Thursday 7 February 1660/61

With Sir W. Batten and Pen to Whitehall to Mr. Coventry’s chamber, to debate upon the business we were upon the other day morning, and thence to Westminster Hall. And after a walk to my Lord’s; where, while I and my Lady were in her chamber in talk, in comes my Lord from sea, to our great wonder. He had dined at Havre de Grace on Monday last, and came to the Downs the next day, and lay at Canterbury that night; and so to Dartford, and thence this morning to White Hall. All my friends his servants well. Among others, Mr. Creed and Captain Ferrers tell me the stories of my Lord Duke of Buckingham’s and my Lord’s falling out at Havre de Grace, at cards; they two and my Lord St. Alban’s playing.

The Duke did, to my Lord’s dishonour, often say that he did in his conscience know the contrary to what he then said, about the difference at cards; and so did take up the money that he should have lost to my Lord. Which my Lord resenting, said nothing then, but that he doubted not but there were ways enough to get his money of him. So they parted that night; and my Lord sent for Sir R. Stayner and sent him the next morning to the Duke, to know whether he did remember what he said last night, and whether he would own it with his sword and a second; which he said he would, and so both sides agreed. But my Lord St. Alban’s, and the Queen and Ambassador Montagu, did waylay them at their lodgings till the difference was made up, to my Lord’s honour; who hath got great reputation thereby.

I dined with my Lord, and then with Mr. Shepley and Creed (who talked very high of France for a fine country) to the tavern, and then I home. To the office, where the two Sir Williams had staid for me, and then we drew up a letter to the Commissioners of Parliament again, and so to Sir W. Batten, where I staid late in talk, and so home, and after writing the letter fair then I went to bed.

43 Annotations

First Reading

dirk  •  Link

"All my friends his servants well."

It seems to me something was left out here. Maybe someone with the L&M can clarify?

Judith Boles  •  Link

"All my friends his servants well." I read this to say, "All of my friends, My Lord's servants also, are well." I assume he refers to Mr.Creed and Captain Ferrers...two that had been traveling with Sandwich.

Emilio  •  Link

"All my friends his servants well"

That's exactly the text in L&M too, barring a couple of editorial commas they throw in. I agree w/ Judith that he asked about his friends at sea, who he hasn't seen for a number of months at this point. He probably asked more about Capt. Cuttance and the rest than Creed and Ferrers, since they are actually present.

The one significant difference in the text for today is that L&M have "Abbot Mountagu" rather than "Ambassador", which is undoubtedly the correct reading; it refers to My Lord's cousin Walter, convert to Catholicism and Abbot of St Martin in France.

Emilio  •  Link

"we drew up a letter to the Commissioners of Parliament again"

I can't help but hear a note of frustration as Sam writes that 'again', and a surviving copy of the letter (summarized by L&M) bears this idea out. The commissioners are still trying to exceed their authority, perhaps all the more so after Jessop was so coldly received yesterday. Sam and co. even argue that they're upping the ante and "making demands of naval officers which could properly be addressed only by the King to the Admiral himself".

roberto  •  Link

The Dispute/Preempted Duel

Let me see if I have this right.

Sandwich and the Duke of Buckingham are playing cards for money. The Duke of Buckingham cheats or at least reneges on a bet and retires from the game. The next day, Sandwich challenges him to a duel (with swords and seconds). The Queen and others hear about the challenge and talk them out of it. Anybody have other versions?

vincent  •  Link

Le Havre: The city was founded in 1517, when it was named Le Havre-de-Grâce
Le Havre is a city in Normandy, northern France, on the English Channel at the mouth of the Seine. Population: 200,000. It was the port-of-call for French ocean liners making the Transatlantic crossing (cf Cruise ship).…
French def. art.needed to get to France otherwise yer end up in MD.

Mary House  •  Link

Roberto, I read this episode as you do. The Duke has refused to pay Montagu what he is owed and in so doing has dishonored him.

