Friday 7 November 1662

Up and being by appointment called upon by Mr. Lee, he and I to the Tower, to make our third attempt upon the cellar. And now privately the woman, Barkestead’s great confident, is brought, who do positively say that this is the place which he did say the money was hid in, and where he and she did put up the 50,000l.1 in butter firkins; and the very day that he went out of England did say that neither he nor his would be the better for that money, and therefore wishing that she and hers might. And so left us, and we full of hope did resolve to dig all over the cellar, which by seven o’clock at night we performed. At noon we sent for a dinner, and upon the head of a barrel dined very merrily, and to work again. Between times, Mr. Lee, who had been much in Spain, did tell me pretty stories of the customs and other things, as I asked him, of the country, to my great content. But at last we saw we were mistaken; and after digging the cellar quite through, and removing the barrels from one side to the other, we were forced to pay our porters, and give over our expectations, though I do believe there must be money hid somewhere by him, or else he did delude this woman in hopes to oblige her to further serving him, which I am apt to believe.

Thence by coach to White Hall, and at my Lord’s lodgings did write a letter, he not being within, to tell him how things went, and so away again, only hearing that Mrs. Sarah is married, I did go up stairs again and joy her and kiss her, she owning of it; and it seems it is to a cook. I am glad she is disposed of, for she grows old, and is very painfull, —[painstaking]— and one I have reason to wish well for her old service to me. Then to my brother’s, where my wife, by my order, is tonight to stay a night or two while my house is made clean, and thence home, where I am angry to see, instead of the house made in part clean, all the pewter goods and other things are brought up to scouring, which makes the house ten times worse, at which I was very much displeased, but cannot help it. So to my office to set down my journal, and so home and to bed.

32 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

Just so: put the new slipcover on the sofa and see how shabby it makes the old carpet look.

Mrs. Sarah seems to be, from the index to "The Shorter Pepys," the housekeeper to Jemima Mountagu (b. Crew) Sandwich. Can someone with L&M give further particulars? Previous mentions of her in TSP have been just that, her name: she gave Elizabeth a cat on 31 December 1660, "we being much troubled with mice" in their old quarters.

Terry F  •  Link

Bradford, you have made more sense with your searching than I with L&M's Companion and Index.

Jeannine  •  Link

The search for treasure.. reminds me of a lady with 5 little boys who drove her crazy when they were out of school for the summer. She'd tell them about buried treasure in the back yard and send them out with pails, shovels, etc. to play. The yard looked like a disaster but she got a nice quiet break for a few hours for about a week or so, until they gave up. Perhaps Elizabeth is paying this group to keep her "boy" busy and out of trouble.
Also, no disguise is mentioned on the mystery lady today and yet no description of her either. She was probably paid to show up, give the men a days worth of work and is off at a play, or shopping and then tea party with Elizabeth and the Queen.

Terry F  •  Link

Jeannine, do you suppose the mystery lady is getting the "porters" some work?

Terry F  •  Link

Sorry: Jeannine, I see you already opined that.

Terry F  •  Link

Aha! L&M footnote: "Before the Restoration, Pepys had had charge of Sandwich's London household, in which Sarah had been a servant."

Pauline  •  Link

Mrs. Sarah. Aha! that thing that happens to women.…
Get called by their first name. Lose some history in changing to a married name. Get confused with other maids.

Was Sam in charge of the household? Or just in making things pleasant and easy for Mrs. Jem and her crooked neck. In my memory it was an Ann that Sam was interacting with back then...she of the flock mattress.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"We're in the money..." Lee hums, some quantum wormhole providing him with a quite appropriate flash from the future.

Catchy tune, Pepys thinks. Hoisting up his overburdened trousers which oddly enough make a merry accompaniment to Mr. Lee.

"Hist, Lee! Are you mad?" Pepys hisses.

"Sorry." Lee glances round. "A terrible thing we found absolutely nothing today!" Loudly.

"Enough!" Both men pull at their sagging trousers as they clump out of the Tower. Smiling to the guards and the Lieutenant...

"No luck again, Sir John." Pepys sighs, waving. "I shall inform my Lord by letter and mention your care and hospitality."

