Tuesday 31 January 1659/60

In the morning I fell to my lute till 9 o’clock. Then to my Lord’s lodgings and set out a barrel of soap to be carried to Mrs. Ann. Here I met with Nick Bartlet, one that had been a servant of my Lord’s at sea and at Harper’s gave him his morning draft. So to my office where I paid; 1200l. to Mr. Frost and at noon went to Will’s to give one of the Excise office a pot of ale that came to-day to tell over a bag of his that wanted; 7l. in it, which he found over in another bag. Then home and dined with my wife when in came Mr. Hawly newly come from shipboard from his master, and brought me a letter of direction what to do in his lawsuit with Squib about his house and office. After dinner to Westminster Hall, where all we clerks had orders to wait upon the Committee, at the Star Chamber that is to try Colonel Jones, and were to give an account what money we had paid him; but the Committee did not sit to-day. Hence to Will’s, where I sat an hour or two with Mr. Godfrey Austin, a scrivener in King Street.

Here I met and afterwards bought the answer to General Monk’s letter, which is a very good one, and I keep it by me.

Thence to Mrs. Jem, where I found her maid in bed in a fit of the ague, and Mrs. Jem among the people below at work and by and by she came up hot and merry, as if they had given her wine, at which I was troubled, but said nothing.

After a game at cards, I went home and wrote by the post and coming back called in at Harper’s and drank with Mr. Pulford, servant to Mr. Waterhouse, who tells me, that whereas my Lord Fleetwood should have answered to the Parliament to-day, he wrote a letter and desired a little more time, he being a great way out of town. And how that he is quite ashamed of himself, and confesses how he had deserved this, for his baseness to his brother. And that he is like to pay part of the money, paid out of the Exchequer during the Committee of Safety, out of his own purse again, which I am glad of. Home and to bed, leaving my wife reading in Polixandre. I could find nothing in Mr. Downing’s letter, which Hawly brought me, concerning my office; but I could discern that Hawly had a mind that I would get to be Clerk of the Council, I suppose that he might have the greater salary; but I think it not safe yet to change this for a public employment.

31 Annotations

Nora  •  Link

Is Pepys troubled because Mrs. Jem is drinking wine at all, or because he thinks she's had too much? Does anyone know what the general attitude toward young'uns drinking alcohol would have been in Pepys' society? (Certainly, nobody seems concerned about it in Victorian novels -- I believe Pip is served beer on his first visit to Miss Havisham's, when he can't be more than ten or so, and Charlotte Bronte writes about Belgian schoolgirls being given weissbier and sweet wine as a treat.)

Christopher Taylor  •  Link

Star Chamber? I thought that the Long Parliament oblished the Court of Star Chamber in 1641? Does he mean it in an informal sense?

nick sweeney  •  Link

"Committee of Safety" probably needs a quick note, since it's a term that forms part of the political upheavals that followed Oliver Cromwell's death. There were actually two committees -- in essence, military juntas or politburos -- separated by a few months: one directly following the coup against Richard Cromwell; the other, to which (I think) Pepys refers, was the direct antecedent to the recalled Rump, and did indeed include Lord (Charles) Fleetwood:


As for 'Star Chamber': it must indeed be a customary use for 'trial without due process', and an early example of that. That said, you'll still find the customary usage in British journalism, even more so under the administration of Blair's control-freakish government and Derry Irvine's Wolseyesque Lord Chancellorship.

Susanna  •  Link

Star Chamber

I read this to mean that the Committee of Safety was to meet in the Star Chamber at Westminster, not that the "Court of Star Chamber", which had been dissolved in the 1640s, had been resurrected from its grave. (The room's name came from the stars painted on its ceiling.)


PHE  •  Link

Donations to website
I propose that a system is set up to allow regular readers to send a donation to Phil for his great efforts. I know his work is offered for free, but given the amount of entertainment and educational value, I am sure many would be happy to offer Phil some token of thanks for his efforts.

Laura Brown  •  Link

That's a nice thought, PHE. How about the Amazon honour system? James Lileks has it on his site (http://www.lileks.com/ ) and made enough from it last year to pay the cost of the site AND make a donation to charity.
I haven't posted here before (I'm not nearly as knowledgeable about this period as some of you), but I am really enjoying the site.

Owen McGowan  •  Link

more direct info on contributing to this great effort, please. by the way, when does pepys work? he drinks, he walks, he talks -- but when does he sit and do what history says he did well regarding the navy, etc.

