Thursday 27 August 1663

Up, after much pleasant talke with my wife and a little that vexes me, for I see that she is confirmed in it that all that I do is by design, and that my very keeping of the house in dirt, and the doing of this and any thing else in the house, is but to find her employment to keep her within and from minding of her pleasure, in which, though I am sorry to see she minds it, is true enough in a great degree.

To my office, and there we sat and despatched much business. Home and dined with my wife well, and then up and made clean my closet of books, and had my chamber a third time made very clean, so that it is now in a very fine condition.

Thence down to see some good plank in the river with Sir W. Batten and back again, it being a very cold day and a cold wind. Home again, and after seeing Sir W. Pen, to my office, and there till late doing of business, being mightily encouraged by every body that I meet withal upon the ’Change and every where else, that I am taken notice of for a man that do the King’s business wholly and well. For which the Lord be praised, for I know no honour I desire more.

Home to supper, where I find my house very clean from top to bottom again to my great content. I found a feacho (as he calls it) of fine sugar and a case of orange-flower water come from Mr. Cocke, of Lisbon, the fruits of my last year’s service to him, which I did in great justice to the man, a perfect stranger. He sends it me desiring that I would not let Sir J. Minnes know it, from whom he expected to have found the service done that he had from me, from whom he could expect nothing, and the other failed him, and would have done I am sure to this day had not I brought it to some end.

After supper to bed.

37 Annotations

First Reading

TerryF  •  Link

"I found a feacho (as he calls it) of fine sugar"

In Portuguese "a small case" (L&M note)

TerryF  •  Link

"she is confirmed in it that all that I do is by design"

That sounds really familiar. Aha! Pepys about Creed, 30 June: "So full of policy he is in the smallest matters, that I perceive him to be made up of nothing but design."…

TerryF  •  Link


1548, from L. designare "mark out, devise," from de- "out" + signare "to mark," from signum "a mark, sign." Originally in Eng. with the meaning now attached to designate (1646, from L. designatus, pp. of designare); many modern uses of design are metaphoric extensions. Designer (adj.) in the fashion sense of "prestigious" is first recorded 1966; designer drug is from 1983. Designing "scheming" is from 1671. Designated hitter introduced in American League baseball in 1973, soon giving wide figurative extension to designated.…

Methinks "Designing 'scheming'" is from 1663 at least. The OED would help clarify "design" and perhaps SP gets more notice.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

She's got your number, Samuel. If you can't keep her barefoot and pregnant, keep her busy, eh?

That's our Bess. And you're lucky to have her, kiddo. Not to mention lucky to have survived dinner.

aqua  •  Link

R.G: Sam'l dothe admit to the fact also,'in great degree', [most part] somebody has to make up for that out of pocket expense.

Aqua  •  Link

If thee want the job 'dun rite' then do it thy self "...then up and made clean my closet of books, and had my chamber a third time made very clean, so that it is now in a very fine condition..."

Aqua  •  Link

Some free merchandise? wonder who dropped it overboard, or did it just plunk in, when some one walked it.
"...Thence down to see some good plank in the river with Sir W. Batten and back again, it being a very cold day and a cold wind. ..."

John  •  Link

"Some good plank in the river" presumably would be the wood being seasoned or at least being prepared for seasoning. Seasoning is the fast drying out of wood to reduce the chance of fungus forming. But the wood must be dried fast and until then the water can protect it from mould formation. Up until the end of the fifties there were timber baulks in Portsmouth Harbour (near the Gosport Ferry) and I was always told that the Navy had been holding wood for seasoning there as long as Portsmouth had been a Naval yard

Aqua  •  Link

John great point, most of the basins that be close to the Ship builders, would have floating lumber, but in the Tems, um! it would be an inconvenience to the many of the users that use the River for a super high way of the day, full of skullers, wherry men and all sorts of Merchant ships, that be filling the coffers of the city folk.
The Thames be a tidall river and that bridge would be a hinderence to those that love to skate under the bridge.

Aqua  •  Link

'feacho' Pedro? does thou know this word.

TerryF  •  Link

Mr.Cocke, Mr. Pepys and Sir John Mennes

Mr. Robert Cocke, merchant based in Lisbon, navy victualler for the Mediterranean - brother of Capt. George, the Baltic merchant and navy contractor - sent the fine sugar and orange-flower water to Pepys.

Is Sir John so utterly incompetent that he fails to cultivate a victualler for Tangier?! Here is a specific facilure, noted by an independent source (Mr. Cocke), of what Pepys carps about - so it isn't just a matter of tase on his part.

