Thursday 18 October 1660

This morning, it being expected that Colonel Hacker and Axtell should die, I went to Newgate, but found they were reprieved till to-morrow. So to my aunt Fenner’s, where with her and my uncle I drank my morning draft.

So to my father’s, and did give orders for a pair of black baize linings to be made me for my breeches against to-morrow morning, which was done. So to my Lord’s, where I spoke with my Lord, and he would have had me dine with him, but I went thence to Mr. Blackburne, where I met my wife and my Will’s father and mother (the first time that ever I saw them), where we had a very fine dinner. Mr. Creed was also there. This day by her high discourse I found Mrs. Blackburne to be a very high dame and a costly one.

Home with my wife by coach. This afternoon comes Mr. Chaplin and N. Osborn to my house, of whom I made very much, and kept them with me till late, and so to bed.

At my coming home, I did find that The. Turner hath sent for a pair of doves that my wife had promised her; and because she did not send them in the best cage, she sent them back again with a scornful letter, with which I was angry, but yet pretty well pleased that she was crossed.

39 Annotations

First Reading

Peter  •  Link

Theophila Turner has not figured very much in the diary since the beginning of the year and yet here is Sam avoiding her yesterday and taking delight in her annoyance today. What can she have done to recently to get this kind of reaction? She's only eight or so.

Paul Miller  •  Link

"it being expected that Colonel Hacker and Axtell should die"

You can read the trial of Axtell at the link below.…

This whole slaughter is barbarous, I'm waiting for Pepys to comment on the evil of it all and why is he going to see these executions?? Alas I don't think our Samuel is a real stand up type of guy.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Colonel Hacker and Axtell should die
L&M Footnote: "Col. Francis Hacker and Col. Daniel Axtell had been condemned as regicides on the 15th. Hacker had commanded the guard at the King's execution; Axtel at his trial ... The reprieve was possibly out of consideration for Hacker's relatives, some of whom were royalists and were allowed the disposal of his body. ... Peter Mundy says that it was because the 18th was St Luke's day."

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Mr. Chaplin and N. Osborne
L&M: "Both were concerned with navy victualling. Francis Chaplin was a provision merchant amd Osborne was (now or later) clerk to Denis Gauden, the navy victualer." L&M also state that "Thomas Hewer ... was a stationer who supplied the Navy Office."

Sounds like a nacent form of the military-industrial complex ...

vincent  •  Link

"Life and Death" It's a question of exposure: Babies died all the time, death is all around, Every Family experienced death from Child birth, Mothers dieing giving birth. Today we are not are exposed to seeing the dinner running around,then next day on the table: There were so many Butcher shops that did there own butchering on the Premises.Even at the turn of the 19th Century one could witness "tomorrow's filet mignon on the hoof today". Every Illness brought a good chance that Death was good probability, To-day we are buffered from witnessing death on a personal(in one's presence) level limited in most cases to Close family.

vincent  •  Link

needs Interpretation ?"...This day by her high discourse I found Mrs. Blackburne to be a very high dame and a costly one..."

vincent  •  Link

"... I did find that The. Turner..." A right little Madam?

Michael L  •  Link

Paul M:

It's only barbarous from the viewpoint of a 21st century Westerner like you or me. For 17th century England, this was the standard fare for treason, and it is a simple fact for Pepys to call it "expected." Also remember that the English Civil War was a pretty bloody affair all around, and there must be a certain resignation in all the populace for this sort of thing. I agree that it is pretty barbarous, but I also think it would be kind of anachronistic for Sam to express much more than a mild distaste.

Pauline  •  Link

"...she sent them back again with a scornful letter..."
It's hard to imagine a child this age allowed to do this!

I'm with Sam, the girl is a very spoiled brat.

Roger Arbor  •  Link

"... found they were reprieved till to- morrow." Poor Samuel's is disappointed it seems. He is a man of his times, and we must not make the mistake of thinking anything other. He is cultured, intelligent, a 'yuppie' in 80s terms... but his mores are those of Restoration England (and London at that), not 21st century Western (so called) civilization. When a man was executed in 1660 one could see and smell it... we just watch the same on TV eating and drinking at the same time. Who is the more civilized?

Mary  •  Link

.... a pair of black baize linings for my breeches.....

Normal breeches were worn moderately full and could be worn either 'closed', which meant that they were pleated onto a band at the knee, or 'open' and left loose. (see Picard). In the latter case, a lining that contrasted wth the outer cloth might be seen.

In the case of the highly fashionable 'petticoat breeches', which were described as 'all open, like a short petticoat, having no sewing-up between the legs' a lining was something of a necessity and would again be made of a contrasting colour.

