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Saturday, 28 January 2017

Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys was born on February 23, 1633 in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, London to John Pepys (1601–1680), a tailor, and Margaret Pepys (née Kite; died 1667), daughter of a Whitechapel butcher.

Pepys attended Huntingdon Grammar School (Oliver Cromwell was a pupil there 30 years earlier). Later on, he was educated at St Paul's School, London,

Pepys rose to be the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under King Charles II, and later under James II. Although he had no maritime experience, Pepys rose by patronage, hard work and his talent for administration.

Portrait of Pepys by John Hayls

Pepys suffered for years from a ‘bladder stone’ and, at the age of 25, took the risk of having an operation to remove it. He was so relieved that the operation was successful that he celebrated the event every year for the rest of his life.

He is celebrated today for his detailed private diary, which Pepys kept from 1660 until 1669 and was first published in 1825.

Pepys referred to his health well over a thousand times in his diaries. Most of the time the purpose of noting his condition was to record sickness episodes to help prevent him from falling ill in a similar way in the future. In particular Pepys frequently caught colds, which he made over one hundred references to. The diarist generally blamed the weather for going down with a chill but in fact he should have blame his own susceptibility to colds on his own carelessness. Pepys caught colds after standing in draughts, leaving off his wig and having a bare head, being under dressed without anything to protect his bare legs, and wearing clothes that hadn't been aired.

The six volumes of the diary manuscript

Pepys wrote his diary using a fountain pen, which at the time was quite a novelty. He recorded in his diary in August 1663: "This evening came a letter about business from Mr Coventry, and with it a Silver pen he promised me, to carry inke in(sic); which is very necessary."

Citing poor eyesight, Samuel Pepys recorded his last entry in his diary on May 31, 1669.  His diaries are one of the most important primary sources for the English Restoration period.

At the beginning of 1679 Pepys was elected MP for Harwich in Charles II's third parliament which formed part of the Cavalier Parliament.

In January 1689, Pepys was defeated in the parliamentary election at Harwich. The following month, one week after the accession of William and Mary, he resigned his secretaryship.

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