Wednesday 11 July 1660

With Sir W. Pen by water to the Navy office, where we met, and dispatched business. And that being done, we went all to dinner to the Dolphin, upon Major Brown’s invitation.

After that to the office again, where I was vexed, and so was Commissioner Pett, to see a busy fellow come to look out the best lodgings for my Lord Barkley, and the combining between him and Sir W. Pen; and, indeed, was troubled much at it.

Home to White Hall, and took out my bill signed by the King, and carried it to Mr. Watkins of the Privy Seal to be despatched there, and going home to take a cap, I borrowed a pair of sheets of Mr. Howe, and by coach went to the Navy office, and lay (Mr. Hater, my clerk, with me) at Commissioner Willoughby’s house, where I was received by him very civilly and slept well.

48 Annotations

First Reading

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Major Bournes/Major Brown's
L&M have this fellow identified as Nehemiah Bourne, Navy Commissioner from 1652 until the Restoration.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

"and going home to take a crap [cap]
My copy of L&M certainly has a different take on this line!

Was "cap" a bowdlerization by Wheatley or is this a simple disagreement on the interpretation of shorthand? Could it be a typo in L&M?

Crap certainly seems to make more sense in the entry but if L&M is correct this would pre-date the earliest appearance of the word recorded in the OED. The OED etymology is too lengthy and too spread out to quote directly but I found this item on the net at… It is a pretty good summarization of the OED materials.

crap - “defecate” 1846 (v.), 1898 (n.), from one of a cluster of words generally applied to things cast off or discarded (e.g. “weeds growing among corn” (1425), “residue from renderings” (1490s), 18c. underworld slang for “money,” and in Shropshire, “dregs of beer or ale”), all probably from M.E. crappe “grain that was trodden underfoot in a barn, chaff” (c.1440), from M.Fr. crape “siftings,” from O.Fr. crappe, from M.L. crappa, crapinum “chaff.” Sense of “rubbish, nonsense” also first recorded 1898. Despite folk etymology insistence, not from Thomas Crapper (1837-1910) who did, however, in 1882 invented the ball and suction device [British Patent # 4,990] found in modern toilets. The name Crapper is a northern form of Cropper (attested from 1221), an occupational surname, obviously, but the exact reference is unclear.

Pauline  •  Link

"...a busy fellow..." and sleeping well at Willoughby's house
In her book, Tomalin has much to say about what is happening here. Pepsy was apparently too busy pulling off this "breathless sequence" to write it fully. I have typed the passage into Background Information for Seething Lane. (Stop short in your reading if you want to avoid a spoiler for two days hence.)

Nix  •  Link

"going home to take a cap" --

Perhaps it is "nap", since he went on to nap at Willoughby's? Though it means a change of site, in light of the OED's extensive citation of Pepys it seems more plausible than Murray somehow overlooking a two-centuries-premature use of "crap".

Or might it refer to a sleeping cap for his intended nap? (I suppose not, in July.)

Paul Brewster  •  Link

on the OED citation for crap ...
I presume Murray(?) was working from the Wheatley (or one of the previous editions) and not from the original shorthand and definitely not from the L&M, so the failure to find the reference is not particularly surprising. I think we may be left with the need to review the shorthand for a definitive answer here.

ellen  •  Link

Knowing Sam as I think I do, I believe he means nap or maybe cap, but certainly not crap. He writes of internal functions only when they don't function well.

vincent  •  Link

"cap"/" nap " or ca(t)pnap: my reading from my prospective would be SP's Wants to lay claim to the new nest, and does not know how well he will be received by the old tenant. He was pretty upset earlier in the day and he wants to be his most amendable self so before bouncing over to the new digs he takes a cat nap: for if if was going to the "La Jaques" he would use "House of Privy" I believe Ellen has the correct interpretation . Must research some of the baudy poets for the phrase of the day.

Pauline  •  Link

"...home to take a cap..."
This from our General Reference link to Webster Dictionary 1913:
"Cap paper. (a) A kind of writing paper including flat cap, foolsap, and legal cap.... Legal cap, a kind of folio writing paper, made for the use of lawyers, in long narrow sheets which have the fold at the top or narrow edge."

On this day his warrant for Clerk of the Acts is "turned into a bill, signed by the King." Tomorrow he goes for the Privy Seal, and then he has "to get his patent formally written out and sealed by the Chancery."

I'm consulting "The Journal of Mrs Pepys" by Sara George in a search for other meanings of his use of "cap." Paper is a possible explanation. His dogged focus these days is securing this post.

