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Mary K has posted 976 annotations/comments since 9 March 2007.

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About Tuesday 28 July 1663

Mary K  •  Link

The Dunny Man (though called the Sanitary Man) operated in rural Cheshire in the early 1950s. This came as a great shock to this young Kentish child when visiting an aunt's home for the first time.

About Monday 11 May 1663

Mary K  •  Link


We still use this term when referring to sheep-worrying. An uncontrolled dog may worry sheep either by simply chasing them or by chasing and savaging them. The owner of such a dog is liable to prosecution and the owner of the livestock may be entitled to shoot the offending dog.

I quote a very recent appalling incident in which 116 sheep were killed.

"The sheep, many of them pregnant, had been herded into a tight group against a fence and a gate bordering woodland, and either died from shock or by being crushed in the flock".

Sam was probably most afraid of being badly bitten.

About Saturday 9 May 1663

Mary K  •  Link

Castile soap is first recorded as being imported into England via Antwerp in the second half of the Sixteenth Century.

During the Seventeenth Century its use gave rise to controversy in England after its Spanish (i.e. Catholic) producers purchased a monopoly on soap from the cash-strapped English government. A tax on the use of Castile soap persisted into the Nineteenth Century.

No doubt this turned Castile soap into a luxury product during Pepys' time, but it would have been available in London.

About Wednesday 1 July 1663

Mary K  •  Link

Legal position

Prior to the passing of the Buggery Act in 1533, such cases were handled by the ecclesiastical courts rather than under the civil law. The 1533 act defined buggery as a capital offence. With the brief exception of a short period under Queen Mary, the civil act remained in force essentially until 1861 when buggery ceased to be defined as a capital offence, though it remained a criminal offence.

About Sunday 19 April 1663

Mary K  •  Link

the new suit

At some point in the past we had quite a discussion about the change in fashion from "petticoat breeches" (very full in fabric, looking more like a knee-length skirt than any kind of breeches; it was even possible mistakenly to put them on with both legs inside the same leg of the garment) to much closer-fitting breeches that fastened just below the knee. However, a brief troll through the Encyclopaedia has proved unproductive, so perhaps we have lost track of this thread.
A look at pictures of Charles II (the supreme leader of fashion, of course) shows how he fairly soon abandoned the flowing breeches for the closed-knee type - and Pepys is dressing in the latest fashion here.

About Tuesday 10 March 1662/63

Mary K  •  Link

Piped water supply

See note above. There was a supply of piped water in the city of London, though supply to individual properties was not always available on all seven days of the week.

About Monday 13 October 1662

Mary K  •  Link

In these homogenized days, milk looks and tastes the same throughout the year. When I was young ( late forties/early fifties) winter-time milk took on a slightly thin, blue-ish appearance and only regained its proper creamy colour and flavour once the cows were out to grass again in the spring.

About Sunday 31 August 1662

Mary K  •  Link


"John Gilpin was a citizen
Of credit and renown;
A train-band captain eke was he
Of famous London town....... etc. etc."