Thursday 13 June 1667

No sooner up but hear the sad newes confirmed of the Royall Charles being taken by them, and now in fitting by them — which Pett should have carried up higher by our several orders, and deserves, therefore, to be hanged for not doing it — and turning several others; and that another fleete is come up into the Hope. Upon which newes the King and Duke of York have been below —[Below London Bridge.]— since four o’clock in the morning, to command the sinking of ships at Barking-Creeke, and other places, to stop their coming up higher: which put me into such a fear, that I presently resolved of my father’s and wife’s going into the country; and, at two hours’ warning, they did go by the coach this day, with about 1300l. in gold in their night-bag. Pray God give them good passage, and good care to hide it when they come home! but my heart is full of fear: They gone, I continued in fright and fear what to do with the rest. W. Hewer hath been at the banker’s, and hath got 500l. out of Backewell’s hands of his own money; but they are so called upon that they will be all broke, hundreds coming to them for money: and their answer is, “It is payable at twenty days — when the days are out, we will pay you;” and those that are not so, they make tell over their money, and make their bags false, on purpose to give cause to retell it, and so spend time. I cannot have my 200 pieces of gold again for silver, all being bought up last night that were to be had, and sold for 24 and 25s. a-piece. So I must keep the silver by me, which sometimes I think to fling into the house of office, and then again know not how I shall come by it, if we be made to leave the office. Every minute some one or other calls for this or that order; and so I forced to be at the office, most of the day, about the fire-ships which are to be suddenly fitted out: and it’s a most strange thing that we hear nothing from any of my brethren at Chatham; so that we are wholly in the dark, various being the reports of what is done there; insomuch that I sent Mr. Clapham express thither to see how matters go: I did, about noon, resolve to send Mr. Gibson away after my wife with another 1000 pieces, under colour of an express to Sir Jeremy Smith; who is, as I hear, with some ships at Newcastle; which I did really send to him, and may, possibly, prove of good use to the King; for it is possible, in the hurry of business, they may not think of it at Court, and the charge of an express is not considerable to the King. So though I intend Gibson no further than to Huntingdon I direct him to send the packet forward. My business the most of the afternoon is listening to every body that comes to the office, what news? which is variously related, some better, some worse, but nothing certain. The King and Duke of York up and down all the day here and there: some time on Tower Hill, where the City militia was; where the King did make a speech to them, that they should venture themselves no further than he would himself. I also sent, my mind being in pain, Saunders after my wife and father, to overtake them at their night’s lodgings, to see how matters go with them. In the evening, I sent for my cousin Sarah [Gyles] and her husband, who come; and I did deliver them my chest of writings about Brampton, and my brother Tom’s papers, and my journalls, which I value much; and did send my two silver flaggons to Kate Joyce’s: that so, being scattered what I have, something might be saved. I have also made a girdle, by which, with some trouble, I do carry about me 300l. in gold about my body, that I may not be without something in case I should be surprised: for I think, in any nation but our’s, people that appear (for we are not indeed so) so faulty as we, would have their throats cut. In the evening comes Mr. Pelling, and several others, to the office, and tell me that never were people so dejected as they are in the City all over at this day; and do talk most loudly, even treason; as, that we are bought and sold — that we are betrayed by the Papists, and others, about the King; cry out that the office of the Ordnance hath been so backward as no powder to have been at Chatham nor Upnor Castle till such a time, and the carriages all broken; that Legg is a Papist; that Upnor, the old good castle built by Queen Elizabeth, should be lately slighted; that the ships at Chatham should not be carried up higher. They look upon us as lost, and remove their families and rich goods in the City; and do think verily that the French, being come down with his army to Dunkirke, it is to invade us, and that we shall be invaded. Mr. Clerke, the solicitor, comes to me about business, and tells me that he hears that the King hath chosen Mr. Pierpont and Vaughan of the West, Privy-councillors; that my Lord Chancellor was affronted in the Hall this day, by people telling him of his Dunkirke house; and that there are regiments ordered to be got together, whereof to be commanders my Lord Fairfax, Ingoldsby, Bethell, Norton, and Birch, and other Presbyterians; and that Dr. Bates will have liberty to preach. Now, whether this be true or not, I know not; but do think that nothing but this will unite us together. Late at night comes Mr. Hudson, the cooper, my neighbour, and tells me that he come from Chatham this evening at five o’clock, and saw this afternoon “The Royal James,” “Oake,” and “London,” burnt by the enemy with their fire-ships: that two or three men-of-war come up with them, and made no more of Upnor Castle’s shooting, than of a fly; that those ships lay below Upnor Castle, but therein, I conceive, he is in an error; that the Dutch are fitting out “The Royall Charles;” that we shot so far as from the Yard thither, so that the shot did no good, for the bullets grazed on the water; that Upnor played hard with their guns at first, but slowly afterwards, either from the men being beat off, or their powder spent. But we hear that the fleete in the Hope is not come up any higher the last flood; and Sir W. Batten tells me that ships are provided to sink in the River, about Woolwich, that will prevent their coming up higher if they should attempt it. I made my will also this day, and did give all I had equally between my father and wife, and left copies of it in each of Mr. Hater and W. Hewer’s hands, who both witnessed the will, and so to supper and then to bed, and slept pretty well, but yet often waking.

