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A Pepys Show

The World of Samuel Pepys
in Paper Dolls

by David Claudon

Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) is noted for his Baroque Period diary, stretching from January 1, 1660, to May 31, 1669. In the 3,012 pages of it, he records his daily life in London, which includes the restoration of the British monarchy with the ascension of Charles II, the Great Plague of 1665, and the Great Fire of London 1666. Pepys' diaries offer us a window into the mid-seventeenth century. [Read the wonderfully annotated version available online.] His contemporaries shown in the set include the king and his consort, two of his many mistresses [some among the first actresses on the British stage], and three of the Pepys family servants.

To purchase a copy of this paper doll set printed from the 300 dpi originals, contact me.

samuel pepys

Pepys paper doll is based on his portrait from 1666. His hair is left long and natural, although in 1666, he had it cut and began wearing a periwig. Samuel mentions several black suits.

Here Pepys wears a robe de chambre which was popular attire for poets and writers to be painted in. An annotation to his diary says, "This portrait of Pepys records his likeness at the age of 29 in an ‘Indian gown’ he hired for the occasion. He had already commissioned a portrait of his wife Elizabeth from the same artist and the painting took five separate sittings from the life."

The Restoration style suit consists of a doublet which has been reduced to a short vest and slashed sleeves. A parchment lace falling band covers the front. Petticoat breeches are worn. Pepys talks about having to get used to these open breeches. On May 10, 1663, Pepys says, "Up betimes, and put on a black cloth suit, with white lynings under all, as the fashion is to wear, to appear under the breeches."

Pepys' wife kept several pets. Among those mentioned are a dog, which I've imagined as a cavalier king charles spaniel, the kind of dog popular with Charles II. Pepys found the small black dog cute when she was given to his wife by her brother, but within a couple of days was threatening to throw it out the window for urinating in the house. Elizabeth also kept a cat to catch mice and a monkey. Monkeys were prize pets as a result of the Age of Exploration. Queen Catherine of Aragon is pictured with one. Pepys also didn't get along with his wife's monkey and according to his diary beat the animal when he found it running loose [18 January 1660]--Pepys had a pretty violent temper.


elizabeth pepys

Samuel Pepys married his wife Elizabeth St. Michel (1640-1669), daughter of a poor French Huguenot, when she was 14 and he was 22. Their marriage produced no children and was not particularly happy, although Pepys was proud to show off his beautiful wife. Her portrait can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery.

Elizabeth wears a chemise with sleeves, corset, and satin underpetticoat with gold braid trim. Pepys several times mentions Elizabeth's petticoats, such as 19 August 1660 where he complains it is light in color and no great show.

The black bodice, sleeves and pulled up overskirt can be seen in G. Netscher's Young Girl. They are worn over the satin under-petticoat. She also wears a white bertha, white cuffs, and rosette hair decoration on a band. The 1664-5 outfit to right is seen in several of Vermeer's paintings from the 1660's.

The yellow with black trim bodice is seen as early as 1657. The ultramarine skirt and yellow top are seen in Woman with a Water Jug. The plate of fruit comes from Jan Davidz de Heem's A Table of Desserts.


jane birch




Jane Birch was 15 when she began as the newlywed Pepys' maid in 1658. She is mentioned on the first page of his diary. For three years she lived with them. Pepys says she refused to kill a turkey. When he found her untidy, he beat her with a broom. She was gentle and had a whimsical sense of humor.

Jane's outfits are based on paintings by Dutch painter, Vermeer. She is not pregnant, she merely wears a loose tunique.


william hewer



In 1660 Pepys moved his family to a house on Seething Lane and took on more servants, including Will Hewer and Wayneman Birch.

William Hewer joined the Pepys at age 17 to act as his clerk. Acting in some ways like a rebellous son, Will claimed he would never be treated as a slave. (Tomalin) Pepys complained when Hewer wore his hat in the house, refused to go to church, or wore his coat on his shoulder "like a ruffian."

Hewer, at one point, gave Elizabeth an expensive piece of jewelry which her husband made her return.

