Monday 6 February 1664/65

Up and with Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Pen to St. James’s, but the Duke is gone abroad. So to White Hall to him, and there I spoke with him, and so to Westminster, did a little business, and then home to the ’Change, where also I did some business, and went off and ended my contract with the “Kingfisher” I hired for Tangier, and I hope to get something by it.

Thence home to dinner, and visited Sir W. Batten, who is sick again, worse than he was, and I am apt to think is very ill.

So to my office, and among other things with Sir W. Warren 4 hours or more till very late, talking of one thing or another, and have concluded a firm league with him in all just ways to serve him and myself all I can, and I think he will be a most usefull and thankfull man to me. So home to supper and to bed.

This being one of the coldest days, all say, they ever felt in England; and I this day, under great apprehensions of getting an ague from my putting a suit on that hath lain by without ayring a great while, and I pray God it do not do me hurte.

43 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Secret intel transmission: go to Oxford to read it 343 years later among the papers of Thomas Carte in the Bodleian Library

William Coventry to Sandwich
Written from: St James's

Date: 6 February 1665

Shelfmark: MS. Carte 75, fol(s). 151
Document type: Holograph

Certain information has come of the appearance, off Flamborough, of a fleet of 20 sail of great ships. Hence it is conjectured that the Dutch had notice of the King's intention to send a squadron northward, "of which failing, they will probably ere long return".

Communicates from the Lord Admiral certain hypothetical plans of manoeuvre, of the expediency of which his Lordship is himself to judge, & to decide.…

Pedro  •  Link

“This being one of the coldest days, all say, they ever felt in England; and I this day, under great apprehensions of getting an ague from my putting a suit on that hath lain by without ayring a great while, and I pray God it do not do me hurte.”

Poor old Sam, and God help all the less fortunate on this day.

jeannine  •  Link

"Journals of the Earl of Sandwich” edited by R.C. Anderson

6th. Monday. This morning I removed myself out of London into the Revenge. Little wind till the evening. Then a gale at S.S.E. The fleet sailed to accompany the London and Montagu to the Longsand head. We all came to an anchor some 5 leagues N.E. eastwardly from the North Foreland. At midnight the wind southerned and blew hard.

Margaret  •  Link

“This being one of the coldest days, all say, they ever felt in England..."

Here in "Rupert's Land" the winter temperatures can get so low as to be incomprehensible to Sam (or to anyone in England today, for that matter--one of my cousins couldn't understand why we have to move goldfish indoors for the winter!)

But it's all relative. As a ten-year old, I found winter in Alberta much easier to put up with than winter in Middlesex--partly because we had central heating everywhere, partly because our clothes were warmer, and partly because Alberta winters are dry & London winters can be very damp. I used to brag about how tough I was because I came from England.

Sam's worry about wearing an unaired suit was very sensible, but here damp clothes (and damp bedclothes) are simply not a problem.

CGS  •  Link

Damp clothes was always a problem in England, the walls would have the dampness ooze in riverlets, stone was popular for dripping waters kept the behind wall life to a minimum. One method of having dry warm clothes, especially underwear was to put them under the pillow or between mattresses,then sleep on them.
Then there was the proverbial warming pan , hot brick or good pet, to aire out the damp sheets.
Bronchial problems abounded.
Oh! the sweet memories.

dirk  •  Link

"This being one of the coldest days, all say, they ever felt in England"

The Rev. Josselin wrote in his diary for yesterday 5 Feb.:
"A very cold season, god good to us in out outward mercies, exercised with reproofs which I bear with patience for thy name sake oh lord, god good to me in the sabbath and in the duties thereof."

Australian Susan  •  Link

"hot brick or good pet"

Here in Australia, it can get very cold in central parts. The Aboriginal people very sensibly used to use dogs to keep warm at night (as well as for hunting). A very cold night was described as "a two dog night".

