Friday 24 March 1664/65

Up betimes, and by agreement to the Globe taverne in Fleet Street to Mr. Clerke, my sollicitor, about the business of my uncle’s accounts, and we went with one Jefferys to one of the Barons (Spelman), and there my accounts were declared and I sworn to the truth thereof to my knowledge, and so I shall after a few formalities be cleared of all.

Thence to Povy’s, and there delivered him his letters of greatest import to him that is possible, yet dropped by young Bland, just come from Tangier, upon the road by Sittingburne, taken up and sent to Mr. Pett, at Chatham. Thus everything done by Povy is done with a fatal folly and neglect.

Then to our discourse with him, Creed, Mr. Viner, myself and Poyntz about the business of the Workehouse at Clerkenwell, and after dinner went thither and saw all the works there, and did also consult the Act concerning the business and other papers in order to our coming in to undertake it with Povy, the management of the House, but I do not think we can safely meddle with it, at least I, unless I had time to look after it myself, but the thing is very ingenious and laudable.

Thence to my Lady Sandwich’s, where my wife all this day, having kept Good Friday very strict with fasting. Here we supped, and talked very merry. My Lady alone with me, very earnest about Sir G. Carteret’s son, with whom I perceive they do desire my Lady Jemimah may be matched. Thence home and to my office, and then to bed.

33 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

To find out "the state of public opinion as to the war with Holland" this date go to the Bodleian

A Writer not herein named to Colonel Sir Theophilus Jones
Written from: Dublin

Date: 24 March 1665

Shelfmark: MS. Carte 215, fol(s). 150
Document type: Original [addressed to Jones at Lucan]

Sends intelligence of some incidents in Church affairs; and also some indications of the state of public opinion as to the war with Holland.…

Pedro  •  Link

the Workehouse at Clerkenwell

Became The Quaker Workhouse at Clerkenwell?

The building the institution occupied had been built in 1662 as a workhouse for the Corporation of the Poor of the County of Middlesex, probably at the instigation of Sir Matthew Hale. (fn. 36) It remained a workhouse only until 1672, but continued to serve as the site of a poor relief establishment for most of the rest of the century.…

Background wiki for Hale.

...He is chargeable, however, with the condemnation. and execution of two poor women from Lowestoft tried before him for witchcraft in 1664, a kind of judicial murder then falling under disuse. He is also reproached with having hastened the execution of a soldier for whom he had reason to believe a pardon was pending.

Probably the 1662 Bury St. Edmunds witch trial...…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...I sworn to the truth thereof to my knowledge..."

Sounds like Sam's preparing the ancestor of the modern era's idiot CEO defense... "Though I am the hideously overpaid CEO of one of the world's largest corporations, I know absolutely nothing about anything to do with our company."

Hmmn...Perhaps Povy's an unrecognized genius, centuries ahead of his time.

"Thence to my Lady Sandwich’s, where my wife all this day, having kept Good Friday very strict with fasting."

"You know, cousin Samuel..." Lady Jem, innocently... "The way dear Bess kept fast this day. If I didn't know better I'd think she be a..."

"...very diet-concious girl. Yes, we've been tucking it away this year and yesterday I said, 'Bess, you're swelling like a Christmas goose.' Eh, Bess?"

"Ave Maria." coldly.

"Ha, ha. Demonstrating her Latin. I'll have her on Greek in a week. Isn't she a wonder? It's that staunchly Protestant French upbringing of hers that's encouraged such keen desire for learning. Why, she'll be exposing the falsehoods of the Jesuits in court before we know it."


Seriously, though I wonder what Bess did when forced to cool her heels waiting for Sam and Jemina to have their little private talk..."My Lady alone with me, very earnest about Sir G. Carteret’s son..."

Fond as she is of Lady Jem, it must've erked her to be cut out like that, model of patience that our Bess is.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Thus everything done by Povy is done with a fatal folly and neglect."

