Thursday 26th March 2009

As you know, on days when John Evelyn and Pepys exchanged letters, there’s now a link to the relevant letter on this site. The letters are also often posted in the annotations for that day’s diary entry, but as one of Evelyn’s letters to Pepys for 26 March 1666 is long and has a lot of tabular data, Terry Foreman had the good idea of posting it in the In-Depth Articles section. So here is the exchange of four letters for today:

To Samuell Pepys, Esqr
One of the principall officers
of his Majesties Navy at Navy Office

Sayes Court
26 March 1666


I know not with what successe I have endeavourd to performe your Commands; but it has ben to the uttmost of my skill, of which you are to be my judges: The favour I bespeake of you is, your pardon for not sending it before: I have not enjoy’d one minutes repose since my returne (now a fortnight past) ‘till this very morning; having ben ever since soliciting for a little monye to preserve my miserable flock from perishing: On Saturday, very late, I dispatch’d Mr Barbour towards (4) my Kentish Circle where our sick people are in quarters; and at his returne, I hope to present you a compleate Accompt but ‘till this instant morning I had not written one line of these tedious Papers; so that if through hast (the parent of mistakes) there may happly appeare some Escapes, give Pardon to your Servant; or let me purchase it with this small Present of Fragments (such as yet you have ben pleasd to accept) and a little Booke, that I also recommend to excuse my expense of such Leasure as I can redeeme from the other impertinences of my life. As to the Report which I send you, I would receive it as a favour; however your resolutions of putting it in execution may succeede (the tyme of yeare being so farr Elaps’d, in reguard of Action, and more immediate use) it might yet be gracefully presented to his Royall Highnesse, or rather indeede, to his Majestie himselfe, who has so frequently ben pleas’d to take notice of it to me as an acceptable Project; because it would afflict me to have them thinke I have either ben remisse, or trifling in my proposall.

This obligation I can onely hope for from your Dexterity, Addresse and Friendship, who am,

Your most affectionate, and humble servant


There is nothing in the other Paper which you commanded me to returne; but what is included in these, with ample, and (I hope) considerable improvements.

I must beg a Copy of these Papers when your Clearkes are at Leasure, having never a duplicate by me; and it may happly neede a review.


The Bearer hereoff Roger Winne, being our Messenger (and without whose service I cannot possibly be, having so frequent occasions of sending him about buisinesse belonging to my troublesome Employment) dos by me supplicate your protection, that he may not be Pressed, of which he is hourely in danger as he travells about our affaires, without your particular indulgence, which I therefore, conjure you to let him have under your hand and signature.

Sayes Court
26 March 1666


If to render you an account of the progresse of my late Proposal, be any testimony of my obedience to your Commands; be pleas’d to believe, that I most faithfully present it in these papers according to the best of my talent. And if you find the Estimate considerably to exceede the first Calculation, you will remember it was made to the meridian of London; that the Walles were, both by his Majestie and the directions of the Principall Officers to be made thicker, and higher; that the Materials, and Worke-men were presum’d to be found much cheaper in the Country; and that the Place and area to build on was suppos’d a Level: But it has fall’n out so much to our prejudice, and beyond all expectation in these particulars; that to commence with the ground, we could not in 4 or 5 miles walking about Chatham and Rochester, find one convenient spot that would bear a level of 200 foote square, unlesse it were one Field beyond the Dock, in the Occupation of Mr Commissioner Pett neare the bogg and marsh, which has neither solid foundation, nor fresh-water to it. There is a very handsome greene Close at the end of the Long Rope-house towards Chatham; but the declivity is so suddaine and greate to the West, that lesse than a ten-foote raising will not bring it to such a rectitude as that we can lay our plate upon the Wall, which will be a considerable trouble and charge to reforme, as may easily be demonstrated: For either the earth must be so much abated towards the East, or the Wall advanc’d to the height of neere 20 foote, whiles one Extreame of the roofe will touch the superficies of the earth: Besides, the field is not above 150 feet wide: But supposing all this might be encounter’d (as indeede it might with charge) it bordures so neere to the Rope-houses, the Dock, and that ample way leading to it from the Hill-house and Chatham, as might endanger his Majesties people in case of any Contagion; because it will be impossible to restraine them from sometimes mingling amongst the Worke-men and others, who have Employment in the Dock, when the Convalescent-men shall be able, or permitted to walk abroad. This, and some other difficulties made us quit the thoughts of that otherwise gracefully situated place. After many other Surveyes, we at last pitch’d on a Field call’d the Warren, just beneath the Mill, and reguarding the North towards the River. The Accesse is commodious; it has a well of excellent Water, ready dugg, and wanting only repaires; and though this ground be likewise somewhat uneven, yet, with helpe, it will carry about 240 feet in length, and 150 in breadth, allowing the filling up of some Vallies and depressures of about 4 or 5 foote deepe, to be taken from severall risings: This, for many reasons, I conceive to be the fittest for our purpose, it having also a solid foundation on the Chalke, and being at a competent distance from all dangerous commerce with the Towne, which will greately contribute to the health of the sick, and protection of the Inhabitants; but being at present in Lease to the Chest, leave must be obtayn’d, and the Tennant, who now rents it, satisfied; in all which Mr Commissioner Pet (whose direction and assistance I tooke, according to your injunctions) informes me, there will be no difficulty:

