Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
Gillian Bagwell has posted 29 annotations/comments since 6 March 2013.
The most recent…
About Friday 31 May 1661
Regarding old age and "only 7 percent of the people reached the age of 70 or over" - Life expectancy is a completely different thing from the age at which someone is old. If you take the average age of a baby and an 80-year-old who die, their life expectancy is 40. That doesn't mean that someone who is 40 is old.
In Sam's time, and for much of history, lots of babies died, women died frequently in childbirth, and people died of illnesses and injuries that wouldn't be fatal today.
According to LIza Picard's "Restoration London" (page 77), "The life expectancy of a baby born in England in the decade 1660-70 was 35 years. But this did not mean that everyone born in 1660 could expect to die in 1695. Of all those babies, about a quarter would die before their tenth birthday, particularly in their first year. Accidents, diseases, and epidemics thinned out the survivors. A woman who had married at the usual age of 26, and come safely through two confinements, would celebrate her thirtieth birthday in 1690. With so many risks behind her, she could look forward to another 30 years: she was exactly middle-aged, though she did not know it. Six years later, the most dangerous decade of her life was behind her; women were four times more likely to die in the first decade of marriage than men. If she lived to see her fortieth birthday, she had 24 years ahead. She had long passed the milestone of 35. If she was the one in ten of her coevals who hung on for another 20 years, she could reasonably expect to see 72. By then the age differential that still applies was still in place. There were more old women than men."
As for what's wrong with Sam's mother, I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong but that he doesn't like how she's behaving. This is a man who treats his wife like a child, expects her to wait patiently at home while he's out tomcatting around and generally having a good time, and thinks she's being unreasonable if she objects to anything he does. I enjoy Sam and his diary, but I sure wouldn't want to be married to him or to have to live my life in conformation to how he thinks women should act!
About Saturday 4 May 1661
In the runup to the publication of my novel, I also blogged the daily events of Charles's six-week odyssey trying to get out of England after the Battle of Worcester. If you're interested, start on September 3, 1651:
The Royal Oak: My novel "The September Queen" ("The King's Mistress" in the UK) is about Jane Lane, who helped Charles escape after the Battle of Worcester. Here's the link to a piece I wrote about the Royal Oak:
I don't know what was the first pub called the Royal Oak, but as I wrote in the article, "On January 15, 1661, Pepys recorded in his diary that he 'took barge and went to Blackwall and viewed the dock and the new Wet dock, which is newly made there, and a brave new merchantman which is to be launched shortly, and they say to be called the Royal Oak.' That ship was probably the first of many namesakes of the tree in which Charles had spent a day."
About Wednesday 10 April 1661
Admiral of the narrow seas - don't know about the official definition, but the term was used jocularly to refer to "one who vomits into lap of person next to him from drunkenness" (a sea term). Another couple of my favorite slang terms from the period: Shooting the cat or catting: vomiting from drunkenness. Surveyor of the highways: one who is reeling drunk.
About Saturday 23 March 1660/61
The company of actors: "The London Stage, 1660-1800," eds. Van Lennep et al., quotes Pepys's diary for this day and also says that Allardyce Nicoll's "A History Restoration Drama" "argues that George Jolly probably occupied the Red Bull in St. John's Street, Clerkenwell. When Richard Walden saw the Red Bull players at Oxford in July 1661, Anne Gibbs acted Dionysia in 'All's Lost by Lust.' It is possible that she played that role on this day. See Walden's 'Io Ruminans.' 1662."
About Saturday 23 February 1660/61
Regarding the comment, "Given shorter lifespans then" and the following discussion--there's often confusion between life expectancy and what was considered old in centuries past. If a baby dies and an 80-year-old dies, the average age at death was forty years, but that doesn't mean someone was old or considered old at forty.
Infant mortality was very high and a higher percentage of children died than we're used to. Women died in childbirth. People died from injuries and diseases that today wouldn't be fatal. So the average age may have been lower, but that's different than the age at which someone was considered old.
About the status of actors, there were no professional actors before the second half of the sixteenth century, and that's counting the companies patronized by noblemen. By the end of sixteenth century, the queen patronized a company. By the time Cromwell shut down the playhouses, acting was a profession, with a regular apprentice system. He put a lot of people out of work who were then in truly desperate straits, and he wouldn't permit them to go abroad where they could have made a living.
