Wednesday 29 January 1661/62

To Westminster, and at the Parliament door spoke with Mr. Coventry about business, and so to the Wardrobe to dinner, and thence to several places, and so home, where I found Mrs. Pen and Mrs. Rooth and Smith, who played at cards with my wife, and I did give them a barrel of oysters, and had a pullet to supper for them, and when it was ready to come to table, the foolish girl had not the manners to stay and sup with me, but went away, which did vex me cruelly. So I saw her home, and then to supper, and so to musique practice, and to bed.

16 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

Give Mrs. Pen's age, she's not "the foolish girl"---thus it's Mrs. Rooth? Biographical details requested. Maybe some of Sam's annoyance has affected his syntax, here: "but wanted to leave, which vexed me cruelly" might be closer to the sequence of events. Then he has to leave his own meal to take her home---couldn't a messenger boy perform this service respectfully and safely enough?

Eric Walla  •  Link

I think we need to read a bit into this. I get the feeling we have a cook/serving wench who has gotten food together, served it, and then wanted to go immediately after fulfilling her duties. I'm assuming no one else was available, so since the girl wouldn't eat with him, Sam couldn't eat either until after he escorted her home.

vicenzo  •  Link

" the Parliament door spoke with Mr. Coventry about business..." Sam should have listened in and told us the meaning of this:
"...Collectors, &c. of Public Monies, Bill.
Hodie 1avice lecta est Billa, "An Act for Relief of Collectors of Public Monies, and their Assistants and Deputies."..."

From: British History Online
Source: House of Lords Journal Volume 11: 29 January 1662. Journal of the House of Lords: volume 11, ().
Date: 30/01/2005

Mary  •  Link

the foolish girl

(per L&M footnote) is Margaret Penn, daughter of Sir William, who came home from school in Clerkenwell a couple of days ago because she was not well. Pepys is cross: he has sent out for a pullet (a delicacy and perhaps an expensive bird at this time of year) to do her honour and she hasn't the wit to see that she ought, out of courtesy, to stay and eat at the Pepys's house. Waits till the bird is ready to be served and then skedaddles.

Martin  •  Link

Usage of Mrs.
So, this raises a usage question -- Pepys introduces Margaret as "Mrs.Pen", but she won't be married for another 5 years and then to Mr. Lowther. Right now she's Miss Pen, by 21st-century usage. However, apparently "Mrs." did not refer exclusively to a married woman until the 19th century. Mistress/Mrs. in Sam's day simply denotes a female in charge of the household, married or not. But the Admiral's wife ( Margaret van der Schure -- formerly Jasper) was stil living at this time though never mentioned, so far, by Pepys, as far as I can tell. So Pepys's use of "Mrs." seems a standard honorific, just as he used "Mr." in most cases for men. (See also:… )

JWB  •  Link

"...and I did give them a barrel of oysters..."
Maybe she was vexed by the oysters & had to go.

vicenzo  •  Link

Mrs. is to be mistress [not be wedded] , for boys at the age of 12 or there abouts, you be apprenticed if Pops has the money, for the better sought it be Oxcam then a nice walk about to see 'ow the other 'alf live. The rest of the lessers, it be odd jobs, like up et down the chim[e]ney.
For Girls [those whose pops does not have the money] it be maid to a better. For those whose circumstances be better it would be some schooling [for a few], but mostly for the better off, and as part of the training for adult life it would be run the household [mumsy sits back and steers] [thereby the title be mistress] from 12 or thereabouts, otherwise go out and sell oranges etc. on the streets for ones board and kip.
In reality, it was the time to earn [pull ones weight]ones keep, from the bottom of the heap to the upper stratas, the exception being the very spoilt. So unlike today, stay home till Pops give his keys to the family fortune.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Admiral Penn's wife would have been called Lady Penn as he was a knight. At least when Sam had to see the daughter home, it wasn't far! This seems to be yet another instance of Sam's uneasy relationship, socially, with the Battens and Penns. Sam would dearly like everything to be as if they were all equals, but sometimes the Sir Williams act as though Sam is an underling and that irks him and now we have an instance of the Penn daughter seeming to think Sam's entertainment of her is either beneath her dignity to partake in or trifling enough to be ignored.As Mary points out, a pullet was an expensive delicacy, so this was rather rude. It may be, however, that as Ms Penn had come home from school unwell, she may have had her stomach turned by the oysters and needed to get home to avoid a repeat of Sam's performance of throwing up in the garden!

Pauline  •  Link

"...the foolish girl ..."
I too wondered if her being home from school unwell might have something to do with not staying for dinner.

But we assume it is Mrs. Penn who doesn't stay, partly because it is a small matter for Sam to see her home and get back to dinner. What of Mrs. Rooth? Does she go or stay? Or does he talk of them as a pair ("she") led by Mrs. Penn? Smith may be Robert Smith, "Navy messenger; appointed 1660; also messenger of the King's Chamber, and authorised thereby to conduct prosecutions on the Office's behalf." (L&M Companion) I hope he stayed and enjoyed the pullet and flirted a little with Elizabeth.

Perhaps Mrs. Penn was fleeing Smith, or getting her friend Mrs. Rooth out of harm's way. Yet Smith may have been a paragon of virtue, gracious at cards, and a jolly wit. My point: we sure don't have enough information to know what this is all about.

Mary  •  Link


At this time, the appellation 'miss' could be less than respectful and signify a mistress (in the carnal sense)or a whore. Cf. John Evelyn's comment on the prostitutes of Venice; "The common misses go abroad bare fac'd."

vicenzo  •  Link

Mary: a good point.

john lauer  •  Link

Pauline, I agree, that we limit our flights of fancy to interpretations and explanations of what we read, not extrapolations in every direction. Simply reading this entry to ourseves as 'mistresses Pen & Rooth' would have saved much confusion.

vicenzo  •  Link

the title Mistress as used by Bard has a heavier overtones than Mrs. Mrs being less intimate;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
My Mistress eyes
Sonnet 130 William Shakespeare…

O MISTRESS mine, where are you roaming?
O stay and hear! your true-love

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

MISTRESS, the Mistress of an House; a Sweetheart or kept Mistress.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

Bill  •  Link

MISS [contracted of Mistress] a young Gentlewoman; also a kept Mistress, a Lady of Pleasure.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Margaret Penn was just 10 years old [according to the link] so her 'foolishness' may be understood and forgiven after 350 years.

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