Public life A short letter from Samuel Pepys to John Evelyn at the latter’s home in Deptford, written by Pepys on 16 October 1665 and referring to “prisoners” and
“sick men” during the Second Dutch War On the Navy Board, Pepys proved to be a more able and efficient worker than colleagues in higher positions.
In the end, Pepys lived another 34 years without going blind, but he never took to writing his diary again.
In 1699, after the successful conclusion of a seven-year campaign to get the master of the Mathematical School replaced by a man who knew more about the sea, he was rewarded
for his service as a Governor by being made a Freeman of the City of London.
He was on the ship that returned Charles II to England to take up his throne, and gave first-hand accounts of other significant events from the early years of the Restoration,
such as the coronation of Charles II, the Great Plague, the Great Fire of London and the Anglo–Dutch Wars.
For example, in his entry for New Year’s Eve, 1661, he writes: “I have newly taken a solemn oath about abstaining from plays and wine…” The following months reveal his lapses
to the reader; by 17 February, it is recorded, “Here I drank wine upon necessity, being ill for the want of it.”
When James fled the country at the end of 1688, Pepys’s career also came to an end.
 The Dutch raid was a major concern in itself, but Pepys was personally placed under a different kind of pressure: the Navy Board and his role as Clerk of the Acts came
under scrutiny from the public and from Parliament.
Pepys was one of the most important civil servants of his age, and was also a widely cultivated man, taking an interest in books, music, the theatre and science.
It provides a combination of personal revelation and eyewitness accounts of great events, such as the Great Plague of London, the Second Dutch War, and the Great Fire of London.
 Pepys learned arithmetic from a private tutor and used models of ships to make up for his lack of first-hand nautical experience, and ultimately came to play a significant
role in the board’s activities.
Having staid, and in an hour’s time seen the fire: rage every way, and nobody, to my sight, endeavouring to quench it, but to remove their goods, and leave all to the fire,
and having seen it get as far as the Steele-yard, and the wind mighty high and driving it into the City; and every thing, after so long a drought, proving combustible, even the very stones of churches, and among other things the poor steeple
by which pretty Mrs.———— lives, and whereof my old school-fellow Elborough is parson, taken fire in the very top, and there burned till it fell down… — Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday, 2 September 1666.
 In his annual summary on 31 December, he wrote, “I have never lived so merrily (besides that I never got so much) as I have done this plague time”.
His opening paragraphs, written in January 1660, begin: Blessed be God, at the end of the last year I was in very good health, without any sense of my old pain but upon taking
 Great Fire of London Further information: Great Fire of London Map of London after the Great Fire in 1666, showing Pepys’s home In the early hours of 2 September
1666, Pepys was awakened by Jane the maid, his servant, who had spotted a fire in the Billingsgate area.
In September 1660, he was made a Justice of the Peace; on 15 February 1662, Pepys was admitted as a Younger Brother of Trinity House; and on 30 April, he received the freedom
 The detailed private diary that Pepys kept from 1660 until 1669 was first published in the 19th century and is one of the most important primary sources for the English
[a] Pepys’s stone was successfully removed[b] and he resolved to hold a celebration on every anniversary of the operation, which he did for several years.
The entries from the first few months were filled with news of General George Monck’s march on London.
In 1675 he was appointed a Governor of Christ’s Hospital and for many years he took a close interest in its affairs.
In April and May of that year, he was encountering problems with his wife, and he accompanied Montagu’s fleet to the Netherlands to bring Charles II back from exile.
He moved out of London ten years later (1701) to a house in Clapham owned by his friend William Hewer, who had begun his career working for Pepys in the admiralty.
My wife, after the absence of her terms for seven weeks,[e] gave me hopes of her being with child, but on the last day of the year she hath them again.
According to his entry of 2 September 1666, Pepys recommended to the king that homes be pulled down in the path of the fire in order to stem its progress.