That business where the word has an "r" can be done anywhere. But his supplies for preparing his bill and some sheets to stake a claim on the house are at home.

chip  •  Link

Count me in with Pauline, yet many thanks to Paul Brewster for astute annotations (although I could not get this link to open). A foolscap was a size of paper, 13 by 16. Pepys is definitely jockeying for position here. He may want some legal size paper around to draw up something on the fly. He's found his nest as Vincent says. And he will build it stück von stück.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

I'm not quite willing to give up on the L&M reading yet...
In the absence of the actual document, I'm off to try to find a detailed work on Tachygraphy. I hope this will help resolve the following questions: Is there any similarity between the shorthand for "cap" and for "crap"? Could they have been mistaken for one another?

By the way a text scan of the Gutenberg showed no usage of "cap" in the sense of paper beyond this particular conjectured use.

Mary  •  Link

the busy fellow

Undoubtedly 'busy' in OED sense 5: officious, meddlesome, prying, inquisitive, active in what does not concern one. This usage attested from the early 15th Century to the 19th.

Colin Gravois  •  Link

Cap -- Crap -- Nap

Undoubtedly it's a nap, as he talks of borrowing a pair of sheets from Mr Howe on his way home, and we cannot envison the sheets' usage in the other situations advanced.

Roger Miller  •  Link

From a scan of the Gutenberg text it appears that Pepys records taking a nap on five occasions. Perhaps the symbols for 'c' and 'n' are similar.

I've just been looking at a sequence of images taken by my webcam today and was noting how light it was by about five am. Would Sam have been up and about by that time? If so, that would explain why he needed a short siesta.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

n vs. c (in Shelton)
n: is a straight line is the manner of a long dash
c: is the top and left sides of a square in the manner of an uppercase san-serif equilateral L rotated clockwise 90 degrees.

From a table in Wheatley's Pepysiana, Appendix II, Pepsy's Cipher.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Cap Crap Nap"
We should also explore:Rap,Tap,Lap,Map
Sap,Gap,Jap,Yap and Zap.

Pauline  •  Link

the rotated equilateral L
Paul, thank you for the research, and your description is wonderful.

Home to take a cup? As in something to drink. Or maybe just a cap to put on his head?

Several possibilities are seeming more likely than "crap." But I think the sheets are unrelated; he takes those as he leaves for Willoughby's.

martha wishart  •  Link

Sheets of foolscap perhaps? Did Sam go home to look for paper, and finding none, had to borrow some?

vincent  •  Link

Martha: I like that (fools)cap ,shorthand on shorthand: oh! so much meaning in one letter: I wonder how many wars got started on a mistranslation( preconceived thoughts fitting the missing intelligence)???

Pauline  •  Link

"...I borrowed a pair of sheets..."
I was going by Claire Tomalin's intrepretation that the sheets were to sleep between at Willoughby's. See…

Laura K  •  Link

If cap = paper...

then sheets are probably sheets of paper, no? I thought Sam has always referred to bed things as linens, rather than sheets. Sheets seems more modern to me, though I really don't know.

vincent  •  Link

I Like cap/nap but Paul Brewster spoilt that: Oh! off to Seething Lane I should go. Must find out what he meant here, so intriging. I do believe he wanted to go by the adage, "Possesion is nine tenths of the law",(common law that is) bed sheets is good: but cap? put a cap on it? cap it off?: to take possession,seal the deal:?.

vincent  •  Link

"cap" : Found another meaning, cap, the obvious one:ME cappe english; good old head covering or cloak: could have been a tad chilly at night, going to sleep in a strange place, not knowing he be in or out of house or just plain sleeping in a draughty location.

Mary  •  Link

cap, crap, nap etc.

Apologies for prolonging the debate, but doesn't Sam usually use the term 'shit' when this is what he's talking about? My impression is that this is his preferred usage.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

I think we'll just have to wait for someone to look at the original manuscript to resolve the issue but in the meantime I've taken the admittedly somewhat unusual step of submitting the reference to the OED as the earliest reference to the word. I've done this in the hope that it might stir up something. (It may in fact stir up nothing. I half expect to receive the academic response of "been there, done that".) SP is after all not an unusual source for citations. It’s just the “translation” (i.e., L&M’s) that’s at issue here.

Of course that does bring up basic issue of using the diary as a source for the. The interpretation of SP’s shorthand is after all an art not a science. Wheatley and his sources were not after all the most careful of editors. They seem to have let their Victorian sensibilities creep into their choice of words where the shorthand left them an option. L&M may in fact have done the same but their effort was clearly guided by more stringent academic rules. And there's still the more pedestrian conclusion that it may be a typo in the L&M. We can only wait and see.

language hat  •  Link

Paul: Good work contacting the OED!
Do let us know if you hear back...

