Saturday 31st March 2007

By Jeannine Kerwin

The following letter of acknowledgement and inventory of the items in the tailor shop are from Helen Truesdell Heath’s “The Letters of Samuel Pepys and His Family Circle” (See at Amazon UK, US). In this inventory are the details of the items which Tom acknowledges have been ‘lent’ to him by his father for his accommodation. All information and quotations set forth herein come from Heath’s above referenced book.

Heath tells us that “Thomas, born 18 June 1634, took over the London tailor shop in 1661, on terms never made clear beyond the hint in the diary that he would miscarry for want of brains and care” (p. xx). She presents several letters (dated from April 1664 through July 1664) which include those from i) Sam to his Cozen Scott, ii) Dr. Thomas Pepys to John Sr., iii) Sam to Mr. Pearson and iv) John Sr. to Sam. These letters set forth arguments, conflicts and assorted issues about the value of Tom’s estate, payments made and/or due including the funeral services costs, the accuracy of the inventory, the actual ‘ownership” of the items in the inventory, etc. As in many estate closings tempers fly, accusations are made and these letters “record the conflicting assertions and recriminations of the persons involved. Perhaps most of the contenders were mistaken in what they thought they knew, although it seems possible that some were perjuring themselves. Samuel, in any event, was left to compose the quarrel and satisfy the law” (p. xx). Where Sam’s upcoming Diary entries will no doubt touch on these issues, the letters have not been included, but will revolve in part, around the inventory, which is dated back to 1661.

Heath also explains “That Thomas was not a financial success is no mark against his character. The inaccuracy of his book-keeping, even though regrettable, was not outstanding in an age when even the royal accounts were often confused, and when Samuel Pepys made a name for himself by an honesty and an accuracy in the public accounting that were held unprecedented” (p. xx).

Heath’s text is directly from the manuscript. This letter is from the Rawlinson Collection in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, located in the Admiralty volumes of the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Heath notes that this inventory was in the hand of Thomas Pepys and that the acknowledgement (later document in this text) was in the hand of Sam, with the signature of Thomas. It is endorsed in Sam’s hand with a note that reads “TP’s bond to redd on demand”.

The formatting of the inventory does not exactly reflect the original as it appeared in Ms. Heath’s collection. The inventory content is from the original and, as is the acknowledgement letter and is presented in full. Throughout the document it appears that when Thomas writes ‘on’, ‘i’ or “I” he means “one”. Heath’s notes/translations have been incorporated into the text within brackets [ ]. The reader will clearly see that since Thomas is lacking Sam’s formal education that his punctuation is haphazard at best.

An Inve[n]tarye of all the goods that is Left.

Shopp chamber

2 flock bedds, 4 boulsters, on pair of blankets, on rug, 2 Liste coverlids, on sea chest, on trunk.

Cutting Board upper chamber & mayds beed

on cutting board, 2 nest of Drawers, shelfs, on Looking glass. a bi [word unknown as paper torn] on Joynt Stoole. 2 boxses & other Lumber. 2 Bedsteds with curtaines & vallence on stripte the other Darnix [a fabric for hangings]. On grate chest. a press. on trundle bedd. on bedd. 2 feether Beds on flock bed on bolster on quilt 2 piIIows a pair of blankets 2 coverlids on Looking glass, other on coverlid 2 blankets & 2 pillows, on close stoole & 2 muskets. mayds bed. 2 flock bolsters on flock beed on Blanket on coverlid. a grate green rugg.

2 chamber

A larg standing Bedsteed, purple curtaines & vallence a counter pain of the same, 7 back stooles on elbow cheir kivered with the same on Feather bedd & bolster, on pillow, on pair of blankets. A pair of brass Andirons & Snuffers, a pair of Iron Doggs tongs & shovvel with brasses a pair of Bellows. A lowe wainskote table with a drawer a rownd folding table, on rose carpet & 2 stripte carpets a cheest of Drawers a Lookinglass a Trundle bedd the room hung with Stript hanging, with maps. On Feather bedd bolster & coverled a pair of virginals & a Frame In the closset to this chamber 4 Stooles on hye rose work & 3 loe with glassen & Earthen Potts & a bruch

i chamber

on Larg hye bedsted redd serg curtaines & vallence & cups with silk fringe, the room hung with stripe hangings & curtins of the sam A large ovell Table 2 Joynt stooles a turne up table & a corte cubberd [moveable cabinet used to display plate], A larg Turkey carpett, 6 cheirs & an elboe cheir of the same the bedd is off. kivvered all with redd covers a Loe Joint-stole. a pair of brass Andirons a pair of Doggs with brass knobs a pair of bellows with a Lookinglas & a larg mapp on feather beed on bolster on pillow 2 blankets on rugg. a pair of tongs & fier shovell with brasses a pair of brass snuffers

