Saturday 23 September 1665

Up, and to my Lord Sandwich, who did advise alone with me how far he might trust Captain Cocke in the business of the prize-goods, my Lord telling me that he hath taken into his hands 2 or 3000l. value of them: it being a good way, he says, to get money, and afterwards to get the King’s allowance thereof, it being easier, he observes, to keepe money when got of the King than to get it when it is too late. I advised him not to trust Cocke too far, and did therefore offer him ready money for a 1000l. or two, which he listens to and do agree to, which is great joy to me, hoping thereby to get something!

Thence by coach to Lambeth, his Lordship, and all our office, and Mr. Evelyn, to the Duke of Albemarle, where, after the compliment with my Lord very kind, we sat down to consult of the disposing and supporting of the fleete with victuals and money, and for the sicke men and prisoners; and I did propose the taking out some goods out of the prizes, to the value of 10,000l., which was accorded to, and an order, drawn up and signed by the Duke and my Lord, done in the best manner I can, and referred to my Lord Bruncker and Sir J. Minnes, but what inconveniences may arise from it I do not yet see, but fear there may be many.

Here we dined, and I did hear my Lord Craven whisper, as he is mightily possessed with a good opinion of me, much to my advantage, which my good Lord did second, and anon my Lord Craven did speak publiquely of me to the Duke, in the hearing of all the rest; and the Duke did say something of the like advantage to me; I believe, not much to the satisfaction of my brethren; but I was mightily joyed at it.

Thence took leave, leaving my Lord Sandwich to go visit the Bishop of Canterbury, and I and Sir W. Batten down to the Tower, where he went further by water, and I home, and among other things took out all my gold to carry along with me to-night with Captain Cocke downe to the fleete, being 180l. and more, hoping to lay out that and a great deal more to good advantage.

Thence down to Greenwich to the office, and there wrote several letters, and so to my Lord Sandwich, and mighty merry and he mighty kind to me in the face of all, saying much in my favour, and after supper I took leave and with Captain Cocke set out in the yacht about ten o’clock at night, and after some discourse, and drinking a little, my mind full of what we are going about and jealous of Cocke’s outdoing me. So to sleep upon beds brought by Cocke on board mighty handsome, and never slept better than upon this bed upon the floor in the Cabbin.

19 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link


[Evelyn in despair for want of cash]

For Samuell Pepys Esqr
One of the Principall Officers
of His Majesties Navy at Greenewich:

Sayes Court

23 September 1665 (2)


There are divers miserably sick prisoners at Wollwich, especialy in this bearers Ship: If they could be conveyd downe to our Fly-boates before Gravesend, Our Chirurgeon there might looke after them; and they have also a Guard; but you know I am prohibited realiving any at Wollwich, even of our Owne men: They might be, I suppose, at Eryth; but how shall we (when recoverd) secure them from running away? At Gravesend we are forc’d to make stay of one of the Flie-boats on purpose, for the numerous Sick-prisoners which we could not march with their fellows to Leeds; therefore I beseech you order them by some meanes or other to be sent (viz, the sick onely) to those Vessels at Gravesend, where there will be care taken for them:

Sir, Since I saw you yesterday, comes notice to me that of the £5000 I was to touch by promise this Weeke from Mr Kingdome (3) by order of my Lord Ashley, no lesse then £3000 of it is diverted for other purposes from Oxford (4): consider with indignation, the misery, and confusion all will be in at Chatham, and Gravesend, where I was threatnd to have our sick all expos’d, if by Thursday next I do not send them £2000; and in what a condition our prisoners at Leeds, are like to be: If my Lord of Albemarle (to whom I am now hailing (5)) do not this day helpe me by an high hand (6); dreadfull will be the consequences, and I will leave you to consider, at whose doores, this dealing at Oxon is to be layd (7); I am almost in despair, so you will pardon the passion of Sir,

your most faithfull Servant:


Source: PRO S.P. 29/133, f.28. Endorsed, ‘23 7ber 65 Sayes Ct Mr Evelyn’.

2 MS: ‘Says-Court 23d:Sbr:-65’.

3 Captain Richard Kingdon. Neither E nor P record the previous day’s meeting.

4 The King had arrived in Oxford on 25 September (de Beer, III, 423, n. 7).

5 Or ‘heading’.

6 See E’s diary for 23 September. Albemarle told E to attend for an instalment of cash (9 October; BL Evelyn S & W folder II). Brouncker wrote to E saying ‘£10000’ was to be paid to E by Kingdon (11 October; HMCR IX [Morrison], Pt II, 446b).

7 See E’s letter to Sir Richard Browne, 14 October 1665, Appendix 1.


CGS  •  Link

Always get the money up front, possession being nine tenths of....
Like the Governments, has learnt to get thy tax money before thee touch it.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"and among other things took out all my gold to carry along with me to-night with Captain Cocke downe to the fleete, being 180l. and more, hoping to lay out that and a great deal more to good advantage."

