Wednesday 30 August 1665

Up betimes and to my business of settling my house and papers, and then abroad and met with Hadley, our clerke, who, upon my asking how the plague goes, he told me it encreases much, and much in our parish; for, says he, there died nine this week, though I have returned but six: which is a very ill practice, and makes me think it is so in other places; and therefore the plague much greater than people take it to be.

Thence, as I intended, to Sir R. Viner’s, and there found not Mr. Lewes ready for me, so I went forth and walked towards Moorefields to see (God forbid my presumption!) whether I could see any dead corps going to the grave; but, as God would have it, did not. But, Lord! how every body’s looks, and discourse in the street is of death, and nothing else, and few people going up and down, that the towne is like a place distressed and forsaken. After one turne there back to Viner’s, and there found my business ready for me, and evened all reckonings with them to this day to my great content. So home, and all day till very late at night setting my Tangier and private accounts in order, which I did in both, and in the latter to my great joy do find myself yet in the much best condition that ever I was in, finding myself worth 2180l. and odd, besides plate and goods, which I value at 250l. more, which is a very great blessing to me. The Lord make me thankfull! and of this at this day above 1800l. in cash in my house, which speaks but little out of my hands in desperate condition, but this is very troublesome to have in my house at this time.

So late to bed, well pleased with my accounts, but weary of being so long at them.

29 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"there died nine this week, though I have returned but six"

That is, Hadley reported only six. Why? Why make it look like the parish was safer than it was?

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... for, says he, there died nine this week, though I have returned but six: ..."

Reporting by the Parish Clerks was originally supposed to be restricted to Freemen, their families and unmarried daughters; at this time is only the deaths reported to the Clerk for burial which would lead to substantial under-reporting of births and deaths among the very poor and 'transients' and provide sufficient leeway for figures to be massaged.

Sounds as if this, 'which is a very ill practice,' is an affront to SP's bureaucratic sensibilities.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

I suppose those not on its rolls would/might not be buried/entombed in premises controlled by the Parish, ergo not reported?

CGS  •  Link

Statistics are once more fudged to keep the GNU from panicking,'wot' ones does not know will not hurt them, Figures can always be revised and blame the problem on the poor scribbler as he be in the lime filled hole.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... to see (God forbid my presumption!) whether I could see any dead corps going to the grave; but, as God would have it, did not. ..."

"Well, I said, there is a story which I remember to have heard, and in which I put faith. The story is, that Leontius, the son of Aglaion, coming up one day from the Piraeus, under the north wall on the outside, observed some dead bodies lying on the ground at the place of execution. He felt a desire to see them, and also a dread and abhorrence of them; for a time he struggled and covered his eyes, but at length the desire got the better of him; and forcing them open, he ran up to the dead bodies, saying, Look, ye wretches, take your fill of the fair sight."

Plato 'Republic' Book IV, trans. Benjamin Jowett…

andy  •  Link

and therefore the plague much greater than people take it to be...whether I could see any dead corps going to the grave; but, as God would have it, did not

Sam displaying the best principles of journalism - record what you see, weigh and estimate its accuracy.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"wheather I could see any dead corps"

AllanD  •  Link

Sam says he has 1800 pounds cash in his house - that seems like a lot.

What did people do back then - was money generally kept in banks? or under mattress

Carl in Boston  •  Link

Where to keep the money, and how to get it (a question for all times)
but for the present I am resolved to venture it in an iron chest, at least for a while. as Sam wrote on Monday a few days ago
I presume the iron chest was nailed to the floor, or maybe it was too heavy for a thief to run off with it. The chest at the foot of his bed has the advantage that he can open the chest by moonlight and run the coins through his fingers, and drool at the feel of cash.
I don't know if goldsmiths figured in the monetary system. Silver candlesticks etc were visible repositories of wealth that you could keep an eye on, and the silver could be melted and turned into coins easily enough. I think the household silver was viewed as equivalent to cash, and the cost of fabrication was disregarded. That's what I think, but have neither chapter nor verse on the subject.
Then there was investment in ventures like Tangier or lending to the King or Lord Sandwich at 10% interest, which was a good way to make your money work. However, it was very hard to cash out your investment, and difficult to get your money back, especially from the King. Sam often writes of the misgivings he had about lending out money. Sam does best at raking in bribes, now there's the safe way to make quiet money.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Of course I imagine Sam is still quite far behind Batten and Penn;Batten with his fine house, young wife, and black slaves and one hand in the Community Chest and probably in all the Navy's stores supply and Penn with his estates in Ireland. Minnes might not be quite so secure. Batten does seem to need to scramble a bit more for it than Penn, perhaps he lacks the secure footing in land Penn has?

