Thursday 23 November 1665

Up betimes, and so, being trimmed, I to get papers ready against Sir H. Cholmly come to me by appointment, he being newly come over from Tangier. He did by and by come, and we settled all matters about his money, and he is a most satisfied man in me, and do declare his resolution to give me 200 per annum. It continuing to be a great frost, which gives us hope for a perfect cure of the plague, he and I to walk in the parke, and there discoursed with grief of the calamity of the times; how the King’s service is performed, and how Tangier is governed by a man, who, though honourable, yet do mind his ways of getting and little else compared, which will never make the place flourish. I brought him and had a good dinner for him, and there come by chance Captain Cuttance, who tells me how W. Howe is laid by the heels, and confined to the Royall Katharine, and his things all seized and how, also, for a quarrel, which indeed the other night my Lord told me, Captain Ferrers, having cut all over the back of another of my Lord’s servants, is parted from my Lord. I sent for little Mrs. Frances Tooker, and after they were gone I sat dallying with her an hour, doing what I would with my hands about her. And a very pretty creature it is. So in the evening to the office, where late writing letters, and at my lodging later writing for the last twelve days my Journall and so to bed. Great expectation what mischief more the French will do us, for we must fall out. We in extraordinary lacke of money and everything else to go to sea next year. My Lord Sandwich is gone from the fleete yesterday toward Oxford.

29 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link


[ A hospital ship is indispensable ]

For Samuel Pepys Esqr
on[e] of the principall Officers
of his Majesties Navy
at Greenewich

Sayes Court

[23 November 1665] (2)


I am but just now ariv’d (3); of which I will give you no farther account at present, because the post shall not goe without the direction you require, though it be not so particular as I could wish it: The last I receiv’d was from Mr Fillingham (4), and since that he is gon very sick home to his owne house to which I have no other addresse then by Mr Fillingham; so that the most expeditious will be to enclose Sir Williams Letter in a paper to him with this superscription

For Mr Fillingham at Mr Loverans’s in Hadleigh to be left at Stratford beyond Colchester Suffolk:


Mr Conny (5) (who is now with me) informes me of the indispensable necessity of having an Hospital Ship, and therfor conjures me to put you in mind of the favour: Pardon dear Sir, this abrupt scribble of


Your most humble Servant


Says-Court at

7 the Clock.

Source: PRO S.P. 29/137, f.84. Endorsed by P, ‘23.9br.65 Mr Evelyns direction how to send to Sir W[illia]m Doyley’.

2 MS: ‘Says-Court at 7 the Clock’ below. Date given by P’s endorsement. E had been at Wotton, returning to Deptford this day (diary). In his own diary P reports a meeting with E the following day (24 November 1665) in which they looked at old manuscripts. There is no reference to official business, or this letter.

3 From a meeting with Albemarle (diary, 23 November 1665).

4 Bartholomew Fillingham. A number of letters of this date from E to him exist as loose MSS in the Evelyn archive at the British Library.

5 John Conny, a surgeon at Chatham.


Robert Gertz  •  Link

"...cut all over the back..." Good with a knife and delightful company at any dinner party...Versatile fellow is our Ferrers.

How does Sam avoid winding up gutted and left for dead on the street in these times after a friendly dispute over one of his more difficult transactions, one sometimes wonders? But I suppose it's one thing to cut up or open a troublesome rogue of a saucy servant and another to mix it up with one's more or less social equal...And a servant of the Crown. Still there must be times when Ferrers or more likely Batten, Minnes, and Penn, happily contemplate dumping Sam's lifeless body in the Thames but for Sandwich and now Coventry and the Duke. Not to mention all those angry seamen and soldiers...

"How's the mob today, Hewer?"

"Especially vicious with the words, sir...Not too violent as to acts."

"Only one brick through the office window so far today, sir." Hayter notes.

"Good, good. Well, Hewer...I believe it's your turn."

"Is it, sir? I thought Tom..."

