Saturday 14 July 1666

Up betimes to the office, to write fair a laborious letter I wrote as from the Board to the Duke of Yorke, laying out our want of money again; and particularly the business of Captain Cocke’s tenders of hemp, which my Lord Bruncker brought in under an unknown hand without name. Wherein his Lordship will have no great successe, I doubt.

That being done, I down to Thames-streete, and there agreed for four or five tons of corke, to send this day to the fleete, being a new device to make barricados with, instead of junke. By this means I come to see and kiss Mr. Hill’s young wife, and a blithe young woman she is. So to the office and at noon home to dinner, and then sent for young Michell and employed him all the afternoon about weighing and shipping off of the corke, having by this means an opportunity of getting him 30 or 40s. Having set him a doing, I home and to the office very late, very busy, and did indeed dispatch much business, and so to supper and to bed. After a song in the garden, which, and after dinner, is now the greatest pleasure I take, and indeed do please me mightily, to bed, after washing my legs and feet with warm water in my kitchen. This evening I had Davila brought home to me, and find it a most excellent history as ever I read.

28 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the business of Captain Cocke's tenders of hemp"

On 25 May, Cocke "proposes another proposition of serving us with a thousand tons of hempe, and tells me it shall bring me 6500, if the bargain go forward"…

(Do you think the letter Pepys wrote mentioned the prospect of his personal profit?)

"Wherein his Lordship will have no great successe, I doubt."

Here "doubt" here surely means "suspect."

Maurie Beck  •  Link

It has been a long time since Sam has seen a play. He has kept his (New Year's?) resolution to attend to his businesses, although it appears his dalliances (perhaps too nice a way of defining these interactions) have lately increased. It would be interesting to see if there is a correlation (negative, positive) between going to plays and the frequency of dalliances.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

"This evening I had Davila brought home to me, and find it a most excellent history as ever I read."

Given the prospect of invasion truly scary tales of French 'unpleasantness' toward Protestants.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

A little favor toward young Mitchell...

Step four in Sam's perfect seduction plan...

But I guess if you don't have TV or the Internet when you've already read a good book and making music is too much work to face.

cgs  •  Link

lack of TV or internet; well there was always a place to fiddle [sticks] ..... down at the Dog and Duck, but Pubs now be cast out along with all the bath water and low birth rate..

tg  •  Link

Sam the serial kisser. Most often he doesn't get any further than first base, as some would say. But that's enough for our hero. The time he spends scheming to get women to let him kiss and fondle them is impressive considering everything else he's dealing with. He's certainly an opportunist.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

It's also amusing to watch the capable women in his life like Elisabeth Pierce handle him. In Pierce's case, not only does she skillfully ward him off with the kids or pregnancy while still enjoying his company to the extent she wishes, she manages to keep him from getting frustrated. Knipp, clearly a bit more desperate for a little pleasantry in her life, still does a reasonably good job in managing him. And our fun-loving Betty Martin...Who seems to enjoy him even more than he her at times.

Then of course there's the darker side with poor Tooker and now falling into the web, Betty Mitchell. Even in Mrs. Bagwell's case we can't be fully sure whom is using whom...Certainly William Bagwell has no qualms about the situation. But it's hard to understand how a Sam who can dote on The Turner and the Sandwich girls, can see nothing wrong in his actions toward little Frances and young Betty Mitchell. And while yes, context of the times,I don't believe for a second a Ralph Josselin for example would shrug off such behavior...

DonB  •  Link

>> It has been a long time since Sam has seen a play.

I believe the play houses are still closed at this time because of the plague.

Martin  •  Link

"four or five tons of corke, to send this day to the fleete, being a new device to make barricados with, instead of junke"

The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea defines "barricado" as: "a 17th-century naval term for a tender. It was usually a civilian oared or sailing boat which attended warships in harbour, and was used for odd jobs."

But it looks like in this case barricadoes refers to fenders. Certainly they were not making tenders out of cork. Can someone check OED?

From my American Heritage dictionary's word history for "junk": "First recorded in 1353, the word meant 'an old cable or rope.' On a sailing ship it made little sense to throw away useful material since considerable time might pass before one could get new supplies. Old cable was used in a variety of ways, for example, to make fenders, that is, material hung over the side of the ship to protect it from scraping other ships or wharves. Junk came to refer to this old cable as well. The big leap in meaning taken by the word seems to have occurred when junk was applied to discarded but useful material in general. This extension may also have taken place in a nautical context, for the earliest, more generalized use of junk is found in the compound junk shop, referring to a store where old materials from ships were sold."

So the old ropes will now be replaced or supplemented by hanging cork off the ships to prevent scraping.

