Friday 20 January 1659/60

In the morning I went to Mr. Downing’s bedside and gave him an account what I had done as to his guests, and I went thence to my Lord Widdrington who I met in the street, going to seal the patents for the judges to-day, and so could not come to dinner. I called upon Mr. Calthrop about the money due to my Lord. Here I met with Mr. Woodfine and drank with him at the Sun in Chancery Lane and so to Westminster Hall, where at the lobby I spoke with the rest of my guests and so to my office. At noon went by water with Mr. Maylard and Hales to the Swan in Fish Street at our Goal Feast, where we were very merry at our Jole of Ling, and from thence after a great and good dinner Mr. Falconberge would go drink a cup of ale at a place where I had like to have shot at a scholar that lay over the house of office.

Thence calling on Mr. Stephens and Wootton (with whom I drank) about business of my Lord’s I went to the Coffee Club where there was nothing done but choosing of a Committee for orders. Thence to Westminster Hall where Mrs. Lane and the rest of the maids had their white scarfs, all having been at the burial of a young bookseller in the Hall.1 Thence to Mr. Sheply’s and took him to my house and drank with him in order to his going to-morrow. So parted and I sat up late making up my accounts before he go.

This day three citizens of London went to meet Monk from the Common Council.2

29 Annotations

First Reading

Nicholas Laughlin  •  Link

Mrs. Lane:

Betty Lane, "who worked at a haberdasher's stall in Westminster Hall," according to Latham-Matthews. "Throughout the period of the diary she and Pepys maintained a casual liaison."

Nicholas Laughlin  •  Link


"long slender N. Eur. sea-fish (Molva molva) used (usu. cured) for food"
(Concise Oxford Dictionary)

I'm afraid "jole" defeats both me & my dictionary. Any ideas?

Nicholas Laughlin  •  Link

"I had like to have shot at a scholar that lay over the house of office"

Typographical error or deliberate bowdlerisation? Latham-Matthews offers "shit in a skimmer" instead of "shot at a scholar".

Phil  •  Link

Jole means "jowl", a cut of fish "consisting of the head and shoulders" according to Latham and Matthews.

Phil  •  Link

Goal Feast

Latham and Matthews give this as "colly feast", which is a "feast of collies (cullies, good companions) at which each pays his share."

Quite a baffling entry today all in all!

Elan  •  Link

Okay, I'll bite. What exactly is meant by "shot at a scholar"/"shit in a skimmer" stuff? Confused me something awful when I first read it in Latham-Matthews.

David Bell  •  Link

"shot at a scholar" etc.

The alternative "shit at a skimmer" version suggests to me that Pepys thinks his friend wants to go to a really dreadful place, and Pepys would as soon (in modern terms) go fo a shit and leave the lid down...

I'm not sure that's an exact equivalent, but a "skimmer" is likely the tool used in a dairy to skim the cream off milk for butter making, a sort of cross between a large spoon and a very shallow pan. Compare to a chamber pot...

Nora  •  Link

Hmmm, perhaps I'm too literal-minded, but I took it to mean that some prankster HAD placed a skimmer over the "house of office" (perhaps the seventeenth-century equivalent of covering the toilet seat in plastic wrap), and Pepys was almost caught out.

Interesting image, whatever it means.

gerry healy  •  Link

Could jole of ling be related to todays fashionable cod cheeks?

Jenny  •  Link

Glad to see Downing is still in bed and not willing to risk the January weather!

Where SP mentions the ladies wearing white scarves to go to a funeral, does anyone know anything about this? Mourning wear is black in Christian countries and white in some eastern religions. So why are they wearing white scarves and how did this tradition die out?

Paul Miller  •  Link

Seventeenth century definitions:
Mote Spoon (or Skimmer): A spoon whose bowl is decoratively pierced. Used to skim off tea leafs. The handle is thin and tapers to a point, which was used to unclog the spout of a teapot.

SCUMER: skimmer, for removing cream from the top of milk in a shallow pan.

Skomar. Skimmer; either of iron for taking the ashes from the hearth, or of other metal for use as a cooking ladle.

Sollars. Upper room in house etc. e.g. attic.
I don't know much about Pepys short hand notation but I have to believe that this last "sollars" is what is meant. " where I had like to have shit at a sollars that lay over the house of office."

language hat  •  Link

"Sollar(s)" seems like a stretch,
especially since "house of office" means 'privy'; from the OED:

14 house of office:

George Peabody  •  Link

Actually, "sollar" is the first interpretation of this passage that makes sense to me: Sam wandered into the wrong room - the sollar on the floor above the privy, instead of the privy he was looking for. The fact that he'd been drinking and making merry since mid-morning might perhaps have contributed to this error...

Paul Miller  •  Link

I don't follow your reasoning here. The fact that a house of office could mean privy has "sollars" make even more sense. If one really has to go and the privy, "house of office" is occupied then a thought of running up to the sollars up above the privy to do your business might cross the mind. This fits the context while skimmer laying over the house of office does not. Why would a skimmer lay over a house of office and more to the point why would you shit in one? A sollars being a room above the house of office would be a place to go in a pinch if the house of office was occupied.

