Samuel Pepys Diary Assignments

Samuel Pepys was a naval administrator and member of parliament, known primarily for the diary he kept spanning the decade during which the great plague struck and the fire of London tore apart the very structure of his capital. He wrote candidly about both his private and public life.
samuel pepys diary

We are currently listening to  The Diary of Samuel Pepys: The BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation.  This particular version is spectacular!  We listen to five chapters each day and it is fascinating.  I will be doing a review of it soon, because it really is one of the best resources we’ve ever used!

In his diary, Samuel talks about religion, business, royalty, hanging, hygiene, fashions, marital relations…..really just about everything to do with life in seventeenth century London, and we haven’t even got to the plague or the fire of London!  There is so much rich learning to be had through simply listening to his diary.

It has been hard to think up hands on activities to go with this particular period.  One assignment I gave to the children was to pretend they were a flea residing on Samuel Pepys and to write a diary to include snippets of seventeenth century history based on all they had heard during that day’s five chapters.

I will be sharing excerpts with you, primarily because they make me smile, but also to record them for academic purposes.  The first is L12’s diary entry as Diane the Flea:

Miss Diane’s Diary

Switched humans today.  I was on a doctor but when he removed leeches from Mr Pepys’ arm I saw young blood; fresh blood.  I immediately jumped into the blood, sucking at the yummy, thick substance.

After my blood bath, I was subjected to argument after argument from Mr and Mrs Pepys about the latter going to to the country with their good maid Jane.  This would be whilst Mr Pepys traveled to Portsmouth on ‘boring business’.  Mrs Pepys does not believe him and wishes to go with him.

At last – PEACE!  Mr Pepys put his foot down and left early this morning, alone.  After hours of dock inspecting and paying crews, Samuel, with his buddies, stayed at the tavern drinking and participating in much merriment.

I laid twenty four eggs in Mr Pepys hair this morning.  I am looking forward to more company!

C12 decided she was Flora the flea.  Here is her diary entry for today:

Flora the Flea’s Travels

4th April 1662

Dear Diary,

Today I, Flora the Flea, found a new body on which to reside – the body of Samuel Pepys.  Shortly after Samuel traveled by barge to pay money to the Drake and others.  On the way home I saw my former host body floating in the water.  EURG!

5th April 1662

Dear Diary,

Today Samuel walked in a beautiful garden with one Sir William Coventry, gossiping like an old fish wife about Sir William Batton and his finances.  Samuel is to go to Portsmouth to pay the navy.

He and his wife, Lizzy, have been arguing over their servant Jane.  Samuel wants Lizzy and Jane to go to the country whilst he is in Portsmouth, because he is jealous of the attention she will undoubtedly get in his absence.

Sam has this day taken his leave of Lizzy, who is still refusing to go to the countryside.

25th April 1662

Today Samuel paid the Navy.  From there he traveled to the tavern with Captain Cook and Sir William to make merry.  While there, they made a toast to the very beautiful Lady Castlemain.

Samuel stayed at an inn last night, being forced to share a bed with Captain Cook.  I may have taken a nibble or two off him!  He then traveled to Southampton to dine with the mayor.

Lord Sandwich has returned from the far off land of Portugal with the king’s new queen.

9th May 1662

Today Samuel saw a very funny Italian puppet show at Convent Gardens

21st May

The queen has been described as modest and she suffers with sea-sickness.  Also she is terribly old-fashioned, wearing farthingales underneath her skirts.  She is also very religious.

Flora the Flea


  1. What a fun assignment. I am checking this out for a future assignment. I think Evan would really come up with something wild! I will say that reading L’s right after eating wasn’t the best idea.:))

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