Author Pepys Samuel

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Samuel Pepys, FRS (pronounced /?pi?ps/ "peeps"; 23 February 1633 – 26 May 1703) was an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament, who is now most famous for his diary. Although Pepys had no maritime experience, he rose by patronage, hard work and his talent for administration, to be the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both King Charles II and subsequently King James II. His influence and reforms at the Admiralty were important in the early professionalization of the Royal Navy.[1] The detailed private diary he kept during 1660–1669 was first published in the nineteenth century, and is one of the most important primary sources for the English Restoration period. 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 was born in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, London[3][4][5] on 23 February 1633, of John Pepys (1601–1680), a tailor, and Margaret


Pepys née Kite (d. 1667), daughter of a Whitechapel butcher.[6] His father's first cousin, Richard Pepys, was elected MP for Sudbury in 1640, and appointed Baron of the Exchequer on 30 May 1654, and Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, on 25 September 1655. Samuel Pepys was the fifth in a line of eleven children, but child mortality was high and he was soon the eldest.[7] He was baptised at St Bride's Church on 3 March.[8] Pepys did not spend all of his infancy in London, and for a while was sent to live with a nurse, Goody Lawrence, at Kingsland, north of the city.[9] In about 1644 Pepys attended Huntingdon Grammar School, before being educated at St Paul's School, London, circa 1646–1650.[10] He attended the execution of Charles I, in 1649.[11] In 1650, he went to Cambridge University, having received two exhibitions from St Paul's School (perhaps owing to the influence of Sir George Downing, who was chairman of the judges and for whom he later worked at the exchequer)[12] and a grant from the Mercers Company. On 21 June 1650 he entered his name for Trinity Hall, Cambridge,[13] where his uncle, John Pepys, was a fellow.[14] However, in October he was admitted as a sizar to Magdalene College; he moved there in March 1651 and took his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1654.[15][16] Later that year, or in early 1655, he entered the household of another of his father's cousins, Sir Edward Montagu, who would later be made 1st Earl of Sandwich. He also married the fourteen-year-old Elisabeth de St Michel, a descendant of French Huguenot immigrants, first in a religious ceremony, on 10 October 1655, and later in a civil ceremony, on 1 December 1655, at St Margaret's, Westminster.[17] From a young age, Pepys suffered from kidney stones in his urinary tract – a condition from which his mother and brother John also later suffered.[18] He was almost never without pain, as well as other symptoms, including "blood in the urine" (hematuria). By the time of his marriage, the condition was very severe and probably had a serious effect on his ability to engage in sexual intercourse. In 1657, Pepys took the decision to undertake surgery: this cannot have been an easy option, as the operation was known to be especially painful and hazardous. Nevertheless, Pepys consulted Thomas Hollier, a surgeon; and, on 26 March 1658, the operation took place in a bedroom at the house of Pepys's cousin, Jane Turner.[19] Pepys' stone was successfully removed[20] and he resolved to hold a celebration on every anniversary of the operation, which he did for several years.[21] However, there were long-term effects from the operation: the incision on his bladder broke open again late in his life, and the procedure may have left him sterile – though there is no direct evidence for this, as he was childless before the operation.[22] In mid-1658 Pepys moved to Axe Yard, near where the modern Downing Street is located. He worked as a teller in the exchequer under George Downing.[23] On 1 January 1660, Pepys began to keep a diary. He recorded his daily life for almost ten years. The women he pursued, his friends, his dealings, are all laid out. His diary reveals his jealousies, insecurities, trivial concerns, and his fractious relationship with his wife. It is an important account of London in the 1660s. The juxtaposition of his commentary on politics and national events, alongside the very personal, can be seen from the beginning. 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 of cold. I lived in Axe yard, having my wife and servant Jane, and no more in family than us three. My wife, after the absence of her terms for seven weeks, gave me hopes of her being with child, but on the last day of the year she hath them again. The condition of the State was thus. Viz. the Rump, after being disturbed by my Lord Lambert, was lately returned to sit again. The officers of the army all forced to yield. Lawson lie[s] still in the River and Monke is with his army in Scotland. Only my Lord Lambert is not yet come in to the Parliament; nor is it expected that he will, without being forced to it. – Diary of Samuel Pepys, January 1660. The entries from the first few months are filled with news of General George Monck's march on London. In April and May of that year – at this time, he was encountering problems with his wife – he accompanied Montagu's fleet to The Netherlands to bring Charles II back from exile. Montagu was made Earl of Sandwich on 18 June, and the position of Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board was secured by Pepys on 13 July.