Sunday 11 May 1662

(Lord’s day). To our church in the morning, where, our Minister being out of town, a dull, flat Presbiter preached. Dined at home, and my wife’s brother with us, we having a good dish of stewed beef of Jane’s own dressing, which was well done, and a piece of sturgeon of a barrel sent me by Captain Cocke. In the afternoon to White Hall; and there walked an hour or two in the Park, where I saw the King now out of mourning, in a suit laced with gold and silver, which it was said was out of fashion. Thence to the Wardrobe; and there consulted with the ladies about our going to Hampton Court to-morrow, and thence home, and after settled business there my wife and I to the Wardrobe, and there we lay all night in Captain Ferrers’ chambers, but the bed so soft that I could not sleep that hot night.

41 Annotations

First Reading

Chris  •  Link

An unannotated entry, wow! Must be due to our living in the future down here in Oz. Barrels of sturgeon prompt two questions. Would they be preserved in brine like modern pickled herrings; or perhaps jellied or smoked? Secondly is this bribery of a public official?

daniel  •  Link

"a dull, flat Presbiter preached."

the horror!

In actuality, what type of sermon would a dull presbyter give? excessively moralizing focusing on the sins of mankind not redemption, a montone delivery, with a puritan's avoidance of excess?

Coming from a formally Presbyterian family, it is interesting to see this term as an epiteth.

Alan Bedford  •  Link

"... is this bribery of a public official?"

No, it's just Restoration-era lobbying. This sort of thing was business as usual in mid-17th century England. Keep your name, products, etc. in the eye and stomach and/or pocket of those with the power to purchase from you.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Our of fashion?

Pepys....Charlie eyes him sternly.

"We...In the Royal sense. Are the makers of fashion, Mr. Pepys."

So Sam and Bethie are off to see the Queen at Hampton Court, eh? Neat that she gets to be there.

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"which it was said to be out of fashion"
Yes, who dictated the fashion trend in those days?The French I suppose.

DrCari  •  Link

Versailles court couture probably set the fashion standard.

I have read various accounts of Charles II attraction to fancy attire. He sent to France for elegant custom shoes to fit his enormous size 14 feet. He is remembered for his aborted attempts to blaze an English fashion trend. At one point, Charles adopted the affectation of wearing long flowing robes of a moroccan or perhaps Turkish influence, including a turban type headcover.

Louis IV was so amused by reports of his cousin's bizarre fashion trend, that he ordered a special livery made up in this style for his servants as a tongue in cheek joke and mockery of Charles II fashion statement.

DrCari  •  Link

I need to post a correction. It was the court of Louis XIV in Versailles, cousin of Charles II.

JWB  •  Link

"...a dull, flat Presbiter preached."

"... sarcasms which modish vice loves to dart at obsolete virtue." T.B. Macaulay

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

"is this bribery of a public official?"

Nothing changes - apart from the degree of openess in accepting gifts and favours. Our modern politicians' Register of Interests (forced upon them after many squeals of 'invasion of privacy') contains only the ones that they can't hide. And poorly paid officials are even more susceptible.

PJK  •  Link

Possibility of Pickled Sturgeon

The Danish Institute for Fisheries Research tells us (at: - 10 May 2005)

'Some indication of the importance of sturgeon as a commercial species in several locations along the Baltic southern coast - Memel (currently Klaipeda), Pillau (Baltijsk) and Danzig (Gdansk) in the late 16th and 17th century characterises the fact that several thousand tons of pickled sturgeon was exported from Pillau during this period annually. The sturgeon fishery was probably very effective and perhaps too intense during this period.'
If L&M (via Pauline) is right and Captain Cocke was indeed a 'baltic merchant' then pickled sturgeon might well have made a meal for Mr Pepys.

BradW  •  Link

We might assume that this is a job title within the church, rather than a name denoting denomination. As I understand it, in the Scottish church the Presbyters are simply the elder laymen in charge of running the church, similar to deacons in a Baptist church or vestry or wardens of an Episcopal church. Might Sam have meant that instead--the sermon was delivered by a lay elder of the church?

I know that in the modern Episcopal church, if there is no ordained minister present some parts of the service, including the eucharist, can't be performed by laypeople. I wonder just what the usual Sunday service would have been like for Sam, and how having only a lay leader to run the show might have changed it. Anybody know?

Australian Susan  •  Link

In 1662, we have now had 2 years of the re-Established Church, but there are still plenty of clergy around who have not changed their ways from the 1650's, when the Independents and Presbyterians were in charge of Parishes and the Book of Common Prayer outlawed. Now it is the other way round and all those not conforming find it difficult to get benefices or to keep them - they have until St Bartholomew's Day (August 24th) this year to conform to BCP services as laid down in the new prayer book laws recently passed. Remember, this is not just about how you like your services, this is about legal conformity to a State Church and non conformity implied you were a traitor. I know it is a long time ago to the 1570's, but that was when the Pope (strong-armed by his nephew) excomunicated Elizabeth I and thus paved the way for Catholics to attempt to murder her, with the blessing of the Church (there was never any proof that the 'traitors' executed by her were anything other than good Catholics trying to spread the faith). On the other side of the coin, the reforming faction in the Church had recently not only brought down the monarchy as a system of government, but executed the King. So this 'Presbyter' that Sam is so disparaging about is a minister who has either lost his living or has graduated from (probably) Cambridge, but been unable to get a living because of his form of religion. The Church of England did not have lay people taking services in those times - if they wished to stay out of jail - it was that serious. Probably come August 24th this preacher St Olave's had today will be without income and unable to find a place in the C of E - he is obviously well-known as a non-conformist.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Another note - you needed a licence to preach from Bishop or Archbishop then. (you still do in the Anglican Church)