Australian Susan  •  Link

In the old dock yard at Chatham, you can still see the long, narrow stone (or brick?)( can't remember) lined trench where masts wre kept wet prior to rapid dry seasoning.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

made clean my closet of books, and had my chamber a third time made very clean ...

Bess appears to have our hero’s number and, after the 24th. when cleaning folowed a significant disbursement of funds, seems pretty clear to me that this is displacement activity; controlling/cleaning the beloved inanimate as a way of dealing with the anxiety and uncertainties created by relations with emotionally significant humans, where neither emotions nor persons can so easily be *tidied.*

Robert Gertz  •  Link

This week on "Desperate 17th Century Housewives"...

Things heat up at Seething Lane as Lady Batten's relationship with Mingo is uncovered by the somewhat doddering Sir John... "Good God! Excuse me." While Bess finds herself torn between her overbearing, obsessively domineering, but charming little husband and the lusty young workman "redoing her floors". And in the circles of the Court good Lady Jemina learns her husband's dark secret. "If only it actually were the girl in Chelsea he was seeing." she notes to an aghast Lord Crew. I mean he'd heard things about Buckingham and that actor, Kynaston, but...

jeannine  •  Link

Aqua-he's still on vacation, so Terry's translation from L&M is probably the best we have for now ~~ "a little case". What is interesting (at least to me) is that slowly the influence of trade and the goods brought via Catherine' dowry are being introduced to the English. In the book "Richer Than Spices" by Gertrude Thomas (a book about Catherine's dowry), she notes that the "Innovations had been so sudden and extreme since Catherine came to Whitehall that Edmund Waller in his 1683 tribute to her marvelled at

'What Revolutions in the World have been
How we are change'd since we first saw the Queen'"

Sam, who always loves the unique, will make note of many of these different innovations over the course of the diary, as will other contemporary writers, like Evelyn, etc.

language hat  •  Link


I assume this is modern Portuguese fecho 'lock, latch; clip; closure,' but of course it would be good to know for sure.

jeannine  •  Link

"seems pretty clear to me that this is displacement activity; controlling/cleaning the beloved inanimate as a way of dealing with the anxiety and uncertainties created by relations with emotionally significant humans, where neither emotions nor persons can so easily be *tidied.* "

Michael, how true and close to home for me. We recently had a beloved pet that we sadly had to "put to sleep" and each one of us has worked through our grief in different ways. I, like Sam, embarked on a silent, (although quite teary eyed) cleaning up & ordering of just about everything around me. Each person grieves and tends to work upsetting things through in their own way, on their own terms and in their own timetable. For some mindless cleaning and ordering what one can control in life helps to absorb the pains/disappointments, etc. of things that they can't control. For a brief time the books in need of dusting, papers in need of organizing move the mind to a different place, a strangely absorbing limbo. I found your entry today very thought provoking and all too honest. Sam, surrounded by his beloved books must have found a small sense of peaceful solitude as he cleaned and ordered this little part of his world. It seems Sam, at times like this, is human like the rest of us

TerryF  •  Link

"It seems Sam, at times like this, is human like the rest of us" -

Ah, jeannine, what a disappointment - you thought he was divine.

aroaldo  •  Link

Greetings from Brazil
Never heard or read about feacho; fecho most likely, see language hats definition; also feixe= bundle; maybe; or it could be very archaic portuguese.

ellen  •  Link

feacho of sugar...might it be a pillar of hardened sugar found in the early Georgian kitchens of the wealthy. Very dear in those days.

Conrad  •  Link

'Feacho' L&M note probably old Potrugese for small case: see TerryF annotation.

dirk  •  Link

John Evelyn's diary today:

"din’d at Sir Ph: Warwicks Secretary to my L: Tressurer, who shewed me the Accompts & other private matters, relating to the Revenue: Thence to the Commissioners of the Mint, particularly about Coynage, & bringing his Majesties rate from 15 to 10 shill: for every pound weight of Gold: &c: & went home next day:"

[Dined at Sir Philip Warwick's, Secretary to my Lord Treasurer, who showed me the accounts and other private matters relating to the revenue. Thence, to the Commissioners of the Mint, particularly about coinage, and bringing his Majesty's rate from fifteen to ten shillings for every pound weight of gold. ...]

language hat  •  Link

All you've done is restate TerryF's restatement of what L&M said. Yes, that tells us what the word means, but some of us what to know what the actual Portuguese word is/was. "Feacho" is clearly an anglicized respelling.

