Wednesday 8 July 1663

Being weary, and going to bed late last night, I slept till 7 o’clock, it raining mighty hard, and so did every minute of the day after sadly. But I know not what will become of the corn this year, we having had but two fair days these many months.

Up and to my office, where all the morning busy, and then at noon home to dinner alone upon a good dish of eeles, given me by Michell, the Bewpers’ man, and then to my viall a little, and then down into the cellar and up and down with Mr. Turner to see where his vault may be made bigger, or another made him, which I think may well be. And so to my office, where very busy all day setting things in order my contract books and preparing things against the next sitting. In the evening I received letters out of the country, among others from my wife, who methinks writes so coldly that I am much troubled at it, and I fear shall have much ado to bring her to her old good temper.

So home to supper and musique, which is all the pleasure I have of late given myself, or is fit I should, others spending too much time and money.

Going in I stepped to Sir W. Batten, and there staid and talked with him (my Lady being in the country), and sent for some lobsters, and Mrs. Turner came in, and did bring us an umble pie hot out of her oven, extraordinary good, and afterwards some spirits of her making, in which she has great judgment, very good, and so home, merry with this night’s refreshment.

30 Annotations

First Reading

TerryF  •  Link

Down again into the cellar, led by L&M -

to answer one of the concerns of Robert Gertz and Dirk yesterday - "down into the cellar, and up and down with Mr. Turner to see where his vault for turds may be made bigger, or another made him; which I think may well be."

Interesting idea - "vault for turds" --

TerryF  •  Link

"I slept till 7 o’clock, it raining mighty hard"

Was the relation between the weather and somnolence as yet unfamiliar? the barometer had only been invented by Evangelista Torricelli ca. 1644…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Actually I was curious to know how Sam's own h of o/v for t is doing.

Sam, if you had just spent enforced weeks in the sticks with John, Maggie, and Pall...

"Deer Husband,

(What? Not 'Most beloved Lord and God's chosen Vicegerent'?)

Your Most Cruel father is Now Conf...Keeping your Wretched Wife to Her Room allways And Feeds Ashwell the Dainty Bits as she Plays the Vial for Him Whilst your Poor Wretched Wife gets the Slops. Which your Father sayes is All he can Afford on the Miserly Pittance we Beetow.

Get Me the Hell out From Heer.

Your Most Wretched,

(What no 'Hugs and kisses'? No worshipful interest in my affairs?...Ummn...Well, my business. Such a cold and disappointing letter, Sam shakes head.)

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"but I know not what will become of the corn this year"
What kind of corn? Not zea mays I suppose.

alta turpis fossa or caput  •  Link

Regarding the jakes, it appears to be a movable DTL or latrine in a barrell, available for removing at nite then off to be processed for nitre.
"...leaving the men below in the cellar emptying the vats up through Mr. Turner’s own house..." [yesterday]

alta turpis fossa or caput  •  Link

Corn, by us locals, be oats, barley, wheat [or Grains], harvest be usually in late august, still time to get it ripe, it be worse when the rains come when the wheat be ripe, then thee have to hand pick the havested by nature from the ground, if thy be 'ungry and desperate.

dirk  •  Link


"Chiefly British" usage of the word:

Any of various cereal plants or grains, especially the principal crop cultivated in a particular region, such as wheat in England or oats in Scotland.
[Middle English corne, from Old French, horn, from Latin cornu.]

"The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language"

Australian Susan  •  Link

Interesting that Mr Urbanite, Sam, is concerned enough to mention crops and problems of ripening. Maybe he hears about this from his fatheri n the country - who will be more directly concerned.

Now we all know that Umbles are deer innards, but isn't it appropriate that the pie Mrs T makes to soften up Sam over the inconvenient convenience is (almost) a Humble Pie. Just hope there had been copious amounts of hand washing from any of her servants maybe involved in the recent excavations in the cellars...