Glyn  •  Link

Owen: When does Pepys work?

Actually today was a pretty typical working day for the young man. He isn't confined to his office but is also sent around the town on various missions for his patron Mountfield and for his boss Downing.

Today went to the office to pay out 1,200 pounds (the equivalent of his salary for 30 years!), then to Will's to receive and count some money which he found was 7 pounds short, then at home and around the town picking up various documents and gathering intelligence for Mountjoy who is out of town.

So he's a clerk, but also a personal assistant to his patron. All in all, it's an ideal position to meet the various movers and shakers in the political world.

Regarding Mistress Jem's wine-drinking. I don't know if that was allowed, but I'm pretty sure that babies were given "small beer" (very weak beer) as soon as they were weaned from the age of 2 onwards.

language hat  •  Link

Great idea, PHE.
I'm sure a lot of us would be glad to contribute a few bucks for this daily source of pleasure.

I too assume that "Star Chamber" refers to the chamber itself, not the court.

Django Cat  •  Link

A point about the amount of alcohol consumed was that it was considered safer than drinking water in Sam's day. A weak solution of alcohol was seen as killing off bugs such as cholera (how scientific this is I don't know). The small beer given to children would have been well watered down - I suspect this may be what Pepys' daily 'Morning Draft' consisted of. (Then again, Sam obviously liked a pint!)

In the churchyard of Winchester Cathedral is the tombstone of the 'Hampshire Grenadier.' His epitaph reads:-

"In Memory of Thomas Thetcher a Grenadier in the North Reg. of Hants Militia,
who died of a violent Fever contracted by drinking Small Beer when hot the 12th of May 1764.
Aged 26 Years...
Here sleeps in peace a Hampshire Grenadier,
Who caught his death by drinking cold small Beer,
Soldiers be wise from his untimely fall
And when ye're hot drink Strong or none at all."

There's a picture of the Hampshire Grenadier tombstone at


Needless to say local brewers (until the 1970s), W Strongs of Romsey
later used the phrase "drink Strong or none at all" in their advertising copy…

Although various interpretations of Thomas' fate are possible, it seems likely that he died because the beer he drank on that hot May day in 1764 (over a century after Pepys’ time) was too weak to kill off the cholera, typhus or whatever else was in it.

On a very much less flippant note, can I express deep sympathy to US Pepys readers on today's tragic news.

Bulkington  •  Link

Going back to the "when does Pepys work question," I think its also important to note that, especially as he gets further and further up in the ranks through the 10 years of the Diary, Pepys works ALL THE TIME, thus putting some of us workaholics to shame. He often wakes up at around 4 or 5 in the morning to go and work, after staying up very late into the night reading for his job or writing (and rewriting) in his journal. He was amazingly diligent, something that is surprising (and, I think, instructive) given how much we know he loved other good things in life, viz., music, wine, the theater, walks, London, food, parties, dances, good company. He seems to have had a real passion for order, something which I think helped him to get as far as he did in his 17th century world, and I love entries later on when he talks about the difficulty he is having either in accounting for certain costs or in straightening out some particularly thorny budgetary problem. There is something endearing about how we see him trying to attack certain problems from different angles until they are solved.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Excellent suggestions, PHE and Laura. And Django, thanks for the kind thought. I'm a bit of a science nut and have been following this mission closely ... they were doing a lot of very interesting experiments, and the mission was getting more press than shuttles have lately. It's a horrible loss, and I'm still stunned almost beyond words.

Warren Keith Wright  •  Link

As Todd says, thanks for Django's kind thoughts. The loss of the Challenger just over 17 years ago comes back with horrible immediacy. Reading and writing about Pepys and his world is so enjoyable to us, now that it is history; but in the New York Times article linked on the main page, he is quoted as saying in 1659: "Never was there (my Lord) so universal a fear and despair as now." The past seems safer than the present only because it is over.

Matt McIrvin  •  Link

Though the relative safety of alcoholic beverages must have been known for thousands of years, the germ theory of disease as we know it didn't exist in the 1600s, so it must have been fairly empirical knowledge without much theory behind it-- unless there were some other theory entirely. Any ideas?

