January 1665

A great frost welcomes the New Year (3) as Sam sets about his business of felling lumber (3, 12), discussing ships to be built (11), meeting with the King and Privy Council (15) and Povy’s accounts (16, 18, 19, 20). The Dutch activity includes Holmes’ imprisonment in the Tower (9), confusion over lost ships (13, 14) and a letter from Allin with his naval information (23). Sam is pleased to receive money from Sir George Carteret for work related to flags (28).

On the personal side, Sam and Elizabeth argue over their maid Jane (5, 6, 31) and Sam continues to be ‘vexed’ by women. He meets Bagwell (2, 23) and finally, after many attempts, finds himself alone with Gervais’ Jane (27), who has pledged herself to a lowly fiddler (2, 13, 20). His cozen Percivall Angier and Dr. Tom Pepys both die this month (19).

Sam enjoys three plays, ‘Love in a Tubb’ (4), ‘The Traytor’ (13) and ‘Vulpone’ (14). He sees the Royal Society Charter and Law book (9), buys Hooke’s Microscopicall Observations (20), and decides to have the books in his study all bound in the same binding (18).

See the full diary entries for January 1665

February 1665

With Tangier related work (2, 6, 16), Povy’s accounts (8, 16), Sandwich’s naval fleet manoeuvres (3), false reports of Dutch activity (23, 27) and the King’s passage of the 2,500,000l. bill (10) in the background, Sam juggles home stresses, indulges in a special interest and enjoys in court gossip.

Sam finds discord with Elizabeth (4, 28) over her handling of the termination of their maid Jane (3). When Batten becomes very ill, Sam ponders if he will live (6, 7) while the death of Mr. Barlow (9) leaves Sam richer as he is relieved of his payment obligations. In exchange for a letter requesting a better position for her husband, Sam once again delights in Batten’s wife (14, 20).

Sam gladly writes of his new book bindings that it “is now a pleasant sight to see my whole study of almost one binding” (3, 5, 10). Sam is proud to take a draught of Portsmouth Harbour by Lord Sandwich off to be made into a chart as a gift for the King, Duke of York and Lord Sandwich himself (18, 27). Sam is admitted to the Royal Society and is fascinated by the work of Boyle and Hooke (15).

Lady Sandwich and Sam discuss potential husbands for her daughters, court stories of masquerades with vizards and the shameful antics of a court beauty Miss Jennings (3, 21). Sam sees the beginning of the Lord Chancellor’s new home, which has already been nicknamed “Dunkirke House” by the Chancellor’s detractors (20).

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March 1665

War is proclaimed (albeit unofficially) on the Royal Exchange (4) and Sam attends a farewell dinner for Holmes who is released from the Tower (14). The ‘London’, Sir Lawson’s ship, sinks, killing about 300 people (8). Betty Martin (formerly Lane) gives birth to a son (9) and continues to beg Sam to find a job for her errant husband, who has been keeping a mistress in France.

Sam presents Lord Sandwich the chart which Sam had made for him. Lord Sandwich likes it “mightily” (5). Lady Sandwich continues discussions about the potential of Sir George Carteret’s son as a husband for Lady Jemimah.

Sam gives Elizabeth 20l. for Easter clothing (1) and has his tailor see to it that his clothing is in order (21). Sharp appearance will no doubt come in handy as Sam finds himself in a position to replace Povy in the highly visible role of Treasurer to the Committee of Tangier. His placement is confirmed with a show of confidence among the Duke and other Committee members (20) and his contract with Povy is completed (27).

Sam celebrates his seven year anniversary of the cutting of his stone (26). He also attends several experiments and lectures as a member of the Royal Society (1, 8, 15, 22).

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April 1665

Much of this month centers on the debts of the Navy and their need for additional funds (1, 10, 12). Sam continues to work on issues related to his new role as Treasurer to the Committee of Tangier (14, 15, 18, 19). Naval activities include Sam’s studying of maps (16), payments to the merchant Andrews (20, 21) and the taking of three Dutch Men-of-War (16, 17).

Sam scores a major recognition (17, 28) when the King sees him in Whitehall and calls him by name and “did discourse with me about the ships in the River; and this is the first time that ever I knew the King did know me personally; so that hereafter I must not go thither, but with expectation to be questioned, and to be ready to give good answers.” The downside of this recognition is that now Sam needs to be cautious that the King doesn’t spot him ‘in any pleasure’ and upon spotting the King in the park (24) soon after, quickly departs to ensure that he keeps up appearances.

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May 1665

Sam’s work includes Tangiers victuals (7), striking 17,500l. of tallys (12), seeking advice regarding the Act for Land Carriages (13) and details of the Dutch fleet (23). A more somber piece of news is that the plague is “growing upon us in this towne” and there is debate over potential remedies for it (24).

Sam’s mother comes for a visit (10) and has lunch with an old servant and Elizabeth (23). Ever fashionable Sam finds “the convenience of periwigs is so great” that he once again cuts off his hair (5), which cuts a fine figure with his new suit (21). Elizabeth starts to take lessons in limn (a form of illustration) from a Mr. Browne, without the usual arousal of any jealousy on Sam’s behalf (7, 9).