The ruins of the old St Paul’s Cathedral, by Thomas Wyck, as it looked roughly seven years after the fire A cart arrived at 4 a.m. on 3 September and Pepys spent much of the
day arranging the removal of his possessions.
Major events Pepys’s diary provides a first-hand account of the Restoration, and includes detailed accounts of several major events of the 1660s, along with the lesser
known diary of John Evelyn.
 He described the chaos in the city and his curious attempt at saving his own goods: Sir W. Pen and I to Tower-streete, and there met the fire burning three or four doors
beyond Mr. Howell’s, whose goods, poor man, his trayes, and dishes, shovells, &c., were flung all along Tower-street in the kennels, and people working therewith from one end to the other; the fire coming on in that narrow streete, on both
sides, with infinite fury.
 It was not until June 1665 that the unusual seriousness of the plague became apparent, so Pepys’s activities in the first five months of 1665 were not significantly affected
In particular, it is an invaluable source for the study of the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1665–7, the Great Plague of 1665, and the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Poor Michell’s house, as far as the Old Swan, already burned that way, and the fire running further, that in a very little time it got as far as the Steeleyard, while I was
This record of a decade of Pepys’s life is more than a million words long and is often regarded as Britain’s most celebrated diary.
After six months’ service, he travelled back through Spain accompanied by the naval engineer Edmund Dummer, returning to England after a particularly rough passage on 30 March
I was at a wonderful loss upon it and the girl also….” Following this event, he was characteristically filled with remorse, but (equally characteristically) continued to
pursue Willet after she had been dismissed from the Pepys household.
He did intend future generations to see the diary, as evidenced by its inclusion in his library and its catalogue before his death along with the shorthand guide he used and
the elaborate planning by which he ensured his library survived intact after his death.
In early 1665, the start of the Second Anglo-Dutch War placed great pressure on Pepys.
He wrote at length about his new watch which he was very proud of (and which had an alarm, a new accessory at the time), a country visitor who did not enjoy his time in London
because he felt that it was too crowded, and his cat waking him up at one in the morning.
The position brought a further £300 a year.
He often laments how he “lost his labour” having gone to some appointment at a coffee house or tavern, only to discover that the person whom he was seeking was not there.
He wrote it out in fair copy from rough notes, and he also had the loose pages bound into six volumes, catalogued them in his library with all his other books, and is likely
to have suspected that eventually someone would find them interesting.
 Pepys wrote about the Second Anglo-Dutch War: “In all things, in wisdom, courage, force and success, the Dutch have the best of us and do end the war with victory on their
After his release, he retired from public life at age 57.
 In 1650, he went to the University of Cambridge, having received two exhibitions from St Paul’s School (perhaps owing to the influence of George Downing, who was chairman
of the judges and for whom he later worked at the Exchequer) and a grant from the Mercers’ Company.
 Pepys made a long speech at the bar of the Commons on 5 March 1668 defending this practice.
He decided that the fire was not particularly serious and returned to bed.
[f] He reluctantly concluded in his last entry, dated 31 May 1669, that he should completely stop writing for the sake of his eyes, and only dictate to his clerks from then
on,[g] which meant that he could no longer keep his diary.
After the diary Pepys’s health suffered from the long hours that he worked throughout the period of the diary.
 He also kept a diary for a few months in 1683 when he was sent to Tangier, Morocco as the most senior civil servant in the navy, during the English evacuation.
Pepys did not plan on his contemporaries ever seeing his diary, which is evident from the fact that he wrote in shorthand and sometimes in a “code” of various Spanish, French,
and Italian words (especially when describing his illicit affairs).
Aside from day-to-day activities, Pepys also commented on the significant and turbulent events of his nation.
He also spent time evaluating his fortune and his place in the world.
At noon, he returned home and “had an extraordinary good dinner, and as merry, as at this time we could be”, before returning to watch the fire in the city once more.
 Pepys has been called the greatest diarist of all time due to his frankness in writing concerning his own weaknesses and the accuracy with which he records events of
daily British life and major events in the 17th century.
