Authorised form of namePepys; Samuel (1633 - 1703); naval official and diarist
Dates1633 - 1703
Place of birthSalisbury Court, Fleet Street, London, England, Europe
Date of birth23 February 1633
Place of deathClapham, London, England, Europe
Date of death26 May 1703
Dates and placesBaptism:
St Bride's Church, Fleet Street, London, England, Europe (4 March 1633)
St Olave's, Hart Street, London, England, Europe (4 June 1703)
OccupationNaval official; politician
Huntingdon Grammar School; St Paul's School, London; Trinity Hall, Cambridge (name entered 1650); Magdalene College, Cambridge (admitted 1651), BA (1654), MA (1660); tutored by Samuel Morland
Secretary to his cousin, Edward Montagu, afterwards Earl of Sandwich (FRS 1663) (1660); Justice of the Peace (1660); clerk in the office of Sir George Downing; clerk of the Acts of the Navy (1660-1673); clerk of the Privy Seal (1660); younger brother of Trinity House (1662); member, then treasurer, of the Tangier Commission, which administered the short lived British ruled colony in Tangier (1662-1665); later involved in the English evacuation from Tangier as the most senior colonial official (1683); became a shareholder in the Royal African Company (1663); Assistant of the Corporation of the Royal Fishing (1664); Surveyor-General of the Victualling Office (1665); travelled to France and Holland to collect information on foreign navies (1669); Secretary of the Admiralty (1673-1679, 1686-1689); MP for Castle Rising, Norfolk (1673-1679), for Harwich, Essex (1679, 1685-1687); imprisoned in the Tower of London on suspicion of involvement in the Popish Plot (1679-1680); sailed with George Legge, 1st Lord Dartmouth, to demolish the works at Tangier and bring home the garrison (1683); one of the Barons of the Cinque Ports (1685); Master of the Trinity House (1685); Governor of Christ's Hospital; retired to his house at Clapham (1689); renowned diarist, his Diary (1660-1669) and library are at Magdalene College and other manuscripts in the Bodleian Library
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election15/02/1665
Age at election31
ProposerThomas Povey
Royal Society activityRoyal Society roles:
PRS 1684-1686; VP 1686- , 1695-; Council 1672, 1674, 1676, 1681-1682, 1684-1689, 1691, 1693, 1695-1696, 1699
Other Royal Society activityAsked to contribute to the building of a Society college (1668); Gifted £50 to the Society, which was used to pay for 50 plates of Francis Willughby's (FRS 1663) 'Historia Piscium' (1685); During his presidency, Pepys licensed the printing of Isaac Newton's 'Principia' (1686)
RelationshipsSon of John Pepys, citizen of London, and afterwards of Brampton, and his wife Margaret Kight, daughter of a butcher of Whitechapel, Middlesex; married (1655) Elizabeth, daughter of Alexandre St Michel, a Huguenot, of Hind Court, Fleet Street, London. Nephew and heir, John Jackson (FRS 1694) who was the son of Pepys' sister Paulina.
General contextPepys' diary, which he started in 1660, is the most well-known part of his legacy and offers an insight into the everyday life and developing networks in his 17th century England. For almost a century, however, his work as a diarist was neglected and was not recognised until the publication of the diary in 1825. Prior to his election into the Society, Pepys was already acquainted with Viscount William Brouncker (PRS 1660).

Pepys was a shareholder in The Royal Adventurers into Africa, later Royal African Company (RAC). The RAC was a British trading company established by Royal Charter in 1660 which enslaved and sold African people. The company was chartered by Charles II, the founding royal Patron of the Royal Society, which was also chartered in 1660. The RAC was made up of and funded by members of the Stuart royal family and London merchants and investors many of whom were, or went on to become, Fellows of the Royal Society like Pepys. The Royal Society itself held shares in the company from 1682 until 1699.
Related imagesDiscover a selection of related images in our picture library

Pepys P0101.jpg

Bulloch's Roll; DNB; Venn; Hunter; McDonnell; Henning; ODNB
J R Philip, 'An Innumerate President of the Royal Society?' in NR 1994 vol 48 pp 1-10, plate
A Rupert Hall and Marie Boas Hall, review of Richard Ollard, Pepys: A Biography in NR 1992 vol 46 pp 325-326
J R Bruijn, 'William III and His Two Navies' in NR 1989 vol 43 pp 117-132
R H Nuttall, 'That Curious Curiosity: the Scotoscope' in NR 1988 vol 42 pp 133-138
E N da C Andrade, 'Samuel Pepys and the Royal Society' in NR 1963 vol 18 pp 82-93, plate
J F Scott and Sir Harold Hartley, 'William, Viscount Brouncker, PRS (1620-1684)' in NR 1960 vol 15 pp 147-157
W H G Armytage, 'The Royal Society and the Apothecaries' in NR 1954-55 vol 11 pp 22-37
H G Lyons, 'The Society's First Bequest' in NR 1939 vol 2 pp 43-46
R Lewis, 'The publication of John Wilkins's Essay (1668): some contextual considerations' in NR 2002 vol 56 pp133-146
A Cook, '1703 and other anniversaries' in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 1-2
N J W Thrower, 'Samuel Pepys FRS (1633-1733) and The Royal Society' in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 3-13
J H Appleby, 'The founding of St Petersburg in the context of the Royal Society's relationship with Russia' in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 273-284
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA8433
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
IM/003509Pepys, Samuelnd
NLB/17/172Copy letter from Theodore E James, to Mr A T Gladwell 5 August 1898
IM/003508Pepys, Samuelnd
P/0101Portrait of Pepys, Samuel
CLP/7i/37Paper, 'A discourse considering the most seasonable time of felling timber by the advice of the honourable Samuel Pepys' by Robert Plot[c1687]
EL/B2/36Letter, from R[ichard] Beach to Mr [Samuel] Pepys, dated at Portsmouth24 October 1685
MC/15/148Letter from Major and Honorary Secretary of the Arts Committee, Royal Naval Exhibition, Gordon House, Royal Hospital, Chelsea, to the President of the Royal Society19 February 1891
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