Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem “Twas the night before Christmas” in 1822. I “borrowed” some delightful lines from that poem and added a few Pepysian style lines in thanks to all of our friends for writing about 1663! May our New Year bring blessings to all of you and may 1664 be a wonderful year for Sam and Elizabeth!
One of our frustrations is that it is hard for us to see Elizabeth’s side of the story, so any learned interpretations should be welcome, and taken as a guide so that we can attempt to make our own judgment, right or wrong.
The following letter and summary of Brampton rents are from Helen Truesdell Heath’s The Letters of Samuel Pepys and His Family Circle. In this letter and the estate summary, Sam has set forth a proposed plan for his father’s consideration regarding the settlement of the Brampton estate. All information and quotations set forth herein come from Heath’s above referenced book.
“and Captn. Ferrers telling me, among other Court passages…”
On one level Sam’s walk today with Captain Ferrers may simply seem to gloss over tidbits of Court gossip, yet two of these stories reflect re-occurring themes that will continue throughout the reign of Charles II and therefore be presented in Sam’s diary: 1) The mock marriage takes place amidst the unwieldy world where sex, money, power and politics overlap; 2) The Titling of Monmouth casts a shadow over the question of succession and increases an aura of unrest in a not so stable nation.
This essay provides some background information on each story, summarizing the resources cited below and by the nature of the subject matter will contain historical as opposed to daily entry spoilers.
Presented are a bewildered Sam’s lighthearted observations of his diary
and the accompanying annotations of 1662. This presentation combines a
mixture of editorial accuracy, tongue in cheek interpretation and an
ample use of artistic/poetic license. Those parties actually named by
Sam are tied (albeit loosely in some instances) to actual diary entries
or the more general thematic areas where they shared their commentary.
Despite the gap of 340 years, a walk through London today can give you a very real sense of the scale and nature of Samuel Pepys’s world in a way that can genuinely bring his diaries to life. His daily world stretched from Westminster Hall in the south west to the Tower in the east. When he didn’t travel by water, he would walk a regular route up King St (now Whitehall), turning right at Charing Cross, following the Strand and Fleet, past St Paul’s Cathedral and on his way past London Bridge on his right to Seething Lane. While few buildings from his time remain, many of the landmarks (particularly churches) and most of the streets remain in name, if not in timber and stone. By walking in the footsteps of Samuel Pepys, a clear footprint of his world can be discerned.
…and in the Banqueting-house saw the King create my Lord Chancellor and several others, Earls, and Mr. Crew and several others, Barons: the first being led up by Heralds and five old Earls to the King, and there the patent is read, and the King puts on his vest, and sword, and coronet, and gives him the patent. And then he kisseth the King’s hand, and rises and stands covered before the king. And the same for the Barons, only he is led up but by three of the old Barons, and are girt with swords before they go to the King. 20th April 16611
St Margaret’s Church was one of the ever-present landmarks of Pepys’s life in London, and was where he married Elizabeth in 1655. Other famous peopled married there include John Milton in 1656 and Winston Churchill in 1908. Edward Montagu (later 1st Earl of Sandwich) was also married there in 16421. Ironically, Pepys’s marriage was a civil rather than a religious affair, with religious ceremonies having been declared invalid in 16531 (a policy presumably reversed at the Restoration).
“But I hear that the Queen did prick her out of the list presented her by the King…”
(Diary of Samuel Pepys, 26 July 1662)
Sam’s diary entry referenced above refers to a rather sad black mark in Charles’ reign — the infamous “Bedchamber” incident. Charles’ historians and biographers (Clarendon, Bryant, Hutton, Faulkus, Fraser, Coote, Ollard, Wilson, Ponsonby) and Queen Catherine’s biographers (Strickland, Davidson, Mackay, Sousa, Rau, Casimiro, etc.), all differ somewhat in dates, details, descriptions and interpretations of the events, but most agree that the damage done here set a horrible precedent within the Royal marriage, the ministry, the court, the treasury, and even international relations. This entry is only intended as a general summary of some complex and detailed events so please forgive any deletions, inaccuracies, etc. and consider this for the more “generalists” among the background readers, as opposed to those who strive for exactness. Some slight spoilers may be here but I’ve tried best to keep to the “behind the scenes” view that Sam did not see.