Studdy to this chamber

A round folding table a large elboe chair a loe Joynt Stoole a lookin- glas window curtins &shelfs

Parler

6 Leather chairs on Joint Stoole a foulding table a rose work carpet 2 cuchings of the same 2 branches on Lookinglass a cronacle & the histery of England Scotland & Ierland a pair of snuffers

Kiching & yard

6 grate diches 3 pye plates on bed pan on close stoole pan 6 small diches 9 porringers a brass pessle & morter on brass candlestick 4 pewter candlesticks 2 pewter saltsellers on trencher salte 7 sallet dishes & on dussen of plates. on thrundle [trundle] pott on wine thurnill pint [shallow oval tub] on pint on half pint pott all pewter 2 rosters of tin & a brass branch on table 2 chairs & on Stoole i pair of Large grates a long Iron before i fier shovvell i pair of tongs i fire fork 2 slises 2 sliding racks on plane on 2 racks for the Spit i pair of bellows i Jack & wayts 2 drippin pans on pudding pann 3 spits 2 Smothing Irons i bason i spice box The yard 6 disshes 4 sausers i cullender on copper on brasskillet 2 copper skillets on bras pott on kittle 2 scummers on basting Ladle i Leaden seston [cistern] i salt box 4 chamber potts pewter a choppin knife

In The Seller

on stand Woching Tubs a cole hole a boarded seller with Lock & key & other nessessaryes as 3 powdring tubs

There is a Silver Tankard & spoone

August. 25. 1661

I hereby acknowledge the Goods in the above-written inventory to belong to my father Mr. John Pepys, and by him at my request lent to mee for my present accomodation. Which sayd goods I doe hereby promise and engage to preserve with all care, and to see the same returned safe to my sayd father or his executors or assignes upon his or theyr demand. Wittnesse my hand this 25. of August. 1661.

THOMAS PEPYS

Witnesses hereunto
Samuel Pepys.
Wm. Hewer.

Heath notes that the following section was noted on the back of the sheet and had evidently been dictated to Sam by his father.

A note of the linning that I left at London
4 paire of fine sheets & 7 paire of ordinary sheets 2 dozen of strong [course] diaper napkins, a table cloth, & cupbo [ard] cloth, I dozen of ordinary napkins. 4 towels diaper, 2 paire of pillowbeares [pillowcases].

17 Comments

Terry F   Link to this

Jeannine, thank you so very much. Poor (!!) Tom. How sadd and meager.

As you said earlier, "interesting." Surely revealing.

Perversely, I thought about all the critters living in all the bedding.

I was struck by his father's wall-maps and history book.

---

What is "a bruch"?

jeannine   Link to this

What is "a bruch"?

Hi Terry--no notes regarding that but my guess is a "brush"?

Australian Susan   Link to this

A fascinating insight into the life of 17th century London - thank you, Jeannine! Nowadays, we would not take such close inventories because we do not expect things to last, but then they did - good solid items were passed down the generations. I was not surprised to see the multi-purpose nature of rooms, which is so different from our houses today, but was surprised not to see more mention other than the Cutting board and the nest of drawers, to Tom's business: no mention of stock of cloth or scissors, sewing equipment. Was this counted as his personal possession and therefore not listed? I also noted that the linen needed a separate listing added on the back - was this usual?

cumsalisgrano   Link to this

Jeannine great: Thanks for the original spellings; note the number of night [day?] resting places.

Bradford   Link to this

Doesn't Darnix sound like a liquid fabric mender, something along the line of how girls used to paint runners in nylons with clear fingernail polish?

Thanks, Jeannine, for converting what must not have been the tidiest document into this readable form. And let's all give thanks for the standardization of English spelling.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Would that be standardisation, dear Bradford?

(Sorry, couldn't resist)

Bradford   Link to this

I fell into that one. Touché! (Or should I say "Touchée!"?)

JWB   Link to this

"...kivvered all with redd covers..."
Standards, who wants standards?