"Pepys? Are you sure about this?" Lee hisses as the men reach the safety of their carriage. Which, for some odd reason sinks a bit more than the weight of two men.

"Me? Methinks it was your idea, Lee."

"Yes, well...But if Lord Sandwich should suspect." Lee whispers.

"Suspect what? As I'm noting even in my shorthand Diary, we've had no success. Correct, my friend?"

"Oh, absolutely. Not 50,000Ls er 5 shillings worth." Lee beams.

"Will you be still?!!"

Ruben  •  Link

Up stairs - down stairs
"Mrs. Sarah is married, I did go up stairs again and joy her and kiss her,"
So, in Pepy's time up stairs was the place to be for the servants? Or just a coincidence? Something to do with wooden houses vs. XIX century more solid building?

Pauline  •  Link

"...50,000l.1 in butter firkins..."
I find this side-running episode very startling. Such a marker of innocence (man in his twenties) moving to a kind of worldliness (man in reality/cynicism). But Sam has been brought into this by Sandwich and other older advisers. Perhaps they couldn't quite laugh in the face of this treasure, so relegated it to those who needed the lesson? It is so strange.

Ruben  •  Link

Up stairs
Maybe upstairs were to be found the sleeping quarters of the servants, against the kitchen, etc. being in the first floor and the stately rooms in the middle?

Jesse  •  Link

"the woman, Barkestead’s great confident"

So it's a woman. Was the location merely confided to her as we were led to believe or was she physically there when "he and she did put up the 50,000L in butter firkins"? I'd lean towards "he did delude this woman in hopes to oblige her to further serving him". The story "that neither he nor his would be the better for that money, and therefore wishing that she and hers might" sounds close to today's 419 scams - promising a large sum of money for a 'little help' up front.

Terry F  •  Link

Pauline, "Mrs. Sarah" would perhaps have been a term of respect: she was a housekeeper, not a maid (she isn't "Sarah") -- and Mrs. have been prorounced "Mistress" or "MIZ-russ" (we had this discussion many moons ago) -- the custom lingers in the mid-South in US when old-timers address adult woman, even, in the last generation, their wives.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

Upstairs servants quarters.
This was a common arrangement in England until quite recently (and may be still in grand houses, for all I know). I recall looking over an old farmhouse where two large attic rooms were fitted out with wooden bunks along the walls - presumably one room for maids, one for farmhands. There would normally be a seperate staircase to avoid disturbing "The Maister".

Terry F  •  Link

Was up stairs the place to be for the servants?

Perhaps when the family "being away" and the house needing restoration or Mrs. Sarah, as a supervisor, being on patrol with a maid or two at her beck and call?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Ah, Hewer isn't it?"

Will blinks in astonishment...

"Yes, My Lord. Ummn, sir. Mr. Pepys is away from home today. Business at the Tower."

"Oh, indeed? Such a pity." Sandwich beams. "Then allow me to pay my respects to Mrs. Pepys." Friendly stare.

"Sorry, milord." Hewer bows. "She's off at Mr. Pepys' brother's for the day."

Oh?...Slight frown. "Another time, then."

"Ferrers?" As they return to the coach.

"My Lord?"

"Tell the woman she forgot to tell Pepys and Lee the treasure might be buried in the walls."

"Aye, my Lord."

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sam writes here, "did go upstairs again" AFTER he had left the house, having written a note to Sandwich, so I took this to mean he went back up to the drawing room or presence chamber or wherever he had been to write his note to Lord S. Mrs Sarah, being the housekeeper, would have been quite likely to be in this room.
Terry F, however, is spot on about English houses, but the real segregation of servants and masters did not take place until the next century, reaching its worst manifestations (in England anyway) around 1900, when buildings were contrived (and servants trained) to make those doing the work virtually invisible, to the extent that a housemaid in 1900, on being accidently discovered in a room or hallway by the mistress of the house was expected to turn her back and cast her eyes down. Master and Mistress only communicated with Butler, Housekeeper and their personal valet and lady's maid. No such rigid households here in Restoration London.

steveh  •  Link


A great naughty-sounding word, which apparently derives from a Dutch word meaning "quarter", as in a quarter-sized keg. For a picture of a wooden firkin, and an intersting treatise on the (non-Pepys era) burying and aging of butter, check out…

