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San Diego Sarah has posted 1671 annotations/comments since 6 August 2015.

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About Wednesday 8 March 1664/65

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Wonderful photos of some of the artifacts rescued from The London (on display at Southend Central Museum until July 20, 2019).

“The star of the show is undoubtedly the 12 foot, 2-tonne, bronze cannon that dominates the room. After a mammoth installation project, the enormous gun was successfully mounted in the museum. The London’s cannon was originally Dutch property and would have seen service on Dutch ships before it was salvaged from a wreck by the British. This was a common practice as cannon were so rare and expensive to produce. In a vermillion blue color, Southend’s cannon is beautifully decorated with the City of Amsterdam crest and sea creatures.”

“Our display is both informative and emotional; I wanted to educate visitors but also encourage them to consider the enormous loss of life that was sadly commonplace during the Age of Sail.

“‘Life on Board’ displays personal effects of the sailors, including delicate clay pipes, which would have been used over and over again by the sailors, and even a remarkably-preserved beeswax candle. Some of the most emotive objects include leather shoes, each still with the imprint of the wearer’s foot. This simple, yet very human observation really sends a shiver down the spine. Although we don’t know the names or stories of the sailors on board, we can still treasure their preserved footprints.

“Moving through the exhibition, visitors encounter ‘Navigation’. The 17th Century was a period of learning for English navigators, with the quest for longitude still in full swing. Although sailors could determine their east-west position or latitude using the angle of celestial bodies in the sky, there was no reliable method for determining how far north or south they were.

“This was because they needed to compare their local time with the time from their home destination and no clock yet developed could keep time along with the movements of a ship at sea. It wouldn’t be until the 1730s when John Harrison’s clocks were deemed dependable enough that the search was over. The sailors of the London would have relied on a process called dead-reckoning where they marked their journey on charts and could track where they had been in relation to where they were headed.

For more information and photographs:

About Saturday 23 September 1665

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Charles II and the Court are in Salisbury, getting ready to move to Oxford and convene Parliament. Few influential men, besides Monck and Craven, have stayed anywhere near London, so the full impact of the plague and the hardship resulting from the arrival of 3,000 more POWs and an unknown number of injured seamen at the same time are unappreciated by the lawmakers.

This pragmatic, sensible way to fund their immediate, desperate needs may conflict with the greed of the absent powerful, and Pepys seems cognisant of that.

Evelyn's fellow commissioners are absent. The other three are all MP's; one sailed with the fleet. They haven't experienced what Evelyn is going through as the fighting wasn't in their designated areas. Their prisons have received POWs, but they don't have the backlog of unplaced POWs to deal with, and moving the injured far is unwise.

How different all this might have been if Charles and James were at Whitehall, as was the assumption when the plan was made.

For the seemly and noble plan, and why it was inadequate, see

About Thursday 5 October 1665

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"away to Mr. Evelyn’s to discourse of our confounded business of prisoners, and sick and wounded seamen, wherein he and we are so much put out of order."

Phil has given us a page for the Commission; for background information on how the nature of warfare had changed in the last 50 years, resulting in large and unexpected numbers of injured seamen (to which we can now add plague victims), and POWs. It took a few wars for the bureaucracy to learn how to respond appropriately, causing much suffering in the meantime.

About Wednesday 27 September 1665

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"I thence to ... Mr. Evelyn’s, where much company; and thence in his coach with him to the Duke of Albemarle by Lambeth, who was in a mighty pleasant humour; ... Here we got several things ordered as we desired for the relief of the prisoners, and sick and wounded men."

Kudos to Pepys. He didn't need to take on the problem of the sick and injured seamen, and the housing of the prisoners of war. Supplying a war would be job enough for most men. He was an unpaid volunteer; I see few profit opportunities for him trying to solve this almighty mess.

