Saturday 6 July 1661

Waked this morning with news, brought me by a messenger on purpose, that my uncle Robert is dead, and died yesterday; so I rose sorry in some respect, glad in my expectations in another respect. So I made myself ready, went and told my uncle Wight, my Lady, and some others thereof, and bought me a pair of boots in St. Martin’s, and got myself ready, and then to the Post House and set out about eleven and twelve o’clock, taking the messenger with me that came to me, and so we rode and got well by nine o’clock to Brampton, where I found my father well. My uncle’s corps in a coffin standing upon joynt-stools in the chimney in the hall; but it begun to smell, and so I caused it to be set forth in the yard all night, and watched by two men. My aunt I found in bed in a most nasty ugly pickle, made me sick to see it. My father and I lay together tonight, I greedy to see the will, but did not ask to see it till to-morrow.

6 Jul 2004, 11:15 p.m. - A. De Araujo

"sorry in some respect,glad in my expectations in another respect" he doesn't lie to himself!

6 Jul 2004, 11:39 p.m. - daniel

" a nasty ugly pickle" it is interesting to read this expression being used in this time but what does Sam mean by it here? i use "to be in a pickle" to mean to be in quite a predicament. is that how others use it? a viewpoint from the right side of the pond?

6 Jul 2004, 11:54 p.m. - Terry

Daniel: If "the right side of the pond" means Britain, then yes, I use "to be in a pickle" in exactly the same way as you.

7 Jul 2004, 12:49 a.m. - Alan Bedford

" coffin standing upon joynt-stools in the chimney in the hall" In seventeenth-century usage, "chimney" would mean a large fireplace (from the French cheminee) as well as the flue. A "joint stool" is built and assembled using pegs, without glue or nails. They were fairly common in the 17th century. Here are pictures:

7 Jul 2004, 1:23 a.m. - Robert Gertz

"...most nasty ugly pickle, made me sick to see it..." Obviously Sam was not pleased with Auntie's behavior. Drunk (pickled) perhaps? Certainly not in a condition to handle things as our Sam would think proper...(ie no hot dinner of good venison pasty awaiting him and Dad on their arrival) Though in fairness to the poor lady she was probably distracted to see the vultures gathering, ready to cast her out into the street, including that nice, brightly attentive nephew her deceased hubs had put such store in...

7 Jul 2004, 1:41 a.m. - Louis

"My aunt I found in bed in a most nasty ugly pickle, made me sick to see it." L&M Companion, Large Glossary: PICKLE, to be in a: to be in a state, a mess: 1573, a proverbial phrase that P usually intensifies (with e.g. "ugly," &c.) ---citing this passage. As will be apparent almost immediately, this seems to refer to Pepys's aunt being in a really disagreeable state of mind.

7 Jul 2004, 1:44 a.m. - Bradford

"I greedy to see the will." Well aren't we all. If this were a novel, what would you expect to happen next?

7 Jul 2004, 3:21 a.m. - Jbailey

I wonder if the aunt is "in a pickle" because she knows she will not inherit the estate. Anyone know what inheritance laws were like in the 17th Century? Will the aunt be left destitute?

7 Jul 2004, 4:03 a.m. - vicente

Many cannot handle tragedy. This being, she burying a second husband and there not being any legitimate issue to console her. It appears that he had many holdings, there is a will, once available on the Webb but has been withdrawn. Needs a Maudlin visit [Magdalene Coll:] to get the gory details. A pickle, steeped in brine no doubt. Some others would call this situation, a bit of a stew;{ I.E. in rather little bit of a mess, cannot put on the stiff upper lip, not up to receiving "the down from the city gents".}. Of course Sammy is saddle sore, thirsty,hungry for a bite to eat, after 75 miles or there about in the saddle for nine hours , spending his time breaking in new boots too. I'm sure he had a quick quaff, and change of nags every couple of hours, the old nag would not make it. Even tho it is not very hilly, there are some climbs that would make ye puff.

