Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys first visited Clapham in the early 1660s to see the Surveyor General of Victualling for the Navy, Dennis Gauden, who had an estate there and was rebuilding, extending, and modernising his house. Pepys describes a number of his visits in his diary which also has a number of references to sometime Clapham residents.

Gauden, by then Sir Dennis, went bankrupt in the late 1670s and the house was bought by William Hewer, whose uncle had recommended to Pepys for a post as clerk in the Navy Office, becoming a long standing personal friend. Hewer let Gauden live in the house although his mother moved there after the death of Gauden’s wife Elizabeth. Hewer moved there after Gauden’s death in 1688.

After the Glorious Revolution, Pepys and Hewer were out of favour and Pepys eventually retired to Hewer’s house in Clapham, spending more time there from 1697 and moving permanently in 1701. His books moved the next year. The clean air and quiet attracted him and his health benefitted. John Evelyn referred to Pepys ‘ParadisianClapham’ and Pepys himself , remarking on the improvement in his health, ‘perfected by the air of this place’ went on to write ‘if I must be left to philosophise by myself, nobody, I fancy, will blame me for choosing to do it in a serene air, without noise, rather than where there is nothing of the first, and nothing else but the last.’

Pepys died in Clapham in 1703. Unlike most Clapham residents, he was a firm Anglican and is the only Clapham testator whose will includes legacies to the rector and the two Anglican lecturers he knew but none to the nonconformist ministers of Clapham.