Upon examination of the Materials on the Place:

£ s d
Bricks will not be deliverd at the place under 00: 18: 00
Lime, per Load, containing 32 Bushels, per thousand 00: 16: 00
Drift Sand, by Tonn 00: 00: 14
Tyles, per thousand deliverd 01: 01: 00
Heart-Lathes, per Load, containing 36 bundles 02: 10: 00
Sawing, per hundred 00: 03: 04
Workmen sufficient (in which was our greate mistake) 00: 02: 06

Upon these Matirials we conceiv’d thus of the Scantlings.

Walls, at 1 Brick ½
Wall-plates 9 in. 5
Parallel rafters 9 6 middle 16½ feet long
11 7 ends
Single rafters
Purlins 9 6 17
Binding-beames 12 12
Windoe-frames 4 2
Dore-cases, in brick-Worke: single-doores 7 6 6 2 8in
The two outward double, with Architrave 7 6 9 9 4
Ground-floor gist 4 4 18

And if stone-floores to the 4 Corner-roomes, as has been since judg’d more commodious, the

Gists 8 3
So’men 14 11

Besides Partitions, Posts, Interstise, Quarterage.

At these scantlings, together with the alteration of the Walles for height and thicknesse, etc.

Every rod of square Brick-worke, solid, at 1½ thick: containing in bricks of 9 Inch: about 12 bricks Long, to 16½ in height: 15 bricks to every 3-feet high, which to 16½ is about 83: so that 83 by 21 is 1743 bricks superficial: This, at the design’d thicknesse, is every square-rod 5229 bricks, which I suppose at 17 (the lowest we can expect) deliver’d at the place, is every rod square, £09 08s 01d. The total of brick-worke then, contains about 118 square rodd, without defalcations of doores, Windows (being 8 doors at 6 and 3-feet; windows 114 at 3 and 2-feet, reduc’d to measure, contains doores 24 feet by 48, which is 1152 square foot; windows, 342 feet by 228 feet is 77,976 feet square); both these reduc’d to square rodds, are almost 30 rodds square; whereof allow 10 square rods for inequality of the foundation and Chimnies (if upon the Warren ground), and then the Bricks of the whole (without lime and sand) will cost for 98 square rods, at £04 08 01

