case;
http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoeken/publ...

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"So God help us! and God knows what disorders we may fall into, and whether any violence on this office, or perhaps some severity on our persons, as being reckoned by the silly people, or perhaps may, by policy of State, be thought fit to be condemned by the King and Duke of York, and so put to trouble; though, God knows! I have, in my own person, done my full duty, I am sure."

Silly people...As if the naval administration should bear any fault in this matter. Though of course if the Diary were to have fallen into the wrong hands just now...Or were Sam to have been caught spending his time visiting cousin The on a day like this, dear to us all as she is.

Silly people...Clever king. Interesting that Sam accepts that state policy may require his head rather than (at least right now before full-steam panic takes over) angrily blaming Charles for misgovernance.

Guess we ought someday to take a peek at the diary of some of BP's middle- and junior level management for these last few months in a few years. Probably not very different.

To be fair to Sam, it's not like he could run to Deptford, organize a fleet of fireboats, and make a do-or-die suicide run on the Dutch fleet (even if Coventry in fact seems to be trying to organize a fireboat fleet) . But it does seem he's a bit more concerned with saving his gold and hide than defending England or saving his beloved fleet. Again, to be fair, the Dutch aren't Napoleon, let alone Hitler. England isn't in real danger of full-scale armed invasion, despite some panicky notions.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

It does seem amazing given the growing danger and the poor strategic situation for the bottled-up fleet for so long beforehand that Pett and the Naval Office had not set up a plan for at least scuttling the fleet before something like this could happen.

"Hewer? You say you and Hayter think you can save our heads...er, the State and quell public discontent? Before I flee for parts unknown but to readers of my Diary in some future era, how?"

"A campaign of public information, sir." "Directed public information, sir." Hayter chimes in.

"What?"

"You see, we place these placards all over London and in every city, down to the smallest parish street corner."

"And print them in the London Gazette." Hayter notes.

"What...Placards?"

Hmmn...Sam eyes said placards in portfolio Hewer hands him.

"Dutch fall into strategic trap."

Hmmn...

"Just in case Sir Will Coventry's fireboats manage to sink a few on their retreat, sir." Hewer notes.

"It should read 'brilliant strategic trap'." Hayter frowns.

"Yes..." Hmmn...

"Treasonous ... rogues betray fleet."

"Hewer? '...'"

"Not fornicating rogues, sir. We left space to fill in the blank... Papists, Jews, Cromwellians, radicals..."

"Or just 'enemy'..." Hayter notes. Bit uncomfortable with the direction...Quakers obviously being somewhere along that list.

"Fleet experiences accident...Dutch promote lying claims of 'victory'."

"Hewer? 'Accident'...? How could we get away with that?"

"We just keep denying everything, sir. Ummn...That was the King's suggestion, sir."

"Dutch driven off with huge losses. Fleet intact."

"Hewer? Chatham's burning hulks have become England's premier tourist attraction."

"Amd would the government allow them to come if there really had been a disaster?" Hayter, shrewd look...Fading at Sam's glare... "Ummn, sir."

"Admiral Penn loses fleet."

"Say, I rather like this one."

"Uh, sir. The Admiral saw it and insisted that if the king orders it up, half of the posters must blane you."

"Lose this one."

"Yes, sir."

Hmmn...

"The Stuart administration: Just thank God nukes won't be invented for another 300 years."

"Nukes?"

"Dream I had about the future, sir." Hayter notes. "Apocalyptic weapons, madmen relying on instant mutual destruction to prevent war..."

Hmmn... "Too cerebral."

Hmmn... "Commissioner Pett fails to save fleet."

"Now this one..."

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Pepyses from Scotland? Perhaps a legend.

"Villein custom on Crowlands manor (fn. 50) allowed a widow to keep her husband's holding while she remained chaste and unmarried. Descent was by borough English. By 1323 the inheriting youngest son customarily allowed each unmarried sibling ½ a. in each arable field. Rising population and land shortage was also reflected in the price of land in the early 14th century and particularly in the sums paid to the abbot for licence to marry widows yet retain their holding, the single commonest form of succession to land. Land prices fell sharply in 1349 and remained low. The opportunities for peasants to buy land led to larger holdings: in the 15th and 16th centuries many consisted of full yardlands (fn. 51) and one of 60 a. of arable and 40 a. of meadow was recorded in the late 15th century. (fn. 52) Ultimately the most prominent of several prosperous peasant families were the Pepyses, established in the village by the 1320s, (fn. 53) who acquired the lease of the Crowlands demesne c. 1520. (fn. 54) A Pepys was worth £50 in Cottenham in 1522, when another resident was worth £100. (fn. 55) By the 1540s William Pepys styled himself gentleman, and he and his son John Pepys were active in the land market, (fn. 56) John buying a manor in Impington in 1579 (fn. 57) and at his death in 1589 endowing each of his five sons handsomely. (fn. 58) " http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?co...

