Wednesday 20 February 1660/61

All the morning at the office, dined at home and my brother Tom with me, who brought me a pair of fine slippers which he gave me. By and by comes little Luellin and friend to see me, and then my coz Stradwick, who was never here before. With them I drank a bottle of wine or two, and to the office again, and there staid about business late, and then all of us to Sir W. Pen’s, where we had, and my Lady Batten, Mrs. Martha, and my wife, and other company, a good supper, and sat playing at cards and talking till 12 at night, and so all to our lodgings.

45 Annotations

First Reading

Emilio  •  Link


The L&M version has "my he-Cozen Stradwick", by which he means 'my cousin Elizabeth's better half', I suppose. With all the new company, including little Luellins running around, Sam seems to be in a playful mood today.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"I drank a bottle of wine or two" nowadays it is the two martini lunch!he still go back to the office and then goes on socializing until midnight! Ah youth...

dirk  •  Link


Wonder if we'll see Sam mentioning his new slippers in days to come. Sam in slippers: quite a homely scene...

vincent  •  Link

Bottle or two of wine between 5 drinkers, nae, I would nae say it would faze them one wee dram, Remember it's Bl**** CacaC**d out side.

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Interesting that Sam's life isn't ruled by the clock in the same way as modern life, and that there doesn't seem to be quite as much distinction between work life and personal life as we have, though Sam is probably better off than many because of the nature of his work.

Joe  •  Link

Do we know how far away Sir W.Pen lived, that they had to spend the night in lodgings, rather than going home?

mary  •  Link

Sir William Penn's house

Was located in Walthamstow, then a country district well outside the city.

Glyn  •  Link

For non-Londoners, Walthamstow is about 8 miles (10 km) north-east of where they are, uphill. Its main claims to distinction nowadays are a very long street market, a museum about the artist William Morris, and that Winston Churchill was once its member of Parliament.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"wine between 5 drinkers" I thought little Luellin and friend were children! silly me

Susan  •  Link

Claire Tomalin says Pepys' height was around 5' (150cm), so for him to be calling someone "little" he must have been diminutive indeed. Charles I was only 4' 10", but Charles II was "above two yards high" accordingly to the descriptions of him circulated after his escape from the battlefield at Worcester in 1651.

vincent  •  Link

Little [tich] , I doth think, means that he [Lluelen]could be short of a few inches off the 6th foot mark or just an endearment.

Emilio  •  Link

Little Luellin

Good catch, Vincent. His page mentions that he dies unmarried, and he's not in a good position to support illegitimate children, so I suppose the 'little' is just an endearment.

Maybe now that he's risen so quickly Sam looks on Luellin almost like another younger brother, especially with Tom sitting there next to them both? Luellin is three years younger.

Pauline  •  Link

"...and so all to our lodgings."
Sir. W. Pen is a neighbor there in the Navy Board compound in Seething Lane. I read it as this evening party happening there at Seething Lane and everyone to their lodgings meaning their homes--many of the company living right there in the compound.

dirk  •  Link

"Pepys' height was around 5' (150cm)”

That would have been fairly average at the time - by no means a short person!

dirk  •  Link

Body height

The only comparative historical reference I could find on the web:…

The text is in Dutch, but the graph is interesting: it refers to Holland, but I think it's safe to extrapolate to the rest of Europe. The data are averages for males. Anything within a range of plus/minus 10-15 cm would still be "normal".

vincent  •  Link

height and weight = nourishment and not freezing in ones bed. For those who failed the decimal test: 1 inch = 2.56 cms approx 3 feet {36 in}[ 1 yd] = 91. 44 cms and for the 6 footer he tops 182.88cms. Have not worked out the important American measurements for waist et al., but the 5 footer =152.4 cms
P.S. I cheated, I googled it.

vincent  •  Link

Weekend retreats: Walthamstow was 8 miles [ as the crow flies] or a good hr and half to 2 hrs by coach at a cost of 5 bob a day; at the limit for daily commuting { I do beleive}. Flying coaches which came later could do 30 miles in 8 hrs.
All gleaned from Restoration London by Liza Picard. and Glyn.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Why should we think Luellin was anything but short?

Is there some English tradition I've never heard of that refers to associates as "little," meaning something OTHER THAN short?

mary  •  Link

There most certainly is, David.

This has been mentioned before; the somewhat patronising reference to someone useful to oneself, still used by the older generation in England.

