Saturday 30 September 1665

For my honor’d Friend

Samuell Pepys Esqr at

the Navy Office or Else Where:1

For his Majesties Special Service

in all speede:

Sayes Court

30 September 16652


The inclos’d had kiss’d your hands before this3, had not the most infinite trouble of other dispatches in order to your Commands, hindred mee, and the present necessities of sending Orders to Woolwich and the places adjacent, for the Quartr[in]g of more Sick-men obtruded on us, but refuse to be entrtaind: I have sent for a Martiall to Chel[sea]4 to send downe to Erith, and thence to Graves-End for Guards for the prisoners, but I heare not yet of him; nor can I heare of Assistants that will undertake to gouverne that affaire, if he faile me from London; One of my men, this afternoone, desiring to be dismissd in regu[ar]d of the Contagion: I inclose you the letter[s?] you desird, and you must forgive the dissorderly writing, There is plainesse, and truth in the particulars, and I am not solicitous of any mans censure of the forme, when I discharge my Conscie[nce]5 I know I shall be thought impertinent, unlesse you back me with your attestation, and that with some zeale, which therefour I humbly supplicate of you: In the interim, I bes[eech]6 you not to look on me as sluggish in my station, or indiligent as far as my talent reaches; nor of so slavish and disingenuous a nature to be tyd to impossibility and servitude: I cannot do miracles, nor know I how to sell goods and treate with the Merchant7; but I can dispence such effects as shall be put into my hands for the discharge of what is intrustd to me; and if I should pretend to other excellences, it were to abuse you; But I am at all moments ready (in accknowledgme[n]ts of these deficiencys) to resigne the honor his Majestie has don me, to greate[r candi]date[s]8: I beseech you inter[pret]9 this to myne advantage10, who am


Your most obedient Servant:


10 o’clock11 at night

I have not eaten one bit of bread to-day.

Be pleasd to seale [this?]12 when perusd;

Look on Sir William Doolye last:


Source: PRO S.P. 29/133, f.63. Endorsed by P, “30 7ber. 65 = Says Court. Eqsr Evelin.” The MS is scrawled, obviously written in a state of anger and frustration.

  1. P sailed to Woolwich on the 30th on the Bezan (a 4-6 gun, 35-ton, yacht, “the King’s new pleasure-boat” — P’s diary, 12 September 1661) leaving the following evening to sail on to Gillingham arriving on the morning of 2 October. From there he walked to Chatham, and on to Rochester where he dallied with three local women in the castle ruins. He left on horseback for Gravesend and then took a boat to Woolwich for the night before returning to the Navy Office, then at Greenwich, late on the 3rd (diary).
  2. MS: “Says-Court 30th: 7br: 65.”
  3. A letter to Sir George Carteret, see Appendix 1. It describes the horrific conditions in which the sick and wounded seamen and prisoners were suffering. There is no suggestion in P’s diary that he responded immediately. However, he wrote to Coventry on 3 October 1665 (NMM LBK/8; Tanner 1929, no. 48), bemoaning the “Want of money, numbers of prisoners (which the Commissioners for Sick and Wounded have flung upon us) to be fed” amongst “our present burthen”.

    E had also written a letter to Sir William Coventry which described the desperate situation: “Sir William D’Oylie and my selfe have near ten thousand upon our Care, whiles there seems to be no care of us; who, having lost all our Servants, Officers, and most necessary Assistants, have nothing more left us to expose but our Persons, which are at every moment at the mercy of a raging pestilence… Our prisoners… beg at us, as a mercy, to knock them on the head; for we have no bread to relieve the dying Creatures…” (BL CLBI.257, dated 2 October 1665, published in various Bray editions of E’s diary with correspondence). A further copy of this letter, dated 30 September 1665, in two unknown hands, and not signed in E’s name, is at NMM MS AGC20 51/064/11. Probably a Navy Office copy, and as such its date is more likely to be correct because it will have been made from the letter-sent.

  4. MS torn.
  5. MS: “Conscie”.
  6. MS torn.
  7. E is perhaps being a little insincere here in his anxiety to distance himself from trade and commerce, a socially-inferior occupation. In fact he was reasonably familiar with the practical financial realities of life. On 9 December 1657 he bought East India Company stock; in 1666 he began to look into the possibilities of a commercial brick-making enterprise, and in 1668 purchased a mill close to the Sayes Court estate.
  8. Reading here is extremely uncertain due to a hole in the MS.
  9. MS torn.
  10. P’s diary entry for this day suggests he was aware of the depth of the problem.
  11. MS: “Xk“.
  12. MS: “y~“.

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