People Animals and Nature

Samuel Pepys


Famous People from London - Samuel Pepys



Samuel Pepys was born 23 February, 1633 in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street just to the west of the City of London. His father was a tailor and his mother was the daughter of a butcher. Samuel was a famous British Naval administrator and Member of the House of Parliament.


Samuel is famous for his diary that he used to keep. Samuel Pepys maintained that diary from the time when he used to be a kid. Although Pepys did not enjoy much of a nautical experience. He was driven by his passion for hard work, dedication and his management talent. His guidelines and experience were considered very important in the early days of the Royal Navy. He is one of the pioneers of the Royal Navy. Samuel Pepys Statue


In mid-1658 Pepys moved to Axe Yard, near where the modern Downing Street is located - an area familiar to such Prime Ministers as Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.


His famous diary covered some of the historical events which took place from 1660 to 1669. Samuel Pepys was eye witness to most of these events and his diary covers in great detail of the events like “great plague of London”, “Second Dutch War” and the “great fire of London”. The fire spread rapidly because of the wooden buildings at that time and there was no organised rubbish collection in London.  It would not be wrong to say that his has covered some of the major historical happenings surrounding the British. He accompanied Montagu's fleet to the Netherlands to bring Charles II back from exile landing in Dover.


In his diary Samuel Pepys also includes his point of view. Samuel Pepys was the fifth child of their parents but soon became the eldest as none amongst his elder siblings survived. He was married to Elizabeth. He did not spend all his childhood at London but he was moved to Kingsland where he used to live with a nurse Goody Lawrence. St Paul’s and Huntingdon are the two schools he attended and later was educated in Cambridge University. He got his degree in Arts from the university in 1654 and got married to Elizabeth next year. Elizabeth was a daughter of French immigrant and their marriage was religiously celebrated in 1655. Later that year civil ceremony of their marriage was also held.


In the early hours of 2 September 1666, Pepys was woken by his servant who had spotted a fire in the Billingsgate area in the City of London. He decided the fire was not particularly serious, and returned to bed. Shortly after waking, his servant returned, and reported that 300 houses had been destroyed and that London Bridge towards the East of London was threatened. Pepys went to the Tower to get a better view. In 1669 Pepys had to prepare detailed answers to the committee's eight "Observations" on the Navy Board's conduct, and in 1670 he was forced to defend his own role. He knew little about the law and sought support from a barrister. A seaman's ticket with Pepys's name on it was produced as incontrovertible evidence of his corrupt dealings.Pepys was understandably anxious and sought the advice from an expert in counselling in East London. Thanks to the intervention of the king, Pepys emerged from the sustained investigation relatively unscathed.[

Pepys faced illness and pain throughout his life as he suffered with a bladder stone from birth. This is the same illness which gripped his mother and brother later. The symptoms of his illness included blood in urine which is known to be very painful and he lived almost all his life with the same pain. By the time of his marriage his condition was critical. In the year 1657 he made the decision to go on with the surgery as the pain became uncontrollable. Bladder surgery in those days was considered very serious and may carry a long term impact. The surgery however did take place and the place was a room in his cousin’s house. The surgery was conducted by a doctor from Kent and Pepys regarded it as his Magician Kent. The stone was successfully removed from his bladder and the surgery was declared a success. Samuel used to celebrate the anniversary of his successful surgery every year.

It was 1st January, 1660 that Samuel began to keep a diary which he updated for ten years. His diary covered a very personal aspect of his life as well as some of the historical events in the decade. Samuel even shares his jealousies, concerns, fears and the relationship with his wife. This diary was published in the 19th century and people even today find it as a “must read”.