This text was copied from Wikipedia on 19 June 2024 at 3:10AM.

Joseph Williamson may refer to:

20 Annotations

First Reading

Clement  •  Link

"One of the ablest of Pepys' colleagues in the public service.
Under-Sectretary of State 1660-74..." etc., eventually an Admiralty Commissioner, and knighted in 1672.

"In some ways his carrer parallels that of Pepys. Virtually contemporaries, they both rose from small beginnings; both were formidable adminstrators who created new standards of efficiency; and both had learned tastes and served as Presidents of the Royal Society (Williamson in 1676-7), and were instrumental in founding Mathematical Schools (Pepys's in Christ Hospital, Williamson's in Rochester, by bequ4est). Williamson kept a diary, but only of public events and only for a short period (Dec. 1667-Jan. 1669)."

(p. 487, Volume X--Companion to "The Diary of Samuel Pepys," HarperCollins, 1995 paperback edition.)

In light of the note regarding parallel paths between Sam and Williamson above, which seem to me possibly extend to character as well as career, Sam's comment about his counterpart, "...a pretty knowing man and a scholler, but, it may be, thinks himself to be too much so," may well have been Williamson's pronouncement about Sam too.…

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Caveat emptor: Address respecting the Committal of Mr. Sec. Williamson.
Resolved, &c. That an humble Address be made to his Majesty, representing to his Majesty the Reasons that induced this House to commit Mr. Secretary Williamson to the Tower: And that his Majesty be humbly desired, not to release Mr. Secretary Williamson from his Imprisonment: And that his Majesty will be pleased to recall all the Commissions that have been granted to any Papists, or suspected Papists, within the Kingdoms of England and Ireland, and any other his Majesty's Dominions and Territories.
[ there be more ]

From: 'House of Commons Journal Volume 9: 19 November 1678', Journal of the House of Commons: volume 9: 1667-1687 (1802), p. 542. URL:…. Date accessed: 07 February 2006.

Pedro  •  Link

Joseph Williamson

This chap is twice mentioned by Sam who describes him as "…a pretty knowing man and a scholler, but, it may be, thinks himself to be too much so," and “… a pretty understanding and accomplished man, but a little conceited.”

Clement says above that in some ways his career parallels that of Pepys. So trying to avoid spoilers here is a sumary up the present time from…

Intelligence and Espionage in the Regn of Charles II, 1660-1685.

“There is little doubt that Williamson’s part in the establishment of an efficient intelligence and espionage system was an important one. For some 19 years he was to have a major influence on the secretariat’s involvement in the covert world.

He was born (1633) in Bridekirk, Cumberland. His father was vicar of the parish, and the family relatively poor. He started his education at the grammar school in St. Bees, which had links with Queens College Oxford.

He secured the patronage of MP Richard Tolson who brought him to London in the late 1640’s as a clerk, and was admitted to Westminster School in 1648. There he learnt the ideals of discipline and hard work, and the value of keeping notebooks. He had a driving ambition for power and tangible financial rewards, as well as a penchant for gathering useful information.

He was recommended to Queens College in Oxford in 1650, and in 1657 he had a Masters degree by diploma.

At the Restoration he secured a post in the office of the Secretary of State Nicholas. In December 1661 he was appointed Keeper of the King’s Library and the State Paper Office with a salary of £160 per year.

When Arlington took over as Secretary he was dismissed, but Arlington quickly realised that the office could not be run without him and he was reinstated, and having Arlington’s confidence.”

(SPOILER…There were undoubtedly opportunities for making money in the service of the government and Williamson was to prove that he never be slow in taking any financial opportunities which presented themselves. This was so much so that by 1668 he was rumoured to be worth £40,000 in ready money.)

