Saturday 13 October 1660

To my Lord’s in the morning, where I met with Captain Cuttance, but my Lord not being up I went out to Charing Cross, to see Major-general Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition. He was presently cut down, and his head and heart shown to the people, at which there was great shouts of joy. It is said, that he said that he was sure to come shortly at the right hand of Christ to judge them that now had judged him; and that his wife do expect his coming again.

Thus it was my chance to see the King beheaded at White Hall, and to see the first blood shed in revenge for the blood of the King at Charing Cross. From thence to my Lord’s, and took Captain Cuttance and Mr. Sheply to the Sun Tavern, and did give them some oysters. After that I went by water home, where I was angry with my wife for her things lying about, and in my passion kicked the little fine basket, which I bought her in Holland, and broke it, which troubled me after I had done it.

Within all the afternoon setting up shelves in my study. At night to bed.

37 Annotations

First Reading

Yonmei  •  Link see Major- general Harrison hanged, drawn; and quartered; which was done there, he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition.

Blackest of black humour, do you think?

Paul Brewster  •  Link

he looking as cheerfully as any man could do in that condition
L&M add the "-ly". Their footnote reads: "Thomas Harrison, the regicide, had been condemned on the 11th. Cf. [compare] his hagiographer: he was 'mighty cheerful to the astonishment of many': 'The speeches and prayers of Maj. Gen. Harrison ... (1660) [It is odd that SP and the hagiographer (?) pick up the same descriptive word.] Secretary Nicholas reported that he died 'under a hardness of heart that created horror in all who saw him' [Obviously, save SP and the unnamed hagiographer.]"

Paul Brewster  •  Link

he was sure to come shortly at the right hand of Christ to judge them that now have judged him. And that his wife do expect his coming again.
L&M footnote: "The views attributed to Harrison and his wife were commonly attributed to all Fifth Monarchists."

Paul Brewster  •  Link

I was angry with my wife for her things lying about, and in my passion kicked the little fine baskett
One might want to argue that this is a minor example of the unintended side effects of the sanctioned societal violence that SP had witnessed.

stephen  •  Link

the breadth of this entry is overwhelming. From the hanging,drawing,and quatering to kicking his wife's basket!

language hat  •  Link

One of the more memorable entries we've encountered so far.
From a grimly witty description of a gory public execution to an oyster dinner and a domestic quarrel, by way of a little religious rumination and personal reminiscing, in a few short lines. Oh, and of course the sudden anticlimax of "all the afternoon setting up shelves in my study." That's life!

Paul Brewster  •  Link

all the afternoon setting up shelves in my study
I don't think of the shelves as an anti-climax. SP has a life-long love for his books and his book shelves. It can be seen in the care he took in his will to bequeath the shelves and their contents to posterity. To me his choice of activity is a wonderful way of working out the complex feelings he has on the events he witnessed this day. One might think that I'm overstating this but L&M in their footnote to this entry point forward to a November 1 entry where SP will once again remember the King's beheading and where he was and how he felt.

Paul Miller  •  Link

"to see Major- general Harrison hanged, drawn; and quartered"

Gentleman, by reason of some scoffing, that I do hear, I judge that some do think I am afraid to die... I tell you no, but it is by reason of much blood I have lost in the wars, and many wounds I have received in my body which caused this shaking and weakness in my nerves.
[From Thomas Harrison, speech on the scaffold (1660)]

Drawing and Quartering article


vincent  •  Link

Rev Josselyn did not hear of this Punishment un-till weds 17
"... oct 17 (1659?) Spent this day in prayer at priory , put up divers very earnest petitions public and private, which the lord in mercy answer(.) heard then that Harrison , and Carew , two of the Kings Judges were executed but to that day 8 in all were executed, Jo: Cooke . Hugh Peters . Tho. Scot . Gregory Clement . Jo. Jones . Adrian Scroope ...."…

vincent  •  Link

A great painting of the days excitement and frustration, straight to the point entry, full of vision. At the flicks "Quo Vadis" or watching a fire fight in Bagdad, then on to a spot of lunch at the Club or Simpsons,then home James, home, kick the cat then on to manual work , mow the lawn or dig up the garden, or do a marathon. How normal? [watch death ;feed re birth;get the anger out : create new;]

Phil Rodgers  •  Link

Sam would have been nearly 16 when he saw the King executed, some eleven and a half years earlier.