In later life Pepys and Will were quite close. After the death of Elizabeth, Pepys lived with Hewer. The paper doll is based on his portrait .

Jane's brother Wayneman, about 10-12, also joined them as a servant. The neighbor's referred to him as young Pepys. Wayneman's duties included helping Pepys prepare for bed and combing his hair. Pepys helped teach him to read, according his biographer Claire Tomalin.

His colorful livery, with short doublet, canions, and ribbons are reminiscent of earlier periods and based on a servant shown in Woman at Her Toilette by Gerard Terborch (1660).


Charles II & Catherine



In May 1660, Charles II arrived in London on his 30th birthday to reclaim the throne overthrown by Cromwell. Two years later he married 24 year-old Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese princess whose dowry brought him Bombay and Tangier. Charles had a string of mistresses and several illegitmate children. Catherine had pregnancies but no live births. As queen consort she lived a lonely life.

Nell Gwyn

Actresses did not appear on the English stage during the Elizabethan Period. Pepys notes in his diary seeing the first woman perform on stage in January 1660.

Nell Gwyn was a famous actress of the period who started her career at 16 as an orange seller. Later she became mistress of Charles II and bore him two children. Pepys called her "pretty, witty Nell" (April 1665)

Lady Castlemaine

Against his wife's wishes, the King appointed Lady Castlemaine Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen. The queen reportedly fainted when they first met. She became Catholic and tried to manipulate politics and the king.

In 1670, as Charles' interest in her diminished, she was made the Duchess of Cleveland. Many unkindly called her "the royal whore." Pepys considered her the same.

She was painted by Peter Lely and John Wright .

Shopping in 1666

Pepys mentions eating turkey several times in his diaries. In the entry quoted in the panel, he had two turkeys from Zealand (sp) in Holland. In an entry for 4 April 1663, he mentions a meal which has a variety of entrees:

Very merry at, before, and after dinner, and the more for that my dinner was great, and most neatly dressed by our own only maid. We had a fricasee of rabbits and chickens , a leg of mutton boiled, three carps in a dish, a great dish of a side of lamb , a dish of roasted pigeons , a dish of four lobsters , three tarts, a lamprey pie (a most rare pie), a dish of anchovies , good wine of several sorts, and all things mighty noble and to my great content


The panel was inspired by the paintings of Renaissance Italian painter Vincenzo Campi who created paintings of fruit sellers and chicken vendors. Even though his paintings were from 1580, lower class costumes often carried on into the next middle of the next century. Certainly the food stuffs available remained the same. Here our shopper (Elizabeth?) carries an already killed and plucked turkey while the vendor's assistant poses ready to finish off the goose. The child has a dead brown hare wrapped around his neck for ease of carrying. The basket vegetables include cherries, peaches, lettuce, melons, onions and grapes.

For more information on the period, check out the following books :

  • Charles Beauclerk. Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King. NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005.
  • Robert Lathan, editor. The Illustrated Pepys: Extracts from the Diary. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1978.
  • Liza Picard. Restoration London: From Poverty to Pets, from Medicine to Magic, from Slang to Sex, from Wallpaper to Women's Right's. NY: St. Martin's Press, 1997.
  • Adrian Tinniswood. By Permission of Heaven: The True Story of the Great Fire of London. NY: Riverhead Books, 2003.
While Pepys was writing in London, Molière was writing some of his best work under the rule of Louis XIV. To learn more click on the pictures.   moliere


Researching 1650-1670 clothing online? Try these sites.

English paintings

Dutch paintings

Flemish Paintings

This page was created by C. David Claudon, May 5, 2004. Last update September 15, 2006 .

Contact me

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[ Dressing for Shakespeare ][ The Iliad ][ Decorating Forties Style ]
[ Decorating for a Fifties Christmas ] [ To Kill a Mockingbird ] [ A Rainbow Honor Roll ] [ Miniatures ]
[ Paper Dolls ] [ Santa Collection ] [ Clarence ]
[ St. Bernardine's Church ]