Saturday 21 December 1661

To White Hall to the Privy Seal, where my Lord Privy Seal did tell us he could seal no more this month, for that he goes thirty miles out of town to keep his Christmas. At which I was glad, but only afeard lest any thing of the King’s should force us to go after him to get a seal in the country.

Thence to Westminster Hall (having by the way drank with Mrs. Sarah and Mrs. Betty at my Lord’s lodgings), and thence taken by some Exchequer men to the Dogg, where, being St. Thomas’s day, by custom they have a general meeting at dinner. There I was and all very merry, and there I spoke to Mr. Falconberge to look whether he could out of Domesday Book, give me any thing concerning the sea, and the dominion thereof; which he says he will look after. Thence taking leave to my brother’s, and there by appointment met with Prior of Brampton who had money to pay me, but desiring some advice he stays till Monday. So by coach home to the office, where I was vexed to see Sir Williams both seem to think so much that I should be a little out of the way, saying that without their Register they were not a Committee, which I took in some dudgeon, and see clearly that I must keep myself at a little distance with them and not crouch, or else I shall never keep myself up even with them. So home and wrote letters by the post. This evening my wife come home from christening Mrs. Hunt’s son, his name John, and a merchant in Mark Lane came along with her, that was her partner. So after my business was done, and read something in Mr. Selden, I went to bed.

30 Annotations

First Reading

Pedro.  •  Link

21st December feast of St.Thomas the Apostle.

"St.Thomas gray, St.Thomas gray,
The longest night and shortest day."

Patron Saint of many things. Architects, blind people, builders, construction workers, Ceylon East Indies, geometricians, India, masons, Pakistan, people in doubt, Sri Lanka, stone masons, stonecutters, surveyors, theologians.
Taxmen of the Exchequer? St.Mathew the Apostle is the Patron of Taxmen. Oh well any excuse for a booze up!

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: "saying that without their Register they were not a Committee"

Anyone care to enlighten me on this? I understand Sam's dudgeon, but am having trouble grokking the exact reason for it. Thanks.

Glyn  •  Link

The only other reference so far in the Diary to Mark Lane also involved a merchant. Is this just a coincidence or was it an area for merchants, and if so of what kind? The other reference was last month to a merchant of Mark Lane and some pirates:…

Pedro.  •  Link

"they were not a Committee"

Maybe with the lack of a Register, the Committee was not quorate, lacking in numbers to be valid?

Bradford  •  Link

"my Lord Privy Seal did tell us he could seal no more this month, for that he goes thirty miles out of town to keep his Christmas."

---And to All Our Clients the Best Wishes of the Season. The Office Will Re-Open 1 January. In Case of Emergency Please Contact Mr. Samuel Pepys at. . . .

David A. Smith  •  Link

"he goes thirty miles out of town to keep his Christmas"
As I read this, in my dingy garrett here at Scrooge & Company, I thought to myself, "it is ever thus."
Merry Christmas, and God bless us, every one :)

David A. Smith  •  Link

"not crouch, or else I shall never keep myself up even with them"
Good for you, young Samuel, good for you! O you clever lad, you have learned one of the great lessons of life among alpha male primates: they respect only those who stand up to them.
Bravo, my lad, bravo!

vicenzo  •  Link

Yesterday at the H of P.... Sam wold be glad to hear this"...Your Majesty hath sent a Royal Fleet upon a happy Errand, to bring Your Royal Confort hither: And is there any Englishman will stick to pay the Wages of those Mariners, whose Ships do bring so good a Freight?..."..
"...we have chearfully and unanimously given Your Majesty Twelve Hundred and Three Score Thousand Pounds; which Sum we desire may be levied in Eighteen Months, by Six Quarterly Payments, after the Rate of Seventy Thousand Pounds per Mensem, to begin the Five and Twentieth of this present December; in order whereunto, we humbly pray Your Majesty's Royal Assent unto this Bill."..."
Then CII gives thanks in his speech
"...My Lords and Gentlemen,
I do thank you with all My Heart for it..."

then the good bit ....
"...Dominus Cancellarius declaravit præsens Parliamentum adjournandum esse usque in diem Martis, videlicet, 7um diem Januarii proximi, 1661, hora decima Aurora, Dominis sic decernentibus….”

