Friday 23 October 1668

Up, and plasterers at work and painters about my house. Commissioner Middleton and I to St. James’s, where with the rest of our company we attended on our usual business the Duke of York. Thence I to White Hall, to my Lord Sandwich’s, where I find my Lord within, but busy, private; and so I staid a little talking with the young gentlemen: and so away with Mr. Pierce, the surgeon, towards Tyburne, to see the people executed; but come too late, it being done; two men and a woman hanged, and so back again and to my coachmaker’s, and there did come a little nearer agreement for the coach, and so to Duck Lane, and there my bookseller’s, and saw his moher, but elle is so big-bellied that elle is not worth seeing. So home, and there all alone to dinner, my wife and W. Hewer being gone to Deptford to see her mother, and so I to the office all the afternoon. In the afternoon comes my cozen, Sidney Pickering, to bring my wife and me his sister’s favour for her wedding, which is kindly done, and he gone, I to business again, and in the evening home, made my wife read till supper time, and so to bed. This day Pierce do tell me, among other news, the late frolick and debauchery of Sir Charles Sidly and Buckhurst, running up and down all the night with their arses bare, through the streets; and at last fighting, and being beat by the watch and clapped up all night; and how the King takes their parts; and my Lord Chief Justice Keeling hath laid the constable by the heels to answer it next Sessions: which is a horrid shame. How the King and these gentlemen did make the fiddlers of Thetford, this last progress, to sing them all the bawdy songs they could think of. How Sir W. Coventry was brought the other day to the Duchesse of York by the Duke, to kiss her hand; who did acknowledge his unhappiness to occasion her so much sorrow, declaring his intentions in it, and praying her pardon; which she did give him upon his promise to make good his pretences of innocence to her family, by his faithfulness to his master, the Duke of York. That the Duke of Buckingham is now all in all, and will ruin Coventry, if he can: and that W. Coventry do now rest wholly upon the Duke of York for his standing, which is a great turn. He tells me that my Lady Castlemayne, however, is a mortal enemy to the Duke of Buckingham, which I understand not; but, it seems, she is disgusted with his greatness, and his ill usage of her. That the King was drunk at Saxam with Sidly, Buckhurst, &c., the night that my Lord Arlington come thither, and would not give him audience, or could not which is true, for it was the night that I was there, and saw the King go up to his chamber, and was told that the King had been drinking. He tells me, too, that the Duke of York did the next day chide Bab. May for his occasioning the King’s giving himself up to these gentlemen, to the neglecting of my Lord Arlington: to which he answered merrily, that, by God, there was no man in England that had heads to lose, durst do what they do, every day, with the King, and asked the Duke of York’s pardon: which is a sign of a mad world. God bless us out of it!

18 Annotations

Robert Gertz  •  Link

" away with Mr. Pierce, the surgeon, towards Tyburne, to see the people executed;..."

"Well, missed it...What a pity. Shall we be off, Mr. Pierce?"

"Just a mo, Pepys...I must speak a word to the cabman here. Arrangements for some of my...Ummn...patients. Oh, Grey..."

"Ah, Jamie Pierce...What can ole John Grey do for his good friend the famous court surgeon, eh Jamie?"

Familiar fellow...Sam eyes the tall, gaunt, overly friendly and obsequious, yet somehow, rather sinister, cabman. The two moving off to talk in private...

And we have a perfectly good cabman here...

"Sorry, Pepys." Pierce climbs in... "Normally Bets handles these things for me but she's pregnant again and wasn't quite up to another, execution. Off we go, driver..."

Grey giving bow and doff of hat with sinister grin as they pass.

"Fellow garden in his spare time? I see he keeps a spade and shovel on his cab rack..." Sam notes.

"Haven't the foggiest..." Pierce, looking out the other window.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Gee, debauchery was more fun in those days, wasn't it? Now you can barely hope to get away with fleecing the unimportant and the law often refuses to accept the "I'm a superior human being by birth" excuse.

Chris Squire  •  Link

‘favour | favor, n. Etym: ME favor , . .
. . 2.c. A complimentary term for: Communication, letter . .
1645 J. Howell Epistolæ Ho-elianæ iv. viii. 8 Since I was beholden to you for your many favours in Oxford, I have not heard from you.
1679 S. Pepys Let. to Duke of York 9 June, The‥excuse of my no earlier owing the favour of your Royal Highness's, by Captain Sanders.’ [OED]

Paul Chapin  •  Link

"there was no man in England that had heads to lose, durst do what they do, every day, with the King"

Can someone clarify this for me? Thanks in advance.

