Thursday 14 February 1660/61

(Valentine’s day). Up early and to Sir W. Batten’s, but would not go in till I asked whether they that opened the door was a man or a woman, and Mingo, who was there, answered a woman, which, with his tone, made me laugh.

So up I went and took Mrs. Martha for my Valentine (which I do only for complacency), and Sir W. Batten he go in the same manner to my wife, and so we were very merry.

About 10 o’clock we, with a great deal of company, went down by our barge to Deptford, and there only went to see how forward Mr. Pett’s yacht is; and so all into the barge again, and so to Woolwich, on board the Rose-bush, Captain Brown’s ship, that is brother-in-law to Sir W. Batten, where we had a very fine dinner, dressed on shore, and great mirth and all things successfull; the first time I ever carried my wife a-ship-board, as also my boy Wayneman, who hath all this day been called young Pepys, as Sir W. Pen’s boy young Pen.

So home by barge again; good weather, but pretty cold. I to my study, and began to make up my accounts for my Lord, which I intend to end tomorrow.

To bed.

The talk of the town now is, who the King is like to have for his Queen: and whether Lent shall be kept with the strictness of the King’s proclamation;1 which it is thought cannot be, because of the poor, who cannot buy fish. And also the great preparation for the King’s crowning is now much thought upon and talked of.

72 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

Perhaps Sam was biding his time to make a politic choice:

"up I went and took Mrs. Martha for my Valentine (which I do only for complacency)"

"complacency, complaisance": "civility, wish to fall in with the wishes of others"
---L&M Companion, Large Glossary

vincent  •  Link

Mingo,see Wm Battens will.

vincent  •  Link

very interesting statement "...which it is thought cannot be, because of the poor, who cannot buy fish..." not even the left overs from Billingsgate fish market?

frustrated  •  Link

what is it about sam pepys that he can take something as simple as this valentines custom and make in completely obscure? and this guy is considered a great writer?

daniel  •  Link

"..which it is thought cannot be, because of the poor.."

forgive my ignorance but my impression of seventeenth century diet(at least in Holland, of whose history i am more familiar with)was that fish was The mainstay of the poor- they not being able to afford meat very often. i suppose the poor mostly just got by on anything, fish nor fowl.

Pauline  •  Link

"...because of the poor, who cannot buy fish."
Sounds like a pretty normal "established class" discussion: looking for a principled reason to not do what they don't want to do; citing the poor often works. Also, better terms for the debate than the religious issues that are lying under the surface.

vincent  •  Link

at least he did not quote "Ma... An..."

Birdie  •  Link

frustrated, re: "what is it about sam pepys….." Normally, I have no problem making sense of Sam's diary. This is surprising considering it was written nearly 350 years ago. I find it more difficult to decipher some of the annotations, especially the "lingua Vincent" that frequently pops up here.

PHE  •  Link

The price of fish
Sam's comment indicates fish was expensive compared to meat, and confirms that Britain's paradox of being an island on which seafood is not a key part of its diet, has existed for centuries. While most maritime countries have abundant and affordable quality seafood, we generally restrict ourselves to cheap n greasy fish n chips (or perhaps the posher fried scampi) - 'battered fish' being an appropriate description. Where quality fresh seafood is avaialable, it's overpriced.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

[Re footnote]: " appointed by the law ..."

I think it speaks volumes about those who framed these laws that a day on which one could not eat meat would have been so described. (Oh damn, we can't eat meat today, we'll have to make do with fish.) I wonder how heavily these nice distinctions weighed upon the consciences of (say) the link boys, whom Sam so often hires. I suspect that they didn't see meat, fish or poultry from one week to the next.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

Vincent: "Ma... An..."

All right, I'll bite - Sanskrit?

Lawrence  •  Link

Mingo you naughty boy teasing Sam with your soft Lady voice, though I did find myself laughing with Sam on this occasion, and I'm glad that Mingo feels that he can share a giggle with the likes of Sam and the others that live at the Navy offices; Do we know where the Battens got him from and if like other servants if he was paid anything?

mary  •  Link

Valentine's Day customs.