"Ready money" for future treasure ... Sam, how appropriate that you live in the City. Can I interest you in some MBS? They can be had cheap...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

" Lord telling me that he hath taken into his hands 2 or 3000l. value of them: it being a good way, he says, to get money, and afterwards to get the King’s allowance thereof, it being easier, he observes, to keepe money when got of the King than to get it when it is too late."

I wonder in all how much the prizes might be worth...

I also wonder how Sam translates 180Ls+ in gold into " ready money" for 1000 or 2000Ls of prize goods. Hmmn...Just where are those tallys?

A small spoiler in the following here...So, watch out.

Parliamentary Inquiry into 1666 budget crisis.

"So...Mr. Pepys? You say you 'lost' the entire 1665 naval budget one day while visiting Lord Sandwich and the fleet in a bad trading deal?"

"Ah...Heh...Ah...Well...My intentions were quite honorable, sir. I was following our then administrative fiscal policy, hoping to get something for the King and Country as well as my own little percentage...But, well...As we all know the market in trade goods went down like lead after the looted prizes flooded the market."

"But you invested the Nation's money in this outlandish investment scheme with your friends, Mr. Paulsen? And you now wish the taxpayer to bear this loss, Mr. Paulsen? Er, Mr. Pepys...Sorry, brief flash forward to a future descendant..."

"Not at all, sir. Happens to me quite frequently these days. And, yes, as to sticking it to the taxpayer."

"And despite the fact it was lack of proper legal regulation and oversight that lead to this devastating catastrophe and Lord Sandwich's disgrace, you demand there be no oversight in this, Mr Pau....Pepys? And that we simply hand over the money to be spent at your discretion?"


Oh, and I would ask that you hand it over as quickly as possible. Invasion threat, financial panic...You don't want to risk that, gentlemen."

"This is blackmail, Mr. Paul...Pepys!"

"Yes." Puts on mask. "And would you all put your hands up gentlemen, the unpaid soldiers and sailors bearing weapons about you would be pleased to see that the measure is passed without dissent. You might care to empty your own pockets as well as they pass through...A little something for our gallant lads...And of course, me and my friends. Gentlemen, you may take comfort in the fact that your sacrifices and those of the taxpayers you represent until next election or the Revolution sure to follow will doubtless not only make myself, friends, and these brave souls most comfortable but will maintain the fiscal health of the Nation. Bess, dear..." Waves to stylishly yet frugally dressed woman in mask moving through crowd of hoodwinked, bewildered, arm-raised legislators looking much like the defeatist French aristocrats in "Rules of the Game" 270 years later... "Would you carry this gold out to the carriage, please, sweetheart? That's for us to live on in Switzerland..."


"Oh, another flash forward of my own to that descendant of mine in America..." wave of hand... "I meant Paris of course."

"Glad to, dear." pleased tone...Beam visible through her mask, lugging bags.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"... we sat down to consult of the disposing and supporting of the fleete with victuals and money, and for the sicke men and prisoners; and I did propose the taking out some goods out of the prizes, to the value of 10,000l., which was accorded to ..."

Good for Sam. That was the decent and also the obviously reasonable thing to do. With Albemarle and Sandwich signing off on it, one might hope there would not be "inconveniences" associated with it, but with that amount of money at stake, you never can tell.

CGS  •  Link

Surely Todd the saying on Bread Lane be 'can I twist you your ARM or take a little derivative', as cash be king, no more tickets as the the brokers are in bit of a plague at the moment, LLoyds be be looking for some bottoms for some fire ships.
Tally ho.

Mary  •  Link

Note; the Leeds referred to in the letter from Evelyn to Pepys is the village near Maidstone famous for it's wonderful castle, not the city of Leeds much farther north.

Mary  •  Link

"took out all my gold"

Really ALL of it? Then where is the rest? Sam has been telling us month by month how his capital has increased and in August reckoned that he was worth £1900. Some of this will have been value in plate and some, no doubt, calculated upon likely future benefit from his various dealings. We have worked on the likelihood that most of his tangible wealth is kept in Seething Lane. There has been no recent mention (have I missed something here?) of a decision to deposit any large sums with one of the major goldsmiths, so I should have thought that £180 might represent only part of his wealth in specie.

Admittedly £180 is a large sum, but I am surprised that it is not in fact larger.

Don McCahill  •  Link

> all my gold

Presumably SP has other assets. His silver plate, books, etc. These might be counted into his wealth when he makes up his books. And it is possible by this phrase he means only the money that he has that is gold coinage: the majority would probably be in silver. Finally, at some point he starts using a goldsmith as a banker, and it is possible that this is happening now.

