Monday 8 September 1662

Up betimes and to my office preparing an account to give the Duke this morning of what we have of late done at the office. About 7 o’clock I went forth thinking to go along with Sir John Minnes and the rest, and I found them gone, which did vex me, so I went directly to the old Swan and took boat before them to Sir G. Carteret’s lodgings at Whitehall, and there staying till he was dressed talking with him, he and I to St. James’s, where Sir Williams both and Sir John were come, and so up with Mr. Coventry to the Duke; who, after he was out of his bed, did send for us in; and, when he was quite ready, took us into his closet, and there told us that he do intend to renew the old custom for the Admirals to have their principal officers to meet them once a-week, to give them an account what they have done that week; which I am glad of: and so the rest did tell his Royal Highness that I could do it best for the time past. And so I produced my short notes, and did give him an account of all that we have of late done; and proposed to him several things for his commands, which he did give us, and so dismissed us. The rest to Deptford, I to the Exchequer to meet Mr. Townsend, where I hear he is gone to the Sun tavern, and there found him with some friends at breakfast, which I eat with him, and so we crossed the water together, and in walking I told him my brother Tom’s intentions for a wife, which he would do me all favour in to Mr. Young, whose kinswoman he do look after. We took boat again at the Falcon, and there parted, and I to the old Swan, and so to the Change, and there meeting Sir W. Warren did step to a tavern, and there sat and talked about price of masts and other things, and so broke up and to my office to see what business, and so we took water again at the Tower.

I over to Redriffe, and there left him in the boat and walked to Deptford, and there up and down the yard speaking with people, and so Sir W. Pen coming out of the payhouse did single me out to tell me Sir J. Minnes’ dislike of my blinding his lights over his stairs (which indeed is very bad) and blocking up the house of office on the leads. Which did trouble me. So I went into the payhouse and took an occasion of speaking with him alone, and did give him good satisfaction therein, so as that I am well pleased and do hope now to have my closet on the leads without any more trouble, for he do not object against my having a door upon the leads, but that all my family should not make it a thoroughfare, which I am contented with.

So to the pay, and in the evening home in the barge, and so to my office, and after doing some business there to my lodgings, and so to bed.

35 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

Back to those troublesome leads again: is Minnes's living space directly underneath, so that when Pepys & Co. cross them it's as if they're treading on a tin roof right above M.'s head?

Has any annotator encountered, in her or his various readings in ancillary Pepys material, any detailed attempt at a thorough reconstruction, verbal or visual, of this house/Office as it was during the period of the Diary?

Glyn  •  Link

It's worse than that Bradford.

The "house of office" is where you went "to do your business" (medieval play on words):…

and I'm very surprised there's one on the roof, but I suppose it saves having to climb down all those stairs.

I've seen at least one engraving of the Navy Office from the early 1700s but frustratingly cannot remember where it was.

Roger  •  Link

Wow, I'd be happy to do all that in a month! I think we can see here, in just one day, why Sam's been hailed as an important man in our Navy's history. Such energy(and a little cunning).

Glyn  •  Link

Regarding blinding his lights over the stairs. Does this mean blocking up the sunlight into his windows in some way?

It must have been supremely gratifying for Pepys that the others told the Duke that he was the one to be able to tell him what the Board was doing over the last several weeks; and despite having no preparation he was able to do exactly that.

By the way, if you're in London on the weekend of 17 and 18 Sept don't forget:…

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

"...which did vex me,..." where Samuell be ready to put Batten down the hatch?

Linda F  •  Link

Re: blinding the lights: I read this as referring to some form of overhead fanlights (glazed skylights) above the Minneses' stairwell, lighting it by day until adding a story to SP's house blocked them significantly (blinded the lights).

Australian Susan  •  Link

"lights" is still a term used in English conveyancing documents - it refers to any way of natural light. Sometimes rights to not have lights blocked is written into deeds, so you have a comeback on anyone who builds so as to block your light. In the days before electricity, access to natural light was important and especially so if you did any trade where good light was necessary. For example, in Bollington, Cheshire, (and there are probably other examples, but I used to live near there so knew it), you can see old weavers' dwellings, dating from the time when weaving was done on handlooms in houses and the work was delivered and collected by the "piece man". These houses have huge windows (compared to the size of the house) in the upper rooms where the weaving was carried on, so the weavers could see well. Having naked flames near flammable cloth and a wooden loom was to be avoided. The house my parents last owned in York dated from 1763 and the title deeds had a reference to rights of lights. If the Naval Office complex has some form of title deeds, there may be a reference to lights in it and Sam could be facing costly restoration work!