Pedro  •  Link

found a feacho (as he calls it) of fine sugar

Feijão is bean.

Bean of sugar, a sugar bean?

dirk  •  Link


L&M footnote refers to the modern Portuguese "fecho" -- which is translated as:


A fastening, such as a hook or buckle, used to hold two or more objects or parts together.…

That makes sense - although I have no idea what the thing may have looked like...

Pedro  •  Link


Having asked a Portuguese friend, with a Portuguese dictionary from around 1890, it does not shed any light on an archaic form of “fecho”. Also trying to allow for mispronunciations, the only other word he could come up with was “feixe” used figuratively as great quantity, or pile.

Australian Susan  •  Link

"great quantity" would make sense.

Pedro  •  Link

The sugar seems to have been transported in chests…

In 1653 the Portuguese Ambassador was allowed to import 71 chests of sugar (over 45,000 lbs in weight!).

He also imported, amongst other things, three cases of bottled sweet water.

“a case of orange-flower water” may have been “water from the flower of the orange tree” ?

dirk  •  Link


Sugar was usually marketed (when refined) in so called sugar loafs: big lumps, more or less cone shaped, which would require the user to use a hammer of some sort to smash it into small pieces. Maybe "fecho" refers to these loafs?

Pedro  •  Link

Feacho, a theory…

Our friend from Brazil, Aroaldo and a Portuguese contact, suggest perhaps it could be “feixe”, being in the sense of bundle or pile. Another theory being a container or term of measurement, and Dirk highlights the conical sugar loaf shape of marketing.

I tried this puzzle on a Brazillian friend, and as Karl Popper would say “a theory should be considered scientific if, and only if, it is falsifiable.” So in the tradition of “Call my Bluff” she came up with the following…

Feacho, or anything similar, is probably not an archaic form of measurement as ancient Portuguese measurements are listed in the Portuguese site below……

As Sam is getting this term by word of mouth and a lot of words end in “o”, the “o” at the end could easily be added by mistake, and could possibly be “feixe”.

Sugar Loaf mountain in Rio is named after its resemblance to the shape of the transportation, which could loosely be termed a “pile of sugar”?

But perhaps Mr. Cocke just says he has left Sam a great amount (feixe) of sugar.

Aqua  •  Link

Now all we need, is the OPD to confirm the first time it was put in Print.
Heard on Tems street. "Sucre Sucre, fetch o the bludy azuca, penny a lick, fetch o the sucra here, got another liquer, fecho mucho sucro ."

Second Reading

julesk  •  Link

I believe the orange water was used for flavoring in cooking based on this: https://regencyredingote.wordpres…

The article notes that the water was made from orange blossoms, had a strong citrus scent and taste of orange. It would go well with the sugar as an expensive and useful gift.

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

It's possible at this time that the sugar came from Madeira, not Brazil.

Wherever it came from, it was a product of slave labour, and thus it was a part of Europe's moral corruption!

Gerald Berg  •  Link

"good plank in the river" All very well with the explanation (t.y.) but how did they fast dry the timber? Esp. in as fowl a summer as the one they are experiencing?

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Re: ’ . . all that I do is by design . . ’

‘design, n.< Middle French. .
. . 3. a. In weakened sense: a purpose, an aim, an intention.
. . 1656 B. Harris tr. J. N. de Parival Hist. Iron Age i. iv. viii. 112 They who ask reliefe, have one designe; and he who gives it, another.
1697 Dryden tr. Virgil Pastorals vi, in tr. Virgil Wks. 27 He..demands On what design the Boys had bound his hands . . ‘
Re: ‘ . . I found a feacho (as he calls it) of fine sugar . . ‘

It’s likely that the the block of sugar came in a chest, to keep vermin and thieves out and the sugar dry:

‘chest, n.1 < Old English . . < Greek κίστη box, chest.
. . 6. Commerce. A large box or case in which certain commodities, as tea, sugar, etc., are packed for transport; hence used as a variable measure of quantity for such commodities; now almost confined to tea chests.
1708 J. Kersey Dict. Anglo-Britannicum Chest..also an uncertain Quantity of some Merchandizes, as of Sugar, from 10 to 15 Hundred Weight.
. . 1728 E. Chambers Cycl. (at cited word), A Chest of Sugar, v. g. contains from 10 to 15 hundred Weight . . ‘


It’l take Our Hero & Family a good while to eat half a ton of sugar!

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