The Pepys’ Book of Records

Samuel Pepys’ firsts, bests, longest and tastiest, as told to his diary.

The best-writ tale that ever I read in my life: The fruitles precaution (a book formerly recommended by Dr. Clerke at sea to me) [15 October 1660]

The Kings picture most pleasant and the most like him that ever I saw in my life: one shown me by My Lord [15 November 1660]

The finest playhouse, I believe, that ever was in England: the new Playhouse near Lincolnes Inn fields (formerly Gibbons’s tennis-court) [20 November 1660]

The first time that ever I saw Women come upon the stage: 3 January 1661, in Beggars bush (it being very well done) [3 January 1661]

The best-humourd woman that ever I saw: Mrs. R. Allen (who also dances very well) [10 April 1661]

The greatest and most desperate frolic that ever I saw in my life: Capt. Ferrers’s leap down into the garden. (I run to see what was become of him, and we find him crawled upon his knees—but could not rise.) [19 May 1661]

He with the best manner of singing in the world: Capt. Cook [27 July 1661]

The night with the most epicurisme of sleep, of all the nights that ever I slept in my life: the night of 23 September 1661 (and so my wife says it was with her) [23 September 1661]

The greatest draught that ever I did see a woman drink in my life: at least a pint and a half, drunk by Mrs. Shippman for a health to Sir Wm. and my Lady [3 February 1662]

The most that ever I won in my life: 9s.-6d. clear at Gleeke (I pray God it may not tempt me to play again.) [17 February 1662]

The play of itself the worst that ever I heard in my life: Romeo and Julett [1 March 1662]

The prettiest and best behaved children that ever I saw: Sir Th. Crewes children (I took them to the Tower and showed them the lions and all that was to be shown, and so took them to my house and there made much of them.) [3 May 1662]

The finest smocks and linen petticoats that ever I saw: lady Castlemaynes (laced with rich lace at the bottomes) [21 May 1662]

The most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life: Midsummers nights dreame (which I have never seen before, nor shall ever again) [29 September 1662]

The richest suit, for pearl and tissue, that ever I did see, or shall, I believe: one worn by the son of an Embassador [29 December 1662]

The play best for the variety and the most excellent continuance of the plot to the very end, that ever I saw or think ever shall: The Adventures of five houres [8 January 1663]

The most flat, dead sermon, both for matter and manner of delivery, that ever I heard: preached by Dr. Duport of Cambrige upon Josiahs words, “But I and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (And very much beyond his hour, which made it worse.) [8 February 1663]

The oddest present that was ever made to any man: a side of porke, sent by Capt. Grove [1 May 1663]

The greatest Quantity of Strawberrys I ever saw, and good: at Sir W. Riders dinner [26 June 1663]

The best dish of creame I ever eat in my life: supper on 25 July 1663 (with which we pleased ourselfs much) [25 July 1663]

Fully the best Musique that I ever yet heard in all my life: some Italian songs sung by Capt. Cooke and his two boys [21 December 1663]

The best almost that ever I heard bird in my life: a bird from the East Indys—black the greatest part, with a fine collar of white about the neck (It talks of many things, and neyes like a horse and other things.) [25 April 1664]

The greatest shower of rain of a sudden and the greatest and most continued Thunder that ever I heard I think in my life: the afternoon of 19 June, 1664 [19 June 1664]

The best complexion that ever I saw on any woman, young or old, or child either, all days of my life: Mrs. Pierce [6 July 1664]

The first velvet cloak that ever I had in my life: bought on the morning of 29 November (I pray God it may not be too soon now that I begin to wear it.) [29 November 1664]

The most pleasant boy that ever I saw: my own boy (while his ignorant tricks last) [9 September 1664]

The best lower part of face that ever I saw all days of my life: the fair Butler’s [2 October 1664]

The worst play I ever saw or heard in all my days: The Generall [4 October 1664]

One of the prettiest women I ever saw: a pretty lady from the church, who went to a house near Tower Hill [9 October 1664]

The best play I think I ever saw: Vulpone [14 January 1665]

The best place for bread in the world: France [1 March 1665]

The best sutt that ever I wore in my life: my new silk Camelott Sute (it costing me above 24l) [1 June 1665]

The hottest day that ever I felt in my life: 7 June, 1665 (And it is confessed so by all other people the hottest they ever knew in England in the beginning of June.) [7 June 1665. This was the day Pepys first became aware of the Plague.]

