Diary of Samuel Pepys (excerpts)
The complete diaries are online complete or abridged or "concise." There's an online project where participants are adding annotations to the diary. Some university students created a 3-minute virtual tour of what London might have looked like before the Great Fire.
Note that Pepys is pronounced "peeps."
Thanks to Sarah Bruce for providing these excerpts.
Notes: Where sums of money are referred to, £, s. and d. are used to designate Pounds, Shillings, and Pence. (There are 12 pence in a shilling, 20 shillings in a pound)
Because the old-style calendar was in use at the time the diary was written, in which the New Year began on March 25th, the year has been given a dual number in January, February and March, as has been done elsewhere in the diary, (eg. 1662-63 during the first months of 1663).
September 2nd, 1666 (Lord's day). Some of our maids sitting up late last night to get things ready against our feast to-day, Jane [one of the servants] called us up about three in the morning, to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City. So I rose, and slipped on my night-gown, and went to her window; and thought it to be on the back-side of Marke-lane at the farthest, but being unused to such fires as followed, I thought it far enough off; and so went to bed again, and to sleep. About seven I rose again to dress myself, and there looked out at the window, and saw the fire not so much as it was, and further off. So to my closet to set things to rights, after yesterday's cleaning.
By and by Jane comes and tells me that she hears that above 300 houses have been burned down to-night by the fire we saw, and that it is now burning down all Fish-street, by London Bridge. So I made myself ready presently, and walked to the Tower, and there got up upon one of the high places, Sir J. Robinson's little son going up with me; and there I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side the end of the bridge; which, among other people, did trouble me for poor little Michell and our Sarah on the bridge. So down with my heart full of trouble to the Lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it begun this morning in the King's baker's [His name was Faryner.] house in Pudding-lane, and that it hath burned down St. Magnes Church and most part of Fish-street already.
So I down to the water-side, and there got a boat, and through bridge, and there saw a lamentable fire. Poor Michell's house, as far as the Old Swan, already burned that way, and the fire running further, that in a very little time it got as far as the Steele-yard, while I was there. Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging into the river, or bringing them into lighters that lay off; poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stairs by the water-side to another. And among other things, the poor pigeons, I perceive, were loth to leave their houses, but hovered about the windows and balconys, till they burned their wings, and fell down.
[Note: A lighter is a type of flat-bottomed barge used to transfer goods and passengers to and from moored ships.]
Having staid, and in an hour's time seen the fire rage every way, and nobody, to my sight, endeavouring to quench it, but to remove their goods, and leave all to the fire, and having seen it get as far as the Steele-yard, and the wind mighty high, and driving it into the City: and every thing after so long a drought proving combustible, even the very stones of churches, and among other things, the poor steeple [St, Lawrence Poultney, of which Thomas Elborough was Curate.] by which pretty Mrs. --- lives, and whereof my old schoolfellow Elborough is parson, taken fire in the very top, and there burned till it fell down; I to White Hall (with a gentleman with me, who desired to go off from the Tower, to see the fire, in my boat): and there up to the King's closet in the Chapel, where people come about me, and I did give them an account dismayed them all, and word was carried in to the King. So I was called for, and did tell the King and Duke of York ["Bonny Prince" Charles II was king; James his brother was Duke of York] what I saw, and that unless his Majesty did command houses to be pulled down, nothing could stop the fire, They seemed much troubled, and the King commanded me to go to my Lord Mayor [Sir Thomas Bludworth.] from him, and command him to spare no houses, but to pull down before the fire every way. The Duke of York bid me tell him, that if he would have any more soldiers, he shall: and so did my Lord Arlington afterwards, as a great secret. Here meeting with Captain Cocke, I in his coach, which he lent me, and Creed with me to Paul's, and there walked along Watling-street, as well as I could, every creature coming away loaded with goods to save, and here and there sick people carried away in beds. Extraordinary good goods carried in carts--and on backs.
At last met my Lord Mayor in Canning-street, like a man spent, with a handkercher about his neck. To the King's message, he cried, like a fainting woman, "Lord! what can I do? I am spent: people will not obey me. I have been pulling down houses; but the fire overtakes us faster than we can do it." That he needed no more soldiers; and that, for himself, he must go and refresh himself, having been up all night.
So he left me, and I him, and walked home; seeing people all almost distracted, and no manner of means used to quench the fire. The houses too so very thick thereabouts, and full of matter for burning, as pitch and tar, in Thames-street; and warehouses of oyle, and wines, and brandy, and other things. Here I saw Mr. Isaac Houblon, the handsome man, prettily dressed and dirty at his door at Dowgate, receiving some of his brother's things, whose houses were on fire; and, as he says, have been removed twice already; and he doubts (as it soon proved) that they must be in a little time removed from his house also, which was a sad consideration. And to see the churches all filling with goods by people, who themselves should have been quietly there at this time.
By this time it was about twelve o'clock; and so home, and there find my guests, who were Mr. Wood and his wife Barbary Shelden, and also Mr. Moone; she mighty fine, and her husband, for aught I see, a likely man. But Mr. Moone's design and mine, which was to look over my closet, and please him with the sight thereof, which he hath long desired, was wholly disappointed; for we were in great trouble and disturbance at this fire, not knowing what to think of it. However, we had an extraordinary good dinner, and as merry as at this time we could be. While at dinner Mrs. Batelier come to enquire after Mr. Woolfe and Stanes, (who it seems are related to them,) whose houses in Fish-street are all burned, and they in a sad condition. She would not stay in the fright.
Soon as dined, I and Moone away, and walked through the City, the streets full of nothing but people, and horses and carts loaden with goods, ready to run over one another, and removing goods from one burned house to another. They now removing out of Canning-street (which received goods in the morning) into Lumbard-street, and further: and among others I now saw my little goldsmith Stokes receiving some friend's goods, whose house itself was burned the day after. We parted at Paul's; he home, and I to Paul's Wharf, where I had appointed a boat to attend me, and took in Mr. Carcasse and his brother, whom I met in the street, and carried them below and above bridge too.
And again to see the fire, which was now got further, both below and above, and no likelihood of stopping it. Met with the King and Duke of York in their barge, and with them to Queenhith, and there called Sir Richard Browne to them. Their order was only to pull down houses apace, and so below bridge at the water-side; but little was or could be done, the fire coming upon them so fast. Good hopes there was of stopping it at the Three Cranes above, and at Buttolph's Wharf below bridge, if care be used; but the wind carries it into the City, so as we know not by the water-side what it do there.
