Thursday 16 February 1659/60

In the morning at my lute. Then came Shaw and Hawly, and I gave them their morning draft at my house. So to my office, where I wrote by the carrier to my Lord and sealed my letter at Will’s, and gave it old East to carry it to the carrier’s, and to take up a box of china oranges and two little barrels of scallops at my house, which Captain Cuttance sent to me for my Lord. Here I met with Osborne and with Shaw and Spicer, and we went to the Sun Tavern in expectation of a dinner, where we had sent us only two trenchers-full of meat, at which we were very merry, while in came Mr. Wade and his friend Capt. Moyse (who told us of his hopes to get an estate merely for his name’s sake), and here we staid till seven at night, I winning a quart of sack of Shaw that one trencherfull that was sent us was all lamb and he that it was veal. I by having but 3d. in my pocket made shift to spend no more, whereas if I had had more I had spent more as the rest did, so that I see it is an advantage to a man to carry little in his pocket.

Home, and after supper, and a little at my flute, I went to bed.

36 Annotations

First Reading

steve h  •  Link

That old ploy

How convenient not to have any cash on hand, so others have to pay! Pepys at least is wonderfully honest about his less than laudable ruses. And it's interesting, in the midst of near civil war, that his main interest today is in chowing down (for free) with his cronies.

Keith Wright  •  Link

Perhaps on the "Food and Drink" page someone can tell us how food was kept from spoiling during this period. Two barrels seems a lot of what you would think was a very perishable commodity; but these scallops are surely still in their shells and native briny water. Were they served much like oysters?

Delightful, Pepys's economic savvy and weighing of values in the next-to-last sentence: better to save one's money than to spend it just to run with the herd---though perhaps this only obtains when the company does not require impressing. Or does he cadge, as Steve H. suggests?

language hat  •  Link

"a box of china oranges"
The history of oranges in England, from a book I cannot recommend highly enough, Food, by Waverley Root (… ):

"So far as I know, the first record of oranges reaching England dates from 1290, when a Spanish ship loaded with them arrived at Southampton and the queen, Eleanor of Castille, who seems to have been a reckless spender, bought seven. They were rare in early Tudor England but a trifle more familiar by Elizabeth's time. Shakespeare refers to them several times, once, in Much Ado About Nothing, rather cryptically: '...civil Count, civil as an orange, and something of that jealous complexion.' By the time of Charles II the fruit was so common that 'orange girls' sold it in theaters, and, at a slightly higher price, themselves. Among them was Nell Gwynn; 'The darling strumpet of the crowd,' Lord Rochesteer called her. 'Anybody may know she has been an orange wench by her swearing,' said Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth…”

Roger Miller  •  Link

Trencher: A large wooden plate or platter, as for table use (1913 Webster's
Revised Unabridged Dictionary)

Wade Gilbreath  •  Link

Did Pepys switch from playing his lute in the morning to his flute at bedtime or is this a typo?

Nora  •  Link

The reference from Much Ado becomes less cryptic when one realizes there is a rather strained pun on *Seville* oranges. (Emma Thompson does an admirable job of bringing this out in the film, although there's probably no way to make the line really work for a modern audience.)

I wonder if the scallops might have been pickled or smoked in order to preserve them.

Bill-in-Georgia  •  Link

The Daily Draft
We've had previous comments on this, but I suggest a background item to collect this data. My mouth is watering and I almost have to head to the fridge for a draft of my own!

Pepys may be discovering the value of not carrying a lot of cash but he's always "giving drafts". Wonder if he carries a tab?

Brian  •  Link

As I remember it a "Trencher" was originally a large flat bread. The food was served on top of this large flat-bread. A "Trencherman" was someone who having eaten their meal would eat all of the bread. The reference to a "Trencher" comes from the Anglo Saxon period.

tamara  •  Link

re the scallops:
don't forget it's also February and probably pretty cold out. Packed in salt water and kept outside, they could probably last a few days.

tamara  •  Link

re trencher:
it is indeed a reference to bread--related to the French word tranche, i.e., slice, I imagine. Yet another of those fancy French food words that entered English with the Normans, I suppose.

Susanna  •  Link

Oranges, "China" and "Seville"

"Seville" oranges were the variety first introduced into Europe, during the middle ages. They are more bitter than the sweet oranges most people are used to today, and are used principally in making marmalade and liqueurs (like Cointreau and Grand Marnier). "China" oranges were introduced later, and are the "sweet" oranges we are familiar with.