We had quite a discussion of this subject last year. Basically, there were two ways of 'choosing' a Valentine at this period; either by the drawing of lots amongst an established party of men and women/boys and girls, or by pure chance .... your Valentine being the first person of the opposite sex that you met on the morning of St. Valentine's Day. This latter custom would seem to be the reason for Sam's wanting to know whether it is a man or a woman opening the Batten's door.

In this case it would seem that Mingo 'doesn't count'in the party, though he's getting a bit of fun for himself where he can.

I can find no reference anywhere to Mingo's origins; does anyone else share my feeling that he is probably not English?

Ruben  •  Link

you should look in "Background information" for "Batten, Sir William", etc.

Bullus Hutton  •  Link

.. the poor, who cannot buy fish".. I think the point is being missed here: the demands of religious protocol are colliding with normal patterns of protein consumption. Suddenly fish is a sought-after commodity, the price of a normally cheap form of nutrition rockets through the roof, a poor guy with smarts would stock up on beef.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

Ruben (and Vincent): Thanks for the reminder of the Oct.14 link. (I missed it at the time.) Having read it carefully I am even more sceptical than I was about Wheatley's rather blithe (to me) assertion that black = brunette. Is Wheatley supported by any other sources?

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

"frustrated": Sam was both a diarist, and one who played a great part in the development of the Navy, but I have never heard him described as a great writer. His writing is what I would expect of an intelligent and educated man of the mid-seventeenth century.

So far as the Valentines customs are concerned, I admit that I too am a bit at sea, but Sam was not writing with a view to enlightening 21st. century readers.

He seems to have had a good time, as do the rest of the party. (And he did not feel compelled to go out and spend good money on a card pre-printed with vacuous drivel.)

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: lingua Vincent

Birdie, I think you'll find that, just as people typically need about 10 minutes or so at a performance to "settle in" to the language of a Shakespearian play before comprehension flows effortlessly, lingua Vincent requires a bit of accommodation. But I think you'll find it's worth it. I have.

As for Sam's merits as a writer, I don't find this entry obscure at all, but rather funny and charming. FWIW, I think he's a brilliant writer, especially given the historical context of his writing. More FWIW defense at:…

The Bishop  •  Link

If it's all right to glance ahead, it's worth noticing what Pepys will say about this Mingo on March 27:

"At last we made Mingo, Sir W. Batten's black, and Jack, Sir W. Pen's, dance, and it was strange how the first did dance with a great deal of seeming skill."

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Mingo"I've tried to look at the origin of the word "Mingo" thinking also of Charles Mingus,Jazz artist;I thougt it could be derived from some West African language; it turns out that there is an Amerindian language named Mingo;now I am thinking it might just be a nickname for Domingo; can anyone help?

Laura K  •  Link

sam's writing

"Sam was both a diarist ... but I have never heard him described as a great writer."

He is frequently described as such on this website. I don't happen to agree (just my personal opinion), but I do think some of the obtuseness that frustrates "Frustrated" arises from the nature of a diary.

Sam was not writing for an audience. He was writing for himself, and thus doesn't need to fill in detail, especially those that are so obvious to him.

Lawrence  •  Link

Ref: Vincent's "Ma...An..." I think he's having Mingo say Man instead of Woman but with a caribbean accent.

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

All day all night Mary Anne...

I thought Vincent was having a bit of anachronistic fun, i.e. that "Ma...An..." was a hint to think in terms such as "If they can't buy fish, let them eat cake."
(My wife's ancestre was a page at Versailles.)

The Bishop  •  Link

Mingo was indeed a nickname for Domingo. There's an old song (partly quoted in one of Shakespeare's plays) called Monsieur Mingo which concludes "Sir Bacchus do me right/ and dub me Knight/ Domingo".

Whether that's the origin of the Mingo mentioned in this entry, I don't know. Santo Domingo (St. Dominic) was very big in Spain, and they applied his name to a lot of things.

