Monday 11 November 1661

To the Wardrobe, and with Mr. Townsend and Moore to the Saracen’s Head to a barrel of oysters, and so Mr. Moore and I to Tom Trice’s, with whom I did first set my hand to answer to a writt of his this tearm. Thence to the Wardrobe to dinner, and there by appointment met my wife, who had by my direction brought some laces for my Lady to choose one for her. And after dinner I went away, and left my wife and ladies together, and all their work was about this lace of hers.

Captain Ferrers and I went together, and he carried me the first time that ever I saw any gaming house, to one, entering into Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields, at the end of Bell Yard, where strange the folly of men to lay and lose so much money, and very glad I was to see the manner of a gamester’s life, which I see is very miserable, and poor, and unmanly.

And thence he took me to a dancing school in Fleet Street, where we saw a company of pretty girls dance, but I do not in myself like to have young girls exposed to so much vanity.

So to the Wardrobe, where I found my Lady had agreed upon a lace for my wife of 6l, which I seemed much glad of that it was no more, though in my mind I think it too much, and I pray God keep me so to order myself and my wife’s expenses that no inconvenience in purse or honour follow this my prodigality. So by coach home.

31 Annotations

First Reading

Pedro.  •  Link

Saracen's Heads.

Permission for a slight digression? Sam's reading of Fuller's "Holy Warre" a couple of days ago, and now having a tot in the Sarecen's Head, reminded me of a Saracens Head I had passed recently on a walk called "The Heart of England Way". This was a 15C Coaching Inn, and it took its name from nearby Temple Balsall (Warwickshire) where there was a Hall, Chapel and Almshouses belonging to the Knights Templar. In 1645 Queen Henrietta had stayed there while on her way to join her husband, Charles I, at Oxford. Looking along her route it appears she stayed at another Saracen's Head (not now used as a pub) at King's Norton near Birmingham.

Another Saracen's Head, in Southwell, was where Charles I surrendered to the Scots in 1646.

Jesse  •  Link

"I pray God...that no inconvenience in purse or honour follow this my prodigality"


Pedro.  •  Link

"the first time that ever I saw any gaming house,". strange the folly of men to lay and lose so much money"..the manner of a gamester's life, which I see is very miserable, and poor, and unmanly."

I wonder if our Prime Minister reads Sam's Diary? Sam would obviously be against the import of those huge Casinos from across the Pond!

daniel  •  Link

"I do not in myself like to have young girls..."

give Sam a generation and they will all be going to dancing schools and watching the pretty vain girls by matter of course!

this is certainly an interesting entry in its details on sedition!

Kilroy  •  Link

"... this my [extravagant wastefulness]."

Or is Sam overlooking a good investment?

Previously Sam was admonished [Nov 9] by his Lady to provide better for his wife's appearance. He notes that receiving lace selected by his Lady that "all their work was about this lace of hers."

I think Sam misses that his Lady is giving him a lesson on how to help his wife become a Lady. And that 6 pounds is a cheap investment for expanding one's input channels.

vicente  •  Link

Six Quid! ye doth get two maids to do ones bidding for that kind of money.
"...but I do not in myself like to have young girls exposed to so much vanity..." oh! yere, Who are ye kidding, Sam, this is yer old id, ye are trying to fool. Never fool yere id. 'tis the quickest way to Bed lam.

RexLeo  •  Link

"...where I found my Lady had agreed upon a lace for my wife of 6l., which I seemed much glad of that it was no more, though in my mind I think it too much"

6l. approximately current US$800 is quite a lot for a dress adornment - hope he gets the bang of social recognition for the buck he lays out.

vicente  •  Link

Sam listen to the Wisdom of your wise friends.
Ut ameris, amabilis esto Ovid, Ars Amatoria,II, 107
or better yet as Plautus, Persa , 1-2 puts it :
Qui amans egens ingressus est prinnceps in Amoris vias, superavit aerumnis suis aerumnas Herculi.
He who sets off on Loves road without some brass is taking on greater tasks than Hercules.

If ye want to be loved , be lovable [and pay up](1st line)

vicente  •  Link

Rex, ye should go to Bev. Hills CA USA and buy a watch, just 45G's US$ [and it ain't on Rubidium time either,] this years holiday selection of the month. 'Umans always want Wot no one else cannot afford.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"a gamester's life"
"which I see is very miserable and poor and unmanly"
well lets not generalize Sam, it can be quite fun,unless you are addicted to it of course

Mary  •  Link

"my wife .... brought some laces"

We've heard no mention of a security deposit, so it's interesting that Elizabeth was plainly trusted by the merchant to take several expensive laces away on approval for Milady to examine.

