Thursday 19 March 1662/63

Up betimes and to Woolwich all alone by water, where took the officers most abed. I walked and enquired how all matters and businesses go, and by and by to the Clerk of the Cheque’s house, and there eat some of his good Jamaica brawne, and so walked to Greenwich. Part of the way Deane walking with me; talking of the pride and corruption of most of his fellow officers of the yard, and which I believe to be true. So to Deptford, where I did the same to great content, and see the people begin to value me as they do the rest. At noon Mr. Wayth took me to his house, where I dined, and saw his wife, a pretty woman, and had a good fish dinner, and after dinner he and I walked to Redriffe talking of several errors in the Navy, by which I learned a great deal, and was glad of his company. So by water home, and by and by to the office, where we sat till almost 9 at night. So after doing my own business in my office, writing letters, &c., home to supper, and to bed, being weary and vexed that I do not find other people so willing to do business as myself, when I have taken pains to find out what in the yards is wanting and fitting to be done.

23 Annotations

First Reading

Pedro  •  Link

"his good Jamaican brawne"

With the difficulty in preserving meat in the Indies, it is good to see something back the other way. But would it be jerked?

"Historians believe that the history of jerk can be traced back to the Carib and Arawak Indians who inhabited the Caribbean islands before the arrival of Spanish explorers in the fifteenth century. The Amerindians slow-cooked their meat with citrus and spices in order to preserve it. Most Jamaicans now believe that the technique was perfected by the Maroons, former slaves from brought to Jamaica from West Africa, where they had used a process of cooking and preserving meat by heavily seasoning it with peppers and slow cooking over smoke.
The escaped or freed slaves settled in the islands hills, where the terrain made it easy for them to elude capture. In the hills, the Maroons hunted wild boar. The boar was stuffed with a mixture of peppers and herbs, wrapped in banana leaves and placed it in a pit prepared with hot stones and slow burning wood from pimento trees. The hole was then covered with leaves and palm fronds. This process took hours, but the result was succulent and juicy."…

The Maroons…

"who still go pig hunting in the shadow of Stoddart's peak or Sugar Loaf or Candlefly, hacking their way through the thickets of sharp bladed bamboo grass or hog grass; or who sell leathery highly peppered jerk pork in the streets of Port Antonio, or tell tales at night of the giant wild hog that their fathers hunted, a great red boar that killed six dogs an a man."…

Pauline  •  Link

L&M's Large Glossary
soused, pickled or potted boar's flesh; a Christmastide specialty.

And my contemporary dicitionary has 'souse' as a picking solution; seasoned and chopped pork trimmings, fish, or shellfish.

And pork trimmings starts sounding like headcheese.

TerryF  •  Link

"What," I asked myself, "does the Clerk of the Cheque do?"
the word "Cheque" having a pregnant ambiguity in 2006....

Apparently, whether in the royal household, aboard ships, in a dockyard, or in any institutional context Clerk of the Cheque keeps the official lists or "chequer-roll" used to "check" (we would say), i.e. account for those at work on a site. The Proceedings of the House of Commons speak of a "Muster-master or Clerk of the Cheque"

From: 'House of Commons Journal Volume 12: 2 May 1699', Journal of the House of Commons: volume 12: 1697-1699 (1803), pp. 675-81. URL:…. Date accessed: 20 March 2006.

Mary  •  Link

Jamaica brawn

Possibly brawn flavoured with Jamaica pepper; i.e. allspice, pimenta dioica.

Pedro  •  Link


When Christmas, in the time of the Commonwealth, was threatened with extinction by act of parliament, the tallow-chandlers loudly complained that they could find no sale for their mustard, because of the diminished consumption of brawn in the land.

(Book of Days)

john  •  Link

"being weary and vexed that I do not find other people so willing to do business as myself"

Then as now.

language hat  •  Link

"and there eat some of his good Jamaica brawne"

Just a reminder: "eat" is here pronounced /et/ (like the last part of "get"); it's a traditional past tense of the similarly spelled verb pronounced /it/ ("eet").

Nix  •  Link

Clerque of the Cheque --

Probably what we would now call a controller or comptroller, which is defined in OED as:

1. One who keeps a counter-roll so as to check a treasurer or person in charge of accounts.

[1292 BRITTON I. ii. §16 En presence del viscounte qi nous volums qe soit soen countreroullour en tut soen office.] 1393 LANGL. P. Pl. C. XII. 298 Selde.. falle{th} {th}e seruant so diepe in arerages As do{th} {th}e reyue o{th}er {th}e conterroller [v.rr. counteroller, counterrollers, countrollour] {th}at rekene mot and acounte. c1450 Bk. Curtasye 550 in Babees Bk. (1868) 317 {Th}er-fore {th}o countrollour..Wrytes vp {th}o somme as euery day. 1551 T. WILSON Logike 47b, Comptroller or any other officer in the common weale. 1780 BURKE Sp. Econ. Ref. Wks. III. 293 There is taken away..the treasurer, the comptroller (for a comptroller is hardly necessary where there is no treasurer), etc.

2. Hence a title of office: a. A household officer whose duty was primarily to check expenditure, and so to manage in general; a steward. Now chiefly used in the household of the sovereign, and in those of members of the royal family, and spelt COMPTROLLER.

