Friday 6 May 1664

This morning up and to my office, where Sympson my joyner came to work upon altering my closet, which I alter by setting the door in another place, and several other things to my great content. Busy at it all day, only in the afternoon home, and there, my books at the office being out of order, wrote letters and other businesses. So at night with my head full of the business of my closet home to bed, and strange it is to think how building do fill my mind and put out all other things out of my thoughts.

25 Annotations

First Reading

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Hewer, open up my hole."

"Er...Mr. Pepys?"

"My surveillance hole in the wall, you idiot!"

"Uh, yes, sir."

"Ah, it's worse than I thought. Each morning at eight, they wander through the gate. Batten goes home early, Minnes comes in late. Reeking of cheap liquor, my fellows stumble through the day. Never seeking to give the King honest work, for honest pay.

I know it shouldn't vex me...I who do the work shouldn't take it hard...I should ignore their capering with patient, kingly disregard but!...

Look at all those idiots! Especially those three fools! This office full of morons...This Navy full of fools! Is it any wonder?...I'm singing...Singing...The blues."

"And before they were invented, sir." Hewer notes proudly.


"Yours is a heavy burden, sir."

"I'm just getting started.

They send their personal messages...On the King's dime. They disregard my memos...Wasting my valuable time. Their blatant thievery wounds me, this ingratitude astounds...I long to lure them to the open then watch Parliament release the hounds!"

Sam, Hewer, Chorus:

"Just look at those three idiots...Yes, look at those three fools. A Navy run by morons...A nation-at-war led by fools. Will it be any wonder when England...England is singing the blues..."

"You're a prophet ahead of your time, sir."

"Yes, so I am. Say? Who are those people singing along?"

"Some of our mobilized sailors and their wives...I thought you might like backup, sir."


"Look at those three idiots! Yes, look at those three fools...An office staffed with morons, a kingdom run by fools. Is it any wonder...that Pepys is singing...Singing...The blues?"

"Say, wha' the bloody 'ell's this 'blues'?"

"Never you mind, just sing." Hewer glares.

"Say who's that in the corner, drinking water as if it's free?"

"Oh, that's Homer Sympson, sir. Your joyner from Deptford Warehouse three."

"Well, call this Sympson to my office. Hewer, stay to watch the fun. If he's six feet when he enters; he'll be Bess' height when I'm done."

"Heh, heh, heh..."

"It doth bring a ray of sunshine to my overworked life...To make them kneel before me, while the COA slowly twists the knife."

Sam, Hewer, Chorus:

"Look at all those idiots...Yes, just look all those fools. A war effort planned by dotards...Lechers and boobs. I swear to you, Hewer. England will be singing, singing...The blues..."

"Sir, you make Milton seem shallow and cheap by comparison."

"What about that fanatique Unperson you never mentioned, Hewer?" hard stare.

"Uh, right, sir."

"You! Sympson! In my office!!"

"Doh! Oh, Mr. Pepys! You made me bang me thumb again!"


"Look at all those idiots..."

"Enough of that...Hewer, we're not paying them for this, are we?"

"Well...I agreed to validate their tickets, sir."


Cactus Wren  •  Link

... and the performers do not break character during the five-minute ovation following that showstopping number.

Applause. Applause.

Xjy  •  Link


This runs in my family, so I started digging around. After a while I discovered that we need an encyclopedia entry for this word! The etymology is downright fascinating.…

"The pair 'carpenter' and 'joiner' provide a good example of a more difficult case, where a knowledge of both insular and continental medieval French and of the pitfalls lurking in the dictionaries of medieval French are of prime importance for the etymologist. The OED puts 'carpenter' and 'joiner' on a par, giving the origin of both as Anglo-French, taken ultimately from continental Old French. They are not, however, of similar origin. Whilst 'carpenter' is found on both sides of the Channel in the Middle Ages, 'joiner' is an Anglo-French creation and not attested in continental French at all [...]"