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Joseph Williamson, Keeper of the State Paper Office at White Hall, and in 1663 made Under-Secretary of State, and soon afterwards knighted. In 1664 he became Secretary of State, which appointment he filled four years. He represented Thetford or Rochester in different parliaments, and was in 1678 President of the Royal Society. Ob. 1701.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill  •  Link

WILLIAMSON, Sir JOSEPH (1633-1701), statesman and diplomatist; of Westminster School and Queen's College, Oxford; B.A., 1654; fellow and M.A., 1657; held position in office of Sir Edward Nicholas, then secretary of state, 1660-1; keeper of Charles II's library at Whitehall and at the paper office, 1661; called to bar at Middle Temple, 1664; editor, 1665, of 'Oxford Gazette,' which became 'London Gazette,' 1666; M.P. for Thetford, 1669, 1679, 1681, and 1685, and Rochester, 1690 and 1701; knighted and appointed clerk of council in ordinary, 1672; joint British plenipotentiary to congress at Cologne, 1673-4; secretary of state, 1674; LL.D. Oxford, and privy councillor, 1674; fell victim to suspicions aroused by 'popish plot' and was removed from office, 1678; master of' Clothworkers' Company, 1676; member of Royal Society, 1663, and president, 1677-80; recorder of Thetford, 1682; joint-plenipotentiary at congress of Nimeguen, 1696; signed, as joint-commissioner, the first partition treaty, 1698.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

Bill  •  Link

Sir Joseph Williamson, once a poor foot-boy, then a servitor, now principal secretary of state, and pensioner to the French king.
---A Seasonable Argument ... for a New Parliament. Andrew Marvell, [1677] 1776.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

This article has so much useful information, I don't know where to post it! It also is helpful in explaining how the wheels of government turned during the Diary years:

On 22 February 1665 Richard Watts, a notary at Deal in Kent, sent an anguished complaint to John Carlile, an official at Dover, against the Deal postmaster Morgan Lodge:
"When I carryed my letter to the Post Office: Lodge very much abused mee before severall, & would not take my letter unless I set the date on the outside: And when I went into the office to do it, he told me I was a lying knave (without ainye provocation) I asked him wherein, & if he did not tell mee in what he was a lyer; then he struck mee & thrust me out, & sayd I should not come into the office, and asking for my gloves, he took my gloves and threw them & my letter (to White hall) at me. I took my gloves and left the letter which he said should not go.
"Sir I pray vindicate my instant cause & the rather because before a number of seamen all strangers told me I was an old phanattic."

Richard Watts' letter was addressed to the government spymaster, Secretary of State Joseph Williamson, and contained intelligence from Grimsby that a large Holland fleet was in sight off Spurn Point.

It was a time of mounting war fever. A few days later Charles II formally declared war on the Dutch.

Notary Richard Watts resorted to filing his report via Dover, with the postscript "He said he would make me stink at Whitehall."

John Carlile forwarded Watts' report to Williamson’s newswriter, Henry Muddiman, adding his own view:
"I find there is a feud betwixt Mr. Watts & Mr. Lodge, of Deal, Mr. Watts is both honest able & willing to serve his Majestie in his sphere, but the other I think not fitted to be trusted in that imploy he is in, for Lodge was always factious & Watts was always loyal, for of the two I think Mr. Watts ought to be credited before the other … I could wish that Mr. Williamson would end the contravartion between them & silence Lodge for he is an impertinent fellow."

A week later postmaster Morgan Lodge heard about the complaint; he protested that he was falsely accused:
"I have all ways demeaned myself in my place and station with sociability & good respect to all men, & have here to fore both served and suffered for his Majesty & am now a volunteer in Sir Rich. Sands his trup my small estate lay under sequestration … though I am branded by him, who was a sequestrators clarke."

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


The two men had history. Williamson’s elaborate intelligence network depended on a closed list of informants located around the country, who sent in news and received his manuscript newsletters in return. He kept them loyal without paying them by ensuring that the only licensed news sheet, the London Gazette, carried no domestic news worth reading.

(By 1666 Williamson had also squeezed out the independent-minded government contractor Muddiman, whose newsletters had provided domestic and foreign news since the Restoration, by cutting his access to government sources and raiding his contact list.)

The town of Deal served the anchorage of The Downs, where navy ships were stationed and merchant fleets would pick up pilots for the river, or wait for a following wind or a convoy.

Homebound ships put passengers and mail ashore at Deal, to take the faster overland route to London; it was a crucial entry point for intelligence from everywhere.

