Wednesday 12 February 1661/62

This morning, till four in the afternoon, I spent abroad, doing of many and considerable businesses at Mr. Phillips the lawyer, with Prior, Westminster, my Lord Crew’s, Wardrobe, &c., and so home about the time of day to dinner with my mind very highly contented with my day’s work, wishing I could do so every day. Then to my chamber drawing up writings, in expectation of my uncle Thomas coming. So to my musique and then to bed.

This night I had half a 100 poor Jack sent me by Mr. Adis.

24 Annotations

First Reading

vicenzo  •  Link

"considerable businesses at Mr. Phillips the lawyer, with Prior" a follow up of cashing for his brother .

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

The "poor john" is a hake salted and dried. It is frequently referred to in old authors as poor fare.

But in the middle of Lent, in a time with few methods of preserving fresh food, I bet it was nonetheless welcome.

dirk  •  Link

"half a 100 poor Jack"

"100" = scanning error? Somebody with L&M to the rescue...

Pauline  •  Link

half a 100 poor Jack

The "poor john" is a hake salted, etc…. but is a “half a 100”?

Pauline  •  Link

I mean "But What is a "half a 100"?

vicenzo  •  Link

Trinculo: What haue we here, a man,
or a fish? dead or aliue? a fish, hee smels like a fish: a
very ancient and fish-like smell: a kinde of, not of the
newest poore-Iohn: a strange fish: were I in England
now (as once I was) and had but this fish painted; not
a holiday-foole there but would giue a peece of siluer:
there, would this Monster, make a man:
The Tempest ll. ii 26-29

vicenzo  •  Link

May be it be just be 50 salted Hakes from Maine:He is a one for getting bushels of this and barrells of that be cheap? vino from Spain or Oysters from Malden mud flats. Never to be declared on gifte forme, to stear a contract this a way, now we are much more sutler. A nice vice presidency in a high flying company or winning that put & bet on 21 st green at the local rabbit warren.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"half a hundred" might refer to half a hundredweight - were dried fish at that time sold by the hundredweight?

Mary  •  Link

"a 100 poor jack" is the L&M reading.

That quantity ought to be enough to keep the Pepyses going through Lent, without recourse to speculation about hundredweights.

Mary  •  Link

poor jack/poor john

Pepys specifies 'poor jack' which is, strictly speaking, dried, salt cod. 'Poor john' ( which is not specified by Pepys, but only by the annotator) is the name more usually applied to hake. OED.

E  •  Link

Thanks, Australian Susan, for the link about weights. I didn't know about the "butcher's stone" weighing only 8 pounds, which might be a partial explanation of the extraordinary amounts of food that people are reported to have eaten at feasts in the past.

Bob T  •  Link

Poor Jack

Poor Jack in Shakespear's time, which wasn't all that much before Sam's, was the name for salt cod. It was anything but "poor fare", but was a food of the highest quality. Sam's fish probably came from Newfoundland, where a fish export trade had been going on for almost two hundred years.

If buying goods by the hundred weight was a common practise, whether it be coal, fish or turnips, then we must expect that the term might be shortened. "half a hundred", is just as good as "half a hundred weight", if everyone knows what it means.

Looks as though Sam got a deal on some dried fish, and bought enough for himself, and enough to give to his immediate family. Because, even if he had it for three meals a day, fifty pounds or so of dried fish, makes an awful lot of "wet" fish.

Dried salt cod is wonderful good, when it's used to make fish and brewis with scruncheons.

Bob T  •  Link

Poor Jack/Fish and Brewis

Here is a url for the recipe for Fish and Brewis, which is pronounced fish n' brews in Newfoundland, (new-fun-land)…

Al Pinkham  •  Link

Downeast,this meal, made with potatoes is called New England Turkey Dinner and is a fine lunch if you have to work the afternoon in the cold. Considered a great treat and always served with soused onions. How things change and how they stay the same.

JWB  •  Link

Fish, Newfoundland (pisc? de nova terra) - hundred pieces
Stockfish was sold by the long hundred of 120 fish. In the mid-18th century the mean size of live Newfoundland Cod was 10 lbs.16 At that time Newfoundland fish were still line-caught (as they had been in the sixteenth century) and the Grand Banks had yet to experience the over-fishing that led to a reduction in mean fish sizes during the twentieth century. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that the mean size of sixteenth century Newfoundland fish was also about 10 lbs. The fish listed in the Bristol accounts generally came on French ships, which then dominated the Newfoundland fisheries. They would probably have been transported to France as "green" fish and then dried there before being exported to England.17 The weight ratio of dried stockfish to live fish is 4.8:1.18 The mean weight of the Newfoundland fish appearing in the accounts would thus have been about 2 lbs. and a long-hundred would thus have weighed 240 lbs.…

vicenzo  •  Link

re: salting Most fish had to be salted within 24 hrs. That may be why the bard did have his say about that stink of fish, it was still a rotting before being salted. The great banks were a great source of Cod wars.

john lauer  •  Link

In JWB's quote above, the confusing 16, 17, & 18 are superscript references to notes.

vicenzo  •  Link

salted hake appears to be the worse of eating, but fresh be delightful, but cod fresh not so good, but salted be good. photo of a hake…

Discussion The Silver Hake has a good flavor if eaten when fresh, but it deteriorates too quickly for commercial exploitation.…
on the continent it be Known as Merluche Blanche or Loca banca

Jenny Doughty  •  Link

'Downeast,this meal, made with potatoes is called New England Turkey Dinner and is a fine lunch if you have to work the afternoon in the cold. Considered a great treat and always served with soused onions.'

My husband - a lifelong inhabitant of the great state of Maine - wonders if you mean fish chowder, but he's never come across the term New England Turkey Dinner.

John Lord  •  Link

I believe these dried fish were sold by tale, not weight, and that half a 100 was 60 fish.

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

fishy tale: fish sold by the long hundred/hundred,last,cast. A tale be the last fish cast aside from a Hundred. A hundred be differing number, be it Devon or Whitby. In Devon it be 120 or 40 cast [a cast it be 3 fish] then for the Robins Hood Bay fisherfolk, cast in a cast[that be 3 more] [that be 123 herrings not red yet ] to wet thy whistle. But Last not leased, there be a Last which be 100 hundreds, for the avoirdupois set, that be 2 tons of 'erring or 13200 fish, ready to be pickled for barrell or become blota's or ****** Kippers. Gleaned from a book on Herrings.
so the half a hundred it be 61 bloatas and half thrown in if it be from the North Country. As it be December, it be from Yarmouth catch of the day.
A ton, to me, be doing 100 MPH on saddle of a black shadow.

Second Reading

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