Andrea  •  Link


in Medieval times people ate from trenchers which were made of 4 day old bread. At the end of the meal the gravy-soaked trenchers would be given to the poor families on the estate. At least two people would share a trencher.

Pepys is most likely to have eaten from a pewter or wooden trencher - but I don't know if he would still share it?

paul beard  •  Link

On Drafts
I think beer and ale drinking were not held in the same (perjorative) light as we see them today: as noted earlier, municipal water was not reliable, for quality or quantity.

In Edward Tufte's "Visual Explanations" (…) "he [ . . . ] prais[es] John Snow's famous map of the cholera epidemic death data around the Broad Street pump, London, 1854, that provided the first proof that cholera was spread in contaminated water." So even some time after Pepys's day, one couldn't safely drink the water, not even in London.

And of course, given the lack of preservatives and reliable transportation, there would have been many local breweries as well as home brewing, making for a variety of potencies. The most widely use preservative in beer -- hops -- may not have been all that widely used: my understanding was they came into favor when beer was shipped to India (giving rise to the popular India Pale Ale style we know today and its characteristic hoppiness).

Alan  •  Link

Hops were introduced in the early 1500's but there was suspicion as to their use which continued through Pepys's time. Medieval "ale" was a common food as well as a sanitizer and the addition of hops left a few things happen - longer shelf life and reduction in other ingredients being two key ones. In Pepys's time, most folks would still consider and rely on ale (unhopped fermented malt drink) as a staple. I have read it described as thick and sweet, meaning much unfermented food was still in it. As such it was akin to thin porridge but to what degree I am not sure. Beer, which is hopped fermented malt drink, though certainly produced really comes into wide favour with the ascendency of porter starting 1722. India Pale Ale becomes common about one hundred years later with the collapse of the Baltic porter trade, the industrial production of pale malt and the expansion of the empire requiring a solution to the problem of distant soldiers located in regions unsuited for brewing who still thought of ale as a staple.

Phil  •  Link

While these annotations are enlightening, can I just remind people about the times we've already discussed beer and, more importantly, the Background Info page on beer:…

Ann Garbett  •  Link

In winter months,even in the southern US, a bushel of oysters will keep for weeks without special packing if they're stored in a chilly area (but kept from freezing). I wonder if scallops are equally hardy.

Alan Bedford  •  Link

In response to Wade Gilbreath's question concerning "lute" vs. "flute" - It's probably not a typo. We've learned that Pepys played several musical instruments and seems to have sung regularly, albeit when somewhat lubricated by wine or ale.

Andrea  •  Link


Even kids were drinking watered-down ale and wine!

Alan  •  Link

For a complete inquiry into the history of ale and beer, find a copy of "Beer and Britannia - An Inebriated History of England" [(Haydon) - 2001]. It should shed another light on some of the earlier posted watering down comments.

helena murphy  •  Link

Nell Gwinne. It does not matter what Louise or Rochester thought of her, Charles certainly loved her and she held sway side by side with Louise untill Charles's death.The king had no time for social snobbery and there was something refreshingly down to earth and British about Nell.She was a talented actress and at least could earn some sort of a living unlike the pennliness Louise. londoners seemed to love her andshe was never thought to interfere with government unlike other royal mistresses. This is evident in the following rhyme

Hard by Pall mall lives a wench call'd Nell
King Charles the second he kept her.
She hath a trick to handle his prick
But never lays hands on his sceptre.

j.simmons  •  Link

Charles, sceptres, et al.
The extension of Helena's ditty would be from anther poem by Rochester:
"Nor are his high desires above his strength; His sceptre and his prick are of a length." Sceptre envy?

Suppose, from the ditties above, that the fat is in the fire and this is a vote for the ribald in our future.

The quote is from a very good book on this period by Graham Green: "Lord Rochester's Monkey."

Tim Williams  •  Link

The remark about not carrying money reminds me of Ben Franklin who stated in his autobiography that he would not carry money to a Whitefield evangelistic meeting. He knew he would wind up giving it all for the orphanages. The preaching was so powerful, however, that he would borrow money from friends while there to put in the offering!

nick sweeney  •  Link

"Two barrels seems a lot of what you would think was a very perishable commodity."

