Thursday 26 October 1665

Up, and, leaving my guests to make themselves ready, I to the office, and thither comes Sir Jer. Smith and Sir Christopher Mings to see me, being just come from Portsmouth and going down to the Fleete. Here I sat and talked with them a good while and then parted, only Sir Christopher Mings and I together by water to the Tower; and I find him a very witty well-spoken fellow, and mighty free to tell his parentage, being a shoemaker’s son, to whom he is now going, and I to the ’Change, where I hear how the French have taken two and sunk one of our merchant-men in the Streights, and carried the ships to Toulon; so that there is no expectation but we must fall out with them. The ’Change pretty full, and the town begins to be lively again, though the streets very empty, and most shops shut. So back again I and took boat and called for Sir Christopher Mings at St. Katharine’s, who was followed with some ordinary friends, of which, he says, he is proud, and so down to Greenwich, the wind furious high, and we with our sail up till I made it be taken down. I took him, it being 3 o’clock, to my lodgings and did give him a good dinner and so parted, he being pretty close to me as to any business of the fleete, knowing me to be a servant of my Lord Sandwich’s. He gone I to the office till night, and then they come and tell me my wife is come to towne, so I to her vexed at her coming, but it was upon innocent business, so I was pleased and made her stay, Captain Ferrers and his lady being yet there, and so I left them to dance, and I to the office till past nine at night, and so to them and there saw them dance very prettily, the Captain and his wife, my wife and Mrs. Barbary, and Mercer and my landlady’s daughter, and then little Mistress Frances Tooker and her mother, a pretty woman come to see my wife. Anon to supper, and then to dance again (Golding being our fiddler, who plays very well and all tunes) till past twelve at night, and then we broke up and every one to bed, we make shift for all our company, Mrs. Tooker being gone.

25 Annotations

First Reading

Australian Susan  •  Link

"...and then to dance again...." and presumably Sam too to make up the numbers to 8. Couldn't resist the pretty Frances Tooker!

The note on Sir Christopher says that his supposedly humble origins were untrue, so why did he tell Sam all this? In a class conscious age, to admit to very low birth was most unusual, especially in one who is now a Knight. I bet Sam keeps quiet that his father was a tailor (which would have been of a higher social standing than a cobbler) and, if pressed, refers to his father as living "on our estate in the country". What was Sir C's motivation in this? Does he tell this story to everyone? Or is this just for Sam? And if so, why? To win him over? To establish fellow-feeling? Does he have a hidden agenda? Sam notes he is "pretty close to me as to any business of the fleete, knowing me to be a servant of my Lord Sandwich's. " Is Sam now counted among the "ordinary" friends of Sir Christopher's of which he "is proud".

Ralph Berry  •  Link

"son of a shoemaker"

Very interesting point Susan. One never knows however how a conversation may have gone. Perhaps Sam had been bragging about his closeness to Lord Sandwich so Christopher Ming throws in a line "oh I am only the son of a shoemaker" knowing Sam will eventually find the truth and that he has been teased. The English have been masters of the understatement but I wonder if they were so subtle in Sam's time.

tld  •  Link

"...and there saw them dance very prettily."

At least the second time Sam notes he was with a group dancing but seems to have been on the sidelines.

I'm getting an image of a slightly uncoordinated physical self though very adept at the mental.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The DNB's doubt that Myng was “son of a shoemaker” is contested by L&M: "But it was clear from a letter of Pepys (28 March 1665...) that his father was a shoemaker and was then consulted by the Navy Board about the uses to which leather shavings might be put to."…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Myngs was "was followed with some ordinary friends, of which, he says, he is proud..."

Man of the people...And (spoiler) we will see, extraordinarily popular with his men.

from rootsweb of

Sir Christopher Myngs (1625- 1666) was the son of John Myngs, m. 28 Sep 1623 as listed in register of Salthouse as of the Parish of St. Katherine in the city of London, near kinsman or son of Nicholas Myness, a good old Norfolk family (Bloomfield, Topographical History of Norfolk; cf Add MS 14299, ff 55, 143). A son of Nicholas,Christopher, was baptized 8 mar 1585 at Blakeney (Marshall, Genealogist, i 38-9).

The fact that his family was "a good old Norfolk family" need not mean John Myngs couldn't still have been a shoemaker and Myngs, who did go to sea as a mere cabin boy by all accounts, proud of his rise due to merit.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

From the annals of the Norfolk County Council...Confirming Myngs' Norfolk origins.

20 March 2007

Historic 16th-century records, which were restored to their former glory by Norfolk County Council conservators after having been buried in a village churchyard at the outbreak of the Second World War, to stop them falling into German hands, are set to go on public exhibition.