lutum stercus  •  Link

Sam, thee have forgotten, 'wot it be like to walk down a country lane with leaves dripping their collection of sickly collection "...evening I received letters out of the country, among others from my wife, who methinks writes so coldly that I am much troubled at it, and I fear shall have much ado to bring her to her old good temp..."
Then there be the housekeeepers moaning about thee bringing in that accumulation of counry finest leavings "mud , mud gloriest mud nuthing ...". The Stove be surrounded by all thy wet wrappings, evicting that moisture that will not leave.
Tis good that thy have no tight wet underthings.
For all thee that are enjoying the modern trappings, Wet country month be no picknick, and I can see Bess trying not to shiver from all that dampness and that drizzle [ that be a very fine mist] that will soak thee to the bone and the old Kitchen stove will glow but not keep thee enjoying a warm dry skin, mind you, that be what will give all those milkmaids that luverly peaches and cream skin.
For Sam as a boy would enjoy tramping knee high through all that mud and run off, but for a girl in her prime, she would hate it and be very miserable.

alta turpis fossa or caput  •  Link

'Tis the price of a piece and jam that concerns Samuell. Inflation and a unhappy working men not being able to have their brewed barley wine and price of 'H'oats for his cab fare. "Interesting that Mr Urbanite, Sam, is concerned enough to mention crops "

TerryF  •  Link

"Mrs. Turner...did bring us...some spirits of her making"

I assume this is a non-grape wine. A friend makes as a Christmas gift every year a lovely dandelion wine, but not, I suspect, Mrs. Turner. There are clues in the Wikipedia article on wine - “Wine is an alcoholic beverage produced by the fermentation of fruit, typically grapes though a number of other fruits are also quite popular - such as plum, elderberry and blackcurrant. Non-grape wines are called fruit wine or country wine….”

alta turpis fossa or caput  •  Link

Wines, in the country side, when thee have no recourse to money, thee use what be available, like barley, horseradish, parsnip, sloes,and even wheat, to get thy buzz. Nature provides [fruits, seeds and leaves], it be up to the folks to use as required.

dirk  •  Link

"some spirits of her making"

"An excellent artificial Wine like Claret, but much better, and by many degrees brisker."

Take two gallons of your best Sider, (some esteem Worcester-shire Red-streak the best) and mingle it with six gallons of Water, put thereunto eight pound of the best Malaga Rainsins bruised in a Morter; let them stand close covered in a warm place, for the space of a fortnight, stirring them every two days well together; then press out the Raisins, and put the liquor into the same Vessel again; to which add a quart of the juice of Raspberries, and a pint of the juice of black Cherries; cover this liquor with bread, spread thick with Mustard, the Mustard-side being downward, and so let it work by the fire-side three or four days; then turn it up, and let it stand a week, and then bottle it up, and it will taste as quick as the briskest liquor whatever, and is a very pleasant drink, and much wholsomer than French-Wine.

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

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Wheat & Damp

In the pre modern period wheat and grains crops were highly susceptible to mold and fungal disease in the growing and ripening season. For a list and description of the 25 most common see the link below.

Like any Englishman, prior to the opening of the American west post the American civil war and the mass importation of relatively low cost grain, Pepys would be aware that the health and prosperity of the general population depends upon the availability and price of grain through the winter – be it for bread or for the final fattening of cattle and kine. Failure of the grain crop suggests later generalized hunger in the population which is not just distressing to observe but also poses the potential for local and broad traumas in the civil order.…

Pedro  •  Link

“their brewed barley wine”

The old advertisement for Gold Label Barley Wine read…

“Stronger than a double Scotch and less than half the price!”

John M  •  Link

Earth closets and cellars...

"leaving the men below in the cellar emptying the vats up through Mr. Turner’s own house" suggests there is access to Sam's cellar from Turner's house. Have the houses been built with common or linked cellars?

Mary  •  Link

Not houses.

The Navy Office and its attendant dwellings have all been carved out of one, large building. There is no question of separate houses here.

John M  •  Link

Thanks Mary

So presumably it is one common cellar. How does Sam stop others from tapping off his wine? Does he have to trust not only his neighbours but also his neighbour's servants.

TerryF  •  Link

There are doors with locks in the cellar, but the layout's unclear.

