Saturday 19 January 1660/61

To the Comptroller’s, and with him by coach to White Hall; in our way meeting Venner and Pritchard upon a sledge, who with two more Fifth Monarchy men were hanged to-day, and the two first drawn and quartered. Where we walked up and down, and at last found Sir G. Carteret, whom I had not seen a great while, and did discourse with him about our assisting the Commissioners in paying off the Fleet, which we think to decline. Here the Treasurer did tell me that he did suspect Thos. Hater to be an informer of them in this work, which we do take to be a diminution of us, which do trouble me, and I do intend to find out the truth.

Hence to my Lady, who told me how Mr. Hetley is dead of the small-pox going to Portsmouth with my Lord. My Lady went forth to dinner to her father’s, and so I went to the Leg in King Street and had a rabbit for myself and my Will, and after dinner I sent him home and myself went to the Theatre, where I saw “The Lost Lady,” which do not please me much. Here I was troubled to be seen by four of our office clerks, which sat in the half-crown box and I in the 1s. 6d.

From thence by link, and bought two mouse traps of Thomas Pepys, the Turner, and so went and drank a cup of ale with him, and so home and wrote by post to Portsmouth to my Lord and so to bed.

49 Annotations

First Reading

Emilio  •  Link

Venner and Pritchard

L&M clarify: "Thomas Venner and Roger Hodgkin were the only two hanged, drawn and quartered. The other two referred to were William Oxman and Giles Pritchard, hanged and beheaded in Wood St. Nine others met the same fate on the 21st. Pepys kept a drawing of one of the sledges used on such occasions."

Emilio  •  Link

we think to decline

And why Sam and co. aren't involved in these particular payings-off: "The parliamentary commissioners (provided since 29 December 1660 with additional funds by 12 Car. II c. 27) had held their first meeting (as the statute required) on 12 January. Local commissioners had been appointed to assist them to pay off 65 ships. The Navy Board (normally in charge of pay) was required by the act to supply information, but not to assist in the paying-off." (L&M)

A lot of men are losing their positions with these events, so it makes sense that Sam prefers to be uninvolved. At the same time, one doesn't want to be ignored completely . . .

Emilio  •  Link

at the Theatre

The Lost Lady - "A tragicomedy by Sir William Berkeley, acted and published in 1638; now at the Theatre Royal, Vere St." (L&M)

Berkeley had a new world connection: "Sir William Berkeley (1605-1677) held office longer than any other governor of Virginia, colonial or modern. He was born in 1605 to Sir Maurice and Elizabeth Killigrew Berkeley, both of whom held stock in the Virginia Company of London. Educated at St. Edmund Hall and Merton College in Oxford, he subsequently studied law at the Middle Temple in London before he toured Europe. In 1632, he gained a place in the household of Charles I. That position gave him entré into a court literary circle know as “The Wits” and led to social ties that stood him well for the remainder of his days. He wrote several plays, one of which—The Lost Lady, A Tragi-Comedy—was performed for Charles I and Henrietta Maria.”…

And about the seating:

“Above the pit there were usually three tiers of seats: the boxes, where a seat cost 4s., the middle gallery, and the top gallery. Pepys was in the middle gallery; the clerks probably in a special box on the same tier.” (also L&M)

vincent  •  Link

I'm sure there are patrons who remember a bob for the Gods and 5/- for the stalls.

vincent  •  Link

Oh! that darned cat[must be more interested in the dovecote]. Now for the two mouse traps.

J Bailey  •  Link

Is SP troubled at being seen at the play by the clerks because of the price of the clerk's seats? Or does he not want to be seen not working? Or is it the play itself not appropriate?

Any illumination?

oliverm  •  Link

"Here I was troubled to be seen by four of our clerks..."

The clerks had paid half a crown (2 shillings and six pence) for their seats, while Pepys had paid only 1 shilling and six pence for his. I think that status-conscious Pepys was embarassed that he, rising man in the world, should be seen by not just one but four (!) of his employees in the "lesser status" cheap seats and they in the more expensive section. This kind of social inversion would make for interesting gossip and behind-the-back snickers at the office, I'm sure.

