Saturday 13 March 1668/69

Up, and to the Tower, to see Sir W. Coventry, and with him talking of business of the Navy, all alone, an hour, he taking physic. And so away to the Office, where all the morning, and then home to dinner, with my people, and so to the Office again, and there all the afternoon till night, when comes, by mistake, my cozen Turner, and her two daughters, which love such freaks, to eat some anchovies and ham of bacon with me, instead of noon, at dinner, when I expected them. But, however, I had done my business before they come, and so was in good humour enough to be with them, and so home to them to supper, and pretty merry, being pleased to see Betty Turner, which hath something mighty pretty. But that which put me in good humour, both at noon and night, is the fancy that I am this day made a Captain of one of the King’s ships, Mr. Wren having this day sent me, the Duke of York’s commission to be Captain of “The Jerzy,” in order to my being of a Court-martiall for examining the loss of “The Defyance,” and other things; which do give me occasion of much mirth, and may be of some use to me, at least I shall get a little money by it for the time I have it; it being designed that I must really be a Captain to be able to sit in this Court. They staid till about eight at night, and then away, and my wife to read to me, and then to bed in mighty good humour, but for my eyes.

13 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I am this day made a Captain of one of the King’s order to my being of a Court-martiall"

L&M note that Pepys (together with Middleton) acted as expert assessors, not as full members of the court. The *Defiance* had been destroyed by fire at Chatham in the previous December. The trial had been ordered shortly afterwards, but the warrant constituting the court was not issued until 10 March.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The act governing the court-martial in this case

Burning Ship or Stores.; Punishment.

26. All persons that shall willingly burn or sett fire on any Shipp or Magazine or [sto (fn. 4) ] of Powder or Shipp Boat Ketch Hoy or Vessell or Tackle or Furniture thereto belonging not appertaining to an Enemy or Rebell shall be punished with death.

Charles II, 1661: An Act for the Establishing Articles and Orders for the regulateing and better Government of His Majesties Navies Ships of Warr & Forces by Sea.…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

This was the same act governing the handling of naval prizes and goods thereon

Taking out of Prize, or Ships or Goods seized for Prize, any Money, &c. before Judgment had Punishment.; Proviso for Pillage.; Exception.

7. None in his Majesties pay shall take out of any Prize or Ship or Goods seized on for Prize any Money Plate Goods Lading or Tackle before Judgement thereof first past in the Admiralty Court but the full and intire accompt of the whole without imbezlement shall be brought in and Judgement past intirely upon the whole without fraud upon pain of such punishment as shall be imposed by a Court martiall or the Court of Admiralty excepting That it shall be lawfull for all Captaines Seamen Souldiers and others serving as aforesaid to take and to have to themselves as Pillage without further or other account to be given for the same all such Goods and [Merchandize (fn. 1) ] (other then Armes Ammunition Tackle Furniture or Stores of such Ship) as shall be found by them or any of them in any Ship (they shall take in fight or prize) upon or above the Gundeck of the said Ship and not otherwise.

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

“I am this day made a Captain of one of the King’s ships"

A forerunner of Sir Joseph Porter, KCB

languagehat  •  Link

Sir Joseph Porter being the fellow who polished up that handle so carefully that now he is the Ruler of the Queen's Navy.

Stan Oram  •  Link

Burning of Ships or stores: It was, until the Blair government changed things very recently (in historic terms), that Treason or starting a fire in Her Majesty's Dockyards, were still hanging offences, the last remaining after the death penalty had been abolished for murder etc.

Don McCahill  •  Link

> which love such freaks

What does this mean?

Stephen Walkley  •  Link

freak |frēk|
1 a very unusual and unexpected event or situation: the teacher says the accident was a total freak | [ as modifier ] : a freak storm.
4 archaic: a sudden arbitrary change of mind; a whim: follow this way or that, as the freak takes you.

Jenny  •  Link

"which love such freaks"

I take this to mean that the mix up between should have been there for lunch and actually arriving for dinner amused the Turners greatly and that this sort of mix up always amused them. "Ha ha Sam you were expecting us for lunch - well, here we are now, not too late are we? ha ha."

Sam, luckily in a good mood, raises his eyes heavenwards and provides the meal.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I am this day made a Captain of one of the King’s ships, Mr. Wren having this day sent me, the Duke of York’s commission to be Captain of “The Jerzy,” in order to my being of a Court-martiall for examining the loss of “The Defyance,” and other things."

