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Pepys, Samuel (1633–1703)

PEPYS, SAMUEL (16331703)

PEPYS, SAMUEL (16331703), English diarist and politician. Although Samuel Pepys spent fewer than ten years of his life keeping a daily record, his diary has become an extremely important source of information about Restoration England. The Diary, which begins on 1 January 1660 and ends on 31 May 1669, chronicles, with both exacting detail and stylistic flair, some of the most important events in seventeenth-century British history, such as the coronation of Charles II in 1660, the Great Plague of 1665, and the Great Fire of 1666. The Diary has also become an important primary text for historians of music and drama, as Pepys was an avid patron of the arts and wrote regular entries describing the performances that he attended. Much of what modern scholars know about the Restoration stage, from the physical construction of the theaters to the mannerisms of the actors and the audiences, comes directly from the observations of Samuel Pepys. Since its first partial publication in 1825, The Diary of Samuel Pepys has been an invaluable historical record, a key example of early modern aesthetic criticism, and a valuable literary work in its own right.

Samuel Pepys was born in London in 1633. His father, John Pepys, was a reputable tailor with the means to provide his son with an education that included St. Paul's School in London and Cambridge University. Pepys came of age during the turbulent decades of the English Civil Wars, and his family was intimately involved in the political struggles that characterized the day. Samuel's father was a first cousin of Sir Edward Montagu, an important nobleman who initially supported Cromwell, but whose eventual conversion to the Royalist cause helped pave the way for the Restoration in 1660. After graduating from Cambridge in 1654, Pepys went to work as a minor functionary to his famous cousin. One year later, he married a French refugee named Elizabeth St. Michel and settled into a career as an English civil servant.

The first year of Samuel Pepys's Diary, 1660, is also the year of Charles II's coronation and the reestablishment of the monarchy in England. Edward Montagu's abrupt switch to the Royalist position after Cromwell's death placed Pepys in the center of the politics of the Restoration. In March of that year, Montagu asked Samuel to accompany him on a sea voyage to Holland to bring Charles II back to England as the king. Some of the earliest and best entries in the Diary consist of Pepys's firsthand observations of this momentous journey. Once returned to power, Charles rewarded Montagu's support by creating him the first earl of Sandwich; Montagu rewarded Samuel's service by helping him secure increasingly important positions with the Royal Navy. A skilled manager, Pepys eventually became the Navy's top administrator and is still credited with significant modernizations to its operations.

Believing that he was in danger of going blind, Pepys wrote his last Diary entry in 1669; however, he continued his career as a public servant for another twenty years. In 1673, he was elected to a seat in the House of Commons, which he held, with several interruptions, until 1687. Pepys's close political ties to the Stuarts brought him into conflict with the earl of Shaftesbury, who worked diligently during the 1670s to prevent the succession of Charles II's Catholic brother, James, to the throne. In 1679, Pepys was briefly imprisoned in connection with the "Popish Plot," a manufactured conspiracy in which Jesuits and French sympathizers were supposedly planning to assassinate Charles II. When it became clear that the evidence against Pepys was entirely fabricated, he was released to resume his public career. In 1684, he was elected president of the Royal Society of London, where he oversaw the printing of Isaac Newton's magnum opus, Principia Mathematica, in 1687. After the Glorious Revolution of 16881689, Pepys retired from public life and wrote Memories Relating to the State of the Royal Navy of England (1690), the only work he published during his life.

According to the terms of Samuel Pepys's will, both his extensive book collection and his personal papersincluding the Diary were donated to Cambridge University after his death. As the Diary was written in shorthand, with foreign words often replacing English ones when the subject matter was sexual in nature, it was not immediately accessible to historians in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In 1825, a heavily edited, bowdlerized, and badly transcribed version of the Diary was published to widespread acclaim as Memoirs of Samuel Pepys, Esq. F.R.S. More complete versions were published throughout the nineteenth century, but the first complete and unabridged version was not available until 1983, when Robert Lathan and William Matthews completed their definitive eleven-volume edition for the University of California Press.

See also Biography and Autobiography ; Charles II (England) ; Diaries ; English Civil War and Interregnum ; English Literature and Language .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

Pepys, Samuel. The Diary of Samuel Pepys: A New and Complete Transcription. Edited by Robert Lathan and William Matthews. 11 vols. Berkeley, 19701983.

