Thursday 3 July 1662

Up by four o’clock and to my office till 8 o’clock, writing over two copies of our contract with Sir W. Rider, &c., for 500 ton of hempe, which, because it is a secret, I have the trouble of writing over as well as drawing.

Then home to dress myself, and so to the office, where another fray between Sir R. Ford and myself about his yarn, wherein I find the board to yield on my side, and was glad thereof, though troubled that the office should fall upon me of disobliging Sir Richard.

At noon we all by invitation dined at the Dolphin with the Officers of the Ordnance; where Sir W. Compton, Mr. O’Neale, and other great persons, were, and a very great dinner, but I drank as I still do but my allowance of wine.

After dinner, was brought to Sir W. Compton a gun to discharge seven times, the best of all devices that ever I saw, and very serviceable, and not a bawble; for it is much approved of, and many thereof made.

Thence to my office all the afternoon as long as I could see, about setting many businesses in order. In the evening came Mr. Lewis to me, and very ingeniously did enquire whether I ever did look into the business of the Chest at Chatham; and after my readiness to be informed did appear to him, he did produce a paper, wherein he stated the government of the Chest to me; and upon the whole did tell me how it hath ever been abused, and to this day is; and what a meritorious act it would be to look after it; which I am resolved to do, if God bless me; and do thank him very much for it.

So home, and after a turn or two upon the leads with my wife, who has lately had but little of my company, since I begun to follow my business, but is contented therewith since she sees how I spend my time, and so to bed.

29 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

"our contract with Sir W. Rider, &c., for 500 ton of hempe, which, because it is a secret, I have the trouble of writing over as well as drawing."

---by which he means he must make a duplicate or duplicates himself, in addition to "drawing it up"?

"but is contented therewith since she sees how I spend my time,"---though many a spouse has Worked Late elsewhere.

Pauline  •  Link

"...the trouble of writing over as well as drawing ..."
I take it to mean capture the provisions accurately and in the proper kind of language, etc.--draw up the contract--- as well as actually write up the final official copies in duplicate or triplicate. This last usually done by a clerk with careful penmanship in a steno-like manner.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"but I drunk as I still do but my allowance of wine"
one glass?(very healthy)half a bottle?

Australian Susan  •  Link

Busy day - from dawn at around 4 (working till 8am in the 17th equivalent of pyjamas)for "as long as I could see) - quite late into the evening at this time of year. I do like the the "ingenious" Mr Lewis - obviously very frustrated at the abuses of the Chatham Chest (founded by Drake to relive poor sailors, but now largely full of IOUs and receipts for payments to sinecure office-holders). No doubt Lewis has quietly observed what has been going on and decided, if he wants anything done, Sam is his man - and Sam jumps at it!
I also like the "not a bawble" - cf. the 20th/21st century "boys' toys".
Elizabeth is pleased Sam is spending much time in the office - is that because he makes more money that way or because he is safe from temptation?? Maybe a bit of both.

Stolzi  •  Link

A "fray" about the "yarn"

hee hee hee!

David A. Smith  •  Link

"a meritorious act to look after it; which I am resolved to do"

Am I correct that here is Sam volunteering to add yet another responsibility to his expanding list? And one that he is taking on principally to straighten out a mess and eliminate a historical abuse?

Pedro  •  Link

"a meritorious act"

Perhaps the extra responsibility he takes on is seen as an honour, but he also sees some reward, in standing and monetry terms, may flow from it?

Peg  •  Link

"a meritorious act"

And here I was thinking Sam was being charmingly altruistic, but now I’m wondering. And wouldn’t he be curious to find out who owes on the IOUs? A willingness to take on yet one more beaurocratic chore is oft rewarded by inside information!

Australian Susan  •  Link

Must leap to Sam's defence here! No evidence that this was not the first time Sam had ever had the Chatham Chest drawn to his attention: the corrpution which had crept in over 80 years or so was entrenched. But Lewis had, itseems, been queitly observing Sam and has now thought - he's the one! This was to protect and further the cause of ordinary seaman, who had no-one to champion them. This was before the days of State welfare or even of Church support such as the Mission to Seaman (now Mission to Seafarers - it's gone gender inclusive). These men were the mainstay of the Navy - Sam may worry about hemp and masts and canvas and salt pork, but he knows too that the seamen must be paid and looked after. He really is being altruistic (see Bryant "Samuel Pepys: the man in the making" p. 178). And it is Batten who is one of the ones making money out of this...... (well, according to Bryant, that is).

