Saturday 18 March 1664/65

Up and to the office, where all the morning. At noon to the ’Change, and took Mr. Hill along with me to Mr. Povy’s, where we dined, and shewed him the house to his good content, and I expect when we meet we shall laugh at it. But I having business to stay, he went away, and Povy and Creed and I to do some business upon Povy’s accounts all the afternoon till late at night, where, God help him! never man was so confounded, and all his people about him in this world as he and his are. After we had done something [to the] purpose we broke up, and Povy acquainted me before Creed (having said something of it also this morning at our office to me) what he had done in speaking to the Duke and others about his making me Treasurer, and has carried it a great way, so as I think it cannot well be set back. Creed, I perceive, envies me in it, but I think as that will do me no hurte, so if it did I am at a great losse to think whether it were not best for me to let it wholly alone, for it will much disquiett me and my business of the Navy, which in this warr will certainly be worth all my time to me. Home, continuing in this doubtfull condition what to think of it, but God Almighty do his will in it for the best.

To my office, where late, and then home to supper and to bed.

18 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Letters from aboard ships in the Downs also address mundane matters like religious quarrels in Ireland

Sir George Ayscue to Ormond
Written from: Downs, aboard H.M.S. the Henry

Date: 18 March 1665

Shelfmark: MS. Carte 34, fol(s). 108
Document type: Original

Several letters from Ireland assure the present writer that his good friend, the Bishop of Ossory, "like Earl Percy in the Ballad, a vow to God did make, that I should never receive a penny of rent, or my tenants enjoy a quiet hour, so long as he lives. His resolves are pious and become him" ... But the writer is "between Scylla and Charybdis - the Bishop, and my Anabaptist tenants" ... He entreats the Lord Lieutenant to hear Mr Keating, on his behalf ...…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Second thoughts, eh Sam?


Laugh at Povy after dining with him and being allowed the courtesy of showing an uninvited guest his magnificient house and artwork? Sometimes you are the charmer, Pepys...

Pity Povy seems not of an amorous disposition regarding Bess...She deserves a generous-hearted admirer with taste and charming kindness.

Carl in Boston  •  Link

It seems like Povy has no clue of moneys in or out or where it went. Pepys is right, the accounts are an absolute mess. It will take a long time to straighten out the accounting, but Pepys has a whole office of people who might make sense of it all. What lies beyond the morrow, I have no idea, but it looks like Povy had no clue about his business.

andy  •  Link

As far as I can see Povy has done well. He won't get any more criticism, doesn't have to do any more work, and still gets 50% of the fee.

Sam on the other hand inherits a set of accounts in bad condition, takes the flak from now on, and only gets 50% of the fee.

Maybe Povy's not that stupid after all?

Pedro  •  Link

"Maybe Povy’s not that stupid after all?"

Povy is not stupid by any means, but as noted, he is no accountant. He may have been able to sell the post for a lump sum, but he knows Sam cannot afford the amount, so this seems like a good deal for both parties.

Maybe much better for Pepys, with his eye for accounting, he can easily make it 75% without Povy knowing…but our hero would not do a thing like that would he?

Robert Gertz  •  Link


Oh, our boy can outdo even 75%.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Creed, I perceive, envies me in it..."

Wailing and gnashing of teeth...Though I'm surprised Creed didn't slip in sooner to offer Povy 'help'. As Deputy Treasurer of the Fleet he must have had at least as good a knowledge of Povy's difficulties as Sam and it's unusual for John 'Eye on the Main Chance' Creed to miss an opportunity.

"Bess, Bess! I screwed Creed again!! He'd practically run over on hearing Povy was throwing in the towel. Oh, Bess, you should have seen him...Every ounce of the old Puritan reserve to keep from screaming in rage. Ha, ha! What a day!!"

Say, off topic but the mention of taxes in Creed annotation intrigues me...How much do we suppose our Sam would have been liable for? He never grumbles about taxes, I notice, after an early entry or two. I imagine he paid something on his official salary (-ies now) and the regular poll tax. Was it prepaid, perhaps, so lessening the sting?

Phil Enright  •  Link

I gather the business world of the England which Sam lived in, respect only Sunday as a day of rest. Sam does not appear to have a structured number of work hours per day, even on this Saturday he's working into the night. It would appear it was the task at hand that dictated the time he spent at work and as long as the work was done, his employer did not care if he was at work or not. With his apparent worry over work undone, or to be done, and the long work day/week, it's a wonder he didn't burn out.

Mary  •  Link

No tax returns for Sam.

Income tax was not introduced in England until 1799; the reason for its introduction then was the need for raising extra funds for the war(s) against Napoleon. Following the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, income tax was repealed in 1816.