Ruben  •  Link

Mingo in Spanish is not exactly a nickname but an Aferesis, meaning the first sillabe of the word Domingo was eliminated. This word Mingo has a lot of uses in Spanish, like a game children play, a penis, the person everyone loves to pest and more. Domingo is a respectable name in Spanish, something you cannot say about Mingo. Most of the slaves of this name were from the West African coast.

vincent  •  Link

excusio 'ma.... an...' Marie Antoinette and her gracious generosity , "let them eat cake" 'tis from 1066 and all that.

vincent  •  Link

Domingo, Spanish for Sunday, Dominijo means power authority; nearest misuse in latin Dominus-Lord, master,owner yet the saxon propensity to mangle or reduce a word to one syllable we end up with Mingo, along with lingua Vincenzo [vicente].

language hat  •  Link

Nothing to do with Mingo; Mingus himself claimed not only that the name was African but that his grandfather was an African chieftain (he was actually a North Carolina farmhand -- Mingus was a great musician and a great liar), but it's far more likely to be the Scottish name Menzies, pronounced mingis:…

(Of course, outside of Scotland people tend to pronounce the z -- which wasn't a z originally at all, but a yogh -- so if you wanted to keep the pronunciation, you had to change the spelling.)

Bradford  •  Link

re "black":
It is well-documented as a substantive ("Negro," citing this very passage about Mingo),
and also as an adjective, "brunette, dark in hair or complexion."
---Again that Large Glossary, from whence these definitions, in the L&M Companion (Vol. X, and worth its weight, which is hefty even in paperback).

Bradford  •  Link

It turns out that the "Glossary" on this site (see the right-hand list by each day's entry) has "black" already---always useful to check first (or add to when one can).

I for one would be glad to know the half of what Our Vincent does; or, failing that, half of what he has forgotten.

Ellen  •  Link

I would like to be able to understand vincent's writing as well as I think I do Sam's.

vincent  •  Link

done 3 score and ten now counting pebbles on the beach.

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

I think it is quite a feat to write as Sam does: extremely economic and at the same time giving a lot of information. To my idea there is often much humour and insight in the Condition Humaine. Of course part of it is a riddle for us, 20th century born moderners but most of the riddles are solved by the contributors to these annotations.
I know for instance 17th century Dutch writers are much denser and Dutch spelling has changed so much more than the English one, as well as the language itself. So "our" Sam is rather comprehensable, I think.

Nix  •  Link

Mingo --

Since he is an African slave, I wonder if the name is a corruption of "mandingo" (an earlier transliteration) or "mandinka", a west African tribal/language group.…

That strikes me as more plausible than either Spanish or Scottish origin.

Pauline  •  Link

Mingo -
I wonder if his mom just named him Mingo after his greatgrandfather and when he arrived in England if his “friends” weren’t quite pleased that he had a name they could pronounce?

vincent  •  Link

Monikers were always issued to the less fortunate by our betters, some stayed a life time,based on original name, place[under which gooseberry bush one was found],job or physical characteristics , all of which have become PUC. No longer chalky, dusty,Limey[cor luv er ducks].So Our erst while future light keeper would a have been stuck with the first name that came to mind by his capters or employers .

Carolina  •  Link

Rose:By any other name would smell just as sweet ?

The story I have been told about names, here in Holland, is this:
Apparently, under Napoleon's rule,( early 1800's ?) everyone had to have a name and surname. People did comply, but some names were obviously given just for the hell of it.
In England, a lot of names are indicators of occupation, like Smith or Cooper and would probably have been in existence long before Sam's time. Here in Holland place names seem to have been the favourite, hence a lot of Van (from) Leiden, Amersfoort....

In England, place names seem to have been used for those, favoured by the King, like the Earl of Sandwich and my Lord Buckingham.

So, to continue this train of thought ... were commoners named after professions and the "gentry" named after places, in the glory days of the Restoration ?

