Tuesday 20 March 1659/60

This morning I rose early and went to my house to put things in a little order against my going, which I conceive will be to-morrow (the weather still very rainy). After that to my Lord, where I found very great deal of business, he giving me all letters and papers that come to him about business, for me to give him account of when we come on shipboard. Hence with Capt. Isham by coach to Whitehall to the Admiralty. He and I and Chetwind, Doling and Luellin dined together at Marsh’s at Whitehall. So to the Bull Head whither W. Simons comes to us and I gave them my foy against my going to sea; and so we took leave one of another, they promising me to write to me to sea. Hither comes Pim’s boy, by my direction, with two monteeres for me to take my choice of, and I chose the saddest colour and left the other for Mr. Sheply. Hence by coach to London, and took a short melancholy leave of my father and mother, without having them to drink, or say anything of business one to another. And indeed I had a fear upon me I should scarce ever see my mother again, she having a great cold then upon her. Then to Westminster, where by reason of rain and an easterly wind, the water was so high that there was boats rowed in King Street and all our yard was drowned, that one could not go to my house, so as no man has seen the like almost, most houses full of water.1 Then back by coach to my Lord’s; where I met Mr. Sheply, who staid with me waiting for my Lord’s coming in till very late. Then he and I, and William Howe went with our swords to bring my Lord home from Sir H. Wright’s. He resolved to go to-morrow if the wind ceased. Sheply and I home by coach. I to Mrs. Crisp’s, who had sat over a good supper long looking for me. So we sat talking and laughing till it was very late, and so Laud and I to bed.

30 Annotations

First Reading

Keith Wright  •  Link

"two monteeres for me to take my choice of, and I chose the saddest colour":

"sad": sombre-coloured (Companion Glossary, p. 608), apparently citing this passage (i.92).
[N.B.: In this glossary, Latham chooses but one example to illustrate each sense or form of a word; it does not signify, as I assumed in earlier notes, that the word appears only once in the Diary.]

So the delay in taking ship, which had seemed imminent several days back, seems to have been due solely (and understandably) to inclement sailing weather.

steve h  •  Link

Montero hat or cap

These were rather standard military equipment from the Civil War period, especially for the Cavalier side.

"MONTERO ( mon tar o, mon tay ro ) Spanish word for huntsman or horsemen. A round-crowned cap with a divided flap which can be turned up or worn down to protect the neck and ears. Appeared in late 15. In 17., worn in place of a wig over a shaved head, cap usually of velvet ."


Montero caps are mentioned by Sterne and Scott, and continued through the 18th century. You can buy one now online, if you are a (British) Civil War reenactor.

Hhomeboy  •  Link

flooding in Westminster & houses in Axe Yard/Sam's yard...

"...the water was so high that there was boats rowed in King Street and all our yard was drowned, that one could not go to my house, so as no man has seen the like almost, most houses full of water."

Here's an entry which should be followed up as it would seem that Sam's house (with belongings barricaded in the locked dining room) has also taken on water.

Does anyone have an idea of the layout and set-up of Sam's Axe yard lodgings? Is the dining room on a second story? There must be some good reason why Sam is not worried about his worldly belongings: the Sam we know would have organized a rescue party were his stuff in danger of being ruined...

...Sam mentions he can't even get into his house due to water in the yard. Why is he blasé? Does he mean in this entry that most houses thereabouts were inundatedhis not seriously and chez Crisp was even less affected?

steve h  •  Link

Pepys's wig

The Montero hat definition makes me wonder if Pepys wore a wig. Was that the custom in England at this time, or is it something that happens after the Restoration?

Keith Wright  •  Link

Steve: Here's some information, decorously stolen but reworded, from the Companion (p. 100, "Dress: Men's Hair"):

As the phrase goes, Pepys "wore his own hair," curled and long, until the Duke of York and Charles II (already greying) started wearing wigs in 1663. Pepys had two wigs made and, from November that year, wore them henceforth, keeping his real hair short for the purpose. Alas, wigs like hair could host nits, but were easier to de-louse; and they were understandably efficacious at keeping one's head warm.

Pauline  •  Link

Monteeres, Montero Hat
Googling around, obviously in the wake of Steve H.