Although Sam has had new clothes made since the return of Charles, he has not mentioned petticoat breeches, so he is probably concerned to get his normal breeches lined. The order for black baize (a soft, woollen cloth) may indicate that he has an eye to the approaching colder, winter weather as much as to fashion.

Mary  •  Link

The costly Mrs. Blackborne

Blackborne (see background info.) had been an official of the Navy Office under the Commonwealth, but was to lose his place (perhaps has already lost it?) at the Restoration. Given this situation, Sam feels that Mrs. Blackborne's behaviour is totally inappropriate to her husband's circumstances, both political and monetary. Haven't we all encountered the embarrassing wife who cries up her husband's unappreciated worth/capabilities/deserts in similar circumstances in the hope of gaining for him recognition and employment or promotion?

Sam likes Blackborne and will continue to consult him, but can't stand the wife.

Peter  •  Link

Pauline and Vincent, I'm sure you are right. Sam must perceive Theophila as a little madam and a spoiled brat. She seems to be educated to an unusally high level, especially for a girl at the time. There can't have been many 8 year olds who could write a letter, let alone one which an adult like Sam would take seriously and describe as "scornful". A precocious child indeed.

Paul Miller  •  Link

Young Samuel and his later patrons were all Cromwellian when Charles I lost his head and it's this that troubles me with Samuel's reaction or lack of one to the butchery of the regicides.

JWB  •  Link

Mrs. Blackburne...
"High dame and costly" does not necessarily denote lack of Sam's approbation. Perhaps he is remarking on the contrast to Mr. Blackburne's Quaker manners. I wouldn't assume that because he is out of a job, that he is out of money. Later he buys planatations in Ireland. Don't imagine the "high dame" liked that.

Barbara  •  Link

I agree with Michael L about Pepys' and others' attitude to public execution. It was more or less expected for wrong-doers, especially for serious crimes like treason. After all, the French revolution is still nearly 130 years away, when the guillotine attracted huge crowds. To this day people watch executions in various parts of the world: I believe that in various of the US states certain members of the public can watch. While we don't have that here any more, think of people slowing their cars to look at traffic accidents.

JWB  •  Link

Sam and executions...
I think it best to think of Sam first and foremost as a politician. To see and be seen at the executions of the Regicides is a political act. He is of the party in power. These are acts to demonstrate that power. He's showing solidarity, period.

language hat  •  Link

"I think it best to think of Sam first and foremost as a politician."
I can't imagine thinking of him that way, and if I did, I wouldn't be reading the Diary. (Have you ever *read* a politician's diary?) I think of Sam as a human being trying to get ahead in times more difficult than most of us can readily imagine (especially those of us who are shocked to find that Sam didn't share our delicate 21st-century sensibilities). He uses his political connections to get a good (but demanding) job, and he'll be spending a good deal of time on it, but he also has time to go to pubs, plays, and executions (not to mention fooling around with women). None of this is "first and foremost" political, and it seems awfully boring to think of it that way.

Glyn  •  Link

I agree with Pauline that it is hard to imagine an 8-year-old being allowed by her parents to write "a scornful letter" to someone they may need to keep friendly; or that Pepys or any adult would be this annoyed by a child. It just doesn't seem plausible.

I imagine Pepys and other Londoners are going to watch the executions in the same way that I and other Londoners went to watch David Blaine, i.e. for the free spectacle. But this isn't the sort of Diary where Pepys makes long declarations of principle - he confines his believes to a couple of sentences at best, and then only infrequently.

Mary  •  Link

Mrs. Blackburne again.

By the 17th century the term 'dame' had generally ceased to be an honorific appellation and was most often applied to women of lower rank. [OED]. By linking 'high' with 'dame, Pepys is making an ironic comment on Mrs. Blackburne's manners and conduct. The repetition of 'high' followed by 'costly' (extravagant) reinforces this impression.

Laura K  •  Link

sam is not a politician

I agree with Language Hat, and there's no reason to expect Sam to oppose capital punishment. It was the norm in his time, and a great many people all over the world - including in the UK and the US - still support it.

I do take exception, however, to having anyone's distate for execution derisively described as "delicate sensibilities".

Similarly, annotators who expressed discomfort with Sam's extra-marital activities were derided as "priggish".

