Sunday 12 May 1661

My wife had a very troublesome night this night and in great pain, but about the morning her swelling broke, and she was in great ease presently as she useth to be. So I put in a vent (which Dr. Williams sent me yesterday) into the hole to keep it open till all the matter be come out, and so I question not that she will soon be well again.

I staid at home all this morning, being the Lord’s day, making up my private accounts and setting papers in order. At noon went with my Lady Montagu at the Wardrobe, but I found it so late that I came back again, and so dined with my wife in her chamber.

After dinner I went awhile to my chamber to set my papers right.

Then I walked forth towards Westminster and at the Savoy heard Dr. Fuller preach upon David’s words, “I will wait with patience all the days of my appointed time until my change comes;” but methought it was a poor dry sermon. And I am afeard my former high esteem of his preaching was more out of opinion than judgment.

From thence homewards, but met with Mr. Creed, with whom I went and walked in Grayes-Inn-walks, and from thence to Islington, and there eat and drank at the house my father and we were wont of old to go to; and after that walked homeward, and parted in Smithfield: and so I home, much wondering to see how things are altered with Mr. Creed, who, twelve months ago, might have been got to hang himself almost as soon as go to a drinking-house on a Sunday.

54 Annotations

First Reading

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"might have been got to hang himself almost as soon as go to a drinking-house on a Sunday" C'mon it is Restoration now,London is not a dry County, let's party and have a good time.

Glyn  •  Link

At noon from Seething Lane near the Tower of London to the Wardrobe near St Paul's Cathedral, back to Seething Lane, double back to the Savoy, to Gray's Inn gardens, uphill to Islington, down to Smithfield, and back to Seething Lane. That’s at least 15 miles (25 km) - did he walk all of it or could he get a coach on Sundays?

Australian Susan  •  Link

People did seem to walk quite long distances in pre-industrial times (i.e. before work times were so regulated and ruled by the factory hooter and the demands of the conveyor belt). Strict timekeeping was not so important. When Sam mentions a time, it is a "rounded off" hour and just means from when he last knew it was on the hour. So "noon" meant somewhere between 12 and 1. Later, Wordsworth used to think nothing of walking a 10 mile round trip to post letters.

dirk  •  Link

"rounded off" hours

The 1660's are just about the period when the very first minute hands are introduced on clocks and watches. Before that - and I doubt Sam possessed one of these novelties (a watch with minute hand) - it was just impossible to say what the exact time was... or how much time one spent on something... or how many hours one had worked that day...

See also background info:…

M.Stolzenbach  •  Link

The "vent" for Elizabeth's cyst is interesting. A member of my family had an "abscess" this year on the leg and the treatment was not all that different: cut it open, squeeze it out, put a folded sterile "wick" inside to drain it. Next day, though, the wick was to be gently, slowly pulled out, and the inside cleaned with peroxide on a long swab (Ouch!) day by day until it healed up from the bottom (which took about a week). But as you see, today's doctors would not wait for the thing to burst of its own accord.

vicente  •  Link

Walking: did 14 miles [as a Kid] regularly [on saturday's] in order to go to the Flickers during WWII, it being the nearest fleapit to see a -/6d Flicker, there being no bus service and the trains were totally inconvenient. Me farther was taken by grand pere, pre WW1 from Kentish Town to Islington Manor and back by shanks pony on the weekly Sunday visit [he did not have to suffer the Sermon, it was the compensation for doing his duty .] to his grandpere and grand mere.

Pauline  •  Link

" and drank at the house my father and we were wont of old to go to..."
The King's Head, Islington. In Upper St opposite w. end of parish church. Kept in Pepys' youth by Pitts 'the old man'.

Mary  •  Link

For 'vent' read 'tent' (L&M).

bruce  •  Link

"Seething Lane" - I'm intrigued by the name. Does anyone know the origins of this street name? (For example, would it have been one of the streets with a river adjacent to it and the "seething" was the flow of water down the street?)

Mary  •  Link

Seething Lane

The origins of the name are obscure. Walter Skeat suggested that it might originally come from the gen. case of the Anglo-Saxon name Sifeca/Seofoca (Seofoca's Lane) through Siveken Lane, Sive'n Lane, later Seeven Lane altered to Seething or Seeding.

Early forms of the name are enormously varied, from 'Shyvethenestrat' in 1257, through 'Cyvyndonelane' in 1386, 'Sevethenlane' in 1418 and 'Sydon lane' in 1558.

The above information comes from Harben's Dictionary of London; 1918.

adam w  •  Link

Vent or tent?
Vent seems to make more sense - I suppose a 'tent' might be something to hold open the abscess cavity, but it sounds painful... As with M Stoltzenbach's wick, all that is needed is a vent to let the pus out. Yum.

Mary  •  Link

Dr. Fuller: opinion v. judgement

L&M note that Fuller's Anglican sermons had been very popular during the 1650s.
Sam's remark implies that although he had hitherto held Fuller's sermons in high regard, his respect was very much coloured by the preacher's reputation (opinion). Properly considered, the man's sermons are not (or not any longer) remarkable.

