Friday 7 December 1666

Up, and by water to the Exchequer, where I got my tallys finished for the last quarter for Tangier, and having paid all my fees I to the Swan, whither I sent for some oysters, and thither comes Mr. Falconbridge and Spicer and many more clerks; and there we eat and drank, and a great deal of their sorry discourse, and so parted, and I by coach home, meeting Balty in the streete about Charing Crosse walking, which I am glad to see and spoke to him about his mustering business, I being now to give an account how the several muster-masters have behaved themselves, and so home to dinner, where finding the cloth laid and much crumpled but clean, I grew angry and flung the trenchers about the room, and in a mighty heat I was: so a clean cloth was laid, and my poor wife very patient, and so to dinner, and in comes Mrs. Barbara Sheldon, now Mrs. Wood, and dined with us, she mighty fine, and lives, I perceive, mighty happily, which I am glad [of] for her sake, but hate her husband for a block-head in his choice. So away after dinner, leaving my wife and her, and by water to the Strand, and so to the King’s playhouse, where two acts were almost done when I come in; and there I sat with my cloak about my face, and saw the remainder of “The Mayd’s Tragedy;” a good play, and well acted, especially by the younger Marshall, who is become a pretty good actor, and is the first play I have seen in either of the houses since before the great plague, they having acted now about fourteen days publickly. But I was in mighty pain lest I should be seen by any body to be at a play. Soon as done I home, and then to my office awhile, and then home and spent the night evening my Tangier accounts, much to my satisfaction, and then to supper, and mighty good friends with my poor wife, and so to bed.

30 Annotations

First Reading

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

and there I sat with my cloak about my face, ...I was in mighty pain lest I should be seen by any body to be at a play.

Oddly furtive of Sam. I am at a loss to understand why.

cape henry  •  Link

There are several things in this entry, but the tantrum in the dining room over the table cloth demonstrates quite vividly the hierarchical gulf that exists between husband and wife and master and servants. This is the power display of the petty tyrant.

On the other hand, the business with the cloak in the theater is pure, madcap comedy.Does Pepys actually imagine this ruse works? Or is there some gentleman's convention operating here wherein if you've got your cloak up, you're not there?

CGS  •  Link

"...younger Marshall, who is become a pretty good actor..." not Actress????

CGS  •  Link

Interesting debate
House of C tried to scupper the Navy boys.
"...A Proviso tendered, for taking away all Fees, Salaries, and Rewards, from the Treasurer of the Navy, and Officers of Exchequer, for Monies paid by Anticipation, was twice read..."
voted on.

CGS  •  Link

The Lords still debating Bastardization of Lady Roos's Kids and trying to get the realm more coins.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

" comes Mrs. Barbara Sheldon, now Mrs. Wood, and dined with us, she mighty fine, and lives, I perceive, mighty happily, which I am glad [of] for her sake, but hate her husband for a block-head in his choice."


"Bess? Why are you laughing? Bess...?"


"Oh, Bess...Why are you crying?"

Glyn  •  Link

(1) It's Friday, in the middle of the day, and he should be at work.

(2# There are refugees living in tents in the north in the wilds of Hampstead and south in the fields of Blackheath, and yet here you are enjoying yourself, how dare you? # For comparison, earlier this week, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was pictured in the Daily Mail smiling at the X-factor on television - "While our soldiers are fighting and dieing in Afghanistan!" has he no shame to be enjoying himself?" etc.

(3) You know that last year's plague was spread by close proximity and human contact, even if that's the only thing that the quacks called doctors do know. And yet here you are crowding next to strangers to watch some harlot do some foolishness for the public.

What impresses me, is that he knows the risks but still can't stay away from the theatre, because he really does love it.

But yes, the image of him and lots of others there, trying to disguise themselves, is very Blackadder-style funny.

Mr. Gunning  •  Link

"but hate her husband for a block-head in his choice."

His choice of what?

Mary  •  Link

His choice of wife, one presumes. She may be living mighty fine and happy, but that doesn't necessarily mean that she's a social, professional or financial asset to her husband.

andy  •  Link

I read it as it's the choice of him ie he is the blockhead and she has to put up with it.

LAN  •  Link

Does "mighty good friends with my poor wife" simply mean the quarrel was settled, or something saucy?

Geoff Hallett  •  Link

Dictionary says trencher is a wooden plate for cutting meat. He uses the plural, is this for various meats, surely not the plates. They would have moved on since the days of the square wooden plates that provided the 'square meal on board ship.

CGS  •  Link

Trencher: not this version

"Me old serj. did say be a trencher, dig" thus I dug one, for I did not like low flying bullets.

trencher 2.
One who trenches.

1. One who carves; a carver. Obs. rare.
a1625 FLETCHER Noble Gent. III. i, I was not born, I take it, for a trencher, Nor to espouse my mistress' dairy-maid.

