Sunday 27 October 1661

(Lord’s day). At church in the morning; where in the pew both Sir Williams and I had much talk about the death of Sir Robert, which troubles me much; and them in appearance, though I do not believe it; because I know that he was a cheque to their engrossing the whole trade of the Navy office. Home to dinner, and in the afternoon to church again, my wife with me, whose mourning is now grown so old that I am ashamed to go to church with her. And after church to see my uncle and aunt Wight, and there staid and talked and supped with them, and were merry as we could be in their company. Among other things going up into their chamber to see their two pictures, which I am forced to commend against my judgment, and also she showed us her cabinet, where she had very pretty medals and good jewels. So home and to prayers and to bed.

24 Annotations

First Reading

daniel  •  Link

the World Turns

forgive me, Pepysians, why again does Liz mourn?

Judy B  •  Link

I think he is referring to her mourning clothes. Mourning was serious and they wore mourning clothes for longer periods of times than we would think. She has probably been wearing one outfit on multiple occasions and since Sam is hanging around in higher circles these days, she probably needs finer things.

So why don't you take her out and buy her some new things, Sam?

dirk  •  Link


If I read this correctly Elisabeth (and of course Sam himself) are still in the mourning period for Sam's uncle Robert, but Elisabeth mourning clothes are by now somewhat worn and not in a good condition any more - which of course reflects unfavourably on Sam in his present social position.

Remember an entry in August (I haven't looked it up) where, on the occasion of his sunday Church service, Sam remarked that his father hadn't been able to provide the family (including Sam) with the proper mourning clothes, as normal practice at the time required? So Elisabeth has had to do with what she had at hand - probably not new, of maybe she improvised with some of the things in her wardrobe.

Bradford  •  Link

How many months' mourning for the uncle of a husband who may or may not have been left a legacy after all the lawyers get done? (That would puzzle even Victorian etiquetteers.)

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Nothing like having to spend an evening buttering up your (living) rich merchant uncle. Though I wonder how Uncle Wight felt with Beth dressed in mourning for good old Uncle Robert while Sam was desperately trying to suck up in hopes of being left something...He must have been around once or twice when our dear boy had done the same to the late, lamented Robert.

Though maybe he had some fun out of it, tormenting Sam over the pictures... "And do you think it not a fine portrait, Sam'l?" "Yes, certainly Uncle..." "And yet, I'm not sure but that it is inferior...Note the flaws here..." "Oh yes, Uncle." "But then again it's a marvelous fine picture, is it not, nephew? Indeed the finest I have ever seen, do you not agree?" "The finest, uncle..."

Beth smothering laughter as she watches. Though in fairness, she's prepared to do her bit for the family fortune...

(Actually I know how good ole Uncle Wight felt but that's later...And it still must have raised a few thoughts on mortality and the hypocrisy of sucking-up nephews.)

vicente  •  Link

Unfortunately most uncs don't appreciate candid answers: I live to regret,having putting foot and leg in to mouth many times[ never learnt the art of brown nosing, still surviving, strangely enough]. Diplomacy was not one of my strong suites.['tis maybe why my Lingua Franca be at a minimum].

vicente  •  Link

"I know that he was a cheque to their engrossing the whole trade of the Navy office." check mating their consuming [fiddling,skimming] the books to their own satisfaction ? first time talk of misdeeds in the office. Personnaly I have never seen a poor quarter master[he that be in charge of the goodies]

Todd Bernhard"  •  Link

re: Mourning (does not) become Elizabeth

(My apologies to E. O'Neill) Do we know that Beth's mourning clothes are still in hono(u)r of Uncle Robert? Perhaps they're in hono(u)r of Sir Robert...?

That said, I had to chuckle at today's entry. I do love this man sometimes. His honesty in these entries is completely disarming. First we have the very affecting sense of loss, and Sam's outrage at what he perceives to be the Sir Williams' duplicity, which in both cases seems to me to be very truly felt. Then, as Robert and Vincente say, you can completely relate to how Sam suffers during obligations of the evening, when he and Beth are as "merry as we could be in their company."

vicente  •  Link

"...whose mourning is now grown so old that I am ashamed to go to church with her...".a: delapidated b: boring; and then all those wenches in best bib and tucker, a sight for sore eyes, enough to make a man weep.
Sam ye were put on notice tother day, tread lightly, keep ye thoughts out of the diary.
See Liz Pickard Pg 111: Mourning had inflexible rules . It was a status symbol. Wealth could be gauged by the width of the black ripples spreading outwards from a death in the family[i.e. as the family paid for the togs it would show how much debt one could carry, oh! how vain we can be ;].... Aristocracy made the supreme sacrifice of wearing wool, instead of silk , in bereavement......" interesting chapter for the fashion minded.
It seems that Sam likes Lizy in silks not in woosteds.