Carl in Boston  •  Link

Make Big Money in Your Back Yard
European friends have expressed amazement at us brassy Americans, sitting around in loud clothing and talking openly about making money.
Sam is leading the way in his velvet suit with his hand out.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Well, Carl...I imagine Sam never openly asks for cash up front. There's always just the faintest implied notion...And the next day an envelope appears, filled with (thanks to careful aversion of eyes) who knows what and Sam is miraculously richer...Or a pair of gloves, simple but kind gift of a dear friend is dropped for Bess...And again Sam is suddenly richer. Even when it gets a tad grosser...Say the 300Ls payoff for Tangier victualling...The money is simply a generous gift bestowed by a grateful "friend". Or a Mrs. Bagwell shows up, willing, despite some initial reluctance, to do just about anything for dear "friend of the family" and employer Pepys.

Just like all those junkets, girls, and gifts bestowed by grateful ex-colleagues/now lobbyists to our Congressmen in Washington... Our boys and girls just don't always have quite that suave (pardon me while I put this filthy lucre away and let us then discuss more lofty subjects) touch. Though frankly, it's a bit of a myth...There are always plenty of non-Yankees throughout the world, including England and the rest of Europe, well able to give lessons in brass/crass behavior.

Dave K  •  Link

AllanD --

Banks did not exist back then, at least not in anything resembling our modern sense. You had to either keep your money in cash (i.e. actual physical money kept in a chest), or invest it in land, plate, or business ventures. Most borrowing of money was done privately and on an ad hoc basis, though there were starting to be some organizations of wealthy people who would lend out large sums of money to those who needed it.

CGS  •  Link

Hoares bank was founded in 1672 by Richard Hoare at the sign of the Golden Bottle in Cheapside
Famous customers of the 17th century: Catherine of Braganza (wife of Charles II); Samuel Pepys (diarist); Sir Godfrey Kneller (painter); John Dryden (poet) and Richard Beau Nash.…

Banking has radically change for the hoi polloi in the last 50 years. .
Cash coin was the medium and king,til the farthing failed to get thee a bite to eat, I remember buying a small huffer [ a tiny loaf]for a farthing.
No workipng stiff got a check ['twas not legal to pay wages with paper not with the name issued by the Bank of England, it had to be metal and a Sterling note and as for the 'fiver' that created other problems like a 1000 dollar bill does to-day, 'twas why Bank hoisting be so popular, Tab be for the ordinary mites, no tablet de wax.
Bank accounts were not the norm, I fully remember trying to open an account with a British bank in London 1960's , first I had to have a man of quality to vouch for me, where as an American bank around the corner, wanted to see the color of the steak,then opened an account. I was not sure if Pops would or even my well established genetic connections would come up with a signature as I living in a foreign land.
So my first bank in London was A Chase account, You only use the savings bank of the PO or the building societies like Halifax to save monies for thy nest, cheques had to be crossed.
Banking for those that had privilege not necessary any cash just the right plum in mouth.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Pepys habitually kept large sums of cash in his study, like many substantial merchants, ( SPOILER ) even after he began depositing large amounts at Ald. goldsmith/banker Vyner's in 1666. (L&M note)

CGS  •  Link

money. never mention it in polite company.
never be lender or a borrower be.

then Cicero, In Verrem, I ii, 4
Nihil tam munitum quod non expugnari pecunia possit
there is no defense against he that has the funds.
google will provide the scholarly answer.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I went forth and walked towards Moorefields to see (God forbid my presumption!) whether I could see any dead corps going to the grave"

L&M note that the Moorefields were the location of improvised plague-pits.

C.J.Darby  •  Link

Hearing how the National Guard is presently patrolling the streets of hurricabne threathened New Orleans for fear of looting its a wonder that Sam has given no account of any looting in half deserted London. He is fearful for his own iron bound chest at present and surely would have takeen note of any incidents. Were the punishments so severe as to frighten people away from such behaviour?

language hat  •  Link

I imagine such behavior was indeed going on. Why would Sam mention it if it didn't affect him? People were having terrible things done to them constantly in the poor parts of town, but "ou phrontis Hippokleidei," as the Greeks used to say:…

CGS  •  Link

Looting is that phase when thin skin of civilised behavior is pierced and allowed to erupt in all its gory details, when the the ice berg of community living tips over and the under belly is in full view.
Looting lies dormant while normal life is in full view, but the moment the opportunity to erupt like a Mt Etna it will do so,and the river of Styx will flow forth till it consumes itself.
There is the London Militia that was available when this King returned in 1660 and the people were tired of the ruffians and apprentices that were unruly and no decent citizen be safe but for the presence of musket wielding fellow citizens .
Maybe the streets were safe as there many of the deposed clergy crying about God's vengeance, helped to prevent seething volcano of underclass from spilling forth in seeking of others wealth.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

CGS, as the New Yorker would say, block that metaphor!

