[SCA-Dance] Some dance references in Pepys Diary 1661-1663

sarah scroggie sarah.scroggie at gmail.com
Wed Jan 25 20:14:04 EST 2012

 This does not add to the "period" argument of English Country but is
something I have been meaning to point out to scholarsinterested in English
country dancing for a while.


LONG message
{my comments in brackets}

To be found amound other places at:

Exerps from Samuel Pepys Dirary- on dancing

March 27 1661 {evening}

To the Dolphin to a dinner of Mr. Harris's, where Sir Williams both and my
Lady Batten, and her two daughters, and other company, where a great deal
of mirth, and there staid till 11 o'clock at night; and in our mirth I sang
and sometimes fiddled (there being a noise of fiddlers there), and at last
we fell to dancing, the first time that ever I did in my life, which I did
wonder to see myself to do. At last we made Mingo, Sir W. Batten's black,
and Jack, Sir W. Pen's, dance, and it was strange how the first did dance
with a great deal of seeming skill. Home, where I found my wife all day in
her chamber. So to bed.

Nov 22 1662

 .....This day I bought the book of country dances against my wife's woman
Gosnell comes, who dances finely; and there meeting Mr. Playford he did
give me his Latin songs of Mr. Deering's, which he lately printed. ......


Dec 31, 1662 {new years eve ball}

31st. Mr. Povy and I to White Hall; he taking me thither on purpose to
carry me into the ball this night before the King. He brought me first to
the Duke's chamber, where I saw him and the Duchesse at supper; and thence
into the room where the ball was to be, crammed with fine ladies, the
greatest of the Court. By and by comes the King and Queene, the Duke and
Duchesse, and all the great ones: and after seating themselves, the King
takes out the Duchesse of York; and the Duke, the Duchesse of Buckingham;
the Duke of Monmouth, my Lady Castlemaine; and so other lords other ladies:
and they danced the Brantle.  After that, the King led a lady a single
Coranto; and then the rest of the lords, one after another, other ladies:
very noble it was, and great pleasure to see. Then to country dances; the
King leading the first, which he called for; which was, says he, "Cuckolds
all awry," the old dance of England. Of the ladies that danced, the Duke of
Monmouth's mistress, and my Lady Castlemaine, and a daughter of Sir Harry
de Vicke's, were the best. [Sir Henry de Vic of Guernsey, Bart., had been
twenty years Resident for Charles II. at Brussels, and was Chancellor of
the Order of the Garter. He died 1672, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
His only daughter, Anne Charlotte, married John Lord Fresheville, Baron of
Stavely.] The manner was, when the King dances, all the ladies in the room,
and the Queene herself, stand up: and indeed he dances rarely, and much
better than the Duke of York. Having staid here as long as I thought fit,
to my infinite content, it being the greatest pleasure I could wish now to
see at Court, I went home, leaving them dancing.
April 19 (Easter)1663

 .......  after supper fell in discourse of dancing, and I find that
Ashwell hath a very fine carriage, which makes my wife almost ashamed of
herself to see herself so outdone, but to-morrow she begins to learn to
dance for a month or two.....

May 4 1663

4th. Up betimes and to setting my Brampton papers in order and looking over
my wardrobe against summer, and laying things in order to send to my
brother to alter. By and by took boat intending to have gone down to
Woolwich, but seeing I could not get back time enough to dinner, I returned
and home. Whither by and by the dancing-master' came, whom standing by,
seeing him instructing my wife, when he had done with her, he would needs
have me try the steps of a coranto, and what with his desire and my wife's
importunity, I did begin, and then was obliged to give him entry-money
10s., and am become his scholler. The truth is, I think it a thing very
useful for a gentleman, and sometimes I may have occasion of using it, and
though it cost me what I am heartily sorry it should, besides that I must
by my oath give half as much more to the poor, yet I am resolved to get it
up some other way, and then it will not be above a month or two in a year.
So though it be against my stomach yet I will try it a little while; if I
see it comes to any great inconvenience or charge I will fling it off.
After I had begun with the steps of half a coranto, which I think I shall
learn well enough, he went away, and we to dinner,

Read all of May1663 - 44 references to dance
{how hiring a dancing master for your wife is a bad idea!]

Auggust 14 1666  [a fun evening!]

14th. . After dinner with my wife and Mercer to the Beare-garden; where I
have not been, I think, of many years, and saw some good sport of the
bull's tossing of the dogs: one into the very boxes. But it is a very rude
and nasty pleasure. We had a great many hectors in the same box with us,
(and one very fine went into the pit, and played his dog for a wager, which
was a strange sport for a gentleman,) where they drank wine, and drank
Mercer's health first; which I pledged with my hat off. We supped at home,
and very merry. And then about nine o'clock to Mrs. Mercer's gate, where
the fire and boys expected us, and her son had provided abundance of
serpents and rockets; and there mighty merry (my Lady Pen and Pegg going
thither with us, and Nan Wright,) till about twelve at night, flinging our
fireworks, and burning one another and the people over the way. And at last
our businesses being most spent, we into Mrs. Mercer's, and there mighty
merry, smutting one another with candle grease and soot, till most of us
were like devils. And that being done, then we broke up, and to my house;
and there I made them drink, and upstairs we went, and then fell into
dancing, (W. Batelier dancing well,) and dressing him and I and one Mr.
Banister (who with my wife come over also with us) like women; and Mercer
put on a suit of Tom's, like a boy, and mighty mirth we had, and Mercer
danced a jigg; and Nan Wright and my wife and Pegg Pen put on perriwigs.
Thus we spent till three or four in the morning, mighty merry; and then
parted, and to bed.

Sarah Scroggie,
Mother and Theatre technician/ set designer

Cell: (519) 217 7274
Home: (519) 940-0047

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