Sunday 28 April 1667

(Lord’s day). Lay long, my pain in my back being still great, though not so great as it was. However, up and to church, where a lazy sermon, and then home and to dinner, my wife and I alone and Barker. After dinner, by water — the day being mighty pleasant, and the tide serving finely, I up (reading in Boyle’s book of colours), as high as Barne Elmes, and there took one turn alone, and then back to Putney Church, where I saw the girls of the schools, few of which pretty; and there I come into a pew, and met with little James Pierce, which I was much pleased at, the little rogue being very glad to see me: his master, Reader to the Church. Here was a good sermon and much company, but I sleepy, and a little out of order, for my hat falling down through a hole underneath the pulpit, which, however, after sermon, by a stick, and the helpe of the clerke, I got up again, and then walked out of the church with the boy, and then left him, promising him to get him a play another time. And so by water, the tide being with me again, down to Deptford, and there I walked down the Yard, Shish and Cox with me, and discoursed about cleaning of the wet docke, and heard, which I had before, how, when the docke was made, a ship of near 500 tons was there found; a ship supposed of Queene Elizabeth’s time, and well wrought, with a great deal of stoneshot in her, of eighteen inches diameter, which was shot then in use: and afterwards meeting with Captain Perriman and Mr. Castle at Half- way Tree, they tell me of stoneshot of thirty-six inches diameter, which they shot out of mortarpieces. Thence walked to Half-way Tree, and there stopt and talk with Mr. Castle and Captain Perriman, and so to Redriffe and took boat again, and so home, and there to write down my Journall, and so to supper and to read, and so to bed, mightily pleased with my reading of Boyle’s book of colours to-day, only troubled that some part of it, indeed the greatest part, I am not able to understand for want of study. My wife this night troubled at my leaving her alone so much and keeping her within doors, which indeed I do not well nor wisely in.

37 Annotations

Jesse  •  Link

"indeed the greatest part, I am not able to understand for want of study"

I can understand that. I quickly scanned the Gutenberg edition looking for figures and there's a nice ray trace through a prism (between p's 192 & 193) that mentions reflection and refraction and evidences the law of reflection. Items not likely to have been included in Pepys' curriculum.

cape henry  •  Link

An unusual Sunday insofar as there was not a single adulterous encounter.Perhaps the bad back putting him out of sorts?Also interesting in that the entry ends thus:"My wife this night troubled at my leaving her alone so much and keeping her within doors, which indeed I do not well nor wisely in."

Robert Gertz  •  Link

I thought Bess was being extremely tolerant of Sam's gading about. He might at least have taken her on the water...If he knows what's good for him.

cape henry  •  Link

"...for my hat falling down through a hole underneath the pulpit..."Anyone else wondering just how this might happen?In English churches aren't there people buried down there?Anyway, some wonderful slapstick that actually features a stick.

cum salis grano  •  Link

"...there stopt and talk..." clue to London accent?

cum salis grano  •  Link

"...My wife this night troubled at my leaving her alone so much and keeping her within doors..."

popular observation by many a house bound wife/partner

Mary  •  Link

Putney church.

Presumably St, Mary's Church, which stands beside the Thames. The present building is mainly the result of re-building during the 19th century.

Snow  •  Link

'...which they shot out of mortarpieces.' Can anyone shed light on this. Does 'shot' mean made. Do we know know which ship they are talking about. Where are Time Team when you need them?

Michael Robinson  •  Link

@Snow " ... they tell me of stoneshot of thirty-six inches diameter, which they shot out of mortarpieces. ..."

Mortar: for a modern example of the form, (apparently sized to fire golf balls):…

Stoneshot, stone carved into ball sized projectiles; had the advantage of not requiring specialized casting, being reasonably readily available (siege trains would include a couple of stonemasons rather than require the more complex logistics required to deliver cast ammunition from a foundry) and, for sea going vessels, would be lighter w.r.t. volume therefore requiring an allowance of less draft for a given number of shot for the armament.

classicist  •  Link

Putney St Mary's.
This is the church where, some twenty years earlier, the army council held the 'Putney Debates'about the reform of government. ('Really I think the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he; and therefore. . .every man that is under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government . . .') A sad decline!

