Friday 8 June 1666

Up very betimes and to attend the Duke of York by order, all of us to report to him what the works are that are required of us and to divide among us, wherein I have taken a very good share, and more than I can perform, I doubt.

Thence to the Exchequer about some Tangier businesses, and then home, where to my very great joy I find Balty come home without any hurt, after the utmost imaginable danger he hath gone through in the Henery, being upon the quarterdeck with Harman all the time; and for which service Harman I heard this day commended most seriously and most eminently by the Duke of Yorke. As also the Duke did do most utmost right to Sir Thomas Teddiman, of whom a scandal was raised, but without cause, he having behaved himself most eminently brave all the whole fight, and to extraordinary great service and purpose, having given Trump himself such a broadside as was hardly ever given to any ship.

Mings is shot through the face, and into the shoulder, where the bullet is lodged. Young Holmes’ is also ill wounded, and Atber in The Rupert.

Balty tells me the case of The Henery; and it was, indeed, most extraordinary sad and desperate.

After dinner Balty and I to my office, and there talked a great deal of this fight; and I am mightily pleased in him and have great content in, and hopes of his doing well.

Thence out to White Hall to a Committee for Tangier, but it met not. But, Lord! to see how melancholy the Court is, under the thoughts of this last overthrow (for so it is), instead of a victory, so much and so unreasonably expected.

Thence, the Committee not meeting, Creed and I down the river as low as Sir W. Warren’s, with whom I did motion a business that may be of profit to me, about buying some lighters to send down to the fleete, wherein he will assist me.

So back again, he and I talking of the late ill management of this fight, and of the ill management of fighting at all against so great a force bigger than ours, and so to the office, where we parted, but with this satisfaction that we hear the Swiftsure, Sir W. Barkeley, is come in safe to the Nore, after her being absent ever since the beginning of the fight, wherein she did not appear at all from beginning to end. But wherever she has been, they say she is arrived there well, which I pray God however may be true.

At the office late, doing business, and so home to supper and to bed.

17 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

John Evelyn's Diary

June 8. Dined with me Sir Alex: Frasier (prime Physitian to his Majestie)
[… ]
after dinner went on board his Majesties pleasure-boat where I saw the [ Loyal ] London fregate [… ] launched (a most statly ship built by the Cittie, to supply that which was burnt by accident some time since) The King: L. Major & Sherifes being there, with a greate Banquet: I presented my Sonn to his Majestie:…

Michael L  •  Link

Interesting word about the Swiftsure. I wonder where that news came from, since it is not exactly true?

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Lovely to see Sam's real concern for Balty and his joy at seeing him unharmed.

Jesse  •  Link

"ill management of fighting at all against so great a force bigger than ours"

Curious to see the fallout from this. I wonder if bravery in literally taking a broadside translates to stepping up and taking responsiblity. Not good so far "that he [D of A] never fought with worse officers in his life..."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Bess not back yet to express her joy at Balty's return? I wonder if Sam's being deliberately keeping news of the fight from her.

Interesting contrasting Balty with Sam...He has the dash and burden of being a gentleman's son, however fallen...A little style, but the expectation of keeping up appearances. Clearly he's capable of work, likely even rather brave.


Later life will even suggest his detective/confidential agents skills are quite good.

I would imagine his poor education and refugee, wandering previous life with Alex and co is the biggest check to his advancement. Nice that he's won some respect from Sam.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... the late ill management of this fight, and of the ill management of fighting at all against so great a force bigger than ours, ..."

Rodger discusses the circumstances and various decisions, far more complex than a simple single issue of good, or ill, management:

The first issue they [ Rupert & Albermarle], and the King's ministers, had to face was a strategic dilemma. On 16 January 1666 France declared war as a Dutch ally. The possibility was open that the French Mediterranean squadron under the duc de Beaufort would come north, combine with the smaller force at Brest, and come up the Channel to support their allies. Though in the event Beaufort's northward movements were extremely slow and cautious, English intelligence considerably overestimated the threat. Charles was less concerned about a French attempt to unite with the Dutch, which his fleet was well placed to prevent, than about reported plans to land troops in Ireland. it was this fear which lead to the fateful decision to divide the main fleet, sending Rupert down-Chanel with twenty ships on May 29th., while Albermarle remained in the Downs with fifty-six ships of the main fleet, well short of the seventy he regarded as the necessary minimum to face the Dutch. By now reports were coming in that the Dutch were nearly ready for sea and both admirals were uneasy -- but not uneasy enough to send out proper scouts to the Dutch coast. Albermarle wrote to Charles II hinting that if he met the enemy , honor would oblige him to fight whatever the odds, and if the King wanted him to retreat he had better be given unequivocal orders. The King missed the point, but he did realize the danger of the fleet being trapped in the Downs, and ordered Albermarle up north to the Gunfleet off Harwich, at the mouth of the main channel up the Thames, 'where you cannot be forced to do anything but what you choose'. Late on the 30th. the changing intelligence picture caused Charles II to order Prince Rupert's recall and the orders reached him off Portsmouth on 1 June. He had still no urgent news of the Dutch and no idea that the greatest naval battle of the age of sail was just beginning.

Albermarle sailed from the Downs on May 31st., still unaware that de Ruyter was very near and that he had only just escaped from a trap.

