Friday 28 May 1669

To St. James’s, where the King’s being with the Duke of York prevented a meeting of the Tangier Commission. But, Lord! what a deal of sorry discourse did I hear between the King and several Lords about him here! but very mean methought. So with Creed to the Excise Office, and back to White Hall, where, in the Park, Sir G. Carteret did give me an account of his discourse lately, with the Commissioners of Accounts, who except against many things, but none that I find considerable; among others, that of the Officers of the Navy selling of the King’s goods, and particularly my providing him with calico flags, which having been by order, and but once, when necessity, and the King’s apparent profit, justified it, as conformable to my particular duty, it will prove to my advantage that it be enquired into. Nevertheless, having this morning received from them a demand of an account of all monies within their cognizance, received and issued by me, I was willing, upon this hint, to give myself rest, by knowing whether their meaning therein might reach only to my Treasurership for Tangier, or the monies employed on this occasion. I went, therefore, to them this afternoon, to understand what monies they meant, where they answered me, by saying, “The eleven months’ tax, customs, and prizemoney,” without mentioning, any more than I demanding, the service they respected therein; and so, without further discourse, we parted, upon very good terms of respect, and with few words, but my mind not fully satisfied about the monies they mean. At noon Mr. Gibson and I dined at the Swan, and thence doing this at Brook house, and thence calling at the Excise Office for an account of payment of my tallies for Tangier, I home, and thence with my wife and brother spent the evening on the water, carrying our supper with us, as high as Chelsea; so home, making sport with the Westerne bargees, and my wife and I singing, to my great content.

7 Annotations

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Beginning to look like Sam has good reason to take an extended vacation abroad...

"But why must I come with you before the Boroke House Committee?"

"Oh, no special reason, sweetheart...I'd just like them to see my pretty wife and you did want to share more of my office life, right?"

"Hmmn..." frown... "But why are you wearing those green spectacles and why must I guide you into the committee room?"

"Bess, you know I've eye trouble...Tis why we have a wonderful vacation coming at last."

"Yes, but this is a bit overdo, isn't it?"

"Is it too much to ask that you help me here, dear?...Sick and in health, richer...Thanks to my hard labours...Or poorer, you know...And but for my hard labours..." solemn look...

"There's also something about fidelity..." grin stare...


"Fine, anything if it gets me to France this summer."

"Absolutement, cherie. Oh, and do you think you could tear up a bit just before we go in...Perhaps a few 'Oh, my poor Sam's?"

"You're putting me on..."

"Sweet, if you'd prefer guiding me through Brampton streets, begging for pennies and crusts of bread...And seeing France in the afterlife..."

"Oh, my poor, poor Sam'l..." weeping...

I think she's got it...

Mary  •  Link

"my mind not fully satisfied about the monies they mean."

A situation familiar to anyone who has tangled with 20th/21st century tax authorities in the UK, who seem to favour this kind of guessing-game. The 'customer' has to guess what the question might be before he tries to provide the relevant answer.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

“my mind not fully satisfied about the monies they mean.”

More important, then as now, to know what questions you can ask them without giving anything away.

"So you aren't concerned about the calico flags?"

"Flags, Mr Pepys, what flags?"

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link


I did review the matter of Bewpers, and find that, as he presents it to his diary, he set about to spoil a racket by which the Navy bought overpriced yard goods to the profit of the sellers (Whistler and Young) -- who subsequently sought to bribe him, an offer he refused -- and a storekeeper at Deptford, one "Davis, ... a knave, and shuffling in the business of Bewpers, being of the party with Young and Whistler to abuse the King, but I hope I shall be even with them."

Nelson was the supplier to Whistler and Young, and Pepys proved the price he charged by buying 5 samples from him.

It seems clear that Davis, Whistler and Young were not happy that he had cut them out of a big profit, but I do not find a word in the diary to suggest that that Sam himself began marking up Bewpers. Nor is it clear to me whether the rules of the time allowed officers of the Navy who handled major procurements to take a percent of the deal. (I suspect they did.) But it does seem quite possible that Pepys made enemies in this deal and that somehow they have found a way to get back at him through the Commissioners of Accounts.

Linda F  •  Link

I love these passages of Sam and Elisabeth singing on the water -- a lovely image as we come to the end.

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