Sunday 10 March 1660/61

(Lord’s day). Heard Mr. Mills in the morning, a good sermon. Dined at home on a poor Lenten dinner of coleworts and bacon. In the afternoon again to church, and there heard one Castle, whom I knew of my year at Cambridge. He made a dull sermon.

After sermon came my uncle and aunt Wight to see us, and we sat together a great while. Then to reading and at night to bed.

37 Annotations

First Reading

dirk  •  Link

A "poor Lenten dinner" with bacon ???

Bacon is meat, isn't it?

William Crosby  •  Link


No really colewarts are described at Killer as follows:

When John Gerard wrote The Herbal in 1597, he mentioned that Theophrastus (4th century BCE) and Pliny the Elder (1st century AD) recognized three "coleworts". By Gerard's time, gardeners had created many more. He recognized fifteen Brassica: the "wilde", the "loved coleworts" (cabbages), "open coles" (kales and collards), "curled savoys" (apparently broccoli types), and "colie floures". One of the odder types, the "parsley colewort", he described as having "very large leaves deepely jagged even to the middle rib...resembling great and rank parsley [with] a great thicke stalke of three cubits (1.5 meters or 4.5 to 5 feet) high...." (The Herbal, John Gerard, 1633 edition)

Essentially a boiled cabbage meal. Yum!

dirk  •  Link

Lenten food

On food in Lent, geese and other barnacles...

"There were ordinary fast days (Fridays and certain other days), for which the rule was no meat (meaning quadrupeds or birds), but eggs, dairy, and fish were legal; and fast days in Lent, when dairy and eggs were not legal either but fish was still allowed. The Barnacle Goose was (and is) one particular species of goose, looking a little like a Canada Goose but smaller; in period it was "known" that it started as a sort of barnacle which consists of a shell attached to driftwood or something with what looks, given a little imagination, like an embryonic bird hanging from the shell by its beak; this was believed to grow and eventually drop off to become an independant bird. (See Giraldus Cambrensis for a period account of this.) Everyone, of course, knew how ordinary geese and other fowl reproduced. At one point it was argued that since the Barnacle Goose started life as a fish it should be legal on fast days. Eventually (1215) the controversy was settled by the Pope who decided that however it had started life, by the time it was a goose it was flesh and therefore prohibited on fast days. It wasn't until around 1700 or so that it became clear to scientific opinion that the goose in question reproduced like ordinary geese and the barnacle had nothing to do with it."
(Elizabeth/Betty Cook)

daniel  •  Link

Barnacle geese etc.

I believe that it was also the custom in the seventeenth century to consider the tail of a beaver permissible to eat during Lent on account of its fish-like shape.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Bacon is Meat" I think he meant only the fat portion of the bacon,essentially Lard.

vincent  •  Link

The Circle of family, friends and influences are quite interesting, for example: the Wights and MR Mills' wife were neighbours back in Brampton. also why the Mr for the Preacher?

Susan  •  Link

It was not the custom in the Church of England to use the expression "the reverend Mills" - clergy were given the title their social standing entitled them too - a plain Mister or Esquire after the name or Doctor if they held a Doctorate. I have to admit here, that when I was a girl, it was considered vulgar or common to address the Vicar or Rector as anything other than "Vicar" or "Rector" or maybe "Mr [Surname] and I would be reminded of this(or any other of a myriad similar "errors" [sic] of locution)most forciby by my mother!! The presence of Nancy Mitford hovered over our house...

Rich Merne  •  Link

I'm curious, I cannot find any data to lead me to believe that it was only the fat that he ate. Have you any further insight. Traditionally, even today, bacon and caggage is still a popular meal in rural parts of Ireland. The cabbage is boiled along with the bacon in tha same pot, so that when it's drained the cabbage retains a lot of the fatty residue of the meat. Some love it, though I can only say that though I've had it, I wouldn't be overfond of it.

Pauline  •  Link

"The cabbage is boiled along with the bacon in the same pot"
Rich, I wonder if it was done this way and the bacon discarded? (Or chopped up small and discounted as a garnish.)

Wonder how old our St.Patrick's Day tradition of corned beef and cabbage is? Surely related to this cabbage and bacon dish, at least as reflecting the kind of food available at this time of year.

Emilio  •  Link

Re barnacle goose

A similar story comes from Japan: Buddhist monks were forbidden to eat four-legged animals, and to get around this the monks counted rabbits as birds rather than four-legged animals.

I don't know if the story is true, but in Japanese the counter for rabbits is the same as the one for birds, and I haven't found a better explanation.

Rich Merne  •  Link

Pauline, direct so as not to infringe guidelines.

