Tuesday 10 October 1665

Up, and receive a stop from the Duke of Albemarle of setting out any more ships, or providing a pleasure boat for himself, which I am glad of, and do see, what I thought yesterday, that this resolution of his was a sudden one and silly. By and by comes Captain Cocke’s Jacob to tell me that he is come from Chatham this morning, and that there are four waggons of goods at hand coming to towne, which troubles me. I directed him to bring them to his master’s house. But before I could send him away to bring them thither, newes is brought me that they are seized on in the towne by this Captain Fisher and they will carry them to another place. So I to them and found our four waggons in the streete stopped by the church by this Fisher and company and 100 or 200 people in the streetes gazing. I did give them good words, and made modest desires of carrying the goods to Captain Cocke’s, but they would have them to a house of their hiring, where in a barne the goods were laid. I had transires to show for all, and the tale was right, and there I spent all the morning seeing this done. At which Fisher was vexed that I would not let it be done by any body else for the merchant, and that I must needs be concerned therein, which I did not think fit to owne.

So that being done, I left the goods to be watched by men on their part and ours, and so to the office by noon, whither by and by comes Captain Cocke, whom I had with great care sent for by expresse the last night, and so I with him to his house and there eat a bit, and so by coach to Lambeth, and I took occasion first to go to the Duke of Albemarle to acquaint him with some thing of what had been done this morning in behalf of a friend absent, which did give a good entrance and prevented their possessing the Duke with anything of evil of me by their report, and by and by in comes. Captain Cocke and tells his whole story. So an order was made for the putting him in possession upon giving security to, be accountable for the goods, which for the present did satisfy us, and so away, giving Locke that drew the order a piece. (Lord! to see how unhappily a man may fall into a necessity of bribing people to do him right in a thing, wherein he hath done nothing but fair, and bought dear.) So to the office, there to write my letters, and Cocke comes to tell me that Fisher is come to him, and that he doubts not to cajole Fisher and his companion and make them friends with drink and a bribe. This night comes Sir Christopher Mings to towne, and I went to see him, and by and by he being then out of the town comes to see me. He is newly come from Court, and carries direction for the making a show of getting out the fleete again to go fight the Dutch, but that it will end in a fleete of 20 good sayling frigates to go to the Northward or Southward, and that will be all. I enquired, but he would not be to know that he had heard any thing at Oxford about the business of the prize goods, which I did suspect, but he being gone, anon comes Cocke and tells me that he hath been with him a great while, and that he finds him sullen and speaking very high what disrespect he had received of my Lord, saying that he hath walked 3 or 4 hours together at that Earle’s cabbin door for audience and could not be received, which, if true, I am sorry for. He tells me that Sir G. Ascue says, that he did from the beginning declare against these [prize] goods, and would not receive his dividend; and that he and Sir W. Pen are at odds about it, and that he fears Mings hath been doing ill offices to my Lord. I did to-night give my Lord an account of all this, and so home and to bed.

20 Annotations

First Reading

Jesse  •  Link

"...he did from the beginning declare against these [prize] goods, and would not receive his dividend..."

My guess is that "his dividend" wasn't enough, that Sandwich wouldn't parley ("could not be received") hence the "ill offices". I wonder what his Lordship's reaction was (and why it wasn't noted) after hearing the account. Maybe indifference.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

I'm afraid Sam has lost me in the convoluted story about the prize goods. Do any of the ancillary sources explain what's going on better than he does?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sam's well-honed instinct is pushing the panic button now and he is desperately trying to cover up his own minor bit of looting by claiming his interest in the affair with Captain Fisher is merely to help "a friend". Cocke, true to form, is swaggering about trying to bribe or bluster all and sundry.

Mings, selfmade son of a shoemaker, is deeply opposed to Sandwich's allowing the goods to be plundered by every courtier showing his face instead of being reserved for the Navy's urgent needs and has refused to take a share in the affair, declining his "dividend" in protest.

Things are beginning to stink...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

It is rather awful, Sandwich and Penn so deaf and blind to the cries of the men who have fought with them so long... Sam's not a warrior or a sailor and hasn't been though desperate battles with the men but these two...


Is it any surprise many of these suffering men will soon sign on with the Dutch and happily join in the Medway attack?

cgs  •  Link

The Lords doth meet and there barely be a Quorum.

Sam has his warrant for moving the goods but the packing slip doth not have all the correct T's crossed or eyes dotted.
I guess there be a run on the trophy bank.

Render unto Caesar his dues and slip the rest to boys of the upper deck, and keep the hatches closed.

Crumbs yesterday, crumbs tomorrow, but no crumbs today [ Thanks Alice ]

Michael Robinson  •  Link

(Lord! to see how unhappily a man may fall into a necessity of bribing people to do him right in a thing, wherein he hath done nothing but fair, and bought dear.)

SP appears to have lost perspective on the routine 'facilitation' payments and gifts that have become part of the warp and woof of his own conduct.

JWB  •  Link

The "reformed" Myngs hard to stomach. The old pirate looking for his main chance. He was nearly cashiered late 50's for handling prize money from buccaneering cruise on Sapnish Main.

jeannine  •  Link

“I’m afraid Sam has lost me in the convoluted story about the prize goods. Do any of the ancillary sources explain what’s going on better than he does?”

Yes, Paul, Ollard does a good job in ‘Cromwell’s Earl”. As Pedro had previously explained, there was a procedure for how prizes were to be distributed. Seamen could take things lying around but nobody was to break into the cargo, which would be called “breaking bulk”. All of the cargo and the ship were to go to the Prize Commissioners who would sell it, account for it, and the divide it according to established rules and policies.