His colleagues were either engaged elsewhere or incompetent, and Pepys had to conduct a great deal of business himself.
Only my Lord Lambert is not yet come in to the Parliament; nor is it expected that he will, without being forced to it.
It is clear from its content that it was written as a purely personal record of his life and not for publication, yet there are indications that Pepys took steps to preserve
the bound manuscripts of his diary.
Furthermore, it was Pepys who suggested that the Navy Office should evacuate to Greenwich, although he did offer to remain in town himself.
Pepys went to the Tower of London to get a better view.
 Pepys’s diary is one of a very few sources which provides such length in details of everyday life of an upper-middle-class man during the seventeenth century.
As he had done during the Fire and the Plague, Pepys again removed his wife and his gold from London.
The wind was driving the fire westward, so he ordered the boat to go to Whitehall and became the first person to inform the king of the fire.
He served as administrator of the Royal Navy and Member of Parliament and is most famous for the diary he kept for a decade.
 Pepys and his wife took a holiday to France and the Low Countries in June–October 1669; on their return, Elisabeth fell ill and died on 10 November 1669.
He rejected an offer of £1,000 for the position from a rival and soon afterwards moved to official accommodation in Seething Lane in the City of London.
 However, Pepys dictated a journal for two months in 1669–70 as a record of his dealings with the Commissioners of Accounts at that period.
Pepys had taken to sleeping on his office floor; on Wednesday, 5 September, he was awakened by his wife at 2 a.m. She told him that the fire had almost reached All Hallows-by-the-Tower
and that it was at the foot of Seething Lane.
Accepting this advice, the king told him to go to Lord Mayor Thomas Bloodworth and tell him to start pulling down houses.
Many of his valuables, including his diary, were sent to a friend from the Navy Office at Bethnal Green.
They met at Brooke House, Holborn and spent two years scrutinising how the war had been financed.
By then, he believed that Seething Lane was in grave danger, so he suggested calling men from Deptford to help pull down houses and defend the king’s property.
 Pepys was accused, among other things, of being a secret member of the Catholic Church in England.
He recorded his daily life for almost ten years.
In relation to the Plague and Fire, C. S. Knighton has written: “From its reporting of these two disasters to the metropolis in which he thrived, Pepys’s diary has become
a national monument.
Pepys wrote consistently on subjects such as personal finances, the time he got up in the morning, the weather, and what he ate.
He did not live in cramped housing, he did not routinely mix with the poor, and he was not required to keep his family in London in the event of a crisis.
Personal life Plaque commemorating Pepys as a witness to the first performance of the puppet show Punch and Judy on St Paul’s in Covent Garden, 1662 The diary gives
a detailed account of Pepys’s personal life.
Nevertheless, Pepys consulted surgeon Thomas Hollier and, on 26 March 1658, the operation took place in a bedroom in the house of Pepys’s cousin Jane Turner.
 Retirement and death He was imprisoned on suspicion of Jacobitism from May to July 1689 and again in June 1690, but no charges were ever successfully brought against
Through Sandwich, he was involved in the administration of the short-lived English colony at Tangier.
 He was also a keen singer, performing at home, in coffee houses, and even in Westminster Abbey.
[‘The procedure, described by Pepys as being “cut of the stone”, was conducted without anaesthetics or antiseptics and involved restraining the patient with ropes and four strong men. The surgeon then made an incision along the perineum (between the scrotum
and the anus), about three inches (8 cm) long and deep enough to cut into the bladder. The stone was removed through this opening with pincers from below, assisted, from above, by a tool inserted into the bladder through the penis. A detailed description
can be found in Tomalin (2002)
2. ^ The stone was described as being the size of a tennis ball. Presumably a real tennis ball, which is slightly smaller than a modern lawn tennis ball, but still an unusually large stone
3. ^ On Monday 26 March
1660, he wrote, in his diary, “This day it is two years since it pleased God that I was cut of the stone at Mrs. Turner’s in Salisbury Court. And did resolve while I live to keep it a festival, as I did the last year at my house, and for ever to
have Mrs. Turner and her company with me.”