Minor spoiler: Fuller dies during the course of 1661, so perhaps his powers are noticeably failing at this point.

Mary  •  Link


A tent is a piece of absorbent material rolled into a pointed (tent-like) shape, used either to probe wounds or to keep them open for pus to drain away before healing begins.

Rich Merne  •  Link

Vent/Dined with wife;
I think Sam's administration settles any doubt as to his being a tender and caring husband; faults and all. He is genuinely concerned at her nights discomfort and tends to her as a good man should. He's a 'hands-on man', as we know ! We don't really know what if anything, Liz had when they dined. It must have been something she could mannage without agravating her ailment. Maybe Sam cut it up or mashed it for her.

Lawrence  •  Link

I agree Glyn, 15 miles is a quite a distance, I ride my cycle in the summer evenings and that's my average distance, so our sam must be quite fit,"no problem passing a BBC medical"

David A. Smith  •  Link

"my former high esteem ... was more out of opinion than judgment"
This entry is a psychological watershed.
Sam weighs what *he* thinks on the same scales as what the *world* thinks ... and affirms his own view ("judgment"). Having the courage to see the world for yourself, not through the prism of other eyes, is an important stage in adult development. Sam is slightly anxious ("I am *afeard*") but he does not waver ("my *former* high esteem").
We can expect this intellectual self-confidence to grow as he ages, gains wealth and responsibility, and becomes more of a player in his own right -- say, in reforming the Navy?

David A. Smith  •  Link

"I went and walked in Grayes-Inn-walks"
Normal walking gait is 2-3 mph (20-30 minutes a mile), so if he covered 15 miles, that's 6 hours on foot. Possible, although shoes were not form-footed the way ours are. I suspect he caught coaches for some stretches.

David A. Smith  •  Link

"she was in great ease presently ... she will soon be well again"
I agree with Rich. This entry shines with love and solicitation for Elizabeth.

vicente  •  Link

In John Evelyn for this day , he attended the Abbey Service and quotes
16. Jo: 7:[ can anyone ascribe or decode the reference.
Book 16 Nehemiah
001:007 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.
but I do find the line very interesting.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"shines with love"
Yes, indeed! Remember that way back at the beginning, almost the very first words of the diary are about his concerns over his wife's health.
Vincent: The preaching text was probably John Chap. 16, verse 7 which in the King James' version (probably what Evelyn would have heard) is "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comoforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." This is one of the classic texts for preaching at this time of the Church's year as it is Jesus supposedly foretelling the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Disciples at pentecost (50 days after Easter and thus about to happen). Coincidentally, I have just been typing this out (from the NRSV version) for a child to read out in Sunday School next week. (Plus ca change...etc). The Nehemiah quotation is from Ch. 1 v. 7 (KJV)

vicente  •  Link

James version I am sure, the Douai version was banned, to be found in all good priest hiding places, like Downside, was underground and Evelyn was a Royalist from top to toe and Anglican too:

vicente  •  Link

Walking then, was normal, no need to to go the Gym, one had to climb stairs which I do like to climb at every opportunity that I find. People have become statuettes when using the movin' escalators, used lifts[elevators] when a little stair walking would improve their circulation . May be that is why my waist and weight are the same as I was 53 years ago. 120/65 66:

Australian Susan  •  Link

Although the King James version of the bible (pub. 1611) was the authorised one, the Geneva bible was much favoured by those of a puritan persuasion (it was based on translations made in late Elizabethan times, with annotations which were of a Calvinist nature - this included such "doctrines" as it being right for a people to overthrow a tyrannical monarch). Not surprisingly, Elizabeth I tried to ban this bible, but it took her successor to introduce an acceptable alternative. With the turmoil of the Civil War period and there still not being a religious act of parliament (1662 - established the Book of Common Prayer still in use in the Anglican Communion today), probably some preachers would use this bible or the bishop's bible (another late 16th century bible) rather than the King James.

tony t.  •  Link

"At least 15miles (25kms)"
I was suspicious of this when I first read it and I have now got out my large scale London atlas to check the distances. The difficulty is that Sam does not say where he met Mr Creed when on his way 'homewards' from the Savoy but even if he had almost reached his door (unlikely) my estimate for his total journeying is only about 12 miles. If they met close to the Savoy the figure might be less than 10 miles. Still impressive!

Here are my detailed estimates :
Seething Lane to Wardrobe 1mile
And back 1mile
Seething Lane to Savoy 1 3/4miles
And back (?) 1 3/4miles
Seething Lane (?) to Gray's Inn 2miles
Gray's Inn to Islington (Upper Street) 1 1/2miles
Islington to Smithfield 1 1/2miles
Smithfield to Seething Lane 1 1/2miles

Mary  •  Link

Sam's mileage.

Also, let's not forget that Sam may have been able to take various short-cuts through alleyways (behind and between buildings) that no longer exist. He knew his London very well and would no doubt have discovered the most efficient routes between any two points on his regular rounds.

