Monday 5 August 1661

Early to Huntingdon, but was fain to stay a great while at Stanton because of the rain, and there borrowed a coat of a man for 6d., and so he rode all the way, poor man, without any. Staid at Huntingdon for a little, but the judges are not come hither: so I went to Brampton, and there found my father very well, and my aunt gone from the house, which I am glad of, though it costs us a great deal of money, viz. 10l.

Here I dined, and after dinner took horse and rode to Yelling, to my cozen Nightingale’s, who hath a pretty house here, and did learn of her all she could tell me concerning my business, and has given me some light by her discourse how I may get a surrender made for Graveley lands.

Hence to Graveley, and there at an alehouse met with Chandler and Jackson (one of my tenants for Cotton closes) and another with whom I had a great deal of discourse, much to my satisfaction.

Hence back again to Brampton and after supper to bed, being now very quiet in the house, which is a content to us.

29 Annotations

First Reading

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"and there borrowed a coat of a man for 6d." Wouldn't it be rented more appropriate? because if he borrowed it and gave the man a tip and then felt sorry for the poor man,that would not say a lot about his character.

Alan Bedford  •  Link

"(one of my tenants for Cotton closes)"

"Close" as a noun can mean an enclosed piece of land, or in the law (check me on this, Nix): "The interest which one may have in a piece of ground, even though it is not inclosed." (--Bouvier).

So, would there have been enclosed cotton fields in the area in those days? Is it possible - or would it have been - to cultivate cotton commercially in that region?

vicente  •  Link

Oh! which way did Sam ride, It certainly see that he did not follow the crow from Brampton. Must have come down the old bank[?]path of the Ouse. 'Tis peaceful

vicente  •  Link

need lots of SUN?.. Just maybe they were working Dutch cotton , as in this area, there are many Dutch connections?
"...In the fourteenth century cotton was grown in Mediterranean countries and shipped from there to mills in the Netherlands in western Europe for spinning and weaving...
Cotton is grown in about 80 countries, in a band that stretches around the world between latitudes 45 North to 30 South. For a good crop of cotton a long, sunny growing season with at least 160 frost-free days and ample water are required. Well drained, crumbly soils that can keep moisture well are the best. In most regions extra water must be supplied by irrigation. Because of it's long growing season it is best to plant early but not before the sun has warmed the soil enough.

vicente  •  Link

"...but was fain to stay a great while at Stanton because of the rain..." I wonder if Stanton is Fenstanton or Longstanton as both doth lie between his from to and go too.
re:[Sam ride] I was thinking of the Yellin ride to cotton close.
A tanner [6d, a silver coin too] would get a yokel, many good things,, it for a maid was worth 3 days slaving away, defleaing the old master or even a young one. 270 years later it would get ye a pint of best bitter.
Yet he doth begrudge giving 'is olde moaning Aunt, 20 times as much to have a bit of quiet.
A rental, ne'er it was pure bribery.
For those that have enjoyed a july soaker, it be not too bad but Sam must not spoil his luvely boots.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Quite a day! A ride of at least four to five hours, I take it, not counting time out at Stanton for the
rain (Impington-Stanton-Huntingdon-Brampton- Yelling-Gravely-Brampton -- a distance of nearly 40 miles) and at least three fraught meetings (father at Brampton in re the aunt, cousin Nightingale at Yelling -- sur la plus haute branche un rossingnol chantait -- and a tenant for Cotton closes) before returning to the quiet house at Brampton, "which is a content to us," and so wearily, but happily, to bed.

Mary  •  Link

Cotton closes.

There is a village west of Cambridge that appears as Coton on modern maps. It is more likely that the closes mentioned here are located at Coton/Cotton, rather than that they had anything to do with the cotton trade.

Mary  •  Link


The aunt was actually paid off with 400 times as much cash as the coat was 'borrowed' for, not 20 times; there were 40 sixpences to a pound before we were decimalised.

andy  •  Link

"so he rode all the way, poor man, without any".

Presumably he was in Sam's party then, or how else would he have known, and how else given the coat back? Evidently deemed to be a lesser mortal, no doubt he rode in the rain cursing Sam under his breath all the while, having received "the offer you can't refuse". Maybe in "poor man" Sam felt a pang of guilt over what he had done - I hope so.

andy  •  Link

Reminds me of the old rhyme:

The rain it raineth all upon
the Just and Unjust both together;
But more upon the Just because
the Unjust hath the Just's umbrella

adam w  •  Link

Coton (just W of Cambridge) is nowadays pronounced 'coe-ton' rather than 'cotton' - can anyone tell us how SP would have pronounced his spelling of 'cotton'?

Pedro.  •  Link

"one of my tenants for Cotton closes"

Sam would probably have no interests around Cambrige except for those left in his uncle's estate. I cannot see mention in the background info of Cotton in the will, and so maybe Jackson was a local to the Graveley area and the "closes" might refer to "small enclosed fields"

Mary  •  Link

the 'poor' man and his coat.

