Thursday 28 February 1660/61

Early to wait on my Lord, and after a little talk with him I took boat at Whitehall for Redriffe, but in my way overtook Captain Cuttance and Teddiman in a boat and so ashore with them at Queenhithe, and so to a tavern with them to a barrel of oysters, and so away.

Capt. Cuttance and I walked from Redriffe to Deptford, where I found both Sir Williams and Sir G. Carteret at Mr. Uthwayt’s, and there we dined, and notwithstanding my resolution, yet for want of other victualls, I did eat flesh this Lent, but am resolved to eat as little as I can.

After dinner we went to Captain Bodilaw’s, and there made sale of many old stores by the candle, and good sport it was to see how from a small matter bid at first they would come to double and treble the price of things.

After that Sir W. Pen and I and my Lady Batten and her daughter by land to Redriffe, staying a little at halfway house, and when we came to take boat, found Sir George, &c., to have staid with the barge a great while for us, which troubled us.

Home and to bed.

This month ends with two great secrets under dispute but yet known to very few: first, Who the King will marry; and What the meaning of this fleet is which we are now sheathing to set out for the southward. Most think against Algier against the Turk, or to the East Indys against the Dutch who, we hear, are setting out a great fleet thither.

36 Annotations

First Reading

Roger Miller  •  Link

To sell by the candle. A species of sale by auction. A pin is thrust through a candle about an inch from the top, and bidding goes on till the candle is burnt down to the pin, when the pin drops into the candlestick, and the last bidder is declared the purchaser.


Emilio  •  Link

Two secrets

Both of them are related, it turns out, although no one will know this for some time: "The fleet in fact went in June to Algiers under Sandwich's command, and then brought back Charles II's bride, Catherine of Braganza, from Portugal. The match was not publicly announced until 8 May." (L&M foonote)

Josh  •  Link

"To make a short Lent," said Ben Franklin, or somebody like him, "borrow money to be repaid at Easter." Sam's even briefer meatless Lent supports another old saw: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

vincent  •  Link

Take Claire Tomlins walk [London walks v2] "Redriffe to Deptford"

vincent  •  Link

5 days ago, it was rumoured by the Rev Jossyln: "...Feb. 24. ....poor Mr R.H. very sad, and backward to receive, lord heal his melancholy temper, said on this match proffered by Portugal that the King is married to the Princess de Ligne . oh lord what is doing in the world...." Is nothing sacred even in Essex had heard one of the secrets.
"...This month ends with two great secrets under dispute but yet known to very few: first, Who the King will marry..."

vincent  •  Link

"...and not withstanding my resolution, yet for want of other victualls, I did eat flesh this Lent, but am resolved to eat as little as I can..." at least to his diary he does not pretend to be good, therefore he is not a bad man just human.
Malus bonum ubi se simulat , tunc est pessimus.
Syrus, Maxims.
When a bad man simulates goodness then he is very bad.

for the rest…

dirk  •  Link

Flesh & Lent

Obviously Lent is not taken too seriously by many (even important) people, and serving a meal based on flesh is not something shameful. Maybe some individuals, like Sam, do try... But even then, as Josh quoted: "Flesh is weak" (Biblical, but also a nice pun under the circumstances).

vincent  •  Link

Does this mean we kept Sir G. C. waiting [ twiddling his thumbs] and his visage was a little dark and angry [high]?[ in the venacular PO'd][SP anxious that he may be put on the carpet tomorrow morn, KP maybe?]"...when we came to take boat, found Sir George, &c., to have staid with the barge a great while for us, which troubled us. Home and to bed...."

mary  •  Link

Sam's Lenten resolution.

Since Sam eats his dinner so very often at Sandwich's house (and clearly reckons to do so) the extent to which he eschews flesh is going to depend greatly on what the Sandwich's cook has decided to serve on any particular day. The fare on offer at taverns/ordinaries will also affect his partial resolution; in fact he doesn't often eat his midday meal at home at all. Perhaps it was understood that Elizabeth had married him for better, for worse but not for lunch, as the modern saying goes.

mary  •  Link

Half-Way House.

