Monday 7 September 1668

At the office all the morning, we met, and at noon dined at home, and after dinner carried my wife and Deb. to Unthanke’s, and I to White Hall with Mr. Gibson, where the rest of our officers met us, and to the Commissioners of the Treasury about the Victualling contract, but staid not long, but thence, sending Gibson to my wife, I with Lord Brouncker (who was this day in an unusual manner merry, I believe with drink), J. Minnes, and W. Pen to Bartholomew-Fair; and there saw the dancing mare again, which, to-day, I find to act much worse than the other day, she forgetting many things, which her master beat her for, and was mightily vexed; and then the dancing of the ropes, and also the little stage-play, which is very ridiculous, and so home to the office with Lord Brouncker, W. Pen, and myself (J. Minnes being gone home before not well), and so, after a little talk together, I home to supper and to bed.

21 Annotations

First Reading

Mark S  •  Link

"the little stage-play, which is very ridiculous"

Almost certainly ridiculous = funny, humorous in a positive sense, not silly or absurd as it would mean today.

Teresa Forster  •  Link

Poor horse.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

The entire Navy Office at Bartholomew Fair?

"Sir? Are we going to Bartholomew Fair?"

"Brouncker, me, Penn, and Minnes...Gibson, remember me to my wife you'll find at Unthankes. Remind her she is the true love of mine."

("Trouble in Paradise, I'd say..." Minnes hisses to Penn)

"Tell her to bring me my Camelot suit...Brouncker, me, Penn, and Minnes...Remember me also to Willet..."

(Hewer frowning, aside...) "Sir, remember thy true love of thine..."

Neanwhile back at the Office.

Members of the Parliamentary Commission glancing round...At an empty office...

"So the entire senior staff went off to Bartholomew Fair?"

"Brouncker, Pepys, Penn, and Minnes...Yes, sir." Hayter nods.

"Tell them to collect their things by noon tommorrow...They collectively are canned."

rob  •  Link

@Robert Gertz;

Good to see that you still are with us to lighten many a dark lunch-hour.

Thanks for your many, many wonderful contributions to this site, My thoughts are with you.

john  •  Link

Poor horse, indeed. Different sensibilities then -- horses and people regularly beaten.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the dancing of the ropes"

Gulliver's Travels - Published 28 October 1726
In Gulliver's Travels, the explanation about the rope dancers is a clear example of Swift’s satire coming out.…

London Lynn  •  Link

Robert Gertz, like the reference to Scarborough Fair. Of course, now it’s in my head!

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Sept. 7. 1668
Sir T. Clifford to Williamson.

We shall meet at the Treasury this afternoon, and I will send you an express tonight.
Sir John Shaw promised on Saturday that 10,000/. should be paid into the Exchequer today, which will be all sent to Portsmouth for the yards, and will do more than pay two quarters.
[S.P. Dom., Car. II. 245, No. 193.]


Sept. 7. 1668
Sir T. Clifford to Williamson.
4 p.m. Whitehall

I have got the 10,000/. paid in, and Mr. Fenn has been directed to receive and send it to Portsmouth immediately.

The Lord General has written an order for guards to conduct it;
it will be at Portsmouth by Wednesday night.
[S.P. Dom., Car. II. 245, No. 194.]
John Fenn -- L&M Companion -- Paymaster to the Navy Treasurer.

How many guards and how many carts to move 10,000/. from London to Portsmouth? Where do they stay overnight, or do they go straight through? Pepys usually breaks at Guildford. And it can't be in gold bars because they will pay "more than two quarters" (I presume that means salaries, which would take bulky coins).
No wonder there were highwaymen! This might take a highway gang, but it would be worth it. Thinking about it, I'm surprised the guards didn't make off with the money.

And they do this without banks. Sir John Shaw, a farmer of the customs 1662-1671 (which might account for his positive cash flow at this time), must have had a big vault in his house/place of business next to James Houblon Snr. in London Wall.…

Nicolas  •  Link

@Robt. Gertz: Your allusion to Scarborough Fair was inspired! I could hear the music.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

How many guards and how many carts to move 10,000/. from London to Portsmouth? Always a good question; imagine what one could do with those letters and a good time machine. We don't know in what coin the money will be delivered but, if we assume it's in the current (Charles II) coinage, this study (…), the first which Mr. Google proposes on the topic (and yes, it's from 1919) suggests that as of 1668 the most abundant was silver crowns, worth one-quarter of a pound. We also don't know how much the workers are paid but it seems a sensible denomination for a bulk payment - if still quite large, let's hope the taverns have plenty of change.

