Sympson the Joiner

Sympson the Joiner was one of the makers of the famous bookpresses of the writer, Samuel Pepys. He worked for the Royal Naval Dockyard in Woolwich, London. He was a joiner by profession, but his name was never mentioned in Pepys’ diary. He was always called by his surname, Simpson, which is why he is known as Sympson the Joiner.

Sympson was cited several times in Pepys’ diary – in fact, no less than six times. He mentioned that he employed Sympson’s services for several office improvements and home renovations in Seething Lane, London. He also stated in his diary that he had to pay him a considerable amount of money for his work, but that he was totally delighted with the results of his labours. The most remarkable of Sympson’s were the first two bookpresses or bookcases for Pepys’ library of official documents, personal writings, and printed books.

The bookpresses that Sympson made were very tall and had glazed doors and panes to hold huge volumes of book. The base mouldings and valances were carved with fine acanthus leaf. These bookpresses were brought and preserved in Pepys’ Library, one of the most beautiful buildings at Magdalene College in the University of Cambridge.

Few accounts were written about Sympson the Joiner, but he was also noted for his work on the famous ‘Anne,’ the yacht of James, Duke of York. Sympson has also been referred to as a cabinet maker. His skill, knowledge, and contribution to the art of carpentry are mostly what he is remembered for.