Monday 11 May 1663

Up betimes, and by water to Woolwich on board the Royall James, to see in what dispatch she is to be carried about to Chatham. So to the yard a little, and thence on foot to Greenwich, where going I was set upon by a great dogg, who got hold of my garters, and might have done me hurt; but, Lord, to see in what a maze I was, that, having a sword about me, I never thought of it, or had the heart to make use of it, but might, for want of that courage, have been worried.

Took water there and home, and both coming and going did con my lesson on my Ruler to measure timber, which I think I can well undertake now to do.

At home there being Pembleton I danced, and I think shall come on to do something in a little time, and after dinner by coach with Sir W. Pen (setting down his daughter at Clerkenwell), to St. James’s, where we attended the Duke of York: and, among other things, Sir G. Carteret and I had a great dispute about the different value of the pieces of eight rated by Mr. Creed at 4s. and 5d., and by Pitts at 4s. and 9d., which was the greatest husbandry to the King? he persisting that the greatest sum was; which is as ridiculous a piece of ignorance as could be imagined. However, it is to be argued at the Board, and reported to the Duke next week; which I shall do with advantage, I hope.

Thence to the Tangier Committee, where we should have concluded in sending Captain Cuttance and the rest to Tangier to deliberate upon the design of the Mole before they begin to work upon it, but there being not a committee (my Lord intending to be there but was taken up at my Lady Castlemayne’s) I parted and went homeward, after a little discourse with Mr. Pierce the surgeon, who tells me that my Lady Castlemaine hath now got lodgings near the King’s chamber at Court; and that the other day Dr. Clerke and he did dissect two bodies, a man and a woman; before the King, with which the King was highly pleased.

By water and called upon Tom Trice by appointment with Dr. Williams, but the Dr. did not come, it seems by T. Trice’s desire, not thinking he should be at leisure. However, in general we talked of our business, and I do not find that he will come to any lower terms than 150l., which I think I shall not give him but by law, and so we parted, and I called upon Mr. Crumlum, and did give him the 10s. remaining, not laid out of the 5l. I promised him for the school, with which he will buy strings, and golden letters upon the books I did give them. I sat with him and his wife a great while talking, and she is [a] pretty woman, never yet with child, and methinks looks as if her mouth watered now and then upon some of her boys.

Then upon Tom Pepys, the Turner, desiring his father and his letter to Piggott signifying his consent to the selling of his land for the paying of us his money, and so home, and finding Pembleton there we did dance till it was late, and so to supper and to bed.

39 Annotations

First Reading

Australian Susan  •  Link

Pembleton seems to have spent most of the day at Sam's house!

Two comments here show Sam's feelings: despite being attacked by a dog, he is too tender-hearted towards dogs to use his sword on it (presumably he could have used the flat to beat it off with little damage) and he is quick to recognise the longing for children in Mrs Crumlum - because he emphathises?

TerryF  •  Link

"set upon by a great dogg; but, Lord, to see in what a maze I was"


tangle, snarl, maze (something jumbled or confused)…

his feelings all a-tumble indeed!

Bradford  •  Link

As with wearing a wig (or a tiara, if such be your destiny), one must learn to port a sword; and few of us, contriving not to get our legs in a maze with it, would forget it was hanging around. It must have been Some Great Dogg.

TerryF  •  Link

"both coming and going did con my lesson on my Ruler to measure timber"


memorize, memorise, con, learn (commit to memory; learn by heart)…

Another example of the Pepysian walking seminar....

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

I am in a maze by this site yesterday as it was mazed but I am a mazed that it be cleaned up nicely, as I did not want to enter another maze.
The OED dothe blame the Germanics for for the this word.

[Prob. < the same base as AMAZE v.; further etymology uncertain. It has been suggested that in Old English alongside amasian (see AMAZE v.) an unattested noun *mæs or *mase existed, having the present word as its reflex; an unprefixed verb *masian is also possible (cf. MAZE v.).
A group of North Germanic words have sometimes been regarded as perh. cognate with this word: Norwegian mas exhausting labour, nagging, (in archaic or regional use also whim, fancy, idle chatter), Danish mas trouble, bother, Swedish mas (archaic) sluggard; also Norwegian mase to bustle, fuss about, strive, slave away, reiterate, pester, beg, (reflexive) to wear oneself out, masast (regional or archaic) to start to dream, masog worn out, Danish mase to toil, Swedish masa to idle, dawdle, (reflexive, archaic) to bask, sun oneself.]

