Friday 26 March 1669

Up, and with Middleton all the morning at the Docke, looking over the storehouses and Commissioner Pett’s house, in order to Captain Cox’s coming to live there in his stead, as Commissioner. But it is a mighty pretty house; and pretty to see how every thing is said to be out of repair for this new man, though 10l. would put it into as good condition in every thing as it ever was in, so free every body is of the King’s money.

By and by to Mr. Wilson’s, and there drank, but did not see his wife, nor any woman in the yard, and so to dinner at the Hill-House; and after dinner, till eight at night, close, Middleton and I, examining the business of Mr. Pett, about selling a boat, and we find him a very knave; and some other quarrels of his, wherein, to justify himself, he hath made complaints of others. This being done, we to supper, and so to talk, Commissioner Middleton being mighty good company upon a journey, and so to bed, thinking how merry my people are at this time, putting Tom and Jane to bed, being to have been married this day, it being also my feast for my being cut of the stone, but how many years I do not remember, but I think it to be about ten or eleven.

11 Annotations

First Reading

David Goldfarb  •  Link

A quick check of the entry for 26 March 1660 confirms that it is in fact eleven. (I wonder why Sam'l didn't think to do that himself.)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

1660 was a memorable year; his life began anew in several respects, as 'twere. Pepys never seems to look and see what he has written, but scanning notebooks even by date was rather a chore.

Mary  •  Link

"but did not see his wife, nor any woman in the yard"

Has Mr. Pepys's reputation gone before him?

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

"though 10l. would put it into as good condition in every thing as it ever was in, so free every body is of the King’s money."

Another example of Sam being an untypical civil servant, unwilling to waste money even though it's not his own.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Pepys has remarked before on the elegance of Pett's house as an example

"So to Mr. Pett’s, the shipwright, and there supped, where he did treat us very handsomely (and strange it is to see what neat houses all the officers of the King’s yards have)"…

L&M note at that point how the officers of the yards used the King's workmen and materials to embellish their houses.

Hasn't Pepys his "own" more than once?

john  •  Link

What would he consider acceptable improvement for only 10 l. -- a lick of paint here and there?

Australian Susan  •  Link

"...By and by to Mr. Wilson’s, and there drank, but did not see his wife, nor any woman in the yard,..."

Here we go again - "Dear Mr Wilson, A Word to the Wise........etc. yrs. W. Hewer "(keeping the peace between the Pepys!! We wish.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Middleton and I, examining the business of Mr. Pett, about selling a boat, and we find him a very knave;"

According to the memorandum made affter this examination by Middleton and Pepys, Phineas Pett, master-shipwright at Chatham yard, admitted to lending boats from the Chatham store, but denied giving away or selling any. He could not swear, however, that all had neen returned. CSPD 1668-9, pp. 150-1.
(L&M note)

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

The memo left by Sam and Middleton in the State Papers is actually even more incriminating than L&M's summary suggests. It mentions, more specifically, examining "Pett (...) as to lending boats from the stores at Chatham to Mr. Kent". This Mr. Kent will also be interrogated by a "Francis Toney", apparently a junior investigator based at Chatham who reappears in further letters and is sent on April 2 chasing after a stolen piece of rope.

A separate affidavit, attached to Sam's memo but dated March 27, after Sam had already left for Dartford, relates that "Francis Toney demanded of Mr. Kent whose boat it was that he had in his ground; he replied that it was his own, and he bought it of Mr. Pett; did not hear anything said about its being borrowed".

'Tis enough to make the knave-o-meter's needle jump, but indeed the file also contains "affidavits (...) relative to boats, old piles, and spurshores, supposed to be taken by Pett, and converted to his own use". Which sound like junk lying around the yard, but wood is expensive and spurshores, "a timber or spar designed to hold a boat away from a pier" according to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, are safety equipment, best not appropriated for firewood.

Allow us, however, an exculpatory note on Mr. Pett's liberal spending on his "pretty house": if the same rules apply as at the Portsmouth yard, we recall from last September that Capt. Tinker's house there was the King's house, and as such had to be kept in royal state, and at great expense, in case H.M. or H.R.H. decided to drop by.

A side note: interestingly, the March 27 memo mentions that one of the witnesses, Daniel Eldridge, "showed the Board the absolution of his late excommunication under the seal of the Archbishop of Canterbury". This presumably removes an obstacle to hearing the witness, but we confess that we didn't even know an excommunication was reversible. Sounds popish to us, but still reassuring (note to self: make sure to include the Archbishop on the guest list for all future dinners).

A quick search for records on Daniel Eldridge finds a shipwright of that name working on Woolwich from 1724 […, page 80]. Perhaps the one at Chatham was his dad.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I was wrong yesterday, the wedding was today. But my conclusion Pepys just wanted to miss the wedding is probably right. It was a mental health break from Elizabeth's demands. He handed her a budget and got out of Dodge.
I still wonder how the official report that he had nothing to do with the Pay will go over with James; but maybe he doesn't read such mundane reports..

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"(I wonder why Sam didn't think to do that himself.)"

The Diary is in many books. He didn't lug all of them around with him ... the other books would be on a shelf somewhere gathering dust. I wonder if David Goldfarb ever saw the L&M editions: There is one full size book for each year, and some of the books are really thick.

Plus I suspect Pepys was happy he couldn't remember when he had the op. It was a painful nightmare. Giving thanks annually for his delivery with wine, women and song is one thing; remembering the details quite another. (Can you remember when your last op. was ... I'd have to consult these annotations to find out mine, and I'm not doing that! I, too, am only too happy to forget.)

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