From: British History Online
Source: House of Lords Journal Volume 11: 20 December 1661. Journal of the House of Lords: volume 11, ().
Date: 22/12/2004
Copyright 2003 University of London & History of Parliament Trust

Mary  •  Link

"out of Domesday Book"

This really is looking to ancient law and precedent! Sam should have been a lawyer. I had assumed that Domesday Book dealt only with land and tangible assets and the income therefrom; can any annotator shed further light on maritime possibilities?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: "they were not a Committee"

Thanks, Pedro … I was thinking along the same lines, but I guess the word I don’t understand there is “Register.” What is this role, and who in the Navy Office plays it? Is it another name for Sam’s role? Thanks…

Australian Susan  •  Link

First mention this month of this important day: very different from now, when it has been occupying my mind since October at least! Sam hasn't mentioned any of his plans to keep Christmas - maybe he has had words with Elizabeth ("Must we have your brother for Christmas? He drinks too much of my good wine and then becomes a boring show-off") or she may have had words with him ("Must we go to Brampton for Christmas? Nothing happens in the country and I don't like your sister and you'll argue with your mother, again") Or is that just modern times?

Mary  •  Link

The puzzling Register.

Two very tentative suggestions:

1. A physical register in which notes of their deliberations were kept (i.e. registered), the implication being that Pepys was the keeper of the volume.

2. For Register read Registrar, the chap (Pepys again?) who keeps the records of formal meetings.

Pedro.  •  Link

"they were not a Committee"

Mary and Todd, I noticed the capital letter, and thought it may be Registrar. Looking in..

Naval Board General powers (L&M Companion)-

The Board was to make most of its decisions jointly. It was required to meet twice a week, the hours and days being varied during parliamentary session for the benefit of the members who were MP's or peers. In 1660 when, it was getting into its stride, and in crises, during the war and after, it met more frequently. Two members constituted a quorum. The clerks were present except when the Board resolved to meet "close".

Thefore this could be Registrar, and they just want an excuse to be rid of Sam?

Nix  •  Link

Domesday Book --

The Domesday Book recorded more than ownership of land -- it described the rights attached to various ownerships. Among those were fisheries and rights/obligations of ports. I am just surmising, but I suspect that is what Samuel would have been interested in.

Glyn  •  Link

Christmas Decorations

Every year including this one, the Geffrye Museum decorates its rooms in the style of various years from Christmas Past and one of them is from the 1660s. If you are in London any time from now to 2 January then I strongly recommend a visit:…

But it's worth going at any time.

Alan Bedford  •  Link

Quorum - since the complaint comes from "Sir Williams both" I'd be inclined to think that we're talking about the entire Navy Board, which consists of six men at this point (Slingsby died two months ago, and I don't think he's been replaced.) They'd need three to make a quorum, presumably. The Board as it would have existed in December, 1661:

Principal Officers:
His Royal Highness James, Duke of York, Lord High Admiral.
Sir George Carteret, Treasurer.
(Position currently vacant), Comptroller.
Sir William Batten, Surveyor.
Samuel Pepys, Esq., Clerk of the Acts.

John, Lord Berkeley (of Stratton,)
Sir William Penn,
Peter Pett, Esq.?B ( who controlled the shipyards)

Alan Bedford  •  Link

Oops! That's seven members of the Navy Board in December, 1661. But it still appears that it takes three to make a quorum, based on how Batten and Penn appear to chide Sam.

vicenzo  •  Link

Sam's main job, I doth think, be to record the minutes of the meetings[i.e. clerical], and it would take a trio of decision makers [commissioned that is, by statute] to make sure that there be no hanky panky, because it is usually very hard to get three to agree[ threes a crowd]. But Sam is unusual in that he is allowed to have a big say, as he does have the ear of Sandwich who is still in the royal orbit having the trust of the throne to bring to England the Assets of the crown, which if he failed England would not have until they [Rex and Regina ] walk to the altar and sign on the dotted line. What is commisioned or warranted or said on the papyrus is not always the true situation.
One must look to the power behind the commisioned one, for the real story.

language hat  •  Link

Celebration of the holiday had been banned since 1647, so people were out of the habit. See the background page:…
(Note that the excellent David Quidnunc copied out many passages from a good book on the history of the holiday. Thanks, DQ!)

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: Quorum

Sorry to be a PITA about this, but I'm still not clear on the situation. Yes, I can understand them being miffed if Sam wasn't there to help them make a quorum, but he says that when he got to the office, he "was vexed to see Sir Williams both seem to *think so much that I should be a little out of the way*" [emphasis mine] ... why are they trying to get rid of him (this is how I'm reading this) if they desire to have a quorum and need him there for that?

