Record of Samuel Pepys' Financial Accounts, 1660-1669
|Author: ||Rogal, Samuel J.|
Although literary scholars and textual editors have set forth general and accurate conclusions relative to the financial rise and ultimate worth of the seventeenth-century English diarist Samuel Pepys (1633-1704), those seemingly mundane details tend to become lost in the most glamorous activities mirrored in the period of his diary (from January 1660 through May 1669). Readers initially attach their interests to Pepys’ contacts with the upper echelons of Restoration Court society, his abilities as a government administrator, his sexual drive, his deep interests in music and science, and his dedication to books and to learning. Nonetheless, the world of Samuel Pepys focuses upon his drive to accumulate wealth; money fuels his progress through professional and social contacts and activities. To understand the world of Samuel Pepys – to understand the eight and one-half years of his recorded professional and social experiences – one needs to examine a full ledger of Pepys’ receipts and expenditures.
The specifics of how Pepys, as a bureaucrat in the Naval Office, received money reflect the abilities of an ambitious member of the seventeenth-century London upper middle class to accumulate affluence and influence. Wages, commissions, gifts and gratuities, investments, interest from loans, and even liberal dashes of traditional under-the-table arrangements – all of these prove instruments contributing to the economic and social rise of Samuel Pepys. On the other side of the ledger stand records of expenses for food, drink, lodging, transportation, servants; costs for clothes, books, scientific and musical instruments, furniture, art work, the theatre, and family support. All of these items reveal the cost of life and enjoyment in London during the years immediately following the restoration of the English monarchy. In the end, the prices for articles and services, as well as the names of the same, differ considerably from those experienced by members of the present age; but, the needs of individuals, as well as the reasons for accumulating and spending money, have not changed. Thus, the financial records of Samuel Pepys remain relevant.
“ … to see the clear and exact flow of Pepys’ money provides a clear reflection of Pepys’ life.” – From the Introduction
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