January 1661

Pepys starts the year with a brief summary of the state of his (and the country’s) life. He appears happy with his own position and finances, but is worried about the “fractious” Parliament. On 2 January his sister, Pall, enters his service: “I do not let her sit down at table with me, which I do at first that she may not expect it hereafter from me.” His rising status is also indicated on 12 January when, at a storekeeper’s house, he is treated “with so much respect and honour that I was at a loss how to behave myself.” Maintaining such appearances can prove difficult however, as on one of his theatre visits when he “was troubled to be seen by four of our office clerks, which sat in the half-crown box and I in the 1s. 6d.”

A band of “fanatiques” took arms in the City against the King on the night before 7 January and again two nights later when, like the rest of the City, Pepys heads out in defence with his sword and pistol. Several men were killed and the remaining fanatiques later arrested and hanged.

30 January was a fast day to honour the “murder” of Charles I, the first time he had been honoured in this way. The bodies of Oliver Cromwell and two fellow republicans were hanged at Tyburn, having been exhumed two days earlier.

See the full diary entries for January 1661

March 1661

Much of this month’s office work concerns the paying off of officers and seamen while the navy’s future is decided. However on 12 March Pepys is himself paid more than he expected for his naval excursion to the Netherlands the previous year. There is much to learn and on 13 March he buys a seamen’s dictionary.

Meanwhile he goes to the theatre at least nine times, taking pleasure in a recreation that had recently been illegal, and particularly enjoying ‘The Bondman’ starring Thomas Betterton (at this time his favourite actor). Pepys’ increase in status continues to delight him: on 8 March he is a guest at a dinner at the Tower of London, which

See the full diary entries for March 1661

April 1661

The month started unhappily, with Pepys trying to stop his parents arguing about their maid, leaving his mother in tears. Many days in April involved Pepys organising the workmen in his house and routine navy business. This daily routine was, however, punctuated with celebration.

On 20 April Charles Stewart created several Earls and Barons in the Banqueting House of Whitehall Palace. Two days later, 22 April, came the highlight of the month, the spectacular procession of Stewart from the Tower of London to Whitehall and then his coronation as Charles II the following day.

For the procession Pepys wore his velvet coat for the first time and declared that “it is impossible to relate the glory of this day.” He did his best, deciding: “So glorious was the show with gold and silver, that we were not able to look at it, our eyes at last being so much overcome with it.” There was much partying after the ceremony, resulting in a rather worse for wear (but still rejoicing) Pepys the next morning.

Earlier in the month, during a stay at a house in Chatham, Pepys found he was becoming used to his improving status, declaring on 9 April: “It was a great pleasure all the time I staid here to see how I am respected and honoured by all people; and I find that I begin to know now how to receive so much reverence, which at the beginning I could not tell how to do.”

See the full diary entries for April 1661

May 1661

The first days of the month are spent in Portsmouth, checking out the navy stores there, selling old provisions, and other navy business. On 6 May the Duke of York’s son dies which Pepys believes “will please every body”.

Money matters, both his own and the navy’s, take up a lot of Pepys’ time this month, not to mention the continued overseeing of his workmen, who finish part of their work to his satisfaction on 16 May. His status seems to be rising, as the confrontation with the Committee of Lords on 15 and 16 May shows, and on 24 May Pepys finds himself “to be clearly worth 500l. in money, besides all my goods in my house, &c.”

Among other events this month, Pepys becomes a godfather to Mrs Browne’s child on 29 May, and witnesses Captain Ferrers jumping from a balcony after drinking too much on 19 May; Ferrers survives, but doesn’t recover until 27 May.

See the full diary entries for May 1661

June 1661

Supervising the workmen who are renovating his house has by now become a daily necessary evil for Sam, and he is very pleased when on the 20th June the work is finally brought to its conclusion. There is of course the usual navy business, but by now “the credit of the office is brought so low, that none will sell us any thing without our personal security given for the same” (11 June). On 10 June, Mountagu tells Pepys that he (Mountagu) is to go to Portugal to escort the Queen to London. In the meantime he sees to it that Pepys is instructed in the business of the Wardrobe, in case he has to take over in his Lord’s abscence.

Pepys is considering a major personal investment through his uncle Robert, but on 26th June he receives news through his father that Robert is very ill, possibly dying, which causes Sam to contemplate matters of life and death — and his inheritance. He has a learned discussion with Greatorex about levers on Whitsunday — where he learns that “what is got as to matter of strength is lost by them as to matter of time” — and on 25 June has his first singing lesson, a very pleasing experience. He is also very pleased, and proud, when during his visit to Deptford on 13 June he receives a five-gun salute for the very first time. On 30 June he finds himself “lately under a great expense of money upon myself in clothes and other things”.

