Tales from an author

Samuel Pepys 1661

My new book about Samuel Pepys is now available on Amazon in both paper and Kindle form – the magic of new technology.

Here are a few pages from Pepys’ diary in 1661:

At the start of 1661, Pepys outlined circumstances, a year on from commencement of his diary. James Pierce was a surgeon, who worked at the court of Charles II, and passed a lot of gossip on to Pepys. Elizabeth Pierce, the wife of James, was a beautiful woman, with whom Pepys was also friendly. Will Hewer, who initially worked as a servant in Pepys’ household, later moved to a career in naval administration. Pepys and Hewer were to remain friends until the death of the former.

January 1 1661
At the end of the last and the beginning of this year, I do live in one of the houses belonging to the Navy Office, as one of the principal officers, and have done now about half a year. After much trouble with workmen I am now almost settled; my family being myself, my wife, Jane, Will Hewer, and Wayneman – my girl’s brother. Myself in constant good health, and in a most handsome and thriving condition. Blessed be Almighty God for it. I am now taking of my sister Paulina to come and live with me.

As to things of state – the King settled, and loved of all. The Duke of York matched to my Lord Chancellor’s daughter, which do not please many. The Queen upon her return to France with the Princess Henrietta. The Princess of Orange lately dead, and we into new mourning for her. We have been lately frightened with a great plot, and many taken up on it, and the fright not quite over. The Parliament, which had done all this great good to the King, beginning to grow factious, the King did dissolve it December 29th last, and another likely to be chosen speedily. I take myself now to be worth £300 clear in money, and all my goods and all manner of debts paid, which are none at all.

Called up this morning by Mr Moore, who brought me my last things for me to sign for the last month, and to my great comfort tells me that my fees will come to £80 clear to myself, and about £25 for him, which he has got out of the pardons, though there be no fee due to me at all out of them. Then comes in my brother Thomas, and after him my father, Dr Thomas Pepys, my uncle Fenner and his two sons (Anthony’s only child dying this morning, yet he was so civil to come, and was pretty merry) to breakfast; and I had for them a barrel of oysters, a dish of neat’s tongues, and a dish of anchovies, wine of all sorts, and Northdown ale. We were very merry till about 11 o’clock, and then they went away.

At noon I carried my wife by coach to my cousin, Thomas Pepys, where we, with my father, Dr Thomas, cousin Stradwick, Scott, and their wives, dined. Here I saw first his second wife, which is a very respectful woman, but his dinner a sorry, poor dinner for a man of his estate, there being nothing but ordinary meat in it.

Today the King dined at a lord’s, two doors from us. After dinner I took my wife to Whitehall, I sent her to Mrs Pierce’s (where we should have dined today), and I to the Privy Seal, where Mr Moore took out all his money, and he and I went to Mr Pierce’s; in our way seeing the Duke of York bring his Lady this day to wait upon the Queen, the first time that ever she did since that great business; and the Queen is said to receive her now with much respect and love; and there he cast up the fees, and I told the money, by the same token one £100 bag, after I had told it, fell all about the room, and I fear I have lost some of it.

That done I left my friends and went to my Lord’s, but he being not come in I lodged the money with Mr Shepley, and bade good night to Mr Moore, and so returned to Mr Pierce’s, and there supped with them, and Mr Pierce, the purser, and his wife and mine, where we had a calf’s head carboned, but it was raw, we could not eat it, and a good hen. But she is such a slut that I do not love her victuals. After supper I sent them home by coach, and I went to my Lord’s and there played till 12 at night at cards at Best with John Goods and Ned Osgood, and then to bed with Mr Shepley.

The next entry includes an unusual moment at the theatre.

January 28 1661
At the office all the morning; dined at home, and after dinner to Fleet Street, with my sword to Mr Brigden (lately made Captain of the Auxiliaries) to be refreshed, and with him to an ale-house, where I met Mr Davenport; and after some talk of Cromwell, Ireton and Bradshaw’s bodies being taken out of their graves today, I went to Mr Crew’s and thence to the theatre, where I saw again The Lost Lady, which do now please me better than before; and here I sitting behind in a dark place, a lady spit backward upon me by a mistake, not seeing me, but after seeing her to be a very pretty lady, I was not troubled at it at all.

Thence to Mr Crew’s, and there met Mr Moore, who came lately to me, and went with me to my father’s, and with him to Standing’s, whither came to us Dr Fairbrother, who I took and my father to the Bear and gave a pint of sack and a pint of claret. He do still continue his expressions of respect and love to me, and tells me my brother John will make a good scholar. Thence to see the Doctor at his lodging at Mr Holden’s, where I bought a hat, cost me 35 Shillings. So home by moonshine, and by the way was overtaken by the Comptroller’s coach, and so home to his house with him. So home and to bed. This noon I had my press set up in my chamber for papers to be put in.

Samuel and Elizabeth enjoyed celebrating the romance of Valentine’s Day with friends. There is a reference to this at the start of the following entry.

February 14 1661 (Valentine’s Day)
Up early and to Sir William Batten’s, but would not go in till I asked whether they that opened the door was a man or a woman, and Mingo, who was there, answered “a woman”, which, with his tone, made me laugh; so up I went and took Mrs Martha for my Valentine (which I do only for complacency), and Sir William Batten he go in the same manner to my wife, and so we were very merry.

About 10 o’clock we, with a great deal of company, went down by our barge to Deptford, and there only went to see how forward Mr Pett’s yacht is; and so all into the barge again, and so to Woolwich, on board the Rose-bush, Captain Brown’s ship, that is brother-in-law to Sir William Batten, where we had a very fine dinner, dressed on shore, and great mirth and all things successful; the first time I ever carried my wife a-ship-board, as also my boy Wayneman, who has all this day been called young Pepys, as Sir William Penn’s boy young Penn. So home by barge again; good weather, but pretty cold. I to my study, and began to make up my accounts for my Lord, which I intend to end tomorrow. To bed.

The talk of the town now is, who the King is like to have for his Queen: and whether Lent shall be kept with the strictness of the King’s proclamation; which it is thought cannot be, because of the poor, who cannot buy fish. And also the great preparation for the King’s crowning is now much thought upon and talked of.


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