River full of lighters and boats taking in goods, and good goods swimming in the water, and only I observed that hardly one lighter or boat in three that had the goods of a house in, but there was a pair of Virginalls [A sort of spinet piano, so called (according to Johnson) from young women playing upon it.] in it.
Having seen as much as I could now, I away to White Hall by appointment, and there walked to St. James's Park, and there met my wife and Creed and Wood and his wife, and walked to my boat; and there upon the water again, and to the fire up and down, it still encreasing, and the wind great. So near the fire as we could for smoke; and all over the Thames, with one's faces in the wind, you were almost burned with a shower of fire-drops. This is very true: so as houses were burned by these drops and flakes of fire, three or four, nay, five or six houses, one from another. When we could endure no more upon the water, we to a little ale-house on the Bankside, over against the Three Cranes, and there staid till it was dark almost, and saw the fire grow, and as it grew darker, appeared more and more, and in corners and upon steeples, and between churches and houses, as far as we could see up the hill of the City, in a most horrid malicious bloody flame, not like the fine flame of an ordinary fire. Barbary and her husband away before us.
We staid till, it being darkish, we saw the fire as only one entire arch of fire from this to the other side the bridge, and in a bow up the hill for an arch of above a mile long: it made me weep to see it. The churches, houses, and all on fire, and flaming at once; and a horrid noise the flames made, and the cracking houses at their ruine. So home with a sad heart, and there find every body discoursing and lamenting the fire; and poor Tom Hater come with some few of his goods saved out of his house, which was burned upon Fish-street Hill. I invited him to lie at my house, and did receive his goods, but was deceived in his lying there, the news coming every moment of the growth of the fire; so as we were forced to begin to pack up our own goods, and prepare for their removal; and did by moonshine (it being brave dry and moonshine and warm weather) carry much of my goods into the garden, and Mr. Hater and I did remove my money and iron chests into my cellar, as thinking that the safest place. And got my bags of gold into my office, ready to carry away, and my chief papers of accounts also there, and my tallies into a box by themselves. So great was our fear, as Sir W. Batten hath carts come out of the country to fetch away his goods this night. We did put Mr. Hater, poor man, to bed a little; but he got but very little rest, so much noise being in my house, taking down of goods.
September 3rd. [Monday] About four o'clock in the morning, my Lady Batten sent me a cart to carry away all my money, and plate, and best things, to Sir W. Rider's at Bednall-greene. Which I did, riding myself in my night gown, in the cart; and, Lord! to see how the streets and the highways are crowded with people running and riding, and getting of carts at any rate to fetch away things. I find Sir W. Rider tired with being called up all night, and receiving things from several friends. His house full of goods, and much of Sir W. Batten's and Sir W. Pen's, I am eased at my heart to have my treasure so well secured. Then home, and with much ado to find a way, nor any sleep all this night to me nor my poor wife. Then all this day she and I, and all my people labouring to get away the rest of our things, and did get Mr. Tooker to get me a lighter to take them in, and we did carry them (myself some) over Tower Hill, which was by this time full of people's goods, bringing their goods thither; and down to the lighter, which lay at the next quay, above the Tower Dock. And here was my neighbour's wife, Mrs. --, with her pretty child, and some few of her things, which I did willingly give way to be saved with mine; but there was no passing with any thing through the postern, the crowd was so great. The Duke of York come this day by the office, and spoke to us, and did ride with his guard up and down the City to keep all quiet, (he being now General, and having the care of all). This day, Mercer being not at home, but against her mistress's order gone to her mother's, and my wife going thither to speak with W. Hewer, beat her there, and was angry; and her mother saying that she was not a 'prentice girl, to ask leave every time she goes abroad, my wife with good reason was angry, and when she come home bid her be gone again. And so she went away, which troubled me, but yet less than it would, because of the condition we are in, in fear of coming in a little time to being less able to keep one in her quality. At night lay down a little upon a quilt of W. Hewer's, in the office, all my own things being packed up or gone; and after me my poor wife did the like, we having fed upon the remains of yesterday's dinner, having no fire nor dishes, nor any opportunity of dressing any thing.
September 4th. [Tuesday] Up by break of day, to get away the remainder of my things; which I did by a lighter at the Iron gate: and my hands so full, that it was the afternoon before we could get them all away. Sir W. Pen and I to the Tower-street, and there met the fire burning three or four doors beyond Mr. Howell's, whose goods, poor man, his trayes, and dishes, shovells, &c., were flung all along Tower-street in the kennels, and people working therewith from one end to the other; the fire coming on in that narrow street, on both sides, with infinite fury. Sir W. Batten not knowing how to remove his wine, did dig a pit in the garden, and laid it in there; and I took the opportunity of laying all the papers of my office that I could not otherwise dispose of and in the evening Sir W. Pen and I did dig another, and put our wine in it; and I my parmazan cheese, as well as my wine and some other things. The Duke of York was at the office this day, at Sir W. Pen's; but I happened not to be within. This afternoon, sitting melancholy with Sir W. Pen in our garden, and thinking of the certain burning of this office, without extraordinary means, I did propose for the sending up of all our workmen from the Woolwich and Deptford yards, (none whereof yet appeared,) and to write to Sir W. Coventry to have the Duke of York's permission to pull down houses, rather than lose this office, which would much hinder the King's business. So Sir W. Pen went down this night, in order to the sending them up to-morrow morning; and I wrote to Sir W. Coventry about the business, but received no answer.
[Note: A copy of this letter, preserved among the Pepys MSS. in the author's own hand-writing, is subjoined:--
Sir,--The fire is now very neere us as well on Tower Streete as Fanchurch Street side, and we little hope of our escape but by that remedy, to ye want whereof we doe certainly owe ye loss of ye City, namely, ye pulling down of houses, in ye way of ye fire. This way Sir W. Pen and myself have so far concluded upon ye practising, that he is gone to Woolwich and Deptford to supply himself with men and necessarys in order to the doeing thereof, in case at his returne our condition be not bettered and that he meets with his R.Hs. approbation, which I have thus undertaken to learn of you, Pray please to let me have this night (at whatever hour it is) what his R. Hs. directions are in this particular, Sir J. Minnes and Sir W. Batten having left, us, we cannot add, though we are well assured of their, as well as all ye neighbourhood's concurrence. Sir W. Coventry, Your obedient Servant, Septr. 4, 1666. -- S. P.]
