16 Annotations

First Reading

Alan Bedford  •  Link

Clearly not a busy day...

I have trouble envisioning playing ninepins, or any other bowling game for that matter, aboard a sailing ship, rocking at anchor. Must have been a real challenge - and they seem to play pretty regularly!

David Bell  •  Link

There's an old English variant where the skittle are on a board with an upright post, and the ball dangles from a rope attached to the top of the post. I've no idea of the origins of this form, but I could see it working on a ship.

mary  •  Link

bar skittles/ninepins

Whilst agreeing that the tabletop/bar game that David refers to would be easier to imagine being played on board ship, a bit of Googling elicited the information that this miniaturised version of ninepins did not appear until the eighteenth century. Pity.

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

How long has Pepys been on this furschlugginer ship anyway? The vessel seems to keep on going noplace in particular.

mary  •  Link

Events, dear boy, events

After nine years of Commonwealth Republican rule, it's not really surprisng that the preparations/negotiations for a possible restoration of the monarchy should take longer than a week or three to be accomplished. Mountagu and his fleet are part of this process; Mountagu is taking political part in the events, but he is not by any means the sole principal in them so he has to wait on events beyond his own control before he sets sail. He cannot afford at this stage to be out of geographical touch with the process of political evolution, so remains close to shore but ready to sail when the moment is right.

Bullus Hutton  •  Link

"He had not money enough to pay me"

Here he is once again, the world's most brilliant naif. We've seen him recently wheeling and dealing with the best of them, power-broking, lining his pockets etc, yet today's entry consists almost entirely of a stunned admission that his chums stiffed him in a simple game for a crown apiece (actually I can relate to that, shooting pool with someone who says OK you won but I don't have any dough, what d'you do?) and two days ago, after some splendid incisive comment on the current situation in parliament, he goes down to check the booze locker and is totally wowwed by the "massy" ships timbers and (Hey you guys, would you bul-lieve!) we were a whole deck below the water-line. OK that's enough, let's get back up there and sup it up, some musique and "some very good laughing".
No wonder his personality has shone through to this day!

Roger Miller  •  Link


The movement of the ship might have added to the interest of the game. It would be a bit like crown green bowls with the green moving.

john lauer  •  Link

Stolzi, just think of this "verschlugen" ship as a mobile command post --
just being there is enough.

Sari Magaziner  •  Link

Many, many thanks for the opportunity to hear the BBC program of music in Pepys' era along with remarks from the diary. As one who lives in the US, this chance to enjoy BBC was a great treat.I'm very grateful.

Second Reading

Heather Macbeth  •  Link

Today we meet our first member of the large Pett family of ship-builders and sailors. More will turn up in future. At least two will be important characters.

For earlier discussion of the difficulty of keeping them straight, see Emilio's comment
and Wikipedia ("Some confusion may arise between the identities of Peter Pett and his many relatives; even the Navy Board had difficulty in keeping its records straight on this matter")

Today's Mr Pett is hyperlinked as Peter Pett, 1610-1672, Commissioner of the Navy.
But is this the right Pett? Navy-Commissioner Peter Pett will appear in the Diary soon, on May 16 and 18, but under the appellation "Commissioner Pett" (not "Mr Pett"). He is now 50, likely too old and too important to be playing ninepins with hangers-on and servants of Montagu.

Who knows what Pett this is. If it's one of the five male Petts for whom we have Encyclopedia entries, my guess is Phineas Pett (b), 1628-1678, a shipbuilder currently aged 32, nephew of Navy-Commissioner Peter.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

If "My Lord" can play games and enjoy merriment, why not Commissioner Pett? The time of austerity seems to be coming to an end! ;)

From Wiki on Commissioner Pett: "Determined to survive the rigours of the nation's political upheavals, Pett, with great resourcefulness, having withheld Chatham from Charles I, was afterwards in Holland preparing the fleet to accompany the return of Charles II."

It seems that many of the travellers to Holland call on the Naseby on the way.

Dick Wilson  •  Link

OK Ninepins. The deck isn't level; it's uphill or downhill or cross hill ... and the deck probably has some bumps and uneven planks in it. One or more ships' boys act as pin-spotters. I envisage spots painted on the deck in a diamond pattern: 1-2-3-2-1 pins. The pins might have looked like modern "duckpins" or like bottles or cylinders, who knows. A line should be painted on the deck: "bowl from behind here". The gentlemen bowlers help themselves to cannonballs, which, if they are cast, probably have a rim around them and are not really as round as one might wish. The ship pitches slightly, rolls a bit and the bowler takes a step and flings his missile underhanded, to roll across the deck towards the pins. How they might keep score is anyone's guess; how their two-man teams worked is another mystery. It's a game of skill with a large element of luck.

The wager of a crown (I assume five shillings) between gentlemen is a reasonable sum, rather like winning or losing fifty dollars or twenty pounds to a golfing buddy, today. It's enough to make you take notice, little enough to collect, and a sum a gentlemen might not have on his person, at the moment of loss.

I hope they gave a penny apiece to the boy.

Third Reading

Richard Bachmann  •  Link

May I take advantage of this somewhat uneventful day to recommend a book. I’m presently reading The Blazing World by Jonathan Healey (Bloomsbury in the UK, Knopf in North America). Healey covers the period from 1603 to 1689: James I/VI to William and Mary, superbly explaining the ( unusually confusing) political, religious, and social tumults of this period. It should be of interest to all readers of SP’s diary.

Chrissie  •  Link

Could I also recommend a book which covers much the same period, ‘Devil land, England under siege, 1588 -1688’ by Clare Jackson. it won the 2022 Wolfson history prize. This includes quite a lot of material showing how our European neighbours regarded us during this period. There is a great quote on the back from a Times reviewer. “ England was once a failed state. Foreign observers called it Devil- land. In the 17th century, it suffered civil war, incompetent rule, bankruptcy, plague and fire. Claire Jackson offers an impressive narrative of a time when the English seemed suddenly to have lost their minds.” Much of that could be applied to a more recent time methinks!

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