Wednesday 27 March 1661

Up early to see my workmen at work. My brother Tom comes to me, and among other things I looked over my old clothes and did give him a suit of black stuff clothes and a hat and some shoes.

At the office all the morning, where Sir G. Carteret comes, and there I did get him to promise me some money upon a bill of exchange, whereby I shall secure myself of 60l. which otherwise I should not know how to get.

At noon I found my stairs quite broke down, that I could not get up but by a ladder; and my wife not being well she kept her chamber all this day.

To the Dolphin to a dinner of Mr. Harris’s, where Sir Williams both and my Lady Batten, and her two daughters, and other company, where a great deal of mirth, and there staid till 11 o’clock at night; and in our mirth I sang and sometimes fiddled (there being a noise of fiddlers there), and at last we fell to dancing, the first time that ever I did in my life, which I did wonder to see myself to do. 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.

Home, where I found my wife all day in her chamber. So to bed.

38 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

"there being a noise of fiddlers there": not an opinion of their playing, but a term for a "band, group of musical instruments playing together" (L&M Companion, Large Glossary). A contrast to the alternate term, "consort."

William Crosby  •  Link

My, those Africans have rhythm!

JBailey  •  Link

Am I correct that under the Puritans and the pre-Charles II government dancing was either not allowed or discouraged? Is this why SP has never danced?

Emilio  •  Link

"a noise of fiddlers"

The L&M Glossary notes that 'noise' here is a "group of musical instruments all played together". Apparently it's another of English's wonderful mass nouns--a noise of fiddles, a jubilation of larks, a murder of crows . . .

vincent  •  Link

Solved his cash flow dilemma, that had up Sam uplate a thinking, now after 3 weeks of scheming, he has solved the age old cunundrum, Money where are you? ref:… Sign over future income: Must look V good for betters . No "Moss Bros: ala Ascot Mrs 'iggins" Gold is the only answer, cash on Delivery.

vincent  •  Link

Puritans= pure of thought. Too many kids aroaming the street after all those impure thoughts. One of the attempted solutions to the Human condition. " the seven deadly sins" a befuddled view from one of the misguided."Am I correct that under the Puritans and the pre-Charles II government dancing was either not allowed or discouraged". All merriment was frowned on. If you want see the all the variations of thought at this period, a starting place would read up on Christopher Hill paperbacks "The world Turned Upside Down" or "the Century of Revolution", for some, too left wing for some tastes.
Fiddling was a distraction of the mind. Charles as the leader of the Anglican version of Christianity show'd the another version to the interpretation of the King James Bible.

dirk  •  Link

Sam's cash flow problems solved...

OK for now. But it's a letter of exchange (LOE): that means Sam will have to pay back. When? Does the LOE have a fixed date (if so, pity that Sam doesn't mention it) - or more likely it's payable on sight. In that case he's of course dependant on Sir Garteret's goodwill - which probably shouldn't be a problem.

It should allow Sam to go for his investment...

For those not familiar with the LOE, it's basically a promise (in this case by Sam) to pay a specified amount of money to whoever "drew" the LOE (Sir Garteret). The difference with the common IOU is that a LOE is "discountable", which means that the person who drew the LOE can sell it to somebody else (at a small discount) and so convert his loan into ready money (with a small loss). The debt is then payable to the new owner of the LOE. The buyer of such a LOE would normally have been a banker or professional financer. This technique is still in common use today, without major changes as compared to the 16th 17th c.

vincent  •  Link

OK for now. He has heard the screams of the St Brides:gold for paper or paper for gold:{To whom does thee pay the discount too or as they now say who holds the paper[morgage or loan]?}More one reads of the finances of the times, we just keep on changing the name of "3 walnut shells and the pea".'tis the "on the tic" that keeps the fiddler fiddling. Hope and faith in the egg will hatch does keep us all a going [sung to 'tulips tulips ....]
At least he is not investing in Tulips, he may even remember the crash of '37.……

Kevin Sheerstone  •  Link

"... money upon a Bill of Exchange..."

In the absence of more details it's pretty hard to know the exact nature of this transaction, but I am sure it wasn't a fiddle.

