Friday 30 April 1669

Up, and by coach to the coachmaker’s: and there I do find a great many ladies sitting in the body of a coach that must be ended by to-morrow: they were my Lady Marquess of Winchester, Bellassis, and other great ladies; eating of bread and butter, and drinking ale. I to my coach, which is silvered over, but no varnish yet laid on, so I put it in a way of doing; and myself about other business, and particularly to see Sir W. Coventry, with whom I talked a good while to my great content; and so to other places — among others, to my tailor’s: and then to the belt-maker’s, where my belt cost me 55s., of the colour of my new suit; and here, understanding that the mistress of the house, an oldish woman in a hat hath some water good for the eyes, she did dress me, making my eyes smart most horribly, and did give me a little glass of it, which I will use, and hope it will do me good. So to the cutler’s, and there did give Tom, who was with me all day a sword cost me 12s. and a belt of my owne; and set my own silver-hilt sword a-gilding against to-morrow.

This morning I did visit Mr. Oldenburgh, and did see the instrument for perspective made by Dr. Wren, of which I have one making by Browne; and the sight of this do please me mightily. At noon my wife come to me at my tailor’s, and I sent her home and myself and Tom dined at Hercules’ Pillars; and so about our business again, and particularly to Lilly’s, the varnisher about my prints, whereof some of them are pasted upon the boards, and to my full content. Thence to the frame-maker’s one Morris, in Long Acre, who shewed me several forms of frames to choose by, which was pretty, in little bits of mouldings, to choose by. This done, I to my coach-maker’s, and there vexed to see nothing yet done to my coach, at three in the afternoon; but I set it in doing, and stood by it till eight at night, and saw the painter varnish which is pretty to see how every doing it over do make it more and more yellow; and it dries as fast in the sun as it can be laid on almost; and most coaches are, now-a-days done so, and it is very pretty when laid on well, and not pale, as some are, even to shew the silver. Here I did make the workmen drink, and saw my coach cleaned and oyled; and, staying among poor people there in the alley, did hear them call their fat child Punch, which pleased me mightily that word being become a word of common use for all that is thick and short. At night home, and there find my wife hath been making herself clean against to-morrow; and, late as it was, I did send my coachman and horses to fetch home the coach to-night, and so we to supper, myself most weary with walking and standing so much, to see all things fine against to-morrow, and so to bed. God give a blessing to it!

Meeting with Mr. Sheres, he went with me up and down to several places, and, among others, to buy a perriwig, but I bought none; and also to Dancre’s, where he was about my picture of Windsor, which is mighty pretty, and so will the prospect of Rome be.

27 Annotations

First Reading

Linda F  •  Link

Wonder what the treatment for Sam's eyes was, and if it helped or harmed. The stinging suggests something other than a neutral eyewash, but he is investigating every solution with his usual thoroughness.

A good entry, conveying the excitement of May Day preparations. No wonder he was tired!

Mark S  •  Link

55s seems like a huge amount for a belt. Gold or silver buckle?

Sam had to stand over the workmen to ensure that his coach was finished in time. Perhaps the ladies eating bread and butter and ale (no cakes and ale?) in their almost-completed coach were doing the same. Probably some other customers who expected their coaches to be ready for May Day, but didn't check on them, were disappointed.

It seems that the cure for his eyes didn't help, since he is so soon to discontinue the diary because of his eyesight. Perhaps it made them worse - the smarting doesn't sound good, and who knows what harmful ingredients it may have had in it.

Q. What exactly was the nature of Sam's eye complaint? Does anyone know?

andy  •  Link

This done, I to my coach-maker’s, and there vexed to see nothing yet done to my coach, at three in the afternoon...

Had the same problem last time my car went in for a ça change, as Bess might remark.

Ruben  •  Link

to Mark:
As Allen annotated in 2006 (see Encyclopedia - Science - Health):
"Pepys’ eye trouble —-
From Vol X “Companion” to the “Diary” by Latham and Matthews (1983): “It is generally agreed that the nature of Pepys’ eye trouble was a combination of long sight [farsightedness or hyperopia] and astigmatism.” Both of these problems are easily corrected today by eye glasses. Such glasses were not really available in Pepys’ day."
If you google "pepys eyes" first thing you will find will be a very interesting article published by the Archives of Ophtalmology that resumes every thing we know about those eyes.