For photo of costume with this hat:


Looks like the the predecessor of the Navy Watch Cap. Something every seaman in the North Sea should have on his head in March.

David Bell  •  Link

The Flood

This sounds to have something of the same cause as the great East Coast Floods that struck England fifty years ago. Sustained high winds piled the seas up in the crude funnel of the southern North Sea, and combined with the monthly cycle of the tides to overtop and breach the sea defences.

They also hit the Low Countries pretty badly.

Remember that London didn't have the protection against flooding that now exists, so this might not be all that extreme a situation. But it may be that Charles Stuart is being delayed in his plans by the same problems of floods and weather.

Nora  •  Link

With regard to why Sam isn't worried about his possessions, I believe the ground floor of a town house would usually have been used for business in those days, with the family occupying the upper floors. Obviously Pepys himself isn't running a business out of his home, but perhaps somebody else on the ground floor was, and in any case, the house would have been built with this possibility in mind.

Glyn  •  Link

Choosing the site

Maureen: "very silly place to put a city" No it wasn't; in fact the Romans built it here because it couldn't be anywhere else! This is the first place on the river that you could get both ocean-going ships as well as a bridge to span the river to go north into England. Ships bring goods from the continent: London is the first site where they could be unloaded and taken easily both north and south. If they could have built a bridge further downriver then they might have built the town there but they couldn't and they didn't. The flooding is a drawback but nothing's perfect.

Floodings were a regular occurrence. The flood defences known as The Embankment weren't built until the Victorian era. Please note that it didn't matter so much if there was flooding on the South Bank, because this was mainly still open, marshy land and fields.

So it's the first place for the junction going.

Brian  •  Link

I came across a site that attempts to document weather related events during the time we are 'living in'. The author has pulled some quotes from Sam's diary.


Mark  •  Link

"...went with our swords..."
Any idea what type of sword Sam had? Also, how proficient of a swordsman would Sam be?

Bert Winther  •  Link

Thank you, Brian. In an annotation for 3rd March, I expressed the hope that we would see Sam commenting on the unusual weather pattern in Europe during this time. Extremely low temperatures were observed over a decades-long period in the second half of the 17th century. Today, it is believed that the global cooling was caused by vulcanic activity outside of Europe and some historians refer to the period as “the Mini Ice Age”.

The disruption even had some political consequences. In the war between Sweden and Denmark during the winter of 1657-58, the Swedish king (Karl X Gustav) attacked from the south by marching with his army through Germany and across the frozen straits of Little Belt and Great Belt towards Copenhagen. This crossing was made possible by a dramatic change in the climate.

Emilio  •  Link

I've just put Brian's and Bert's postings on the weather page.
And Phil - how about a general London reference page under Places, since that seems the best place for the debate about London's location.

Keith Wright  •  Link

After the Restoration, gentleman going out in public forsook their rapiers for "Dress swords, often with silver hilts"; as with a cloak, one wasn't really "dressed" without it. If cornered it could prove useful, though middle-class gents weren't over-prompt to draw in defense or offense. (Companion, "Dress and Personal Appearance: Men's Dress," p. 98, adapted.)
Apparently Pepys's only altercation during the Diary period does not occur until 11 May 1663, when he is facing down---many will be gratified, symbolically, on behalf of Elizabeth's pet---a "great" dog. As for how he fared, be it far from me to play the spoiler. (No, it's not in the "Shorter Pepys.")
Perhaps the swordsfolk among us can give further details, or link to a visual aid?

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

I have added a sword anecdote to the page on Quakers in the Religion section of background notes.

David Bell  •  Link

There is a story about swords...

At one of the ancient English Universities a student discovered a rule that required the University to provide him with a pint of ale while sitting an exam. After some debate, the University agreed that there was such a rule, supplied the pint, and fined him five pounds for not wearing his sword, as a gentleman should.

It sounds almost too good a story to be true, doesn't it.

oliver  •  Link

... the duke of york and charles II...
(from keith's annotation of march 21 on wigs)

a question for you brits: is the duke of york always related to the king or queen? if so, how so? are all dukes relatives of the sovereign? where do earls stand in the heirarchy?

Mary  •  Link

Dukes, earls and others.