Xjy  •  Link

"seeming skill"
Sam talks to the ragboy, but not to the blacks, even though he's struck by the "strangeness" of their dancing skill. "Made" them dance sounds as if they were viewed as pet monkeys, or dancing bears. I wonder what they were thinking as they tried to tame their cultural soul to this bizarre alien music. Like an opera singer having to sing along to the Black and White Minstrels??

J A Gioia  •  Link

I sang and sometimes fiddled (there being a noise of fiddlers there), and at last we fell to dancing

i think this is the first time sam mentions that he can play the fiddle too. his facility for - and love of - musique is inspiriing.

that (do)mingo could dance to the aires with skill shows some level of familiarity with the music, which perhaps is what so surprises sam.

n.b. these same fiddle tunes were beginning to be exported to the american colonies at this time, along with people kidnapped en masse from africa. 300 years later two lads will meet in liverpool...

was mingo 'made' i.e. forced to dance? or was he persuaded to drop an understandable reticence to mix 'downstairs' with 'upstarirs'? certainly sounds like a fun party and a testimony to the leveling effects of pop music.

helena murphy  •  Link

It's about time Sam took to the floor! Charles II loved to dance,even while in exile there are accounts of him and his courtiers dancing to the fiddle in the German meadows long past the fall of midnight. As for Jack and Mingo,I think that they were delighted to dance. Although servants ,they probably ate and drank at the Dolphin also .There is no evidence at all that either of the Sir Williams were cruel to them ,here they are being inclusive by having them participate in a very popular social activity and I daresay that by this time both have become fairly adaptable to life in England.

Pauline  •  Link

"Sam talks to the ragboy, but not to the blacks"
Do we know this?

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

"found my stairs quite broke down, that I could not get up but by a ladder"

Sam doesn't mention whether the stairs were still broke down when he got home after 11 and a night of mirth & dancing, but I like to imagine him, in a state of mild inebriation, climbing the ladder in poor light to the bedroom. (I notice that in the last two days Sam has given up worrying about Lenten form.) As for convesation with Mingo, see the entry for Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 1660/61…

JWB  •  Link

As seen in the contention of sects noted earlier, Puritans were not of one mind. Note this from Cotton Mather: "...they have scoffed at Puritan Ministers as calling the people to sing one of Hopkins-Jiggs and so hop into the pulpit".

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Forgive me for bringing a touch of current politics ...

"Red, Blue and . . . So 17th Century

By Joel Kotkin
The Washington Post, Sunday, March 28, 2004; Page B01


Ideological and theological divisions running deep. Opposing factions so far apart they no longer seem to respect one another. A breakdown in communication. The elites of each side, neither able to appeal to the other, poised like opposing armies ready to do battle.

America 2004? Actually, no. This was the lamentable state of affairs in mid-17th century England, as it teetered on the brink of civil war. But there certainly is something disturbingly familiar about this description of a body politic dividing into two unbreachable camps.

Like England under Charles I, when the Cavaliers -- the royalist supporters of the king -- and the Roundheads -- Puritan upstarts led by Oliver Cromwell -- went at it for seven years of war, the United States today is becoming two nations. This is not merely the age-old split between income groups, as Sen. John Edwards kept suggesting in his unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, but something even more fundamental -- a struggle between contrasting and utterly incompatible worldviews. ..."

full text at

Thor  •  Link

Puritans weren't called puritans because they were pure-minded. The name came about because they wanted to 'purify' the English church from practices left over from Catholicism.

You would be surprised to find out how many early 'puritans' were actually pretty wild livers. The most severe protestants, however, tended to be puritans and so they became its public face.

Susan  •  Link

Puritans only look down on unseemly music in Church, not music or even dancing elsewhere. When Cromwell was in power, his household often had dancing as a social entertainment and he enjoyed listening to music - just not in Church!

Emilio  •  Link

Bills of exchange

Nix had a nice long annotation early in the diary on this topic (and on finance in general), and Phil has kindly just put it on a Background page of its own:…

Susan  •  Link

Bills of exchange: For an excellent fictional (but financially accurate) account of the muddle and debt people can get into if too casual or trusting about signing etc. bills of exchange see Anthony Trollope's Framley Parsonage. Although written some 200 hundred years after SP's diary, the financial details of this type of transaction remain the same - and it's a good read.

J A Gioia  •  Link


h.l. mencken famously defined a puritan as a person posessed by a 'haunting fear that someone, somewhere might be happy.' he also observed that the puritan ethos was stronger in the colonies than back in blighty, which probably accounts for the divergent views of it here.

