Sunday 20 May 1660

Up early, and with Mr. Pickering and the child by waggon to Scheveling, where it not being yet fit to go off, I went to lie down in a chamber in the house, where in another bed there was a pretty Dutch woman in bed alone, but though I had a month’s-mind1 I had not the boldness to go to her. So there I slept an hour or two. At last she rose, and then I rose and walked up and down the chamber, and saw her dress herself after the Dutch dress, and talked to her as much as I could, and took occasion, from her ring which she wore on her first finger, to kiss her hand, but had not the face to offer anything more. So at last I left her there and went to my company.

About 8 o’clock I went into the church at Scheveling, which was pretty handsome, and in the chancel a very great upper part of the mouth of a whale, which indeed was of a prodigious bigness, bigger than one of our long boats that belong to one of our ships.

Commissioner Pett at last came to our lodging, and caused the boats to go off; so some in one boat and some in another we all bid adieu to the shore.

But through badness of weather we were in great danger, and a great while before we could get to the ship, so that of all the company not one but myself that was not sick. I keeping myself in the open air, though I was soundly wet for it. This hath not been known four days together such weather at this time of year, a great while. Indeed our fleet was thought to be in great danger, but we found all well, and Mr. Thos. Crew came on board.

I having spoke a word or two with my Lord, being not very well settled, partly through last night’s drinking and want of sleep, I lay down in my gown upon my bed and slept till the 4 o’clock gun the next morning waked me, which I took for 8 at night, and rising … [to piss – L&M] mistook the sun rising for the sun setting on Sunday night.

32 Annotations

First Reading

language hat  •  Link

Nothing to do with women. It's a pun on the religious meaning (translating Latin dies mensis):
1. Chiefly R.C. Church. The commemoration of a deceased person by the celebration of a requiem mass, prayers, etc., on a day one month from the date of the death or funeral.
2. Used allusively or humorously as a synonym for MIND n.1 14: an inclination, fancy, liking. Esp. in "to have (also bear) a month's mind". "to be in a month's mind": to have a strong expectation (rare). Now regional.
1580 J. LYLY Euphues (1868) 464 Determininge to ende his lyfe in Athens, although he hadde a moneths minde to England. 1598 BP. J. HALL Virgidemiarvm IV. iv. 34 He thaw's like Chaucers frosty Ianiuere; And sets a Months minde vpon smyling May. 1660 S. PEPYS Diary 20 May (1970) I. 150 In another bed there was a pretty Duch woman..but though I had a month's mind to her, I had not the boldness to go to her. 1700 W. CONGREVE Way of World III. i. 37 She has a Month's mind; but I know Mr. Mirabell can't abide her. 1755 J. SHEBBEARE Lydia (1769) II. 76 This baronet then had a month's mind to the Dowager Viscountess. 1956 P. O'BRIAN Golden Ocean (1996) iii. 61 I've got a month's mind to have you keel-hauled.

"slept till the 4 o'clock gun the next morning waked me, which I took for 8 at night, and rising -- mistook the sun rising for the sun setting on Sunday night.”
Some things never change…

(Definitions and citations are OED.)

Paul Brewster  •  Link

rising [to piss] mistook the sun rising for the sun setting on Sunday night
per L&M

Appropriately this day like several others we have seen continues to the next with only a marginal notation of the day. Again per L&M.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

where in another bed there was a pretty Dutch woman
L&M notes that "Bedrooms at inns (English as well as Dutch) were often occupied by several people of both sexes who were stangers to each other and incidents of this sort were not uncommon."

Paul Brewster  •  Link

The gloss on this phrase in the Arden Shakespeare version of Two Gents clearly supports the religious derivation. It goes on to say that “The phrase seems, however, to have acquired, in the late sixteenth century, the sense of ‘longing’ such as that experienced by a pregnant woman in the last month of pregnancy.”

This association with things female is reinforced by the conventional relationships between women, the duration of a month and our changeable moon. An overloaded meaning of this kind plays well in the context of the sexually charged dialogue between Lucetta and Julia. SP may well have called up these same associations when he wrote down his recollection of the sexually charged scene with the Dutch woman.

