Tuesday 27 March 1660

Early in the morning at making a fair new establishment of the Fleet to send to the Council. This morning, the wind came about, and we fell into the Hope, and in our passing by the Vice-Admiral, he and the rest of the frigates, with him, did give us abundance of guns and we them, so much that the report of them broke all the windows in my cabin and broke off the iron bar that was upon it to keep anybody from creeping in at the Scuttle.1 This noon I sat the first time with my Lord at table since my coming to sea. All the afternoon exceeding busy in writing of letters and orders. In the afternoon, Sir Harry Wright came onboard us, about his business of being chosen Parliament-man. My Lord brought him to see my cabin, when I was hard a-writing. At night supped with my Lord too, with the Captain, and after that to work again till it be very late. So to bed.

38 Annotations

First Reading

Emilio  •  Link

Asea at last!
But before going, "a fair new establishment of the Fleet to send to the Council." This would seem to be a fair copy of the establishment drawn up yesterday, rather than doing the work all over again.
Speaking of which, do we have any idea of what sort of guns those would be that make such a destructive racket? What armaments would have been customary for warships of the time?

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

By the time Sam goes aboard ship, cannons arranged along the sides of fighting ships were the decisive weapon of naval warfare. The Sovereign of the Seas, built in 1637, was the most formidable ship afloat in its time, carrying 100 guns mounted on three decks. You can see a picture of it here, from website of the Maritime Museum in Greenwich.


Keith Wright  •  Link

"the report of them [the gun salutes] broke all the windows in my cabin and broke off the iron bar that was upon it"

Breakage: glass, sure. Iron: how? Rattled from its mounts by vibrations? Direct hit? What?

Alfred Pinkham  •  Link

Ships still carry saluting batteries, usually a small loud gun that does not fire a projectile near one bridge wing. Naval Courtesy requires juniors salute seniors and it is apparent that Sam's My Lord requires the show of great respect. The Shock wave from a broad side of powder less shot could easily carry away a hand forged latching device.

Pauline  •  Link

"...to keep anybody from creeping in at the Scuttle."
From time to time we get such a lilting phrase from Sam; to me it exemplifies an aspect of the charm that his friends and superiors find in him.

PHE  •  Link

The genius of Sam's journalism
This one short phrase provides a vivid image of the whole scene of ships blasting guns, the noise, the smoke, the excitement.

"did give us abundance of guns and we them, so much that the report of them broke all the windows in my cabin"

MikeCamel  •  Link

As far as breaking the iron bar goes, I'm not surprised if it were just iron, which can be very brittle. If it was fixed in place at both ends, significant movement of the around it might well lead to it snapping, yes?

Grahamt  •  Link

Breaking iron bars:
CAST iron is brittle, Wrought iron is tough and malleable. A latch would be wrought, not cast, so what is this bar? Is it just a cast iron bar fitted against the "window" to hold it shut or to bar it against intruders? A task it doesn't seem very good for if a pressure wave can break it.
Interesting that landlubber Pepys uses the sea term scuttle, but not porthole for window.

KVK  •  Link

Charles II writes to Monck

Meanwhile, Charles writes an important letter from Brussels today beginning "I know too well the power you have to do me good or harm, not to desire you should be my friend," and promising that "all good men" will be secured in "what belongs to them." This latter phrase is vague on two major points: who is going to be punished if the King returns, and how are the properties seized from royalists during the civil war and given to Parliamentarians going to be dealt with.

This may be Charles' first direct correspondance with Monck (I'm not sure). He was communicating earlier through Monck's brother Nicholas. The Monck's intentions are still unclear to both Charles and Edward Hyde. He continues to rebuke the royalist cause publicly: he just had a former chaplain to Charles I jailed for printing a pro-monarchical sermon and dedicating it to Monck.