"There's an excellent little dressmaker in the village."

"We have a very good little odd-job man."

Either character may be of considerable stature and size, but still described as 'little'.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

Luellin's stature

Luellin had a brother, but whether he was the elder or not I don't know. If so, and if Sam knew him, then could 'little Luellin' have been Sam's way of identifying the younger?

Lawrence  •  Link

I think here in England that when we say little in that context, we are using it as a term of endearment, as in a favorite/quaint, we like it!

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

Mrs Martha

Do we know why Sam refers to her as 'Mrs'? As I understand it she is the daughter of Sir William Batten and the step-daughter of Lady Batten, and at this time is still unmarried. I know the Battens had a daughter-in-law, but she was named Elizabeth. I have checked 'Background' and 'People', but am none the wiser.

mary  •  Link

The title 'Mrs.' in this context

is simply an address of respect for the daughter of an influential/well-to-do/well-connected/upper-class family.

Grahamt  •  Link

"Mrs" was just an abbreviation of mistress and applied to married or unmarried women, usually of a superior standing.
At the begining of the diary, Pepys always refers to Montague's young daughter as Mrs Jem. See:…

JWB  •  Link

Poor Tom and the gift of fine slippers...has a Bros. Grimm guality about it, especially if you know something about Tom's future.

carolina  •  Link

Peoples height or lack of:

You only need to look at old houses and their front door/ceilingheight, stairs etc. to notice how small people of earlier centuries were.
I am 5'2" (1.56cm) and find some of these old places quite claustrophobic.
We ( 2 adults) once lived in a cottage where the front door opened straight into the living room, which was 9'6" square, with a kitchen leading off, which was about 6' by 5' (sorry, don't know the metric sizes offhand), stairs leading off the living toom to a landing and 1 small bedroom. This cottage was built around 1800 and was part of a terrace of similar cottages, right next to the parish church and the cemetery. They may have been housing for poorer people or something like that, but they were obviously thought of as adequate and probably housed families.

Lawrence  •  Link

Mrs (Mistress) applied to married and unmarried women, but I think the other title in use at this time was Madam, I think this was used to address an older woman or perhaps a lady from France.

Grahamt  •  Link

Room size not necessarily related to people size:
Poorer people had smaller rooms and lower ceilings because a) it is all they could afford, and b) because they were cheaper to heat. Richer people had large airy rooms with 12' high ceilings because they could afford them, not because they were giants!
Smaller body size tends to be related to poverty and poor nutrition. The increase in average height in the last 100 years is because of better diet, not an intrinsic increase in height of the human race. Do we know if people were really that much shorter before the industrial revolution consigned most of the lower classes to a life of industrialised poverty and crowded living?

Carolina  •  Link

Grahamt: You are quite correct of course in your post that it was cost rather than stature which determined the size of the house ! Would they have built houses in which they had to bend down all the time though?

I suppose one way of telling people's height in those days is by tailor's or undertaker's records. Clothing which has survived might give us a clue, but only if we knew who it belonged to.

vincent  •  Link

Height: In the village of Much Hadham Herts., there it is rumoured that Jack the giant did live and get buried and the grave is 7ft. long or there abouts. Un-fortunately most of the poor did not have a variety of foods and warm clothing and warm housing. For those that suffered the indignities of the WWII rationing of heating, clothing and food. Where one was down to 4 ozs. of meat 2 eggs etc., may commiserate with the the man of the street in previous centuries.['tis why one like to work and live in the big house]

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Height"Go to the Catacombs in Paris,one will find thousands of skeletons of different ages; they shouldn't be that different from english ones

dirk  •  Link

Sizes & heights

People were smaller then than now. The table in my earlier annotation confirms other data on past centuries (in most cases people whose height happens to be mentioned in some document or other, or whose skeletal remains were measured).

But we should remember the table gives averages. I know of a 9th century body dug up by archeologists which measured 1.74 m (almost 5'10"). And no, Carolina, not even poor people would live in a house were they couldn't stand upright.

Hic retearius  •  Link

Robin The Hood

Further "little". One of Robin's hoods, the character "Little John", was not little. It could be that "little Luellin" is little in the same sense.

