Thursday 17 December 1663

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning. At noon home to my poor wife and dined, and then by coach abroad to Mrs. Turner’s where I have not been for many a day, and there I found her and her sister Dike very sad for the death of their brother. After a little common expression of sorrow, Mrs. Turner told me that the trouble she would put me to was, to consult about getting an achievement prepared, scutcheons were done already, to set over the door. So I did go out to Mr. Smith’s, where my brother tells me the scutcheons are made, but he not being within, I went to the Temple, and there spent my time in a Bookseller’s shop, reading in a book of some Embassages into Moscovia, &c., where was very good reading, and then to Mrs. Turner’s, and thither came Smith to me, with whom I did agree for 4l. to make a handsome one, ell square within the frame. After he was gone I sat an houre talking of the suddennesse of his death within 7 days, and how by little and little death came upon him, neither he nor they thinking it would come to that. He died after a day’s raveing, through lightness in his head for want of sleep. His lady did not know of his sickness, nor do they hear yet how she takes it.

Hence home, taking some books by the way in Paul’s Churchyard by coach to my office, where late doing business, and so home to supper and to bed.

31 Annotations

First Reading

Bradford  •  Link

The Companion, Large Glossary, says that a scutcheon is, as you might guess, an "escutcheon, shield of arms."

The "achievement" is an ambitious "funerary hatchment, panel, or canvas bearing the 'achievement' (properly the full coat of arms including, where applicable, supporters, helmet, wreath and crest) of the deceased, hung on the house until the funeral, in church thereafter".

This will be "a handsome one, ell square within the frame"---that is, as we would put it, one ell square, an ell being "a measure of 45 inches".

Paul Dyson  •  Link

and there I found her and her sister Dike very sad for the death of their brother

Apologies, Sam'l! I take back my comment of two days ago. His cousin's wife must be some distance away, if they do not know how she has taken the news. And Sam is evidently prepared to spend both time and trouble to make some of the arrangements and may be undertaking to pay for the scutcheon. However he is perhaps more concerned at this point about Jane Turner, who seems to have his limitless regard for her care of him after his stone operation.

Paul Dyson  •  Link

getting an achievement prepared

Examples of achievements or hatchments can still be seen in some English parish churches. There are some good examples at the following link, and elsewhere:…

Patricia  •  Link

Does anyone pronouce this word EScutcheon? I've only ever heard it pronounced "scutcheon", as Pepys does. From The Pirates of Penzance:
"General: Why do I sit here? To escape from the pirates' clutches, I described myself as an orphan; and, heaven help me, I am no orphan! I come here to humble myself before the tombs of my ancestors, and to implore their pardon for having brought dishonour on the family escutcheon.

Frederic: But you forget, sir, you only bought the property a year ago, and the stucco on your baronial castle is scarcely dry.

General: Frederic, in this chapel are ancestors: you cannot deny that. With the estate, I bought the chapel and its contents. I don't know whose ancestors they were, but I know whose ancestors they are, and I shudder to think that their descendant by purchase (if I may so describe myself) should have brought disgrace upon what, I have no doubt, was an unstained escutcheon."

jeannine  •  Link

What would the widow's role be?
I am curious as to what the widow's "role" would be -would she dress in black for an extended period? What did she usually do in the long run (I'm wondering if she's have to remarry after a set time period to afford her life, etc.?) What I've always remained curious about is this. If people married basically for reasons other that "love" (which was the norm), perhaps some marriages ended up with people really caring for their partners and being devastated at the loss of them, while some did not. Just curious what the social expectations were about what the socially acceptable practice was when a spouse died.

cumgranosalis  •  Link

for the 'ell of it, it be 9 by 5: I dothe take "one ell square, an ell being "a measure of 45 inches".