PHE  •  Link

We are used to Sam's matter-of-fact reference to public executions, but it seems surprising that he never makes any comment on whether it is harsh or barbaric, but just seems to take it all for granted. There was surely some social debate (even then) on whether such exections were reasonable in general, or in the eyes of God. Given Sam's thoughtful character, I would have thought he had some view on it or some conscience about it. We see in his own life that he oftens feels some remorse after passing out physical punishment to his servants.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

... a bob for the Gods.

Yes, I for one certainly remember that. Status-conscious Sam must have been mortified. I don't know if the clerks are mentioned again but it wouldn't surprise me if they noticed a reduction in their next salary payment. 'If you can afford that... '

J A Gioia  •  Link

...and I in the 1s. 6d.

from this it is easy to infer how much sam loves the theater. he goes so often (better two plays for half a crown than one) he is content in the cheap seats, at least until someone sees him slumming.

and i might add parenthetically how natural it seems to write about our man in the present tense.

Pedro.  •  Link


Sam's attitude to executions does seem rather cold. We know that he was present at the execution of Charles I and commented "The memory of the wicked shall rot." And the at the execution of Thomas Harrison he said "Thus it was my chance to see the king beheaded at Whitehall and to see the first blood shed in revenge for the blood of the King at Charing Cross."
At the time of the execution of Charles I Sam was stronly Republican, along with Montagu and Monck, and now he is a Royalist. We have also seen that when he was reminded of his comments about Charles I by someone from his old school, he became decidedly nervous! After changing sides he cannot aford to show or write his emotions.
The poem "The Vicar of Bray" sums up our Sam;

"And this is law, I will maintain
Unto my Dying Day, Sir.
That whatsoever King may reign,
I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!"

Full poem on…

Pedro.  •  Link

"Vicar of Bray" Sorry. It is not a poem but a song from the comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan.

Glyn  •  Link

Pedro: I don't think that he was unfeeling in his reactions to executions. If you look at his entry for 20 October, 3 months ago, you will see that he could be quite upset by them.

I don't think it's a spoiler to say that in roughly 30 years time, he will take early retirement rather than adapt to a new regime.

dirk  •  Link

Sam's feelings

Executions etc. Let's be careful not to impose our modern feelings on Sam!

**I know by now that this is a sensitive issue on the Pepys blog, but I can't help it.**

The 17th c was a "cruel" time. Sam's perception as to what was cruel, and when "cruelty" was acceptable or justified would be radically different from ours, possibly unacceptable to the modern western civilized mind.

He's no less human for that - merely a child of his time.

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

Vicar of Bray

A song first published in The British Musical Miscellany or the Delightful Grove, I. Walsh Musick Printer and Instrument Maker to his Majesty at the Harp & Hoboy, [1734-1737]. It traces the tenure of the vicar through five sovereigns, from the 1660s to George I, and many theological and liturgical changes.

The song was a source for the 1882 Savoy Opera of the same name, by Sydney Grundy and Edward Solomon.

Eric Walla  •  Link

On seeing and being seen at the play ...

... I would highly doubt that the clerks will find a decrease in their wages since this episode doesn't appear to be a reflection on them as much as a reflection on himself. What I WOULD look for is a change in seating for Sam. The question becomes: will he insert himself in the half-crown box, or aim for something more expensive?

Maurie Beck  •  Link


Considering the fifth Monarchy Men where expecting the imminence of the second coming, dispatching them to heaven a little early seems appropriate.

PHE  •  Link

A cruel time?
I disagree with the assumption that times were so different then and that Sam was a "child of his time". One of the most remarkable aspects of Pepys is that he demonstrates through his portrayal of every day life how little human character changes over centuries. Change is not as dramatic as it may appear. Its the details that change not the overall scheme of things. For example, while we may be shocked by the grusomeness of public execution, we are quite capable of accepting equally gruseome actions - but in a form that our realignment of 'right and wrong' makes acceptable to our society. Look at how we justify the attrocities of modern warfare (affecting infinitely more civilians and innocents than in Pepys's day)- and read the details and view pictures and film of it. Pepys teaches us rather more about ourselves than language and history.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Executions" SP seems to get violent around the time he witness executions e.g.: when he did beat up his maid and now he almost kills the female monkey;also he mentioned sometime ago that someone had said that Charles II was so kind that he might pity the doomed regicides. So it seems to me that these gory executions did upset him.