[The Downs is the broad anchorage which lies off Deal, enclosed by the Kentish cost to the west, and the Goodwin sands to the east. At its northern end it can be entered from the North sea or the Thames estuary through the Gull Stream, and at its southern end from the channel round the South Foreland. In the age of sail this anchorage was one of the crossroads of world. From the strategic point of view the Downs is the perfect position for warships to watch the upper channel and Southern North Sea. From the tactical point of view it is a trap in the prevailing wind, for the Gull Stream was too narrow for a large force to get through in a hurry. A fleet lying in the Downs might be caught like a lobster in a pot by an enemy entering the southern entrance with the wind behind. It was just in this way that Tromp had won his great victory. (In the great battle of the Downs on 11th. October 1639, during the Eighty Years War, when Tromp had destroyed the last major Spanish fleet ever to enter the North Sea, marking the Dutch arrival as the leading maritime power in Europe and the eclipse of Spain as a naval rival for a century.) Neither the Dutch who had won this battle nor the English who had witnessed it ever forgot and it exercised a powerful influence over both navy's strategy.]

Next morning as he headed north to round the Long Sand Head, the Dutch were sighted to the eastward, to leeward. Though he could have easily escaped into the Thames, where powerful reinforcements would have joined him in a few days , Albermarle refused to run away from the enemy. The stiff breeze healed the ships so that their lee lower-deck gunports had to be kept closed, while the Dutch ships generally were stiffer, with higher freeboard, and profited from the leeward position. In such conditions the English advantage of firepower was largely negated. What was more, de Witt had abandoned his opposition to bigger ships the previous year, and the Dutch now had growing numbers of big ships of seventy guns or more, some of them , like de Ruyter's new flagship the 'Zeven Provincen' of eighty guns , equivalent to English Second Rates. Albermarle was advised to wait for easier weather next day, and would have done so, had not the Dutch fleet (eighty-six ships against fewer than sixty English) not been found at anchor spread out in a manner which allowed them to be 'rolled up' form the windward end, much as Maartin Tromp had almost succeeded in doing off Portland thirteen years before. That had been Albermarle's first sea battle, and no doubt he had not forgotten it. [MR. Recall also that Albermarle believes the French joint fleet may be moving north much faster than they are in fact and that he can not allow they and the Dutch to join.] Now he hastened to exploit his opportunity. Ignoring the odds and the risks , he bore down on the enemy in an improvised line. ..."

NAM Rodger ‘Command of the Ocean,’ London / NY: 2004/5 pp. 71 - [pp. 10-11] - 72.

Ric Jerrom  •  Link

A big"Thank You" to Michael Robinson for this brilliantly clear exposition of the history behind and tactics of the battle. NAM Rodger's book is clearly a "must read"!

Michael Robinson  •  Link

NAM Rodger’s book is clearly a “must read”!

'Command of the Ocean, A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815', and the earlier 'Safeguard of the Sea, ... 660 - 1649', are mind boggling works of synthesis each fully footnoted and complete with extensive annotated bibliography and, not least, entertaining and written with a dry wit. To quote his Introduction:

" ... The purpose of this, the second of thee volumes of a Naval History of Britain, is to put naval affairs back into the history of Britain. It is not to write a self contained ‘company-history’ of the Royal Navy, but to describe the contribution which naval warfare , with all its associated activities, has made to national history ... it is an attempt to spread the meaning of naval history well beyond the conduct of war at sea and the internal history of the Royal Navy, and to treat it instead as a national endeavor, involving many and in some ways all, aspects of government and society. ... Naval dominance of European waters was the largest, longest, most complex and expensive project ever undertaken by the British state and society. Few aspects of national life were unaffected by it , ..."

language hat  •  Link

Another thank-you to Michael Robinson for that extremely enlightening read.

cgs  •  Link

add "hear, hear" to LH

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"to report to him what the works are that are required of us and to divide among us, wherein I have taken a very good share, and more than I can perform, I doubt"

Heh -- who else but Our Sam would crow in his personal diary about having taken on more work than he can manage? Most entries would be along the lines of "managed to get away from the meeting with only one extra task, and I think I can foist that one off on my clerks"...

Australian Susan  •  Link

Sam is never afraid of hard graft, but I think he also really, really likes to be in control: it is an indication of him still feeling a little insecure, remembering where he has come from etc. So holding all the cards of work in his hands is better (even if he is overworked) than allowing others to maybe, undermine his position.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the Duke did do most utmost right to Sir Thomas Teddiman, of whom a scandal was raised, but without cause, he having behaved himself most eminently brave all the whole fight, and to extraordinary great service and purpose, having given Trump himself such a broadside as was hardly ever given to any ship."

Reports Pepys records on the fourth day of the battle said Thomas Teddeman was a great coward.… L&M suggest the 'scandal' may have arisen through confusion with his elder brother, Henry: see…

Carol D  •  Link

Where is Sir Thomas Teddiman when we need him now?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Does anyone have access to Williamson's explanation for his bad intelligence on François de Vendôme, Duc de Beaufort's intentions? Yes, an invasion from Ireland was a constant worry for 1,000 years, but Williamson seems to have totally lost track of the French fleet at a time he should have made that a priority.

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