Sunday 23 December 1660

(Lord’s day). In the morning to Church, where our pew all covered with rosemary and baize. A stranger made a dull sermon.

Home and found my wife and maid with much ado had made shift to spit a great turkey sent me this week from Charles Carter, my old colleague, now minister in Huntingdonshire, but not at all roasted, and so I was fain to stay till two o’clock, and after that to church with my wife, and a good sermon there was, and so home.

All the evening at my book, and so to supper and to bed.

34 Annotations

Kenneth Blackwell   Link to this

This little unglamorous entry could be summarized as
church--turkey--church--reading--sleep. Latham and Matthews found it
needed only 3 footnotes. Yet the life Pepys gives it supports Bertrand Russell's recommendation: "Pepys's Diary makes the time of Charles II more real and intelligible than any history ever written" (Papers, 1922-24 vol., forthcoming).

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"little unglamorous entry" Indeed,I thought that with the gilted paper he would be ecstatic,but then at this latitude and close to the winter solstice one feels very down and beside he had a hangover.

john lauer   Link to this

"...rosemary and baize" -- a shrub or spice and a (green?) woolen fabric, without further explanation? What, 'seasonal' decoration?

Mary   Link to this

rosemary and baize.

We're talking about the evergreen shrubs here, rosemary and bay; together with holly and ivy they formed the basis of leafy decoration for Christmas, being both colourful and sweetly scented.

Harvey Cohen   Link to this

Elizabeth struggles to cook a large turkey. How common was turkey in 1660? Definitely in England in 1524. The Pilgrim fathers took British domesticated turkeys with them on the Mayflower in 1620.

PHE   Link to this

On the contrary
I recently heard that our turkeys came from North America.

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

From a University of Illinois site:

Which came first-the Pilgrim or the turkey?

“Wild turkeys were probably first domesticated by native Mexicans. Spaniards brought tame Mexican turkeys to Europe in 1519, and they reached England by 1524. The Pilgrims actually brought several turkeys to America on the voyage in 1620.”

No source given.

Jenny Doughty   Link to this

Note the opening of the traditional 'Boar's Head Carol', first published in 1521:

The boar's head in hand bear I
Bedecked with bay and rosemary
I pray you, my masters, be merry
Quot estis in convivio.
Chorus:
Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes domino.

2. The boar's head, as I understand,
Is the rarest dish in all this land,
Which thus bedecked with a gay garland
Let us servire cantico.
Chorus

3. Our steward hath provided this
In honor of the King of bliss
Which, on this day to be served is
In Reginensi atrio
Chorus

4. The boar's head in hand bear I
Bedecked with bay and rosemary
I pray you, my masters, be merry
Quot estis in convivio.
Chorus

Ruben   Link to this

Definitively the bird called turkey to day in English is an American bird. In Thanksgiving day Americans eat this "turkey" because it is an American native bird. One of the many good things the invaders found in that continent. Bon appetit!
Reading SP you can make the mistake of applying the modern word "turkey" to a bird that may have been a different one.
Find more about this in:
http://www.trends.ca/~yuku/tran/xmz2.htm
The American turkey that you find in the supermarket is an engineered variant with a lot of meat but tasteless that ate artificial food everyday of his life.
Real turkeys are in decline. A few years ago someone found the original turkeys in a farm in Tenesee, I think, and now the original variant is making a come back.

JWB   Link to this

"Invaders","artificial food","Tenesee"(sic)..
Mercy! Wild Turkey are doing very well in the good old U.S.of A., thank you.

