The diary of John Evelyn

Regular posts from the diary of John Evelyn

Year: 1637

Monday 25 December 1637

The Christmas ensuing, being at a Comedy which the gentlemen of Exeter College presented to the University, and standing, for the better advantage of seeing, upon a table in the Hall, which was near to another, in the dark, being constrained by the extraordinary press to quit my station, in leaping down to save myself I dashed my right leg with such violence against the sharp edge of the other board, as gave me a hurt which held me in cure till almost Easter, and confined me to my study.

Referring entries

Thursday 10 December 1637

The 10th of December my father sent a servant to bring us necessaries, and the plague beginning now to cease, on the 3d of April, 1637, I left school, where, till about the last year, I have been extremely remiss in my studies; so as I went to the University rather out of shame of abiding longer at school, than for any fitness, as by sad experience I found: which put me to re-learn all that I had neglected, or but perfunctorily gained.

Saturday 9 December 1637

Offered at my first exercise in the Hall, and answered my opponent; and, upon the 11th following, declaimed1 in the chapel before the Master, Fellows, and Scholars, according to the custom. The 15th after, I first of all opposed in the Hall.


  1. To deliver a formal recitation, especially as an exercise in rhetoric or elocution. Free dictionary definition 

Sunday 5th November 1637

Received again the Holy Communion in our college chapel, one Prouse, a Fellow (but a mad one), preaching.

Tuesday 18 July 1637

I accompanied my eldest brother, who then quitted Oxford, into the country; and, on the 9th of August, went to visit my friends at Lewes, whence I returned the 12th to Wotton. On the 17th of September, I received the blessed Sacrament at Wotton church, and 23d of October went back to Oxford.

Sunday 2 July 1637

Upon the 2d of July, being the first Sunday of the month, I first received the blessed Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in the college chapel, one Mr. Cooper, a Fellow of the house, preaching; and at this time was the Church of England in her greatest splendor, all things decent, and becoming the Peace, and the persons that governed. The most of the following week I spent in visiting the Colleges, and several rarities of the University, which do very much affect young comers.

10 May 1637

I was admitted a Fellow-commoner of Baliol College, Oxford; and, on the 29th, I was matriculated in the vestry of St. Mary’s, where I subscribed the Articles, and took the oaths: Dr. Baily, head of St. John’s, being vice-chancellor, afterward bishop. It appears by a letter of my father’s, that he was upon treaty with one Mr. Bathurst (afterward Doctor and President), of Trinity College, who should have been my tutor; but, lest my brother’s tutor, Dr. Hobbs, more zealous in his life than industrious to his pupils, should receive it as an affront, and especially for that Fellow-commoners in Baliol were no more exempt from exercise than the meanest scholars there, my father sent me thither to one Mr. George Bradshaw (nomen invisum!1  yet the son of an excellent father, beneficed in Surrey).

I ever thought my tutor had parts enough; but as his ambition made him much suspected of the College, so his grudge to Dr. Lawrence, the governor of it (whom he afterward supplanted), took up so much of his time, that he seldom or never had the opportunity to discharge his duty to his scholars.

This I perceiving, associated myself with one Mr. James Thicknesse (then a young man of the foundation, afterward a Fellow of the house), by whose learned and friendly conversation I received great advantage. At my first arrival, Dr. Parkhurst was master: and after his decease, Dr. Lawrence, a chaplain of his Majesty’s and Margaret Professor, succeeded, an acute and learned person; nor do I much reproach his severity, considering that the extraordinary remissness of discipline had (till his coming) much detracted from the reputation of that College.

There came in my time to the College one Nathaniel Conopios, out of Greece, from Cyrill, the patriarch of Constantinople, who, returning many years after, was made (as I understand) Bishop of Smyrna. He was the first I ever saw drink coffee; which custom came not into England till thirty years after.

After I was somewhat settled there in my formalities (for then was the University exceedingly regular, under the exact discipline of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, then Chancellor), I added, as benefactor to the library of the College, these books—”ex dono Johannis Evelyni, hujus Coll. Socio-Commensalis, filii Richardi Evelyni, è com. Surriæ, armigr.”—

“Zanchii Opera,” vols. 1, 2, 3.

“Granado in Thomam Aquinatem,” vols. 1, 2, 3.

“Novarini Electa Sacra” and “Cresolii Anthologia Sacra”; authors, it seems, much desired by the students of divinity there.


  1. Latin: “Hate the name!” -GS 

Friday 13 February 1637

I was especially admitted (and, as I remember, my other brother) into the Middle Temple, London, though absent, and as yet at school. There were now large contributions to the distressed Palatinates.