See the full diary entries for June 1661

July 1661

This month is largely taken up with the death of Pepys’ uncle Robert in Brampton on 7th July. Pepys has mixed feelings, sad at the loss of a relative, but eager to find out what has been left him. Unfortunately Robert’s papers are a mess, the estate is smaller than anticipated and other relatives begin disputing what has been left them. “So,” says Pepys on 13 July, after a few days of sorting out his uncle’s things, “what with this, and the badness of the drink and the ill opinion I have of the meat, and the biting of the gnats by night and my disappointment in getting home this week, and the trouble of sorting all the papers, I am almost out of my wits with trouble.”

Pepys returns to London toward the end of the month, and continues to seek advice about the will from legally-minded friends and relatives, and on 24 July can’t resist exaggerating to colleagues about the money left to him.

See the full diary entries for July 1661

August 1661

Throughout this month Sam’s chief personal worry is his inheritance, and the legal complications arising from it. He seeks legal council several times, but it becomes increasingly clear that settling these matters will be a long and difficult process. The first half of the month Pepys has also got his Lord’s health to worry about, who has fallen ill with a fever in Alicante. But a letter on the 14th from Creed (sent 15 July) and another one on the 26th from Mountagu himself (sent 22 July) finally confirm his recovery, much to Sam’s relief.

During a chance visit to Worcester House on 19 August Sam finds himself in the presence of “the King in a plain common riding-suit and velvet cap, in which he seemed a very ordinary man to one that had not known him”. That very same day Sam’s aunt Fenner dies. On the 21st Sam learns that Lady Sandwich’s daughter was born the previous day.

August appears to be a month ridden with sickness and death: as Sam puts it, “it is such a sickly time both in City and country every where (of a sort of fever), that never was heard of almost, unless it was in a plague-time [16th]”.

Other matters also contribute to Sam’s burden this month: Trying to find a suitable wife for his brother Tom (without success so far, 21st, 29); the prospect of having to send away his sister Pall (25th); losing his faithful maid Jane (26th); and his wife’s plea for help for her brother Balty (27).

The Navy office is increasingly short of money and credit and Pepys, Batten and Penn are able to convince the Duke of York to present the matter to the King on the 14th. Worse, Sam finds himself “lately too much given to seeing of plays, and expense, and pleasure, which makes me forget my business, which I must labour to amend. No money comes in, so that I have been forced to borrow a great deal for my own expenses, and to furnish my father, to leave things in order.” “Thus ends the month”, he concludes, “In short, I see no content or satisfaction any where, in any one sort of people.”

See the full diary entries for August 1661

September 1661

Legal matters dominate the month for Sam. First, the continuing dispute following the death of his uncle Robert; the sons of his widow from her first marriage, Tom and Jasper Trice dispute what they are owed. Robert also left some land at Gravely, although on the 20th Sam had to attend court to find out who would inherit it (his uncle Thomas. Finally, Pepys is one of the executors of the will of his relative-by-marriage, Aunt Kite who dies on the 13th. All this results in his mind being “very full of business and trouble”.

The month ends with excitement with an argument between the Ambassadors of Spain and France… an argument that resulted in dozens of foreign soldiers fighting in the London streets, and some being killed.

See the full diary entries for September 1661

October 1661

The legal problems continue this month, and in the case of his inheritance Sam is admitted (by proxy) by the court on the 7th — whereas his cousin Tom is opposed as heir-at-law. Still a long way to go though, and much doubt remains as to the outcome, “which do trouble me much, but God

See the full diary entries for October 1661

November 1661

Life is becoming expensive for Pepys. On top of his upwardly mobile lifestyle (including buying books and visiting the theatre) he has commissioned a painter to produce portraits of himself and his wife. Lady Mountagu also “earnestly” suggested Pepys should spend more money on Elizabeth (9th and 10th), with the result that he purchased some lace for a “very handsome” handkerchief (15th). Things could be worse though; on the 11th Pepys is taken to a gaming house, “where strange the folly of men to lay and lose so much money, and very glad I was to see the manner of a gamester

See the full diary entries for November 1661

December 1661

As the weather gets worse Pepys and his wife start the days a little later during December: “Such a habit we have got this winter of lying long abed.” Once up they both spend some time this month sitting for their portraits. Pepys is worried about his at first (“I fear it will not be like me”) but Elizabeth’s gets off to a better start and by the end of the month they’re satisfied: “her picture I think will please me very well.”

Otherwise, Pepys is busy with Privy Seal business in December. He ends the year estimating that he’s “worth about 500l. clear in the world, and my goods of my house my own” although “I have for this last half year been a very great spendthrift in all manner of respects, that I am afeard to cast up my accounts … I have newly taken a solemn oath about abstaining from plays and wine.” Other than his finances, his other main concern is to find a wife for his brother Tom.

See the full diary entries for December 1661