Sunday 20 March 1663/64

(Lord’s day). Kept my bed all the morning, having laid a poultice to my cods last night to take down the tumour there which I got yesterday, which it did do, being applied pretty warm, and soon after the beginning of the swelling, and the pain was gone also. We lay talking all the while, among other things of religion, wherein I am sorry so often to hear my wife talk of her being and resolving to die a Catholique,1 and indeed a small matter, I believe, would absolutely turn her, which I am sorry for. Up at noon to dinner, and then to my chamber with a fire till late at night looking over my brother Thomas’s papers, sorting of them, among which I find many base letters of my brother John’s to him against me, and carrying on plots against me to promote Tom’s having of his Banbury Mistress, in base slighting terms, and in worse of my sister Pall, such as I shall take a convenient time to make my father know, and him also to his sorrow. So after supper to bed, our people rising to wash to-morrow.

33 Annotations

First Reading

Terry F  •  Link

"Tom's having of his Banbury' Mistress"

This has been an affair we saw once before, 30 September 1662: "My brother Tom is gone out of town this day, to make a second journey to his mistress at Banbury, of which I have good expectations, and pray God to bless him therein."

L&M provided the reference.

Pedro  •  Link

"but, in spite of his fears, she died a Protestant"

This is a SPOILER, and the "in spite of his fears" should be taken as an opinion. Let the future lead to a lively discussion!

jdon  •  Link

... our people rising to wash tomorrow.

Another view of Monday as wash day:

"The Mayflower had arrived at Provincetown harbor on 11 November [1620]. Since the next day was Sunday, the Pilgrims remained aboard ship ... . As Puritans, they believed that the entire Sabbath must be devoted to worship ... .
On Monday ..., the passengers enjoyed their first day ashore. After more than two months at sea, there was what they termed 'a great need' for washing ... . For generations to come, Monday would be wash day in New England, a tradition that began with the women of the Mayflower. "
Nathaniel Philbrick, The Mayflower

I suppose this tradition could have drifted back to England and various other parts of the world including my own. But I rather think that Monday is just a natural choice coming, as it does, after Sunday and the weekend. I remember it well. My job as a boy was to draw endless buckets of water from the well and tote it to those bottomless tubs while keeping an eye on the fire in the large iron washpot in the back yard. I suspect something similar went on in Sam's household.

Glyn  •  Link

Wife v Mother-in-Law. Sam's mother was a devout Puritan apparently. much more so than he ever was. Wonder how she and Elizabeth got on? Incidentally, is she in London now?

cape henry  •  Link

So, a convenient day off to recuperate and study what's in the Tom's mail. Then the venomous hint as to what's on the way for brother John. Given Sam's power to absorb large amounts of information and retain it, we can suppose that when he finally comes to use it it will be to withering effect.

Terry F  •  Link

"to my chamber with a fire till late at night looking over my brother Thomas's papers"

Envision the candle-lit scene -- surrounded by small piles of papers, Sam'l is found immersed in a page, then putting it aside with force and taking up another; then returning to find one he had looked at earlier.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Ay thar be spoilers...

I hadn't realized Bess revealed her Catholic leanings so openly before the dramatic events of 1669...Gotta read the entries more carefully next full Diary read. This opens a very interesting door...Bess faking each and every Sunday at church for Sam's sake. I note to his credit that Sam didn't try to insist Bess change her views.

"... and in worse of my sister Pall..." Given Sam's past history with Pall it's hard for me to believe he's upset that John was speaking unkindly against her. Still, that seems to be the case, in which case Sam is being a tad hypocritical. Perhaps, though, given that kind closing of Tom's to Pall in his letter (thanks, Jeannine), Sam means John was plotting with Pall as well as Tom to knock Sam off his high-horse.

"Brother Sam, take pity on our sister Pall and release her from Brampton exile." Tom pleads, kneeling...

"I too..." John kneels...Concealing knife in toga... "Plead for an end to Paulina's exile."

"Bah." Sam proudly draws toga about him. "I might be moved were I of such stuff as you. But I am as fixed and constant as the Northern Star. All others..."

"Speak hands for me! Before he does the whole speech!" John rams knife.

"Arghh...Damn I should have listened to Bess' dreams this morning."

