Monday 14 January 1660/61

The arms being come this morning from the Tower, we caused them to be distributed. I spent much time walking with Lieutenant Lambert, walking up and down the yards, who did give me much light into things there, and so went along with me and dined with us. After dinner Mrs. Pett, her husband being gone this morning with Sir W. Batten to Chatham, lent us her coach, and carried us to Woolwich, where we did also dispose of the arms there and settle the guards. So to Mr. Pett’s, the shipwright, and there supped, where he did treat us very handsomely (and strange it is to see what neat houses all the officers of the King’s yards have), his wife a proper woman, and has been handsome, and yet has a very pretty hand.

Thence I with Mr. Ackworth to his house, where he has a very pretty house, and a very proper lovely woman to his wife, who both sat with me in my chamber, and they being gone, I went to bed, which was also most neat and fine.

47 Annotations

First Reading

Glyn  •  Link

Lieutenant Lambert

Note how Pepys is again taking the opportunity to get information about the workings of the navy from the minor people who actually know what's going on, and invites him to dinner, presumably to learn more. I imagine a mere lieutenant would be a little over-awed to be dining with people of the stature of Pett and Batten.

By the way, at this time Pepys and his contemporaries would have pronounced "lieutenant" the North American and French way (lootenant); the modern English pronunciation (leftenant) is a later development.

Judy Bailey  •  Link

Pepys is admiring the housekeeping and "neat" appearance of the houses of these officers, describing Mr. Pett's wife as "proper," by which I assume he means "excellent" as well as "genteel."

This is apparently quite eye-opening for him compared to his wife's housekeeping habits and slovenliness that he has previously commented on, in spite of her now having two maids.

Emilio  •  Link

"did give me much light into things there"

No doubt Lt. Lambert was filling him in first and foremost about the power of the Pett family in the dockyards. Sam's paints a good picture of his wonder at the situation he finds there with the sheer number of times he returns to the words "neat" and "pretty". Here's what Tomalin has to say about the Petts: "Another commissioner, Peter Pett, the master-shipwright at Chatham, had nothing of the cavalier about him and had served Cromwell zealously; but no change of government could unseat him, because the Pett family had a virtual monopoly of shipbuilding in the Thames yards" (132).

Today we start to see how he keeps such enviable job security:

Peter Pett ? Master-shipwright at Chatham and commissioner
Christopher ? his son, master-shipwright of both Deptford and Woolwich
Elizabeth ? his daughter and wife to William Ackworth, storekeeper at Woolwich since 1637

Any pies that Peter didn't have his finger in must have been not worth the effort. Sam certainly has a good eye for fine houses, and it must have been like walking in heaven to be in such affluent surroundings.

Glyn  •  Link

Vincent has found a link to an excellent portrait of Peter Petts which has a very interesting depiction of one of the ships that he built in the background. Note the flag that the ship is flying: Cross of St George in the corner on a red background - this is the "Red Duster" which is the flag of the British Merchant Navy. I hadn't realized that it was that old.

By the way, I see Pett and Batten weren't at the dinner, so the lieutenant wouldn't have been as overawed as I had assumed.

Emilio  •  Link

More Petts

I misread the family relationships in L&M; Christopher is Peter's youngest brother and Elizabeth is a sister.

The L&M Companion also lists these other members of the Pett dynasty:

Commissioner Phineas Pett (1570-1647) - Peter was his fifth son

Phineas Pett (1628-?78) - Master-shipwright of Woolwich from 1675

Capt. Phineas Pett (1635-94) - Eventually master-shipwright of both Deptford and Chatham, Navy Commissioner Chatham 1686-8, knighted 1680

And how those houses got so neat and proper (L&M footnote): "It was often remarked that the officer of the yards used the King's workmen and materials to embellish their houses: e.g. John Hollond, Discourses". This seems a much more acceptable form of graft than the modern practice of robbing pension funds.

dirk  •  Link


It's not exactly clear (to me at least) who the "we" in this entry is referring to. - Even after checking yesterday's diary entry. ???

vincent  •  Link

maybe they are [we]"... Colonel Slingsby and a friend of his, Major Waters ..." who were sent to "...
choosing four captains to command the guards, and choosing the places where to keep them, ..." 12th, two days past.

Pauline  •  Link

"The arms being come this morning ..."
This throws some light on the arming of the men for last night's disturbance:
"we armed with every one a handspike, with which they were as fierce as could be." Making up the gap in arms by looking as fierce as possible or being made as fierce as possible with what was available.

