Wednesday 4 June 1662

Up early, and Mr. Moore comes to me and tells me that Mr. Barnwell is dead, which troubles me something, and the more for that I believe we shall lose Mr. Shepley’s company.

By and by Sir W. Batten and I by water to Woolwich; and there saw an experiment made of Sir R. Ford’s Holland’s yarn (about which we have lately had so much stir; and I have much concerned myself for our ropemaker, Mr. Hughes, who has represented it as bad), and we found it to be very bad, and broke sooner than, upon a fair triall, five threads of that against four of Riga yarn; and also that some of it had old stuff that had been tarred, covered over with new hemp, which is such a cheat as hath not been heard of. I was glad of this discovery, because I would not have the King’s workmen discouraged (as Sir W. Batten do most basely do) from representing the faults of merchants’ goods, where there is any.

After eating some fish that we had bought upon the water at Falconer’s, we went to Woolwich, and there viewed our frames of our houses, and so home, and I to my Lord’s, who I find resolved to buy Brampton Manor of Sir Peter Ball, at which I am glad. Thence to White Hall, and showed Sir G. Carteret the cheat, and so to the Wardrobe, and there staid and supped with my Lady. My Lord eating nothing, but writes letters to-night to several places, he being to go out of town to-morrow. So late home and to bed.

28 Annotations

First Reading

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

"went to Woolwich and there viewed our frames of our houses"
Does anyone know what this means?
Also, interesting that Sam has fallen out with both Sir Williams in a short time - is he, in modern terms, pushing his luck?

Kilroy  •  Link

I recall an earlier entry with Sam walking amongst the ship yards and actually talking with the workers. Especially the rope makers.

That recollection also included the view that this he was just glad-handing with the drones in the trenches.

But Here I feel he makes it clear that he respects honest feed-back from those working with his direction. As opposed to simply serving beneath him (and to be blamed for any cock-ups as implied would happen under Sir Batten?)

I would love to have Sam as a boss!

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

Sam always had great respect . It be always be Mr Barnwell. Two years he be upset when Sam doth hear bad news, which proved to be false. Then Sam doth record "As about taking care to write to my uncle that Mr. Barnewell's papers should be locked up, in case he should die, he being now suspected to be very ill.” 2nd jan 61.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

Were there be monies, there be someone to pull a fast one, followed by the Cover Up. Sam is now playing it straight but toes be trod on, very tricky? It doth sound that Batten be modified [persuaded?] in his thinking.
Magna res est Vocis et silentii temperamentum.
Seneca the Younger Proverbs , 74
it be a great thing to know when to keep mouth shut and when to speak?
His mettle be tested twice in two days.

Mary  •  Link

"the frames of our houses"

This refers to the plan (outlined in the diary entry for 5th April 1662) for the Pepys and Batten Navy Office houses to be enlarged by the construction of an additionl top floor. The timber framework for these extensions is being made in the navy yard.

According to L&M, this was the most extensive work undertaken by Pepys in the house. It gained him four extra rooms, including a wainscotted dining-room. Total cost for the building work (to both houses) seems to have come to something like £320.

Pity the poor maids who eventually had to bring the dinner up all those stairs to the new dining-room.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

all those stairs

Is this the famous pair of stairs? At some point the dumbwaiter was invented to save maid's legs and awkward spills, and speed delivery of hot food to an upper dining room. I've known houses where the dumbwaiter was large enough to accomodate a grown woman.

Xjy  •  Link

Vocis et silentii temperamentum
Yep. The tempering, moderation/government/control, appropriate mixing of speech and silence.

Xjy  •  Link

"Riga yarn"
In addition to Sam's operational tic (he's a fascinating combination of Puritan workaholic and Restoration carpet-bagger), we should remember how important the Baltic was for naval supplies back then. Timber, tar, tallow, tow...
In Eugene Onegin (early 19th century) Pushkin mentions that luxury products from London and Paris are imported to Russian in exchange for forest goods and pork fat.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Good to see Sam showing respect for the workmen who report abuses. Charting his growing affection for and sense of responsibility to the Navy is fascinating.

Of course it was obviously Sir Will Batten's deal in jeopardy. We'll see what happens should one of Pepys' "friends" furnish inferior materials.

Birdie  •  Link

"Xiy - Riga yarn": Riga is the capital of Latvia. It is not a Russian port. In Sam's day I think Latvia was a province of Sweden.

JWB  •  Link

Funem Habes? Got Rope?