Susan  •  Link

The Duke of Buckingham is an old established peer compared with the Earl of Sandwich (created as a Thank You by Charles in 1660 when Montagu delivered the Navy over to Charles). Buckingham was trying, as I read it, to put Montagu down, but the Earl would have none of this and insisted on being treated as an equal to the Duke and not someone to whom 'debts of honour' - gambling debts - could be ignored. Pepys approved of his patron standing up for his rights and maintaining his position in the hierarchy (as this was good for Pepys). He doesn't seem to mind gambling per se, though far too careful with his money to indulge himself and he is disturbed, later, by the amount of money the Earl started to lose at cards. All these mighty folk get upset by honour being impugned by not paying gambling debts, but honour to wives etc seems to be held in low regard.

Joe  •  Link

Goodness! If that duel had gone ahead, what I'm eating now might not be called a Sandwich!

mary  •  Link

.. all my friends his servants..

I have no problem with the phrase as given. 'Servants' here are not domestics, skivvies, minor 'gofers' but all those who have been serving Sandwich whilst he was on escort duty to France, whether as part of the accompanying entourage or as part of the naval establishment.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Le Havre" where minor criminals were taken to be transported to the New World,cf Abbé Prevost’s Manon Lescau,also Massenet and Puccini;incidently when he refers to Louisiana as a desert he meant a place with very few inhabitants.
Manon Lescau dies there”sola perduta,abandonata”

David A. Smith  •  Link

"whether he would own it with his sword and a second"
Following the thread, it's not just that Sandwich held his ground as a nouveau-riche nobleman, he also made the challenge and stood it. Buckingham, his arrogant bluff called, then (I infer) got his influential friends to talk Sandwich down. So the Duke is revealed as a cheat, a deadbeat, a social bully, and a coward -- and Sandwich the converse of all those things. No wonder Sandwich "hath got great reputation thereby."
What stuff! When will someone make all this into a mini-series?

mary  •  Link

Buckingham the blusterer.

See Background for Dryden's view of him.

helena murphy  •  Link

It is indeed the Villiers family which has recently been ennobled. George Villiers who won the heart of King James I at a country house in Northamptonshire ,was the second son of an impoverished country squire.Stunningly handsome, a skilled fencer,rider and dancer ,he rose rapidly at the Jacobean Court to become the King's favourite. He was dubbed a knight,later a baron and an earl, before being raised to a marquisate and around 1624 a dukedom ,which would be within living memory of many in 1661.Therefore Sandwich comes from a more aristocratic bacground.The first Duke was James'First Minister but a disaster in the field of foreign affairs.He was assassinated in 1628. The Duke of today's entry was kept at court by Charles II simply to keep an eye on him as he was a man who could not be trusted. Lest we be bowled over by aristocratic titles it should be borne in mind that many grand old families in England do not possess any title of nobility at all.In literature both Darcy and Rochester with their great estates are simply referred to as mister. Undoubtedly Sandwich despite his own infidelities would defend the honour of his wife were it even slightly tainted, as gentlemen did so then,a practice still alive in parts of the Middle East and in Latin America today.

Lawrence  •  Link

"whether he would own it with his sword and a second" Whats a second?

Glynn  •  Link

A second is your supporter\witness at a duel. Especially when tempers have got so high that the gentlemen fighting the duel might not wish to discuss matters their seconds would handle negotiations and arrangements, inspect weapons for fairness and deal with the aftermath.

Lawrence  •  Link

Was dueling legal then? (1661) I mean, so long as you had present with you a second/witness? and also when was it made illegal in this Country and also when did it become illegal in other Countries?

dirk  •  Link


As far as I can find (second hand source) duelling was banned in UK in 1828. Can anyone confirm this from a reliable source?