See 2 June, 1663 - "To-night I took occasion with the vintner’s man, who came by my direction to taste again my tierce of claret, to go down to the cellar with him to consult about the drawing of it; and there, to my great vexation, I find that the cellar door hath long been kept unlocked, and above half the wine drunk. I was deadly mad at it, and examined my people round, but nobody would confess it"…

alta turpis fossa or caput  •  Link

One common cellar, for all?. I have the impression that exterior wall be common, but the interior walls be installed to fit the pocket book of the different resident payee's. One could go from one subterranean area to another only by opening up the inserted wall. Doors, walls, stairs or fixtures would added and deleted at the convenience of new monies. Only in the abundant wealth of modern era does one tear down the existing structure to make the new ideal arrangements based on ergonomic and practical uses and requirements. Large structures like the Whitehall be a collection of mismashed delapidated rooms, with a luverly title of palace to give a sense of grandure. Oh how we like loverly words to cover fetid things.
My viewpoint of the caverns of Samuel's residence, be that there be a cellar for all his coles, which he purchases once a year, another area designated for his collection of bribes, sorry his gifts from satisified clients, for best wines that be imported, then there be a root cellar to keep his turnips and spuds, then there be another designated room with the pipe [or pipes] coming down from his and her closets in the upper regions into a barrel for the collection of nite soil.
His neighbour be not watching his overflow of effluent so affluent Sam has to tell Turner to open up his pocket book and get the muck out of Sam's space.
The nite soil men only work during the hours of darkness, as they be unwanted , even by those that never had a bath. ['twas even true back in the days before terror bombing removed low cost housing ].

dirk  •  Link

cellar layout

I think "alta turpis fossa or caput" (what's in a name? ATFOC for short?) is close to the truth.

In my hometown (Antwerp, Belgium) there are still some cellars like that around, going back to the 15th c., and some of them look like a builder's nightmare: parts of staircases leading nowhere, former passageways blocked off, etc...

In some cases the cellar or parts of it didn't even belong to the owner of the house above.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Thank you forthe photo, dirk (and all the others!)

Patricia  •  Link

Ah, lutum stercus, you bring back the memories! (I was raised in the country and now live in a village.) My mom often talks about the time her sister in town sent her kids out to our place for Easter holidays, which they spent running in and out and tracking mud everywhere, and when the kids were returned home, Auntie joyfully said, "I got all my spring cleaning done!"
Regarding Sam's missing wine, maybe it was guzzled by people using Turner's H of O.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

alta turpis fossa or caput -- when did the term "night soil men" didn't come into use?

"A gong farmer was the term used in Tudor England for a person employed to remove human excrement from privies and cesspits. Gong farmers were only allowed to work at night and the waste they collected had to be taken outside the city or town boundaries. They later became known as "night soil men" or "nightmen". In the Manchester area they were also known as the Midnight Mechanic." --…

"Human sewage, often euphemistically known as “night soil” has been the traditional fertiliser used by market gardeners throughout history, and it was certainly an organised, if highly unpleasant trade by the 16th century. Right through until the construction of a proper sewerage system in the 19th century the night soil man was a common figure on London streets, ... By 1617 The Worshipful Company of Gardeners which received its royal charter from James I in 1605, was claiming that it was its members who “cleansed the City of all dung and noisomeness.” This was a connection which dogged the company’s image throughout the following century or more, and certainly compromised the more genteel aspirations of many of its members!

In early modern London each of the city’s wards elected – or probably bullied – a scavenger and rakers to oversee the cleaning of the rubbish. Street sweepings, general rubbish and sewage were then supposed to be taken outside the city walls and spread out there on common land, or put on heaps known as laystalls. Originally a laystall was a holding area for cattle being taken to market, and obviously this led to accumulations of dung, so that by extension, it became a term for a place where rubbish of all sorts was dumped. There were several huge areas set aside for laystalls including the rather inappropriately named Mount Pleasant, where Laystall Street can still be found. By 1780 that site is thought to have covered over 7 acres. There was also a small stretch of the Thames near Blackfriars, known as Dung Wharf, where manure and sewage was collected to be sent to London’s market gardens. The vast majority of which lay close to the riverbanks and were fertilized by London’s night soil sent down on barges which then returned full of foodstuff for the London market. -- https://parksandgardensuk.wordpre…...

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

More on night soil men and gardening:

"... Yet what is perhaps rather surprising given the ubiquity of dung – animal and human – how little comment there is about it in early agricultural or horticultural texts. Thomas Tusser in his Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry (1573) written in verse has a couple of stanzas in the section on ‘Instructions for November’, but this is the only mention I can find…
"If Garden require it, now trench it ye may,
one trench not a yard, from another go lay.
which being well filled, with muck by & by:
go cover with mould, for a season to ly.

