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Diary of Jefferay (Jeffrey) Boys of Betteshanger, Kent, and Grey's Inn, London, kept in Gallen 1667, A New Almanack

 Single Item
MS. Don. e. 251
Held at the Weston Library

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Brief diary with one page for each month. Boys records his social life, with many references to dining and dancing in post-Fire London. Most of the people named in the diary are members of Grey's Inn or Boys's Kentish relatives, including step brothers and sisters. At the end of the volume (reversed) are 10 pages of instructions for dances, with and dance steps for each part. The dances are 'A Health to Betty', 'Punks Delight', 'Margery Cree', 'Irish Trott', 'Have att thy Coat old woman', 'Amarillis', 'Black Jacke', 'What you please', 'Devells Dreame', 'Buffe Coat', 'New Figarys', 'The Frier & The Nun', 'Richmond or the Gunfleet', 'New Exchange', 'Cavililly Man', 'Jack a Dandy' ('for 8'), 'Hunsdon House' ('square dance'), 'Dull Sir John' ('square dance').

Some notable entries in the diary include:

  1. five references to Aphra Behn under her pseudonym 'Astrea': danced with her at Spring Garden, 27 May, 5 Aug; met her in 'the Walkes' and went with her to The Sun, 10 Aug ; danced with her at the Bacchus, 3 Dec; with her 'at the Treat' at Temple Hall, 25 Dec
  2. dances with Lord Bellomont's daughters, Persiana and Frances Bard (c1646-1708) who was at one time the mistress of Prince Rupert, at 'La Frouns', 31 Oct
  3. attended plays: The Indian Queen [Dryden] 'it not having been acted a long time', and its sequel, the Indian Emperour, 14-15 Jan, 'the whole Court almost except their majesties being there both dayes'; 'my Lady Dutchesse of Newcastles play' [The Humourous Lovers], 26 Mar, and again 6 May, 'where the whole Court of men were acted as she writ it exactly'; 'a new play called the Troubles of Q Elizab. or the battle of 88' [Heywood], 17 May; 'a new play Sir Martin Marrall' [Dryden], 17 Aug
  4. several references to Sir Richard Sandys of Northbourne Court (d 1669), Sir Thomas Colepeper of Hollingbourne (c 1625-1697)
  5. 'Dr Taylor, Dr St George, cos. Sleigh, Mr Whitlock and I began to set up an Anatomy club' 13 Feb. On 14 Aug he sees 'a dog well anatomized'.
  6. present at a 'Ride of Skimington' in Greenwich,10 May (Pepys describes the same event on the same day and place in his diary)


  • Creation: 9 Jan - 25 Dec 1667


1.0 volume

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Don. e. 251, fols. 1-2].

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MS. Don. e. 251

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 12281


Diary of Jefferay Boys of Betteshanger, Kent, and Grey's Inn, London.

Biographical / Historical

Jefferay (Jeffrey) Boys (1643-1703) was a lawyer of Gray’s Inn, one of the sons of John Boys (d.1678), possessor of the manor of Betteshanger in Kent. He is identical with the author of another diary, dated 1671, also in a Gallen almanac, the contents of which were published by G.J Gray as 'The Diary of Jeffrey Boys of Gray’s Inn, 1671', in Notes & Queries, 159, no.26, (1930), pp.452-456. The original manuscript of that diary cannot now be traced, but the editor identified Boys as a close acquaintance of Aphra Behn, referred to only as 'Astrea', who gave him a copy of her play 'The Amorous Prince'.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Samuel Gedge Ltd., Catalogue XXIII, Nov. 2016

Diary of Jefferay (Jeffrey) Boys of Betteshanger, Kent, and Grey's inn, London
Finding aid prepared by Mike Webb
Language of description
Script of description
Purchased with the generous support of the Friends of the Bodleian.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom