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.

3 Annotations

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....

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.

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