Nix  •  Link

Bacon --

I don't know a whole lot about Lent, but my wife (Irish-American Catholic) has told me that when she was growing up Sunday dinner was exempt from the Lenten fast. Perhaps that custom goes back as far as 1661?

Michael L  •  Link

Meat on Sundays in Lent

I just had a separate discussion with a friend about this. Even in the Middle Ages, there was a lot of variation in the rules for Lenten fasting, depending on where and when you are talking about. Goodness knows what would have been followed in Restoration England.

In the strictest version I could find, meat (other than fish & shellfish) was not allowed every day, and some degree of fasting was done every day but Sunday. But it seems to have been more common to have allowed meat on Sunday, and in many places, meat was allowed every day but Friday and Ash Wednesday. So Sam's Sunday bacon would likely have been just fine, even in pre-Reformation Catholic England.

Way more detail than you ever wanted to know is in the online 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Lent:…

Barbara  •  Link

It has always seemed to me that the rules for fasting in Lent are often slightly altered to suit one's own tastes and circumstances. It's good to think that this very matter-of-fact approach was alive and well in the 17th century.

helena murphy  •  Link

Pepys' lenten fare today is a typical Irish dish but which may well have originated in England. Bacon and cabbage is eaten with boiled potatoes and with mustard to add flavour to the bacon. It is an inexpensive dish,but cooked properly it is truly delicious as so much naturally depends on the chef!
I am certain that Pepys is eating the flesh while simultaneously mortifying himself as to him it is obviously a poor man's dish.

Glyn  •  Link

Like helena, this did remind me of the Irish dish "Colcannon" (lots of recipes for it on the internet), which is a mixture of cabbage and potato eaten with bacon. This does sound like a typical end-of-winter meal (salted meat and winter vegetable).

Emilio  •  Link

Sundays being a break in Lent goes back to the beginning, Sundays being a celebration of the Resurrection and feast day througout the year. This year, for instance, the '40 days' of Lent actually extend from 25 Feb. to 10 April, or 46 days. That's 40 days of fasting and 6 Sundays leading up to Easter.

Fast requirements are definitely still variable, too--during my Catholic childhood in suburban Dallas, the only difference during Lent was that we went out for seafood on Fridays. Now I'm more rigorous, but what I do changes pretty much every year.

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

Lenten sundays; coleworts & bacon

The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, as I understand it, considers Sundays in Lent to be no different from Sundays any other time of year; they are feast days.

There is a old Southern recipe, derived from African-American cooking, for cooking collard greens in water that has been flavored with bacon or ham. You boil a small amount of water with bacon or a piece of fatty ham or a hamhock until the water is suffused with the fat, then you drop in the collards (a large, leafy plant with thick stems or veins that are removed before cooking) and boil until tender. Small bits of meat may mix with the leaves, or the ham may be removed. ((Eating this dish on New Year's day along with beans and rice (Hoppin' John) is supposed to bring good luck.))

Pedro.  •  Link

Heard Mr. Mills in the morning, a good sermon.
At the moment Mr. Mills (3/1) is a good second in the race for Sam's "Preacher of the Decade." All ratings are good, but he is way behind Gunning (1/3) who has never had a rating below very good!
As it is Sam's Sunday the thought for the day is from St.Vincent (Sao Vicente) "Whatever you do, think not of yourselves but of God"

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

re: St. Vincent

I don't remember seeing that thought-of-the-day from vincent! Damn, he must have written it in Latin again... ;-)

Pedro, thanks for the preacher ratings. Interesting stuff.

vincent  •  Link

Cabo São Vicente - The End of The World [the Algarve];
from J evelyn in De Beer’s
His Preacher used:
4: Matt:1: Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2: And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
and for evening this thought 15 Matt:

21: Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
22: And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
P.S. Gunning was very popular with J. Evelyn too

Mike Barnas  •  Link

Re: The Lenten Fast. The forty day period of fasting is based primarily on the 40 days Jesus spends in the wilderness in Chapter 4 of Matthew's Gospel. However, as my newphew pointed out to me two years ago, there are 46 days (inclusive) from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday. This plus the clear practice in the American Roman Catholic Church in my youth indicates that the 6 Sundays during Lent are not part of Lent, in the strictest sense. Perhaps Sam's problem was that his household was too well adjusted to Lenten strictures, and none of the servants had thought in advance to provide for a Sunday dinner involving guests.

J A Gioia  •  Link

quickly verging off topic, however...

in strict catholic households in my italo-american parents' generation, every sunday was a fast day until you received holy communion. even water was forbidden. those who went to the late mass at noon were considered the best catholics.


while i remember sunday dispensation, it didn't hold in our house.

dirk  •  Link

Some sermons...

