Friday 25 December 1663

(Christmas day). Lay long talking pleasantly with my wife, but among other things she begun, I know not whether by design or chance, to enquire what she should do if I should by any accident die, to which I did give her some slight answer; but shall make good use of it to bring myself to some settlement for her sake, by making a will as soon as I can. Up and to church, where Mr. Mills made an ordinary sermon, and so home and dined with great pleasure with my wife, and all the afternoon first looking out at window and seeing the boys playing at many several sports in our back yard by Sir W. Pen’s, which reminded me of my own former times, and then I began to read to my wife upon the globes with great pleasure and to good purpose, for it will be pleasant to her and to me to have her understand these things. In the evening at the office, where I staid late reading Rushworth, which is a most excellent collection of the beginning of the late quarrels in this kingdom, and so home to supper and to bed, with good content of mind.

13 Annotations

Bradford   Link to this

"she begun . . . to enquire what she should do if I should by any accident die".

The classic example of this scenario features the husband as the one who proposes to the wife, "If one or the other of us should die, I would go and live in Paris."

Let us be grateful, this Christmas Day, that human beings have no sure way to foretell the future.

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"she begun...to enquire what she should do if I should by any accident die"
Excellent timing Bess.

jeannine   Link to this

"to enquire what she should do if I should by any accident die, to which I did give her some slight answer; but shall make good use of it to bring myself to some settlement for her sake, by making a will as soon as I can"
Not exactly a good Christmas holiday thought but good advice for anybody (especially if you have children to consider). It's interesting that Elizabeth would be "smart" enough to think (or perhaps worry) about her life without her husband. Life back then, when women weren't usually working outside of the home didn't leave a lot of options for a widowed female. To her advantage - her good looks- a beautiful catch perhaps in the event that something happened to Sam, which would be lucky for her. Over the years I've sadly seen situations where couples didn't want to deal with the ugliness of what would happen if one of them died or was disabled. Then when a tragedy happened life became miserable for the other person (and/or kids). So, as uncomfortable as it is to think and plan for these things, it's always wise and I think it says something of Elizabeth's intelligence that she could ask and that Sam would take that seriously.

cumgranosalis   Link to this

Based on 700 quid on hand, invested in an annuity of the day, would yield 50 pound a year, enough to survive on and not fall prey to first old gueezer to offer sustenance, especially now that she is getting use to the good life, and she does not need to go out and empty the slops and scrub the family wash.
A small house be going for 300 pounds.
Even in this day and age,of huge bonuses, not too many have a secret stash of coins to by 3 bed house in London Town.
See Eliza Picard London Restoration,page 32.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Today Samuel Pepys's life on display for him from his end to his beginning

"I...shall bring myself to some settlement for her sake, by making a will as soon as I can....and all the afternoon first looking out at window and seeing the boys playing at many several sports in our back yard...which reminded me of my own former times"

Does this latter occur to him because of Elizabeth's discussion of the former with him earlier? Christmas occasions such glaces forward and back, when families gather, as Charles Dickens knew. God bless us every one!!

Ruben   Link to this

700 quid on hand
1 Are you sure Elizabeth knew about this money? I am not. At least not of the big amount involved.
2 To invest the money you need to be some kind of entity. Elizabeth is not, yet. Only if Samuel writes the proper papers, may be (here we need an expert in law). In any other case, a male (Tom, Papa or a lawyer) would be in charge of the rapidly diminishing coins, and of the widow.
3 In case Pepys does not work anymore, as it is usual with deceased people, the widow would have to evacuate herself from the King's housing.
Remember that the previous "owner" of Pepys job does not live anymore in the compound, and that he receives is annuity only because he is alive, and Pepys would not pay his widow.

Michael Robinson   Link to this

to bring myself to some settlement for her sake,

Presumably a jointure, because Elizabeth would have already her potential life interest of freebench, (an equivalent to dower) of one half, in the copyhold lands at Brampton once they passed to SP.

"Jointure is, in law, a provision for a wife after the death of her husband."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jointure

Gus Spier   Link to this

No, it makes sense to me, that having gone to Turner's funeral the day before, and seeing Mrs. Turner in her mourning, that Mrs. Pepys would turn to her husband and say, "Sam, that could be me. If (when) that happens to you, what shall I ever do?"

Rex Gordon   Link to this

Sam's Christmases ...

From L&M's Companion Volume:

Pepys's own Christmas may be taken as typical of the celebrations of the middle-class Londoner. His celebrations, too, express social obligations - in his case to family, neighbourhood and colleagues. All join in provided they live within easy reach. Even with old enemies like the Penns there was "much correspondence" at Christmas time.