This night Mrs. Turner (who, poor woman, was removing her goods all this day, good goods into the garden, and knows not how to dispose of them) and her husband supped with my wife and me at night, in the office, upon a shoulder of mutton from the cook's, without any napkin, or any thing, in a sad manner, but were merry. Only now and then, walking into the garden, saw how horribly the sky looks, all on a fire in the night, was enough to put us out of our wits; and, indeed, it was extremely dreadfull, for it looks just as if it was at us, and the whole heaven on fire. I after supper walked in the dark down to Tower-street, and there saw it all on fire, at the Trinity House on that side, and the Dolphin Tavern on this side, which was very near us; and the fire with extraordinary vehemence. Now begins the practice of blowing up of houses in Tower-street, those next the Tower, which at first did frighten people more than any thing; but it stopped the fire where it was done, it bringing down the houses to the ground in the same places they stood, and then it was easy to quench what little fire was in it, though it kindled nothing almost. W. Hewer this day went to see how his mother did, and comes late home, telling us how he hath been forced to remove her to Islington, her house in Pye-corner being burned; so that the fire is got so far that way, and to the Old Bayly, and was running down to Fleet-street; and Paul's is burned, and all Cheepside. I wrote to my father this night, but the post-house being burned, the letter could not go.
September 5th. [Wednesday] I lay down in the office again upon W. Hewer's quilt, being mighty weary, and sore in my feet with going till I was hardly able to stand. About two in the morning my wife calls me up, and tells me of new cryes of fire, it being come to Barking Church, which is the bottom of our lane. [Sethinge Lane.] I up; and finding it so, resolved presently to take her away, and did, and took my gold, which was about £2350. [that would be over $200,000 in the USA in 2018.] W. Hewer, and Jane, down by Proundy's boat to Woolwich; but Lord! what a sad sight it was by moone-light to see the whole City almost on fire, that you might see it plain at Woolwich, as if you were by it. There, when I come, I find the gates shut, but no guard kept at all; which troubled me, because of discourses now begun, that there is a plot in it, and that the French had done it. I got the gates open, and to Mr. Shelden's, where I locked up my gold, and charged my wife and W. Hewer never to leave the room without one of them in it, night or day. So back again, by the way seeing my goods well in the lighters at Deptford, and watched well by people. Home, and whereas I expected to have seen our house on fire, it being now about seven o'clock, it was not.
But to the fire, and there find greater hopes than I expected; for my confidence of finding our office on fire was such, that I durst not ask any body how it was with us, till I come and saw it was not burned. But going to the fire, I find by the blowing up of houses, and the great help given by the workmen out of the King's yards, sent up by Sir W. Pen, there is a good stop given to it, as well at Marke-lane end, as ours; it having only burned the dyall of Barking Church, and part of the porch, and was there quenched. I up to the top of Barking steeple, and there saw the saddest sight of desolation that I ever saw; every where great fires, oyle-cellars, and brimstone, and other things burning. I became afraid to stay there long, and therefore down again as fast as I could, the fire being spread as far as I could see it; and to Sir W. Pen's, and there eat a piece of cold meat, having eaten nothing since Sunday, [He forgot the shoulder of mutton from the cook's the day before.] but the remains of Sunday's dinner. Here I met with Mr. Young and Whistler; and having removed all my things, and received good hopes that the fire at our end is stopped, they and I walked into the town, and find Fanchurch-street, Gracious-street, and Lumbard-street all in dust. The Exchange a sad sight, nothing standing there, of all the statues or pillars, but Sir Thomas Gresham's picture in the corner. Into Moore-fields, (our feet ready to burn, walking through the town among the hot coles,) and find that full of people, and poor wretches carrying their goods there, and every body keeping his goods together by themselves; (and a great blessing it is to them that it is fair weather for them to keep abroad night and day;) drunk there, and paid twopence for a plain penny loaf.
Thence homeward, having passed through Cheapside, and Newgate market, all burned; and seen Anthony Joyce's house in fire. And took up (which I keep by me) a piece of glass of Mercer's chapel in the street, where much more was, so melted and buckled with the heat of the fire like parchment. I also did see a poor cat taken out of a hole in a chimney, joyning to the wall of the Exchange, with the hair all burned off the body, and yet alive. So home at night, and find there good hopes of saving our office; but great endeavours of watching all night, and having men ready; and so we lodged them in the office, and had drink and bread and cheese for them. And I lay down and slept a good night about midnight: though when I rose, I heard that there bad been a great alarme of French and Dutch being risen, which proved nothing. But it is a strange thing to see how long this time did look since Sunday, having been always full of variety of actions, and little sleep, that it looked like a week or more, and I had forgot almost the day of the week.
September 6th. [Thursday] Up about five o'clock; and met Mr. Gauden at the gate of the office, (I intending to go out, as I used, every now and then to-day, to see how the fire is,) to call our men to Bishop's-gate, where no fire had yet been near, and there is now one broke out: which did give great grounds to people, and to me too, to think that there is some kind of plot in this, (on which many by this time have been taken, and it hath been dangerous for any stranger to walk in the streets,) but I went with the men, and we did put it out in a little time; so that that was well again. It was pretty to see how hard the women did work in the cannells, sweeping of water; but then they would scold for drink, and be as drunk as devils. I saw good butts of sugar broke open in the street, and people give and take handsfull out, and put into beer, and drink it. And now all being pretty well, I took boat, and over to Southwarke, and took boat on the other side the bridge, and so to Westminster, thinking to shift myself, being all in dirt from top to bottom; but could not there find any place to buy a shirt or a pair of gloves, Westminster Hall being full of people's goods, those in Westminster having removed all their goods, and the Exchequer money put into vessels to carry to Nonsuch [Nonsuch House near Epsom, where the Exchequer had formerly been kept.] but to the Swan, and there was trimmed: and then to White Hall, but saw nobody; and so home.