Mike Bursell  •  Link

Well, it seems that Sam's definitely got his sea-legs, then!

Glyn  •  Link

Todd Bernhardt (on 15 May) wrote that Sam is working with very little sleep at the moment, but now his irregular sleeping patterns have finally caught up with him: he’s obviously extremely tired. He gets up very early (if at first light then that’s at about 4 a.m.), travels some distance, takes a nap for a couple of hours until 8 a.m. then goes to church, sightsees and travels back to his ship where he has to take another nap, but this one lasts at least 8 hours longer than he expected (waking up at 4 a.m. rather than 8 p.m.) then going back to sleep again. His body clock has gone haywire, and if this was the present day I’d say he was jet-lagged.

mw  •  Link

I love the "Months' mind".
I will add it to my lexicon immediately.
Pepys being able to sleep with his "months mind" is an indication of just how tied he is. That and his subsequent day confusion points to a very tied chap. Well done Todd.

Pepys, "Where is your time piece?"
I have been as tied but only confused when, on waking I could not glance at my watch.

Phil I'm enjoying the new editorial facility. Thanks

johng  •  Link

What were the social conventions to govern behaviour in shared bedrooms in inns?

vincent  •  Link

Behaviour: from free love to no love 'tis part of the revolution ;Puritans(Pure to puritanical) :the popists to free thinkers : take ones pick based on where ones brain is at on the spine; at the top or bottom:

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

MONTH'S mind n.f. Longing desire

You have a month's mind to them. Shakespeare

For if a trumpet sound or drum beat
who has not a month's mind to combat. Hudibras

---A Dictionary of the English Language. Samuel Johnson, 1799.

Bill  •  Link

The church [at Scheveling] is situated at the extremity of the village and contains the skull of a whale fifty six feet in length, which was thrown on shore in 1617.
---The Belgian Traveller. Edmund Boyce, 1827.

Dick Wilson  •  Link

I was of the impression that they rang bells aboard ship to mark the passing hours of the watch but here they are shooting guns at 4 in the morning. Are they going to do that after the King comes aboard?

Bill  •  Link

We had a discussion a while back as to whether bells were used in this fleet to mark watch changes or the passage of time. If so, why hasn't Pepys mentioned those bells? Were bells indeed used in 1660? Or perhaps guns were used as implied here, and as was the case in many places on land to mark, say, noon? The common sailor would have no access to time-keeping instruments, yet his life was well-regulated by the "clock".

A google search produced no results for me - I hope we have a reader more knowledgeable than I.

MarkS  •  Link

Regarding time-keeping aboard ship, the problem with clocks in the 17th century was that they were not very accurate. Different clocks might be many minutes apart.

In an individual ship a bell would serve to indicate the official time for the whole ship, but in a fleet there was a need was to coordinate the time across several ships.

The sound of a bell wouldn't carry far enough, particularly in bad weather, so they were using a gun to synchronize the time throughout the whole fleet.

Bill  •  Link

Well, of course, bells couldn't be used to coordinate time across a fleet (at anchor or otherwise) but MarkS, are you saying that bells were actually being used in 1660 within ships? We still have the non-barking dog. Our Sam never mentions multiple bells ringing in the middle of the night.

Dick Wilson  •  Link

My Google Search turned up references to ship's bells at a date early enough for them to have become in common use by the 1660's. Pendulum clocks would not work at all on shipboard. They had a half-hour sand glass (How do you call a half-hour glass, an hourglass?) and a ship's boy appointed to watch it. He would turn it over every half hour, and they would ring the bell, adding one stroke to it until 8 bells signaled the end of a 4-hour watch. As MarkS reports, it makes sense for the flagship to coordinate the time aboard all ships of a flotilla at anchor, by firing a gun. Once daily would do it; not every half hour. Thanks, MarkS!

Dick Wilson  •  Link

Except Pepys mistook the 4AM gun for the 8PM gun, so, maybe twice daily would serve.