4. ^ There are references in the Diary to pains in his bladder, whenever he caught cold. In April 1700, Pepys wrote, to his nephew Jackson, “It has been my calamity for much the greatest part of this time
to have been kept bedrid, under an evil so rarely known as to have had it matter of universal surprise and with little less general opinion of its dangerousness; namely, that the cicatrice of a wound occasioned upon my cutting of the stone, without
hearing anything of it in all this time, should after more than 40 years’ perfect cure, break out again.” After Pepys’s death, the post-mortem examination showed his left kidney was completely ulcerated; seven stones, weighing four and a half ounces
(130 g), also were found. His bladder was gangrenous, and the old wound was broken open again.
5. ^ This mention of Elizabeth Pepys’s menstruation was omitted from the bowdlerised Wheatley transcription published in 1893 and used throughout this
article. The quotation here uses the copyrighted Latham and Mathews edition to restore the text.
6. ^ In Latham and Matthews’s Companion to the diary, Martin Howard Stein suggests that Pepys suffered from a combination of astigmatism and long sight.
One of his clerks was Paul Lorrain who became well known as Ordinary of Newgate Prison
8. “Samuel Pepys FAQ”. Archived from the original on 22 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
9. ^ Ollard (1984), ch. 16.
10. ^ Debrett’s peerage (1968), p.
287, Pepys, Earl of Cottenham.
11. ^ Debrett’s peerage (1968), p. 1015, Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury.
12. ^ “- British Armorial Bindings”. utoronto.ca. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
13. ^ Debrett’s peerage (1968), p. 287.
14. ^ Tomalin (2002),
p. 3: “He was born in London, above the shop, just off Fleet Street, in Salisbury Court.”
15. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Knighton (2004).
16. ^ Wheatley (1893), Particulars of the life of Samuel Pepys: “but
the place of birth is not known with certainty. Samuel Knight, … (having married Hannah Pepys, daughter of Talbot Pepys of Impington), says positively that it was at Brampton”
17. ^ Trease (1972), p. 6.
18. ^ “National Portrait Gallery website:
Elizabeth (sic) Pepys”. npg.org.uk. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
19. ^ Tomalin (2002), p. 28.
20. ^ Trease (1972), pp. 13, 17.
21. ^ Knighton (2004). This was because religious ceremonies were not legally recognised during the Interregnum. The
couple regularly celebrated the anniversary of the first date.
22. ^ Trease (1972), p. 16.
23. ^ Lodge (1861), p. 835.
24. ^ “Legends of British History: Samuel Pepys”. The Diary of Samuel Pepys. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
25. ^ Kuiper (2011),
26. ^ Pepys, Samuel (2000). Latham, Robert; Latham, Linnet (eds.). A Pepys anthology : passages from the diary of Samuel Pepys (1. UK paperback ed.). Berkeley [u.a.]: Univ. of California Pr. ISBN 978-0-00-710530-4.
27. ^ “BBC – Primary
History – Famous People – Samuel Pepys”. bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 17 September 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
28. ^ “Pepys coded passages”. pepys.info. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
Tomalin (2002), pp. 645, 653.
30. ^ Weinreb et al. (2008), p. 828.
31. ^ “Samuel Pepys FAQ”. pepys.info. Archived from the original on 22 May 2017. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
32. ^ Bryant (1933), p. 25.
33. ^ Kennedy, Maev (13 November 2015).
“Samuel Pepys’s other diary on display in new exhibition”. The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
34. ^ “Short biography [of] Pepys”. Pepys Library website. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009.
35. ^ Tomalin (2002), p. 167.
Jump up to:a b c Tomalin (2002), p. 168.
37. ^ Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday, 31 December 1665.
38. ^ Tomalin (2002), pp. 174–175.
39. ^ Tomalin (2002), pp. 177–178.