This actually came up a year ago on the C18 discussion list, when talking about the barrels of oysters that Samuel Johnson bought for his cat. In fact, the barrels used to store shellfish were much smaller than the sort of barrel one now associates with real-ale houses--between 7 and 13 inches tall--, so Pepys' 'little' barrels were probably the size of a large tin can:…

You'll find an entire thread on oyster barrels here:…

Keith Wright  •  Link

Excellent C18 site, Nick S.!---a real find for extra-academe Johnson, Boswell, &c. folks.
And in that thread on "a barrel of oysters," Albert Lyles gives us these specs.:

"The index in the Companion Volume (X) of the California Pepys lists :
BARREL: 36 gallons (beer), 32 gallons(ale), c. 4 doz. (oysters). The source
is not indicated."

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

The Duchess of Portsmouth
May say what she likes of Nell Gwynne, but from all I've read, the duchess was no better than she should be, as they used to say.

Pauline  •  Link

"...a vote for the ribald in our future." 7:40PM above
Unless we are adept at reading it otherwise, Sam himself will take us there. But he is, too, a moral man; and that will make an interesting mix. Something of this mix has already shown itself in our annotations. Best to us in keeping true to our man and his times!

Django Cat  •  Link

I wonder if Sam is now calling his flagolet a flute...

Esme  •  Link

Surely the mid-19th-century London cholera epidemic caused by contaminated water from public pumps killed so many people *because* by then the public water supply was normally safe, so precautions were not being taken in the home.

Second Reading

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

OED offers: 'China-orange n. the Sweet Orange of commerce ( Citrus Aurantium), originally brought from China; freq. taken as a typical object of trifling value.
1666 S. Pepys Diary 5 Mar. (1972) VII. 67, I..made them welcome with wine and China oranges (now a great rarity) . .
1819 T. Moore Tom Crib's Mem. (ed. 3) 38 All Lombard-street to nine-pence on it. Note, More usually ‘Lombard-street to a China orange’ . . '

Nick Hedley  •  Link

Thanks for re-starting the diary again Phil and for the ability to post. The summer seemed slightly lacking without the daily fix of Pepys.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"In response to Wade Gilbreath's question concerning "lute" vs. "flute" - It's probably not a typo. We've learned that Pepys played several musical instruments"

Probably a scanning error in the Gutenberg text: L&M transcribe "lute" both places, but Pepys's musical promiscuity will be demonstrated frequently.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"in came Mr. Wade and his friend Capt. Moyse (who told us of his hopes to get an estate merely for his name’s sake)"

Capt. Moyse was Richrd Moyses (hence the wordplay on Moses and the Promised Land); an army officer, regimental agent and farmer of recusants' estates. (L&M)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Pepys may be discovering the value of not carrying a lot of cash but he's always "giving drafts". Wonder if he carries a tab?"

Yes, everyone carried a tab with their regular suppliers -- Pepys would have one at Will's for example. People settled their accounts once a quarter. The reason was that there were not enough coins to fill the demand, so you kept tallys (marks on sticks -- you've heard Pepys talk about them already) or a "bar tab". When you got paid by someone, you hurried over to one of your creditors and paid them, so what coins there were changed hands many times in one or two days.

Quarter Days fall near the solstices or equinoxes, and the days are associated with the beginning of a new season. They are: Lady Day (25th March), Midsummer (24th June), Michaelmas (29th September) and Christmas (25th December). They were the times when servants were hired, rents due, or leases begun.

Alternatively, when Pepys bought a book, he would haggle on the price, and then pay 50 per cent up-front earnest money, and then the final 50 per cent when the bound book was delivered. But his bookseller wasn't a regular supplier, so Pepys had to establish a credit relationship with him by making his payments on time and being a repeat customer. Which I am sure he did.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Pockets. There is much discussion about when pockets as we know them were invented. I've seen claims that Henry VIII's codpiece was a pocket (say it isn't so!). I was taught they were not adopted until pocket watches became fashionable decades after this. Later in the Diary you'll find this debate reflected.

I was taught men and women had pocketbooks like this, made for Admiral Penn by his daughter Pegg in the mid 1660's, either carried or tied around the waist:…

Third Reading

Fougasse  •  Link


Looking forward into the future, the fire that destroyed the Houses of Parliament in 1834 was started when the Clerk of Works decided it would be a good idea to burn the old wooden tally-sticks belonging to the Exchequer that were cluttering up the place.

Cue a conflagration that was the biggest since the Great Fire of Sam's day, and that caused devastation to both Lords and Commons, utterly destroying parts of the ancient Palace of Westminster which Sam would have known well. The blaze could be seen from Windsor Castle, 20 miles away. Westminster Hall, by some miracle, escaped.

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