Tuesday 24 July 1660

To White Hall, where I did acquaint Mr. Watkins with my being sworn into the Privy Seal, at which he was much troubled, but put it up and did offer me a kinsman of his to be my clerk, which I did give him some hope of, though I never intend it. In the afternoon I spent much time in walking in White Hall Court with Mr. Bickerstaffe, who was very glad of my Lord’s being sworn, because of his business with his brother Baron, which is referred to my Lord Chancellor, and to be ended to-morrow. Baron had got a grant beyond sea, to come in before the reversionary of the Privy Seal. This afternoon Mr. Mathews came to me, to get a certificate of my Lord’s and my being sworn, which I put in some forwardness, and so home and to bed.

20 Annotations

First Reading

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Baron hath got a grant beyond sea to come in before the Reversioners of the Privy Seal.
The above reproduces the wording from L&M. They add the following footnote: "The dispute was about a Privy Seal clerkship. Usually reversionary interests were respected at the Restoration. This was an exception made because of Baron's services to King in exile. (He had brought him news of his restoration.)"

OED: reversioner, n One who possesses the reversion to an estate, office, etc.; an heir in reversion.

vincent  •  Link

"...where I did acquaint Mr. Watkins with my being sworn into the Privy Seal, at which he was much troubled, but put it up and did offer me a kinsman of his to be my clerk, which I did give him some hope of, though I never intend it...."
Is this fair?

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

"Is this fair?"

No, but it's very, very human.

Pauline  •  Link

"...a grant beyond sea..."
So, Paul, a grant beyond sea is a grant made by the king when he was in exile (beyond the English Channel). And in this case a grant that will supersede the reversions to pre-Commonwealth grants such as Barlow's reversion as Clerk of the Acts which Sam has just bought out.

Trying to get it all straight.

Vera  •  Link

...did offer me a kinsman of his to be my clerk...
Is it just my nasty suspecious mind? Mr Watkins isn't happy with Sam in his new role so then offers him a clerk ... to keep an eye on him perhaps ?????? I don't blame Sam for not wanting to take the offer, but he doesn't want to offend.

Ann  •  Link

I've been reading right along, and maybe I'm just dense, but I really don't get this Privy Seal thing. I read the link, and understand the seal itself, but what, exactly is Sam's role? Surely, he's not the "keeper" spoken of in the link? Why are people disturbed by his being sworn into it? I'm terribly confused....

John  •  Link

Ann- I'm not really sure, but I think that the warrant that the Pepys needs in order to secure him the job has to be made legitimate by the addition of the privy seal (it must be one of the minor documents mentioned in the link.) So the swearing in is simply the formal act of getting the seal affixed to the warrent so that he has legal claim to the job (something like signing a document with a notary public present.) That's my guess...
The reason people are upset by it is because they want the job themselves or they want someone closer to themselves to be given the job. It's all based on patronage. What friends or family you know in what important positions. Everyone is scrambling to get the good jobs or get their people in somewhere..

This is a very nice site layout and a great story!

Brian McMullen  •  Link

The 'Clerk' of the Privy Seal is a position held by the Earl not SP. The Earl is one of four 'clerks'. The other three are Hartgill Baron (mentioned in this entry), John Castle, and Williams Watkins (also mentioned).

Paul Webster had an entry for the 23rd which gave some more information reagrding the Privy Seal:


I followed that one and found information on the four 'clerks' at:


Pauline  •  Link

Sam's Privy Seal power
I thought Sam was being given the right to use (or order the affixing of) the Privy Seal on documents coming across his desk in his position as Clerk of the Acts. A requirement of his new position, or an added plus Montagu/Sandwich wrangled for so that the job is less encumbered and has more status -- Sam won't have to take documents to someone else everytime he needs a Privy Seal.

Brian McMullen  •  Link

Pauline, remember that on the 23rd SP took the Oath of the Privy Seal along with Montagu (who is the real 'clerk'). This was important to SP in that it gave him (and Montagu) an additional 'office' and if they were to lose the first they still had the second.

