Summary

In his diary Samuel Pepys often mentioned how much money he had. This graph shows these values over time:

The table below shows the same data. Included are the approximate 2016 values, as calculated by MeasuringWorth.com (using 1665 as a base year).

It is hard to compare equivalent values over such a long period (for more see the topic Values today). The two measures used to calculate todays’ values are, to quote Measuring Worth:

Standard of living value: Measures the purchasing power of an income or wealth in its relative ability to purchase a (fixed over time) bundle of goods and services such as food, shelter, clothing, etc., that an average household would buy. This bundle does not change over time. This measure uses the RPI.

Economic status value: Measures the relative “prestige value” of an amount of income or wealth between two periods using the income index of the per-capita GDP.

Date 1660s Pounds 2016
Standard of living
value (£)
2016
Economic status
value (£)
40 5,892 134,000
40 5,892 134,000
40 5,892 134,000
80 11,784 268,000
100 14,730 335,000
100 14,730 335,000
100 14,730 335,000
100 14,730 335,000
120 17,676 402,000
200 29,460 670,000
200 29,460 670,000
150 22,095 502,500
200 29,460 670,000
240 35,352 804,000
300 44,190 1,005,000
350 51,555 1,172,500
500 73,650 1,675,000
600 88,380 2,010,000
500 73,650 1,675,000
500 73,650 1,675,000
530 78,069 1,775,500
530 78,069 1,775,500
530 78,069 1,775,500
650 95,745 2,177,500
650 95,745 2,177,500
687 101,195 2,301,450
680 100,164 2,278,000
679 100,017 2,274,650
660 97,218 2,211,000
630 92,799 2,110,500
650 95,745 2,177,500
640 94,272 2,144,000
640 94,272 2,144,000
670 98,691 2,244,500
700 103,110 2,345,000
726 106,940 2,432,100
719 105,909 2,408,650
700 103,110 2,345,000
730 107,529 2,445,500
750 110,475 2,512,500
760 111,948 2,546,000
717 105,614 2,401,950
770 113,421 2,579,500
800 117,840 2,680,000
858 126,383 2,874,300
890 131,097 2,981,500
900 132,570 3,015,000
908 133,748 3,041,800
930 136,989 3,115,500
951 140,082 3,185,850
1,014 149,362 3,396,900
1,020 150,246 3,417,000
1,203 177,202 4,030,050
1,205 177,497 4,036,750
1,209 178,086 4,050,150
1,349 198,708 4,519,150
1,257 185,156 4,210,950
1,270 187,071 4,254,500
1,300 191,490 4,355,000
1,400 206,220 4,690,000
1,400 206,220 4,690,000
1,450 213,585 4,857,500
1,900 279,870 6,365,000
2,164 318,757 7,249,400
2,180 321,114 7,303,000
4,000 589,200 13,400,000
4,400 648,120 14,740,000
4,600 677,580 15,410,000
5,000 736,500 16,750,000
5,200 765,960 17,420,000
5,200 765,960 17,420,000
5,600 824,880 18,760,000
5,700 839,610 19,095,000
6,200 913,260 20,770,000
6,200 913,260 20,770,000
6,800 1,001,640 22,780,000
6,700 986,910 22,445,000
6,900 1,016,370 23,115,000

4 Annotations

Sasha Clarkson  •  Link

Every time Pepys thanks God for his latest increase in wealth, I'm reminded of these two quatrains by William Blake, put together by Dante Gabriel Rossetti:

RICHES

Since all the riches of this world
May be gifts from the devil and earthly kings,
I should suspect that I worshipped the devil
If I thanked my God for worldly things.

The countless gold of a merry heart,
The rubies and pearls of a loving eye,
The idle man never can bring to the mart
Nor the cunning hoard up in his treasury.

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Riches_%28Blake%29

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Pepys did receive some fixed incomes, and at the beginning of the Diary he lives on the one from being the Clerk of the Acts while he 'learned the ropes', so to speak:

"During the period of the Diary his salary as Clerk of the Acts was £350 a year; while in 1665 he was appointed Treasurer of the Tangier Commission, and from 1665 to 1667 he was Surveyor-General of Victualling with an additional £300 a year ..."

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/48353/48353-h/483…
Title: Samuel Pepys and the Royal Navy
Author: J. R. (Joseph Robson) Tanner
Release Date: February 24, 2015 [eBook #48353]
Page 28

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

“Thus ends this year, to my great joy, in this manner. I have raised my estate from 1300/. in this year to 4400/.. I have got myself greater interest, I think, by my diligence, and my employments encreased by that of Treasurer for Tangier, and Surveyour of the Victualls.
"It is true we have gone through great melancholy because of the great plague, and I put to great charges by it, by keeping my family long at Woolwich, and myself and another part of my family, my clerks, at my charge at Greenwich, and a mayde at London; but I hope the King will give us some satisfaction for that.
"But now the plague is abated almost to nothing, and I intending to get to London as fast as I can. My family, that is my wife and maids, having been there these two or three weeks.
"The Dutch war goes on very ill, by reason of lack of money; having none to hope for, all being put into disorder by a new Act that is made as an experiment to bring credit to the Exchequer, for goods and money to be advanced upon the credit of that Act.
"I have never lived so merrily (besides that I never got so much) as I have done this plague time, by my Lord Bruncker’s and Captain Cocke’s good company, and the acquaintance of Mrs. Knipp, Coleman and her husband, and Mr. Laneare, and great store of dancings we have had at my cost (which I was willing to indulge myself and wife) at my lodgings.” Samuel Pepys (1633 - 1703) – Diary, 1 January, 1665/6

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Was Pepys corrupt? This topic is frequently argued throughout the Diary.
There is general agreement he should be judged by the standards of his times, and the Civil Service had yet to be invented. This example comes from 60 years before the Diary, but explains "the system" such as it was:

While Jacobean politicians periodically attacked corruption and venality in government, it was taken for granted that money was an essential lubricant of the system, and that the highest offices in the land frequently went to the highest bidders.
Key components of the civil administration were run as personal fiefdoms and traded as though they were private property.

A prime example was the prothonotaryship, or chief clerkship, of the court of King’s Bench, which in 1603 was occupied by John Roper. This office was reckoned to generate a net annual profit of around £4,000 (roughly £1,400,000 in 2021), equivalent to the income of a reasonably affluent peer.

By dint of purchasing reversionary grants of the prothonotaryship, the Roper family had monopolized this role for more than a century, growing rich in the process.
John Roper, the fourth member of his family to hold the post, had been in office since 1573, and was now aged about 69.
https://thehistoryofparliament.wordpress.com/2021…
@@@

So Pepys' wealth growing by £4,000 in one year 60 years later would not be unique, nor necessarily attract attention ... his house, clothes and coach were signs he was smart enough to make his position and the system work for him.
Problems would arise if he upset someone, and the Committee of the Treasury decided to make an example of him. In which case he better be able to prove he had made decisions "in the King's interest", which we know was a conscious justification for Pepys, at least at the beginning of his wealth accumulation.

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References

Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.

1660

1661

1662

1663

1664

1665

1666

1667