Wednesday 26 May 1669

To White Hall, where all the morning. Dined with Mr. Chevins, with Alderman Backewell, and Spragg. The Court full of the news from Captain Hubbert, of “The Milford,” touching his being affronted in the Streights, shot at, and having eight men killed him by a French man-of- war, calling him “English dog,” and commanding him to strike, which he refused, and, as knowing himself much too weak for him, made away from him. The Queen, as being supposed with child, fell ill, so as to call for Madam Nun, Mr. Chevins’s sister, and one of her women, from dinner from us; this being the last day of their doubtfulness touching her being with child; and they were therein well confirmed by her Majesty’s being well again before night. One Sir Edmund Bury Godfry, a woodmonger and justice of Peace in Westminster, having two days since arrested Sir Alexander Frazier for about 30l. in firing, the bailiffs were apprehended, committed to the porter’s lodge, and there, by the King’s command, the last night severely whipped; from which the justice himself very hardly escaped, to such an unusual degree was the King moved therein. But he lies now in the lodge, justifying his act, as grounded upon the opinion of several of the judges, and, among others, my Lord Chief-Justice; which makes the King very angry with the Chief-Justice, as they say; and the justice do lie and justify his act, and says he will suffer in the cause for the people, and do refuse to receive almost any nutriment. The effects of it may be bad to the Court. Expected a meeting of Tangier this afternoon, but failed. So home, met by my wife at Unthanke’s.

21 Annotations

jeannine  •  Link

From Davidson’s “Catherine of Braganza” p. 241-2

“For the fourth time, in the early spring…..Catherine was raised to the seventh heaven of hope, only to descend to the abyss of regret and disappointment. On May 19th, she was dining in her own apartments at Whitehall, in her white pinner and apron, with the King, and Pepys, who had come to see Charles on business, and was admitted to the Queen’s lodging, thought that she seemed handsomer so than in her smart attire.. On the 26th of the month, Catherine was taken suddenly ill, and Madame Nun, Chiffinch’s sister, and another of her women, had to be sent for in haste, from dinner with Pepys, which confirmed the world in its hopes of the Queen’s condition. This Chiffinch, or “Chivens’ as Pepys calls him, was one of the King’s confidential servants.

On June 1 Arlington wrote to Temple that the Queen was very well, and that everyone was rejoicing in the hopes that they dared to believe well founded. But on June 7 Charles had to write to Madame [his sister in Paris], to whom he had a month before confided his expectations.
“My wife after all hopes has miscarried, again, without visible incident. The physicians are divided whether it were false conception, or a good one”.

The physicians present were Dr. Cox and Dr. Williams, but they were instructed by Buckingham, at least so Burnet says, to deny that there had ever been any miscarriage, and to spread a report abroad that it was an impossibility for the Queen ever to have children.

It is odd, after Charles’s declaration that there had been no visible incident, to read in Clayton’s letter to Sir Robert Paston that Catherine’s illness was produced by fright, caused by an ‘unfortunate accident with one of the King’s tame foxes, which, stealing after the King unknown into the bedchamber, lay there all night and in the morning, very early, leaped upon the bed, and run over the Queen’s face and into the bed.” This was quite enough to account for anything, and Catherine suffered from Charles’s inconvenient attachment to his pets, which he carried on to an excess. His King Charles spaniels not only followed him on all his walks, but brought up their families in his rooms, and even his bed. The consequence, on this occasion, of his passion for pets was somewhat fatal.

Buckingham and Lauderdale seized at once on the miscarriage to raise the divorce question once more….”

languagehat  •  Link

Can anyone explain this business with the woodmonger, the bailiffs, and the judges? Why is the king wroth?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Can anyone explain this business with the woodmonger, the bailiffs, and the judges?"

Sounds like the intro to a joke.

L&M note Godfrey was released afte4r six days, having refused to petition for his liberty. He was the same Goderey who later achieved fame as the "Protestant magistrate" whose death in violent and mysterious circumstances in 1678 detonated the explosion of anti-Catholic panic in the Popish Plot.

[Read this for a notion of the plot:… ]

L&M say Godfrey's careful display of public virtue is perhaps typical of the man.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Why is the king wroth?"

