Friday 5 April 1661

Up among my workmen and so to the office, and then to Sir W. Pen’s with the other Sir William and Sir John Lawson to dinner, and after that, with them to Mr. Lucy’s, a merchant, where much good company, and there drank a great deal of wine, and in discourse fell to talk of the weight of people, which did occasion some wagers, and where, among others, I won half a piece to be spent.

Then home, and at night to Sir W. Batten’s, and there very merry with a good barrell of oysters, and this is the present life I lead.

Home and to bed.

20 Annotations

Eric Walla  •  Link

" ... and this is the present life I lead"--it sounds as if Sam is quite content with his present good fortune. I think we've all enjoyed these brief instances of serenity before the next squall brought us back to reality. Enjoy it, Sam, while it lasts!

Lawrence  •  Link

Well with the wife safely with Dad and Mum he can play with the boys a bit, all good things come to an end though!

vincent  •  Link

" discourse fell to talk of the weight of people, which did occasion some wagers,..." in stones I trust [weight that is]

Susan  •  Link

How did people weigh themselves in those days?? No bathroom scales then to reveal the Awful Truth.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

How did people weigh themselves?

I suspect they didn't, as a rule. They are at Mr Lucy's, a merchant, and since it seems to have been afternoon I assume they were at his place of business. We don't know what Mr Lucy dealt in, but if it was something relatively heavy, say coal, I suppose he would have had a balance capable of weighing people. It could have been that the presence of the equipment gave them the idea. Boys and their toys!

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

- talk of the weight of people - makes you wonder if they were making fun of the fat. Was it socially acceptable to be overweight or a sign of affluence and respectability as in some cultures in this world? I don't suppose the poor were fat in those days whereas now obesity seems to have become their privilege.

Paul L  •  Link

Was it socially acceptable to be overweight or a sign of affluence and respectability
It's always struck me how - from a later period - British cartoons show the French Revolutionaries as lean (cleary a negative image) while John Bull is fat and red cheeked having eaten heartily of beef and pudding. To modern eyes the impact is reversed - with the French Revolutionaries looking in good nick while John Bull clearly needs to think long and hard about his calorific intake.

Harry  •  Link

Was it socially acceptable to be overweight or a sign of affluence and respectability?

This bring's to mind the words of Julius Caesar according to Shakespeare:
"Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous."

Zeneca  •  Link

According to infomation from the money section Sam's half a piece was worth 22 shillings which translates to approximately £105 today that is US$190 or 160 Euros - not a small win from a private wager.

JWB  •  Link

"...and this is the present life I lead".
On the 2nd,Pepys tut-tuts 2Wms. in their cups: "...who at other times wise men". Today's censure is milder, but still, in my opinion, censure.

cindy b  •  Link

Would this be Good Friday, 1661?
Sam usually mentions important holy days.

Ruben  •  Link

Santorio Santorio was the first physician interested in human weight, who succeded in measuring it.
He lived a generation or two before Pepys, in the best possible place in those days: Venice.
In the 1930's, HW Haggard published a very good book about "Medicine in History" and I saw there a nice picture of Santorio seating in an enormous balance (occupying most of the room). I could not find the original picture in the Internet but to see a small part of it look at:,
or in:
For those interested, a good English site is:

Lawrence  •  Link

No Cindy b, thats next Friday the 12th

David A. Smith  •  Link

"talk of the weight of people"
Yes, times have changed enormously. I believe, without having made a study of it, that the 20th is the first century when being lean and tan were considered upper rather than lower class.
For instance, Rubens' "Three Graces" (1639)
is considered a study of the ideal of feminine beauty. In addition to the rolls of flesh, remark on their pure whiteness -- ruddy complexion meant laboring in the sun. The aristocrat was a paleface.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: Weight in stone

Vincent, do you reckon that Sam was a stone lighter than what the others estimated? :-)

helena murphy  •  Link

If to be pale was the ideal the reality in all social classes might well have been the opposite. People then led much more active and outdoor lives than we do today. Both aristocratic men and women rode and swam. The former also hunted,played tennis and fenced. Most titled men, especially in continental europe which was continually at war, would have seen military service in spring and summer, the campaigning seasons. Such exposure would have certainly tanned the skin, not to mention the slimming effects of scaling the walls of towns under siege. If the aristocrat was not a paleface,the likelihood is that he was very much a scar face, if not maimed in eye and limb as well, injuries shared with the common soldier as war can be a great social leveller. Neither would he have been a social outcast as the pursuit of "gloire" was highly esteemed and heroic, so invitations to the ball would have kept pouring in! Of course we must not forget those also with physical abnormalities from birth,the hair lipped, the lame, and the crosseyed. It is interesting that Pepys does not mention such defects because they were probably so prevalent. I do not recall him refering to a lady's pale pallor, probably to be clear skinned, free of pimples and the pox was sufficient to render one attractive.

vincent  •  Link

Todd Bernhardt on Tue 6 Apr 2004, 7:39 pm asked re: "Weight in stone:" most likely he weighs the bakers dozen, with all those oysters and ales and chubby cheeks, of course one is always weighs 10 lbs more when photographed [sorry painted]. He was one of fortunate few that could eat a full meal on a regular basis. My pet theory that the haves reinforced their status by eating well and having the added stature and the have nots never had chance [of course there were exceptions like I've never seen a skinny Quarter master SGT] therefore the myth of fattenning the baby was because most of the people were under nourished. Note that some modern groups have better conditions for living now, have increased in height and girth.
re: deformaties, John Evelyn [13,sept 60: St Margarites faire] did mention a few.[see Rest:Lon: L. Picard pg 250 257]
PS. We always want we cannot have Then a well endowed lady did represent good breeding stock vs the the poor undernourished waif. Now we want no hips, smallwaist and the enhanced upper torso as that is the Rare version available now.

Mary  •  Link

The half-piece

is worth only half a sovereign, not the whole sovereign indicated by Zeneca's figures.

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