7 Jul 2004, 4:35 a.m. - vicente

Sam's the last trip: a mare from Mr.Gartwayt's stable, early start, foul weather , and rode to Ware, baited at Puckeridge and rested at Foulmer. trip route? 5 London, Waltham, Hoddesdon, Ware, [Wadesmill,Puckeridge]Royston, Huntingdon,[not Stilton][ not yet a Toll road, many post houses etc.,]

7 Jul 2004, 5:27 a.m. - vicente

An Important Bill in the works that will affect S. Pepes , then there is a penal laws Bill against priests, confirmed. Then on monday the Unelected ones, best turn up in the best finery Monday, also the Elected ones were also warned to be on their best behaviour. "....Bill for regulating the Navy...." From: British History Online Source: House of Lords Journal Volume 11: 6 July 1661. House of Lords Journal Volume 11, (). URL: Date: 07/07/2004 Copyright 2003 University of London & History of Parliament Trust

7 Jul 2004, 8:43 a.m. - Pedro.

"and so I caused it to be set forth in the yard all night, and watched by two men" Many years before Burke and Hare, but were "body-snatchers" abroad in these times?

7 Jul 2004, 9:01 a.m. - Tom Ferguson

"... I greedy to see the will, but did not ask to see it till to- morrow." A mixture of tenses, presumably this was written some time later. From notes or from memory?

7 Jul 2004, 9:24 a.m. - Xjy

Vulture Sam Love is a flower that withers and dies Love is like a Rose. But Property, Property sticks, And Property, Property grows... He's much more excited about his prospects for improvement and status (land land land) than he is sad about the passing of a relative he had little living contact with. Property relations determining degree of closeness, or vice versa? What do you do with relatives when their significance for care in old age or inheritance disappears? Send them Xmas cards, that's what :-) if you can be bothered.

7 Jul 2004, 10:54 a.m. - Ruben

Pedro: What about a dog or other animal? Then, may be, to watch him, was part of the honour given to Uncle Robert.

7 Jul 2004, 2:15 p.m. - BradW

"and so I caused it to be set forth in the yard all night, and watched by two men" were "body-snatchers" abroad in these times? Let’s not forget the reason for “wakes” in those centuries—there were a few genuine “resurrections” (cases where people were mistaken pronounced dead prematurely), and plenty of rumors and wild stories. See Paul Theroux’s thrilling non-fiction “The Great Train Robbery” for an account of how a Victorian obsession with mistaken death proclamations played into one of the greatest crimes of the 19th Century.

7 Jul 2004, 2:52 p.m. - Stolzi

Sitting up with the body Pedro, this was the custom as recently as the middle of last century, when my uncle was buried from the family farmhouse in Georgia. We didn't all sit up, but a couple of men did. (Nowadays when bodies repose at funeral homes, there will also be someone there, awake, I believe.)

7 Jul 2004, 4:21 p.m. - Nix

17th Century inheritance laws -- I know a (very) little bit, from law school 30 years ago: The widow would have "dower" rights in the estate, meaning that she is entitled to a portion of the income from the real estate owned by the deceased. The aunt knew from the day of marriage that she would not inherit, because women could not own property on their own. If there is no valid will, the rest of the estate passes by "inheritance" -- the law specifies the priority of various relatives to receive it. Technically, the term "heir" applies only to those who receive property by operation of the law, and not by will. If there is a will, the recipients are called "devisees" (those who receive a devise -- a gift of real estate) and "legatees" (those who receive a legacy -- a gift of personal property). To make it more complicated, some forms of property can pass ONLY by inheritance, so go to the "heirs at law" even if there is a valid will purporting to give it to someone else. The documentation of the history of a particular piece of property is therefore critical, and of course there was endless controversy and litigation over the technicalities of wills and deeds -- especially if the estate was large enough. For readers of Dickens, the name "Jarndyce" sort of sums it all up.

7 Jul 2004, 4:23 p.m. - Nix

... and for readers of tabloids, substitute the name "Anna Nicole".

7 Jul 2004, 4:39 p.m. - JWB

"...made me sick to see it." I take this to be literal truth. Taken after the half jocular(to modern ears) "pickle" phrase, I think his meaning distorted. Who among us hasn't known that nausea? I've seen one will in my family from about this time in which the surviving wife was stipulated to be cared for by the eldest son, was given exclusive use of a patch ground(not title to), I suppose the kitchen garden, and some cows, even calling the cows by name.