"and have concluded a firm league with him in all just ways to serve him and myself all I can, and I think he will be a most usefull and thankfull man to me"

Well, where have we heard that before?

"Previously, on 'Survivor'...."

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

Fascinating chart, JWB. Sam seems to have picked the wrong century for comfort.
I recall being shown leg-and-foot shaped pieces of wood in an Icelandic museum, used for drying socks in the old days. We were told, quite seriously, that the advent of rubber boots increased the average lifespan by twenty years.

QuantumLobster  •  Link

We haven't heard of a washing day for a while. Perhaps, with all the tumult of the household lately concerning Jane, the laundry hasn't been done in a while. Sam may have been reduced to digging around in the bottom of the drawers for something clean to wear.

Or, perhaps the very cold weather has prompted him to add an extra layer?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

No reference to Huey Long yet I see, so... Sam would have probably greatly appreciated doing business with "the Kingfisher", a man as famous for storytelling as for "dealing".

Or as Sara Delano Roosevelt once said (loud whisper) on seeing him at her table at Hyde Park "Who is that awful person sitting next to my son?"

Margaret  •  Link

Actual conversation in my house this morning:

(Looking out the window at the thermometer): "Hey, great! The weather's warmed up almost to zero! We'd better enjoy it while it lasts."

"You're looking at the Fahrenheit scale. It's actually minus twenty."


Since Fahrenheit didn't develop his scale until 1724, & Celsius until 1742, people in Sam's day had no objective way of telling how cold the day was. "This being one of the coldest days, all say, they ever felt in England," is subjective, and Sam is given to superlatives (things are so often the best or the worst he's seen in his life). Still, we can take it for granted that it was cold.

And the "monthly average" on the side bar of this blog does indicate an average of 1 degree C, which would be pretty darn cold for London (though a February that warm in Alberta would be great!)

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I wonder how a tycoon like Warren would appreciate hearing Sam dismiss him as "useful to me"?

Margaret  •  Link

"I wonder how a tycoon like Warren would appreciate hearing Sam dismiss him as “useful to me”?"

I think people judged their own importance by how much other people felt that they could be helped by them. Sandwich was "useful" to Sam and to many others; the more important you were, the more useful you could be.

So I think Warren would expect people like Sam to think this.

Ralph Berry  •  Link

".... and so to Westminster, did a little business, and then home to the 'Change where also I did some business..."

Sam often seems to make the comment "did some business". Given the general detail he puts in his diary about many matters all and sundry it surprises me that he was not more explicit about what this business was each time. Is it that somehow he is happy to record for anonymous posterity all his personal foibles but cannot bring himself to record the business deals in case the record may come to light and get him into trouble?

Each time it intrigues me as to what this "business" might be.

CGS  •  Link

The great frosts ,Sam mentions them many times many time but the best be:
"...we not having one coal of fire in the house, and it being very hard frosty weather..."…
there was one in August.

"...(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),..."…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

House of Commons today

Medway Navigation.

Another ingrossed Bill, sent from the Lords, for making navigable the River of Medway, in the Counties of Kent and Sussex, was read the First time.

Resolved, &c. That this Bill be read the Second time To-morrow Morning.…

Make the Medway navigable? What a capital idea, as cgs observed when the Lauds brought it up.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Perhaps the Dutch Republic should issue a long overdue vote of thanks?

Australian Susan  •  Link

Shrove Tuesday - this is a year when Sam's early Easter almost coincides with ours. Did you all get your Pancakes on Tuesday? For Sam, as for almost all of us, Shrove Tuesday is just a day to eat a special kind of food - no mention of actually being Shriven on that day. Although our local supermarket has plastered a sign saying "Something for Lent" over the doors of the frozen food cabinets which have fish in them. And also one next to the canned tuna. Just a marketing hook, but they obviously believe most people know what "Lent" implies.

Temperature: it was 32 Celsius here yesterday and we are all going around saying how nice and cool it is for the time of year.

