Tuesday 10 March 1662/63

Up and to my office all the morning, and great pleasure it is to be doing my business betimes. About noon Sir J. Minnes came to me and staid half an hour with me in my office talking about his business with Sir W. Pen, and (though with me an old doter) yet he told me freely how sensible he is of Sir W. Pen’s treachery in this business, and what poor ways he has taken all along to ingratiate himself by making Mr. Turner write out things for him and then he gives them to the Duke, and how he directed him to give Mr. Coventry 100l. for his place, but that Mr. Coventry did give him 20l. back again. All this I am pleased to hear that his knavery is found out. Dined upon a poor Lenten dinner at home, my wife being vexed at a fray this morning with my Lady Batten about my boy’s going thither to turn the watercock with their maydes’ leave, but my Lady was mighty high upon it and she would teach his mistress better manners, which my wife answered aloud that she might hear, that she could learn little manners of her. After dinner to my office, and there we sat all the afternoon till 8 at night, and so wrote my letters by the post and so before 9 home, which is rare with me of late, I staying longer, but with multitude of business my head akes, and so I can stay no longer, but home to supper and to bed.

29 Annotations

First Reading

TerryF  •  Link


n. 1. One who dotes; a man whose understanding is enfeebled by age; a dotard.
2. One excessively fond, or weak in love.

Nice choice, if we must make one....

dirk  •  Link


"...how sensible he is of Sir W. Pen’s treachery in this business, and what poor ways he has taken all along to ingratiate himself by making Mr. Turner write out things for him and then he gives them to the Duke, and how he directed him to give Mr. Coventry 100l. for his place, but that Mr. Coventry did give him 20l. back again."

I got completely lost here! Who is "he", "him", "himself" and "his" here?

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Too many pronouns

I had Dirk's problem with that sentence. After some study, here is my guess as to the antecedents. Disagreements welcome.

“…how sensible he [JM] is of Sir W. Pen’s treachery in this business, and what poor ways he [WP] has taken all along to ingratiate himself by making Mr. Turner write out things for him [WP] and then he [WP] gives them to the Duke, and how he [WP] directed him [Turner] to give Mr. Coventry 100l. for his [Turner's] place, but that Mr. Coventry did give him [Turner] 20l. back again.”

dirk  •  Link

Thanks Paul

It may not be the only solution to this messy sentence, but it makes sense.

Sean  •  Link


Is that a faucet? (I ask because I know in German a faucet is a "Wasserhahn" which means "water chicken".)

TerryF  •  Link

Paul, agreeing with Dirk, your reading of the awkward sentence is also consistent with Vincent's reading of Turner's history.

What exactly is Sam'l judging to be "Sir W. Pen’s treachery" here? Surely not the "buying" of a position and its perks -- as I understand it, a franchise, as it were -- which was S.O.P and something he (SP) too has used to advance himself, though 'tis clear he (SP) has well-formed views about who serves himself only and who the King first.

I, like Paul, always glad for corrections (help).

Kilroy  •  Link

Watercock. Perhaps the primary cut-off to a common water supply to the Pepy's and Batten residences?

Mary  •  Link


Kilroy's suggestion makes good sense. Where a building has been so much carved about and re-divided as has the Navy Office premises, it would not be surprising if water-supply to several apartments were controlled by a tap in the grounds of just one of them.

(In England the inlet valve controlling the flow of mains water into most houses is called the stopcock).

Alternatively, this watercock may simply have been an outside tap that Wayneman used because it was more convenient to him than fetching water from elsewhere. Lady B's maid gave permission but Lady B. herself has decided to get on her high horse about the 'trespass'. If this was piped water that had to be privately bought, then Lady B. may have been counting a miserly penny or two.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

"Mr Coventry did give him 20l. back again"
Still unclear about this. If Pen is buying his new position with Minnes, why would he get a refund?

Pedro  •  Link

Watercocks still cause trouble.

On the afternoon of 28 January 1997 the appellant, then aged 8 years, was rollerblading with another girl on the footway of a public road, Laurel Way, Strabane, when she tripped and fell, sustaining a laceration to her lip and grazing of the knees. The judge found that she fell because her rollerblade caught in a hole in the footway. That hole was the site of a toby or watercock, whose lid was missing. It was not in dispute that this defect would have made the footway dangerous for pedestrians, and the respondent did not seek to rely upon the statutory defence afforded by Article 8(2) of the Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993 (the 1993 Order).


jeannine  •  Link

Wayneman....In the tradition of Sam rewarding a meal well done, can't you just see Bess slipping Wayneman a sixpence for "innocently" ticking off Lady Batten....I'll leave the dialogue for the talented Robert to supply...

Thanks to Paul and Mary for their explanations, as I too was confused.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

My guess is Minnes has told Sam 1) Penn has Turner compose reports for the Duke which he passes off as his own to suggest he's as energetic and up on the Naval Office workings as a certain Clerk of the Acts. 2) Penn told Turner to give Coventry 100Ls in order to get his job and Coventry kicked back 20 to Penn. If so, a little blot on our noble Coventry, though he's been accused of taking money for providing jobs and it was relatively legal at the time.


That's our Bess...

Glyn  •  Link

I think that Robert Gertz has solved the problem, which had confused me as well. Penn told Turner that he had to pay 100 pounds to Coventry to be given his job, and then Coventry gave Penn 20 as his cut. Pepys would have considered this as a standard practice of the time by Coventry - people had to pay for any new positions; but it does reflect more badly on Penn. He could have suggested just 80 pounds to Coventry and nothing for himself.

No doubt, Turner is now thinking of means to get his money back (and a bit more) from people futher down the chain.