Glyn  •  Link

Although this is a little romantic, I don't think there is anything very far-fetched about this treasure hunt, although it may seem so to us. Surely a close analogy would be modern accountants trying to trace a paper-trail to undisclosed or hidden bank accounts after someone’s death. After all, how many fortunes are “buried” in the Swiss banks without people’s heirs or the relevant tax authorities knowing about them? What does interest me is that Montagu has given Pepys the task of being his man on the spot to make sure that his interests are protected. It’s a definite compliment to his ability and also his honesty.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

[no]thing very far-fetched about this treasure hunt

Yes, I suppose the woman in disguise has her parallel in the woman whistleblower who helped bring down Enron -- but somehow the Tower setting (and the disguise)definitely add romance to an oft-told tale.

Pauline  •  Link

Terry, you missed my point.
My point is that we don't quite know how to look her up because we don't know her last name.

We could google Sarah. And I have checked under Sarah in L&M Companion and in Tomalin. Concluded that without a last name I was lost.

Of course she is a respected housekeeper--that much we know. But in the Background under her link she has been mixed up with Sarah, the Pepys's maid.

Sorry you missed all this.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

And there's always the possibility that Barkestead's confidant, our femme fatale, has the money and needed to convince Sandwich and others that she was clueless. Money being the matter here, I have little doubt if they thought she was concealing anything she'd be on the rack...The only question being whether it would be Sandwich's own private one ("A do-it-yeself-job, of course Mr. Pepys. But effective enough." Creed notes. Pepys wincing at the screams.) or before the Council. ("Must we torture her, Charlie?" Jamie waves at the desperately smiling lady. "She's pretty hot.")

dirk  •  Link

"Mrs. Sarah is married, I did go up stairs again and joy her and kiss her..."

This is the same Sarah as in the entry for 7 September: "...and Sarah above, whither I went up to her and played and talked with her..."

The diary for 15 June 1660 mentions: " My Lord resolves to have Sarah again." -- with a note from L&M: "A former housekeeper; in trouble in 1657 for misbehaviour..." -- presumably the same Sarah again.

language hat  •  Link

"joy her"

Just in case anyone has any other ideas about the meaning, this is the OED's definition 5.b. "To give or wish (a person) joy of something; to congratulate":
1603 KNOLLES Hist. Turks (1621) 885 Embassadours from their neighbour princes, came to joy them of this victorie. 1660 PEPYS Diary 22 Aug., In the House.. I met with Mr. G. Montagu, and joyed him in his entrance [as M.P.] for Dover.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

And to confuse all, both Sandwich and Pepys have had servants named Sarah.

Bill  •  Link

"for she grows old, and is very painfull"

PAINFUL, causing pain; also laborious.
---Dictionarium Britannicum. N. Bailey, 1730.

Bill  •  Link

FIRKIN, an English measure of capacity, for things liquid, being the fourth part of the barrel: it contains 8 gallons of ale, soap, or herrings; and 9 gallons of beer.
---A New and Complete Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. 1763.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

I remember singing this at the folk club in the York Tavern in Norwich in 1979/80

"No man that's a drinker takes ale from a pin
For there is too little good stuff there within.
Four and a half is its measure in full,
Too small for a sup, not enough for a pull.

Chorus (after each verse):
Then bring us a barrel and set it up right,
Bring us a barrel to last out the night;
Bring us a barrel, no matter how high,
We'll drink it up lads, we'll drink it dry.

That poor little firkin's nine gallons in all,
Though the beer it be good, the size is too small.
For lads that are drinkers, like you and like I,
That firkin small barrel too will quickly runs dry ........

...... Then bring forth the puncheon and roll out the butt,
Them's the beast measures before us to put.
Our pots will go round and good ale it will flow
And we'll be content for an hour or so.

The following version is almost in tune - and no-one would notice after a few pints! :)…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"And now privately the woman, Barkestead’s great confident, is brought, who do positively say that this is the place which he did say the money was hid in, and where he and she did put up the 50,000l.1 in butter firkins; and the very day that he went out of England"

L&M: Shortly after the Restoration Barkstead had fled to Germany. (On 6 June 1660 he had been exempted from pardon: CJ, viii. 57.) Cf.…

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