I. A state of mental confusion, and related senses. [ delirium, delusion; disappointment. Obs.]
b. Worldly, vain, or dissolute amusement or diversion. Obs.
2. A delusive fancy; a trick or deception. Obs
3. a. A state of bewilderment; a feeling of amazement or perplexity; (in pl.) confused or puzzled thoughts. Now chiefly in in a maze.
amongst other meanigs, there be the the one with boxwood to lose thy way.
that be also to run around those maze of streets of old London.
Verb1. intr. To be delirious or bewildered; to be distraught; to be unsettled or incoherent in one's mind. Obs.
In quot. 1602 app.: to gaze in amazement at.
1602 W. BASSE Three Pastoral Elegies ii, in Poet. Wks. (1893) 56 Mine earnest eies..wonder at another grace That in hir necke and bosome was to view..And while to maze at that I had desier, Contentles sight woo'd still be gasing hier.
2. trans. To stupefy or daze; to befuddle; to render crazed, distraught, or alarmed (obs.). Usu. in pass. Now chiefly arch. and regional (Brit. and Newfoundland).

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

It were not a garrote or Garter :Honi soit qui mal y pense:
"...who got hold of my garters, and might have done me hurt;..."
OED 1. a. A band worn round the leg, either above or below the knee, to keep the stocking from falling down.
c1630 RISDON Surv. Devon §63 (1810) 62 Lancelot..was found hanged in his bed-chamber, by his garter, to the bedstead.
b. A similar band, worn as a belt or sash. Obs.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

It was not Samuell's Soft 'eart for doggies but he has never practised using his weapon on anything but slipping the blunt instrument of show into it's sheath and trying to look the part. Notice, he got the next boat out of Grenich, before he lost more of his dignity. Now were be that garter below or above, holding up his hose [stockings]. [wonderful invention elastic in stockings, in the 193x's, men and women had to suffer numbness and men had a good the excuse for rubbing the numbness away. (on the upper garter)]

Paul Chapin  •  Link

I'm hoping
somebody can explain the dispute between Sam and Sir George. Sam says Sir G's argument, that putting the highest possible value on the pieces of eight gives the king the best return, is a "ridiculous piece of ignorance." Why?

Eric Walla  •  Link

On pieces of eight ...

I'm speculating without true remembrance here, but could it have anything to do with the dowry the Queen was to bring with her? How much money was involved and in what currency was it spelled out? If it was to be the equivalent of X number of Pounds, then the lower valuation of a piece of eight would be to the King's benefit.

Roger Arbor  •  Link

Maze... still in regular use in the Westcountry of England; as in "Er's proper maze" i.e. "She is a little befuddled in the head". All the old folk in Devon and Cornwall speak thus.

TerryF  •  Link

On pieces of eight again....

L&M note that Pitts had been Deputy-Treasurer to Lawson's fleet at Tangier when pieces of eight were in use at their official value of 4s. 9d.

Are there two disputes - (1) between Mr. Creed and Pitts regarding the face value of the coin; (2) between Coventry and Pepys as it which is the more advatageous to the King?

Mary  •  Link

the pieces-of-eight dispute.

Is it not Cartaret's judgment that Pepys scorns? It is he who plumps for the wrong valuation as being advantageous to the king.

TerryF  •  Link

May I recast two putative disputes about pieces of eight?

1)Mr Creed v John Pitts re the *exchange* value of the coin;

2) *Sir G. Carteret* v Pepys abt. which is the more advatageous to the King,

(I am a maze about where Mr Coventry came from.)

TerryF  •  Link

Mary, you posted as I was previewing and revising, and you are correct.

Yonmei  •  Link

<I>Lord, to see in what a maze I was, that, having a sword about me, I never thought of it, or had the heart to make use of it, but might, for want of that courage, have been worried. </I>

"Heart" in this context means "courage", <I>I</I> think, not "tender-heartedness".

Modernly: "I was so dazed that, even though I was wearing my sword, I never thought of it, or would have been brave enough to use it, but I could have been badly bitten just because I wasn't brave enough to use my sword."

jeannine  •  Link

"It must have been Some Great Dogg"
L& M reports it was a chihuahua....(only kidding for you more serious folk)...
Does any one recall ever reading any incident when Sam actually "used" his sword for anything more than "show"?

jeannine  •  Link

Off topic, sort of ..

Dirk posted this great link the other day, but for anyone who missed it due to the "spam attack shut down" it gives a fun look at "Pepys' London".…

Clement  •  Link

"...methinks looks as if her mouth watered now and then upon some of her boys."
Is this as clear as it seems? Was the man with a straying eye noticing the attentions of a kindred spirit?

Clement  •  Link

"If it was to be the equivalent of X number of Pounds, then the lower valuation of a piece of eight would be to the King’s benefit."

I think Eric has clearly stated Sam's position here. Assuming they would melt the metal down and recast it as British coin the lower valuation would leave more being owed to the crown on the part of Portugal, yet obviously yield the same weight of metal.
Not sure what Carteret is thinking unless he's making a diplomatic or political argument, insisting on abiding by a previously agreed-upon valuation for the pieces of eight.

