Tuesday 11 June 1661

At the office this morning, Sir G. Carteret with us; and we agreed upon a letter to the Duke of York, to tell him the sad condition of this office for want of money; how men are not able to serve us more without some money; and that now the credit of the office is brought so low, that none will sell us any thing without our personal security given for the same.

All the afternoon abroad about several businesses, and at night home and to bed.

17 Annotations

First Reading

Glyn  •  Link

It often seems as if Pepys is not doing much work because he doesn't specifically mention it in his daily entries, but this is an example of an issue that he must have been dealing with for some time, i.e. suppliers refusing to give them credit, or imposing stricter terms, with all of the negotiations and arguments with them that that implies. As well, of course, as the arguments (and staff cuts?) because of poor funding. Something that he must have been dealing with for a while, but not interesting enough to go into great detail about. He prefers to record the fun things rather than the daily routine transactions.

Cotty Chubb  •  Link

I'm a movie producer in Hollywood and I swear I've written that exact letter to studio executives. Plus ca change.

vicente  •  Link

When they [thems that issue the edicts, H of P, C/L] want cannon fodder, they make a bill and take their clubs and impress the poor B******s, then when done, dump them back on the strand(scend) at the nearest the pub and give a piece of official paper and tell them maybe. But if they survive an impediment of war then Hope they have a strong constitution, as no one has time for one anything man. [Reforms are in the works, see J.Evelyn]

Hic Retearius  •  Link

Sam "at work"

We've skirted this before. It makes sense to this reader that when it came to day to day work down at the office that Sam would "record by exception" noting not what was daily routine but what was not.

JWB  •  Link

Carteret et al.
Wm. E. Dodd, Am. Hist. Assoc. President(1934):"There has rarely been a group of leaders who so seriously shifted the course of modern history as did the little clique who surrounded Charles II from the summer of 1660 to the autumn of 1667. Only three of them, Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon after the Restoration, Ashley Cooper, earl of Shaftesbury after 1673, and John Lord Berkeley, brother of the Virginia governor, were of high aristocratic stock. The others were self-made men who knew even better than Clarendon and Shaftesbury the art of personal aggrandizement: George Monck, earl of Albemarle, Henry Bennet, earl of Arlington, Sir George Carteret, onetime pirate and the "richest man in England", Sir George Downing of Harvard College, and two merchants, Martin Noell and Thomas Povey.5 Nearly all of these were members of the privy council and thus guided the policy of the crown; these controlling members of the council were also the masters of His Majesty's famous board of trade and plantations which worked out the new British colonial and commercial program; they likewise dominated both the East India Company and the new African slave trade corporation, in which the Duke of York and the king's "devoted" sister, the Duchess of Orleans, were heavy stockholders. Every important political and economic interest of Restoration England was thus under the control of eight intimates of His Majesty who were "interlocking" directors of one political and three commercial boards."

vicente  •  Link

JWB: Thanks for the low down on the real power.[always follow the money trail]

Dale  •  Link

African slave trade

I am struck by lack of references to the slave trade in the diary when it was such big business. Is this another example of Sam not talking shop or was it that trading in humans was not considered polite conversation?

Australian Susan  •  Link

There does not seem to be much sense of moral outrage against slavery in this diary. Even when Sam meets ex-slaves who are white, he is interested in their story and sorry for their bad luck, but not more than that. He mentions black servants with no comment as to how they got where they were. Later he has one himself. In 20 year's time, however, what has been described as the first anti-slavery novel was published "Orinooco" by Aphra Behn. See
For further information on blacks in England,slavery, the slave trade and its abolition see numerous books by James Walvin at http://isbndb.com/d/person/walvin…

vicente  •  Link

The concept of human rights was a thought that never entered most human conscience. Everything was duly ordained, and you accepted the cards handed down. How can you hang someone for five bob and let him swing on bough until the carrion and 'umans pick the hunk clean of all valuable saleable pieces. It was the order of the life then known, Slavery was just one aspect of living for the lower 80% of 'umans.
This was slowly being change, but only because there was need of fodder for profit, not out milk of 'uman kidness. It was shown by Sam when he stiffed the Cabbie, but he could buy 'is Bible and with all the trimmings. The period of new thought, to invalidate old concepts, people mattered, was peeking through in some of the more learned men, but very slowly. If a someone lost a limb a saving a Hofficer of substance did he get a peg leg, or did he 'ave to find 'is own.

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

The term "human rights" is just a modern synonym for justice, or perhaps "natural justice". If ideas about the norms of justice have changed, both word and concept were there in the seventeenth century.

Under the Protectorate, capital punishment was restricted to murder and treason. In 1656, Cromwell told the Protectorate Parliament:

" ... the truth of it is, there are wicked and abominable laws, that will be in your power to alter. To hang a man for 6s8d and I know not what; to hang for a trifle and acquit murder, - is in the ministration* of the Law, through the ill framing of it. ... And to see men lose their lives for petty matters - this is a thing God will reckon for, and I wish it may not lie upon this nation a day longer than you have the opportunity to give it remedy ..."

