Saturday 23 May 1668

Up by four o’clock; and, getting my things ready, and recommending the care of my house to W. Hewer, I with my boy Tom, whom I take with me, to the Bull, in Bishopsgate Street, and there, about six, took coach, he and I, and a gentleman and his man, there being another coach also, with as many more, I think, in it; and so away to Bishop’s Stafford, and there dined, and changed horses and coach, at Mrs. Aynsworth’s; but I took no knowledge of her. Here the gentleman and I to dinner, and in comes Captain Forster, an acquaintance of his, he that do belong to my Lord Anglesey, who had been at the late horse-races at Newmarket, where the King now is, and says that they had fair weather there yesterday, though we here, and at London, had nothing but rain, insomuch that the ways are mighty full of water, so as hardly to be passed. Here I hear Mrs. Aynsworth is going to live at London: but I believe will be mistaken in it; for it will be found better for her to be chief where she is, than to have little to do at London. There being many finer than she there. After dinner away again and come to Cambridge, after much bad way, about nine at night; and there, at the Rose, I met my father’s horses, with a man, staying for me. But it is so late, and the waters so deep, that I durst not go to-night; but after supper to bed; and there lay very ill, by reason of some drunken scholars making a noise all night, and vexed for fear that the horses should not be taken up from grass, time enough for the morning. Well pleased all this journey with the conversation of him that went with me, who I think is a lawyer, and lives about Lynne, but his name I did not ask.

17 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Ormond to the Archbishop of Dublin
Written from: Moor Park - 23 May 1668

... The writer's reception into & at London, at Court, and in Parliament was nothing of the complexion his friends feared, & his enemies wished. He neither invited friends to meet him, nor asked them to forbear. ...

But thinks that "if both Houses had been sitting upon a very important occasion, I had come into town with more company than ever I did, or any other of my own rank & employment, within our memory. Yet I really & heartily wish I had come alone & barefoot, on condition that the question about privilege had never come before them, or had been ended with more hope of a quiet meeting." ...

Adds some particulars concerning certain pending affairs of (1) the Army; (2) the finances; (and 3) the Land-Settlement, of Ireland.…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

" Mrs. Aynsworth’s; but I took no knowledge of her."

Except to nod at Tom and say...Woo, woo! Geesh, don't be a pompous dork, Sam (especially given your lapses into ...). The lady brightened up many a young college lad's evening.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

" father's horses..."? John Sr. must have his own cash, how could he afford even rented horses on what Sam gives him?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Mrs. Aynsworth at the Rein Deer Inn at Bishops Stortford, a popular stop when going from London to Newmarket. That the racetrack costumers stopped there Captain Forster proves. Do you suppose the King and his party did also? :)

Katherine  •  Link

Drunken students at Cambridge? I am shocked.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

London May 23. On Thursday Morning last his Majesty, accompanied by bis Royal Highness, his Highness Prince Rupert, and attended on by the Duke of Monmouth, and several principal persons of the Court, parted hence for Newmarket, intending to spend some dayes there and in the neighbouring parts of that Country

The fame day [Thursday May 21] in the Morning died at his house in Covent Gardin his Excellency the Count de Dhona [sic], [… ] Ambassador Extraordinary from hs Majesty of Swcdeland, after some few dayes distemper of a violent Fevor, attended by a Plurisie,in the 40th year of his life. His Majesty, and generally the whole Court bearing a part in the lots, for the singular esteem they had of his great Worth and Vertues.…

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

Approximately 60 miles from Bishopsgate to Cambridge, 15 hours less, say, an hour for dinner, gives an average speed of 4.28 miles per hour. Almost quicker to walk it, Sam.

john  •  Link

"vexed for fear that the horses should not be taken up from grass, time enough for the morning."

Why not stable them overnight rather than to pasture?

Mary  •  Link

Perhaps for the simple reason that no free stables were available at that time of night. The original plan had presumably been for Sam to continue his journey to Brampton straight away so stable-accommodation might not have been booked for John Pepys's horses. When the plan had to be changed, somewhere had to be found for the Brampton horses and a pasture seems to have been the fall-back answer.

Georgiana Wickham  •  Link

I find it strange that Pepys didn't ask the name of the gentleman he was travelling with all day. Was it because he was a "gentleman" and Pepys isn't - so he didn't want to presume?

Australian Susan  •  Link

@Tony - well at least Sam is not using a "modern" "fast" train - see this story:… Sam is travelling at the elite end of the transport system - the only better way would be in his own coach with horses booked ahead for each stage. Given the news in the story I have posted, I think I would rather be travelling with Sam than on present day rail in the UK.

pepfie  •  Link

“…at Mrs. Aynsworth’s ("whom I knew better than they think for" the last time); but I took no knowledge of her.”

