Annotations and comments

3Lamps has posted eight annotations/comments since 19 March 2023.

The most recent first…


Third Reading

About Tuesday 18 December 1660

3Lamps  •  Link

Twenty years after this blog, and Phil, won The Guardian's Best Specialist British Blog award for 2003, there is still an active link to the article discussing the award:…

Here is an extract of the relevant section of the above article (in case in the future the link dies): 'In the best specialist category we saw evidence of the increasing number of top quality niche weblogs. Annie Mole's London Underground Tube Diary won respect for its humour and detail. But the prize went to Phil Gyford's remarkable Pepys' Diary. The project started on January 1 this year: Gyford will put a new entry of the 17th-century London-based diarist's work on the web every day for the next 10 years. As one of our judges said: "The audience is entranced: just look at the number of 'annotations' each entry receives."'

Twenty years later, on its third reading, this online version of the diary is still finding new and excited readers (myself included). And I love that the volume of annotations - and annotators - has increased over the years. These annotations are now as much a part of history as the diary itself.

Thank you Phil for putting in the effort to make this website, and a very delayed congratulations on your well-earned award.

About Friday 9 November 1660

3Lamps  •  Link

Thank you for your kind replies Michael S, john, and SDS. I am glad my self indulgence brought a small amount of joy to others as well.

About Friday 9 November 1660

3Lamps  •  Link

Sharing some exciting news: ‘Unboxing’ the Latham and Matthews’ edition

I have been reading these diaries online daily since the start of the third reading (1 January 2023), and I have thoroughly enjoyed them to the extent that I decided to purchase the complete 11 volumes of the 1970-83 Latham and Matthews (often credited as ‘definitive’) edition. It took me a while to find a complete set for sale in good condition. When I did, they were for sale by Hawkridge Books in Bakewell (in Derbyshire, UK), and I had to ship them to Adelaide, Australia. My thanks to Joe and the team at Hawkridge, who used the most secure packaging I have ever seen for a book shipment. Their customer service was unfailingly excellent, too. The books have finally arrived, and I have excitedly opened them today.

My first impression was that their dimensions are slightly smaller than the photos of the set led me to believe. This is neither here nor there. My almost concurrent second impression was just how good a condition this set of books is in. They were clearly well cared for by their previous owner, who is armigerous and left an excellent bookplate in the front. I am also armigerous, and am excited to add my own bookplate to ensure the history of this specific set of books is further captured. The bookplate, along with newspaper clippings of Latham’s obituary (published in The Times, London, 12 January 1995) neatly folded inside the back of the first volume, has reinforced that I do not truly own these volumes. Rather, I will be their custodian for a while, and will need to ensure I keep them in their current condition until I too pass them on – something which I am sure would have Pepys’ own approval.

Flicking through the first volume, it contains 152 pages of extensively researched introductory material, including maps of Pepys’ London showing locations of his houses and main workplaces; and a black-and-white photos of half-a-dozen pages of Pepys’ original shorthand. The diary entries themselves begin with only the day of the month, presented as if it were a paragraph number (very similar to how the dates appear in Pepys’ original entries). For months and years, reference to page headers is required. All entries are extensively notated, with footnotes at the bottom of each page (much easier to refer to than end notes would have been). The typeset is Times New Roman, likely size 12 for the body text and 10 for the notes, easy to read but small enough that the entries for 1660 total 325 pages inclusive of notes. The volume’s postscript includes an extensive ‘select’ glossary and list of persons mentioned in the diary. All of this is only my initial observations of the first volume – I am yet to properly read it, or to flick through the other volumes.

I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Though this annotation is not directly related to today’s entry, I am posting it today as I have received the books today – and I was too excited to keep this to myself!

About Sunday 6 May 1660

3Lamps  •  Link

Reading this week's entries 363 years later in the lead up to the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III (which starts in about an hour from now as I type this annotation) has enhanced the experience of both the diary and today's Coronation. Rule Britannia and Long Live the King.

About Saturday 14 April 1660

3Lamps  •  Link

"...which occasioned my thinking upon the happy life that I live now, had I nothing to care for but myself."