cumgranosalis  •  Link

errata: made one "ell of a mess of that"
ell from which it be the Ulna or the length od object :
Com. Teut.: OE. eln,str. fem MDu elne ,elle Du el....OHG..... alin (Sw. aln, Da. alen), Goth. aleina (? scribal error for *alina) cubit:}", L. ulna, of same meaning. .... leading to elbow [ulna]..........
The diversity of meanings (see below) is common to all words denoting linear measures derived from the length of the arm; cf. CUBIT and L. ulna. The word ell seems to have been variously taken to represent the distance from the elbow or from the shoulder to the wrist or to the finger-tips, while in some cases a 'double ell' has superseded the original measure, and has taken its name.]
1. a. A measure of length varying in different countries. The English ell = 45 in.; the Scotch = 37·2; the Flemish = 27 in. Now only Hist. or with reference to foreign countries, the Eng. measure being obsolete.
In early use often in sing. when preceded by numerals.
.........b. fig. Contrasted with inch, span, etc.; esp. in proverbial phrase, give him an inch and he'll take an ell: meaning that undue advantage will be taken of a slight concession.
.....c. As a fluid measure.
[Several correspondents inform us that they remember seeing the announcement 'Beer sold by the yard', on the signboards of country taverns, the reference being to the long narrow glasses about a yard high.]
2. a. A measuring rod; = ELL-WAND. Phrase, to measure with the long ell, with the short ell: to measure unfairly as buyer or seller respectively.
4. As a rendering of L. ulna: The larger bone of the fore-arm. Obs.
1682 Way to make Rum in Harl. Misc. I. 541 The Germans commonly drink whole tankards, and *ell-glasses, at a draught.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I think Jeannine what's always amazed me is throughout history how successful marital partnerships have been. Nearly always a tight bond develops even when the initial arrangement is convenience. If it's not always harmonious each moment of each day, it's usually true that the bonding for love that we prize is no guarantee of success. (Except in our case, my love! Whap!!) I'm always impressed reading Roman period epitaphs from surviving spouse to the departed's memory or a last thought from departed to survivor. So many carry that extra bit of real affection and sincere loss.

Though a few do have a possible double meaning...

"I am waiting for my husband."

I like to imagine Bess would've had that inscribed. Sam involuntarily trembling each time he passed the stone.

cumgranosalis  •  Link

epigrammata, IX, 15 Martial:
Inscripsit tumulus septem scelerata virorum :
" Se fecisse Chloe"
Quid pote simplicius?
She inscribed on the tomb of seven husbands?

"Choe made this herself"
What could be more simple [or honest]?

Terry F  •  Link

Talking of the dying of Edward Pepys

All the details - so typical -
- the duration of the conversation-
"I sat an houre talking"
- the duration of the dying -
"of the suddennesse of his death within 7 days" [more sudden than "a week"?}
- the manner of the dying anatomized -
"and how by little and little death came upon him, neither he nor they thinking it would come to that. He died after a day's raveing, through lightness in his head for want of sleep."
- how it affected his wife -
"His lady did not know of his sickness, nor do they hear yet how she takes it."
remind me of a similar scene in *The Death of Ivan Ilyich*…

Conrad  •  Link

I like the way our Sam gets away with reading the book seller's books, just as today's book shop browsers know no shame in standing around dog earring the magazines, with absolutely no intention of ever paying for one.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

spent my time in a Bookseller's shop,

The imprint for Olearius' "Voyages ..." reads:-
"printed for Thomas Dring, and John Starkey, and are to be sold at their shops, at the George in Fleet-street, neer Clifford's-Inn, and at the Mitre, between the Middle-Temple-gate and Temple-Barr,"

Pepys must have been at the Mitre.

Mary  •  Link

pronunciation of 'escutcheon'

Yes, the first syllable of this word is still pronounced in Standard Received English, though the vowel is a short 'i' rather than a short 'e'

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

"What would the widow's role be? ...(I'm wondering if she's have to remarry after a set time period to afford her life, etc.?)"
I think that would depend largely on things like jointures, dowries, settlements, etc. I'm pretty fuzzy on those, and I'm sure someone here can enlighten us. My vague understanding is that, if a wife brought a dowery into the marriage, there was usually a "settlement" (what we would call a pre-nup) that ensured it would go support her in widowhood, and then to the younger sons on her death (since the eldest usually got the family estate). A settlement might also provide for widowhood out of the husband's estate, but that would normally cease at remarriage (since she would then be some other man's responsibility). Of course, all of this applied only to the propertied classes.