"Now, Hewer...We all must do our bit for the King and Country." hands him perriwig and coat, while donning large hat, pulling down to cover face.

"There, just a bit more sideways with the wig, Tom. Very good, Hewer...We could be twins."

"Thank ye, sir."

"Are we ready, Hayter?"

"The muskets are loaded, sir. Good luck. My best to Mrs. Pepys, sir." Hayter and Tom stand by door, muskets at ready.

"Don't be nervous, Hewer." Sam pats the periwigged Hewer. "They'd never really kill me so long as there a chance they might get paid...One day. And what's a few sticks and stones...And whatever else they've got handy, eh? Getting my new suit filthy what you ought to fear. All rights, lads." Braces, as does Hewer, for run...

Hayter and Edwards unbolt...Multiple bolts...And open door, firing hastily to clear a path to a waiting coach...

"Just the doorman...Mr. Pepys is right behind me! I'd speak to him about any matters!" Sam cries, running with head covered...

"No money today, lads...Sor..." Will in wig and coat calls, dodging various projectiles.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Unfortunately that article fails to credit Hospital ships as early as the reign of Charles II, though some are noted on webpages with limited access:…
If you're a subscriber to or can access BH online so as to fetch the names, circumstances of ships, captains, dates, etc., please correct the Wikipedia article or email me the info and I will. Thanks in advance.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"laid by the heels"

OED on "heel" (n.), def. 19:

19. lay, set, clap by the heels. To put in irons or the stocks; to fetter, arrest, or confine; also, fig. to overthrow, disgrace. So to have by the heels; and, of the person confined, to lie or be tied by the heels.
c1510 Hickscorner in Hazl. Dodsley I. 170, I will go fetch a pair of gyves, For in good faith he shall be set fast by the heels. 1584 R. Scot Discov. Witchcr. iii. xv. (1886) 51 One of Q. Maries justices+laid an archer by the heeles. 1654 G. Goddard Introd. Burton's Diary (1828) I. 160 When they had seized upon him and clapped him by the heels. 1700 Luttrell Brief Rel. (1857) IV. 638 The lord cheif justice+will lay the undersherif by the heels. 1781 F. Burney Diary Aug., I supposed you would have finished it [a play] in your last fit of sickness+pray go on with it when you are tied by the heel next. 1865 Kingsley Herew. II. xvi. 274 Tell him Hereward has+half a dozen knights safe by the heels. 1889 Baltimore (Md.) Sun 19 Nov., The bold offender+would have been quickly set by the heels.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

I sent for little Mrs. Frances Tooker, and after they were gone I sat dallying with her an hour, doing what I would with my hands about her. And a very pretty creature it is.
I can normally make allowances for Sam's weaknesses in the trouser department but sometimes he is just creepy.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

If I remember Tomalin correctly "Mrs. Tooker" is a young girl, possibly of eleven or twelve, isn't she?

I guess the awful things are...1)Sam is possibly one of the better men of his age (with due apologies to good ole Ralph Josselyn and others...Does make you appreciate their good if less colorful spirits). 2) Where did he learn this behavior towards young girls...? Perhaps best not to think on that one. 3)Does The Turner escape his attentions only due to fear of socially well-positioned cousin Jane's finding out, whereas poor Frances has no position or money, therefore no protection? I sadly suppose so...

I guess it's a good thing in a way, reminding one, should someone tell you we don't need laws to protect women and children...All of the helpless, actually, from the more powerful...That absolute power does corrupt absolutely.

Context of the time just doesn't cut it on this one, Sam.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

And of course I don't mean to suggest we're all better now...Incest, for example, last time I checked with my sociologist cousin, remaining still the biggest social problem in the US, cutting across all races and socio-economic classes, above drug abuse. Does a modern Sam understand any better than our boy? Or is he just more afraid of being caught?

C.J.Darby  •  Link

"Up betimes, and so, being trimmed" second time in 4 days! which means that he is very tidy or has very short hair under the wig, which by the way I thought he had foresworn. Who cuts his hair anyway, one of the servants?