For more info on the Commission, see

About The Commission of Sick and Wounded Prisoners

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Seaport officials, merchants and shippers engaged in PoW repatriation took advantage of their contracts to take their ‘cuts’ and to secure business for themselves.

For the naval contractors Cocke and Reymes, public service no doubt provided them with useful contacts. The dividing line between state and private-enterprise facilities and services was often indistinct. The Commissioners needed to adapt this system to secure a workable regime.

The development of institutions and procedures for dealing with prisoners of war illustrates that state formation in this period was an unplanned and non-deterministic process, and the product of interactions between a variety of collective interests.

About The Commission of Sick and Wounded Prisoners

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

A compromise was reached whereby the clerk received fourpence for each man, of which he was allowed to retain twopence.

Traders wished to import goods along with their human cargo, but the legality of this was disputed. A Dutch ship was at first impounded but released by warrant on appeal, on the grounds that the Republic permitted English masters to do so.

The Commissions were charged with the secure custody of PoWs until they could be repatriated at the end of hostilities. Placement for them in the prisons was authorized by warrants from the appropriate state bodies, while their transfer to and between them was conducted by military escorts. For other needs, such as medical care, arranging passages for their journey home, and improvising overflow accommodation, the ‘marshalling of private resources’ became necessary.

Additional PoWs, once the gaols had filled, could only be housed by leasing buildings or enclosures suitable for temporary conversion from private individuals or official bodies. It is clear that, for the effective operation of services provided by the state and local authorities, the buffering capacity provided by the private sector in a number of areas was essential.

The Commissioners tried to provide humane conditions for the PoWs. Shortage of money was at its worst as the country faced bankruptcy during the second war. With their allowances unpaid, prisoners faced starvation, as Evelyn’s appeals for emergency funds attest.

The various solutions resorted to for the incarceration, care and repatriation of the prisoners illustrate aspects of the hybrid public/private culture of the period. The keepers of prisons ran their establishments as private fiefs. When public gaols proved inadequate it was necessary to negotiate for the use of privately-owned facilities.
Complaints needed to be taken seriously, since credible reports of ill-treatment of the other’s captives carried the danger of retaliatory action against one’s own.

Presumably to avert such a possibility, Commissioner Reymes and, following his return, Downing, wrote and had translated into Dutch assurances of their humane treatment, for endorsement by the prisoners in Winchester and the Essex prisons. The circumstances under which these reports were obtained suggests they be treated with caution.

The most pitiable complaints were from Dutch PoWs towards the end of the second war, when the approaching bankruptcy of Charles II’s government made it impossible to send out the fleet or to find money to feed the captives held at Leeds Castle and elsewhere. Some even begged to be put out of their misery when Evelyn was unable to find ‘bread to relieve the dying creatures’.

About The Commission of Sick and Wounded Prisoners

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Apart from that, treatment of PoWs generally conformed to current ‘Laws of War’. By now the responsibility of the state, they were no longer ransomed for the profit of their captors, although hard bargains still might be struck with respect to the numbers of ‘other ranks’ to be exchanged for a high-ranking officer.

PoWs were confined until it was possible to release them, but they were not subjected to arbitrary punishments.

Some accommodation (Chelsea College and the Mews) was inadequate, causing great suffering, it was little different from that endured by British prisoners at the end of the Civil War.

There is no evidence that the demonization of the Dutch in the pamphlet campaigns resulted in vindictiveness in PoWs’ treatment.

The significant reason for the miserable PoW conditions in England was the desperate lack of money that afflicted the government. The revenue granted by Parliament to Charles II following his Restoration, although sufficient for peacetime purposes, proved inadequate for a war economy, leading to the impossibility of setting out the fleet in 1667 and the humiliation of the Dutch raid that destroyed a large part of it at Chatham, which speeded the end of the second war.

The Great Plague and the great fire of London were causes of additional disruption during the second war. Evelyn’s diary entries of the period, and his correspondence with Pepys and others, are full of his desperate attempts to beg and find money from privy seals and other sources to feed, clothe and care for PoW, when the condition of the English sick and wounded in the commissioners’ care was no less critical, and English unpaid seamen were starving to death in the streets.