The following links to the text of the sermons of revd. Butler, some 50 yrs after Sam. I think they give a reasonable idea of what one could expect at the time...…

dirk  •  Link

Weather report

Rev. Josselin's 17th c. weather service reports:
"A change of weather drying a little up the excessive moisture in the earth."

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

Vincent (Why the Mr?), and Susan

Daniel Mill(e)s, DD, was Rector of St. Olave's, and Sam would surely have known he was a Dr. So why the Mr? A slip on Sam's part or an error in transcription are both possibilities. Or perhaps this is a reflection of just how well Sam did know him - he is dropping the formalities. Just a thought.

vincent  •  Link

Mr Mills was mentioned 4 times by J.Evelyn, final time July 12 77 as Dr Mills at a funeral. Between 8th Nov 1674 and July 77 his Status changed.

Gar Foyer  •  Link

I too remember Colcannon Sunday suppers during Lent, most often using ham hocks or smoked pork rib-ends and sometimes salted beef briskets.

Helena,these tasty creations were cooked up by our Irish nanny, Miss O'Shea, who subsequently moved to Canada with us where she often used the wonderfully fragrant Romanian Jewish style smoked meat available to aficionados in Montreal.

It's ironic that Sam revels in his naval stipends but dislikes a 'luxury' repast from life on board--salt pork and boiled cabbage.

Second Reading

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Meanwhile, in Paris:

Cardinal Mazarin died on March 9, 1661.
The dramatic change came on March 10: Louis XIV informed his astonished ministers that he intended to assume all responsibility for ruling the kingdom. This had not occurred since the reign of Henry IV.

It cannot be overemphasized that Louis XIV’s action was not in accordance with tradition; his concept of a dictatorship by divine right was his own. In genuine faith, Louis viewed himself as God’s representative on earth and considered all disobedience and rebellion to be sinful. From this conviction he gained not only a dangerous feeling of infallibility but also considerable serenity and moderation.…

MartinVT  •  Link


Someone mentioned them above but they were definitely not part of this poor Lenten dish. Sam never mentions a single potato in the entire diary. They were not widely introduced in Europe from the New World until the 18th C. For a starch, Sam's dish might have had carrots or parsnips, along with kale or cabbage. Like the Irish dish cited, this can make a fine repast, or a poor one.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

MartinVT, you have just upset a lot of Brits.

I was taught in my Sussex school that Sir Walter Raleigh brought potatoes back with him from South America during the reign of good Queen Bess. When I lived in Devon, the story went that the first field of potatoes was planted on the Raleigh/Gilbert estate on the banks of the River Dart.

Now for the upsetting truth:
The most likely theory for the introduction of potato to Britain is that they arrived from Spain. William Coles wrote in London in 1657 about “the potatoes which we call Spanish because they were first brought up to us out of Spain, grew originally in the Indies…”

In 1727 it was thought the potato came from Spain (and there were people who rejected that). The Anglo-Irish botanist Caleb Threlkeld wrote: “Those who would give to the Spaniards the honour of entrencing (sic) this useful root called the potato, give me leave to call designing parricides, who stirred up the mislead zeal of the people of this kingdom to cast off the English government which is the greatest mercy they ever enjoyed… To ascribe the honour of the English industry to the effeminate Spaniards cannot be passed over without remark… and if I might advise the inhabitants, they should every meal they eat of this root be thankful to the Creator for English navigation.”
And "every meal they eat of this root be thankful to the Creator for English navigation".

A wonderful rant! But perhaps he protests too strongly? Nowhere does Threlkeld mention Raleigh. Surely if the Raleigh myth was in play in 1727, he would have said so? This suggests Raleigh's name was introduced later to support this argument.

The Spanish theory is supported by Irish oral tradition. Seán O Neachtain wrote the poem "Cáth Bearna Chroise Brighde" (The Battle of the Gap of St. Bridget’s Cross) in 1750 which supports the Spanish theory.
The poem is a lengthy account of a fictional battle, which takes place near Tallaght in Co. Dublin (the poem is 218 short verses). O'Neachtain refers to the potato as "An Spaineach Geal" - the kind-hearted Spaniard and refers to its supporters as "the friends of the Spaniards". At the beginning the poet mourns the loss of "my dear Spaniard" saying his death will be "death for the gaels, woe to them all".

There were cultural references to the Spanish introduction in 18th Century Ireland. Brewer (1826) links Raleigh to the introduction and says it happened in 1588 when he was Mayor of Youghal.

The Raleigh myth is an endearing one and there is little doubt that the southwest of Ireland is a location were potato cultivation was understood and practiced at an early stage, perhaps because of the mild climate. It is possible that Raleigh's name was used as a way for those wanting to give the vegetable a more British image in light of its connections to Spain.…

I was lied to! Miss Saville, how could you?

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