Collection of Documents Signed By Pepys as Clerk of the Acts of the Navy, Together with Other Similar Documents

Collection of Documents Signed By Pepys as Clerk of the Acts of the Navy, Together with Other Similar Documents


[Pepys, Samuel]



A collection of one hundred and twenty-seven documents signed by Pepys and other prominent members of the Navy Board, with twenty-seven being signed by Pepys. Dated between 29 January 1668/9 and 18 December 1669, and arranged chronologically. Tipped onto boards, guarded, and handsomely bound into three volumes by Sangorski and Sutcliffe. Full blue crushed morocco, raised bands, spines in six panels, title lettered directly to second panel, volume number to third, name to fourth, remaining panels with a double fillet gilt border surrounding a single fillet frame with roundel corner pieces, covers with single fillet gilt border and double fillet frame surrounding a single fillet frame with roundel corner pieces, representation of Pepys' book plate in gilt to centre of covers, dotted line roll to edges, single fillet border and two line frame, joined by fleuron corner pieces, to inner edges, a.e.g., marbled endpapers and pastedowns. Couple of minor bumps to fore edge of first volume, very minor rubbing to extremities, indentation to upper cover of volume three, otherwise bright and clean. Each volume with manuscript title page, the documents generally in good order, occasional cropping and wear to margins, with occasional holes, small chips and minor discolouration, one or two browned. There are forty-two documents in the first volume, forty in the second, and forty-five in the third, with the final twenty-seven in this volume being the ones signed by Pepys. A series of administrative documents giving a picture of the working of the Navy Board in 1669 under Samuel Pepys. Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) was made Clerk of the Acts of the Navy on 13 July, 1660. The Board controlled most of the material needs and manpower of the navy. His initial principal colleagues were Sir George Carteret, the Treasurer; Sir John Mennes, the comptroller (and signer of forty-eight of the documents here); Sir William Batten, the surveyor; and Sir William Penn. "Carteret and Mennes had been ‘gentlemen’ captains, while Batten and Penn represented the alternative brand of ‘tarpaulins’, whose claim to naval command was based on experience rather than heredity and court connection. Pepys, who was neither a gentleman nor a tarpaulin, entered office with due deference to both sorts. He soon formed a prejudice (borrowed from Sandwich) against the ‘gentlemen’, and paradoxically perpetuated the notion of a division in the officer structure which in fact became blurred, not a little by his own efforts. Having been made welcome by his older colleagues, within a short time he came to despise most of them for what he considered their inefficiency and corruption. Batten, Penn, and Mennes would be the particular targets of venomous epithets which Pepys's most sympathetic biographers have found difficult to square with his pervading geniality. It is perfectly true that Mennes and the ‘Sir Williams’ were not well suited to the chores of bookkeeping and accountancy in which Pepys delighted, and he was soon able to outsmart them in points of detail. He made it his business very quickly to learn the multifaceted work which had fallen his way. He engaged a tutor to improve the arithmetic he needed to follow the international finance on which the naval supplies depended. He made himself expert in the weights and measures of the goods themselves, talking to dockyard storekeepers, carpenters, and boatswains, getting to know all the wonderful wheezes and scams which could turn the king's shilling into a pretty penny" (Knighton in the ODNB). Sir John Cox (d. 1672), naval officer and administrator. In 1660 Cox had been appointed master attendant at Chatham Dockyard, responsible for all ships held in the harbour, later being appointed to the same post in Deptford. By 1669 he had returned to Chatham, replacing Peter Pett. He was killed at the battle of Solebay in 1672. (See MacDougall in the ODNB). Many of the other signatories of the documents in this collection naturally figure prominently in Pepys' diaries: William, 2nd Viscount Brouncker (1620-1684), mathematician and the first president of the Royal Society of London, who was a friend of Pepys and Evelyn, and translated Descartes. He was appointed a commissioner of the Admiralty in November 1664. "After their first meeting, Pepys described him as a 'modest civil person ... wholly ignorant in the business of the Navy as possible, but I hope to make a friend of him, being a worthy man' (Pepys, 5.341). It would seem that Brouncker performed his duties well: from December 1666 to December 1679 he was an assistant comptroller to the treasurer of the Admiralty" (McIntyre in the ODNB). Admiral Sir John Mennes (1599-1671), naval officer. In 1661 he took his seat at the Navy Board, "His junior colleague Pepys welcomed him as 'a good fair-conditioned man' (Pepys, Diary, 2.206), but he and others soon came to recognize the appointment as disastrous", though Pepys "never let his despair at 'the old fool' diminish his affection for Mennes as a friend, a wit, and a raconteur; he particularly admired his talents as a 'mimique' (Pepys, Diary, 7.2) and an improviser in verse" (Knighton in the ODNB). Admiral Sir Jeremy Smith (d. 1675), naval officer, was a commissioner of the Navy from 1669 as Comptroller of Victualling, "Pepys, while glad that 'a seaman, no merchant' was chosen, considered Smith, 'a silly, prating, talking man', was 'but very moderately qualified' (Pepys, Diary, 9.382; Pepys and the Second Dutch War, 211) and saw to it that his patent carried a clear job description. Smith was in post until death" (Knighton in the ODNB). Pepys' failing eyesight caused him to give up his diaries in May 1669, though he lived, and saw, for nearly another thirty-five years. An unusual opportunity to acquire so many Pepysian documents, and beautifully presented

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