2. One who cuts or digs trenches; one who trenches ground.
[a. AF. trenchour = ONF. trencheor (1206 in Godef.), tren-, trancheur, = OF. tranchouoir (14th c. in Littré), trencheoir (Cotgr.), mod.F. tranchoir, f. {dag}trenchier, trancher to cut, TRENCH v.....

I. 1. A cutting or slicing instrument; a knife.
c1330 R. BRUNNE Chron. (1810) 166 Fulle bro{th}ely & brim he kept vp a trencheour, & kast it at Statin,..His nese & his ine he carfe at misauentoure.

II. 2. A flat piece of wood, square or circular, on which meat was served and cut up; a plate or platter of wood, metal, or earthenware. arch. and Hist.
1624 CAPT. SMITH Virginia III. ii. 48 They imagined the world to be flat and round, like a trencher.

1696 PHILLIPS (ed. 5), Trencher, a square, thin Plate of Wood, for People to cut their Meat upon.
3. A slice of bread used instead of a plate or platter. Obs.
4. a. A trencher and that which it bears; a supply of food; cf. TABLE 6c. arch.
1576 FLEMING Panopl. Epist. 238 What benefites are obteined, by the sweate of other mennes labours, and also by the fatte crumbes of other mennes trenchers.
1612 DEKKER lf it be not good Wks. 1873 III. 280 Waite on the Priors Trencher soberly.

1659 W. BROUGH Schism 535 These new rabbis..are chaplains extraordinary to the trencher. 1667 L. STUCLEY Gospel-Glass xxii. (1670) 224 We have..brought our Children to live upon others trenchers.

5. transf. A flat board, circular or otherwise.
c1511 ...
1669 BOYLE Contn. New Exp. I. xli. (1682) 144 In the midst of the fixed Trencher (as we call a piece of solid wood shap'd like a Milstone). 1710 J. CLARKE Rohault's Nat. Phil. (1729) I. 61 Water in a Pail is made to ascend up a Trunk, such as they shoot with, open at both Ends, and one End fixed in a Hole in a Trencher which exactly fits the whole Superficies; upon depressing the Trencher, the Water is forced up.

b. Applied to a butcher's ‘tray’.

Bob T  •  Link

I grew angry and flung the trenchers about the room, and in a mighty heat I was:

Anyone who has been through military recruit training will recognise this technique. Sam's Wife was responsible for the servants, and obviously they weren't doing as they were told. Sam helps out by throwing a few things around to get their attention, and put the fear of God into them. After that all is well in the Pepys' household, and no doubt Elizabeth got a talking to too.

Nix  •  Link

actor v. actress --

Samuel won't invent the distinction for a few more weeks. OED:

2. a. A female player on the stage. (ACTOR was at first used for both sexes.)

1666 PEPYS Diary 27 Dec., Doll Common doing Abigail most excellently, & Knipp the widow very well, & will be an excellent actor, I think. 1700 DRYDEN Epil. to Pilgrim 40 To stop the trade of love behind the scene, Where actresses make bold with married men. 1711 SHAFTESBURY Charact. (1737) III. 368 Study'd action and artificial gesture may be allow'd to the actors and actrices of the stage. 1741 WALPOLE Lett. to H. Mann 6 (1834) I. 15 A bad actress, but she has life. 1790 BOSWELL Johnson xxiv. (Routl.) 214 This elegant and fashionable actress. 1882 Academy 8 July 39/2 As long as such an actress treads the boards, it is possible to take a worthy view of the functions of the theatre.

Bryan M  •  Link

“but hate her husband for a block-head in his choice.”

In an earlier entry Sam reports that Mrs Barbary has a number of fine attributes but is not pretty, while Wood is very rich. A rich man who can't manage to get himself a beautiful wife is clearly a dill.

"Hate" is a strong reaction, but I guess we're dealing with Sam's two obsessions: money and pretty women.

"Mrs. Barbary...with her husband, Mr. Wood’s son, the mast-maker, and mighty nobly married, they say, she was, very fine, and he very rich, a strange fortune for so odd a looked mayde, though her hands and body be good, and nature very good."…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I think Sam means in his convoluted way that Barbara's choice of Wood was to be hated, as he's a blockhead. Since Sam never let a little thing like marriage come between him and pleasure, perhaps Wood's "blockheadedness" is in large measure a refusal to allow easy access to Barbara.

Nix  •  Link

Wood/block-head --

Perhaps just a pun, for his own amusement?

Australian Susan  •  Link

If this had been modern times, I think the ladies Pepys and Sheldon would have sighed with relief when Sam snuck off ["to attend to important Government business - such a nuisance when there's such good company!"], got out a DVD with someone nice to look at (Daniel Craig, Johnny Depp) and settled in for a girls' afternoon with the chilled Chardonnay.