Chris Squire  •  Link

Here it is:

‘ . . We conclude that the origin of Pepys’ asthenopia was multifactorial: a low amount of uncorrected hypermetropia and astigmatism, convergence insufficiency with near exophoria, nonspecific low-grade ocular inflammation that was exacerbated by alcohol, paranasal sinus inflammation contiguous with or referred to the eye or orbit, a contributing functional element, and an obsessional personality.

Pepys has provided us with a unique account of his eyes, but he was writing at a time when ophthalmic knowledge was simplistic. With the passing of centuries since the writing of the diary, our diagnosis is at best speculative . . ‘

The Big Brown Eyes of Samuel Pepys; Graham A. Wilson, Amanda P. Field, Susannah Fullerton
Arch Ophthalmol Vol 120, July 2002…

john  •  Link

"and other great ladies; eating of bread and butter, and drinking ale."

Presumably suitable public behaviour then.

languagehat  •  Link

Eating and drinking isn't suitable public behavior now?

Allen Appel  •  Link

“and other great ladies; eating of bread and butter, and drinking ale.”

Seems like a pretty simple snack for great ladies, like the glass of fresh milk Sam treats himself and others to. I wonder of modern taste would have thought this was an excellent treat, warm bread with fresh cream butter and a glass of honest ale? Or was it merely the fact that the bread wasn't stale and the butter rancid? Though maybe it would have been to our taste. Or were the circumstances what was appealing, sitting in a coach with your gal pals having a good laugh. I always wonder what their food was like, and of course will never know. One more of the many mysteries from Sam's World.

Mary  •  Link

"eating and drinking isn't suitable public behaviour now?"

Not (at least on this side of the Atlantic) for ladies of a certain age and social standing unless in a restaurant, coffee-shop etc. or similar establishment - or, of course, at a picnic or on a beach.

Signed: A Dear, Old-fashioned Thing.

Dorothy  •  Link

I bet the upholstery in that coach was a mess by the time the ladies went home and some poor guy had to sit up all night cleaning it.

Andrew Hamilton  •  Link

"did see the instrument for perspective made by Dr. Wren, of which I have one making by Browne..."

Have any examples of Sam's drawing survived?

serafina  •  Link

It doesn't look like there were set hours for doing business during Pepys time. Seems like you just went along whenever you felt like it and expected to get service. Workers worked until the job was done. Far cry from today.

Linda F  •  Link

Re: the propriety of those ladies eating bread and butter in their coach:

Sam and Bess have in the past stopped in their coach to have food and drink brought to them to consume on the spot. The coachmaker's would be a venue at least one remove from the public road. And the ladies, ensconced in the coach at what would seem to be pretty close quarters, had further privacy. Seems acceptable to me, and also as those these particular ladies were above concern about what the people around them thought of them.

Bless Sam for this vivid and detailed account of his day. Trust that he did not stare at said ladies.

AllanD  •  Link

Isn't 55s. a lot for a belt considering a sword cost 12s. later in today's entry?

Jenny  •  Link

@ Allen Appel I have attached this link before if you are interested in Sam's food. It is the link to Robert May's "The Accomplisht Cook". What is interesting is the edibility of many of the dishes and the wide range of herbs and spices used.…

londonpaul  •  Link

“ though the day was very lowering” How those of us who live in London know about this feeling. Today is a case in point; after days of rain it is grey with low cloud and almost as dull as winter with all the trees coming out in leaf and spring in full bloom making ‘it very lowering’ of the spirits. As for dinking Mary; drinking remains deep within the British adult culture for all ages and is done openly to the point where in some towns and cities it is a serious problem. Before water became drinkable you had to drink the likes of small beers which may be why it is so ingrained even to this day.

pepfie  •  Link

"...their fat child Punch"

punch, n.4 and a. Now chiefly dial.


A n. A name for a short fat man, or for anything short and thick. Cf. Punchinello 2. ? Obs.

 ! 1669 Pepys Diary 30 Apr., Staying among poor people there in the ally, did hear them call their fat child Punch; which pleased me mightily, that word being become a word of common use for all that is thick and short.  ...