Clement  •  Link

It's not clear that the coins relate to Portugese debt, but the math and advantage of lower valuation remains the same.
A Piece of Eight was an 8 Reale silver Spanish coin that was in fairly wide western European circulation, often minted in the Americas and shipped to Spain. (Thus its popular association with western Piracy.)
There is more info, and yet two more exchange rate valuations in the Background section of this site:…

Lawrence  •  Link

Nice Day.
A ride on the Royall James, Dropping Margeret of at Clarkenwell where she went to School, a chance to gossip with the good Sergeon about the King's Mistress, dancing at Home a plenty, and visiting His old School, I wish I had Mondays like that. (Except the big Dogg of course)

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Difference in exchange values, should it be by weight [avoir] or face value [ visee/visage], then do not forget the fee for processing this complicated problem. [now it be 1% to 5 % when thee exchange paper for paper]
Remember that these gentle-men live by what sticks to their fingers.[brains beats brawn], now it be by commodities on the street or City.

Pedro  •  Link

Pieces of Eight.

There is no mention of Pieces of Eight in any respect to the Dowry. As the correspondence involves Pitt, Deputy-Treasurer to Lawson’s fleet at Tangier, it could be that they were loot from the ships captured in dealing with the “Barbaries.”

Bradford  •  Link

I am no scholar of the dismal science, but might the valuation discussion have something to do with the cost to government of payments to the private sector for good and services?
Most monetary systems involve a promise by the issuer that the currency is backed up by something of real value ("Payable to the Bearer on Demand"), but the silver in the pieces is itself a value.
To return to the Portuguese deb: if the lower valuation were taken, might the government (i.e., the King) not have to shell out as much?
But now I am in a worse maze than ever the dogg presented. Disregard if so.

As for Mrs. Crumlum's mouth watering as she looks at the schoolboys, it is an odd locution; but remember another expression of the time that Pepys uses, of being "with child" to attain some object or result. He means to convey with vividness the yearning she feels, when looking at these charges, for a child of her own. He might even feel the same.

Pedro  •  Link

"which is as ridiculous a piece of ignorance as could be imagined"

Well Sam, it has even confused some 21st Century brains!

Clement  •  Link

"yearning...for a child of her own"
Yes, of course you're right, Bradford, and I will now slink away in shame, blaming the fresh vigor of the spring morning air for my untoward thoughts.

dirk  •  Link

The "pieces of eight" problem

[Sorry for this rather long annotation, but I think it's justified in this case.]

Pieces of eight were in general use for international payments -- also in the trade with the American colonies.

To illustrate this, have a look at…
where the situation in colonial Virginia is analysed in detail:


Previous to 1632, it had been the habit in Virgina to value all articles in tobacco and to use tobacco for payments -- the volume of the metals in circulation being simply too small to allow the making of sufficient coins.

As trade increased, an increasing need was felt for real coined money, which was for the major part filled in by Spanish "pieces of eight" -- more or less the generally used coinage in this part of the world. This coin would have to serve as value unit in the transfer of the Virgina tobacco for the manufactured goods from England.

In their anxiety to promote the influx of Spanish money -- which appears at this time to have been flowing in in small quantities, probably from the Spanish and English islands in the West Indies -- the Virginia Assembly determined to establish an arbitrary rate at which it would be compulsory to receive these coins in payment of all forms of indebtedness; the result of their deliberations was that the piece of eight should pass as equal in value to six shillings.

This was in 1645. It is evident that in the opinion of the people the piece of eight was not intrinsically worth so many shillings, and they, therefore, declined to use this coin in exchange at this rate although fixed by law. The Assembly, in consequence, decided in 1655 to lower the legal value to five shillings, proclaiming that all who refused to accept a piece of eight as thus valued were to be summoned before the court.

Later, in 1680, the General Assembly increased the official value of the piece of eight to six shillings again, and in 1682 this was revised once more to five shillings.

In 1685 instructions came from England, that payments to Britain should be made in coin only instead of in tobacco. The Virginians declared that it was impossible to obey such an order. In 1686, the Governor and Council drew up a petition to the King, in which he was asked with great earnestness to grant the authorities of the Colony the right to advance pieces of eight, French crowns, and other foreign money at their arbitrarily determined exchange rate -- higher than the intrinsic worth of the coins in precious metal (silver) contents. This was to stimulate the tobacco trade.

The proposition of the Council was submitted to the Commissioners of Customs in England. Their reply was in many respects a memorable one, and deserves perhaps to be pondered even in the present age. They took the ground that “no rate ought to be set upon money sterling other than according to its real intrinsic value and worth;” and they further declared, “that the proposition, if carried out, would be a great hindrance to trade [...]


