Samuel Pepys Diaries are published in many volumes.
They cover from the 1660's to the London Fire.
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Sir John Baber and Samuel Pepys?

Over many years I have been researching my family history, discovering that via my Grand Mother, I am directly descended from Sir John Baber. Sir John was a many faceted person being a JP, Lawyer, Doctor and political go between for King Charles II. Over the years a number of links with Pepys have come to light. Does anybody you have any information to add to the following?

Sir John Baber first appears in Pepy’s Diary on 12th-13th January 1666 when Pepy’s says-


"And again my Lord Brouncker doth tell us that he hath it from Sir John Baber, that relates to my Lord Craven, that my Lord Craven doth look after Sir G Carteret’s place and doth reckon himself sure of it."

Several points arise from the above, firstly presumably, "relates" is used with the meaning to tell somebody? Or could it mean that there is a family relationship to Lord Craven? I cannot find any link so far.

Baber was married three times according to the Dictionary of National Biography (1885). Thanks to Vera Baber and others I now know these wives were Elizabeth Richards who died on 28th April 1659, Ann Bayning who died in 1678, and Bridget Kilmorey a widow, daughter of William Drury. None of these appear to be related to Pepys as far as I can tell.

Pepys says "he hath it" from Baber "that relates". Would Pepys have said "he hath it" and "relates" both of which could be used with the meaning of "telling someone" twice in one sentence?

From the DNB, we know that Baber was at Christ’s College Oxford for much of the Civil War. He then went to Leiden, and Angers. Yet he had returned to England by 18th July 1650, which was during the period of the Commonwealth, when Cromwell was ruling. He must have reached some accommodation with the Parliamentarians. As later in his life he was known as a protector of Presbyterians, it is quite possible that he had been successfully "sitting on the fence".

The biographical notes at the end of Latham and Matthews edition of Pepys diary, suggests that Lord Brouncker also lived quietly in Oxford at the same period, to avoid conflict with Parliament. This is probably when Baber and Brouncker first came into contact.

The diary states that on the 12th-14th March 1666, Pepy’s and Baber met and travelled in the same coach, or "chariot" belonging to Lord Brouncker, from Westminster via Covent Garden, where my ancestor lived in Kings Street, to the Guildhall. Baber refuses to speak with Pepy’s as he was a stranger. Presumably this was the first time they met face to face.

The diary states:-


"Up, and met by 6 a-clock in my chamber, Mr Povy (from Whitehall) about evening reckonings between him and me on our Tangier business, and at it hard till toward 8 a-clock: and then he carried me in his chariot to Whitehall, where by and by my fellow officers met me and we had a meeting before the Duke. Thence with my Lord Brouncker towards London, and in our way called in Covent-garden and took in Sir John Baber (formerly Dr) Baber- who hath this humour, that he will not enter into discourse while any stranger is in company, till he [hath] been told who he is that seems a stranger to him. This he did declare openly to me, and asked my Lord who I was-giving this reason, that he hath been inconvenienced by being too free in discourse till he knew who all the company were. Thence to Guildhall (in our way taking in Dr Wilkins), and there my Lord and I full and large discourse with Sir Tho. Player, the Chamberlain of the City, …."

However they had become much better acquainted by the time Baber is next spoken of. in "Further Correspondence of Samuel Pepys 1662-1679", edited by JR Tanner, on pages 340 and 341. This deals with the occasion when Pepys lost his seat in Parliament at Kings Lynn, when in a rather rough election campaign my ancestor and Sir Robert Howard seem to have employed "dirty tricks" to unseat him. Unfortunately in 1669 Pepys stopped the famous diary as he feared that he was loosing his eye sight. Otherwise how interesting a story might have unfolded.

263 [MS. p. 853]. S. P. To MR THOMAS PEPYS, Lynn Regis, Norfolk.

1 February, 1678[-9].


GOOD COSEN,-I do kindly thank you for your letter of yesterday, assuring you that I am not surprised, much less under any disappointment, from the contents of it, I knowing the world too well to expect more than is to be found in it; and I think mine to you did enough shew that what I asked was rather out of respect to the Town of Riseing (as having once been their servant) than from any such advantage I proposed to myself by it as would suffer me to give way to your entering upon any expense for it; I having the good fortune of being so much better understood elsewhere as to have at this time invitations from the Magistracy of no less than three several Corporations (of somewhat greater names, though not more in my esteem than that of theirs) to accept of their elections. Therefore pray be under no further care on my behalf in this matter, the satisfaction of having discharged my duty to the gentlemen of Castle Riseing being all I aim at, without troubling myself to reflect upon any forgetfulness on their parts towards me. As for those two worthy persons who now stand for their favour, I mean Sir Robert Howard and Sir John Baber, they are both my honoured friends, and as far as any interest of mine may bestead them I do readily resign it to them.

And for the kindness I have received on this occasion from yourself, I shall always most thankfully own it by whatever testimony thereof I may be able to give by suitable services to you and your family.

264 [MS. p. 855], S. P. TO SIR JOHN WERDEN.

Harwich, 5 February, 1678[-9],


"I have just now yours of the 3rd current, and pray you to let his Royal Highness know that I did before my leaving the town (viz., by Saturday's post last) send to my correspondent at Castle Riseing not only my direction to forbear any further interesting himself on my behalf there, but to resign up all that I had to dispose of to Sir John Baber and Sir Robert Howard against whoever else should stand, though by a letter this day come to my hand I find they have (between them) done all they could to revive all my old charge of being a Papist, and the new one of having a hand in the late Plot. However (I say) this I have done, and have it not now in my power to do more, which otherwise I should, in particular favour to Sir John Baber, my only correspondent (who is my kinsman and a lawyer) being ere this come away thence, and will be in London to-morrow or Friday to attend his business at the Term, so that all that I think remains possible to be done is to get my Lord of Arundell to determine which of the two, Sir John Baber or Sir Robert Howard, shall have the benefit of his interest in case one only of them can carry it."


On 1st February 1678-9, he refers to both Sir Robert Howard and Sir John Baber as "both my honoured friends".

By 5th of February, Pepys has obviously heard that Baber and Howard had been suggesting that he was a Papist. It is what he then says that really puzzles me, and which I would dearly love to understand if anybody can help.

"which otherwise I should, in particular favour to Sir John Baber, my only correspondent (who is my kinsman and a lawyer)".

Why does he refer to Sir John as "my kinsman", the Oxford Dictionary, says "a blood relation or a relation by marriage". Does anybody know how they were related? I have written to the Librarian at Magdalen , who is unaware of any link, but suggests that it may be via the Howard family. I cannot find a link in the Diary, although there is so much detail I may of missed it.

Contributed by Nick Balmer
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