Michael L   Link to this

A cute poem by Kipling regarding the Dutch in the Medway seems apt for the occasion: http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_dutchmedway.htm

Michael Robinson   Link to this

" ... that his grandfather, my great grandfather, had 800l. per annum, in Queen Elizabeth’s time, ... we did certainly come out of Scotland with the Abbot of Crowland. More talk I had, and shall have more with him, but my mind is so sad and head full of this ill news that I cannot now set it down. ..."

Apparently simple family lore, L&M footnote that Roger Pepys probably derived his information from 'Liber Talboti Pepys'(now untraced) a family commonplace book he had inherited from his father Talbot, d. 1666, probably drawn up by Talbot. As Terry F's citation makes clear what ever connection a William Pepys might have had with the Abbots of Crowland ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbot_of_Crowland , http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=352270 ), and Scotland, this was far from the beginning of the family story.

SP is presumably lapsing into this kind of mild fantasy as a relief from stress as one of his girlfriends is not available and immediately to hand to enable 'polyglot distractions.'

classicist   Link to this

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has been closed for renovation for several years now; the five rooms still open display the chief glories of the vast collection. Among the Rembrandts and Vermeers is the stern panel of 'The Royal Charles'. The Dutch certainly haven't forgotten their victory.

Linda   Link to this

@ Michael L -- the Kipling poem is truly right on the money, so much so that I wonder if Kipling read Pepys.

JWB   Link to this

Kipling/Pepys:
"The study is a fascinating record of a writer and his work. It is just as Kipling left it, only tidier. ... The room contains his extensive library, an eclectic mix of works from poetry to Pepys, naval history to bee-keeping...."
http://www.periodproperty.co.uk/ppuk_discoverin...

JWB   Link to this

2 links to Upnor Castle:

http://www.fortified-places.com/upnor.html
and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upnor_Castle

(Just a thought that Upnor may have been in mind when Jamestown sited.)

cum salis grano   Link to this

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise"

Yeah, yeah...Sam throws up hands at clerk's recitation of a work amazingly ahead of its time. "Just gimme my gold and lemme out of here! The Dutch are coming, you idiot!"

Australian Susan   Link to this

Thank you very much, MR, for all the links to artworks - fascinating. I especially like that with the MM ones, you can magnify them in sections and really examine them. There's a lot going on in all of them.
I was rather surprised that the top left quadrant of the Red Ensign on the ships showed the Cross of St George - the English flag - and not the Union flag, although I saw one ship had the Union flag flying as well. Is this because it is the English Navy, rather than the British Navy?

Australian Susan   Link to this

"if you can keep your head whilst all about are losing theirs..."

.....maybe you have not appreciated the seriousness of the situation.

sorry, couldn't resist this old chestnut.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

AS-One imagines that sole (British) survivor of the 1839 occupation force in Kabul mumbling that to himself (if it had been written at the time) as he rode for India.

Mary   Link to this

the Union flag

At this date the Union flag flown in England would simply have shown the cross of St. George (England) superimposed over the cross of St. Andrew (Scotland). This version of the Union flag would not be recognised in Scotland until 1707.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

@ Australian Susan

Thanks for the compliment, there is a very great deal 'going on' underneath the surface appearances of in these pictures as is true of all Dutch works of the period.

At this date the Red Ensign was strictly naval, use by merchant ships was permitted by proclamation in 1674. The cross of St. George in the upper left quadrant indicated the English Navy, or in terms of the proclamation, South British (the Royal Scots Navy, North British, separate till 1707, flew a red ensign with the saltier in the upper left.) From 1707 to 1801 the Union flag of 1606 was in the upper left quartile of the duster.

The union flag of 1606( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Flag#History )was flown only by the Naval vessels of both South and North Britain -- and flown only at the main top by a fleet admiral. One piece of flag symbolism in the Peter van de Velde, showing the seizure of the 'Royal Charles,' is that the Dutch flag is at the main mast while the British Union Flag is flying first at a level well beneath and second as a 'jack' on the bowsprit, a position which indicates 'distress' when a British Naval ship is underway.

Mary   Link to this

" and then to supper and to bed with a heavy heart. The..."

L&M note that, from this point onwards, the end of this entry, together with many others in the next few weeks, are written in a smaller hand. Pepys [Spoiler: as is shown in the following day's entry] entrusted numerous papers including his journals to the safe-keeping of cousin Sarah and her husband for the duration. The entries covering the remainder of Dutch emergency and its aftermath must have been brought up to date later on.

Nix   Link to this

Kipling's lost verse:

One dedicated servant
Would keep your fleet afloat,
But he is like your Highness --
A randy little goat.

So while the crews were starving,
A-wenching he would go.
His French wife told her family --
That's how the Dutchmen know!

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