PHE  •  Link

Life then was so similar/different to today??
This is arguably one of the more profound entries, managing to encompass so many of the attractive qualities of the diaries in one go. The casual attitude to the public execution demonstrates how different life was compared to today (in UK at least), while the pub lunch and domestic squabbles show how little has changed. This entry also encompasses the witnessing of history; everyday life in London; Pepys's humour, his love of food; taverns; preoccupation with home improvement and his relationship with his wife.

Peter  •  Link

This is certainly an extremely powerful entry, as others have mentioned. Although Sam glosses over the execution, surely he can not have been unaffected by it. The link that Paul Miller has provided shows that the kind of evisceration that went on here was reserved only for the most special of circumstances. The beheading of Charles I certainly affected Sam (he has mentioned it several times already), but that must have been very clean compared to this execution. It's unlikely that Sam had ever seen anything like it.
Also, the events of the morning are quite unusual. Sam presents it as if he has just wandered up to the execution as an afterthought. Sandwich seems to have taken to his bed (problems with his conscience perhaps?). I wonder if Sandwich sent Sam to witness the execution and report back to him? If Sam was a reluctant witness, I can imagine he would do Sandwich's bidding without a word of criticism at this point.
Whatever the circumstances, Sam must have had all sorts of emotions running through his mind by the time he got home. Probably Elizabeth and the basket didn't stand a chance. I can imagine a very heavy silence as he sets to work on (stocking or putting up?) his shelves.

J A Gioia  •  Link

(problems with his conscience perhaps?)

yeah, sandwich's indisposition struck me as morally convenient as well. another thing -- sam witnesses one execution. i'm assuming, wrongly perhaps, they they took care of the whole lot that day. also, am i alone feeling a sense of sam's disgust at the 'great shouts of joy'? i see our man hurrying on after just one killing, having performed an important personal task balancing his own history with that of england's.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

they took care of the whole lot that day
According to the Drawing and Quartering web site cited above, the task was spread over several days ...
"Harrison was the first to die, he was executed at Charing Cross on Saturday the 13th of October and was subjected to the full gruesome rigours of his sentence. Two days later John Carew suffered the same fate, although his quartered body was allowed to be buried rather than put on display. The following day John Cooke and Hugh Peters were executed. Cooke's head was displayed on a pole at Westminster Hall with Harrison's whilst Peters' was displayed on London Bridge. Wednesday the 17th saw the executions of Scot, Clement, Scroop and Jones. Finally on Friday the 19th it was Hacker and Axtell's turn. Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton, Thomas Pride and John Bradshaw were all dead by this time but were posthumously tried for high treason. They were found guilty and in January 1661 their corpses were exhumed and hung in chains at Tyburn.”

J A Gioia  •  Link

Wednesday the 17th saw the executions of Scot, Clement, Scroop and Jones.

oh, well, then we have that to look forward to...

Glyn  •  Link

Harrison's death strongly reminds me of a poem by Robert Browning.…

"The Patriot: An Old Story"

"It was roses, roses, all the way,
With myrtle mixed in my path like mad.
The house-roofs seemed to heave and sway,
The church-spires flamed, such flags they had,
A year ago on this very day!"


"There's nobody on the house-tops now

S. Spoelstra  •  Link

This must be one of the most quoted lines in the Diary.

I remember walking from Tower Hill to Cheapside the last time I was in Londen and coming across a pub "the Hung, Drawn and Quartered", which had the whole quote on a large sign outside. (Just a few steps from Pepys street).
Maybe not the way Major-General Harrison would have preferred it to be, but people apparently still like to drink to his memory!…

Olivier Grimbleweed  •  Link

To be perfectly honset, I think that to be hung, drawn and quartered, is far better than to be gobbled up by monkeys for instance. My favourite quote today is; Cows are mad, but Girls are bad!