Go! Go! Google!

Maura  •  Link

"...strange it is to think how building do fill my mind and put out all other things out of my thoughts."

I think anyone who has ever had building work done can agree: It's very hard to concentrate on your work when you're wondering how things are getting along at home!

language hat  •  Link

Xjy: Thanks for that -- I love etymological detail!

Very odd feature: I see Xjy's comment cut off at the bottom and have to place my cursor in it and pull it down to make the rest of the comment visible (the top then disappearing behind the foreground, as if the box were literally a window through which you can only see a certain amount). Is anybody else getting this? It doesn't happen with much longer comments, like Robert Gertz's.

Ant  •  Link


Having some work done once, I referred to the tradesman as 'carpenter', and was politely but firmly corrected to 'joiner' - my understanding being that a joiner is to be regarded as a more skilled craftsman than a carpenter.

Martin  •  Link

Sympson has his own Wikipedia entry (with minor spoilers):…
The entry has further details distinguishing the joiner's trade from cabinetmaking.

Pedro  •  Link


From Martin's wikipedia site it suggests that it is probable that Sympson was working for Pepys instead of working on the interiors of warships.

Sam ripping off the King and Sympson doing a foreigner? Surely not.

TomC  •  Link

Here in New England I'd never heard of the term "joiner" before reading Pepys. Both my father and brother are carpenters, however my father is referred to as a "finish carpenter". The distinction being that he is expert at installing fine cabinetry, trim and paneling. They do have a machine called a joiner.

Has anyone else in the States used the term "joiner" when referring to a person?

Martin  •  Link

TomC: Joiner was common in Colonial times in America. It looks to me like the advent of various machine tools eliminated joiner as a distinct occupation in the early 1900s. As of 1881 it was common enough that a labor organization then founded was named The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, a name it still carries.

cape henry  •  Link

In the fine furniture and cabinet making industry I think you will still find people who refer to themselves as joiners.

On another note, Pepys is employing the modern notion of rearranging the cubicles to create new synergies and higher efficiencies. It always works. Every time. Yep.

Pedro  •  Link

and the Rev Josselin also in great content...

7. All this week employed in getting home wood wherein god was very good to me in my business. the 6. a very comfortable rain in our parts

Bardi  •  Link

Today should be the day that bitch whelps her puppies. Perhaps she's late and I'm being a spoiler.

djc  •  Link

Joiner/Carpernter/Cabinet Maker
are three different trades, different skills; you will as much insult a carpenter calling him a cabinet maker, as a cabinet maker by calling him a joiner (perm. any pair of the three).
If you are wanting a floor or a roof then you need a carpenter; doors, windows, cupboards that's joinery, something fancy all french polished? then you want a cabinet maker.

GrahamT  •  Link

Woodworking Hierarchy:
Carpenter - makes and puts together building timbers with wooden pegs and rough joints (charpente is French for roof timbers)
Joiner - more skilled, can cut precision joints. (dovetails, mortice, etc.) Makes shelves, doors, closets, etc.
Cabinet maker - makes furniture. A craftsman rather than a tradesman. (Sheraton, Hepplewhite and Chippendale are famous examples)
(Wood)Carver - most skilled of all. Carves the detail in rich houses. An artist more than a craftsman. Grinling Gibbons for example.
At least according to my old woodwork teacher - a carpenter might have a different view of things.

GrahamT  •  Link

Sorry to overlap djc - great minds think alike

Pedro  •  Link

On May 6, 1664,

Downing announced in letters to Bennet and Clarendon that DeWitt had at last consented to accommodate the matter of the three ships. He was willing, moreover, to enter into an agreement, for the prevention of all such future troubles, along the lines which Downing had laid down. Regarding the two East India ships, however, whose case was quite different from those of the Royal Company, DeWitt would not alter his stubborn refusal of compensation. Downing was intent on gaining a complete victory and at once rejoined that no new commercial regulations could be considered until entire satisfaction had been rendered for the damages which the Dutch had committed.