Eric Walla  •  Link

Is "out of sight, out of mind" the same thing as a lessening of cruelty?

Public executions were still in force well into the 20th century. The only change seems to be that they gradually went for less messy ways of doing it. Less messy can certainly be equated with less graphic and less upsetting. Moving it behind walls so only the select few witness the act only depersonalizes it, it doesn't make it less cruel.

Thus I "vote" with those backing Pepys as every bit as human as today. Nowadays we (in the States) may mutter and shake our heads at the news of an execution; Pepys seems to do the same with the traditional mode of executions in his day.

Oh, and as a half-jesting aside, I would say my fellow Americans want public executions not to make a pro or con statement. They're just running out of new ideas for reality TV shows.

dirk  •  Link

"in a form that our realignment of "right and wrong" makes acceptable to our society”

PHE, what you’re saying is exactly what I said (in other words) above: our perception of what “cruelty” is permissible/acceptable depends on a constantly changing “realignment”, as you call it. That “realignment” is really the way our culture at any given moment tells us to judge these matters - and it has changed/evolved (very slowly) gradually over centuries of history. That’s precisely what is meant by “being a child of one’s time”!

SusanLynn  •  Link

Hi, my first post, although I've been "lurking" since the beginning.

Pepys finds out Mr. Hetley, a longtime acquaintance, has died today. He seems to be more upset that the clerks have seen him in an inappropriate theatre box than about Mr. Hetley's death. I think that when death is a much more common part of a young person's everyday life than it is nowadays, people in Pepys' time must have developed different attitudes towards death in order to be able to "deal with it".

vincent  •  Link

Nowt said? about "a leak" in the Office [brown noseing I think was called {nicer name being a tattle tale or a whistle blower?}] "...Here the Treasurer did tell me that he did suspect Thos. Hater to be an informer of them in this work, which we do take to be a diminution of us, which do trouble me, and I do intend to find out the truth..." So wot's new? SP was informed because BN's were considered the lowest of the low, many modern versions with less than admirable results.

vincent  •  Link

Sam was not the vidictive kind unlike One CO I crossed. When at a fancy movie and had a posher seat than my CO. Mind your the time spent in the Persian Gulf proved interesting and more fun than hanging around Div.

Mary  •  Link

Public hanging

For the record, the last public hanging in England took place in 1868. Thereafter and until the abolition of the death penalty all executions took place behind prison walls.

Lyn Beliveau  •  Link

I have kept a diary for forty years and cannot go to bed without writing the events of the day, dull though they may be. I read Sam daily (love the annotations) and wonder how many of the other faithful readers are also diarists.

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

I do wonder whether the clerks paid half a crown for the box *between them* whereas Sam paid 1s 6d for his seat on his own. That would make economic sense, but still perhaps leave a lingering sense of social awkwardness on Sam's part.

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

What did upset Sam the most? We won't necessarily know, because he doesn't always write down his deepest feelings: sometimes he just records what he deems to be noteworthy. As another Sam (Johnson) sarcastically implied, the loudest noise may not be associated with the greatest emotion!

“If a man who turnips cries,
Cry not when his father dies,
'Tis a proof that he had rather,
Have a turnip than a father.”

joe fulm  •  Link

only yesterday SP said the drink was decaying his memory and he would start to cut back. Today he is supping ale.
'Lord help me get sober, but not today'. Seems too with the buying of mousetraps the recently acquired cat is being too well fed and not at its post, maybe it got its fill of the uncooked calf's head SP recently discarded, and couldn't be bothered.

