Samuel Pepys, entertaining diarist of Restoration London, was also England's leading naval civil servant. In his long career he identified problems and forced through solutions in the funding and management of naval dockyards, promoted the development of new warship designs, provided vital information to the King and Parliament to support the growth of the navy in a critical geo-political era, created a professional, trained cadre of sea officers, and ensured that the common sailor had better conditions ashore and afloat. With a detailed introduction and explanatory chapter openings setting the scene for each period of Pepys' career, this book presents a selection of around 200 documents in the Bodleian's collection of manuscripts created or collected by Pepys as a senior official at the Navy Board and the Admiralty between 1660 and 1689. The collection includes Pepys' working drafts of letters, memoranda, reports, and plans, as well as material coming to him from sea officers, navy officials, politicians, and powerful people seeking his patronage. Transcribed from the original manuscripts, the documents illustrate as nothing else can the breadth and variety of work going over Pepys' desk at a time when the navy was beginning to project the country's influence across the globe in support of its burgeoning maritime trade. The selection indicates the developing professionalism of the management of the navy during Pepys' administration, as well as demonstrating his growing power as England's first 'minister of the marine'. Many of the documents are published here for the first time, along with a breviate calendar enabling scholars to identify more easily Pepysian material in the Bodleian's collection. This book is an invaluable resource for naval historians and Pepysian scholars alike.
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Justin Reay is a senior manager at the Bodleian Library and a tutor in naval history for the University of Oxford's international programmes.
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