Tales from an author

British weather, a royal wedding, scandal, celebrity gossip

Here are some highlights from the diary of Samuel Pepys written in 1662 – including bad weather, a royal wedding, romance, and celebrity gossip

A Heart to be Contented 1662

February 14 1662 (Valentine’s Day)
I did this day purposely shun to be seen at Sir William Batten’s, because I would not have his daughter to be my Valentine, as she was the last year, there being no great friendship between us now, as formerly. This morning in comes William Bowyer, who was my wife’s Valentine, she having, at which I made good sport to myself, held her hands all the morning, that she might not see the painters that were at work in gilding my chimney-piece and pictures in my dining room. By and by she and I by coach with him to Westminster, by the way leaving at Tom’s and my wife’s father’s lodgings each of them some poor Jack, and some she carried to my father Bowyer’s, where she stayed while I walked in the Hall, and there among others met with Sergeant Pierce, and I took him aside to drink a cup of ale, and he told me the basest thing of Mr Montagu’s and his man Eschar’s going away in debt, that I am troubled and ashamed, but glad to be informed of. He thinks he has left £1,000 for my Lord to pay, and that he has not laid out £3,000 out of the £5,000 for my Lord’s use, and is not able to make an account of any of the money. My wife and I to dinner to the Wardrobe, and then to talk with my Lady, and so by coach, it raining hard, home, and so to do business and to bed.

Windy Tuesday saw one of the most severe storms ever recorded in Britain.

February 18 1662
Lay long in bed, then up to the office (we having changed our days to Tuesday and Saturday in the morning and Thursday at night), and by and by with Sir William Penn, Mr Kennard, and others to survey his house again, and to contrive for the alterations there, which will be handsome I think. After we had done at the office, I walked to the Wardrobe, where with Mr Moore and Mr Lewis Phillips after dinner we did agree upon the agreement between us and Prior and I did seal and sign it. Having agreed with Sir William Penn and my wife to meet them at the Opera, and finding by my walking in the streets, which were everywhere full of brick-battes and tiles flung down by the extraordinary wind the last night (such as has not been in memory before, unless at the death of the late Protector), that it was dangerous to go out of doors; and hearing how several persons had been killed today by the fall of things in the streets, and that the pageant in Fleet Street is most of it blown down, and has broke down part of several houses, among others Dick Brigden’s; and that one Lady Sanderson, a person of quality in Covent Garden, was killed by the fall of the house, in her bed, last night; I sent my boy home to forbid them to go forth. But he bringing me word that they are gone, I went thither and there saw The Law against Lovers, a good play and well performed, especially the little girl’s (whom I never saw act before) dancing and singing; and were it not for her, the loss of Roxalana would spoil the house. So home and to music, and so to bed.

February 23 1662 (Lord’s Day)
My cold being increased, I stayed at home all day, pleasing myself with my dining room, now graced with pictures, and reading of Dr Fuller’s Worthies [History of the Worthies of England]. So I spent the day, and at night comes Sir William Penn and supped and talked with me. This day by God’s mercy I am 29 years of age, and in very good health, and like to live and get an estate; and if I have a heart to be contented, I think I may reckon myself as happy a man as any is in the world, for which God be praised. So to prayers and to bed.

In 1662 Pepys was appointed to a government committee which oversaw the administration of Tangier, a colony acquired from Portugal as part of the dowry of Katherine of Branganza, who married Charles II on May 22 of that year, at Portsmouth. Pepys was to remain a member of this committee through to 1679. Events surrounding the wedding were described by Pepys in his diary.

May 21 1662
My wife and I by water to Westminster, and after she had seen her father (of whom lately I have heard nothing at all what he does or her mother), she comes to me to my Lord’s lodgings, where she and I stayed walking in Whitehall garden. And in the privy garden saw the finest smocks and linen petticoats of my Lady Castlemaine’s, laced with rich lace at the bottom, that ever I saw; and did me good to look upon them. So to Wilkinson’s, she and I and Sarah to dinner, where I had a good quarter of lamb and a salad. Here Sarah told me how the King dined at my Lady Castlemaine’s, and supped, every day and night the last week; and that the night that the bonfires were made for joy of the Queen’s arrival, the King was there; but there was no fire at her door, though at all the rest of the doors almost in the street; which was much observed: and that the King and she did send for a pair of scales and weighed one another; and she, being with child, was said to be heaviest. But she is now a most disconsolate creature, and comes not out of doors, since the King’s going. But we went to the theatre to The French Dancing Master, and there with much pleasure gazed upon her (Lady Castlemaine); but it troubles us to see her look dejectedly and slighted by people already. The play pleased us very well; but Lacy’s part, the Dancing Master, the best in the world.