Actually the function of the "second" (or "secondant") was:

1. see to the practical arrangements;

2. be present as a witness;

3. see to it that the "rules of honour" were followed during the duel - and that it didn't run out of hand (honour would require "drawing blood", but not finishing off the other party, which might happen "in hot blood" if there was nobody present to keep the fighters under control);

4. in some cases the "second(s)" is (are) known to have fought together with the duelling parties, or in stead of, or to have contined the fight when a party was down. (But that was not the rule.)

dirk  •  Link

more on the end of duelling

"In 1840 one Captain Harvey Tuckett had insulted Lord Cardigan by publishing a letter which attacked him in the strongest terms (...). At 5 p.m. on September 12 they met at the windmill on Wimbledon Common. Shots were exchanged and Tuckett was wounded. The miller (a civilian), arrested all those involved and took them to Wandsworth police station, where they were charged to appear at the Old Bailey on October 20th. Here a grand jury found the Earl of Cardigan and his second fit to be charged with intent to murder, maim, and cause bodily harm to Captain Tuckett. The Earl, as a Peer of the Realm, was to appear before the House of Lords on February 16 1841.

Duelling had been illegal under Lord Lansdowne's Act since 1828, carrying the death penalty; in 1837 this was modified to apply only if injury or death resulted, otherwise the penalty was three years' hard labour or transportation for fifteen years.

The Earl of Cardigan was acquitted on a technicality by a unanimous vote of his peers - the prosecution failed to show that the victim named in the charge and the man found wounded on Wimbledon Common were one and the same person."

General public indignation with this much publicised case led to the effective end of all judicial tolerance in the matter of duelling. After this all duellers were prosecuted.


Jim Rain  •  Link

From the National Portrait Gallery's website (where you can see Buckingham's picture): "George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham (1628-1687), Statesman and dramatist. The son of James I's favourite, Buckingham fought for the royalist side during the Civil War and was exiled, but he later returned to England and married the daughter of the parliamentarian General Fairfax, in the hope of regaining his lands. At the Restoration he was favoured by Charles II, helped to engineer the downfall of Clarendon and became a member of the Cabal. Famous for his intrigues and immorality, he seduced the Countess of Shrewsbury and killed her husband in a duel in 1668. Described as 'one of the worst men alive', he was eventually dismissed from office in 1674. He wrote a number of witty satirical comedies."…

The story goes that the Countess of Shrewsbury held her lover's horse while Buckingham killed Shrewsbury in the duel.

Nix  •  Link

Did Buckingham cheat?

Or did he accuse Sandwich of cheating? The latter is how I read the entry.


One other function of the second was to attend to any injuries suffered by the duelist.

Lawrence  •  Link

Thanks for the info Dirk and Glyn, that link Dirk was very interesting and I ended up reading other stuff that was there to.

Glyn  •  Link

I agree that Glynn gave some interesting information, but that was from Glynn with a double "nn", not me.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: Did Buckingham cheat?

I think the real issue here, which has so far been overlooked, is that Buckingham essentially calls Montagu a liar ("The Duke did, to my Lord's dishonour, often say that he [Montagu, I presume] did in his conscience know the contrary to what he then said, about the difference at cards”), and then, to add injury to insult, takes what should have been Montagu’s winnings (or, at least, takes back his portion of the pot).

I really don’t think it’s the money that’s the problem here; it’s honor. This is why Montagu calls Buckingham out by asking “whether he did remember what he said last night, and whether he would own it with his sword and a second.”

Jackie  •  Link

Public attitudes towards duelling changed dramatically over the course of the following two Centuries. Pepy's Boss would have lost a lot of face had he not been obviously willing and eager to fight his duel. (No less a personage than the Queen was required to talk him out of it). Calling Buckingham out was a social obligation for a man to retail in his position and standing in society after such an insult.

There was a famous 18th Century case where a jury refused to convict somebody of murder, when he'd been defending his own and his lady's honour, yet about 100 years after that, in 1828 it was specifically made into murder by act of Parliament and was moving out of fashion and way out of public sympathy.