Quick check at the 1662 crown (and later issues) weighs 29.45 grams. So it's 1,178 kg. In, perhaps, around 200 bags of 5 kg each - our sturdy guards can haul heavier bags, and heavier bags are harder to steal, but more at risk of breaking open (whoops). Surely they're not hauled in carts. The loot could all sensibly fit in a few coaches, perhaps armored and surrounded by fierce musketeers, or camouflaged with peeling paint to look poor, with the guards dressed as ugly nuns. Either way, it seems a bit much for the highwaymen, who are many but seem to come in ones and twos rather than in big Robin Hood bands. Better to pick out the drunk yardmen in a few days.

Anyway, it's about time. Another quick check, of the State Papers, show the £10k first surface in the current volume as authorized back in March, and the wheels took six months to turn.

Tonyel  •  Link

There's a film script in there, somewhere - 'Butch Cassidy and the Time Machine' ?
Sorry, I digress.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Speaking of bags of money, our friend Piero Mocenigo, ambassador of Venice, had a bit of a bombshell to report yesterday.

Long story short: Piero, recently arrived in London, has been busy. His main job is to get Charles II to do his Christian duty and help liberate Candia (a Venetian colony in Crete) from its years-long siege by the Turks. Piero writes remarkably long and detailed cables, available at…, and yesterday he's been particularly prolix (writing letters Nos. 338 to 340). Alas, on Candia he hasn't got much after three weeks of touring the grandees: "a ship (...) laden with salted meat", which "I have persuaded a rich merchant (...) of sending", is just about the only concrete result so far (this in No. 339). We'll keep a description of those efforts for another day; for now suffices to say that, as Sig. Mocenigo wearily concludes of the mercantile English, "all respect for religion is subordinated and they are moved solely by interests of state".

And now the bombshell: Like everyone else in London (including Sam), Sig. Mocenigo has been keenly monitoring Colbert's mysterious visit. "The ambassadors of Spain and Holland are closely watching every step and even gesture of the French ambassador", he writes (in letter No. 340). "It has been found that he has with him a great quantity of money, and although there is no certainty about the amount published, of 800,000 crowns, it must needs be considerable because the exchange of this mart for sending out money has fallen, and it will fall still further from the operation of the quantity of cash which has been brought in. This large capital is usually employed for the corruption of loyalty and to buy individuals, and it seemed that in large part it was to be distributed in continuing pensions to divers suitable persons whom the king of France tries to keep well disposed here to the interests of the Most Christian crown."

That's the headline: "France buys England". Yea, £200,000 would buy loyalties. From memory, it's around half of the State budget, and 50 times what Sandwich spent on his years-long embassy in Madrid. In another message on August 17 Piero had also noted that Colbert's digs in Leicester House are rented for £700, an extravagant amount which one would expect, for whatever it's good for, goes to the pockets of the Earl of Leicester. Louis XIV means business, does nothing by half, and is bulldozing his way into cash-strapped England, which struggles so much to pay for its excellent Navy and shipyards.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

In the same vein Piero also learned that Colbert has offered that France and England be exclusive trading partners ("That the trade of the two kingdoms shall be common and reciprocal, to the exclusion of every other nation, so that what is produced in France shall be transported by Englishmen only and that only Frenchmen shall have the exportation of goods from this country"), which seems just fanciful decoration for more practical proposals - such as, second bombshell, "the Most Christian [Louis XIV] offering to buy the fortress of Tanger for cash down". He reminds the Senate that "they [England] have begun the construction of a mole, at which they are at work incessantly, at an immense cost", to which Sam could attest. England's plan for Tangiers, he writes, is to make it a tollbooth for all ships entering the Mediterranean, similar to what the king of Denmark does for all traffic entering the Baltic through the Øresund, between Denmark and Sweden - ironically, at a price which has "caused some heart searching to the king here". If that's the plan, it looks nice on paper but our advice is - take the money! Whaddya think, Sam, good idea or not to sell Tangiers to the French?