431 12 02
And every rod after the rate of of 18d for one foot high, in workmanship, to 01 04 09
Which for 98 rod, is 122 06 00
So as the Brick-worke for the whole will come to 650 00 00
Tyling, at 30s per square 450 00 00
Timber, at 40s per square 600 00 00
Glasse about 684 feet, at 6d per foote 17 00 00
Windoe-frames, at 4s each 22 00 00
Single doores and Cases, at 20s each; Double doores and Cases (for the more commodious bringing in of the sick, being frequently carried), at 36s with the casements, locks, hinges, etc 30 00 00
Stone-floores 32 00 00
Stayres, per step, 3s., 76 in all 11 08 00
Levelling the ground, as computed upon view 46 10 00
Total:- 1859 18 00
But this Erection reduc’d to 400 Bedds, or rather persons (which would be a very competent number, and yet exceedingly retrench his Majesties Charge for their maintenance) and the whole abated to neere a 5th part of the Expense, which amounts to about 371 00 00
The Whole would not exceede 1487 18 00
Whereoff the Timber and roofe 480 00 00
The Timber alone to 360 00 00
Which, if furnish’d from the Yard, the whole charge of the building will be reduc’d to 1127 18 00
So as the number of Bedds diminish’d, Cradeles, and Attendance proportionable, the Furniture compleate will cost 480 00 00
Total- 1607 18 00

according to the formerly-made estimate, and which whole charge will be sav’d in quarters of 400 men onely, within 6 monethes, and about 15 dayes, at 6d per head, being no lesse than £10 per diem, 70 per Weeke, 280 per Moneth, 3640 per Annum;

Which is more then double what his Majestie is at in one yeares quarters for them in private-houses; besides all the incomparable advantages enumerated in the subsequent paper, which will perpetually hold upon this, or any the like occasion: The quartering of so many persons at 1s per diem amounting to no lesse than £7280 per annum.

If this shall be esteem’d inconvenient, because of disfurnishing the Yard, or other-wise a temptation to imbezill the Timber of the Yard:

All the Materials bought as above 1487 18 0
Furniture 480 0 0
Total- 1967 18 0
The whole Expense will be reimbours’d in 8 monethes: viz. in 400 men’s diet alone, by 6d per diem £378 per Month
4536 per Annum
Whereas the same number at his Majesties ordinary entertainement is 627 04 00 per month
7526 08 00 per annum
So as there would be saved yearely 2990 08 00

Note, that the Sallary of the stuard (who buyes in all provisions, payes, and keepes the Accompts, takes charge of the Sick when set on shore, and discharges them when recover’d, etc.) is not computed in this estimate: because it is the same which our Clearks and deputies do by the present Establishment:

Thus I deduce the particulars:

Chirurgeons 7: viz 3 Master-Chirurgeons, at 8s per diem each; Mates 4: at 4s; diet for 400 - £280; one Matron, per week, 10s; 20 Nurses, at 5s per week; Fire, Candles, Sope, etc, 3d per week 280
£378 per Month
Cradle-Bedds, 200, at 11s per Cradle, at 4½ feet wide, 6 long 110 00 00
Furniture, with Bedds, Rug, Blanquet, Sheetes, at 30s per bed 300 00 00
Utensils for Hospitals, etc 70 00 00
£480 00 00
But I do farther affirme, and can demonstrate, that supposing the whole Erection, and Furniture (according to my first and largest project, and as his Majestie and the Principall Officers did thinke fit to proportion the height and thickness of the Walles), for the Entertainement of 500 men, should amount to 1859 18 00
Furniture to 582 10 00
Total 2442 08 00

Then would be saved to his Majesty £332 18s per month, £3994 16s per Annum.

So that in lesse than 8 moneths time there will be saved, in the quarters of 500 men alone, more monye than the whole expense amounts to; Five hundred mens quarters at 1s per diem coming to £25 per diem, 175 per week, 700 per Month, 9408 per Annum.

Upon which I assume, if £3994, by five-hundred men, or £3640 in foure-hundred men, or, lastly, if but £2990 be sav’d in one Yeare in the quarters of 400 sick persons, etc., there would a farr greater summ be saved in more than 6000 men; there having ben sent 7000 Sick and Wounded men to Cure in my district onely, and of those 2800 put on shore at Chatham and Rochester, for which station I propos’d the Remedy. Now, five-hundred sick-persons quarter’d at a Towne in the Victualers and scattered Ale-houses (as the Costome is), will take up at least 160 houses, there being very few of those miserable places which afford accommodation for above 2 or 3 in an house; with, frequently at greate distances, employ of Chirurgeons, Nurses, and Officers innumerable; so as when we have ben distress’d for Chirurgeons, some of them (upon computation) walked 5 or 6 miles every day, by going but from quarter to quarter, and not ben able to visite their patients as they ought: Whereas, in our Hospital, they are continualy at hand: We have essay’d to hire some capacious empty houses, but could never meet with any tollerably convenient; and to have many, or more then one, would be chargeable and very troublesome: By our Infirmary, then we have these considerable advantages.