Bradford  •  Link

"And a very pretty creature it is."

Hail the power of the singular neuter pronoun to cheese the reader off.

Margaret  •  Link

“And a very pretty creature it is.”

It was customary to speak of very small children as "it" -- possibly because boy babies and toddlers were dressed as girls, so one couldn't tell the sex by looking.

In fact, one grammarian of the time (I've forgotten who) explained that we call very small children "it" because they have not yet reached the age of reason. Sounds weird to me.

I'm pretty sure one wouldn't normally speak of someone Frances Tooker's age as "it" -- I think Pepys is using a kind of baby talk, emphasizing her youth.

Yup--if he tried this today, he could get convicted of child molestation.

Sarah  •  Link

"And a very pretty creature it is."

In German, one uses "it" when referring to babies and girls (even today, although it is also ok to refer to a girl as "she"). Perhaps the 17th c. English usage derived from that?

cgs  •  Link

Man is a simple creature really:
He seeks pleasure and runs from pain.
Rarely thinks of the consequences of his actions.
He obeys the pecking order [King ,General, Bishop etc]and thus never complains of submitting to the alpha, now people are exposed to the facts that alphas are not always right and good.
It has taken lots of twist and turns to have equal rights.
It takes work to get People to think and not take everything on faith.

Douglas Robertson  •  Link

The use of "it" in reference to people--including adults--survived at least into the late eighteenth century, as Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer (1773) attests:

"MISS HARDCASTLE. My good brother holds out stoutly. I could almost love him for hating you so. / MISS NEVILLE. It is a good-natured creature at bottom, and I'm sure would wish to see me married to anybody but himself."

And in a limited, ostensive sense, such "it"-ing remains common in own day: Consider "It's me"; "Look who it is: Samuel Pepys!," and the like. Is it perhaps a Gallicism (inasmuch as "c'est," while technically including a masculine pronoun, can be used to designate anyone or anything of either or neither sex)?

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"It" is still used as a reference to persons, perhaps most famously in "Silence of the Lambs".

Australian Susan  •  Link

"trimmed" means being shaved.

Tomalin states there is no mention of Frances Tooker's age, but concludes she is pre-adolescence.

As RG reminds us, horrors exist in this day and age: a man in the UK has just been imprisoned after getting his two daughters pregnant 19 times and subjecting them to years of rape, fear and misery. And when I was a Probation Officer in Nottingham in the 1970s, a fellow officer was dealing with a family where the father had got all 3 of his daughters pregnant at the same time.

"cut all over the back" - I think this means that the servant coped a beating with a stick or whip but the beater went too far and drew too much blood. It was OK to beat servants - just not too much.

John Wilson  •  Link

I am also creeped out about Pepys' behavior with such a young girl as Fran Tooker. But just to play the devils advocate, I wonder if is his behavior very extreme by modern European standards. Reading about the support for Roman Polanski in Europe, I found this link discussing the age of consent in Europe today:….

CGS  •  Link

"creeped out about Pepys’ behavior"
We have increased our knowledge of life and the effects of our self "centeredness" [our pleasures, their pain] on the people that depend on us and the damage it does .

Education and learning from our errors of the past helps.
Some Sexual [mis]behavior then got thee hung or at least whipped until thee dropped or dipped in the pond to see if thee floated or sank is now lauded, other behavior then lauded is now condemned, 'tis a learning experience.

Child labo[u]r and education are other issues that have changed or in the state of change depending which culture thy dothe speak of.

So many cultures have celebrations of the changes in human growth cycle.
birth, baby, child, preteen, teen, adult , old age, then the final mystery.

