Friday 28 August 1663

At the office betimes (it being cold all night and this morning, and a very great frost they say abroad, which is much, having had no summer at all almost), where we sat, and in the afternoon also about settling the establishment of the number of men borne on ships, &c., till the evening, and after that in my closet till late, and quite tired with business, home to supper and to bed.

15 Annotations

First Reading

TerryF  •  Link

"we sat...settling the establishment of the number of men borne on ships, &c.,"

A while back we discussed what they did at the Navy Office when they "sat" - and here's an example, but it could be atypical because it's described so explicitly.

Aqua  •  Link

Same old questions, How many gunners do we need? no war on, no fighting yet, very unproductive.
severence [pay] wot!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"So then, we move the First Squadron here, against the filthy Dutch." Sir John, admiral's hat on head uses a stick to shove several small wooden ship pieces across the floor of the Naval Office where its principal officers and clerks hunch eagerly over their favorite pastime.

"But I, the stout Dutch admiral..." Sir Will Penn replies, shoving a series of toy ships forward... "Move in to pounce with my craftily concealed Third Squadron, led by my new chain-encircled flagship. Unsinkable." He points to wooden ship with tiny piece of chain wrapped round. "Commence firing, gentlemen!" he turns to the row of his eager clerks who begin tossing balls of paper against Sir John's hapless squadron, several boats falling on their sides.

"Forfeit! Unfair use of new device!" Sir John turns to umpires Pepys and Batten. The two briefly confer.

"The Dutch are known for their inventiveness, Sir John. Overruled." Batten shakes head.

"Very well! Return fire!" Sir John gallantly calls to his clerks. Paper balls rain on Sir Will P's fleet. One wrapped around a stone knocks over his flagship.

"Stone?! Unfair!" Penn howls.

"New invention, super cannon shot." Sir John smiles smugly.

"Pepys?" Penn turns to the one most in the know of new devices.

"Pett has something new in shot at his dock, Sir Will. I must let it pass." Sam shrugs.

"Very well! Fireships, advance!!"

Fireships?...Pepys and Batten eye each other as several clerks push forward new smaller wooden models soaked in something smelling distinctly flammable.

"This is how I took Jamaica!" Penn beams as the now-burning models set Sir John's boats aflame. Several clerks scurrying for water as a part of the floor catches fire.

"You're Dutch. They don't use fireships in such numbers." Sir John glares as Pepys and Batten call for more firefighters...Buckets of water finally dousing the growing flame.

"Under my bold and innovative leadership,..." Penn begins...

Htrouser  •  Link

Frost in August? Could this be a sign of the Little Ice Age in action?

Aqua  •  Link

English Weather, could be the Gulf stream, be up the wrong creak, must blame it on all that olde smoke for keeping the heavyside layer too high or would it be, because all those Bishops be back in the Lauds.
Oh well, check the oak tree rings.

MissAnn  •  Link

If only the current warmongers would play their games across a big table with little tanks, etc. the world would be a much better place - Bush, Blair, the terrorists and all the others could have their day and blast each other out of the game and our sons and daughters would be safe and the world could get on with living good safe lives. If only women ruled the world ...

Anyway back to today's posting - quite succinct eh? Could it be the weather OR did this day's doings get written up a few days hence? No mention of yet another day of the house being clean - bring on tomorrow!

A. Hamilton  •  Link

did this day’s doings get written up a few days hence

Shrewd guess. We shall see.

Frosty August -- Sam's in the era of Global Cooling, don't forget.

"settling the establishment of the number of men borne on ships, &c" -- I detect the earliest recorded example of Parkinson's Law ("work expands to fill the time available for its completion") which was derived from the finding, in a study of the Royal Navy, that the supernumeraries of the RN remained relatively constant while the number of fighting ships, men, etc declined. The "&c" gives away the game.

Paul Dyson  •  Link

Robert, there's obviously some paper ball tampering going on! Did Sam wear his own Hair as he umpired? Five extra ships to be added to the English fleet, and perhaps the Dutch will stay in harbour after tea. It's just not cricket!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Obviously the fun part of the Naval Office duties falls under "&c.,".

Miss Ann, I go with Thurston Howell III's wise view on world domination- "I'd much rather buy it and hire someone to rule it for me."

Frank G.  •  Link

"did this day’s doings get written up a few days hence"

I believe it has long been established that SP kept notes all through nearly every day, and then, once every few days, wrote out his journal.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

The Weather

British Naval Log Books from the late C 17th. are a rediscovered "new source" for the study of climactic information and history.


Michael Robinson  •  Link

More old weather

Vladimir Jankovic. Reading the Skies: A Cultural History of English Weather 1650-1820. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
H-Net Review: Lotte Mulligan…

Roger  •  Link

Air frost is unlikely,....more likely ground(grass)frost as, after such a poor spring and fickle summer(judging from Pepys and others records), ground temperatures would have been lower than usual. Quite noteworthy nonetheless though. The period 1550 to 1850 has been called the Little Ice Age as the frequency of poor summers and severe winters increased in this long period. Regular and reliable records of London temperature didn't really get going until the middle of the next century but the summer of 1663 can be regarded as distinctly 'disappointing'. Of course there were many hot summers within this period also, one of which(in a couple of years) may be partly blamed for pestilence and a rather big blaze!
Ref London Weather, JH Brazell HMSO 1968

Aqua  •  Link

if wheat yealds be an indication of good and bad weather years with non co-operating weather, then price of wheat will give some indication .
from 1640 price fell 20% by yr '45 sharply rising to 140% of 1640 prices, collapsing to 45 % of '40 price by 1655 then rising quickly to 120% till 1659 then a drop of ten percent til '61 then a steep increase till 160% of the 1640 nom.
Much 1640 'til '55 price changes be the war and the shenanagans of the troubles and having been Kingless. But the post Interregnum can be put down to poor season for growing of wheat. But in the same Breath Inport of wheat be banned, so it could old fashioned gazomping.

Second Reading

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