And yes, I am intrigued by Sam's information about weather and temperature. Had the Royal Society investigated this at all? Were there any primitive thermometers out there?

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sorry. Confused. Should have posted first half of comment on next day.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sam and Warren's relationship is interesting. Much like Penn Sr. and Sam at the beginning, Warren seemed to enjoy early on teaching Sam the ropes of the shipbuilding and supply trade but time will tell how sincere his friendship is. I wonder about his decision to enter into "a firm league" with Sam. He seems unusually willing to defer to a younger, untitled man...When Sam encounters great ones who are willing to do business with him they generally still stand on their titles and he is very much the inferior. He might accept that Sam finds him "useful" but I can't quite believe he would be all that pleased. Of course he has a sharper eye than Wood who gambled on Batten and his title and (more or less) lost; he saw immediately who held the real daily power in the office but Sam seems rather too sure of himself with such a man when he is usually objective and cautious even if the deal is working out.

Perhaps it indicates real affection and trust on Sam's part?

CGS  •  Link

Aus S : centi and fari can be confusing for some 32 C with you and 32 F with many others 'ere.

CGS  •  Link

more: This is the period of scientific enquiry taking off:
leads for the enquiring mind

early pioneer Ole Christensen Rømer (1644 1710)

Galileo invented the first documented thermometer in about 1592. It was an air thermometer consisting of a glass bulb with a long tube attached. The tube was dipped into a cooled liquid and the bulb was warmed, expanding the air inside.
[hOttAp ://][ w's..]……

Australian Susan  •  Link

You can still buy Galileo thermometers:…

is just one of several online stores. Wonder if Sam ever saw one - just the kind of thing he'd love.

GrahamT  •  Link

Temperature measuring in the 17th/18th century.
Thermometers were around in the 1660's, though the scales were not standardised. Galileo's didn't have a scale at all and was more correctly a thermoscope, not a thermometer.
Fahrenheit's scale was based on Rømer's in that 1°F = 4°R, though with a different starting point for 0°
More interesting for our period, is that Newton devised a scale around 1700 with 0° as the freezing point of water, but boiling point at 33°. If only he had chosen 100° instead he might have had two units named after him, as his predated Celsius' by 42 years.
Fahrenheit's thermometer (a term first used in 1624) used mercury whereas Newton's used Linseed oil, which is probably why Fahrenheit's suceeded over Newton's, Galileo's and Rømer's.
The USA is the only major country still using Fahreheit - which is now defined as a sub-standard of Celsius/Kelvin rather than a standard in its own right.

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

"This being one of the coldest days, all say, they ever felt in England"

Sam is writing in the midst of period of low temperature in Northern Europe known as The Little Ice Age; it coincides with a period of low sunspot activity known as the Maunder Minimum, and there is probably a connection, although volcanic activity has also been implicated.

Australian Susan  •  Link

If you go to the online shop i referenced above, it has lots of lovely reproduction brass and mahogany sextants, compasses etc. (later than Sam's time, but i am sure he would have loved them!) and also your Very Own Set of "bewpers" - Naval signal flags, but these are in "hard-wearing nylon", so no danger of inferior material ripping to bits in the wind. I do wonder who would buy these in the 21st century.....

Paul Chapin  •  Link

GrahamT's note about Isaac Newton's temperature scale was new and fascinating to me. I did some research to try to find out why Newton picked 33 degrees for the boiling point of water. The only clue I found was a reference to a column by Isaac Asimov in the October 1959 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, titled "The Height of Up." A brief extract from the column says that Newton actually started with two fixed points, melting snow (i.e. the freezing point of water) at zero degrees, and human body temperature at twelve degrees, the number twelve being chosen on the same duodecimal principle that gives us twelve hours around the clock, twelve months in the year, twelve inches to the foot, etc. However, if human body temperature is 12 degrees, and water freezes at zero, then water should boil at a little over 38 degrees, not 33 (at sea level). I haven't been able to find access to the full original text of Asimov's column to see what he really said; it would be unlike him to make an elementary error like that. So the question remains open.

