Tuesday 3 December 1667
Up, by candlelight, the only time I think I have done so this winter, and a coach being got over night, I to Sir W. Coventry’s, the first time I have seen him at his new house since he come to lodge there. He tells me of the vote for none of the House to be of the Commission for the Bill of Accounts; which he thinks is so great a disappointment to Birch and others that expected to be of it, that he thinks, could it have been [fore]seen, there would not have been any Bill at all. We hope it will be the better for all that are to account; it being likely that the men, being few, and not of the House, will hear reason. The main business I went about was about Gilsthrop, Sir W. Batten’s clerk; who, being upon his death-bed, and now dead, hath offered to make discoveries of the disorders of the Navy and of 65,000l. damage to the King: which made mighty noise in the Commons’ House; and members appointed to go to him, which they did; but nothing to the purpose got from him, but complaints of false musters, and ships being refitted with victuals and stores at Plymouth, after they come fitted from other ports; but all this to no purpose, nor more than we know, and will owne. But the best is, that this loggerhead should say this, that understands nothing of the Navy, nor ever would; and hath particularly blemished his master by name among us. I told Sir W. Coventry of my letter to Sir R. Brookes, and his answer to me. He advises me, in what I write to him, to be as short as I can, and obscure, saving in things fully plain; for all that he do is to make mischief; and that the greatest wisdom in dealing with the Parliament in the world is to say little, and let them get out what they can by force: which I shall observe. He declared to me much of his mind to be ruled by his own measures, and not to go so far as many would have him to the ruin of my Lord Chancellor, and for which they do endeavour to do what they can against [Sir] W. Coventry. “But,” says he, “I have done my do in helping to get him out of the administration of things, for which he is not fit; but for his life or estate I will have nothing to say to it: besides that, my duty to my master the Duke of York is such, that I will perish before I will do any thing to displease or disoblige him, where the very necessity of the kingdom do not in my judgment call me.”
Thence I home and to the office, where my Lord Anglesey, and all the discourse was yesterday’s vote in the Commons, wherein he told us that, should the Lords yield to what the Commons would have in this matter, it were to make them worse than any justice of Peace (whereas they are the highest Court in the Kingdom) that they cannot be judges whether an offender be to be committed or bailed, which every justice of Peace do do, and then he showed me precedents plain in their defence.
At noon home to dinner, and busy all the afternoon, and at night home, and there met W. Batelier, who tells me the first great news that my Lord Chancellor is fled this day. By and by to Sir W. Pen’s, where Sir R. Ford and he and I met, with Mr. Young and Lewes, about our accounts with my Lady Batten, which prove troublesome, and I doubt will prove to our loss. But here I hear the whole that my Lord Chancellor is gone, and left a paper behind him for the House of Lords, telling them the reason of him retiring, complaining of a design for his ruin. But the paper I must get: only the thing at present is great, and will put the King and Commons to some new counsels certainly. So home to supper and to bed.
Sir Richard Ford told us this evening an odd story of the basenesse of the late Lord Mayor, Sir W. Bolton, in cheating the poor of the City, out of the collections made for the people that were burned, of 1800l.; of which he can give no account, and in which he hath forsworn himself plainly, so as the Court of Aldermen have sequestered him from their Court till he do bring in an account, which is the greatest piece of roguery that they say was ever found in a Lord Mayor.
He says also that this day hath been made appear to them that the Keeper of Newgate, at this day, hath made his house the only nursery of rogues, and whores, and pickpockets, and thieves in the world; where they were bred and entertained, and the whole society met: and that, for the sake of the Sheriffes, they durst not this day committ him, for fear of making him let out the prisoners, but are fain to go by artifice to deal with him.
He tells me, also, speaking of the new street that is to be made from Guild Hall down to Cheapside, that the ground is already, most of it, bought. And tells me of one particular, of a man that hath a piece of ground lieing in the very middle of the street that must be; which, when the street is cut out of it, there will remain ground enough, of each side, to build a house to front the street. He demanded 700l. for the ground, and to be excused paying any thing for the melioration of the rest of his ground that he was to keep. The Court consented to give him 700l., only not to abate him the consideration: which the man denied; but told them, and so they agreed, that he would excuse the City the 700l., that he might have the benefit of the melioration without paying any thing for it. So much some will get by having the City burned! But he told me that in other cases ground, by this means, that was not 4d. a-foot before, will now, when houses are built, be worth 15s. a-foot. But he tells me that the common standard now reckoned on between man and man, in places where there is no alteration of circumstances, but only the houses burnt, there the ground, which, with a house on it, did yield 100l. a-year, is now reputed worth 33l. 6s. 8d.; and that this is the common market-price between one man and another, made upon a good and moderate medium.