Sam writes of John Evelyn’s beautiful home and his hive of bees (1, 5). On a more outrageous note, Sam records the early antics of a young Lord Rochester and his kidnapping of Elizabeth Mallet, which leaves Lady Mountagu hoping that this could open the door for a potential wealthy mate for her son, Lord Hinchingbroke.

See the full diary entries for May 1665

June 1665

June’s flurry of activity begins with unfolding news of the English victory over the Dutch in the Battle of Lowestoft (3, 4, 5, 8). The fallout of the victory includes the good news of the men who performed well in action, like Lord Sandwich (23) along with the sad death of men including the Earl of Falmouth, Earl of Marlborough, Muskerry, Mr. Richard Boyle (8) and later Sir J. Lawson (25).

The plague continues to infiltrate the town with Sam seeing “two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and ‘Lord have mercy upon us’ writ there” (10). By the end of the month the mortality count is 267 (29). Throughout the town people are starting to leave in fear, including the Queen Mother (17, 29). Sam’s mother, who wanted to extend her stay, also departs (22).

In the wedding bell area, there is gossip that perhaps Lord Rochester is declared out of hopes for Mrs. Mallet (6), which could bring an opportunity to Lady and Lord Sandwich. At Lord Sandwich’s request, Sam begins to act as a go between to arrange the potential match of Lord Sandwich’s daughter, Jemimah and Sir George Carteret’s son Philip (23, 24, 25). The return of Balty (26), along with his new wife, “a pretty modest woman” moves Sam to promise that he will try to find something for him, not necessarily for the sake of Balty he writes, but for his pretty, discreet and humble appearing wife.

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July 1665

The plague hits hard this month and London continues to clear out, including Elizabeth and “family” who move to Woolwich. In spite of the spreading disease and related fears Sam continues to work and visit his lady friends (11, 12, 19) without any seeming hesitation. Throughout the month Sam records the rising fatality counts, and notes that there are few coaches and the streets are “mighty thin of people” (22).

Sam grooms the awkward Philip Carteret with courting advice (9, 15, 16, 17) and is pleased to know that Lady Jemimah can “readily obey what her father and mother had done” (17). The mothers, Lady Sandwich and Lady Carteret, make plans for the wedding (12) and shorten the engagement period amid fears of the growing plague. A proud Sam, in his new coloured suit, enjoys the wedding (31) and is proud of having facilitated it.

In family matters, Sam enjoys Elizabeth’s fine pictures (18, 29). Sam jumps on the very recent death of Captain Harman’s wife by proposing a marriage between Harman and Pall, but fears that the price will be too steep for him to conclude this arrangement (21, 26). Once again, Sam ponders the never ending question of what to do for Balty (25).

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August 1665

As the plague rages Sam watches pest coaches pick up a stricken maid (3), sadly recounts the ale-seller Will’s loss of his entire family (8), and the death of his physician Dr. Burnett (25). Sam notes, the “discourse in the streets is of death, and nothing else … the towne is like a place distressed and forsaken” (30) and the plague is such a “cruel thing: this disease making us more cruel to one another than if we are doggs” (22). When Lord Hinchingbroke returns (4) and becomes ill there is a sense of relief that it is “just” small-pox (16). Sam pragmatically re-writes his will (10, 11) to ensure that his father and Elizabeth are provided for.

Leveraging off his new-found status with the Carterets, Sir George shares a rare glimpse of his own relationship with the King (14). In naval activity Sandwich’s fleet doesn’t fare well in their manoeuvres off of Bergen (16, 19). Sir George assures Sam (20) that Sandwich was blameless and was only following orders. There is an ominous tone that perhaps this will not prove to be so.

In spite of the devastating disease, Sam’s irrepressible nature and love of all things beautiful shines through. He is delighted in Elizabeth’s developing picture talents (5, 7, 21) and gives her the rare gift of a diamond ring (14). In a totally out of character moment he promises Elizabeth a pearl necklace of 60l. within two years if she continues to please him with her paintings. His rising admiration for his wife’s artistry doesn’t stop his ongoing ogling/dalliances with the ladies (6, 8, 11, 22, 23). Sam’s almost comical erotic dream of Lady Castlemaine (15) provides a fitting summary of the plague times and his idea of and ideal afterlife, “what a happy thing it would be if when we are in our graves (as Shakespeere resembles it) we could dream, and dream but such dreams as this, that then we should not need to be so fearful of death, as we are this plague time.” (15)

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September 1665

Plague concerns dominate this month with Sam’s total removal to Woolwich (1), discussions regarding the disease and how it is spread (3) and the futile burning of fires to stop it (6). A very passionate story emerges of a man passing his only surviving child stark naked into the arms of a friend for safekeeping with hopes of saving the child from impending death (3). The plague hits Sam’s household with the deaths of Will Hewer’s and Tom Edwards’ fathers (15, 21), as fear lingers for Elizabeth when her father becomes ill (10, 12).