Can anyone give Jeanine a more authoritative answer?

JonTom Kittredge  •  Link

Widows and Dowagers
Some random info from Wikipedia:
"A dowry (also known as trousseau) is a gift of money or valuables given by the bride's family to the groom's at the time of their marriage. It has been regarded as contribution of her family to the married household's expenses. ... The opposite direction, property settled on the bride by the groom, is called dower. Normally the bride would be entitled to her dowry in event of her widowhood, prior to the evolution of her dower rights; so common was this that the terms "dowry" and "dower" are sometimes confused."

"A dowager is a widow who holds a title or property, or Dower, derived from her deceased husband."

Dower House:…
"A dower house is usually a moderately large house on an estate which is occupied by the widow of the late owner. The widow, often known as the "dowager" usually moves into the dower house, from the larger family house, on the death of her husband, the new heir occupies the now vacated principal house."

Pedro  •  Link


I cannot see much in Liza Picard's Restoration London except for...

The legal status of women

At 7, a girl was old enough to become betrothed; at 12, she could be legally married. If she be married younger she may dissent till she be 14. Until her marriage, a daughter was part of her father's family, and he was responsible for her. If her father died while she was still unmarried, and we have seen that 25% of women never married, she was handed on to the next head of the family. On marriage she became the responsibility of her husband.

On widows she quotes William Blackstone...Commentaries on the Laws of England

"Why mourn you so, you widows? Consider how long you have been in subjection under the predominance of parents, of your husbands, and now you are free in liberty...Maidens and wives vows (contracts) were all disavowable by their parents and husbands...but the vow of a man has the power to disallow..."

cumgranosalis  •  Link

Men remarried as they want and need to be fed, clothed and bedded, Women on the other hand would marry again only if it suited their needs.
Women usual stayed in the single mode as they would not be any bodies responsibility, but there own, if they had enough funds and did not want the next guy to get control the funds.
There be those men [men be so nice when they be in want]that be looking for a merry widow to pay for fun and provide future gene providers.
As seen in the diary, Samuel be busy trying to get a financial assistance for his pricklouse brother.
The institution of wedded bliss be played in many ways. Marrage is an answer to many differing needs. There be five senses that be needed to be satisfied, along with hunger, warmth.
Girl if wise be an old fools darling rather than a young mans slave

Bradford  •  Link

45 inches on a side would be large, but 9x5 rather small for outside display, woon't it?

Robert Browning wrote a "closet drama" called "A Blot in the 'Scutcheon," showing that in Victorian cod-Elizabeth playspeak the initial "e" was elided. If you have heard either version spoken aloud, count yourself among highly informed company or stuck in a Renaissance Festival timewarp.

jeannine  •  Link

JonTom, Pedro, RG and Grain of Salt--Thanks so much for the info! Always nice to get a variety of views on a subject and learn something from my Pepysian comrades!

GrahamT  •  Link

For a different view of what happens to women when they didn't have a dower to fall back on, read Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders (husband disappeared with family money) and John Cleland's Fanny Hill (orphaned without an inheritance) Both give a lot of background about dowries and annuities for women, and the consequences of not having them. (Prostitution, crime, transportation, execution, etc...)
Though both written in the 18th century, the social background was unchanged enough to make them relevant to our 17th century discussions.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I have a couple of notes about widows, showing the beginnings of social conscience about the inevitable results of war:

On 25 October 1642, within hours of the stalemate at Edgehill, Parliament passed an Act that for the first time acknowledged the State’s responsibility to provide for the welfare of its wounded soldiers and also for the widows and orphans of those killed: "An Ordinance of both Houses, declaring their Resolutions of making provision for those that shall be maimed in this present war, who are in the service of Parliament; and for the wives and children of those that shall be slain".