JWB  •  Link

Searching about for history of English plumbing, I came upon this work which I think many Pepys readers will find facinating:









Firenze  •  Link

'my Lady was mighty high upon it and she would teach his mistress better manners, which my wife answered aloud that she might hear, that she could learn little manners of her' You can feel the bridling down the centuries, can't you? Fifteen love E Pepys I think.

TerryF  •  Link

"Coventry gave Penn 20[%] as his cut."

Glyn, could this be akin to the cut of an agent for a cinematic actor -- though a bit higher than usual today, as I understand it (third hand, my acting days being probably over)?

dirk  •  Link


Are we assuming then that there was some kind of distribution system (pipes)supplying the Navy appartments with a constant flow of water? Is there any earlier evidence of this -- in the diary or in any other source? I find it hard to believe.

Or could this "watercock" be something like a mechanical "switch" -- some kind of moveable outlet to a common water tank, which can be made to let the water flow to one of the appartments, but not all of them at the same time. (Very much like irrigation channels are being supplied with water one by one in some parts of Asia and Africa.)

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Penn got the 20L, not Turner

I find Robert Gertz's and Glyn's analysis persuasive. I didn't understand the 20L refund to Turner either, but I concocted a scenario in which Coventry, honest man that he is, said to Turner that the going rate for this position is only 80L and refunded him the difference. The idea of a kickback to Penn makes a lot more sense. So change the antecedent of the last "him" to [WP].

Mary  •  Link

piped water.

There most certainly was a piped water system in operation in London at the time and we discussed it at some length whilst reading the 1660 volume of the diary. Liza Picard (Restoration London p.9-10) gives a succinct account. Water might only run to individual households on two or three days each week, so storage cisterns were required.

Glyn  •  Link

Geographically, London is in a sort of hollow: the highest part of the City near St Paul's Cathdral is only about 18 metres (60 feet) above sea level. Consequently, it was possible to lay down various pipes through which flowed clean water from the springs in the hills to the north. This could certainly be what is meant here.

But this would have still been very primitive in comparison to the piped water systems of the Romans 1,500 years earlier. In many ways, Roman London in 162 AD was more advanced than London in 1662 AD.

Mary  •  Link

17th century London water supply.

"In 1609 Hugh Middleton completed the construction of his New River, bringing pure spring water 38 miles from Hertfordshire to a reservoir at Islington, and thence to 30,000 houses in the city. For a quarterly subscription of 5s. or 6s.8d. a householder could be connected to the mains by a lead 'qill' or pipe." [Picard, op.cit.]

The New River Company was not the only water-supply company operating in London and competition to obtain licences, lay mains pipes etc. could be fierce

Australian Susan  •  Link

Many thanks to JWB for fascinating find - I had no idea experiments with steam power were so advanced by 1645 - illustrations too!
Elizabeth's response to Lady B is wonderfully apt! Reminds me of the exchange between Ceicily and Gwendolen in Act II of The Importance..

Cecily: "Do you suggest, Miss Fairfax, that I entrapped Ernest into an engagement? How dare you? This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. When I see a spade I call it a spade."

Gwendolen. "I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different."

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

I very much doubt that there would have been an internal water supply in the office or residences. If they had a piped water supply from a spring, they would have been luckier than most. Drinking water generally came from wells, or hand-pumps from a well or other underground source.

Parts of my own house date back to the late seventeenth century. When I bought it in 1982, there was still a large stone-built water tank outside the kitchen with a tap at the bottom. The previous occupant, whose parents had bought the house in the 1930s, told me that before the house was connected to mains water in the 1950s, the water tank, used for washing water, was filled by a system which collected rain-water from the roof. Drinking water came from a pump over a well about five minutes walk away down a woodland path. We found a well in the back garden, but that had been filled up, probably a couple of hundred years ago, when nearby coal mining works disrupted the underground water flows.

JayW  •  Link

Piped water is taken for granted now in most parts of the UK but I stayed in a house in Cornwall in 1961 and 1962 where there was a tank in the roof and a hand pump to fill it from a well.
My grandfather bought a bungalow in Essex in the 1940s with a well, too. Drinking water had to be boiled in both places.
The house where I lived until 2014 was on an estate built as social housing in the 1950s. After the houses were sold into private ownership, no one seemed to have a record of where the pipes and drains ran which caused problems if there was a blockage. A bit like the Navy Office complex, maybe?

Mary K  •  Link

Piped water supply

See note above. There was a supply of piped water in the city of London, though supply to individual properties was not always available on all seven days of the week.

Carol  •  Link

I live in a house on the outskirts of south west London. It was built in 1827 and we have found three wells - two in the cellar and one just outside. At our allotments across the road there is no mains water - we have a number of hand pumps dotted about the site and pump our water directly from the ground (we're very close to the river Thames). In a dry summer that's a lot of pumping and carrying! It certainly makes us appreciate the amazing luxury of a clean, piped water supply when we get home.

john  •  Link

Wells are common in rural North America. Municipal water closest to us is 10km away. We have a deep drilled well for house and barn. Though potable, we still put our water through an iron filter, water conditioner, and UV light before house use. The barn receives unfiltered well water. Two dug wells near the pond were decommisioned years ago.

The reference to Dirks is still available and the text may be found here: https://archive.org/stream/exactreprintoffa00worc…

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘dote < . . Anglo-Norman *doter . .
. . 2. Now esp. To be weak-minded from old age; to have the intellect impaired by reason of age (Formerly only contextual.)
. . ?1606 M. Drayton Eglog vi, in Poemes sig. E7v, Thou dotst in thy declining age.
c1710 C. Fiennes Diary (1888) 301 The parson..is now old and doates . . ‘

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