Secretary Williamson retained both Notary Richard Watts and postmaster Morgan Lodge as Deal correspondents; he doubtless took the view that rivalry and fear of being dropped from the privileged circle served to concentrate their minds.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Fear and anxiety extended up the food chain.

In 1668 James Hickes, chief clerk at the letter office in London, prostrated himself in a 2 am letter to Williamson: his severe chastisement had sent Hickes from court with tears in his eyes, yet he despaired not of reconcilement when Williamson considered that he was subordinate to the commands of others. He never wrote nor told him an untruth nor declined to serve him, and had suffered great straits in discharging his duty.

Hickes’ brief fall from favor gives a flavor of the management style favored by Secretary Williamson, whose portrait by Kneller shows an imperious person with sharp eyes, a pointed nose and a slightly mocking stare.

Who were these two, postmaster and scrivener, mere cogs in Secretary Williamson’s intelligence machine? Their lives shed some light on how news was gathered before newspapers were freed from state control.

Notary Watts was born in 1624 near Canterbury, the son of an unfortunate cleric who under King Charles was denounced to archbishop Laud for tavern-haunting and drunkenness, and then accused under Laud’s nemesis Parliament as a delinquent; his property was sequestered for the rest of his life.

Richard Watts had, by his own account, been in the service of King Charles during the first Civil War and was obliged to go abroad for a while. By 1660 he had ‘for several years past been employed in the making of writings at Deal’.

By 1661, Watts was recording tenancies for Archbishop Juxon, and later petitioned for a notary’s license because, for the want of a public notary, ‘there is a great hinderance to merchants and masters of ships coming into the Downs (sometimes to the loss of a fair wind)’.

Richard Watts got his Notary license in January 1662, and another as a schoolmaster a few weeks later, both granted by the diocesan court of Canterbury.

Also in 1661 the commissioners for regulating corporations certified that Richard Watts had suffered much for loyalty and was suitable for an employment of trust. His loyalist credentials were secure.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Morgan Lodge was born about 1633, the son of a Somerset husbandman. We do not know why or when he came to Kent. His ‘small estate’, sequestered until the Restoration, may have been his late father’s tenement at Chiselborough.

There is no sign of Morgan Lodge in records of sequestered delinquents in either county, although his kinsman John Wills of Chiselborough does appear, having compounded in 1653 (he paid the fee to discharge his estate from sequestration).

By 1661 Morgan Lodge was living in Deal, and in 1662 he was licensed as a surgeon – another of the archbishop’s powers – which suggests skills acquired in the military, or perhaps with the East India Company.

Morgan Lodge’s route out of Somerset probably had something to do with the Phelips family of Montacute, 3 miles from Chiselborough.

(Robert Phelips and his brother Edward were royalist colonels involved in Charles II’s escape after the second battle of Worcester.)
Robert became one of Charles’ courtiers in exile and was closely associated with another of them, Sir John Mennes (who grew up in Sandwich, a couple of miles from Deal).

Mennes was an admiral, a secret agent (once he was sent to Flushing to monitor the posts) and was also an amateur venereologist who acted as physician to the exiled court.

From this we can reasonably speculate that young Morgan Lodge was caught up in the royalist flight from the south-west, perhaps as a cavalry trooper, and settled in Deal because it was a convenient landing-place for furtive cross-channel travelers: there he was useful to royalists.

Or maybe Morgan Lodge simply found work in a very busy place.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Lower Deal was a settlement by the beach made up of houses thrown up ad-hoc during or after the first Anglo-Dutch war by the pilots and other local people who serviced the ships in the Downs, on waste land seized by Parliament from the see of Canterbury.

The inhabitants got their living from the fleets, but they were no more compliant with Cromwell’s government than they had to be.

After the war, it was reported, a navy captain trying to press a young man at Deal was assailed by a tumultuous company of the inhabitants, and forced with his men to take to the boat, and repair on board, where he was confined several days, both his eyes being injured with stones; all his company were hurt.

The town was no more obliging to Charles II’s pressgangs 10 years later.