25 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"13 June, the whole of the Thames side as far up as London was in a panic — some spread the rumour that the Dutch were in the process of transporting a French army from Dunkirk for a full-scale invasion — and many wealthy citizens fled the city, taking their most valuable possessions with them. The Dutch continued their advance into the Chatham docks with the fireships Delft, Rotterdam, Draak, Wapen van Londen, Gouden Appel and Princess, under English fire from Upnor Castle and from three shore batteries. A number of Dutch frigates suppressed the English fire, themselves suffering about forty casualties in dead and wounded. Three of the finest and heaviest vessels in the navy, already sunk to prevent capture, now perished by fire: first the Loyal London, set alight by the Rotterdam under commander Cornelis Jacobsz van der Hoeven; then the Royal James and finally the Royal Oak, that withstood attempts by two fireships but was burnt by a third. The English crews abandoned their half-flooded ships, mostly without a fight, a notable exception being army captain Archibald Douglas, of the Scot Foots, who personally refused to abandon the Oak and perished in the flames. The Monmouth again escaped. The raid thus cost the English four of their remaining eight ships with more than 75 cannon. Three of the four largest "big ships" of the navy were lost. The remaining "big ship", Royal Sovereign (the former HMS Sovereign of the Seas rebuilt as a two-decker), was preserved due to her being at Portsmouth at the time.[4] De Ruyter now joined Van Ghent's squadron in person."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"They gone, I continued in fright and fear what to do with the rest."

All right, not anyone's finest hour...

"Every minute some one or other calls for this or that order; and so I forced to be at the office, most of the day, about the fire-ships which are to be suddenly fitted out..."

Damnit what's some little nonsense like military disaster and imminent threat of invasion to getting one's gold and goods to safety. One can almost see Winston Churchill reading this to his cabinet during the dark days of May 1940 and telling them... "Gentlemen, this is how not to behave."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

But again, the Dutch are not Hitler or even Napoleon and Sam's aware of that. The threat to the nation is not that severe while that to his and his fellow officers' persons is real and immediate.

Robert Gertz  •  Link



"We now, thanks to this Mr. Gibson, have 1300Ls plus another 1000 gold pieces from my son's fortune."

"Yes, father-in-law." Bess glances nervously out carriage window.

Gibson definitely gone off...

"Our plan, of so many years and such careful concealment, Bess..." John pulls off and tosses truss out window... "Has worked. Though I didn't think the Dutch would play such an obliging role."



Passionate embrace.