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

"they tell me of stoneshot of thirty-six inches diameter, which they shot out of mortarpieces"

That would have been some mortar. On a visit to the Soviet studies centre at Sandhurst some years ago I saw a big, ugly mortar mounted on a wheeled chassis and was told that "some of the boys" had "liberated it" from a Soviet military base near Berlin. It was rated at 120 mm, and fired a projectile less than 5 inches in diameter. A mortar capable of firing a 3-foot diameter stone shot would have a caliber of 915 mm, more than twice as big as the 420 mm German "Big Bertha" siege gun of World War I fame and, of course, three times the size of the shell of a naval 12 inch gun.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"My wife this night troubled at my leaving her alone so much and keeping her within doors, which indeed I do not well nor wisely in."

Earlier this day...

"Ah, Jane. Inform your master that his uncle Wight..."

"Not here...Sir."

"Oh....By any chance..."

"You just saw him leave, sir. Whiles you were standing in the courtyard, sir. Behind the bush, sir." dryly.

"'Pon my soul, you're an observant lass, girl. Well, a pity my pausing to observe our grand naval edifice should cause me to miss my dear nephew. But if your mistress...?"

"Mum!!! It's your Uncle Wight!!"

"What?!" call from upstairs.

"Yes, niece. Your dear uncle-in-law is come for a visit."

"Without the Aunt!!" Jane adds. Innocent look at Wight's frown...

"Oh, Lord..." sigh from above. "Uncle, since Sam'l is not at home...And I am sudden struck ill..."

"Why, niece...Surely my nephew is to return soon...?"
Hopeful... "He would not leave you all alone on a Sunday?" Pleased tone.


"You are to be commended, niece, for your willingness to sacrifice pleasure in the interests of the Nation." solemnly. "And your faithful trust in your husband...Many a wife would not take such behavior, though of course, performed for the noblest of reasons, kindly or without some unfortunate suspicion."


"Come, let us keep company a while until he returns from what is, doubtless, important business for the King. I've something for you which perhaps will ease your aches."


God, not 500Ls in a bag I hope? Though the little ... would deserve it, leaving me alone all day on his one day off.

"Jane, bring the claret and some cake and oysters." Bess appears on stairs.

"Ah...Niece, even illness cannot mar your beauty."

I'll bet he says that to all his... Jane thinks, heading off with frown.

"Uncle..." hand extended. "I'm sorry we did not know you planned a visit. I'm sure Sam'l would have stayed."

To butter his future, I know he would...Both share thought.

"Tis criminal, niece...That this cruel war should impose such demands." takes seat Bess waves him to.

Jane rolling eyes...

JWB  •  Link

Barne Elmes-
English Elms
"Dutch elm disease was first noticed in Europe in 1910, and spread slowly, reaching Britain in 1927. This first strain was a relatively mild one, which only killed a small proportion of elms, more often just killing scattered branches, and had largely died out by 1940 owing to its susceptibility to viruses. The disease was isolated in The Netherlands in 1921 by Bea Schwarz, a pioneering Dutch phytopathologist, and this discovery would lend the disease its name.[6]

Circa 1967, a new, far more virulent strain arrived in Britain on a shipment of Rock Elm logs from North America, and this strain proved both highly contagious and lethal to European elms; more than 25 million trees have died in the UK alone. The disease is still migrating northwards through Scotland encouraged by global warming (the bark beetles will not fly in temperatures below 24° C), reaching Edinburgh in the 1980s, and Inverness in 2006. By 1990, very few mature elms were left in Britain or much of continental Europe. One of the most distinctive English countryside trees, the English Elm U. procera Salisb. (see John Constable's painting The Hay Wain), is particularly susceptible. 30 years after the outbreak of the epidemic, nearly all these magnificent trees, which often grew to > 45 m high, are gone. The species still survives in hedgerows,..."

Here in Ohio, I cut down our last elm in the 70's. Neighbor has a few Slippery Elms, but always thought a weed tree. Bot a 3 ft. resistant variety in the late 90's, but lasted just into 3rd spring. I miss them.