Martin  •  Link

Following up, I can't find a single citation via Google Books that uses "barricado" as a tender or odd jobs boat as suggested by The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea. Every use of "barricado" refers to a barricade, wharf, or defense of some kind. Shakespeare in "All's Well that Ends Well" used it similarly: "Man is enemy to virginity; how may we barricado it against him?" Did Peter Kemp Kemp, the author of the Oxford Companion, mix up "tender" with "fender" in his notes. But I'll stay tuned for OED research.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

L&M say Pepys had been asked by Coventry to acquire a "considerable quantity" of cork for fenders for the defense of quarterdecks.

Mary  •  Link


Unfortunately the OED is not very helpful here. It notes that the word appears in various nautical contexts but attempts no definition. The only 17th century quotation cited (1675) simply refers in general terms to barricadoes being useful for strengthening purposes - "we are fortifying our longeboats with barricadowes."

The next nautical reference quoted (late 18th century) refers to a wooden rail or fence, supplied with stanchions, across the foredeck of a vessel.

The OED does not mention this example from Pepys diary, its earliest nautical citation being that from 1675 noted above.

Mr. Gunning  •  Link

I have always understood form the expression, "Money for old rope" to mean having a an easy job that pays well (like a professional football player for example) implying that old rope had absolutely no value or use, but obviously it did have a value for making ships fenders, but not very good ones I guess as now we see cork superseding it.

Example: So David Beckham, how's the new job at £75,000 a week going?

Answer: "Money for old rope mate!"

Surely the Oxford companion MUST have confused tender with fender.

Mary  •  Link

Money for old rope.
(Strictly speaking, off-topic).

There is a parallel expression with a similar meaning - "money for jam."

This occasionally leads to a conflation of the two expressions and one hears people speaking of "money for old jam," which always prompts a smile.

Phoenix  •  Link

Off-topic two, too. A smile because we are watching how language evolves? Fender, tender, barricado? Old jam? Bring it on.

JWB  •  Link

junk barricades

Junk is old rope alright and recycled by deck apes between watches into mats, swabs, nets, ad infinitum. Barricades were sturdy netting to keep loose articles from rolling about deck in rough weather and at general quarters. Used on the gun deck like backstop on baseball diamond to protect one gun crew from another's detritus or loose cannon.

JWB  •  Link

Terry's note on L&M

Cork barricade defense of the quarterdeck would, I think, have been an attempt to protect the Officer of the Deck from the hail of wood splinters when ship taking a pounding.

andy  •  Link

Second varnish experiment - results

Following advice gratefully received, I substituted a cheap brown paper bag for the white 80gsm computer paper - and so I think the bag was unglazed (Could not find a white one). And I used simple egg white - not distilled or separated further (follow the wiki links for an incursion into interesting territory!) as varnish. The varnished surface was left for 24 hours to dry.

The varnish covered both ink and pencil notes, retaining their legibility when the varnish was dry.

I then wrote on the surface with ink and pencil and it was easily legible on top of the writing underneath.

However, on washing the surface with a damp tissue everything was removed including the varnish!


Use as a temporary surface severely limited (unless Sam had invented a "one-time pad" cipher). More likely he had invented a better varnish useable for both a permanent base of text or tables, and temporary notes.

cgs  •  Link

As there be no drawings, so based on various means of protections as indicated by the word, I am lead to beleive that to-day we would use old tyres as fenders instead of corke as an absorbent for banging thy ship into another without ruination of ones own ship.
Just a 'tort'
"... being a new device to make barricados with, instead of junke...."

Thanks for the update, Andy, you would have fitted in well with FRS mob, 'tis nice to see some that be curious and testing their curiosity .Keep up the good work, tis why 'umans make progress?????

andy  •  Link

One time pads

I think Sam was into ciphers??

Let the admiral of the fleet have a series of letter sequences varnished onto paper eg

ab cd ef gh...

Another message arrives from a passing schooner: (Ok there is aquestion of delivery: flags??)

message reads (and is intercepted by the Dutch):

7 3 9 12 ... etc

The Admiral, knowing the algortithm is to (there could be any):

add to the first letter of your Varnished letter, the number of letters specified in your delivered numbers, and iteratively:

the admiral would look at:


and add

to get

then add 3 letters to b = E

then add 9 letters to c and get L

then add 12 letters to and get P


trivial example but you see what I am getting at. The Varnished page would be used once only and a copy held by the Admiral and the Navy Office (Sam).

as soon as the decoded message gets wet, it's erased...

cgs  •  Link

my version of OED has:

c. Old cable or rope material, cut up into short lengths and used for making fenders, reef-points, gaskets, oakum, etc.
1666 PEPYS Diary 14 July, Four or five tons of corke, to the fleet; being a new device to make barricados with, instead of junke.