"Driver, 100ls in it if you make for Dover." John calls.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...for I think, in any nation but our’s, people that appear #for we are not indeed so# so faulty as we, would have their throats cut."

Debatable, Sam...Debatable. Just thank God no one will get their hands on your Diary for 200 years. One transcribed line about expecting 500Ls from Dennis Gauden or a bag of gold from Sir Will Warren and your goose would be baked better than London after the Fire. Though they'd doubtless admire your writing style...

sbt  •  Link

Robert Gertz was very scathing about Sams actions yesterday, and again
today. But notice that yesterday he recorded 'So having with much ado
finished my business at the office,' came before securing the safety of
Wife and Father and his cash. Today, when others are in flight, he
sends his close family away and secures their future in the event of
his death yet sticks to his post, despite being so apprehensive of the
future that he gives copies of his will to his best friends.

Pepys was no hero, but neither was he as venal as Robert paints. He's
been really concerned about the future of the nation since cash became
short and has always been worried about how badly 'The Kings Business'
is undertaken. He's done his worrying about invasion etc.. weeks and
months before all those who are now panicking as they realise the
impact of Parliaments refusal to fund the Navy as part of their power
games with the King - who is also guilty of not 'minding his business'.
What more expression of concern should Sam have made? What else should
he have done? Should he have rushed to the barricades to do the job of
a soldier, leaving no one to do his job, disbursing appropriate funds
and making appropriate orders to enable the Fireships to be made ready
for action as ordered, something that few, if any, other people would
have the knowledge and authority to do? Should he have wandered around
a gibbering wreak? Should he have abandoned his responsibility to his
Wife and Father to see them safe away?

He knows that 'The Office' will be a likely target for blame, despite
not having the cash to have done anything more than they did and the
decision not to send out a fleet having been made a long way 'above his
pay grade'. But he regards himself as 'forced to be at the office'
rather than abandoning his post.

No hero, but not quite the zero that Robert makes him out to be.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Sbt. You didn't read my "but again..." I dearly love Sam and co as my fellow annotators of long standing know and never am "scathing" to him nor do I make him out a "zero" but he is certainly not behaving as he might, though his actions are perfectly human and tragically comic...Or comically tragic. However others are showing a bit of fortitude and Sam has been quick to sneer at Albemarle, etc. There is Coventry's example of determination, even Charles and Jamie are making an effort. Mpw, he hasn't fled himself and that is good, though he knows that to flee right now without orders to do so would probably seal his fate. As I've said, the mitigating factor is that he knows the Dutch aren't the AntiChrist and aren't bent on the conquest of England, though there is some lurking danger from Louis and his forces, while there is real danger of being blamed for the disaster. But his behavior is getting more panicky by the moment and will...


...get a little worse before it gets better.

As for his moving to "protect" John and Bess by sending them off with 1300Ls in gold and Gibson to them with a thousand pieces more...Well...

You are welcomed to see it as noble. I don't think so... But as always am grateful to Sam for his honesty, as after all, he could easily portray himself in the most heroic of lights.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Anyway the tragic figures here are poor Pett, convenient scapegoat, and the great DeWitt, whose brilliant victory will turn to ashes soon enough. O, Fortuna.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Mpw? Now. Never hit the post button too fast.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

And "venal"? I never used the word. But it would not go well for our boy just now were his transcribed Diary to fall into the hands of an angry, frightened Parliament right now with its notings of gifts, bribes, kickbacks, and sexual favors for promotions. For all the "context of the times" argument, Sam has always known it would not look good for his less noble acts to be exposed.

Michael L  •  Link

"that we are bought and sold — that we are betrayed by the Papists"

The fact that Holland is a seriously Protestant country only proves all the more how devious those wily Papists are.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"The fact that Holland is a seriously Protestant country only proves all the more how devious those wily Papists are."

Just masks for the fiendish Louis...And his vile master, the Bishop of you know where...