Sam's desire to keep himself "at a little distance with them and not crouch" shows that he thinks he needs to back off a little to make them need him more (the eternal push-me/pull-you of every relationship), so maybe he thinks *he's* been too eager here? Maybe in this instance the Sir Williams didn't *want* to be a Committee?

And where *has* the "excellent David Quidnunc" disappeared to?

Glyn  •  Link

Todd, my reading of this is that they needed him to be there to keep records of the meeting, take action over any correspondence that is needed and record the decisions made, so they are upset that he is "out of the way" (doesn't matter whether it's a little or a lot) especially if this means the meeting is inquorate.

In return, Sam is annoyed that they are so angered by his absence: he isn't their servant to be at their beck and call. So, as David Smith has pointed out, he stands up for himself and presumably answers them back and gives as good as he's got.

He's in a weak position - his patron is hundreds of miles away and unable to defend him; in addition he's much younger and without experience in naval matters. Theoretically, he's their equal on the board BUT if he doesn't fight his corner, he can drift into being just a glorified note-taker and secretary who can be chided like a Will Hewer for not being at his post. As the Sir Williams equal he's presumably got the right to be wherever he likes. (Though to argue the other case, if he knew about this meeting he should have rearranged his schedule.)

As to the excellent David Quidnunc, why don't you click on his name from one of his earlier messages and send him an email - what did your last servant die of, eh?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Thanks, Glyn. That helps. I was misreading the "I should."

And who told you about my last servant? ;-)

dirk  •  Link

"Sir Williams both seem to think so much that I should be a little out of the way, saying that without their Register they were not a Committee, which I took in some dudgeon"

Reading all the previous comments on this issue, I suggest the following reading, which at least to me makes the most sense:
[my interpretation between brackets]

"Sir Williams both seem to think so much [are so angry] that I should be a little out of the way [that I had been out for a little while], saying that without their Register [= Registerer = Registrar = Sam - on the fly "degrading" Sam to the function of a mere secretary although in theory their equal] they were not a Committee [they were unable to meet as a functioning committee], which [both his "degradation" and the Williams's bossy attitude] I took in some dudgeon."

vicenzo  •  Link

Protocol is protocol: Pecking order is the main stay of parliamentary order.
The clerk be like the sergeant not fully commissioned,Stalin found out what it be like w/o sgts.
No court of law or Government depts in England would function with out strict adherance to strict Protocol, Still Mr Pepis only sits at the table at the opposite end to the Comptroller, None the less Pepys has enjoyed being with the boys but not one of them, still he is there to get in the neck if they fall down his job be:

"... The clarke of the Navye's duty depends principally upon rateing (by the Board's approbation) of all bills and recording of them, and all orders, contracts & warrants, making up and casting of accompts, framing and writing answers to letters, orders, and commands from the Councell, Lord High Admirall, or Commissioners of the Admiralty, and he ought to be a very able accomptant, well versed in Navall affairs and all inferior officers dutyes…”

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Thanks to Dirk for an excellent exegesis of this puzzling passage.
Although some have suggested that the Sir Williams needed Sam to make a quorum, if L&M are right - and who could gainsay them? - two members constitute a quorum. Thus it would seem that they were wanting Sam to take notes, as Dirk's summary implies.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"my Lord Privy Seal did tell us...he goes thirty miles out of town to keep his Christmas"

L&M note Sir John Robartes had an estate at Felsted, Essex, 48 miles from London.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I spoke to Mr. Falconberge to look whether he could out of Domesday Book, give me any thing concerning the sea, and the dominion thereof;"

L&M note a copy of the Domesday Book was kept in the Receipt of the Exchequer, of which Edward Falconberg was Deputy-Chamberlain. Pepys was mistaken [ as Mary suspected ] in thinking that it might contain much about the sea or anything about the deominion of the sea. His friend in later life, Dr. Thomas Gale, gave hin a few notes on the subject.

Tonyel  •  Link

A bit late in the day to join in this discussion, but I wonder if the Sir Williams' real problem was that Sam had all the details at his fingertips when decisions needed to be made. My impression of them from his past comments is that they couldn't be bothered to get down to the nitty-gritty themselves.
It would have been fascinating to hear how Sam tactfully pointed this out - he was not yet in a position to say: "Look it up yourselves, you lazy b............'s"

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