You may find footnotes like these useful or distracting. If it’s the latter, feel free to skip right over them, but they’re here if you find them helpful. I’ll only include these for your early readings, as you’re getting the hang of figuring out what you should be circling to learn more about in your reading.

1. The Great Fire of London, which would destroy four-fifths of central London, had begun about an hour earlier. “The City” referred to a part of central London, not the whole city of London.

2. The main road to London Bridge from the north

3. Robinson was the former Lord Mayor of London and the lieutenant of the Tower at the time of the fire. Elsewhere, Pepys called him a “talking, bragging


4. The Mitchells were friends of Pepys’s who lived near London Bridge. Sarah had been one of the family’s maids. Like anyone, Pepys is worrying about the people he knows who may be affected by the fire.

5. A well-known tavern in Thames Street, near the bakery where the fire started.

1. Charles II, who had been restored to the throne in 1660

2. Sir Thomas was widely criticized afterwards for not acting early enough to prevent the fire’s spread.

3. This was a palace in central London; it was the main residence of English monarchs from 1530 until 1698. Whitehall would survive the Great Fire of London only to be destroyed by fire a few decades later in 1698.

4. St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was totally destroyed by the fire

5. Pepys lived on Seething Lane, west of the Tower.

1. Sir Richard Brown was another former lord mayor of London. (Queenhith was a harbor on Thames Street.)

1. Barbary was a nickname for the actress Elizabeth Knepp, one of Pepys’s (many) mistresses. He called her that because he said she had enchanted him singing Barbary Allen.

2. Tallies were receipts notched onto sticks.

3. William Hewer was Pepys’s chief clerk. Pepys had to borrow his quilt because he’d packed or sent away all of his own possessions to protect them from the fire.

4. Rumor spread that the French had set the fires and were preparing to invade the city.

5. William Shelden was a Woolwich official—he’d been kind enough to host Mrs. Pepys the year before during the plague outbreak and was willing to let Pepys use his home now to store his stuff.

1. The Royal Exchange was a center for trading and shopping; Sir Thomas Gresham had founded it in 1568. It was rebuilt in 1669.

2. Some of the last open fields in London

3. By the next day, the fire was under control, and Pepys’s home escaped unscathed.

4. St. Olave’s was one of the few medieval London churches that survived the fire.

1. This description just means she had dark hair.

2. Pepys means his servant—he and his wife did not have children.

3. Now’s the part where Pepys starts to seem like a jerk: Deb is Deborah Willet, his wife’s maid.

4. He’s a little more graphic than this, but just trust me when I say his wife has plenty of reason to be more than a little angry about what she sees.

5. This was a whole thing with the Pepyses: Mrs. Pepys would get angry at her husband (usually because of some affair he was having) and threaten to convert to Catholicism. (She never actually did.)

6. This was a naval base in North Africa, acquired by England as part of the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza’s dowry when she married King Charles II. The Moroccan unification threatened the British base, and Pepys oversaw blowing up the defenses and evacuating the base in 1684.

7. Pepys had written a letter for the Duke of York (who would become James II) defending him against charges of mismanagement in his command of as high admiral of the navy.

1. These two were notorious womanizers, gamblers, spendthrifts, and general rakes about town.

2. Sir George Carteret was the former treasurer of the navy. He was later censured for having kept poor accounts.

1. A pantograph. This was a groovy little machine that let you copy something twice by using a system of joints and rods to move a second pen in tandem with the first.

2. Pepys had fired Deb on November 12 after many, many scenes with his wife.

3. This was the name of the person Mrs. Pepys told her husband Deb was staying with.

4. The largest public square in London. It was designed by Inigo Jones in the 17th century and may have been a model for New York City’s Central Park.

5. Pepys is using a weird French-English hybrid here—basically, he’s saying he kissed her. He starts mixing up languages when he talks about his liaisons to make it harder for someone to read his journal.