Friday 23 November 1660

This morning standing looking upon the workmen doing of my new door to my house, there comes Captain Straughan the Scot (to whom the King has given half of the money that the two ships lately sold do bring), and he would needs take me to the Dolphin, and give me a glass of ale and a peck of oysters, he and I. He did talk much what he is able to advise the King for good husbandry in his ships, as by ballasting them with lead ore and many other tricks, but I do believe that he is a knowing man in sea-business. Home and dined, and in the afternoon to the office, where till late, and that being done Mr. Creed did come to speak with me, and I took him to the Dolphin, where there was Mr. Pierce the purser and his wife and some friends of theirs. So I did spend a crown upon them behind the bar, they being akin to the people of the house, and this being the house where Mr. Pierce was apprentice.

After they were gone Mr. Creed and I spent an hour in looking over the account which he do intend to pass in our office for his lending moneys, which I did advise about and approve or disapprove of as I saw cause.

After an hour being, serious at this we parted about 11 o’clock at night. So I home and to bed, leaving my wife and the maid at their linen to get up.

19 Annotations

First Reading

vincent  •  Link

Another use for "lead " besides sealing the roof against the elements.
"...He did talk much what he is able to advise the King for good husbandry in his ships, as by ballasting them with lead ore and many other tricks, but I do believe that he is a knowing man in sea-business..."
on Monday 19 November 1660 he did write"...I went thither, and there dined with him and some of the Trinity House men who had obtained something to-day at the House of Lords concerning the Ballast Office..."
now we are informed.

Judy  •  Link

I assume by "lead ore" he meant the rough mineral before it was smeltered. Where would they have obtained this ore and why are they using it as ballast in this rough state?

Since rocks were often used as ballast in ships, is it more likely that he is referring to large chunks of lead ore, as opposed to the powdered version I am thinking of?

Or is my assumption of this material being what we think of as "ore" incorrect and he is talking about the smeltered metal?

Mary  •  Link their linen to get up...

This looks like the conclusion of four days' work at the laundry. The washing was done on Tuesday and now, on Friday night when all is finally dry (remember that the weather has been dirty) they are smoothing and arranging it; getting it up in the sense of getting it ready and putting it away.

Xjy  •  Link

A crown behind the bar

What does this involve? What could you get for five shillings then? - must have been quite a party. And why behind the bar? Did they take the place over?

Ernst Dinkla  •  Link


One would use the heaviest material available but at an acceptable price. Uranium oxide wasn't known at that time but would have fit the purpose even better. Main reason to use a heavy material is that it can be placed deep at the bottom of the hull near the keel with the centre of its mass giving the best leverage to the pivot at sea level. The same at the sides of the hull. Any other material would have taken more space, weight and/or have less leverage and by that increasing the chance of a disaster. Lead ore can contain up to 75% lead and even some uranium. Mercury or lead in its pure form was expensive and the first isn't very practical for ballast purposes:-) Having a guard next to any pile of lead in the hull and at land isn't handy. Lead ore was probably used in rock form. The recovery of lead ore from wrecks suggests that it isn't a cheap material either. Origin at that time: Cornwall and Northern Spain. Not a really healthy material to have aboard but lead poisoning occured more directly with the consumption of ale.

Mary  •  Link

'behind the bar'

Perhaps this means that Pepys had set up a 5 shilling 'slate' for the Pierces with the landlord. i.e establishing a 5/- credit for them. If this was an inn in which Pierce was well-known, Sam might have felt able to do this in fair certainty that they would be given decent measure for the money.

Sam Dodsworth  •  Link

'behind the bar'

In modern British usage, this would be payment in advance rather than a line of credit - money given to the barman to cover the cost of whatever your guests might order. More often done with a credit card these days but still common when, for example, the boss is taking his employees out for a drink.

Nix  •  Link

Lead ore --

I'm assuming it would be in rock form rather than powdered (which occurs after the ore has been processed through a mill).

