The following letter and summary of Brampton rents are from Helen Truesdell Heath’s The Letters of Samuel Pepys and His Family Circle. In this letter and the estate summary, Sam has set forth a proposed plan for his father’s consideration regarding the settlement of the Brampton estate. All information and quotations set forth herein come from Heath’s above referenced book.

This letter is from Sam to his father, John Pepys. John is sixty-two years of age when he receives this letter. John’s elder brother Robert had left the major portion of his estate to John, “slighting an intermediate brother, Thomas, to whom and to whose married sister he left only annuities” (page 1, note 4). This estate came with a double-edged sword as it included not only the property, but its debts and responsibilities. At the time of this letter, John is currently living in Brampton and has left his tailor shop to his son Thomas. John visited Sam in April 1663 to discuss the financial situation of the estate. “Samuel, after a study of the tangled records, has drawn up a programme of economy for his parents and a schedule of benevolence for” (p. xix) their consideration.

Heath’s text is directly from the manuscript. This letter is from the Rawlinson Collection in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, in the Admiralty volumes of the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge. She notes that for this specific letter there is a reference to a listing of funds owing to the estate which is not included herein as it is not found among the Rawlinson MS. The “enclosed accompt” of the rents referred to in the letter is included as the second item presented herein. Additional notes explain that Will Stankes, who is mentioned in the letter, is the baliff of the Brampton estates. Her note 2 on page 2 explains that “Tom Trice was Uncle Robert’s foster-son, by a marriage in 1630 with Ann Trice, a widow with seven children. The will excludes her specifically by reason of alleged fraud in the marriage settlement. A caveat against the estate was being entered in her name by her two sons, Tom and Jasper Trice.” The reference to the “Wardrob’s plase” is a reference to the position of the Master of the Wardrobe, which was among the positions granted by Charles II to Sam’s cousin, Lord Sandwich. “Sam had secured that the post of Yeoman Tailor in this establishment might revert to his father when it should next fall vacant” (p. 2, note 3).

The formatting of the schedule of rents at Brampton does not exactly reflect the original as it appeared in Ms. Heath’s collection. Sam had grouped the sections a little differently and had written the titles to each section in the left and/or right margins. In addition some of the numbers had “.” after them and some did not. This undated document was referenced in the letter to his father and included with it. The content is from the original and, as the letter it is attached to, is presented in full.

I . Sam’s Letter to His Father

This letter was an original, with red wax seal. Holograph. Endorsed: “May 16, 1663. The Present Generall State of Our affaires at Bramton, given my Father for his future direction therein. S.P.”

May 16, 1663


believing that the wearysomeness of your late journy is by this time throughly over, and being unwilling to delay the stateing to you in writing the present posture of our affaires for a guide to you in your future expences (which for the time to come I hope you will understand it to bee necessary by all ways possible to lessen) I have thought fitt to take this time of doeing it, and in the first place must reminde you, that after our many great disbursements upon Repayres, funeral charges, paying of debts and legacys, and a deare housekeeping there remaynes yet behinde, Six hundred and fifteene pounds unpayd in debts and Legacys; Towards which wee have comeing to us by your hands and myne according to the perticulers mentioned in a paper annexed — 376 £ 09 s 00d, which as fast it comes in is to bee employed towards the payment of the aforesayd Debt. And there will remayne to bee provided for, the sum of 238 £ 11s 00d more then wee have any mony comeing to us to make good, but what shall arise out of the rents of the estate.

Now the Rents of the estate, which remaynes unsold to at this day amount to 75£, 09s, 00d per annum all taxes and charges deducted, as by the enclosed accompt you will perticularly see. Out of which 75£ 09s 00d wee being pay 25£ to my uncle Thomas and Aunt Perkins, there will rest but 50£ and 9s per annum towards your maintenance and the payment of the above-sayd debt of 238£ 11s 00, which debt however seeing it must be payd soone or late and that wee may the sooner bee ridd of all trouble and clamours, wee did at your being here conclude it necessary to sell Sturtlow, which by Will Stankes’s reckoning may yeeld 480£ out of which my Brother Thomas may bee supplyed with 200£ for his share (which will bee a very plentifull provision for him) and pay the debt of 238£ 11s 00, besides a remayner of 41£ 09s 00d, which it is too probable wee shall have occasions enough of laying out in charges of Courts, repayres and following the law against Tom Trice, with other charges I cannot now thinke of .