....His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
the Bard.
'tis the evolving from mewling til lover that causes the most concern.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Hospital ships in the Second Dutch War

Due to campaigning by James Pearse , Surgeon-General to the fleet, the Loyal Katherine served with the fleet at the Battle of Lowestoft on 3 June 1665. In the aftermath of the battle she handled some five hundred British and Dutch casualties, and her relatively small store of medical provisions was overwhelmed. A second ship, the Joseph was hired in the same year, but was soon replaced by the Maryland Merchant for the 1666 campaign. Even so, the proximity of the Dutch war engagements to the shore, and the difficulty of fitting out a hospital ship with sufficient equipment, meant that most casualties were ferried ashore in small craft as quickly as possible after a battle.
Pepys s Navy: Ships, Men and Warfare 1649-89 By J. D. Davies…

psw  •  Link

OK... 2018 pov does not accord with children or prepubescent
different times and different places
have the leader of one group
with a 9 year old in the desert for 30 days
Gibbons, I think Chap LI

Mary K  •  Link

Which 9-year old? Which desert? When?

The allusion escapes me. Is it really germane?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

" Sir H. Cholmly...being newly come over from Tangier. He did by and by come, and we settled all matters about his money, and he is a most satisfied man in me, and do declare his resolution to give me 200 per annum. "

Cholmley was building the mole at Tangier. He had now returned because of the death of a nephew: [Cholmley,] A short account of the progress of the mole, [?1680], p. 3. His gratuities to Pepys turned out to be rather less than he promised:… (L&M note)

James Louder  •  Link

"And a very pretty creature it is."

Let me suggest to those disturbed by the seemingly impersonal and (to modern sensibility) derogatory use of the neuter, that you have failed to reckon with the frenchified diction that was fashionable in Restoration times. "C'est donc une créature fort jolie." We need read nothing more into it.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

Pepys may use “it” because girls and women were considered to be objects for men’s pleasure.

Australian Susan says, “It was ok to beat servants-just not too much.” Maybe it was ok to molest children, too-just not too much.

I doubt they had an age of consent in Pepys’ time. Consent was apparently unnecessary.

MarkS  •  Link

The use of 'it' has been sufficiently discussed above, and an example has been given of a woman using 'it' for an adult male in the 18th century.

The one mitigating factor for Pepys is that he never went further than "doing what I would with my hands about her". It seems he considered actual sex as going too far. There is no suggestion that she was unwilling, though of course that is no excuse, then or now.

Nick Hedley  •  Link

Does the fact that the diary refers to Frances Tooker as "Mrs. Frances Tooker" indicate that she was married?

Nate Lockwood  •  Link

Nick, there was an age of consent in Pepys day, 12 years old.

"In 1275, the first age of consent was set in England, at age 12 (Westminster 1 statute).[3] In 1875, the Offences Against the Person Act raised the age to 13 in Great Britain and Ireland, and ten years later the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 raised it to 16.[4][5] In 1917, a bill raising the age of consent in Great Britain and Ireland from 16 to 17 was defeated by only one vote."

The quoted paragraph is from this much longer Wikipedia article:…

Let's not get too self righteous:
In the US many colonies and later the states had ages of consent of 10 or 12 years but a legal defence that the child was not virgin was accepted. Many of those laws were changed starting in the late 19th century but some continued through the late 20th century:…

I think that Europe might have had similar laws.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

MarkS wrote: “The one mitigating factor for Pepys is that he never went further than "doing what I would with my hands about her". It seems he considered actual sex as going too far. There is no suggestion that she was unwilling, though of course that is no excuse, then or now.”

According to the encyclopedia here, she was “barely pre pubescent in the two years Pepys knew her”

Different times, yes, but still outrageous behavior. I wouldn’t call it a “mitigating” factor.

No idea why he refers to as her as “Mrs.” Her birth name was Tooker. If she’d been married she would have been known by her husband’s name.

Terry Foreman  •  Link


A title for a woman, derived from "mistress" (ie. "The Mistress of the House"). "Mrs" was used to refer to any woman, regardless of age and/or maritial status until the Victorian Era, when the diminuitive "Miss" was selected for unmarried women and married women were known as "Mrs".…

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.