JKM  •  Link

"my Lord telling me that he hath taken into his hands 2 or 3000l. value of them: it being a good way, he says, to get money, and afterwards to get the King’s allowance thereof, it being easier, he observes, to keepe money when got of the King than to get it when it is too late."
Can someone translate? What is the "King's allowance?" don't understand what Sandwich is up to, and how much of it is profiteering and how much he is rationalizing as good stewardship of the King's prizes.
Another question: how did Captain Cocke outdo Sam? I also wonder if he knows that Sam badmouthed him to Sandwich. After all that time Sam has spent making merry in Cocke's company! Does Sam genuinely mistrust him or is he (Sam) just being sharp-elbowed right now?
Don, I'm with you, I think Sam pulled out of his chest only his gold coins and he has the rest of his wealth in silver & other forms. But I don't think he would count his books when he's reckoning up his worth. For one thing they would have depreciated. Has there been a previous discussion of just how Pepys did his personal accounting?

Pedro  •  Link

the King’s prizes

Perhaps some background from Ollard’s biography of Sandwich could help a little here? There is more about the affair to come on the 28th of the month…

The procedure to be followed when a prize was taken was well established. The seamen that took her were entitled to grab whatever they found lying between decks that is the personal property of those that they had captured. But on no account were they to break open the holds and rummage the cargo, "breaking bulk" as it was known. A soon as the strip was brought into port she was handed over to the Prize Commissioners, who after she had been condemned as lawful prize, would be responsible for selling and accounting for the whole value of both ship and cargo, the proceeds would then be divided, after suitable deductions, between the Admirals, captains, officers and men who could lay claim to a share.

Most unwisely Sandwich had sanctioned an immediate partial share out among the flag officers, including himself...assigning part of his share to Pepys and Brounckner when of September 18th the sailed down to the Nore.

Two days earlier the King had written to congratulate Sandwich on his handling of the Fleet in general.

September 21st Sandwich signed a preliminary order for distribution of goods amongst himself and his colleagues, apparently with the solicitation of Penn, his Vice-Admiral, who, according to Sandwich, assured him that the King and Duke of York intended him a particular favour. Feeling uneasy that he may have exceeded his authority he wrote to Carteret, who was with the Court at Oxford preparing for the assembly of Parliament, asking him to inform the King and Duke of what he had done.

CGS  •  Link

There were rules for the spoils as outlined in the Seaman's Grammar
chap. XIV pg 63 [71/182]
How they divide their shares in a man of warre
The ship has one third part, The Victualler the other third, The other third is for the company, and this is subdivided into shares, the Captain gets 10 and so on and so forth for all the lads up to the topsel

Terry Foreman  •  Link

John Evelyn's Diary (in lieu of Dirk)

23. My L: Admirall being come from the Fleete to Greenewich, I went thence with him to the Cock-pit to consult with the Duke of Albemarle: I was peremptory, that unlesse we had 10000 pounds immediately, the Prisone[r]s would sterve, & ’twas propos’d it should be raised out of the East India Prises, now taken by my L: Sandwich: They being but two of the Commissioners & so not impower’d to determine, sent an expresse to his Majestie & Council to know what they should do: In the meane time I had 5 Vessels with Competent Guards to keepe the Prisoners in for the present, & to be placed as I should think best:...

Patricia  •  Link

Bit of a spoiler here: In 2 years' time, when the Dutch invade the Medway and it looks like they will sack London (or the enraged populace will do it in their stead), Sam will send over 1000£ in gold into the country with Bess & his Dad, and carry some more around his middle in a money belt. I doubt he amassed all this additional gold in just 2 years. Perhaps he is referring here to gold that he can readily lay hands on in a hurry.

Brian  •  Link

I can't help but think that Sandwich's decision to prematurely distribute prize money was a direct consequence of the poverty of the fleet--meager provisions, doubt in the ability of the navy board to pay the seamen, etc. Violating the customary rules for prizes may have been a misguided effort to raise morale, thus enabling the fleet to keep doing its job vs. the Dutch. After all, they were going to get the prize money eventually anyway, right?

CGS  •  Link

So many have been hijacked from enjoying a stupor at the local blind pub, only to find themselves up the mast without a tot of ale, so Sandwich has known the bad times when it be hard to find enough fodder for his horse and groom , did what he had to do, to prevent a return power the boys from the Levellers, getting the command of the ship, [if 'uman nature has not change, ]the mutterings in the topsails be be heard in the grand gallery, "wot no ale, then we will not sail"
Not all Capitans be blythering idiots.
[ there be two captain Blyths [Blith] in the war of grabbing spices ].

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Charles II and the Court are in Salisbury, getting ready to move to Oxford and convene Parliament. Few influential men, besides Monck and Craven, have stayed anywhere near London, so the full impact of the plague and the hardship resulting from the arrival of 3,000 more POWs and an unknown number of injured seamen at the same time are unappreciated by the lawmakers.

This pragmatic, sensible way to fund their immediate, desperate needs may conflict with the greed of the absent powerful, and Pepys seems cognisant of that.

Evelyn's fellow commissioners are absent. The other three are all MP's; one sailed with the fleet. They haven't experienced what Evelyn is going through as the fighting wasn't in their designated areas. Their prisons have received POWs, but they don't have the backlog of unplaced POWs to deal with, and moving the injured far is unwise.

How different all this might have been if Charles and James were at Whitehall, as was the assumption when the plan was made.

For the seemly and noble plan, and why it was inadequate, see…

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