But that which follows next to be considered is how you and my mother shall be maintayned out of what remaynes when Sturtlow is sold which will bee but 29£ per annum. This I confesse is a very sad consideration, That after soe much expectation, trouble and removing your selfe from a better condition you should finde noe better provision made for you then a house to live in and 29 £ a yeare. But Sir as it helpes us nothing to afflict ourselfe for what wee cannot prevent, soe doth it concerne us more to study how to improve the best wee can that little which is left. And that I may not appeare wanting to the best of my ability to encourage and assist you herein, I am contented to make up the losse of Sturtlow to you out of my owne purse, so that you may have entire 50£ a yeare to live upon, till by the death of my uncle Thomas, or the falling of the Wardrob’s plase it may bee raysed to you some other way. You cannot but thinke that for mee to part with twenty pounds a yeare out of my purse in steade of haveing 30£ a yeare and the rent of Sturtlow as the Will gives mee is an unwellcome burthen; but Sir I have two designes (besides my duty in generall to bee assisting to you) which if I bee not disappointed in I shall thinke my parting with that Summe very well bestowed.

1. I would by this oblige my mother and you to the study of thrift and quietnesse, that I may heare noe more of those differences, which to my great griefe I have of late understood doe often arise betweene you. From whence they come I know not, nor am willing to enquire, But this I know, that it did not use to bee soe, not I trust in god will bee here after, there being nothing that I can hope or doe wish for you more, then that the abatement of your plenty may bee made up in the encrease of your peace.

2. I hope hereby not only my selfe to bee at a certainty, what it is that I must provide to spare out of my owne expences for you, but you alsoe when you shall see thoroughly what it is and noe more that you can expect either from the estate, or mee, will not (as you have hitherto) spend at a guesse but will bee able at every months or Quarters end to tell, whether you doe excede or come within your allowance.

And I must needs further say, that considering you live rent free, and I hope free from any future charge for my Brother John or any of your Children but Pall, that 50 £ a yeare will bee thought a good competence. Especially if all ways of thrift bee studyed, as I hope you will all thinke it necessary from hence forward to doe. And by the way lett mee tell you, that if I understand any thing of thrift, it cannot be any good husbandry to such a family as yours to keepe either hoggs, poultry, sheepe, cowes, (or horses more than one) there being meate of all sorts, milke, butter, cheese eggs fowle and every thing elce to bee had cheaper and I am sure with more quiet at the market, if not at your doore, then for you to keep them besides the danger of theyr dying or being stolne. This I desire you and my mother to consider of, and if you judge it as I doe to bee good husbandry, then not to scruple the parting with them upon any other pretences, but sell them off; by which, being now on even ground and the rents from Lady day last comeing to you, you will bee the better able to spare the other monys mentioned in the enclosed paper for the payment of Debts and Legacys, without which we shall never bee able to cleare our selfes thereof.

But if after all this you shall finde, that 50£ per annum will not doe; I beleive you cannot but know that for that mony you and mother may bee boarded well either in City or Country and (Pall being placed abroad in some good service) spend your days without further cares or charge. All this I doe earnestly recommend to your selfe and my mother to consider of, it being the greatest wish I have in the world, that by my advice and purse (soe farr as I can without wrong to her whom I am obliged to make provision for) I may bee able to assist you in makeing such provision for you as may enable you to passe the remaynder of your time with a sufficiency of estate and ease. Soe craving your blessing I remayne

Your ever obedient Sonn

I have sent you alsoe herein a Copy of Severall lands wee have in Brampton, how they are lett and to whom, that you may see what the rents of the whole come to, and what the taxes and other charges thereupon doe amount to.
For my father.

II. Summary of the Brampton Estate


A perticuler accompt of the Rents of our lands at Brampton; how they are disposed of, and what taxes and charges lye upon them.