The ranks of the British nobility run, from top to bottom, as follows: duke, marquis, earl, viscount, baron, baronet, knight.

There are Royal dukes (currently Cornwall, Edinburgh, Gloucester, Kent, Lancaster, Rothesay and York) and non-royal dukes (e.g. Devonshire, Marlborough).

The title of Duke of York has been reserved to the eldest son of a reigning monarch since the 14th Century.

Susanna  •  Link

Princes and Dukes and Earls, Oh My!

Pepys' Duke of York is Prince James, Charles I's second surviving son, and the future James II. The title of Duke of York is traditionally given to the monarch's second son (currently by Prince Andrew). There are two types of dukes: royal and non-royal. Pepys' Duke of York was a royal duke, and would have outranked non-royal dukes, and, indeed, everyone in the realm except his older brother (and Charles' wife or children, if any). The order of rank is:

(royal) duke and duchess
(non-royal) duke and duchess
marquess and marchioness
earl and countess
vicount and vicountess
baronet and lady

KVK  •  Link

Duke was a French title which English Kings adopted to bestow on members of the royal family as an honorific. On the continent the title applied to lords of extraordinary independence, but it never had that significance in England. It was used at first to distinguish relatives of the royal house, but by the time of James I (grandfather of Charles II) that had changed.

Elizabeth I actually eliminated the title of Duke by the end of her reign, but it came back under James (who re-imported it from Scotland). I think he first bestowed a dukedom when he made his second son Charles Duke of York. George Villiers, a man of total obscurity who became James' favorite, became a Duke, so the title was losing prestige.

The last item on Susanna's list, by the way, should be Baron rather than Baronet. 'Baronet' was a title created by James I as a scheme to raise money. He sold it to rich men who wanted a title. Barons were peers but Baronets are not.

Allan Todd  •  Link

James I and James II should more accurately be called James VI & I and James VII & II, since they were respectively the 6th and 7th Kings of Scotland of that name, but the 1st and 2nd Kings of England to be called James.

James VI & I was of course the first monarch to be King of both Scotland and England, following the Union of the Crowns in 1603, although they remained separate states until the Act of Union in 1707.

Second Reading

John Wheater  •  Link

Access to Axe Yard at flood time:

Hhomeboy has an earlier post on this puzzle, i.e. when "all our yard was drowned, that one could not go to my house", how did he come to be at his neighbour " Mrs. Crisp’s, who had sat over a good supper long looking for me." and stayed the night.

I did have the temerity to ask this of Phil himself, who just said "no idea".

But it does seem interesting, although L&M don't address it. Maybe Axe Yard sloped steeply, with the Crisps higher up - but "all our yard was drowned"... Any flood records at all?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Any flood records at all?"

highlight taken from https://www.british-history.ac.uk…

The riverside district north of Millwall was known as Limehouse Hole by the 17th century, and seems originally to have designated a part of the river itself. The name reflects the area's historically greater links with Limehouse than with Poplar or the Isle of Dogs.

The Breach, Poplar Gut and the Gut House.

A large section of the medieval river wall below Limehouse was breached on 20 March, 1660 and much of the Isle of Dogs flooded.

It was the worst breach since that of 1449, although smaller ones had occurred from time to time.

The Poplar Commissioners of Sewers repaired the damage and rebuilt other sections of defective wall, at a cost of more than £16,000, raised by the imposition on landowners of high rates (about £24 per acre). The work was done by William Ham, Orton Brooker and George Salmon, and presumably consisted of timber piling and planking, with chalk and clay fill and buttressing.
The new wall was back from the river behind unprotected foreland which was called simply "the Breach".

Most of the floodwater was drained, but approx.. 5 acres remained, stretching eastwards and came to be called the Great Gut, or Poplar Gut.

Pepys will become very familiar with this area in a few year's time.

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

I'm surprised that in all these years "foy" has not been discussed under this date. It comes up once or twice more in the diary and there is a general discussion of it in the comments of 25 November 1661 if you want to peek ahead. https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

No need to discuss foy, Martin -- it's highlighted in blue so you can click through to the Encyclopedia to find it's definition. But thank you for the link to the longer set of annotations which escaped the Encyclopedia. 8-)

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