Thursday 17 December 1663

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning. At noon home to my poor wife and dined, and then by coach abroad to Mrs. Turner’s where I have not been for many a day, and there I found her and her sister Dike very sad for the death of their brother. After a little common expression of sorrow, Mrs. Turner told me that the trouble she would put me to was, to consult about getting an achievement prepared, scutcheons were done already, to set over the door. So I did go out to Mr. Smith’s, where my brother tells me the scutcheons are made, but he not being within, I went to the Temple, and there spent my time in a Bookseller’s shop, reading in a book of some Embassages into Moscovia, &c., where was very good reading, and then to Mrs. Turner’s, and thither came Smith to me, with whom I did agree for 4l. to make a handsome one, ell square within the frame. After he was gone I sat an houre talking of the suddennesse of his death within 7 days, and how by little and little death came upon him, neither he nor they thinking it would come to that. He died after a day’s raveing, through lightness in his head for want of sleep. His lady did not know of his sickness, nor do they hear yet how she takes it.

Hence home, taking some books by the way in Paul’s Churchyard by coach to my office, where late doing business, and so home to supper and to bed.

20 Annotations

Bradford  •  Link

The Companion, Large Glossary, says that a scutcheon is, as you might guess, an "escutcheon, shield of arms."

The "achievement" is an ambitious "funerary hatchment, panel, or canvas bearing the 'achievement' (properly the full coat of arms including, where applicable, supporters, helmet, wreath and crest) of the deceased, hung on the house until the funeral, in church thereafter".

This will be "a handsome one, ell square within the frame"---that is, as we would put it, one ell square, an ell being "a measure of 45 inches".

Paul Dyson  •  Link

and there I found her and her sister Dike very sad for the death of their brother

Apologies, Sam'l! I take back my comment of two days ago. His cousin's wife must be some distance away, if they do not know how she has taken the news. And Sam is evidently prepared to spend both time and trouble to make some of the arrangements and may be undertaking to pay for the scutcheon. However he is perhaps more concerned at this point about Jane Turner, who seems to have his limitless regard for her care of him after his stone operation.

Paul Dyson  •  Link

getting an achievement prepared

Examples of achievements or hatchments can still be seen in some English parish churches. There are some good examples at the following link, and elsewhere:

Patricia  •  Link

Does anyone pronouce this word EScutcheon? I've only ever heard it pronounced "scutcheon", as Pepys does. From The Pirates of Penzance:
"General: Why do I sit here? To escape from the pirates' clutches, I described myself as an orphan; and, heaven help me, I am no orphan! I come here to humble myself before the tombs of my ancestors, and to implore their pardon for having brought dishonour on the family escutcheon.

Frederic: But you forget, sir, you only bought the property a year ago, and the stucco on your baronial castle is scarcely dry.

General: Frederic, in this chapel are ancestors: you cannot deny that. With the estate, I bought the chapel and its contents. I don't know whose ancestors they were, but I know whose ancestors they are, and I shudder to think that their descendant by purchase (if I may so describe myself) should have brought disgrace upon what, I have no doubt, was an unstained escutcheon."

jeannine  •  Link

What would the widow's role be?
I am curious as to what the widow's "role" would be -would she dress in black for an extended period? What did she usually do in the long run (I'm wondering if she's have to remarry after a set time period to afford her life, etc.?) What I've always remained curious about is this. If people married basically for reasons other that "love" (which was the norm), perhaps some marriages ended up with people really caring for their partners and being devastated at the loss of them, while some did not. Just curious what the social expectations were about what the socially acceptable practice was when a spouse died.

cumgranosalis  •  Link

for the 'ell of it, it be 9 by 5: I dothe take "one ell square, an ell being "a measure of 45 inches".

cumgranosalis  •  Link

errata: made one "ell of a mess of that"
ell from which it be the Ulna or the length od object :
Com. Teut.: OE. eln,str. fem MDu elne ,elle Du el....OHG..... alin (Sw. aln, Da. alen), Goth. aleina (? scribal error for *alina) cubit:}", L. ulna, of same meaning. .... leading to elbow [ulna]..........
The diversity of meanings (see below) is common to all words denoting linear measures derived from the length of the arm; cf. CUBIT and L. ulna. The word ell seems to have been variously taken to represent the distance from the elbow or from the shoulder to the wrist or to the finger-tips, while in some cases a 'double ell' has superseded the original measure, and has taken its name.]
1. a. A measure of length varying in different countries. The English ell = 45 in.; the Scotch = 37·2; the Flemish = 27 in. Now only Hist. or with reference to foreign countries, the Eng. measure being obsolete.
In early use often in sing. when preceded by numerals.
.........b. fig. Contrasted with inch, span, etc.; esp. in proverbial phrase, give him an inch and he'll take an ell: meaning that undue advantage will be taken of a slight concession.
.....c. As a fluid measure.
[Several correspondents inform us that they remember seeing the announcement 'Beer sold by the yard', on the signboards of country taverns, the reference being to the long narrow glasses about a yard high.]
2. a. A measuring rod; = ELL-WAND. Phrase, to measure with the long ell, with the short ell: to measure unfairly as buyer or seller respectively.
4. As a rendering of L. ulna: The larger bone of the fore-arm. Obs.
1682 Way to make Rum in Harl. Misc. I. 541 The Germans commonly drink whole tankards, and *ell-glasses, at a draught.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I think Jeannine what's always amazed me is throughout history how successful marital partnerships have been. Nearly always a tight bond develops even when the initial arrangement is convenience. If it's not always harmonious each moment of each day, it's usually true that the bonding for love that we prize is no guarantee of success. (Except in our case, my love! Whap!!) I'm always impressed reading Roman period epitaphs from surviving spouse to the departed's memory or a last thought from departed to survivor. So many carry that extra bit of real affection and sincere loss.