Ollard explains that Sandwich had allowed an immediate partial sharing of the cargo. Remember he’s always been ‘lousy with money’ but not a greedy person as he generously gave some of the share to Sam and Brouncker. Two days before he doled out these good he’d gotten a congratulatory letter from the King for his excellent work. This approval and all of the excitement of the Navy Board over the win and the Prizes probably made him less than vigilant in sticking to the rules.

“On September 21st Sandwich signed an order for a preliminary distribution of prize goods amongst himself and his colleagues, apparently at the solicitation of Penn, his Vice-Admiral, who, according to Sandwich, assured him ‘that the King and Duke of York’ intended him particular favour’. Feeling uneasy that he might have exceeded his authority he wrote to Carteret, who was with the court at Oxford preparing for the assembly of the Parliament, asking him to inform the King and Duke of what he had done. On the 28th Carteret replied in the most assuring terms. His action was entirely understood and would be underwritten. Unfortunately to gain the Duke’s approval he had to show the letter to William Coventry who had remarked ominously: “Heere my Lord Sandwich has done what I durst not have done.’ Although everything was going to be all right Carteret indicated that it would be prudent to restrain his admirals from actually selling the goods until he had the King’s authorization in writing”.

[Spoiler part as quoted from Ollard] “This eminently sensible advice was disregarded. Before long rumours were flying around the city fabulously profitable bargains to be obtained in silks, spices, china and all the most expensive luxury goods of the East India trade. Albermale, always jealous and resentful of Sandwich’s apparently effortless rise in a few years to positions that it had taken him a lifetime to win, heard, enquired and acted. The customs authorities were empowered to seize the goods and legal proceedings, it was clear, would follow against all those involved. Pepys, more alert than his master, instantly sensed danger. He wrote at once to warn him and began to make his own plans for getting out of the business as quick as he could.

Also in the background here are very complex politics with Coventry and the DOY working against Sandwich. Much of this controversy unravels during this month there will be a lot more on this subject to come.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Dice are rolling, the knives are out..." -Evita.

Coventry is clearly gunning for Sandwich, perhaps fearful of his regained popularity during the war, perhaps having simply awaited the opportunity for years. Possibly he's following York's orders, certainly Jamie will shed no tears at anything cutting down such a troublesomely popular subordinate in "his" Navy and the most prominent Cromwellian left alive and free.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

In this light, Coventry's friendship and encouragement of Sam may seem a bit more calculated as part of an overall effort to isolate Sandwich. He may have immediately and astutely recognized in Sam a key Sandwich agent whom it was important to detach as much as possible from his master. A man like Sir William would recognize that it's often the little subordinates about the great man who are as great or the greater threats.

Robert Gertz  •  Link


As for Sir Christopher Myngs, I would point out that Sam himself, like Sir William Coventry, once his fortune is secure, will ever more ardently champion the fight for efficiency and against corruption and nepotism in the Navy.

But until that fortune is secure... An occasional piratic looting, a selling of a place or two, or a glove filled with crowns is most welcome.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

And of course, Sir Chris has to be annoyed that Sandwich is letting every little nobody from court...From outside "the family" grab "the family's" prize.

cgs  •  Link

August / September be always a good time to pick a fight, October/November be always a good time to argue over the monies/spoils. It must be in the tarot cards that the money be argued over prior to the onset of lean times that be winter.

We have learnt so much since these treacherous days , we play with underlaying value of the loot rather than the loot itself, it be called derivatives.

Cato did say so well, the only hard part is to determine what is the treasurers [legal versus illegal] It be normal to take the goods from some foreigner but steal the same goods from one's own leaders, that be damnable or be that it be stupid.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from off the goose

Pedro  •  Link


I think spoilers should be used sparingly.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Jeannine, thanks. That's a big help.

dirk  •  Link

John Evelyn's diary today:

I returned to Lond: I went thro the whole Citty, having occasion to alight out of the Coach in severall places about buisinesse of mony, when I was invironed with multitudes of poore pestiferous creatures, begging almes; the shops universaly shut up, a dreadfull prospect: I dined with my L: Gen: was to receive 10000 pounds & had Guards to convey both my selfe & it, & so returned , through Gods infinite mercy:

Paul Chapin  •  Link

So Evelyn did get his 10K. This is the first that's been clear, at least to me. Thanks, Dirk.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Myngs "is newly come from Court, and carries direction for the making a show of getting out the fleete again to go fight the Dutch, but that it will end in a fleete of 20 good sayling frigates to go to the Northward or Southward, and that will be all."

L&M: As a result of this and of the enthusiastic grant of money by the Commons the rumour soon spread to the Hague and to Paris that the English were refitting the warships laid up for the winter, and preparing a battle fleet of '117 ships of war and eight fireship':

Oct. 30. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
The Dutch who believed, with a prudent and courageous deliberation to come nearer to peace and to gain an advantage by pushing their own fleet forward and planting their anchors audaciously in several places in sight of England, as I reported, and as is shown more particularly by the sheets which I could not send last week, have so stirred up the king and parliament, offended, to express their idea, by such a bravado, that though the large war ships had already been withdrawn to the Thames, as being dangerous to plough the sea during the autumn gales, and the usual winter fleet of about thirty light craft being left outside, the king, with unimagined ardour has ordered the re-arming of the ships and that they shall all go out to seek and fight the enemy. The latter is believed to have made this attempt in order to secure the fleets of Norway and Cadiz. Thus the Ambassador Vangoch, whom his Majesty had summoned to Oxford, with the intention of promoting with him some particular negotiation, seeing that the season besides every convenience agreed with this, is now in despair of any sort of good issue by way of negotiation.
Paris, the 30th October, 1665.

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