Thursday 16 January 1661/62

Towards Cheapside; and in Paul’s Churchyard saw the funeral of my Lord Cornwallis, late Steward of the King’s House, a bold profane talking man, go by, and thence I to the Paynter’s, and there paid him 6l. for the two pictures, and 36s. for the two frames. From thence home, and Mr. Holliard and my brother Tom dined with me, and he did give me good advice about my health. In the afternoon at the office, and at night to Sir W. Batten, and there saw him and Captain Cock and Stokes play at cards, and afterwards supped with them. Stokes told us, that notwithstanding the country of Gambo is so unhealthy, yet the people of the place live very long, so as the present king there is 150 years old, which they count by rains: because every year it rains continually four months together. He also told us, that the kings there have above 100 wives a-piece, and offered him the choice of any of his wives to lie with, and so he did Captain Holmes. So home and to bed.

26 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

Now where is this Gambo again? Near the yogurt-eaters of Bulgaria?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

most likely the Gambia; the Portuguese had been there 150 years earlier.

dirk  •  Link


There are several cities/regions in Africa named Gambo (from Ethiopia up to the Central African Republic), bur I agree with Araujo that (The) Gambia seems the most likely candidate, considering its history:

A Latvian Duke was the first to build a fortified trading post on an island in the river Gambia in 1651. The English captured the fort in 1661, subsequently known as Fort James or James Island, after James, Duke of York. This fort became a trading base for gold and ivory and later for slaves (Cf. Kunta Kinteh, "Roots"). The governor of James Island forced all non-English ships entering the River Gambia to pay taxes on their goods. Ships that tried to evade the taxes were fired upon. In 1695, Fort James was taken by the French after. It was returned in 1697 and then captured again in 1702.

This area was later to become the British colony known as Senegambia, whitch covered present day Senegal and The Gambia.

Summarized from:…

dirk  •  Link


According to

In 2002 (last year in the database), £6 from 1662 would have been worth £491.23, using the retail price index. And similarly 36s from 1662 would be £147.37

Take these values as a reasonable approximation of true purchasing power.

So, the portraits are costing Sam a considerable sum of money…

AussieAnnie  •  Link

Did Captain Stokes or Captain Holmes "lie" with the King's wife/wives? Are they not queens?

Did the advice regarding Sam's health include more leafy greens and less processed meat (eg brawn), and, even a bit of fruit, if possible? Sam's diet, as shown to us, leaves a lot to be desired.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"choice of wives to lie with"
Although, there appears to be a scanning error in the last line, it seems to read that both Stokes and Holmes took advantage of the King's unusually generous hospitality (or at least boasted they did), which is likely to confirm Sam's paranoia about Holmes being a womaniser and with naughty designs on Beth!

dirk  •  Link

The King's wives

Acording to local custom the King would have had many "wives", most of which would be called "concubines" in more modern terminology, and which would have been considered as his personal property (with absolute power over their life or death - and anything else). Nothing wrong in lending one to the powerful white man, no? :-)

(I remember reading a French book called "Segou” - I forgot by whom - some years ago, vividly describing this kind of thing.)

john lauer  •  Link

Since we all hope the Paynter jacked the price up on Sam, for the way he continually harassed him, I wonder how the price was negotiated, or was it fixed from the outset. What was the custom, I wonder; the paynter's clientele would have 'outranked' him, but he depended on their favor.

vicenzo  •  Link

Ah! The purchasing power of a Quid. 6 of them could get you a mayde for two years, or 120 chickens,180 lbs of sausages, 42 lbs of chocloate, or half a yard of flanders lace, or 8 silk stockings. It can be very confusing.

vicenzo  •  Link

Is it better to be an old man's darling or to be a young man's slave?"...kings there have above 100 wives a-piece..."

Australian Susan  •  Link

The King of Gambia
I think whether they were deemed wives or concubines would have mattered ne'er a jot - they would still have had no rights! Wish Sam had commented on this - intriguing to know if he was titilated, appalled, envious, disbelieving (the male conquest myth is like the fishing story myth...), or what.

Mary  •  Link

and so he did Captain Holmes.

No scanning error in this line according to the L&M edition. The sense is that the king offered one of his wives to Capt. Stokes and similarly (and so he did) offered one to Capt. Holmes.

L&M footnote records that a later voyager to Gambia in 1694, a Capt. Phillips, led a party that got into bad trouble merely by peeping into the wives' quarters.

