Tuesday 27 April 1669

Up, and to the Office, where all the morning. At noon home to dinner, and then to the Office again, where the afternoon busy till late, and then home, and got my wife to read to me in the Nepotisme, which is very pleasant, and so to supper and to bed. This afternoon was brought to me a fresh Distringas upon the score of the Tangier accounts which vexes me, though I hope it will not turn to my wrong.

15 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link


Distraint or distress is "the seizure of someone’s property in order to obtain payment of rent or other money owed", especially in common law countries. Distraint is the act or process "whereby a person (the distrainor), traditionally even without prior court approval, seizes the personal property of another located upon the distrainor's land in satisfaction of a claim, as a pledge for performance of a duty, or in reparation of an injury."[2] Distraint typically involves the seizure of goods (chattels) belonging to the tenant by the landlord to sell the goods for the payment of the rent. In the past, distress was often carried out without court approval. Today, some kind of court action is usually required,[3] the main exception being certain tax authorities, such as HM Revenue and Customs in the United Kingdom and, in the United States, the Internal Revenue Service -- agencies that retain the legal power to levy assets (by either seizure or distraint) without a court order. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dist…

Chris Squire  •  Link

OED has:
‘distringas, n. Etym: < Latin distringās ‘thou shalt distrain’, 2nd person present subjunctive of distringĕre, in medieval Latin sense, being the first word of the writ. Law: The name of a writ directing the sheriff to distrain in various cases. The main forms are, in Common Law:

. . b. The distringas in detinue, to compel the defendant to deliver goods by distresses upon his chattels.
. . 1641 Termes de la Ley 125 Distringas is a Writ directed to the Sheriffe or any other officer, commanding him to distreine for a debt to the King, &c. or for his appearing at a day.
1714 W. Scroggs Pract. Courts-leet (ed. 3) 172 An Attachment or Distringas to attach his Goods.
1768 W. Blackstone Comm. Laws Eng. III. xxvii, The process against a body corporate is by distringas to distrain them by their goods and chattels, rents, and profits, till they shall obey the summons or directions of the court . . ‘

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

The writ was delivered to the Navy office, so I infer some creditor is bringing action to collect a debt incurred by the Tangier operation. It being a "fresh" Distringas I also infer that it is not the first legal action to collect a Tangier-related debt that the office has received. Does anyone know how such writs were answered? Does the office have a lawyer, or access to one? Could a private creditor could seize state property? That seems unlikely. Sam is more annoyed than worried about the implications of this writ.

sue nicholson  •  Link

Legally, Tangier belonged personally to the King; part of his wife's dowry! A committee was set up to deal with the administration and Sam was made Treasurer of Tangier in 1665 so this isn't a Navy Office issue.

In 1683 Pepys visited Tangier in an official capacity... along with Henry Sheres!

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...got my wife to read to me in the Nepotisme, which is very pleasant..." Pleasant? Not a ripping "The Borgias"-like tale of fiendish doings by licentious ill-begotten spawn of the Archfiend at that seat of all things depraved. Rome? Of educational benefit no doubt to our wayward (borderline?, would-be?) Catholic, Bess?

Too bad...That's part of our fiendish appeal...

"You don't think they actually did that?...In the Vatican? Oh, my..."

"I think we've read quite enough for today."

"Oh, Bess...Just one more chapter?"

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Leti's 'Il nipotismo di Roma...'"

The work here mentioned is a bitter satire against the Court [ of ] Rome, written in Italian, and attributed to Gregorio Leti. It was first printed in 1667, without the name or place of printer, but it is from the press of the Elzevirs. The book obtained by Pepys was probably the anonymous English translation, “Il Nipotismo di Roma: or the history of the Popes nephews from the time of Sixtus the IV. to the death the last Pope Alexander the VII. In two parts. Written originally Italian in the year 1667 and Englished by W. A. [ William Aglionby, FRS ] London, 1669” 8vo. From this work the word Nepotism is derived, and is applied to the bad practice of statesmen, when in power, providing lucrative places for their relations.

This text was written as a footnote in the 1893 Wheatley transcription of the diary, the same one that is used for the diary entries on this site.

nix  •  Link

Elzevirs -- a family of Dutch printers in the 16th-18th centuries. Namesake (bit not otherwise related) of the modern scientific publisbhing behemoth Elsevier Reed.

