Samuel Pepys Diary 1665 - extracts

The Complete Diary


January 16th

ed Pickering met me and tells me how active my Lord is at sea - and that my Lord Hinchingbrooke is now at Rome, and by all reports a very noble and hopeful gentleman.

January 19th

... This day and yesterday, I think it is the change of the weather, I have a great deal of pain, but nothing like what I use to have - I can hardly keep myself loose; but on the contrary, am forced to drive away my pain. Here I am so sleepy, I cannot hold open my eyes nor pen, and therefore must be forced to break off this day's passages more shortly then I would and should have done.
This day was buried (but I could not be there) my cousin Percivall Angier. And yesterday received the news that Dr Tom Pepys is dead at Impington - for which I am but little sorry; not only because he would have been troublesome to us, but a shame to his family and profession, he was such a coxcomb.

January 20th

... So homeward, in my way buying a hare and taking it home - which arose upon my discourse today with Mr Batten in Westminster-hall - who showed me my mistake, that my hares-foot hath not the joint to it, and assures me he never had his colique since he carried it about him. And it is a strange thing how fancy works, for I no sooner almost handled his foot but my belly begin to loose and to break wind; and whereas I was in some pain yesterday and t'other day, and in fear of more today, I became very well, and so continue.
At home to my office a while, and so to supper - read, and to cards and to bed.

February 14th

St Valentine This morning comes betime Dicke Pen to be my wife's valentine, and come to our bedside. By the same token, I had him brought to my side, thinking to have made him kiss me; but he perceived me, and would not. So went to his Valentine - a notable, stout, witty boy. I up, about business; and opening the doore, there was Bagwell's wife, with whom I talked afterwards and she had the confidence to say she came with a hope to be time enough to be my Valentine, and so endeed she did - but my oath preserved me from losing any time with her [he had sworn to give up women for a month].

March 21st

Up; and my Taylor coming to me, did consult all my wardrobe, how to order my clothes against next summer. Then to the office, where busy all the morning. At noon to the Change and brought home Mr. Andrews; an there with Mr. Sheply dined, and very mery and had a good dinner. Thence to Mr Povys to discourse about settling our business of Treasurer; and I think all things will go very fayre between us, and to my content. But the more I see, the more silly the man seems to me. Thence by coach to the Mewes, but Creed was not there. In our way the coach drove through a lane by Drury-lane, where abundance of loose women stood at the doors, which, God forgive me, did put evil thoughts in me but proceeded no further, blessed be God.

April 17th

... Thence to White-hall; where the King seeing me, did come to me, and calling me by name, did discourse with me about the ships in the River; and this is the first time that ever I knew the King did know me personally, so that hereafter I must not go thither but with expectation to be Questioned, and to be ready to give good answers.

April 30th

Thus I end this month: in great content as to my estate and gettings. In much trouble as to the pains I have taken and the rubs I expect yet to meet with about the business of Tanger. The fleet, with about 106 ships, upon the coast of Holland, in sight of the Dutch within the Texell. Great fears of the Sickenesses here in the City, it being said that two or three houses are already shut up. God preserve us all.

May 28th

Thence to my Lady Sandwiches, where to my shame I had not been a great while before. Here, upon my telling her a story of my Lord of Rochester's running away on Friday night last with Mrs Mallett, the great beauty and fortune of the North, who had supped at White-hall with Mrs Stewart and was going home to her lodgings with her grandfather, my Lord Haly, by coach, and was at Charing-cross seized on by both horse and foot-men and forcibly taken from him, and put into a coach with six horses and two women provided to receive her, and carried away. Upon immediate pursuit, my Lord of Rochester (for whom the King had spoke to the lady often, but with no success) was taken at Uxbridge; but the lady is not heard of, and the King mighty angry and the Lord sent to the Tower.

