Thursday 25 October 1660

All day at home doing something in order to the fitting of my house.

In the evening to Westminster about business. So home and to bed. This night the vault at the end of the cellar was emptied.

29 Annotations

First Reading

Paul Brewster  •  Link

This night the vault at the end of the cellar was emptied.
L&M: "Turner, Pepys's neighbour charged the Navy Treasury on 26 October with 31s. 7d. for this operation."

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Sam's working hours seem, to say the least, irregular.

Jane  •  Link

Vault at the end of the cellar, was this the leaked "house of business" contents from next door?

vincent  •  Link

Thank goodness! another odious government job dispens'd . and there I thought S.P. went looking for People[on the 20th] to do the the work, silly me: I 'm glad I was not the "putter in" of light.
"....which do trouble me, but I shall have it helped. To my Lord's by land, calling at several places about business,

Mary  •  Link

Sam's irregular hours of work

This is a point that recurs regularly. Unlike, for example, apprentices, who were required to work certain hours and days, Sam is employed to fulfill a particular office and to see that its business is taken care of. When there is a lot of work on, he will work very long hours; in slack intervals he will not be obliged simply to keep his office seat warm until a notional 'knocking-off time' is reached but is free to go about other business, either his own or more personal errands for Sandwich.

It occurs to me that this is where the boy may eventually come in handy; he could be left in the office at such times in order to run and find Sam if urgent business were to crop up unexpectedly.

Xjy  •  Link

"It occurs to me that this is where the boy may eventually come in handy; he could be left in the office at such times in order to run and find Sam if urgent business were to crop up unexpectedly."

Mary's remark is important here. We forget how fast news could spread in pre-comms days. The messenger boy was the old equivalent of the mobile and they ran about everywhere (Rome was full of em, for instance). The Rialto, the Forum, any busy marketplace was a portal with lots of physical links (runners) to other sites of interest...

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

Jane asks about the "vault" which was emptied.

Yes, I think this was the container of the ... you-know-what ... from the neighbor's "house of office," and being full it had overflowed into poor Sam's cellar. Now that it is emptied, the nuisance will (we hope) stop.

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

xjy speaking of communications in earlier days:

Last night I watched a documentary about the defeat of the Spanish Armada in Queen Elizabeth's time, roughly a century before.

It was mentioned that with a system of relayed signal fires - "beacons" - on high summits, the current estimate is that a pre-arranged message could go from the south end of England to the north end (Carlisle, specifically) in 40 minutes.

Nix  •  Link

Signal fires --

Did the documentary tell how the content of the messages was communicated -- did they have an equivalent of the Morse code?

Christo  •  Link


"Till Skiddaw saw the fire that burned on Gaunt's embattled pile,
And the red glare on Skiddaw roused the burghers of Carlisle.”
Macaulay: The Armada.…

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

Nix, the message had to be pre-arranged, because the light simply had to be lit, and the next station light theirs. It was a yes/no situation, or perhaps 1-0 binary.

"The Spanish are coming! Call out the militia!" for example.

Glyn  •  Link

A lot more efficient than Paul Revere.

Glyn  •  Link

Poor joke (sorry) but the point is that something traveling at the speed of light is faster than a man on horseback. I think they were experimenting with chains of semaphore stations and heliographs around this time (Adam Hart Davis?) but don't think they were particularly successful.

It still took 4 to 6 days to get a message from London to Edinburgh because that was the fastest a team of horsemen could ride. (Probably slower than in Roman times, because the horses were no better and the roads were much worse.)

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Paul Revere
Actually, Paul Revere used the light-signal method as well. He started his ride on a lantern signal from the tower of Old North Church in Boston, indicating that the British were coming, and how. As Longfellow had it,
"One if by land, and two if by sea, and I on the opposite shore will be."

Mary  •  Link


Semaphore (as a regulated system of communication, with a recognised protocol) was first introduced by the French military in the mid-eighteenth century and was fairly soon afterwards used in England (and elsewhere) too. Not to say, of course, that there could have been no earlier experiments in this direction earlier than 1750-ish.