According to L&M, this was a Rotherhithe tavern half way between London Bridge and Deptford. I have a vague recollection that in the 18th Century it became notorious as a centre for rogues and villains, but have been unable to find any direct references.

George  •  Link

What the meaning of this fleet is which we are now sheathing to set out for the southward
Am I correct in assuming that this refers to making good the copper sheathing which was applied to the hull to stop the predations of Toredo Worms etc.This would be a fair indication that this fleet was to sail into warmer waters.

mary  •  Link


L&M Glossary confirms that sheathing is to protect the hulls against worm-attack.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

George and Mary: "Sheathing"

Copper sheathing was my interpretation too, until I came across the following:


I do have my doubts about the content of this link. Any Navy types care to comment?

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

Re. Above

It seems I was wrong to doubt this link. The National Maritime Museum confirms that copper was first used as sheathing in 1761:…

mary  •  Link

Copper, or some other material?

The L&M glossary doesn't specify copper, it just states that sheathing was employed as a measure against worm-attack. The term itself would seem to imply a protective covering of some material rather than an applied coating of pitch or similar. Any ideas, anyone?

Grahamt  •  Link

Wooden sheathing?
Is it possible that a ply of wood could be applied, not as a protection against worms as such, but as a sacrificial layer to be stripped off, complete with worms at the end of the voyage?
Something similar is done with Cognac barrels to stop them being holed by woodworm.

Lawrence  •  Link

I suppose we won't get a Diary day tomorrow with it being a leap day,"sigh" I'll have to go and do some more catching up from the Archive section.

StewartMcI  •  Link

Apparently both wood and pitch.

See below...

"Voyages into tropical waters during Elizabeth's reign had called fresh attention to the importance of keeping ships' bottoms free from marine growths and in particular to the need of protection against the boring teredo worm. A sheathing of lead had been tried centuries earlier and discarded owing to its weight and to the fact that the iron nails used to fasten the lead sheets soon corroded. Elizabeth's shipwrights, however, devised a coating of pitch and chopped horsehair held in place by a thin sheathing of wood. The working of this device is given in a contemporary document which explains that the worm, having bored its way through the outer wood, "encountereth the pitch and hair the which it liketh not"."

Rich Merne  •  Link

Before I read StewartMcI, I had in mind s sheathing of some tipe of heavy cloth or sacking impreganted with hot pitch. This would be akin to the traditional covering for 'currachs', the small fishinh boats still made and used to this day on the west of Ireland. Here they brave the wild atlantic and to my knowledge seem to be particularly resistant to marine growth etc. whatever about Toredo worm which they would be unlikely to encounter. This reminds me, I have the yearly chore soon to do of anti-fouling my own small boat very soon; what a drag! Anyway I'm going for StewartMcI's answer.

Rich Merne  •  Link

Well done Kevin Sheerstone. As an engineer and boatie type, I found your site on copper sheeting fascinating and even though it seems that Sams boats were sheeted with some other materials, the site you mentioned brings up some other observations which are probably too long for posting here. I send them direct to you.

Glyn  •  Link

So Sam's resolution to avoid eating meat lasted for precisely one day - it reminds me of the person who only diets between meals. But, at least last Sunday's sermon still seems to be doing some good - he hasn't had a hangover all week so far.

dirk  •  Link

Sheathing & Teredo

Teredo (or to use the full name of the main culprit species: Teredo navalis) is a common ocean dweller, not limited to warm waters - though present there in somewhat larger numbers.

Teredo have been found in the rivers Hamble, Stour and Orwell, other more northern parts of Europe and America, and even in the Arctic. For an article on Teredo in the Baltic, see:…

So sheathing ships - by whatever method - doesn't imply their meant for tropical waters.