Ruben  •  Link

see interesting article in wikipedia:…
and the picture with the stone shot in:…

see also:

The first projectiles fired cannon were the darts and stone shot which had been in use with older weapons. These darts ("garros") had iron heads or were of iron wrapped with leather to fit the bore of small guns, and continued in use up to nearly the end of the 16th century. Spherical stone shot were chosen because of cheapness; forged iron, bronze and lead balls were tried, but the expense prevented their general adoption. Further, as the heavy metal shot necessitated the use of a correspondingly large propelling charge, too great a demand was made on the strength of the feeble guns of the period. Stone shot being one-third the weight of those of iron the powder charge was reduced in proportion, and this also effected an economy. Both iron and stone shot were occasionally covered with lead, probably to preserve the interior of the bore of the gun. Cast iron, while known in the 14th century, was not sufficiently common to be much used for the manufacture of shot, although small ones were made about that time. They were used more frequently at the latter part of the following century. Towards the end of the 16th centurynearly all shot were of iron, but stone shot were still used with guns called Petrieroes (hence the name) or Patararoes, for attacking weak targets like ships at short range.

Don O'Shea  •  Link

JWB and other elm lovers. All is not lost!

Two years ago we planted two American elms in our garden. They were a bit over 6 feet high then. Now they are nearly three times that. They are variety bred to be Dutch elm resistant by Riveredge Farms (see just south of us in Atlanta. They are fast growers that we used to replace the shade of a large oak that we had lost.

Spring has been very kind to us in Atlanta. I invite readers of the Diary to tour our gardens at The two elms appear on the left of the "Beyond the white garden" image.

Mary  •  Link

Barn Elms is today the site of the London Wetland Centre.

Ruben  •  Link

when trying the site received this message
"The requested URL was not found on this server"

Ruben  •  Link

To Don: Thanks for the images of your beautiful garden. You make me long for days past, and remember Machado.

I know that in this diary, Spanish is used only for concupiscence, but let me quote something about elms from the Spanish poet Antonio Machado:

De los parques las olmedas
son las buenas arboledas
que nos han visto jugar,
cuando eran nuestros cabellos
rubios y, con nieve en ellos,
nos han de ver meditar.

my translation is probably weak, but here it is:

In the parks the elms
are the better forest
that saw us play,
when our hair was blond,
and with snow this days
they see us now meditate

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Sometimes a trailing external digit -- often a "." or ")" -- is included in a URL and invalidates the link.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"My wife this night troubled at my leaving her alone so much and keeping her within doors, which indeed I do not well"

Sometimes she's been known to go AWOL.

Roger  •  Link

''After dinner, by water — the day being mighty pleasant, and the tide serving finely'. April 1667 temperature average 7c'

After a desperately cold March, April 1667 was still on the cold side (77th coldest of the last 351) and so Sam would have enjoyed some 'gading about' in the fine weather, but I'm a little surprised he didn't take the missus with him.
The weather is often fickle in Spring in London(well, all year actually). We have been enjoying a fine, warm(by day) spell with the April day/night average currently 9C but it will all go downhill in time for the Bank Holiday weekend. Take your pleasures while you can says Sam!

cum salis grano  •  Link

tis spring
Do not forget.
" Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf. Round the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough. "

Michael L  •  Link

"they tell me of stoneshot of thirty-six inches diameter"

I wonder if perhaps he means "circumference" rather than "diameter"? That would be easier to measure, and it makes more sense to me than a muzzle 3 feet wide.

I think I recall seeing piles of old stoneshot in the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. It was maybe grapefruit sized, certainly not 36 inches in diameter!

Ruben  •  Link

“they tell me of stoneshot of thirty-six inches diameter”

May be Capt. Cox had this information from Freiherrn von Munchhausen himself, a specialist in Wunderbare Reisen und Kriege!

JWB  •  Link

Don O'Shea:
You've a beutiful place. I especially envy your lack of deer defenses. My azaleas wrapped in welded-wire just as my elm sapling had been.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Aunt is well, I trust?"

"Who?...Oh,yes...Her. Quite well, niece. Thank you."
Fingers claret.

"And your business? Quite recovered from the fire? Always a need for fish, one supposes."

"Yes, quite. Always." Glance frowning Janeward...

Never thought I'd have to encourage Uncle Wight in conversation...Bess sighs.

"I suppose my industrious nephew is off to attend to matters of the fleet?"