If Pepys believes what is done by one's deputy is, by some theory, done by oneself, by implication he is putting himself at great hazard unless, as he suggests regarding the management of the Workhouse at Clerkenwell, he does all of it -- everything he undertakes -- by himself.

Is our boy by implication a control-freak to that extent? There is creeping evidence of it. It is not a spoiler to say there will be more.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

So now John is "young Bland"? He seemed an experienced and capable merchant in earlier entries, with his Tangier experience just the right man to be carrying out assignments for Povy.

Throws a possibly interesting new light on Sam's interest in Mrs. Bland though...

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The legal basis for the Workhouse at Clerkenwell

"The Poor Relief Act 1662 (13&14 Car. II c.12) was an Act of the Parliament of England. It was an Act for the Better Relief of the Poor of this Kingdom and is also known as the Settlement Act or, more honestly, the Settlement and Removal Act. The purpose of the Act was to establish the parish to which a person belonged (i.e. his/her place of 'settlement'), and hence clarify which parish was responsible for him should he become in need of Poor Relief (or 'chargeable' to the parish poor rates). Of particular note is that this was the first occasion when a document proving domicile became statutory: these were called Settlement Certificates...." Cf. the link to the full text of the Act.…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Say am I wrong or did Sam once treat Mr. Clerke with careful deference, grateful for such an experienced man's advice? Now he blithely refers to "my solicitor".

Phil  •  Link

Sam delivers to Povy, Povy's "letters of great import". Povy then must have given them to Bland, who drops them on the road to Sittingburne. Someone picks them up and sends them to Pett in Chatham. Why does Sam conclude all Povy's work has met with "fatal folly"? No doubt there was some "neglect" in the handling of the documents but does the "fatal folly" mean the documents were destroyed and unreadable by Pett or were they never meant to be seen by Pett and who ever that someone was that found them, realized Pett may be interested in what the documents contained.

Reading about Pett and his models I wonder if the expression "Pet Project" may have originated from this Mr. Pett

Australian Susan  •  Link

Laws to deal with the poor became necessary during the 16th century as there was an increase in the numbers of vagrants (for a variety of reasons, but one was the dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s.) Various piecemeal provisions culminated in the Poor Law Act of 1601 which bundled together the legislation to deal with relief and punishment and became the basis for Poor Law until the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act which established the Union Workhouse scheme. The act of 1662, referred to by Terry was one 4 laws which amended or added to this seminal law. For example, the 1601 Act provided for people to be branded to show where they came from: by 1662, literacy was more commonplace, so documents were introduced to replace the crudity of branding and the trudge towards the uniform bureaucracy of the social security number began!

Ralph Berry  •  Link

"Thus every thing done by Povy is done with a fatal folly or neglect"

I wonder if what he is really saying is that every thing to do with Povy is doomed to bad luck and to turn out badly. i.e. as we would now say Murphy's Law applies.

Miss Ann  •  Link

Thank you Australian Susan for those details - with the way today's mortgage problems are going we may have need for this type of legislation again very soon.

Also, Robert Gertz - loved the "Idiot CEO Defense" - it is trotted out far too often nowadays. Can anyone tell me how to become a CEO? It obviously doesn't need any particular skills, I'm sure I've learnt enough from my children to stand up in front of the media and deny any knowledge of what is going on. I would only need to do it for a year or two then I will have enough to continue well into retirement.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Povey and the 'idiot' CEO defense ...

Some years ago, the Sothebys-Christies commission fixing scandal:-

"We also learn that being dyslexic, Taubman has no interest and capacity for numbers but is an almost entirely visual person, with a genuine passion for art ..."…

Pedro  •  Link

So now John is “young Bland”?

The background points to John Bland, but this could be his poor son Giles as seen from Pauline’s L&M entry…

Giles, their son, who was also employed in Tangier, had married Povey’s daughter Frances. He was executed in 1677 for his part in the Virginian rebellion of 1676; his mother shocked the Navy Board by writing in vindication of his innocence ‘comparing thereof to that of his sacred Majesty’.

