Annotations and comments

Gillian Bagwell has posted 36 annotations/comments since 6 March 2013.

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Second Reading

About Wednesday 24 March 1668/69

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

I visited Maidstone for the first time in October because I wanted to visit the site of Vinters, a country house that is there no longer, for a novel I'm researching. Aside from the archbishop's palace and a few other historical buildings near the river, there isn't much of the town that Pepys thought was so pretty. In general, it's pretty run down. Definitely not rich.

About Wednesday 27 January 1668/69

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

Gerald--I don't believe Sam saying "I am over-shoes already" refers to overshoes, but means something along the lines of "I'm in too deep," "I'm getting in over my head," etc.

About Monday 23 March 1667/68

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

I had the same thought, Doug Quixote, about Edward De Vere. Who also spent quite a lot of time in Italy, unlike the Stratford man.

About Sunday 3 June 1666

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

Actually, Louise and Gerald, he does pretty regularly chastise himself for various behavior that he considers sinful and/or a waste of time and money, and swears off going to the playhouses, etc. Nose to the grindstone.

About Tuesday 13 January 1662/63

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

The jack and Charles as servant: Actually, Charles II was playing the role of manservant to Jane Lane, who had a pass for her and a servant to travel about a hundred miles from her home in Staffordshire to her friend's house near Bristol, where Charles hoped to be able to get a ship to France or Spain.

They spent the first night on the road at her cousin's house in Long Marston, and the king was sent to the kitchen. He later recounted that when the cook told him to wind up the jack, he had no idea what she meant. She pointed to it and he took hold of the handle but the wrong way. "What simpleton are you," she asked, "that cannot work a jack?" He thought quick and told her he was but a poor tenant farmer’s son, and that they rarely had meat, and when they did, they didn’t use a jack to roast it.

My novel "The September Queen" (UK title "The King's Mistress" [not my choice!]) tells the story of Jane and her adventures with Charles. It's quite a story! And we have Sam Pepys to thank for preserving it. He was on the Royal Charles bringing the king back to England in 1660, and Charles told him the story. In Newmarket in 1680, Sam spent two three-hour sessions with the king, getting him to tell the story in detail, and taking it down in his famous shorthand. He edited it and bound it with many other accounts of Charles's odyssey, because after the Restoration, many people who had helped get him out of England wrote their stories.

The combined accounts create an almost hour-by-hour record of what Charles did, said, wore, and ate for much of the time during the six weeks he was on the run with a price on his head. It came to be called "The Royal Miracle" because he narrowly escaped capture so many times. If you want to read the whole thing, find "Charles II's Escape from Worcester," edited by William Matthews, which has Pepys's transcription of Charles's account and his edited version side by side, as well as other contemporary accounts.

About Wednesday 28 August 1661

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

Per Ruben, emails "will vanish like spoken words." I summarize deposition transcripts, and emails are the single biggest category of documents produced as exhibits in litigation. They never go away--especially the damaging ones.

About Friday 31 May 1661

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

Regarding old age and "only 7 percent of the people reached the age of 70 or over" - Life expectancy is a completely different thing from the age at which someone is old. If you take the average age of a baby and an 80-year-old who die, their life expectancy is 40. That doesn't mean that someone who is 40 is old.

In Sam's time, and for much of history, lots of babies died, women died frequently in childbirth, and people died of illnesses and injuries that wouldn't be fatal today.

According to LIza Picard's "Restoration London" (page 77), "The life expectancy of a baby born in England in the decade 1660-70 was 35 years. But this did not mean that everyone born in 1660 could expect to die in 1695. Of all those babies, about a quarter would die before their tenth birthday, particularly in their first year. Accidents, diseases, and epidemics thinned out the survivors. A woman who had married at the usual age of 26, and come safely through two confinements, would celebrate her thirtieth birthday in 1690. With so many risks behind her, she could look forward to another 30 years: she was exactly middle-aged, though she did not know it. Six years later, the most dangerous decade of her life was behind her; women were four times more likely to die in the first decade of marriage than men. If she lived to see her fortieth birthday, she had 24 years ahead. She had long passed the milestone of 35. If she was the one in ten of her coevals who hung on for another 20 years, she could reasonably expect to see 72. By then the age differential that still applies was still in place. There were more old women than men."

As for what's wrong with Sam's mother, I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong but that he doesn't like how she's behaving. This is a man who treats his wife like a child, expects her to wait patiently at home while he's out tomcatting around and generally having a good time, and thinks she's being unreasonable if she objects to anything he does. I enjoy Sam and his diary, but I sure wouldn't want to be married to him or to have to live my life in conformation to how he thinks women should act!