40. ^ Jump up to:a b Tomalin (2002), p. 230.
41. ^ Tomalin (2002), p. 232.
Head, Jacob. “Biography of Thomas Greeting”. The Pleasant Companion-The Flageolets Site.
43. ^ Parker (2011), p. 126.
44. ^ “Mystery of Pepys’s affair solved”. BBC News 24. 14 October 2006.
45. ^ Bryson (2010), p. 123: “Of one maid, Mary Mercer,
the Dictionary of National Biography serenely notes: “Samuel seems to have made a habit of fondling Mercer’s breasts while she dressed him in the morning”…When they weren’t dressing him, absorbing his blows, or providing roosts for his gropes, Pepys’s
servants were expected to comb his hair and wash his ears.”
46. ^ Cunningham (1908), pp. 12, 171.
47. ^ Pepys’s Diary entry of 8 December 1665.
48. ^ Foxen (1963).
49. ^ Tomalin (2002), pp. xii–xiii.
50. ^ Latham & Matthews (1970–83), Vol.
X – Companion.
51. ^ Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday, 31 May 1669.
52. ^ Henning (1983), p. 226.
53. ^ Wheatley (1893) “Shaftesbury and the others not having succeeded in getting at Pepys through his clerk, soon afterwards attacked him more directly,
using the infamous evidence of Colonel Scott”
54. ^ Fox, Celina (2007). “The Ingenious Mr Dummer: Rationalizing the Royal Navy in Late Seventeenth-Century England” (PDF). Electronic British Library Journal. p. 22. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
Eric W. Weisstein. “Newton-Pepys Problem”. Wolfram MathWorld. Retrieved 28 June 2008.
56. ^ Stigler (2006).
57. ^ Pepys, Samuel; Latham, Robert; Matthews, William (2001). The Diary of Samuel Pepys: A New and Complete Transcription, Volume 10 (Footnote
on Will Hewer). University of California Press. p. 182. ISBN 9780520227156. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
58. ^ Pepys, Samuel (1899). Will Hewer, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Samuel Pepys, 1899.
59. ^ “Pepys Library Website”. cam.ac.uk. Archived
from the original on 2 March 2000. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
60. ^ “UCSB English Broadside Ballad Archive”. ucsb.edu. Archived from the original on 14 January 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
61. ^ About the Ephemera Society The Ephemera
62. ^ Hammerton (1937).
63. ^ Bryson (2010), pp. 211–212.
64. ^ “Samuel Pepys Diary”.
65. ^ Wheatley (1893), Prefacs.
66. ^ Wheatley (1893).
67. ^ Gyford, Phil (4 August 2011). “New unabridged diary audiobook in 2015”. www.pepysdiary.com.
Pepys Diary. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
68. ^ “The best of British blogging”. The Guardian. 18 December 2003. Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. prize went to Phil Gyford’s remarkable Pepys’s Diary.
69. ^ Gyford, Phil (28 September
2021). “The Twitter feed in Bill Bailey’s show”. pepysdiary.com. Archived from the original on 10 November 2021. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
70. ^ “Samuel Pepys”. twitter.com. Archived from the original on 10 November 2021. Retrieved 10 November
71. ^ Anomymous (3 January 1995). The Diary of Samuel Pepys: A Radio 4 Classic Serial (BBC Classic Collection). BBC Audiobooks Ltd. ASIN 0563390069.
72. ^ Gyford, Phil (4 August 2011). “New BBC Pepys radio drama”. www.pepysdiary.com. Pepys
Diary. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
73. ^ “Pleasing Mr Pepys”. Deborah Swift. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
74. ^ Trease (1972).
75. ^ “Samuel Pepys by Claire Tomalin”. Penguin Random House Canada. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
Cited secondary sources
Arthur (1933). Samuel Pepys (I: The man in the making. II: The years of peril. III: The saviour of the navy) (Revised 1948. Reprinted 1934, 1961, etc. ed.). Cambridge: University Press. LCC +B8&searchType=1&recCount=25 DA447.P4 B8.