The most awkerd man I ever I met withall my life as to love-matters: Mr. Carteret [15 July 1665]

A most noble and pretty house that ever for the bigness I saw: Lord Crew and Lady Wright’s [15 July 1665]

The most skittish, leaping gallant that ever I saw, alway in action, vaulting or leaping or clambering: The Duke of Monmouth [26 July 1665]

The first time I did ever or did see anybody else kiss the Duchesse’s hand: 27 July 1665 (a most fine white and fat hand) [27 July 1665]

The best dream that ever was dreamed: I had my Lady Castlemayne in my armes and was admitted to use all the dalliance I desired with her [15 August 1665]

The greatest Epicure that is: Capt. Cocke (Who eats and drinks with the greatest pleasure and Liberty that ever man did.) [17 August 1665]

The meanest dinner, and all in the meanest manner that ever I did see—to the basest degree: served by Sir W. Hickes (Shoulder and umbles of venison which he takes away from the keeper of the Forest—and a few pigeons.) [13 September 1665]

One of the most silly, harmless, prating old men that ever I heard in my life: Mr. Waight’s father-in-law [26 September 1665]

The best poem that ever was wrote: The Seige of Rhodes (the more I read it the more I think so) [1 October 1665]

The best dancing a Jigg I ever did see: Mercer—having the most natural way of it and keeping time the most perfectly I ever did see [11 October 1665]

The best company for Musique I ever was in in my life: Mercer, Mrs. Pierce, Capt. Rolt, Mrs. Knipp, Mr. Coleman and his wife, Laneare, Mrs. Worship and her singing daughter [6 December 1665]

The noblest singing that ever I heard in my life: that of Mrs. Knipp [6 December 1665]

The greatest disappointment that ever I saw in my life: the Boremans—a good supper provided, and all come with expectation of excess of mirth; but all blank through the waywardnesse of Mrs. Knipp, who, though she had appointed the night, could not be got to come. [15 January 1666]

As cunning a man in all points as ever I met with in my life: Sir W. Warren [25 January 1666]

The most Romantique castle that is in the world: the King’s house [26 February 1666]

The pleasantest company in the world: Mrs. Knipp [28 February 1666]

The simplest-looked fellow and old that ever I saw: husband of the mistress of a house I have heard much of [8 March 1666]

The greatest hazard that ever any ship scaped: the Henery—that being fallen into the body of the Duch fleet, he made his way through them, was set on by three fireships, one after another—got two of them off and disabled the third—was set on fire himself, upon which many of his men leaped into the sea and perished; among others, the Parson first—hath lost above 100 men and good many wounded (God knows what is become of Balty); and at last quenched his own fire and got to Albrough. [3 June 1666]

The finest breasts that ever I saw in my life: Mercer’s [19 June 1666]

One of the comeliest and most becoming Prelates in all respects that ever I saw in my life: Dr. Fuller, Bishop of Limbricke in Ireland [18 July 1666]

The best family in the world for goodness and sobriety: My Lord Crews, Sir Tho. Crew, Mr. John, and Dr. Crew–and two strangers. [5 November 1666]

The finest thing I ever saw in my life I think: My Lady Castlemaynes picture, done by Faythorne from Lillys, in red chalke and other colours, by which he hath cut it in copper to be printed. (I did desire to buy it; but he says he must keep it awhile to correct his Copper plate by, and when that is done, he will sell it me.) [7 November 1666]

The finest set of gentlemen that ever I met withal in my life: at the Popeshead, where all the Houblons were, and Dr. Croone. [14 November 1666]

The beautifullest creature that ever I saw in my life: Mrs. Steward (I begin to think doth exceed my Lady Castlemayne, at least now.) [25 November 1666]

The best sermon, for goodness—oratory—without affectation or study—that ever I heard in my life: Mr. Frampton’s sermon of 20 January 1667. (He preaches the most like an Apostle that ever I heard man.) [20 January 1667]

The best time that ever I spent in my life at church: 20 January 1667. [20 January 1667]

The strangest in itself and the prettiest song sung by Harris that ever I heard: his Irish song. [24 January 1667]

The most ridiculous book, as Berchensha hath translated it, that ever I saw in my life: Berchensha’s translation of Alsted his Templum. (I understood not three lines together, from one end of the book to the other.) [4 March 1667]

The coldest day the King ever knew in England: 6 March 1667. [6 March 1667]

The best Ling and herring pie that ever I had: Sir W. Batten’s. [20 March 1667]

The most ridiculous thing that ever was wrote: the Duchesse of Newcastle’s play, The Humourous Lovers. [11 April 1667]

One of the best pieces of music to my thinking that ever I did hear in my life: Scio Moro [21 April 1667]