Friday 12 April 1661

Up among my workmen, and about 7 o’clock comes my wife to see me and my brother John with her, who I am glad to see, but I sent them away because of going to the office, and there dined with Sir W. Batten, all fish dinner, it being Good Friday.

Then home and looking over my workmen, and then into the City and saw in what forwardness all things are for the Coronacion, which will be very magnificent. Then back again home and to my chamber, to set down in my diary all my late journey, which I do with great pleasure; and while I am now writing comes one with a tickett to invite me to Captain Robert Blake’s buriall, for whose death I am very sorry, and do much wonder at it, he being a little while since a very likely man to live as any I knew. Since my going out of town, there is one Alexander Rosse taken and sent to the Counter by Sir Thomas Allen, for counterfeiting my hand to a ticket, and we this day at the office have given order to Mr. Smith to prosecute him. To bed.

24 Annotations

First Reading

Susan  •  Link

No mention of going to Church this Good Friday and also no reference to distribution of Maundy money by the King. Had he restablished this practice this year? It would be the kind of activity to interest Sam - always curious about customs.
Sam must have felt he was becoming a somebody if people wanted to forge his signature to their nefarious advantage!

Paul Brewster  •  Link

there is one Alexander Rosse taken and sent to the Counter by Sir Tho. Allen, for counterfaiting my hand to a ticket
L&M: "The offence dated from the previous November .... The Counter was one of the two city prisons of that name. Aleyn was an Alderman. Robert Smith was the Navy Office messenger, whose duties included the conduct of such prosecutions. The city's court records are defective for this period, and nothing more has been discovered about the case."

Diana Bonebrake  •  Link

If Sam is lacking in fidelity, at least he is his typical magnanimous self when it comes to people forging his signature-the rascal was caught and so Sam is done with it, and to bed.

Bullus Hutton  •  Link

"whose death I am very sorry.. a very likely man to live as any I knew."
Lordy lord, is Sam suddenly bemused by the evidence of mortality around him! Yesterday, revelling in the best trip of his life, kidding with the kids for tupenny beers (oops, he noted the strungup corpse of the executed guy)but more innocent fun with the little cowgirls, home much content with his day.
But now, shaken by the untimely death of a former hero, he shows once again his endearing quality of solemn self reflection.

Mary  •  Link

Good Friday worship.

Can The Bishop enlighten us on 17th century practice? I had assumed that the toll taken by years of Catholic/Protestant/non-Conformist struggle meant that no elaborate Good Friday worship had yet been reinstated by the Anglican church, but this may be misguided.

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

'Since my going out of town, there is one Alexander Rosse taken and sent to the Counter by Sir Thomas Allen, for counterfeiting my hand to a ticket,'

And we think of identity theft as a modern offence! However, it must have been somewhat easier to pass yourself off as another person in those days.

Hic retearius  •  Link

"somewhat easier to pass yourself off as another person in those days."

Would that necessarily have been so, everybody? Please debate.

We have a certain inbuilt mindset about the "big city". In our minds today, London's streets contain an endless stream of strange faces but in Sam's time, by today's measure, The City must have been nearly empty. The number of people with whom Sam would deal in business and by whom he was known in business might not have numbered more than a hundred. Even if it were two hundred, that number is still well within the ability of us all to recognize instantly. We could even do that at a distance based on gait, clothing and hair. We could do that when we were at school, for instance, and even in uniforums.

There is also the matter of mobility to consider. There was no daily commuting. Everybody lived and played in the same small area in which they worked creating many more opportunities to know and be known. It is informative to consider that though Sam has only recently taken up his duties, he is incessantly encountering the people with whom he does business and his social contacts as he simply walks down the street or hangs out in a pub.

The impression had been established in the mind of this reader that The City to Sam is rather like the campus of a small or medium sized university to us today. A student in walking from class to class or going to the library or, umm, hanging about the commons or the student union, regards as routine meeting familiar faces (and may be doing the latter for no other purpose!) To extend the idea, Sam is in a residence on campus or a Greek. Even when classes are over, he's still making his life on campus.

Now enter Rosse, another figure in business in The City. He would be known the same way. If he were a stranger, he would be dealt with accordingly; he would be as well remembered but for a different reason, being a fresh face and without the built in credentials of "being known around town".

If the above ideas are correct and, as we may expect, clearing within London in those days was no lengthy procedure, then the first recipient of Rosse's instrument would have been in a good position to finger him as the paperhanger.

It seems to this reader that Rosse actually had taken a very large chance.

Rex Gordon  •  Link

Identity Theft ...
indeed must have been easier, and perhaps not uncommon, in earlier times. Certainly there is a long literary tradition involving impersonations or false identities, from Patroclus in Achilles' armor, to the handful of Henrys the Douglas fights and kills, to the false (and better loved) Martin Guerre (a real event later written of by Dumas), on through the King and the Duke that Huck and Jim are conned into serving, and such a tradition probably wouldn't have arisen without a grounding in real events. But the likelihood of getting caught was probably greater, if one is moving in the circle where one might encounter somebody who actually KNOWS the real person (or the real signature of a Naval Office clerk!). (I read that undercover operatives never impersonate a native of the country in which they're at work for that reason.)

Glyn  •  Link

"and sent to the Counter"

This was one of the two prisons in the City that were more usually known as the Compter (the meaning is the same). It could either have been the one in Giltspur Street in Smithfield:…

or the one in Poultry lane.

Mary  •  Link

..counterfeiting my hand.....

