5 Annotations

First Reading

FlyAngler  •  Link

For an idea of what fishing may have been like in 1660, check out:


for an online (345KB) copy of "The Compleat Angler" by Issak Walton. Walton was a contemporary of SP. The Compleat Angler was published in 1653. It was quite popular and had it's third edition printed in 1661. A good analysis of the Compleat Angler is available at:


Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The most famous, still, fisherman of the 17th century was Izaac Walton (1594 - 1683) .

A fierce Royalist, Izaac Walton purchased Halfhead Farm, Shallowford, Staffs. in May 1655. In doing this he was part of a general retreat of Royalist gentlemen into the English countryside, in the aftermath of the English Civil Wars, a move summed up by his friend Charles Cotton's well-known poem "The Retirement" (first published in the 5th Edition of Walton’s Compleat Angler).

The cost of Shallowford was £350, and the property included a farmhouse, a cottage, courtyard, garden and nine fields along which a river ran. Part of its attraction was probably that the River Meece formed part of the boundary.

The farm was let to tenants, and Izaac Walton kept the excellent fishing.

The Izaak Walton Cottage museum and gardens are open to the public on Sunday afternoons during normal summers. The ground floor is displayed in period, with information boards covering Walton's life, his writings and the story of the Izaak Walton Cottage. Upstairs a collection of fishing related items is displayed, the earliest dating from the mid-18th century, while a room is dedicated to his series, Lives, and his masterpiece, The Compleat Angler.

The Compleat Angler was first published in 1653 with 13 chapters, but Walton continued to add to it for a quarter of a century. It is a celebration of the art and spirit of fishing in prose and verse; 6 verses were quoted from John Dennys' 1613 work The Secrets of Angling.
There was a second edition in 1655,
a third in 1661 (identical with that of 1664),
a fourth in 1668
and a fifth in 1676. In this last edition the 13 chapters of the original had grown to 21, and a second part was added by his friend and brother angler Charles Cotton chapters, who completed his instruction in fly fishing and the making of flies.

The Compleat Angler is still a best-seller in the fishing fraternity. For more about Walton's life, see

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Phil has special pages for the following fish:
and another page called Other Fish.

Pepys didn't eat shrimp or halibut that we know of.

Happy casting.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The Fishing Wars explained:

The first Stuart monarch who ruled over all of the British Isles, James VI and I, and his son King Charles, tried to impose new licenses and taxes on Dutch fishing vessels, but the efforts of the English Navy – at that time under-funded, ill-equipped and inefficient – to enforce this policy bordered on the farcical. The nippier Dutch ships literally sailed rings around their British pursuers.

Later in the 17th century the British and Dutch fought three wars for commercial and maritime supremacy. These policies on fishing were thus part of a wider argument then raging about maritime sovereignty. It was a debate that became foundational for modern international law.

The dispute started with the Dutch lawyer and diplomat Hugo Grotius, who wrote that nobody could control the sea or prevent others from fishing and trading. Grotius’ book, Mare Liberum (the free sea), was aimed at the Portuguese empire, which was trying to keep the Dutch from trading in the Indian Ocean.

Obviously his idea went down badly in Britain.
Encouraged by the Stuart monarchs, Scottish lawyer William Welwod and other writers, most famously the English lawyer John Selden MP, responded to Grotius in defense of Britain’s territorial waters.
Selden’s influential Mare Clausum (the closed sea) challenged Grotius and drew on historical examples to show why states have a right to claim parts of the sea.
These ideas were easily manipulated for realpolitik.
When the Dutch tried to bar the British from trading in the Indian Ocean, British negotiators quoted Grotius’ writing at their Dutch counterparts (one of whom, ironically, was Grotius himself).
Grotius also changed his mind somewhat about openness, when exile from the Netherlands led him to serve the king of Sweden, another monarch with strong views on maritime sovereignty.

By the 18th century this had resulted in a broad agreement about territorial waters in Europe (the “three-mile limit”, based on the range of a cannon shot), together with a general acceptance that the sea should otherwise be open.

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


  • Jun