Samuel Pepys

23rd February 1633–26th May 1703

A photograph of a portrait of Samuel Pepys.

Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist, amateur musician and naval administrator, was the most notable 17th amateur player of the French flageolet.

The son of a tailor, Samuel Pepys was fortunate to receive an education at St. Paul's School in London and Magdalene College, Cambridge. In January 1660 he started the diary which was to give him enduring fame. In June of the same year he began work as a civil servant in the Admiralty; a post which was to give him financial stability for the rest of his life.

Pepys' main hobby and interest was in music (the famous portrait of him shows his holding one of his own compositions) and the French flageolet was his instrument of choice. The instrument is mentioned continuously in the first years of his diary and his spontaneous production of it to provide entertainment suggests that he regarded it as a pleasant companion several years before Thomas Greeting's treatise which coined the phrase was produced.

When Greeting's work was completed, in 1668, Pepys was one of the first people to purchase a copy, buying a hand-copied version before it was officially published. He became friendly with Greeting and took lessons from him. He also encouraged his wife to learn, although she was apparently less willing. After he abandoned the diary in 1669, little is known about Pepys' flageolet–playing although it seems likely that he continued to play into his retirement in Clapham.

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