8 Annotations

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link


The importance of paying due honour to the deceased is clear enough in the diary. The first and apparently the easiest duty of the bereaved was to ensure that as many relatives and friends as possible would attend. Tickets would be issued, but do not seem to have succeeded in limiting the numbers -- to gatecrash might be a mark of respect. Public assembly rooms might be hired for the gathering -- two city halls were required at the funeral of the goldsmith Sir Thomas Vyner -- but even so, they were often, in Pepys's experience, uncomfortably crowded. According to his estimates, four or five hundred people attended the funeral of Anthony Joyce, and roughly two hundred coaches were required to carry Sir Wiliam Batten's mourners from London to his burial at Walthamstow. The numbers in the funeral procession might, in the case of an important person, be swollen by the hiring of professional mourners -- old men or women (according to thesex of thedeceased) who walked in couples ahead of the hearse, their numbercorresponding to his or her age.

The second duty of the deceased's family was to provide the proper habiliments of mourning. Black cloth would be given beforehand to near relatives and servants. At the funeral, scarves and hatbands would be distributed, together with mourning rings that were graded to the rank and degree of relationship of the recipient. The rings, of gold and black enamel, would often be providedfor in the will of the deceased. The house and church would be draped in black for days on end, and mourning coaches would be hired for the funeral and for the customary month's mourning afterwards. At Pepys's own funeral in 1703 mourning was presented to 40 people and 123 rings (of three grades costing 20s., 15s. and 10s.) were distributed. In the case of men of gentle birth (Edward Pepys of Broomthorpe for example), hatchments displaying their arms would be hung from the windows of the house and placed on the hearse. Afternoon was the usual time for the ceremony, but the upper classes preferred to be buried at night. Pepys himself was buried at 9 p.m. The rich spent lavishly on these occasions -- there are records of funerals at about this time costing over £1000, and a state funeral (like Albemarle's) cost £6000 -- and humbler folk probably overspent. The wine and biscuit, the hire of a hall and undertaker, the charges for parson, sexton and ringers were all expenses that could hardly be avoided.

(L&M, Vol. X, Companion)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

A helpful post. Thanks.

But it does make the Pepys's behavior when his mother died all the more puzzling. But I note all the examples you give are of men who died in London.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Entrepreneurism was alive and well in the 1660's. This article is about a silversmith in York who produced funeral spoons, with a skull on one side, and the crest of the bereaved family on the reverse.

With the losses of the Civil War, followed so soon by the plague, by 1665-1667 he must have done quite a trade. Few survive; it's thought people threw them away.


Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The colors of the mourning dress are different in different countries.
In Europe, the ordinary color for mourning is black;
in China, it is white;
in Turkey, blue, or violet;
in Ethiopia, brown;
in Egypt, it is yellow;
and kings and cardinals mourn in purple. -- A new complete English dictionary. J. Marchant, 1760.

When Henry, Duke of Gloucester died in 1660, Charles II dressed in purple.

Pepys went to court the next day and saw the king, so he ordered a new mourning suit, but didn't mention what color it was. Since all his office suits were black anyways, I wonder what color it was.

The flying of black flags was also associated with death and mourning, although Pepys does not comment on their use after the death of the Duke of Gloucester.

But in February 1649, when Prince Rupert commanded the royalist fleet in Kinsale, Southern Ireland, he hoisted black flags and sails on all his ships in memory of the executed King Charles.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

When Henry, Duke of Gloucester died, we had conversations about mourning behavior and clothing:

Wednesday 19 September 1660
(Office day). I put on my mourning and went to the office. At noon thinking to have found my wife in hers, I found that the tailor had failed her, at which I was vexed because of an invitation that we have to a dinner this day ...


Friday 21 September 1660
(Office day). There all the morning and afternoon till 4 o’clock. Hence to Whitehall, ... Back by water about 8 o’clock, and upon the water saw the corpse of the Duke of Gloucester brought down Somerset House stairs, to go by water to Westminster, to be buried to-night.

L&M: "He was buried at about midnight in Henry VII's chapel, Westminster Abbey. ... Funerals especially of grand and wealthy personages, were commonly held at night, to the light of torches which were extinguished at the grave."


Elsewhere, I found an article about sin eaters -- employment for the poor at its worst -- but the authors give dates for it in the 1680's and in the country, so I doubt this happened at Westminster Abbey!

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Often I note that Pepys refers to funerals as burials. Burials are not linked here.
They include:
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - aunt Fenner
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Teddiman
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Batten
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Viner kinsman
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Mary Pepys
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Thomas Viner
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Tom Pepys
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - young Cumberland
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - cousin Scott's child
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - uncle Fenner 
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - James Temple
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - a young bookseller
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Capt. Robert Blake
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - burial prep - dead person unidentified.
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Griffin's child
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - plague burials
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - she-cousin Scott
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Lawson daughter
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Anthony Joyce
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - aunt Kite
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Edward Pepys
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Mr. Russell
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Tom Whitton
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Robert Blake
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Capt. Grove's wife
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - plague fatigue
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - plague mourning
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Joyce boy
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Col. Middleton's wife
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Sir William Davenant
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - Elizabeth Dickons "Morena"
https://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/… - lengthy annotation by Wheatley on plague deaths and Bills of Mortality

Seeing this list covering only 9-1/2 years brings home how exposed they were to death and dying. Also, how detached from family and friends we have become -- by distance if not affection.
Customs have changed in the USA: I am rarely invited to a funeral, but get frequent invites to Celebrations of Life months later when the bereaved have their acts somewhat together, and it's more like a wake. This gives people time to organize a visit, and the shock to subside.

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