Sunday 27 May 1666

(Lord’s day). Rose betimes, and to my office till church time to write two copies of my Will fair, bearing date this day, wherein I have given my sister Pall 500l., my father for his owne and my mother’s support 2,000l., to my wife the rest of my estate, but to have 2500l. secured to her, though by deducting out of what I have given my father and my sister.

I dispatched all before church time and then to church, my wife with me. Thence home to dinner, whither come my uncle Wight, and aunt and uncle Norbury, and Mr. Shepley. A good dinner and very merry. After dinner we broke up and I by water to Westminster to Mrs. Martin’s, and there sat with her and her husband and Mrs. Burrows, the pretty, an hour or two, then to the Swan a while, and so home by water, and with my wife by and by by water as low as Greenwich, for ayre only, and so back again home to supper and to bed with great pleasure.

22 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Rose betimes, and to my office till church time to write two copies of my Will fair"

One should do that from time to time, as one's circumstances change. Pepys had done this 17 March 1659/60 thus: "This day, in the presence of Mr. Moore (who made it) and Mr. Hawly, I did before I went out with my wife, seal my will to her, whereby I did give her all that I have in the world, but my books which I give to my brother John, excepting only French books, which my wife is to have."…

Pepys will, of course, have occasion to do this again.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"I by water to Westminster to Mrs. Martin’s, and there sat with her and her husband and Mrs. Burrows..."

"Oh, don't go Martin...Not really in the mood for sex today, you know. No offense intended, dear Mrs. M."

Actually it's intriguing...And suggests perhaps Sam really did enjoy Betty's company apart from services rendered.
So we have quite a plethora of Bettys...From the Mrs to the mistress to the flirtatious, if sad, actress to the sophisticated and able Pierce to the presumably lower class beauties, Mitchell and Burrows. Heaven help Sam if Bagwell's first is Elizabeth as well...How could the man hope to keep them all straight?

Though it could be his salvation...

"See...They were all Bettys, Bess. Clearly it was just that since I couldn't have you when your little problem flared up. A cry for help, obviously."

"So it was my fault?"

"I would never say your fault...Why don't we say, our mutual..."

Diana Crisp?"

"A slight wobble...Only one time."



"Ah, ha...Yes...But she reminded me of you when you were younger."


"Hmmn...I'm dead, aren't I?"

"If you weren't already, yes."


Paul Chapin  •  Link

Interesting that Sam does not mention the presence of any witnesses to his will-writing. The little bit of research I did on this point indicates that it was common but far from universal to have witnesses. Here's a relevant passage from the best source I found:

"A will indubitably written or subscribed in the testator's hand was valid even if it had not been witnessed during his lifetime ... The law relating to [wills bequeathing land] was made more stringent by the Act of Frauds of 1677, which required three credible witnesses ..."
Ralph Anthony Houlbrooke, "Death, Religion, and the family in England, 1480-1750," p. 88.

Since Sam's handwriting was well represented in many documents, and it was not yet 1677, he didn't need witnesses, and presumably didn't want any, for privacy's sake.

Martin King  •  Link

"and presumably didn’t want any, for privacy’s sake."

But the witnesses are only there to see you sign the document. They have no need to see the contents.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I imagine the aged ps would be grateful and pleased but wouldn't mind seeing a little of that 2000L right now.

Don McCahill  •  Link

> I imagine the aged ps would be grateful and pleased but wouldn’t mind seeing a little of that 2000L right now.

I suspect that SP has been feeding them bits of money off and on, now that he has some, and the bequest (lacking in the prior will) is just a way to ensure that they are kept up if he passes and his wife remarries someone less interested in the elderly Pepys.

Interesting that SP went through an entire plague year and then, after surviving, decides to update the will.

Nate  •  Link

"Interesting that SP went through an entire plague year and then, after surviving, decides to update the will."

There's more money and goods to consider now.

language hat  •  Link

"but to have 2500l. secured to her, though by deducting out of what I have given my father and my sister."

Does anybody know what this means?

Ira  •  Link

LH: Sam is assuring that his wife receives 2,500 pounds from his will. If the money left in his estate, after deducting the amounts set aside for his parents and sister, is less than 2,500 pounds, then amounts necessary to raise his wife's portion to 2,500 will be taken from those bequests. Sam doesn't tell us, however, the proportion, or amount, of any shortage each legatee would be obligated for.

JWB  •  Link

"...2500l. secured to her,"

"...and to bed with great pleasure."

In re A. Hamilton's last, Jagger could take a tip from Sam.

