Tuesday 13 August 1667

Up, and to the office, where we sat busy all the morning. At noon home to dinner all alone, my wife being again at the whitster’s. After dinner with Sir W. Pen to St. James’s, where the rest come and attended the Duke of York, with our usual business; who, upon occasion, told us that he did expect this night or to-morrow to hear from Breda of the consummation of the peace. Thence Sir W. Pen and I to the King’s house, and there saw “The Committee,” which I went to with some prejudice, not liking it before, but I do now find it a very good play, and a great deal of good invention in it; but Lacy’s part is so well performed that it would set off anything. The play being done, we with great pleasure home, and there I to the office to finish my letters, and then home to my chamber to sing and pipe till my wife comes home from her washing, which was nine at night, and a dark and rainy night, that I was troubled at her staying out so long. But she come well home, and so to supper and to bed.

13 Annotations

First Reading

michael melick  •  Link

Shes gone all day for the washing??????? tit for tat?????? the lady may not be to slow....

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Our Bess wouldn't...Wish she would, Sam deserves it...But I honestly believe she wouldn't, much as she likes to flirt and try to raise Sam's hackles at times. Besides she had the staff with her...And as entitled to an orgy as our Janey Birch is...

To his credit, I also believe Sam is simply afraid for her.

In all-in-all, given Sam's nature and the odd, passionate start, Sam and Bess have developed an amazing relationship. True, he's a selfish, philandering jerk but as husbands go at the time...

(Gay, darling...You can cut in anytime to say that it's not so now)

...He's thoughtful, caring, worries about and for her...Sees a future only with her. Robert Louis Stevenson and others may have denounced Bess as "unworthy", etc of Sam but his enduring affection for her belies that. He's a poor kid in a candy store who can't stop grabbing-sometimes grubbily and viciously-at everything life offersbut he does love her and she must have something to keep a man like Sam in love with her. For her part, she still hasn't become jaded...Still gets furious with his indifference and neglect, fights...Literally...For him, is proud of his success and comforts him. They took a gamble, both of them in 1655 and when all is said and done, it did...mostly...pay off. As I so often say, the Diary is the soul of that relationship and it's never surprised me that when she died, it died....To live again with us.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

View of Haarlem with Bleaching Grounds by Jacob Isaackszon Van Ruisdael, c 1665


Jesse's annotation to Whitster links to "A discussion of bleaching in an early Encyclopedia Britannica":

"In modern times, down to the middle of the 18th century, the Dutch possessed almost a monopoly of the bleaching trade_ although we find mention of bleach-works at Southwark near London as early as the middle of the 17th century. It was customary to send all the brown linen, then largely manufactured in Scotland, to Holland to be bleached. It was sent away in the month of March, and not returned till the end of October, being thus out of the hands of the merchant more than half a year.

"The Dutch mode of bleaching, which was mostly conducted in the neighbourhood of Haarlem, was to steep the linen first in a waste lye, and then for about a week in a potash lye poured over it boiling hot. The cloth being taken out of this lye and washed, was next put into wooden vessels containing buttermilk, in which it lay under a pressure for five or six days. After this it was spread upon the grass, and kept wet for several months, exposed to the sunshine of summer." http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclo…

Had Elizabeth et al. gone to Southwark for a new and improved bleaching?

Mary  •  Link


Many thanks, Terry, for the note above. Clearly the Dutch process described is a large-scale, commercial enterprise. Presumably Elizabeth has taken the domestic linen to a 'retail' business on the south side of the Thames (could well be Southwark or Lambeth Marsh, which L&M mention as another possibility) and the process is a fairly lengthy one, but nothing like as long as the large-scale, international business practised in Holland.

Glyn  •  Link

Mary, might be correct but I can't see people carrying bundles of dirty washing over the river - it would be easier to take it somewhere closer.

If you look at this map from 80 years later


you'll see an open space called the Tenter Ground where people stretched out their laundry on "tenterhooks", which I'd always wrongly assumed were some kind of instrument of torture. If you click on the "south" button 2 or 3 times, you'll end up back at the Navy Office (fyi one click west will bring you to where I'm currently typing this).

Mary  •  Link

"my wife and maids being gone over the water to the Whiststers with their clothes"

Was Sam's entry on 12th August - so the game was presumably worth the candle. The natural explanation for 'being gone over the water" is "across the river."

GrahamT  •  Link

The tenter grounds were for stretching new cloth, I believe, rather than laundry. A link remains today: I was in the "Rack and Tenter" pub, off [Little] Moorfields, on Friday, (about where Tenter Alley is on this map: top left http://www.motco.com/map/81002/Se…) though there aren't many weavers, or fields, there now.

cum salis grano  •  Link

OED tenter
1. A wooden framework on which cloth is stretched after being milled, so that it may set or dry evenly and without shrinking. Also {dag}a pair of tenters (Obs. rare) and in pl. form tenters.
Formerly tenters of the length of a web of cloth stood in rows in the open air in tenter-fields or grounds, and were a prominent feature in cloth-manufacturing districts; but the process of drying and stretching is now generally done much more rapidly in tenter-houses by tenter- or tentering-machines.
13.. Charter Holy Ghost (Vernon MS.) in Hampole's Wks. I.
1435 Coventry Leet Bk. 172 No walker off the Cite of Couentre..Shall Rakke no Clothe on the Tey[n]tur that schall be solde ffor wette-clothe.
c1440 Promp. Parv. 489/1 Tenture, for clothe (S. tentowre),..Ug. V. in V. tentura (P. constrictorium).
1483 Act 1 Rich. III, c. 8 §1 Many of the seid Clothes..ben sett uppon Tayntours and drawen out in leyngth and brede.
1495 Nottingham Rec. III. 284 Accyon off trespas for takynge vp teynters.
1530 PALSGR. 280/1 Tentar for clothe, tend, tende.
a1535 FISHER Wks. I. 394 Neuer anye Parchement skynne was more strayghtlye stratched by strength vpon the tentors.
1548 Nottingham Rec. IV. 94 For a gardeyn and a peyre of teyntors at the Bridgende.
a1552 LELAND Itin. I. 93 A great Numbre of Tainters for Wollen Clothes.
1592 GREENE Upst. Courtier in Harl. Misc. (Malh.) II. 242 That he drawe his cloth and pull it passing hard when he sets it vpon the tenters.
1642 in J. Lister's Autobiog. (1842) 78 The cannon..beat down the barrs of a tenter.
1646 J. TEMPLE Irish Rebell. 95 [He] led the boy to his Fathers tentors, and there hanged him.

1657 C. BECK Univ. Charac. Lvj, A tenture or tenter to stretch cloth in.

nix  •  Link

Wonders never cease -- a whole afternoon spent with Penn without once referring to him as a "false rogue."

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Tenterground and laundry to dry, stretch and bleach

On the other hand, as Mary has suggested, Elizabeth Pepys and her crew went somewhere. Even a "retail' [laundry] business on the south side of the Thames (could well be Southwark or Lambeth Marsh, which L&M mention as another possibility) and the process is a fairly lengthy one" could use the many tenter fields that stretched (pun unintended) west from the London Bridge there. http://www.motco.com/map/81002/Se…

In my parents' first home in Southern California, my mother had lace Priscilla curtains with a valance in the double windows of the living room, for which she had frames to dry, sun-bleach and stretch them. Their periodic laundering, etc., is brought to mind by the Pepys' household ordeal.

Third Reading

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