June 7th

... it being the hottest day that ever I felt in my life, and it is confessed so by all other people the hottest they ever knew in England in the beginning of June - we to the New Exchange and there drunk whey; with much entreaty, getting it for our money, and would not be entreated to let us have one glasse more. So tok water, and to Foxe hall to the Spring-garden and there walked an hour or two with great pleasure, saving our minds ill at ease concerning the fleet and my Lord Sandwich, that we have no news of them, and ill reports run up and down ofhis being killed, but without ground. Here stayed, pleasantly walking and spending but 6d till 9 at night ....
This day, much against my Will, I did in Drury-lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and "Lord have mercy upon us" writ there - which was a sad sight to me, being the first of that kind that to my remembrance I ever saw. It put me into an ill conception of myself and my smell, so that I was forced to buy some roll tobacco to smell to and chaw - which took away the apprehension. [Houses infected by the Plague had to have a red cross one foot high marked on their door and were shut up - often with the victims inside. Tobacco was highly prized for its medicinal value, especially against the Plague. It is said that at Eton one boy was flogged for being discovered not smoking.]

June 8th

Victory over the Dutch. June 3rd 1665
This day they engaged - the Dutch neglecting greatly the opportunity of the wind they had of us - by which they lost the benefit of their fire-ships.
The Earl of Falmouth, Muskey and Mr.Rd. Boyle killed on board the Duke's ship, the Royall Charles, with one shot. Their blood and brains flying in the Duke's face - and the head of Mr Boyle striking down the Duke, as some say.
... We have taken and sunk, as is believed, about 24 of their best ships. Killed and taken near 8 or 10000 men; and lost, we think, not above 700. A great victory, never known in the world. They are all fled; some 43 got into the Texell and others elsewhere, and we in pursuit of the rest.
Had a great bonfire at the gate; and I with my lady Pens people and others to Mrs Turner's great room, and then down into the street. I did give the boys 4s among them - and mighty mery; so home to bed - with my heart at great rest and quiet, saving that the consideration of the victory is too great for me presently to comprehend.

June 10th

In the evening home to supper, and there to my great trouble hear that the plague is come into the City (though it hath these three or four weeks since its beginning been wholly out of the City); but where should it begin but in my good friend and neighbour's, Dr Burnett in Fanchurch-street - which in both points troubles me mightily.
To the office to finish my letters, and then home to bed - being troubled at the sickness, and my head filled also with other business enough, and perticularly how to put my things and estate in order, in case it should please God to call me away - which God dispose of to his own glory.

June 15th

The Duke of Yorke not yet come to town. The town grows very sickly, and people to be afeared of it - there dying this last wek of the plague 112, from 43 the week before - whereof, one in Fanchurch-street and one in Broadstreete by the Treasurer's office.

June 30th

Myself and family in good health, consisting of myself and wife - Mercer, her woman - Mary, Alice and Su, our maids; and Tom, my boy. In a sickly time, of the plague growing on. Having upon my hands the troublesome care of the Treasury of Tanger, with great sums drawn upon me and nothing to pay them with. Also, the business of the office great. Consideration of removing my wife to Woolwich. She lately busy in learning to paint, with great pleasure and successe. All other things well; especially a new interest I am making, by a match in hand between the eldest son of Sir G Carteret and my Lady Jemimah Mountagu. The Duke of York gone down to the fleet; but, all suppose, not with intent to stay there - as it is not fit, all men conceive, he should.

July 17th

...I took my Lady Jem apart and would know how she liked this gentleman [Philip Carteret was lame and Lady Jemima suffered from a deformity of the neck. Pepys was asked to supervise the courtship] and whether she was under any difficulty concerning him. She blushed and hid her face awhile, but at last I forced her to tell me; she answered that she could readily obey what her father and mother had done - which was all she could say or I expect.
So anon took leave and for London. But Lord, to see, among other things, how all these great people here are afeared of London, being doubtful of anything that comes from thence or that hath lately been there, that I was forced to say that I lived wholly at Woolwich.

July 22nd

I met this noon with Dr Burnett, who told me, and I find in the news-book this week that he posted upon the Change, that whoever did spread that report that instead of the plague, his servant was by him killed, it was forgery; and showed me the acknowledgement of the maister of the Pest-house that his servant died of a Bubo on his right groine, and two Spots on his right thigh, which is the plague.

July 26th

I down and walked with Mr. Castle ... and the King having dined, he came down and I went in the barge with him, I sitting at the door - down to Woolwich ... and back again with him in the barge, hearing him and the Duke talk and seeing and observing their manner of discourse; and God forgive me, though I adore them with all the duty possible, yet the more a man considers and observes them, the less he finds of difference between them and other men, though (blessed be God) they are both princes of great nobleness and spirits.