Terry Foreman  •  Link


Buckhurst and Sedley had a known penchant for public drunken nakedness ensemble, a notorious prior instance of which Pepys had recorded

"Dr. Johnson relates the story in the “Lives of the Poets,” in his life of Sackville, Lord Dorset “Sackville, who was then Lord Buckhurst, with Sir Charles Sedley and Sir Thomas Ogle, got drunk [1 June 1663] at the Cock, in Bow Street, by Covent Garden, and going into the balcony exposed themselves to the populace in very indecent postures. At last, as they grew warmer, Sedley stood forth naked, and harangued the populace in such profane language, that the publick indignation was awakened; the crowd attempted to force the door, and being repulsed, drove in the performers with stones, and broke the windows of the house. For this misdemeanour they were indicted, and Sedley was fined five hundred pounds; what was the sentence of the others is not known. Sedley employed [Henry] Killigrew and another to procure a remission from the King, but (mark the friendship of the dissolute!) they begged the fine for themselves, and exacted it to the last groat.” The woman known as Oxford Kate appears to have kept the notorious Cock Tavern in Bow Street at this date. "

Thus arose The King v. Sir Charles Sedley, which in U.S. law is the original case both of obscene conduct and of pornography…

Dorothy Willis  •  Link

This is almost my first comment, although I have been enjoying this group for some time.

I always assumed what Pepys got was a sort of buttonhole decoration or cockade made of white ribbon and given to all the men who attended. In general a wedding favor seems to have been some small remembrance given to guests and special friends -- as, indeed, it still is.

martinb  •  Link

The sub-text of today's entry seems to be: "Other people have all the fun". Driven from home by the plasterers and painters, our man fails to speak to Sandwich, arrives too late for a hanging, discovers that Mrs Shrewsbury is too big-bellied to be worth looking at, then has to eat "all alone" and spend the rest of the afternoon working in the office. Meanwhile, others are having a fine old time...

It's not that SP actually wants to run up and down the streets of London with no clothes on, but part of him seems to be envious as well as appalled.

Tony Eldridge  •  Link

I love the subtle changes: a few days ago Sam went to look at a second-hand coach. Today he visits "my coachmaker".

Michael Wright  •  Link

“there was no man in England that had heads to lose, durst do what they do, every day, with the King”

Subject to correction, I think:

there was no man in England who would dare to do what they do in the presence of the King; that is, no man who had a head to lose (beheading being implied as the appropriate punishment for what the King's companions do).

Or, simpler, just repunctuate a bit:

“there was no man in England, that had (a) head to lose, durst do what they do every day with the King”


Mary  •  Link

Wedding favours.

According to a couple of sources that I have found, the typical upper-class wedding favour of the 17th century was a bonbonniere (of china or glass) that contained candied almonds or some other choice sweetmeat.

The tradition of giving wedding favours to guests goes back to the Greeks.

Dr Owen Charles Parry-Jones  •  Link

Regarding Saxam, was there any special attraction in Suffolk for the King to be gallivanting there with these two bravados? Thetford is not far away, but did someone have property nearby perhaps?

cgs  •  Link

GGs at NM track, another diversion from the popular normal sports of the lucky ones!!!
New market heath was made popular by Carlos II for his afternoon rest.
Crofts being for his evening fun

Australian Susan  •  Link

Why did Sam make an especial effort to see this execution? Had they become rare? He doesn't even mention the names of those who died, so it can't have been someone famous (cf Charles I's execution). Rather odd.

He mentions that Bess went with Will Hewer to visit her mother, but no mention of Deb accompanying her. Didn't want Deb to see how her parents lived maybe?

Terry Foreman  •  Link

" plasterers at work and painters about my house"

Paper trail: The plasterer's bill (£6 19s. 6d.) is recorded in the Navy Treasurer's ledgers: PRO, Adm. 20/12, p. 21, no. 5. (L&M note)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"How Sir W. Coventry was brought the other day to the Duchesse of York by the Duke, to kiss her hand; who did acknowledge his unhappiness to occasion her so much sorrow"

By his part in the fall of Clarendon, her father, in October 1667. (L&M note)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"my Lord Chief Justice Keeling hath laid the constable by the heels to answer it next Sessions"

L&M do not note when that would be. Can anyone here be of help?

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.