Saturday 1 October 1664

Up and at the office both forenoon and afternoon very busy, and with great pleasure in being so. This morning Mrs. Lane (now Martin) like a foolish woman, came to the Horseshoe hard by, and sent for me while I was at the office to come to speak with her by a note sealed up, I know to get me to do something for her husband, but I sent her an answer that I would see her at Westminster, and so I did not go, and she went away, poor soul.

At night home to supper, weary, and my eyes sore with writing and reading, and to bed.

We go now on with great vigour in preparing against the Dutch, who, they say, will now fall upon us without doubt upon this high newes come of our beating them so, wholly in Guinny.

23 Annotations

First Reading

Robert Gertz  •  Link

" a foolish woman..."

Not as foolish as the idiot who risked his wife's love and respect and the respect of friends and superiors for a quick touse and tumble.

At least he seems to have had a slight pang of guilt with that "poor soul".

"...this high newes come of our beating them so, wholly in Guinny..." Enjoy it whilst you can, Sam.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"...sent for me while I was at the office; to come to speak with her by a note sealed up,..." wonder what the clerks in the office made of this! Especially if Mrs Lane-Martin wrote a distinctly feminine hand and the messenger was known to be from the pub. Wonder if Sam got it directly from the messenger or if it was passed from hand to hand in the outer office, being held up to the light etc. by inquisitive hands before someone took it in to Sam's closet.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sam's rather hissy remark against poor Betty, followed by his relenting half-apology does suggest you're right Susan. He was clearly annoyed (scared to death) someone would or had read her note or might have noted that it had come from a lady (perhaps well known to the office boys) and all hell might break loose should Bess or certain others who might put two-and-two together hear. Not to mention the suggestion the other day's entry made that Bess seems to drop by the office for companionship's sake these days and might easily have received it for him.

"Aah, ha,ha. Me? Friendly with such a low woman as that?"

"Really? She certainly seemed to know you." Penn smiles, blandly.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"but I sent her an answer that I would see her at Westminster, and so I did not go, and she went away, poor soul"

Sounds as if Sam's learned a trick or two from Jane Welsh...

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"very busy" well maybe future generations are thinking, so much like us!"and with great pleasure in being so"

Pedro  •  Link

And on this day...

William Coventry to Sandwich

Written from: [St James's]
Date: 1 October 1664

Shelfmark: MS. Carte 75, fol(s). 224

Document type: Holograph. Endorsed with Agenda-notes by Sandwich.

Communicates orders which have been sent to Portsmouth for the fitting and manning of certain ships, and also progress of the measures of impressment on the South-Western Coast.

ann  •  Link

Poor Betty. Such was the fate (and still is in many circles, I'll wager) of the lower-class women of the day. Use 'em & lose 'em. But, isn't Sam taking a chance of her feeling used & abused & making their past flings known? Besides, seems to me he should try to do something to help the useless fella, just for ole times' sake.

Terry F  •  Link


"The origin of the term "pressing," with its cognates "to press" and "pressed," is not less remarkable than the genesis of the violence it so aptly describes. Originally the man who was required for the king's service at sea, like his twin brother the soldier, was not "pressed" in the sense in which we now use the term. He was merely subjected to a process called "presting." To "prest" a man meant to enlist him by means of what was technically known as "prest" money--"prest" being the English equivalent of the obsolete French _prest_, now _pret_, meaning "ready." In the recruiter's vocabulary, therefore, "prest" money stood for what is nowadays, in both services, commonly termed the "king's shilling," and the man who, either voluntarily or under duress, accepted or received that shilling at the recruiter's hands, was said to be "prested" or "prest." In other words, having taken the king's ready money, he was thenceforth, during the king's pleasure, "ready" for the king's service.

"By the transfer of the prest shilling from the hand of the recruiter to the pouch of the seaman a subtle contract, as between the latter and his sovereign, was supposed to be set up, than which no more solemn or binding pact could exist save between a man and his Maker. One of the parties to the contract was more often than not, it is true, a strongly dissenting party; but although under the common law of the land this circumstance would have rendered any similar contract null and void, in this amazing transaction between the king and his "prest" subject it was held to be of no vitiating force. From the moment the king's shilling, by whatever means, found its way into the sailor's possession, from that moment he was the king's man, bound in heavy penalties to toe the line of duty, and, should circumstances demand it, to fight the king's enemies to the death, be that fate either theirs or his.

"By some strange irony of circumstance there happened to be in the English language a word--"pressed"--which tallied almost exactly in pronunciation with the old French word _prest_, so long employed, as we have seen, to differentiate from his fellows the man who, by the devious means we have here described, was made "ready" for the sea service. "Press" means to constrain, to urge with force--definitions precisely connoting the development and manner of violent enlistment. Hence, as the change from covert to overt violence grew in strength, "pressing," in the mouths of the people at large, came to be synonymous with that most obnoxious, oppressive and fear-inspiring system of recruiting which, in the course of time, took the place of its milder and more humane antecedent, "presting." The "prest" man disappeared, and in his stead there came upon the scene his later substitute the "pressed" man, "forced," as Pepys so graphically describes his condition, "against all law to be gone." An odder coincidence than this gradual substitution of "pressed" for _prest,_ or one more grimly appropriate in its application, it would surely be impossible to discover in the whose history of nomenclature."