Jackie  •  Link

The knowledge of not drinking water unless cut with a little alcohol must have been around for so long that its origin wasn't questioned. Which is why most Europeans carry a mutation in our DNA which allows us to metabolise alcohol. Observation must have shown each generation that people who drank nothing but water tended to die earlier (there being very few clean water suppplies in our cities and towns).

The arrival of tea changed this drastically - the combination of boiling water and the substances in tea leaves were powerful water purifiers and the fact that tea didn't dull the wits like beer was one reason why it caught on rapidly (and was the survival mechanism in the Far East for as long as beer was in the West, which is wny many people of Eastern origin do not possess the alcohol gene - they never needed it).

Sam's generation was pretty much the last for whom drinking alcohol was the only safe way to drink liquid. By modern standards, imagine teaching children in the schools who'd already had a pint of beer that day - the ability to learn would be drastically reduced compared with sober children, but the teacher would probably have been sufficiently fuzzed not to notice!

Sam  •  Link

The scrivener reference is interesting - a scrivener is the person who handwrites formal legal documents (calligraphy not printing)often on vellum or parchment - in Melville's short story Bartelby the Scrivener the scrivener is the protagonist.

Phil  •  Link

Thanks so much for the comments on donating to this site! It's very kind of you. I've just put up a page that details the best ways of showing your gratitude (should you wish to do so): http://www.pepysdiary.com/about/support/

Richard Lathom  •  Link

Nick Sweeney refers to the RUMP. How did this parliament get the name RUMP? In other words, why is it RUMP?

language hat  •  Link

"Rump" in the sense of 'remnant.'
It referred to the remnant of the Long Parliament from the time of Pride's Purge (Dec. 1648) to its dissolution by Cromwell in April, 1653, and then after its restoration in May, 1659. Londoners were largely against the Rump Parliament because they wanted new elections for a full parliament that would represent current views.

From the OED:
As to the origin of the name, cf. the following statements: 1662 Rump Songs To Rdr., Now if you ask who nam’d it Rump, know ‘twas so stil’d in an honest Sheet of Paper (call’d The Bloody Rump) written before the Tryal of our late Soveraign of Glorious Memory: but the Word obtain’d not universal notice till it flew from the mouth of Major General Brown at a Publick Assembly in the daies of Richard Cromwell. 1709 Hearne Collect. (O.H.S.) II. 329 Which word Rump had it’s name first from Mr. Clem. Walker in his History of Independency printed in 1648 and was given to those..members that strenuously oppos’d the King.

(It had only recently become popular:
1659 C. Hatton Let. to Hyde 23 Dec. in Clarendon MSS., The Rump, as we now call them.)

Alan Bedford  •  Link

It was called the "Rump Parliament" because, as Language Hat mentions, it was not the full Parliament. It was the "sitting part" of that body. Bad pun, but true.

becky  •  Link

Beer vs. water

If all they were drinking was alcohol, how did they stay hydrated? Did they drink fruit or vegetable juices? It seems that drinking only alcohol would quickly lead to severe dehydration and a host of other problems.

Grahamt  •  Link

The beer drunk then would probably have been between 3 and 5% alcohol by volume, so at least 95% water. Despite the alcohol's diuretic effect, it is not likely that dehydration was a problem. The leaching of salt from the body is though (as anyone who likes a pint can tell you) so, perhaps, references to eating a dish of anchovies. Nowadays we would eat crisps (potato chips) or peanuts for the same reason. "Real ale" (i.e. un-pasteurised beer) as was drunk then is very rich in 'B' vitamins and minerals and quite good for you. As recently as 20 years ago (perhaps even now) nursing mothers were given Guiness in hospital to combat anaemia and vitamin deficiency.
In moderation, beer and wine are harmless and even good for you. "Moderation" does seem to have changed in meaning though since Pepys' times!

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

A case of honesty? "...at noon went to Will’s to give one of the Excise office a pot of ale that came to-day to tell over a bag of his that wanted; 7l. in it, which he found over in another bag. Then home..."

dirk  •  Link

Small beer

Django Cat, there would have been no need to water down small beer -- its average alcohol contents would have been around 0.8 volume %

Small beer was a very common drink for all ages and all levels of wealth. It was the result of a second brewing process, after the first brewing had "used up" virtually all the alcohol that could be obtained from the mixture of grain and herbs used in brewing. It was 99.2% water, and must have tasted like weak tea rather than what we're used to for beer nowadays.

