The diarist Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) was well connected; conversely, many people were and are connected to him.  Pepys to me was the first cousin once removed of the husband of my 10th great aunt, Jemima Crew (1625-1674), daughter of John Crew (1598-1679) and Jemima Crew née Waldegrave (died 1675), my 10th great grandparents.



Samuel Pepys portrait by John Hayls 1666. The portrait now hangs in the UK National Portrait Gallery


Jemima Crew the daughter married Edward Montagu, later 1st Earl of Sandwich, (1625-1672). Montagu’s mother was Paulina Pepys (1581-1638), sister of Samuel Pepys grandfather, Thomas Pepys (died 1606).

In 1654-5 Samuel Pepys entered the household of his first cousin once removed Edward Montagu, who became his benefactor and patron. In his diaries Pepys often mentions Edward Montagu and members of the Montagu family, including my tenth great grandparents and ninth great grandmother Anne Wright nee Crew (1637-1708).

Pepys Montagu Crew Wright tree

On 22 May 1661 Pepys noted that Anne Wright sang songs to the harpsichord with her sister Jemima Montagu. On 20 November he described Lady Wright as “a witty but very conceited woman and proud”.  On 3 December 1661 Anne Wright dined with her sister Jemima Montagu. Pepys joined them and found the conversation was “about the great happiness that my Lady Wright says there is in being in the fashion and in variety of fashions, in scorn of others that are not so, as citizens’ wives and country gentlewomen”. On 9 December he again met Anne Wright: “dinner to the Wardrobe [Royal Wardrobe]; where my Lady Wright was, who did talk much upon the worth and the desert of gallantry; and that there was none fit to be courtiers, but such as have been abroad and know fashions. Which I endeavoured to oppose; and was troubled to hear her talk so, though she be a very wise and discreet lady in other things.”

In July 1665 Pepys stayed with Lady Wright at her house Dagenham in Surrey when seeking to arrange the marriage of Jemima Montagu to Philip Cartaret. On 16 July he said he “walked in the gallery an hour or two, it being a most noble and pretty house that ever, for the bigness, I saw.” On 17 July the party, including Anne Wright, played billiards. During the visit on 16 July there was effort made to let the young couple get to know each other, however proprietaries had to be observed so they were left in a room with the door open. “… and lastly my Lady Crew come out, and left the young people together. And a little pretty daughter of my Lady Wright’s most innocently come out afterward, and shut the door to, as if she had done it, poor child, by inspiration; which made us without, have good sport to laugh at.” The child was probably Anne Wright who would have been about seven years old – she later married Edmund Pye and was my 8th great grandmother.

On 17 January 1666 Pepys visited Dagenham again. “Lady Wright was very kind”, he wrote. Of her mother, he observed that she was “the same weake silly lady as ever, asking such saintly questions.”

There are at least 20 mentions of my ninth great grandmother in Pepys’s published diaries. From Pepys I have learned she could sing, play cards, and play billiards. She saw her family quite often, was very interested in fashion, and deplored the what she regarded as a lack of proper gallantry in men’s behaviour.

Sir Henry Wright (1637-1664), my ninth great grandfather, husband of Anne Wright nee Crew, is mentioned by Pepys at least 16 times. On 10 December 1663, “…calling at Wotton’s, my shoemaker’s, today, he tells me that Sir H. Wright is dying”. A couple of months later, on 5 February 1664, Wright passed away.

In the nearly ten years he kept his diary, Pepys spent much time with the family of his patron Edward Montagu. He often dined with John Crew, father-in-law of Edward; John Crew is mentioned at least  141 times. In 1665 Pepys helped to arrange the marriage of Edward’s daughter Jemima to Philip Cartaret.

I am delighted to have learned more about my forebears through Pepys observations.

Resource: A most useful website on the Diary of Sir Samuel Pepys:

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