A sad sight to see how the River looks: no houses nor church near it, to the Temple, where it stopped. At home, did go with Sir W. Batten, and our neighbour, Knightly, (who, with one more, was the only man of any fashion left in all the neighbourhood thereabouts, they all removing their goods, and leaving their houses to the mercy of the fire,) to Sir R. Ford's, and there dined in an earthen platter--a fried breast of mutton; a great many of us, but very merry, and indeed as good a meal, though as ugly a one, as ever I had in my life. Thence down to Deptford, and there with great satisfaction landed all my goods at Sir G. Carteret's safe, and nothing missed I could see or hear. This being done to my great content, I home, and to Sir W. Batten's, and there with Sir R. Ford, Mr. Knightly, and one Withers, a professed lying rogue, supped well, and mighty merry, and our fears over. From them to the office and there slept with the office full of labourers, who talked, and slept, and walked all night long there. But strange it is to see Clothworkers' Hall on fire these three days and nights in one body of flame, it being the cellar full of oyle.
September 7th. [Friday] Up by five o'clock; and, blessed be God! find all well; and by water to Pane's Wharfe. Walked thence, and saw all the towne burned, and a miserable sight of Paul's church, with all the roofs fallen, and the body of the quire fallen into St. Fayth's; Paul's school also, Ludgate, and Fleet-street. My father's house, and the church, and a good part of the Temple the like. So to Creed's lodging, near the New Exchange, and there find him laid down upon a bed; the house all unfurnished, there being fears of the fire's coming to them. There I borrowed a shirt of him, and washed. To Sir W. Coventry, at St. James's, who lay without curtains, having removed all his goods; as the King at White Hall, and every body had done, and was doing. He hopes we shall have no public distractions upon this fire, which is what every body fears, because of the talk of the French having a hand in it. And it is a proper time for discontents; but all men's minds are full of care to protect themselves, and save their goods: the militia is in arms every where. Strange to hear what is bid for houses; all up and down here; a friend of Sir W. Rider's having £150 for what he used to let for £40 per annum. Much dispute where the Custome-house shall be; thereby the growth of the City again to be foreseen. My Lord Treasurer, they say, and others, would have it at the other end of the town. I home late to Sir W. Pen's, who did give me a bed; but without curtains or hangings, all being down. So here I went the first time into a naked bed, only my drawers on; and did sleep pretty well: but still both sleeping and waking had a fear of fire in my heart, that I took little rest. People do all the world over cry out of the simplicity of my Lord Mayor in generall; and more particularly in this business of the fire, laying it all upon him. A proclamation is come out for markets to be kept at Leadenhall and Mile-end-greene, and several other places about the town; and Tower-hill, and all churches to be set open to receive poor people.
September 8th. [Saturday] I stopped with Sir G. Carteret to desire him to go with us, and to enquire after money. But the first he cannot do, and the other as little, or say, "When we can get any, or what shall we do for it?" He, it seems, is employed in the correspondence between the City and the King every day, in settling of things. I find him full of trouble, to think how things will go. I left him, and to St. James's, where we met first at Sir W. Coventry's chamber, and there did what business we could, without any books. Our discourse, as every thing else, was confused. The fleet is at Portsmouth, there staying a wind to carry them to the Downes, or towards Boulogne, where they say the Dutch fleet is gone, and stays. We concluded upon private meetings for a while, not having any money to satisfy any people that may come to us.
I bought two eeles upon the Thames, cost me six shillings. I met with many people undone, and more that have extraordinary great losses. People speaking their thoughts variously about the beginning of the fire, and the rebuilding of the City. Then to Sir W. Batten's and took my brother with me, and there dined with a great company of neighbours, and much good discourse; among others, of the low spirits of some rich men in the City, in sparing any encouragement to the poor people that wrought for the saving their houses. Among others, Alderman Starling, a very rich man, without children, the fire at next door to him in our lane, after our men had saved his house, did give 2s. 6d. among thirty of them, and did quarrel with some that would remove the rubbish out of the way of the fire, saying that they come to steal. Sir W. Coventry told me of another this morning in Holborne, which he showed the King: that when it was offered to stop the fire near his house for such a reward that come but to 2s. 6d. a man among the neighbours he would give but 18d. Thence to Bednall Green by coach, my brother with me, and saw all well there, and fetched away my journall-book to enter for five days past. I was much frighted and kept awake in my bed, by some noise I heard a great while below stairs; and the boys not coming up to me when I knocked. It was by their discovery of some people stealing of some neighbours' wine that lay in vessels in the streets. So to sleep; and all well all night.
September 9th. Sunday. Up; and was trimmed, and sent my brother to Woolwich to my wife, to dine with her. I to church, where our parson made a melancholy but good sermon; and many and most in the church cried, specially the women. The church mighty full; but few of fashion, and most strangers. To church again, and there preached Dean Harding; [Probably Nathaniel Hardy, Dean of Rochester.] but, methinks a bad, poor sermon, though proper for the time; nor eloquent, in saying at this time that the City is reduced from a large folio to a decimo-tertio. So to my office, there to write down my journall, and take leave of my brother, whom I send back this afternoon, though rainy: which it hath not done a good while before. To Sir W. Pen's to bed, and made my boy Tom to read me asleep.
September 10th. [Monday] All the morning clearing our cellars, and breaking in pieces all my old lumber, to make room, and to prevent fire. And then to Sir W. Batten's, and dined; and there hear that Sir W. Rider says that the town is full of the report of the wealth that is in his house, and would be glad that his friends would provide for the safety of their goods there. This made me get a cart; and thither, and there brought my money all away. Took a hackney-coach myself, (the hackney-coaches now standing at Allgate.) Much wealth indeed there is at his house. Blessed be God, I got all mine well thence, and lodged it in my office; but vexed to have all the world see it. And with Sir W. Batten, who would have taken away my hands before they were stowed. But by and by comes brother Balty from sea, which I was glad of; and so got him, and Mr. Tooker, and the boy, to watch with them all in the office all night, while I went down to my wife.
September 13th. [Thursday] Up, and down to Tower Wharfe; and there, with Balty and labourers from Deptford, did get my goods housed well at home. So down to Deptford again to fetch the rest, and there eat a bit of dinner at the Globe, with the master of the Bezan with me, while the labourers went to dinner. Here I hear that this poor town do bury still of the plague seven or eight in a day. So to Sir G. Carteret's to work, and there did to my content ship off in the Bezan all the rest of my goods, saving my pictures and fine things, that I will bring home in wherrys when the house is fit to receive them: and so home, and unload them by carts and hands before night, to my exceeding satisfaction: and so after supper to bed in my house, the first time I have lain there.
