Tuesday 21 January 1667/68

Up, and while at the office comes news from Kate Joyce that if I would see her husband alive, I must come presently. So, after the office was up, I to him, and W. Hewer with me, and find him in his sick bed (I never was at their house, this Inne, before) very sensible in discourse and thankful for my kindness to him, and his breath rattled in his throate, and they did lay pigeons to his feet while I was in the house, and all despair of him, and with good reason. But the story is that it seems on Thursday last he went sober and quiet out of doors in the morning to Islington, and behind one of the inns, the White Lion, did fling himself into a pond, was spied by a poor woman and got out by some people binding up hay in a barn there, and set on his head and got to life, and known by a woman coming that way; and so his wife and friends sent for. He confessed his doing the thing, being led by the Devil; and do declare his reason to be, his trouble that he found in having forgot to serve God as he ought, since he come to this new employment: and I believe that, and the sense of his great loss by the fire, did bring him to it, and so everybody concludes. He stayed there all that night, and come home by coach next morning, and there grew sick, and worse and worse to this day. I stayed awhile among the friends that were there, and they being now in fear that the goods and estate would be seized on, though he lived all this while, because of his endeavouring to drown himself, my cozen did endeavour to remove what she could of plate out of the house, and desired me to take my flagons; which I was glad of, and did take them away with me in great fear all the way of being seized; though there was no reason for it, he not being dead, but yet so fearful I was. So home, and there eat my dinner, and busy all the afternoon, and troubled at this business. In the evening with Sir D. Gawden, to Guild Hall, to advise with the Towne-Clerke about the practice of the City and nation in this case: and he thinks that it cannot be found self-murder; but if it be, it will fall, all the estate, to the King. So we parted, and I to my cozens again; where I no sooner come but news was brought down from his chamber that he was departed. So, at their entreaty, I presently took coach to White Hall, and there find Sir W. Coventry; and he carried me to the King, the Duke of York being with him, and there told my story which I had told him:1 and the King, without more ado, granted that, if it was found, the estate should be to the widow and children. I presently to each Secretary’s office, and there left caveats, and so away back again to my cozens, leaving a chimney on fire at White Hall, in the King’s closet; but no danger. And so, when I come thither, I find her all in sorrow, but she and the rest mightily pleased with my doing this for them; and, indeed, it was a very great courtesy, for people are looking out for the estate, and the coroner will be sent to, and a jury called to examine his death. This being well done to my and their great joy, I home, and there to my office, and so to supper and to bed.

21 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"(I never was at their house, this Inne, before)"

L&M say Anthont Joyce, once a tallow chandler in Newgate, was, since the Great Fire, an innkeeoer in Clerkenwell.


"they did lay pigeons to his feet "

See several annotations to a prior incident of this recorded in the diary:


"in fear that the goods and estate would be seized on, though he lived all this while, because of his endeavouring to drown himself"

L&M note that until 1870 the property of suicides was forfeit to the Crown.


"he thinks that it cannot be found self-murder; but if it be, it will fall, all the estate, to the King."

L&M note in such a case the King would normally pass the property to the Lord Almoner, to be used for 'charitable uses,' which could mean the surviving members of the family, in this case a widow and three children.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I presently to each Secretary’s office, and there left caveats"

Legal Caveat, the name of a notice given by a party having an interest, to some officer, not to do an act, till the party giving the notice shall have been heard.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Nice of Sam to take care of it. Thoughtful of his poor cousin to warn him about the flagons. Guess the 350L loan was either not enough or was delayed too long to save poor Joyce. Though of course oftentimes the worst depression occurs after the real danger has passed and the sufferer is no longer too preoccupied with dealing with the problems.

"Posh, from the way these people talk one might think being in debt to me was a cause for suicide..." Sam, indignantly. "And Bess keeps chuckling every time I wax hot on the subject...I appeal to you, cousin Joyce to clear this matter with her. You didn't commit suicide due to being in debt to me, eh?"

"Hard as it might be for you to believe I did have other concerns than you, cousin Pepys." Tony nods.

"Right then...I'm not to blame." Airy wave of hand. "Capital. Lets go explain things to Bess. Oh, by the way Joyce, you know I'm still waiting on that 350Ls and at six per cent over 400 years..."

Katherine  •  Link

Yesterday, flageolets, politics, gossip and books. Today, suicide. You'd think the tone of today's entry would be different, somehow.