Glyn  •  Link

Tony's estimates certainly seem convincing to me. Yet it still means that even if only(!) walked 10 miles (16 km) that would probably have taken him at least 3 hours out of the day.

Pauline  •  Link

Sam's Walk
The way from Gray's Court to Islington would have been quite rural, right? The descriptions of these two places from the L&M Companion make them seem resort-like, places to go for pleasure on a Sunday. The weather must have been great and such an outing pleasurable. He walks the various routes today in shorter pieces, with comraderie in between.

Gray's Inn Walk description:…

And see the link above in the diary entry for what L&M Companion says about Islington.

vicente  •  Link

It does seem walking is a lost art. Then how did one take the eggs or pig to market? Shanks pony. The army of Moncke came from Berwick to London in less than a month, including a few skimishes along the way. The cannon fodder had to walk and be ready to keep London free.

Jim  •  Link

We used to walk that kind of mileage when I was a teenager. On a Saturday we might walk from our neighborhood to the main business district (the area usually called the High Street in the UK?) to hang out in front of the stores (no shopping malls in those days), then walk back home for dinner... and then walk back to the shopping district that night to see a movie and then back home again afterwards. Twelve to fifteen miles total for the day. Of course once we began to be old enough to drive, the automobile replaced shoe leather as the prime means of transport. Pick up a copy of DH Lawrence's Sons and Lovers and see how many miles the characters in that book walked on a casual basis. I have no difficulty in imagining Sam covering that many miles. Also consider that (just as in my teenaged years) a lot of this walking for Sam was in the company of others, so it was a continuation of the social interaction, chatting as they walked.

Pedro.  •  Link

"It does seem walking is a lost art"

Speaking for someone who has enjoyed many long distance walks, for many years, in the beautiful English countryside. I have had the advantage of using the superb modern boots, but I dread to think what my "plates of meat" would be like if I had to walk in our Sam's boots!

dirk  •  Link

"Sam's boots"

I think we shouldn't underestimate 17th c. bootmakers. They were professionals and no fools: they were no doubt able to produce a pair of good walking boots - certainly for a customer who had the money to pay for craftmanship...

vicente  •  Link

Thanks Dirk: Hand made too: Last time I had hand made boots were my dessert boots, never had any thing better since.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Thanks, Dirk - wonderful website!

Pedro.  •  Link

Dirk's Boots.

Thanks Dirk for the sites.
I wonder what the poorer people wore?
Has Sam has still kept his Cromwellian Boots?

Mary  •  Link


Were still worn in Pepys' time. We discussed them at some length following the entry for 24th January 1660, when Elizabeth was 'exceedingly troubled with a pair of new pattens'.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

"heard Dr. Fuller preach upon David’s words"

The text meant is Job xiv. 14, "All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come."
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill  •  Link

"much wondering to see how things are altered with Mr. Creed"

He had been a zealous Puritan.
---Diary and correspondence of Samuel Pepys, the diary deciphered by J. Smith. 1854.

Bill  •  Link

From Mary above: "For 'vent' read 'tent' (L&M)."

TENT, a Roll of Lint to be put into a Wound.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

Tim  •  Link

the links to 17th century shoes, given back in 2004 seem to be down. However have found other images to help you decide if you want to walk a mile or 15 in Sam's shoes. The plainer ones look quite comfy…

john  •  Link

Lancing abscesses back then was risky due to infection but leaving them risks collateral damage.

Cara  •  Link

They still pack abscesses even now with concertina'd lint, doesn't seem the process has changed much.I think it's very touching that Samuel would have performed such an intimate and frankly unpleasant task for his wife. He must have loved her very much! Also, it's not so long ago that people routinely walked long distances and thought it was the norm. My grandfather thought nothing of walking seven miles or so to work then back again to save the price of a tram ticket in the thirties.

Cara  •  Link

Also, on pattens, Thomas Hardy regularly refers to characters wearing them in his novels

JedidiahStott  •  Link

Tent :

Today's more high tech version is usually called a "stent".

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

17th Centuary boots: Today you can see a pair of Parliamentary cavalry boots left in Crediton, Devon, during the Civil Wars, if you are able to contact a member of the church council who have the key to their meeting chamber. To say they are sturdy, and would cost you a small fortune to possess today, is an understatement.
But perhaps the cavalry man didn't find them that comfortable, and didn't mind leaving them behind, which must be a possibility.


When I was in my 20s, I lived in London, and thought nothing of walking 15 miles on a fine Sunday in May, exploring the city and seeing friends along the way. It's a glorious time, with blossoms and daffodils -- and the last of the bluebells.…

Jeremy Buck  •  Link

"at the Savoy heard Dr Fuller preach..."

This is of course the Savoy Chapel rather than he famous hotel of the same name. The Chapel is still there, in Savoy Hill, now known as the King's Chapel of the Savoy. Dating from 1512, its one of the few buildings still standing from Pepys' day....

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

And don't overlook this fact: The elderflowers are out! Many will soon be making elderflower cordial. You can be sure the folk in Stuart Britain would have used these remarkably sweet and fragrant flowers as well.

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