Samuel Pepys, an English author, born Feb. 23, 1633, died May 26, 1703. He belonged to an ancient family, but his early life seems to have been passed in humble circumstances. He was educated at St. Paul's school, London, and at Magdalene college, Cambridge. In 1655 he married a young girl, without fortune, and went to live with his cousin, Sir Edward Montagu, afterward first earl of Sandwich, whom he accompanied a few years later on his expedition to the Sound. He was immediately afterward appointed to a small office in the exchequer. On Jan. 1, 1660, he began to keep a short-hand diary, which he continued uninterruptedly until May 31, 1669, when he was compelled by defective eyesight to give it up. Though an ardent roundhead in his youth, he expressed great joy at the restoration of Charles II., and accompanied Montagu in the capacity of secretary to the two generals of the fleet when he brought the king over. In the summer of 1660 he was appointed clerk of the acts of the navy. This office gave him constant opportunities for intercourse with the duke of York, with whom he was soon in great favor. During the plague of 1665 he had the whole management of naval affairs.
He was one of the commissioners on the affairs of Tangier in 1662, and became treasurer to the commission in 1665. At the same time he was appointed surveyor general of the victualling office. When the officers of the navy board were called to the bar of the house of commons in 1668 to answer for the disaster to the British fleet in De Ruyter's expedition against Chatham, Pepys was chosen by his colleagues to conduct their defence, which he did in a speech of three hours with complete success. Though he was many years in parliament, he made no figure there. Shortly after the close of his diary he travelled on the continent, and collected information respecting the French and Dutch navies. He was not without his enemies; the earl of Shaftesbury attempted to show that he was "a papist or popishly inclined," with a view to defeat him in a contested election case before a committee of the house of commons, and some years afterward attempted to implicate him in the murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey. In 1673 King Charles appointed him secretary for the affairs of the navy. During the excitement of the popish plot he was accused with Sir Anthony Deane of sending secret particulars respecting the English navy to the court of France, and of being an enemy to the Protestant religion.
After nine months' imprisonment he was discharged, the complainant retracting his deposition. Pepys had now lost his office, but in 1680 he attended the king at Newmarket, where he took down in shorthand his majesty's narrative of his escape after the battle of Worcester, which has often been published. In 1683 he accompanied Lord Dartmouth's expedition to Tangier. After his return he was appointed secretary for the affairs of. the admiralty, a post which he continued to fill with remarkable ability until the accession of William of Orange, when he retired to private life. He was president of the royal society from 1684 to 1686. Pepys left to Magdalene college, Cambridge, his valuable collection of prints, books, and manuscripts, now known as the Pepysian library. Among them are manuscripts, naval memoirs, and a collection of English ballads in five large folio volumes, from which Bishop Percy partly derived his " Reliques of Ancient English Poetry." His diary, after lying unread for more than a century, was deciphered by a young collegian, Mr. John Smith, and part of it published, with a selection from his private correspondence, by Lord Braybrooke (2 vols. 4to, London, 1825). The Rev. Mynors Bright, president of Magdalene college, is about to publish (1875) a complete edition in six volumes from the original manuscript, to contain about one third more matter than Lord Braybrooke's. It is one of the most amusing books of its kind ever printed, and gives a unique insight into the manners and social life of the time of Charles II. Pepys published " Memoirs relating to the State of the Royal Navy" (8vo, 1690), and his "Life, Journals, and Correspondence," with his " Voyage to and Residence at Tangier," was published in 1841 (2 vols. 8vo). See also "Mr. Secretary Pepys," by J. G. Wilson (New York, 1867).