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"set my own silver-hilt sword a-gilding"

L&M note the silver and gold effects were usually produced by the use of silver- or gilt-wire wound around the grip. Silver remained fashionable well into the 18th century.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"This morning I did visit Mr. Oldenburgh, and did see the instrument for perspective made by Dr. Wren, of which I have one making by Browne"

Christopher Wren's instrument 'invented divers years ago...for drawing the Out-Lines of any Object in Perspective' had been recently described in Philos. Trans., 25 March 1669 (iv.88-9) http://rstl.royalsocietypublishin… John Browne was now making one from that description:… For Wren's work as a designer of instruments, see Eva G.R. Taylor, Math. Practitioners, p. 241, no. 260. Henry Oldenburg was secretary of the Royal Society. (L&M note)

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"staying among poor people there in the alley, did hear them call their fat child Punch, which pleased me mightily that word being become a word of common use for all that is thick and short."

Cf.… (where 'Punchinello' is used to describe a gun). (L&M note)

David G  •  Link

After reading about the many errands that Sam completed today and the large sums we know he spent (the belt) or we can assume he spent (the coach work), it occurred to me that it feels like it has been years since he has said anything about the money coming in the door, in contrast to the first half of the diary when we heard about every shilling he received. Sam must be very comfortably off by now.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Today Cosmo, the future Grand Duke of Turin, visited the Russells of Chippenham before attending more Court events.
I've standardized names, scanning errors I could figure out, and increased the number of paragraphs:

With a view of enjoying the beauty of the country during the fine weather, his highness went with his attendants on the morning of 10 May/30 April, 1669, from Newmarket to Chippenham, a country-seat of Sir John Russel, of the family of the Earls of Bedford, who is married to my Lady Frances Cromwell, daughter of the late Protector Oliver Cromwell, and sister to the wife of my Lord Thomas Belasyse, Baron Fauconberg.

This lady was first married to the nephew of my Lord Charles Rich, Earl of Warwick, by whom she had no children, he having died shortly after his marriage; by her second husband she has three children, one son and two daughters.


This villa stands in a delightful plain, in the midst of a lawn, which surrounds it on every side; and both with respect to the materials of which it is built, the ornaments with which it is decorated, and the arrangement of its domestic conveniences, it will bear a comparison with the most distinguished country seats of the principal gentry of the kingdom; on this account, my Lord James Howard, Earl of Suffolk, has been induced by its situation, by the magnificence of the edifice, and by its vicinity to Newmarket, to purchase it for the sum of 12,000/.s; but till the actual payment of the money, the seller retains the proprietorship and possession.

In the lawn belonging to the villa, is a place set apart for bowls, where his highness and the Earl of Thomond played a few games, previous to viewing the mansion; his highness afterwards went over all the apartments, and found them handsomely furnished, according to the custom of the country.

Amongst other things that the house contains, the gallery, which faces the South, is not the least remarkable; for besides the view which it commands from its windows, there is upon the top of it an open promenade, that, being connected with the roof of the house, which is covered with lead, affords on every side a prospect of the surrounding country.

His highness had the curiosity to ascend thither, to view through a telescope the city of Ely, and its cathedral church, which is a most magnificent and conspicuous building.

From the upper apartments, his highness descended to a spacious room on the ground-floor, and there found the wife and sister of Sir Russel, the master of the house, who paid their compliments to him, to which his highness replied with the greatest politeness; and seats having been prepared, he sat down, and continued his conversation (in the French language only) with the Lady Cromwell, giving her the place of honor.

While they were thus engaged, she presented her two children, one male and the other female, to his highness, who received them with great affability and kindness.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


As it was now near noon, his highness took leave, and returned by the way of Newmarket.

Before entering the town, he alighted from his carriage, and went on foot with his attendants to the king's residence, where he was introduced into his majesty's chamber, who was waiting there till everything necessary was prepared for the ceremony, which he is accustomed to perform publicly every Friday, that of touching for the king's evil, according to the ancient usage of the first Catholic kings of England, which was handed down to their successors, continued after the apostacy, and preserved to the time of the present king.