Mary  •  Link

Clerkenwell Workhouse.

It looks as if a plan is being floated for the inmates of the New Bridewell to produce textile goods for Tangier. L&M note that Poyntz, the Master, was already supplying flags and sails to the navy and would, by 1667, be producing tapestries. Probably more agreeable work than picking oakum.

Rex Gordon  •  Link

More and more vagrants these days ...

In addition to the dissolution of the monasteries cited by Aussie Susan, the enclosure movement created a huge number of displaced rural workers, the problem worsening continually for several centuries. In the early 17th century no less a personage than Master Will Shakespeare was enclosing his fields in the vicinity of Stratford. The legal documents still exist.

Rob Z  •  Link

No, Shakespeare is not known to have enclosed any fields. He did make an agreement with some would-be enclosers that if they did manage to enclose and he lost money by it, they would compensate him for the loss.

Rex Gordon  •  Link

Rob Z -

Thanks for your clarification of my half-remembered history!

"I do forget. Do not muse at me, my most worthy friends; I have a strange infirmity ..."

JWB  •  Link


I should think that the number of vagrants would have at minimum increased directly with the increased population:
1541, 2.77m
1560, 2.96m
1600, 4.07 m
1650, 5.22 m
Christopher Currie, "Overpopulaton and Aging in 17th England"

Pedro  •  Link

On this day the latest from the Intelligencer…

His Royal Highness the Duke of York went early Thursday toward the fleet, attended by divers eminent and honourable persons; since which time several volunteers of great quality have followed. It is beyond dispute, that this nation never brought to sea such a formidable a fleet as his majesty hath now designed for this expedition, which, being now ready to sail, a proper care was taken to complete the preparation, by an order for a general fast, to be observed on April 5th, to implore the blessing of God upon his majesty’s forces employed against the Dutch.

(Memorials of Sir William Penn by his grandson Granville Penn)

Australian Susan  •  Link


Yes, I know there are lots of reasons for increasing vagrancy in the 16th century and as well as an increase in population and enclosures, mentioned above, there were also discharged soldiers and seamen, the latter were increasingly not being supported in the ports where they ended up, but being driven out by town councils who could not cope. And as well as the monasteries, convents, abbies, and priories no longer existing to succor the poor, some of the former occupants themselves were reduced to vagrancy. If you read through the preambles to the various vagrancy acts of the 16th century (as I have), the language used about and towards the vagrants becomes harsher and harsher until these people are almost demonised - certainly they become "the other" of the society of the day and occupied the place in popular culture for the feared, despised and hated. This is in contrast to the medieval attitude which saw the poor as existing for the rest of us to be able to show Christian charity, harking back to Jesus' declaration that the poor are always with us and that if we help the poor and lowly, we are helping him. This change links in with that (possibly mythic?) construct: The Rise of the Protestant Work Ethic.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Entrepreneurial vagrants

I bet some of them might have "temped" in Drury Lane and Fleet Alley, i.e., perhaps we've seen some of them in passing through Samuel Pepys's eyes. Having kept in mind John Gay's "The Beggar's Opera" (written but 63 years from now)…'s_Opera I've noticed the absence of beggars (acknowledged as such) throughout the Diary of Samuel Pepys so far.

Beneath notice, perhaps.

Or have I forgot? again?

Mary  •  Link


No, I don't recall Sam specifically mentioning them, either. But the nursery rhyme, variously ascribed to the mid-16th and the 13th centuries, should have been familiar to him.

