Saturday 15 February 1667/68

Up betimes, and with Captain Cocke my coach to the Temple to his Counsel again about the prize goods in order to the drawing up of his answer to them, where little done but a confirmation that our best interest is for him to tell the whole truth, and so parted, and I home to the office, where all the morning, and at noon home to dinner, and after dinner all the afternoon and evening till midnight almost, and till I had tired my own backe, and my wife’s, and Deb.’s, in titleing of my books for the present year, and in setting them in order, which is now done to my very good satisfaction, though not altogether so completely as I think they were the last year, when my mind was more at leisure to mind it. So about midnight to bed, where my wife taking some physic overnight it wrought with her, and those coming upon her with great gripes, she was in mighty pain all night long, yet, God forgive me! I did find that I was most desirous to take my rest than to ease her, but there was nothing I could do to do her any good with.

27 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Brodrick to Ormond
Written from: [London]
Date: 15 February 1668

"We [the House of Commons of England] have sat these two days very late, with more heat and animosity than could, reasonably, be expected, upon the miscarriages of the war. ... This day, the debate held from 10 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon." ... Upon one special question of censure upon the Government the Ayes he adds were 122; the Noes, 99.

Ossory to Ormond
Written from: [London]
Date: 15 February 1668

Whatever may be said of the Duke's appointing the writer to be Deputy of Ireland, during the Duke's absence, he cannot but regard any possible disadvantage thence accruing as inferior to the dangers which might arise from the appointment of others. But it may be prudent to keep the design a secret for a time, as the Duke's movements are likely to quicken those of his enemies.…

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Interesting comment on mores here...Sam can overlook his philandering as not that big a deal but is troubled by letting his exhaustion after what sounds like a long day prevent him from showing Bess a full measure of devotion in tonight's attack of illness. That to him is a real fault, the other...Something to avoid getting caught at for the embarassment to himself and humiliation to Bess but not, for the moment, a real concern. Perhaps because he regards all that as casual stuff, his heart not really involved?

Terry Foreman  •  Link


"those coming upon her with great gripes" don't indicate menses?

john  •  Link

"where my wife taking some physic overnight it wrought with her"

One would think that taking purgatives before bed not be desirable.

john  •  Link

"after dinner all the afternoon and evening till midnight almost, [...] in titleing of my books for the present year, and in setting them in order, which is now done to my very good satisfaction, "

Having spent the last hour setting my books in order in my office, I am glad that modern books are not the monsters of his day. (I am not so sure that my spouse would willingly help, though. #6-)

JWB  •  Link

"...but there was nothing I could do to do her any good with."

This morning, as the world turns, I read about 'great gripes' from pharma-chemists on remarks made by a Professor Mark Pepys, head of medicine at the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London: "We all agree that big pharma is useless at discovering new drugs..."

Terry Foreman  •  Link


Maybe so, if read thus: "So about midnight to bed, where my wife some physic overnight it wrought with her, and those coming upon her with great gripes...."

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"those" referring to the paroxysms of the strong laxative.

nix  •  Link

I read it as a double discomfort: gastric distress from the purgative plus menstrual cramps. Poor woman!

Mary  •  Link


When Pepys uses this term, he is normally referring to Elizabeth's menses. The poor woman obviously suffers very bad cramps at times.

I wonder whether all our readers fully appreciate how very painful this condition can be. I once saw a work-colleague turn as white as a sheet and faint when hit by especially bad cramps. Not the normal state of affairs, but it can happen.

As Nix says, couple this with additional gripes from the working of the purgative and poor Elisabeth must have been having a truly miserable night. And not even a hot water bottle to ease things a bit.

Australian Susan  •  Link

The did have hot water bottles - but not the comforting ones I used to need! These were stoneware with a bung in the top. Also heated bricks wrapped in flannel were used. They would have had the technology for wheat packs - wonder if Bess ever had one of those? They also would have had access to that other great cramp reliever - brandy. But no anti prostoglandin pills, no paracetamol, no ibruprofen. Poor Bess!

Dawn  •  Link

"and those coming upon her with great gripes, she was in mighty pain all night long"
Could she have endometriosis?

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"all the afternoon and titleing of my books for the present year, and in setting them in order, which is now done to my very good satisfaction, though not altogether so completely as I think they were the last year, when my mind was more at leisure to mind it."


Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Up betimes, and with Captain Cocke my coach"

L&M read "by coach".

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... in titleing of my books for the present year ..."

How did they do that? You can't glue something on. If it was a leather cover, you couldn't write on it. I don't think they had cardboard covers. There was no pocket to tuck a card into. Tie on a label????????????

