Samuel Pepys’ Christmas – 1662

Samuel Pepys’ Christmas in 1662 was spent, as usual, in London. His diary gives a flavour of the day.

The naval administrator and Member of Parliament Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) is most famous as keeper of a frank and remarkably detailed diary from 1660-69.

In it, he recorded his experiences of the Great Plague (1665), the Dutch War (1665-67), and the Great Fire of London (1666). But it also contains a wealth of material about Pepys’ personal and family life.

Having accompanied King Charles II on his return from exile in 1660, Pepys’ career began to make progress and he was appointed Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board. By Christmas 1662 he and his family were relatively comfortably off.

This account was given by Samuel Pepys in his diary.

Samuel Pepys celebrates Christmas, 1662

24 December 1662
This evening Mr Gauden [Sir Dennis Gauden, Victualler of the Navy] sent me, against Christmas, a great Chine of beefe and three dozen of Toungs. I did give 5s to the man that brought it and half-crown to the porters. This day also, the parish Clerke brought the general bill of Mortality, which cost me half-Crowne more.

Christmas day
Up pretty early, leaving my wife not well in bed. And with my body walked, it being a most brave cold and dry frosty morning, and had a pleasant walk to Whitehall; where I entended to have received the Comunion with the family, but I came a little too late. So I walked up into the house and spent my time looking over pictures, particularly the ships in King H the 8ths voyage to Bullen – marking the difference between their build then and now. By and by down to the Chappell again, where Bishop Morley preached upon the Song of the Angels – “Glory to God on high – on earth peace, and good will towards men.” Methought he made but a poor sermon, but long and reprehending the mistaken jollity of the Court for the true joy that shall and ought to be on these days. Perticularized concerning their excess in playes and gameing, saying that he whose office it is to keep the Gamesters inorder and winin bounds serves but for a second rather in a Duell, meaning the Groome porter. Upon which, it was worth observing how far they are come from taking the Reprehensions of a Bishop seriously, that they all laugh in the chapel when he reflected on their ill actions and courses. The sermon done, a good Anthemne followed, with vials; and then the King [Charles II] came down to receive the Sacrament, but I stayed not; but calling my boy from my Lord’s lodging and giving Sarah some good advice, by my Lord’s order, to be Sober and look after the house, I walked home again with great pleasure; and there dined by my wife’s bedside with great content, having a mess of brave plum-porridge and a roasted Pullett for dinner; and I sent for a mince-pie abroad, my wife not being well to make any herself yet. After dinner, sat talking a good while with her, her [pain] becoming less, and then to see Sir W Penn a little; and so to my office, practising arithmetique alone with great content, till 11 at night; and so home to supper and to bed.

26 December
Up. My wife to the making of Christmas-pies all day, being now pretty well again. And I abroad to several places about small business; among others, bought a bake pan in Newgate market and sent it home; it cost me 16s. Then to [Mr Moore at] the Wardrobe, who is not yet well. Hither came Mr Battersby; and we falling into a discourse of a new book of Drollery in a verse called Hudebras, I would needs go find it out; and met with it at the Temple, cost me 2s – 6d. But when I came to read it, it is so silly an abuse of the Presbyter-Knight going to the warrs, that I am ashamed of it; and by meeting at Mr Townsends at dinner, I sold it to him for 18d.

Source: The Diaries of Samuel Pepys: A Selection, edited by Robert Latham, (Penguin Books, 2003)