It was not until the wars at the end of the 18th century that purpose-built state accommodation for prisoners of war began to be constructed. And even at this late date, the services of the ‘landladies’ were still being resorted to for fallback care for the wounded among them.

Both countries found it hard to find man their warships, so neither wished to advantage the other by returning PoWs unless they received an equal number in return. Lists of prisoners were requested with their or ranks so like would be exchanged for like. This was to the disadvantage of the Dutch, as there were far fewer English captives available for exchange. The Commissioners were told to make sure no prisoners were released until the Dutch had dismissed theirs, and that equal numbers were exchanged.

However, people tried to turn PoW exchanges to their own advantage. Despite its being emphasized that Dutch PoWs were to be released, given passports and transported, without fees, it was necessary for the Dutch intermediary to remind English officials of this. For released English prisoners the clerk of the passage at Dover had extracted 10 pence a head, although Downing had made it clear they were to be charged nothing.

About The Commission of Sick and Wounded Prisoners

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Civil prisons, while nominally institutions of the Crown, were run on private-enterprise lines. County gaols, such as Winchester and Colchester Castle, were presided over by the sheriffs, and municipal prisons by the town authorities. London prisons might have remote landlords (ecclesiastical or other foundations) who leased them to sub-contractors. The Tower and the Marshalsea Prison were under direct Crown control and were used for officers and special prisoners.

Since the Middle Ages, the running of a prison had been in most cases sub-contracted to a gaoler or keeper, who sought to make it a profitable enterprise. For the inmates, the resulting regime was often harsh. The system followed the fee-taking culture of public administration at this time. For everything but the most basic subsistence, money was demanded from prisoners, not only by the gaoler but also by underlings such as turnkeys.

Civil prisons provide an example of the hybrid public/private culture. Finding room in them for PoWs was possible because of a drop in civil indictments.

When hundreds of PoWs were taken after a sea-fight in the second war, attention turned to places in London where the large numbers of captured troops from the last battles of the Civil War had been held. Among these were the artillery ground at Tothill Fields in Westminster, the Mews prison on the site of the old royal stables, and Chelsea College.

In June 1665 the High Sheriff of Kent was summoned by warrant to allow prisoners to be received into the county gaols of Canterbury, Maidstone and Rochester, and to provide other places for them ‘if these be not sufficient’.

This was soon the case and, with Chelsea College also full, Evelyn was charged with finding more accommodation. High Sheriffs were requested to assist him with the provision of guards. The commissioner had to search for facilities where the government writ did not automatically run, necessitating negotiation. [I’M GUESSING THIS WAS AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER 1665]

Evelyn’s search took him to Lord Culpeper, owner of Leeds Castle, Kent, which he leased. This privately-owned Jacobean country house occupied the site of an earlier castle, but the moat survived, making it secure for PoWs.

Improvised gaols like Chelsea College and Leeds Castle had no prison organization so it was necessary for Evelyn to appoint marshals to ensure the secure custody of the prisoners and to supply them with straw and other basic needs, and sutlers for their provisioning.

During the second war both Downing (Charles II’s envoy extraordinary to The Hague), and Dutch ambassador Michiel van Gogh remained at their posts for the first year of hostilities. Both were able to communicate to their respective countries complaints from PoWs confined there.

About The Commission of Sick and Wounded Prisoners

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

In January 1665, Evelyn visited Dover and his fellow commissioners visited their own seaports to begin appointing agents, clerks and provost marshals.

Improvisation required for the temporary custody of PoWs, while permanent gaols were organized. The PoWs could initially remain on their own or captured enemy ships (if in a fit condition) or accommodated in dockside buildings such as warehouses. Decommissioned ships (no longer seaworthy, known as hulks), were also used.