  £ s d
These are letten
1 To Tom Head 38 acres and a halfe by lease for 15 yeares from Lady day. 1662. at the yearely rent of 14 00 00
2 To Gransden a close of Pasture at 02 00 00
3 To Newberry a close for 3 yeares at 02 00 00
4 To William Ratford 3 acres of pasture for three yeares at the yearely rent of 01 16 00
5 To John Stankes an acre of pasture at 00 12 00
6 To John Stankes an acre & halfe of Meadow 01 05 00
7 To Richard Hall an acre of Meadow 00 16 00
8 To William Newberry an acre of Meadow 00 15 00
9 To John Chaford and Richard Ireland 6 acres & a halfe in Long fishers meadow at 04 06 00
10 To Medborough 2 acres & halfe of Meadow 02 00 00
These are unlett
11 Three acres & halfe of Peggs hedge close 01 15 00
12 Eight acres in Good Cow and Brants willows close 04 00 00
13 Bayliffes close 2 acres 01 00 00
14 Fishers meadow 6 acres 03 00 00
15 Tobys house 00 15 00
Totall 40 00 00
Out of which 40 £ a year is to bee taken
  £ s d [Note: this was totalled on the side as below]
1 For Taxes at 6s a month 2 08 00
2 For Lords rents for a yeare 2 00 00
3 For the Minister & Clerke & c 0 13 00 05 11 00
4 For the parish dutys of 10 acres which must bee kept in our hands to preserve a horse’s commoning 0 10 00
Soe the cleare yearly value of Brampton lands after all charges deducted is 34 09 00
An account of our Yeareley Rents
  £ s d
1 Offord letts per annum for 23 00 00
Out of which abate for Taxes and Lords rent 03 00 00
There remaynes cleare per annum 20 00 00
2 Budgen letts per annum for 24 00 00
Out of which abate for Lords rent, 26s and 8d And for Taxes 33s 03 00 00
There remaynes cleare per annum 21 00 00
3 Brampton lets per annum according to the perticulers annexed for 40 00 00
Out of which abate for Taxes & c 05 11 00
There remaynes cleare per annum 34 09 00
  Soe the Cleare yearely value of all three places comes to 75 09 00
  Out of which wee being to pay yeareley to my uncle Thomas 20 £ to my aunt Perkins 5 £ There will remayne cleare after the payment of those annuitys
  £ s d
  50 00 00

Our present condition therefore is, Wee have Fifty pounds Rents yearely comeing in, & debt of Two hundred thirty eight pounds eleven shillings to pay out of it.


First Reading

Ruben  •  Link

thank you Jeannine for your effort. This letter makes SP more palpable than ever

Lawrence  •  Link

Marvelous and informative, brilliant as per usual Jeannine, many thanks.

Lawrence  •  Link

Am I right in thinking that Sam is worth 700L? at about this time, yet 600L it is on loan to Lord Sandwich?
Sam hearing how Lord Sandwich lost 50L to Charles and Barbara the other night at playing Cards, and was pleased enough to lose that sum to the King. With Fielding's case hanging over Him, also the Trice's trying to get their Share of the Brampton Estate, It's no wonder that Sam is being cautious with His Father and the settlement at Brampton?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Great stuff, Jeannine! Many thanks. It's so interesting to see the contrast between the informal Sam (whom we know so well through the Diary, writing for himself) and the formal Sam.

Jesse  •  Link

"a guide to you in your future expences"
Something of a reversal of father/son roles. Due to 'he who has the money', it's all too much for the old man or a little of both?
"that I may heare noe more of those differences" Good luck.
"every thing elce to bee had cheaper and I am sure with more quiet at the market"
Were Sam's parents living in a 17th century suburb where rural practices were more for hobby than practical need?
Well, I'm in favor of the olde spelling and many thanks for this post. The Brampton background was most helpful and the letter does indeed contrast with the diary entries perhaps with Sam putting in a little more thought before putting pen to paper.

Jakub  •  Link

I'm in favor of the olde money.
But lets not go down that road!

Pedro  •  Link

Thanks Jeannine for another informative article.

As Todd has commented, this formal style provides an interesting contrast. I wonder if this “great letter” to his father is typical of the way he wrote to his family circle.

Can’t help thinking that the world would be a better place if more of us could take up “the study quietnesse.”

Australian Susan  •  Link

Fascinating! I now want to read more of Sam's letter.

Interesting that Sam takes such a particular interest in the minutiae of the Brampton life - issueing guidelines as to household management and economies. He is always interested in every little detail!

Do we ever know Sam's father's reaction to this letter? Did he accept it as Sam's right to lecture him like this? Or would he have been irriated by Sam's assumptions of better knowledge?

pauline  •  Link

reading a letter written by Sam
But not in shorthand that is transcribed later (how much later?).
I saw this not only as Sam being more formal but also as a bit more of how Sam would have sounded if he had "written out" his diary intead of using shorthand that is later "spelled out" by someone else. Of course a style difference between writing for himself and taking the time to consolidate his thinking and accounting of the complicated situation of the estate for his father