"I imagine so, Uncle. Sam'l didn't inform me of his plans for today."

"But urgent matters, I am sure. After all, niece...There are...Rumors about."

"Rumors, uncle?"

"Niece...Everyone knows the King is seeking peace at almost any price. The Dutch and French have us at bay, our fleet bottled up..."

"Sam'l would be the member of the family to discuss such things, uncle."

"Now, girl. A beautiful wife is always the repository of her mate's secrets. And such secrets as these...Transferred to the right the right time...Can be remarkably valuable."


Robert Gertz  •  Link

"Uncle? You want me to let you look through my husband's closet? His personal papers?"

Wouldn't mind a look myself...Now, Bess Pepys. Bess steels herself.

"A brief glance to see if any trivial information pertaining to the future conduct of this unhappy war might be of benefit to my concerns...And those of a few trusted friends, my dear."

"Jane...Mr. Wight is leaving."

"Don't be a fool, girl. The interests I represent are as capable of breaking your husband as they are making him a great power in this kingdom...And you the great lady, you deserve to be. I am offering you the chance to be immensely useful to your husband."

"What 'interests', Uncle? Those of King Louis?"

Smile. "That would be telling, niece. But it's well known that the distaff side of the Pepys family harbors a decided inclination to a faith not exactly...Shall we say?...Popular with the English mob just now."

Broader smile...

"What a pity should the career of my nephew be spoilt by such information reaching the ears of certain prominent Parliamentarians..."


"Niece...I once offered you, in jest of course, a certain sum...For certain...Services... I now offer a far greater reward for far, far less. Unless of course you might have reconsidered my previous offer which of course still..."

"You'll leave this house at once, uncle."

"Unfortunately, niece. There being a boat awaiting my arrival and requiring a unique form of payment for my safe passage to other parts, I shant. Diego! Lessups! Rosencranz!"

Thugs so named enter at front door, shoving Jane back... Two swarthy types, one ruined-looking former gentle type...

"Lock the maid in the cellar...Guildenstern is watching the courtyard?!" Wight addresses Rosencranz who nods. "Bring Mrs. Pepys along upstairs."

Arggh...Diego groans at Jane's landing a kick at just the right spot.

All those years of targetting where to hit Mr. P if he gets too frisky finally paying off...

"Foolish girl! Lessups, lock her below! Come, niece...I've but five hours to collect my passage and certain other friends in high places."

Hmmn...Five hours to save England and that little ... of mine? Bess ponders.

Sounds like a Sunday afternoon adventure fast enough even to suit my busy-bee mate...She is pulled along by Rosencranz, the ruined-looking type.

Jesse  •  Link

"stoneshot of thirty-six inches diameter, which they shot out of mortarpieces"

I didn't think they could get a big enough bang to shoot it. I guess they did:

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

American elm:

The Washington Post reports today (April 30) that the Casey Tree Foundation has planted 1,742 Ulmus Americana in the District of Columbia since 2003 and describes the trees as "Dutch elm disease-resistant American elms, an easygoing species that thrives in the area."

The plantings contribute to a District plan to increase the urban tree canopy of the city from 35 percent to 40 percent by 2035, requiring the addition of about 2,000 acres of canopy or an estimated 216,000 trees.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Putney St Mary's.
This is the church where, some twenty years earlier, the army council held the 'Putney Debates'about the reform of government. "

Well-observed and well-posted, classicist!

The Putney Debates were a series of discussions between members of the New Model Army – a number of the participants being Levellers – concerning the makeup of a new constitution for Britain.
After seizing the City of London from Presbyterian opponents in August 1647, the New Model Army had set up its headquarters at Putney, in the county of Surrey (now in South West London). The debates began on 28 October 1647 at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, but moved to the nearby lodgings of Thomas Grosvenor, Quartermaster General of Foot, the following day. The debates lasted until 11 November.

The Putney Debates
BBC Radio 4: In Our Time
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Putney Debates
Listen in pop-out player -- 43 minute podcast

Terry Foreman  •  Link


Land guns, L&M reassure us.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"to Putney Church, where I saw the girls of the schools"

L&M: Evelyn in 1649 (ii. 555) mentions the 'Schooles or Colledges or the Young Gentlewomen' at Putney.

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