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Full text of "The history of the great plague in London in the year 1665, containing observations and memorials of the most remarkable occurrences, both public and private, during that dreadful period"

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IN THE YEAR 1665; 












The History of an event so appalling and so dread- 
ful as the Great Plague in London in the year 1665, 
must always be read with the deepest interest and 
attention, more especially at a time when the nation 
is alarmed lest a calamity of a like nature should 
fall upon it. There is, indeed, no subject in the 
whole range of historical records which possesses 
in a greater degree the power to harrow up the 
feelings, or which affords a greater scope for af- 
fecting and striking description, and for deep re- 
flection, than the history of a large and populous 
city given up to the devastation of a disease that 
defies all the skill of medicine, and almost sets at 
nought all that caution and prudence could sug- 
gest with a view to check its progress or to miti- 
gate its severity. Independently of the power 
which the simple relation of facts of such a nature 
must possess over every heart, it has another and 
a stronger claim upon our feehngs, for it carries 
us into the bosoms of families, and shows us how 
the dearest and most cherished objects of affection 


and love were torn from their friends, and how all 
those thousand little kindnesses of domestic life 
which constitute so large a portion of human hap- 
piness, were forgotten in the midst of horrors so 
appalling; calamities so mighty and oppressive; 
and how every nobler feeling of the heart, how 
every hope, every joy, lay prostrate before the 
strides of the disease, until all exertion was para- 
lyzed under the pressure of the dreadful evil, and 
the soul itself lost in deep and overwhelming an- 
guish and despair. 

Miseries like these must find a responsive chord 
in every breast, for every one will think of those 
most dear to himself; and imagine his woe if they 
were laid down in death and taken from him ; not 
one, but all ; not by slow degrees, but by the 
rapid and irresistible advances of a loathsome and 
painful disease ; not after preparation, but carried 
off and laid amongst the dead almost before they 
had notice that the malady was come. To trace 
the rise of such an evil, and to observe its progress, 
must possess an interest of no ordinary kind. The 
incredulity which marks its first approach, then 
the panic which follows certainty, then the fluctua- 
tions of hope and fear ; the agitation of departure 
from the scene of death, the painful separations, 
and the struggling resolution to stay: the flight, 
and the bustle and hurry which attends it ; and 
then the cold and fixed determination of those 
left behind to remain and abide the approaching 


enemy ; then the horror of death ; the sight of 
thousands swept away before the giant strokes of 
the distemper, and of many struck with the malady 
and driven to madness by its tortures, seeking relief 
in motion, and running, in the wildness of despair, 
through the streets, and finally casting themselves, 
yet alive, in the grave where thousands of their 
fellow-creatures, victims of the same tortures, he 
in festering heaps. And then the anguish of the 
broken-hearted, the paroxysms of the despairing, 
the wailings of the bereft and helpless, all at last 
sinking into sullenness and indifference. Then the 
death of affection and love, the traversing of the 
dead-cart ; the solemn, the awful stillness of the 
town; a peopled city made a wilderness; its site one 
huge grave for its former inhabitants. All these 
and more are pourtrayed in the fearful accuracy 
of truth in the following history ; and these visita- 
tions and these horrors are rendered still more ap- 
palhng and affecting by the simple language in 
which they are clothed, and the plain and intel- 
ligible manner in which the painful narrative is 

But the history itself must not be taken as alto- 
gether authentic. There are good grounds to be- 
lieve that Defoe has embellished his melancholy 
narrative with imaginary facts, and heightened the 
picture of wretchedness and misery which the 
Great Plague of IGG.j must of necessity have oc- 
casioned, by the addition of circumstances which 


have no ground in truth. However, the whole 
together forms a tale of woe that has no parallel, 
and must in all ages fix the attention, and excite 
the interest, of every reader of it. 

Such being the nature of the history now sub- 
mitted to the public attention, a word or two 
ought to be said as to the moment which has been 
selected for its republication. The work itself is 
out of print. The republication, therefore, was 
not undertaken with any special reference to the 
malady that seems at present to threaten the world, 
or with a view to excite any additional alarm, or 
to draw the slightest parallel between the Plague 
of 1665 and the Cholera of 1831. It is true that 
the same incredulity which marked the commence- 
ment of the Great Plague in London, has, in like 
manner, marked the commencement of the Cho- 
lera, but there the coincidence ends : and it may 
be most confidently advanced, that, under no cir- 
cumstances can this latter evil produce such melan- 
choly, such appalling and dreadful results as the 
former. It has not the same rapidity of attack. 
The patient always has a warning sufficient to put 
him on his guard; and the means of cure are 
certain of operation, are plentiful, and may be 
easily obtained and applied. Moreover, even 
under its most malignant form, if taken in time 
it will for the most part yield to medical treat- 

But it is obvious, that in the event of the actual 


approach of a contagious malady that shall sweep 
off its thousands and ten thousands, some good 
may probably be derived from the republication 
of this history at this time. For it is the peculiar 
province of history to supply the place of experi- 
ence, and by telling us what the people of one day 
did under any particular circumstances, to teach 
the people of another what they ought to do in an 
analagous or similar case. This province of his- 
tory, at all times valuable, becomes greatly more 
so when it is derived from the relation of facts and 
circumstances attending events which involve the 
lives of the great body of the people composing a 
large community, the more especially when those 
events are events of rare occurrence, and of that 
extraordinary and uncommon nature as that his- 
tory shall furnish but few examples of them. Ac- 
cordingly we shall here be taught how to meet the 
coming evil ; what precautions to suggest against 
the spreading of the disease, and what means to 
use to mitigate its severity and check its progress ; 
and, finally, we shall learn how to avoid those 
errors which characterised many of the measures 
adopted on occasion of the Great Plague of 1665, 
and which served so fatally to extend its ravages, 
whilst they doubly enhanced the misery and 
wretchedness, of the unhappy people submitted to 
their influence. 

Strand, Nov. 30, 1831. 






It was about the beginning of September, 1664, 
that I, among the rest of my neighbours, heard, 
in ordinary discourse, that the Plague was re- 
turned again in Holland ; for it had been very 
violent there, and particularly at Amsterdam and 
Rotterdam, in the year 1663, whither they say, it 
was brought, some said from Italy, others from 
the Levant, among some goods which were 
brought home by their Turkey fleet ; others 
said it was brought from Candia ; others from 
Cyprus. It mattered not from whence it came ; 
but all agreed it was come into Holland again. 

We had no such thing as printed newpapers 
in those days to spread rumours and reports of 
things ; and to improve them by the invention of 
men, as I have lived to see practised since. But 
such things as those were gathered from the 
letters of merchants, and others, who corresponded 
abroad, and from them was handed about by word 
of mouth only ; so that things did not spread in- 
stantly over the whole nation, as they do now. 
But it seems that the government had a true ac- 


count of it, and several councils were held, about 
ways to prevent its coming over ; but all was 
kept very private. Hence it was that this rumour 
died off again, and people began to forget it, as a 
thing we were very little concerned in, and that 
we hoped was not true ; till the latter end of 
November, or the beginning of December, 1664, 
when two men, said to be Frenchmen, died of the 
Plague in Long-acre, or rather at the upper end 
of Drury-lane. The family they were in endea- 
voured to conceal it as much as possible ; but as 
it had gotten some vent in the discourse of the 
neighbourhood, the secretaries of state got know- 
ledge of it. And concerning themselves to in- 
quire about it, in order to be certain of the truth, 
two physicians and a surgeon were ordered to go 
to the house, and make inspection. This they 
did ; and finding evident tokens of the sickness 
upon both the bodies that were dead, they gave 
their opinions publicly, that they died of the 
Plague : whereupon it was given into the parish 
clerk, and he also returned them to the hall ; and 
it was printed in the weekly bill of mortality in 
the usual manner, thus : — 

Plague, 2. — Parishes infected, 1. 
The people shewed a great concern at this, and 
began to be alarmed all over the town, and the 
more, because in the last week in December, 1664, 
another man died in the same house, and of the 
same distemper : and then we were easy again 
for about six weeks, when none having died with 
any marks of infection, it was said the distemper 
was gone ; but after that, I think it was about 
the 12th of February, another died in another 
house, but in the same parish, and in the same 

This turned the people's eyes pretty much 


towards that end of the town ; and the weekly 
bills shewing an increase of burials in St. Giles's 
parish more than usual, it began to be suspected 
that the Plague was among the people at that end 
of the town ; and that many had died of it, 
though they had taken care to keep it as much 
from the knowledge of the public as possible : 
this possessed the heads of the people very much, 
and few cared to go through Drury-lane, or the 
other streets suspected, unless they had extraor- 
dinary business, that obliged them to it. 