Rex Gordon  •  Link

" ... out of fashion ... "

If suits laced with gold and silver were out of fashion this morning, they will be back in fashion this evening, the King having worn one. London's tailors will be frantically busy, digging old patterns from the bottom of chests, struggling to satisfy the beau monde's sudden demand for old-fashioned suits!

Stolzi  •  Link

It's been unusually hot here, too; I feel for Samuel.

He was cheerful today though, enjoyed his dinner so much that he put up with Balty without complaints...

Seems to me I read somewhere that it was Charles II who popularized the simple, serious, sober black suit for the gentry. So today he is a bit out of character: getting spruced up for the bride to come, perhaps? Or else his simple black suit period came later.

language hat  •  Link

"a dull, flat Presbiter preached"

It's not clear to me which of these OED definitions applies:

1. In Episcopal churches: A minister of the second order, ranking below a bishop and above a deacon; a priest or pastor.
1597 HOOKER Eccl. Pol. V. lxxviii. 2 The Cleargie are either Presbyters or Deacons. Ibid. 3 In truth the word Presbyter doth seeme more fit, and in proprietie of speech more agreeable than Priest with the drift of the whole Gospell of Iesus Christ. […]

2. A Presbyterian. Obs.
1647 in Rushw. Hist. Coll. IV. (1701) II. 1033 He.. prest him to tell him whether he was an Independent or a Presbiter? The Gentleman answered, Neither, for he was a Protestant. 1655 EVELYN Diary 25 Dec., The mournfullest day that in my life I had seene, or the Church of England herselfe since the Reformation; to the greate rejoicing of both Papist and Presbyter. […]

mark  •  Link

Has anyone here eaten sturgeon recently? For me it belongs to a list of foods no-one eats any more but whose names we still know.

Not yet in the list of foods where most of us don't even recognise what they are any more, like posset or [until I came across some a few years back] quince.


JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

"a dull, flat Presbiter preached"
I would vote for the second meaning, Mr Hat, given the context. The first definition is just a synonym for priest (or minister). We could take for granted that the preacher was a presbyter in that sense; and I don’t think that SP typically uses that term for ministers. Also, his criticism of the sermon seems to go along with his description of the preacher as a Presybterian in the second sense.

Araucaria  •  Link

Stolzi: "Seems to me I read somewhere that it was Charles II who popularized the simple, serious, sober black suit for the gentry."

It was actually Beau Brummell (sp?), friend of the future George IV. About 125 years after the events we're following.

A. Hamilton  •  Link

a dull, flat Presbiter

I think the primary sense here is to express derision, rather than to accurately place the preacher in a specific sect and hierarchy. "A stuffy, old-fashioned sermoneer expressing out of date views."

OED remarks on the confusing and overlapping meanings of priest and presbyter,and says "etymologically priest represents Gr. presbuteros, L. presbyter."

As Milton wittily says, in a sonnet protesting the Presbyterian party's attempt during the Long Parliament to enforce a new hierarchy, "New Presbyter is but old Priest writ large."…

A. Hamilton  •  Link

dull, flat Presbiter.... King ...out of fashion

all but Sam out of step?

Rex Gordon  •  Link

" ... eaten a sturgeon lately?"

Mark, several years ago I dined on sturgeon at a very fine restaurant called The Prairie in Chicago featuring traditional upper Midwest and Great Lakes cuisine. It's in the Loop, in the Hyatt Hotel, at 500 South Dearborn. If it's still there when you next pass through Chicago, it's well worth a visit. (The sturgeon was outstanding!) Here's a review:…

Wim van der Meij  •  Link

- the King now out of mourning -
He had been in mourning for his aunt, the Queen of Bohemia.

Rex Gordon  •  Link

Uh oh! No more sturgeon in the Loop!

If I'd scrolled down to the bottom of the restaurant review, I'd have seen the annotation that the Prairie CLOSED on New Year's Eve 2004. Farewell, horseradish-encrusted sturgeon!

Sjoerd  •  Link

but all interesting stuff about presbyterians and sturgeons aside .... what are Sam and the wife doing in Ferrers' bed ? The distance to home cannot have been the reason ?

Glyn  •  Link

They are all going to Hampton Court tomorrow, so might as well start from the same place at the Wardrobe, rather than lose time waiting for each other. Basic tourism!

dirk  •  Link


"The Gentlewoman's Companion: or, A Guide to the Female Sex"
by Hannah Woolley, 1675

Suggested menu for the month of May

1. Boil'd Chickens.
2. Roast-Veal.
3. Roasted Capons.
4. Rabbits.

Second Course.