The use of the heliograph was known from very early times, but in a cloudy,damp climate like ours could hardly be relied upon for the seam-free transmission of important messages. Even the sunniest, summer morning can start off with thick mist.

Peter  •  Link

Re Mary's comment on the French military use of semaphore .... I remember in "The Count of Monte Cristo" there is a description of a system with large windmill-like machines relaying messages by semaphore over long distances. It refers to messages being transmitted from Marseille to Paris in a matter of hours along the relay in the Napoleonic era. Of course, the Count subverts the system to his advantage at one point.

Alun  •  Link

Re Glyn's comment on Semaphore
Later on in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Royal Navy did set up a chain of large mechnically operated semaphores to communicate news between London and Portsmouth.

maureen  •  Link

Beacons as alarm signals and for expected messages probably pre-date any written record.

The Romans had a fully developed sytem of signalling which allowed them to send any message letter by letter. More at…

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Polybius' pre-Roman telegraphy

In cryptography, the Polybius square, also known as the Polybius checkerboard, is a device invented by the Ancient Greek historian and scholar Polybius,(c. 200–c. 118 BCE) for fractionating plaintext characters so that they can be represented by a smaller set of symbols. / Polybius did not originally conceive of his device as a cipher so much as an aid to telegraphy; he suggested the symbols could be signalled by holding up pairs of sets of torches. It has also been used, in the form of the "knock code", to signal messages between cells in prisons by tapping the numbers on pipes or walls. In this form it is said to have been used by nihilist prisoners of the Russian Czars, and also by American prisoners of war in the Vietnam War. Indeed it can be signalled in many simple ways (flashing lamps, blasts of sound, drums, smoke signals) and is much easier to learn than more sophisticated codes like the Morse code. However, it is also somewhat less efficient than the more complex codes.…

Bill  •  Link

As we read on Oct 22, The King met with some Episcopalians and (pesky) Presbyterians. Today he issued a declaration that said among other things:

"... That no Bishops should ordain, or Exercise any Part of Jurisdiction, which appertains to the Censures of the Church, without the Advice and Assistance of the Presbyters, and neither do, nor impose any Thing, but what was according to the known Laws of the Land; that Chancellors, Commissaries, and Officials should be excluded from Acts of Jurisdiction, the Power of the Pastors in their several Congregations restor'd and a Liberty granted to all the Ministers to assemble Monthly, for the Exercise of the Pastoral Perswasive Power to the promoting of Knowledge and Godliness in their Flocks. That the Ministers should be freed from the Subscription requir'd by the Canon, and the Oath of Canonical Obedience, and receive Ordination, Institution and Induction, and exercise their Function and enjoy the Profits of their Livings, without being oblig'd to it. And that the Use of the Ceremonies should be dispensed with, where they were scrupled. ..."

The Presbyterians get a reprieve. For a while.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

This is where I came in 10 years ago: allow me to celebrate by posting a longer extract from ’The Armada’:

‘ . . Southward from Surrey’s pleasant hills flew those bright couriers forth;
High on bleak Hampstead’s swarthy moor they started for the north;
And on, and on, without a pause, untired they bounded still:
All night from tower to tower they sprang; they sprang from hill to hill:

Till the proud Peak unfurled the flag o’er Darwin’s rocky dales
Till like volcanoes flared to heaven the stormy hills of Wales,
Till twelve fair counties saw the blaze on Malvern’s lonely height,
Till streamed in crimson on the wind the Wrekin’s crest of light,

Till broad and fierce the star came forth on Ely’s stately fane,
And tower and hamlet rose in arms o’er all the boundless plain;
Till Belvoir’s lordly terraces the sign to Lincoln sent,
And Lincoln sped the message on o’er the wide vale of Trent;

Till Skiddaw saw the fire that burned on Gaunt’s embattled pile,
And the red glare on Skiddaw roused the burghers of Carlisle.’…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"The King met with some Episcopalians and (pesky) Presbyterians."

To be clear, the Presbyterians, who regarded Jesus Christ as the head of the Church, were being asked to conform to the Book of Common Prayer and to submit to the authority of bishops of the Church of England ("Episcopalians" if you will, Bill) with the King at its head.