Though a few do have a possible double meaning...

"I am waiting for my husband."

I like to imagine Bess would've had that inscribed. Sam involuntarily trembling each time he passed the stone.

cumgranosalis  •  Link

epigrammata, IX, 15 Martial:
Inscripsit tumulus septem scelerata virorum :
" Se fecisse Chloe"
Quid pote simplicius?
She inscribed on the tomb of seven husbands?

"Choe made this herself"
What could be more simple [or honest]?

Terry F  •  Link

Talking of the dying of Edward Pepys

All the details - so typical -
- the duration of the conversation-
"I sat an houre talking"
- the duration of the dying -
"of the suddennesse of his death within 7 days" [more sudden than "a week"?}
- the manner of the dying anatomized -
"and how by little and little death came upon him, neither he nor they thinking it would come to that. He died after a day's raveing, through lightness in his head for want of sleep."
- how it affected his wife -
"His lady did not know of his sickness, nor do they hear yet how she takes it."
remind me of a similar scene in *The Death of Ivan Ilyich*

Conrad  •  Link

I like the way our Sam gets away with reading the book seller's books, just as today's book shop browsers know no shame in standing around dog earring the magazines, with absolutely no intention of ever paying for one.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

spent my time in a Bookseller's shop,

The imprint for Olearius' "Voyages ..." reads:-
"printed for Thomas Dring, and John Starkey, and are to be sold at their shops, at the George in Fleet-street, neer Clifford's-Inn, and at the Mitre, between the Middle-Temple-gate and Temple-Barr,"

Pepys must have been at the Mitre.

Mary  •  Link

pronunciation of 'escutcheon'

Yes, the first syllable of this word is still pronounced in Standard Received English, though the vowel is a short 'i' rather than a short 'e'

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

"What would the widow's role be? ...(I'm wondering if she's have to remarry after a set time period to afford her life, etc.?)"
I think that would depend largely on things like jointures, dowries, settlements, etc. I'm pretty fuzzy on those, and I'm sure someone here can enlighten us. My vague understanding is that, if a wife brought a dowery into the marriage, there was usually a "settlement" (what we would call a pre-nup) that ensured it would go support her in widowhood, and then to the younger sons on her death (since the eldest usually got the family estate). A settlement might also provide for widowhood out of the husband's estate, but that would normally cease at remarriage (since she would then be some other man's responsibility). Of course, all of this applied only to the propertied classes.

Can anyone give Jeanine a more authoritative answer?

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

Widows and Dowagers
Some random info from Wikipedia:
"A dowry (also known as trousseau) is a gift of money or valuables given by the bride's family to the groom's at the time of their marriage. It has been regarded as contribution of her family to the married household's expenses. ... The opposite direction, property settled on the bride by the groom, is called dower. Normally the bride would be entitled to her dowry in event of her widowhood, prior to the evolution of her dower rights; so common was this that the terms "dowry" and "dower" are sometimes confused."

"A dowager is a widow who holds a title or property, or Dower, derived from her deceased husband."

Dower House:
"A dower house is usually a moderately large house on an estate which is occupied by the widow of the late owner. The widow, often known as the "dowager" usually moves into the dower house, from the larger family house, on the death of her husband, the new heir occupies the now vacated principal house."

Pedro  •  Link


I cannot see much in Liza Picard's Restoration London except for...

The legal status of women

At 7, a girl was old enough to become betrothed; at 12, she could be legally married. If she be married younger she may dissent till she be 14. Until her marriage, a daughter was part of her father's family, and he was responsible for her. If her father died while she was still unmarried, and we have seen that 25% of women never married, she was handed on to the next head of the family. On marriage she became the responsibility of her husband.

On widows she quotes William Blackstone...Commentaries on the Laws of England

"Why mourn you so, you widows? Consider how long you have been in subjection under the predominance of parents, of your husbands, and now you are free in liberty...Maidens and wives vows (contracts) were all disavowable by their parents and husbands...but the vow of a man has the power to disallow..."

cumgranosalis  •  Link

Men remarried as they want and need to be fed, clothed and bedded, Women on the other hand would marry again only if it suited their needs.
Women usual stayed in the single mode as they would not be any bodies responsibility, but there own, if they had enough funds and did not want the next guy to get control the funds.
There be those men [men be so nice when they be in want]that be looking for a merry widow to pay for fun and provide future gene providers.
As seen in the diary, Samuel be busy trying to get a financial assistance for his pricklouse brother.
The institution of wedded bliss be played in many ways. Marrage is an answer to many differing needs. There be five senses that be needed to be satisfied, along with hunger, warmth.
Girl if wise be an old fools darling rather than a young mans slave

Bradford  •  Link

45 inches on a side would be large, but 9x5 rather small for outside display, woon't it?

Robert Browning wrote a "closet drama" called "A Blot in the 'Scutcheon," showing that in Victorian cod-Elizabeth playspeak the initial "e" was elided. If you have heard either version spoken aloud, count yourself among highly informed company or stuck in a Renaissance Festival timewarp.

jeannine  •  Link

JonTom, Pedro, RG and Grain of Salt--Thanks so much for the info! Always nice to get a variety of views on a subject and learn something from my Pepysian comrades!

GrahamT  •  Link

For a different view of what happens to women when they didn't have a dower to fall back on, read Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders (husband disappeared with family money) and John Cleland's Fanny Hill (orphaned without an inheritance) Both give a lot of background about dowries and annuities for women, and the consequences of not having them. (Prostitution, crime, transportation, execution, etc...)
Though both written in the 18th century, the social background was unchanged enough to make them relevant to our 17th century discussions.

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