JRQuilcon  •  Link

An' I'm willin' t'wager that Sam saw the crowd cheer at th'king's execution...

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"An' I'm willin' t'wager that Sam saw the crowd cheer at th'king's execution..."
and he may have joined in as what to do, impressionable youngster at an unprecedented event that he was.

Dick Wilson  •  Link

There's nothing like a gory public execution to make you thirsty for your morning draft!

Poor Elizabeth. She doesn't deserve Sam's bad temper.

John Matthew IV  •  Link

So often reading Pepys diary we can say, "Some things never change."

I've eaten oysters in a pub, I've broken things in anger and felt remorse and I have spent lots of time setting up shelves.

But I have never seen an execution. To read it presented as just another thing Sam did on this Saturday is stunning.

"He was presently cut down, and his head and heart shown to the people, at which there was great shouts of joy."

Many things HAVE changed since 1660!

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The speeches and prayers of Major General Harison, Octob. 13. Mr. John Carew, Octob. 15. Mr. Justice Cooke, Mr. Hugh Peters, Octob. 16. Mr. Tho. Scott, Mr. Gregory Clement, Col. Adrian Scroop, Col. John Jones, Octob. 17. Col. Daniel Axtell, & Col. Fran. Hacker, Oct. 19: the times of their death. Together with severall occasionall speeches and passages in their imprisonment till they came to the place of execution. Faithfully and impartially collected for further satisfaction.
Harrison, Thomas, attributed name. 1606-1660,
[London]: Printed [by Simon Dover and Thomas Creeke], anno Dom. 1660.
Early English Books Online…

Third Reading

MartinVT  •  Link

"I was angry with my wife for her things lying about"

'Twas ever thus. At this point, Elizabeth is still 19 (her 20th birthday is coming up on October 23). Apparently she hasn't quite grown out of that teenage stage where you leave stuff lying around. Sam needs to cut her some slack.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Punishments were generally public spectacles, with the populace encouraged to attend as it was a demonstration of the punishment of bad behavior, and the power of the authorities.
I suspect the Fifth Monarchists in the crowd would have taken home handkerchiefs dipped in Harrison's martyred blood.

Harrison had been cruel to many people during his 30 year career, not least of which were the Welsh. This was an eye-for-an-eye justice, and people understood that, even if it was gruesome.

Wikipedia has an incomplete list of people hung drawn and quartered, which shows that 3 people were punished this way during the interregnum:…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Rev. Ralph today:

"Bat. Hatch begun his year October 14: and is to continue until october 13. at night 1660. he is to have 10d. per diem every working day. and 2 meals meat in the week."

Barth Hatch must have been a servant, farm hand and/or church warden -- or all three. Assuming a 6-day week, that's 5s. a week or a maximum of 13/. a year, plus lunch every working day, 2 of which must include meat.

There are fewer farm working days in the winter, but presumably more people die then, so perhaps he doubled as a grave digger? Or he could have been used repairing the barns, equipment and church grounds, or helping the often-pregnant Mrs. Josselin.

That's triple what Jane Birch earns, but she lives with the Pepys, has her clothes provided, and gets all her meals.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Back to the execution:

I think the executioner was Edward Dunn (born ?, executioner from 1649 - 1663)…
[The infamous Jack] "Ketch apprenticed under Edward Dunn and succeeded him as an executioner in 1663. Dunn apprenticed under Richard Brandon, who famously executed King Charles."

Clearly, conducting a hanging, drawing and quartering was not something for which the executioner had much experience. If Harrison did punch Dunn during the process -- which Pepys would surely have reported if he was paying attention/looking -- it shows Dunn (or whoever) needed to hang the subject longer, but was doing this with the utmost cruelty, possibly from ignorance.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The now blind poet John Milton was on the list of Regicides from the start. On May 7, 1660 he disappeared from his Pettry France home, and stayed in hiding for over a year. However, his name had been removed from the list without any public comment by now.…