Adam  •  Link

Justice is pretty swift in Pepys' time

Gerald Berg  •  Link

The tense in this entry is confusing me. When SP said he met Venner and Pritchard on a sledge I assumed they were alive. Yet SP adds that they along with two more were hung today. Does that mean they were all sledge dead? If they were D&Q'd that would make for one disgusting sight!
As for cruelty. Last week I read about an execution in Ohio that didn't work out as planned. Gasping and convulsing for 1/2 hour before the final expiation. Now we hide our gruesome, vengeful nature with well worn pieties on judicial justice. SP and cohorts skip the pretend. They were not embarrassed by their need for vengeance.

MarkS  •  Link

Sam met them when they were being taken to their execution.
The sentence for hanging, drawing and quartering would normally say something like, "...laid on a hurdle and so drawn to the place of execution...". This hurdle is what Sam calls a sledge, a wooden or wattle framework dragged behind a horse.

Dick Wilson  •  Link

Lyn Believeau raises a question: How many of us keep diaries? Watch out. Here is another word that separates British and American English. What an American Businessman would call an "Appointments Calendar", a British Businessman calls "A Diary". When one uses the word "Diary", the other may misunderstand. It is common office practice on both sides of the pond to keep a schedule of upcoming appointments, work that should be done today, deadlines etc., and at days end, to annotate them to record actions completed or which scheduled tasks were not completed. Filed away, they thus become a record of both expected events and completed events. SP's form of Diary is a whole lot more fun. In the future, will people using electronic "organizers" or "day planners" use them to keep records of who did what, when, where and how? Will the technology to read their files survive?

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Executions -- these Fifth Monarchists were terrorists. They had killed people and held the capital hostage for 4 days. They were traitors who advocated the overthrow of the monarchy.

The execution of terrorists/traitors was done with maximum cruelty throughout Europe in those days. Louis XIV treated people with bad intent far worse.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

“and did discourse with him about our assisting the Commissioners in paying off the Fleet, which we think to decline.”
The "Commissioners" in this case were Members of Parliament assembled for the sole purpose of paying off the Army and Navy.

As I recall this Commission included William Prynne MP…
Col. John Birch MP…
and the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Richard Browne MP…
All had experience in dealing with the sailors and paperwork.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I was wrong again:
Yesterday Pepys chose to ride post haste to London in the rain, rather than ride more slowly in a coach with Lady Sandwich and Laud and the ladies.
He must have satisfied her that the alarm and danger from the Fifth Monarchists was truly over.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Mr. Hetley is dead of the smallpox going to Portsmouth with my Lord."

Oh dear -- Sandwich and his immediate staff have been exposed to someone with smallpox. Princess Henrietta Anne/Minette had some form of a pox which forced them back to port, Let's hope My Lord doesn't catch anything. Epidemics used to run rampant through the crews of sailing ships.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... I went to the Leg in King Street and had a rabbit for myself and my Will, ..."

“So, Will, what happened while I was away? Did the Frenchman kiss Elizabeth again?”

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The General Letter Office was located in Clock Lane, Dowgate until 1666.

This is Saturday night -- the regular mail was dispatched and received from all over the country on alternate days, Monday through Saturday, but not on Sunday.
Maybe Sandwich or the Navy had a private messenger organized for tomorrow?

For the postal situation in 1660-1661 see…

Eric the Bish  •  Link


My beloved and learned fellow readers.

I enjoy reading your interesting annotations: they help my understanding and increase the pleasure of reading this fascinating document. But a heartfelt plea to a very few within our diverse and. eclectic community: no more spoilers please. None. Zero. Nada. Also, writing a spoiler but adding “[SPOILER]” doesn’t make it ok: it merely adds to the spoil.

So please, pretty please with sugar on top, NO MORE SPOILERS!

With my very best wishes to you all.

Eric the Bish.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... wrote by post to Portsmouth to my Lord ..."