Pilots refused to serve in the English men-of-war, and the chief surgeon at Deal reported that local people caring for sick and wounded seamen would take no more in; in both cases for want of payment by the admiralty.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Morgan Lodge had a god-daughter, Edith Blake, whose father was an ironmonger at Langport on the Somerset Levels; she later married Robert Phelips’ nephew Sir Edward Phelips.
Her birth around 1663 suggests godfather Lodge was in Somerset that year, possibly to see to his lost property, although he was by then living in Deal.

At his death Morgan Lodge bequeathed to Edith Blake ‘one candle cup and two trenchers and plates of silver that have the Phillips armes on them two yards of cloath of silver and half or thereabouts and the East India cabinett and the closset of china’; he did not say how these things came to be in his hands.

Morgan Lodge had a lease on a pair of inns in Lower Deal called the East India Arms and the Mermaid, the latter perhaps honoring the celebrated Mermaid tavern in Bread Street, London, destroyed in the Great Fire.

The Phelips silverware and East India cabinet might have been kept at the East India Arms for the entertainment of the company’s grandees when they came ashore at Deal.

The position of postmaster at Deal was probably Morgan Lodge’s reward for service during the Interregnum (one of Charles II’s spies, Daniell O’Neill, became postmaster-general in 1663). It was a lucrative position. He was paid to run the post office, to maintain a boat and pay boatmen, and to keep horses and pay postboys to carry the mail.

It was usual for postmasters to be innkeepers too, and they had a monopoly of hiring out horses to travelers on the post roads.

Richard Watts was among the first to take new leases in 1661 after the Deal estates were restored to the archbishop, on a tenement in the ‘sea valley’ behind the beach. [Archbishops and Bishops were not recognized during the Puritan Interregnum, so their estates had to be restored to them after 1660. - SDS]

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Under Secretary Williamson’s system, in all weathers so long as a boat could be got off Deal beach, a post-office man would tour the ships and collect from each the name, commander, where sailing for or arrived from, and any shipping intelligences they might have picked up.

The resulting lists were carried overnight in the mails to the General Post Office in London, on horseback in 20-mile relays by post-boys employed by the local postmasters.

The ship lists went to the two secretaries of state, to the navy office and to the custom house;
letters from informants went to Williamson, along with covert correspondence from his spies and copies of any letters between persons of interest, which were quietly opened and resealed at the Post Office with an ingenuity much admired elsewhere: ‘They have tricks to open letters more skillfully than anywhere else in the world’ was the view of a French ambassador (quoted in The Intelligence of the Secretaries of State by Peter Fraser, a study of Williamson’s various surveillance operations which resonates now).

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Back to the fracas in Deal: Postmaster Lodge was linked to diehard royalists of the Knights of the Royal Oak, who were resistant to the general mood of reconciliation that prevailed after 1660.

Notary Watts’ sympathies were more democratic.
In March 1665, 5 sea-captains who were searching for seamen hiding in Deal in order to press them complained that they applied to the town’s chief magistrate for assistance. He was in bed and would not get up, and the other magistrates also refused to help: Watts was one of them.

But Watts was rattled enough by postmaster Lodge’s attacks to launch a poisonous assault in his own defense.
In April 1665 he sent Secretary Williamson a list of schismatics in Deal: Samuel Taverner, the former commander of Deal Castle who became a Baptist preacher,
Salsbury & one Thomas: two foolish Quakers,
William Hollis: A rye neckt Anabaptist, hee hath neither wit nor money but an evill heart,
John Milford: A good scholler, a cunning fellow an excomunicated Anabaptist, he is but poor, he is followed by all the anabaptists & independents in the cuntry. This is he who is Morgan Lodge the postmaster’s clark, for Lodge cannot write a legible hand. He hath the view of outward letters several hours before we see them.
The wife of Mr. Richard Bridges: he is a good Christian but his wife worse than a devil against the Cavalry: she hath store of money and her husband would be glad she were punished, for he cannot beat religion into her, nor persuade her to see a steeple house (As disgracefully they call it)
Knot: A poor Sysmatick
Mr Biglestone: This fellow and his wife very devilish against the Cavalry. His wife is reported to say about 12 years ago, when her hands were bloudy dressing a pig, these blasphemers words “Oh that my hands were in that rebel’s bloud Charles Stewart.” But since his Majesty’s happy restoration: she forswears it & he cometh to church when he hath nothing else to do (he is rich).
And so on.
Watts added: "Those generally are very dangerous persons & only wait for opportunity. They were all officers in Noll’s Army’.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Both Lodge and Watts survived as informants to Williamson and recipients of his newsletters.
Postmaster Lodge sent regular ship lists and occasional letters, but he was not a skilled reporter.
Notary Watts had a better nose for useful information and he had good contacts among the Deal pilots, who picked up news from around the coast and across the Channel.
He reported the movements of ships and people through the Downs and Deal, the successes and disasters of navy fleets, privateers and merchantmen, and sometimes foreign news.
He added notes on the reliability of his sources, often ships’ masters or passengers, occasionally his own contacts abroad.