This increase of the bills stood thus ; the 
usual number of burials in a week, in the parishes 
of St. Giles's in the Fields, and St. Andrew's, 
Holborn, were from 12 to 17 or 19 each, few 
more or less ; but from the time that the Plague 
first began in St. Giles's parish, it was observed, 
that the ordinary burials increased in number 
considerably. For example — 

From Dec 


The like increase of the bills was observed in 
the parishes of St. Bride's, adjoining on one side 
of Holborn parish, and in the parish of St. James's, 

, 27 to Jan. 3. St. Giles's 


St. Andrew's 


.3 to Jan. 10. St. Giles's 


St. Andrew's 


10 to Jan. 17. St. Giles's 


St. Andrew's 


17 to Jan. 2i. St. Giles's 


St. Andrew's 


24 to Jan. 31. St. Giles's 


St. Andrew's 


31 to Feb. 7. St. Giles's 


St. Andrew's 


7 to Feb. 14. St. Giles's 


whereof 1 of the plag 



Clerkenwell, adjoining on the other side of Hof- 

born ; in both which parishes the usual numbers 

that died weekly, were from 4 to 6 or 8, whereas 

at that time they were increased, as follows :^ 

From Dec. 20 to Dec. 27. St. Bride's 

St. James's 8 

Dec. 27 to Jan. 3. St. Bride's 6 

St. James's 9 

Jan. 3 to Jan. 10. St. Bride's 11 

St. James's 7 

Jan. 10 to Jan. 17. St. Bride's 12 

St. James's 9 

Jan. 17 to Jan. 24. St. Bride's 9 

St. James'^s 15 

Jan. 24 to Jan. 31. St. Bride's 8 

St. James's 12 

Jan. 31 to Feb. 7. St. Bride's 13 

St. James's 5 

Feb. 7 to Feb. 14. St. Bride's 12 

St. James's 6 

Besides this, it was observed with great un- 
easiness by the people, that the weekly bills in 
general increased very much during these weeks^ 
although it was at a time of the year when usually 
the bills are very moderate. 

The usual number of burials within the bills of 
mortality for a week, was from about 240 or 
thereabouts, to 300. The last was esteemed a 
pretty high bill ; but after this we found the bills, 
successively increasing, as follows : — 

From Dec. 20 to Dec. 27. 
Dec. 27 to Jan. 3. 
Jan. 3 to Jan. 10. 
Jan. 10 to Jan. 17. 
Jan. 17 to Jan. 24. 













This last bill was really frightful, being a higher 
number than had been known to have been buried 
in one week, since the preceding visitation of 

However, all this went off again, and the 
weather proving cold, and the frost which began 
in December, still continuing very severe, even 
till near the end of February, attended with sharp 
though moderate winds, the bills decreased again, 
and the city grew healthy, and every body began 
to look upon the danger as good as over ; only 
that still the burials in St. Giles's continued high : 
from the beginning of April especially, they stood 
at 25 each week, till the week from the 18th to 
the 2Jth, when there was buried in St. Giles's 
parish 30, whereof two of the Plague, and eight 
of the spotted fever, which was looked upon as 
the same thing ; likewise the number that died of 
the spotted fever in the whole increased, being 
eight the week before, and 12 the week above- 

This alarmed us all again, and terrible ap- 
prehensions were among the people, especially 
the weather being now changed and growing 
warm, and the summer being at hand : however, 
the next week there seemed to be some hopes 
again, the bills were low, the number of the dead 
in all was but 388, there was none of the plague, 
and but four of the spotted fever. 

But the following week it returned again, and 
the distemper was spread into two or three other 
parishes, viz. St. Andrew's, Holborn, St. Cle- 
ment's-Danes, and to the great affliction of the 
city, one died within the walls, in the parish of 
St. Mary Wool-church, that is to say, in Bear- 
binder-lane, near Stocks-market ; in all there 
were nine of the plague, and six of the spotted 


fever. It was, however, upon inquiry found, 
that this Frenchman, who died in Bearbinder- 
lane, was one who, having lived in Long-acre, 
near the infected houses, had removed for fear of 
the distemper, not knowing that he was already 

This was the beginning of May, yet the weather 
was temperate, variable, and cool enough, and 
people had still some hopes : that which en- 
couraged them was, that the city was healthy, 
the whole 97 parishes buried but 54, and we 
began to hope, that as it was chiefly among the 
people at that end of the town, it might go no 
farther ; and the rather, because the next week 
which was from the 9th of May to the 16th, there 
died but three, of which not one within the whole 
city or liberties, and St. Andrew's buried but 15, 
which was very low : it is true, St. Giles's buried 
32, but still as there was but one of the Plague, 
people began to be easy ; the whole bill also was 
very low, for the week before, the bill was but 
347, and the week above-mentioned but 343 : we 
continued in these hopes for a few days ; but it 
was but for a few, for the people were no more 
to be deceived thus ; they searched the houses, 
and found that the plague was really spread every 
way, and that many died of it every day ; so that 
now all our extenuations abated, and it was no 
more to be concealed, nay it quickly appeared 
that the infection had spread itself beyond all 
hopes of abatement: that in the parish of St. 
Giles's, it was gotten into several streets, and se- 
veral families lay all sick together ; and, accord- 
ingly, in the weekly bill for the next week, the 
thing began to shew itself; there was indeed but 
14 set down of the Plague, but this was all 
knavery and collusion, for St. Giles's parish they 


buried 40 in all, whereof it was certain most of 
them (lied of the Plague, though they were set 
down of other distempers ; and though the num- 
ber of all the burials were not increasad above 32, 
and the whole bill being but 385, yet there was 
14 of the spotted fever, as well as 14 of the 
Plague : and we took it for granted upon the 
whole, that there were 50 died that week of the 

The next bill was from the 23d of May to the 
30th, when the number of the Plague was 17 : 
but the burials in St. Giles's were bS, a frightful 
number ! of whom they set down but nine of the 
plague : but on an examination more strictly by 
the justices of the peace, and at the lord mayor's 
request, it was found there were 20 more, who 
were really dead of the Plague in that parish, but 
had been set down of the spotted fever or other 
distempers, besides others concealed. 

But those were trifling things to what followed 
immediately after ; for now the weather set in hot, 
and from the first week in June, the infection 
spread in a dreadful manner, and the bills rose 
high, the articles of the fever, spotted fever, and 
teeth, began to swell : for all that could conceal 
their distempers, did it to prevent their neigh- 
bours shunning and refusing to converse with 
them ; and also to prevent authority shutting up 
their houses, which though it was not yet prac- 
tised, yet was threatened, and people were ex- 
tremely terrified at the thoughts of it. The second 
week in June, the parish of St. Giles's, where still 
the weight of the infection lay, buried 1 20, whereof 
though the bills said but G8 of the Plague, every 
body said there had been 100 at least, calculating 
it from the usual number of funerals in that parish 
as above. 


Till this week the city continued free, there 
having never any died except that one French- 
man, who I mentioned before, within the whole 
97 parishes. Now there died four within the 
city, one in Wood street, one in Fenchurch street, 
and two in Crooked-lane : Southwark was entirely 
free, having not one yet died on that side of the 

I lived without Aldgate, about mid-way be- 
tween Aldgate church and Whitechapel-bars, on 
the left hand or north side of the street ; and as 
the distemper had not reached to that side of the 
city, our neighbourhood continued very easy : but 
at the other end of the town, their consternation 
was very great ; and the richer sort of people, 
especially the nobility and gentry, from the west 
part of the city, thronged out of town, with their 
families and servants, in an unusual manner ; and 
this was more particularly seen in Whitechapel ; 
that is to say, the broad street where I lived : in- 
deed nothing was to be seen but waggons and 
carts, with goods, women, servants, children, &c. 
coaches filled with people of the better sort, and 
horsemen attending them, and all hurrying away; 
then empty waggons and carts appeared, and spare 
horses vvith servants, who it was apparent were 
returning or sent from the country to fetch more 
people : besides innumerable numbers of men on 
harseback, some alone, others with servants, and 
generally speaking, all loaded with baggage and 
fitted out for travelling, as any one might per- 
ceive by their appearance. 

This was a very terrible and melancholy thing 
to see, and as it was a sight which I could not but 
look on from morning to night, for indeed there 
was nothing else of moment to be seen, it filled 
me with very serious thoughts of the misery that 


was coming upon the city, and the unhappy con- 
dition of those that would he left in it. 

This hurry of the people was such for some 
weeks, that there was no getting at the Lord 
Mayor's door without exceeding difficulty ; there 
was such pressing and crowding there to get 
passes and certificates of health, for such as tra- 
velled abroad ; for without these, there was no 
being admitted to pass through the towns upon 
the road, or to lodge in any inn : now as there 
had none died in the city for all this time, my 
Lord Mayor gave certificates of health without 
any difficulty to all those who lived in the 97 
parishes, and to those within the liberties too for 
a while. 