David Duff  •  Link

The word "proper", meaning excellent, first-rate, very good, seems to have come back into popular speech recently, as in:
"That's a proper job"
"He's a proper man"
David Duff

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link


Yes, the word would have been pronounced 'lootenant' in Pepys' day, and is now pronounced, in Britain, as 'leftenant'. The only exception I know of is the Royal Navy whose pronunciation is halfway between the two. Typical. Without resorting to phonetic symbols the RN pronunciation is 'letenant'. For those who like minutiae put a 'schwa' in place of the first 'e' and you have it.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

North American and French way: 'lootenant'

The largest country in North America pronounces it 'leftenant'.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

Lootenant,lieutenant:that's because for you people Loo is WC so lootenant would mean guardian of the loo,that's the why of leftenant. I think...

PHE  •  Link

Military titles
The L&M text commonly spells 'colonel' as 'collonell', indicating it was pronounced the French way (col-on-ell), rather than the current English way (curnal). This suggests the pronuncuation of lieutenant may have been more French (lieur-tennon) rather than (US) American (loo-tenant). Just a thought.

J A Gioia  •  Link

I spent much time walking with Lieutenant Lambert...

more than just polling the enlisted men; lambert and sam go back a ways and in light of today's entry the lute-n-nant appears to be part of sam's own network in the navy.

back on 11 april pepys showed lambert how he kept his diary, presumably revealing his coded short hand. is it far-fetched to think sam is getting coded reports from others he trusts in the navy?

Mary  •  Link

Tongue in cheek?

The fact that lieutenants in England are called 'leftenants' and not 'lootenants' has nothing whatsoever to do with the use of 'loo' for lavatory, wc or what you will. The present pronunciation has been common since the 16th Century at least and appears to have arisen from substitution of the letter and sound V (subsequently unvoiced as F) for the U of the French term.

See Campbell's 'English Pronunciation 1500 - 1700.'

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

One can get a more or less contemporary view of a situation that is comparable to the neatness of the shipyard houses so admired by Pepys by visiting generals' row on Grant Avenue at Ft. Myer, Va. Housing is one of the benefits provided by the U.S. government to its highest ranking military officers, and the army always has manpower to spare to keep the housing in fine shape.

Nix  •  Link

"a very pretty house" --

It will be interesting to see if Samuel makes an issue of this with Elizabeth when he returns to London.

Regarding Emilio's comment on the use of shipyard workers, isn't that still one of the most common forms of petty graft? City maintenance workers build a new patio for the alderman, then when one of them later gets fired, he runs to the local paper and triggers a front page expose and a seven-day tempest.

roberto  •  Link

Pepys and handsome women

Yesterday he was observing "handsome women" at church and today he is observing "handsome women" at the shipwrights and docks. He never seems to miss the handsome women even in times of strife and trouble.

Nix  •  Link

"He never seems to miss the handsome women even in times of strife and trouble" --

Me neither. ESPECIALLY in times of strife and trouble.

vincent  •  Link

"pips or bars or epaulettes" saxons had a propensity to reduce all sounds by at least one syllable or to one syllable {that which holds together} [Lt.] as you are safe to say lootnent or ...[if is moving, Salute]as long as you do not say mate, except in the navy at the appropiate times {at a later date} our friend Lieutenant Lambert [first mate or maybe he had his own command]

A. De Araujo  •  Link

Thanks Cap'n Mary and Cap'n Vincent

Pedro.  •  Link

"He never seems to miss the handsome women even in times of strife and trouble" -

And sometimes he even misses his “Trouble and Stife!”

E  •  Link

"Red duster" -- I have been unable to find a good online source for some history on this. Basically, from Pepys' time until Nelson's and beyond, the Royal Navy ships were divided into three squadrons, red, white and blue. The flag of the "squadron of the white" or "white squadron" became the naval ensign in use today. The flag of the red squadron was officially allocated to the Merchant Navy in the late 1800s, though I think they had been flying it long before that -- possibly in a way related to the rules under which some merchant ships still fly the blue ensign (which is otherwise now non-naval government service).

And yes, the name "red duster" does seem to mean "red cleaning rag" -- but appears to be much more modern than Pepys.

vincent  •  Link

more on red duster: Navy, "...created as a result of the reorganisation of the navy in 1652 ? by Admiral Robert Blake. Each squadron flew one of the three ensigns.