Secretary Williamson’s correspondents were told to write by every post whether they had news or not, and sometimes Watts padded his letters with local oddities – once he wrote that near Deal a step-aunt had beaten a child to death; the coroner found the child died naturally, ‘at which all men admire’.

In the second plague year (1667) Notary Watts moved to Walmer for a while and took to the water, travelling by boat to send news from up and down the coast.
He reported daily on the desperate situation in Deal: the distemper was very violent, sweeping away whole families, and no intercourse was permitted with Deal so letters must be sent by Sandwich.

The third Anglo-Dutch War brought disease again in 1673: smallpox, calenture and pestilential fevers were rife in Deal, caught from sick sailors who were quartered in poor people’s houses.
It was thought that if the Commissioners for Sick and Wounded had hired one house and sent nurses, it would have saved the lives of several of the inhabitants and of many more of the sailors.
The commissioner for the Kent coast was the diarist John Evelyn.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Notary Watts seems to have suffered from toothache, his difficulty perhaps that to have a tooth pulled would have meant putting himself in the hands of surgeon.postmaster Lodge.
The only traces of Lodge’s practice as a surgeon are 2 probate accounts showing payments to him for medicine administered to the deceased in their sickness.

During the second Anglo-Dutch war, Secretary Williamson tightened his grip on the supply of news, and there was another flurry of suspicion and distrust.
In February 1666 Evelyn passed on to Lord Albemarle something he had been told:
‘The persons name is John Braines, in the packet-boat belonging to the post-office, at Deal; who (I am inform’d) being an Anabaptist, and great friend to all the factious people about that place, is suspected of conveying intelligence, and doing ill offices under the protection of his employment’.

Notary Watts assured Secretary Williamson he would no longer correspond with the ousted Muddiman. He hoped for the surveyor’s or a landwaiter’s place at Deal – Col. Titus, captain of Deal Castle, and the Archbishop of Canterbury would vouch for him.

As the second Anglo-Dutch war wore on into 1667, Watts tried to recruit more correspondents for Williamson, and we get a view of some practicalities of newsgathering.
In February he travelled to the south coast and procured a man in Lydd, instructing him to write to the purpose and not complimentally,
The man proved no use and by July Watt had found an alternative correspondent at New Romney.
This recruit would send his letters by Rye all the summer; but in winter no horse could go that way, and there was no flying boat between Rye and Dover, which was 30 miles.
(It appears that hostilities between Watts and Morgan Lodge had been suspended, if only temporarily: they briefed the new man jointly.)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


On 12 June, 1667, Notary Watts heard news of the naval fiasco in which the Dutch devastated the English fleet while it was laid up in the Medway. After covering his back he went on to report the volatile popular mood:

"I am commanded by you to show you the opinion and report of the country, but if I should write all, I should first request for a pardon, for mouths are now very loose … when we heard the Dutch were gone up the river, and some of our best ships fired by them, and the Royal Charles in their possession, and little or no opposition, the common people, and almost all others ran mad, some crying out we were sold, others that there were traitors in the Council; then the loss of Dunkirk, the dividing of the fleet, the disbanding the army, the non-payment of the seamen, and permitting so many merchant ships to go out of the land, and several other things were called in question. And truly, had not the news suddenly changed, they would undoubtedly have rose and attempted strange things. Amongst the rest, great blame is laid upon the paymasters of the navy; and as our seamen say, (for we have above 300 in the service), his Majesty is abused, for some of our neighbours have stayed two years and eighteen months for their pay, and yet have offered 8s. in the pound for their ticket money, and cannot get it. As it is at and near Deal, it is all the country over."

