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Historical Facts: 17th Century

On September 25, 1660, Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary the first mention in English of anyone drinking a cup of tea. Posted 9/15/2011

Wigs were taken off as a matter of course before fisticuffs: hence the expression, “keep your hair on.” Posted 10/15/2012

In 1667, Paris became the first city in the world to light its streets, using wax candles in glass lamps. It was followed by Lille in the same year and Amsterdam two years later, where a much more efficient oil-powered lamp was developed.  London didn't join their ranks until 1684, but by the end of the century, more than 50 of Europe's major towns and cities were lit at night. Posted 12/15/2013

In July 1643, Charles I issued a proclamation concerning licentiousness.  “Let no woman presume to counterfeit her sex by wearing man’s apparel under pain of the severest punishment which law and our displeasure shall inflict.”  It was not effective. Posted 7/15/2015

Approximately 35 million Americans share DNA with at least one person who was on the Mayflower. That's over 10% of the population, or almost the entire population of California. Posted 11/15/2017

Women were first permitted to perform on the English stage in the early 1660s, after the Restoration of King Charles II.  By the end of the seventeenth century, women players were much in demand, both on the stage and as subjects of painted portraits and prints. These helped to enhance the fame of early actresses such as Nell Gwyn and Moll Davis. Posted 10/15/2018

Funeral Invitation, 1688. Funeral invitations first appeared in the 17th century, and acted as an admission ticket to both the church and the funeral feast. Pallbearers were often assigned a number on the ticket to signify their position in carrying the coffin. Posted 10/2021

Plum pudding was banned in England by Oliver Cromwell in 1647, along with the rest of Christmas, as being wicked & sinful. He thought that plum pudding, when it was flamed, harked back to old Winter Solstice pagan rites. It wasn’t revived until 1614. Posted 12/2/2023

When Charles I married Henrietta Maria on June 13, 1629, he became the first British monarch to slam the door in his courtiers’ faces so he and his bride could retire to the bridal bed unwitnessed.  This was considered very scandalous. Posted 6/1/2024

In London in 1652, the first coffeehouse opened in a shed in St. Michael Cornhill courtyard. Posted 1/15/2012

During the reign of James II of England, wigs became so large that it gave rise to the term “bigwig” for a wealthy or important person. Posted 11/15/2013

By the 17th century, ribbons on a wedding dress were no longer called “favors” but “true love knots.”  This is where we get the term tying the knot. Posted 6/15/2015

As the Netherlands' largest trading company in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was also the world's first company to issue stock. Posted 10/15/2015


In the 17th century, wealthy people had different wigs for different activities, such as a periwig for riding and a full-bottom wig for entertaining important people.  Of course, one always wore his best wig to church. Posted 4/01/2017

The first English book written solely about dentistry was published in 1685 and was called The Operator for the Teeth, by Charles Allen. Posted 1/15/2018

In 1635 The Boston Public Latin School, the first public school in what is now the United States, was founded. Posted 9/01/2019


In 1626, after the Dutch bought the island of Manhattan from the Lenape Indians, they built a wall to keep the natives out.  Wall St. is named after this wall. Posted 10/15/2020

In the late 17th Century, muffs were a favorite accessory carried by both men and women of the upper classes. The men would attach theirs to a belt worn around their waists. Posted 12/2021 


During the Commonwealth in England 1649-1660, church weddings were abolished, making only civil marriages legal.  This was because the Puritans thought the actual wedding service was idolatrous and regarded marriage as a sanctified contract. Posted 6/01/2022

Richard Lower (1631-1691) was an English physician who heavily influenced the development of medical science. In 1665, using dogs, he recorded the first successful blood transfusion. He is most remembered for his works on transfusion and the function of the cardiopulmonary system. Posted 1/1/2024

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