Annotations and comments

has posted 56 annotations/comments since 1 April 2013.

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About Tuesday 30 June 1668

Bryan  •  Link

Did they actually eat "stinking" meat?

Looks like it, but apparently there were limits. SP records on 26 June 1662:
"... and then took Commissioner Pett home to dinner with me, where my stomach was turned when my sturgeon came to table, upon which I saw very many little worms creeping, which I suppose was through the staleness of the pickle." bon appétit, Commissioner Pett.

About Wednesday 11 March 1667/68

Bryan  •  Link

Tokens & Tally Sticks
Tokens and tally sticks were used at the opposite ends of the monetary spectrum.
Tally sticks were a type of financial instrument (something like an IOU) used for large transactions. For example on 24 May 1665 SP mentions "I to Colvill’s, thinking to shew him all the respect we could by obliging him in carrying him 5 tallys of 5000l. to secure him for so much credit he has formerly given Povy to Tangier".

Tokens were used to overcome the shortage of small denomination coins and had a face value of a penny or less.
More on tokens (including images): Mr. Pepys' Small Change

About Monday 3 February 1667/68

Bryan  •  Link

"he's basically a mid-level clerk"
That's a bit misleading. Just to clarify:
Pepys as the Clerk of the Acts was a Principal Officer of the Navy Board.
From British History Online: "Until 1796 the Board was usually composed of officials of theoretically equal standing, some of whom supervised the conduct of specific areas of business, and some of whom, known as Extra Commissioners or Commissioners at Large, performed general duties. In 1660 the Board was composed of a Controller, a Surveyor, a Clerk of the Acts and two Extra Commissioners."…

On 3 March Pepys states his view of his role in the Navy Board: "I believe I shall get more honour by it when the Parliament, against my will, shall see how the whole business of the Office was done by me."

Pepys wasn't a member of the aristocracy like many of the people he mixed with but by this stage he was a high-level technocrat, and recognised as such.

About Wednesday 27 March 1667

Bryan  •  Link

“go to rack”
From //
“What's the origin of the phrase 'Rack and ruin'?
It might be thought that the rack in this phrase refers to the medieval torture device, as in the phrase rack one's brains. This rack is however a variant of the now defunct word wrack, more usually known to us now as wreck.”

About Tuesday 8 January 1666/67

Bryan  •  Link

"the microscope hadn’t been invented yet"
Microscopes are new but they exist.
On 13 August 1664 SP bought a microscope from optical instrument maker Richard Reeve for 5l. 10s. "a great price, but a most curious bauble it is, and he says, as good, nay, the best he knows in England, and he makes the best in the world."
On 20 January 1664/65 SP bought Hooke’s book of microscopy, "a most excellent piece, and of which I am very proud."

About Saturday 22 December 1666

Bryan  •  Link

SDS: Can anyone help me unravel this one?

Solicitor This is a term in still common usage in the British legal system. A solicitor is a type of lawyer.
From "Concept and Differences between a Lawyer, a Solicitor and a Barrister in UK":
"Lawyer is anyone who could give legal advice. So, this term englobes Solicitors, Barristers, and legal executives. ... Solicitor is a lawyer who gives legal advice and represent the clients in the courts. They deal with business matters, contracts, conveyance, wills, inheritance, etc. ... Barrister is a lawyer who is specialized in representing clients in the Courts. ... Usually, Barristers are called by the Solicitors, and are contracted by them, to give legal advice in the particular area in which they are specialist when the case is brought to Courts."…

More here:

The Admiralty and the Navy Office
These are the two parts of the British navy. As we know, the Navy Office was responsible for provisioning the navy with ships, men and materials. The Admiralty was responsible for operational matters, i.e. going out to sea to fight for king/queen and country. Both sections of the navy were under control of the Lord High Admiral (James).

From the Encyclopedia:
"In this organization a dual system operated the Lord High Admiral (from 1546) then Commissioners of the Admiralty (from 1628) exercised the function of general control (military administration) of the Navy and they were usually responsible for the conduct of any war, while the actual supply lines, support and services were managed by four principal officers, namely, the Treasurer, Comptroller, Surveyor and Clerk of the Acts, responsible individually for finance, supervision of accounts, Shipbuilding and maintenance of ships, and record of business. These principal officers came to be known as the Navy Board responsible for 'civil administration' of the navy, from 1546 to 1832."…

About Tuesday 23 October 1666

Bryan  •  Link

"The captains, masters and owners of privateers had to enter into bonds to render to the Admiral his share (one tenth) of their profits."
This appears to be a general statement applying to all privateers, so "the Admiral" is unlikely to refer to Batten.
The owners of a privateer are "bound in the Admiralty", the boss of which is the Lord High Admiral, i.e. the D of Y.
My reading is the Admiralty (Navy) lends captured ships to be used as privateers for a set period in return for ten per cent of any profits.

About Friday 24 August 1666

Bryan  •  Link

SP's Book Presses
According to the L&M Companion, Sympson delivered two book presses in 1666. By the time of his death, SP had twelve book presses to house his collection.
From the Pepys Library webpage:
"The library survives at Magdalene - to which it was bequeathed under stipulations that ensure that its contents remain intact and unaltered. It is still housed in the glazed bookcases that Pepys had had made for it by dockyard joiners over the years, and still arranged in the order in which he and his heir had left it."

Wikipedia has a page on Sympson the Joiner that has some details about the presses:

About Sunday 19 August 1666

Bryan  •  Link

Planets are masculine?
SP was educated in the classics, Roman and Greek. Saturn and Jupiter were (are?) male gods so it would be natural for SP to use masculine pronouns. If he had mentioned Venus he would likely have used feminine pronouns.

About Saturday 9 June 1666

Bryan  •  Link

"the Duke of Yorke ... would not have us go forward in this business of allowing the losse of the ships till Sir G. Carteret and Sir W. Coventry were come to towne"
SDS, this comment most likely refers to the Tangier supply ships waiting to sail. "Allowing the losse" means letting them sail to Tangier so they are not available as replacements for the ships lost in the Four Days Battle. The DoY wants the Tangier Committee to wait before making a decision until Carteret and Coventry, who are down inspecting the fleet, return with more accurate information about recent losses to the English fleet.

About Friday 8 December 1665

Bryan  •  Link

Anyone with ideas on why Pepys throws a party now?

SP had a great time at Mrs Pierce's on 6 December and he was returning the favour, perhaps hoping for more of the same: "Here the best company for musique I ever was in, in my life, and wish I could live and die in it, ... I spent the night in extasy almost; and, having invited them to my house a day or two hence, we broke up ..."
The Great Plague was abating and they were still alive, to say nothing of being young and successful. Reason enough for a bit of a knees-up (or two).

About Friday 19 May 1665

Bryan  •  Link

Geordie, Annie, Mary & William

According to Hogg, this song as written in 1688 by Lord Newbottle. It is about the Glorious Revolution. Mary, Willie, and Annie refer to the prince and princess of Orange and princess of Denmark. Although in the text of the song, it is "Menie the daughter".
Geordie isn't identified but an earlier verse mentions "sweet Geordie Brodie".

Here's Hogg's full commentary on the song:
"Cakes of Crowdy
This is another production of the same year, and likewise of a nobleman, having been written by Lord Newbottle in 1688, as the MS. bears. The author was eldest son to William, first marquis of Lothian; and notwithstanding this satire on the revolutionists, he closed with that great measure. Here are two noble authors whom Walpole knew nothing of. The following are some of the heroes mentioned in this song.—Chinnie; Lord Melville, called Chinnie from the length of his features.—Rethy; Lord Raith.—Little Pitcunkie; Melville's third son.—Leven the hero; who whipt Lady Mortonhall with his whip. He is the Lord Huffie of Dr Pitcairn's " Assembly," where he is introduced beating fiddlers and horse-hirers.—Cherrytrees Davie; Mr D. Williamson, who did lie with Lord Burke's daughter.—Gteenock, Dickson, Houston; taxmen of the customs. They were, Sir
J. Hall, Sir J. Dickson, and Mr R. Young.—Borland; this is Captain Drummond, a great turn-coat rogue, who kept the stores in the castle.—Grave Burnet; old Gribo.—Mary, Willie, and
Annie; prince and princess of Orange, and princess of Denmark. —Argyle; he was killed (received his death's wound, at least) in a brothel near Newcastle.—So says an old commentator on my
Lord Newbottle's elegant and witty song!"