While Sam complains of his “masters” that “no one is looking after business” he busies himself with Naval news including activities in Bergen (5), Lord Sandwich’s ship military movements (9, 10, 14) and the poor state of the fleet regarding provisions and supplies (18). Sam’s involvement with Lord Sandwich in the selling of Prizes takes an ominous centre stage (17, 18, 23, 24, 25) and greatly improves his wealth (30) during this time of great illness and loss to most.

Sam manages to find some pleasure with a quick tryst (2), his music (10, 17), his reading of plays (7, 16), and cards games and billiards (11). Elizabeth’s artistic talent blooms with the completion of her “picture of our Saviour, which is very pretty” (27).

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October 1665

As the threat of the plague diminishes a new threat surrounds Lord Sandwich’s prizes (1, 9, 12, 16, 22, 28). An overly busy Sam attends to victualling of Tangier (4, 18), shares concerns with John Evelyn about providing for sick and wounded seamen (4, 7, 24), getting Balty a job (19) and his private accounts (9).

Sam agrees with work gossip against him that “I do take too much business upon me, more than I can do, and that therefore some do lie undone. This I confess to my trouble is true, but it arises from my being forced to take so much on me, more than is my proper task to undertake” (20). Work overload doesn’t stop Sam from his hopes of the place of “Surveyor-Generall of the Victualling, which will bring me 300l. per annum” (31).

Gossip of different nature is shared by Povy who laments the wanton ways of the King and his Court (16). Lord Sandwich ‘seconds the motion’ by expressing his dismay on the Court politics (25). The King’s laziness and wantonness aside, Parliament votes 1,250,000l. towards his war efforts.

Sam celebrates his ten year wedding anniversary a day late, noting only his ‘extreme good condition of health and estate and honour’ but somehow seems to totally forget any mention of Elizabeth (11)! Sam reveals an interesting glimpse into his diary writing habit when he writes that he is “late in the office entering my Journall for 8 days past, the greatness of my business hindering me of late to put it down daily, but I have done it now very true and particularly, and hereafter will, I hope, be able to fall into my old way of doing it daily” (16).

See the full diary entries for October 1665

November 1665

Court politics abound as Sam starts the month with an admission that “little merit do prevail in the world, but only favour; and that for myself, chance without merit brought me in; and that diligence only keeps me so” (1). Knowing he is not as highly placed as others and being surrounded by lazy men, Sam tries to remain focused on his work amidst an uprising of sorts of 100 seamen wanting their pay (4). He busies himself with issues surrounding the Tangier boats, prize good profits (13) and the Hambro fleet (25). He does find time to share some enjoyable interactions with John Evelyn (2, 5, 24).

Politics do not shine so brightly on Lord Sandwich who finds himself under attack by many of the factions at Court (2, 17). Even with the aid of his new “relation” and friend Sir George Carteret, who tries to work the political factions in Sandwich’s favor (6, 27, 28), things seem to be moving against Sandwich.

Sam is upset that Elizabeth has “put away” Mary (9, 10). Sam finds time to “make the rounds” with the ladies and partakes of little dalliances with Bagwell’s wife, Mrs. Pennington, Sarah and the child Frances Tooker (8, 23, 26, 27).

The plague seems to be subsiding and Sam is hopeful that the first frost (22, 23) will be a “perfect cure of the plague”. Sadly he hears that Luellin is dead of it (20), and in a letter from his father he also learns that his Aunt Bell has also succumbed to the deadly disease.

See the full diary entries for November 1665

December 1665

In December Sam focuses on Tangier and his victualling business (1, 2, 8, 11, 13, 27). By the middle of the month he admits that his accounts are a mess and he spends Christmas Day pulling them into a better condition.

The plague seems to increase for a while (13, 17, 20, 22) but finally Sam sees a decline (29). In spite of the illness still lingering Elizabeth and her maids move back to London (2), unknowingly leaving Sam free to frolic with Madam Penington (4, 17, 20).

As a result of Sam’s recommendation, Balty gets a job with the Duke of Albemarle’s guards. Although glad that his stature won Balty a position, an astute Sam now has to worry that Balty “may carry himself that I may receive no disgrace by him” (4).

Sam’s Christmas is spent at church where he watches a wedding ceremony and wonders how “strange to see what delight we married people have to see these poor fools decoyed into our condition, every man and woman gazing and smiling at them (25).”

Sam ends his year declaring that “I have never lived so merrily (besides that I never got so much) as I have done this plague time”, with his net worth increasing from 1300l. to 4400l.. Although prize money issues still carry on for Sam (3, 5, 13) the year ends sadly for Lord Sandwich (6, 7, 8). Sam records that “The great evil this year, and the only one indeed, is the fall of my Lord Sandwich, whose mistake about the prizes has undone him, I believe, as to interest at Court, though sent (for a little palliating it) Embassador to Spayne, which he is now fitting himself for.” Sam ends the year with hopes for the plague to truly end and a bright eye for the return of business as usual.

See the full diary entries for December 1665