Samuel Pepys

1633 - 1703


The Author


Samuel Pepys, naval reformer, Member of Parliament and famous diarist, was born in London in 1633. The son of a London tailor was sent to school at St. Paul's in London. In 1650 he entered Magdalene College and graduated in 1653. In 1654, Pepys became secretary to his cousin Sir Edward Montagu, later Earl of Sandwich and in 1655 he married Elizabeth St. Michel, the daughter of a Huguenot family. On 1 January 1660 he began his famous diary written in shorthand. Pepys recorded both the significant and trivial events of his public and private worlds, his thoughts about Charles II, the Great Plague of 1665, the Great Fire of 1666, and the Dutch War. This diary was never designed for publication and he stopped writing it on 31 May 1669. In the same year, he was made Clerk of the King's Ships to the Navy Board. He was elected to Parliament in 1673 and again in 1679. In 1678, Whig opponents of the Duke of York accused Pepys of giving naval secrets to the French. He resigned his office and was imprisoned in the Tower in 1679, but the charges against him were unfounded, and Pepys was freed in 1680. In 1684 he was reinstated as Secretary to the Admirality. From 1684 to 1686 he served as President of the Royal Society. After Pepys retired from public life in 1689 he published his “Memoirs relating to the state of the Royal Navy” in 1690. After this, he spent most of his time building and cataloging his famous library. When his health began to fail, he moved to Clapham, where he died in 1703.


Quotes: The Duchess of Albemarle is “a damned ill-looking woman”. A production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is said to be “the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life”.



The Works


Memoires Relating to the State of the Royal Navy of England, For Ten Years (1690)    >>> (Google)

Pepys's Will (1701)    >>> (in: Pepysiana, p. 259)

The Diary (1660 - 1669, published 1825)





Samuel Pepys (Wikipedia)