About Saturday 4 May 1661

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

The Royal Oak:
My novel "The September Queen" ("The King's Mistress" in the UK) is about Jane Lane, who helped Charles escape after the Battle of Worcester. Here's the link to a piece I wrote about the Royal Oak:


I don't know what was the first pub called the Royal Oak, but as I wrote in the article, "On January 15, 1661, Pepys recorded in his diary that he 'took barge and went to Blackwall and viewed the dock and the new Wet dock, which is newly made there, and a brave new merchantman which is to be launched shortly, and they say to be called the Royal Oak.' That ship was probably the first of many namesakes of the tree in which Charles had spent a day."

About Wednesday 10 April 1661

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

Admiral of the narrow seas - don't know about the official definition, but the term was used jocularly to refer to "one who vomits into lap of person next to him from drunkenness" (a sea term). Another couple of my favorite slang terms from the period: Shooting the cat or catting: vomiting from drunkenness. Surveyor of the highways: one who is reeling drunk.

About Saturday 23 March 1660/61

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

The company of actors:
"The London Stage, 1660-1800," eds. Van Lennep et al., quotes Pepys's diary for this day and also says that Allardyce Nicoll's "A History Restoration Drama" "argues that George Jolly probably occupied the Red Bull in St. John's Street, Clerkenwell. When Richard Walden saw the Red Bull players at Oxford in July 1661, Anne Gibbs acted Dionysia in 'All's Lost by Lust.' It is possible that she played that role on this day. See Walden's 'Io Ruminans.' 1662."

About Saturday 23 February 1660/61

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

Regarding the comment, "Given shorter lifespans then" and the following discussion--there's often confusion between life expectancy and what was considered old in centuries past. If a baby dies and an 80-year-old dies, the average age at death was forty years, but that doesn't mean someone was old or considered old at forty.

Infant mortality was very high and a higher percentage of children died than we're used to. Women died in childbirth. People died from injuries and diseases that today wouldn't be fatal. So the average age may have been lower, but that's different than the age at which someone was considered old.

About the status of actors, there were no professional actors before the second half of the sixteenth century, and that's counting the companies patronized by noblemen. By the end of sixteenth century, the queen patronized a company. By the time Cromwell shut down the playhouses, acting was a profession, with a regular apprentice system. He put a lot of people out of work who were then in truly desperate straits, and he wouldn't permit them to go abroad where they could have made a living.

Still, actors weren't considered anything close to equal to upper-class people then or in Pepys's time. The women were regarded as fair game with no consequences, and King Charles threw actors in jail more than once for impertinence (Katherine Corey, for lampooning Lady Harvey, and John Lacy for what the king considered mocking him and the court in "The Change of Crowns).

I think that Sam's comment that the gallants (upper-class young men) were "grown tyred" of the actors for their pride and vanity does mean that they resented the actors for what they considered getting above themselves. The actors weren't rich by any standard (especially the women, who earned less than men), though the leading actors had shares in the playhouse. \

The gallants certainly wouldn't have copied what the actors wore onstage, which was frequently cast-offs from real nobles and royalty. (Charles let them the playhouse use his coronation robes for "Henry V.")

There was more than one instance of violence against theatre people who their "betters" thought needed taking down a peg or two. The actor Ned Kynaston was badly beaten, and the rumor was that it was arranged by Sir Charles Sedley. The playwright John Dryden was beaten in Rose Alley, possibly by a gang hired by Lord Rochester.

Actors might be fun to watch and bed, but they weren't supposed to think themselves equal with gentlemen!

About Tuesday 5 February 1660/61

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

Washing: It's a little misleading to say that clothes went for months or years without being cleaned other than by brushing, as Dirk says. That is somewhat true of outer clothing, especially delicate fabrics, which couldn't be submerged. But "linen"--shirts, chemises, bed linen, table linen, all the white stuff--could be washed regularly, though it was a big job, which is no doubt why Sam mentions it.

Here's the process, according to Liza Picard's "Restoration London":

Laundry was collected in buck baskets, the kind of huge basket that Falstaff hid in in "Merry Wives of Windsor." When it was laundry time, the laundry was arranged across buck sticks jammed across a barrel-shaped buck tub, with the dirtiest things at the bottom. Ley, or lye, made from wood ash and human urine, was poured over the laundry, which was left to soak. After a while, the lye was drained from a spigot at the foot of the tub into a smaller tub, the underbuck, and poured in again at the top, or stronger or hot lye might be used.