1441 HEN. VI. in Ellis Orig. Lett. II. 35 I. 107 Sir Thomas Stanley, countrollour of oure householde. 1461 Paston Lett. No. 411 II. 43 The sewer wyll not tak no men no dyschys till they be comawndyd by the Cownterroller. 1538 LELAND Itin. VI. 2 One Fogge..that was Countrowlar to Edward the Fowrthe. 1613 SHAKES. Hen. VIII, I. iii. 69 For I was spoke to, with Sir Henry Guilford This night to be Comptrollers. 1641 HINDE J. Bruen xxxv. 110 Her father..[was] with that honorable Personage Henry Earle of Darby, being Controller of his house. 1710 SWIFT Lett. (1767) III. 7 Sir John Holland, comptroller of the houshold. 1856 FROUDE Hist. Eng. I. 299 The archbishop sent his comptroller to the Prior of Christ Church.

b. An officer having similar duties in various public offices. In some of these the spelling is at present controller, in others COMPTROLLER, q.v.

Occurring in many specific titles: e.g. Controller (or Comptroller) of the Hanaper, of the Mint, of the Navy, of the Pell, of the Pipe; see these words.

JWB  •  Link

Stir in corn meal and you get scrapple; oatmeal and you get goetta. Fried with eggs @ breakfast, not bad, if you plan to cut a chord of wood before lunch.

Pedro  •  Link

The test of the brawn's head...(Brewer's Phrase and Fable)

A little boy one day came to the court of King Arthur, and, drawing his wand over a boar's head, declared, “There's never a cuckold's knife can carve this head of brawn.” No knight in the court except Sir Cradock was able to accomplish the feat. (Percy's Reliques.)

Bradford  •  Link

And whoever's heard of Sir Cradock, till now? Jolly tale.

“being weary and vexed that I do not find other people so willing to do business as myself”

Alas, Sam, most of what matters most to any adult is of no account to the World at large. Virtue is its own reward: nobody's going to pay you for it.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sam, you got a free "good fish dinner" and spent time with two men who sound nearly as dedicated to the King's good as you. Lets not even mention yesterday's fun day with the Lord Mayor or other perks. And we should not forget you're making 7 times (at least, over the table) what you made a short time ago (well, figure 5 times...I forgot good ole Barlow and his 100 a year).

If there be an afterlife I'll introduce you to wonderful folks who saved hundreds of thousands of lives and made about the salary (with attendant lifestyle) a parking attendant in my country makes.

That said and done, good job.

Pedro  •  Link

And whoever’s heard of Sir Cradock, till now? Jolly tale.

Well it is a kind of an English thing, King Arthur and all that……

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

What a day! Anyone have any idea how far Sam walked today? No wonder he went to bed "weary."

As for his vexation, I'm sure many of us can empathize -- every team is only as strong as its weakest link, and how many of us have been frustrated in our jobs by some slacker who's just doing time rather than carrying their own weight?

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

“by and by to the Clerk of the Cheque’s house”

CLERK OF THE CHECK, an Officer who has the check and controlment of the Yeomen of the Guard, and all the Ushers belonging to the Royal Family.
---An Universal English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1724.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I deduce from this that "betimes" is an abbreviation for "before times" or earlier than usual.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

"... by which I learned a great deal, and was glad of his company." That is the key to Pepys' success: natural gregariousness, natural curiosity, and an ability to listen as well as talk.

"pride and corruption" I suspect that the meaning of "pride" here is more akin to arrogance, so I interpret the phrase as "an arrogant sense of entitlement".

Of course, what is considered to be corrupt varies greatly from society to society and from era to era - and can change in a generation. Sam is a child of the Commonwealth and Protectorate after all!

Bryan  •  Link

From the Online Etymology Dictionary
betimes (adv.)
"at an early period," early 14c., from betime (c. 1300, from be- + time) + adverbial genitive -s.


word-forming element with a wide range of meaning: "thoroughly, completely; ...
Be- can also be privative (as in behead), causative, or have just about any sense required. The prefix was productive 16c.-17c. in forming useful words, many of which have not survived, such as bethwack "to thrash soundly" (1550s), betongue "to assail in speech, to scold" (1630s).

I wonder, did Sam ever rise betimes to betongue and bethwack his errant boy?

Erik Gunnarsson  •  Link

I take it as Sam is having this dinner in Woolwich. And that Wm Sheldon, the Clerk of the Cheque in Woolwich would be the host.

Terry Foreman  •  Link


"At noon Mr. Wayth took me to his house, where I dined, and saw his wife, a pretty woman, and had a good fish dinner," is what Pepys wrote.

Might Pepys have had a morning fish snack at Wm Sheldon's?

Erik Gunnarsson  •  Link

The fish is served later in the day at the house of Mr Wayth - yes. But I was referring to the Jamaica Brawne while still in Woolwich.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED has:

‘brawn, n. < Old French braon . . The specific sense ‘boar's flesh’ is exclusively of English development, and characteristic of English habits.
. . 3. spec. The flesh of the boar . . In recent use . . collared, boiled, and pickled or potted. . .
1377 Langland Piers Plowman B. xiii. 62 Wombe-cloutes and wylde braune & egges yfryed with grece.
. . 1641 Milton Animadversions 17 Is a man therefore noon to Brawn, or Beefe..?
a1704 T. Brown Pleasant Epist. in Wks. (1707) I. ii. 4 Private Deliberations over Brawn and Quest-Ale.’

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