Thursday 25 March 1669

Up, and by and by, about eight o’clock, come Rear-Admiral Kempthorne and seven Captains more, by the Duke of York’s order, as we expected, to hold the Court-martiall about the loss of “The Defyance;” and so presently we by boat to “The Charles,” which lies over against Upnor Castle, and there we fell to the business; and there I did manage the business, the Duke of York having, by special order, directed them to take the assistance of Commissioner Middleton and me, forasmuch as there might be need of advice in what relates to the government of the ships in harbour. And so I did lay the law open to them, and rattle the Master Attendants out of their wits almost; and made the trial last till seven at night, not eating a bit all the day; only when we had done examination, and I given my thoughts that the neglect of the Gunner of the ship was as great as I thought any neglect could be, which might by the law deserve death, but Commissioner Middleton did declare that he was against giving the sentence of death, we withdrew, as not being of the Court, and so left them to do what they pleased; and, while they were debating it, the Boatswain of the ship did bring us out of the kettle a piece of hot salt beef, and some brown bread and brandy; and there we did make a little meal, but so good as I never would desire to eat better meat while I live, only I would have cleaner dishes. By and by they had done, and called us down from the quarterdeck; and there we find they do sentence that the Gunner of “The Defyance” should stand upon “The Charles” three hours with his fault writ upon his breast, and with a halter about his neck, and so be made incapable of any office. The truth is, the man do seem, and is, I believe, a good man; but his neglect, in trusting a girl to carry fire into his cabin, is not to be pardoned. This being done, we took boat and home; and there a good supper was ready for us, which should have been our dinner. The Captains, desirous to be at London, went away presently for Gravesend, to get thither by this night’s tide; and so we to supper, it having been a great snowy and mighty cold, foul day; and so after supper to bed.

11 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

The Royal Society today at Arundel House — History of the RS, Thomas Birch,

March 25, 1669. The Society did not meet.

History of the Royal Society, Thomas Birch,, Vol. 2, p. 356. http://goo.gl/DGq9J

Mary   Link to this

hot salt beef and brown bread.

Still a snack to be relished, with or without the brandy.... though not on dirty dishes.

ONeville   Link to this

Knowing Sam's background, I would have thought that he would have made a "Sandwich" of the beef. Dirty plates would not have mattered as much. A bit of pickle would not have gone amiss, but brandy, no.

Facing the death penalty for trusting a girl. There's a lesson for all men.

rob van hugte   Link to this

On reading the novels written on the era of the sailing ships the one great fear that keeps getting mentioned is fire. Not such a big surprise if you think of these ships as being made of entirely combustible stuff; oak, ropes, tallow, pitch and do not forget the gunpowder. Death penalty or slightly worse, 30 lashes would be the going rate for this sort of neglect. There is a scene in Hornblower where the culpritt is forced to run the gauntlet while being whipped by the entire crew.

Roger The Weather   Link to this

'it having been a great snowy and mighty cold, foul day;'

Samuel talked about 'temperate' weather earlier in the month when gadding about in his coach etc. This day we see the vagaries of English spring weather.
It was a chilly March overall in 1669 , the average of 5.0C being the 144th coldest March of 353 since 1659. Incidently, the current March looks like being in the top ten warmest.

Maurie Beck   Link to this

‘it having been a great snowy and mighty cold, foul day;’

This was in the middle of the Little Ice Age. 1650 AD was a climate minimum.

Claire   Link to this

"...only I would have cleaner dishes."

If we were somehow transported back to this time before the arrival of the germ theory, how we would be aghast at the neglect of basic hygiene!

Mary   Link to this

Fire on board ship

It's not just the fire itself, of course, that presents the danger, but also the use of water to douse a fire. You couldn't afford to pump too much of that on board and so could find yourself caught on the horns of a horrible dilemma.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Today is Lady Day, the year's first first "quarter day". "In British and Irish tradition, the quarter days were the four dates in each year on which servants were hired, and rents were due." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarter_days

How right (and predictable?!) a time for Jane and Tom to be gone and to marry!

Australian Susan   Link to this

Lady Day - and parish priests got their tithes on this day (and the other quarter days)

nix   Link to this

Do they still?

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