Once the laundry was "reasonably clean," it was rinsed in cold water. The process "involved energetic stirrings and shakings and rearrangement of the buck sticks, and anyone who has handled just one wet bath towel may be able to imagine the weight of all this linen. Any remaining dirty patches were dealt with by beating and scrubbing."

Then everything was twisted and wrung out and hung or laid out to dry. Street vendors sold clotheslines. In the summer, it could be laid over bushes, especially aromatic bushes such as rosemary. If I may be forgiven for jumping ahead in the diary just a bit, on May 21, 1662, Sam wrote, "And in the Privy-garden saw the finest smocks and linnen petticoats of my Lady Castlemaine’s, laced with rich lace at the bottom, that ever I saw; and did me good to look upon them."

In the winter clothes had to be hung wherever they could be. The kitchen might risk getting the clothes dirty again. Some houses had galleries. Dutch and Swiss houses had drying lofts. In England, the top story was usually servants' quarters, so all that heavy wet laundry "had to be carried through those tall houses and up the stairs. No wonder there was no cooking done on washing days."

I have read that great households who could afford to have enormous amounts of linen only did laundry occasionally, even sending it out sometimes, but most people couldn't have done that.

Picard's book gives much more information on this and other matters of daily life, and she also has books on Elizabethan, eighteenth-century, and Victorian London.

About Sunday 16 December 1660

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

According to my research, the Duke of York and Anne Hyde were secretly married in Breda in November 1659, and secretly married again in London on September 3, 1660. She was already pregnant by the time of the second marriage.

When they fell in love, the chances that Charles would be king seemed remote, much less that James would be king. By the time of the second marriage, Charles had been restored to the throne and they knew that he would be angry that James had married without his permission.

Rumors were getting out by the time Sam is writing, and it's all about to hit the fan!

The marriages and fallout are events in my novel "The September Queen" (UK title "The King's Mistress"), about Jane Lane, who helped Charles escape after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. I have her present at the first marriage (and, in fact, introducing the duke and Anne Hyde), and involved in the aftermath of the second. She could well have been involved in all of it--she and Anne Hyde were both ladies in waiting at the court of Charles's sister, Mary of Orange.

I wrote a series of articles on the events in London in each month of 1660, including the huge and rapid developments in the theatre, which became legal again during 1660. If you're interested, links to the articles are on my website,

About Tuesday 21 August 1660

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

Sam probably didn't intend for his coat to languish so long. Charles's coronation was supposed to be held much earlier than it was and was postponed, for reasons that will appear soon...

About Monday 6 August 1660

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

Sam was living on 40L a year at the start of the diary, I think, only a few months ago.
Investing in shipping was risky. Back to "Merchant of Venice" again, it's because all the ships in which Antonio has invested money are wrecked that he owes money to Shylock.

About Monday 30 July 1660

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

Bucklersbury, Part 2: More about the Google Street View. Initially, you see an Iron Mountain truck, You have to rotate to the right to see the other side of the street to find Bucklersbury. I've just realized that the street sign reading "Bucklersbury Passage" is on the wall just to the left of the bus, though it's not really legible in the photo. If you click on it and move in, you see a group of a few people standing just outside the entrance to the passage - a woman in a black skirt and white blouse, two guys in suits. A man in a white shirt and carrying a backpack appears to be headed for the passage and presumably the underground.

About Monday 30 July 1660

Gillian Bagwell  •  Link

Bucklersbury is now reduced to being an arch in a building that leads to the Bank underground station. I've passed it countless times. If you look at the street view on Google maps, it is part of the reddish and whitish striped building and behind and obscured by the red bus in the photo.
According to the Encyclopedia of London, Bucklersbury was "an ancient City street first mentioned in the 14th century. It was named after the Buckerel family who were powerful in the City in the 12th century. Their fortified house (bury) stood back from the street in Poultry. In 1183 this was sold to Hasculf de Tania. From 1505 to 1511, Sir Thomas More lived here in a large house where his four children were born. Erasmus stayed with him in 1506 and 1508, when he wrote 'Moriae Enconium.' The title is a pun on More's name. In Shakespeare's time the street was known for its apothecaries, and in 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' he mentions the peculiar smell of Bucklersbury. In 1863 the street was cut in two by Queen Victoria Street."
P. 111, The Encyclopedia of London, Ben Weinreb, Christopher Hibbert, Julia Keay, John Keay (great book, by the way).