1893 text

William Chiffinch, pimp to Charles II. and receiver of the secret pensions paid by the French Court. He succeeded his brother, Thomas Chiffinch (who died in April, 1666), as Keeper of the King’s Private Closet (see note, vol. v., p. 265). He is introduced by Scott into his “Peveril of the Peak.”

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

3 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"[William Chiffinch] is introduced by Scott into his "Peveril of the Peak."" (1893 note)


The Project Gutenberg EBook of Peveril of the Peak, by Sir Walter Scott, CHAPTER XXVII

""Hark, mine honest fellow," said the courtier; "I would thou wouldst give me some item of all this mystery. Thou hast it, I know; for whom do men entrust but trusty Chiffinch?"

"It is your pleasure to say so, my lord," answered Smith (whom we shall hereafter call by his real name of Chiffinch) with such drunken gravity, for his speech had become a little altered by his copious libations in the course of the evening,—"few men know more, or say less, than I do; and it well becomes my station. Conticuere omnes, as the grammar hath it—all men should learn to hold their tongue."

There follows a great discourse -- back and forth -- about "the great Madam" [The Duchess of Portsmouth, Charles II.'s favourite mistress; very unpopular at the time of the Popish Plot], "revenge" and "ifs" as drunken tongues go unheld....


Terry Foreman  •  Link

William Chiffinch (1602-1691)
Born: 1602 possibly at Salisbury, Wiltshire
Page of his Majesty’s Bed-Chamber
Keeper of the King’s Private Closet
Died: July 1691 at Holyport, Berkshire

William was a member of the Chiffinch family of Staplehurst in Kent and younger brother of Thomas Chiffinch, to most of whose offices he succeeded in 1668, as Page of his Majesty’s Bed-Chamber and Keeper of the King’s Private Closet. This made him the closest of all King Charles II’s servants and his influence at court is said to have been incalculable.

[bio and image] http://www.berkshirehistory.com/b…

nix  •  Link

The Oxford DNB quotes the earlier Dictionary of National Biography on Chiffinch: "a time-server and libertine, wasteful, unscrupulous, open to bribery and flattery, ingratiating himself into the confidence of courtiers and mistresses, delighting in intrigue of every kind except political plots, though even with these he sometimes meddled, but seldom skilfully. . . . he carried the abuse of backstairs influence to scientific perfection"

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.