Samuel Pepys’s Fingerprint
On 5th March 1674 the Navy Board received a letter from Samuel Pepys, Secretary to the Admiralty Commission, a position he had held for only eight months since his promotion from the Navy Board as Clerk of the Acts. The letter itself is not remarkable, being a request at the suggestion of Captain Killegrew to appoint one Benjamin Holmes as Master of Killegrew’s ship, the Swan. What is interesting is the signature, for it appears to contain the partial patent index fingerprint from Pepys’s right hand. It seems when forming the lower curved section of the capital ‘P’ his pen flicked a quantity of ink to the left, part of which landed on his finger. Then, as he finished writing, his wet finger left the impression on the paper. Also noticeable are the tiny reflective particles added to the ink for decoration.
The Pepys signature and fingerprint show below is from National Archives, Kew, ADM106/31, 4 March 1674