In Henry B. Wheatley's book, "Samuel Pepys and the World He Lived In" he has this to say on the subject in Chapter V - Pepys's Books and Collections:
"The [Pepysian] Library contains the collected editions, in 3 folio volumes, of Milton's Works, published in London by John Toland in 1698, but stated in the title page to have been printed in Amsterdam.
"Pepys probably thought it wise to have nothing to do with any of the publications of such a dangerous man as Milton before the [Glorious] Revolution; and a curious letter from Daniel Skinner to Pepys in 1676 shows that a man may be injured in his public career by a rumor that he had the works of Milton in his possession. ...
"When Sir Joseph Williamson, the Secretary of State, is informed of this [a plan to print in Amsterdam more original works of Milton] and was asked to give a license for the proposed authentic edition, he replied 'he could countenance nothing of that man's (Milton's) writings.'
"Upon hearing this, Skinner gives up the scheme and lends the papers to Williamson, but gets shabby treatment in return, for on his arrival in Holland he finds that those likely to employ him have been warned against him as a dangerous character."

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

CORRECTION: "On May 7, 1660 he disappeared from his Petty France home, and stayed in hiding for over a year."

NO: My own link says "Milton lay concealed for more than 3 months." So he emerged, I don't know where he went, in August, once his name was off the list,
Sorry about that.

elgin marble  •  Link

By far the most detailed account I've read so far of the part Harrison played in bringing the king to trial, then execution, is in Geoffrey Robinson's The Tyrannicide Brief (2005). It covers Harrison's involvement in events from the Putney Debates, when he was the first to call the king a 'man of blood' who should be prosecuted, to his spirited, cogent and intransigent defence at his own trial.

My own remarks about the similarities/differences between what Pepys described then and our experience today (re: PHE on 14 Oct 2003 and John Matthew IV on 14 Oct 2016) is in this entry for October 13, 1990 in the online selection of diary entries I made throughout the 1990s while at the same time reading one entry of Pepys' diary each day:…

john  •  Link

The cruelty of executioners: At that time, executioners believed that they carried out "God's will" and the cruelty was ordained. See "The Faithful Executioner" by Harrington or "A Hangman's Diary" by Schmidt for more of the matter. (Note that I was unable to read most of it.)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

John -- don't you think it would be more correct to say SOME executioners believed this -- and used this rationale to make it possible to go through with the deeds?

This is a link to an interview with David A. Guba, Jr. (PhD, Temple University) a historian of drugs, violence, and colonialism in modern France & Europe and an Assistant Professor of History at Bard Early College in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the author of “Axed from History: Executioners in Early Modern Europe,” published online *, which explores the largely ignored and mythologized history of the men (and women) who served as executioners in Europe.…
Cassidy has now put it behind a paywall, so here's my version of the part about recruiting executioners:

Being an executioner was considered an unclean job. The people in the profession were often appointed because of being born into a family of executioners, and therefore had little chance of any social mobility.

DJ explains that between 1500 to 1800, executioners were appointed by the crown and mostly came from one of 3 sources.

The dominant source of executioners were families:
This was a hereditary position in England, Germany, and France with the families Brandons, Pierrepoints, Giomes, Sansons in France, and famous Smitz in Germany [which were] a father/son combination.
Executioners were born into a system of social pollution/contamination, where they were considered spiritually profane if your job was to be a 'murderer'. This made the executioner someone who was to be physically avoided, not touched, so every aspect of the execution was handled by that person or their family acting as the assistants.

Second, executioners could be recruited in prisons, through a system of reprieve from punishment. It was a work-release program. Murderers could avoid their punishment if they volunteered to be an executioner.

The third way executioners were procured for the enforcement of capital punishment was through military prisons. DJ indicates this third method was not widely used during Shakespeare's lifetime, but by the late 17th and 18th centuries, military prisons and converting prisoners to executioners was well established.


So the author reports a lot of coersion in this process. The "victims" had to psyche themselves up to perform executions and beatings, year in, year out

I've lost my reference for this, but I read that in Poland, I think it was, they couldn't find anyone to be the executioner. So they changed the law to allowing a male relative of the victim to act as executioner, otherwise other punishments would be found (transportation, etc.).

* I have been unable to find it on line. Share the link if you can, please.

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