I toyed with another fanciful notion. Newton may or may not have been a Freemason, the subject is a matter of dispute, but he certainly had close friends who were heavily involved in the 17th century re-establishment of Freemasonry in England, and he was sympathetic to its principles. The highest order of Freemasonry is the 33rd degree. Coincidence? Maybe. I certainly found no evidence whatever for any connection.

Mary  •  Link

Newton's temperature scale.

I've heard it suggested that 327.5C (the melting point of lead) may have been the upper limit chosen by Newton for his scale. He was very interested (to put it mildly) in alchemy.

This would put the boiling point of water (33 on Newton's scale) at approximately one-third of the way to the top of the scale, which is not so very far out of account here.

CGS  •  Link

thanks Mary, here be a follow up for Newtons law of cooling, that has given us the law to find when a person dies, from his experiments in Temperatures and making his own thermometer,
so lead away Mary, lead be it.…

GrahamT  •  Link

Sorry, typo in my comment:
It should say 4°F = 1°R, so 180° (half a circle for the geometers amongst us) Fahrenheit between freezing and boiling, not 45°R.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

It appears from the article CGS has referred us to that Newton's thermometer could not have been used to measure the melting point of lead, which is above the boiling point of the linseed oil that was Newton's expanding medium.

"Because of its high boiling point, linseed oil can be used for measuring temperatures up to the melting point of tin (232 C)."

Kevin Peter  •  Link

I believe that Sam doesn't go into much detail about his business in his diary because he has other books where he records the details of his business. Those were kept in his office and served more as an official record of his activities in the naval office. If I recall correctly, a few of those books have survived, but most of them have not.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... ended my contract with the “Kingfisher” I hired for Tangier, and I hope to get something by it."

How the heck did he do that? All I can think of is writing in the Navy books that the deposit was, say, 200l., when it was really 150l., so he will walk away with the difference.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Graham T wrote, “The USA is the only major country still using Fahreheit - which is now defined as a sub-standard of Celsius/Kelvin rather than a standard in its own right.”

I beg your pardon, Graham! Fahrenheut IS the standard in the US. Except in scientific circles, temperatures are given in Fahrenheit almost everywhere in the US (or it’s occasiinally given in both Fahrenheit and Celsius) . Having used Fahrenheit my whole life, I have never been able to get my head around Celsius. I have to look it up every time to find out what the “real” temperature is. Everybody knows that 32 degrees is the freezing point of water, and 212 degrees is the boiling point! My sons, on the other hand, who have careers in the sciences, know Celsius like the back of their hands and often give me whithering looks.

RSGII  •  Link

One measure of extreme cold in London was when the river Thames froze solid and a Frost Fair could be held with skating and shops in the ice. The Frost Fair of 1683: According to a document of the time: 'A very violent frost began, which lasted to the 6th of February, in so great extremity, that the pools were frozen 18 inches thick at least, and the Thames was so frozen that a great street from the Temple to Southwark was built with shops, and all manner of things sold' Read more:…

GrahamRA  •  Link

If you are in London before 13 May 2018, visit the Charles II: Art and Power exhibition at the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace to see portraits of many of the protagonists mentioned in Sam's Diary (and including one painting by Palma Vecchio given to Charles II by Sir Edward Montague, Earl of Sandwich from his collection at Hinchingbrooke House). Samuel Pepys is mentioned and quoted several times in the exhibition. There is a copy of Hooke's Micrographia (of which Pepys had a copy PL2116) on display amongst other important books. Also examples of bookbinding by a bookbinder Pepys patronised.

john  •  Link

Louise, I grew up with Fahrenheit as well. When Canada switched to Celsius, it took less than a year to acclimatize (pun intended) and now think of water freezing at 32 as very odd.

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