It's wrong to judge Sam by our own ethics and mores, certainly. But I wish annotators would not judge or scoff at each other's personal reactions. Sam's behavior is bound to evoke feelings and reactions in readers, and each to their own.

language hat  •  Link

"I wish annotators would not judge or scoff"
Laura, I was including myself among those with "delicate sensibilities." I certainly agree that public executions are barbaric (in fact, I think the hidden ones we have now are equally so); I just think it's silly to think the worse of Sam for not feeling the same way. Who knows what new sensibilities may develop in coming centuries that will make us of today look, retrospectively, like barbarians? Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Laura K  •  Link

thanks, LH

I completely agree re judging Sam. We can't expect him to be some radical thinker, centuries ahead of the norms of his times - and also to have lived the life he did. Not possible.

And Language Hat, I can only hope you're right regarding future generations, since we've got a long way to go. [Apologies for topic drift.]

helena murphy  •  Link

Colonel Daniel Axtell was promoted during the Commonwealth and sent to Ireland where he was appointed Governor of Kilkenny.After the Restoration he was indicted and in the course of his trial he was questioned to reveal the name of the executioner of Charles I whose identity,along with that of his assistant remains a mystery to this day!
On the morning of his death Charles had to wait for four hours, from ten o'clock until two in the afternoon simply because nobody was willing to decapitate him,including the official executioner Richard Brandon who was put under arrest in Whitehall that morning for his refusal.Apparently Axtell when in Dublin revealed the culprit as one William Hulet,a sergeant on duty at Whitehall that day.He was also tried during the Restoration and found guilty but no record of his execution exists.According to the writer Hugh Ross Williamson, his assistant may have been Hugh Peters,Cromwell's army chaplain who had a sadistic hatred of the king.Williamson's book"Who Was The Man In The Iron Mask?And Other Historical Mysteries" is well worth reading for his solution to this very intrigueing question.

Carolina  •  Link

Life and Death and sensibilities

Further to Vincent's piece about butchery and seeing your dinner "on the hoof", I have seen this in Tunisia, where women will poke and prod the live chickens and rabbits and then select one for the butcher to wring its neck.
The same in Sam's day, but because it was an everyday occurrence, he makes no mention of it. He would probably refuse to eat some of the things we call food.

vincent  •  Link

Another minor detail on life in the times.
Do not forget stealing more than five bob you got one's head removed.
"...Of Theft under 5 shillings
Defendants accused of shoplifting goods worth 5 shillings or more had to be sentenced to death. By reducing the value of the goods below 5 shillings, juries could avoid this statutory penalty...."
from the old Bailey…

Then read the first days trials dec 1714.
Read this to find that he not relieved of his head for stealing 20 shillings worth of goods?…
just got a Whipping:…

jgs  •  Link

Re Executions: Remember early in this diary, our Sam humming the hymn/poem of Montrose, who was beheaded and quartered for championing Charles' father in Scotland. 11 years later one of Charles first commands was to have the remains gathered from over the gates of the main Scottish cities and buried in state, 11th of May 1661. The Duke of Argyll/Campbell, who had engineered the trial and execution, could hear the cannon saluting, while he was lying in Edinburgh castle awaiting the same fate as he had administered to his foe...and so the worm turned in those days...j.

vincent  •  Link

from John Evelyn for the 17th to show that it was normal not to be upset by the proceedings [trial and gallows and heads on pole, the bridge had a nice sampling of wrong doers].
17 This day were executed those murderous Traytors at Charing-Crosse, in sight of the place where they put to death their natural Prince, & in the Presence of the King his sonn, whom they also sought to kill: take in the trap they laied for others: The Traytors executed were Scot, Scroope, Cook, Jones. I saw not their execution, but met their quarters mangld & cutt & reaking as they were brought from the Gallows in baskets on the hurdle: o miraculous providence of God; Three days before suffered Axtel, Carew, Clements, Hacker, Hewson & Peeters for reward of their Iniquity: I returnd

Peter  •  Link

The Evelyn entries are always interesting (and thank you Vincent et al. for sharing these). The passage above contrasts quite sharply with Sam's attitude to the Regicides. Evelyn's passage is full of emotive language and there is no doubt that he thinks they deserved everything they got. I would like to think that Sam's more detatched approach has to do with him being a good journalist. However, I wonder if it has to do with the sober realisation that he is currently climbing the same slippery pole as those unfortunates.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Modern townsfolk who are shocked, shocked! that live barnyard animals are butchered for eating.

And not only in Tunisia! I used to see on the family farm in Missouri, my diminutive paternal grandmother fetch a chicken whenever needed from their yard to a sidewalk, place a broom on its neck, step on the broom and pull its head off,.

Bill  •  Link

I don't think Mary is right: "By the 17th century the term 'dame' had generally ceased to be an honorific appellation and was most often applied to women of lower rank."