Oh no, he wouldn't want her teach his boy Tom "Full forty times over", too.…

Glyn  •  Link

The Bull was one of many inns along Bishopsgate, and according to one writer: "each had its approach through a low archway into a cobble-stone yard with galleries on three sides fenced by wooden balustrades, behind which were rows of bedchambers". It was on the main road north out of London and was a recognised coach starting point and terminus. There's more information on its own page.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

May 23. 1668
James Baskerville to Williamson.

Several ships named have arrived from Lisbon, &c., with oil, and the fleet is sailing out of the Channel.

Trade is dull at Bristol, and that in wines is quite knocked on the head, in expectation of the late Act for raising the 300,000l. (sic). The Act has not yet arrived; desires a copy if it be printed.
[S.P. Dom., Car. II. 240, No. 111.]


Baskerville is a fine old Devonian name ... not invented by Conan Doyle.

John Harvey & Sons of Bristol specializes in blending and exporting the fortified wine, sherry. It originally sold a wider mix of Spanish and Portuguese wines and from the early 19th century, specialized in fortified wines which traveled better consistently. Harvey's Bristol Cream anyone?

I therefore conclude that it was probably Spanish and Portuguese wines that were being traded in Bristol in Pepys' day also ... French wines would go across the Channel to Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. And we recently heard that there's a drought in Spain which has ruined the crops, so blaming Parliament seems a little odd ... plus the Court are getting theirs shipped in privately!!!……

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

May 23. 1668
John Pocock to Hickes.

A vessel from Rotterdam says the Dutch fleet is ready to come forth;
40 great ships were seen passing up the Channel on the 20th.
[S.P. Dom., Car. II. 240, No. 114.]


May 23. 1668
Dan. Fleming to Williamson.

The train bands of horse and foot for the two counties met at Penrith, where Sir George Fletcher and the rest of his officers trained and exercised them;
it is not amiss for us to be awake at such a time as this, when all sorts of nonconformists are so active;
they are not to be feared, yet they should not be despised, for too much security has often done harm.

The mustering makes the soldiers more expert, and supplies the place of dead fellows.
[S.P. Dom., Car. II. 240, No. 116.]

[Historically part of Westmorland, Rydal is now a village in Cumbria, England. It is a small cluster of houses, church and hotel midway between Ambleside and Grasmere.
Penrith is a market town and civil parish in the county of Cumbria, England, less than 3 miles (5 km) outside the Lake District National Park.
The nonconformists must have these rural areas really worried.]


All letters from
'Charles II: May 1668', in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1667-8, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1893), pp. 369-418. British History Online…

Stephane Chenard  •  Link


Pursuant to your Instructions, I contrived this day to spend several hours, and a most pleasant dinner, with Mr. Pepys of His Majesty's Naval Office, after tracking him to the coach he took on Bishopsgate Street, London on way to his country estate.

Mr. Pepys proved quite pliant, and to my relief I had no need of the services of Mr. Zachtedruk, your other agent whom you had adjoined me, or of his concealed Arsenal. Indeed I had no difficulty to steer our conversation to the pricing and readiest sources of quicksilver, or to convince Mr. Pepys of relaying to the Government what a splendid Idea it would be to buy the United Provinces's entire supply, at a small premium for Discretion and with financial Consideration for Mr. Pepys. The latter mentioned grand plans for buying a coach-and-six that are certain to be expensive.

Your Grace knows the doubts I entertained on the whole business of leveraging Dr. Sharrock's peculiar and unwholesome theories, which yourself had wisely declined to forward to The Hague, and the vice secretary of State's interest therein, into this mercurial venture. I do admit I should now recant such doubts, and it does seem the States of Holland may hope for the windfall you envisioned, all at England's expense and while finally getting rid of all those poisonous barrels that make everyone twitchy.

Our alternate Plan of securing Mr. Pepys and his thorough knowledge of the English Navy, remain a possibility as we have arranged to delay his travels by locking the stables and sending the coach's team of horses to a remote pasture. Mr. Pepys is presently fast asleep in his room on the laudanum I slipped in his claret. I will await your Grace's return instructions and pray that Mr. Zachtedruk's horse is fleet enough that I receive them early in the morrow. Pray also confirm that the ship at Felixstowe would be ready to sail at once.

I am, Mynheer, your most discreet and obedient servant,

Bishop's Stafford, May 23, 1668, the 10th hour at night

A note: Future generations of readers, if they puzzle at all this, may want to consult the annotations for May 14 and 18.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

It seems a scanning error has corrupted the end of "Clancularius"' letter. The Dutch secret service, having kindly checked the original MS in its archive, confirms it was dated from, of course, Cambridge.

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