Three items of interest
1)Hemp rope had to be tarred to withstand saltwater & wasn't 'til discovery& use of manila that rigging could go un-tarred.
2)Lengths of up to 300 ft. required because the lines could not be spliced together. The splice increased the diameter of the rope causing it to bind in the pullies.
3)In 1664 ropemakers required to incorporate colored thread in the twist to identify the yard (like commercial explosive makers today).

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Sir R. Ford

was, according to Pauline's note from August 2004, an overseer of Batten's will, implying close friendship. He was also a neighbor of the Navy office and a leading merchant. Here’s Pepys overseeing — or at least called to witness — an evaluation of Ford’s goods. They fail the test. Batten wants the test results covered up. Pepys reports them to the Navy Treasurer. Grinding of molars by Batten & Ford. “If we don’t get this Pepys out of there, how are we ever going to make any money?”

JWB  •  Link

...pushing his luck
He's riding on Sandwich's coattails.

Stolzi  •  Link

Why does Mr Barnwell being dead imply the loss of Mr. Shepley's company?

And let us hope that the tallow Pepys was "serving in" is of good quality!

Stolzi  •  Link

I did read the background, but all I discovered was that Barnwell and Shepley both worked for the Montagu family.

Perhaps he means that if Barnwell has died, Shepley will have to take over for him and live in the country?

Australian Susan  •  Link

For those of you within reach, you can visit the Chatham Dockyard in Kent and see the working Ropery (and buy rope!). This is 18th century reconstruction, but the technology would have been much the same in Sam's day. Website…

Australian Susan  •  Link

JWB's find is a really comprehensive site! I especially liked the pictorial guide to hand made rope step-by-step - I'm sure Sam would have recognised it.

Xjy  •  Link

"Riga yarn"
Birdie: "Riga is the capital of Latvia. It is not a Russian port. In Sam's day I think Latvia was a province of Sweden.”
My point was about the Baltic — all of it, including Finland (then Swedish, like the south-eastern Baltic countries — Sweden was a Great Power at the time). The Finnish town of Oulu was a great tar centre, for instance.
The Pushkin reference was to show the lasting importance of the Baltic for naval supplies, not to claim that Riga or its products were Russian.
The importance of the Baltic as a natural economic region is re-emerging now, and it will soon be one of the major regions of Europe again.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"Riga yarn"
If rope from Riga ropeyards had become synonymous with high quality rope, maybe the term "Riga yarn" was used of any rope from the Baltic area which was of exceptional quality. Much like Shetland wool - not much of that comes actually from Shetland now I would think, but you know if wool is described as Shetland, that it is of great fineness and softness.

language hat  •  Link

I believe the old-fashioned pronunciation is "RYE-ga," some variant of which would have been used in Pepys' day. And just south of Livonia was the Duchy of Courland (or Kurland), which had had its quasi-independent heyday in the 1640s and early '50s but was crushed as a side effect of the Swedish-Polish War of 1655-60.

Glyn  •  Link

Hence the following well-known limerick:

There was a young lady of Riga
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And a smile on the face of the tiger.

Glyn  •  Link

England had a well-developed trade with the Baltic. The outward journey was easier and shorter than sailing to the Mediterranean, and the countries that they were sailing past were usually more friendly than Spain or France.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

William Hughes, ropemaker at Woolwich yard, had written unfavorably to Batten about Ford's yarn on 17 May; on the other hand, his subordinates Falconer and Bartram had on 2 June reported a successful trial of it. Hughes was dismissed by Batten a few weeks later., and Ford seems to have had his revenge on Pepys in the autumn:… (L&M note)

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Latvia has had an extremely complicated history, and as a single entity did not exist in Sam's day, or indeed until the 20th century. Modern Latvia is (approximately) composed of the older territories of Livonia and Courland. At the time of the diary, Riga was the Capital of Swedish Livonia, which existed from 1629 -1721.

It's ethnicity was very complex too, including Letts, Estonians, Germans, Poles, Lithuanians and more.

John York  •  Link

The trade in rope from Riga reminded me of the Hanseatic League, which by Pepys time had broken up, but which in the 21st Century is reforming as a forum for towns and cities. There is a useful illustration of the trade routes which existed in the time of the League at…
This illustrates how easily goods could flow from Riga to London.

There is also a brief history of Riga. During the Livonian War (1558–83), Riga became a Free imperial city until the 1581 Treaty of Drohiczyn ceded Livonia to the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth until the city was captured by Sweden in the Polish–Swedish War (1621–1625).…

Third Reading

Log in to post an annotation.

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