[24] As secretary to the board, Pepys was entitled to a £350 annual salary plus the various gratuities and benefits – including bribes – that came with the job: he rejected an offer of £1000 for the position from a rival, and moved to official accommodation in Seething Lane in the City of London soon afterwards. On the Navy Board, Pepys proved to be a more able and efficient worker than colleagues in higher positions: a fact that often annoyed Pepys, and provoked much harsh criticism in his diary. Among his colleagues were Admiral Sir William Penn, Sir George Carteret, Sir John Mennes and Sir William Batten.[25] Learning arithmetic from a private tutor, and using models of ships to make up for his lack of first-hand nautical experience, Pepys came to play a significant role in the board's activities. In September 1660 he was made a Justice of the Peace, and on 15 February 1662 Pepys was admitted as a Younger Brother of Trinity House, and on 30 April he received the freedom of Portsmouth. Through Sandwich, he was involved in the administration of the short-lived English colony at Tangier. He joined the Tangier committee in August 1662 when the colony was first founded, and became its treasurer in 1665. In 1663 he independently negotiated a £3000 contract for Norwegian masts, demonstrating the freedom of action that his superior abilities allowed. He was appointed to a commission of the royal fishery on 8 April 1664. His job required that he meet with many people to dispense monies and make contracts. He often laments over how he "lost his labour" having gone to some appointment at a coffee house or tavern, there to discover that the person he was seeking was not within. This was a constant frustration to Pepys. As well as providing a first-hand account of the Restoration, Pepys's diary is notable for its detailed and unique accounts of several other major events of the 1660s. In particular it is an invaluable source for the study of the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1665-7, of the Great Plague of 1665, and of the Great Fire of London in 1666. 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.'[26] Again writing about these events, Robert Latham – the editor of the definitive edition of the diary – has remarked: 'His descriptions of both – agonisingly vivid – achieve their effect by being something more than superlative reporting; they are written with compassion. As always with Pepys it is people, not literary effects, that matter.'[27] In early 1665 the start of the Second Anglo-Dutch War placed great pressure on Pepys. With his colleagues being either engaged elsewhere or incompetent, Pepys had to deal with a great deal of business himself. He excelled under the pressure, which was extremely great given the complex and badly-funded nature of the Royal Navy.[28] At the outset he proposed a centralised approach to supplying the fleet. His idea was accepted, and he was made surveyor-general of victualling in October 1665. The position brought a further £300 a year.[29] In 1667, with the war lost, Pepys helped to discharge the navy.[30] The Dutch, who had defeated England on open water, now began to threaten the mainland itself. In June 1667 the Dutch conducted their Raid on the Medway, broke the defensive chain at Gillingham, and towed away the Royal Charles, one of the Royal Navy's most important ships. As with the Fire and the Plague, Pepys again evacuated his wife and his gold from London.[31] While the Dutch raid was a major concern in itself, 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. The war ended in August, and on 17 October the House of Commons created a committee of 'miscarriages'.[32] On 20 October, a list of ships and commanders at the time of the division of the fleet in 1666 was demanded from Pepys.[33] However, these demands were actually quite desirable for him: tactical and strategic mistakes were not the responsibility of the Navy Board. The Board did face some allegations regarding the Medway raid, but they were able to exploit the criticism already attracted by the commissioner of Chatham, Peter Pett, to deflect criticism from themselves.[34] The committee accepted this tactic when they reported in February 1668. The Board was, however, criticised for its use of tickets to pay seamen. These tickets could only be exchanged for cash at the Navy's treasury in London.[35] Pepys made a long speech at the bar of the Commons on 5 March 1668 defending this practice. It was, in the words of C.S. Knighton, a 'virtuoso performance'.[36]


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