jeannine  •  Link

The Family Letters,

To answer what I can and add more information...apparently there is a vast collection of Sam's letters left behind in assorted Pepys' collections. The book that this letter came from concerned "family" letters and Heath (editor) explains that in regards to the family centric letters that their subject matter is "closer to the diary than any previous collection of letters. Whereas it is the Pepys of the diary who has endeared himself to readers, the Pepys revealed by previous collections of letters has been the secretary of the Admirality or the aged, infirm, retired savant of Clapham. The present collection, however, returns us to the man of family pride, personal ambition, and meticulous responsibility whom diary readers watched at the outset of his career" (p. viii). Heath also explains that "There is internal evidence that more letters were exchanged between the diarist and his father than have been preserved; the surviving letters are consistent in revealing a father never quite equal to the occasion, always demanding or receiving some type of aid (p. xx)"
There is no reply to this specific letter in the collection. Perhaps some diary entry to come will record John's reaction to Sam's advice. Within the family, Sam clearly has the advantage of an education, as reflected through his ability to pull together the financial situation and then draw advice and a plan from the details. It's not clear if John Sr. could have gathered and analyzed the data in the same fashion.
Personally I was very surprised by comment #1 "study of thrift and quietnesse, that I may heare noe more of those differences, which to my great griefe I have of late understood doe often arise betweene you. From whence they come I know not, nor am willing to enquire, But this I know, that it did not use to bee soe, not I trust in god will bee here after". I thought that to be quite unusual (disrespectful perhaps) for a son to state to his father. He didn't place blame on either, but made it clear that he didn't want to hear about his parents' issues any more. Rather odd to find this in a letter offering financial advice.
Lawrence, I'm not sure about his finances at this time, but I do believe that Sam will always watch his money carefully and will no doubt pass comments on Sandwich, the King and the King's "groupies" who blow money gambling, etc. He is too conservative and serious about the value of a dollar to waste money. Jesse's comment about a "reversal of father/son roles" seems right on the spot to me.
Finally if looking for any collections of letters, many of those collections are weighted to the years after the diary. There is a collection by Tanner that covers more of the Navy correspondents from 1662-1679. Again, these are more "public: in nature so they lack the fun zest (i.e. gossip, his feelings, etc.) that are found in the Diary, but to Pauline's point weren't translated from shorthand, so they reflect his language.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

The private vs the public mien; Only in recent years have the formality and informality even touched on the other. The Diary shows that separation on inner feelings from the Facade of outer garment of self, appears to have existed. Respect was required in all dealings with ones Mama and Papa and higher authorative two legged mammals. The first world war smashed that idea as the old pomposity of requiring total respect for authority, got one killed, formality now has been eroded, bordering on anarchy in some places.
Sam is having some conflicting thoughts on this subject in reguards to Eliza doing " her thing"
Thanks Jeannine for this letter as it does give insight, both to the relationship of Child with Parents, and good understanding of how the householder with a small income doth maintain a life style. The numbers seem not to change until the late 1940's now there be no good understanding of the real worth, as our normal requirements were total luxury to those o centuries.

TerryF  •  Link

Thanks, Jeannine, for the quintessential Sam, who, finally, wishes for his parents what would stand us all well to be wished by our children in our own retirements if 'twere fit, viz. "there being nothing that I can hope or doe wish for you more, then that the abatement of your plenty may bee made up in the encrease of your peace."

dirk  •  Link

"The letters of Samuel Pepys and his family circle", edited by Helen Truesdell Heath, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1955

can be read online at:…

[Just close the "Welcome to Questia" screen that pops up.]

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Thanks, Jeanine. I'm impresed by the clarity and organization of the letter, and after reading it through understand better how Sam is able on occasion to cram so much detail into one of his long diary entries. He truly has a capacious and well organized mind. Like Pauline I was also struck by the stylistic difference between the diary entries jotted down for his own use and this letter, aimed at his father and aimed to persuade. It does, as other comments note, give us a more rounded picture of Sam.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Thanks for the link, dirk, which I have only just got round to exploring - great reading!

Mitchell Butts  •  Link

this may seem weird, but last night i had a strange dream about working at a convenient store and inbetween 2 of the cash registers was a cemetary and one of the graves marked "may 16, 1663" and my boss was this man with a brown cowboy-looking hat on and a gentleman's suite on. any ideas if this is relevant to any of that posted?

Second Reading

Phil C.  •  Link

I read the following passage differently from Jeanine, above...
"study of thrift and quietnesse, that I may heare noe more of those differences, which to my great griefe I have of late understood doe often arise betweene you. From whence they come I know not, nor am willing to enquire, But this I know, that it did not use to bee soe, not I trust in god will bee here after".
I thought this is not Pepys saying that he doesn't want to be told about his parents disagreements any more, but rather as a loving and concerned son he wishes his parents could get along together the way they had in the past.
This shows him in a much better light, trying to discreetly give marriage counselling to his parents - always a delicate task!

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Interesting that we, the readers and annotators, call the author of the diaries "Sam": I doubt that *anyone* did so in his day!

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