Rosse has not impersonated Pepys, he has tried to forge his signature and the forgery has been detected. As Sam's signature must by now be quite well known to many naval officers, this was perhaps a rash endeavour.

Glyn  •  Link

Hic retearius says "The number of people with whom Sam would deal in business and by whom he was known in business might not have numbered more than a hundred.." or even two hundred"

You want to be bet? There would be every ship's captain (how many would that be?) plus a significant number of MPs, Lords, bureaucrats; and also all the people connected with running the Montagu household.

If anyone wants to know how many people Pepys knows by name than count up the list here:…

and then, say, treble it to take account of all the people he knows but doesn't mention in the diary.

But of course Mary is correct, this is matter of forgery rather than impersonation.

Rex Gordon  •  Link

Glyn & Mary
are right, of course, but I was responding to Hic's invitation to comment IN GENERAL on the idea of passing oneself off as another, then vs now, in response to Jenny's comment about identity theft.
I wonder who the sharp-eyed ticket-taker was who spotted Rosse's forged ticket. I get the impression it was brought to Allen's attention, who then had Rosse locked up. (It must not have occurred to Rosse to bribe the fellow.)

Eric Walla  •  Link

Still, as a matter of forgery ...

... I would go along with Hic's basic premise. The number of people who would deal with Sam's signature (ship captains, suppliers, tradespeople, etc.) would be somewhat limited and rather regular. Unless Mr. Rosse tried to pass his ticket to someone outside the standard supply, bureaucratic or employment loop, the chances of discovery were probably quite high. If he did go outside the loop, tradespeople would probably be suspicious (and may not know the Pepys name, let alone the import of his signature).

Glyn  •  Link

Cases of forgery and their outcomes. This is about 70 years after the Diary but I doubt if the trials would have been much different.

And sorry about the very long address!:…

Eric Walla  •  Link

Good cases! They brng up two important points ...

... 1) we may need to imagine that Mr. Rosse could give a very good representation of Sam's signature and thus enjoy success for at least a period of time, and 2) the importance of the office giving order to prosecute since cases would be thrown out if the victim did not appear in court.

Carolina  •  Link

Alexander Ross

My husband owns a book called: Pansebia or a view of all religions in the world, also a discovery of all known heresies in all ages and places
The fifth edition, enlarged and perfected by Alexander Ross.
This info is on the preface, on the left page is a drawing, titled:
Alexander Ross ??
Anno artatis

Further on in the preface it says:
Printed for John Williams, and sold by Ben. Billingsley at the Printing Press abnd Tho. Cockeril at the Atlas in Cornhill. 1675

The drawing of the person is of a man aged perhaps in his forties or fifties.

Could this be the same person ?

Don  •  Link

"Could this be the same person ?"
This one died in 1654, so the answer is no. Interesting that the Copernican theory was considered heresy by this fellow. I remember Pepys somewhere in the diary buys a model of the Ptolemaic system.

Susan  •  Link

Good Friday & Maundy Thursday.
I have now discovered that the practice of distributing Maundy Money was started by James II as he did not approve of the practice which it displaced: namely the monarch washing the feet of (selected?) subjects (following Christ's feet washing as mentioned in John's Gospel at the Last Supper). Food was also given away to the deserving poor. So presumably, Charles did the feet washing bit. Wonder if he did it this year?
Good Friday practice as is common in the Anglican Church today (a morning solemn liturgy or ante-communion (or communion with the reserved sacrament) with an afternoon 3 hour service from 12 to 3 echoing the three hours Jesus is supposed to have been on the cross was not the norm in the Anghlican Church of the 17th century. The 3 hour service and the stations of the cross observance common to Catholics today only developed (as far as I can tell) during the 17th century. So apart from the incumbent minister saying morning and evening prayer as instructed by the 39 Articles, I don't think there would have been occasion for Sam to go to Church on Good Friday. He certainly seems to regard Holy Saturday (as Anglicans would now call it) as an ordinary working day.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"Good Friday" My mother says that there is no communion on Friday because Christ is dead,but although the Ressurection is on Sunday (Easter), there is communion on saturday (Sabado da Aleluia)! It beats me!...

Emilio  •  Link

Easter Communion

Having just been at an Episcopalian monastery over Easter, I can tell you that the practices there were: Communion was held on Good Friday (w/ bread and wine consecrated on Thurs, before Jesus "died"), but none on Saturday. Perhaps the priest above was also using elements that had been consecrated earlier? Communion resumed at the Great Vigil of Easter, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Susan  •  Link

Yes, Emilio, I had the same Easter experience - receiving reserved sacrament on Good Friday and then having Great Vigil Mass on Saturday night. Incidently, on Holy Thursday evening,as we all stood in the dark and quiet of our Church's memorial Garden (with its columbarium wall), I looked up at the paschal moon, as it has been in so much of our postings lately, and noticed it was *not quite* full, but a "brave moonshine" as Sam would say.

Second Reading

john  •  Link

What is known about building practices of that day and what sort of directions would he have given to his workman, who seem to start quite early and require constant guidance? I suspect their directions were mostly Sam pointing and saying that a staircase should go here. Does anyone have a reference?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

john, whether or not this answers your question, you may find it worthwhile to make the acquaintance of "Sympson the Joiner (fl. 1660s)...a joiner (and perhaps cabinet maker) who worked at the Royal Naval Dockyard at Woolwich in London. He is remembered only because Samuel Pepys mentions his name several times [ later ] in his diary."…

Here are several sites that may be on-topic…

john  •  Link

@Terry: Thank you -- that provides me with a good starting point. (In the process, I found an interesting animation of Pepys' London may be found here:… )

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