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Awesome debate!

This is one of the reasons I love this site. Everyone here has just had a very civil (and very interesting, despite the arcane nature of the argument) discussion of whether or not an "r" should be included in a single word, and what ramifications it would have had in the life of a man who lived some 340 years ago. No one got hurt, and I learned a thing or three. I'm impressed.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Response from the OED:

Dear Mr Brewster,

Thank you very much for your e-mail to the Oxford English Dictionary. Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying to you.

We have an edition of this book in our library and, checking in it, I notice that there is footnote, which reads:

'? 'cape, cap', i.e. [s]crap [of food]'

It would seem that there is a certain amount of debate as to what 'crap' means in this context, and therefore it is unlikely that we could include it for, this reason. However, I have passed your e-mail to our revision file for further consideration when work begins in that part of the alphabet.

Thank you once again for taking the time and trouble to write to us.

Yours sincerely,

Fiona McPherson
Senior Editor OED.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

My reply to the OED:
Ms. McPherson,
In an interesting quirk, the footnote you refer to is missing from the printing of the referenced [L&M Volume I - 1660] volume that I was using as my source for the original submission.

After I had submitted my note I purchased a copy of the first printing (my copy of a later printing was a library book and was due back). When I received your note I went back to the diary entry in my volume and found the footnote you referred to. I was quite chagrinned to think that I had somehow missed this critical clue. This sent me back to my original source from the local library (Fourth Printing 1979, sixth UK impression) and, true to my memory, I found that the footnote was missing.

I've taken the liberty of replying because I have the feeling that other students of the work have been here before. It is certainly puzzling to find that this alteration has been made in light of the fact that there is no editorial material that indicates changes of this nature in the later printing.

Pauline  •  Link

Bravo, Paul.
If crap as in scrap, I wonder if it means the "s" is accidently dropped in the shorthand or that "scrap" was colloquially or playfully shortened to "crap."

The footnote ('? "cape, cap", i.e. [s]crap [of food]) is odd in that the “i.e.” references a word with an “r” in it back to two non-r’ed words.

Home to take a quick bit sure fits the action in this entry.

vincent  •  Link

Great work, fascinating this scholarly insight. If it is up to my vote I believe that it is the cap as in night cap for keeping the chill night air off his nogging. A popular device until 45 years ago. Of course he may take a slice of leftovers not Knowing where the local cook shop be. Cape I like to as in shawl to keep his shoulders from cooling off , he not with his jammies.
Lets face it,entries in a diary are about the non routine days interest.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

? "cape, cap", i.e. [s]crap [of food]
Here’s how I understand this cryptic footnote. I believe that L&M is saying that the shorthand looks like either ‘cape’ or ‘cap’. It should be noted that both words would be identically coded in Shelton’s shorthand; no distinction is made between long and short vowel sounds and, because the ending ‘e’ is not sounded, it wouldn’t appear.

The Wheatley source also makes this reading of the shorthand and chooses the word, ‘cap’. L&M doesn’t seem to like either of these words in the context and chooses the word ‘crap’ as a conjectural replacement. I read the words within the [] as a rationale for their choice. It seems a little thin to me.

Could it really be ‘crap’? In Shelton’s system the ‘cr’ is a sans serif uppercase F while a plain ‘c’ is the same character missing the middle horizontal line. The rest of the word would have stayed unchanged. One little stroke could make all the difference.

On the case of the missing footnote: It is puzzling to me that they would have completely removed a footnote explaining an apparent conjectural substitution from a subsequent printing of the same edition. I can only surmise that L&M must have become more convinced that they saw that one little stroke.

vincent  •  Link

Paul you make very good points. a minor detail can sink the ship

vincent  •  Link

re: cr vs c has validity: My Observation Is that Sam does note his new experiences: therefore this may the firstime he has taken his head warmer out for an outing; He mentions the sheets but I do beleive he slept ala natural but needed his earmuffs and head covering while lying on the floor and there was no palias or down filled sleeping mat and no mention of a 'ammock. Just my 'ang up.

language hat  •  Link

Well done Paul!
Strange business about the disappearing footnote. A lot of trouble to go to when reprinting a volume. Must be a story there, but we'll never know.

I agree with vincent that "cap" seems likely (certainly likelier than "crap").