* presumably "administration"?

Antonia Fraser (Cromwell Our Chief of Men) and G M Trevellyan (History Of England Under The Stuarts) both give only part of this quotation. There are various other sources with slight variations in the wording.

For more, Google "Cromwell wicked and abominable laws God will reckon" and look at the following result: Charles Knight's Popular History of England, Volume 4 page 202.

Tim  •  Link

To wander off-topic, capital punishment under the Commonwealth and in Pepys' time
was not as widespread as it became from 1723 on ('The Bloody Code'), in which the death penalty was prescribed for such things as consorting with gypsies, strong evidence of malice in a child 7-14 years of age and theft of over the value of 12 pence was prescribed. The jury system was breaking down as juries refused to convict in large numbers of cases. Solved only br bringing in Transportation to the colonies asan alternative

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

History of Parliament director Dr. Stephen Roberts blogged about parliamentary involvement in the development of slavery in the Atlantic World in the 17th century:

Slavery, the Caribbean and English Liberties, 1620-1640

As the slave trade developed, the code governing the ownership of slaves by the white planters tightened. After the introduction of the Slave Codes of 1661 onwards, slaves could be designated not as mere chattels, but as real estate, by which they were regarded as an unalienable part of the estates from which they were forbidden to leave. ...

The distinction between offering native American peoples the opportunities presented by European notions of education and conversion to Christianity, exemplified in the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England (1649) were never extended to those who in the Slave Codes were called ‘heathenish’ and ‘brutish’.

As this process advanced, there was still no significant discussion in Parliament, where Members were preoccupied with the rights and liberties of the English, not with extending them to others.

These nuggets come from the first of three articles on the subject. The next two blogs may explain more. We shall see.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Slavery" means something different to Pepys than it does to us.

"... it is apparent that the word ‘slavery’ was often used in the cultural context of conflict between elements of the propertied classes. Slavery was often explicitly, and always implicitly, linked with ‘liberty’, its opposite. Liberty, in a society where democracy as a concept had yet to take root, was narrowly defined to mean a range of freedoms, most centrally freedom from arbitrary government.

"‘Slavery’ was in this discourse frequently and freely deployed as a synonym or intensifier of ‘bondage’. It was an idiom that drew heavily on Old Testament examples, with the plight of the Israelites in Egypt, or the fate of Samson among the Philistines, providing typical comparisons readily accessible even to those without literacy skills.

"As the civil wars deepened, ‘slavery’ was used freely and rhetorically, wildly even, by combatants and non-combatants alike, to convey their sense of despair at the country’s ruination.

"Worcestershire supporters of King Charles in Jan. 1644 asserted their eagerness ‘to redeem ourselves from the insolency and slavery, we already in part suffer’; and in turn, the parliamentarians besieging Worcester in 1646, calling on the Worcester mayor to surrender, expressing pity for ‘those who through ignorance are enslaved under your tyranny’.

"Slavery’s antonym, Freedom, underwent a parallel change. As political debate, much in print, and famously in the parliamentarian armies, widened to include those with only modest property or none, attention was given to the birth-right of ‘freeborn Englishmen’.
"Radical activist were buoyed up by the theory that their Anglo-Saxon ancestors had once enjoyed a great range of freedoms, lost after the arrival of William the Conqueror. The ‘Norman Yoke’ had continued to be imposed by William’s successors, the kings of England, and the yoke had continued to be borne by the common people, struggling to assert their identity as freeborn English.

"In this vein, one of the Leveller leaders, William Walwyn, in 1645 published 'England’s Lamentable Slaverie', which exposed Magna Carta as a construct of the Norman oppressors.

"Chattel slavery, as practiced beyond Europe, figured in none of this discourse, although it did appear regularly in parliamentary deliberations in one particular context.
"The Grand Remonstrance to King Charles (1 December 1641) included in its summing-up of the country’s grievances the persistent threat to coastal communities of attacks by pirates from north Africa, especially in the hijacking of ships and detaining their English crews ‘in miserable slavery’, sometimes for ransom.

"Fear of capture by North African pirates was an ever-present anxiety among maritime traders and those who spoke for shipping interests in Parliament. ...

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


"The Barbary Pirates’ bold raids, sometimes into the English Channel, were alarming, and a chronic problem for English governments: as late as 1687 pirates intercepted 2 mail ships crossing to the Dutch Republic, and 100 passengers were carried off to slavery.

"Such horror stories kept an edge on English fears of what slavery could entail, but debate not only on the reality of slavery, but the reality sustained by the English state, remained a rarity."

Copied from https://thehistoryofparliament.wo…

While this may seem unlikely to us, let us remember that more people are in slavery in the 2022 than were in the 1600s. We dodge responsibility for doing sonething about it by always talking about the horror in an historical sense.
Pepys' crowd loved their cheap sugar, and Charles II successfully cut the price of tobacco from 2d. to 1/4d. per lb. They avoided asking how he did that.
We love our cheap goods and mobile phones. So the Chinese laborers were locked into their factories during COVID ... the Chinese are not governed by our laws, are they.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.