Prior to 1864, red, white and blue were the colours of the three squadrons of the Royal Navy, which were created as a result of the reorganisation of the navy in 1652 ? by Admiral Robert Blake. Each squadron flew one of the three ensigns.
The red squadron tended to patrol the Caribbean and north Atlantic, the white the coasts of Britain, France and the Mediterranean, while the blue patrolled the south Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans..."…

E  •  Link

Wow, the things one learns through this site! Thanks Vincent for the link about ensigns, I should have thought of looking in the Wikipedia.

It says that flags of British colonies were influenced by those of the squadrons which normally patrolled there, so that Australia and New Zealand both have modified blue ensigns, while Bermuda and the American colony went for red, still to be seen in the stripes of the Stars and Stripes. So our US readers have a flag that is a descendant of the flag visible in the portrait of Peter Pett!

Alex Workman  •  Link

It is also perhaps worth noting that the three Royal Navy Squadrons, and thus their Admirals, had a hidden seniority within. The order of seniority was changed in 1653 from red, blue and white to red, white and blue (which it still is). My understanding is that Admirals were initally appointed Rear Admiral of the Blue and could gain 'promotion' within the rank as well as beyond.

Laura K  •  Link

"back on 11 april pepys showed lambert how he kept his diary, presumably revealing his coded short hand."

As I recall, there was some question and debate about that. We don't know that he showed Lambert the diary. Many people believed SP showed Lambert business-related books - that is, ledgers, record keeping.

Laura K  •  Link

"neat" houses

Does anyone know if the meaning of the word "neat" in Pepys' time was that of our own - tidy, opposite of sloppy?

There's an assumption that when Sam admires these homes he is taking a swipe at Elizabeth's supposedly slovenly housekeeping. (Which many annotators think they know very well, though I don't see how.)

I'm wondering if Sam might have been commenting on something other than tidyness when he called the homes "neat".

Carolina  •  Link


Neat is also a word to describe something cleverly designed.
Thinking of an example, I am sure you can !

language hat  •  Link

At this time primarily (in this context) 'simple and elegant,' the OED's definition 7:

7 Characterized by elegance of form or arrangement, with freedom from all unnecessary additions or embellishments; of agreeable but simple appearance; nicely made or proportioned.In early use the handsomeness of the thing appears to be the more prominent idea.

a of towns, buildings, etc.
1549-62 Sternhold & H. Ps. cxxii. 3 O thou Jerusalem full faire;..much like a Citie neat. 1601 B. Jonson Poetaster iii. i, Here's a most neate fine street, is't not? 1630 M. Godwyn tr. Bp. Hereford's Ann. Eng. (1675) 65 Hampton Court, the neatest pile of all the King's houses. A. 1661 Fuller Worthies (1840) I. 112 Many neat houses and pleasant seats there be in this county. 1717 Berkeley Jrnl. Tour Italy Wks. 1871 IV. 522 The gardens are neat, spacious, and kept in good order. 1773 Johnson Let. to Mrs. Thrale 25 Aug., We lay at Montrose, a neat place. 1806 Gazetteer Scotl. 302/1 A neat and commodious mansion-house. 1865 Dickens Mut. Fr. i. xv, It was made neater by there really being two halls in the house.

Laura K  •  Link


Many thanks, LH. I was hoping you'd enlighten me.

Chances are, then, that Sam was not making a swipe at Elizabeth's housekeeping, merely admiring the simple elegance of the architecture.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: SP and Lambert

Laura, you're correct to say that we discussed this issue before and that no one really knows for sure whether or not Sam showed Lambert his diary (see… for more info), but FWIW, Tomalin thinks Lambert was one of two people to whom Sam revealed at least the existence (if not physical proof) of his diary. (Coventry was the other.)

Stewart Cavalier  •  Link

Pronunciation of lieutenant in French : the origin of the word is lieu tenant e.g. holder of the position. For example lieutenant general ; someone who does the job of a general. It is pronouned : lyieutenant. Not at all as in British English

languagehat  •  Link

Not at all as in any form of English, to which the French pronunciation is irrelevant.

Second Reading

Edith Lank  •  Link

What strikes me is the way everything is delightful all day long.

Louise  •  Link

Judy Bailey wrote:

"This is apparently quite eye-opening for him compared to his wife's housekeeping habits and slovenliness that he has previously commented on, in spite of her now having two maids."

