Thursday 28 September 1665

Up, and being mightily pleased with my night’s lodging, drank a cup of beer, and went out to my office, and there did some business, and so took boat and down to Woolwich (having first made a visit to Madam Williams, who is going down to my Lord Bruncker) and there dined, and then fitted my papers and money and every thing else for a journey to Nonsuch to-morrow. That being done I walked to Greenwich, and there to the office pretty late expecting Captain Cocke’s coming, which he did, and so with me to my new lodging (and there I chose rather to lie because of my interest in the goods that we have brought there to lie), but the people were abed, so we knocked them up, and so I to bed, and in the night was mightily troubled with a looseness (I suppose from some fresh damp linen that I put on this night), and feeling for a chamber-pott, there was none, I having called the mayde up out of her bed, she had forgot I suppose to put one there; so I was forced in this strange house to rise and shit in the chimney twice; and so to bed and was very well again, and [Continued tomorrow. P.G.]

24 Annotations

First Reading

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Madam Williams", eh? No longer Lord Bruncker's "doxy"?

Albatross  •  Link

I was going to make a joke about Sam 'knocking up' sleeping people, but the unexpected scatological twist has derailed my comedy... What an odd entry, and yet, how illuminating.

CGS  •  Link

It could have been worse , there be the chamber pot and it had not been emptied.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... and there I chose rather to lie because of my interest in the goods that we have brought there to lie ..."

SP has been having anxiety and sleeplessnesses over the irregular transaction for several nights now; might this indicate just his usual generalized anxiety about theft of any of his accumulated tangible stores of wealth or the degree of his distrust in Captain Cocke.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

" ... to rise and shit in the chimney twice; ..."

If this was on hot embers, the residual fumes that did not pass up the chimney must have been noxious.

Ruben  •  Link

I do not remember where I read that the first Japanese ambassador to the United States wrote a diary about his adventures in that barbaric state. He had a stately room in the finest hotel in New York and was supposed to sleep in an "oriental bed". It was so soft and full of silks that he could not lie there. So he slept on the carpet. Under the bed someone left a white pot, so he used it as a pillow...

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...went out to my office, and there did some business..."

Nice to know strategic planning and production for the war proceeds apace in that humming center of naval warfare that is the English Naval Office...

Mo  •  Link

Nice for whoever had to empty the grate in the morning...

Bob T  •  Link

Any North American who hits on Sam knocking anybody up, will be beaten with a stick.

Chris Faulkner  •  Link

so we knocked them up...

In the Midlands and North of England this is still an often used expression. There is a scene in a WW2 film caled Yanks, where the US Soldiers are amazed at the job of a retired Manchester cottom mill worker, who now 'knocks-up the factory girls every morning' In the days before everyone had alarm clocks, he would go round and knock on bedroom windows with a long pole. Oh the joys of a common language....

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"I suppose from fresh damp linen"
The human mind always look for an explanation but never in all my life have I come across this cause of diarrhea.

Mary  •  Link

this cause of diarrhoea

Ah, but these days we pay scant attention to the need for keeping all four of the essential humours in delicate balance.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

So perhaps that poor boy in the movie was unfairly maligned...Food for thought, eh?

jeannine  •  Link

'and feeling for a chamber-pott, there was none, I having called the mayde up out of her bed, she had forgot I suppose to put one there; so I was forced in this strange house to rise and shit in the chimney twice'

Boy did I pick a sh**ty day to get caught up in the Diary! My heart goes out to the poor maid. I bet she'll never forget to leave a chamber pot for anyone ever again. Can't imagine how disgusting this will be to clean up! So, here’s a career opportunity question du jour?

How sad that our Sam was so caught
Without a close by chamber pot
He twice had to leave his ‘debris’
In the ashes of a chimney
No matter how much one is paid
Would you want the job of the maid?????

Terry Foreman  •  Link

John Evelyn's Diary (in lieu of Dirk)

28 To the L: Generall to acquaint him againe of the deplorable state of our men, for want of provisions, return’d with orders:

FJA  •  Link

Of course we may spare a thought today for the poor chambermaid, but was the daily handling of so many chamber pots so fastidious that the occasional shoveling of soiled ashes odious?

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Jeannine, welcome back, and condolences.

language hat  •  Link

Welcome back, jeannine! We've missed you.

CGS  •  Link

I to missed thy dulcet tones.

jeannine  •  Link

Paul, LH, CGS and all,

Many thanks for your kind thoughts and emails.

Australian Susan  •  Link

I suppose the "mayde" could have been glad that, Sam's bowels being so troubled, he did not try to steal a kiss or worse from her: she would probably rather clean up mess than that - and she would have had no grounds for complaint if he had tried anything on.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Being a knocker-up was a perfectly respectable occupation in working class English factory areas. Some factories also had bells to summon people to work. The street where my late mother-in-law lived in Stoke-on-Trent had a factory at the bottom of it,(now converted to a supermarket) which still had its bell on the side wall. Stoke is where all the pottery comes from and that wonderful job description: a saggar-maker's bottom knocker. Clay pugger is another good one. And woe betide a pugger who pugged windy clay (which exploded in the kiln). At our time, pottery production is just getting underway in England, but it will be some while before the mysteries of Chinese porcelain making are learnt and Sam and his ilk have to drink their coffee, tea and chocolate from imported ware.

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"Some factories also had bells to summon people to work."

Or hooters (sirens) to summon the workers ... I do biweekly interviews with songwriter Andy Partridge (of BritPop legends XTC) about his songs, and his song "The Everyday Story of Smalltown" is a paean to this and other aspects of life in a working-class small town. If you're interested, the lyrics are here:…

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Horrifying as we find Pepys’ solution to his predicament, he wasn’t alone. What is remarkable is that this was so unusual for him, he recorded his conflict.

When convent-educated Queen Catherine of Braganza and her bevy of ladies arrived in England for her marriage to Charles II in 1661, she and her Portuguese ladies were horrified to see noblemen urinating throughout the palace. The ladies complained “they cannot stir abroad without seeing in every corner great beastly English pricks battering against every wall.”

But it wasn’t just the English. In a 1675 report on life at the Louvre says, “on the grand staircases … behind the doors and almost everywhere one sees there a mass of excrement, one smells a thousand unbearable stenches caused by calls of nature which everyone goes to do there every day.” Louis XIV built the place without any public houses of office.

Smelly filth is one reason the Courts travel so much. Henry VIII and wives and friends went from Whitehall to Hampton Court Palace to Windsor Castle to Greenwich Palace to Nonesuch and Richmond and beyond, often completing 30 moves a year. Once the Court had vacated, servants descended, brushes and buckets in hand, to remove all the human waste off the floors and walls.

Lots more on Tudor and Stuart poisons and sanitation in…

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