Bill  •  Link

Most of us know how multiple bells are used to mark the half-hours of a marine watch. Today. But I find no google result to indicate such a system was in use in the 17th or early 18th centuries. Though certainly ships in 1660 had bells. I do find references to the evening gun and morning gun to indicate time, as Sam seems to be telling us. (There was twilight at both times, which confused him.) The "sand glasses" were called watch-glasses and were well tended but how was this information transmitted to the crew?? We don't really know.

meech  •  Link

I am fascinated by the sleeping habits of the time. Sam often mentions sleeping in the same bed with someone, whether relative or aquaintance, when at someone else's house or an inn, more recently in the 'pressed bed' with the judge advocate. And someone else pointed out how often people are addressed while they are still abed, doing business, etc. And now inns where both sexes sleep together in the same room. Amazing! I'm with johng...were there any rules governing one's behavior in the latter situation? I could see it leading to all sorts of problems.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Meech, I suspect the rules governing one's behavior were what you could get away with. Being accused of rape in another country when you are representing the Admiral of the visiting Fleet picking up the King would not be a good thing, so Pepys wisely didn't proposition her.
It would have been more informative to answer you question if he had propositioned her and she had said NO. What happened next would be key.

The woman in question could not afford to pay for a room of her own -- which must have been at a high premium with so many people in town -- so I think she was taking a risk. But whatcha going to do in awful weather and you don't have a room? You take a risk.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... dress herself after the Dutch dress, ..."

Would this be the wooden clogs, skirt, black bodice, blouse and wonderful lace hat that we see on the Dutch dolls in the gift shops?
I have no idea what century that look comes from, but my grandpa bought me such an outfit back from the Netherlands on one of his business trips when I was a child (I had blond braids down to my waist). I loved banging around the house in the clogs -- don't think my parents enjoyed it tho.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Going down the stairs from that common room, "the woman" tightens the cat-gut garrotte hidden in her braid, and re-fastens he thin poniard concealed in her demure black bodice.

Why, she did think the little Englishman would be another of these repressed lechers now streaming from their post-Puritan islands, but no. This one look'd like he never would. Comforting to know that true gentlemen still exist.

Two streets away she finds the sergeant, who warily touches his plumed hat and opens the coach's door for her. Off to the Binnenhof they go, the sergeant riding post and the ruthlessly efficient operative known to a few as "zwarte weduwe", alone on the satin bench, puzzling over the cyphered text in the Englishman's notebook, that she perused all night as he lay snoring in his wet finery.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

The rotten weather is not going unnoticed back home, where Thomas Rugg, recapping Mercurius Politicus articles from last week, will note that "in this month are very great winds, so that it was the contineuall prayers of his Majestys freinds for his Majestie in regard that evry day hee was expected to take shipinge".

Alas, Mr. Evelyn was silent on the weather, despite its great import just now, but "Weather in History 1650 to 1659 AD", a usefull compilation at…, observes how it's all been unseasonably warm and wet since 1658, with "possibly highly unsettled (i.e. cyclonic)" conditions, owing, in late 1660 still, to "a markedly zonal type (or high NAOI), with the associated mean jet translated far enough south to propel cyclonic disturbances across southern Britain in quick succession".

The NAOI is an index of how atmospheric pressure varies over the Atlantic from the Arctic to the Azores. Normally it changes all the time but when it's high, low pressures at high latitudes and depressions further south send the jet stream, storms and lotsa rain as deep in Europe as the Empire. From news reports, it doesn't seem to have much disrupted the numerous battles and manoeuvers there, beyond delaying kings and soaking Pepyses. This late in the season we phant'sy it can't be too good for the crops, though; not what you'd want to usher in your happy reign.

RLB  •  Link

The jawbone and several vertebræ of a sperm whale, by the way, are still in Scheveningen's Oude Kerk.

john  •  Link

There exists a series of videos called "Getting dressing in.." on youtube. Here is one of a wealthy Dutch woman dressing in 1665 Delft:… (I cannot really verify the historical accuracy, though.)