JWB  •  Link

For history of attempts to protect sailor topside during battle from shield,to arming cloths, to junk nets, to cork filled bags goto:
"The Arming and Fitting of English
Ships of War, 1600-1815", by Brian Lavery ,p244…

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"a laborious letter I wrote as from the Board to the Duke of Yorke, laying out our want of money again;"

Copies in NMM, etc. The Board reminded the Duke that since 12 May (when their last full statement of needs was made to him) they had received only £124,000 of the £327,000 they had required as a minimum. (L&M note)

Elisabeth  •  Link

It’s amazing to me that four or five tons of cork were apparently just sitting around somewhere, ready to be “agreed for” at a moment’s notice,

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Now you mention it, Elizabeth, I agree. I got this from… :

Cork has been found in tombs dating back to ancient Egypt. The Greeks and Romans also made use of it, and it has been found used in floats for fishing nets, sandals, wine bottle stoppers and personal flotation devices for fishermen. It was used to insulate homes: it made floors comfortable to walk on and was resistant to attack from insects and other pests.

Until the mid-1700’s, it was usually harvested from where it was growing naturally, but its increasing use led to it being purposefully cultivated. Cork was adopted when glass bottles needed stoppers, at a time when wine or beer was safer to drink than most water, this was vital. Starting in 1688, Pierre Perignon used corks held in place with wire to seal bottles of his latest creation, champagne.

[The strong bottles needed to withstand the fermenting process were developed in England, and the fermenting process was developed for Somerset cider production -- the Royal Society discussed these developments a couple of years before this -- sds]

Cork is the outermost layer of bark of two different species of oak tree that grow in the Mediterranean and Iberian region. It is harvested when the tree reaches 20 years, and then every 9 years after that. The productive life of the tree averages about 150 years, and the best quality cork comes from older trees, so producers are best served by allowing the trees to grow undisturbed in large stands.

Cork is harvested from oak trees using a specially hatchet. Vertical and horizontal cuts are made through the bark, being careful not to hurt the living part of the tree. Usually this is done on the trunk, but on some larger trees the lower branches are also utilized. The layer is then gently removed using the wedge shaped side of the hatchet, so the trees are not damaged.

The slabs are left to cure outside for up to 6 months. This strengthens and flattens them. After that, they are treated using heat and water to remove dirt and unwanted chemicals. This leaves the cork more flexible and soft.

Once it is ready, the poorer quality cork is scraped away, and the remaining portion is left to cure and dry in darkness and with controlled humidity. This high quality material will be made into wine stoppers, while the lower quality cork will be ground and made into agglomerated cork. There is no waste product.

So cork was used for lots of things. I suspect the Mr. Hill of Thames Street above is the same as John Hill, the tar merchant of Thames Street. I guess he was a general importer of industrial raw materials and Pepys probably bought all he had in stock.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

barricados - is the word spanish or portuguese in origin perhaps? That might make for a better search...

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"It has been a long time since Pepys has seen a play."

It has. And he won't see one for a while yet ... in fact:

"I away before to White Hall, and into the new playhouse there, the first time I ever was there, and the first play I have seen since before the great plague.

"By and by Mr. Pierce comes, bringing my wife and his, and Knipp. By and by the King and Queene, Duke and Duchesse, and all the great ladies of the Court; which, indeed, was a fine sight. But the play being “Love in a Tub,” a silly play, and though done by the Duke’s people, yet having neither Betterton nor his wife, and the whole thing done ill, and being ill also, I had no manner of pleasure in the play. Besides, the House, though very fine, yet bad for the voice, for hearing. "… -- since the theater was at Whitehall, it wasn't burned by the Great Fire. But it is new, so it is probably being planned or under construction now.

Anyone else know what happened to the theater companies after they returned from the plague hiatus at Oxford?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Ormonde to Kingston [as Lord President of Connaught]
Written from: Dublin Castle
Date: 14 July 1666
Shelfmark: MS. Carte 144, fol(s). 76v
Document type: Copy [in Letter Book]

Further instructions concerning the Dutch prisoners of war, confined in various towns.

Ormonde to the Mayor of Kilkenny
Written from: [Dublin Castle]
Date: 14 July 1666
Shelfmark: MS. Carte 144, fol(s). 78v
Document type: Copy [in Letter Book]

Directions for the reception, at Kilkenny, of certain Dutch prisoners, removed from Galway.

Ormonde to Sir William Neale (at Cashel)
Written from: [Dublin Castle]
Date: 14 July 1666
Shelfmark: MS. Carte 144, fol(s). 78v
Document type: Copy [in Letter Book]

Directions for the safe convoy of the Dutch prisoners, removed from Galway.

Ormonde to William Crispin
Written from: [Dublin Castle]
Date: 14 July 1666
Shelfmark: MS. Carte 144, fol(s). 78v
Document type: Copy [in Letter Book]

Directions for the due supply of provisions to the Dutch prisoners; and for payment of debts.

An account of the debts owing by the Dutch prisoners at Athlone; received from the Governor of that place
Date: [July] 1666
Shelfmark: MS. Carte 144, fol(s). 78v
Document type: Copy [in Letter Book]

I wonder if the build-up of Dutch POWs in the Southeast of England was alleviated by sending some to Ireland, or if some of the Dutch warships were blown so far off course that they were caught by Irish ships?…

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