Samuel Pepys was the son of a tailor and the fifth of eleven children, but child mortality was high in the 17th century, often 50% or more, and he was soon the oldest survivor.
As an adult, he became an administrator of the navy of England and a Member of Parliament who is most famous for thediary he kept for nearly a decade while still a relatively young man; writing for himself alone, he used a little-known shorthand that was not deciphered until the nineteenth century, when the diary was published, more than 200 years later. He discontinued the diary when failing eyesight forced him to abandon the project.
The detailed private diary that Pepys kept from 1660 until 1669 was first published in the 19th 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.
Today’s selections offer us a glimpse into two of London’s most awful moments in time – the Plague and the Great Fire.
From the Diary of Samuel Pepys, we begin….