Jonathan V  •  Link

And another comment for Meech: Sharing a bed is how Queequeg and Ishmael meet at the beginning of Moby Dick. That's where I learned that bed-sharing was a thing, and even quite common until the mid-19th century or so. It really is quite fascinating.

P.S. Rather enjoying this the third (second for me) time through. I even came across the Journal of Mrs. Pepys, and find it rather entertaining, knowing most of the foreground action that takes place.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Communal sleeping" aka "Social Sleeping" -- there are many articles and books on the subject these days, apparently:

In 1187, a prince slipped into his grand wooden bed, accompanied by a new companion. With a thick mane of auburn hair and strapping frame, Richard the Lionheart was the ultimate macho warrior, renowned for his formidable leadership on the battlefield and knightly conduct. Now he had formed an unexpected friendship with a former enemy – Philip II, who ruled over France from 1180 to 1223.

Initially, the 2 monarchs forged a purely pragmatic alliance.
After spending time together, eating at the same table - even out of the same dish - they had become close friends. To cement the relationship between them and their countries, they agreed to a peace treaty – and slept alongside each other in the same bed.

Despite the modern connotation of 2 men sharing a bed, at the time this was entirely unremarkable – appearing almost as a casual aside in a contemporary chronicle on the history of England. Long before the expectation of night-time privacy or more recent ideas about manliness, many historians view the 2 royals' nightly partnership as a sign of trust and brotherhood.

This is the forgotten ancient practice of communal sleep.

For thousands of years it was normal to flop down in bed at night with friends, colleagues, relatives – including the entire extended family – or travelling peddlers.

When on the road, people often found themselves lying next to total strangers. If they were unlucky, this outsider might come with an overwhelming stench, deafening snoring – or a preference for sleeping naked.

Sometimes, "social sleeping" was a pragmatic solution to a shortage of beds, which were highly valuable pieces of furniture. But even the nobility actively sought out bedfellows for the unparallelled intimacy of night-time chats in the darkness, as well as warmth and a feeling of security.

In 2011, archaeologists uncovered an well-preserved layer of prehistoric sediment at Sibudu Cave, South Africa. It contained the fossilized remains of leaves from the forest tree Cryptocarya woodie, which formed the "top sheet" of a foliage mattress constructed in the Stone Age, some 77,000 years ago. Project leader Lyn Wadley speculated the mattress may have been large enough for a whole family group.

Direct evidence for ancient communal sleep is hard to come by, but it's thought this practice is truly ancient. From the historical perspective, the modern preference for sleeping alone is deeply weird.

After a brief lapse in antiquity, during which even married members of the upper classes slept alone, the practice made it through the Medieval age more or less intact.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Records of communal sleep are abundant in the Early Modern times – roughly from 1500 to 1800. "For most people, with the exclusion of aristocrats and well-to-do merchants, as well as some members of the landed gentry, it would have been unusual not to have had a bedmate," says Roger Ekirch, professor of history at Virginia Tech, and the author of At Day's Close: A History of Nighttime.

Apart from anything else, most households had too few beds for private sleeping, says Sasha Handley, professor of Early Modern history at the University of Manchester and the author of the book Sleep in Early Modern England.
"Even for the middle and upper classes when they're traveling, which is a lot of the time, they're obviously forced to spend time in lodging houses and inns and taverns, where sharing a bed is a pretty common practice," says Handley.

Around 1590, a small Hertfordshire town became famous for the Great Bed of Ware, acquired for the White Hart Inn. This formidable piece of oak furniture – measuring 2.7m high (9ft), 3.3m wide (11ft) and 3.4m (11ft) deep – features elaborate carvings of lions and satyrs draped in almost theatrical hangings of red and yellow. It would have been available for travelers to share. According to legend, 26 butchers and their wives – a total of 52 people – slept there together in 1689 for a bet.

Sharing a bed did not have the same sexual connotations that it does today. In Medieval times, the Three Wise Men were often depicted sleeping together – sometimes nude, or even spooning – and experts contend that any suggestion they were engaging in carnal acts would have been absurd.

