Annotations and comments

Mary K has posted 1,101 annotations/comments since 9 March 2007.

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About Did the Puritans ban Christmas dinner?

Mary K  •  Link

According to a historian's comment heard recently on BBC Radio4, banning of Christmas feasting arose originally out of a coincidence of dates. During the Commonwealth, it happened that one Christmas Day fell on a Wednesday and Wednesdays were already established as prescribed Fast Days. Thus no Christmas dinner in that particular year - and the more zealous Puritans took this as a precedent that no Christmas Day should be celebrated with feasting in any future year.

I did not catch the name of the historian alleging this origin for the banning, so cannot vouch for it's authenticity, but one can see how it might have evolved in this way, particularly if urged by the Puritan 'great and good'.

About Tuesday 23 April 1661

Mary K  •  Link

Presumably the faggot had no symbolic significance, but was just used to keep breeches and knees from being soiled by the inevitable wet and dirt on the ground in Axe Yard.

About Monday 30 December 1667

Mary K  •  Link

John Dolben

Installed as Bishop of Rochester in 1666, where he remained until 1683, when he was translated to York as Archbishop.

About Tuesday 24 December 1667

Mary K  •  Link

the question of pockets.

Anyone with a keen interest in the history of pockets might wish to try the following:
"The Pocket: a hidden history of Women's Lives - 1660 - 1900" by B. Burman and A. Fennetaux.
Yale University Press 2020.
NYT Art book of the Year.

About Saturday 21 December 1667

Mary K  •  Link

Good to hear that Elizabeth's cheek is somewhat assuaged this morning. Perhaps it was that poultice that did the trick. As late as the 1940s our family GP prescribed a warm Kaolin poultice for relief from a persistent, chesty cough and it appeared to help.

About Friday 22 November 1667

Mary K  •  Link

"neither hath, nor do ........"
Pepys demonstrates the the classically taught rhetorical Rule of Three, still in use today in our law courts; "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth". He was originally a grammar school boy, after all.

About Saturday 19 October 1667

Mary K  •  Link

"which is the first time I ever sat in a box in my life..."

Perhaps the first time that he ever officially (having paid the full price) sat in a box thus. On the earlier occasion it sounds rather as if he chanced to get carried in as part of a larger group without having set out to do any such thing.

It can happen. My husband and I once got similarly carried in to a Papal address in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican and had to extricate ourselves by ignominiously climbing out over a balustrade before the ceremonies began. We had simply been propelled forwards by other, eager participants in the occasion and assumed by the security personnel to be part of an authorized party.

About Sunday 8 September 1667

Mary K  •  Link

compounding with the King

I take this to mean coming to an agreement with the King. i.e. negotiating common ground between opposing ends.

About Wednesday 4 September 1667

Mary K  •  Link

that private house.

Was this, I wonder, a 17th century fore-runner of the kind of pop-up food supplier that one can encounter these days, this one making a speciality of roast pork for the duration of Bartholomew Fair?

About Tuesday 8 January 1660/61

Mary K  •  Link

"an indifferent good play"

Perhaps the closest modern equivalent would be a guarded "fairly good play" or "not a bad play" but wronged ......

About Thursday 8 August 1667

Mary K  •  Link

No springs at all?

In 1625 one Edward Knapp was granted a patent "for hanging the bodies of coaches by springs of steel." Who knows how this coach was suspended, leather straps or steel springs?

About Thursday 1 August 1667

Mary K  •  Link

This note about Blowbladder Street was taken from a past edition of 'Notes and Queries' (first published 1849) which "is a long-running quarterly scholarly journal that publishes short articles related to "English language and literature, lexicography, history, and scholarly antiquarianists. Its emphasis is on "the factual rather than the speculative."
Judging by the typeface used, this particular note was published quite some years ago - probably 19th century.

About Thursday 1 August 1667

Mary K  •  Link

Blowbladder Street.

According to Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year, this street was so named because the butchers who traded there had in the past (when?) been caught out inflating carcasses "by means of pipes" to make them look larger and fatter than they really were. The rogues were reported to the Lord Mayor and punished.

About Friday 19 December 1662

Mary K  •  Link

"give over" can also be used to stop someone trying to tell you something that's plainly untrue, unlikely or misleading.

About Saturday 6 July 1667

Mary K  •  Link


According to The Encyclopedia of Superstitions (Richard Webster, available as an e--book) a nose-bleed was traditionally regarded as a sign of bad luck; especially so if it came from the right nostril, as that portended a death. (But doesn't specify whose death).

About Friday 5 July 1667

Mary K  •  Link

Gloves again.

If it's perhaps a question of fine, kid gloves, then they can be difficult and time-consuming to clean without causing distortion or hardening of the leather, so might have needed fairly frequent replacement. Given that lye, which is strongly alkaline, formed the basis of soap in the 17th century, even gentle washing probably presented additional problems.