I found it interesting that the Pepys household has tablecloths everyday as a matter of course and that Sam was careful not to have his tantrum with anything breakable - the trenchers being wood or maybe pewter. Pewter would make a lovely, satisfying servant-frightening noise come to think of it. Delicious entry this and yes, Sam was performing to a Richard Curtis script in the playhouse.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

What France is up to

119. Marc Antonio Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
It would seem as if the exhalations mutually exchanged between the two nations, England and Holland, both orally and in writing, have served in part to clear their spirits of scorn and wrath. Mons. d'Estrades, ambassador of this king in Holland, writes that he has had an inkling of some transactions introduced between the said parties, to bring them, once and for all, to a composition and tranquillity. The advice is rather a plausible conjecture.... It is not credited that the Dutch are about to conclude a treaty without the inclusion of this [French] crown, which will never make any objection to approving of a peace which will be able to relieve it of the great burden which is involved in the maintenance of double armaments. It is also true, however, that they are by no means sorry to see the continuation of the embarrassments of those two powerful nations, and they will not neglect openings which serve for this. [some details]....
Paris, the 7th December, 1666.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"“but hate her husband for a block-head in his choice.”"

L&M think it's her choice of him.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"But I was in mighty pain lest I should be seen by any body to be at a play."

L&M: Pepys had not visited a public theatre since 15 May 1665, though he had seen a play at the royal private theatre in the Great Hall at Whitehall on 29 )ctober 1666. He presumably felt that playgoing was a dangerous and unbecoming pastime in the midst of the war and so soon after the Plague and the Fire. Cf.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"But I was in mighty pain lest I should be seen by any body to be at a play."

I think he was in such a fit he went to the theater to "punish" Elizabeth and the mayds for messing up, hense arriving in the third act. Having thus made a spectacle of himself, he became ashamed of himself for being there.

Pepys has gone through this desire not to be seen before: One Christmas (1663?) he and Elizabeth stayed in Sandwich's Whitehall apartments, and he hid behind pillars making efforts not to be seen for several days.

London was a small place ... he takes a lot of risks with his womanizing. Being invisible to his betters must be getting more and more difficult. Or maybe he was worried about an unpaid sailor seeing him ... or a widow ... or a victualler. He has no protection detail.

Present-day 'personalities' must identify.

Louise Hudson  •  Link

and there I sat with my cloak about my face, ...I was in mighty pain lest I should be seen by any body to be at a play.

He probably means anyone who knew he had promised to not to go to the theatre and might publicize it, or that he might be seen by someone who would mention it to his wife.

“and mighty good friends with my poor wife”

I think he meant she wasn’t giving him the cold shoulder after their recent contretemps.

JB  •  Link

I've long wondered about the actor/actress usage thing. Some thoughts (circa 2006) from… :

"English is not a language that uses separate nouns to distinguish between sexes regularly enough for there to be strong rules regarding such usage. The mixture of linguistic roots in English makes it difficult to apply consistent suffix rules to all of the nouns involved and use of suffixes isn't strong in English for other purposes...During the two world wars but particularly during and after WWII, women became active in professions where men had previously filled almost all positions. There was also some expansion of women's roles in the middle-ages after plagues. Where there had previously been no need for separate masculine and feminine versions of such nouns, the lack of any consistent rules that could be applied made it difficult to find satisfactory solutions in many cases. Combined with social pressure for equality between men and women, the result has been neutralisation of nouns so that they are used non-gender specifically.

The exceptions tend to come with latinate words that remain strongly preserved and have clear modifications for gender specificity. These are the ones that still seem to hold on, but are rapidly disappearing as the language becomes more and more neuter oriented.

An example of a language with much more consistent usage of such nouns is German which consistently uses such nouns. The consistency of usage makes differentiation intrinsic to the language itself and there has been little or no social pressure to change this.

It's also noticeabe that languages that use masculine, feminine and neuter pronouns and noun endings to agree with the gender (like French) have also experienced less pressure to neutralise gender specific nouns.

There are a few gender specific nouns that remain very strongly embedded in English though: Husband and Wife being perhaps the best example. Spouse could be used here just as effectively, but despite considerable pressure on nouns defining gender roles, 'husband ande wife' seem remarkably resisilient in usage."

"...Anyone who speaks a language that draws the distinction consistently will tell you how useful it is.

Words that arrived in English from Latin and French often maintained the distinction with Actor/Actress being an example from the french words Acteur/Actrice I belive.

In English though, the lack of rule consitency, noun agreement etc make these inherited distinctions less resilient to being dropped and even encourage these separate forms being lost due to complexity (languages tend toward simplification on the whole)."