When his majesty was informed that all was ready, he went from his chamber into a room adjoining, where was placed on a table a cushion, on which lay the prayerbook, appointed by the Anglican ritual, for the use of his majesty.

As soon as he appeared, and at a signal given by him, the two assistant ministers, dressed in their surplices, began the prayers with a great appearance of devotion; his highness standing, while they were read, in another room; from which, when the service was finished he passed into the room in which those who were afflicted with the King's Evil, were assembled, for the purpose of observing the ceremony, from the side of the door which led into the room.

A carpet was spread upon the floor, and upon it was a seat, on which the king seated himself, and certain invocations in the English language, taken from the prayerbook, having been read by one of the ministers, his majesty began the ceremony of touching the patients in the part affected. These were conducted into the king's presence, one at a time, and as they knelt before him, he touched them with both his hands; after which, without interfering with the others who came after them, each returned to his former situation.

This being over, the minister, kneeling with all the bye-standers, the king alone remaining seated, repeated some other prayers; after which, all rising, the diseased came again in the same order as before, to his majesty, who put round their necks a ribbon of an azure color; from which was suspended a medallion of gold, stamped with his own image, in shape and weight resembling an Hungarian sequin.

The whole ceremony being ended, the king returned to his chamber, and his highness to his quarters, and dined as usual.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


A new horse-race being arranged for today, his highness determined to go in his carriage, with his attendants, to the place of starting; and there having mounted his horse, he followed with his attendants, at a half gallop, the two race-horses, which were rode by two men drest in taffeta, the one red and the other white, almost as far as the Devil's Ditch, a rampart which was formerly thrown up for the defense of the country, against hostile invasions, but being now cut through, leaves the road free and open;

having there met the king, who was also on horseback, he bowed to him, and his majesty taking off his hat, returned the salute with peculiar courtesy; and having conversed a short time with his highness, continued on his way, his highness remaining there in expectation of two other horses, which were already on their way to the starting place, and behind which the king came up in a canter, with the Duke of York and other lords and gentlemen, who had come both for the sake of following the court, and for the sake of seeing the race, as well as on account of the bets;

and when they came opposite the post, at which his highness remained on horseback, the latter again saluted his majesty as he passed, following him along with his retinue to the goal, whence, on account of being very much heated, wrapping himself up in his cloak, without delay, his majesty went back to Newmarket, to his residence; and his highness did the same, to pass the remainder of the day.


The king afterwards went out on foot, without extending his walk far from the village; and his highness, that he might anticipate his majesty's return home, went at a proper time, in the same direction, and accidentally met Prince Robert [RUPERT]; and whilst they were engaged in conversation, his majesty returned, and was accompanied to his residence by his highness, who there took leave of him with every expression of acknowledgement for the goodness which his majesty had shewn, over and above the other tokens of his regard, in going from London to Newmarket, on purpose to afford him the amusement of the races.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link



To this, his majesty replied, that the moderation with which his highness desired to be treated on his journeys, and the incog, which he determined never to dispense with, had obliged his majesty to abstain from those public demonstrations which were due to his highness's merits, and that he forbore only in conformity with his express wishes, as otherwise he should have obeyed the impulse of his own inclination, which prompted him to manifest, by every possible form and observance, his pleasure at his highness's visit to the English court; and after many interchanges of politeness, the prince wished his majesty a good journey, as the latter, on the next day, 11 May, 1669 (which being the 1st of May according to the old style, is still retained in England, and celebrated as a holiday in Hyde Park, with great festivities, and a vast concourse of people) had resolved to return to London, and his highness to go to Cambridge, to see that famous University, which was anxiously expecting him, in consequence of the hopes given by the two doctors, who had been expressly sent to Newmarket to invite him.

His highness then paid his compliments to the Duke of York, who replied to them with equal sincerity, and afterwards returned home, and supped alone.



His highness, Cosmo, must be considered only as a traveler. Under his direction, the narrator of the records was Count Lorenzo Magalotti, afterwards Secretary to the Academy del Cimento, and one of the most learned and eminent characters of the court of Ferdinand II.

I think we should understand "incog." as meaning "unofficial" instead of "having one's true identity concealed" which is the current definition.

Third Reading

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