George  •  Link

The puritans that Mencken knew were mostly Baptists and Methodists. That's a world away from the original puritan ethos, which was Calvinist and obsessed with the threat of the Pope.

Nix  •  Link

"a noise of fiddlers" --

From OED:

"b. A company or band of musicians. Also in extended use. Obs.

"1558 in J. Nichols Progress Q. Eliz. I. 39 Nere unto Fanchurch was erected a scaffolde richely furnished, whereon stode a noyes of instrumentes. 1594 J. LYLY Mother Bombie III. iv, Then I wish'd for a noyse Of crack-halter Boyes, On those hempen strings to be twanging. 1598 G. CHAPMAN Blinde Begger of Alexandria sig. B4v, Oh that we had a noyse of musitions to play to this anticke as we goe. 1616 B. JONSON Epicoene III. iii. 86 in Wks. I, The smell of the venison, going through the street, will inuite one noyse of fidlers, or other. 1668 DRYDEN Secret-love III. i. 31, I hear him coming, and a whole noise of Fiddles at his heels. 1676 W. WYCHERLEY Plain-dealer I. i, I cou'd as soon suffer a whole Noise of Flatterers at a Great Man's Levee."

Emilio  •  Link

"Puritans were not of one mind"

A case in point, this review of a new book on Anne Hutchinson, a dissenter who quickly got herself kicked out of the Massachusetts Bay colony:…

vincent  •  Link

The perfect musical description ?"we had a noyse of musitions to play to this anticke as we goe. 1616 " So wot 'as chang'd. The Phrase should be revived, so apropos.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"60l. which otherwise I should not know how to get"
Even with Nix's excellent background, the sketchy details don't tell us the terms or security (although presumably everything was full recourse). Since Sam evidently wants the cash for his investment, the closest modern analog might be margin borrowing against stock. But Sam is making a fixed promise to pay and using the proceeds for variable return -- an increase in risk.
As one banker of my acquaintance said when I was buying my first home (a condo), "Rates, rates, who cares about rates? We'll get you the money!"

Laura K  •  Link

mencken on puritans

"h.l. mencken famously defined a puritan as a person posessed by a 'haunting fear that someone, somewhere might be happy.’”

At the time Mencken was writing about Puritans, the word was used as it is today, as a general adjective to describe prudishness and a strict religious influence on civil laws. The 20th century concept of the word puritan doesn’t necessarily correspond to the actual Puritans who lived in Pepys era.

Patricia  •  Link

Mrs. Pepys is ill again, right in line with the prev. 2 months. I wonder if doctors in that time gave the common 20th Century advice to women with menstrual cramps: Have a baby and they'll go away. Which poor Mrs. Pepys cannot do.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"My brother Tom comes to me, and among other things I looked over my old clothes and did give him a suit of black stuff clothes and a hat and some shoes."

But, Tom is a tailor, a businessman with fabric in stock?! Is this a young man whose business is troubled?

Bill  •  Link

"(there being a noise of fiddlers there)"

I hear him coming, and a whole noise of Fidlers at his Heels.
---The Maiden Queen, John Dryden, 1667

On May 7, 1660 Sam mentioned a "noise of trumpets"

Harvey  •  Link

Considering that Sam is not at this time impecunious, I doubt that the bill of exchange is one he writes for the purpose of borrowing ready specie. Isn't it more likely that this is a note someone has given Sam but is of doubtful worth and that Sam will endorse it over to Cateret in exchange for gold, passing the credit risk (and some profit potential) to Cateret?

Careful reading indicates that the bill of exchange is for sixty pounds but Cateret promises only "some" money, i.e., he is discounting the bill. I don't think Sam would put it quite this way if it were his own note.

Harvey  •  Link

Well, even more careful reading shows Sam is to receive sixty pounds. But the bill could have been drawn for more and originally by a third party, so my conjecture remains possible. His words "not know how to get" could mean "how to collect."

Dick Wilson  •  Link

I like these descriptive collectives. Why not 'A noise of children in the house', or 'A noise of family come to call'.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"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."

Pepys also "makes" others drink -- presumable invites them and they accept.

NB it is Mingo, but not Jack, who "did dance with a great deal of seeming skill."

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