Sunday 18 June 1665

(Lord’s day). Up, and to church, where Sir W. Pen was the first time [since he] come from sea, after the battle. Mr. Mills made a sorry sermon to prove that there was a world to come after this. Home and dined and then to my chamber, where all the afternoon. Anon comes Mr. Andrews to see and sing with me, but Mr. Hill not coming, and having business, we soon parted, there coming Mr. Povy and Creed to discourse about our Tangier business of money. They gone, I hear Sir W. Batten and my Lady are returned from Harwich. I went to see them, and it is pretty to see how we appear kind one to another, though neither of us care 2d. one for another. Home to supper, and there coming a hasty letter from Commissioner Pett for pressing of some calkers (as I would ever on his Majesty’s service), with all speed, I made a warrant presently and issued it. So to my office a little, and then home to bed.

25 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"a...letter from Commissioner Pett for pressing of some calkers..., with all speed, I made a warrant presently and issued it."

L&M note that, documents say, 31 caulkers were pressed by the morrow.

Pedro  •  Link

"though neither of us care 2d. one for another."

A phrase still in common use!

CGS  •  Link

it be tuppence or two penneth:
this meaning predates the entry of OED:


2. a. An English silver coin of the value of two pennies: = HALF-GROAT (since 1662 coined only as Maundy money). b. A copper coin of this value issued in the reign of George III.

3. a. As type of a very small amount: now esp. in phr. (not) to care twopence. Also for twopence, very easily, with the smallest encouragement.

1691 BAXTER Repl. Beverley 2 All our righteousness is not worth two-pence.

another :

dirk  •  Link

The Rev. Josselin is back:

"plague increased to 112. god good in a sweet rain this day and a comfortable word, the lord extend his mercy and kindness to me and mine that we may live in his sight, judgements increase and sins continue, lord break our hearts and then step in(,) save and deliver us for thy mercy sake."

Australian Susan  •  Link

"...there coming Mr. Povy and Creed to discourse about our Tangier business of money. ..."

Yes, but what! How frustrating! No details!

adamw  •  Link

Tuppence -'type of a very small amount'
Worth a lot more then than now - an hour's work for a working man. Why chose tuppence as the 'type' when much smaller amounts were in common use, eg the good old farthing? But the sound of the word has a nice finality to it - 'not worth tuppence' - so maybe that's why.

PHE  •  Link

Given the context and urgency, it seems unlikely that 'calkers' here has the same meaning as in the link: an extension on a horseshoe or piece of metal on sole of a normal shoe - both to prevent slipping.
Especially as its summer, when slipping is not likely to be a major concern. Any ideas?

Pedro  •  Link


According to L&M calkers are workmen that caulked seams on ships.

Mary  •  Link


Of course they are shipyard workers and will be applying more than a ha'porth of tar. See if the FREE DICTIONARY does any better with 'caulk, caulker'.

Pedro  •  Link

The Shipwright

“As each strake is laid a layer of caulking material is placed in between the overlap of the previous strake. Each set of strakes are fastened to the previous strake, the keel, or the end post using iron clench nails which are hammered through partially pre-bored holes. The ends of each nail being hammered over a rove on the inboard side of the vessel.”…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Mr. Mills made a sorry sermon to prove that there was a world to come after this..."

"I mean to say, yes...No one's come back yet that we know of, excepting our Lord but... I mean you've got to take these things on Faith, people. Not to be Papist about it, no...Certainly not."

Cough from back of church.

"Uh, well that's all we have time for. Let us show our devotion today in our own hearts and leave quickly and quietly without further ado. And I may venture to hope that the collection plates are a bit more full this week? Amen." To assistant... "Did anyone see the one who coughed? Is my coach out of town loaded and ready?"

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"I went to see them, and it is pretty to see how we appear kind one to another, though neither of us care 2d. one for another."

Welcome to the world of high society, Sam.

CGS  •  Link

"...Cough from back of church..." it be mis-heard it be said, twas "put a caulk in it Matelot""

Paul Dyson  •  Link

Taken from Wikipedia:

"Wooden ship caulking

[Caption to a picture]The tools of traditional wooden ship caulking; caulking mallet, caulker's seat, caulking irons, cotton and oakum.
Traditional caulking (also spelled calking) on wooden vessels uses fibers of cotton, and oakum (hemp fiber soaked in pine tar). These fibers are driven into the wedge shaped seam between planks with a caulking mallet and a broad chisel-like tool called a caulking iron. The caulking is then covered over with a putty in the case of hull seams, or in deck seams with melted pine pitch in a process referred to as paying."

