Friday 13 September 1661

This morning I was sent for by my uncle Fenner to come and advise about the buriall of my aunt, the butcher, who died yesterday; and from thence to the Anchor, by Doctor’s Commons, and there Dr. Williams and I did write a letter for my purpose to Mr. Sedgewick, of Cambridge, about Gravely business, and after that I left him and an attorney with him and went to the Wardrobe, where I found my wife, and thence she and I to the water to spend the afternoon in pleasure; and so we went to old George’s, and there eat as much as we would of a hot shoulder of mutton, and so to boat again and home. So to bed, my mind very full of business and trouble.

20 Annotations

First Reading

dirk  •  Link

"my aunt, the butcher"

Just for the sake of clarity: it's not the aunt who was a butcher, but her late husband, William Kite.

dirk  •  Link

"Gravely business"

Sam has been seeing several people about his family problem lately - a pity he rarely ever gives us any detail on the contents of these consultations.

RexLeo  •  Link

"... there eat as much as we would of a hot shoulder of mutton"

The first all you can eat buffet!

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"a hot shoulder of mutton"
It seems to me that SP is on a low carbohydrate or better a high protein diet; he is always eating beef,mutton,oysters,venison and an occasional fruit; unless of course the daily bread and potatoes are not worth mentioning.

Mary K McIntyre  •  Link

Not a bad Friday the 13th, after all. Did they observe the superstition back then?

On another note, did not the aunt have carried on the business after her husband's death? She would, therefore, have been Sam's aunt, the butcher.

BradW  •  Link

to spend the afternoon in pleasure

So are Sam and the Mrs. back to being close again it seems. At the risk of over-analyzing a fine afternoon, I wonder just how "pleasure" in this sentence would translate today? Leisure? A fun time? Falling back in love? Being frivolous? The range of possible nuance here is intriguing. Since they went "to the water" for their pleasure could it mean skinny dipping in the Thames?

daniel  •  Link


i suspect that bread is a consistant accompaniment along with the other victuals thus not worthy mentioning to Sam.

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

Mary, for Friday 13 see:… .
Yes, it was an unlucky day in those days as well. Ships did not sail from their harbour on Friday 13.

[16 March 2016, replaced link with version. P.G.]

Lawrence  •  Link

Mr Sedgewick, of Cambridge, Steward of Graveley manor. Per L&M.

JWB  •  Link

100+ words
That's some meaty sentence.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"to spend the afternoon in pleasure"
Interesting, though slightly later, use of the word pleasure as a verb: When the Duke of Marlborough came back from a long campaign, he was so delighted to see his wife again, that he (according to her writings) "pleasured me twice in his jackboots".

dirk  •  Link

did the aunt carry on the business after her husband's death?

Re - Mary K McIntyre

Not likely. Butcher Kite died 9 years ago, and auntie afterwards remarried (and lost her second husband too). A woman as a butcher would have been unacceptable in the 17th c to the guild *and* in terms of social “correctness” - even nowadays it must be rare to find a woman running a butcher’s business on her own (I don’t know of any).

Nigel Pond  •  Link

"to spend the afternoon in pleasure"

Susan, I think this could mean something other than hanky-panky. Could it just not mean that spent the afternoon enjoying a cruise on the river?

Australian Susan  •  Link

Nigel, yes, I do not think for a moment that Sam was doing anything other than enjoy the scenery, the refreshments and his wife's company! I was just reminded of Sarah Churchill's remarks, by the discussion on the word "pleasure".

Second Reading

Carol  •  Link

"unless of course the daily bread and potatoes are not worth mentioning."
It's very unlikely that Sam would have eaten potatoes, and if he had done it would definitely have merited a mention in his diary. Although potatoes had been brought to England about 80 years earlier (reputedly, and probably, by Francis Drake) it wasn't until the industrial revolution of the 19th century that they were widely eaten.

Bill  •  Link

Potatoes were perhaps not widely eaten, but 80 years is a long time...
The Use of all these Potato's
The Spanish Potato's are roasted under the embers, and being pared or peeled and sliced, are put into sacke with a little sugar, or without, and is delicate to be eaten.
They are used to be baked with Marrow, Sugar, Spice, and other things in Pyes, which are a daintie and costly dish for the table.
The Comfit makers preserve them and candy them as diuers things, and so ordered, is very delicate fit to accompany such other banquetting dishes.
The Virginia Potato's being dressed after all these waies before specified maketh almost as delicate meate as the former.
The Potato's of Canada are by reason of their great increasing, growne to be so common here with us at London that even the most vulgar begin to despise them, whereas when they were first received among us, they were dainties for a Queene.
---Paridisi In Sole Paradisus Terristris. J. Parkinson, 1629.

Bill  •  Link

(and a hundred years later)

This potato [the large red] is now much cultivated about London, the gentry in particular being very fond it. Perhaps they think it makes a figure on their table, on account of its colour: as to its taste, it does not exceed the pale-yellow potato, which is by many thought to be a sweeter root.
---Museum Rusticum Et Commerciale. 1764.

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Thanks, Bill, I wondered about that. Potatoes are in the same family as the poisonous nightshade and those familiar with the flowers may have suspected that they were poisonous; all parts except the tubers contain the poison alkaloid solanine. The sources of your quotes probably confounded the sweet potato with the common potato - they are not related.

This may have been part of the era when they were becoming more acceptable.

It's interesting that they speak of Spanish, Virginia, and Canada potatoes since the source of the potato is an area around the border of Peru and Bolivia but well before the Europeans were in South America their cultivation had spread. BTW the Virginia potato is a 'real' potato, as is the Irish potato, but I'm at a loss to understand a Canada potato. The name Spanish potato, I guess, may have come about from it being introduced to Europe by Spain. (Several plants have the species name 'chininsis' because a long time ago a crate with plant samples was mislabeled as originating in China.)

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Nate Lockwood wrote, ". . . but I'm at a loss to understand a Canada potato".

Isn't it possible that the reference was to potatoes grown in and shipped from Canada, and not a particular type? Canada is and has been a large producer of potatoes, at least in the past few centuries.

AndreaLouise Hanover  •  Link

Spend the afternoon in pleasure .... nothing like a 4 hour lunch in the sun in South africa ......

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