Though it does seem like Louis (and his army) are missing the boat on this one.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...their answer is, “It is payable at twenty days — when the days are out, we will pay you;”..."

"Folks, you're thinking of this place all wrong...As if I had the gold in a safe in back. Your money's not here. It's in Sam Pepys' house and George's and Tom's."

"You heard him! The gold's in Pepys' and Downing's and Povy's!!" stampede over poor Backewell out door.

I think I best scamper back to the office, perhaps make mention to Mr. P...Hewer, clutching his own gold steps delicately over the groaning Mr. B.

Ruben  •  Link

"Wapen van Londen"
From a Dutch point of view I like this ship's name, a name I think that looks was elected ad hoc for this daring mission. (my Dutch is non existing, but the dictionary tells me "Weapon for or against London").

The Dutch fleet took a lot ot risks and to this moment has been lucky. Let's see if they can get away from the Medway as they got in. This depends on a swift English response. An a response depends on people like Samuel Pepys doing their part...when ordered...if ordered by the people in charge...(who was in charge?).

A. De Araujo  •  Link

Sam writes so well that the fear and the anxiety becomes palpable;reminds me of War of the Worlds.

Phoenix  •  Link

I think Robert has it about right. Securing his fortune is, and in the past has been, a major concern for Pepys during crises. We have no idea what Coventry, Penn and others are doing. They may well be doing the same. Admirable from our point of view? No. But there is no other place we can come from when judging Pepy's behaviour. With daily reading the power of his writing and his amazing honesty can, I think, seduce us into thinking that we know him, perhaps even feel his presence. This is a mistake. By ignoring his subsequent career, his place in history, our gratitude for the diary and judging him solely (as much as one can) by what he has written he is to be admired for that honesty and for his dedication to his position and country - and not much else.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Securing his fortune is, and in the past has been, a major concern for Pepys during crises. We have no idea what Coventry, Penn and others are doing."

We do know what Evelyn did 3 days ago: "This alarm caused me, fearing the enemy might venture up the Thames even to London (which they might have done with ease, and fired all the vessels in the river, too), to send away my best goods, plate, etc., from my house [ Sayes Court at Deptford ] to another place."

JWB  •  Link

"But again, the Dutch are not Hitler or even Napoleon..."

"Ne sis (Batavae) patruus mihi”

Ruben  •  Link

"By way of deception thou shalt make thy war"
Proverbs, 24 something

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Each doleful day still with fresh loss returns:
The Loyal London now the third time burns,
And the true Royal Oak and Royal James,
Allied in fate, increase, with theirs, her flames.
Of all our navy none should now survive,
But that the ships themselves were taught to dive,
And the kind river in its creek them hides,
Fraughting their piercèd keels with oozy tides.

Andrew Marvell, Last Instructions to a Painter

Glyn  •  Link

"and those that are not so, they make tell over their money, and make their bags false, on purpose to give cause to retell it, and so spend time."

"tell" and "retell" here means "count" and "recount", as in the sense of a "bank teller". The banks are doing every trick they can to avoid paying out during the panic.

I'm a little surprised at how he's trusting his aged father and wife to carry £1,300 in gold in a coach - how much would that have weighed or how much space would it have taken? And why weren't highwayment lining up to rob them, or did the coach have an escort?

cum salis grano  •  Link

my guess, it be less than 50lbs plus lead? BOX

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Glyn, I did this exercise back in July of '09, and calculated that 1000L in gold coins would weigh about 18.5 pounds. Reference:

So 1300L would be 1.3 times 18.5, or about 24 pounds, plus the weight of the container.

Don't know what they did about security, but I would guess simply stealth. Highwaymen couldn't rob every coach on that busy road (especially busy with gentry fleeing the Dutch), and nobody but father John and Elizabeth knew what they had with them.

cum salis grano  •  Link

Samuell would find it easy to carry that many numbers in today's , 1300l/in modern gold coin [1.5],or even better would be one quality diamond so easily lost in the modern hiding spot.

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