Ruben  •  Link

There is no "Dominijo" word in Spanish. May be Vincent ment "dominio", but this is another story.
To understand why this Mingo name came from Spanish consider this:
The English and the Dutch had their merchant vessels in a 3 leg voyage: from Europe to West Africa. There they bought black natives from Arab merchants. The second leg took them to America were they sold this poor people to the Spanish, French, Portuguese or English colonizers to work in the plantations.
From there with sugar, etc., back to Europe. Small boys had a low value for the plantation, so they took them to Europe and sold them as pets. So, I presume, was Mingo's story.
About Mandinga, in Latin America everyone knows this is the name of an African tribe, but they use the word in first place as a synonym of Devil.

tc  •  Link

...went down by our barge to Deptford...

Blimey! And here's our Sam leading a boating party, first to check on the construction progress of a yacht, and then to a dinner on a fine ship where Sam gets to show off his new importance a little before the missus (...the first time I ever carried my wife a-ship-board...")

You can bet they treated Sam and his party very well aboard the good ship Rosebush. Sam's favor could mean plum assignments.

And then home again by "our" barge. A fine way to spend a Thursday, I'm thinking. Now, exactly whose barge is this, when he writes "our" barge? The office's? Lord Sandwich's? Or just some barge-for-hire?

vincent  •  Link

Ruben: "Dominijo" "dominio” you are so correct; I meant to bracket the I, being saxonated, I say “j” as ‘je’ not ‘hey’ si as a saxon domin hoe as I do like my sherry {jerez}. The gentlemen concerned, could have been up picked up by any of the excursions in to La Mere. The Olde Tar getting favours from any one of ships captains or his own pick after removing of useful bodies found on the Corsairs ships that were removed from the enemies service.

vincent  •  Link

Re: barge I sure it is the admiralty/ Admirals or yet again, could be even the CII's. When one requisitions, 'tis ours 'til we turn it in for credit. Most likely he signed the chit for the official day out [duck hunting etc.]

Grahamt  •  Link

Poorer People in Britain were also named after places:
But usually only small ones. After all there were probably too many Jacks from London to be called Jack London ;-) A stranger in a big town might be called after his birth place, for instance, Abraham (of) Lincoln, to distinguish him from other Abrahams. I can also think of John Julius Norwich, (Norfolk) Bill Clinton(Buckinghamshire) and George Washington. (County Durham)
More people worked than travelled, so profession (Thatcher, Fletcher, Wright, Smith, Miller, etc.) was an easier way of identifying people, or as sons of their fathers: Wilson, Nelson, Johnson, Jackson, etc.

dirk  •  Link

names (Carolina)

Holland is a special case with respect to names. As your say, they made a mockery of the Napoleonic obligation to make names official - as an act of resistance to the occupation, but also because they didn't expect this "absurd" idea to be anything more than a temporary flimsy. As far as I'm aware no other country in Europe did this. And of course after Napoleon the system remained in force, and other European countries never occupied by the French adopted a similar system...

This is why you find so many "weird" family names in Holland - a woman minister called Borst (=breast), a well known professor Naaktgeboren (= born naked) etc.

Everywhere else in Europe family names tend to specify a distinguishing characteristic of the person who first had the name registered - often a profession, a physical peculiarity, or a place indication (not necessarily a village or town, often items as a water well etc.)

Mickey  •  Link

When I read of Mingo's answer, "a woman," I thought of a deep, mannish voice. Think of the scene in "Life of Brian" at the stoning: "Are there any women here?" "NO, NO (cough, ahem, again much higher) no, no!"

vincent  •  Link

from Ruben [sp Aferesis ] APHERESIS:thank you , one always lives and learns: 'lone [alone] "dropping the first syllable or swollowing my spud[plum for the plummy ones.]

Ruben  •  Link

Spanish: Aferesis
English: Apheresis
and still the same classic Latin.
My first language is Spanish and some times I slip in the intricacies of English grammar.

Glyn  •  Link

Is his Valentine, Martha Batten, the "pretty lady" he was kissing in a tavern on February 4th - when he met her for the first time?

Glyn  •  Link

Oh, her sister-in-law.

Willmarth  •  Link

Calling the slaves after their masters reminds me of the movie Gosford Park, in which the servants were called after their masters below stairs. A way of saying these people are so unimportant that nobody needs to try to remember their names.