Similar situations probably existed in other trade relations between Britain and other nations or colonies, where pieces of eight were often used as trading currency. A lower valued foreign currency would clearly be to the advantage of Britain both for payments leaving Britain (if these were due in sterling, as would normally be the case), *and* in the case of incoming payments in pieces of eight or other foreign coinage.

In this context Sam's preference for a lower exchange rate makes sense. I can't even imagine a valid line of argument to support Sir Carteret's point of view! So, I fully understand Sam's conclusion that Carteret's view of the matter was "as ridiculous a piece of ignorance as could be imagined".

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Dirk, Great points for your eight great Paras. Hard currency was short and as noted in the opening days of the merry Monarch, gold or silver from wherever be used as long as the content be trusted, then as now monies of foreign [untrust worthy them their......] sources had to be discounted, that be one of the everlasting beefs [angus] the Scots had with over the border trade, the cost of exchange [purity of coin?]had to be included [ Bank of Scotland's Pound be 19 shilling for the same avoir du for a Royal Bank of Londres version.]
p.s. nickel costs now 5.5 cents to be stamped out of a baser currency.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Ask, and it shall be explained, in detail.
I love this site.

dirk  •  Link

pieces of eight & Carteret

Come to think of it, I *can* think of a line or reasoning behind Carteret's preference for the higher rate for pieces of eight...

It would come down to a cosmetic operation, which would now probably be seen as "dressing the balance sheet": by valuing the pieces of eight in the Navy's possession at a higher than realistic rate it would (briefly) appear as if the Navy (and the King) were better off than was really the case.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

pieces of eight

A latecoming comment. Whether the higher or lower valuation is favorable to the king depends on the transaction. If the government is purchasing the pieces of eight, the lower valuation is favorable. If it is selling them, the higher. Assume that the Tangier committee, for example, has been quoted a price in pieces of eight for goods or services. If the crown pays in sterling, it pays less at Mr. Creed's valuation.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"However, in general we talked of our business, and I do not find that he will come to any lower terms than 150l., which I think I shall not give him but by law"

Pepys had reckoned his debt to Trice as £126 in the accounts he drew up about this time: the figure is difficult to explain, but may represent interest plus legal charges. For the settlement of this dispute (about Robert Pepys's estate) see… (Per L&M footnote)

Dave Bonta  •  Link

Some discussion of "maze" and "con" above, but surprisingly no mention of "worried", which I find ambiguous. Did he mean it in the sense of being anxious, or of being chewed on by the dog? The American Heritage Dictionary suggests the latter, saying of the verb: "The ancestor of *worry*, the Old English verb *wyrgan*, meant 'to strangle.' Its Middle English descendant, *worien*, kept this sense and developed the new sense 'to grasp by the throat with the teeth and lacerate' or 'to kill or injure by biting and shaking.' This is the way wolves might attack sheep, for example. In the 1500s *worry* began to be used in the sense 'to harass, as by rough treatment or attack' or 'to assault verbally,' and in the 1600s the word took on the sense 'to bother, distress, or persecute.' It was a small step from this sense to the main modern senses 'to cause to feel anxious or distressed' and 'to feel troubled or uneasy,' first recorded in the 1800s."

Martin  •  Link

I don't see that 'I might have been worried' can be read as anything other than your second meaning, even if the first had been current English in Pepys's time, which, from your quotation, it wasn't.

Bill  •  Link

“to see in what a maze I was”

MAZE, Astonishment, Perplexity.
---An universal etymological English dictionary. N. Bailey, 1724.

Bill  •  Link

"the different value of the pieces of eight rated by Mr. Creed at 4s. and 5d., and by Pitts at 4s. and 9d." (Sam and Creed seem to have gotten this valuation right.)

A Table of Coins, Gold, Silver and Brass ...
Royals of Eight. 4(s).5(d)
---A Large Dictionary. T. Holyoke, 1677.

Mary K  •  Link


We still use this term when referring to sheep-worrying. An uncontrolled dog may worry sheep either by simply chasing them or by chasing and savaging them. The owner of such a dog is liable to prosecution and the owner of the livestock may be entitled to shoot the offending dog.

I quote a very recent appalling incident in which 116 sheep were killed.

"The sheep, many of them pregnant, had been herded into a tight group against a fence and a gate bordering woodland, and either died from shock or by being crushed in the flock".

Sam was probably most afraid of being badly bitten.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

A ‘piece of eight’ was ‘a Spanish silver dollar, or peso, worth eight reals . . ’. The English pound was a piece of gold. So the exchange rate between them fluctuated as the relative value of the two precious metals varied, as it has throughout history.… charts the Au/Ag ratio over 45 years: the range is 20 (1980) to 98 (1991); it is currently 80, so silver is very cheap (93rd %ile) relative to gold. The ratio was set at 12 by the Romans; it stayed in the range 14.5 - 15.5 from Pepys’ time to the 1870s; see:…

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