This must have been a hard letter to write, diplomatically.
Dear My Lord:
All's Well That Ends Well ... on my return from handing out guns at Deptford against the Venner Uprising (which was already over), I learned your wife had lost her mind at the sight of the returning King and his guards and fled with Lady Jem and 8 members of your household, including the musician Wm. Child (whose horse went lame within the hour and returned to Whitehall), to Chatham.
Fortunately our friends Cuttance and Blake secured their lodgings, and I was able to catch up with them by dark.
We assured her the danger is over, and we are all now back in London, no harm done. John Goods had the money to settle the inn bills, and when we toured the Sovereign, Charles and Newcastle to My Lady's delight, I distributed 7l. appropriately.
I'll give my invoice for horse and guide rentals and the gratuities to Mr. Shepley.
We were sorry to hear about William Hetley, and hope you don't catch the pox.
Your devout friend and cousin, Samuel
P.S. Laud is too old to be a page. He rides well, and is bothering Mary.

Alter Kacker  •  Link

Eric, I sympathize with your complaint, but it will fall on deaf (or in some cases dead) ears — most of those spoilers were written during the first reading, 20 years ago!

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I appreciate your defense, Alter Kacker, but I think Eric is complaining at my mention of a fire and a war to come. It never occurred to me that these could be considered spoilers to our story as they are such well-known historical facts.
Explaining things will get easier as we are further into the Diary, and more examples will be in Pepys' known past to pull from.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Allow us to opine on whether living in such a violent century as this XVII has dulled the sensitivities of the People, and they just shrug at the cartloads of smoking bowels they pass on their way to the theater. We're not inside their heads, and inner feelings leave few fossils, but surely this gruesome justice is meant to horrify! It's not meant to be nice or routine, if it didn't sap the appetite (OK, not Sam's) and cause nightmares what would be the point? And so, watch in fascination and cheer on as they may, we phant'sy that the citizen do find it horrific.

Now, to business. We daily receive news on the sheer audacity of this Venner plot, of the sort which would send a shiver up any king's spine, and make him sign a few more HD&Q orders. In the State Papers today (19 Jan.), a "Geo. Bushfield", mercer in Paternoster Row, confesses hearing "George Tutchins" say that, since Venner did fail, the phanaticks "would rise the next moonshiny night, and bring up all their powder, 55 barrels, now at Deptford, to Whitehall". Nice touch, the werewolfy rising by moonshine; and, if not an idle boast, that would supply quite a boom, given estimates that Guy Fawkes' 36 barrels already amounted to one or two tons of explosive.

Also today, Sir John Maynard MP, a lawyer, writes to Lord Mordaunt (why him?) that, not only "so many persons were committed at the last sessions [of the bench in Croydon, Surrey] who will not take the Oath of Allegiance that they are puzzled what to do", but their chief, "Dr. Bradley", is allowed by the gaoler to vent his damnable doctrines among his proselytes". Surely future centuries will not suffer their jailhouses to be where inmates become, er, "radicalized"?

On the Fifth Monarchists' grand vision, the French Gazette (at…, pages 109-120) is about to reprint (on 4 Feb., new style) a "Letter of an Englishmen, to one of his friends", which provides a fascinating, blow-by-blow reportage of last week's events. It alleges, from a Fifth Monarchist "Manifest" - possibly an actual document - that the idea was, after felling "Babyllon, it is the name they give to the Monarchy", to "go to the other States, to make their triumph general; to this end, they will gather their Brothers, to detach them from all the Monarchists: & being disposed to die or vainquish (...) they will rise against all the Carnals, who, they say, only seek the possession of the World, & will put their Kings into irons". This in Louis XIV's propaganda journal, but we thought the idea of exporting the revolution being on the plotters' agenda to be worth mentioning.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

We also find, at…, (a) a portrait of Venner, with an amusing inset of a Quaker who chose to appear naked before the judge, and (b) notice of a re-enactment of Venner's rising. This, a rather modest affair that will have been held on location in January 2013, is further documented at…, with another, even more sinister portrait of Venner and some rather strange photographs. A film was made and screened at the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair 2014, which regrettably we missed. Did anyone go?

john  •  Link

I know not whether the public then thought as did the executioners then about cruelty. The latter considered it their faithful duty to carry out the deeds. (See the reference I previously gave:… .)

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