It returned in 1842 when reintroduced as a temporary measure by Robert Peel and still remains a temporary measure, having to be re-instated every 5th April by Parliament.…

Sam would have paid no kind of income tax. He would have paid Poll Tax, Hearth Tax (for as long as that measure remained in force after 1662) and would also have been subject to paying the parish Poor Rate.

Any and all taxes that he paid over and above these would have been indirect taxes levied on commodities.

Bradford  •  Link

"I expect when we meet we shall laugh at it."

To all who have never shared such an experience with a friend, gold stars will be awarded. The difference is the lack of inhibition in which Pepys admits this common foible, before the fact. "I don't mean to be unkind, but you have to admit that. . . . "

JWB  •  Link


There was the Militia Act of '63, by which Sam would pay a tax on his salary, noted by Terry here:…

I take it that this was a one-time event.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"He would have paid...Hearth Tax "

Likely not, since he didn't own the house, the Navy (the King) did.

Mary  •  Link

Hearth Tax again.

Although there was initially some disagreement about whether it should be the house-owner or the occupier who paid Hearth Tax, the question was finally decided with the tax being imposed on the occupier, not the owner/landlord. Therefore Sam was probably liable for it; he could scarcely claim relief on grounds of poverty, and the Navy Office was probably not exempt on charitable grounds. I have so far found no evidence for exemption being available for the occupants of government property. Generally speaking, if you enjoyed and used a hearth, you paid the tax for it. A further exemption was introduced for dwellings that had fewer than two chimneys (which must have been a relief to poorer agricultural labourers) but this, again, is unlikely to have applied to the Navy Office. We already know from internal evidence that the Pepys' quarters had at least three hearths.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Sam was probably liable least three hearths."


JWB  •  Link

This from Adam Smith on the hearth tax:

"In order to ascetain how many hearths were in the house, it was necessary that the tax-gatherer should enter every room in it. This odious visit rendered the tax odious. Soon after the Revolution, therefore, it was abolished as a badge of slavery."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"As you can see sir, we are but poor folk." Sam notes, waving for Bess to display tears in old gown more prominently.

"Mrs. Pepys?" Mercer entering. "I have that new..."

"Ah, Mistress Mercer. Our dear neighbor and my wife's closest friend. Oh, so kind of you to bring Bess one of your cast-off gowns..." wave to Bess who grabs new gown quickly, though carefully. Mercer staring, not having been primed... "Dear, why don't you and your good friend take a turn in our poor but well-kept section of the garden."

"We're hoping Mistress Mercer will be able to employ my wife soon. No better mistress in London..."

Hmmn...You know I hadn't considered just how lovely...

Bess narrowly eyeing a somewhat-catching-on Mercer as the ladies take their leave...

"Such a good friend."

"Right...Number of hearths?"

"Uh, but one, sir."

Bess desperately restraining eye roll as she and Mercer head out.

"One? In this big place?"

"As you can see, sir." Sam waves to living room hearth. Shabby pots and clutter hastily moved in...

"What about the upstairs?"

"Oh, not ours, sir. We two merely occupy the ground floor. A couple of gentlemen working for the Navy lodge above. It being a Naval residence, naturally our office wishes to give the best value to the King."

One collector eyes other...Uh-huh.

"Mr. Penn? Mr. Povy? The men from the tax office are here. They'd like a word with you."

"Ah, Pepys." Will Hewer nods, emerging from the upstairs study. "Would you have your dear wife bring some hot water to me?"

"She's just left...Mr...Penn." choked out.

"You're the son of Admiral Penn?" one collector stares at Will.

"Just back from France..."

"Yes...And the hearth bill for his room will of course by handled by the Admiral." Sam notes. "But discreetly, gentlemen...Young Penn here having had a bit of trouble at University. You understand."

"Yes. Well, then Pepys." Will smiles. "If you would be so good about that water..."

"Certainly...Mr. Hewer." choking sound.

"And a little ale for me, Pepys." Hayter adds, emerging from Bess' study. "Tom Povy, gentlemen, good to meet you." The collectors glance at their log books. One shrugs, writing "T. Povy, W. Penn." as Sam carefully stares over the man's shoulder.

Heh, heh. As if that fool Povy will ever pay attention to his tax bill.

"Uh, Pepys? And the gentlemen as well."

"Anon...Sir." Sam glares.

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

For all Creed might envy Sam taking over as Tangier Treasurer, one must remember that Sam saved Creed's bacon after Creeds accounts as Sandwich's Treasurer were called into question. He might be learning, but doesn't yet, perhaps, have the skill-set.

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