September 14th. [Friday] Up, and to work, having carpenters come to help in setting up bedsteads and hangings; and at that trade my people and I all the morning, till pressed by publick business to leave them against my will in the afternoon: and yet I was troubled in being at home, to see all my goods lie up and down the house in a bad condition, and strange workmen going to and fro might take what they would almost. All the afternoon busy; and Sir W. Coventry come to me, and found me, as God would have it, in my office, and people about me setting my papers to rights; and there discoursed about getting an account ready against the Parliament, and thereby did create me infinity of business and to be done on a sudden; which troubled me; but, however, he being gone, I about it late, and to good purpose. And so home, having this day also got my wine out of the ground again, and set it in my cellar; but with great pain to keep the porters that carried it in from observing the money-chests there.
September 15th. [Saturday] Captain Cocke says he hath computed that the rents of the houses lost this fire in the City comes to £600,000 per annum; that this will make the Parliament more quiet than otherwise they would have been, and give the King a more ready supply; that the supply must be by excise, as it is in Holland; that the Parliament will see it necessary to carry on the war; that the late storm hindered our beating the Dutch fleet, who were gone out only to satisfy the people, having no business to do but to avoid us; that the French, as late in the year as it is, are coming; that the Dutch are really in bad condition, but that this unhappiness of ours do give them heart: that there was a late difference between my Lord Arlington and Sir W. Coventry about neglect in the latter to send away an express of the other's in time; that it come before the King, and the Duke of York concerned himself in it; but this fire hath stopped it. The Dutch fleet is not gone home, but rather to the North, and so dangerous to our Gottenburgh fleet. That the Parliament is likely to fall foul upon some persons; and, among others, on the Vice-chamberlaine, [Sir G. Carteret.] though we both believe with little ground. That certainly never so great a loss as this was borne so well by citizens in the world; he believing that not one merchant upon the 'change [exchange?] will break upon it. That he do not apprehend there will be any disturbances in State upon it; for that all men are busy in looking after their own business to save themselves. He gone, I to finish my letters, and home to bed; and find to my infinite joy many rooms clean; and myself and wife lie in our own chamber again. But much terrified in the nights now-a-days with dreams of fire, and falling down of houses.
September 17th. [Monday] Up betimes, and shaved myself after a week's growth: but, Lord! how ugly I was yesterday and how fine to-day! By water, seeing the City all the way, a sad sight indeed, much fire being still in.
September 25th. [Tuesday] With all my people to get the letter writ over about the Navy Accounts; and by coach to Lord Brouncker's, and got his hand to it; and then to the Parliament House and got it signed by the rest, and then delivered it at the House-door to Sir Philip Warwicke; Sir G. Carteret being gone into the House with his book of accounts under his arme, to present to the House. All night still mightily troubled in my sleep with fire and houses pulling down.
September 26th. [Thursday] By coach home, calling at Bennet's, our late mercer, who is come into Covent Garden to a fine house looking down upon the Exchange. And I perceive many Londoners every day come. And Mr. Pierce hath let his wife's closet, and the little blind bedchamber, and a garret to a silk-man for £50 fine, and £30 per annum, and £40 per annum more for dieting the master and two prentices. By Mr. Dugdale I hear the great loss of books in St. Paul's Church-yard, and at their Hall also, which they value at about £150,000; some book-sellers being wholly undone, and among others they say my poor Kirton. And Mr. Crumlum, [Samuel Cromleholme, or Crumlum, Master of St. Paul's School.] all his books and household stuff burned; they trusting to St. Fayth's, and the roof of the church falling, broke the arch down into the lower church, and so all the goods burned. A very great loss. His father hath lost above £1000 in books; one book newly printed, a Discourse, it seems, of Courts.
September 27th. [Friday] A very furious blowing night all the night; and my mind still mightily perplexed with dreams, and burning the rest of the town; and waking in much pain for the fleet.
["A very furious blowing night all the night" -- that's not a typo.]
September 28th. [Saturday] Comes the bookbinder to gild the backs of my books. Sir W. Pen broke to me a proposition of his and my joining in a design of fetching timber and deals from Scotland, by the help of Mr. Pett upon the place; which, while London is building, will yield good money. I approve it.
September 30th (Lord's day). Up, and to church, where I have not been a good while; and there the church infinitely thronged with strangers since the fire come into our parish; but not one handsome face in all of them, as if, indeed, there was a curse, as Bishop Fuller heretofore said, upon our parish. This month ends with my mind full of business and concernment how this office will speed with the Parliament, which begins to be mighty severe in the examining our accounts, and the expence of the Navy this war.
October 5th, 1666. [Friday] The Sub-committee have made their report to the Grand Committee, and in pretty kind terms. Captain Cocke told me of a wild motion made in the House of Lords by the Duke of Buckingham, for all men that have cheated the King to be declared traitors and felons; and that my Lord Sandwich was named. Mr. Kirton's kinsman, my bookseller, come in my way; and so I am told by him that Mr. Kirton is utterly undone, and made £2000 or £3000 worse than nothing, from being worth £7000 or £8000. That the goods laid in the Churchyard fired through the windows those in St. Fayth's church; and those coming to the warehouses' doors fired them, and burned all the books and the pillars of the church, so as the roof falling down, broke quite down; which it did not do in the other places of the church, which is alike pillared, (which I knew not before;) but being not burned, they stood still. He do believe there is above £150,000 of books burned; all the great book-sellers almost undone: not only these, but their warehouses at their Hall and under Christ-church, and elsewhere, being all burned. A great want thereof there will be of books, specially Latin books and foreign books; and, among others, the Polyglottes and new Bible, which he believes will be presently worth £40 a-piece.
October 9th. [Tuesday] To the office, where we sat the first day since the fire.
October 11th. [Thursday] MEMORANDUM. I had taken my Journal during the fire and the disorders following in loose papers until this very day, and could not get time to enter them in my book till January 18, in the morning, having made my eyes sore by frequent attempts this winter to do it. But now it is done; for which I thank God, and pray never the like occasion may happen.