At 6d per diem each (in the way of Commons), the sick shall have as good, and much more proper and wholesome diet, than now they have in the Ale-houses, where they are fed with trash, and Embezil their monye more to inflame themselves, retard and destroy their Cures out of ignorance or intemperance; whiles a sober Matron governs the Nurses, lookes to their provisions, Rollers, Linnen etc. And the nurses attend the Sick, Wash, Sweepe, and Serve the Offices, The Coock and Laundrer comprehended in the number, and at the same rate, etc. By this Method likewise are the almost indefinite number of Chirurgeons and Officers exceedingly reduc’d; The Sick dieted, kept from drinke and Intemperance, and consequently from most unavoydably relapsing: They are hindred from Wandering, Slipping-away, and dispersion: They are more sedulously attended; the Physitian better inspects the Chirurgeons, who neither can nor will be in all places, as now they are scattered, in the nasty Corners of the Townes: They are sooner, and more certainely cur’d (for I have at present neere 30 bedds employ’d in a Barne at Graves-end, which has taught us much of this experience). They are receiv’d and discharg’d with infinitely more ease: Our Accompts better and more exactly kept: A vast, and very considerable Summ is saved (not to say gain’d) to his Majestie: The materialls of the house will be good if taken downe; or, if let stand, it may serve in tyme of Peace, for a Store, or Worke-house: The Furniture will (much of it) be useful upon like occasion; And what is to be esteem’d none of the least Virtues of it, ‘twill totaly cure the altogether intollerable clamor and difficulties of rude and ungratefull people; their Landlords and Nurses, rays’d by their poverty upon the least obstruction of constant and Weekely payes; for want of which they bring an ill repute upon his Majesties Service, Incense the very Magistrates and better sort of Inhabitants (neighbours to them) who too frequently promote (I am sorry to speake it) their mutinies; so as they have been sometimes menacing to expose our Men in the streetes, where some have most inhospitably perish’d: In fine, This would encounter all Objections whatsoever; is an honorable, Charitable, and frugal Provision; Effectual, full of Encouragement, and very practicable; so as, however for the present it may be consider’d, I cannot but persist in wishing it might be resolv’d upon towards Autumne at the farthest; Chatham and Rochester alone having within 17 or 18 monethes cost his Majestie full £13,000 in cures and quarters; halfe whereof, would have neere ben saved had this method ben establish’d: Add to this, the almost constant station of his Majesties shipps at the Buoy in the Noore, and river of Chatham; the Clamor of that place against our quartering these, this crazy tyme, and the altogether impossibility of providing else-where for such numbers as continualy presse in upon us there, more than any where else, after Action, or the returne of any of his Majesties fleete: which, with what has ben Offer’d, may recommend this Project, by your favourable representation of the premises, for a permanent Establishment in that Place especially, if his Majestie and Royal Highnesse so thinke meete. This Account, being what I have ben able to lay before you, as the Effects of my late Inspection upon the Place, by Commands of the Honourable the Principal Officers, I request through your hands may be address’d to them from,

Your most obedient servant,

We might this Summer burne our owne Bricks, and procure timber at the best hand, which would save a considerable charge.


Terry Foreman   Link to this

Nicely-formatted indeed, Phil!

What great care and thorough planning -- Evelyn's had practice at Sayes Court -- detailed planning (double doors to provide entry to stretcher-bearers) --; an environmental impact statement and computation of cost!

