Saturday 15 September 1660

Met very early at our office this morning to pick out the twenty- five ships which are to be first paid off.

After that to Westminster and dined with Mr. Dalton at his office, where we had one great court dish, but our papers not being done we could [not] make an end of our business till Monday next.

Mr. Dalton and I over the water to our landlord Vanly, with whom we agree as to Dalton becoming a tenant. Back to Westminster, where I met with Dr. Castles, who chidd me for some errors in our Privy- Seal business; among the rest, for letting the fees of the six judges pass unpaid, which I know not what to say to, till I speak to Mr. Moore. I was much troubled, for fear of being forced to pay the money myself. Called at my father’s going home, and bespoke mourning for myself, for the death of the Duke of Gloucester. I found my mother pretty well. So home and to bed.

20 Annotations

First Reading

Paul Brewster  •  Link

pick out the 25 ships which are to be first payd off
L&M: "A bill providing £140,000 for the complete disbandment of the army and paying off part of the navy had been passed on 13 September …. The ships were paid as they came into harbour - 17 being still unpaid on 5 December … Pepys’s figures for the 25 ships (£161,132 10s. altogether).”

Paul Brewster  •  Link

for letting the Fees of the six judges pass unpaid
L&M: "The mistake may have been due to the fact that several judges now appointed had also received appointments to the bench under Charles I or the Interregnum."

Pauline  •  Link

"Called at my father's going home, and bespoke mourning for myself…”
So Sam does patronize his father’s tailoring business for some things.

Mary  •  Link

one great court dish

L&M gloss this as 'a dish containing a cut from every meat'.

As for the question of the tailoring, it looks as if Pepys goes to his father for the plain, simple and cheaper suit that will be needed only for the period of mourning, but that for more fashionable and showy outfits he goes elsewhere.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

OED: " a1655 Bp. G. Goodman Crt. James I ... The King caused his carver to cut him out a *court-dish, that is, something of every dish, which he sent him, as part of his reversion."

gordonh  •  Link

"Called at my father's going home, and bespoke mourning”

Maybe this is about style - for some stuff SP patronises fashionable modern tailors, but for mourning clothes, which are usually old-fashioned, he’ll happily use his father, and, given that they’re for the Duke, he’ll want good quality, so that’s not the issue. (In London we’ve got established traditional Savile Row tailors, and new fashionable tailors, catering for different markets)

Matthew  •  Link

"I found my mother pretty well"
Isn't it strange that he mentions the business reason for the visit before the health of his mother, who he previously thought to be seriously ill?

J A Gioia  •  Link

I found my mother pretty well

odd too that he didn't bother to go see her when she was ill unto death, but now finds time to pop over for a suit.

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

I don't think we can necessarily infer that his mother has been ill 'unto death'. 'Very ill' doesn't sound as extreme as that to me - if I'd been up all night being sick I might feel very ill but it wouldn't mean I was dying. I think he might have shown more concern if he thought there was a serious threat to her health.

Barbara  •  Link

The important matters in Sam's day were his duties at the Navy Office and trying to finish off the assignment of his old house to Mr. Dalton. By the time he wrote this entry he would have known from his wife that his mother wasn't seriously ill, and his comment that he found her pretty well when he called in was, I think, just a diary note, not an indication of his feelings.

Eric Walla  •  Link

Exactly, we have diary time on display here ...

Even had Sam not heard about his mother from Elizabeth, even had he in fact gone to see her first thing, the "feeling better" info would have been old news by the time he wrote the entry.

Likewise, other events that may have seemed unimportant in the course of any particular day could be magnified by the time he sits down with pen in hand.

Now on to my question: when he says that they met "very early," how early do we think this would be? (OK, perhaps not the most vital question in the world ...)

Nix  •  Link

"Very early" --

What time does the sun rise in London this time of year? "Not long after sunrise" is probably the standard I'd use (today) for "very early". With no electric light it would have been very inconvenient to get up and get dressed and get out any earlier than that, but "very early" could of course mean some later time.

Mary  •  Link


In 1660 (allowing for the 11 days' adjustment) sunrise at this time of year would have been about 6.20 am.

Nix  •  Link

Then my surmise would be that "very early" meant "before 8:00" -- just a guess.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

court dish; a dish furnished from a table with some part of all the meat that's on it.
---A French and English dictionary. R. Colgrave, 1673.

Al Doman  •  Link

@Nix: what was the state of artificial lighting at that time? Lamps etc.?

There are references to "link boys" - presumably with enough illumination to allow navigation of streets at night.

Al Doman  •  Link

I was wondering what interior artificial lighting might be like. No doubt nowhere near as good as daylight, but if there were interior lamps available that might allow starting one's day before daylight.

meech  •  Link

Remember Sam's comment about Charles II causing problems for his staff because he was such an early riser. I believe he said that Charles arose at 5am daily.

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