I suspect here that Pepys may be referring to a feeling that comes during military or naval deployments, when one only needs to focus on the task at hand in the next day or two. Both day-to-day and longer term challenges faced routinely during 'normal' life at home, such as paying the rent, shopping for clothes, figuring out where your next meal is coming from, managing your schedule, making and adhering to social commitments, etc., all disappear from view while deployed. All that remains is to look after yourself and your team, and to complete the short-term and well-defined tasks that are immediately in front of you. Even with all the correspondence Pepys is sending and receiving, the 'usual' problems of daily life no doubt continue to seem far off and much less immediately significant. Once again, Pepys' observations from 363 years ago are so relatable that they may as well be contemporary.

About Sunday 25 March 1660

3Lamps  •  Link

SDS - I am reading the diary for the first time, one day at a time, and am avoiding jumping ahead. If there is an ongoing theme about knighthood (or lack of it) for Pepys in the comments, then I have not yet reached the part where those comments begin. I look forward to coming up to that conversation in due course.

About Sunday 25 March 1660

3Lamps  •  Link

Re: gentlemen and esquires

The College of Arms in London, which has been the official heraldic authority for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and much of the Commonwealth since 1484, still includes an armiger's noble rank (gentleman or higher) within the letters patent granting new coats of arms. Indeed, the sole criteria for being eligible for a grant of arms is to prove oneself a gentleman or higher rank; this has historically always been the criteria. How this is assessed is ultimately at the discretion of the Kings of Arms, though there are certain things that help (tertiary qualifications, military or public service, one's standing within the community, honours given by the Crown, etc., can all be factors).

At this point in the diary, Pepys is likely sitting on the line between being considered a gentleman or an esquire. Either way, his ranking would be by virtue of his appointment (i.e., his employment; Pepys would not have been considered a gentleman by birth due to his father's profession). Very soon, once he takes on more prestigious appointments and in particular once he becomes a Justice of the Peace later in 1660, he would certainly have qualified as an "esquire by appointment". On a personal note, I successfully petitioned to be granted arms a few years ago and was surprised to find that by virtue of my own appointment I too am an esquire. Reading today's entry, I strongly relate to Pepys' pride in the title, even though today it is of no practical use and therefore simply makes for a good story.

The next rank above an esquire is a knight. I cannot help but wonder why, much later in life, Pepys was not knighted for his lifetime of service to the Crown. I suspect the answer is Pepys' fall from Royal favour following the Glorious Revolution. Perhaps if James II had remained on the thrown, such an honour would have been bestowed on Pepys?

About Saturday 17 March 1659/60

3Lamps  •  Link

As an Army officer with over 20 years' service and multiple overseas deployments, this week's entries have been amazingly familiar. Pepys' needing to prepare what he will take, organise his will, make accommodation arrangements for his wife, store his furniture, arrange payments of bills in advance, all while still attending to the duties of his new job, are exactly what happens today day prior to a long-term military deployment. Indeed, the scenes are so familiar that my spouse and I have felt melancholy at times this week while reading the diary, such is the extent to which it has reminded us of the nature of our own partings.

Interestingly, two aspects of this preparation to depart seem to have significantly changed in the last 360-or-so years. First, my own spouse has much more of a say in what her own living arrangements will be while I am away than Elizabeth Pepys did, informed as she was of what her living arrangements would be only after Sam had made them. If I tried to do things this way with my spouse, I may well not have one for much longer! Second, the time required and complexity of making arrangements for bill payments, storage of furniture, wills, etc., seems to be much longer and have many more bureaucratic steps these days. I wish I could do these things as easily as Sam did, though I say that noting that perhaps he simply did not record the details of any paperwork he may have had to complete. These aspects aside, the human and emotional elements of Pepys' immanent departure upon a potentially dangerous overseas trip show remarkable consistency with what one experiences today.

This is my first annotation on the diary, and my first reading of it (I have been doing so daily since the start of the third reading). Thank you so much Phil for creating such a beautiful website, and to all those who have posted annotations over the past 20 years. The history captured in the annotations, especially those from 2003, is as historically fascinating as the diary itself.