Australian Susan  •  Link

Extra note: I think what has happened is that Sam's grandiose new upper storey now blocks the light which previously came into a window through to Sir John's staircase (you need good light on stairs to avoid tripping, especially if you are a lady with a lot of skirts and can't see your own feet).

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

H of O, and traffic to the Leads and blinded[ lost of sunlight and northern lights that be favourite of any artist]. Adding a storey has caused some inconvience to his Neighbour, heavy footed, dothe lead to headaches,disturbing the early sleepers,
Lucky for Sir M. no WC[?] Flushing at 2 bells, would cause the same problem of disturbing the peace,with the trooping of the 'P' household, all night. Modern housing has the the same Jacque problem.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

"...And so I produced my short notes, and did give him an account of all that we have of late done..." says he pulling out his ....... like any modern lad that has his Scouts motto naileed to his little grey cells. A wonderful example of being prepared when opportunity picks a lousy moment.
Note, that they stood up and said [so Sam says],Peeps has all that information with all the bells and whistles, he was up all night down at kin.. my Liege.

JWB  •  Link

All in a days work
Pepys was secretary to the board. His job was to keep minutes & records. Calling on him to report, I think, was SOP, no particular honor or preparedness involved.

Firenze  •  Link

As Roger says, a busy day. I count 13 or 14 separate locations mentioned - office, taverns, St James palace, naval shipyards, private lodgings - and some five trips by water, as well as various walks. Plus a high-level presentation to the MD, numerous other meetings, bit of networking, some checking on the workforce - busy executives clearly not just a modern invention. And all without the aid of PAs, telephones, email etc.

Xjy  •  Link

"Up betimes"
Can't remember if I've mentioned this before, but "betimes" is pure Germanic. One modern Swedish word for early is "bitti" as in "i morgon bitti" - early tomorrow. This is short for the older "bittida" very early, borrowed from Low German "bi tide" in time. "Tid" in Swedish means time, cf yuletide etc.

J A Gioia  •  Link

took us into his closet

i was struck today, really for the first time, that for all the business sam and his peers attend to, how very little is done in surroundings we would consider 'businesslike'.

in lieu of office buildings and conference centers, sam canters from tavern to coffee house to sitting rooms, and warehouses, even taking the occasional meeting with some dignitary who greets him in bed and nightshirt. all of these places now are either off limits for business, or just the place to drop by for a booze-up after the day or deal is done.

before elevators and phones, it paid for businessmen to be out and about. and i am betting that 'on the go' meetings were a hell of a lot shorter when the participants were not stuck in a meeting room at headquarters or near the airport.

Tom Burns  •  Link

Sam obviously is aware of the importance of building relationships for any successful businessman, and this is a day spent in that endeavor. I wonder if Minnes left Sam flat because of his dislike of the results of the construction project? It is to Sam's credit that, once he learned of Minnes' pique, he moved immediately to mollify him.

Nix  •  Link

Lights --

From Black's Law Dictionary:

"Ancient Lights. Lights or windows in a house, which have been used in their present sate, without molestation or interruption, for twenty years, and upwards. To these the owner of the house has a right by prescription or occupancy, so that they cannot be ostructed or closed by the owner of the adjoining land which they may overlook."

The "doctrine of ancient lights" was mocked in 20th century law schools, but obviously this would have been an important attribute of urban property in days when the only artificial source of lighting was open flame.

Rex Gordon  •  Link

More "office" work, 17th century-style

Until the advent of (almost) universal indoor plumbing, there was a class of tradesmen that came around to remove the contents of your houses of office when they filled up. The loads were carried to one of the several "Dunghill Lanes" around the city, or if the men weren't inclined to haul it so far, dumped into the Fleet or Wallbrook in spite of the possibility of a fine. (My job sometimes makes me empathize with those fellows!)

Jeannine  •  Link

"Tom's intentions for a wife, which he would do me all favour in to Mr. Young, whose kinswoman he do look after…” Does this mean that Tom is still open to potential candidates? I sort of thought he may have already narrowed down his choices (but could be wrong here). Of interest, since the topic is politics with the higher ups—it also seems to work for Sam on other ways too, like Mr. Young, trying to suggest a potential “candidate” for Tom. As mom used to always say when I was growing up…”it’s not what you know but who you know”….a theme that Sam seems to be managing quite nicely these days.

Matthew Knight  •  Link

"blinding the lights"

Lights is a term still used in the glazing industry to describe a pane of glass.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

"...narrowed down his choices ..." wishfull thinking, more like, where be the takers's, He stutters, girls do not like men that cannnot say their name properly.

Jeannine  •  Link

Cumgranissalis...Lucky for one annotator I can think of that girls still like annotators whose names they can't pronounce.........

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"blinding the lights"
It could have been a matter of life and death, light that is;rickets was rampant and there was no vitamin D added milk.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I'm still wondering about that house of office on the roof leads...