Dave   Link to this

I have a copy of Heath's Letters of Samuel Pepys and his family circle. It makes fascinating reading and gives an insight into the relationship SP had with his Father and his siblings, I highly recommend this book to any Pepys fan, also the Private Correspondence of Samuel Pepys, in two volumes edited by J R Tanner. I note the previous remarks on the standardisation of English spelling, personally I think the poor spelling and grammar adds to the atmosphere when reading Pepys, also, as he aged and his failing sight enforced the use of other scribes to write his letters it is possible to recognise which letters he wrote himself from the spelling and the use of language.

Glyn   Link to this

I hope Dave and others who have this book, will provide excerpts from the relevant letters when we reach those days in the Diary. I for one would like to know if Pepys Senior was as subservient to his son, and as feeble, as Samuel Pepys sometimes seems to imply.

Thanks of course to Jeannine and Phil G for this wonderful inventory.

Dave   Link to this

Hi Glyn, if its possible I would gladly provide excerpts from this and other letters books,I believe they not only show a more formal Pepys than the Pepys of the diary, but they also allow us to see how Pepys fits in with the rest of 17th century England,there are copies of letters to and from his family as well as people such as James,Duke of York, Issac Newton, John Evelyn, Godfrey Kneller and various Doctors Bishops Knights and Lords as well as many other not so well known characters.

cumsalisgrano   Link to this

Inventory: oompare this above with one of Hobs home county in 1663:
Quote: "This cottage in Writtle {near Malmesbury?} consisting of "a hall and a parlour downstairs and a bedroom above," had been owned by a widow, one Mary May, and when she died in April 1663, she left the following possesions, as listed and valued in a contempory account:

In ye hall-one cubard, one Table, Tressells, and forme, one Setle & an old chair, 15s.
In ye parlour-One old Bedstead, one featherbed, two Boulstars, two pillowes, three Blanckets, & one flock bed, [value] 3 li,10s.
In ye chanber-Two Chairs, one old bedstead, Curtans, one Covering & a Blackit, 10s. 6d; two Cobeireons [andirons] one pair of tongs, one fire shovel, one Spitt, & one broken Warming pan, 8s, 6d; one Wainscott Chair, two Stooles, two Whelles, thre old pillowes, one table , and flaskitt, two Chists, & Severall other Small implements, 1 li, 6s, 8d, Wearing apparell & redy Money 1 li 6s, 8d Wearing Some Totall--8 li, 0s, 2d."
from a book by Arnold A. Rogow: Thomas Hobbes, "Radical in Service of Reaction" his reference being "The English Village" by Richard Muir .
It is believed that the lady was not one of the poorer ones.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

Let me add my thanks to those above, Jeannine! The thing that I find so fascinating about the variable spelling is the insight it provides into pronunciation...

Margaret   Link to this

Reading the inventory of "Mrs. Mary May's" belongings made me wonder what an inventory of my own household goods would look like.

When people have less, then everything becomes more valuable. Today the heirs may fight over the furniture and the jewelry, but not over "three old pillowes...one broken warming pan...one fire shovel etc." Today it's more, "Can we unload this stuff with an estate sale, or will the Goodwill Store take it?"

edie   Link to this

My daughter, knowing my fascination with all things Pepys, found your site for me. At a book sale, bought a Modern Library Diary, edited by Richard Le Gallienne, about 6 months ago. My mouth watered. Bought from Amazon yet another, larger edition (book on loan, editor unremembered). Then I HAD to have the real, genuine, unadulterated, complete and entire diaries, and have been devouring them year by year, currently on 1664, heartbroken that they must end in '69.

I've loved the inventory of poor nebish Tom's house, but for the moment, my question is: can Jeannine or anyone suggest approximate values for the monies of Pepys' times? (I can't quite get used to calling him 'Sam' as yet.

CGS   Link to this

Re values then and now, see the link for many versions;
http://www.pepysdiary.com/background/

Definitive answer is very Hard ; see the value of gold or the value of house, the value of a loaf of bread , all give differing scales, the value of land , mostly it be how much a normal labouring person can buy with his/her daily income.
see Samuel Pepys " the unequal self, Claire Tomilin, see Liza Picard Restoration London, or any of Christopher Hill books for coverage, along with many more picking those that fit one's politics.
Money is a token that tries to equate ones man labours with another.

edie   Link to this

CGS: Many thanks for your referral to the monetary section regarding values during the 1660's. Very helpful, and however you figure it (estimates vary widely), Pepys came to do very well for himself. . .which makes me happy.

Claire Tomlin's book was very worthwhile, and I want to go back to it now that I've steeped myself in so much more Pepys' lore. Edie

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