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Press-Gang Afloat and Ashore
by John R. Hutchinson…

Australian Susan  •  Link

Fascinating bit of history Terry - thank you!

Pedro  •  Link

Sam's mention of pressing...

And then up to the Duke, and was with him giving him an account how matters go, and of the necessity there is of a power to presse seamen, without which we cannot really raise men for this fleete of twelve sayle, besides that it will assert the King's power of pressing, which at present is somewhat doubted, and will make the Dutch believe that we are in earnest.…

Cum grano salis  •  Link

Wot a too do, no money for an apprenticeship, no looks to get wife, no place to get a kip, the Tab be over the edge, tis the thing to get thy shilling and see extra sunlight at top of the ma'sa'ls, having done that, it be the way to find a life.

language hat  •  Link

Just out of curiosity, Terry, how did you come across that Press-Gang Afloat and Ashore quote?

Pedro  •  Link

"and also progress of the measures of impressment on the South-Western Coast."

Another method of forced recruitment was the raising of fixed quotas of seamen by the vice-admirals of the maritime counties... In 1664, for example, the mayor of Bristol was asked to raise 500 men, with his counterparts in Dartmouth and Yarmouth were asked to provide I50 apiece, and the lord- lieutenants were also expected to assist...the process of pressing at local level often developed on the parish constable...

(Gentlemen and Tarpaulins by Davies)

For more on impressment from the above source see...…

Second Reading

RSGII  •  Link

Impressment of American Seaman by British Warships was of course one of the contributing causes of the War of 1812.

JayW  •  Link

Yesterday I came across an old notebook in which my mother had recorded old song lyrics. One was very appropriate for today’s entry:

It’s the same the whole world over
It’s the poor wot gets the blame
It’s the rich wot gets the pleasure
Ain’t it all a blooming shame.

Poor soul indeed.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

JayW: back in the late 1960s, we used to sing a rude song at school, with approximately your verse as chorus:

"It was on the Bridge at midnight,
Throwing snowballs at the moon ..."

The original song was "She was Poor But She was Honest" 😇

There are quite a few versions on YouTube.…

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

PS: Of course, one way or another, humour is mostly the human response to pain.

Bill  •  Link

"We go now on with great vigour in preparing against the Dutch"

From John Dryden, Satire on the Dutch, 1662:

To one well-born the affront is worse and more,
When he’s abused and baffled by a boor,
With an ill grace the Dutch their mischiefs do;
They’ve both ill nature and ill manners too.
Well may they boast themselves an ancient nation;
For they were bred ere manners were in fashion:
And their new commonwealth hath set them free
Only from honour and civility.

JayW  •  Link

Thanks, Sasha, I’d forgotten the verse!

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

‘press, v.2 < prest . .
1. a. trans. To compel (a person) to enlist in the army or navy . .
. . 1600 E. Fairfax tr. Tasso Godfrey of Bulloigne xx. xvi. 366 Men halfe naked, without strength or skill,..Late pressed foorth to warre, against their will.
. . 1697 Dryden tr. Virgil Georgics i, in tr. Virgil Wks. 69 The peaceful Peasant to the Wars is prest; The Fields lye fallow in inglorious Rest.
. . 1991 P. O'Brian Nutmeg of Consol. (1993) i. 10 At least a third had been pressed into the Navy.’

‘prest, n. . . < Anglo-Norman . .
. . 4. A sum of money paid to a sailor or soldier on enlistment.
. . 1491 Act 7 Hen. VII c. 1 §1 Any Souldeour..which herafter shal be in Wages and reteyned or take any prest to serve the King upon the See.
. . 1915 Morning Post 15 June 9/1 Thousands of civilians have been drafted into the Navy during the war: ‘pressed’ men, too, though they know it not—for the word is derived from the ‘prest’ or gratuity given to the recruit.

†5. The enlistment of a person by payment of such money; an enlistment of soldiers or sailors. Obs.
. . 1625 Proclamation for better furnishing Navy No Mariner, or Sea faring man should absent, hide, or withdraw himselfe from His late Maiesties service or prests . . ‘

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

From LAWSON LIES STILL IN THE THAMES by Gill Blanchard, Amberley Publishing 2017, ISBN 978 1 4456 6123 page 89:

"The sailors in William Penn's fleet presented their own petition in October, and John [Lawson] backed it wholeheartedly. On 17 October 1654 John held a council of war at Spithead, where he persuaded his colleagues to approve the sailor's petition. Their demands were highly significant in political terms, as the sailors followed their demands to be paid more regularly with an appeal to parliament to end impressment. It was, they said, a form on bondage that no freeborn Englishman should endure. The sailors pointed to a number of army declarations on the same subject which reinforced their case, so had good grounds for expecting parliamentary agreement. One naval correspondent confided his fears that if the opportunity arose, three-quarters of the fleet would turn their guns against Cromwell and his government as willingly as they had against the king." -- citation: Lawson, "A Declaration"; Penn, Vol. 2 pp, 188-194

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