For the sick and wounded, physicians and ‘chirurgeons’ needed to be contracted, and hospital accommodation arranged for the more serious cases. First-aid and nursing care by the ‘landladies’ was also organized.

Following initial confinement, PoWs needed to be transferred to permanent gaols, generally by being marched in groups under guard, but occasionally prize ships were commandeered to transport them.

Since demands to make prison space available required a higher authority than the Commission, it was the Crown and Privy Council who issued directives for their transfer. Mayors or local officials were commanded to provide accommodation for some PoWs, and to pay them the agreed allowances. This required exact information on numbers and locations supplied to them by the generals at sea, and the commissioners and local officials concerned with their initial reception.

Prison authorities were required to keep Whitehall informed of the number of the PoWs in their custody to avoid civil unrest. Lists were also needed by the Exchequer to provide funds for PoW maintenance.

There were many complaints of misbehavior and damage to property by PoWs on the march, or billeted overnight, and many escaped, so port authorities had to look for escapees. PoWs assigned to fen drainage also escaped. Few runaways succeeded in securing a passage so many, facing starvation, gave themselves up.

Transferred PoWs were received by a variety of institutions. Major seaports such as Dover, Southampton and Portsmouth had gaols, but transfers inland become necessary as they became full.

At smaller coastal towns, PoWs needed to be moved directly inland, for example from Harwich to Colchester Castle, or from Southwold to Sudbury. Dover Castle and its associated forts, and Landguard Fort in Suffolk formed part of the national coastal defenses and were thus under military jurisdiction.

From Dover and other prisons the directives of Charles II’s Council to receive PoWs went unquestioned, except at Winchester where authorities tried to refuse to take PoWs when the Great Plague was at its height in September 1665.

About The Commission of Sick and Wounded Prisoners

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Funds for PoW maintenance were initially provided by the Prize Commissioners from the proceeds of auctions. Financial transactions were in the hands of the Navy Commissioners. They received bills from the local authorities, which were then passed to the Treasurer of the Navy for payment.

Closely related to the activities for PoWs were those on behalf of the sick and wounded battle victims, many of them also prisoners. Medical attention was provided by physicians and surgeons contracted at the seaports and nursing care by the ‘landladies’, often widows, in their own homes, for which they received payment. However, a system that had proved satisfactory for the casualties of peacetime shipping, or an occasional captured prize, proved deficient when required to deal with much larger numbers.

In October, 1664, when conflict threatened, Charles II remade a Commission for Sick and Wounded and Prisoners (the Commission). Four ‘gentlemen of quality’ were appointed as commissioners, at a salary of £300 a year, plus expenses. Each had responsibility for a coastal region: for Essex and Suffolk Sir William D’oyly, for Kent and Sussex John Evelyn, for Hampshire and Dorset Col. Bullen Reymes, and for Devon and Cornwall Sir Thomas Clifford.

The naval contractor George Cocke was appointed their ‘Receiver’ (cashier). The Commission had the power to appoint provost marshals (officers responsible for taking the PoWs into custody).

For the sick and wounded the Commission contracted physicians and surgeons and were to have at their disposal ‘half the hospitals thro England’. This single commission, reporting to Charles II and the Privy Council, with effective lines of communication, coordinated all aspects of the POWs’ custody, and the care of the sick and wounded, while the receipt and payment of accounts remained the responsibility of the Navy Commissioners and Treasurer.

With the exception of Evelyn, all the Commission were Members of Parliament with extensive committee experience. Clifford had been a commissioner and Reymes a deputy commissioner of prizes.

Several commissioners had commercial interests, including Evelyn who was a Merchant Adventurer and East India Company stockholder, Reymes was a government sailcloth contractor, and Cocke was a hemp merchant.

Evelyn was primus inter pares of the Commission as his proximity to London gave him the opportunity to lobby for money with Charles II personally, who directed him to the Lord Treasurer, later the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, or to the Lord Chancellor.