Richard Watts was also at times Customs surveyor, and postmaster/surgeon Lodge also a landwaiter.

In 1667 Morgan Lodge wrote to Williamson that he could only find a few oranges on board 3 Ostenders, but was sending them to him as a present, knowing they were scarce in London.

On the other hand Watts’s habitual gift was a cask of a local speciality, Margate ale.

Morgan Lodge was sacked as Deal postmaster late in 1674 and worked for a while at the London head office of the East India Company, for which he was already acting as agent in Deal; later he was hired by the Hudson’s Bay Company to board their ships and search for smuggled furs.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Morgan Lodge was back in the post-office compiling the ship lists by July 1676, when he can be found tangling with the postmaster-general Roger Whitley, who writes to him:

"Having been an old officer I wonder you are so defective in some part of your Duty, as to omit in your lists, some ships newly come in, the merchants are much dissatisfied thereby.
Pray fail not to mention all ships whatever, whether Inward or outward bound, whilst they are in the Downes.
Also to give us a distinct accompt of the ship letters, by themselves & always to charge the Deal letters, that if the other happen to break loose among them, we may know how to distinguish betwixt them."

Three weeks later postmaster-general Whitley has spotted a more serious offence:
"When you writ to me, to desire liberty to send lists to the navy office and custom house, I had not the least thoughts of your intentions of sending them free, therefore I gave consent, but I must desire you to consider the damage I suffer by it: for they allways had their lists from the office and paid for them (which though but small) yet is daily and amounts to money in the year, so that I must desire you either to send the lists to the office, as formerly, or expect to have them charged upon you, for I must not suffer any incroachments, upon the benefits and priveliges of the office … I doubt not, but you understand these things, and hope you have that kindness for me, as not to use any sinister practices, in your employment; but rather to study, in all things to promote, the interest of the office, and of [me]."

Lodge and Watts, near the bottom of the elaborate pyramid of Stuart patronage, might be seen as forerunners of the people who would do the legwork for the two branches of the coming newspaper business.
Lodge the local agent making himself useful to the authorities and the merchant companies, whose regular ship lists became tradeable information;
Watts the notary who knew everyone’s business and was clerk to the fellowship of Deal pilots, whose news reports (often first hand) were interspersed with sketches of local affairs.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Notary Richard Watts died in 1685.

Morgan Lodge relinquished the position of postmaster in about 1689 but was still retained by the Hudson’s Bay Company.
He outlived his wife and children; towards the end of his life he married a Phelips widow and went back to Chiselborough, leaving his properties in Deal and Eastry to his nephew Richard Knight.
One more thing:
Morgan Lodge owned a slave. In his will of 1695 he bequeathed to John Wills of Chiselborough ‘the Indian maid that now lives with him’.

We have Secretary Williamson to thank for the survival of an eclectic record of ordinary affairs alongside the usual matters of state; it stops abruptly at the point when he ceased to be secretary of state early in 1679. He seems to have thrown nothing away, and he preserved his great stash of papers in an archive which has survived among the state papers of the time.

By the 1690s, the pomp of the Stuarts was gone, as was the Licensing of the Press act, two rival London newspapers appeared – The Post Boy and The Flying Post, and a coffee-house keeper named Edward Lloyd was putting ship lists into print as a service to his merchant customers.

Direct quotations from the Deal correspondence are from letters held in the State Papers Domestic, SP 29, at the National Archives, Kew;
transcriptions are mine or, in one case, by the editor of one of the Calendars of State Papers, which are the sources of all the indirect quotations.
Extracts from Roger Whitley’s letters to Morgan Lodge are from a Whitley letter book at the British Postal Museum & Archive, POST 94/16.
Other source documents are held by Lambeth Palace Library, Canterbury Cathedral Archives, Kent History and Library Centre, Somerset Archive and Record Service, and the British Library.

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







  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Nov