The last entry of Samuel Pepys diaries

Samuel Pepys By Godfrey Kneller – National Maritime Museum, Public Domain,

Samuel Pepys’s diary entry for the 31st of May 1669 records that after doing his accounts he made his way to Whitehall. En route he stopped off to see his mistress before completing his journey and meeting with the Duke of York. Later he went for a walk in the park with his wife and some friends, before adjourning to the World’s End pub and finally arriving home late.

The opening page of Pepys diaries. Image is from H.B. Wheatley, ed, The Diary of Samuel Pepys: Pepysiana (London, 1899). via Wikimedia Commons

There was nothing terribly significant in the events of the day, but his failing eyesight meant that this was the last record he made in his famous diaries. He wrote ‘I being not able to do it any longer, having done now so long as to undo my eyes almost every time I take a pen in my hand’. His diaries had detailed his everyday life for nearly 10 years and are renowned for his descriptions both of life in 17th century England, as well as the daily details of his own life and the people he met. He had witnessed the aftermath of the Civil War, the restoration of the monarchy, the great plague and the Great Fire of London. They were personal diaries often written using a personal code. John Smith, the Rector of Baldock, worked for 3 years (1819 -1822) transcribing the diaries into plain English and trying to decipher the Pepys code. In 1822, a complete key to the code was found in another volume of Pepys works. Two volumes were subsequently published in 1825 and another set of volumes were published in 1875, but it was not until 1983 that the complete diaries were reproduced in print.

The original diaries of Samuel Pepys: Wheatley, ed, The Diary of Samuel Pepys: Pepysiana (London, 1899)., Public Domain,

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