Monday 9 March 1667/68

Up betimes, and anon with Sir W. Warren, who come to speak with me, by coach to White Hall, and there met Lord Brouncker: and he and I to the Commissioners of the Treasury, where I find them mighty kind to me, more, I think, than was wont. And here I also met Colvill, the goldsmith; who tells me, with great joy, how the world upon the ’Change talks of me; and how several Parliamentmen, viz., Boscawen and Major [Lionel] Walden, of Huntingdon, who, it seems, do deal with him, do say how bravely I did speak, and that the House was ready to have given me thanks for it; but that, I think, is a vanity. Thence I with Lord Brouncker, and did take up his mistress, Williams, and so to the ’Change, only to shew myself, and did a little business there, and so home to dinner, and then to the office busy till the evening, and then to the Excize Office, where I find Mr. Ball in a mighty trouble that he is to be put out of his place at Midsummer, the whole Commission being to cease, and the truth is I think they are very fair dealing men, all of them. Here I did do a little business, and then to rights home, and there dispatched many papers, and so home late to supper and to bed, being eased of a great many thoughts, and yet have a great many more to remove as fast as I can, my mind being burdened with them, having been so much employed upon the public business of the office in their defence before the Parliament of late, and the further cases that do attend it.


16 Annotations

Peter Taylor  •  Link

As an aside what does Up betimes mean, sometimes Sam says Up very betimes as well, does it mean up early or up very early?

Carl in Boston  •  Link

As the rooster wrote in his diary: "up betimes, and crowed."

Christopher Squire  •  Link

‘betimes, adv.
. . 2. spec. At an early hour, early in the morning.
1481    Caxton tr. Hist. Reynard Fox (1970) 41,   I wil to morow bytymes as the sonne riseth take my waye to rome.
1535    Bible (Coverdale) Josh. vii. 16   Iosua gat him vp by tymes in the mornynge.
a1616    Shakespeare Twelfth Night (1623) ii. iii. 2   Not to bee a bedde after midnight, is to be vp betimes.
1663    S. Pepys Diary 1 Sept. (1971) IV. 293   Up pretty betimes and after a little at my Viall, to my office.’ [OED]

Wie mann sagt auf deutsch: morgen frueh!

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Mr. Ball in a mighty trouble that he is to be put out of his place at Midsummer, the whole Commission being to cease;"

L&M note a new Excise commission was appointed at Midsummer. John Ball (Receiver-General) was awarded a pension of £300 p.a,

Eric  •  Link

'Up pretty betimes' and woe betide you if you're not

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"met Lord Brouncker: and he and I to the Commissioners of the Treasury, where I find them mighty kind to me, more, I think, than was wont."

L&M: This busineww concerned tickets and payment of the yards: CTB, ii. 271.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to the Excize Office, where I find Mr. Ball in a mighty trouble that he is to be put out of his place at Midsummer, the whole Commission being to cease,"

L&M: A new Excise commission was appointed at midsummer. John Ball (Receiver-General) was awarded a pension of £200 p.a.: CSPD 1667-8, p. 467.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Today a "M. Wren" - presumably Matthew, of the Society - writes to Sam:

"Found Sir Wm. Coventry very well persuaded of the success of his project of wholly paying off a good part of the men belonging to the Deptford yard, and very desirous that the Navy Commissioners should make the experiment; told him their unwillingness to be responsible for an action of so doubtful an event (...)" (State Papers No. 56, https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=gCk5AQAAM…)

So once again Sam is at the cutting edge. Clearly the only way out of this crisis is to pay as many people as possible, but it's never been done before on this scale and at this speed, and there are risks to control: A very small fraction of the people actually are allergic to money. The Society (perhaps led in this by Mr. Wren, significantly an Oxford graduate) to devise a prudent and deliberate Clinical Triall, to ascertain effectiveness and possible side effects such as the recipient turning to drink, and separately to recommend in what order payment should be made (e.g., starting with the oldest, those with vulnerabilities such as large families or proficiency in French or Dutch, and critical professions like rope-makers). Note that nearly half of the workers may also have to be persuaded, as they fear that salaries could harm their Religion or the modesty of their wives.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Also interesting today, a letter (at https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=gCk5AQAAM…) from the mayor of Falmouth, Thomas Holden to "Hickes" (maybe James, of the Inland Office), who "asks if he hears anything of a war with France". Always good to ask. He's seen instructions to a Dutch captain to avoid the Channel, and ripples may still be spreading from the La Roche/Allin affair of two weeks ago. And so there's unease in the air.

Tonyel  •  Link

Note that nearly half of the workers may also have to be persuaded, as they fear that salaries could harm their Religion or the modesty of their wives.

Stephane, I followed your link (fascinating) but could only find the first part of the letter from Wren to Sam. The modern use of 'paying off' is dismissal, not introducing a salaried system, and why would their religion or wives be harmed by regular payments?

Elissa Feldmeyer  •  Link

Tonyel, I read Stephane's comments as "tongue in cheek" of the Covid situation we are in today....very clever!

Dorothy  •  Link

I agree with Elissa. The "experts," usually from a large university, who make a simple process complicated are very familiar.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Tonyel and Elissa, you are both correct that our tongue was indeed in our cheek, and that it had such a jolly time there that it didn't realize, the silly tongue, that "paying off" has, especially in a naval context and since the mid-17th century according to www.lexico.com for instance, not only the meaning of clearing their debt as we thought, but also that of discharging, laying off, seeing off, casting off, seeing on their way, showing the door, and generally saying adios to "a good part of the men" at the Deptford yard.

Our tongue is now chastised, but that letter, apart from making more sense, is now an even more consequential piece of business on Sam's desk. Indeed it continues on how Sam should send the matter to the King's Council - a good idea, imagine if some future Commission nosed into who harmed England's defense industry when the French Peril was so pressing.

The letter also didn't come from nowhere. On March 7 two Deptford officials, W. Fownes and master shipwright Jonas Shish, had written the Commissioners to ask what to do with the "230 shipwrights on the book, though there is no vessel to build or repair but the Loyal London, and no timber nor plank in the yard, if required". Other letters occasionally complain of the workers not sticking around anyway and going off to better jobs, but formally they're apparently not free to do so. But worry not for the Deptford Dockyard, which will endure for 200 years and in 30 years is where tsar Peter the Great will come to learn shipbuilding (check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deptford_Dockyard).

In the URL we like to quote for the State Papers, because it links to scans of the lovely 1893 edition, the last three digits are the page number. Controls to navigate to the preceding or next page appear discreetly at the lower right. An html alternative is https://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-paper….

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Matthew Wren MP (1629 - 1672) had been secretary to Chancellor Clarendon since the Restoration, and went to work as Coventry's replacement in 1667 as secretary for James, Duke of York. Yes, he was a F.R.S., but that had nothing to do with why he was involved in getting the Deptford shipwrights paid off. https://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/8019/

And this is the link which will get you to the actual page/month to read the original transcript:
'Charles II: March 1668', in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1667-8, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1893), pp. 262-320. British History Online
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers…

My understanding of the letter is that the Navy were indeed discharging the craftsmen. Cost cutting in progress. Of course, as is true today, they could relocate to another shipyard, preferably a private one like those of the East India Company. Their skills were highly prized.

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