Another reason for wanting the densest possible ballast is to assure greater space for payload.

dirk  •  Link

Lead poisoning

Two cute links on lead poisoning:
1. Very, very detailed and scientific:…
2. Good basics:…

From the second site I quote - in case you would feel like eating lead (capitals are mine):

"There is no risk at all in handling lead metal. It cannot be absorbed through the skin or the respiratory tract. Dilute hydrochloric acid has little effect on it, so the lead would pass through the stomach before any damage was done. EATING LEAD is probably safe, but not encouraged. Carbonated water dissolves lead to some degree. Food and drink should never touch lead, since organic acids, such as acetic acid, may dissolve lead. Lead is, on the whole, very much less a hazard than mercury. It was made dangerous by its widespread use in paint and motor fuel, and that is now past."

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Lead poisoning: Still a danger

I read once that lead used in soldering water pipes (up until the 1960s or 1970s, I think) may still pose a certain hazard in drinking water. And the latest source of lead poisoning, brought to you by the New York Times (21 Nov):

"The salty fried grasshoppers known as chapulines generally disappear quickly from the shelves of bodegas across the region. But New Jersey health officials issued an advisory this week saying that the grasshopper treats, from Mexico, might have dangerously high levels of lead."

(NYT news articles are free for one week. Nothing in the article about HOW lead got into the grasshoppers, but a hint that it might have come from fertilizer.)…

Firenze  •  Link

I can confirm that even in the 1980s, Edinburgh Council were giving grants to householders in the many 19th Century 'stairs' (tenements) to replace lead plumbing.

'Get up' was still a common usage into the 2nd half of the 19th C - remember Flora Finching's (Little Dorrit) memorable comment on the garb of classical statuary 'either quantities of linen very badly got up, or nothing at all'

Laura K  •  Link

lead poisoning

Children in low-income neighborhoods of New York and other US cities still get lead poisoning. It causes mental deficiencies, often severe and debilitating, and can lead to death. The primary means of poisoning is through ingestion of bits of lead-based paint from peeling walls.

Through citizen pressure, use of lead-based paint in residences is now illegal, and landlords are required to have crumbling walls scraped and repainted. But of course, enforcement is imperfect at best. Hence new cases of lead poisoning appear annually, a full 25 years after it could have been completely eliminated.

vincent  •  Link

Lead in ones gin and tonic? for those that love their drinks in Waterford or those that still love their beer in pewter? so which comes first addled mind or sclerosis of the liver?

Grahamt  •  Link

The lead in lead crystal is very strongly bound, so is unlikely to cause problems. The glass would become pitted/hazy if the lead actually dissolved out of it. Pewter is a different matter, but as long as you only drink beer and not something acidic like fruit juice or wine, there should be no lead leached out.
In hard water areas, like the south east of England, lead pipes quickly become coated with calcium carbonate, which prevents the lead from touching the water.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

lead crystal -- bad for storing food or drink

This is a long drift away from Pepys, but a healthy topic: All sorts of authorities recommend that you don't do it. Just look down this Google search page for "lead crystal"/"lead poisoning":…

To answer Vincent's question, addled head comes first if you store your hooch in lead crystal and sip slowly, liver goes first if you only bring out the crystal for company. This website recommends (in passing) that you don't sip from lead crystal every day:…

Salute, Vincenzo!

Second Reading

Edith Lank  •  Link

In the US, landlords and sellers of properties built before 1978 must give potential tenants and buyers written alert about the possiblity of lead paint on the premises.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"there comes Captain Straughan the Scot (to whom the King has given half of the money that the two ships lately sold do bring), "

L&M: Cf.… The other half was to go towards the building of the two royal yachts. Capt. John Strauchan ("Honest Strachan") had been navy agent at Leith since before the Civil War.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Wheatley / Gutenberg text was edited

L&M: "After they were gone, Mr. Creed and I spent an hour in looking over the account which he doth intend to pass in our office for his Contingencys."

Wheatley furnished "lending moneys".

John Creed had been Deputy-Treasurer to Sandwich's fleet in the spring of 1660. Contingency money was a fund for casual expenditure.

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