Annotations and comments

RM has posted 16 annotations/comments since 30 May 2022.

The most recent first…


Third Reading

About Wednesday 8 May 1661

RM  •  Link

“…after I had chid him for going with my Will the other day to Deptford with the principal officers…”

I get a sense of office politics anxiety here, in this time of patronage and duplicity: Pepys is perhaps concerned that while he was away his colleagues have taken the opportunity to use John as a stand in, perhaps to tease out information, or simply to amuse themselves with John's relative lack of discourse and thereby cement their own inter-relationship and standing in front of the more senior Slingsby.

About Sunday 28 April 1661

RM  •  Link

Sadly, Sam's mother reminds me of my stepmother, as she was overcome by dementia. I suppose in those days it was less known as a condition and would be explained away as 'foolishness'.

About Tuesday 2 April 1661

RM  •  Link

"So I into St. James’s Park, where I saw the Duke of York playing at Pelemele, the first time that ever I saw the sport."

Pall Mall is immediately adjacent, to the north of the park – could this be the origin of its name? Was there some kind of lawn billiards croquet pitch there back in the 1660s?

About Thursday 17 January 1660/61

RM  •  Link

I think the Ham Creek hyperlink (to an entry about a location in East London) is incorrect for today’s diary entry, as the ships they visit this day are surely anchored in the River Medway in Kent, otherwise why did they travel down to Chatham at all?

Looking at a map of Chatham is seems that there was once a tidal creek that presumably is now buried in a culvert underneath modern Chatham centre, with a couple of pumping stations (Old Brook and Rat’s Bay) perhaps marking points along the course of a subterranean river. The map shows the maojor roads diverging as they near the modern riverside, suggestive of the shape of an inlet and the ground either side to the north and south does rise quite steeply. Steet names give clues too – The Brook, Rope Walk (surely a reference to the ropemaking that was discussed a coule of days ago). Apparently the area had numerous carpentry workshops and storehouses in the past.

About Wednesday 16 January 1660/61

RM  •  Link

Sam was fortunate that London to Chatham would have been pretty (and literally) straightforward, as the direct route would have been the former Roman road, still visible on the map as it is overlaid by a modern version for much of the way: A gallop down the Old Kent Road to Deptford bridge, up onto Blackheath and over Shooters Hill, through Bexleyheath, on through Dartford and finally dropping down to the Medway river at Rochester, Chattham being a mile or so futher on the other side.

About Monday 14 January 1660/61

RM  •  Link

I used to live a few miles from Petts Wood, which is now the name of a mostly 1930s suburb (with lots of picturesque Voysey-influenced Tudor-bethan stockbroker homes), and the nearby wood itself is a small remnant of the eastern edge of the Great North Wood that once covered much of hilly southeast London. Land there owned by the Pett family was leased out to woodsmen who did the actual work coppicing the trees, etc, so as well as shipbuilding and associated profiteering, the family would have had a regular rentier income as landowners. Perhaps they also had vested interests in the supplying of timber to the Navy dockyards.

About Monday 1 October 1660

RM  •  Link

"the painters beginning to do their work today"

If the walls had been refurbished with a lime based plaster it will be several days or even weeks before they are fully hardened off and dry, so the house probably felt distinctly damp at this time.

Before they are fully dry the walls could have been finished off with a top coat of skim tinted with pigment made from pulverised rock (presumably the painters job mentioned) and which could be skillfully burnished to create an effect of polished marble or granite, or left unburnished for a matt effect.

About Monday 27 August 1660

RM  •  Link

Alas, the Northdown hop mentioned above by Paul L is a 20th century hybrid developed in the 1960s as a bittering hop for English character ales, and better able to resist disease. It was released for commercial use by the brewing trade in 1971. It is used in one of my favourite London ales, Fuller's E.S.B., but that's as close to Pepys as it gets.

About Sunday 5 August 1660

RM  •  Link

Paying to rent a pew and thus having priority when arriving for service sounds rather like the Speedy Boarding arrangement that certain airline companies use today to harvest a bit of extra revenue.

About Friday 13 July 1660

RM  •  Link

Interesting that Charles has made use of the regicide Whalley’s former home for his rave, presumably to make his move on Palmer (or vice versa). Was this because it was away from the eyes and ears of the Court?

About Sunday 3 June 1660

RM  •  Link

Sam might have been worth more had he not played ninepins for money, but he may have seen it as a necessary investment in the web of relationships that existed in this era of patronage and favour, particulalry with 'My Lord'.

His rival, the puritan Creed, could have saved more money and kept his desk relatively clear of paper, but ultimately gained less out of such an opportunity.

Still, quadrupling peronal wealth in a couple of months – no wonder Creed was put out at not getting the secretary job on this trip.

About Sunday 1 January 1659/60

RM  •  Link

And this third time round the dates and days of the week appear to be in sync with our own!

About Monday 2 January 1659/60

RM  •  Link

“...I'm a numismatist who specializes in the coinage of Charles II, so may well point everyone towards the odd photo of various coins that Pepys himself may have used!...”

You may also have info about the tokens issued by London taverns, as the 1660s were apparently particularly troublesome for low denomination coinage that would pay for a drink or two.

About Monday 2 January 1659/60

RM  •  Link

“Verbal communication was also the principal means of keeping abreast of the news, so that personal meetings, conversation, and stopping to chat to people was a common and important part of day-to-day life.”

As indeed was dinner (i.e. lunch), often with relative strangers invited to add the possibility of interesting and useful news from further afield.

Second Reading