George   Link to this

I don't think "real" turkeys are in decline any longer. The Wild Turkey is "locally common from Wyoming, Illinois and New York to Mexico and the Gulf Coast". It previously had an even larger range and was once much more abundant, but was heavily hunted - over hunted before the introduction of closed seasons - in the 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries. Wild turkeys are being re-introduced throughout their former range and beyond: they can now be found as far north and east as New Brunswick in Canada.

language hat   Link to this

"Wild Turkey are doing very well"
When I awoke this morning (in my in-laws' house in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts) I opened the window and saw a half-dozen wild turkeys strutting around in the rain, seeking out whatever goodies might be underneath the snow. I followed them around to the front of the house and saw them make their way across the pond, five flying but one preferring to tiptoe cautiously over the ice. I felt an atavistic impulse to look for a shotgun, but Xmas dinner is already decided (roast beef and Yorkshire pudding) so I let them be. (Just kidding -- I've never fired a gun in my life.) We're hoping the rain doesn't wash away all the snow before tomorrow. And may I take this opportunity to wish all those Pepysians who celebrate it a merry Christmas!

Ruben   Link to this

The supermarket turkey is a modern development of the domesticated turkey.
The domesticated turkeys of 1930 had a different taste and they almost dissapeared.
Wild turkeys have a different story.

Ruben   Link to this

From the Wikipedia:
"The domesticated turkey is descended from one of the North American wild turkey species, probably the Mexican Ocellated Turkey, Agriocharis ocellata."
See also the site of the "Pilgrim Hall Museum" (the invaders museum) at:http://www.pilgrimhall.org/turkey6.htm

Merry Christmas and Peace to all!

PHE   Link to this

Wow - I'm turkeyed out!
And its not even Christmas yet.
(sorry Phil for the off-subject comment)

David Quidnunc   Link to this

Talking turkey

Turkey comments would really be more valuable on the turkey page, and non-diary comments on the pages for the Pepys discussion group at smartgroups.com, where I'm posting my two-cents worth on the turkey thread:

http://www.smartgroups.com/group/whatsnew.cfm?g...

Nix   Link to this

Wild turkeys --

You can find them -- and hunt them -- in southeastern Arizona as well.

Harvey Cohen   Link to this

Turkey questions not answered. How common was turkey in England in 1660? How big was "great" then? Maybe Elizabeth was following the recipe for cooking wild duck in "The Newe Booke of Cookery," by John Murrell (1615): "Trusse and parboyle it, and then halfe roast it, then carve it ..."

language hat   Link to this

Harvey:
There has been a great deal of discussion of turkey; see the background page here:
http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/378/
And do a search if you want to see other entries where it has been discussed.

David Quidnunc   Link to this

The Rev. Carter's gift giving

This is all speculation, but there may be a sectarian/political edge to Carter's gift giving. It may have been a Christmas gift, and that may have been fraught with controversy. The puritans disliked the idea of Christmas and Parliament even outlawed it during the Interregnum. In 1660, the King's new government reversed that and, very likely, promoted Christmas, as would those (un-puritan) church ministers who supported the new regime. Celebrating Christmas would have been a somewhat controversial religious and political statement (but probably an overwhelmingly popular one) -- something with a bit of a bite, like the Earth Day celebrations when they began in the 1970s.

Anglican and Catholic religious leaders supported Christmas and Halloween in the United States in the 19th century and were very successful in getting both holidays established (Halloween, in a way, honored All Saints Day). Maybe something similar was going on here -- promoting a holiday for sectarian reasons. Or maybe he was just giving a friend a turkey.

Pauline   Link to this

"...just giving a friend a turkey."

Perhaps Sandwich shook this turkey loose. He's just back from Huntingdonshire. His presence there may have given Carter the idea or the easy shipment opportunity. Or they may have had a conversation about Sam, and Carter felt the tug of the old friendship and wanted to send a turkey.

upper_left_hand_corner   Link to this

Very true, Pauline!

As Freud might have said, sometimes a turkey is just a turkey.

Glyn   Link to this

I'm going to disagree with David Quidnunc about there being any political reasons for any of this, and I'm sure David Gurliacci would back me up: i.e. maybe Sam was just extremely fond of turkey. See David Gurliacci's entry for 7 January earlier this year entitled "Gobble Gobble Gobble":

http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1660/01/07/#ann...

This was before the Restoration, so there would be no political subtext concerned with it.