This hurry, I say, continued some weeks, that 
is to say, all the month of May and June, and the 
more because it was rumoured that an order of 
the government was to be issued out, to place 
turnpikes and barriers on the road, to prevent 
people's travelling; and that the towns on the 
road would not suffer people from London to 
pass, for fear of bringing the infection along with 
them, though neither of these rumors had any 
foundation, but in the imagination : especially at 

I now began to consider seriously with myself, 
concerning my own case, and how I should dis- 
pose of myself ; that is to say, whether I should 
resolve to stay in London, or shut up my house 
and flee, as many of my neighbours did. I have 
set this particular down so fully, because I know 
not but it may be of moment to those who come 
after me, if they come to be brought to the same 
distress, and to the same manner of making their 
choice, and therefore I desire this account may 
pass with them, rather for a direction to them- 

B 5 


selves to act by, than a history of my actings, 
seeing it may not be of one farthing value to 
them to note what became of me. 

I had two important things before me ; the one 
was the carrying on my business and shop, which 
was considerable, and in which was embarked all 
my effects iu the world ; and the other was the 
preservation of my life in so dismal a calamity, as 
I saw apparently was coming upon the whole 
city ; and which, however great it was, my fears 
perhaps, as well as other people's, represented to 
be much greater than it could be. 

The first consideration was of great moment to 
me ; my trade was a saddler, and as dealings were 
chiefly not by a shop or chance trade, but among 
the merchants trading to the English colonies in 
America, so my effects lay very much in the 
hands of such. I was a single man, it is true, 
but I had a family of servants, who I kept at my 
business, had a house, shop, and warehouses filled 
with goods ; and in short, to leave them all as 
things in such a case must be left, that is to say, 
without any overseer or person fit to be trusted 
with them, had been to hazard the loss not only 
of my trade, but of my goods, and indeed of all I 
had in the world. 

I had an elder brother at the same time in 
London, and not many years before come over 
from Portugal; and advising with him, his 
answer was in three vi^ords, the same that was 
given in another case quite different, viz. " Master, 
save thyself." In a word, he was for my retiring 
into the country, as he resolved to do himself, 
with his family ; telling me, what he had, it seems, 
heard abroad, that the best preparation for the 
plague was to run away from it. As to my argu- 
ment of losing my trade, my goods, or debts, he 


quite confuted me : he told me the same thing, 
which I argued for my staying, viz. that I would 
trust God with my safety and health, was the 
strongest repulse to my pretensions of losing 
my trade and my goods ; for, says he, is it not as 
reasonable that you should trust God with the 
chance or risk of losing your trade, as that you 
should stay in so imminent a point of danger, and 
trust him with your life ? 

I could not argue that I was in any strait, as 
to a place where to go, having several friends 
and relations in Northamptonshire, whence our 
family first came from ; and particularly, I had 
an only sister in Lincolnshire, very willing to re- 
ceive and entertain me. 

My brother, who had already sent his wife and 
two children into Bedfordshire, and resolved to 
follow them, pressed my going very earnestly ; 
and I had once resolved to comply with his de- 
sires, but at that time could get no horse : for 
though, it is true, all the people did not go out of 
the city of London, yet I may venture to say, that, 
in a manner, all the horses did ; for there was 
hardly a horse to be bought or hired in the whole 
city for some weeks. Once I resolved to travel 
on foot with one servant, and, as many did, lie at 
no inn, but carry a soldier's tent with us, and so 
lie in the fields, the weather being very warm, and 
no danger from taking cold : I say, as many did, 
because several did so at last, especially those 
who had been in the armies in the war, which had 
not been many years past ; and I must needs say, 
that speaking of second causes, had most of the 
people that travelled done so, the Plague had not 
been carried into so many country towns and 
houses as it was, to the great damage, and indeed 
to the ruin of abundance of people. 


But then my servant, who I had intended to 
take down with me, deceived me; and being 
frighted at the increase of the distemper, and not 
knowing when I should go, he took other mea- 
sures, and left me, so I was put off for that time ; 
and one way or other, J always found, that to 
appoint to go away was always crossed by some 
accident or other, so as to disappoint and put it 
off again ; and this brings in a story, which other- 
wise might be thought a needless digression, viz. 
about these disappointments being from heaven. 

I mention this story also as the best method 
I can advise any person to take in such a case, 
especially if he be one that makes conscience of 
his duty, and would be directed what to do in it, 
namely, that he should keep his eye upon the 
particular providences which occur at that time, 
and look at them complexly, as they regard one 
another, and as altogether regard the question 
before him, and then I think he may safely take 
them for intimations from heaven of what is his 
unquestioned duty to do in such a case ; I mean as 
to going away from, or staying in the place where 
we dwell, when visited with an infectious dis- 

It came very warmly into ray mind, one morn- 
ing, as I was musing on this particular thing, 
that, as nothing attended us without the direction 
or permission of Divine power, so these disap- 
pointments must have something in them extra- 
ordinary ; and I ought to consider, whether it did 
not evidently point out, or intimate to me, that it 
was the will of heaven I should not go. It im- 
mediately followed in my thoughts, that if it 
really was from God that I should stay, he was 
able effectually to preserve me in the midst of all 
the death and danger that would surround me ; 


and that if I attempted to secure myself by flee- 
ing from my habitation, and acted contrary to 
these intimations, which I believed to be divine, 
it was a kind of flying from God, and that he 
could cause his justice to overtake me when and 
where he thought fit. 

These thoughts quite turned my resolutions 
again, and when I came to discourse with my 
brother again, I told him that I inclined to stay 
and take my lot in that station in which God had 
placed me ; and that it seemed to be made more 
especially my duty, on the account of what I 
have said. 

My brother, though a very religious man 
himself, laughed at all I had suggested about its 
being an intimation from heaven, and told me 
several stories of such fool-hardy people, as he 
called them, as I was ; that I ought, indeed, to 
submit to it as a work of heaven, if I had been 
any way disabled by distempers or diseases, and 
that then not being able to go, I ought to acquiesce 
in the direction of him, who having been my 
Maker, had an undisputed right of sovereignty in 
disposing of me ; and that then there had been no 
difficulty to determine which was the call of his 
providence, and which was not : but that I should 
take it as an intimation from heaven, that I should 
not go out of town, only because I could not hire 
a horse to go, or my fellow was run away that was 
to attend me, was ridiculous, since, at the same 
time, I had my health and limbs, and other ser- 
vants, and might, with ease, travel a day or two 
on foot, and having a good certific.ite of being in 
perfect health, might either hire a horse, or take 
post on the road, as I thought fit. 

Then he proceeded to tell me of the mischievous 
consequences which attended the presumption of 


the Turks and Mahometans in Asia and in other 
places, where he had been, (for my brother, being 
a merchant, was, a few years before, as I have 
ah-eady observed, returned from abroad, coming 
last from Lisbon,) and how, presuming upon their 
professed predestinating notions, and of every 
man's end being predetermined and unalterably 
before-hand decreed, they would go unconcerned 
into infected places, and converse with infected 
persons, by which means they died at the rate of 
ten or fifteen thousand a week, whereas the Euro- 
peans or Christian merchants, who kept them- 
selves retired and reserved, generally escaped the 

Upon these arguments my brother changed my 
resolutions again, and I began to resolve to go, 
and accordingly made all things ready ; for, in 
short, the infection increased round me, and the 
bills were risen to almost 700 a week, and my 
brother told me he would venture to stay no 
longer. I desired him to let me consider of it 
but till the next day, and I would resolve ; and, 
as I had already prepared every thing as well as 
I could, as to my business, and who to entrust my 
affairs with, I had little to do but to resolve. 

I went home that evening greatly oppressed in 
my mind, irresolute, and not knowing what to do ; 
I had set the evening wholly apart to consider 
seriously about it, and was all alone ; for already 
people had, as it were, by a general consent, taken 
up the custom of not going out of doors after sun- 
set, the reasons I shall have occasion to say more 
of by and by. 

In the retirement of this evening I endeavoured 
to resolve first, what was my duty to do, and I 
stated the arguments with which my brother had 
pressed me to go into the country, and I set 


against them the strong impressions which 1 had 
on my mind for staying; the visible call I seemed 
to have from the particular circumstance of my 
calling, and the care due from me for the preser- 
vation of my effects, which were, as I might say, 
my estate : also the intimations which I thought 
I had from heaven, that to me signified a kind of 
direction to venture, and it occurred to me, that 
if I had what I might call a direction to stay, I 
ought to suppose it contained a promise of being 
preserved if I obeyed. 

This lay close to me, and my mind seemed 
more and more encouraged to stay than ever, and 
supported with a secret satisfaction that I should 
be kept : add to this, that turning over the Bible 
which lay before me, and while my thoughts were 
more than ordinarily serious upon the question, 
I cried out, " Well, I know not what to do. Lord 
direct me!" and the like; and, at that juncture, 
I happened to stop turning over the book, at the 
ninety-first Psalm, and casting my eye on the 
second verse, I read on to the seventh verse ex- 
clusive ; and after that included the tenth, as 
follows : " I will say of the Lord, he is my re- 
fuge and my fortress, my God, in him will I trust. 
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the 
fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He 
shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his 
wings shalt thou trust ; his truth shall be thy 
shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for 
the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth 
by day ; nor for the pestilence that walketii in 
darkness ; nor for the destruction that wasteth at 
noon-day. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and 
ten thousand at thy right hand ; but it shall not 
come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou 


behold and see the reward of the wicked. Be- 
cause thou hast made the Lord, which is my re- 
fuge, even the Most High, thy habitation, there 
shall no evil befal thee, neither shall any plague 
come nigh thy dwelling," &c. 