CGS  •  Link

In court to day: some of the items missed by Samuell Pepys:
30 August, 17 Charles II.—True Bill that, at St. Martin's-in-theFields co. Midd. on the said day, William Saunderson alias Saunders yeoman, John Rathbon gentleman, John Beech tailor, Henry Tucker tailor, Thomas Flynt gentleman, Thomas Evans millener, John Milles carpenter, William Westcott yeoman, John Cole tailor and Samuel Swinfen tailor, all ten late of the said parish, conspired to overthrow the ancient government of this kingdom of England, and to depose the now king thereof and totally deprive him of his crown and royal rule, and to make war against him, and on the same day for the accomplishment of these treasons and traitorous designs and imaginations conspired and agreed to put the said now king to death, and to seize and take possession of the same king's palace called Whitehall, and the City and Tower of London, and divers other strongholds and fortified places of the said Lord King within this kingdom of England. John Beech and Samuel Swinfen were found 'Not Guilty.' The other eight culprits, to wit, William Saunderson, John Rathbon, Henry Tucker, Thomas Flynt, Thomas Evans, John Milles, William Westcott and John Cole, were found 'Guilty,' and were sentenced to be taken to the Gaol of Newgate whence they came, and thence be drawn to the place of execution ("ad locum execucionis trahantur," the name of the place not being given), and there be executed in the manner appointed for the execution of felons convicted of high treason. G. D. R., 25 April, 18 Charles II.…

CGS  •  Link

Relieving the victims of the plague of their monies, appears to have been dealt with very quickly:
no waiting for a court date.

see July accounts.
Constable was on patrol [COP].…

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link


Sails to meet the Dutch; state of his fleet:

The life, journals and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, &c. Volume I, pp 100f.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"there died nine this week, though I have returned but six: which is a very ill practice, and makes me think it is so in other places; and therefore the plague much greater than people take it to be. "

L&M: The bill of mortality for 22-9 August gives nine burials all told and six deaths from the plague. The parish registers (Harl. Soc. Reg., 46/200) give eleven death in the week without specifying causes. Hadley's returns were made to the Company of Parish Clerks. Clarendon refers to some of the reasons for the unreliability of the figures given in the bills of mortality:…
cf. also…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... says he, there died nine this week, though I have returned but six: which is a very ill practice, and makes me think it is so in other places; and therefore the plague much greater than people take it to be."

America had the same problem last year, and did far worse than the Stuart statisticians:

"Officials in Puerto Rico now say 2,975 people died following Hurricane Maria - a devastating storm that struck the US island territory in September 2017. The revised death toll is nearly 50 times the previous estimate of 64."

Tonyel  •  Link

Two obvious reasons may be suggested for looting being kept to a minimum:
Only the brave or stupid would break into a house where the occupants had died of the plague.
The wealthier folk had mostly left town, taking their valuables with them.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Perhaps uninvolved people didn't care if looting had happened; there was no police force to report it to if someone did care. No reports = no statistics = nothing for accountant Pepys to report.

Monck, Craven and the troops were there to prevent insurrections against the King and the ruling classes, not looting.

The night watchmen were often old, and at the best of times did little to prevent robberies. The aggrieved party or bail bondsmen were responsible for catching the perpertrator(s).

Plus I like the annotation from the other day when someone suggested there was an apprentice with a large cudgel sleeping under every shop counter.

Law and Order were tiny concepts then, and in times of urban stress they usually disappear even now. I find it difficult to call the theft of food from closed stores by hungry people after a flood as the crime of looting. Washing machines and TVs yes, food, clean water, tools, ladders, even dry clothing and bedding, not so much. I'm in favor of after-the-fact restitution (not sure how that would work). I think of the plague in the same classification of urban stress as a flood.

Looting as part of a riot would come under Craven and Monck. They would be concerned about capturing and executing the fanatiques and trouble-makers, not preventing damage to the average person's property. A rich person's property -- probably a different story, but they probably had some servants/guards on site.

Along this line of thought, I bet the Navy Office complex left some guards and maintenance people there. If there was no housing for Pepys at Greenwich, there would be none for these folk (taken from a 1663 annotation):

"The rest of the staff served everyone: two messengers, a doorkeeper, a porter and couple of watchmen; and there were boatmen ready to take all the board official up or down river at all times." As I recall, the doorkeeper's wife lived in the Seething Lane complex as well.

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