But like everyone else, I'm surprised the English were eating turkeys so early.

vincent   Link to this

Peacock could be the plausible choice of bird for special occasions before the turkey[peru][didon][pavo][truthan]found its way onto the continental table[Romans loved them]

Mary   Link to this

The implausible peacock

According to a food historian (can't remember the name) who was speaking on BBC R4 last week, although peacocks were often elaborately dressed for grand dinners from mediaeval times onwards, they were presented for 'show' rather than for eating, as they taste pretty dreadful. Not having tried one, can't say.

Mickey   Link to this

I'm more interested in the rosemary and bay decorations in the church. I'm about 1/3 of the way through Tomalin's bio and it seems notable to me that the church would be decorated. I got the impression that even at this time Puritanism would have discouraged the use of such decoration, particularly in a church. Did his churches lean (or start to lean) away from such a conservative view by now? Or have we gererally gotten so far into the swing away, what with the King returning and all, that folks felt free to do the things that had been proscribed under Cromwell?

Pauline   Link to this

"...our pew all covered with rosemary and baize."
The gentlemen who have erected this pew, Sam among them, all live and work at the Navy Board, so they are supporters of the King and in powerful enough positions to have things the way they would like them in their pew. Next year the altar?

Laura K   Link to this

wild turkeys are even in nyc

Wild turkeys are often seen in New York City's denser parks. The birds thrive all over New York State, and apparently are not afraid of the big city.

This annotation is very late, but I couldn't access the site for two weeks! I've been suffering from Pepys withdrawal. Today, finally, some relief.

Suzanne   Link to this

After having used Pepys for research, your site pointed me towards Josslin, however when looking for
info' that could explain this entry:
Diary of Ralph Josselin (Private Collection)
23.12.1660 (Tuesday 23 December 1660)
document 70012840
Dec: 23. Reports of strange tempests up and down in the world, great violences likely to be practiced, thus in Italy, Denmark, England. Guernsey. oh lord when you shakes these things, make me wise to provide for that which cannot be shaken(.) this day wet and wintery, god good in his word, my hearts desire is you will not leave me under deceit, but make me plain and upright with thee.

I ended back here and discovered the day of the weeks are not the same, is this an error in the Josslin transcription?

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Suzanne, good eye. Josslin's days-of-the-week and dates series' correspondence is a bit unsteady:
http://linux02.lib.cam.ac.uk/earlscolne/dates/1...

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Or, to be fair to the Rev. Ralph, the digitized diary's correspondence is a bit unsteady.

Bill   Link to this

"where our pew all covered with rosemary and baize"

When rosemary, and bays the Poet's crown,
Are bawl'd in frequent cries through all the town;
Then judge the festival of Christmas near,
Christmas the joyous period of the year.
Now with bright holly all your temples strow,
With laurel green, and sacred misletoe.
---Of walking the Streets by Day. John Gay, 1716
(John Gay wrote "The Beggar's Opera".)

Bill   Link to this

"had made shift to spit a great turkey"

How blest, how envy'd were our life,
Could we but 'scape the poult'rer's knife!
But man, curst man on turkeys preys,
And Christmas shortens all our days;
Sometimes with oysters we combine,
Sometimes assist the sav'ry chine.
From the low peasant to the lord,
The turkey smoaks on ev'ry board.
---Fable XXXVIII. The Turkey and the Ant. John Gay, 1727

Sasha Clarkson   Link to this

According to my home-brew book, Izaak Walton wrote: "Turkeys, Carp, Hops, Pickerel, and Beer, Came into England all in one year." (1524). This referred to when the traditional herbs which flavoured ale began to be replaced by hops, as well as the introduction of the turkey, pike and carp.

Incidentally, the boars head is a very old pagan tradition, rebranded by Christianity. At Yule, It was customary to sacrifice a boar to Freyr/Frey, the Norse/Germanic fertility god. Incidentally, here in Pembrokeshire there is a village called Freystrop, a slight corruption of Freyrstorp: "Freyr's village".

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