7 Jul 2004, 5:21 p.m. - Mary

lyke-wake. The watch held over Uncle Robert's corpse would have been dictated on various grounds; ceremonial and cultural (as detailed above) and also practical. Foxes would be a probable cause for concern at this time of year; cubs, well grown and hungry, are just starting to learn how to hunt with the dog-fox and the vixen rather than waiting for food to be brought back to the earth.

8 Jul 2004, 11:11 a.m. - Ruben

"he had little living contact with" (uncle Robert). This is not sure. When a boy SP probably lodged at this uncle house, near his school.

12 Jul 2004, 11:55 a.m. - Ruben

From an annotation from Pauline on Sun 9 May 2004, 12:42 am Pepys, Robert..."In Aug. 1630 he married Anne, widow of Richard Trice, at All Saints, Huntingdon, and then or soon after moved to the house at Brampton which [Sam} was ultimately to inherit and where it is likely that he lived when attending Huntingdon school c. 1642-c.1644... The first of four paragraphs in the L&M Companions"

13 Jul 2004, 10:52 a.m. - David Tiley

Seems a very literal interpretation of the pickle and sick words to me. It is probably a touch acerbic, but possibly not lacking in compassion. Her "pickle" could surely have been her extremity of grief caused by the death of a husband and not just the problem of her future. And Pepys' own "sickness" could have something of empathy and pity. He is face to face here with the emotional realities of death.

19 Mar 2014, 9:38 p.m. - Terry Foreman

"coffin standing upon joynt-stools" Images of 17th century joint stools and instructions on building one from a tree

25 May 2014, 5:40 p.m. - Bill

JOINT STOOL, a stool made by joints, or in such a manner that the legs, sides, and top join in each other. ---The Royal English dictionary. D. Fenning, 1763. The Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei is obsessed (I think) with joint-stools from his country.

25 May 2014, 5:54 p.m. - Bill

"My aunt I found in bed in a most nasty ugly pickle" PICKLE ... 3. Condition, state. Shakespeare. ---A Dictionary Of The English Language. Samuel Johnson, 1756. The word seems to have had a neutral meaning for this other Sam. Our Sam used the word "pickle" on 26 September 1660 and there are more annotations there.

7 Jul 2014, 4:05 a.m. - Louise Hudson

Whatever was meant by "in a nasty, ugly pickle," Sam seems pretty cold-hearted. His aunt has just lost her husband, and all he can say is that her state made him sick! That and the will, of course. Sam's character is deteriorating in my estimation. He doesn't mention his father's reaction. I wonder if he was as cold to his father who has lost a brother.

7 Jul 2014, 8:13 a.m. - Sasha Clarkson

I don't think you can necessarily interpret "made me sick" in the modern sense as implying disgust. I interpreted it as his Aunt being in a terrible mess, and he being very disturbed at the sight of it, perhaps more like "sick to one's stomach" today.

7 Jul 2014, 2:27 p.m. - john

A corpse in the garden would be fair game for many scavengers (pigs, canids, birds).

7 Jul 2014, 6:42 p.m. - Weavethe hawk

I think Sasha is close to the mark. He probably found her in bed, looking pretty rough, and maybe smelling not too sweet.

8 Jul 2014, 12:04 a.m. - Chris Squire UK

OED offers: ‘pickle . . II. Extended uses. 4. a. A (usually disagreeable) condition or situation; a plight, a predicament. Now colloq. . . a1616 Shakespeare Tempest (1623) v. i. 284 Alo. How cam'st thou in this pickle? Tri. I hauve bin in such a pickle since I saw you last, That [etc.]. . . 1672 H. Herbert Narr. in Camden Misc. (1990) XXX. 323 Their superiours..were in the same pickle. 1711 R. Steele Spectator No. 302. ⁋11, I am ashamed to be caught in this Pickle. 1742 H. Fielding Joseph Andrews II. iv. ix. 242 She was ashamed to be seen in such a Pickle . . ‘