PHE  •  Link

On reading, I simply assumed they were wearing mourning in respect of R. Slingsby, it being the day after his death and a Sunday. Though not a relative, he was, of course, an important and well-liked colleague of Sam's. Mourning would probably not continue beyond today, or perhaps even beyond their return from church (just guessing). I'm sure Sam could afford to buy Elizabeth a new set of mourning clothes if he's embarssed!

Mary  •  Link

Mourning for whom?

I'm betting that the mourning clothes are still being worn for Uncle Robert, though as it's now slightly over 3 months since the date of his death, the 'depth' of the mourning is likely to be lessened fairly soon. Surely it would be thought slightly impertinent to go into deep mourning for one's boss; as though claiming a closeness of kinship that didn't exist?

E  •  Link

My bet on Elizabeth's mourning is the other way -- that she appeared shabby to her (reasonably perceptive) husband after she had had to fetch it out specially for the death of his boss, not because she had worn it for months and he had suddenly noticed. She may well be wearing an older black coat that was not needed for mourning his uncle in the warmer weather three months ago.

Victorian mourning periods appeared ridiculous even to some of themselves, presumably indicating that the lengths of time had been extended from the traditional ones. On the other hand traditional ways of this earlier century might encourage the Pepys family to mourn his boss as though he were the lord and master and not just a modern 9-5 boss.

upper_left_hand_corner  •  Link

Well, nobody has commented much on the actual circumstances of Sir Robert's passing.

Recall that it was only 22 October, when "In the afternoon about business up and down, and at night to visit Sir R. Slingsby, who is fallen sick of this new disease, an ague and fever." Here it is 5 days later and he's already dead.

In those days there was ample reason to be "afeard" when an illness turned for the worst. And who knows whether they started bleeding him or not ...

vicente  •  Link

Unfortunately Sam gives us [the jury]no gory details or tells us about the vital signs. There was no check list of symptoms like pulse, BP, lumps or bumps in the wrong places,had a lost of weight recently, temperature [fever],color of skin or any of the 4 standard color conditions of phlegm. So unlike the Press we could not occupy our arm chairs and issue the latest consensus of findings. We will have to wait for the Autopsy to find out if the Liver etc., was normal.
J.Evelyn mentions many times they autopsied his dead children.

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

Vicente - from your first link - I rather like the 'no cure no fee' aspect of that doctor's practice. Would that they would do it nowadays!

vicente  •  Link

'twas like that before NHS started. If the patient died, as it was mostly a barter system,they {country Doctor} did not get a fatted calf from a satisfied customer.

Second Reading

Dick Wilson  •  Link

I believe that in this context, "engrossing" means "Monopolizing". The Navy Board approves contracts with vendors; they accept kick-backs from the vendors, or are themselves the silent partners of the vendors -- but all for the purpose of seeing to it that His Majesty gets the best value for his money, of course.

Bill  •  Link

To ENGROSS in Trade is to buy up all of a Commodity in order to enhance the Price.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

Bill  •  Link

"and them in appearance, though I do not believe it"

APPEARANCE, the external Aspect or Surface of a Thing ... which nevertheless, according to the Distance, Situation, or other Accident, may convey to the Conception something very much differing from what it in reality is.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Given that Sam knew so many people and had a large extended family, and with people dropping like flies as they did in that era, it's hard to imagine his wife ever out of mourning. Also, I wonder, didn't men also wear mourning clothes? Sam doesn't mention whether his own clothing "has grown so old" that he's ashamed to go to church.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Slingsby gets an entry in the DNB describing his career before 1660 serving the King. It says he died of 'the intermittent typhus then circulating in London'.

eileen d.  •  Link

re: autopsy of j. evelyn's child (referred to by vicente, above):

"In January 1658 the eldest son Dick (Richard) fell ill from a quartan ague or fever, had sweats and fits, and finally died. Physicians were sent for from London but the bitterly cold weather prevented them from arriving in time to help little Dick. Evelyn's devastation at the loss of his son shows all too well when he painfully records Dick's age as 5 years, 5 months, and 3 days. He angrily blames the death on the servants keeping Dick too hot with a great fire and blankets. Evelyn was an educated man interested in science or natural philosophy as it was called in the 17th century. This may have led to his somewhat unusual decision to attend the autopsy of Dick. The findings of liver growne and a large spleen, suggest possibly rickets or malaria as the cause of Dick's death."…

from j. evelyn's diary (at same website): "On the Saturday following, I sufferd the Physitians to have him opened...[details follow... a wrenching entry!]"

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