July 31st

[Philip Carteret and Lady Jemima were married] The young lady mighty sad, which troubled me; but yet I think it was only her gravity, in a little greater degree then usual.
My Lady Sandwich and I up to settle accounts and pay her some money - and mighty kind she is to me, and would fain have had me gone down for company with her to Hinchingbrooke - but for my life I cannot. And so after prayers, Soberly to bed; only, I got into the bridegroom's chamber while he undressed himself, and there was very merry - till he was called to the bride's chamber and into bed they went. I kissed the bride in bed, and so the curtaines drawne with the greatest gravity that could be, and so good-night.
Thus I ended this month with the greatest joy that ever I did any in my life, becauseI have spent the greatest part of it with abundance of joy and honour, and pleasant journys and brave entrtaiments, and without cost of money. And at last live to see that business ended with great contentment on all sides. Thus we end this month, as I said, after the greatest glut of content that ever I had; only, under some difficulty because of the plague, which grows mightily upon us, the last week being about 1700 or 1800 of the plague.
My Lord Sandwich, at sea with a fleet of about 100 sail to the Norward, expect De Ruyter or the Dutch East-India fleet.
My Lord Hinchingbrooke coming over from France, and will meet his sister at Scott's hall.
Myself having obliged both these families in this business very much, as both my Lady and Sir G Carteret and his Lady do confess exceedingly; and the latter two also now call me Cosen, which I am glad of.
So God preserve us all friends long, and continue health among us.

August 16th

It was dark before I could get home; and so land at church-yard stairs, where to my great trouble I met a dead Corps, of the plague, in the narrow ally, just bringing down a little pair of stairs - but I thank God I was not much disturbed at it. However, I shall beware of being late abroad again.

August 28th

But now, how few people I see, and those walking like people that have taken leave of the world.... I to the Exchange, and I think there was not 50 people upon it and but few more like to be, as they told me, Sir G Smith and others. Thus I think to take Adieu today of London streets ....

August 31st

Up, and after putting several things in order to my removal to Woolwich, the plague having a great increase this week beyond all expectation, of almost 2000 - making the general Bill 7000, odd 100 and the plague above 6000 ....
Thus this month ends, with great sadness upon the public through the greateness of the plague, everywhere through the Kingdom almost. Every day sadder and sadder news of its increase. In the City died this week 7496; and all of them, 6102 of the plague. But it is feared that the true number of the dead this week is near 10000 - partly from the poor that cannot be taken notice of through the greatness of the number, and partly from the Quakers and others that will not have any bell ring for them.
As to myself, I am very well; only, in fear of the plague, and as much of an Ague, by being forced to go early and late to Woolwich, and my family to lie there continually.

September 14th finding that although the Bill [total of dead] in general is abated, yet the City within the walls is encreasd and likely to continue so (and is close to our house there) - my meeting dead corps's of the plague, carried to be buried close to me at noonday through the City in Fanchurch-street - to see a person sick of the sores carried close by me by Grace-church in a hackney-coach - my finding the Angell tavern at the lower end of Tower-hill shut up; and more then that, the alehouse at the Tower-stairs; and more then that, that the person was then dying of the plague when I was last there, a little while ago at night, to write a short letter there, and I overheard the mistress of the house sadly saying to her husband somebody was very ill, but did not think it was of the plague - to hear that poor Payne my waterman hath buried a child and is dying himself - to hear that a labourer I sent but the other day to Dagenhams to know how they did there is dead of the plague and that one of my own watermen, that carried me daily, fell sick as soon as he had landed me on Friday morning last, when I had been all night upon the water ... is now dead of the plague - to hear ... that Mr Sidny Mountagu is sick of a desperate fever at my Lady Carteret's at Scott's hall - to hear that Mr. Lewes hath another daughter sick - and lastly, that both my servants, W Hewers and Tom Edwards, have lost their fathers, both in St. Sepulcher's parish, of the plague this week - doth put me into great apprehensions of melancholy, and with good reason.

October 1st

And my Lord did whisper to me alone, that things here [the wars with the Dutch] must break in pieces, nobody minding anything, but every man his own business of profit or pleasure, and the King some little designs of his own; and that certainly the Kingdom coud not stand in this condition long - which I fear and believe is very true.
So to supper, and there my Lord the kindest man to me before all the table, talking of me to my advantage, and with tenderness too, that it overjoyed me.