Of course, Pepys, being a proper English gentleman, would nevert think to lift a finger himself. Wives were in charge of keeping the house neat and clean. Men were apparently incapable of being slovenly--that took a woman.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Why should Pepys lift a finger himself? Suppose he were single? He wouldn't be managing his own house, he'd be employing a housekeeper. He is the sole source of income, and works a considerable number of hours to bring home the bacon. By the standards of most women of HER time, (and these are really the only valid standards to judge by), Elizabeth has an enviable lifestyle - and what else has she got to do?

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Lieutenant Lambert was not just a "junior officer" but would have been second in command of his ship and would assume command in the absence, incapacitation, or death of the Captain.

Apparently he was Mountagu's Lieutenant, or chief assistant, at one point and so could speak for Mountagu.

I think that the British Navy didn't have many of ranks for officers at this time - at least up to and including the skipper.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"his wife a proper woman, and has been handsome, and yet has a very pretty hand."

SPOILER: Pepys is especially observant of women's hands and sees them as revelatory of character.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Thence I with Mr. Ackworth to his house, where he has a very pretty house, and a very proper lovely woman to his wife"

The wife of William Ackworth, Storekeeper at Woolwich, was a sister of Christopher Pett. (L&M)

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

'Pepys is admiring the housekeeping and "neat" appearance of the houses of these officers'

"Get this hell hole cleaned up, woman -- the boss is coming to visit this afternoon. I don't need those toffs in Seething Lane thinking I don't have standards. You should see their lodgings! They wouldn't tolerate your mess for a minute."

LKvM  •  Link

Pepys admired "the houses so neat" when he was in Holland, too.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Vincent's link to the history of The Red Duster is long gone.


"The Red Ensign or "Red Duster" is the civil ensign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is one of the British ensigns, and it is used either plain or defaced with either a badge or a charge, mostly in the right half.

"It is the flag flown by British merchant or passenger ships since 1707. Prior to 1707, an English red ensign and a Scottish red ensign were flown by the English Royal Navy and the Royal Scots Navy, respectively. The precise date of the first appearance of these earlier red ensigns is not known, but surviving payment receipts indicate that the English navy was paying to have such flags sewn in the 1620s.

England (pre-1707)

"Small vexillological symbol or pictogram in black and white showing the different uses of the flagThe English Red Ensign as it appeared in the 17th century
"Prior to the reorganisation of the Royal Navy in 1864, the plain red ensign had been the ensign of one of three squadrons of the Royal Navy, the Red Squadron, as early as 1558.
By 1620, the plain red ensign started to appear with the Cross of St George in the upper-left canton.

"The Colony of Massachusetts used the red ensign from its founding; after a sermon by Roger Williams in 1636, equating crosses with the papacy, Governor Endicott ordered the St. George cross removed from the flag. The Great and General Court of the colony found that Endicott had "exceeded the lymits of his calling", and yet left the flag without its cross for a number of decades afterward.

"In 1674, a Royal Proclamation of King Charles II (1630–1685, reigned 1660–1685) confirmed that the Red Ensign was the appropriate flag to be worn by English merchant ships. The wording of the 1674 proclamation indicates that the flag was customarily being used by English merchantmen before that date. At this time, the ensign displayed the Cross of St. George in the canton. This changed in 1864, when an order in council provided that the Red Ensign was allocated to merchantmen. ..."

Christoph  •  Link

Another link to the Pett dynasty (following Glynn & Emilio’s excellent posts) is Pett’s Wood, now a small town in Kent, south east England and less than 10 miles from the Thames. Wikipedia notes
‘The name appeared first in 1577 as "the wood of the Pett family", who were shipbuilders and leased the wood as a source of timber. (A pub, The Sovereign of the Seas, is named after a ship built at Woolwich to a design by Phineas Pett.’

RM  •  Link

I used to live a few miles from Petts Wood, which is now the name of a mostly 1930s suburb (with lots of picturesque Voysey-influenced Tudor-bethan stockbroker homes), and the nearby wood itself is a small remnant of the eastern edge of the Great North Wood that once covered much of hilly southeast London. Land there owned by the Pett family was leased out to woodsmen who did the actual work coppicing the trees, etc, so as well as shipbuilding and associated profiteering, the family would have had a regular rentier income as landowners. Perhaps they also had vested interests in the supplying of timber to the Navy dockyards.

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