November 5th,1666. [Monday] After dinner I and Sir Thomas Crewe went aside to discourse of public matters, and do find by him that all the country gentlemen are publickly jealous of the courtiers in the Parliament, and that they do doubt every thing that they propose; and that the true reason why the country-gentlemen are for a land-tax and against a general excise, is, because they are fearful that if the latter be granted, they shall never get it down again; whereas the land-tax will be but for so much, and when the war ceases, there will be no ground got by the court to keep it up. He says the House would be very glad to get something against Sir G. Carteret, and will not let their inquiries die till they have got something. He do, from what he hath heard at the Committee for examining the burning of the City, conclude it as a thing certain, that it was done by plots; it being proved by many witnesses that endeavours were made in several places to increase the fire, and that both in City and country it was bragged by several Papists, that upon such a day or in such a time we should find the hottest weather that ever was in England; and words of plainer sense. But my Lord Crewe was discoursing at table how the Judges have determined in the case whether the landlords or the tenants (who are, in their leases, all of them generally tied to maintain and uphold their houses,) shall bear the loss of the fire; and they say, that tenants should against all casualties of fire beginning either in their own, or in their neighbour's; but, where it is done by an enemy, they are not to do it. And this was by an enemy, there having been one convicted and hanged upon this very score. This is an excellent salve for the tenants, and for which I am glad, because of my father's house.
After dinner and this discourse, I took coach, and at the same time find my Lord Hinchingbroke and Mr. John Crewe and the Doctor going out to see the ruins of the City; so I took the Doctor into my hackney-coach, (and he is a very fine sober gentleman,) and so through the City. But Lord! what pretty and sober observations he made of the City and its desolation; anon we come to my house, and there I took them upon Tower-Hill to show them what houses were pulled down there since the fire; and then to my house, where I treated them with good wine of several sorts, and they took it mighty respectfully, and a fine company of gentlemen they are; but above all I was glad to see my Lord Hinchingbroke drink no wine at all. I home by coach, but met not one bonfire through the whole town in going round by the wall, which is strange, and speaks the melancholy disposition of the City at present, while never more was said of, and feared of, and done against the Papists, than just at this time.
November 9th. [Friday] To Mrs. Pierce's by appointment, where we find good company: a fair lady, my Lady Prettyman, Mrs. Corbet, Knipp; and for men, Captain Downing, Mr. Lloyd, Sir W. Coventry's clerk, and one Mr. Tripp, who dances well. After our first bout of dancing, Knipp, and I to sing, and Mercer and Captain Downing (who loves and understands musick) would by all means have my song of "Beauty retire:" which Knipp had spread abroad, and he extols it above any thing he ever heard.
Going to dance again, and then comes news that White Hall was on fire. And presently more particulars, that the Horse-guard was on fire. And so we run up to the garret, and find it so; a horrid great fire. And by and by we saw and heard part of it blown up with powder. The ladies begun presently to be afraid: one fell into fits. The whole town in an alarm. Drums beat and trumpets, and the Horse-guards every where spread, running up and down in the street. And I begun to have mighty apprehensions how things might be, for we are in expectation (from common fame) this night or to-morrow to have a massacre, by the having so many fires one after another, as that in the City, and at same time begun in Westminster, by the Palace, but put out; and since in Southwarke, to the burning down some houses. And now this do make all people conclude there is something extraordinary in it; but nobody knows what.
By and by comes news that the fire is slackened; so then we were a little cheered up again, and to supper, and pretty merry. But above all there comes in the dumb boy that I knew in Oliver's time, who is mightily acquainted here, and with Downing. And he made strange signs of the fire, and how the King was abroad, and many things they understood, but I could not. Which I wondered at, and discoursing with Downing about it, "Why," says he, "it is only a little use, and you will understand him, and make him understand you with as much ease as may be." So I prayed him to tell him that I was afraid that my coach would be gone, and that he should go down and steal one of the seats out of the coach and keep it, and that would make the coachman to stay. He did this, so that the dumb boy did go down, and like a cunning rogue went into the coach, pretending to sleep, and by and by fell to his work, but finds the seats nailed to the coach. So he could not do it; however, stayed there, and stayed the coach, till the coachman's patience was quite spent, and beat the dumb boy by force, and so went away. So the dumb boy came up and told him all the story, which they below did see all that passed, and knew it to be true.
After supper another dance or two, and then news that the fire is as great as ever, which put us all to our wits' end; and I mightily anxious to go home, but the coach being gone, and it being about ten at night, and rainy dirty weather, I knew not what to do; but to walk out with Mr. Batelier, myself resolving to go home on foot, and leave the women there. And so did; but at the Savoy got a coach, and come back and took up the women, and so (having, by people come from the fire, understood that the fire was overcome, and all well,) we merrily parted, and home. Stopped by several guards and constables quite through the town, (round the wall as we went,) all being in arms.
November 12th. [Monday] Creed and I did stop (the Duke of York being just going away from seeing of it) at Pauls, and in the Convocation-House Yard did there see the body of Robert Braybrooke, Bishop of London, that died 1404. He fell down in the tomb out of the great church into St. Fayth's this late fire, and is here seen his skeleton with the flesh on; but all tough and dry like a spongy dry leather, or touchwood all upon his bones. His head turned aside. A great man in his time, and Lord Chancellor. And now exposed to be handled and derided by some, though admired for its duration by others. Many flocking to see it.
December 13th, 1666. [Thursday] W. Hewer dined with me, and showed me a Gazette, in April last, (which I wonder should never be remembered by any body,) which tells how several persons were then tried for their lives, and were found guilty of a design of killing the King, and destroying the Government; and as a means to it, to burn the City; and that the day intended for the plot was the 3rd of last September. And the fire did indeed break out on the 2nd of September: which is very strange, methinks.