Grahamt  •  Link

While it is true that people have got taller in the last 100 years. The change in previous centuries is less marked. The average height of men stayed fairly constant at 5'6"" during the 17th and 18th centuries (…) and actually fell in the last quarter of the 19th century. (…)
There is a 13th century pub near my home. True I have to duck under the beams (I am 6'2" - 1.9m) but can stand upright between them. In the Olde Trippe to Jerusalem in Nottingham (11th century) which is cut into the rock, so no beams, I can stand upright with plenty of headroom. Old houses "settle" and the ceilings sag, and the floors also rise, especially in workman's cottages where the floors were dirt.
All I am saying is there is no direct correlation between peoples heights and the CURRENT height of ceilings in old buildings.
My great-grandparents lived in a cottage where they had to duck under beams all their lives and both had permanent stoops when I knew them. It is not true that people wouldn't live in houses where they couldn't stand upright: that is a very 21st century attitude; some had no choice.

vincent  •  Link

Height, it really only indicates the success of the times. The genetic controls are not yet fully understood.
It is like life span, Three score and ten has been recorded since the Bible times but the hazards of life eliminated the majority from achieving that particular goal, now that more people are reaching that gaol does not mean that we will see people living to 140 years based on the averages moving up[only resetting the genetic code may do that] . It seems to only mean that more humans will reach the genetic goal due to removing the hazards of living from humans . I think that is true with height too.
P.S. The English to use jocular words of opposite meanings for nicknames, may also be in play here. How many times does one call a 6' 6" , tich or tiny like Tiny Rowlings.

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

Mrs Martha

Thank you Mary, Grahamt and Lawrence. I have probably been reading too much Jane Austen. She would not, I suspect, have countenanced such titular irregularities.

mary  •  Link

Titular irregularities.

(A bit off topic).
Not sure about Jane Austen, but a little later in the 19th century it was very common for the cook or the housekeeper in a large house to be addressed as 'Mrs' whether she was married or not; again, an address of respect which emphasised her importance within the domestic hierarchy of the establishment.

vincent  •  Link

Mrs[Mistress] even in the 20C, [before Pol:Cor: became the rave], was popular title for a Woman who was in charge and not wedded.

Harvey  •  Link

Heights; Men in England were almost as tall as they are now during the warm period around 1000 to 1200, and women slightly taller. It all depends on food and living conditions. During the warm period (warmer than it is now), food was plentiful and the population expanded considerably as a result. This was global warming, though clearly not human caused...

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Heights in England over time: the older counter-narrative

"According to the 12th century Historia Regum Britanniae ("The History of The Kings of Britain") by Geoffrey of Monmouth, the exiled Brutus of Troy ...and his fellow Trojans escape from Gaul and "set sail with a fair wind towards the promised island". "The island was then called Albion, and inhabited by none but a few giants.""…

Linda Camidge  •  Link

Hi Terry - nice to know that someone else is, like me, reading at the exact 350-years-on mark (although I've just had a weekend away, so catching up#.

I think every mythical where #temporal or geographical) was populated by "giants" though. Or dragons.

Second Reading

Sjoerd  •  Link

Still...Llewellyn, the little welsh giant...somehow doesn't have a convincing ring to it ;-))

Third Reading

徽柔  •  Link

17th century life for officials are so entertaining...I mean,Sam Pepys and his fellow colleagues literally drink and dine and have fun every day.So what on earth does modernization brings us ,now we have to go to work at 9 A.M. and retired at 7 P.M. or later,even have to reply to the troublesome messages from our boss at home.

Dai Aqua  •  Link

Welsh terms and pronunciation have been mangled by non-speakers for centuries….. Google carries on the tradition with some absurd translations as I write.

Going through the past 20-odd years, the term ‘little Luellin’ has raised a few questions.
Anyway, Mr Llewellyn, being of Welsh origin, was most likely a speaker of the language and being an acquaintance of Pepys may well have referred to him as ‘Sam Bach’ in their cups; they were, after all well into a couple of midday-bottles.

Bach, (pronounced exactly as the composer Johann Sebastian’s name), is a typical Welsh form of arm-in-arm conviviality between trusted friends…..notwithstanding his (or Llewellyn’s) height.

Taken literally in Welsh, the word means simply ‘little’ or ‘small’ , but never 'diminutive' as a pejorative. (It may also mutate in pronunciation and spelling to ‘Fach’).

If someone calls me ‘Bach’ in greeting or conversation in Wales, I’m well-pleased – it shows trust.

Pepys, picking up on this, may be literally sending it back with his compliments.

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