October 27th

... to the Duke of Albermarle ... and he makes mighty much of me; and here he tells us the Dutch are gone, and have lost above 160 cables and anchors through the last foul weather. Here he proposed to me from Mr. Coventry (as I had desired of Mr. Coventry) that I should be Surveyor Generall of the victualling business, which I accepted. But endeed, the terms in which Mr Coventry proposes it for me are the most obliging that ever I could expect from any man, and more - it saying me to be the fittest man in England, and that he is sure, if I will undertake it, I will perform it - and that it will be also a very desirable thing that I might have this encouragement, my encouragement in the Navy alone being in no wise proportionable to my pains or deserts. This, added to the letter I had three days since from Mr Southerne, signifyig that the Duke of Yorke had in his master's absence opened my letter and commanded him to tell me that he did approve of my being the Surveyor general, doth make me joyful beyond myself, that I cannot express it; to see that I do take pains, so God blesses me and hath sent me masters that do observe that I take pains.

October 31st

I to the office, where Sir W Batten met me and did tell me that Captain Cockes black was dead of the plague - which I had heard of before but took no notice. By and by Captain Cocke came to the office , and Sir W Batten and I did send to him that he would either forbear the office or forbear ging to his own office. However, meeting yesterday the Searchers with their rods in their hands coming from his house, I did overhear them say that the fellow did not die of the plague. [The "searchers of the dead", usually old women, were employed to examine corpses and ascertain the cause of death. They carried tall white wands so the public could avoid contact with them.]

November 1st

Lay very long in bed, discoursing with Mr. Hill of most things of a man's life, and how litle merit doth prevail in the world, but only favour - and that for myself, chance without merit brought me in, and that diligence only keeps me so, and will, living as I do amongst so many lazy people, that the diligent man becomes necessary, that they cannot do anything without him.

December 7th

Sir G Carteret's letter tells me my Lord Sandwich is, as I was told, declared Embassador-Extraordinary to Spayne, and to go with all speed away - and that his enemies have done him as much good as he could wish.

December 31st

Thus ends this year, to my great joy, in this manner:-
I have raised my estate from 1300l in this year to 4400l. I have got myself greater interest, I think, by my diligence; and my imployments encreased by that of Treasurer for Tanger and Surveyor of the Victuals.

It is true we have gone through great melancholy because of the great plague, and I put to great charges by it, by keeping my family long at Woolwich, and myself and another part of my family, my clerks, at my charge at Greenwich, and a maid at London. But I hope the King will give us some satisfaction for that. But now the plague is abated almost to nothing, and I entending to get to London as fast as I can, my family, that is, my wife and maids, having been there these two or three weeks. The Duch war goes on very ill, by reason of lack of money; having none to hope for, all being put into disorder by a new Act that is made as an experiment to bring Credit to the Exchequer, for goods and money to be advanced upon the credit of that Act.

I have never lived so merrily (besides that I never got so much) as I have done this plague-time, by my Lord Brouncker's and Captain Cocke's good company, and the acquaintance of Mrs Knipp, Coleman and her husband, and Mr Laneare; and great store of dancings we have had at my cost (which I was willing to indulge myself and my wife) at my lodgings.

The great evil of this year, and the only one endeed, is the fall of my Lord of Sandwich, whose mistake about the prizes hath undone him, I believe, as to interest at Court; though sent (for a little palliateing it) Imbassador into Spayne, which he is now fitting himself for. But the Duke of Albermarle goes with the Prince to sea this next year, and my Lord very meanly spoken of; and endeed, his miscarriage about the prise-goods is not to be excused, to suffer a company of rogues to go away with ten times as much as himself, and the blame of all to be deservedly laid upon him.

My whole family hath been well all this while, and all my friends I know of, saving my Aunt Bell, who is dad, and some childrn of my Cosen Sarah's, of the plague. But many of such as I know very well, dead. Yet to our great joy, the town fills apace, and shops begin to open again. Pray God continue the plague's decrease - for that keeps the Court away from the place of business, and so all goes to wrack as to public matters, they at this distance not thinking of it.

See also

Daniel Defoe on The Plague (brief extracts)

Black Death and Plague "not Linked" (BBC news item)

Plague in London: spatial and temporal aspect of mortality by Graham Twigg

Channel 4 Plague Home