At stake here is church order identified by the very names "Presbyterian" (governed by Elders) and "Episcopalians" (governed by Bishops) and the very heart of religion (whose are we?).

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Many of the 404 links above predate the Wikipedia.

The Barb or Berber horse (Berber: Ayis Amaziɣ, ⴰⵢⵢⵙ ⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⴳ; Arabic: حصان بربري‎) is a North African breed of riding horse with great hardiness and stamina. It is closely associated with the Berber or Amazigh peoples of the Maghreb. It has influenced a number of modern breeds, including many in northern and western Africa.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

25th October 1660. Promises Unrealised.

Today in 1660 saw the Worcester House Declaration which was an attempt to reconcile Episcopalians and Presbyterians to the Church of England.

Charles before returning home had with his Declaration of Breda (Netherlands) promised ‘liberty to tender conscience’, which had been confirmed at the Worcester House Declaration.…

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"In the evening to Westminster about business."

"Sam's working hours seem, to say the least, irregular."

Perhaps the title Pepys holds have gives people the wrong impression. "Clerk" and "Secretary" were crucial positions of authority and trust. Yes, he implements his "betters" orders, and he works when they want him to work.

If you were a cook or a maid or a coachdriver, same rules held.

It was the advent of the Trades Unions 100 years ago that bought us -- at great personal cost and much physical pain and danger -- the concept of a weekend, and some standardization of working hours. Technology at first improved the working person's life -- but now smart phones have many people back to working 24/7. Can the Unions rescue us again? Only if we turn the phones off.

As noted above, today Charles II has been discussing, composing and issuing his Declaration on the Worcester House Conference which was held yesterday -- and by now I trust James has been persuaded to come out of hiding and visit Anne Hyde and meet his daughter.
Therefore, reading the mail and discussing and ordering responses in the late afternoon would result in Pepys being summonsed for instructions in the evening.

Charles' clerks would work all evening to get as much of the important information to the post office in order to catch the mail -- or get their confidential messengers on the road as we saw when Montagu and Pepys were anchored off Deal for months.

Charles is still trying to behave Kingly and bring about reconciliation where he can.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Beacon Hill is an area in most old towns in Britain. It's usually the highest hill in the neighborhood.

Pepys never tells us about their emergency warning system, but I found a book which mentioned it -- basically it says Cromwell kept the system in good condition, but Charles II, James II, William III and Anne let it decay. George I revived it. So during Diary times I think we can guess that it was still reasonable useable.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... I trust James has been persuaded to come out of hiding and visit Anne Hyde and meet his daughter."

MY ERROR -- the baby was a son -- another reason for James to fess up. The little fellow is now 3rd in line if dad honorably reveals his marriages and accepts paternity. Or will Charles have to "out" him?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Working hours for Everyman:

"Seven of the Clocke"
From Nicholas Breton's Fantasticks, 1626:

"It is now the seuenth houre, and Time begins to set the world hard to worke: The Milke-maides in their Dayry to their Butter and their Cheese, the Ploughmen to their Ploughes and their Harrowes in the field: the Schollers to their Lessons, the Lawyers to their Cases, the Merchants to their accounts, the Shop-men to What lacke you? and euery Trade to his businesse: Oh tis a world to see how life leapes about the lims of the healthfull: none but findes something to doe: the Wise, to study, the strong, to labour: the Fantasticke, to make loue: the Poet, to make Uerses: the Player, to conne his part: and the Musitian to try his note: euery one in his qualitiee and according to his condition, sets himself to some exercise, either of the body, or the minde: And therefore since it is a time of much labour, and great vse, I will thus briefly conclude of it: I hold it the enemy of Idlenesse, and imployer of Industry.


How seriously do we take this? The Diary and other sources make me think some people's work was dictated by daylight and weather, and in England in mid-winter I doubt they would be ploughing at 7 a.m., for instance. Maybe they were feeding the chickens or sharpening the ploughshears?

At the Navy Board, where they used candles and firelight in winter, I can imagine Mr. Hewer sharpening his quills, making ink, filing yesterday's correspondence in boxes, and sorting the incoming mail, getting ready for today's challenges at 7 a.m..

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