On "Teredo navalis, Linn

Rich Merne  •  Link

Bidding by Candle.
With ref. to Roger Millar's annotation. It is interesting to note the comparison between the method described by him and the entry in Sam's diary for 3 Sept. 1662. Here Sam seems to imply that the sale was accomplished by means of the last highest to bid just as the candle went out. From this it seems that there were a couple of variations on the plan. For the pin method: my experimentation shows that the pin or (in my case)long tack drops off the candle very suddenly and would be very effective in closing the bidding. For the 3 Sept. method, I tried a few ways to make the live candle self-snuff at an indeterminate instant some short time after it was lit. None of them worked but I think an old-fashioned hairclip nipped onto the wick just below the flame might cause it to quench. 'just as the flame goes out, the smoke descends, which is a thing I never observed before, and by that he do know the instant when to bid last. Can anybody throw any light; oops, on 3 Sept method. Incidentally, a very fair way to auction compared with today's model.

Roger Emmerson  •  Link

There have been several self snuffing candle caps - the modern ones use a simple wire spring that was similar to a hairpin - the cap is hinged to sit upright at a given point, the spring keeps the cap tight against the body of unburnt candle, and this contrivance is held up by a clip around the candle body just large enough to be tight; as the body melts away so the cap snaps shut over the wick snuffing it

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

There be an Emblem Book of 1638
words of wisdom
" Th' extinguisher and snuffers that are by
Tels thee O man that sometime thou must die
And lest thou should in darkness still remain
The tinder box will light thee once again
But snufft from all corruption shalt thou be
And shine with God and saints eternally."
Candles needed constant attention; .. the verse beside a picture af candle snuffers and an 'esss xtinguisher', shaped like a Dunces Cap
Lifted from Eliza Picard P47. Restoration London.
Interesting article on the snuffing a candle, an invention at the French [Catholic ] Church 1661 also the dangers of using a candle, besides burning it at both ends.

Second Reading

william wright  •  Link


From The Oxford Companion To Ships at Sea.
It states that thin Lead Sheathing was also used on English ships in the 1600s.

Tonyel  •  Link

and there made sale of many old stores by the candle,
The candle method is still used here in Somerset UK to auction the annual use of a piece of land in the Mendip hills. However, it's inevitably a fairly slow process so I wonder how "many old stores" were sold. Perhaps they had a separate candle stub for each lot? Or maybe they had more time in those days.

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

The candles of this period were not like the candles of today which are mostly made from petroleum wax and have a type of wick that was not yet invented in Pepys' time.

In the 17th century candles were mostly made from tallow and and the wicks were probably from the pith of a reed. I think that they smoked and know that they had an unpleasant smell. They could melt in warm weather. Of course there were beeswax candles but they were probably quite a bit more expensive.

The behavior of a pin in one of today's candles might not be quite the same as in Pepys' day.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Here's OED 's penny's worth:

‘ . . II. 5.d. to sell or let by the candle . . : to dispose of by auction in which bids are received so long as a small piece of candle burns, the last bid before the candle goes out securing the article . . This appears to have been a custom adopted from the French . .
1680 in J. A. Picton City of Liverpool: Select. Munic. Rec. (1883) I. 287 The new marked ground..was let by inch of candle in the town hall.
a1682 Sir T. Browne Let. to Friend (1690) 8 Mere pecuniary Matches, or Marriages made by the Candle
. . 1797 E. Burke Lett. Peace Regic. France iv, in Wks. IX. 84 Where British faith and honour are to be sold by inch of candle
. . 1728 E. Chambers Cycl. (at cited word), There is also a kind of Excommunication by Inch of Candle; wherein, the Time a lighted Candle continues burning, is allow'd the Sinner to come to Repentance, but after which, he remains excommunicated to all Intents and Purposes.’

1. b. The action of putting on a protective layer to a ship's bottom; the method or manner in which this is done.
. . a1642 W. Monson Naval Tracts (1704) iii. 346/2 Another Sheathing is with double Planks.
1694 Narbrough's Acct. Several Late Voy. 153 Mr. John Sish took no ordinary Care in Strengthening her, and in her Shething, which was as well performed as in any Ship that ever sailed on the Sea . .