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Not really in Sam's department, beggin' your pardon, but we resist not mentioning the news sent this day by Capt. Silas Taylor from Harwich, that the ship which the Postmaster General of Holland, the delightfully named Mynheer Quack, had boarded last month to personally deliver the mail to England, and of which there had been no news, "was taken up safe in Camphere Downs with all his letters (...); the vessel had not shipped water, but no one was in her" (State Papers, No. 180,…).

Hopes that Quack & crew had jumped ships and were in Sweden (whatever for?) were disillusioned, as they never reappeared. And so here we are in Camphere Downs (wherever that is): a ghost ship! The Flying Dutchman, a century before its (reputed) time!

Whatever you do, don't accept those letters!

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Stephane, I'm guessing Camphere Downs is Camperduin on the North Holland coast ... site of the 18th century Battle of Camperdown. Mynheer Quack's ship almost made it home sans crew. He had been in England negotiating improved postal arrangements made necessary by the war/peace.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"... in titleing of my books for the present year ..."

I'm rethinking this: Pepys clearly says they are for the present year. Maybe it's the word BOOKS that has me puzzled.

Perhaps these were boxes, and the filing would be placed in them by subject in chron order. When the box was full, Pepys would take it to his bookbinder who would stitch the pages into a permanent book.

That seems to explain the system better.

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

The boxes make a lot of sense. It seems inconceivable that Sam, who is so fussy as to reject books that don't fit in the bookcases, would deface his beautiful (and expensive, and already labelled) book bindings with hundreds of little paper labels. Imagine the mess, with the glop that 1668 glue must have been; also, we see no labels or glue stains on the (few) books visible on Magdalene College's website. However, the office must have been awash in loose-leaf material, what with all these letters, and pamphlets, and the continual whirlwind of business, especially with no office-cleaning for a year. What to do with all that stuff? Folders? The history of file folders seems to start in the 19th century (we imagine that Sam would have killed for them). Boxes? Cardboard boxes are still 150+ years in the future, so wooden boxes; maybe pigeonholes. Those would need labels; would the girls, admirable creatures that they are, have been trusted with filing? Maybe not, but the boxes would need labels and, Sam being Sam, those would have to be all exactly the same size, and written just so.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Stephane, confusingly Pepys has two offices.

I think he'd need at least three sets of these filing "books", one for the Navy Board in his official office across the garden, and two sets for his home office/cabinet: one for Tangier and one for his household/family/personal agreements.

Might they be wire basket containers? Or woven reed baskets? Or open leather pouches? Still hard to imagine how the ladies labelled them.

His beautiful library books are in his home cabinet office, not at the office.

It's hard to imagine life without file folders.

This blog says glue has been around for 4,000 years. Brown glue is made from boiling down animal skins and bones.…

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

A quick trip in the time machine suggests that filing favorites were pouches hung on the walls and papers stuck on nails (in Holland in "Lawyer's Office during Business Hours" by Pieter de Bloot, visible at…, and in "A Notary in His Office" by Job Adriaensz Berckheyde (1672, what would we do without these Dutch masters), and in France at….

Another technique was, apart from lotsa pouches, great messy heaps such as at…, which also cannot but evoke the Navy Office's front office, with seamen come hat in hand to see about those tickets.

Not a folder, not a box in sight. Histories of folders (which seem quite limited, as if historians didn't see the blockbuster and movie rights waiting to be got from such a theme) seem to agree on the manila folder not showing up before 1898. After the telephone? What took so long? What took so long was mass-produced, cheap but thick paper. Amazingly it seems the price of paper in 1668 was about the same as it would be in 1850 (as per…), but for some reason the manila folders had to wait for someone to think of pulping plantain leaves from the Philippines.

Right now the Philippines are Spanish, and the Spanish colonial office sure is good at archiving; there is a parallel universe where Sandwich gets rewarded by Spain with trading rights for early manila folders, and Sam's filing woes disappear. But, in that parallel universe, the cost of shipping paper from the antipodes is also much lower than in this one, where Spain, not realizing the treasure it has on its hand with all these rotting plantain leaves, is foolishly focused on gold and nutmeg instead.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

How interesting, Stephane. So that means Pepys' "books" for 1668 could have been labeled pouches? That seems a stretch to me.

Maybe these really were bound books of blank pages in which they logged the daily events, accounts, etc.?

Stephane Chenard  •  Link

Well, maybe pouches for the laundry bills and the not-so-interesting papers, and books for the noble stuff, the letters and accounts. Pouches are messy and would be edited out of engravings of Sam's beautiful office, but pouches also for the noble stuff until Sam is quite sure he's rounded up everything for the year and it's ready for binding because... "Look, Bess, my letters of 1667, all nicely bound in leather and gold". "Except this one I found under the bed, dear. Sam? Samuel! Come back! These bindings are expensive!"