Probably some of the times Sam mentions drinking beer refer to "small beer" -- but we have no way to know.

dirk  •  Link

Small beer - cont'd

Estimates I remember (though I can't trace them right now) give around 4 liters per day per head (1 gallon) as probable consumption levels in the 1500s and the 1600s for western Europe. -- Remember that "per head" means included babies and young children...

Montresor  •  Link

The reference to the Star Chamber is quite chilling. It is apparently true that the actual sitting of the Star Chamber Court was ended in 1641 by the Long Parliament, (upon the passage of the Habeas Corpus Act). The members of the Long Parliament were moved to abolish the Court of the Star Chamber in response to the brutal treatment of John Lilburne who was ordered to be publicly whipped and humiliated because he demanded to know in advance of proceedings what the charges were that he was being tried for by the Star Chamber. (In the Court of the Star Chamber you were supposed to plead guilty or not guilty without knowing what the charges were!) Lilburne also demanded that proceedings at his hearing before the Chamber would be conducted in English rather than "Court French", which was the custom of the time, French being the official language of the English monarchy since the time of the Norman invasion.

John Lilburne's trial before the Star Chamber made such a sensation at the time and afterwards that it formed the precedent for the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution which protects citizens from being forced to testify against themselves or "to be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law".

The prosecution of Lilburne was carried out by the Court of the Star Chamber under Charles I; Charles' wanton use of the powers of the Chamber were one of the principal reasons for his overthrow. Therefore, it is profoundly symbolic that in 1660, when trying the case of Col. John Jones, charged as being one of the regicides of Charles I, the hearing was to be held in the very same room in which Charles I tried his victims in actual Star Chamber proceedings. This hearing must have shocked the entire English nation, and the world. One can only imagine how Pepys and the other clerks must have felt being subpoenaed to testify against Jones in the Star Chamber courtroom.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"in came Mr. Hawly newly come from shipboard from his master, and brought me a letter of direction what to do in his lawsuit with Squib about his house and office. "

L&M note Hawley's master was Downing. Arthur Squibb claimed the reversion of one of the tellers' places in the Exchequer. For the lawsuit see http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1660/02/10/

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"we clerks had orders to wait upon the Committee, at the Star Chamber that is to try Colonel Jones, and were to give an account what money we had paid him"

What payment(s) relevant to what charges could Exchequer clerks testify to? Is there evidence Peoys and his colleagues are to testify against a regicide?

Seeking records of a criminal charge against a Col. Jones, L&M note Col. John Jones (with two other members of the Committee of Safety) had been impeached on 19th January, and accused, inter alia, of having levied Irish customs and excise duties without parliament's authority: Ludlow, ii. 467-8. Another Col. Jones (Philip), Comptroller of the Household to Oliver Cromwell, had been impeached in May 1669 for embezzlement.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Here I met and afterwards bought the answer to General Monk’s letter, which is a very good one, and I keep it by me."

L&M cite To His Excellency, General Monck: A letter from the gentlemen of Devon : in answer to his Lordships of January 23. to them directed from Leicester. / L'Estrange, Roger, Sir, attributed name. 1616-1704,, Albemarle, George Monck, Duke of, 1608-1670. / London: Printed for Y.E., 1660.
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo2/A87907.0001.0... arguing for a free parliament, and (by implication) for monarchy.

A teaching resource copy of the letter:

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Mr. Pulford, servant to Mr. Waterhouse, who tells me, that whereas my Lord Fleetwood should have answered to the Parliament to-day, he wrote a letter and desired a little more time, he being a great way out of town."

Parliament was enquiring into the expenditure of public money during the 'interruption' of parliamentary government, October-December 1659. Lt-Gen. Charles Fleetwood, leading political figure of the army since Oliver Cromwell's death, was held primarily responsible, but appears to have escaped punishment: CJ, vii. 829. On 1 March he wrote to Mountagu from Feltwell, Norf., where, he said, he had gone for quietness' sake: Carte 73, f. 216r. (L&M)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Mr. Pulford...tells me, that whereas my Lord Fleetwood should have answered to the Parliament to-day, he wrote a letter and desired a little more time, he being a great way out of town. And how that he is quite ashamed of himself, and confesses how he had deserved this, for his baseness to his brother."

In April-May 1659 Fleetwood had taken the lead in the coup d'état which overthrew the Protectorate of Richard Cromwell, his brother-in-law. (L&M note)

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