Monday 12 April 1669

Up, and by water to White Hall, where I of the whole Office attended the Duke of York at his meeting with Sir Thomas Allen and several flag-officers, to consider of the manner of managing the war with Algiers; and, it being a thing I was wholly silent in, I did only observe; and find that; their manner of discourse on this weighty affair was very mean and disorderly, the Duke of York himself being the man that I thought spoke most to the purpose. Having done here, I up and down the house, talking with this man and that, and: then meeting Mr. Sheres, took him to see the fine flower-pot I saw yesterday, and did again offer 20l. for it; but he [Verelst] insists upon 50l.. Thence I took him to St. James’s, but there was no musique, but so walked to White Hall, and, by and by to my wife at Unthanke’s, and with her was Jane, and so to the Cocke, where they, and I, and Sheres, and Tom dined, my wife having a great desire to eat of their soup made of pease, and dined very well, and thence by water to the Bear-Garden, and there happened to sit by Sir Fretcheville Hollis, who is still full of his vain-glorious and prophane talk. Here we saw a prize fought between a soldier and country fellow, one Warrell, who promised the least in his looks, and performed the most of valour in his boldness and evenness of mind, and smiles in all he did, that ever I saw and we were all both deceived and infinitely taken with him. He did soundly beat the soldier, and cut him over the head. Thence back to White Hall, mightily pleased, all of us, with this sight, and particularly this fellow, as a most extraordinary man for his temper and evenness in fighting. And there leaving Sheres, we by our own coach home, and after sitting an hour, thrumming upon my viall, and singing, I to bed, and left my wife to do something to a waistcoat and petticoat she is to wear to-morrow. This evening, coming home, we overtook Alderman Backewell’s coach and his lady, and followed them to their house, and there made them the first visit, where they received us with extraordinary civility, and owning the obligation. But I do, contrary to my expectation, find her something a proud and vain-glorious woman, in telling the number of her servants and family and expences: he is also so, but he was ever of that strain. But here he showed me the model of his houses that he is going to build in Cornhill and Lumbard Street; but he hath purchased so much there, that it looks like a little town, and must have cost him a great deal of money.

5 Annotations

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Alderman Backwell’s housing development [ -- Real estate speculation? -- ] that "looks like a little town, and must have cost him a great deal of money."

"The stoppage of the Exchequer in 1672 badly damaged him financially. He and his son John were appointed comptroller of customs in the port of London in 1671, and with his old master Vyner, he was from 1671 to 1675 a commissioner of the customs and farmer of the customs revenue. He went bankrupt in 1682."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Ah, a prize fight. I wonder if Bess screamed for blood.

"Don't let him get up! Kill him!! Finish the miserable so-and-so off!!"

"Bess, didn't you say the soldier looks rather like me?"

"Slam him down!! Kill him!!! My thumb's down!!!"

Australian Susan  •  Link

The Cock Tavern had obviously become one of THE places to eat!

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Pepys noted Backwell's plans and the field of play in 1666

Shortly previous to the Great Fire, Backwell, whose shop was at the Unicorn, in Lombard Street, next door to the Grasshopper, conceived the idea of developing the considerable block of property over which he had acquired an interest, by opening passages through it from Lombard Street to Cornhill. Pepys says (2nd July, 1636), "Thence to the Change, and meeting Sir J. Minnes there, he and I walked to look upon Backwell's design of making another Alley from his shop through over against the Exchange door which will be very noble, and quite put down the other two." Possibly the other two " here mentioned may mean Pope's Head Alley to the west, and the alley opposite Abchurch Lane to the east. Backwell's designs had suffered delay by the occurrence of the Plague,

A little more than a year afterwards, the Great Fire of London, 2nd of September, 1666, involved the whole of Backwells estate in utter ruin. Pepys records, under date of the 5th of September, that " I walked into the town, and find Fanchurch-streete, Gracious-streete, and Lumbard-streete all in dust The Exchange a sad sight, nothing standing there, of all the statues or pillars, but Sir Thomas Gresham's picture in the corner." [ ready to be built upon]
"The Grasshopper" in Lombard Street by John Biddulph Martin (1892)… pp. 185, 186.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.