"Tom! Come on!" John waves a reluctant Tom in...

"He screwed up your marriage plans. He's always treated you like an imbecile! Let him have it!"

Tom sighs and stabs...

"Et tu, Thomas?" Sam naturally hangs on long enough to deliver that one...

"Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!" John waves bloody knife.

"We outta burn that Diary of his." Tom notes.

"Eh, who cares!" John waves an airy hand. "What harm can a few pages do."

That night...

"Neighbors, Englishmen, Countrymen...Take a look at this entry." Bess waves the Diary above poor Sam's reeking corpse... "See how my poor husband wept for his father and family...Was this greedy ambition?!"

"No!" Will Hewer cues the maddening crowd...

"Yet John Jr. and Thomas say he was greedy, callous, and ambitious. And John and Tom...Who just claimed the right to divide Brampton and cut me, the widow, ut...Are...Honorable men..."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"A Catholic?!" Sam shakes head in consternation.

Hmmn...On the other hand, if her soul's already condemned to Hell...No need to hold our marriage vow sacred. Heck, so long as she refuses to receive the Light, God would want me to resist her Papist charms. Tis my sacred duty right now to go and seek out a good Protestant mistress.

Charlene  •  Link

A "good Protestant mistress" might have been a lot of fun, but Elizabeth's conversion would likely have meant the absolute end of Pepys's career. And in 1664 he didn't have the option to divorce her, either. No wonder he panicked.

Jesse  •  Link

"her being and resolving to die a Catholique"

Where does this come from? Perhaps Elizabeth has a spiritual side, compatible with Catholicism, that for several reasons never really gets fulfilled. Certainly with a recent death in the family thoughts of one's own mortality come into play. Perhaps there's some hedging of bets. Per the Ars Moriendi… there is always that chance of deathbed repentance leading to salvation - a chance that the Protestants back then, as I understand, would put a lot less reliance on?

Australian Susan  •  Link

The reference in the Wheatley note to "Dr Mills's ceertificate" was the statement supplied by the Parish priest concerning the orthodoxy of the one recently deceased. This certificate would no doubt prove useful to Sam in later years when he came under suspicion.

"with a fire" I wondered, as there is no mention of it being particularly cold, if this meant that Sam had a fire lit so he could burn papers as he discarded them. I'm sure he hung onto the ones he refers to!

"something similar in Sam's household" - yes, but I bet your mum didn't use urine as bleach!

Michael L  •  Link

Jesse says, "Where does [her desire to be Catholic] come from?"

As I recall, Elizabeth was raised in a French Catholic convent school. So she had been presumably steeped in Catholic culture.

George R  •  Link

I was puzzled, as I had understood that Bess' family were Hugenot refugees from france and therefore protestants. Seems that father was a convert to protestantism but there was some resistance to conversion by other family members. Link to Religion & Atheism…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

It was nice to hear that Sam and Bess do have real conversations during their mornings abed. I assume the talk began with them reviewing the last few days and poor Tom's end and then moved on to death and religion in general. And Sam listened to, rather than instantly condemned, Bess' thoughts.

Interesting that some of the nineteenth century male critics of Bess' supposed shallow or frivolous nature seemed to have missed this entry...and a few others.

Pedro  •  Link

Elizabeth's background.

Perhaps a summary from the book Pepys in Love by Delaforce, recommended by Jeannine, may be of interest here. Delaforce tells the story through the voice of Elizabeth...

Her father's family were fervent Catholics, and when he turned Protestant while serving in the German state armies, he was disinherited by his family.

Her father met her mother while serving in Ireland, and she was the widow of the Clifford family and daughter of Sir Francis Kingsmill, an Anglo-Irish gentleman.

While in Paris her mother met a "Rich councelors wife" called Madame Trousou and a Monsieur Duplesis. They conspired for her mother to leave her father and that Elizabeth should become a nun and Balty a Page of the Pope's Nuncio. Elizabeth (12 0r 13) went to the "Nunneries of the Urselines", the "stricktest Nunnery in all Paris"

After 12 days her father rescued all three and brought them back to England.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

That lair of evil, the Vatican...1655...(Vader theme playing in background)

The Bishop of Rome in vestiments on throne coldly eyes a kneeling minion Cardinal...