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Windows in ships were rectangular, like windows on land, in the 17th century. Although the term 'porthole' was used as early as the reign of Henry VI, it referred to openings in the ship's side. Scuttles were not windows but vents and would often open onto the deck rather than the side of the ship - thus making the fear of somebody 'creeping in' a more realistic one. They could be built up and curved over at the top to prevent rain or seawater penetration. Originally the name for a hatch, the name 'scuttle' became applied to any opening. Hence the term 'scuttling a ship' for punching holes in it to make it sink.

This leads to the interesting etymological derivation of the term 'scuttlebutt'. Indiscreet remarks would be easily carried down such scuttles, especially if butts of fresh water (where people might gather to drink and gossip) were positioned near them. Indeed, the casks of drinking water eventually became known as scuttlebutts, and the term eventually migrated to the gossip and rumour to be expected there.

As an interesting sidenote on this, in researching 'scuttle' I came across this link to one of a set of ballads owned by Pepys some time after the diary finishes:


Perhaps we can imagine Sam singing along on one of those convivial evenings below decks.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: interesting etymological derivation of the term ‘scuttlebutt’

Very interesting! Thanks, Jenny ... tidbits like this are one more reason I love this site.

Glyn  •  Link

Good description

I agree with PHE about this description. You can see that it must have been a bright day with a fresh wind and breaking waves. And the ships firing off shots to salute each other that are loud enough to shatter glass.

But if you look at Roger Miller's map (and press the button icon on it to zoom out), you will see that they are still less than 50 miles away from London. In fact, they are almost near enough to commute, or go home at the weekends anyway, and I suspect that many of the visitors to the ship are doing just that.

So it seems that the Swiftsure hasn't set out on any sea-voyage yet. I suspect that it is currently sailing between naval ports on the Thames to inspect them and transact business, and perhaps sails back each evening to dock at the same mooring each night. Where visitors know they can find it.

bruce  •  Link

I've just found this link which tells us some details of the Swiftsure. A sizeable warship for the time, and adequate to reflect the importance of the high level diplomatic manoevering in progress.

bchan  •  Link

As a U.S. Navy veteran, I can confirm that the term "scuttlebutt" is still in regular use, referring to both drinking fountains and to gossip.

I expect Pepys' use of naval terms to improve as he gains his sea legs. It's quite a vocabulary to learn: On board ship, the ceiling becomes the "overhead"; walls are "bullkheads"; a room is a "compartment"; and the floor is of course the "deck". Openings in the hull can be windows (openings with glass panes), portholes (windows with hinged protective metal coverings) or scuttles (open holes with protective metal coverings). A door/doorway is the same thing as on land; hatches are portals between comparments with covers that can be sealed ("dogged") making them watertight. One travels by means of passageways (hallways) and goes either forward (towards the front, or bow of the ship), aft (towards the rear, or stern) or athwartships (from one side to the other). The toilets are called "heads"; the kitchen is the "galley"; a mop is a "swab"; and stairs are called "ladders" -- by which one can go upstairs ("above") or downstairs ("below").

It takes a while to learn all of this, but I''m sure our Sam will meet the challenge.

Bored  •  Link

I remember reading or hearing a narrative of someone who visited London by sea at about the same era. Because the Thames was choc-a-bloc with sailing ships, and because there were no tugs, it would take up to several days for ships to work their way from the sea to London, or vice-versa. Passengers for London would commonly get off in Kent and travel by land into London, since this was faster. This probably explains the Swiftsure's slow progress.

Although I had heard at lot about Pepys diary, I never realised that he went to sea. Isnt it exciting!

Laura K  •  Link

"Indeed, the casks of drinking water eventually became known as scuttlebutts, and the term eventually migrated to the gossip and rumour to be expected there."

Of course - gossiping around the water cooler! Thanks, Jenny - excellent stuff.

michael f vincent  •  Link

"scuttle" remember coal scuttle,
"esculle " bowl.. also scuttle along
OH! this anglosaxon language with svp and other euphanisms. In this page, A thief or rat would also use this means of coming a board whithout being piped.