And from John Evelyn's diary:

16th May, 1665. To London, to consider of the poor orphans and widows made by this bloody beginning, and whose husbands and relations perished in the London frigate, of which there were 50 widows, and 45 of them with child.

In neither case do I have any idea of what relief was forthcoming. At least they were thinking about it.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Found another one, which to my reading is how they raised the money. I would still like to know how much goes to the widows:…
10 August, 1647: An Ordinance for the Relief and Maintenance of Maimed Soldiers and Mariners, and the Widows and Orphans of such as have died in the service of the Parliament during these late Wars.
Ord. 28 May 1647, for relief of maimed souldiers.; Justices shall put the former Ordinance in execution at any Sessions of the Peace.
¶Whereas by a former Ordinance, bearing Date the 28. day of May now last passed, intituled, An Ordinance for Relief of maimed Souldiers, &c.
It is ordained, That such further sum of Money shall be assessed, as by the Justices of Peace in the next Quarter Sessions after the passing the said Ordinance, or the major part of them, shall be adjudged meet to be assessed upon every Parish or Chappelry that hath distinct Parochial Officers, so as the said additional sum exceedeth not the sum of Two shillings six pence, nor be under the sum of Three pence each week, for each such Parish or Chappelry; for as much as the service aforesaid could not be performed as was desired, for want of time sufficient allowed by this Ordinance, in regard the Authority given to the Justices to execute the same, is onely at the next Quarter Sessions after the passing the Ordinance: It is therefore ordered and ordained by the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, That the Justices of Peace within the Kingdome of England and Dominion of Wales, shall be hereby authorized to proceed, and shall, or may at any time hereafter, at any Sessions of the Peace which shall or may at any time hereafter be holden within their several Divisions, proceed for the putting the former Ordinance in execution to all intents and purposes, as they might have done by vertue of the said Ordinance aforesaid, at the next Quarter Sessions after the passing the same.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Last one ... I found one that gives amounts to the soldiers, widows and orphans --…

30 September, 1651.
Treasurers or maimed soldiers and widows to pay allowances for 6 months; Then to such only as procure certificates; And to discharge all others.

it is 9,300 words long and I can't edit it enough ... basically they had to go the soldier's commanding officer and get a certificate to say that the soldier was legitimately maimed or killed in battle. The officer gave his copy to the local magistrate, and the soldier/widow/orphan took theirs to the same magistrate, and could get 4s 8d a week if you were a soldier, and up to 4s if you were a widow or orphan. If you had a job, the magistrate could pay you the difference to get you to 4s a week ... OR they could put a child into an apprenticeship and let the child earn his own keep. And that was good for six months. And I suppose they did a re-authorization after that. I haven't had time to look. Checks and balances, even then.

Bill  •  Link

“to consult about getting an achievement prepared”

ATCHIEVEMENT, [in Heraldry] signifies the Coat of Arms of any Gentlemen, set out fully with all that belongs to it.
---An universal etymological English dictionary. N. Bailey, 1724.

Mary K  •  Link

Edward Pepys widow

This lady is a member of the Walpole family - a very well known and long established Norfolk family. Perhaps she is in Norfolk and the news of her husband's illness and death is taking time to reach her.

Incidentally, I suspect that the earlier reference to her being "handsome" may well refer to her family status as well as to any physical attributes.

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Some time ago, but less than a decade I think, I read about a study that compared the length of marriages (before divorce) vs. ages of the couple in societies that supported both arranged marriages and (presumably) love marriages. If the couple were under about 26 arranged marriages were longer lasting but above that age love marriages lasted longer. I think that around 25 - 26 years of age men tend to have become more mature, less impulsive, etc.

