Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. III. Seventeenth Century
Sir C. Mings
By Samuel Pepys (16331703)
13th June 1666.Invited to Sir Christopher Mingss funeral, but find them gone to church. However, I into the Church, which is a fair, large church, and a great chapel, and there heard the service, and stayed till they buried him, and then out; and there met with Sir W. Coventry, who was there out of great generosity, and no person of quality there but he, and went with him into his coach; and, being in it with him, there happened this extraordinary caseone of the most romantic that ever I heard of in my life, and could not have believed, but that I did see it; which was this:About a dozen able, lusty, proper men came to the coach-side with tears in their eyes, and one of them that spoke for the rest begun, and said to Sir W. Coventry, We are here a dozen of us, that have long known and loved, and served our dead commander, Sir Christopher Mings, and have now done the last office of laying him in the ground. We would be glad we had any other to offer after him, and in revenge of him. All we have is our lives; if you will please to get His Royal Highness to give us a fireship among us all, here are a dozen of us, out of all which, choose you one to be commander; and the rest of us, whoever he is, will serve him; and, if possible do that which shall show our memory of our dead commander, and our revenge. Sir W. Coventry was herewith much moved as well as I, who could hardly abstain from weeping, and took their names and so parted; telling me that he would move His Royal Highness as in a thing very extraordinary, which was done. The truth is, Sir Christopher Mings was a very stout man, and a man of great parts, and most excellent tongue amongst ordinary men, and, as Sir W. Coventry says, could have been the most useful man at such a pinch of time as this. He was come into great renown here at home, and more abroad, in the West Indies. He had brought his family into a way of being great; but dying at this time, his memory and name, his father being always, and at this day, a shoemaker, and his mother a hoymans1 daughter; of which he was used frequently to boast, will be quite forgot in a few months as if he had never been, nor any of his name be the better by it: he having not had time to will any estate, but is dead poor, rather than rich. So we left the church and crowd. Walked to Mrs. Bagwells, and went into her house; but I was not a little fearful of what she told me but now, which is, that her servant was dead of the plague, and that she had new-whitened the house all below stairs, but that above stairs they are not so fit for me to go up to, they being not so. So I parted thence, with a very good will, but very civilly, and away to the waterside, and sent for a pint of sack, and drank what I would and gave the waterman the rest.