Saturday 15 June 1661

My father came and drank his morning draft with me, and sat with me till I was ready, and so he and I about the business of the cloth. By and by I left him and went and dined with my Lady, who, now my Lord is gone, is come to her poor housekeeping again. Then to my father’s, who tells me what he has done, and we resolved upon two pieces of scarlet, two of purple, and two of black, and 50l. in linen.

I home, taking 300l. with me home from Alderman Backwell’s. After writing to my Lord to let him know what I had done I was going to bed, but there coming the purser of the King’s yacht for victualls presently, for the Duke of York is to go down to-morrow, I got him to promise stowage for these things there, and so I went to bed, bidding Will go and fetch the things from the carrier’s hither, which about 12 o’clock were brought to my house and laid there all night.

21 Annotations

First Reading

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"two pieces of scarlet,two of purple,and two of black" very good taste! the scarlet goes well with gold, the purple and the black with silver.

Bob T  •  Link

How did Sam carry the 300 pounds?
Was it in coin or paper. Would he have had an escort, or just tucked it into his pocket and toddled off?

Alan Bedford  •  Link

"How did Sam carry the 300 pounds?"

The Bank of England won't be created until 1694, although there are some private banks that may be issuing banknotes at this point.

On June 13, the Earl of Sandwich signed an imprest (a promissory note) which he gave to Sam and Sam has now delivered it to Backwell in exchange for 300 pounds in (we presume) coin. Probably in a bag. He may have travelled with an escort, or he may have relied on his sword.

vicente  •  Link

300 angels did do the job? at 3 angels to the pound. Some where, I did read that it was hundred pound money bags: gold approx. 2L 10s per oz does work out at 2.5 lbs/bag of gold coin: there other mentions of Sam moving his spoils and hiding from the Riff Raff of the street when streets were filled with rebellious types. On the 4,000 L trans-action it was said it was transported by chest [made of wood? I presumed not in Knapsack on the chest]]

vicente  •  Link

Sorry! it was only 17% linnen ["and 50l. in linen"] "where does he answer that it is wool" and the rest in clothe? I think He be a little anxious, that so much enticement doth lay awaiting for the disappearing act, Sam cannot wait to get this Important package to his Leader via the special delivery to ship awaiting to be on its way. [connections, connections...}

JBailey  •  Link

Dumb question: Did 300 pounds silver actually weigh 300 pounds in 1661? In other words, was it really 300 pounds?

Just wondered.

Hic Retearius  •  Link


JBailey, it's a question that comes up often and it's worth reviewing briefly. There are many, many flavours of "pound". Expect to encounter it all over the place with regard to both mass and European units of account. As a unit of mass, it varied both from time to time and from place to place. It's ubiquity as a monetary denomination also leads to confusion for the uninitiated.

With regard to English money, my understanding is that the pound referred to was of about a third of a kilo of silver somewhere back in Medieval times in England. "Libra" was the Roman's word for what was, vaguely, a pound and the - character remains lo these 2,000 [MM!] years later.

Do we have a scholar?

Mary  •  Link

"is come to her poor housekeeping again"

I take this to be a comment on the quality/variety of fare provided at the Sandwich dinner-table. Now that milord is away on business, dinner is not held in such state and the menu is a good deal simpler than when he is in residence.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"poor housekeeping"
Yes, indeed. I do hope Sam is commenting meaning poor as in poverty not poor as in bad! Interesting that this is another status/gender related comment.

Grahamt  •  Link

Gold and silver are weighed in troy weight, not avoirdupois, with 12 oz to the pound. A kilogram is about 35 oz, so a troy pound of sterling silver is about a third of a Kg, so agrees with Hic Retearius' value of - for lb in medieaval times. (hence pound sterling) No doubt inflation will have changed this by the 17th century.
Without inflation, 300L worth of silver would weigh about 100 Kgs (the weight of a small motorbike, or a large man) so, as Vicente says, gold at less then 3.5kg would be a more likely proposition.

PHE  •  Link

Private banks issuing banknotes
As many will know, most bank notes in circulation in Scotland and Northern Ireland today are issued by private banks. It's rare to see a Bank of England note in Scotland. Issuing banks include Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank and Ulster Bank. This confuses many visitors, including those from England. I believe that, ironically, only Bank of England notes are truly legal tender.

StewartMcI  •  Link

Coinage and weights...

This will come up later in regard to Sam examining the dies used for the massive re-minting of the English coinage with "milled" coins. These were mostly in the denominations familiar to anyone who remember pre-decimal British coins and of similar size so a crown (five shillings) was roughly an ounce. Because of the crude nature of the previous hammered coins and their wear, they generally weighed much less and eventually (in 1696) were surrended for their bullion content only at five shillings and eight pence an ounce.

Sam specifically mentions gold pieces with a slight sense of awe, so generally when he talks about money, and telling it, and its transport, we should assume a mixture of many denominations of silver coins weighing perhaps a couple of ounces per pound. Hence several references to getting assistance and / or taking a carriage.