Sociable sleeping was so desirable, it even transcended the usual barriers of social class. There are numerous historical accounts of people bunking down each night with their inferiors or superiors – such masters and their apprentices, domestic helpers and their employers, or royalty and their subjects.

One of the most detailed records of communal sleep can be found within the diaries of Samuel Pepys , which provide a portal to life in the 17th Century. ... the diary records how often he slept in the same bed with friends, colleagues, and perfect strangers. And they reveal the many nuances of successful – and unsuccessful – bedsharing.

[I've removed all the Pepys examples as they are spoilers.]

Tucked up under several layers of blankets, Ekirch explains that well-suited bedfellows might exchange stories well into the early morning – perhaps even waking to analyze their dreams between their first and second sleeps. (Learn more about the Medieval practice of biphasic sleep at….)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


These hours spent chatting in the blackness of night helped to strengthen social bonds and provided a private space to exchange secrets.

SEE A PHOTO OF The Great Bed of Ware – reputedly big enough for 4 couples to share – was a popular tourist attraction for centuries, and even referenced by Shakespeare.

In an era where bedsharing was utterly routine and often unavoidable, it was helpful for people to follow proper etiquette to ensure that everyone had a comfortable night's sleep – and avoid fights from breaking out in the night. Bedfellows were expected to avoid talking excessively, respect one another's personal space, and avoid fidgeting.

Things clearly didn't always go to plan. A French phrase book from the Early Modern era provided English travelers with a few choice words with which to lambast their sleeping companion. The volume Ekirch discovered suggested translations for: "you do nothing but kick about", "you pull all the bedclothes", and "you are an ill bedfellow".

"There are lots of quite fun anecdotes I came across where people ranked the quality of their co-sleepers by their ability to tell a good story, or not to snore," says Handley. She cites one example of a disgruntled schoolmaster who compared his bedfellow – a rector – to a pig, after he went to bed drunk and made a "hideous noise".

But there were also conventions to avoid more serious consequences. In most circumstances: it was unusual for unmarried men and women to share a bed with someone outside their own family. When it did happen, there were attempts to minimize the risks.

There were also cases where male and female domestic workers were required to sleep together due to a bed shortage. "It was a common belief and source of humor – at least for those whose servants were not involved – that this sometimes resulted in pregnancies," says Ekirch.

When sharing with strangers, there was the ever-present risk of sexual violence or murder. And there were other, less appealing sides to communal sleep. For all the romance of confidential chats in the dark, and the mutual affection bedfellows developed after years of sharing physical warmth, many shared beds were hotbeds of pests and disease.
With so many people crammed onto the same mattress – many of which provided ideal hiding places for insects – they often became infested with fleas, lice or bedbugs.

Sometimes, sleepers were overcome with the disgusting, overwhelming smells from unwashed bedfellows, ancient bedding and used chamber pots. In one incident Ekirch uncovered, 2 women accused each other of causing a foul stink, until they realized there was a toilet at the head of their beds.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


By the mid-19th Century, bedsharing began to fall out of fashion – even for married couples.
It all began with an influential American physician. William Whitty Hall, who had strong opinions on many subjects, became a passionate advocate of the idea that communal sleep was not only unwise – but "unnatural and degenerative". ...

As the historian Hilary Hinds explains in the book A Cultural History of Twin Beds, this marked the beginning of the rise of individualist sleeping.
Families began to abandon the ancient practice of communal sleep – and for nearly a century, many married couples slept apart, in twin beds.
This was only reversed in the 1950s, when people began to view separate beds as a sign of a failing marriage.

Social sleeping never returned with its previous popularity in other contexts.
So, are we missing out?
Should modern politicians swap the photo-opportunity handshake for a symbolic night's sleep, like Richard the Lionheart and Philip II?
Would tourists benefit from sharing a bed with total strangers?

"I think people tend to sleep much better when they're sleeping alone for all kinds of reasons … Once you get past the kind of psychological comfort that sharing beds can bring you, most people benefit from having a sleeping environment that they can fashion for their own bespoke needs," says Handley.

Excerpted from…

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