Saturday 28 April 1666

Up and to the office. At noon dined at home. After dinner abroad with my wife to Hales’s to see only our pictures and Mrs. Pierce’s, which I do not think so fine as I might have expected it. My wife to her father’s, to carry him some ruling work, which I have advised her to let him do. It will get him some money. She also is to look out again for another little girle, the last we had being also gone home the very same day she came. She was also to look after a necklace of pearle, which she is mighty busy about, I being contented to lay out 80l. in one for her.

I home to my business. By and by comes my wife and presently after, the tide serving, Balty took leave of us, going to sea, and upon very good terms, to be Muster-Master of a squadron, which will be worth 100l. this yeare to him, besides keeping him the benefit of his pay in the Guards.

He gone, I very busy all the afternoon till night, among other things, writing a letter to my brother John, the first I have done since my being angry with him, and that so sharpe a one too that I was sorry almost to send it when I had wrote it, but it is preparatory to my being kind to him, and sending for him up hither when he hath passed his degree of Master of Arts. So home to supper and to bed.

15 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

So shines a good deed in a naughty world! Not only does Balty's going to sea give him a job and get him out of the way, but it earns Pepys a debt of gratitude which will be repaid---beyond any mere reckoning in monetary form---during the years following the Diary.
The man would make an excellent secondary main character in a novel, the sort who threatens to steal the show.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I being contented to lay out 80l." for "a necklace of pearle" for Elizabeth.

But Lord! how our fortunes have risen!

Cp. 27 July 1660: "Will, my clerk, and I were all the afternoon making up my accounts, which we had done by night, and I find myself worth about 100l. after all my expenses."…

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... I being contented to lay out 80l. in one for her."

What provokes this increased munificence?

" ... and I promising to give her one of 60l. in two years at furthest, ... "…

jeannine  •  Link

This is from the “Further Correspondence of Samuel Pepys” edited by Tanner. 28 April, 1666. Today Sam sent this letter to Admiral Harman. The most delightful footnote to the letter explains that “Admiral, afterwards, Sir John Harman was in command of the ‘Royal Charles’, the Duke of York’s flagship. Pepys’s brother-in-law Balthazar St. Michel, was the recipient of many kindnesses from him, and the cause of frequent anxiety.”

28 April, 1666
This gentleman the bearer is he whom I acquainted you his Royal Highness hath been pleased to appoint muster-master of the division under your command. I assure you I am not more concerned for him from his relation to me, than from the confidence I have in his sobriety and desire of being serviceable in his place, and moreover in his care of behaving himself with all respect and duty to yourself. The favour I beg of you for him is your general countenance and furtherance in the execution of his place, wherein I doubt not after a little trial he will be able to give you and us a perfected account than at first (from the newness of the method established by the Duke and his own want of use) I can expect. The accommodation of a cabin for the better keeping and transcribing of his books (which will be very many) I do further ask of you, and do assure you that as I made it my particular request to Sir William Coventry to [have] him appointed to serve under your command, so also I shall impute his good success in his undertaking to your favour, and accordingly will always acknowledge it.

jeannine  •  Link


I wasn't really sure what a Muster-master did so I looked it up. Is is someone "who takes an account of troops, and of their equipment; a mustering officer; an inspector". (from

Robert Gertz  •  Link

100Ls plus his other salary... Fortunate Balthazar. There was a time when Sam himself would have been delighted at such bounty. And even showing some generosity towards ole Alex, not to mention John Jr and twirle those pearls, Bess...Sam is in a mellow mood familywise these days.

What is it with the young people those days? Just don't wanna work, that's their trouble, dagnabit... Actually I'm quite startled at how well Sam is taking these disappearing acts on top of his other displays of easy-goingness. Whatever he's drinking, bartender...

Carl in Boston  •  Link

This gentleman the bearer is he whom I acquainted you etc, etc, ... etc. Id est, take good care of my brother in law, and you'll be happy, and I will be happy, and everybody will be happy.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

80L (in 1666 money) is a heck of a lot of money for pearls by modern standards, when the availability of cultured ones makes them much more affordable. I wonder how the prices of precious stones - diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires - at that time compared.

jackie  •  Link

Bringing the ruling work into the family is one way for Elizabeth to stop Sam visiting the ruling paper lady with the over-attractive maid.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Current data is only available till 2007. In 2007, £80 0s 0d from 1666 is worth
£8,894.29 using the retail price index.
£111,002.04 using average earnings.

Paul, does that seeem a bit more than you had calculated?

Michael Robinson  •  Link

"80L (in 1666 money) is a heck of a lot of money for pearls ..."

Another crude measure, 80L is the "conspicuous consumption equivalent" of 5.71 of Hayls's portraits ...

"Thence to Hales’s, where I met my wife and people; and do find the picture, above all things, a most pretty picture, and mighty like my wife; and I asked him his price: he says 14l., .."…

Paul Chapin  •  Link

I didn't calculate, but yes, it's an enormous sum. I haven't priced pearls lately, but last I knew, you could get a pretty nice necklace today for 80L or about 150 dollars. The only place you could get 5-6 portraits for that amount is at the cartoonist's booth at the county fair.

I was curious, as I said, about the comparative prices of precious stones at Sam's time. What little I've been able to find suggests that diamonds were much rarer then than now (although artificial restrictions on their supply by the DeBeers cartel keep their prices up). The other precious stones, I don't know. I was wondering if Sam might have chosen an emerald necklace, for instance, for Elizabeth instead of pearls, or if that would have been completely out of his range.

cgs  •  Link

With all those oysters that Samuell had eaten, surely he could have strung his own?

Australian Susan  •  Link

I've been playing catch-up on the Diary having been busy. When I got to the first mention of pearls, I posted a note about pearls, which is probably better transposed here: as it is about to be Mothers' Day here, our local jeweller has a necklace of Tahitian black pearls on display - it is a single collar size strand of quite large pearls at $19,000.

Second Reading

Tonyel  •  Link

I think that, apart from his generosity towards Bess, Sam looks upon a pearl necklace as an investment which could be cashed in if times got hard. The same applies to all the silver plate he has been piling up.

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