L&M: Pepys (together with Middleton) acted as expert assesors, not as full members of the court. Court-martials were governed bat this time bt an act of 1661 (13 Car. II, c. 9). For the trial , see…………
The Defiance was a 3rd-rate which had been destroyed by afire at Chatham in the previous December : CSPD 1668-9, p. 91. The trial had been ordered shotly afterwards (Penn, ii. 520-1), but the warrant constituting the court was not issued until 10 March: NMMM, MS . M.14.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Sam would have put a laugh-out-loud emoji in his diary next to this report of his captaincy, if he could. Indeed the Jersey is a bit of a comic-opera set right now. Its record at… indicates it's fairly old (launched in 1654), and sadly does not mention Capt. Pepys as in-filling between Capts. Francis Digby (which ended in January) and William Poole (whose command will start on April 1 and fittingly enough take the ship to Tangiers).

At this time the Jersey is in dock at Woolwich to have its mainmast replaced (says a letter of 28 January), providing a stable enough deck for its interim captain to pace while brandishing his saber, but in late November it came to notice in the State Papers (…) for its botswain, its gunner, its purser and its cook all being AWOL.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Mr. Gadbury's weather report of a warm day in March does not mean there was good weather in the English and Bristol Channels. The days are short and the winds come howling down from the Arctic.

Sailing out there was a young man with a broken heart: Cosmo, the very devout future Duke of Turin. His father had sent him on an extended informal tour so he could have some space from his wife, who was Louis XIV's cousin. Her shenanigans were causing international scandal and problems.

Cosmo's travelogue provides us with information about Ireland, the Isles of Scilly and England during the Spring of 1669. Today we get a taste of being lost at sea with unidentified ships passing by, which were potentially dangerous.

I've standardized the spelling of names I know, corrected scanning errors I could figure out, and increased the number of paragraphs. I apologize if I made any mistakes:

His Highness having been received on board the ship Portland, with the most marked demonstrations of respect, set sail for England on 9/19 March, 1669 with the wind at s.s.w.

On 10/20 March 1669, they made 13 leagues to the N.W., and 35 to the north; so that sometimes, in each watch, which consists of 4 hours, their progress was 14 or 15 leagues.

On 11/21 March 1669, they ran 24 leagues to the n.e., and 18 to the N.N.E.; the winds varying to s.s.w., s.w., w.n.w. and n.w.

On the morning of 12/22 March 1669, they sailed 32 leagues to the n.e., and after mid-day, let down the plummet, and found the depth to be 80 cubits (braccia), with a bottom of whitish sand and small cockle shells; and, when they sounded again in the evening, the depth was 70 braccia, with a bottom of reddish sand streaked with white, which was taken by the sailors for the soil of France.


Before mid-day of 13/23 March 1669, they made 15 leagues to the n.e., and on sounding, drew up white sand, which made the greater part of the sailors suspect that they were to the west of the Sorlings (Scilly Islands); but the pilot was of a different opinion, thinking they could not be so far advanced. It is true they had inclined so much to the west, that Owzy bank was not in sight, which is northward of the Sorlings, and which must have been so near that they could not have failed to discover it.

As they were not in sight of it, therefore, they sounded, and finding 55, 50, and 40 braccia of water, which depth corresponded exactly with that of the British Channel, they believed that they had got thus far on their voyage; which was confirmed, by observing that the mud drawn out was very thick, and inclining to a greyish color, which is precisely the case with that of the British Channel.

In the night they made no way, there being no wind, though the water was greatly agitated.

They resumed their course the next morning at daybreak, following the direction of the clouds, sometimes northward, sometimes eastward, till, at last, they discovered a merchant ship.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Part 2


As she passed by without saluting the frigate, which bore the admiral's flag on the mainmast, they suspected her to be a Corsair. The captain, therefore, ordered a gun to be fired, without shot, in order to bring her on board; but observing that she attempted to take advantage of the wind and get away, he brought them to by a second discharge of cannon loaded with shot, and she immediately hoisted the English colors, and, shortening sail, came on board, and they learned from the captain that they were betwixt England and Ireland, and that they had mistaken the British Channel for that of St. George.

This mistake was a matter of great mortification to the captain, especially as they had had no bad weather nor contrary winds to complain of; but the fault was attributable to the uncertainty of the soundings, to the ill-regulated time-piece, to the inexperience of the steersman in the night, and to the superabundant zeal of the captain, who was frequently induced to interfere in what was, in fact, the business of the pilot.

His highness, without shewing any displeasure at the accident, desired the captain, who had already turned the ship's head towards Plymouth, to be sent for, and gave him encouragement; and, as the wind was S.S.E., he resolved to take advantage of it, in order to touch at Ireland.



His highness, Cosmo, must be considered only as a traveler. Under his direction, the narrator of the records was Count Lorenzo Magalotti, afterwards Secretary to the Academy del Cimento, and one of the most learned and eminent characters of the court of Ferdinand II.

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