This a vital method of waterproofing a wooden ship. presumably there is a need for men to do caulking in the shipyards as part of the repair of ships damaged in the recent battle against the Dutch.

Oakum: Prisoners and inmates of workhouses at times were set to picking oakum and this is the reason. Payment for this tough and boring task gave rise to the expression "money for old rope". No doubt they felt uplifted by the thought that they were helping to keep the Royal Navy afloat. The process and conditions are well described at (sorry can't make a proper link):

Margaret  •  Link

Thank-you for the link, Paul. I can learn a lot from the information posted on this site.

dirk  •  Link

Off topic, but since Sir W. Pen is mentioned in today's diary entry:

"Political Arithmetick, OR A DISCOURSE Concerning,"
- Sir William Petty, The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, vol. 1 [1662]…

Particularly this passage I found very interesting (knowing Sam's monthly income):
"The Husbandman of England earns but about 4 s. per Week, but the Seamen have as good as 12 s. in Wages, ‖ Victuals (and as it were housing) with other accommodations, so as a Seaman is in effect three Husbandmen;"

Australian Susan  •  Link

Anyone else remember the Yorkshire expression (delivered deadpan as only a Yorkshire(wo)man can) "Yer daft apporth" ? - meaning you have just done or said something so stupid you are only worth a half-penny.

Tuppence has a nice dismissive ring to it, but so does Thruppence - especially if you roll the r dismissively. "That there? I wouldn't give ye thruppence fer it!"

GrahamT  •  Link

The old Victorian music hall song "Any Old Iron" - revived by Peter Sellers in the 1960's - contains the line:
"..but, I wouldn't give you tuppence fer yer old watch chain. Old iron! Old iron!"
So it seems to be a dismissive phrase that has weathered inflation and was used in the 17th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries at least

Pedro  •  Link

As we no back entries at the moment, here is a song of the English victory.


Obtained (with the Providence of Almighty God) against the Dutch Fleet, June 2 and 3, 1665. A Fight as bloody (for the time and number) as ever was performed upon the Narrow Seas, giving a particular accompt of Seventeen Men of Warr taken ; Fourteen sunk and Fir'd. But forty that could escape of their whole Fleet, which at this time was hotly persued by the Earl of Sandwich. Their Admiral Opdam slain by the Duke of Yorke's own Frigat. Van Trump sunk by Captain Holmes.
The number of their kill'd then amounts to 10,000.
To the tune of Packington's Pound.

Let England, and Ireland, and Scotland rejoyce, And render thanksgiving with heart and with voice. That surly fanatick that now will not sing, Is false to the kingdom, and foe to the King;
For he that will grutch,
Our fortune is such, Doth deal for the devil, as well as the Dutch; For why should my nature or conscience repine, At taking of his life, that fain would have mine.…

Second Reading

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Caulking, oakum, etc.
When sailors had ought to do they would be placed on deck far enough apart so it would be hard for them to converse. They'd then painstakingly unravel old hawsers that were no longer strong enough to be used and roll the fibers for caulking. No one is idle shipboard.

James Morgan  •  Link

I suppose the sudden need for caulkers was related to the recent battle.

Tonyel  •  Link

2d: see also Flanders and Swann's suggestion for a more triumphant national anthem, listing in libellous detail the drawbacks of most other countries and closing:

"The English, the English, the English are best,
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest."

Sjoerd22  •  Link

The word "caulking" has an interesting provenance and comes from French and Latin:

caulk (v.)
late 14c., "to stop up crevices or cracks," from Old North French cauquer, from Late Latin calicare "to stop up chinks with lime," from Latin calx (2) "lime, limestone").

In the opposing Dutch fleet the term would have been "breeuwen" or "kalefateren"

"Breeuwen" is supposed to derive from the Frisian or West germanic "brähen" which means ledge or ridge and also brings us "wenkbrauw" or "eyebrow".

"Kalefateren" from Romanic languages: compare french fra. calfater or calafater, also italian calafatare, spanish calafatear, portug. calafater. The Roman word derives from the Arabic noun qalafa, in Turkish noun, qalfât,

All of them mean: making ships watertight by stuffing something into the seams. But shipbuilding seems to have been influenced by a surprisingly wide range of cultures.

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