John Evelyn's Diary 1696
John Evelyn's Diary 1696 January
12 Jan 1696. Great confusion and distraction by reason of the clipped money, and the difficulty found in reforming it.
02 Feb 1696. An extraordinary wet season, though temperate as to cold. The "Royal Sovereign" man-of-war burned at Chatham. It was built in 1637, and having given occasion to the levy of ship money was perhaps the cause of all the after troubles to this day. An Earthquake in Dorsetshire by Portland, or rather a sinking of the ground suddenly for a large space, near the quarries of stone, hindering the conveyance of that material for the finishing St. Paul's.
John Evelyn's Diary 1696 February
23 Feb 1696. They now began to coin new money.
26 Feb 1696. There was now a conspiracy of about thirty knights, gentlemen, captains, many of them Irish and English Papists, and Nonjurors or Jacobites (so called), to murder King William (45) on the first opportunity of his going either from Kensington, or to hunting, or to the chapel; and upon signal of fire to be given from Dover Cliff to Calais, an invasion was designed. In order to it there was a great army in readiness, men-of-war and transports, to join a general insurrection here, the Duke of Berwick (25) having secretly come to London to head them, King James (62) attending at Calais with the French army. It was discovered by some of their own party. £1,000 reward was offered to whoever could apprehend any of the thirty named. Most of those who were engaged in it, were taken and secured. The Parliament, city, and all the nation, congratulate the discovery; and votes and resolutions were passed that, if King William (45) should ever be assassinated, it should be revenged on the Papists and party through the nation; an Act of Association drawing up to empower the Parliament to sit on any such accident, till the Crown should be disposed of according to the late settlement at the Revolution. All Papists, in the meantime, to be banished ten miles from London. This put the nation into an incredible disturbance and general animosity against the French King and King James. The militia of the nation was raised, several regiments were sent for out of Flanders, and all things put in a posture to encounter a descent. This was so timed by the enemy, that while we were already much discontented by the greatness of the taxes, and corruption of the money, etc., we had like to have had very few men-of-war near our coasts; but so it pleased God that Admiral Rooke (46) wanting a wind to pursue his voyage to the Straits, that squadron, with others at Portsmouth and other places, were still in the Channel, and were soon brought up to join with the rest of the ships which could be got together, so that there is hope this plot may be broken. I look on it as a very great deliverance and prevention by the providence of God. Though many did formerly pity King James's condition, this design of assassination and bringing over a French army, alienated many o£ his friends, and was likely to produce a more perfect establishment of King William.
John Evelyn's Diary 1696 March
01 Mar 1696. The wind continuing N. and E. all this week, brought so many of our men-of-war together that, though most of the French finding their design detected and prevented, made a shift to get into Calais and Dunkirk roads, we wanting fire-ships and bombs to disturb them; yet they were so engaged among the sands and flats, that 'tis said they cut their masts and flung their great guns overboard to lighten their vessels. We are yet upon them. This deliverance is due solely to God. French were to have invaded at once England, Scotland, and Ireland.
08 Mar 1696. Divers of the conspirators tried and condemned.
Vesuvius breaking out, terrified Naples. Three [Note. Robert Charnock, Edward King, and Thomas Keys] of the unhappy wretches, whereof one was a priest, were executed for intending to assassinate the King; they acknowledged their intention, but acquitted King James of inciting them to it, and died very penitent. Divers more in danger, and some very considerable persons..
Great frost and cold.
John Evelyn's Diary 1696 April
06 Apr 1696. I visited Mr. Graham in the Fleet.
10 Apr 1696. The quarters of Sir William Perkins and Sir John Friend, lately executed on the plot, with Perkins's head, were set up at Temple Bar, a dismal sight, which many pitied. I think there never was such at Temple Bar till now, except once in the time of King Charles II., namely, of Sir Thomas Armstrong.
12 Apr 1696. A very fine spring season.
19 Apr 1696. Great offense taken at the three ministers who absolved Sir William Perkins and Friend at Tyburn. One of them (Snatt) was a son of my old schoolmaster. This produced much altercation as to the canonicalness of the action.
23 Apr 1696. I went to Eton, and dined with Dr. Godolphin, the provost. The schoolmaster assured me there had not been for twenty years a more pregnant youth in that place than my grandson (14). I went to see the King's House at Kensington. It is very noble, though not great. The gallery furnished with the best pictures [from] all the houses, of Titian, Raphael, Correggio, Holbein, Julio Romano, Bassan, Vandyke, Tintoretto, and others; a great collection of porcelain; and a pretty private library. The gardens about it very delicious.
26 Apr 1696. Dr. Sharp (51) preached at the Temple. His prayer before the sermon was one of the most excellent compositions I ever heard.
28 Apr 1696. The Venetian Ambassador made a stately entry with fifty footmen, many on horseback, four rich coaches, and a numerous train of gallants. More executions this week of the assassins. Oates (46) dedicated a most villainous, reviling book against King James (62), which he presumed to present to King William (45), who could not but abhor it, speaking so infamously and untruly of his late beloved Queen's own father.
John Evelyn's Diary 1696 May
02 May 1696. I dined at Lambeth, being summoned to meet my co-trustees, the Archbishop (59), Sir Henry Ashurst, and Mr. Serjeant Rotheram, to consult about settling Mr. Boyle's lecture for a perpetuity; which we concluded upon, by buying a rent charge of £50 per annum, with the stock in our hands.
06 May 1696. I went to Lambeth, to meet at dinner the Countess of Sunderland (54) and divers ladies. We dined in the Archbishop's wife's apartment with his Grace (59), and stayed late; yet I returned to Deptford at night.