[Note: This circumstance was so remarkable that it has been thought worth while extracting the whole passage from the Gazette of April 23-26, 1666:--
"At the Sessions in the Old Bailey, John Rathbone, an old Army Colonel, William Saunders, Henry Tucker, Thomas Flint, Thomas Evans, John Myles, Will Westcot, and John Cole, officers or soldiers in the late Rebellion, were indicted for conspiring the death of his Majesty, and the overthrow of the Government. Having laid their plot and contrivance for the surprisal of the Tower, the killing his Grace the Lord General, Sir John Robinson, Lieutenant of the Tower, and Sir Richard Brown; and then to have declared for an equal division of lands, &c. THE BETTER TO EFFECT THIS HELLISH DESIGN, THE CITY WAS TO HAVE BEEN FIRED, and the portcullis let down to keep out all assistance; and the Horse Guards to have been suprised in the Inns where they were quartered, several ostlers having been gained for that purpose. The Tower was accordingly viewed, and its suprise ordered by boats over the moat, and from thence to scale the wall. One Alexander, not yet taken, had likewise distributed money to these conspirators, and for the carrying on the design most effectually, they were told of a Council of the great ones that sat frequently in London, from whom issued all orders; which Council received their directions from another in Holland, who sat with the States; and that the THIRD OF SEPTEMBER was pitched on for the attempt, as being found by Lilly's Almanack, and a scheme erected for that purpose, to be a lucky day, a planet then ruling which prognosticated the downfall of Monarchy. The evidence against these persons was very full and clear, and they were accordingly found guilty of High Treason."]
January 6th, 1666-1667. [Sunday] Young Michell and I, it being an excellent frosty day, did walk out. He showed me the baker's house in Pudding-lane, where the late great fire begun: and thence all along Thames-street, where I did view several places, and so up by London Wall by Blackfriars to Ludgate; and thence to Bridewell, which I find to have been heretofore an extraordinary good house, and a fine coming to it before the house by the bridge was built.
January 12th. [Saturday] With my Lord Brouncker by coach to his house, there to hear some Italian musique: and here we met Tom Killigrew, Sir Robert Murray, and the Italian Signor Baptista, [Giovanni Baptista Draghi, an Italian musician in the service of Queen Catherine, and a composer of merit. BURNEY, HISTORY OF MUSIC.] who hath proposed a play in Italian for the Opera, which T. Killigrew do intend to have up; and here he did sing one of the acts. He himself is the poet as well as the musician; which is very much, and did sing the whole from the words without any musique prickt, and played all along upon a harpsicon most admirably, and the composition most excellent. The words I did not understand, and so know not how they are fitted, but believe very well, and all in the recitative very fine. But I perceive there is a proper accent in every country's discourse, and that do reach in their setting of notes to words, which, therefore, cannot be natural to any body else but them; so that I am not so much smitten with it as it may be I should be if I were acquainted with their accent. But the whole composition is certainly most excellent; and the poetry, T. Killigrew and Sir R. Murray, who understood the words, did say most excellent. I confess I was mightily pleased with the musique. He pretends not to voice, though it be good, but not excellent. This done, T. Killigrew and I to talk: and he tells me how the audience at his house is not above half so much as it used to be before the late fire.
January 16th. [Wednesday] This day I observe still in many places the smoking remains of the late fire: the ways mighty bad and dirty.
January 31st. [Thursday] It is observed, and is true, in the late fire of London, that the fire burned just as many parish-churches as there were hours from the beginning to the end of the fire; and next, that there were just as many churches left standing as there were taverns left standing in the rest of the City that was not burned, being, I think, thirteen in all of each: which is pretty to observe.
February 24th, 1666-1667 [Sunday] I enquired about the Frenchman that was said to fire the City, and was hanged for it by his own confession, that he was hired for it by a Frenchman of Roane, and that he did with a stick reach in a fire-ball in at a window of the house: whereas the master of the house, who is the King's baker, and his son, and daughter, do all swear there was no such window, and that the fire did not begin there-abouts. Yet the fellow, who, though a mopish besotted fellow, did not speak like a madman, did swear that he did fire it: and did not this like a madman; for being tried on purpose and landed with his keeper at the Town-Wharf, he could carry the keeper to the very house. Asking Sir R. Viner what he thought was the cause of the fire, he tells me, that the baker, son, and his daughter, did all swear again and again, that their oven was drawn [oven cleaned out and ashes removed?] by ten o'clock at night: that having occasion to light a candle about twelve, there was not so much fire in the bakehouse as to light a match for a candle, so that they were fain to go into another place to light it: that about two in the morning they felt themselves almost choked with smoke, and rising did find the fire coming upstairs; so they rose to save themselves; but that at that time the bavins [bundles of brushwood] were not on fire in the yard. So that they are, as they swear, in absolute ignorance how this fire should come; which is a strange thing, that so horrid an effect should have so mean and uncertain a beginning.
February 28th. [Tuesday] I did within these six days see smoke still remaining of the late fire in the City.
March 18th, 1666-1667. [Monday] The weather is now grown warm again after much cold; and it is observable that within these eight days I did see smoke remaining, coming out of some cellars from the late great fire, now above six months since.
March 20th. [Wednesday] It is strange how "Rycaut's Discourse of Turky," which before the fire I was asked but 8s. for, there being all but twenty-two or thereabouts burned, I did now offer 20s., and he demands 50s., and I think I shall give it him, though it be only as a monument of the fire.
April 8th, 1667. [Monday] Away to the Temple, to my new bookseller's; and there I did agree for Rycaut's [This book is in the Pepysian Library.] late History of the Turkish Policy, which cost me 55s.: whereas it was sold plain before the late fire for 8s., and bound and coloured as this is for 20s.; for I have bought it finely bound and truly coloured all the figures, of which there was but six books done so, whereof the King and Duke of York and Duke of Monmouth, and Lord Arlington, had four. The fifth was sold, and I have bought the sixth.
May 5th, 1667. [Sunday] Sir John Robinson tells me he hath now got a street ordered to be continued, forty feet broad, from Paul's through Cannon-street to the Tower, which will be very fine. He and others this day, where I was in the afternoon, do tell me of at least six or eight fires within these few days; and continually stirs of fire, and real fires there have been, in one place or other, almost ever since the late great fire, as if there was a fate sent people for fire.
July 4th, 1667. [Thursday] To the Sessions-house, where I have a mind to hear Bazill Fielding's case tried; and so got up to the Bench, my Lord Chief-Justice Keeling [Sir John Keeling, Knight, King's Serjeant 1661, Chief Justice of the King's Bench 1665.] being Judge. Here I stood bare, not challenging, though I might well enough, to be covered. But here were several fine trials; among others, several brought in for making it their trade to set houses on fire merely to get plunder; and all proved by the two little boys spoken of yesterday by Sir R. Ford, who did give so good account of particulars that I never heard children in my life. One my Lady Montagu's (I know not what Lady Montagu) son, and the other of good condition, were playing in Moore-fields, and one rogue, Gabriel Holmes, did come to them and teach them to drink, and then to bring him plate and clothes from their fathers' houses: and this Gabriel Holmes did advise to have had two houses set on fire, one after another, that while they were quenching of one they might be burning another. The boys did swear against one of them, that he had made it his part to pull out the plug out of the engine while it was a-playing; and it really was so. Well, this fellow Holmes was found guilty of the act of burning the house, and other things that he stood indicted for.