• Bryson, Bill
(2010). At Home. Canada: Anchor Random House. ISBN 978-0385661645.
• Cunningham, Peter (1908). Goodwin, Gordon (ed.). The Story of Nell Gwyn. Edinburgh: John Grant.
• Foxen, David (1963). “Libertine Literature in England, 1660-1745”. The Book
Collector. 12 (1): 21–35. (spring)
• Hammerton, J.A. (1937). Outline of Great Books. New York: Wise & Co.
• Henning, Basil Duke (1983). The House of Commons, 1660–1690. Vol. III, Members M–Y. London: Secker & Warburg. ISBN 0-436-19274-8.
Kathleen (2011). Prose: Literary Terms and Concepts. New York: Rosen Publishing. ISBN 978-1615304943.
• Lodge, Edmund (1861). The Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire.
• Montague-Smith, Patrick W (1968). Debrett’s peerage, baronetage,
knightage and companionage: with Her Majesty’s Royal warrant holders, 1968 … Kelley’s Directories. OCLC 8808676.
• Stigler, S. M. (2006). “Isaac Newton as Probabilist”. Statistical Science. 21 (3): 400–403. doi:10.1214/088342306000000312. S2CID
• Ollard, Richard (1984) . Pepys: a biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-281466-4.
• Parker, Matthew (2011). The sugar barons : family, corruption, empire, and war in the West Indies. New York: Walker & Co. ISBN
9780802717443. OCLC 682894539.
• Tomalin, Claire (2002). Samuel Pepys: the unequalled self. London: Viking. ISBN 0-670-88568-1.
• Trease, Geoffrey (1972). Samuel Pepys and his world. Norwich, Great Britain: Jorrold and Son.
• Andrew Godsell
“Samuel Pepys: A Man and His Diary” in “Legends of British History” 2008
• Knighton, C. S. (2004). “Pepys, Samuel (1633–1703)”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or UK public library membership
• Weinreb, Ben; Hibbert, Christopher; Keay, John; Keay, Julia (2008). The London Encyclopaedia (3rd ed.). Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-405-04924-5.
Editions of letters and other publications by Pepys
• Wheatley, Henry B., ed. (1893).
The Diary of Samuel Pepys M.A. F.R.S. London: George Bell & Sons.
• Pepys, Samuel (1995) Robert Latham ed. Samuel Pepys and the Second Dutch War. Pepys’s Navy White Book and Brooke House Papers Aldershot: Scholar Press for the Navy Records Society
[Publications, Vol 133] ISBN 1-85928-136-2
• Pepys, Samuel (2004). C. S. Knighton (ed.). Pepys’s later diaries. Stroud: Sutton. ISBN 0-7509-3656-8.
• Pepys, Samuel (2005). Guy de la Bedoyere (ed.). Particular friends: the correspondence of Samuel
Pepys and John Evelyn (2nd ed.). Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 1-84383-134-1.
• Pepys, Samuel (2006). Guy de la Bedoyere (ed.). The letters of Samuel Pepys, 1656–1703. Woodbridge: Boydell. ISBN 1-84383-197-X.
• Volume I.
Introduction and 1660. ISBN 0-7135-1551-1
• Volume II. 1661. ISBN 0-7135-1552-X
• Volume III. 1662. ISBN 0-7135-1553-8
• Volume IV. 1663. ISBN 0-7135-1554-6
• Volume V. 1664. ISBN 0-7135-1555-4
• Volume VI. 1665. ISBN 0-7135-1556-2
VII. 1666. ISBN 0-7135-1557-0
• Volume VIII. 1667. ISBN 0-7135-1558-9
• Volume IX. 1668–9. ISBN 0-7135-1559-7
• Volume X. Companion. ISBN 0-7135-1993-2
• Volume XI. Index. ISBN 0-7135-1994-0
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/benetton/2713683760/’]