Sunday 8 January 1659/60

(Sunday) In the morning I went to Mr. Gunning’s, where a good sermon, wherein he showed the life of Christ, and told us good authority for us to believe that Christ did follow his father’s trade, and was a carpenter till thirty years of age. From thence to my father’s to dinner, where I found my wife, who was forced to dine there, we not having one coal of fire in the house, and it being very hard frosty weather. In the afternoon my father, he going to a man’s to demand some money due to my Aunt Bell, my wife and I went to Mr. Mossum’s, where a strange doctor made a very good sermon. From thence sending my wife to my father’s, I went to Mrs. Turner’s, and staid a little while, and then to my father’s, where I found Mr. Sheply, and after supper went home together. Here I heard of the death of Mr. Palmer, and that he was to be buried at Westminster tomorrow.

12 Annotations

Nicholas Laughlin   Link to this

Mr. Palmer, according to Latham-Matthews, was James Palmer, former vicar of St. Bride's in Fleet Street, who had baptised Pepys at his church in 1633. He died on 5 January.

language hat   Link to this

Robert Mossum, at this point "a poor, sequestered clergyman... at the little chapel of St Peter's by Paul's Wharf," later became Bishop of Derry.

language hat   Link to this

"Aunt Bells" should be Aunt Bell (perhaps the s is a misscanning of a comma?).

Susanna   Link to this

Coals from Newcastle

Most Londoners in Pepys' day burned sea-coal, which contained a lot of sulphur and other impurities. This sea-coal was mostly shipped into the city from Newcastle (hence the expression "like coals to Newcastle"). It was a major source of London's air pollution problem.

Charles Weng   Link to this

The Pepys apparently did not have a pleasant stay at their father's on this Sunday. Not only was it coal-lessly cold, but the contents of the unremarkable meal were not even mentioned at all...perhaps, for once, there was no meat served. I find this a petulant contrast to the sermon our writer just heard in church, referring to Jesus' taking up carpentry after his earthly father Joseph.

Wooden Rivet   Link to this

RE:Coals from Newcastle

According to David Urbinato[EPA Journal - Summer 1994]:
"Until the 12th century, most Londoners burned wood for fuel. But as the city grew and the forests shrank, wood became scarce and increasingly expensive. Large deposits of "sea-coal" off the northeast coast provided a cheap alternative. Soon, Londoners were burning the soft, bituminous coal to heat their homes and fuel their factories. Sea-coal was plentiful, but it didn't burn efficiently. A lot of its energy was spent making smoke, not heat. Coal smoke drifting through thousands of London chimneys combined with clean natural fog to make smog. If the weather conditions were right, it would last for days.

Early on, no one had the scientific tools to correlate smog with adverse health effects, but complaints about the smoky air as an annoyance date back to at least 1272, when King Edward I, on the urging of important noblemen and clerics, banned the burning of sea-coal. Anyone caught burning or selling the stuff was to be tortured or executed. The first offender caught was summarily put to death. This deterred nobody. Of necessity, citizens continued to burn sea-coal in violation of the law, which required the burning of wood few could afford.

Following Edward, Richard III (1377-1399) and Henry V (1413-1422) also tried to curb the use of sea-coal, as did a number of non-royal crusaders. In 1661, John Evelyn, a noted diarist of the day, wrote his anticoal treatise FUMIFUNGIUM: or the Inconvenience of the Aer and Smoake of London Dissipated, in which he pleaded with the King and Parliament to do something about the burning of coal in London. "And what is all this, but that Hellish and dismall Cloud of SEACOALE?" he wrote, "so universally mixed with the otherwise wholesome and excellent Aer, that her Inhabitants breathe nothing but an impure and thick Mist accompanied with a fuliginous and filthy vapour..."

Laws and treatises failed to stop citizens from burning coal, however. Too many people burned it and there were no real alternatives. Anthracite coal was much cleaner but too expensive."

Jenny   Link to this

I'm very pleased with this site; I can now get a daily fix of Pepys with a triple fix on a Monday morning when I get to work. Which leaves me with a bit of a dilemma - what do I do when I am on holiday? Save up 2 weeks-worth of diary entries when I return or make sporadic visits to an internet cafe? And on the subject of meat, I think you'll find there is still a large proportion of people in Britain that eat rather a lot of meat, especially in weather like this. It's the Northern European culture I think; fattening yourself up on meat and root veg to keep the cold out in winter.

darly   Link to this

my partner spent 3 months in the Antartic - he made a comment that if they didn't eat 'fat' they found it hard to sleep at night and also felt the cold more. food for thought!

PHE   Link to this

Why were 'sermons' taking place in peoples' homes? Was it anything to do with restrictions on the practice of certain regligions due to a Puritan government?

Susanna   Link to this

Sermons and Twelfth Night

If Pepys had wanted to attend a service using the old Book of Common Prayer, he would probably have had to attend a private service at someone's home; it was illegal under the Commonwealth. Pepys and his family and friends were also all technically breaking the law in their celebration of Twelfth Night on the 6th, but by this point in 1659/60, so were a great many other people, especially in London, where the Puritan side was losing the "battle for Christmas." There is an interesting discussion of this battle in Ronald Hutton's "The Rise and Fall of Merry England."

JonTom Kittredge   Link to this

In response to the question from PHE, I had assumed that when Pepys refers to going to "Mr Mossum's" in the afternoon, he means attending evening service at the church where Mr Mossum was Vicar. Similarly, he speaks of going to "Mr Gunning's" in the morning. Maybe I am mistaken? I also have the impression that going to both morning and evening prayer on Sunday was customary at that time.

language hat   Link to this

Jon Tom is correct.
Bryant says "These [forbidden Anglican services] Pepys now began to patronize, setting out on a Sunday morning from Westminster to hear Mr Gunning at Cary House by Exeter 'Change... And in the afternoon, if he could escape from the rather formidable task of listening to Mr Herring, the Presbyterian incumbent of St Bride's, he would slip away to hear the eloquent Robert Mossum... thrill his auditory at the little chapel of St Peter's by Paul's Wharf. Occasionally he would even attend Mr Gunning's Friday fasts."

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