Thence to my brother Tom’s, in expectation to have met my father tonight come out of the country, but he is not yet come, but here we found my uncle Fenner and his old wife, whom I had not seen since the wedding dinner, nor care to see her. They being gone, my wife and I went and saw Mrs Turner, whom we found not well, and her two boys Charles and Will come out of the country, grown very plain boys after three years being under their father’s care in Yorkshire. Thence to Tom’s again, and there supped well, my she cousin [Judith] Scott being there and my father being not come, we walked home and to bed.

Lady Castlemaine was Barbara Palmer (nee Villiers), Countess of Castlemaine, a mistress of Charles II. Over the next few years, Pepys often glimpsed “my Lady Castlemaine” in London society, and appeared to aspire to a relationship with her. Pepys summed up the year 1662 in a long entry. This included mention of Thomas Povey, a fellow member of the Tangier Committee. James, Duke of Monmouth, was an illegitimate son of the king.

December 31 1662
Lay pretty long in bed, and then I up and to Westminster Hall, and so to the Swan, sending for Mr William Bowyer, and there drank my morning draught, and had some of his simple discourse. Among other things he tells me how the difference comes between his fair cousin Butler and Colonel Dillon, upon his opening letters of her brother’s from Ireland, complaining of his knavery, and forging others to the contrary; and so they are long ago quite broke off. Thence to a barber’s and so to my wife, and at noon took her to Mrs Pierce’s by invitation to dinner, where there came Dr Clerke and his wife and sister and Mr Knight, chief surgeon to the King and his wife. We were pretty merry, the two men being excellent company, but I confess I am wedded from the opinion either of Mrs Pierce’s beauty upon discovery of her naked neck today, being undressed when we came in, or of Mrs Clerke’s genius, which I so much admired, I finding her to be so conceited and fantastic in her dress this day and carriage, though the truth is, witty enough. After dinner with much ado the doctor and I got away to follow our business for a while, he to his patients and I to the Tangier Committee, where the Duke of York was, and we stayed at it a good while, and thence in order to the despatch of the boats and provisions for Tangier away.

Mr Povey, in his coach, carried Mr Gauden and I into London to Mr Bland’s, the merchant, where we stayed discoursing upon the reason of the delay of the going away of these things a great while. Then to eat a dish of anchovies, and drink wine and cider, and very merry, but above all things pleased to hear Mrs Bland talk like a merchant in her husband’s business very well, and it seems she do understand it and perform a great deal. Thence merry back, Mr Povey and I to Whitehall; he carrying me thither on purpose to carry me into the ball this night before the King. All the way he talking very ingenuously, and I find him a fine gentleman, and one that loves to live nobly and neatly, as I perceive by his discourse of his house, pictures, and horses.

He brought me first to the Duke’s chamber, where I saw him and the Duchess at supper; and thence into the room where the ball was to be, crammed with fine ladies, the greatest of the Court. By and by comes the King and Queen, the Duke and Duchess, and all the great ones: and after seating themselves, the King takes out the Duchess of York; and the Duke, the Duchess of Buckingham; the Duke of Monmouth, my Lady Castlemaine; and so other lords other ladies: and they danced the Bransle. After that, the King led a lady a single Coranto; and then the rest of the lords, one after another, other ladies very noble it was, and great pleasure to see. Then to country dances; the King leading the first, which he called for; which was, says he, Cuckolds All A-Row, the old dance of England. Of the ladies that danced, the Duke of Monmouth’s mistress [Anne Scott], and my Lady Castlemaine, and a daughter of Sir Harry de Vic’s [Anne-Charlotte], were the best. The manner was, when the King dances, all the ladies in the room, and the Queen herself, stand up: and indeed he dances rarely, and much better than the Duke of York. Having stayed here as long as I thought fit, to my infinite content, it being the greatest pleasure I could wish now to see at Court, I went out, leaving them dancing, and to Mrs Pierce’s, where I found the company had stayed very long for my coming, but all gone but my wife, and so I took her home by coach and so to my Lord’s again, where after some supper to bed, very weary and in a little pain from my riding a little uneasily tonight in the coach.