Firenze  •  Link

lace: this from someone who paid 4l 5s for a beaver hat for himself (never mind books and thereboes).

I am interested in what, exactly, Mrs Pepys was getting made of lace - the only illustration I could find for the 1660s -… - suggests a lot of ruffles on the sleeves and maybe a trim to the bodice neck.

Katharina  •  Link

Here are more pictures for 1660's fashion (the site also contains an instruction for a 17th century petticoat for real afficionados - though lace isn't mentioned):……

The German economist Sombart - who coined the term capitalism - tied the rise of capitalism with the increasing demand for luxury commodities during the 17th and 18th centuries. He mentions lace as a particular indicator or rank and wealth. I wonder how much money Sam spent for lace on his clothes (at least the male fashion of lace trimmed boots seems to be over by now).

John Richards  •  Link

Saracen's Head continued, another the Greeks and Romans, a Saracen was a nomad of the Arabian desert. The word came to mean Arab, then Moslem, especially regarding the Crusades. Returning knights often included the head on their amorial bearings. It proved very popular and was eventually transferred to inn, and alehouse signs.

The inn signs usually show a typical Arab or Turk. It is now quite a common sign. There is one in Dudley, West Midlands, known as the Saracen's Head and Free Masons' Arms Hotel.

There are/were also a number of pubs across England known as the Samuel Pepys, though I have yet to enjoy a pint in one.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Saracen's Head
There are also Turk's Head pub signs too in England.
The Book of Common Prayer (in terms of the Diary, we are about to get the 1662 Book of Common Prayer), used to contain a prayer to be said as occasion arose for the conversion of "the Turk" - I think this was generally taken to mean anyone who was Muslim. I have a family BCP from 1752 which contains special services for Gunpowder Treason (Nov 5th)(thanksgiving for saving King James I from being blown up), also a service for "Charles, King and martyr" because his "innocent and sacred blood" was spilled,(January 30th) a service of thanskgiving for the restoration of the royal family in May 1660 and forms of prayer to be said in private homes morning and evening - probably what Sam has been too foxed to say recently! They are not long sets of prayers so if he was using these BCP prayers, he must have been truly "fuddled" not to fudge his way through them!

Ruben  •  Link

Saracen's Head
through the centuries Saracen piracy had drained the population of Europe, including England and farther north.
Taken from an historical site:
"In 1631 a galley arrived in Algiers after having raided Baltimore, Ireland. Aboard were eighty-three captives, including children. Father Pierre Dan, a priest who negotiated ransoms, described the selling on an Irish family at the slave mart. "It was a piteous sight to see them exposed for sale at Algiers, for when they parted the wife from the husband, and the father from the child; then, say I, they sell the husband here, and the wife there, tearing from her arms the daughter whom she cannot hope to see ever again." (Wheelan, page 21) The priests, sometimes called Redemptionists, purchased the freedom of 15,500 captives between 1575 and 1769.”

I think there was no reason in Pepys time to travel abroad to see a Saracen, or at least the head of the unfortunate pirate who lost this part of his anatomy on a raid on England…
I remember (information from this site) that the head and sometimes all the body of some traitors were put on spikes for “education” of the general public, so why not to do that with the head of a Saracen?
As the head, smeared with brine may be kept for years, the place were it is exposed may be called Saracen’s Head.
Just a theory.

Ruben  •  Link

More on Saracen's Head:
In Spanish "Cabeza de Moro" (equivalent to Sarace's Head) is a leather colour for your overcoat.
It is a little macabre, but I think the colour looks like the skin of a person dead long ago...

Jim  •  Link

Saracen's Head

This carries over to New England. Providence (Rhode Island) has the Turk's Head Building -- a 16 story 1913 vintage office building with a carved Turk's Head over its main doorway. According to local legend, in the mid-1700's there was a house on this site that featured a large carving of a Saracen warrior's head (perhaps, given the New England sea-going traditions, due to the kinds of events that has just described?) that became known as the Turk's Head House and the street intersection at that spot was called the Turk's Head Corner. When this office building was constructed, the architect ordered a carved Turk's head to adorn the building and honor the local name for that site.……

Glyn  •  Link

Rookie Mistake Sam!

Although boring, as a husband it was your duty to sit with the ladies and constantly praise the cheapest stuff possible, not leave them alone with a lot of things to buy and open access to your wallet. His basic pay from the Navy Office is 350 pounds a year, so in effect he will be working the whole of next week just to pay for this!

