Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pepys, Richard

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PEPYS, Sir RICHARD (1588?–1659), lord chief justice of Ireland, born about 1588 at Cottenham was second son of John Pepys (d. 1604) of the Middle Temple and of Impington, near Cottenham, Cambridge, and of Elizabeth (d. 1642), daughter of John Bendish of Bower Hall, Bumpstead, Essex.

Richard joined the Middle Temple, and sat in the Short parliament (16 March 1639–1640) as member for Sudbury, Suffolk. In 1642 he was left heir to the estate of his elder brother John, and in 1643–4 was elected treasurer of the Middle Temple. His shield of arms is in the wainscoting and window of that hall, dated 1644. The only reference to his pleading is in 1640 (State Papers, Dom. cccclxx. 113). In January 1654 he was appointed serjeant-at-law, and was immediately after a member of the commission for the spring circuit through the midland counties. On 30 May in the same year he was appointed baron of the exchequer, in spite of scruples as to the Protector's legal authority. On 21 June he was commanded by the Protector to go on the Essex circuit ‘without incurring any penalty’ (Council Book I. vol. 75, p. 387, Record Office).

On 17 Aug. of the same year he was, with four others, appointed by Cromwell to be of the counsel to Deputy Fleetwood in Ireland. On 25 Sept. a warrant was issued to prepare a bill for constituting Pepys lord chief justice for holding pleas in the upper bench in Ireland during good behaviour, and at a salary of 500l. per annum (Sloane Ayscough MS. 4184, fol. 47). From 14 June 1655 till 20 Aug. 1656, when William Steele became chancellor, Pepys was chief commissioner of the great seal in Ireland. He died at Dublin on 2 Jan. 1658–9. His funeral sermon was preached by Dr. Edward Worth; and Sir William Petty [q. v.], in his imprimatur sanctioning the publication of the sermon, speaks in high terms of Pepys. On 30 July 1660 administration of his goods was granted to his son Richard. Pepys married, first, Judith, a daughter of Sir William Cutte, knt., of Arkesden, Essex; secondly, Mary (d. 1660), daughter of Captain Gosnold. He left four sons and two daughters. His eldest son, Richard, married Mary, daughter of John Scott of Belchamp-Walter, Essex, and, with his wife and daughter Mary, migrated to New England in 1634, but returned in 1650 and settled at Ashen Clare, Essex (Drake, Researches among British Archives; Savage, Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, iii. 393).

[For the pedigree of the Cottenham Pepyses see Addit. MS. 14049, fol. 49 b; Lord Braybrooke's edition of Pepys's Diary, v. 456; W. C. Pepys's Genealogy of the Pepys Family; St. George's Visitation of Cambridge, Harl. MS. 1043; Cole MSS. xxi. 28; Foss's Judges of England, v. 467; Dugdale's Origines Juridiciales, p. 220; Godwin's Commonwealth, iv. 26, 179; Whitelocke's Memorials, p. 591; Campbell's Lives of the Chief Justices, i. 444; Dr. Edward Worth's Funeral Sermon, ‘The Servant Doing and the Lord Blessing,’ Dublin, 1659 (Brit. Mus. E. 974–3); Latin elegy, single sheet folio, No. 170, in the Luttrell collection of broadsides, signed Rob. Kilmorensis, February 1658; Calendar of Clarendon State Papers, ii. 314, iii. 223; Lascelles's Liber Munerum, ii. 31; Smyth's Law Officers of Ireland, p. 291; Pepys's correspondence belonging to Edmund Pepys, esq., formerly of 20 Portland Place, quoted in W. C. Pepys's Genealogy; Thurloe State Papers, &c.; Return of Members (Parl. Papers, 1878); Ludlow Memoirs, ed. Firth, i. 426.]

W. A. S.