"And in the next lines he gives a clue as what the ‘muck’ is that should be used to fill the trenches.

"Foule privies are now, to be clensed & fyed, let night be appointed, such baggage to hide.
which buryd in gardein, in trenches a lowe:
shall make very many things, better to growe.

"It seems that Tusser thought this more a matter of household neatness and necessity rather than horticultural good practice, and that if it has to be done you might as well get a return on your labour. And he adds to the perhaps understandable sense of distaste by saying it should be done under cover of darkness.

"Leonard Meager in The Mystery of Husbandry (1697), has a chapter on The Dunging of Ground which starts with asking “what Dung doth most enrich the Earth?” The answer is that “The most Expert of the Ancient Husbandmen, appoint three sorts of Dungs: the first of Poultry, the next of Men, the third of Cattel. Of the first sort, the best is had out of Dove-Houses; the next is of Pulline, and other Fowl, except Geese and Ducks, which is hurtful… The next to this, is Man’s Ordure, if it be mixt with other Rubbish of the House: for of itself it is too hot, and burns the Ground. Man’s Urine, being kept six Months, and poured upon the Roots of Apple-trees, and Vines, causeth them to be very fruitful, and giveth a pleasant Taste to the Fruit. In the third place, is the Dung of Cattel.” -- https://parksandgardensuk.wordpre…

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

An anachronistic touch of Dickens:

"How did you find Mrs Heep's, I mean Mrs Turner's, pie Mr Pepys?"

"Ever so 'umble!"

Tonyel  •  Link

"Mr Urbanite, Sam"
Surely, Sam would have had a professional interest in the corn harvest. The Navy must have bought huge amounts of flour, bread and hard tack biscuits and the price, as always, would fluctuate with the success of that year's crop.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

-- when did the term "night soil men" come into use?

OED has:

‘night soil, n. Human excrement removed (esp. at night) from cesspools, outdoor privies, etc.
. . 1756 in J. Fielding Extr. Penal Laws (1762) xliii. 187 If any Person shall put or cast any Night Soil out of any Cart,..he shall be committed for any Time not exceeding one Month . . ‘
1994 R. Davies Cunning Man 89 Surely the collection of garbage, or even of night-soil, would be the fate of one who did not pass his university entrance.

. . night-soil man n.
1844 Mechanics' Mag. 5 Oct. 235/2 This information ought not to be lost upon the night-soil men of London and other large cities, but still more should it engage the attention of the Commissioners of Sewers.’
‘what will become of the corn this year . . ’

OED has:

‘corn, n.1 < Common Germanic . .
. . II. spec. The fruit of the cereals.
3. a. collective sing. The seed of the cereal or farinaceous plants as a produce of agriculture; grain. As a general term the word includes all the cereals, wheat, rye, barley, oats, maize, rice, etc., and, with qualification (as black corn, pulse corn), is extended to leguminous plants, as pease, beans, etc., cultivated for food. Locally, the word, when not otherwise qualified, is often understood to denote that kind of cereal which is the leading crop of the district; hence in the greater part of England ‘corn’ is = wheat n., in North Britain and Ireland = oats; in the U.S. the word, as short for Indian corn n., is restricted to maize.
. . 1600 R. Surflet tr. C. Estienne & J. Liébault Maison Rustique v. vii. 668 Grounds that are to be sowen with corne, that is to say with rie corne, maslin, some kind of barlie, Turkie corne & such others whereof bread is made, and especially..wheate corne.
1767 Jrnl. Voy. H.M.S. Dolphin 143 Rice is the only corn that grows in the island.
1774 T. Percival Ess. Med. & Exper. (1776) III. 62 lately has it been cultivated in Lancashire, that it has scarcely yet acquired the name of corn, which in general is applied only to barley, oats, and rye . .

4. a. Applied collectively to the cereal plants while growing, or, while still containing the grain.
1623 Shakespeare & J. Fletcher Henry VIII v. iv. 31 Her Foes shake like a Field of beaten Corne .
. . 1861 Times 4 Oct. 7/4 The corn is all cut, with the exception of a few late pieces.’

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