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.

11 Annotations

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/Distringas

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.

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/encyclopedia/5179/

psw  •  Link

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

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