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

And yes, Tonyel, there is absolutely a film script in there (or even several). Killing someone, as most of the literature on time machines invites you to do, has got to be the least interesting use to which you can put them.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

No wonder the Stuart Brothers have gone hunting at Bagshot ... need time to think this through, and to appear disinterested in all this kerfuffal.
It's also out of the public view should anyone wish to visit discretely.

Thanks for your thoughts on the transportation of vast amounts of money, cross country, Stephane. I agree: a decrepid old coach or two would do it the best.

And as for film scripts, where is the mini-series on the Popish Plot?
The current mess we are learning about lacks action ... it sets the stage for endless footage of envelopes being slipped quietly under MPs' doors.

I vote to sell Tangier.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"let's hope the taverns have plenty of change."

They didn't have change as we know it, Stephane. A farthing would be too expensive to manufacture. They didn't have that much excess copper.

In London, inns issued tokens; their regular customers handed over their crown, and got X-numbers of tokens which they they gave back to the innkeeper to settle their daily accounts.
Maybe some inns in country towns also did that.…

Travellers would be in a group, with horses to feed, so a crown would probably cover all that, including gratuities. The people in the group would settle up later, or take it in turns to cover the bills.

Otherwise, they used tally sticks, and settled their accounts on Quarter Days.…

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

In today's mailbag there was also one letter, packed with action and that would break our Venetian friend's heart if he knew. S.P. Dom. Car. II. 245 No. 200 in the State Paper's cryptic numbering, it's a "certificate" dated September 7 by a merchant, Henry Rowe, and officers of two ships, the Monmouth and the Princess.

It shows England to be so notoriously friendly to the Turks, that the ships of other nations hide in its convoys and pretend to be English when crossing the Med. But sometimes it doesn't work - true English blood just can't be faked, what. On September 3, the two English vessels took a Portuguese ship under their wing, "and lent the captain an ancient and vanes [English flags] and 6 men to answer the hail in English". They also "advis[ed] him to take his images and crosses from his stern, and paint it black to disguise it, but this he neglected to do".

And so five Turkish vessels showed up, the Portuguese captain and his men suddenly remembered all this stuff displayed on the stern, and panicked and started jumping out. Those left aboard ended up striking down their false flags and surrendering - quite possibly for a new career on the Sultan's galleys - while the two English captains hurriedly retrieved their men and the Turks advised them not to play these games.

This mess was apparently one too many for the Levant Company, which tomorrow (Sept. 8) will write a flurry of letters - also referencing what may have been another flap involving "the Leghorn vessel" - to its staff in Constantinople, Smyrna and Aleppo, on how "No foreign ship is in future to be taken under English protection, the small advantage of the duties [ah, so it wasn't free] not compensating the dangers".

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

On the inns not having change: Yea, but they would have shillings - one-fifth of a crown. Sam hands them over aplenty when visiting taverns, and Charles mills them almost every year. At around 5.5 grams, they would come to the same weight in silver, but now it's 200,000 coins to distribute - no way.

How much is a pint in Portsmouth anyway? This website (…), which lists prices for the purpose of accurately re-enacting the mid-1700s, says fourpence (1/15th of a crown, if we're not mistaken) for a quart (0.9 liter). A study in the Economic History Review (doi:10.1111/1468-0289.00167) estimates 1 penny for a quart in the early 17th century.

So, if you're from out of town and can't use the tokens, bring some friends, or pay a round, or drink your 15 to 60 liters, because sorry guv, I don't have change on a crown. Right, guys?

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

More material has come to our attention on how and when to send bags of cash to Portsmouth. In his Memoirs, Sir Richard Bulstrode MP will write on September 10 that the King, having planned to swing by Portsmouth on the next day, "appointed 10,000 pounds to be immediately sent down to pay off the Guards there, and accordingly the money was ordered to be sent down in cartes, under a safe guard, to be there this day at farthest".

So cartes, not coaches. And the yards aren't the only place in Portsmouth where the money's raining this week - assuming it's not all the same £10,000, and Clifford's "yards" are indeed the shipyards and not Bulstrode's "Guards", or vice versa. And we have to admire His Majestie's astuteness, in visiting a place just after (aye, not before!) everyone has been paid off, especially everyone holding a musket. With the royal visit, the Portsmouth taverns must have been interesting indeed.

Sir Richard's papers are in Mr. Google's book-shop at…, unfortunately in an Inconvenient format; this at their page 60.

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