Thus ends this year with great mirth to me and my wife: Our condition being thus – we are at present spending a night or two at my Lord’s lodgings at Whitehall. Our home at the Navy Office, which is and has a pretty while been in good condition, finished and made very convenient. My purse is worth about £650, besides my goods of all sorts, which yet might have been more but for my late layings out upon my house and public assessment, and yet would not have been so much if I had not lived a very orderly life all this year by virtue of the oaths that God put into my heart to take against wine, plays, and other expenses, and to observe for these last twelve months, and which I am now going to renew, I under God owing my present content thereunto. My family is myself and wife, William, my clerk; Jane, my wife’s upper maid, but, I think, growing proud and negligent upon it: we must part, which troubles me; Susan, our cook-maid, a pretty willing wench, but no good cook; and Wayneman, my boy, who I am now turning away for his naughty tricks. We have had from the beginning our healths to this day very well, blessed be God! Our late maid Sarah going from us (though put away by us) to live with Sir William Penn do trouble me, though I love the wench, so that we do make ourselves a little strange to him and his family for it, and resolve to do so. The same we are for other reasons to my Lady Batten and hers. We have lately had it in our thoughts, and I can hardly bring myself off of it, since Mrs Gosnell cannot be with us, to find out another to be in the quality of a woman to my wife that can sing or dance, and yet finding it hard to save anything at the year’s end as I now live, I think I shall not be such a fool till I am more warm in my purse, besides my oath of entering into no such expenses till I am worth £1,000.

By my last year’s diligence in my office, blessed be God, I am come to a good degree of knowledge therein; and am acknowledged so by all the world, even the Duke himself, to whom I have a good access and by that, and my being Commissioner with him for Tangier, he takes much notice of me; and I doubt not but, by the continuance of the same endeavours, I shall in a little time come to be a man much taken notice of in the world, specially being come to so great an esteem with Mr Coventry.

The only weight that lies heavy upon my mind is the ending the business with my uncle Thomas about my dead uncle’s estate, which is very ill on our side, and I fear when all is done I must be forced to maintain my father myself, or spare a good deal towards it out of my own purse, which will be a very great pull back to me in my fortune. But I must be contented and bring it to an issue one way or other.

Public matters stand thus: The King is bringing, as is said, his family, and Navy, and all other his charges, to a less expense. In the mean time, himself following his pleasures more than with good advice he would do; at least, to be seen to all the world to do so. His dalliance with my Lady Castlemaine being public, every day, to his great reproach; and his favouring of none at Court so much as those that are the confidants of his pleasure, as Sir Henry Bennet and Sir Charles Berkeley; which, good God, put it into his heart to mend, before he makes himself too much condemned by his people for it! The Duke of Monmouth is in so great splendour at Court, and so dandled by the King, that some doubt, if the King should have no child by the Queen (which there is yet no appearance of), whether he would not be acknowledged for a lawful son; and that there will be a difference follow upon it between the Duke of York and him; which God prevent! My Lord Chancellor is threatened by people to be questioned, the next sitting of the Parliament, by some spirits that do not love to see him so great: but certainly he is a good servant to the King. The Queen Mother is said to keep too great a Court now; and her being married to my Lord St Albans is commonly talked of; and that they had a daughter between them in France, how true, God knows. The Bishops are high, and go on without any diffidence in pressing uniformity; and the Presbyters seem silent in it, and either conform or lay down, though without doubt they expect a turn, and would be glad these endeavours of the other fanatics would take effect; there having been a plot lately found, for which four have been publicly tried at the Old Bailey and hanged.

My Lord Sandwich is still in good esteem, and now keeping his Christmas in the country; and I in good esteem, I think, as any man can be, with him. Mr Moore is very sickly, and I doubt will hardly get over his late fit of sickness, that still hangs on him. In fine, for the good condition of myself, wife, family, and estate, in the great degree that it is, and for the public state of the nation, so quiet as it is, the Lord God be praised!


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