1. Artichoak-Pye hot.
2. Westphalia Bacon, and Tarts.
3. Sturgeon, Salmon and Lobsters.
4. A Dish of Sparagrass.
5. A Tansie.

Source link:…

(Note that asparagus is still on the menu too!)

dirk  •  Link

Diary of Ralph Josselin for Sunday 11 May 1662

"A very comfortable season, good to me in many outward businesses and in many outward mercies. divers friends with me, god has emptied some of them of all their children and left me full, god give me more grace with my mercies to honour and exalt him. heard many strange passages visional and prophetical of alterations in England, the event god only knows."

Note the expression "emptied" and "full" of children.

DrCari  •  Link

Sturgeon fishing as a recreational activity is still popular in the San Francisco Bay area (US)
Sturgeon have long lives and grow to massive size when unmolested. Recently authorities have discouraged the consumption of local bay sturgeon as they manage to accumulate quite a load of toxic lead and other heavy metals during their years in the bay waters.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Out,dammit. Never post after a long day in the lab.

Ruben  •  Link

Never work in the lab, after a long night at Pepys...

Pauline  •  Link

"Has anyone here eaten sturgeon recently?"
Yes, last summer in southwest Washington state on the Toutle River (which is the river that comes down from Mt. St. Helens, the volcano). Incredible looking fish, prehistoric looking. My brother caught one long enough to keep. We took half of it, cut in into chunks/cubes close to 2", olive oiled and skewered them, and cooked them over the campfire. Excellent. The sturgeon are a plus in the recovery of the river, which was scoured of everything by a massive mud flow in 1980; I don't think they were as frequently seen/caught in the river before 'the mountain blew'.

Expect to repeat the tasty experience this summer.

Sorcha  •  Link

On the simple black suit, it did not become the standard male dress until much later, apart from those Non-Conformists who insisted on wearing sober, serious outfits so as not to court the sin of vanity.

King Charles was indeed the ultimate patron of court fashion in Britain (see… ) and this engraving of Charles and Catherine from the early 1600s:…)

I also seem to remember (but would have to check its accuracy in the library on Monday) that Charles' court went through a period in the 1670s where he had decided that all courtiers should only wear black and white, which might be the source of Stolzi's idea. All marvellously belaced, beribboned and betasselled to be sure, but possibly a forerunner for the more sober semi-uniform male fashions that developed under the Georges.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Lovely picture finds Sorcha. Louis XIV encouraged the fashion for high heels in men for the obvious reason - he was vertically challenged - but Charles was *very* tall for his times being "over two yards high" as the Wanted posters of the 1650's had it. The extravagantly high heels of his Coronation garb must have made him immensely tall. So uncomfy to wear too. What men will do for fashion.....

Misemici  •  Link

I'm currently reading Fraser's biography of Cromwell, and although (having been raised a Catholic) I'm not entirely clear on the distinctions, the dividing lines of the not-too-long-ago Civil War included the independents versus the presbyterians, referring to the organization and governance of church and doctrine. So I suspect this gentleman was a remnant of that side of the theological battlefield.

Desiree French  •  Link

I am about to dine on sturgeon this very evening. I've never seen it available commercially, except smoked. My neighbor caught one in the Columbia River and I was looking for recipes when I found this delightful site. My Larousse Gastronomique states that in the time of Edward II sturgeon was only to be served to the royal family so things must have loosened up by Pepys time.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I saw the King now out of mourning, in a suit laced with gold and silver, which it was said was out of fashion"

This last 19 February Commons had considered declaring it illegal, coins being in short supply:…

Ordered, That a Bill be brought in against the Wearing of Gold and Silver Lace, Buttons, Ribbands, or any other Trimmings for Cloaths, of Gold or Silver, and against Gilding of Coaches and Signs; and all Things else that may waste the Coin of the Kingdom:....

This issue continued into the next century. The Mint / Devaluation of the Guinea….

On 12 August 1717, Sir Isaac Newton [ Director of the Royal Mint ] was instructed by the Treasury to report on the ratio of the values of gold and silver. There was at this time a great demand for silver and silver coin; quantities of silver were being wrought into plate and unworn coin was being melted down for this purpose; there was also a large export of silver chiefly to the East Indies. Newton's opinion was that ‘gold is now become our standard money and silver is a commodity which rises and falls here in price’. He wished the weights of silver coin to be reduced. His suggestions, however, were not acceptable. On 21 December 1717 the Government came to a decision that the value of the guinea was to be reduced by 6d. from 21s. 6d. to 21s. and Newton was told to draw up a table of proportionate reductions.

Bill  •  Link

"a dull, flat Presbiter preached"

PRESBYTER, an Ancient and Reverend Person, a Priest; also a Lay-elder.
PRESBYTERAL, belonging to a Priest or Elder.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1724.

Tonyel  •  Link

When I still went to church as a child all sermons seemed dull and flat. I wonder if 17th c. sermons (quite apart from the content) were delivered in a more theatrical style? Does anyone know?

Third Reading

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