I scarce need tell the reader, that from that 
moment I resolved that I would stay in the town, 
and casting myself entirely upon the goodness 
and protection of the Almighty, would not seek 
any other shelter whatever ; and that as my times 
were in his hands, he was as able to keep me in 
a time of infection as in a time of health ; and if 
he did not think fit to deliver me, still I was in 
his hands, and it was meet he should do with me 
as should seem good to him. 

With this resolution I went to bed ; and I was 
farther confirmed in it the next day, by the 
woman being taken ill with whom I had intended 
to intrust my house and all my affliirs : but I had 
a farther obligation laid on me on the same side ; 
for the next day I found myself very much out 
of order also ; so that if I would have gone away, 
I could not, and I continued ill three or four days, 
and this entirely determined my stay ; so I took 
my leave of my brother, who went away to Bark- 
ing, in Surry, and afterwards fetched a round 
farther into Buckinghamshire, or Bedfordshire, to 
a retreat he had found out there for his family. 

It was a very ill time to be sick in, for if any 
one complained, it was immediately said he had 
the Plague ; and though I had, indeed, no symp- 
toms of that distempter, yet being very ill, both 
in my head and in my stomach, I was not without 
apprehension that I really was affected ; but in 
about three days I grew better ; the third night I 
rested well, sweated a little, and was much re- 


freshed ; the apprehensions of its being the in- 
fection went also quite away with my illness, and 
I went about my business as usual. 

These things, however, put off all my thoughts 
of going into the country ; and my brother also 
being gone, I had no more debate, either with 
him, or with myself, on that subject. 

It was now mid-July, and the plague, which 
had chiefly raged at the other end of the town, 
and as I said before, in the parishes of St. Giles's, 
St. Andrew's Holborn, and towards Westminster, 
began now to come eastward towards the part 
where I lived. It was to be observed, indeed, 
that it did not come straight on towards us ; for 
the city, that is to say within the walls, was indif- 
ferent healthy still ; nor was it got then very 
much over the water into Southwark, for though 
there died that week 1268 of all distempers, 
whereof it might be supposed above 900 died of 
the Plague, yet there was but 28 in the whole 
city, within the walls, and but 19 in Southwark, 
Lambath parish included; whereas, in the pa- 
rishes of St. Giles's and St. Martin's in the fields, 
alone, there died 421. 

But we perceived the infection kept chiefly in 
the out parishes, which being very populous, and 
fuller also of poor, the distemper found more to 
prey upon than in the city, as I shall observe af- 
terward ; we perceived, I say, the distemper to 
draw our way, viz. by the parishes of Clerkenwell, 
Cripplegate, Shoreditch, and Bishopsgate ; which 
last two parishes joining to Aldgate, Whitechapel, 
and Stepney, the infection came at length to spread 
its utmost rage and violence in those parts, even 
when it abated, at the western parishes where it 

It was very strange to observe, that in this 


particular week, from the fourth to the eleventh 
of July, when, as I have observed, there died 
near 400 of the Plague in the two parishes of St. 
Martin's and St. Giles's in the Fields only, there 
died in the parish of Aldgate but four, in the 
parish of Whitechapel three, in the parish of Step- 
ney but one. 

Likewise, in the next week, from the eleventh 
of July to the eighteenth, when the week's bill 
was 1761, yet there died no more of the Plague, 
on the whole Southwark side of the water, than 

But this face of things soon changed, and it 
began to thicken in Cripplegate parish especially, 
and in Clerkenwell ; so, that by the second week 
in August, Cripplegate parish alone buried 886, 
and Clerkenwell 156 ; of the first, 850 might well 
be reckoned to die of the Plague ; and of the last, 
the bill itself said 145 were of the Plague. 

During the month of July, and while, as I have 
observed, our part of the town seemed to be 
spared in comparison of the west part, I went 
ordinarily about the streets, as my business re- 
quired, and particularly went, generally, once in 
a day, or in two days, into the city, to my bro- 
ther's house, which he had given me charge of, 
and to see if it was safe : and having the key in 
my pocket, I used to go over the house, and over 
most of the rooms, to see that all was well ; for 
though it be something wonderful to tell, that 
any should have hearts so hardened, in the midst 
of such a calamity, as to rob and steal, yet cer- 
tain it is, that all sorts of villanies, and even le- 
vities and debaucheries were then practised in the 
town, as openly as ever, I will not say quite as 
frequently, because the numbers of people were 
many ways lessened. 


But the city itself began now to be visited too, 
I mean witliin the walls ; but the number of people 
there were indeed extremely lessened by so great 
a multitude liaving been gone into the country ; 
and even all this month of July they continued to 
flee, though not in such multitudes as formerly. 
In August, indeed, they fled in such a manner, 
that I began to think there would be really none 
but magistrates and servants left in the city. 

As they fled now out of the city, so I should 
observe that the court removed early, viz. in the 
month of June, and went to Oxford, where it 
pleased God to preserve them ; and tlie distem- 
per did not, as I heard of, so much as touch 
them ; for which I cannot say, that I ever saw 
they shewed any great token of thankfulness, and 
hardly anything of reformation, though they did 
not want being told that their crying vices might, 
without breach of charity, be said to have gone 
far in bringing that terrible judgment upon the 
whole nation. 

The face of London was now, indeed, strangely 
altered, I mean the whole mass of buildings, city, 
liberties, suburbs, Westminster, Southwark, and 
altogether ; for as to the particular part called 
the city, or within the walls, that was not yet 
much infected ; but, in the whole, the face of 
things, I say, was much altered ; sorrow and 
sadness sat upon every face ; and though some 
part were not yet overwhelmed, yet all looked 
deeply concerned ; and as we saw it apparently 
coming on, so every one looked on himself and 
his family as in the utmost danger : were it pos- 
sible to represent those times exactly to those 
that did not see them, and give the reader due 
ideas of the liorror that every where presented 
itself, it must make just impressions upon their 


minds, and fill them with surprise. London 
might well be said to be all in tears ; the mourn- 
ers did not go about the streets, indeed, for 
nobody put on black, or made a formal dress of 
mourning for their nearest friends ; but the voice 
of mourning was truly heard in the streets ; the 
shrieks of women and children at the windows 
and doors of their houses, where their dearest re- 
lations were, perhaps, dying, or just dead, were 
so frequent to be heard, as we passed the streets, 
that it was enough to pierce the stoutest heart in 
the world to hear them. Tears and lamentations 
were seen in almost every house, especially in the 
first part of the visitation; for, towards the latter 
end, men's hearts were hardened, and death was 
so always before their eyes, that they did not so 
much concern themselves for the loss of their 
friends, expecting that themselves should be 
summoned the next hour. 

Business led me out sometimes to the other end 
of the town, even when the sickness was chiefly 
there ; and as the thing was new to me, as well 
as to every body else, it was a most surprising 
thing to see those streets, which were usually so 
thronged, now grown desolate, and so few people 
to be seen in them, that if I had been a stranger, 
and at a loss for my way, I might sometimes have 
gone the length of a whole street, I mean of the 
by- streets, and seen nobody to direct me, except 
watchmen, set at the doors of such houses as were 
shut up ; of which 1 shall speak presently. 

One day, being at that part of the town, on 
some special business, curiosity led me to observe 
things more than usually, and, indeed, I walked 
a great way where I had no business ; I went up 
Holborn, and there the street was full of people ; 
but they walked in the middle of the great street, 


neither on one side or the other, because, as I 
suppose, they would not mingle with anybody 
that came out of houses, or meet with smells 
and scents from houses that might be infected. 

The inns of court were all shut up; nor were 
very many of the lawyers in the Temple, or 
Lincoln's-inn, or Gray's-inn, to be seen there. 
Every body was at peace ; there was no occa- 
sion for lawyers: besides, it being in the time of 
the vacation too, they were generally gone into 
the country. Whole rows of houses in some 
places were shut close up, the inhabitants all fled, 
and only a watchman or two left. 

When I speak of rows of houses being shut up, 
I do not mean shut up by the magistrates, but 
that great numbers of persons followed the court, 
by the necessity of their employments, and 
other dependencies : and as others retired really 
frighted with the distemper, it was a mere desola- 
ting of some of the streets: but the fright was 
not yet near so great in the city, abstractly so 
called ; and particularly because, though they 
were at first in a most inexpressible consternation, 
yet, as I have observed, that the distemper inter- 
mitted often at first, so they were, as it were, 
alarmed, and unalarmed again, and this several 
times, till it began to be ^miliar to them : and 
that even when it appeared violent, yet seeing it 
did not presently spread into the city, or the east 
and south parts, the people began to take courage, 
and to be, as I may say, a little hardened: it is 
true, a vast many people fled, as I have observed, 
yet they were chiefly from the west end of the 
town; and from that we call the heart of the city, 
that is to say, among the wealtln'est of the people, 
and such people as were unincumbered with trades 
and business; but of the rest, the generality staid, 


and seemed to abide the worst ; so that in the 
place we call the hberties, and in the suburbs, in 
Southvvark, and in the east part, such as Wapping, 
RatclifF, Stepney, Rotherhithe, and the like, the 
people generally staid, except here and there a 
few wealthy families who, as above, did not depend 
upon their business. 