Alan Bedford  •  Link

Thanks to Bruce for finding the list of "Great Ships" and please note that the list is from... Pepys Miscellanies. Sam has contributed to the Web!

And the use of the the name Swiftsure by the Royal Navy has continued. The most recent examples are a cruiser (WW II) and the current Swiftsure, a nuclear submarine.

Pauline  •  Link

Sharp eye, Alan!
This linking to one of Sam's "establishments" is very cool!

I hope all of this gets posted to Background Info/places/travel/ships/Swiftsure

Glyn  •  Link

Biography of Sir Harry Wright

So far there isn't one - although he has appeared in the Diary at least seven times (Feb 1, 4, 28; March 10, 14, 23, 27): can anyone provide one?

We have also bumped into a Lady Wright on five occasions, and we know her to be the aunt of Mistress Jem. If she is Sir Harry's wife, then that makes him a relation of Lord Montagu but is that correct?

Just to clarify the titles of the English aristocracy ... MARY has already set out the titles for male aristocrats in her annotation for 22 March. Lords outrank Knights, so Lord Montagu is of higher status than Sir Henry Wright. However, the wives of either would both be given the same title: Lady.

So Lady Wright could be married to Sir Henry rather than to some Lord. I think that's correct.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

Warning: lengthy post contains spoiler!!! re: Charles II and Monck's first official exchanges... reply to KVK post above.

In the past, Monck had received royal communiqués via Hyde and thru Grenville but declined to accept or acknowledge them.

According to Monck's late Victorian biographer, Charles Harding Frith, Monck, having spent the previous six months gaining first the confidence of Parliament and subsequently mastering it to the point that the writs were issued which would result in the election of a combined royalist and moderate Presbyterian majority...on March 19, 1659/60 Monck (who unlike Lambert had demurred when supreme power was offered him) finally acknowledged a letter from the King:

"...Through Morice he arranged an interview with Sir John Grenville
(19 March), and at last received from his hands the letter the
king had sent him in the previous summer. "My heart," he told
Grenville, "was ever faithful to the king, but I was never able
to do him service till the present time." He refused to give
Grenville a letter for the king, but made him commit his
instructions to memory, and despatched him at once to Brussels."

The tip-off to Monck's true intentions had occurred when Monck had acquiesced in the preceding months to Montagu's co-appointment with him as General at Sea--as well as when Monck used his dominant influence on the council vis à vis restoring--albeit temporarily as things turned out--talented Commonwealth era public servants such as Thurlow to positions of influence and power--after which Monck again concentrated on the specific modalities of a transition whereby various competing interests would be finely balanced--which, in turn, caused the parliamentary presbyterian faction leaders and their royalist allies to actively mistrust Monck's motives.

They were envious of Monck''s unnassailable de facto status as protector of the realm and of parliament and afraid his influence with the King might block various patronage plans on their part as well as mitigate against the landed aristocracy's intent to recover much of its properties and prerogatives, especially in the countryside (viz Montagu's unsuccesful attempts to control the elections at Huntingdon).

******WARNING: SPOiLER*******
Would that Charles had listened to more of Monck's sage political, secular and administrative advice and moderate religious prescriptions re: England and Ireland (more of his counsel re: Sctland was adhered to initially) in the weeks following his return from exile and during the early months following the restoration and coronation.

Retearivs  •  Link


A butt was a barrel of a certain size. As has been reported above, “scuttle” refers to a hole. The expression “scuttlebutt” for ship’s gossip is believed by many to have had it’s origin in the open container aboard ship which held drinking water for seamen. That container was a scuttled butt; that is to say a butt with either part of the top stove in or a neat hole made in it by the cooper (it was a scuttled butt) to allow dipping out mugs of water. Naturally, the group which formed around this scuttled butt exchanged gossip which is supposed to have been retailed elsewhere in the ship as scuttlebutt.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

More on "scuttlebutt"

Michael Quinion addressed the origins of this phrase this week in his excellent weekly newsletter, World Wide Words. Here's what he had to say:

Q. My friend and I have been trying to figure out the origin of the word "scuttlebutt". Do you have any thoughts on this? [Clair Merritt]

A. The second half is easy enough - a butt is just the old word for a large cask. The first half appears in the language in several senses with different origins, so we have to be sure we've got the right one. It's not the flattish open container, made of wickerwork at one time, whose name survives in "coal scuttle"; that's Old English, from Latin "scutella" for a dish or platter (its first sense in English). Nor is it the one that means to move with short quick steps, perhaps like a spider; that comes from an old English dialect word.

The sense we want is the one of a hole cut in a ship's timbers. That's been around since the fifteenth century, when sailors called any smallish hatchway or opening in the deck a scuttle, especially if it was covered with a lid of some sort; it was the usual term for an opening to let in light or air. It's of uncertain origin, but might be from the Old French "escoutille", meaning a hatchway.

The verb "to scuttle" dates from the mid 17th century, at first in the sense of sinking a ship specifically by cutting holes in it - today we use it for doing so by any means.

It was usual to have a water cask on deck so that the crew had easy access to drinking water during the day. To make it easier to scoop the water out with a tin pot or dipper, the head of the cask would be removed. So it became known as the scuttlebutt - the cask with a hatch in it. Fresh water was so precious that a guard was often posted by the scuttlebutt to ensure that water was only taken to drink and not, for example, to wash clothes with.

It was the one place where members of the crew on duty in various parts of the ship could meet and talk during the working day. This is how Herman Melville put it in White Jacket; or The World in a Man-of-War of 1850: "There is no part of a frigate where you will see more going and coming of strangers, and overhear more greetings and gossipings of acquaintances, than in the immediate vicinity of the scuttle-butt, just forward of the main-hatchway, on the gun-deck." Today's office water coolers have pretty much the same ambience.

Real scuttlebutts have long since passed into naval history and the word has shifted its meaning to the rumour and gossip itself rather than the place where one exchanged it.

pat stewart cavalier  •  Link

The three different meanings of the word "scuttle" have different etymological origins according to the 2004 Concise Pxford English dictionary.

Second Reading

jeannine  •  Link

Journal of the Earl of Sandwich; Navy Records Society, edited by R.C. Anderson
“27th. Tuesday. We fell down into the Hope.”

Interesting contrast to Sam's diary entry of the day.

Dick Wilson  •  Link

Peoples divided by a common language --
British usage: "Pepys sailed in Swiftsure."
American usage: "Pepys sailed on the Swiftsure."

Mary K  •  Link

sail in/sail on.

Not sure that the difference in usage is quite as clear-cut as this. Does one need to make distinction between naval usage and general usage?

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘scuttle-butt Etym: See scuttled adj.
a. Naut. A cask of drinking-water on board ship; a drinking-fountain. Also fig.
1801 J. J. Moore Brit. Mariner's Vocab. sig. S2, Scuttle-butt, or cask, is a cask having a square piece sawn out of its bilge and lashed upon the deck. It is used to contain the fresh water for daily use . . ‘

‘scuttled, adj. Having a hole cut in it . .
. . 1846 A. Young Naut. Dict., Scuttled-butt or (as it is generally abbreviated) Scuttle-butt, a cask with a square hole cut in its bilge, kept on deck to hold water for ready use.’

‘scuttle, v.2 < scuttle n.2
1. a. trans. To cut or bore a hole or holes in the sides or bottom of (a vessel, boat, etc. for the purpose of sinking her).
2. a. To cut a hole in (the deck of a vessel), esp. for the purpose of salving the cargo.’

‘scuttle, n.2 Of obscure origin; identical with French écoutille hatchway . .
1. a. Naut. A square or rectangular hole or opening in a ship's deck smaller than a hatchway, furnished with a movable cover or lid, used as a means of communication between deck and deck . .

b. A hole cut or bored through any part of a ship, esp. for salving the cargo.

c. The lid of a scuttle-hole or hatchway.’