. Private Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers of Samuel Pepys, 16791703. Edited by J. R. Tanner. 2 vols. London, 1926.

Secondary Sources

Taylor, Ivan E. Samuel Pepys. Rev. ed. New York, 1989.

Tomalin, Claire. Saumel Pepys: The Unequalled Self. New York, 2002.

Michael Austin

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Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys

The English diarist and public official Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) kept a diary that provides a graphic account of English social life and conditions during the early period of the Restoration.

Samuel Pepys was born on Feb. 23, 1633, in London. His father was a tailor. Pepys was sent to school first at Huntingdon and later to St. Paul's in London. In June 1650 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, but he transferred to Magdalene College the following October and graduated in 1653.

In 1655 Pepys married Elizabeth St. Michel, the young daughter of a Huguenot exile. The couple was apparently supported at first by Pepys's cousin Sir Edward Montagu, later the Earl of Sandwich, whose service Pepys entered. In 1660 Pepys accompanied Montagu as secretary on the voyage that returned Charles II to England. That same year Pepys was appointed clerk of the acts at the Navy Office. This appointment was significant because Pepys was to serve the navy in some capacity for the greater part of his life, working to improve its efficiency and to ensure its integrity.

In 1662 Pepys was appointed one of the commissioners for Tangier, which was then occupied by the English; 3 years later he was named treasurer. When the Dutch War broke out in 1665, he was appointed surveyor general of the Victualing Office in addition to his regular duties for the navy, and he remained at his post throughout the Great Plague of 1665 although most inhabitants left London. Pepys saved the Navy Office from the Great Fire of 1666 by having the buildings around it destroyed. When the Dutch War ended in 1668, the Duke of York entrusted Pepys with the task of acquitting the navy of mismanagement.

Pepys's appearance before Parliament evidently whetted his own aspirations for a seat. He was elected to Parliament in 1673 and again in 1679. In 1673 the King transferred Pepys from the Navy Office to the secretaryship of the Admiralty. At the time of the Popish Plot in 1678, Whig opponents of the Duke of York accused Pepys of giving naval secrets to the French. Pepys resigned his office and was imprisoned in the Tower in 1679, but the charges against him were unfounded, and Pepys was vindicated and freed in 1680.

Pepys's wife had died in 1669. His principal companions since then had been such men of taste and knowledge as John Evelyn, Christopher Wren, and John Dryden. In 1684 Pepys was elected president of the Royal Society. That same year he was also restored to the secretaryship of the Admiralty, retaining the post until the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

After Pepys retired from public life in 1689, he led a relatively quiet life. He published his Memoirs … of the Royal Navy in 1690. He corresponded with friends and acted as consultant to the navy. He died on May 26, 1703.

Pepys is remembered today for the diary he kept for 9 1/ 2 years in the 1660s. In his diary, written in cipher, Pepys recorded both the significant and trivial events of his public and private worlds. Together with his impressions of his own domestic situation, he recorded his thoughts about Charles II, the Great Plague of 1665, the Great Fire of 1666, the Restoration theater, the King's mistresses, the Dutch War, and the Duke of York. Failing eyesight caused him to discontinue the diary while still a young man, but its intimate record of his daily life and of the early Restoration remains both interesting and historically valuable.

Pepys's diary was not transcribed and published until 1825. The first virtually complete edition was issued between 1893 and 1899, edited by H. B. Wheatley.

Further Reading

The definitive study of Pepys is Cecil Emden, Pepys Himself (1963). Earlier biographies include Arthur Ponsonby, Samuel Pepys (1928), and Arthur Bryant, Samuel Pepys (3 vols., 1933-1939). Marjorie Hope Nicolson, Pepys' Diary and the New Science (1965), offers some discussion of the place of Pepys and the Royal Society in the history of ideas. The definitive edition of Pepys's diary is The Diary of Samuel Pepys (11 vols., 1970-83, new ed. 1996) edited by Robert Latham and William Matthews.

Additional Sources

Bradford, Gamaliel, Samuel Pepys, New York: Haskell House, 1975.

Kirk, Clara Marburg, Mr. Pepys and Mr. Evelyn, Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Library Editions, 1974.

Lubbock, Percy, Samuel Pepy, Folcroft, Pa. Folcroft Library Editions, 1974; Norwood, Pa.: Norwood Editions, 1977.