Featured in the exhibition are documents relating to Salthouse hero, Vice-Admiral Sir Christopher Myngs, whose baptism appears in the Salthouse register in 1625. Exhibits on display include Myngs's baptism entry, deeds relating to property which he purchased in Salthouse, a copy of a letter which he wrote on board ship, and a transcript of a description of Myngs's funeral.

djc  •  Link

on social origins:

Much depends on how you want to appear. Pepys is the son of a tailor, but also cousin to Sandwich. Pepys is perhaps a little too pompous a climber to indulge in irony, Mings is obviously more comfortable in in own skin and "with some ordinary friends, of which, he says, he is proud,"

Ruben  •  Link

Myngs was a pirate protected by England and a disgrace for humanity, because of his lack of humanity. I know his dids happened more than 300 hundred years ago but still I cannot understand how somebody today can be proud of him.

Pedro  •  Link

In defence of Myngs and England.

Ruben, I think you are a little harsh in singling out Myngs and the English. I also think the entry in Wikipedia is misleading...

“During these actions he got a reputation for unnecessary cruelty, sacking and massacring entire towns in command of whole fleets of buccaneers…The Spanish government considered him a common pirate and mass murderer,”

Firstly, one man’s pirate is another man’s privateer, and the Spanish interpretation comes from the nation that was given half the world by the Pope to rape and pillage. I believe that the towns that were sacked were cruelly commanded by the Spanish, in order to load their ships with gold. I cannot find it at present, but there is some evidence that sometimes the local population welcomed the Spanish being given a bloody nose!

The English were only one of a number of nations that condoned privateering, and these nations would consider the Barbaries as pirates.

If we delved into many figures mentioned in history, as we do on this site, we would find many skeletons in many cupboards!

Michael L  •  Link

So why is Sam vexed at his wife's coming to town? Is London still supposed to be dangerous from the plague? Or is it merely Sam's control-freak unhappiness that he was not first consulted?

Ruben  •  Link

Pedro: Thank you for your annotation. I knew I was touching a sensible point.
Piracy was widespread and I never said that England is to blame for it. When younger I red a lot about Piracy (mostly in Spanish and French, I must say) and I understand that this pirates were rude, murderous, etc. They came from every possible place in the world and from every social class.They could dispatch a man for a copper coin and sleep well. OK.
But Mings killed people without any reason at all. That is what is remembered of him in Spanish America. The coast on many regions remained depopulated for generations.
As John Adams said: "facts are stubborn things; and whatever our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
I agree with you that they are many skeletons in many cupboards, sure, but this is a skeleton I would not "romanticize" with. Nothing to be proud of...

Australian Susan  •  Link

"...and then they come and tell me my wife is come to towne, so I to her vexed at her coming, but it was upon innocent business, so I was pleased and made her stay..."

Sam was maybe "vexed"that Bess's sudden and unannounced arrival was due to her being bored and when she is bored she tends to fall out with Mercer, which can degenerate into shouting and worse. So my guess is that Sam was fearful of having to deal with another domestic upheaval, but found Bess was quite content and come up river for other "innocent" reasons. Or you could surmise he was anxious about being spied on by Bess or that he thought she had heard rumours of something and had come to check him out.

Pedro  •  Link

“But Mings killed people without any reason at all. That is what is remembered of him in Spanish America. The coast on many regions remained depopulated for generations.”

This pretty well sums up the reason for my previous annotation. The area today seems to be referred to as “Spanish America” in spite of its treatment by the “Conquistadores”. Maybe the reference is because of the adoption of the language, but if the exploits of the said Myngs are remembered in this part of the world, then we have a problem. The Wiki article does not give any facts concerning the accusation of Myngs being a mass murderer, and yet in an article concerning the “Conquistadores” it defends the Spanish as being unfairly treated by “revisionist” historians.

Myngs was commander of a band of buccaneers made up of several nations who were really hard men. They had to be hard to survive, and did not cry off after a year like the Governor Lord Windsor. (Wonder how our friend Wayneman is getting on?)

As for being proud of Myngs, I doubt that the vast majority of people in England would ever have heard of Myngs. If you were to poll the people of Norfolk as to their most famous person they would probably put Henry Blofeld and Bernard Mathews before Nelson and Walpole! The memory of Myngs would have much more to do with the Second Dutch War than anything to do with the West Indies.

Linda F  •  Link

Pedro, When you refer to Spain having been given half the world by a Pope to despoil, are you referring to the Line of Demarcation dividing the New World whereby Portugal "got" Brazil (and Spain just about everything else) in South America? Now that you mention it, in Louisiana & coastal Florida, the Spanish seem to have explored, established military posts, and brought over administrators and priests, but not many colonists to speak of. . . .