Pauline  •  Link

Pedro's picture link
I'm quite blown away that it is an actual chest! They put the money in there? Or the records and accounting?

Pedro  •  Link

"a meritorious act"

David asks the question regarding Sam and the Chest. I ask the question, in effect, as to how Sam is using the adjective "meritorious", to get some idea as to why he is taking on the task. Perhaps Language Hat can help as to the way the adjective was used at the time?

If we look in the background we see a much more detailed account of the chest, and with hindsight, we may think that Sam is a champion of the ordinary sailor and against corruption. But I have a feeling, in what we have seen so far, that Sam would only take a job on if he could see a future reward, even if it be boring holes.

Mary  •  Link

The Chatham Chest.

The chest itself can be seen at Chatham Historic Naval Dockyard. As can some of Pett's model ships, the ropewalk (you can make your own length of rope in the traditional manner) and many other delights. Well worth a visit.

Mary  •  Link

Treasure chests.

Old, large country houses can often show examples of chests such as the Chatham Chest. These are enormously heavy, iron-bound storage-chests usually made from very heavy oak timbers which were, indeed, used for storing actual coin. They often have elaborate locks, sometimes requiring two different keys (for security reasons)to be used for opening and closing them.

language hat  •  Link


The relevant senses in the OED:

1. Of an action: entitling a person to reward. Now chiefly (Theol.): (of good works, a penance, etc.) entitling a person to reward from God; that produces or accrues merit.
1438 Petition in J. H. Fisher et al. Anthol. Chancery Eng. (1984) 177 So {th}at by the ferveure and swetnesse of your high deuocion.. and by the labours of your seid poure Prest this so nedefull and meritorious work may come to gode effecte. [&c]

2. Deserving reward or gratitude. Now also more generally: well-deserving; meriting commendation; having merit.
1516 R. FABYAN New Chron. Eng. (1811) VII. 482 Good and merytoryous dedys shulde be holden in memorye. [...] 1631 B. JONSON Staple of Newes II. iv. 61 in Wks. II, My meritorious Captaine..Merit will keepe no house, nor pay no house rent. 1651 T. HOBBES Leviathan II. xxvii. 153 What Marius makes a Crime, Sylla shall make meritorious. [&c]

Now, you might think "entitling a person to reward" implies possible monetary reward, but in fact none of the citations involve anything other than spiritual compensation, so I think we can safely say Sam is simply calling it a good/worthy thing to do.

Pedro  •  Link


Thank you LH for the above and I apologise to Sam for thinking that he was in it for the money. But I think that he would assume that the meritorious act might merit commendation, and therefore improve his standing in his community.

Peter  •  Link

La Rochefoucauld said something to the effect that our virtues are often vices in disguise. I'm sure Pedro is right and that Sam's thoughts here are not entirely selfless. A modern Sam may think of it as a win/win situation.

tc  •  Link

...500 ton of hempe, which, because it is a secret...

One would no doubt wish to keep it a secret today too, if one were making a deal for 500 tons of hemp!

Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is of course known for other uses today than simply the making of fiber and cordage. One wonders whether its psychoactive/medicinal uses were known in Sam's day...?

Australian Susan  •  Link

Money Chests
After 1602 and the passing of the Elizabethan Poor Law Act, Church Wardens were required to collect and adminster the Poor Rate. They kept the money in a chest with two locks in the Parish Church. Some of these can still be seen in situ: an example is St Mary's in Whitby.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

"As a rule, where the broom does not sweep, the dust does not vanish of itself." Mao Tse Tung

Office politics coming thick and fast:
The other commissioners force Sam to be their heavy hand with free-spending and well-connected R. Ford, who is close to Batten (…)

Then serendipitously Sam is asked to peer into the management of the Chest at Chatham, where in due course he will discover that it has been corrupted by its master, Sir Wm. Batten, abetted by Commissioner Pett. (…)

Pepys is a new broom for the Navy, and he is stirring up the dust indeed.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"After dinner, was brought to Sir W. Compton a gun to discharge seven times, the best of all devices that ever I saw, and very serviceable, and not a bawble; for it is much approved of, and many thereof made."

L&M: Repeaters were occasionally made but never widely used. Some were revolvers; others employed a succession of charges loaded down the barrel.
See C. Singer et al., Hist. Technol., iii. pp. 258-9, 362 &n.; John N. George, Engl. Pistols, pp. 33+. Cf. also Birch, i. 396;… and

Third Reading

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