DAME [Dame, F.] a Lady; among Country People, Mistress, Goody.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

Dick Wilson  •  Link

Sam sounds disappointed that he was not able to witness the double-dismembering scheduled for the morning, but, as the occasion is merely postponed for a day, perhaps he could escort little The Turner (aged about 8) to see the fun tomorrow!

Zexufang  •  Link

As to -
"JWB on 19 Oct 2003
Sam and executions...
I think it best to think of Sam first and foremost as a politician. To see and be seen at the executions of the Regicides is a political act. He is of the party in power. These are acts to demonstrate that power. He's showing solidarity, period."

I agree. (though maybe ten years too late)
Pepys IS a politician; and to go and be seen at the executions is a an act of solidarity with the new regime.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

A poultry demise.
Here in Toronto up until the mid 80's in Kensington Market one use to be able to select a live chicken from the caged front window of the Portuguese butcher and then have it promptly executed at the back of the store. The piece de resistance was the blow torching of the residual feathers from the newly plucked and gutted carcass. On a hot, humid Toronto summer day -- if you had the misfortune of walking past the always open door at that precise moment -- the reeking blast of what smelt like burning hair would nearly knock you off the sidewalk!

Edith Lank  •  Link

I remember my mother inspecting live chickens at the butcher's (sawdust on the floor, I realize now, to absorb stray blood?). She'd blow on the hind feathers to see how much fat was under the skin, make her selection, and hand the bird ofer to the butcher for the coup de grace and de-feathering. Those final pinfeathers, unfortunately, had to be removed at home over a flame on the gas stove. Fragrance from that operation so strong I'd duck out on the portch (known in Boston as the piazza) at that point.

Al Doman  •  Link

@Zexufang: Pepys is often described as an early civil servant, and I consider that more accurate than "politician". Yes, he sought and/or received various positions and appointments but IMO a major incentive was to secure a good and steady income for himself and his family. He came from modest beginnings and rarely, if ever, took money for granted.

Once ensconced in a position SP was energetic and sought to do it well. On occasion that influenced policy, but so might an energetic senior civil servant in a modern government. He was political as much as required - to be able to keep working with people he disliked or disdained, or to help ensure he maintained enough authority to be able to carry out his responsibilities. But I don't think it's accurate to consider him either a professional, or even primarily, a politician.

Re: execution - public executions of the day were by no means limited to supporters of the "regime" carrying out the execution, nor would attendance be considered support for the "regime". Some would view an execution as an act of catharsis, or simple revenge. Others might witness them to take the measure of the ruling government - its rationality, determination etc. An important consideration in a time when there was not rule of law as we know it today.

It's worth pointing out that as a teen-ager SP witnessed the public execution of Charles I. He has literally seen "what goes around, comes around".

Ivan  •  Link

Did Pepys attend the executions of Colonels Hacker and Axtell or not? He writes that he was in the office in the morning but he does not say all morning. I presume he could have slipped out and returned, although he does not mention having done so. Roger Arbor and Dick Wilson comment that Samuel seems disappointed that they were reprieved for 24 hours and that was my take on it also.

One further point occurs to me. Only one annotator, Mary, takes up Pepys' ordering from his father black baize linings for his breeches but she is concerned mainly by the nature of the garment and thinks Pepys may have "an eye to the approaching colder, winter weather as much as to fashion." However, Pepys is quite specific that he wants the work done [on the 18th] by the following morning. I took this to mean that he would wear these breeches lined with funereal black on the morning of this day, October 19th 1660. I know this is speculative and I may be quite wrong.

meech  •  Link

I agree, Ivan. By saying that he was ordering them "against to-morrow morning" gave me the impression that he was ordering them to wear to the executions.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"I imagine Pepys and other Londoners are going to watch the executions in the same way that I and other Londoners went to watch David Blaine, i.e. for the free spectacle."

Just to make this Diary entry crystal clear, Pepys had seen one execution -- and I'm not convinced he stayed for the whole thing -- and today he went to Newgate Prison to see another part of the ritual: the prisoners being tied to trundles and dragged to Tyburn (in this case) behind horses.

The spectacle was designed to allow as many people as possible to see their humiliation, as a way of discouraging such behavior in the future.

We know humiliation alone didn't work as, by the 18th century as Vincent reported above, the list of capital offenses was ridiculously long, and crime was still rife. The alternative -- widespread paid employment, a safety net for the unemployed and child welfare, etc. -- was more than the tax base could support and would take 3 more centuries to implement. (Fellow regicide Solicitor-Gen. John Cooke called it correctly.… )

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