It must not be forgotten here, that the city 
and suburbs were prodigiously full of people at 
the time of this visitation, I mean at the time that 
it began ; for though I have lived to see a farther 
increase, and mighty throngs of people settling 
in London, more than ever, yet we had always a 
notion that the numbers of people Avhich, the 
wars being over, the armies disbanded, and the 
royal family and the monarchy being restored, 
had flocked to London, to settle in business, or 
to depend upon, and attend the court for rewards 
of services, preferments, and the like, was such, 
that the town was computed to have in it above a 
hundred thousand people more than ever it held 
before ; nay, some took upon them to say it had 
twice as many, because all the ruined families of 
the royal party flocked hither ; all the old sol- 
diers set up trades here, and abundance of fami- 
lies settled here: again, the court brought with 
them a great flux of pride and new fashions ; all 
people were grown gay and luxurious; and the 
joy of the restoration had brought a vast many 
families to London. 

I often thought, that as Jerusalem was be- 
sieged by the Romans, when the Jews were as- 
sembled together to celebrate the passover, by 
which means an incredible number of people were 
surprised there, who would otherwise have been 
in other countries: so the Plague entered London 
when an incredible increase of people had hap- 


pened occasionally by the particular circumstances 
above-named. As this conflux of the people to 
a youthful and jray court made a great trade in 
the city, especially in every thing that belonged 
to fashion and finery ; so it drew, by consequence, 
a great number of workmen, manufactures, and 
the like, being mostly poor people, who depended 
upon their labour : and I remember, in particular, 
that in a representation to my Lord Mayor, of the 
condition of the poor, it was estimated that there 
were no less than a hundred thousand riband- 
weavers in and about the city ; the chiefest num- 
ber of whom lived then in the parishes of Shore- 
ditch, Stepney, ^\'hitechapel, and Bishopsgate ; 
that, namely, about Spitalfields ; that is to say, 
as Spitalfields was then, for it was not so large as 
now by one fifth part. 

By this, however, the number of people in the 
whole may be judged of; and, indeed, I often 
wondered, that after the prodigious numbers of 
people that went away at first, there was yet so 
great a multitude left as it appeared there was. 

But I must go back again to the beginning of 
this surprising time : — while the fears of the peo- 
ple were young, they were increased strangely by 
several odd accidents, which, put altogether, it 
was really a wonder the whole body of the peo- 
ple did not rise as one man, and abandon their 
dwellings, leaving the place as a space of ground 
designed by heaven for an Akeldama, doomed to 
be destroyed from the face of the earth ; and that 
all that would be found in it would perish with it. 
I shall name but a few of these things ; but sure 
they were so many, and so many wizards and 
cunning people propagating them, that I have 
often wondered there was any (women especially) 
left behind. 


In the first place, a blazing star or comet ap- 
peared for several months before the plague, as 
there did the year after another, a little before 
the fire ; the old women, and the phlegmatic hy- 
pocondriac part of the other sex, whom I could 
almost call old women tco, remarked (especially 
afterward though not till both those judgments 
were over,) that those two comets passed direct- 
ly over the city, and that so very near the houses, 
that it was plain they imported something peculiar 
to the city alone ; that the comet before the pes- 
tilence was of a faint, dull, languid colour, audits 
motion very heavy, solemn, and slow : but that the 
comet before the fire was bright and sparkling, 
or, as others said, flaming, and its motion swift 
and furious ; and that, accordingly, one foretjld a 
heavy judgment, slow, but severe, terrible, and 
frightful, as was the Plague ; but the other fore- 
told a stroke, sudden, swift, and fiery, as the con- 
flagration ; nay, so particular some people were 
that, as they looked upon that comet preceding 
the fire, they fancied that they not only saw it 
pass swiftly and fiercely, and could perceive the 
motion with their eye, but even they heard it ; 
that it made a rushing mighty noise, fierce, and 
terrible, though at a distance, and but just per- 

I saw both these stars, and I must confess, had 
so much of the common notion of such things in 
my head, that I was apt to look upon them as 
the forerunners and warnings of God's judgments; 
and especially when, after the Plague had followed 
the first, I yet saw another of the like kind, I 
could not but say, God had not yet sufficiently 
scourged the city. 

But I could not at the same time carry these 
things to the height that others did, knowing too, 


that natural causes are assigned by the astrono- 
mers for such things ; and that their motions, 
and even their revohitions are calculated, or pre- 
tended to be calculated ; so that they cannot be 
so perfectly called the forerunners, or foretellers, 
much less the procurers of such events, as pesti- 
lence, war, fire, and the like. 

But let my thoughts, and the thoughts of the 
philosophers be, or have been what they will, 
these things had a more than ordinary influence 
upon the minds of the common people, and they 
had almost universal melancholy apprehensions 
of some dreadful calamity and judgment coming 
upon the city ; and this principally from the sight 
of this comet, and the little alarm that was given 
in December by two people dying at St. Giles's, 
as above. 

The appprehensions of the people were likewise 
strangely increased by the error of the times ; in 
which, I think, the people, from what principle I can- 
not imagine, were more addicted to prophesies, and 
astrological conjurations, dreams, and old wives'- 
tales, t^ian ever they were before orsince : whether 
this unhappy temper was originally raiised by the 
follies of some people who got money by it, that 
is to say, by printing predictions and prognosti- 
cations, I know not ; but certain it is, books 
frighted them terribly ; such as Lilly's almanack, 
Gadbury's allogical predictiojis ; Poor Robin's 
almanack, and the like ; also several pretended 
religious books ; one entitled, — " Come out of 
her, my people, lest you be partaker of her 
plagues ; " — another, called — " Fair Warning ;" — 
another, — " Britain's Remembrancer," and many 
such; all, or most part of which, foretold, directly 
or covertly, the ruin of the city : nay, some were 
so enthusiastically bold as to run about the streets, 


with their oral predictions, pretending they were 
sent to preach to the city ; and one, in particular, 
who, like Jonah to Nineveh, cried in the streets, 
— yet forty days, and LONDON shall be de- 
stroyed. I will not be positive whether he said 
yet forty days, or yet a few days. Another ran 
about naked, except a pair of drawers about his 
waist, crying day and night, like a man that 
Josephus mentions, who cried, " Woe to Jeru- 
salem ! " a little before the destruction of that 
city ; so this poor naked creature cried, " O the 
great and the dreadful God ! " and said no more, 
but repeated those words continually, with a voice 
and countenance full of horror, a swift pace, and 
nobody could ever find him to stop, or rest, or 
take any sustenance, at least, that ever I could 
hear of. I met this poor creature several times 
in the streets, and would have spoken to him, but 
he would not enter into speech with me, or any 
one else, but held on his dismal cries continually. 

These things terrified the people to the last 
degree ; and especially when two or three times, 
as I have mentioned already, they found one or 
two in the bills dead of the Plague at St. Giles's. 

Next to these public things were the dreams 
of old women, or, I should say, the interpretation 
of old women upon other people's dreams ; and 
these put abundance of people even out of their 
wits : some heard voices warning them to be 
gone, for that there would be such a Plague in 
London so that the living would not be able to 
bury the dead : others saw apparitions in the air ; 
and I must be allowed to say of both, I hope 
without breach of charity, that they heard voices 
that never spake, and saw sights that never ap- 
peared ; but the imagination of the people was 
really turned wayward and possessed : and no 


wonder if they who were poring continually at 
the clouds saw shapes and figures, representa- 
tions and appearances, which had nothing in them 
but air and vapour. Here they told us they saw 
a flaming sword held in a hand, coming out of a 
cloud, with a point hanging directly over the city. 
There they saw hearses and coffins in the air, 
carrying to be buried. And there again, heaps of 
dead bodies lying unburied, and the like, just as 
the imagination of the poor terrified people fur- 
nished them with matter to work upon. 

So hypochondriac fancies represent 
Ships, Armies, Battles, in the firmament ; 
Till steady eyes the exhalations solve, 
And all to its first matter, cloud, resolve. 