He provides a nice justification of the savings gained by the proposed expenditure, surely a reprise and rehearsal of the arguments JE made in person to the king!

cgs   Link to this

???a measurement of no fixed size??
not unlike our modern use: scant swimming wear,


1. a. A builder's or carpenter's measuring-rod. Cf. SCANTILLON 1. Obs. rare1.
b. fig. A rule or standard of measurement or estimation.
1587 GOLDING De Mornay x. 156 That nothing in al the Worlde is made of nought, a measuring of the builder and his building by one rule or skantling....
b. fig. A rule or standard of measurement or estimation.
1587 GOLDING De Mornay x. 156 That nothing in al the Worlde is made of nought, a measuring of the builder and his building by one rule or skantling.

techn. with reference to the measurement of timber and stone, and of ships or other vessels and of aircraft.
As applied to timber, the word usually denotes the sectional dimensions (thickness and breadth) of a beam etc., in contradistinction to the length. The scantling of a block of stone is its measurement in all three dimensions. In Shipbuilding, used in sing. and pl. for the dimensions of the various parts of a vessel, regarded collectively.
1615 E. S. Britain's Buss in Arber Garner III. 625 A Buss of thirty-five Last, that is, of seventy Tons, is of a very good and meet size or scantling, wherewith [etc.].

1673 TEMPLE Ess. Ireland Wks. 1731 I. 120 Forbidding any Man to cut down any Oak..unless it be of a certain Scantling.

of immaterial things. In the 17th c. often, the measure or degree of (a person's) capacity or ability. Obs.
1586 ....

d. of one (or a) scantling: of the same size; hence, much alike, ‘much of a muchness’. (Of is sometimes omitted.) Obs.
1551 ED...
e. to take a scantling of: to measure or estimate the size or amount of; hence, to judge of, estimate. So to have a scantling of. Obs.
3. a. Limited measure, space, amount, etc.: a limit.
1597 ...

5. a. A small or scanty portion or amount, a modicum (of things material or immaterial).

7. concr. in technical use (see 2b). a. A small beam or piece of wood; spec. one less than five inches square.
1663 GERBIER Counsel 42 The cutting of their Scantlings.

c. A block or slice of stone of a fixed size; also collect. sing., stone cut into scantlings.

1. A tool used by masons and carpenters for measuring the thickness of anything; a gauge.

scantling, a.
1. Very small, insignificant in size or extent.

cgs   Link to this

there be scant facts/numbers on the actual value of a scantling

Martin Martinez   Link to this

Scantlings is a term still occasionally used today in some trades such as boat building, particularly timber boat building and certainly has the same meaning today as here. It is roughly synonymous with 'specifications', in the technical sense.
In essence the dimensions of the various constructional elements, especially load bearing ones, are derived from the knowledge and experience of the builder. A floor required to take a heavy load would require stouter timber. A tiled roof would require more substantial frames than a thatch roof etc.
Evelyn skillfully uses his experience here to estimate the required dimensions and specifications or ' scantlings' for the size and type of building he intends and then estimates the cost on that basis.

Bradford   Link to this

Evelyn on Radio 3 through June 3rd, "Night Waves":

Rana Mitter and Claire Tomalin discuss the life and work of diarist, gossip and horticulturalist John Evelyn, who although now eclipsed by the fame of his friend Samuel Pepys, was the other great chronicler of the 17th century.

Like Pepys, Evelyn lived through and wrote about one of the most fascinating periods in British history - witnessing the deaths of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, the Great Plague of London and the Great Fire of London in 1666. His special interest, however, was in horticulture, and in his day was famous for 'Sylva', a book about trees, and Directions for the Gardiner, an account of his garden at Sayes Court.

Evelyn wrote one of the earliest gardening calendars, listing each month's prime flowers and vegetables, and how best to dress and prepare a salad. He fought briefly for the Royalists during the English Civil War, escaped to Italy where he studied anatomy, and on his return to London helped to found the Royal Society. He also wrote 'Fumifugium', the first book written on the growing problem of air pollution in the capital.

Catherine Harvey Jefferson   Link to this

The term Scantlings was used twenty years ago to describe timber which was the waste from the outer cuts of the tree at the sawmill at Tavistock in Devon. We used the timber to fire a wood kiln.

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