Monday 15 March 1668/69

Up, and by water with W. Hewer to the Temple; and thence to the Rolls, where I made inquiry for several rolls, and was soon informed in the manner of it: and so spent the whole morning with W. Hewer, he taking little notes in short-hand, while I hired a clerk there to read to me about twelve or more several rolls which I did call for: and it was great pleasure to me to see the method wherein their rolls are kept; that when the Master of the Office, one Mr. Case, do call for them, who is a man that I have heretofore known by coming to my Lord of Sandwich’s, he did most readily turn to them. At noon they shut up; and W. Hewer and I did walk to the Cocke, at the end of Suffolke Streete, where I never was, a great ordinary, mightily cried up, and there bespoke a pullett; which while dressing, he and I walked into St. James’s Park, and thence back, and dined very handsome, with a good soup, and a pullet, for 4s. 6d. the whole. Thence back to the Rolls, and did a little more business: and so by water to White Hall, whither. I went to speak with Mr. Williamson, that if he hath any papers relating to the Navy I might see them, which he promises me: and so by water home, with great content for what I have this day found, having got almost as much as I desire of the history of the Navy, from 1618 to 1642, when the King and Parliament fell out. So home, and did get my wife to read, and so to supper and to bed.


13 Annotations

Mary  •  Link

"and it was great pleasure to me to see the method wherein their rolls are kept; that when the Master of the Office, one Mr. Case, do call for them, who is a man that I have heretofore known by coming to my Lord of Sandwich’s, he did most readily turn to them."

Sam really does love efficient practice and process. It always brings a smile to my face to see him discover evidence of good governmental organisation, particularly when it is in an area that can assist his own determination to see the navy put on a sound administrative footing.

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

Sam's in his nose to the grindstone mode. He seems to really enjoy these quests.

I agree with Mary that he admires good method when he finds it.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

I have lost track of inflation over the period of the diary but 4s.6d. sounds moderately expensive for lunch for two.
Or is it that Sam, having got his coach at last, enjoys demonstrating his relative wealth to those around him?

Ian S  •  Link

"...fell out." - You have to love that understatement.

Reminds me of my father's stories about his exploits in the Second World bicker.

Australian Susan  •  Link

A Sam today would admire really well constructed databases, which allow for ease of extraction of data and a great variety of elegantly constructed reports.

4/6 does seem rather expensive, I agree. If we do the times 90 rule, it's about £20.25. How's that for a bowl of soup and, say, chicken and chips, in a pub for two? So long since I have lived in England, I really have no idea.

djc  •  Link

4/6 does seem rather expensive, I agree. If we do the times 90 rule, it’s about £20.25. How’s that for a bowl of soup and, say, chicken and chips, in a pub for two?

Don't get much for under £15 a head these days. And note that this is "a great ordinary, mightily cried up" rather than just a pub; lunch somewhere fashionable is bound to cost.

Mick D  •  Link

Just looked up the menu in my local. Prices in UK pounds, Chicken and chips 5.95, Soup 2.45, so 16.80 for two. I live in the East Midlands so allowing for higher, big city prices, probably pretty comparable to the x90 rule.

Teresa Forster  •  Link

It's unusual these days to get free range chicken in a pub. Usually it's battery reared (sadly) – and cheap. In Sam's day a young tender pullet would be more expensive than an old boiler. 

JayW  •  Link

There is still a court building in London called The Rolls Building where the Chancery Court sits. The senior judge is called the Master of the Rolls.
Wikipedia says:
The Keeper or Master of the Rolls and Records of the Chancery of England, known as the Master of the Rolls, is the President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales and Head of Civil Justice. As a judge, he or she is the second in seniority in England and Wales only to the Lord Chief Justice.

Mary K  •  Link

Handwritten vellum rolls continued to be used for the recording of our laws until 1850, whereafter a change was made to vellum codices (notebooks) and printing. Then in 2017 came the momentous and controversial decision to switch to paper records! (but it was museum quality paper). Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.

Sam Ursu  •  Link

As for the meal - pretty sure Sam and William went to a trendy, new restaurant, chose a LIVE chicken that they wanted to eat, and then went to the park (to do what, I wonder?) while the chicken was killed, plucked, and then cooked/roasted to order. Good luck finding that kind of dining experience in Britain anymore!

As for the price, I get the feeling he was saying "Yeah, it was a little expensive, but totally worth it." Especially when it seems that most places were serving cold (pre-cooked) meat in those days.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... and there bespoke a pullett;"

Reminds me of my first visit to China. You chose your meal from the live animals and fish on display on the sidewalk outside the restaurant as you went in.

This changed when the Chinese government realized that Westerners didn't like being responsible for the death of the animals, and were therefore not eating at these restaurants.
Also, the need to speed up the experience in order to keep costs down, and killing them first and refrigerating the parts resulted in cleaner sidewalks, so it was a win-win-win.

(Another thing that kept Westerners out was the offering of dogs ... even Pepys never mentions eating dog. I wonder when they came off the British menu? And the French still eat horse -- my mother used to cook horsemeat for my dog; it smelled ghastly. Yuck.)

Strange how we don't acknowledge that an animal died to provide us with our chop, etc. The difference must be that we don't share the house with sheep and pigs. During WWII my parents kept chickens; my mother said the biggest mistake they made was naming them. It was impossible to roast and enjoy Betty.

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