I could fill this account with the strange rela- 
tions such people gave every day of what they 
had seen ; and every one was so positive of their 
having seen what they pretended to see, that 
there was no contradicting them without breach 
of friendship, or being accounted rude and un- 
manerly on the one hand, and profane and im- 
penetrable on the other. One time, before the 
Plague was begun, (otherwise than, as I have 
said, in St. Giles's) I think it was in March, see- 
ing a crowd of people in the street, I joined them 
to satisfy my curiosity, and found them all staring 
up into the air, to see what a woman told them ap- 
peared plain to her, which was an Angel clothed in 
white, with a fiery sword in his hand, waving it, 
or brandishing it over his head : she described 
every part of the figure to the life; shewed them 
the motion, and the form ; and the poor people 
came into it so eagerly, and witli so much readi- 
ness. " Yes, I see it all plainly," says one ; 
" there is the sword as plain as can be." Another 


saw the angel. One saw his very face, and cried 
out, " what a glorious creature he was !" One 
saw one thing, and one another. I looked as 
earnestly as the rest, but, perhaps, not with so 
much willingness to be imposed upon ; and I said, 
indeed, that I could see nothing but a white 
cloud, bright on one side, by the shining of the 
sun upon the other part. The woman endea- 
voured to shew it me, but could not make me 
confess that I saw it, which, indeed, if I had, I 
must have lied : but the woman turning upon 
me, looked in my face, and fancied I laughed ; in 
which her imagination deceived her too ; for I 
really did not laugh, but was very seriously re- 
flecting how the poor people were terrified by the 
force of their own imagination. However, she 
turned from me, called me profane fellow, and a 
scoffer ; told me that it was a time of God's anger, 
and dreadful judgments were approaching; and 
that despisersj such as I, should wonder and 

The people about her seemed disgusted as well 
as she ; and I found there was no persuading them 
that I did not laugh at them ; and that I should 
be rather mobbed by them than be able to un- 
deceive them : so I left them ; and this appear- 
ance passed for as real as the blazing star itself. 

Another encounter I had in the open day also : 
and this was in going through a narrow passage 
from Petty-France into Bishopsgate church-yard, 
by a row of alms-houses ; there are two church- 
yards to Bishopsgate church, or parish ; one we 
go over to pass from the place called Petty-France 
mto Bishopsgate street, coming out just by the 
church door ; the other is on the side of the 
narrow passage where the alms-houses are on the 
left ; and a dwarf-wall with a palisadoe on it, on 


the right hand ; and the city wall on the other 
side, more to the right. 

In this narrow passage stands a man looking 
through between the palisadoes into the burying 
place ; and as many people as the narrowness of 
tlie passage would admit to stop, without hinder- 
ing the passage of others ; and he was talking 
mighty eagerly to them, and pointing now to one 
place, and then to another, and affirming that he 
saw a ghost walking upon such a grave stone 
there ; he described the shape, the posture, and 
the movement of it so exactly, that it was the 
greatest matter of amazement to him in the world 
that every body did not see it as well as he. On 
a sudden he would cry, " there it is — now it comes 
this way :" then, " 'tis turned back :" till at length 
he persuaded the people into so firm a belief of 
it, that one fancied he saw it, and another fancied 
he saw it ; and thus he came every day making a 
strange hubbub, considering it was in so narrow a 
passage, till Bishopsgate clock struck eleven ; and 
then the ghost would seem to start, and, as if he 
were called away, disappeared on a sudden. 

I looked earnestly every way, and at the very 
moment that this man directed, but could not see 
the least appearance of any thing ; but so positive 
was this poor man, that he gave the people the 
vapours in abundance, and sent them away tremb- 
ling and frighted ; till at length, few people that 
knew of it, cared to go through that passage, and 
hardly anybody by night, on any account what- 

This ghost, as the poor man affirmed, made 
signs to the houses, and to the ground, and to the 
people ; plainly intimating, or else tlicy so under- 
standing it, that abundance of the people should 
come to be buried in the church yard ; as, indeed, 


happened : but that he saw such aspects, I must 
acknowledge, I never beheved ; nor could I see 
any thing of it myself, though I looked most 
earnestly to see it, if possible. 

These things serve to shew how far the people 
were really overcome with delusions ; and as they 
had a notion of the approach of a visitation, all 
their predictions ran upon a most dreadful Plague, 
which should lay the whole city, and even the 
kingdom, waste ; and should destroy almost all 
the nation, both man and beast. 

To this, as I said before, the astrologers added 
stories of the conjunctions of planets in a ma- 
lignant manner, and with a mischievous influence ; 
one of which conjunctions was to happen, and did 
happen, in October, and the other in November ; 
and they filled the people's heads with predictions 
on these signs of the heavens, intimating, that 
those conjunctions foretold drought, famine, and 
pestilence ; in the two first of them, however, 
they were entirely mistaken, for we had no drough- 
ty season, but in the beginning of the year a hard 
frost, which lasted from December almost to 
March : and after that, moderate weather, rather 
warm than hot, with refreshing winds, and in 
short, very seasonable weather ; and also several 
very great rains. 

Some endeavours were used to suppress the 
printing of such books as terrified the people, 
and to frighten the dispersers of them, some of 
whom were taken up, but nothing was done in it 
as I am informed ; the Government being un- 
willing to exasperate the people, who were, as I 
may say, all out of their wits already. 

Neither can I acquit those ministers that, in 
their sermons, rather sunk, than lifted up the 
hearts of their hearers ; many of them, no doubt, 


did it for the strengthening the resolution of the 
people, and especially for quickening them to 
repentance ; but it certainly answered not their 
end, at least, not in proportion to the injury it 
did another way ; and, indeed, as God himself, 
through the whole scriptures, rather draws to 
him by invitations, and calls to turn to him 
and live, than drives us by terror and amaze- 
ment ; so, I must confess, I thought the ministers 
should have done also, imitating our blessed Lord 
and Master in this, that his whole gospel is full 
of declarations from heaven of God's mercy, and 
his readiness to receive penitents, and forgive 
them ; complaining, " ye will not come unto me, 
that ye may have life ; and that, therefore, his 
gospel is called the gospel of peace, and the gos- 
pel of grace. 

But we had some good men, and that of all 
persuasions and opinions, whose discourses were 
full of terror ; w^ho spoke nothing but dismal 
things ; and as they brought the people together 
with a kind of horror, sent them away in tears, 
prophesying nothing but evil things ; terrifying 
the people with the apprehensions of being utterly 
destroyed, not guiding them, at least not enough, 
to cry to heaven for mercy. 

It was, indeed, a time of very unhappy breaches 
among us in matters of religion: innumerable 
sects, and divisions, and separate opinions, pre- 
vailed among the people ; the Church of England 
was restored, indeed, with the restoration of the 
monarchy, about four years before ; but the mi- 
nisters and preachers of the Presbyterians, and 
Independents, and of all the other sorts of pro- 
fessions, had begun to gather separate societies, 
and erect altar againt altar, and all those had 
their meetings for worship apart, as they have 


now, but not so many then, the Dissenters being 
not thoroughly formed into a body as they are 
since ; and those congregations which were thus- 
gathered together were yet but few ; and even 
those that were, the Government did not allow, 
but endeavoured to suppress them, and shut up 
their meetings. 

But the visitation reconciled them again, at 
least for a time, and many of the best and most 
valuable ministers and preachers of the Dissen- 
ters were suffered to go into the churches where 
the incumbents were fled away, as many where, 
not being able to stand it ; and the people flocked 
without distinction to hear them preach, not much 
inquiring who, or what opinion they were of; 
but after the sickness was over, that spirit of 
charity abated, and every church being again 
supplied with their own ministers, or others pre- 
sented, where the minister was dead, things re- 
turned to their old channel again. 

One mischief always introduces another i these 
terrors and apprehensions of the people led them 
into a thousand weak, foohsh, and wicked things, 
which they wanted not a sort of people, really 
wicked, to encourage them to ; and this was run- 
ning about to fortune-tellers, cunning men, and 
astrologers, to know their fortune, or, as it is vul- 
garly expressed, to have their fortunes told them, 
their nativities calculated, and the like ; and this 
folly presently made the town swarm with a 
wicked generation of pretenders to magic, to the 
black art, as they called it, and I know not what ; 
nay, to a thousand worse dealings with the devil 
than they were really guilty of; and this trade 
grew so open, and so generally practised, that it 
became common to have signs and inscriptions, 
set up at doors ; — " here lives a fortune-teller," — 


" here lives an astrologer," — " here you may have 
your nativity calculated," — and the like; and 
Frier Bacon's brazen head, which was the usual 
sign of these people's dwellings, was to be seen 
almost in every street, or else the sign of Mother 
Shipton, or of Merlin's head, and the like. 

With what blind, absurd, and ridiculous stuff, 
these oracles of the devil pleased and satisfied 
the people I really knov/ not ; but certain it is, 
that innumerable attendants crowded about their 
doors every day : and if but a grave fellow, in a 
velvet jacket, a band, and a black cloak, which 
was the habit those quack-conjurors generally 
went in, was but seen in the streets, the people 
would follow them in crowds, and ask them ques- 
tions as they went along. 