My guess is that when his physician is arrested and the King is still in a state of "doubtfulness [ = fearfulness ] touching her being with child" -- mortality in pregnancy asnd childbirth having been high -- he was upset.

john  •  Link

Justice must not also be done but be seen to be done. #6-)

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Hmmn...Is the King's Physician/friend above the law on one hand, on the other Charles perhaps suspecting Godfrey is deliberately provoking the issue, since surely if legal authority can go after Frazier for firewood poaching, they can go after bigger Court fish for much bigger things? One thing I have noted is Sam seems no longer much interested or likely able due to eye concerns and time constraints to give us a more general sketch of the state of the nation...As to whether the King's Friends are causing mayhem outside the Navy as well. This incident may well reflect there is a lot of unhappiness with the greed, corruption, and mismanagement and a few public officials are chaffing at watching the Court's actions.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Of coure it would be touching if as Terry considered, Charlie's concern is having his doctor on hand for Cathy's sake.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Madame Nun" of the Queen's household (L&M say in the Companion), is probably Elizabeth Nunn, laundress. Pepys refers to her as William Chiffinch's sister (i.e. sister-in-law): his wife was Barbara Nunn.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"This incident may well reflect there is a lot of unhappiness with the greed, corruption, and mismanagement and a few public officials are chaffing at watching the Court’s actions."

...and Pepys among them!

nix  •  Link

"In 1669 Godfrey was briefly imprisoned for a few days because he had the King's physician, Sir Alexander Fraizer, arrested for owing him money. Pepys Diary of 24 May 1669 mentions that he went on hunger strike, claiming that the Judges had found for him, but the King had overridden them. He was held at the Porter's Lodge of Whitehall Palace."

Years ago I read a fascinating account of Godfrey's murder by the mystery master John Dickson Carr.…

Glyn  •  Link

Language Hat:

I read that to mean that Sir Alexander Frazier owes Sir Edmund Bury Godfry the sum of 30 pounds for wood, which is a lot of wood, presumably for building? Godfry is also a judge, so sends around court officials to arrest Frazier. Somehow Godfry was intruding on the authority of the king, so the officials were arrested and punished, and Godfry also nearly was.

Now I'll ask you a question in return. Does "in firing" somehow mean "in fine" which I think means "to bring to an end" or "to cut a story short"?

And when did "monger" stop being used to describe someone who sells things? I've heard of a costermonger and a fishmonger, but nothing more modern than that, such as a computermonger for instance. Certainly I've never heard of a woodmonger.

Glyn  •  Link

There's a lot of rebuilding taking place in London because of the Great Fire, so this may be related to that.

djc  •  Link


I take it to mean firewood.
My 3e Shorter OED has
Firing. Fuel 1555;
and the 5e
Firing Materials for a fire, Fuel L15

Mary  •  Link


£30 does sound a lot for firing. However, this could represent a debt built up over a long period to someone (in this case Godfrey) who had notable commercial interests in the supply of firing within London. All households would have needed to buy some wood for firing and many would have relied entirely on that for fuel, rather than buying coal that had been transported from the north. Coal was a notoriously dirty fuel.

As for mongers, the only modern usage that comes to mind is 'scandalmonger.' Cheesemongers seem to have disappeared some years ago.

GrahamT  •  Link

I still think of shops selling nails, nuts, bolts and other metal products as Ironmongers, but I'm probably just showing my age.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

The most common use today of "monger" in American English, I believe, is in an extended or metaphorical sense, as in warmonger, fearmonger, rumormonger. Mary's 'scandalmonger' is in this class, but I don't remember ever encountering that particular word.

Australian Susan  •  Link

I like GrahamT remember ironmongers. And yes, probably just showing our decrepitude [sighs]. They sold nails by the pound and wore brown overalls and usually had bristly moustaches.

Ric Jerrom  •  Link

Here in Bath we still have two ironmongers and two cheesemongers; the only fishmongers visit the farmers' market on Saturdays. It seems to me that "...mongers" are specialists in their field so that the presence of a fish counter in a supermarket does not qualify the supermarket as a fishmonger. "Costermongers" were more recently known (in England) as "barrow-boys", selling fruit (originally costards = apples) from barrows in the streets and markets. The Leveson Enquiry is currently doing an interesting job of unmasking the rumour- and scandalmongers of our tabloid press...some aspects of "celebrity culture" haven't changed that much since Sam's day...

Tom Carr  •  Link

We also have cheesemongers here in New England. The cheesemonger in Great Barrington, Massachusetts is where I go for my favourite Wensleydale cheese!

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"news from Captain Hubbert, of “The Milford,” touching his being affronted in the Streights, shot at, and having eight men killed him by a French man-of- war, calling him “English dog,” and commanding him to strike, which he refused, and, as knowing himself much too weak for him, made away from him."

Evidence about this incident is in BM, Sloane 3510,ff.58+; there is no mention of any casualties. It occurred on 13 April while the Milford (Capt. John Hubbard) was bound for Tangier from Malaga. There was a rumour that the French captain was ordered to be hanged: CSPD 1668-9, p. 407. The English and French soon afterwards agreed that neirg side should salute the other in Mediterranean waters. (Per L&M footnote)

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