The Christmas fare Pepys ate was much the same as ours - turkey, beef, mince pies and plum porridge. There were evergreen decorations (at any rate in public places); wassailers sang carols; the household played games until the small hours; theatres put on plays (though no recognisably modern pantomimes until 1717). The biggest difference was perhaps that the season had a shape - a beginning, a middle and an end. It began with a holy day; it had at its centre a festive day, New Year's Day, and it ended with a carnival, Twelfth Night. During the twelve days work did not entirely stop - Boxing Day was often a busy day for the Navy Board - but for most of the season it took second place to entertainment. For Pepys - with guests even for breakfast - it was a season of almost unending sociability.

Christmas Day itself was a quiet day for him. He usually spent it alone with his wife and always went to church. Once, in 1662, he almost went to communion. On Boxing Day (which he never refers to by that name - it did not then exist)he would distribute his "boxes" to tradesmen, porters and the like. The last days of the year were the time for paying bills, making up the old year's accounts and writing out the new year's vows. Placeholders at court exchanged presents and were in duty bound to give them to the King, but there was little present-giving between private individuals. (Slight spoilers are coming.) Pepys once gave a New Year's gift of gloves to his mistress, Doll Lane, and at New Year 1669 gave his wife a valuable walnut cabinet - probably a peace offering after *****(major spoiler omitted!)*****.

New Year's Day was the great day for feasting, but the climax came on Twelfth Night when guests were bidden to supper. Sometimes there was music and dancing; always there was the eating of the Twelfth Night cake in which (according to immemorial custom) a bean and a pea were concealed. The cake was divided so that one of the men got the bean and one of the women the pea. They then became the king and queen for the evening and ruled the revels until midnight, when the company dispersed and Christmas was over.

Christmas had been frowned on by the Puritans, but Cromwell's London was not Calvin's Geneva and little had been changed except for the abolition (itself never completely enforced) of the Prayer-Book service for Christmas Day. In describing his Christmases in the '60s Pepys never remarks on their being novel or different from those of the '50s.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Rex, that's another one for the Encyclopedia!

http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/314/

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...I know not whether by design or chance, to enquire what she should do if I should by any accident die, to which I did give her some slight answer; but shall make good use of it to bring myself to some settlement for her sake, by making a will as soon as I can..."

I thought he'd made a will when he went to sea?

By design or chance...I like that...

"Hold the poison in the plum puddin' , Mary! The little sob hasn't redone his will yet."

or perhaps some early version of insurance agent paid a call earlier...

"Neff, Walter Neff, Mrs. Pepys. I represent a new firm. We're attempting to sell ready-made wills and a new thing called life insurance on prominent men...To protect the families, given the risks such men take in the King's service."

"Oh...?" Bess takes a languid seat on the sofa, stretching like a lazy cat.

"Yes, we hope to do for families what's been done for merchants and others...Not only do you have a will all set up and ready, but for a small monthly fee we agree to pay a sum on the death of your husband."

"That's a wonderful service you're offering, sir. So appropos...You see, I'm so worried about my Sam, Mr. Neff."

Demure dropping of folds of gown to reveal slight swell of upper right breast...

Always gets Uncle Wight's wheels spinnin'...

"You mean like some night he'll be surveying a ship and a crown block or a cargo box might fall on his head?"

"You put in so coldly, sir." demure frown.

"Only some night a crown block will fall or a hidden cargo door will open beneath him..."

"Mr. Neff...?"

"Cause you're planning to make sure that happens..." stern eye from head to foot.

Nervous look...Languid cat gone as she sits upright.

"Sir...?"

"You'd've been all wrong, lady. Thinking you could pay off some sailor or thug to club him one some dark night, maybe? Holy smokes, they've tortured it out of him and crucified you. But you figured when I showed you might try and enlist some professional help, eh?"

"Mr. Neff? I don't know what you are talking about, sir."

"And I'm going to help you..." cool smile. "But it's gotta be done right...And we're not going for some penny-anny purse. Not with our heads on the block, girlie. No, I'm playing for the big-time."

"Oh?"

"My company figures the chance of death of a public man when walking to work is the least of any. They figure a man like your husband would naturally have a host of toadies and attendants with him to protect him. So we're offering triple indemnity for deaths during walking to work."

"My! You know...My Sam'l does love to walk..."

"So I've heard..."

Louise   Link to this

I thought he'd made a will when he went to sea?

Ah, but he tore up that will on that horrible day when he also tore up his love letters to Elizabeth under her nose: http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1663/01/09/#ann...

dirk   Link to this

The Rev. Josselin's weather report:

"...A very close air. rare to see sun, moon or stars together one q(uar)ter of a day, or night, weather open, not wet..."

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