I need not mention what a horrid delusion this 
was, or what it tended to ; but there was no re- 
medy for it, till the Plague itself put an end to it 
all, and, I supposed cleared the town of most of 
those calculators themselves. One mischief was, 
that if the poor people asked these mock astro- 
logers whether there would be a Plague, or no ? 
they all agreed in the general to answer, yes ; for 
that kept up their trade : and had the people not 
been kept in a fright about that, the wizards 
would presently have been rendered useless, and 
their craft had been at an end ; but they always 
talked to them of such and such influences of 
the stars, of the conjunctions of such and such 
planets, which must necessarily bring sickness 
and distempers, and consequently the Plague ; 
and some had the assurance to tell them the 
Plague was begun already, which was too true, 
though they that said so knew nothing of the 

The ministers, to do them justice, and preach- 

c 5 


ets of most sorts, that were serious and under- 
standing persons, thundered against these, and 
other wicked practices, and exposed the folly as 
well as the wickedness of them together ; and the 
most sober aud judicious people despised and 
abhorred them : but it was impossible to make 
any impression upon the middling people, and the 
working labouring poor ; their fears were predo- 
minant over all their passions, and they threw 
away their money in a most distracted manner 
upon these whimsies. Maid servants especially, 
and men servants, were the chief of their custo- 
mers ; and their question generally was, after the 
first demand of, " will there be a Plague ?" I say 
the next question was, " Oh, Sir ! for the Lord's 
sake what will become of me ? will my mistress 
keep me, or will she turn me off? will she stay 
here, or will she go into the country ? and if she 
goes into the country, will she take me with her, 
or leave me here to be starved and undone ?" and 
the like of men servants. 

The truth is, the case of poor servants was 
very dismal, as I shall have occasion to mention 
again by and by ; for it was apparent a prodi- 
gious number of them would be turned away, and 
it was so ; and of them abundance perished ; and 
particularly of those that these false prophets had 
flattered with hopes that they should be continued 
in their services, and carried with their masters 
and mistresses into the country ; and had not 
public charity provided for these poor creatures, 
whose number was exceeding great, and in all 
cases of this nature must be so, they would have 
been in the worst condition of any people in the 

These things agitated the minds of the common 
people for many months while the first apprehen- 


yions were upon them, and while the Plague was 
not, as I may say, yet broken out : but I must 
also not forget that the most serious part of the 
inhabitants behaved after another manner ; the 
Government encouraged their devotion, and ap- 
pointed public prayers, and days of fasting and 
humiliation, to make public confession of sin, and 
implore the mercy of God to avert the dreadful 
judgment which hung over their heads ; and it is 
not to be expressed with what alacrity the people 
of all persuasions embraced the occasion ; how 
they flocked to the churches and meetings, and 
they were all so thronged that there was often no 
coming near, no, not to the very doors of the 
largest churches : also, there were daily prayers 
appointed morning and evening at several churches, 
and days of private praying at other places ; at 
all which the people attended, I say, with an un- 
common devotion : several private famihes, also, 
as well of one opinion as another, kept family 
fasts, to which they admitted their near relations 
only ; so that, in a word, those people who were 
really serious and religious applied themselves in 
a truly christian manner to the proper work of 
repentance and humiliation, as a christian people 
ought to do. 

Again, the public shewed that they would bear 
their share in these things. The very court, which 
was then gay and luxurious, put on a face of just 
concern for the public danger. All the plays and 
interludes which, after the manner of the French 
court, had been set up, and began to increase 
among us, were forbid to act : the gaming 
tables, public dancing rooms, and music houses, 
which multiplied, and began to debauch the 
manners of the people, were shut up and sup- 
pressed ; and the jack-puddings, merry-andrews, 


puppet-shows, rope-dancers, and such like doings, 
which had bewitched the poor common people, 
shut up their shops, finding, indeed, no trade, for 
the minds of the people were agitated with other 
things ; and a kind of sadness and horror at these 
things sat upon the countenances even of the 
common people ; death was before their eyes, 
and every body began to think of their graves, 
not of mirth and diversions. 

But even those wholesome reflections, which, 
rightly managed, would havemosthappily led the 
people to fall upon their knees, make confession 
of their sins, and look up to their merciful Saviour 
for pardon, imploring his compassion on them in 
such a time of their distress ; by which we might 
have become as a second Nineveh, had a quite 
contrary extreme in the common people, who, 
ignorant and stupid in their reflections, as they 
were brutishly wicked and thoughtless before, 
were now led by their fright to extremes of folly ; 
and as I have said before, that they ran to con- 
jurors and witches and all sorts of deceivers, to 
know what should become of them; who fed 
their fears, and kept them always alarmed and 
awake, on purpose to delude them, and pick their 
pockets : so they were as mad upon their running 
after quacks and mountebanks, and every practi- 
sing old woman for medicines and remedies, 
storing themselves with such multitudes of pills, 
potions, and preservatives, as they were called ; 
that they not only spent their money, but even 
poisoned themselves beforehand, for fear of the 
poison of the infection, and prepared their bodies 
for the Plague, instead of preserving them against 
it. On the other hand it is incredible, and scarce 
to be imagined, how the posts of houses and 
corners of streets were plastered over with 


doctor's bills and papers of ignorant fellows 
quacking and tampering in physic, and inviting 
the people to come to them for remedies, which 
was generally set off with such flourishes as these, 
viz. — INFALLIBLE preventive pills against the 
Plague, — NEVER-FAILING preservatives against 
the infection, — sovereign cordials against the 
corruption of the air, — exact regulations for the 
conduct of the body in case of an infection, 
— Anti-pestilential pills, — incomparable drink 
against the Plague, never found out before, — An 
UNIVERSAL remedy for the Plague, — The only 
TRUE Plague water, — The royal antidote against 
all kinds of infection ; and such a number more 
that I cannot reckon up, and if I could, would fill 
a book of themselves to set them down. 

Others set up bills to summon people to their 
lodgings for directions and advice in the case of 
infection : these had specious titles also, such as 
these : — 

An eminent high Dutch Physician, newly come 
over from Holland, where he resided during 
all the time of the great Plague, last year, in 
Amsterdam, and cured multitudes of people 
that actually had the Plague upon them. 
An Italian gentlewoman, just arrived from 
Naples, having a choice secret to prevent 
infection, which she found out by her great 
experience, and did wonderful cures with it 
in the late Plague there, wherein there died 
20,000 in one day. 
An ancient gentlewoman having practised with 
great success in the late Plague in this city, 
Anno. 163G, gives her advice only to the fe- 
male sex. 'I'o be spoke with, &-c. 
An experienced ])]iysician, who has long studied 
the doctriiie of antidotes against all sorts of 


poison and infection has, after forty years 
practice, arrived to such skill as may, with 
God's blessing, direct persons how to prevent 
their being touched by any contagious dis- 
temper whatsoever. He directs the poor 
I take notice of these by way of specimen : I 
could give you two or three dozen of the like, 
and yet have abundance left behind. It is suffi- 
cient from these to apprise any one of the humour 
of those times ; and how a set of thieves and 
pick-pockets not only robbed and cheated the 
poor people of their money, but poisoned their 
bodies with odious and fatal preparations ; some 
with mercury, and some with other things as bad, 
perfectly remote from the thing pretended to ; 
and rather hurtful than serviceable to the body in 
case an infection followed. 

I cannot omit a subtlety of one of those quack 
operators, with which he gulled the poor people 
to crowd about him, but did nothing for them 
without money. He had it seems, added to his 
bills, which he gave about the streets, this adver- 
tisement in capital letters, viz. — He gives advice 
to the poor for nothing. 

Abundance of poor people came to him ac- 
cordingly, to whom he made a great many fine 
speeches, examined them of the state of their 
health, and of the constitution of their bodies, 
and told them many good things for them to do, 
which were of no great moment : but the issue 
and conclusion of all was, that he had a prepara- 
tion which if they took such a quantity of every 
morning, he would pawn his life they should 
never have the Plague, — no, though they lived in 
the house with people that were infected; this 
made the people all resolve to have it ; but then 


the price of that was so much, I think it was half 
a-crown : but, Sir, says one poor woman, I am a 
poor alms-woman, and am kept by the parish, and 
your bills say, you give the poor your help for 
nothinj?. Ay, good woman, says the doctor, so I 
do, as I published there : I give my advice to the 
poor for nothing, but not my physic ! Alas, Sir, 
says she, that is a snare laid for the poor then ; 
for you give them your advice for nothing, that 
is to say, you advise them gratis, to buy your 
physic for their money ; so does every shopkeeper 
with his wares. Here the woman began to give 
him ill words, and stood at his door all that day, 
telling her tale to all the people that came, till the 
doctor, finding she turned away his customers, 
was obliged to call her up stairs again, and give 
her his box of physic for nothing, which, perhaps 
too, was good for nothing when she had it. 

But to return to the people, whose confusions 
fitted them to be imposed upon by all sorts of 
pretenders, and by every mountebank. There is 
no doubt but these quacking sort of fellows raised 
great gains out of the miserable people ; for we daily 
found the crowds that ran after them were in- 
finitely greater, and their doors were more thronged 
thim those of Dr. Brooks, Dr. Upton, Dr Hodges, 
Dr. Berwick, or any, though the most famous 
men of the time : and I was told that some of 
them got five pound a day by their physic. 