The Jacobite Relics of Scotland; Being the Songs, Airs, and Legends of the Adherents to the House of Stuart collected by James Hogg, 1819, page 184.
See page 20 for the song.


About Saturday 13 May 1665

Bryan  •  Link

Watches and Pockets
From Wikipedia: History of Watches,…
"Styles changed in the 17th century and men began to wear watches in pockets instead of as pendants (the woman's watch remained a pendant into the 20th century). This is said to have occurred in 1675 when Charles II of England introduced waistcoats. This was not just a matter of fashion or prejudice; watches of the time were notoriously prone to fouling from exposure to the elements, and could only reliably be kept safe from harm if carried securely in the pocket. To fit in pockets, their shape evolved into the typical pocketwatch shape, rounded and flattened with no sharp edges."
So waistcoat pockets and pocket watches are still to come.

About Wednesday 11 January 1664/65

Bryan  •  Link

The Navy Board
Just to summarise and clarify.
From Vincenzo's (aka cgs, in Aqua Scripto, etc) entry…:
"Navy Board Officials
At the Restoration the offices of the four Principal Officers of the Navy, the Treasurer, Controller, Surveyor and Clerk of the Acts, were re-established, and three Commissioners were appointed to act with them. These officials, known both singly and collectively as Principal Officers and Commissioners of the Navy, formed the Navy Board and were jointly responsible under the direction of the Lord High Admiral for the civil administration of the Navy."

Treasurer: Sir George Carteret
Controller: Sir John Mennes
The Surveyor: Sir William Batten
Clerk of the Acts: SP esq
Commissioners: Sir William Penn, Peter Pett & Lord Berkeley

Additions in 1664:
Sir William, 2nd Viscount Brouncker Extra Commissioner of the Navy, 1664-66
Capt John Taylor was Navy Commissioner at Harwich

I don't think it's correct to say that the Commissioners did the admin work. Penn was an admiral.
Pett and Taylor were shipbuilders. Brouncker was a mathematician. Perhaps better described as technical experts.

The Duke of York, Sandwich and Coventry weren't part of the Navy Board.

About Monday 5 September 1664

Bryan  •  Link

He tells us how Mrs. Lane is undone...
An alternative explanation is that William Bowyer was unaware of SP's nefarious affair with Betty Lane/Martin and was simply passing on gossip to both SP and EP about a mutual acquaintance.
William Bowyer was a doorkeeper at the Exchequer. Betty Lane had her draper's stall in Westminster Hall which was practically next door and SP and EP earlier lived in nearby Axe Yard.

If you start at "...and I to my wife to Unthanke’s" it is fairly clear that the "us" refers to SP and EP.

About Thursday 25 August 1664

Bryan  •  Link

Something that does not appear to have been noticed by earlier annotators.
Jacke Noble claims the child was conceived on Guy Fawkes night (with 3 handy witnesses to Tom's confession) but SP recorded her birth on 6 April, only 5 months later. It casts some doubt on Tom's paternity. Tom died on 15 March.

About Wednesday 13 April 1664

Bryan  •  Link

"and so I rang up my people"

Remember the convenient new bell: Saturday 3 October 1663
"At noon I home to dinner, and then abroad to buy a bell to hang by our chamber door to call the mayds. ... We then to set up our bell with a smith very well, and then I late at the office. "

About Sunday 24 January 1663/64

Bryan  •  Link

Sarah, The Salty One kept many annotators guessing (and amused) the first time round. He could verge on cryptic at times.
The carpenter's son he was referring to was the inventor of the marine chronometer, John Harrison. Harrison was self-educated, so unlike SP, he did not get formal qualifications from either of the two English universities, CAMbridge or OXford, i.e. he was not camoxed.