From far below in the dungeons, faint cries of the hideous victims of the Inquisitors can be heard...


"Holiness. Our agent sends word she has made contact with her subject in London. The young man you marked as destined to rise in the English adminstration."

"Excellent. All as We have foreseen using Our dark powers..." grim cackle of satisfaction.

"Has she succeeded in seducing him to Our Cause?"

"Er, no, Holiness. Mr. Pepys remains firm in his heresy."

Hmmn...Grim frown, angry shifting of papal mitre...

"So...You and our appointed handmaiden have failed the Vicar of Christ? Such failure, Cardinal, merits...Excommunication."

An eager Inquisitor in black hood emerges from the shadows where he'd hopefully waited...

"Ummn...Mea culpa, Holiness. But she has succeeded in enthralling him. Against all practical notions he has married the girl. As he rises, she will be at his side. Informing us of the inner workings of the English government."

His Holiness raises a hand...The Inquisitor sighs but withdraws patiently.

"Very well. Fortunately for you, Our prophetic vision via Our dark powers has already foreseen this. But see she is kept tight within the bosom of Holy Mother Church. The heretic hath power to assume a pleasing shape...Especially when he is the mate. Do not fail Us again, Cardinal."

"I have already dispatched our best man, Fogarty, to maintain contact. She has been well-trained and will not fall victim to heresy. I assure Your Holiness that she will not fail us."

"Her information gleaned from her new husband will be crucial in setting the two heretic superpowers against each other, Cardinal."

"We have foreseen it all." Cackle.

"Your Holiness." the Cardinal bows his way out.

Terry F  •  Link

(Robert, it reads so well if His Holiness is voiced by James Earl Jones!)

Eric Walla  •  Link

Sam reading Tom's papers makes me realize ...

... that, were his diary the work of another man, Sam would be the most fervently devoted reader of all. You can just see him surrounded by Tom's papers, piecing together a narrative fit for the most exacting annotators on this page. Reincarnated today, he would probably be a Poster Extraordinaire ... (Robert, do you feeling any uncanny Sam vibes when you rework his themes?)

DrCari  •  Link

I hate to be a wet blanket but in my search for a copy of Delaforce's "PEPYS IN LOVE" I discovered the book is catalogued as Fiction.
Apparently it is loosely based on a letter written by Elizabeth to her parents. The reviews suggest it to be a good read anyway. I wasn't able to locate a copy in the US, but found it at Amazon UK.

Pedro  •  Link

Pepys in Love: Elizabeth's story.

Yes this book is indeed fiction and the interpretation as a whole must be taken with a pinch of salt. However it does give a good insight into Elizabeth's father quoting dates, times and places that can be checked. It would not normally be wise to quote from this book, but the information on Elizabeth above can be verified from other sources.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

A letter from Elisabeth to her parents...? Is it available anywhere to view?

Pedro  •  Link

Pepys in Love: Elizabeth's story.

It seems to have an apology to make to Patrick Dealforce, as in reading the book without first reading the cover, and as it is told through the voice of Elizabeth...

The book was published in 1986, and the reference to a letter would probably be the one that Balty sent to Sam when he was under attack in Parliament as a suspected Papist. An extract, of quite some length, is given at the end of the book and includes the information from which the background to the family has been derived.

But the book is much more than Elizabeth's family and the cover says...

The book is a totally factual book derived from Lord Braybrook's edition of the Diary. It includes new research including Huguenot and French records of her life, her eccentric family, her menage, her wild tempestuous marriage to the Saviour of the Navy, of her numerous admirers from the Duke of York, Montagu, the wine shipper Sam's lifelong friend Hewer.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Ah, Balty's epistle. Interesting and useful but not the same as having Bess' own work. Damn Sam sometimes for destroying her great letter.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Another book from EP's viewpoint.

This one really is fiction - it is supposedly EP's diary "discovered" by the Australian feminist, Dale Spender. It's a good read!…

cumsalisgrano  •  Link

Re: underground Papist. All through out time; people have public thought [to keep eating] private /secret thought for their concience. Look at any system, be it a political, Religeous, Military or business, a person has to do what he has to do, in order to have a palliass, [ to sleep on ]or bread for thy stomuck [sic] or toga for covering vital organs, people use that human brain segmant to give false body language for revealing their true self.

