Annotations and comments

has posted 66 annotations/comments since 30 December 2015.

The most recent first…


About Saturday 30 May 1668

RSGII  •  Link

A lead dial. A lead on a ship is used to measure the depth of the water. Possibly a device for that? Pretty important for a ship builder moving hulls in shallow waters to know now much he has under the keel.

About Sunday 24 May 1668

RSGII  •  Link

High day is the day of a religious festival. Nautical twilight is the precise period before sunrise (and after sunset) when the sun is between 6 and 12 deg below the horizon. During Nautical twilight, you can normally see both the horizon and the stars and measure the angle between them for navigation periods. It varies in length by location. It is the short period when Navigators at sea “shoot” the stars to determine their position. But it still may not be bright enough to safely move about. That is Civil twilight, when the sun is 6 degrees or less below the horizon,

About Roll Call. Say hello!

RSGII  •  Link

Phil, and the others who shared their expertise, thanks for educating me for the last 7 or 8 years.
I had read the diary for 1666 before I discovered your site and its wonderful and illuminating annotations from an obviously learned group.
As an ex US Naval Officer, department head (Chief Engineering Officer) on an ancient WWII US Navy Destroyer in the far east in my early post University years, I perhaps bring a slightly different perspective on Pepys incredible career transforming an ad hoc campaign Navy to a professional organization. Some forget that the Navy was the largest organization in Britain at the time, and he was effectively the Chief Administrative Officer and Logistician (Not the war maker or tactician). And logistics is what wins wars.
But what I most appreciate about Pepys is his understanding of how the world really works, with all its imperfections and petty infighting, with honorable people and venal people, with effective governments and ineffective ones. All seen with a dash if insight and humor.
I spent 40 years as, first a junior, and then a senior international civil servant trying to help governments with the problems and policies of economic development and Pepys gets how things really work better than almost anyone.
His peccadillos are amusing and his candid self observations amazing, but what matters is he gets things done.
Thanks again for an enjoyable ride.

About Sunday 12 April 1668

RSGII  •  Link

A Naval interpretation. In battle, after damage to the masts, the carpenters damage control crew often had to cut away sails, in other words get rid of useless items dragging the ship down. Perhaps Sam is reminding himself to do this with his own affairs.

About Saturday 11 April 1668

RSGII  •  Link

Conning is also the nautical term for directing the steering of a ship. “I have the Conn” is the Naval command that you are in charge of directing all others in steering the ship, i.e. the helmsman. So “conning my gamut” could mean that in response to peace, he is rethinking all his options.

About Thursday 2 April 1668

RSGII  •  Link

For a better understanding of the various key officers and specialties on a warship (captain, master, boatswain, gunner, carpenter, purser, surgeon), and their training and skills, as well as the transformation and increasing professionalism over the period, in which Pepys played a major role, I commend “Pepys’s Navy, Ships, Men, & Warfare, 1649-1689” by J.D. Davies.

About Wednesday 11 March 1667/68

RSGII  •  Link

And how many of us have spoken for three hours to the House, or any other Parliament, that is, or will be, remembered 350 plus years later? Pretty nigh standard to meet.

About Thursday 2 January 1667/68

RSGII  •  Link

Compound masts are usually overlapped and bound at the joints with line (rope) and metal, strengthened with stays and shrouds. See “Pepys Navy” for more elaboration. Obtaining a reliable supply of masts and hemp—masts were imported from the Northeastern American colonies and Scandinavia, was critical to the success of the Navy. They needed hundreds of spare masts and miles of rope/line on hand. Pepys understanding of this trade and negotiation of contracts was key to his influence and power. The Admirals knew how to fight ships. Sam knew how to supply them.

About Tuesday 29 October 1667

RSGII  •  Link

On tickets. Even in the 1960’s, US Navy sailors were paid in cash and Supply Officers had to carry a $100,000 or so in their safes on a Destroyer to do so. Obtaining and transporting this cash from on shore Navy disbursement offices was a risky business involving armed guards and carrying weapons. Plus lots of safeguards against theft and verification sailors had been properly paid.

About Wednesday 23 October 1667

RSGII  •  Link

The model ships were the jewels in the crown. They contained the secrets of British ship building. No blueprints in those days. He should have commended for keeping them from the Dutch..

About Monday 2 September 1667

RSGII  •  Link

A US pints a pound the world around, at least for estimating. For precise work it is 1.043 lbs. A British pint is 1 1/4 lbs, so you get more for your money in a British pub!

About Tuesday 18 December 1666

RSGII  •  Link

Traveling the Thames with its strong currents in a small boat was a dangerous business as Batters death reminded Sam. He had to do it often and was often understandably afraid and Batters death will make him even more fearful in the future.

About Recent Pepys articles

RSGII  •  Link

The podcast “Beyond the Diary” is a light and enjoyable overview of the diary and Sam’s life.

About Tuesday 29 May 1666

RSGII  •  Link

As I understand it, on the day of or after Monk’s entry into the city, and defiance of the rump Parliament, Pepys interviewed Monk’s personal secretary and got the inside story of what had happened from him, a far better source than trying to make sense of troop movements. He then reported on this to Sandwich and us along with careful details of the celebrations and atmospherics, e.g. the number of bonfires observed at various locations, the eating of rumps, etc.

About Saturday 10 March 1665/66

RSGII  •  Link

Goofing Off? The guy is up at 5 or 6, works 6 or 7 hours until noon, takes a few hours off, lets say until 3 or 4, then works until midnight, his usual late night cut off, so basically two of our modern 7 1/2 to 8 hour days. I would hire him in a minute.

About Ask Pepys author Dr Kate Loveman a question

RSGII  •  Link

As I understand from Pepys Navy, the Navy was by far the largest economic unit/actor in Great Britain of the time, having a major impact on trade, employment, suppliers etc. Hence Pepys importance in managing the behind the scenes day to day working of the enterprise, while leaving strategy or fighting to the naval officers and aristocrats.
What I am less clear is how it was financed, something Pepys and his professional colleagues spent a lot of time worrying over.

About Review: "Pepys's Navy: Ships, Men and Warfare 1649-1689" by J. D. Davies

RSGII  •  Link

Having now read this book, it is the kind of reference book you dip into from time to time, I recommend it as providing an essential context to understanding Pepys and his time and what he was actually doing that made him so important to Kings, Dukes and Admirals. By the 1660’s, the Navy was by far the largest industrial enterprise in Britain, and its imports and purchases of masts, lumber, hemp, guns, and supplies, a major driving force in the economy and trade.

Sam was at the center of all this, and it explains his rise to prominence in the political world of Kings and Dukes as management by unqualified nobles gave way to technocrats like Sam, self taught as he was. Logistics wins wars. And he understood the logistics that enabled the experienced fighters like Penn and Monck to be successful. That is why they valued him.

The book also gives you a better feel for the forces leading to the crucial Anglo Dutch wars that dominated the period. And the reasons for seeming obscure and petty importance given to such things as salutes to the flag.

And you learn why the ships Carpenter was as important as the ships Gunner, and Ships Master. And why the Baltic trade, importing masts and hemp, was so vital.