Hark! Hark!
The dogs do bark.
The beggars are coming to town.
Some in rags
And some in jags
And one in a velvet gown.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

I've heard the "Hark! Hark! The dogs do bark" lines, but not the rest of Mary's nursery rhyme. I wondered what "jags" were, and I think this OED entry tells us:

2. A shred of cloth; in pl. Rags, tatters. Also transf. and fig. A scrap, fragment. Obs. exc. dial.
1555 W. Watreman Fardle Facions ii. i. 113 Pluckyng from eche of their garmentes a litle iaggue. 1637 Heywood Royall King iii. i. Wks. 1874 VI. 39 Wee have store, of ragges; plenty, of tatters; aboundance, of jagges. 1658 Cleveland Rustick Rampant Wks. (1687) 415 To preserve a Shred, or jagg of an incertain ragged Estate. a1670 Hacket Abp. Williams i. 3146 The latter of the two letters,+whereof+some Jaggs will suffice to be recited. 1800 M. Edgeworth Belinda (1830) II. xxiv. 156, I saw+black jags of paper littering the place. 1886 Elworthy W. Somerset Word-bk., Jags, tatters.

A Hamilton  •  Link

Surely, Paul, the rhyme intends "Jags."

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Yeah, that's what my modern ears heard first too. Presumably that's how the one in the velvet gown arrived.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the business of my uncle’s accounts"

Robert Pepys's accounts as receiver of the Huntingdonshire assessment for 1647. (L&M footnote)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

So, Robert Gertz "...I sworn to the truth thereof to my knowledge..." is NOT AT ALL "like Sam's preparing the ancestor of the modern era's idiot CEO defense..."

This is a standard oath Pepys swore before a Baron of the Exchequer…
-- clearing himself of any of Uncle Robert's accounts when he was receiver of the Huntingdonshire assessment for 1647.

And Uncle Robert was an honest man and scrupulous bookkeeper!

funkydoowopper  •  Link

Robert Gertz says, above, 'So now John is "young Bland".'
No, John Bland was about 20 years older than young Pepys. Pepys is referring to John's son Giles who had gone to Tangier with his father who, by this time, had been mayor of Tangier for about 20 years.

funkydoowopper  •  Link

Apologies. John Bland was in Tangier, with his son, in 1664/5 and not appointed Mayor until a few years later.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... Then to our discourse with him, Creed, Mr. Viner, myself and Poyntz about the business of the Workehouse at Clerkenwell, and after dinner went thither and saw all the works there, ..."

"Thence to my Lady Sandwich’s, where my wife all this day, having kept Good Friday very strict with fasting. "

Business as usual for Pepys ... and Elizabeth does her own thing again. I wonder if she was wearing her new grey dress.

mountebank  •  Link

"The beggars are coming to town ... some in jags"

Since "jag" is slang for a Jaguar car (a high-end "British" motor), this reads amusingly to the modern eye.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re: 'jag'

‘jag < uncertain . .
. . 2. trans. To slash or pink (a garment, etc.) by way of ornament.
. . 1708 P. A. Motteux Wks. F. Rabelais (1737) iv. lii. 211 His Journey-men..did jagg it and pink it at the bottom . .

3. To make indentations in the edge or surface of; to make ragged or uneven by cutting or tearing; to make rugged or bristling. to jag in, to indent with cuts.
. . 1693 R. Bentley Boyle Lect. viii. 35 Jagged and torn by the impetuous assaults..of Waves. . . ‘


San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Elizabeth's Poor Laws were kinder than her brother's:

Under Edward VI’s vagrancy law (1 Edw. VI., c. 3, 1547), vagabonds were to be apprehended by the local authorities and offered up in slavery for two years to anyone who had offered them employment and been refused.

Children were to be forced into service as apprentices or servants until the age of 24, if male, and 20, if female.

Parents who sought to rescue their children from forced servitude under Edward VI’s vagrancy law (1 Edw. VI., c. 3, 1547) were to be sentenced to slavery for life.

John Dee recorded in his diary “March 20th, [1594,] I did before Barthilmew Hikman pay Letice her full yere's wagis ending the 7th day of Aprill next; her wagis being four nobles, an apron, a payr of hose and shoes.”

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