At this time a large segment of Papist followers led dual lives, from all levels of society. There were schools that taught Catholic dogma that were direct offshoots of Douai doctrine that survived the Elizabethan Era.
'Tis the survival instinct to button ones religeous/political/military lip if thee decide to rise to thy level of incompitance.
By digesting in small bites this diary and seeking answers to small minor details that in of them-selves have little impact, suddenly tip a scale of thought.

Many do not have the luxury to fully assimulate the full impact of such microbic detail by just reading , now with this tool of finding words by hunting, real scholars can verify missed items of controversy. As more obscure documents can be digitised, more people can read near perfect clone of the original, and not the filtered version [though fantastic] of a translation and or synopsis of documents of those earlier Eras. There are many Librarys and attics of unsuspecting organisations that will become fodder for understanding of the past, with a better prediction of the future.
When we just had the bible and a taste of Roman/ Greek, we were mentally cuffed, but the Guggenheim press allowed access to other minds, now with digitising more semi scholars can access information and do a Des Cartes on questionable data.
So much information is the result of opining the facts, now it can be QED.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"I am sorry so often to hear my wife talk of her being and resolving to die a Catholique,"

In a footnote L&M remind us of:

* The visit last month of Father Fogarty (who was said to have known her and her mother in France):…

* Her August 1666 painting of the Virgin Mary's head:…

* Elizabeth's swearing she was a Catholic on 25 October 1668 (MAJOR SPOILER: lashing out at Sam):…

* L&M do not note here the head of Christ she painted in 1665:…

"But she was never received into the Catholic church." (L&M footnote)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"Bess faking each and every Sunday at church for Sam's sake."

On the other hand, I'm more horrified than surprised at Bess' revelation. Over the years I have noted how seldom Pepys reports they attended church together, and how often he was out "church shopping" usually alone. His apparent lack of conformity and frequent complaints about dull Scots sermons may have led Bess to think she could speak frankly at a time of mutual introspection.

My horror comes from saddling her husband with this politically-explosive secret as he climbs the perilous career ladder.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... and then to my chamber with a fire till late at night looking over my brother Thomas’s papers, ..." ... "... there is no mention of it being particularly cold, if this meant that Sam had a fire lit so he could burn papers as he discarded them ..."

Australian Susan, in mid-March it still gets dark quite early, and it is always cold, wet and blowy at this time of year. Sam needed the fire for heat and light, and yes, I'm sure he burned a few pieces of paper as well.

Louise Hudson  •  Link


"but, in spite of his fears, she died a Protestant"

[SPOILER--for anyone who doesn't know of the timing of Elizabeth's death.]

Elizabeth didn't have a lot of time to decide whether to become a Catholic. She died unexpectedly at a young age. She may well have planned to become a Catholic before she died, but didn't have the opportunity.

Christopher David Robin Williams  •  Link

I'd like to hear from a MD about Sam's swollen cods. In all my 76 years I have never heard about any man suffering from this problem, so I don't think it is a common occurrence. Perhaps he had bigger cods than most other men?

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

Please - no more spoilers! The pleasure of reading the diary as a blog is that it lets the story unfold day by day just as it did to Sam. We are kept in suspense as to whether and for how long they ‘lived happily ever after’.

So readers do not want those who came before showing off their knowledge of what happens in the future - thank you. Those who can’t wait to find out what happens may go to… and can if they wish add their penny-worth to the an encyclopedia entry such as… for Elizabeth.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

About Sam's swollen cods

Christopher David Robin Williams, I'm not an MD and am 2 years younger than you, but I have heard of several varieties of swollen testicles. Pepys complains from time to time, but rather routinely about testicular discomfort and/or pain due to riding on horseback or in a coach. He also seems to be given to rather regular sexual arousal. The first paragraph of the Wikipedia article on Testicular diseases begins: "The testicles are well-known to be very sensitive to impact and injury. Blue balls is a slang term for a temporary fluid congestion in the testicles and prostate region caused by prolonged sexual arousal." More about testicular disease follows:…

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