Michael L  •  Link

Is anyone else impressed that Sam now has enough pull with the King that he can just saunter in without appointment (during a fire, yet!) and walk out with a personal favor for a friend? Somehow, I had not quite realized he was at quite this point in his career. It seems not too long ago that Sam would write breathlessly about having caught a glimpse of the King -- in person!!! -- walking in the park.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Ormond ponders cautiously: Why doth the King pursue his old mate Clarendon?

Written from: Dublin - 21 January 1668

Ormond to Arlington

... If the King shall be pleased once more to trust the writer's son, Ossory (should there be need for the writer's absence) with the government, the public reputation, & the domestic conveniency, will be of extraordinary advantage ... now when it is industriously rumoured that the Duke is fallen some degrees from his Majesty's favour. ...

... Adds various particulars concerning Lord Meath's 'Articles'; Captain Nichols' revenue-proposals; charges brought by Sir John Cutler, & others; and other passing incidents of the day.

Ormond to Ossory

Sends a copy of a letter to the King ... short, according to Lord Ossory's advice ... "If the King shall thereupon think fit to let it appear that he would be glad I should not be molested, it may do good." ... As to the Revenue, the accounts thereof are in the hands of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury. ... Friends differ in their opinions, concerning the writer's going over. ... Some know not the straits in the writer's fortune; others, flatter him with the belief that he could do good to the Public there [i.e. in Ireland]. "The result of all", adds the Duke, "is that I will not go, if I can stay. But, if it can be foreseen that I must go, I had rather make the voyage voluntarily, than" ... [wait until] "I am sent for".

... "I am yet much to seek for a reason why the King pursues my Lord Clarendon [the writer's former friend and ally] with so much sharpness, so that not to continue violent against him is to endanger [so in MS.] the loss of ... favour. Something must be in it, more than appears; and more than the making good of a displeasure taken against him for insolence & ill manners. ... If you find reason to suspect the King can be prevailed with to dispose of my place [that of Lord Steward] as you mention, I would be upon the place to prevent it, or to support the dishonour better than I can do here." ...


Fern  •  Link

Michael L: "Is anyone else impressed that Sam now has enough pull with the King that he can just saunter in without appointment..."

Yes, I was surprised and impressed, although I note that Pepys approached Sir W. Coventry first, who "carried me to the King". This suggests that Coventry took the lead, as befitted his rank. (I wonder, did Coventry owe Pepys a favour?)

Kevin Peter  •  Link

“Is anyone else impressed that Sam now has enough pull with the King that he can just saunter in without appointment…”

Although he has spoken to the King on numerous occasions, I don't think Sam has enough pull yet to just wander into talk to the King at any time, although he does seem to have a lot of pull with the Duke of York.

I suspect he went and talked to Coventry first because Coventry was the one with enough pull and influence (despite the recent discrediting in Parliament) to just go walk in and talk to the King. Notice that it is Coventry, and not Sam, who tells the story to the King. The King, I imagine, knows Sam well enough by now to be inclined to grant his request, but it certainly helped that Coventry and the Duke of York, both very friendly to Sam, were present.

I'm impressed that he went all the way to the King to do a favor for the Joyces. He saw the Joyces often throughout the diary period, but he never seemed very fond of them. I guess he felt a desire to help out his kin, even if they weren't his favorite.

Glyn  •  Link

"they did lay pigeons to his feet“

When the time comes, Sam will also do this for Elizabeth when she lies dying in 1669.

You know it isn't going to work, but you do whatever you can.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I presently to each Secretary’s office, and there left caveats"

L&M note this had the effect of preventing creditors from distraining on the estate [seizing goods, like flagons, or real property, like the inn itself].

Methinks the Secretaries in this case are the Secretary of each common law Prerogative Court: the Court of the King's Bench and the Court of Common Pleas.