But I do like the image of him forcing a smile and telling Elizabeth and Jemima that he would have been perfectly happy if they had spent even more money, while feeling sharp stabbing pains in his wallet.

Glyn  •  Link

into Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, at the end of Bell Yard,

Coincidentally, this is almost opposite Prince Henry’s Room on Fleet Street, which now has a room with exhibits about Pepys.

Is anyone else apart from me becoming intrigued by the seemingly genuine friendship between Sam and Captain Ferrers? I imagine Sam to be fairly timid, or at least cautious, whereas Ferrers jumps off balconies for fun. If you click on the Ferrers link, at the bottom of the page we find that they’ve been to the theatre together lots of times, and Ferrers has introduced Pepys to Kinnaston the famous actor. It seems a genuine friendship but I think Ferrers is a more “cavalier-type” person than Pepys.

Stolzi  •  Link

The Saracen's Head

"The inn signs usually show a typical Arab or Turk. It is now quite a common sign."

Will the Muslim population in UK now demand the removal of these signs?

Mary  •  Link

"I pray God keep me so ..."

Why is it that I feel sure that Pepys 'prayer' will be answered more often when the possible expense concerns Elizabeth's wishes, rather than his own?

vicente  •  Link

In a large number of couples, the female of the species, never Knew about the Perks that the man got on the side, he may have told her about his main Income, but it was most likely she made a guess about the money available by the number of maids and runners he is keeping in his household, but it was very unlikely that she even knew the value of his prime income. So the odds that Liza was not brought up to date on the details of household finances. Money was and is a subject never discussed in many British homes [trades mens entrances and fees, never money except at the GG's]. Cash and carry [tab was available for some] was for those that depended on daily income. The more fortunate paid the providers of goods and services once a year [Lady day]. Trust for payment was by hand shake, Even I, remember the days, when I could go into a place where "gentlemen ?" were allowed to pick up 'wot' was wanted and the bill was sent at end of the quarter. Was the bane of Small High street merchants and other Mum and Pop businesses { they had to carry many upper strata dead beats), never Knowing if His Lordship and is ilke, would pay up so that they could pay their bills. Credit card has change so many bad habits.

Pedro  •  Link

Turk's Head... "the Crusades. Returning knights often included the head on their amorial bearings."

And also later than the Crusades. Colonel Sir Palmes Fairborne. At the time of the mustering of the Regiment under the Earl of Peterborough, on 14th October 1661, Fairborne commanded the second company. Warfare was not unknown to him as he had earlier distinguished himself in the defence of Crete against the Turks, service which entitled him to the right to a "Turk's Head" on his coat-of-arms

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

The Turk's Head Building [ Thanks for the reference, Jim. ] is a 16-story office high-rise in Providence, Rhode Island. Completed in 1913, the building is one of the oldest skyscrapers in Providence....

The skyscraper's peculiar name dates back to the early nineteenth century, when shopkeeper Jacob Whitman mounted a ship's figurehead above his store. The figurehead, which came from the ship Sultan, depicted the head of an Ottoman warrior. Whitman's store was called "At the sign of the Turk's Head". The figurehead vanished in a storm and today a granite replica of the original Turk head is found on the building's 3rd floor façade.…

Edith Lank  •  Link

Sam's official salary is only part of his income. There may be additional fees for some of his services, and he has no objection to gifts and downright bribes. The fact that they must be mildly undercover probably adds a bit of zest.

Michael Girard  •  Link

Very interesting to learn about the tradition of the Sarecen's Head and how it connects to New England. We'll be reading up on this update the story on our blog.…
I'll add a link from our story, to this right now.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Captain Ferrers and I went together, and he carried me the first time that ever I saw any gaming house, to one"

L&M : As a child in arms Pepys had been taken to see the gaming at one of the Temple halls:…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"And thence he took me to a dancing school in Fleet Street, where we saw a company of pretty girls dance, but I do not in myself like to have young girls exposed to so much vanity."

Cf. Travels of Cosmo the third, Grand Duke of Tuscany, through England during the reign of King Charles the second (1669). Tr. from the Italian manuscript in the Laurentian library at Florence. To which is prefixed, a memoir of his life
by Magalotti, Lorenzo, conte, 1637-1712, p. 314…
'Dancing is a very common and favourite amusement of the ladies in this country; every evening there are entertainments at different places [in London], at which many ladies and citizens' wives are present, they going to them alone, as they do to the rooms of the dancing masters, at which there are frequently upwards of forty or fifty ladies.' (L&M note digitized)

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