Katherine  •  Link

More on Coinage and Weight:

I'm reading a really interesting book on the history of money (title escapes me and book not handy) but the author talks of the ways in which royal mints adulterated or "shorted" coins.

I can't remember what he says about England, but in the late 1700s since the Spanish Real (piece of eight) was most used coin in US, the USgovt decided to base the silver content of 1 dollar on the amount of silver in the 8 Real coin.

Spain claimed that the 8 Real coin had 377 grams of silver in it. Analysis of the 8real coin revealed an average of 371.25 grams of silver. (Which explains the origins of the rather odd weight of a US silver dollar.)

If England was doing anything like that, it would've shaved *some* weight off the amount of coin Sam had lugged about.

vicente  •  Link

re:skimming of money, Parliament in 1621 march 6th., did have some people in the chair for taking more than their share. Long involved inquiry by the house.
That they had their Bullion from the Refiner. -
That he imported, out of Barbary and Spayne, 5,000l. in Bullion, of Gold and Silver. That they buy by the Troy Weight, and sell by the Venice Weight; wherein a third Part Difference

From: British History Online
Source: House of Commons Journal Volume 1: 06 March 1621. House of Commons Journal Volume 1, (1802).
Date: 16/06/2004
Copyright 2003 University of London & History of Parliament Trust

vicente  •  Link

errata : one can be trully skinned, not knowing your purity or weights: 24, 20, 18,14,10 carats especially now at $388.xx /troy oz [of perfect purity]so at 2.5L[2L / 10s/ 31/4d at troy gives roughly 40 troy ozs= 2.742857 lbs at 2.5L per oz
40 troy ozs = 1,244.139 grams[grammes]
more posted to money:
40 pure troy x$388[todays fixed]= $15,520 or eu's 12,75.xx or L8475.xx [ but the weight is the same avoirdupois]

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Still more about coinage and weight
When I was in London in 1964, I remember being astonished and delighted in a bank to see that they determined the monetary value of a heap of coins by weighing them. I doubt that that still works.

Mary  •  Link

Weighing coins.

Yes, Paul, the bank will still weigh your bags of coins here. £1 and £2 coins are weighed in £20-value bags; 50p and 20p coins in £10-value bags; 10p and 5p coins in £5-value bags and all bronze coins (2p and 1p) in £1-value bags. It’s a surprsingly accurate system and will reveal immediately if an ‘old’ 5p/1 shilling coin has been included in a bag of ‘new’ 10p coins, despite the fact that the two coins are of very much the same size and shape.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

"taking 300l. with me home"

A Silver Crown of Charles II from 1662 weighs 29.7 grams (… ). So 4 Crowns to the (monetary) pound weight 118.8 grams and 300£ would weigh 35.6 kg or 78.5 (American!) pounds in silver.

A gold Double-Crown (10 shillings) from 1660 weighs 4.43 grams and 300£ (600 double-crowns) would weigh 2.66 kg in gold.…

Cara  •  Link

Hi the banks do still weigh coins even now in the UK although I have no idea how they cope with the amount of counterfeit coins there are in the system which routinely do not work in slot machines (eg the ones at car parks where they just drop down and won't register) I wonder if there were counterfeit coins in Pepys' time. There were certainly counterfeit jewels. In 1604, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths heard that one of their number, Thomas Sympson of Cheapside, had been counterfeiting stones and setting them in gold. The wardens undertook a search of Sympson's house, where they found a large quantity of stones held to be 'of greate value which he privately shewed to divers of the Company affirming them to be right whereas in truthe they were counterfett and of noe worth'. There was an inquiry. The Court Minutes for Friday 8 October 1608 provide an account of their findings. The wardens discovered that Sympson had employed 7 jewellers and lapidaries to make a large number of, 'cristalls and other stones of noe worth to be cut after severall fashions. He had found a way to dye the crystals in artificial colours and by great cunning had transformed them to look like balas rubies of great price, which 'very probably might passé for stones upwards of £7000 to £8000'. Sympson intended to send the stones to 'forren Countryes' & had already approached Sir Thomas Lawe, the governor of the Turkey Company, for this very purpose. Sympson's counterfeits had brought great 'disgrace and discredit...indignitie and scandall' to the Goldsmith's Company. Even more grave, when it emerged that some of the forgeries had been taken to Robert Cecil, by this time lord treasurer of England who had referred the matter to the Company. The Beadle was sent to summon Sympson to Goldsmith's Hall. He refused to go, making, 'slanderous and irreverent and insuffereable speeches,' when the wardens lost their temper and made a grab for Sympson, he made a 'violent escape.' He seems to have got away with it, as he continued in his trade and was eventually appointed one of 'Her Majesties' jewellers. I am indebted to Hazel Forsyth's book, 'The Cheapside Hoard, London's Lost Jewels'. As Senior Curator at the Museum of London she has written this excellent companion to the recent exhibition at the Museum of London on the buried hoard of Elizabethan and Early Stuart jewellery discovered buried at Cheapside, and very pretty they were too (even the forgeries!)

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