StanB  •  Link

Sarahs excellent research got me to thinking what became of the Royalist Widows? how were they treated regarding the actions of there husbands so i did a bit of digging myself . In July 1645, a few months before Charles I surrendered to the Scots at Newark and brought the first Civil War to a close, Elizabeth Warner sent a petition to the Parliamentary Committee for Compounding with Delinquents. This committee had been set up to manage the confiscated estates of Royalists and to allow them to regain their estates for a fine. Elizabeth’s offence was that she had been discovered to have been sending letters to the wife of Colonel Thomas Blagge who was then governor at Wallingford House: a garrison being held for the King

Elizabeth asserted in her petitions that the letters were sent to "her antient & intimate friend" and that "there past no thing but Civill Complem[en]ts" in them. Despite this, she was suspected for a Royalist and her estate was seized by the sequestrators. In the final part of her petition she wrote she ‘submissively begs’ that ‘she may be freed of this Brand’ Elizabeth was just one of many widows who were ‘branded’ with delinquency because of their own actions or the actions of their husbands. They used the petition in order to lobby Parliament for the return of their lands

The majority of the business of the Committee for Compounding with Delinquents was dealing with men who had fought for the King. They too sent in their petitions to the Committee in order to be able to pay a fine to regain their estates

In contrast, when women petitioned the Committee several did boldly stress that they were not delinquents. Assertions of poverty and being a ‘poor distressed widow’ were commonplace in these petitions Parliament had ordered that estates worth less than £200 a year were to be discharged without a fine

However, it was not just widows who might be materially described as poor who invoked this sort of narrative. For example, Lady Elinor Hastings begged the Committee ‘to grant reliefe to her and her three small children which absolutely must starve’ as she had ‘not a penny to buy them breade and being altogether unable to mayntayne them'

Language of starvation and famine, irrespective of class, was also used in descriptions of war widows in print. A Civil War pamphlet described war widows at the gates of Westminster as ‘suffered to starve for want of bread’ Claiming poverty was not the only tactic used by widows who had been deemed to be delinquent. Many of these women were submitting petitions because their husbands had fought for the King and subsequently died in that service. Therefore, their inheritance had been placed in the hands of Parliament. Some women were indignant that the actions of their husbands had somehow tarnished their own reputations.

It seems that Royalist Widows often used the tactic of denying the same belief in the Royalist Cause that there Husbands had and as such should not be penalised

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

‘escutcheon, n. < Old Northern French . .
1. a. Heraldry. The shield or shield-shaped surface on which a coat of arms is depicted; also in wider sense, the shield with the armorial bearings; a sculptured or painted representation of this.
. . 1686 R. Plot Nat. Hist. Staffs. Pref. sig. a, The figures on the right hand each Escocheon, shewing what Armes belong to the Houses . .

Pronunciation: /ɛˈskʌtʃən/’ (OED)

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Sam has his own motive for seeing the escutcheon is done properly: to strengthen his own claim to gentry status. Though only the son of a tailor, he is already well educated and dressed, with an important job, in the money, and attended by a boy; and he carries a sword, even though he can have little skill in using it. Getting his claim to the Pepys arms confirmed so that he can put them on his silverware is the next step.

His connections: ‘ . . Although his immediate background was urban and modest, Pepys's family came from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, and he had landed connections there and in Huntingdonshire. Among these was his father's brother Robert, who owned an estate at Brampton which Pepys eventually inherited.

Of more immediate importance was the marriage of (his great-aunt) to Sir Sydney Montagu of Hinchingbrooke; their son Edward Mountagu (later earl of Sandwich) . . was the agent for Pepys's advancement into public service . . ‘ (DNB)

His second cousin, Richard (d. 1659), was knighted.

Bill  •  Link

Indeed Chris, your annotation about Sam's ambition reminds me of the entry of 2 March 1661/62:

"With my mind much eased talking long in bed with my wife about our frugall life for the time to come, proposing to her what I could and would do if I were worth 2,000l., that is, be a knight, and keep my coach, which pleased her."

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