Of course, in the early 19th Century, the question was raised when the Duke of Wellington, while Prime Minister fought a duel, leading to a thundering denunciation in The Times (I think, it was) that a man in his position should have put himself into a situation whereby he could have ended up in the dock on a murder charge. It is hard to imagine many Premiers since the Iron Duke turning up on some foggy common at dawn and taking the requisite 10 paces with a loaded pistol. As it happened, the Duke and his opponent deliberately shot wide and up into the air, discharging their obligations to honour, but the thought that a serving Premier might actually have shot somebody had just reached the point of "unthinkable" in the public sensibilities of the time (not that Wellington ever cared much what public opinion thought!).

Somehow, I simply cannot imagine Tony Blair fighting a duel if somebody insulted Cherie...

toni gutman  •  Link

my mother told me that a lot of the streets around Charing Cross Station in London, being part of the Buckingham estate, are all named after the Duke of Buckingham - ?this one - to the extent of their being an 'of alley'

Willmarth  •  Link

Don't overlook the fact that Sandwich prevailed over Buckingham: upon the Queen's intervention, the difference was made up, to my lord's great reputation. . .

Lawrence  •  Link

Sorry Glyn, I did indeed mean Glynn. "I hope you're not going to ask me to own it with my sword and second"

jamie yeager  •  Link

Defending honor carried to extremes
In Wm Faulkner, Sound & Fury things have gone so far that honor as of 1828 or so in the US is wholly self-referential: "[President Andrew] Jackson: A Great White Father with a sword, an old duellist, a brawling lean fierce mangy durable imperishable old lion who set the wellbeing of the nation above the White House and the health of his new political party above either and above them all set not his wife's honor but the principle that honor must be defended whether it was or not because defended it was whether or not."

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

To second what Helena said, the Montagus had been prominent for rather longer than the Villiers family, and were certainly not "nouveau riche".…

The foundation of the Villiers family's fortunes was James I & VI personal attraction to Buckingham's father, the first duke. James other "favourites" also did well: Robert Kerr became Earl of Somerset. His character was, if anything, even worse than that of (either) Villiers.…

Tonyel  •  Link

The link to the Duke of Buckingham is incorrect - it's his son who upset Sandwich ( and a lot of other folk later).

Edith Lank  •  Link

In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, pubished in 1811, John Willougby seduces Eliza, the ward of Colonel Brandon, who calls on Willougby to "meet by appointment", from which occasion "we returned unwouded."

Dick Wilson  •  Link

Dueling was so hard to stamp out that even today, in Kentucky, part of the oath of office for any office, however minor, is a statement that you have never sent or accepted a challenge or acted as a second. The governor, every police officer, city councilman, attorney, justice of the peace, everybody, must so swear. Ladies, too.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

One reason for banning dueling was the use of pistols instead of swords. A pistol could kill more easily than a sword and - even worse - it could be used with little training at short range by anyone brave enough, enabling the rising middle class of trade and professional men to duel with the the gentry who had learnt how to handle a sword as a child.

Pistols at dawn - weapons that tell story of last fatal duel in Scotland…

Phil Gyford  •  Link

I've fixed the Duke of Buckingham now, to link to the 2nd Duke, not the 1st.

JedidiahStott  •  Link

The Montagus claimed a (dubious) descent from the great mediaeval house of Montacute , quondam EE of Salisbury , perhaps through a natural son of Thomas , 4th and last Earl of that line.

The proximate ancestor of the contemporary line was, as noted, Edw Montagu, LCJ temp Hen VIII, q.d. two dukedoms (of Montagu and of Manchester) an Earldom (of Sandwich) and a Bishop of Winchester, a creditable enough lineage in its own right .

The Villiers, OTOH , were mere clodhoppers until the first D of Buckingham, temp Jac I , an elevation that some might think shed little honour, however much wealth it might have brought.