Still, actors weren't considered anything close to equal to upper-class people then or in Pepys's time. The women were regarded as fair game with no consequences, and King Charles threw actors in jail more than once for impertinence (Katherine Corey, for lampooning Lady Harvey, and John Lacy for what the king considered mocking him and the court in "The Change of Crowns).
I think that Sam's comment that the gallants (upper-class young men) were "grown tyred" of the actors for their pride and vanity does mean that they resented the actors for what they considered getting above themselves. The actors weren't rich by any standard (especially the women, who earned less than men), though the leading actors had shares in the playhouse. \
The gallants certainly wouldn't have copied what the actors wore onstage, which was frequently cast-offs from real nobles and royalty. (Charles let them the playhouse use his coronation robes for "Henry V.")
There was more than one instance of violence against theatre people who their "betters" thought needed taking down a peg or two. The actor Ned Kynaston was badly beaten, and the rumor was that it was arranged by Sir Charles Sedley. The playwright John Dryden was beaten in Rose Alley, possibly by a gang hired by Lord Rochester.
Actors might be fun to watch and bed, but they weren't supposed to think themselves equal with gentlemen!
About Tuesday 5 February 1660/61
Washing: It's a little misleading to say that clothes went for months or years without being cleaned other than by brushing, as Dirk says. That is somewhat true of outer clothing, especially delicate fabrics, which couldn't be submerged. But "linen"--shirts, chemises, bed linen, table linen, all the white stuff--could be washed regularly, though it was a big job, which is no doubt why Sam mentions it.
Here's the process, according to Liza Picard's "Restoration London":
Laundry was collected in buck baskets, the kind of huge basket that Falstaff hid in in "Merry Wives of Windsor." When it was laundry time, the laundry was arranged across buck sticks jammed across a barrel-shaped buck tub, with the dirtiest things at the bottom. Ley, or lye, made from wood ash and human urine, was poured over the laundry, which was left to soak. After a while, the lye was drained from a spigot at the foot of the tub into a smaller tub, the underbuck, and poured in again at the top, or stronger or hot lye might be used.
Once the laundry was "reasonably clean," it was rinsed in cold water. The process "involved energetic stirrings and shakings and rearrangement of the buck sticks, and anyone who has handled just one wet bath towel may be able to imagine the weight of all this linen. Any remaining dirty patches were dealt with by beating and scrubbing."
Then everything was twisted and wrung out and hung or laid out to dry. Street vendors sold clotheslines. In the summer, it could be laid over bushes, especially aromatic bushes such as rosemary. If I may be forgiven for jumping ahead in the diary just a bit, on May 21, 1662, Sam wrote, "And in the Privy-garden saw the finest smocks and linnen 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."
In the winter clothes had to be hung wherever they could be. The kitchen might risk getting the clothes dirty again. Some houses had galleries. Dutch and Swiss houses had drying lofts. In England, the top story was usually servants' quarters, so all that heavy wet laundry "had to be carried through those tall houses and up the stairs. No wonder there was no cooking done on washing days."
I have read that great households who could afford to have enormous amounts of linen only did laundry occasionally, even sending it out sometimes, but most people couldn't have done that.
Picard's book gives much more information on this and other matters of daily life, and she also has books on Elizabethan, eighteenth-century, and Victorian London.
About Sunday 16 December 1660
According to my research, the Duke of York and Anne Hyde were secretly married in Breda in November 1659, and secretly married again in London on September 3, 1660. She was already pregnant by the time of the second marriage.
When they fell in love, the chances that Charles would be king seemed remote, much less that James would be king. By the time of the second marriage, Charles had been restored to the throne and they knew that he would be angry that James had married without his permission.
Rumors were getting out by the time Sam is writing, and it's all about to hit the fan!
The marriages and fallout are events in my novel "The September Queen" (UK title "The King's Mistress"), about Jane Lane, who helped Charles escape after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. I have her present at the first marriage (and, in fact, introducing the duke and Anne Hyde), and involved in the aftermath of the second. She could well have been involved in all of it--she and Anne Hyde were both ladies in waiting at the court of Charles's sister, Mary of Orange.
I wrote a series of articles on the events in London in each month of 1660, including the huge and rapid developments in the theatre, which became legal again during 1660. If you're interested, links to the articles are on my website, www.gillianbagwell.com.
About Thursday 29 November 1660
Yes, just an older form of past tense, I think, very commonly used then.
About Tuesday 21 August 1660
Sam probably didn't intend for his coat to languish so long. Charles's coronation was supposed to be held much earlier than it was and was postponed, for reasons that will appear soon...