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I imagine from Sam's pov Myngs would have had quite a swashbuckling hero's allure and his insistence on humble origins would only have added to that. Moreover Sam is probably quite uncomfortable for all his glee in profiting from the goods; Evelyn's constant pleas for aid for the sick and prisoners must have an effect and Myngs' and others' opposition to Sandwich's actions, plus the moves by Parliament are probably leaving Sam very anxious to find his proper moral footing here. He'd never pass on such a golden opportunity as Sandwich and Cocke have offered but wants to feel able to make a good case for his actions to everyone, and Myngs represents another side of the matter. Then too, from the practical side, it's important for him to know if and how much Myngs knows about his actions.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

In fairness to the Pope, the idea was to charge Spain and Portugal to Christianize the natives and treat them fairly. In fact a number of the accounts of early explorers and ambassadors show, along with religious and cultural prejudice, great admiration and respect for the cultures they encountered. Unfortunately, that ideal did not hold for long though a number of churchmen like Las Casas did fight for native rights. How long will our UN Space Treaty and our fine morals hold up when we find a nice colonizable planet with valuable resources inhabited by beings who can't fight us? Two words..."Earth II"...An abominable TV series where humans happily, thoughtlessly colonized a world already inhabited with its own fragile ecosystem. But it was ok...Cause we made pretty speeches about our respect for the latest place we were wiping out and we had very good intentions.

Aliens...Blast the first Earth ship that comes near your world. You'll be better off, I promise.

Pedro  •  Link

Line of demarcation

In my opinion Spain had the Pope in their pockets. The the King of Spain also being the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Amendments were made to the Line only by Portugal’s protests, but this would become academic as Spain took rule over Portugal.

I would presume that the Line was much more to do with the great wealth that had been discovered in the New World than the spread of the Catholic faith. The King of Spain had declared, whatever the state of play in Europe, that “there would be no peace beyond the Line”.

For probably a biased summary of the colonisation see……

dirk  •  Link

"The the King of Spain also being the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire." (Pedro)

Only upto the abdication of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (also King Carlos I of Spain) in favour of his brother Ferdinand of Habsburg (1556). (Just for the record...)

Australian Susan  •  Link

"....great admiration and respect for the cultures they encountered.....

On our TV at the moment (and probably coming to American and UK TV next year) is a series called The First Australians, telling the story of encounters between the original inhabitants and the Europeans from 1788 onwards. There was very little of the attitude shown in RG's remark quoted above. I only managed to watch the first episode. Too depressing. We can look back over the long years to Sam's time and feel smug about our attitudes towards natives [sic] then as compared with now, but England did not colonise Australia until the very end of the 18th century: surely one would hope for changes, but no. Aborgiines were been shot on sight as nuisances[sic] until the late 19th century in Queensland and given flour laced with rat poison to "get rid of the problem". I doubt Sir C Myngs would have done that.

language hat  •  Link

"….great admiration and respect for the cultures they encountered…..."

RG was talking about the early 16th century, when Europeans had not yet developed the contempt for "lesser breeds without the law" that would become automatic by the 18th century, thanks to the overwhelming superiority in weaponry that would allow them not to have to worry about negative responses to their actions. It can be surprising to see the respect accorded the Other in earlier periods; the 1375 Catalan map treats King Mansa Musa of Mali as equivalent to the European kings.

cgs  •  Link

Mans inhumanity to man is not reserved to a few human tribes but exists in all of human kind, It depends when they have the opportunity to show the evil side of their nature.
An English general/king has sent many of its own populace to be slaughtered for the greater good of the king and his sovereignty, the bible shows how often the thinning out of populations take place and still the removal of excess is being done.
'tis the gene thing, not tribes.
Every tribe or nations have their Mings if it suits the purpose of the leader.
The final winner gets to write his version of the events, and loser gets the blame.

I have seen to many white washed events to ever believe that the whole truth be told.

The spin has been in since the Adam told Eve that full knowledge of world be in his hands and it be the serpents fault.

piracy and buccaneers are of the same coin, one be legal and the other be illegal but both be immoral, i.e. both be stealing life and goods, but use language to justify our deeeds.

ROE. when dealing other tribes.
just a pinch of salt.

JJM  •  Link

There are always differences in treatment of the natives in all centuries. In the 17th the New England colonists treated the indians barbarously in King Philip's War. And of course earlier the Spanish treatment of the Aztecs and Incas was equally barbarous. The exceptions were very few.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the French have taken two and sunk one of our merchant- men in the Streights, and carried the ships to Toulon"

Barbarians afloat: L&M: The Duc de Beaufort had fired on the merchantmen because they would not dip their flags to him: CSPVen. 1664-6, p. 217, 222.

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