Second Reading

Autumnbreeze Movies  •  Link

“Il Nipotismo di Roma..." From this work the word Nepotism is derived, and is applied to the bad practice of statesmen, when in power, providing lucrative places for their relations. (Terry Foreman)

'Nipote' is Itallian for both 'nephew' and 'grandson'. I found that the word 'nepotism' is also used now to describe the practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs rather than employing better qualified strangers. Sometimes the difference between 'nepotism' and 'networking' becomes blurred in today's corporate world and that of Public Service. Perhaps as it was then?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

In 1683 Pepys visited Tangier in an official capacity... along with Henry Sheres!

Having established his reputation in the construction of Whitby pier, Sir Hugh Cholmley was given charge in 1663 of the building of the mole at Tangier. He and his wife (Lady Anne Compton, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Northampton) lived there at intervals until he was replaced by Sheeres as Surveyor-General of the project in 1676. Pepys had a high regard for him but preferred Sheeres's method of constructing the mole. http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclo…

psw  •  Link

TF: Expecting to find link to Sheeres's method of constructing the mole but find Cholmley.

Sam Ursu  •  Link

"Nipote' is Itallian for both 'nephew' and 'grandson'."

To be clear, the same is true in Romanian (nepot) because they both inherited the custom from the Latin, although the meaning of "grandchild" is far older. The stem of the word nephew means "descendent" which is key to the origin of the word "nepotism" esp. in the Catholic context germane to this discussion.

In terms of the book Pepys was reading, the word "nephew" refers to the fact that many priests (and some Popes) sired children, and it became a custom to refer to these as their "nephews" since having children was forbidden.

Sam Ursu  •  Link

I'll just add here that "nepotism" refers to Popes (and others) giving their children and family members sinecures and other remunerative posts in the Church, a source of condemnation by Protestant thinkers.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

On this day, Cosmo continued his leisurely journey towards Newmarket.
He awoke in Bishops Stortford, and then visited Audley End.

When his highness had dined, he determined upon travelling throughout the remainder of the day. The road was level, and therefore the journey was agreeable, and, as far as the face of the country is concerned, delightful. There was an alternation of meadow land for pasture, and of cultivated fields; and, it is easy to see, that this county of Suffolk, enjoys not only a salubrious air, but also a rich and fertile soil; nor is anything wanting, which can contribute either to pleasure or profit; hence it is considered the most fruitful and the most agreeable of all the counties of the kingdom, and such it continued as far as the limits which divide the county of Suffolk from that of Cambridge (or, as the English call it, Cambridgeshire) a city which many suppose to have been built by the Romans, and others by the Danes.


Having passed the borders, and reached the territory of Cambridge, the country was not very different in point of fertility, from that which we had already passed over; but not so, as to the salubrity of the air, which is less healthy on account of the fens; these, exhaling perpetual vapors, render the atmosphere dense, and extremely unwholesome.

His highness, before evening, reached Newmarket (where, at the inn of the Maidens, almost opposite to the king's house, quarters had been prepared by his highness's courier) at the precise time that his majesty, with the duke and Prince Robert [RUPERT], had arrived the preceding day.

They had returned from seeing the city of Ely, which is situated not far off, in a tract of land the most marshy of any in the county, called by the peasants, the Isle of Ely.

A monastery was formerly built there by the Princess Etheldreda, which, besides the endowment assigned to it at its foundation, was afterwards enriched with sundry revenues, by the kings of England, to such an extent that the Abbot Richard, considering the opulence of that monastery, and the impropriety of being subject to the Bishop of Lincoln, in order to exempt himself from that obedience, applied to the king to get the pope's permission for its erection into a cathedral; which, being afterwards obtained by King Henry I, Hervey, who had been expelled from his own bishopric bir Bangor, was installed its first bishop.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link



Besides the principal church, there is little worthy of notice in the city, which, although it is not smaller in size than many others in the kingdom, is yet considered very inferior to most of them, both from the indifference of its buildings, and from its being a place of small resort.

As soon as his highness alighted from his carriage, he went to the king's house, which compared with the other seats of the English nobility, does not deserve the name of a royal residence; and, on this account, his majesty has taken measures to enlarge it with several new apartments, and to improve the prospect from it.

He made his obeisance to his majesty, who received him with an unusual degree of kindness, congratulating him on his safe arrival.

From the king's apartments, his highness went to those of the Duke of York, to pay his respects to his royal highness; and, after reciprocal compliments, returned to his lodgings, supping alone as usual.


The house which the king at present inhabits at Newmarket, has been purchased by his majesty of my Lord O'Brien, an Irishman, Earl of Thomond, a descendant of the ancient Earls of Thomond, of whose family was Donald III, King of Ireland.


So now we also know a little about the Stuart brothers' activities that day.


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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