The diary of John Evelyn

Regular posts from the diary of John Evelyn

Year: 1640

Sunday 30 December 1640

I saw his Majesty (coming from his Northern Expedition) ride in pomp and a kind of ovation, with all the marks of a happy peace, restored to the affections of his people, being conducted through London with a most splendid cavalcade; and on the 3d of November following (a day never to be mentioned without a curse), to that long ungrateful, foolish, and fatal Parliament, the beginning of all our sorrows for twenty years after, and the period of the most happy monarch in the world: Quis talia fando!1

But my father being by this time entered into a dropsy, an indisposition the most unsuspected, being a person so exemplarily temperate, and of admirable regimen, hastened me back to Wotton, December the 12th; where, the 24th following, between twelve and one o’clock at noon, departed this life that excellent man and indulgent parent, retaining his senses and piety to the last, which he most tenderly expressed in blessing us, whom he now left to the world and the worst of times, while he was taken from the evil to come.


  1. GS: Probably from Virgil: “quis talia fando temperet a lacrymis?” – who, in speaking such things, can abstain from tears? 

Monday 15 October 1640

I went to the Temple, it being Michaelmas Term.

Saturday 7 July 1640

My brother George and I, understanding the peril my father was in upon a sudden attack of his infirmity, rode post from Guildford toward him, and found him extraordinary weak; yet so as that, continuing his course, he held out till the 8th of September, when I returned home with him in his litter.

Tuesday 10 June 1640

I repaired with my brother to the term, to go into our new lodgings (that were formerly in Essex-court), being a very handsome apartment just over against the Hall-court, but four pair of stairs high, which gave us the advantage of the fairer prospect; but did not much contribute to the love of that impolished study, to which (I suppose) my father had designed me, when he paid £145 to purchase our present lives, and assignments afterward.

London, and especially the Court, were at this period in frequent disorders, and great insolences were committed by the abused and too happy City: in particular, the Bishop of Canterbury’s Palace at Lambeth was assaulted by a rude rabble1 from Southwark, my Lord Chamberlain imprisoned and many scandalous libels and invectives scattered about the streets, to the reproach of Government, and the fermentation of our since distractions: so that, upon the 25th of June, I was sent for to Wotton, and the 27th after, my father’s indisposition augmenting, by advice of the physicians he repaired to the Bath.


  1. “At Lambeth mye house was beset at midnight, Maij ii, with 500 people that came thither with a drumme beatinge before them. I had some little notice of it about 2 howres before, and went to Whit-Hall, leavinge mye house as well ordred as I could with such armes and men as I could gett readye. And I thanke God, bye his goodnes, kept all safe. Some wear taken and to be tryed for their lives.”  Archbishop Laud to Lord Conway, May 25, 1640. (Gentleman’s Magazine, April, 1850, p. 349.) One man was executed, 23rd May.  – Footnote by Austin Dobson 

Tuesday May 5 1640

Upon May the 5th following, was the Parliament unhappily dissolved; and, on the 20th I returned with my brother George to Wotton, who, on the 28th of the same month, was married at Albury to Mrs. Caldwell (an heiress of an ancient Leicestershire family, where part of the nuptials were celebrated)

“Albury (State 2)”- by Wenceslaus Hollar (circa 1645)

Saturday 11 April 1640

I went to London to see the solemnity of his Majesty’s riding through the city in state to the Short Parliament, which began the 13th following,—a very glorious and magnificent sight, the King circled with his royal diadem and the affections of his people1 : but the day after I returned to Wotton again, where I stayed, my father’s indisposition suffering great intervals, till April 27th, when I was sent to London to be first resident at the Middle Temple: so as my being at the University, in regard of these avocations, was of very small benefit to me.


  1. This is instance of “syllepsis” is rather rare in Evelyn. – AD.  This literary term also know as Zeugma (from the Greek “yoking” or “bonding”): Artfully using a single verb to refer to two different objects in an ungrammatical but striking way.  – GS  

Tuesday 21 January 1640

Came my brother, Richard, from school, to be my chamber-fellow at the University. He was admitted the next day and matriculated the 31st.