September 2nd, 1667. [Monday] This day is kept in the City as a publick fast for the fire this day twelve months:
December 3rd, 1667. [Tuesday] Sir Richard Ford told us this evening an odd story of the basenesse of the Lord Mayor, Sir W. Bolton, in cheating the poor of the City (out of the collections made for the people that were burned) of £1800; of which he can give no account, and in which he hath forsworn himself plainly, so as the Court of Aldermen have sequestered him from their Court till he do bring in an account. He says also that this day hath been made appear to them that the Keeper of Newgate hath at this day made his house the only nursery of rogues, prostitutes, pickpockets and thieves, in the world; where they were bred and entertained and the whole society met; and that for the sake of the Sheriffes they durst not this day commit him, for fear of making him let out the prisoners but are fain to go by artifice to deal with him. He tells me also, speaking of the new street that is to be made from Guild Hall down to Cheapside, that the ground is already most of it bought. And tells me of one particular, of a man that hath a piece of ground lying in the very middle of the street that must be; which, when the street is cut out of it, there will remain ground enough, of each side, to build a house to front the street. He demanded £700 for the ground, and to be excused paying any thing for the melioration of the rest of his ground that he was to keep. The Court consented to give him £700, only not to abate him the consideration: which the man denied; but told them, and so they agreed, that he would excuse the City the £700, that he might have the benefit of the melioration without paying any thing for it. So much some will get by having the City burned! Ground by this means, that was not worth 4d. a-foot before, will now, when houses are built, be worth 15s. a-foot. But he tells me of the common standard now reckoned on between man and man, in places where there is no alteration of circumstances, but only the houses burnt, there the ground, which with a house on it did yield £100 a year, is now reputed worth £33 6s. 8d.; and that this is the common market-price between one man and another, made upon a good and moderate medium.
January 14th, 1667-1668. [Tuesday] To my bookseller, Martin, and there did receive my book I expected of China, a most excellent book with rare cuts; and there fell into discourse with him about the burning of Paul's when the City was burned, his house being in the church-yard. And he tells me that it took fire first upon the end of a board that among others was laid upon the roof instead of lead, the lead being broke off, and thence down lower and lower: but that the burning of the goods under St. Fayth's arose from the goods taking fire in the church-yard, and so got into St. Fayth's church; and that they first took fire from the Draper's side, by some timber of the houses that were burned falling into the church. He says that one warehouse of books was saved under Paul's; and there were several dogs found burned among the goods in the churchyard, and but one man, which was an old man, that said he would go and save a blanket which he had in the church, and being weak the fire overcame him. He says that most of the booksellers do design to fall a-building again the next year; but that the Bishop of London do use them most basely, worse than any other landlords, and says he will be paid to this day the rent, or else he will not come to treat with them for the time to come; and will not, on that condition either, promise them in any thing how he will use them; and the Parliament sitting, he claims his privilege, and will not be cited before the Lord Chief Justice as others are there, to be forced to a fair dealing.
January 21st. [Tuesday] Comes news from Kate Joyce [his cousin] that, if I would see her husband alive, I must come presently. So I to him, and and his breath rattled in the throate; and they did lay pigeons to his feet [a medical treatment of the time period; see more here], and all despair of him. It seems on Thursday last he went sober and quiet to Islington, and behind one of the inns (the White Lion) did fling himself into a pond: was spied by a poor woman, and got out by some people, and set on his head and got to life: and so his wife and friends sent for. He confessed his doing the thing, being led by the Devil; and do declare his reason to be his trouble in having forgot to serve God as he ought since he came to his new employment: [He kept a tavern.] and I believe that, and the sense of his great loss by the fire, did bring him to it; for he grew sick, and worse and worse to this day. The friends that were there being now in fear that the goods and estate would be seized on, though he lived all this while, because of his endeavouring to drown himself, my cosen did endeavour to remove what she could of plate out of the house, and desired me to take my flagons; which I did, but in great fear all the way of being seized; though there was no reason for it, he not being dead. So with Sir D. Gauden to Guild Hall to advise with the Towne-Clerke about the practice of the City and nation in this case: and he thinks it cannot be found selfe-murder; but if it be, it will fall, all the estate, to the King. So I to my cosen's again; where I no sooner come but find that he was departed. So at their entreaty I presently to White Hall, and there find Sir W. Coventry; and he carried me to the King, the Duke of York being with him, and there told my story which I had told him; and the King, without more ado, granted that, if it was found, the estate should be to the widow and children: which indeed was every great courtesy, for people are looking out for the estate.
May 21st,1668. [Thursday] All the town is full of the talk of a meteor, or some fire, that did on Saturday last fly over the City at night; which do put me in mind that, being then walking in the dark an hour or more myself in the garden after I had done writing, I did see a light before me come from behind me, which made me turn back my head; and I did see a sudden fire or light running in the sky, as it were towards Cheapside-ward, And vanished very quick; which did make me bethink myself what holyday it was, and took it for some rocket, though it was much brighter: and the world do make much discourse of it, their apprehensione being mighty full of the rest of the City to be burned, and the Papists to cut our throats.
[The meteor Pepys refers to wasn't Halley's comet, which didn't make its appearance until 1682. Pepys was interested in astronomy and made notes of interesting celestial events.]
June 19th, 1668. [Friday] Between two and three in the morning we were waked with the maids crying out, "Fire, fire, in Marke-lane!" So I rose and looked out, and it was dreadful; and strange apprehensions in me and us all of being presently burnt. So we all rose; and my care presently was to secure my gold and plate and papers, and could quickly have done it, but I went forth to see where it was; and the whole town was presently in the streets; and I found it in a new-built house that stood alone in Minchin-lane, over against the Cloth-workers'-hall, which burned furiously: the house not yet quite finished; and the benefit of brick was well seen, for it burnt all inward and fell down within itself; so no fear of doing more hurt.