2. a. A protective layer or covering laid on the outside of the bottom of a wooden ship, to protect the planks from the borings of marine animals. Formerly of boards, etc., later usually of thin plates of metal (copper). Also a wooden covering sometimes used to protect the submerged parts of iron ships from corrosion by the water.
. . 1633 T. James Strange Voy. 32 We saw some of the sheathing swim by vs.
1691 T. Hale Acct. New Inventions p. xx, She had her sheathing strip'd at seven Years end to repair the Plank, but not for any defect in the Sheathing it self.
1728 in 6th Rep. Dep. Kpr. Rec. App. ii. 155 A new method for preserving the plank and sheathing of Ships . . ‘

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Even older than the sheathing methods were the various graving and paying techniques. There were three main substances used: White stuff, which was a mixture of whale oil, rosin and brimstone; Black stuff, a mixture of tar and pitch; and Brown stuff, which was simply brimstone added to Black stuff. It was common practice to coat the hull with the selected substance, then cover that with a thin outer layer of wooden planking.

The use of copper sheathing was first suggested by Charles Perry in 1708, though it was rejected by the Navy Board on grounds of high cost and perceived maintenance difficulties. The first experiments with copper sheathing were made in the late 1750s: the bottoms and sides of several ships' keels and false keels were sheathed with copper plates. With the American war in full swing, the Royal Navy set about coppering the bottoms of the entire fleet. This would not have happened but for the declarations of war from France (1778), Spain (1779) and the Netherlands (1780): Britain had to face its three greatest rivals, and coppering allowed the navy to stay at sea for much longer without the need for cleaning and repairs to the underwater hull.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

L&M: The Halfway House was a Rotherhithe tavern half way between London Bridge and Deptford.

Good news: I found an article about The Halfway House ... which now looks more modern and is called The George ... it does still exist, with a new facade.…

I posted this, which passes for "news" for Diary annotators, on the Pepys Diary email discussion group last night, and when I woke up this morning, two had already written to the council to PROTECT THE GEORGE and made a visit, both of which are valuable ways for us to help preserve Pepysian historical sites.

Third Reading

Phil Jones  •  Link

SDS, Deptford and Rotherhithe are south of the river but 'the Queen’s Highway to Essex' would have been north of the river. Different Halfway House..?

Dai Aqua  •  Link

Copper-bottoming ships, especially naval vessels, became a serious strategic issue during the years after Pepys where the British navy increased in importance.

Continuing the subject, the port of Swansea in South Wales during the 18th/19th centuries became a centre of copper-plate production for naval purposes to the extent that it was unofficially termed" Copperopolis" at the time.

Copper ore was a short sea-journey away in Cornwall and the availability of cheap, local coal in the surrounding valleys contributed to its commercial success in this area. It also specialised in tin-plate production at the same time.

Apart from the obvious metal coating on hulls below the water-line preventing boring worms, there's evidence that a continuous mild electrolytic process on the metal's surface, where the copper is in contact with sea water, prevents the accumulation of barnacles and other growths in tropical seas that can radically slow down and effect a war-ships speed and maneuverability in the water. At the same time this removed the necessity for bare-hulled wooden ships to be regularly beached and careened - where they were at a great vulnerability of attack.

A layering of copper wire or thin sheet is often used by gardeners for the same reasons around the outside of plant-pots to dissuade slugs and snails climbing the sides.

The Greenwich Patriot  •  Link

I'm pretty sure that the Rotherhithe "Halfway House" ( South of the river - not the Essex one) was demolished with building of the railway - 1834/35. But alas all my notes and references are in storage and I cannot get chapter and verse at the moment...

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

HA!!! -- I think you're right: There must be two "Halfway" Houses in Pepys' life. Next time he makes this reference, we'll have to pay more attention and -- later when it's clear -- correct our Encyclopedia.

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