Pedro.  •  Link


The Portuguese were first at Gambia in 1456, and called it "Cambio" meaning trade..

Maurie Beck  •  Link

The King's wives

Nothing wrong in lending one to the Englishmen unless they had the pox.

language hat  •  Link

"A Latvian Duke was the first to build a fortified trading post"

With that familiar adjective "Latvian" you write out of history one of my favorite forgotten historical entities, the Duchy of Courland:…

It reached its peak with the great Duke Jacob Kettler:

"Jacob established the merchant fleet of the Duchy of Courland, with its main harbours in Ventspils and Liepaja. In 1651 the Duchy even gained its first colony in Africa, St. Andrew's Island at the Gambia River and established Jacob Fort there. The main export goods were ivory, gold, furs, spices. Soon afterwards, in 1652, another colony was established in Tobago in the West Indies. There the main export goods were sugar, tobacco, coffee and spices."

Unfortunately, the Duchy was a victim of the Swedish-Polish wars and wound up becoming a province of Russia before the Revolution; it's now part of Latvia, but that's irrelevant to the seventeenth century.

vicenzo  •  Link

interesting constraint on 'free press'
Bill to prevent disorderly Printing.
Hodie 1avice lecta est Billa, "An Act for preventing the frequent Abuses in printing seditious, treasonable, and unlicensed Books and Pamphlets; and for regulating Printing, and (Footnote *) Printing Presses."

From: British History Online
Source: House of Lords Journal Volume 11: 16 January 1662. Journal of the House of Lords: volume 11, ().
Date: 18/01/2005

Pedro.  •  Link

John Evelyn on this day.

16 Having notice of his R: Highnesse the Duke of Yorks intention to visite my poor habitation and Garden this day, I returned; where he was pleasd to do me that honour of his owne accord: and to stay some time viewing such things as I had to entertaine his curiosity; after which he caused me to dine with him at the Treasurer of the Navys house, & to sit with him coverd at the same table: There were with his Highnesse The Duke of Ormond & severall Lords: Then they viewed some of my Ground, about a project of a Sasse or recep-tacle for ships to be moored in; which was laied aside, as a fancy of Sir Nic: Crisp &c: After this I accompanied the Duke to an East India vessel that lay at Black-Wall, where we had Entertainnt of several curiosities: among other spiritous drinks, as Punch &c, they gave us Canarie that had ben carried to, & brought back from the Indies, which was indeede incomparably good: So I returnd to Lond, with his highnesse. This night was acted before his Majestie the Widow, a lewd play:

Charlotte  •  Link


The amount scans in as 6l but I think it was established in a previous annotation that it is actually 6/- which means 6 shillings, not 6 pounds.

Mary  •  Link

6l. = £6

No scanning error here: the L&M (definitive modern)edition also shows italic l, abbreviation for ‘pounds’. The previous annotations also came to the conclusion that the sum in question was pounds and not shillings.

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

- Steward of the King - according to Warrington this should be: treasurer.

pat stewart cavalier  •  Link

6l. for the two pictures, and 36s. for the two frames.
Of course 6l = 6 £ (pounds) and 36s = 36 shillings.

Second Reading

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Dirk : "In 2002 (last year in the database), £6 from 1662 would have been worth £491.23, using the retail price index. And similarly 36s from 1662 would be £147.37. . .

"So, the portraits are costing Sam a considerable sum of money.

Two hand-painted portraits would have cost a lot more than £491 in 2007. The frames would also cost more than £147 for two unless they were a poor grade and were bought at a discount store. Sam got a bargain compared to 2007.

jpmrb  •  Link

Very classy new design, congratulations!

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the kings there have above 100 wives a-piece, and offered him the choice of any of his wives to lie with, and so he did Captain Holmes."

Cf, the description of a visit to one of these kings in Gambia by a slave-trader, Capt. Phillips, in 1694: A Collection of voyages and travels [microform] : some now first printed from original manuscripts, others now first published in English : in six volumes with a general preface giving an account of the progress of navigation from its first beginning by Churchill, Awnsham, d. 1728; Churchill, John, fl. 1695, vi. 214+. He estimated his royal host to be [age] c. 60but says that these tribes kept no account of time (other travelers report them as reckoning in lunar months). Phillips' party got into severe trouble by merely peeping into the royal wives' quarters. [L&M note)

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