13 May 1696. I went to London to meet my son (41), newly come from Ireland, indisposed. Money still continuing exceedingly scarce, so that none was paid or received, but all was on trust, the mint not supplying for common necessities. The Association with an oath required of all lawyers and officers, on pain of Praemunire, whereby men were obliged to renounce King James as no rightful king, and to revenge King William's death, if happening by assassination. This to be taken by all the Counsel by a day limited, so that the Courts of Chancery and King's Bench hardly heard any cause in Easter Term, so many crowded to take the oath. This was censured as a very entangling contrivance of the Parliament in expectation, that many in high office would lay down, and others surrender. Many gentlemen taken up on suspicion of the late plot, were now discharged out of prison.
29 May 1696. We settled divers offices, and other matters relating to workmen, for the beginning of Greenwich Hospital.
John Evelyn's Diary 1696 June
01 Jun 1696. I went to Deptford to dispose of our goods, in order to letting the house for three years to Vice Admiral Benbow (43), with condition to keep up the garden. This was done soon after.
04 Jun 1696. A committee met at Whitehall about Greenwich Hospital, at Sir Christopher Wren's (72), his Majesty's Surveyor-General. We made the first agreement with divers workmen and for materials; and gave the first order for proceeding on the foundation, and for weekly payments to the workmen, and a general account to be monthly.
11 Jun 1696. Dined at Lord Pembroke's (40), Lord Privy Seal, a very worthy gentleman. He showed me divers rare pictures of very many of the old and best masters, especially one of M. Angelo of a man gathering fruit to give to a woman, and a large book of the best drawings of the old masters. Sir John Fenwick (51), one of the conspirators, was taken. Great subscriptions in Scotland to their East India Company. Want of current money to carry on the smallest concerns, even for daily provisions in the markets. Guineas lowered to twenty-two shillings, and great sums daily transported to Holland, where it yields more, with other treasure sent to pay the armies, and nothing considerable coined of the new and now only current stamp, cause such a scarcity that tumults are every day feared, nobody paying or receiving money; so imprudent was the late Parliament to condemn the old though clipped and corrupted, till they had provided supplies. To this add the fraud of the bankers and goldsmiths, who having gotten immense riches by extortion, keep up their treasure in expectation of enhancing its value. Duncombe, not long since a mean goldsmith, having made a purchase of the late Duke of Buckingham's estate at nearly £90,000, and reputed to have nearly as much in cash. Banks and lotteries every day set up.
18 Jun 1696. The famous trial between my Lord Bath (67) and Lord Montague (57) for an estate of £11,000 a year, left by the Duke of Albemarle, wherein on several trials had been spent £20,000 between them. The Earl of Bath (34) was cast on evident forgery.
20 Jun 1696. I made my Lord Cheney a visit at Chelsea, and saw those ingenious waterworks invented by Mr. Winstanley, wherein were some things very surprising and extraordinary.
21 Jun 1696. An exceedingly rainy, cold, unseasonable summer, yet the city was very healthy.
25 Jun 1696. A trial in the Common Pleas between the Lady Purbeck Temple and Mr. Temple, a nephew of Sir Purbeck, concerning a deed set up to take place of several wills. This deed was proved to be forged. The cause went on my lady's side. This concerning my son-in-law, Draper, I stayed almost all day at Court. A great supper was given to the jury, being persons of the best condition in Buckinghamshire.
30 Jun 1696. I went with a select committee of the Commissioners for Greenwich Hospital, and with Sir Christopher Wren (72), where with him I laid the first stone of the intended foundation, precisely at five o'clock in the evening, after we had dined together. Mr. Flamstead (49), the King's Astronomical Professor, observing the punctual time by instruments.
John Evelyn's Diary 1696 July
04 Jul 1696. Note that my Lord Godolphin (51) was the first of the subscribers who paid any money to this noble fabric.
07 Jul 1696. A northern wind altering the weather with a continual and impetuous rain of three days and nights changed it into perfect winter.
12 Jul 1696. Very unseasonable and uncertain weather.
26 Jul 1696. So little money in the nation that Exchequer Tallies, of which I had for £2,000 on the best fund in England, the Post Office, nobody would take at 30 per cent discount.
John Evelyn's Diary 1696 August
03 Aug 1696. The Bank lending the £200,000 to pay the array in Flanders, that had done nothing against the enemy, had so exhausted the treasure of the nation, that one could not have borrowed money under 14 or 15 per cent on bills, or on Exchequer Tallies under 30 per cent. Reasonable good harvest weather. I went to Lambeth and dined with the Archbishop (59), who had been at Court on the complaint against Dr. Thomas Watson (59), Bishop of St. David's, who was suspended for simony. The Archbishop (59) told me how unsatisfied he was with the Canon law, and how exceedingly unreasonable all their pleadings appeared to him.
John Evelyn's Diary 1696 September
Sep 1696. Fine seasonable weather, and a great harvest after a cold, wet summer. Scarcity in Scotland.
06 Sep 1696. I went to congratulate the marriage of a daughter of Mr. Boscawen to the son (24) of Sir Philip Meadows; she is niece to my Lord Godolphin (51), married at Lambeth by the Archbishop (59), 30th of August. After above six months' stay in London about Greenwich Hospital, I returned to Wotton.
John Evelyn's Diary 1696 October
24 Oct 1696. Unseasonable stormy weather, and an ill seedtime.
John Evelyn's Diary 1696 November
Nov 1696. Lord Godolphin retired from the Treasury, who was the first Commissioner and most skillful manager of all.
08 Nov 1696. The first frost began fiercely, but lasted not long. More plots talked of. Search for Jacobites so called.
From 15 Nov 1696 to 23 Nov 1696. Very stormy weather, rain, and inundations.
John Evelyn's Diary 1696 December
13 Dec 1696. Continuance of extreme frost and snow.