It's got to go somewhere. Though perhaps we're missing out on a wonder of 17th century plumbing.

"Mr. Evelyn, you must come and see this." Sam leads his guest topside...

"Pepys showing off the eighth wonder of the world again?" Batten eyes Penn as they spy the two men on the leads. Evelyn clearly quite impressed...But somewhat puzzled. mouths to Batten.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

how else woulds thou describe ye olde windows when thy neighbour removes the light of day and moon, in less than a sentence and make ye olde point. "...blinding the lights..." Ye whom live in rooms that never see the light of day except if ye be a CEO or a M/D de ltd., ye olde eyeballs buzzed at 100/120 or 50/60 cps for the hours of counting ones farthings. No wonder the headache pills be popular.

Ruben  •  Link

I saw in an old German castle (near Dortmund) an "house of office" built over what looked like a chimney, just instead of taking gases up took matters down. No syphon, no water, no nothing, just a hole ending three floors below. There it continued with a sink like all other "houses". Maybe that was the kind of WC installed in Sam's place.
We had a nice discussion about WC some 2 years ago. There was a nice contribution by Vicente, the annotator that later metamorphoseid into our ineffable salty pinch. Before that we also treated this matter and I remember learning from other annotators about WC working on earth instead of water, something less wasteful to the environment, but more smelly.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Doune Castle
This is one of Scotland's best preserved castles. On one side, you can clearly see the privy built out in an angle of the walls, which simply opened to the elements. (not somewhere you would sit long on a typical Scots November day.) My husband solemnly pointed it out to our small children as "where Mary Queen of Scots went to the toilet". (she was a prisoner there for a time). The children were suitably awestruck.
In the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Sussex, you can see examples of medieval architecture with privies stuck on the side, so the waste fell to the ground, but I have never heard of one on the roof: either you would have had to have the chimney effect as described in the post above, or carry buckets downstairs (yuck, even by 17th century standards). No plumbing for toilets as yet.

Cumgranissalis  •  Link

"No plumbing for toilets as yet"? It is claimed that Mary Queen of Scots, nemesis, Elizabeth I of un- united kingdom had a water closet. So I would think there be others, but pumping H2O, be the draw back to the royal flush.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

The Royal Flush!!

You crack me up, Mr. C. That, on top of the "P household" and "Batten down the hatch" comments, makes me think you have a bright future at stand-up...

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the Duke...told us that he do intend to renew the old custom for the Admirals to have their principal officers to meet them once a-week, to give them an account what they have done that week; which I am glad of:"

These Monday morning meetings in the Duke's closet (usually in St James Palace in summer and at Whitehall in winter) were regularly held during the diary period. They were a resumption of pre-revolution practice, and no formal order about them appears to have been made. (L&M note)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"So to the pay"

This was the quarterly pay of the officers of the yard, their clerks, the watchmen, boatswains, et al., and, in this case, of 29 ships. It took several days.

Bill  •  Link

“my blinding his lights over his stairs”

LIGHTS, … in Architecture, they are the Windows or Openings in the Walls to let in the Air and Light.
---A new general English dictionary. T. Dyche, 1735.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

I like how he is catching people in or just out of bed. Clearly Pepy's is THE early riser.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

‘Light . . 13. Law. The light which falls on the windows of a house from the heavens, and which the owner claims to enjoy unobscured by obstructions erected by his neighbours. Usu. in pl. In England the inscription ‘Ancient Lights’ was frequently put on the face or side of a house adjacent to a site on which lofty buildings may be erected; the object being to give warning that the owner would have ground of action against any person who should obstruct the access of light to his windows .. .
1768 W. Blackstone Comm. Laws Eng. III. 5 If a house or wall is erected so near to mine that it stops my antient lights,..I may enter my neighbour's land, and peaceably pull it down . . ‘

Mary Ellen  •  Link

"and blocking up the house of office on the leads. "
"for he do not object against my having a door upon the leads, but that all my family should not make it a thoroughfare"

I laughed at this one. Sounds like he got the toilet clogged. Picturing SAM using the office to relieve himself after being so constipated as of late. Then too many people were using it. I used to hear 'do not make it a thouroughfare' and I understood it to be too many people going by.
He mentions three things. Blinding the light, blocking the 'toilet' and too much foot traffic. Blinding the light does not appear to be directly related to blocking the toilet.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to St. James’s, where Sir Williams both and Sir John were come, and so up with Mr. Coventry to the Duke; "

L&M: These Monday morning meetings in the Duke's closet (usually at St James's Palace in the summer and at Whitehall in the winter) were regularly held during the diary period. They were a resumption of pre-revolutionary practice, and no formal order about then appears to have been made.

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