1640-? Samuel’s sister, she joined Pepys’ household as a servant in 1661, and was sent to Brampton in 1662 to look after their parents. Many potential husbands were named in the diary and she married John Jackson on 28 March 1667/68. They had three children.

4 Annotations

First Reading

Lawrence  •  Link

Paulina ("Pall") Sam's Sister

Pauline  •  Link

from L&M Companion
Paulina (Pall) was born on 18 Oct. 1640 and entered Pepys's household as a servant in Jan. 1661. Pepys writes of her at this time as both ill-natured and ill-favoured. She was not thought worthy of being Elizabeth's waiting-woman and was made to stand in her presence. In the following August when her parents moved to Brampton she was sent there to look after them. By 1664 Pepys was trying to marry her off. Seven potential husbands are named in the diary....

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

In the 17th century single women (particularly those over 25) began to be labelled 'spinster' or 'old maid'.

Pepys' unmarried sister, Pal, was 20 when the Diary opens.

A demographer in the 1960's identified the “Northwestern European Marriage Pattern,” in which people in 17th century northwestern European countries began marrying in their 30s and even 40s. A significant proportion of the populace didn’t marry at all. Traditionally couples start a new household when they marry, which requires accumulating either money or owning property. His theory was that that became more difficult at this time, which delayed marriage. If people couldn’t accumulate enough wealth, they might not marry at all, or the older men married the much younger child-bearing aged women.

Before the 17th century, unmarried women were called maids, virgins or “puella” (Latin word for “girl”), words that imply youth and chastity, and presumed that girls would only be single for the short period of “pre-marriage.”

By the 17th century terms like “spinster” and “singlewoman,” emerged. The numbers of unwed women – and women who never married – grew. "Spinster" now became a legal term for an unmarried, independent woman.

Amy Froide, Professor of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County says, "Single women made up, on average, 30% of the adult female population in early modern England. My own research on the town of Southampton found that in 1698, 34.2% of women over 18 were single, another 18.5% were widowed, and less than half, or 47.3%, were married." ... "my work shows that in 17th-century England, at any given time, more women were unmarried than married. It was a normal part of the era’s life and culture. In the late 1690s, the term ‘old maid’ became common."

'Old maid’ expressed the paradox of being old, virginal and unmarried. Literature also poked fun at ‘superannuated virgins.’ In 1713 an anonymous pamphlet, “A Satyr upon Old Maids,” referred to never-married women as “odious,” “impure” and "repugnant." Another common trope was that old maids would be punished for not marrying by “leading apes in hell.”

When did a young, single woman become an 'old maid'? Jane Barker (1652–1732), a single poet, wrote in her 1688 poem, “A Virgin Life,” that she hoped she could remain
“Fearless of twenty-five and all its train,
Of slights or scorns, or being called Old Maid.”

In the 1690s and early 1700s, population decline prompted the House of Commons to levy a Marriage Duty Tax, requiring bachelors, widowers and some wealthy single women to pay a fine for being unmarried.

Information from…

Interestingly enough, Pepys never writes "spinster" or "old maid," and the only "unmarried" reference is to the requirement of a male clerk to be unwed. But his concern about marrying off Pal, aged 25 in 1665, is clear.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries unmarried women were sometimes called 'ape-leaders'.

Spinsters were thought to go to Hell for having disobeyed God's first commandment to go forth and multiply.
Once in Hell the old maid's punishment would be to lead apes around.

William Shakespeare refers to this idea in "Much Ado About Nothing":

LEONATO: You may light on a husband that hath no beard.

BEATRICE: What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man: and he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him: therefore, I will even take sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his apes into hell.

The bear-ward is a bear-keep. There was a bear-baiting pit next door to the Globe Theater and apparently they kept apes there as well.
The company borrowed the bear that was used in "The Winter's Tale", which resulted in the famous stage direction: "Exit, pursued by a bear".

By the Regency era, "ape leader" had become a slang term for "old maid".

Why apes? That's lost to time; in 400 years people may be wondering why people who like jazz were called cats, and what seeing people anon had to do with aligators and crocodiles.…

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.