So, what Sam and the now exponentially-growing bureaucracies of Europe would have killed for may not be file folders, but three-ring binders. Those seem within the reach of 1668 technology, the age of clocks and blood transfusion, but, again, we'll have to wait 200 years. Osipina, an office equipment company in the Philippines that you might otherwise not expect to come across on, tells the story in some detail and notes (at…) that a necessary preliminary was "the invention of the loose-leaf paper in 1854" (Sam after two days of office cleaning might disagree on the date), which it enthusiastically suggests is "perhaps the most popular event in office supplies history".

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Feb. 15. 1668
Warrant for a grant to George, Viscount Grandison, and Sir Allan Apsley,
of 2 coach houses, a stable, 3 kitchens, the old grotto and banqueting house, together with the grass plot on the east side of Berkshire House, parcel of the manor of St. James, in the parish of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, Middlesex, on rent of 6s. 8d.
also for a surrender of the same by the Queen Mother, and the Earl of St. Alban’s and his trustees, to whom they now belong.
[S.P. Dom., Entry Book 30, f. 17.]
George Villiers, 4th Viscount Grandison (1618-1699) and Allan Apsley are both uncles to Barbara Villiers Palmer, Countess of Castlemaine.
Charles II will funnel funds to her through Grandison and another uncle, Edward Villiers, for the rest of his life. Barbara Villiers Palmer may no longer be his mistress, but they stayed in touch, if only for the sake of the children.
My Lady Castlemaine, Being a Life of Barbara Villiers, Countess of Castlemaine, afterwards Duchess of Cleveland -- By Philip IV Sergeant, B.J.,
Page 152 and more…

Most recently, Chancellor Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon had stayed at Berkshire House. Charles II is trying to move Lady Castlemaine out of Whitehall -- not necessarily out of his life -- but as a former mistress with four children, she had to live somewhere else.

According to the book, Barbara proceeds to spend a small fortune on furnishing the house ... then she sells it, retaining enough of the garden to build a new house. Her next door neighbors are the Duke and Duchess of York at St. James's Palace, and they unite in conspiring against Buckingham.

What a nest of vipers.

Anyways, from here on out, the Lady Castlemaine is living at Berkshire House.

Michaela  •  Link

Dawn suggested that Elizabeth might have endometriosis - I’ve just been listening to Hilary Mantel’s autobiography on Radio 4 “Giving up the ghost” and she suffered horribly with this. If it’s what Elizabeth had, I hate to imagine the agony she must have gone through in her times.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

More on 17th century solutions to the organization of complex paperwork.

Ann Blair has written “Too Much To Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age” to address the problem Early Modern scholars like Samuel Hartlib faced with how to manage and store the great quantities of information they collected.261
261 Ann M. Blair. Too Much To Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).

Patricia Coughlan also examined Hartlib’s need to organize large amounts of information. She wrote, “The idea of a tabulation of information is a further step towards executing the impulse to order the natural and social phenomena of the universe according to rational principles, to control and organize one’s apprehension of, and manner of living in, the natural world.”262
262 Patricia Coughlan. “Natural History and Historical Nature: The Project for A Natural History of Ireland” in Samuel Hartlib and Universal Reformation: Studies in Intellectual Communication (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 307.

The Hartlib Papers refer to a “catalog” 239 times as Hartlib and his correspondents struggled to organize their letters and referred to the collections of others. Without the benefit of computers or even file cabinets, these catalogs usually ended up being some system of bundling with labels and corresponding indices.

Almost all of the Hartlib papers show Samuel Hartlib’s handwriting as he labeled each letter with the topics he wanted to remember as those discussed in that particular letter. He made similar topical notations beneath each journal entry. This was part of his method of indexing and indicates some form of cataloging was in place.

Hartlib wanted catalogs of the libraries of others when the resource was too large to secure a copy of the entire collection.

Laurence Sarson placed an order in 1644, “you should much oblige me by accommodating me with a catalogue of them,” referring to some Hebrew books left at Hartlib’s house. ...

Hartlib often asked for catalogs of various persons’ personal libraries. In some instances this allowed him to purchase these same libraries, knowing the content, when he heard the owner has passed away.

Hartlib saw the value of catalogs since they opened hidden works and gave access to others who might have found them useful. Catalogs were small, handy inventories of large collections ...

By TIMOTHY E. MILLER Under the Direction of Nicholas Wilding, PhD
A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences Georgia State University 2015…

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