The Journal of Negro History, Volume 4, 1919

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

“ Sympson my joyner came to work upon altering my closet”

CARPENTRY, The Art of working in Wood, commonly applied to Building, whether it be of Houses or Ships.
JOINERY, The Art of performing the curious Part of Wood-Work, such as the Wainscoting of Rooms, Pewing Churches, making Pulpits, &c.
---A new general English dictionary. T. Dyche, 1735.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

"A joiner is an artisan who builds things by joining pieces of wood, particularly lighter and more ornamental work than that done by a carpenter, including furniture and the "fittings" of a house, ship, etc. . . . . A joiner usually produces items such as interior and exterior doors, windows, stairs, tables, bookshelves, cabinets, furniture, etc. In shipbuilding a marine joiner may work with materials other than wood . . .

"The terms joinery and joiner are used in the UK, and the main trade union for American carpenters still calls itself the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.…

A joiner is also a piece of machinery that creates woodworking joints. Of course, in Pepys' time there was no such machinery and all joinery was done by hand,

I am having work done in my house, including the buildiing of closets and the renovation of stairs, so I understand very well what Pepys meant when he wrote, "So at night with my head full of the business of my closet . . . strange it is to think how building do fill my mind and put out all other things out of my thoughts."

Robert Harneis  •  Link

The word carpenter comes from the French charpentier but in France a 'charpentier' is a skilled artisan who is an expert in structural woodwork, nowadays mostly roof timbers but in former times also the timber framing of 'olde worldie' timber framed houses that they would construct from green wood, usually oak, cut down in the local forest, laid out on the village square, the joints numbered with roman numerals and then assembled on site. If they could get it they liked to use chestnut because it is resistant to woodworm. Apparently it doesn't taste nice. One of the advantages of the system was that in an inheritance the houses could be taken to pieces and reassembled on another piece of land, so the land could go to one heir and the house to another. Completely off subject, timber framed houses are very resistant to earthquakes in that they bend and twist rather than breaking and are much studied today by Japanese earthquakeologists. A further advantage, discovered in the close quarter fighting of the Second World War, was that high velocity tank shells, more often than not, went through them rather than knocking them down. Household carpentry is done by the 'menuisier' from 'menu' meaning small. Cabinet makers are 'ébinistes' from ebony - 'l'ébène'. The nearest thing to a charpentier in English is what used to be known in the days of wooden sailing ships as the ship's carpenter. Voila!

john  •  Link

Those who specialise in framework are also known here as framing carpenters, who nowadays must be familiar with local building codes, as opposed to trim carpenters and cabinet makers (noted earlier). Interesting note about the moveable houses, Robert. That would have taken effort, needing to remove the plaster inside and daub outside.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

I would imagine a joiner wouldn't be using nails. Hence, joining the wood? I doubt they could make a nail fine enough (for cabinetry) in those days. What about spikes? Did they have them?

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

It's interesting that in 20th century Britain, being a cabinet maker was often associated with being an undertaker (funeral director). I have a phonograph (wind-up gramophone) in a cabinet made of dark oak made in 1913 by my great uncle as a wedding present for his wife. He was an undertaker/cabinet maker: they did make other things than coffins!

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re: ‘ . . to my office, where Sympson my joyner came . . ‘

‘joiner, n. < Middle English
. . 2. a. A craftsman whose occupation it is to construct things by joining pieces of wood; a worker in wood who does lighter and more ornamental work than that of a carpenter, as the construction of the furniture and fittings of a house, ship, etc.
. . 1649 T. Fuller Just Mans Funeral 23 Let..the most exquisite Joyner make the coffin.
1710 Tatler No. 252. ⁋4 What Method is to be taken to make Joiners and other Artificers get out of a House they have once entered . . ‘ (OED)

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