Third Reading

徽柔  •  Link

According to Arthur H.Scouten and Robert D. Hume:
Pepys was a stout Yorkist and a passionate defender of Coventry, a bourgeois upholder of the proprieties who deeply disapproved of Buckingham. His righteous indignation can make us forget that James, Duke of York was a stupid bigot who was removed from the throne essentially by unanimous consent in 1688. The Duke of York was no angel, and Buckingham did not possess horns and a tail.
So some of Pepys' narratives might be biased as he and Buckingham were of different sides.(But I had to admit my favouritism towards Buckingham ever since I read his rehearsal)

LKvM  •  Link

Re Puccini: ". . . when he refers to Louisiana as a desert he meant a place with very few inhabitants."
I'm happy to hear this and only wish every opera fan in New Orleans, where the first opera house in the United States was built (in the French Quarter, where I live), knew this, since the final scene of "Manon Lescaut" in the "desert" around bog-swampy below-sea-level New Orleans always elicits giggles and loud guffaws, as does the mention in "La Boheme" of "Gentilly," which is the name of a prominent section of New Orleans. (New Orleans is divided into "sections," like Carrollton, Uptown, Tremé, French Quarter.)

JB  •  Link

For further reference, last December (2023) there was a discussion regarding dueling (and its demise) on the Diary date of Thursday 27 December 1660:…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

So Lady Sandwich wasn't lying in wait for the Admiral at Hampton Court. She just went for an outing the other day.


The Queen Mother, Minette, Sandwich, Buckingham, Abbe Walter Montagu, St. Albans and the luggage left London on January 2.…

Sickness and storms kept the fleet at Portsmouth. On a good day it's roughly a 24 hour sail to La Havre (depending on the wind and tides). This trip took 5 weeks, and I am guessing there were many games of cards and many "interesting" moments when Sandwich played host to all these Royalists who, while being grateful for his support of the Restoration, still must have regarded him as a questionable Johnnie-come-lately to the party.

This discourtesy by Buckingham sounds like a "last straw" challenge from an extremely frustrated host to his most outrageous guest, with whom he had been entombed on a tiny ship for far too long.

Imagine a duel -- which was illegal in France and Charles II had banned in England, but had a hard time punishing when conducted by his friends -- when the Admiral of the Fleet was wounded or killed by Charles II's BFF. Or vice versa. It would have been a diplomatic disaster on both sides of the Channel.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"He had dined at Havre de Grace on Monday last, and came to the Downs the next day, and lay at Canterbury that night [TUES]; and so to Dartford [WED], and thence this morning to White Hall. "

To accommodate the Queen Mother, the out-bound route was Portsmouth to Le Havre, where she could either ride or take a river boat up the River Seign to Paris. To accommodate the fleet and Sandwich, the in-bound route was Le Havre to (probably) Deal.

"The town of Deal served the anchorage of The Downs, where navy ships were stationed ... . Homebound ships put passengers and mail ashore at Deal, to take the faster overland route to London; it was a crucial entry point for intelligence from everywhere."…

Portsmouth was not the Navy Town we think of today. I think it was too far from London for convenience, and England's relationship with Catholic France made it less important.

Deal's proximity to London and the Protestant United Providences made it more important.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"He had dined at Havre de Grace on Monday last, and came to the Downs the next day, and lay at Canterbury that night [TUES]; and so to Dartford [WED], and thence this morning to White Hall."

The Rev. Ralph, in Essex, says the weather "Feb. 10: from the 6. to this night most misling, but dark weather, ..."

Today the driving distance between Canterbury and Deal is 18 miles. Let's guess it's a 3 hour trip by coach in misling weather, less if Sandwich was on horseback. Nicer hotels -- possibly more friends with country houses who could accommodate his entourage -- in Canterbury. Less opportunity for gossip amongst the local 'intelligencers'. Sandwich leaves Deal and its locale to the troops.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Good grief, of course duels are illegal. It's only last August that Charles issued "By the King, A proclamation against fighting of duels", thumping the table on how "every person that shall offend against the said Command (...) shall be incapable of holding any office in his Majesties service, and never after be permitted to come to the Court" (…). And it's Sandwich, already on slighly shaky ground, who issued the challenge, here - and to a duke.

Ah, but not on English soil. And what happens in Le Havre de Grace, stays in Le Havre de Grace.

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