Nigel Pond  •  Link

To Wilmarth: and the very reason why Malcolm X dropped his original surname...

Walter Rucker  •  Link

Mingo is actually an African-derived name from the Wolof of Senegambia. References to this name, in a purely African context, date back to the fifteenth century and can be found throughout the American regions in which Wolofs were sent. The most famous "Mingo" historically was Mingo Harth who was a leader in the aborted Denmark Vesey slave conspiracy (Charleston, SC, 1822). This name also appears among the Hausa and the Mandika. In other words, please scrap the claim that it is nickname for "Domingo."

Jan  •  Link

Although it's long after this discussion (I'm catching up slowly) I would like to add that "Mingo" is also an Indian tribe, one of the Iroquois nations, native to the eastern US and Canada. I wonder if this Mingo could have been native American?

Second Reading

Edith Lank  •  Link

I believe that, having maneuvered so that the right person was the one you saw first on Valentine's Day, you were then obligated to buy a gift for your Valentine. Will that happen?

Edith Lank  •  Link

As for Sam writing as any intelligent educated man of that era would -- one has only to read John Evelyn, a competent diarist, to appreciate Sam's remarkable gift not only with words, but with life itself.

Martin  •  Link

A bit late to post a correction to Grahamt's comment of ten years ago, but John Julius Norwich is so called because he's the second Viscount Norwich; his real surname is Cooper.

Eric Rowe  •  Link

I tried to put this in the encyclopedia, but can't find an entry, although I know it has been discussed before.
Listening to French radio (France Culture) yesterday as they revued a French edition of Tomalins book and was struck by their pronounciation of Sam's name and wondered if it was perhaps closer to the way Pepys was pronounced in his time:
Two syllables - pip-psie is the nearest I can get, this being the way french treats the letter y (as yee).

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

I miss the "salty" Vincent. Has anyone been in contact with him? He would be about 80 now.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Eric Rowe, concerning the way SP pronounced his last name:

The accepted spelling of the name ‘Pepys’ was adopted generally about the end of the seventeenth century, though it occurs many years before that time. There have been numerous ways of pronouncing the name, as ‘Peps,’ ‘Peeps,’ and ‘Peppis.’ The Diarist undoubtedly pronounced it ‘Peeps,’ and the lineal descendants of his sister Paulina, the family of ‘Pepys Cockerell’ pronounce it so to this day.

1893 Introduction (Henry B. Wheatley); Particulars of the life of Samuel Pepys…

Eric Rowe  •  Link

Thanks, Terry, cleared that one up.
Amazing how little Pepys is known in France, in spite of the French connection.

Bill  •  Link

Perhaps it's cleared up. Terry's quote above is from one Walter C. Pepys. The 1893 notes themselves say this:

The most probable explanation is that the name in the seventeenth century was either pronounced ‘Pips’ or ‘Papes’;

Bill  •  Link

Hmm. The transcription to digital used for the 1893 Wheatley introduction did not capture the vowel markings. The original 1893 text actually says:

The most probable explanation is that the name in the seventeenth century was either pronounced Pěps or Pāpes;

[there are no single quote marks in the original.]…

Bill  •  Link

Of course they do, everybody does in the 21st century. Benjamin Wheatley, in the 19th century, had a different opinion about how the name was pronounced in the 17th century. And he had some evidence.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Glyn: "Is his Valentine, Martha Batten, the "pretty lady" he was kissing in a tavern on February 4th - when he met her for the first time?"

Feb. 4: "I took pleasure to take the forfeits of the ladies who would not do their duty by kissing of them; among others a pretty lady, who I found afterwards to be wife to Sir W. Batten’s son."…

So, no Glyn. His Valentine, Martha Batten, is Batten's unmarried daughter, already ca. 24, Pepys had her as his Valentine again next year "and again" note L&M, "with a marked lack of enthusiasm. On 2 March 1662 he had to be 'jogged' by Penn before he offered to lead Martha out of church." Apparently "pretty" she was not, though his daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Batten was.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"so to Woolwich, on board the Rose-bush, Captain Brown’s ship"

About to sail for Jamaica. (Per L&M note)

John Pennington  •  Link

L&M find Sam's Valentine's misfortunes amusing enough to remark on it to little purpose. Rare superfluous commentary. But it is amusing I suppose.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The misling weather must be over for now. Perhaps the snowdrops are out. Bundle up, Ladies and Gents., as it can be blowey on the Thames.