A prerogative court is a court through which the discretionary powers, privileges, and legal immunities reserved to the sovereign were exercised. In England in the 17th century a clash developed between these courts, representing the crown's authority, and common law courts. Prerogative courts included the Court of the Exchequer, the Court of Chancery, and the Court of the Star Chamber. Their procedures were flexible and not limited by common law procedures. The Star Chamber became a tool of Charles I employed against his enemies, and was abolished by parliament. A parallel system of common law courts was grounded in Magna Carta and property rights; the main common law courts were the Court of the King's Bench and the Court of Common Pleas. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prerogative_court

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"And so, when I come thither, I find her all in sorrow, but she and the rest mightily pleased with my doing this for them; and, indeed, it was a very great courtesy, for people are looking out for the estate,"

L&M: They were hopful of getting a grant of it from the King.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Jan. 21. 1668
S. Pepys to Williamson.
I am ordered by the King to desire you to prevent the issuing of any warrant for granting the estate of Anth. Joyce, innkeeper, a supposed felo de se, away from his widow and 3 children.
[S.P. Dom., Car. II. 233, No. 6.]


arby  •  Link

Thanks, BJ.

Batch  •  Link

I'm very surprised that it was DEAD pigeons that were laid to the sick person's feet. I've read about this before, and I always assumed it was LIVE (very tame, or trussed!) pigeons laid to the soles of the feet (which, like the top of the head, are areas through which the body very rapidly loses heat), in order for the pigeons' live, warm, feathered bodies to stop the loss of body heat and provide warmth to this region.
Silly me!

Harry R  •  Link

Joyce is an indirect and unrecorded victim of the fire, as are so many Covid victims today. In the 9th Jan entry Sam wanted more time to consider the 350l loan that Joyce had sought but he doesn't reflect on how that delay may have impinged on his state of mind.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

On this day, perhaps while Sam was out of the office, someone else wrote a report on a sordid affair in which the purser of the Loyal Merchant, lately one of the Navy's major hired ships, accuses its captain Isaac White of the ageless trick of over-reporting the crew's size, and of having had him thrown into jail when he wouldn't play along. Sam would know the case well, as the report includes his notes from the captain's interrogation. Interestingly, the notes are recorded as "in Pepys' shorthand" [State Papers No. 20-II, https://shorturl.at/ayAB6 page 181], confirming that he was there in the action, and that his duties extend to enforcement and fraud investigations. We can imagine him, scratching away while the captain, bound to a chair and with a large lantern in his face, deals with one of the more muscular clerks.

But why him? Sam's no mere note-taker. Financial crime, financial cop. And then, he's good with captains. And then... much, much to Sam's puzzlement, the office asks him, in such cases, to sing "Beauty Retire" to the subject, again and again. It's a hard nut indeed that doesn't crack after a couple of hours of that, or a reading of Boyle's "Hydrostatics".

The case apparently goes nowhere. In a month [State Papers, page 241], the purser gets a honorable discharge as Sam writes again to get him paid back the security which kept him in his job (relations can't have improved with the captain after today). Captain White soon resurfaces, still a captain and on another ship - though a smaller one, the Wren, so perhaps he didn't really shine in Sam's transcript. The Loyal Merchant goes on to a decades-long career, at one point passing to the East India Company.

Scube  •  Link

Fascinating recounting. Did you obtain all that information from State Papers?

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Scube: Thank you. In large part. The State Papers also include more stately collections on foreign relations, but the Domestic Series is where the amazingly thorough 19th century archivists who summarized these tens of thousands of obscure manuscripts, put the Naval Office documents. They also contain a wealth of petitions about unpaid bills and unjust arrests, country-life gazette items and miscellaneous red tape and inter-office correspondence that give a street-level view on the little people (usually, on their gripes and problems) which complement the Journal quite nicely. Many bear Sam's fingerprints but he must have dismissed that stuff as too boring for the Journal, and anyway who wants to go back all over the workday when updating their diary?

The Google scans I reference, as well as a University of London version (available from https://www.british-history.ac.uk/catalogue/guide…) which is just as good but (urgh) all in a modern UTF font, both have search indexes, and putting the purser's, the captain's or their ship's name in there leads to a few mentions here and there. The actual records tend to be in the National Archives at Kew but, alas, have not been digitized. Just Googling the ships' names brings up minutely detailed descriptions in a fantastic database of age-of-sail warships, threedecks.org, and further mentions of The Loyal Merchant in documents from well into the next century, and in Company archives. Whether Capt. White was really bound to a chair is neither documented, nor contradicted by the historical record.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Isn't it fun to have a place where you can share all these esoteric finds, and people actually appreciate it instead of thinking you're weird?
I also love your posts, Stephane, but I reserve the right to disagree on interpretation from time to time.

Timo  •  Link

Nice spoiler Glyn 🙄

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