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"In the afternoon, Sir Harry Wright came onboard us, about his business of being chosen Parliament-man."

Wright (Mountagu's brother-in-law) was elected at Harwich on 3 April.
(L&M note)

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Interesting contrast to Sam's diary entry of the day."

In sailing ships it is necessary to reposition them when the wind changes or especially high tides are expected, so they are protected from the Channel and the North Sea swells (in this case) -- hills and sand bars are vital to a quite and safe night.

"We fell down into the Hope.” wasn't a big deal to Montagu -- he's done it a hundred times before. It was Pepys' first time. They are not really "asea", just manovering around:
The Hope (or Hope Reach) is the stretch of the Thames between Tilbury and the mouth of the Medway. Named after the Hope stream that enters the Thames about 3 miles east of Tilbury. A noted anchorage for fleet assemblages and rendezvous.

MartinVT  •  Link

Some more scuttlebutt:

Re: Chris Squire's post with OED definition of scuttlebutt, above: "Scuttle-butt, or cask, is a cask having a square piece sawn out of its bilge and lashed upon the deck. It is used to contain the fresh water for daily use" (1801)

We landlubbers may have been imagining an upright barrel with a hole cut into the top, but this quote reveals one more detail about the scuttlebutt, namely, that the scuttle, or opening, is cut into its side — the bilge being the widest part of the cask. In wine barrels, it is where the bung-hole is found. So this scuttlebutt, provided for drinking water purposes, is laid on its side, presumably into a special cradle. Probably this is a more secure position on a deck that is rolling and pitching at sea than setting it upright, a position in which it is harder to stabilize. Here is a picture of a scuttlebutt on the USS Constitution, which can probably be relied on as authoritative: https://wordsmith.org/words/image…

David  •  Link

That is a lovely picture MartinVT, says a thousand words doesn't it?

David  •  Link

This is my third time around and I am still learning new things every day. Thank you so much to Phil and all the annotators.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"in our passing by the Vice-Admiral, he and the rest of the frigates, with him, did give us abundance of guns and we them, so much that the report of them broke all the windows in my cabin and broke off the iron bar that was upon it to keep anybody from creeping in at the Scuttle."

Pepys will not trouble to get the window fixed until Friday 20 April -- when he discovers what his status on board is: https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Are you sure about that, Terry? Pepys' damaged external window is on the SWIFTSURE.
By 20 April he is living aboard the NASEBY, and he talks about having his window "altered" not repaired (it must have been the internal one -- an external one would have been of material concern to the shipbuilders).

mountebank  •  Link

The modern form of "scuttlebutt" would seem to be "water cooler" chat.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Gen. Monk's feelings on the monarchy are no longer much of a mysterie, but 'tis also increasingly beside the point, for already we're past the stage of secret meetings about the Forme of Government, and the king is beginning to take over the machinerie of State in its minutiae. To wit, this remarkable dispatch from Monk to Robert Stent, dated March 29 at St. James's:

"I appoint you, by virtue of the power delegated to me by King Charles II, as firemaster to the garrison of Dunkirk".

This of course from the State Papers, which show that Charles is also signing passports - viz., "by the King for Sieur Pierre St. Laurens, merchant (...) to traffic where he pleases without molestation" on March 30 old style, and for "Capt. John Gray (...) for protection in his travels", on March 20.

Whether such passports would be always recognized is another thing, but interestingly the one for Capt. Gray is written out in Latin, presumably for showing, on the continent, to non-English speakers who may have no opinion on who should govern England, and only want a passport to be legal and authentic. Tho', how far the King's writ would be recognized still seems unsure, for the "passport", only "recommend[s]" Gray. But 'tis call'd a Passport none the less.

On March 19 we also saw a "Petition of Roger Dickson, of Middleburg, to the King". But, uh-oh, this one is to "protes[t] his innocence of speaking evil against him [the King]".

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.