Perhaps the man was riding homewards and so would have an opportunity of changing into dry clothes within a reasonably short space of time. Sam, being only part way through his day's tour, was likely to stay wetter for longer; thus persuaded his travelling companion to 'lend' him the coat for at least part of his own journey. Who knows, the rain might have ceased by the time that Sam was ready to leave Huntingdon again.

JWB  •  Link

The Wet Rider
Watch your back, wet or dry, when third parties make claims on justice.

Nix  •  Link

Cotton Closes --

Alan is correct on this usage of "close". Black's Law Dictionary, citing Blackstone, gives the definition as "a portion of land, as a field, inclosed, as by a hedge, fence, or other visible inclosure".

Mary's suggestion that this refers to property near the village of Cotton seems very plausible. It may also be property connected (by proximity, or by prior ownership) with a family named Cotton.

The Cottons were a prominent Cambridgeshire family, with numerous substantial properties.…

Sir Robert Cotton (1570-1631) established "the richest private collection of manuscripts ever amassed", which "now resides at the British Library". Of special Pepysian significance, he "entered Parliament as a member for Huntingdon in 1601".


Either of these explanations strikes me as more likely than agricultural cotton.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

Cotton Closes

The discussion above gives a new meaning to the phrase "deep cotton."

A Hamilton  •  Link


It seems I have mixed up "high cotton" and "deep clover." Oh, well. The discussion of Cotton above is, nonetheless, deep.

vicente  •  Link

Mary Arithmetic : Thanks no wander i failed the eleven plus, 60 yrs past.

vicente  •  Link

Interesting discovery Coton, [coeton cotton]: re: growing of cotton, I'm sure it was attempted[see requiments above, labour intensive and very short picking period, sun sun and more sun and a pith helmet. Even in the 1940's, many attempted to grow 'Baccy. Grew nice leaves fit for stogies, but drying costs were outragesly expensive, investment costs yield a negative return. Mildew [Fungus] grew faster, needed large insulated barns [with out owls] for drying and hanging;
Coton due east {ese} of Yellin: Coton off the A 1303 /A428; west of M11 north of Barton south of the American Cemetary at Madingly:
Best explanation, Land part of the Cotton family Estates.

Pedro.  •  Link


From the background Jackson was a farmer in his own right, with land in the hands of tenants, in and around uncle Robert's area, and yet he becomes a tenant of Sam.
How do we move out of Sam's usual area, and over to Cotton, that has not been previously mentioned? Sam has travelled to all the other areas left to him.

A long shot. Perhaps it is a local name. I have come across an area called "cotton fields" (Closes?) named after the Cotton Grass plants (Eriophorom virginicum) that grow in damp areas, and in the late summer the fields look a little similar to a cotton field.

Pauline  •  Link

'no doubt he rode in the rain cursing Sam'
Or it was a business transaction and the man was glad for the money. The "poor man" was probably dressed in fabrics that recovered more quickly from a drenching (throw them over the hob) than those making up Sam's city clothes.

vicente  •  Link

If ye have not 'ad the pleasure of getting a moisturising fen application that will give ye old cheeks a peachy glow, you have missed one of the finer moments of life. From the Brampton to Cambridge city Line, to the north east, it is open to the north seas indulging soakers, there only be a hillocks like the Isle of Ely to slow down that penetrating invigorating heads down kind of skin cleansing washing. Only Oilskins will hold out that penetrating refreshment. Then no doubt the garment for keeping the woolens dry [and weighing a ton] would be a Tar soaked Poncho like covering. Sam's description of travel to Yelling , says to me, he not knowing the shortcuts [Cow paths] from place a to place b:as some are noted on the maps.
[Tanner]Like all those from the old village school, would enjoy the Income and to see a City ladd suffer[ them there ferriners]

vicente  •  Link

There be a Cotton farm N/W of Gravely on the way from Offord D'Arcy.[see Gravely and map
Name 'Cotton' be lost in Cottenham and Pepys motto " Cottenham Mens cujusque is est quisque " 'As the mind of each, so is the man'
Cotten ham 2 1/2 miles north of Impington on the B 1049.

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Many people from this area around Cambridge moved over to Massachusetts earlier in the seventeenth century, as part of the first great wave of migration from Britain to America. The Cottons were a large and influential family in Massachusetts, and originated in the Cambridge area, so I would guess the name was associated with their family. The famous Cotton Mather descended from them, deriving his first name from his mother's family name.

Second Reading

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

The Pepys family tree and place-names have often made me think of Tolkien's fictional hobbit family trees: never more than today, when I was put in mind of the Gamgee-Cotton family tree of Master Samwise! (Though perhaps the Pepyses were more like the Bagginses! :) )…

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

'close n. . . 2. In many senses more or less specific: as, An enclosed field (now chiefly local, in the English midlands) . .
. . 1564 N. Haward tr. Eutropius Briefe Chron. i. sig. C.viii, Seized of a close or field.
1712 J. Arbuthnot John Bull Still in Senses vi. 24 We measur'd the Corn Fields Close by Close . . ‘


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