Vicente  •  Link

Cap : Reading the OED 'Twas fascinating: 1611 Night cap worn under the hat: another Wearing Leekes in their Monmouth caps;
then 1656 BP Hall REm WKS 1660 ' we hold the head uncovered if the hat be off then the cap be on.'
Fullers Worthies 1662 IV 50
" the best caps were made at Monmouth where the Cappers chapper doth still remain.
the the Great Bard mention Fluellen and his monmouth be-leeked caps.[Henry V]…

another ref cap :

dirk  •  Link


Could it be that the most straightforward reading makes the most sense? Sam needs a sleeping cap for the night (also worn in summer, a habit rather than a necessary protection from the cold of winter), goes home to get it and then proceeds to borrow some sheets etc.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I was vexed, and so was Commissioner Pett, to see a busy fellow come to look out the best lodgings for my Lord Barkley, and the combining between him and Sir W. Pen; and, indeed, was troubled much at it."

L&M note Sir John Berkeley (1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton) had been appointed a Commissioner of the Navy on 4 July, along with Penn and Peter Pett. Both he and Penn had been associates of the Duke of York during his exile; Berkeley had served as his governor. Pepys never liked him -- and apparently was not alone.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

This evening Pepys " Commissioner Willoughby’s house, where I was received by him very civilly and slept well."

L&M note Francis Willoughby was lately Navy Commissioner; Pepys succeeded him in the tenancy of this house.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

The origin of the word 'crap' according to Wiki:…

Quite interesting and more complex than I thought - 'Crap' doesn't originate with Crapper after all! (But I doubt that Pepys intended using the word here.)

Dick Wilson  •  Link

Pepys calls it his "bill". I think today we would call it a Commission, or a Warrant, or an Appointment, or such. The King has signed it. Now Pepys is having it sealed. Next it must be delivered. I think he went home to get some good paper, perhaps for a copy of his bill, and borrowed two sheets of paper from Will Howe. Then he went back to the Navy Office, and to establish some sort of claim or right, he stayed there overnight with Will Hater as a witness, in Commissioner Willoughby’s quarters. Willoughby was on his way out of office, and would be leaving his house, too. Perhaps Thomas Crapper would have called it a "House of Office"!

Gerald Berg  •  Link

Well I'll be capped! What's with the vexation over where Barkley and Penn will spend the night? Why would Pepy's go home to only sleep elsewhere? To take a cap and get some sheets it seems...
I notice SP spends tomorrow on getting his bill "perfected". Where was his bill the day before and where did it spend the night?

Bill  •  Link

Gerald, note Pauline's annotation above for a "spoiler" about this night's sleepover.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

The OED has:

‘coarse slang.
1. intr. To defecate.
1846 Swell's Night Guide 57 ‘Where's the plant, cully?’..‘Fenced, in a dunniken.’..‘What? Fenced in a crapping ken?’
1874 Hotten's Slang Dict. (rev. ed.) 132 Crap, to ease oneself by evacuation. Crapping case, or ken, the water-closet. Generally called crapping-castle . . ‘

It’s obvious - to me at any rate - that this 19th century slang has nothing to do with whatever Pepys was doing 200 years before.

AndreaLouise Hanover  •  Link

He went home to get his "beanie", borrowed a sleeping bag and he and his clerk slept over at someone else's house, being prepared for the sleep over, he slept very well.

Neil Ferguson  •  Link

Terry Foreman..a few years late but I do wish souls would not reference future is a spoiler..

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"going home to take a cap,"

A typical scanning error has yielded that text of this copy of the Gutenberg version of the diary and and a storm of variant attempts to justify it.

L&M's "going home to take a crap" was noted by Pepys as a man troubled by constant constipation -- see ":costive" -…

Third Reading

Neil Wallace  •  Link

Rather than focussing on the cap/crap word, should we not look at the "to take a ...." phrasing ?

How did grammar work then? Would Pepys "take a" nap, or crap?
Clearly, or rather "Clearly," he wouldn't "take" a cap.

"Take a crap" - sounds suspiciously modern to me.
"Take a nap" - sounds right.

Unless the OED etc have other ideas on what sorts of things one would "take"

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I was under the impression that paper came in all sizes and shapes in the 17th century, so this might rule out the foolscap idea. BUT:

"The earliest example of such paper was made in Germany in 1479. Unsubstantiated anecdotes suggest that this watermark was introduced to England in 1580 by John Spilman, a German who established a papermill at Dartford, Kent."
So foolscap was known in London by the 17th century.

Not in the mood for a deep dive on the subject tonight.

But I note Pepys BORROWED 2 sheets. That rules out the writing paper idea for me.

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