Thursday 12 October 1665
For my most honord Friend
Samuell Pepys Esqr:
This Enclos’d from his Grace2 concernes the whole Fleete so neerely: that (after our former attempts) we are even forc’d to renew our Petition for prevention of the mischeife which now threatens more then ever, and especialy at Chatham.
I do also take the liberty on this opportunity to informe you of some inconveniences which concerne the honourable the Principal Officers, in relation to the Chest3; and to supplicate their advice in order to the redresse: First, Our men in the London Hospitals steale downe to Chatham before they are Cur’d, and then returning back, with their gratuity, inflame themselves with drinke and dissorder, which exceedingly retards their health: They all this while concealing their having pensions, enjoy the Kings Super-allowance in the Hospitals, which formerly was not continud; when if their weekely allowance was more then their annual pension; the over-plus was only paid them, and the pension defaulked4.
The remedy of this (under submission) may be, a restitution of the former practise; that the pay-master to the Hospital be ordered to difalk out of the additional allowance, as much as their pensions at the Chest amounts to weekly: This, will be our part to reforms: Whilst the Principall Officers and Comissioners of his Majesties Navy are desir’d to order the Clearke of the Chest to give our pay-master of our Hospital- Sick- Seamen etc an abstract of all Pensions and Gratuities settld at the Chest, and bestowd on any this yeare past; and alsoe that the sayd Clearke might once every fortnight transmitt our Officer a list of such as are from time to time addmitted into Pensions:
They of late also practise another Cheate; which is, when they are discharg’d our Hospitals as cured, to conceale the Chirurgeons Certificats that they are in part, or totaly dissabl’d (which is a caution we have chargd our Chirurgeons to insert) and come ranting and swearing to us for Conduct-mony to returne to their Shipps, when the next newes we hear, is, that they goe to the Chest, and no farther: For prevention whereoff you may be pleas’d to order that none be admittd from any our Infirmitories into Pensions, but such as have the hand of the Pay-Master of our Hospitals etc to their Certificates:
Upon view of these abuses, I thought fit to offer them to your Consideration, it being an Article frequently repeatd in our Instructions, to be as frugal, and circumspect as we could in the mangement of our Trust; and these coming under my particular cognizance, as I have had (to the greate increase of my Trouble) the Hospitals of London to look after during the absence of my Brother Commissioners (to whom the care equaly belongs), I recommend those to your more careful[?] addresses5 who remaine Sir
Your most humble and faithfull servant
Our small pittance at last in prospect, I am marching away with the Prisoners as fast as I can, and hope in short time to cleere the shipps; after which, (unlesse prevented by something very effectul) I resolve for Oxon6, where if I see no evident assurance of some solid fonds7 to carry on the Worke, without exposing us to such another plunge, and accidental subsistance; I shall cease for the future to continue the trouble to you and resigne to some more fortunate Person.
Source: MS, collection of William H. Fern, Connecticut (ex-Sothebys 24 July 1995 sale catalogue, Lot 487). Endorsed by P, “12.8br:65 Commissioner for sick and wounded. Some observations of his how the chest is abused by seamen, and propounds remedy for it”. The letter came from a collection accumulated in the 1800s, but was probably once in official records, where the others of this period still are.
- MS: “Says-Court 12th: 8br-65”. ↩
- Albemarle. He had written to E on 9 October (see letter of 23 Sep. 1665, note 5), advising E about where to collect money and also to instruct him to forward an enclosure to Brouncker and Mennes. It is probable that this is what is referred to here. The MS also bears, by the address, a pencilled note (by E?) “with to read”. P went to see Albemarle on 13 October (diary). ↩
- A welfare fund for disabled and wounded seamen (see Latham and Matthews, X, 59). The actual chest is on display at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. ↩
- Defalk: reduce by deductions. ↩
- See previous note. ↩
- Pepys was impressed by E’s assiduous pursuit of the corruption and his rigorous record-keeping. He wrote to Coventry to tell him that, “Mr Eveling (to instance one port) showed me his accompt of Graves-end where for every penny he demands allowance for and for every sick man he hath had under his care he shews you all you can wish for in Colloms of which I have here for your satisfaction enclosed an Example which I dare say you will say with me he deserves greate thanks for, I have since wrott to him [letter unknown] to cause transcripts of these accompts to be sent to us and hope our people will see the King here have the benefit of it in the payments of shipps and adjustment with pursers…” (letter to Coventry, 14 October 1665, NMM LBK/8, 256; published by Tanner 1929, no. 52). ↩
- E apparently never made this threatened journey. ↩
- An obsolete, pre-18th century, form of “funds”. ↩