Rex Gordon  •  Link

Jagger's Tips

Mick has indeed bestowed a fortune or two on his wives - but usually at the getting-rid-of stages.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"I still don't see why you have to go..."

"You are sweet, my darling." Bess offers kiss. "But you do want all this business about Paulina settled...?"

"Well...Seems odd the fellow suddenly making such a fine offer for her."

"Doesn't it? Well, your and Pall's good fortune. Take care, my love."

"Miss you."

"You too...You cheating little..." Bess continues a smile as the coach drives off...

Hasty summary of the will Sam had left out in his own haste to reach Betty Martin after dinner clutched in her hand.





"Only 500Ls?" Pall fumes as John Sr. and Meg contemplate their potential good fortune...Courtesy the newly arrived Bess.

So long as a certain minor obstacle be "removed". An obstacle as Bess notes who has let his unwell parents rot in the sticks on 10Ls a year whilst enjoying the pleasures of his grand rise...A rise in part certainly due to Papa Pepys' efforts on his behalf.

"But of course none of us gets anything until..."

"...the little bastard kicks off." Pall completes Bess' statement.

"Naturally he expects you'll both be long dead...So that he can take credit for his grand care of you both without having to lose a penny."

"We might be interested in your...Suggestions...Daughter-in-law...Given the boy's lack of the basic considerations." John notes. "But he has been a good man to you."

"I thought so too, especially when I read this yesterday...Until I ran after him all the way to Westminster to thank him and found out just whom his 'pressing business' was with."

"I say off 'im...Sooner, the better." Pall draws line across throat.

"A cruel thing to do to one's own...Still, God knows we couldn't live another year like this. And the boy has turned from God." Meg nods.

"My poor boy...Yes, indeed, he's been corrupted by that foul court. Tis not his fault, entirely, he should turn away from his wife and family in such company. Ah, I have had such dreams for him, strived for and joyed in his success." John sighs.

"But the question is, can we pull the thing off?" he notes.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"the witnesses are only there to see you sign the document. They have no need to see the contents."

Well, the source I cited went on at some length on this point. There were such cases, where the witnesses only saw the signing without the contents, but they were the exception. Many testators were illiterate, and the witnesses had to verify that the document said what it was supposed to. And even in cases like Sam's, witnesses would sometimes refuse to sign something they hadn't read. So privacy was a major concern for many preparing wills at the time. Sam, to be sure, makes no mention of the matter, so we can't know what he thought.

For those who would like to read more about wills in 17th century England, the link is…

Chapter 4 is "The making of wills."

Paul Chapin  •  Link

I meant to add, the normal procedure for making a will official at the time was to read it aloud in the presence of the witnesses. It was considered peculiar to ask people to sign as witnesses without having heard the will read, although as my first post said, witnesses were not necessary for a written will to be valid if the handwriting was demonstrably that of the testator. People who wanted to keep the contents of their wills private relied on this provision.

language hat  •  Link

Thanks, Ira! And thanks to Paul as well, for that extremely informative analysis of witnessing.

cgs  •  Link

concur with LH, nice insight.

Glyn  •  Link

Robert Gertz: although Pall will only get 500 pounds initially, she would naturally expect some of Sam's bequest to his parents to be passed on to her in their own wills.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Pepys's wills

L&M: No will of Pepys survives except his last (1701, with codicils of 1703).

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

What a curious day ... lunch with the relatives so they can hear the latest gossip from Mr. Shepley re: Sandwich, Brampton and Hinchingbrooke, then he gets out of the house to visit his main mistress, her husband, and a desired woman who must be their friend, for no particular reason, for a couple of hours, then he goes around to his old local for no particular reason. Then home and he takes the wife for an airing down the Thames.

If this was 1660 I'd think he was out gathering intelligence on the temper of the people to report to Sandwich ... but now? Perhaps he was simply tired of acting the toff, and took off his proverbial hat by talking to 'real people' for an afternoon.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

In Pepys’ time a man could disinherit his wife (all the money being his and his alone). It’s good that he decided to provide for her, many wives were not so fortunate and were left destitute.. I wonder if he also bequeathed her the second best bed.

Gerald Berg  •  Link

Who but Sam and ourselves know he is worth 5000L? Liz? How would his superiors view Sam knowing this was his worth?

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

If word got around, people might break into his house and carry away the silver. There are no banks, and parking the money safely was always a problem. I think his colleagues know he's doing well (they would lose respect if he were not). It's probably the servants and their 'friends' he's more worried about.

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