Saturday 4 November 1665

They sayled from midnight, and come to Greenwich about 5 o’clock in the morning. I however lay till about 7 or 8, and so to my office, my head a little akeing, partly for want of natural rest, partly having so much business to do to-day, and partly from the newes I hear that one of the little boys at my lodging is not well; and they suspect, by their sending for plaister and fume, that it may be the plague; so I sent Mr. Hater and W. Hewer to speake with the mother; but they returned to me, satisfied that there is no hurt nor danger, but the boy is well, and offers to be searched, however, I was resolved myself to abstain coming thither for a while. Sir W. Batten and myself at the office all the morning. At noon with him to dinner at Boreman’s, where Mr. Seymour with us, who is a most conceited fellow and not over much in him. Here Sir W. Batten told us (which I had not heard before) that the last sitting day his cloake was taken from Mingo he going home to dinner, and that he was beaten by the seamen and swears he will come to Greenwich, but no more to the office till he can sit safe. After dinner I to the office and there late, and much troubled to have 100 seamen all the afternoon there, swearing below and cursing us, and breaking the glasse windows, and swear they will pull the house down on Tuesday next. I sent word of this to Court, but nothing will helpe it but money and a rope. Late at night to Mr. Glanville’s there to lie for a night or two, and to bed.

16 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link


[ The cost of "ulcerate sores of inveterate malignity" ]

Sayes Court

4 November 1665 (2)

I have six or seaven men who have spent us a greate deale of mony, and care at Deale, who are likely never to be cured, having some of them been dissmembrd (3), others dissabl’d by ulcerate sores of inveterate malignity, totaly unfit for any service: I once made it my suite to you (and you seemd to consent) that such persons might be discharg’d: be pleas’d to signifie what my Deputy, and Chirurgeon (who are both ready to certifie this) shall do with them to

Sir, Your

most obedient Servant


Source: PRO S.P. 29/136, f.31. Endorsed by P, ‘4 9ber. 65 Says=Court. Esqr Evelin.’ The letter is included by Marburg (her M8) who did not note that the surviving manuscript seems only to be the second half of the original letter. For this reason no destination address survives. The missing text probably amounted to at most around six or seven lines. However, the clear space immediately above the first line suggests that there is a possibility that only an opening ‘Sir’ may be missing. The letter, like most of those from this period, is not represented in E’s copy-letter book and its original length cannot therefore be verified.

2 MS: ‘Says-Court 4th:9br:-65’ at foot of letter. The following day the men found time to relax as Pepys described in remarkable and memorable detail (diary, 5 November 1665). E, typically, restricts his own diary entry for 5 November to a notice of a sermon.

3 E’s diary entry for 24 March 1672 during the Third Dutch War is a particularly graphic account of the misery such amputations created:

‘I din’d with Mr. Commissioner Cox having seene that morning my Chirurgeon cut off a poore creaturs Leg, a little under the knee, first cutting the living and untainted flesh above the Gangreene with a sharp knife, and then sawing off the bone in an instant; then with searing and stoopes stanching the blood, which issued aboundantly; the stout and gallant man, enduring it with incredible patience, and that without being bound to his chaire, as is usual in such painefull operations, or hardly making a face or crying oh: I had hardly such courage enough to be present, nor could I endure to see any more such cruel operations.’

Michael Robinson  •  Link

"... I sent word of this to Court, ..."

L&M footnote "SP to Coventry, 4 November (NMM, LBK/8 pp. 278-811, copy in Hewer's hand, with note by SP). SP describes the attack on Batten and his servant, and goes on:

'Nay at this instant while I am writeing (sic) the whole Company of the Breda ... are now breakeing (sic) the Window of our Office and hath twice this day knocked downe Marlow our Messenger, swearing they will not budge without money. What meate they'l make of me anon you shall know by my next. ... Since the fore part of my letter , I have given my Breda=blades an answer that they are parted with ...'