Paul Miller  •  Link

Good one George. Pepys mistakenly going into the sollar is a good possibility.

Eunice Muir  •  Link

Happy hour must have begun early back then!

First he went to the Sun, then the Swan, next he drank ale with Falconberge, after that a drink with Stephens and Wooton, finally he took Mr. Sheply home for a drink. No wonder they called it Merrie England!

Mick  •  Link

If a privy had a sollar, would it be big enough to run up to or accidentally wander into? I picture a privy as a small outbuilding, perhaps with a crescent moon carved in the door. I fear that Sam, after a great and good dinner, had to take a great and good crap, and was so passionate about the urge that he would have done so in the eaves, where the stench is greatest. I think he's just using a colloquialism with which we are not familiar (e.g. shit in his hat, shit or go blind, neither a pot to piss in nor a window to throw it out) to remind himself of that urge. Meanwhile, this is starting to sound like the argument in Life of Brian between the Sandal (" is a shoe!") and the Holy Gourd of Jerusalem.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Come, all ye who call yourself Gourdenes:

An unbeliever!! Persecute! Kill the heretic!

But seriously folks, I think Mick has a point. This probably is a colloquialism that, unfortunately, we may never know the meaning of.

It's fun to speculate though, ain't it?

Theresa A. Tobin  •  Link

The quote from this date of Pepys'Diary is used in the Oxford English Dictionary to illustrate the entry for Jowl, jole

"The head of a fish; hence (as a cut or dish), the head and shoulders of certain fish, as the salmon, sturgeon, and ling."

Nicholas Laughlin  •  Link

"Where SP mentions the ladies wearing white scarves to go to a funeral, does anyone know anything about this?"

Latham-Matthews notes that "The scarves, hatbands and gloves worn at the funerals of unmarried persons were white."

Bert Winther  •  Link

The term “scholar’ simply could be a 17th century word for “pissoir” (named for the scalene surfaces found in such places). It is my understanding that Sam and Mr. Falconberge parted company outside the drinking establishment. Sam had to continue on his way even though he felt a strong urge to “shoot a stream” at a “scholar” located above the toilets.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

"my Lord Widdrington"

A Sir Edward Widdrington lived in Axe Yard and was related both to a public orator at Cambridge and to the speaker of the House, William Lenthall. (Claire Tomalin, "Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self", p.68)

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Wrong Widdrington? Wrong Speaker!

Sir Edward Widdrington was related to the speaker, Claire Tomalin says on p. 68 of "Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self" but that speaker, it seems, was Thomas Widdrington, not William Lenthall, as I had assumed. Thomas Widdrington was also chief baron of the Exchequer, making him a better candidate for the person Pepys is calling "my Lord." But we don't know.

On Sunday, Pepys's father will tell Samuel of a letter he received from Ralph Widdrington, a Cambridge University official related to both of these other Widdrington's.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Thomas Widdrington

would have been the man Pepys met on the street. He was appointed chief baron of the Exchequer, where Pepys worked, and he was "on three occasions" one of the commissioners of the great seal.

The 1911 Britannica article where this information came from:…

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to my Lord Widdrington who I met in the street, going to seal the patents for the judges to-day, and so could not come to dinner. "

On 18 nJanuary juydges had been nominated by parliament, and Sir Thomas Widdrington had been appointed one of the three commissioners for the custody of the Great Seal. (L&M note)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Thomas Widdrington was also chief baron of the Exchequer, making him a better candidate for the person Pepys is calling "my Lord." But we don't know."

We do know money Calthorpe paid Pepys on 1 Feb was for Mountagu on the 2nd.…

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

Could "scholar" refer to the scullery sink? The scullery of the place would have been located out back, perhaps over or adjacent to the outhouse. So Sam (inelegantly) is saying he felt like pissing into the scullery sink.

MartinVT  •  Link

Or more likely: I almost took a leak in the scullery.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"I went to the Coffee Club where there was nothing done but choosing of a Committee for orders."

I think this means Pepys went to a meeting of the Rota Club. Otherwise why would a coffee club need a committee? Perhaps calling it a Coffee Club was code so if anyone found his Diary there would be room for a denial?

Pepys also refers to 'The Coffee Club' on January 11, 1659/60, and not again until December 1660.…

and on Monday 9 January 1660:
Thence I went with Muddiman to the Coffee-House, and gave 18d. to be entered of the Club. -- The Turk's Head Coffee-house, "the next house to the Stairs," was in New Palace Yard, Westminster. Here, in November 1659, James Harrington's celebrated Rota Club began to meet.

According to Wikipedia the Rota Club disbanded in February 1659/60, which matches Pepys' mentions of using a generic Coffee House -- he mentions the names in most cases so they are not linked in our Encyclopedia to "General coffee house information".…

But we will never know since Pepys chose not to tell us. Canny fellow.

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