Meynell, Esther, Samuel Pepys: administrator, observer, gossip, New York: Haskell House, 1976.

Ollard, Richard Lawrence, Pepys: a biography, Oxford Oxfordshire; New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.

Tanner, J. R. (Joseph Robson), Samuel Pepys and the Royal Navy, Philadelphia: R. West, 1977.

Taylor, Ivan E. (Ivan Earle), Samuel Pepys, Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989.

Wheatley, Henry Benjamin, Samuel Pepys and the world he lived in, New York: Haskell House Publishers, 1975. □

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Pepys, Samuel

Samuel Pepys (pēps), 1633–1703, English public official, and celebrated diarist, b. London, grad. Magdalene College, Cambridge, 1653. In 1656 he entered the service of a relative, Sir Edward Montagu (later earl of Sandwich), whose secretary he became in 1660. That same year he started as a clerk in the navy office and by 1668 he was an important naval official and owned a considerable estate. In 1672 he was made secretary to the admiralty. He sat in the Parliament of 1679, but he was charged with betraying naval secrets to the French in the same year. He was briefly imprisoned in the Tower but was vindicated and freed in 1680. In 1684 Pepys was reappointed secretary to the admiralty and was made president of the Royal Society. The accession of William III forced him into retirement, where he wrote his Memoirs … of the Royal Navy (1690).

Pepys left his valuable library, including his diary in cipher, to his nephew John Jackson and in turn to Magdalene College, Cambridge. His diary was discovered there in 1728 and nearly a century later was partially deciphered and first published (1825). An almost full text was edited by H. B. Wheatley (10 vol., 1893–99), but a complete edition did not appear until after World War II. One of the most famous diaries of all time, an intimate record of the daily life and reflections of an ambitious, observing, and lusty young man, it extends from Jan. 1, 1660, to May 31, 1669, when failing eyesight forced him to stop writing. Pepys's diary gives a graphic picture of the social life and conditions of the early Restoration period, including eyewitness accounts of the great plague (1665) and the great fire of London (1666).

See the diary (new ed. by R. Latham and W. Matthews, 10 vol., 1970–83) and the abridgment of the diary (ed. by O. F. Morshead, 1960); Pepys's letters (ed. by H. T. Heath, 1955); biography by C. Tomalin (2002); studies by P. Hunt (1958), C. Emden (1963), O. A. Mendelsohn (1963), M. H. Nicolson (1965), I. E. Taylor (1967), R. Barber (1972).

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Pepys, Samuel

Pepys, Samuel (1633–1703). Diarist, naval official, bibliophile, musician, member of Parliament, president of the Royal Society, twice master of Trinity House, Pepys lived through an epoch of increasing sophistication in government, when capacity and drive could help a man rise high, especially if assisted by patronage. Pepys's patron was his cousin Edward Montagu, a naval commander under the republic who promoted Charles II's restoration and became earl of Sandwich. Pepys was appointed clerk of the acts (secretary) to the Navy Board in 1660 when that body effectively ran the navy under James, duke of York. The young secretary's assiduity rapidly won him esteem, and some dislike. But, weathering the disasters of the second Dutch War, Pepys was appointed the first secretary of the Admiralty in 1673. Though out of office 1679–84, a victim of the ‘Exclusion’ agitation, his return saw Pepys become the crown's minister for the navy until the Glorious Revolution. Then he was forced from office as too closely associated with James II.

For all his contributions to the navy's well-being, however, Pepys has become much the best-known Englishman of the 17th cent. through his diary, or ‘Journal’, kept in shorthand and complete secrecy between January 1660 and May 1669, and first transcribed in 1822. Sometimes priggish, it is guileless in self-revelation. ‘Traits of actual speech fleck its pattern’ and mark the author as a journalist of genius, in his own words ‘ever with child to see any strange thing’. Pepys's scholarly discrimination is plain from his library, scrupulously preserved in Magdalene College, Cambridge.

David Denis Aldridge

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Pepys, Samuel

Pepys, Samuel (1633–1703) English diarist. His Diary (1660–69) describes his private life and the English society of his time. It includes a vivid account of the Restoration, the 1661 coronation ceremony, the Plague, and the Great Fire of London of 1666. Written in shorthand, it was not published until 1815, and not in complete form until 1983.

http://library.upenn.edu

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