"Another consideration is that, if you don’t use “actor” in a gender-neutral manner, there’s really *no* gender-neutral term to people who act. This is as distinct from "husband/wife", where there is always a term "spouse" that one can use in generic situations."

john  •  Link

German also has the delightful twist of nuetral diminutives until the sex of the person is known.

JB  •  Link

And, in an interesting coincidence given the timing, just ran across this at… :

"On this date in 1660, a professional female actress appeared on the English stage in a production of Othello. It’s one of the earliest known instances of a female role actually being played by a woman in an English production. Up until this time, women were considered too fine and sensitive for the rough life of the theater, and boys or men dressed in drag to play female characters. An earlier attempt to form co-ed theater troupes was met with jeers and hisses and thrown produce.

But by the second half of the 17th century, the King’s Company felt that London society could handle it. Before the production, a lengthy disclaimer in iambic pentameter was delivered to the audience, warning them that they were about to see an actual woman in the part. This was, the actor explained, because they felt that men were just too big and burly to play the more delicate roles, “With bone so large and nerve so incompliant / When you call Desdemona, enter giant.”"

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Further thoughts about "But I was in mighty pain lest I should be seen by any body to be at a play." ...

Maybe Pepys had knowledge of the debate CGS reported on 8 Dec 2009?
"Interesting debate
"House of C tried to scupper the Navy boys.
"...A Proviso tendered, for taking away all Fees, Salaries, and Rewards, from the Treasurer of the Navy, and Officers of Exchequer, for Monies paid by Anticipation, was twice read..."
"voted on."

Many people blamed the lack of victualing for Rupert not being able to blockade the Dutch for the full six weeks last summer ... eventually resulting in the last disasterous battle. Pepys appears not to be included in the above list, but he was the Victualler-in-Chief. Paranoia is appropriate when someone of Rupert's distinction has been raving about your incompetence for six months.

Rupert had written to Charles II that "unless some course" were taken with the victualler -- viz. Pepys -- the whole fleet would be ruined.[40]
[40] Dom. State Papers, Chas. II. 156. 100. 22 May, 1666.

When the fleet came into refit, the first thing Rupert did on meeting Charles II was to reiterate his complaints. "Which," wrote Pepys, "I am troubled at, and do fear may in violence break out upon this office some time or other, and we shall not be able to carry on the business."[41]
[41] Pepys. June 20, 1666.

But Rupert's time on shore was short, and the victualling storm was deferred. By July 22, 1666 the fleet was again at sea.

Well, Rupert's been back for months and the conversation's deferred no longer ...

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"House of C tried to scupper the Navy boys.
"...A Proviso tendered, for taking away all Fees, Salaries, and Rewards, from the Treasurer of the Navy, and Officers of Exchequer,"

Carteret is the Navy Treasurer, and Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Lord Ashley served as Chancellor of the Exchequer (1661 – 1672).

"... for Monies paid by Anticipation, was twice read ..."

This has become a cause for impeachment in the USA. It means the collection of taxes/fees/money for a stated purpose, but used for something else. In Pepys' time they voted money to fight the Second Dutch War, and no doubt we will find out in the next few years how the money was really spent.

Both gents were wealthy, but were the rest of the Officers of the Exchequor? Wikipedia is the only source I could find:…


• Auditor of the imprests – Bartholomew Beale from 1641 – 1674 when he died

• Auditor of the Receipt of the Exchequer - Sir Robert Pye 25 June 1660
 Sir Robert Long, 1st Baronet 21 May 1662
 Sir Robert Howard 14 July 1673

• Chancellor of the Exchequer - Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Lord Ashley

• Chamberlains of the Exchequer - Sir Nicholas Steward, 1st Baronet 1 October 1660 – 15 February 1710
 Henry Hildyard 10 July 1660 – 8 January 1675

• Chief Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland - 1660 John Wilde
 1660 Sir Orlando Bridgeman
 1660 Sir Matthew Hale
 1671 Sir Edward Turnor
 1676 Sir William Montagu

• Clerk of the Pells - 1660–?1698: William Wardour

• Queen's Remembrancer - Thomas Fanshawe, 1st Viscount Fanshawe, 7 August 1660 – 26 March 1665
 Thomas Fanshawe, 2nd Viscount Fanshawe, 26 March 1665 – 19 May 1674

• Teller of the Receipt of the Exchequer – Sir George Downing 1660 – 1684 (with help as he was frequently deployed as an Ambassador at the same time)

• Treasurer of the Exchequer - 4th Earl of Southampton (1660–1667)
 1st Duke of Albemarle (1667–1670)
 1st Baron Clifford of Chudleigh (1672–1673)

• Clerk of the Pipe - 1659–1680: Robert Croke

Looking at their dates of service, it appears no one got fired.

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