Riots of unpaid seamen were not uncommon in this and later periods. *Spoiler.* The screen in front of the eighteenth century Admiralty building in Whitehall is said to have been designed to protect the officials from attack."

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"my head a little akeing,partly for want of natural rest,partly having so much business to do to-day and
partly from the newes I hear that one of the little boys at my lodging is not well"
Tension Headache ,that is if he did not drink any wine the night before.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"but no more to the office till he can sit safe"
Who was beaten up, Sir W. Batten or Mingo?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

While it does sound like Batten was beaten rather than Mingo, seems hard to believe such a dramatic incident happening to a titled official wouldn't have resulted in armed soldiers being summoned and some immediate shootings and hangings. Though perhaps with things at such odds as they are with plague dislocation and the war, none were at hand...Or, far worse, willing to assist.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Here Sir W. Batten told us (which I had not heard before) that the last sitting-day his cloake was taken from Mingo, going home to dinner, and that he was beaten by the seamen, and swears he will come to Greenwich but no more to the office (till he can sit safe)."

Thus L&M. Was Batten's cloak taken from Mingo, who was beaten as they went their way? If so, Batten has good reason to fear for his safety, as Pepys does for his.

Roger  •  Link

'it being a horrible foule night for wind and raine.' Yesterday.

For you fellow weather buffs....
The average Central England Temperature for October 2008 was 9.7C, ranked 177th coldest of 350 since 1659. Pepys' October 1665 cet was ranked 101st coldest at 9.0C. (October 2008 was notable for the first October snow in London since 1935 but, overall, it was colder in Sam's time).
As for November 1665,'s started on a foule note. Actually, Nov 1665 is ranked 164th coldest at 6.0C, so colder than average. I wonder if we'll get any 'weather gems' from Sam?!

cgs  •  Link

Times be rough, Nothing like cold weather for finding ways to get warm, and poor be easy victims for a little rough house, Poor Mingo.
I cannot see Batten going around without his top coat, Muggers like easy victims not the lordly ones if they appear to be well connected.

The poor tars have no Levellers to get them their dues, a sad comment on those demanding to have men taken from the streets then beat up the Dutch, take the Hollander possessions, have life and limb in jeopardy or sacrificed, then have to wait for their daily bread and freeze their proverbials off while the laudly ones ague over who has rights to the prizes [loot in street parlance].

Life that be life.

Glyn  •  Link

Seymour is exactly the same age as Pepys, and seems to have been an arrogant aristocrat who would have made it clear that he considered Pepys to be inferior to him. Which is strange when you see how easy-going the King and Prince James were with Pepys.

Clement  •  Link

" may be the plague; so I sent Mr. Hater and W. Hewer to speake with the mother...however, I was resolved myself to abstain coming thither for a while."

The privelege of rank.

Kevin Peter  •  Link

Seymour was widely known at the time as an outspoken, arrogant individual, immensely proud of himself and his family. It's interesting that Pepys agreed, finding Seymour to be "a most conceited fellow".

Joe Miller's Jests (published 1709) records a witty conversation that supposedly occurred between Seymour and a physician, Dr Ratcliff, who was known a proud man as well.

Jest #226

'The same Physician, who was not the humblest Man in the World, being sent for by Sir Edward Seymour, who was said to be the proudest; the Knight received him, while he was dressing his Feet and picking his Toes, being at that Time troubled with a Diabetis, and upon the Doctor’s entering the Room, accosted him in this Manner, So, Quack, said he, I’m a dead Man, for I piss sweet: Do ye, replied the Doctor, then prithee piss upon your Toes, for they stink damnably: And so turning round on his Heel went out of the Room.'

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I hear that one of the little boys at my lodging is not well; and they suspect, by their sending for plaister and fume, that it may be the plague; "

L&M: Materials used to prepare aromatic vapour.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"but the boy is well, and offers to be searched,"

L&M: I.e. for the buboes -- the swellings which betokened bubonic infection.

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