For me, it seems very important to SP that Montagu gain as much 'power' as he can and that SP is glad to follow his leader. Much of the official title 'stuff' seems to belong to Montagu while SP gains most of the practical business end. In that sense SP will proably be the one doing the 'work' of the Privy Seal (and sharing his compensation with Montagu).

vincent  •  Link

Thanks to Brian McMullen I have better understanding of the Power play thats going on:The set up is ? Watkins vs Baron , Sandwich and Bickerstaffe

Politics as usual?

vincent  •  Link

Sorry a booboo: it should read
Thanks to Brian McMullen I have better understanding of the Power play thats going on:The set up is ? Watkins vs Baron , Sandwich and

Pauline  •  Link

Brian, I don't think it is an office, as in a post or job. I think it is an office in the sense of having the authority to grant the Privy Seal. It appears to be a lifetime authority. And I don't think his weilding this authority has to be restricted to his current job. Upandcomers rushing around to get a seal for their patents and warrants can now come to Sam.

And it is easy to assume that it is a money maker.

vincent  •  Link

My understanding is that it is a life time tenure till the 'ead falls off naturally or removed by axe: It is a better form of Sabatical leave or leave of absence. To have other activities ( like being able to go off to be a general and enjoying the battle then having a secure income to come back to ( reversion )when you decide that it would be nice) knowing you had complete security..then you are in possession(again). It used to be Civil service right of being established,no firing unless you were excised for a major crime, like blowing up the HP:

Mary  •  Link

Clerkship of the Privy Seal
Think of the modern position of a member of the Privy Council, who has similar tenure. He is normally appointed for life and acquires certain political benefits (such as being able to claim priority in speaking in the House of Commons)though no longer has the same direct political clout as was the case before the Cabinet style of government grew preeminent.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Remembering that not SP but Montague is the real 'Clerk' of the Privy Seal.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Today in Commons Lord Mountague called to House of Peers.

The Lord Mountague, standing up in his Place, acquainted the House, that it had pleased the King's Majesty to confer some. Honour on him, and to call him by Writ to the House of Peers; which he thought it his Duty to acquaint this House with; and to return unto them his humble and hearty Thanks, for their many Favours conferred on him: And did assure them, that in whatsoever Condition he shall be, it shall ever be his Endeavour to do this House faithful Service: And acquainted them, that he must take his Leave of this House.

Resolved, That the Lord Mountague have the Thanks of this House.


Bill  •  Link

REVERSION, the state of being to be enjoyed after the death of the present possessor. Succession, or right of succession.
REVERSIONARY, consisting in reversion; to be enjoyed after the death of another.
---The Royal English dictionary. D. Fenning, 1764

Dick Wilson  •  Link

"... which I put in some forwardness..."
I understand this phrase to mean that Pepys started writing the requested certificate, and made some progress with it, but did not finish it.
Please correct me if I misunderstand: The Earl of Sandwich is now one of the Four Clerks of the Privy Seal. There are lots of documents which require the seal. Sandwich has no intention of reading and sealing them himself. Pepys is going to do it for him, and, each time he uses that seal, he gets to collect a fee from the guy who wants the seal, unless that guy is the King, or Duke of York, or one of their very dear friends. They have lots of dear friends. Very dear. Very friendly.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

If you're reading along with the Rev. Ralph, you'll know that the last member of the Harlakenden family recently left Earl’s Colne, Essex. They were Puritans, and land owners who considered it a good time to "downsize".

Diary of Ralph Josselin (Private Collection)
(Tuesday 24 July, 1660)

24: heard divers of my friends and neighbours in trouble, Lord help them out by spirit, friends, providences, and do them good.
this day Mr. R.H. [Richard Harlakenden] showed me his will, wherein he has dealt well with his grand-daughter, and used me in divers trusts.
the lord spare him and give me a heart to be faithful unto him and them, in all the things of the lord, and matters of estate.


The Restoration was a huge upheaval: it wasn't just Court positions in question: also in flux were which minister 'owned' the rectory and parish; who owned sequestered property; much of this is being handled by petitions to the House of Lords. The wisdom of Job was called for all day, every day.

Pepys isn't the only person trying to nail down his future with a Plan A and a Plan B. People are on-edge. I can understand Pepys dissembling to Watkins; he didn't want to upset him.

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