LKvM  •  Link

Carolina: or van Marjenhof.

Christopher Hudson  •  Link

Just to say how delightful - and informative - it is to read those exchanges with Vincent 20 years ago, and all the other old annotations. Glad they are being shown again during the new cycle.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Eat fish! Will it work? Well, as this proclamation appears, so does a usefull compilation of the six others that Englishmen have seen swim across their plates since 1537, including two within just three years from poor Edward VI - read them at…, and ponder the meaning in terms of strict observance of The Law.

The present one is the longest by far and can be read in the full glory of its 12 paragraphs at…. First, it came out on January 12, so it took a month (admittedly a busy one) to make enough buzz for Sam to mention it. Then, if one thought it's about religion, eat flesh = go to the sulphur lakes of Hell, &c, §1 explains instead that those fish-days are "for the maintenance of the Navy and Shipping of this Realm" and "the encouragement of Fishermen" - an important bunch, economically and as accessories to the Navy (and, if not taken good care of, of pyrates, smugglers, the French, &c.) The apparent multitude of flesh-eaters-on-Lent so being "so great an Enemy to the Plenty of this Our Kingdome".

Future Ages will perhaps resurrect that Proclamation (if it ever should lapse), as they deal with the grievous effects of overindulgence in meat for one's health, the ravages inflicted on Nature by the soy industry, the many bounties (and dwindling stocks) of Fish-flesh, synthetic meat, &c.; but we stray.

Now, how to enforce? The proclamation reaches for the easiest targets, "Inholders, Keepers of Ordinary Tables, Cooks, Butchers, Victuallers, Alehouse-keepers, and Taverners", who are not to get involved in Flesh-on-Lent, and so guarantee by depositing with a Justice of the Peace "two sufficient Sureties of every of them (viz.) the Principal in Forty pounds, and their Sureties in Twenty pounds apiece", plus another £20 every year. Those are no trifling amounts for even a successful innkeeper, but those refusing to lay the deposits are "not to Victual, or sell Beer or Ale from henceforth", then go to prison, for an unspecified amount of time.

Stern indeed, and the proclamation says nothing of what would await the lawbreakers/flesh-eaters. On this point, we find a dispatch from London in the French Gazette, dated February 17, which mentions "a fine, for the first offence, & corporeal punishment, for the second" (the Gazette is also under the impression that it's all "for the encouragement of Fishermen & Merchants who traffick in Fish", the only motive cited in that Catholic mouthpiece). And it's easy to cross the line, because not only is meat not to be sold or eaten, but the Proclamation says it should not even be "uttered" on the dreaded Fish-Days.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

The law's heavy emphasis on inns, butchers &c. could also give one the impression that the private man is, in the sanctity of his castle, free to gorge on rumpsteaks as long as prepared by his Wife - not his "Cook", though we doubt if the hundreds of private Cooks, such as Sam's own, are to come up with that £60 deposit. But nay, the law applies to "all Our subjects, of what degree or quality soever within this Realm". Well, Sam is a Justice of the Peace, so he can police his own home.

But dry your tears, rich and mighty members of the Upper Crust, for there's a cop-out for ye in this case also, provision for "a special Licence first obtained from the Bishop of the Diocess". And indeed, we are pleased to find in the State Papers, on February 11, a "License from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Sec. Nicholas, Anne his wife, and ten persons to be chosen by him to eat meat at his table during Lent, provided he pays 13s. 4d. to the poor chest in his parish". We phant'sy a merry banquet, in which the Archibshop himself cracks the wishbone with a big grin on his face.

Indulgences, anyone? Cheap enough, here; the king's secretary may even struggle to provide exact change on less than a full pound; and we'd love to see the calculation that determin'd those stupendously generous alms.

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