But there was still another madness beyond all 
this, which may serve to give an idea of the dis- 
tracted humour of the poor people at that time ; 
and this was their following a worse sort of de- 
ceivers than any of these ; for these petty thieves 
only deluded tlicm to ])ick their pockets, and get 
their money, in vvhicli their wickedness, whatever 
it was, hiy chiefly on the side of the deceiver's 


deceiving, not upon the deceived : but in this part 
I am going to mention, it lay chiefly in the people 
deceived, or equally in both; and this was in 
wearing charms, philters, exorcisms, amulets, and 
I know not what preparations, to fortify the body 
with them against the Plague ; as if the Plague 
was not the hand of God, but a kind of a posses- 
sion of an evil spirit ; and that it was to be kept 
off with crossings, signs of the zodiac, papers tied 
up with so many knots, and certain words or 
figures written on them, as particularly the word 
Abracadabra, formed in triangle, or pyramid, 
thus : — 


ABRACADABR Others had the Jesuits' 

ABRACADAB Mark in a Cross : 




ABRAC Others nothing but this 

ABRA Mark thus : 



I might spend a great deal of time in my excla- 
mations against the follies, and indeed the wick- 
edness of those things, in a time of such danger, 
in a matter of such consequences as this, of a na- 
tional infection. But my memorandums of these 
things relate rather to take notice only of the fact, 
and mention only that it was so : how the poor 
people found the insufficiency of those things, and 
how many of them were afterwards carried away 
in the dead-carts, and thrown into the common 
graves of every parish, with these hellish charms 


and trumpery hanging about their necks, remains 
to be spoken of as we go along. 

All this was the effect of the hurry the people 
were in, after the first notion of the Plague being 
at hand was among them, and which may be said 
to be from about Michaelmas, 1664, but more 
particularly after the two men died in St. Giles's, 
in the beginning of December ; and again, after 
another alarm, in February : for when the Plague 
evidently spread itself, they soon began to see the 
folly of trusting to those unperforming creatures, 
who had gulled them of their money ; and then 
their fears worked another way, namely, to amaze- 
ment and stupidity, not knowing what course to 
take, or what to do, either to help or relieve 
themselves : but they ran about from one neigh- 
bour's house to another, and even in the streets 
from one door to another, with repeated cries of. 
Lord, have mercy upon us, what shall we do ? 

Indeed, the poor people were to be pitied in 
one particular thing, in which they had little or 
no relief, and which I desire to mention w^ith a 
serious awe and reflection, which, perhaps, every 
one that reads this may not relish ; namely, that 
whereas Death now began not, as we may say, to 
hover over every one's head only, but to look into 
their houses and chambers, and stare in their 
faces : though there might be some stupidity, 
and dulness of the mind, and there was so, a great 
deal ; yet there was a great deal of just alarm, 
sounded in the very inmost soul, if I may so say 
of others : many consciences were awakened ; 
many hard hearts melted into tears ; many a pe- 
nitent confession was made of crimes long con- 
cealed : it would have wounded the soul of any 
christian to have heard the dying groans of many 
a despairing creature ; and none durst come near 


to comfort them : many a robbery, many a mur- 
der, was then confessed aloud, and nobody sur- 
viving to record the accounts of it. People might 
be heard even into the streets as we passed along, 
calling upon God for mercy, through Jesus Christ, 
and saying, I have been a thief, I have been an 
adulterer, I have been a murderer, and the like ; 
and none durst stop to make the least enquiry 
into such things, or to administer comfort to the 
poor creatures, that in the anguish both of soul 
and body thus cried out. Some of the ministers 
did visit the sick at first, and for a little while, 
but it was not to be done ; it would have been 
present death to have gone into some houses : the 
very buryers of the dead, who were the most har- 
dened creatures in town, were sometimes beaten 
back, and so terrified, that they durst not go into 
bouses where the whole families were swept away 
together, and where the circumstances were more 
particularly horrible, as some were ; but this was 
indeed at the first heat of the distemper. 

Time inured them to it all ; and they ventured 
every where afterwards, without hesitation, as I 
shall have occasion to mention at large hereafter. 
I am supposing now the Plague to be began, as 
I have said, and that the magistrates began to 
take the condition of the people into their serious 
consideration : what they did as to the regulation 
of inhabitants, and of infected families, I shall 
speak to by itself; but as to the affair of health, 
it is proper to mention it here, that having seen 
the foolish humour of the people in running after 
quacks, and mountebanks, wizards, and for- 
tune-tellers, which they did as above, even to 
madness ; the Lord Mayor, a very sober and re- 
ligious gentleman, appointed physicians and sur- 
geons for relief of the poor ; I mean the diseased 


poor ; and, in particular, ordered the college of 
physicians to publish directions for cheap reme- 
dies for the poor, in all the circumstances of the 
distemper. This, indeed, was one of the most 
charitable and judicious things that could be done 
at that time ; for this drove the people from 
liaunting the doors of every disperser of bills, and 
from taking down blindly, and without considera- 
tion, poison for physic, and death instead of life. 

This direction of the physicians was done by a 
consultation of the whole college ; and, as it was 
particularly calculated for the use of the poor, 
and for cheap medicines, it was made public, so 
that every body might see it; and copies were 
given gratis to all that desired it : but as it is 
public, and to be seen on all occasions, I need not 
give the reader of this the trouble of it. 

I shall not be supposed to lessen the authority 
or capacity of the physicians when I say, that the 
violence of the distemper, when it came to its 
extremity, was like the fire the next year ; the 
fire, which consumed what the Plague could not 
touch, defied all the application of remedies ; the 
fire-engines were broken, the buckets thrown 
away, and the power of man was baffled and 
brought to an end ; so the Plague defied all medi- 
cines ; the very physicians were seized with it, 
with their preservatives in their mouths ; and 
men went about prescribing to others, and telling 
them wliat to do, till the tokens were upon them, 
and they dropped down dead ; destroyed by that 
very enemy they directed others to oppose. This 
was the case of several physicians, even some of 
them the most eminent, and of several of the 
most skilful surgeons ; abundance of quacks too 
died, who had the folly to trust to their own 
medicines, which they must needs be conscious to 


themselves, were good for nothing; and who 
rather ought, Hke other sorts of thieves, to have 
ran away, sensible of their guik, from the justice 
that they could not but expect should punish 
them, as they knew they had deserved. 

Not that it is any derogation from the labour 
or application of the physicians to say, they fell 
in the common calamity : nor is it so intended by 
me ; it rather is to their praise, that they ventured 
their lives so far as even to lose them in the ser- 
vice of mankind ; they endeavoured to do good, 
and to save the lives of others. But we were not 
to expect that the physicians could stop God's 
judgments, or prevent a distemper eminently 
armed from heaven, from executing the errand 
it was sent about. 

Doubtless, the physicians assisted many by 
their skill, and by their prudence and application, 
to the saving of their lives, and restoring their 
health : but it is not lessening their character, or 
their skill, to say, they could not cure those that 
had the tokens upon them, or those who were 
mortally infected before the physicians were sent 
for, as was frequently the case. 

It remains to mention now what public mea- 
sures were taken by the magistrates for the gene- 
ral safety, and to prevent the spreading of the 
distemper when it first broke out : I shall have 
frequent occasion to speak of the prudence of the 
magistrates, their charity, their vigilance for the 
poor, and for preserving good order, furnishing 
provisions, and the like, when the Plague was 
increased, as it afterwards was. But I am now 
upon the order and regulations they published 
for the government of infected families. 

I mentioned above, shutting of houses up; 
and it is needful to say something particularly to 


that ; for this part of the history of the Plague is 
very melancholy ; but the most grievous story 
must be told. 

About June, the Lord Mayor of London, and 
the court of Aldermen, as I have said, began 
more particularly to concern themselves for the 
regulation of the city. 

The Justices of Peace for Middlesex, by direc- 
tion of the Secretary of State, had begun to shut 
up houses in the parishes of St. Giles's in the 
Fields, St. Martin's, St. Clement Danes, &c., and 
it was with good success ; for in several streets 
where the Plague broke out, upon strict guarding 
the houses that were infected, and taking care to 
bury those that died immediately after they were 
known to be dead, the Plague ceased in those 
streets. It was also observed, that the Plague 
decreased sooner in those parishes, after they had 
been visited to the full, than it did in the parishes 
of Bishopsgate, Shoreditch, Aldgate, AVhitechapel, 
Stepney, and others : the early care taken in that 
manner, being a great means to the putting a 
check to it. 

This shutting up of houses was a method first 
taken, as I understand, in the Plague which hap- 
pened in 1603, at the coming of King James the 
First to the crown, and the power of shutting 
people up in their own houses was granted by act 
of parliament, entitled, — " An act for the cha- 
ritable relief and ordering of persons infected 
with the Plague." On which act of parliament, 
the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the city of 
London, founded the order they made at this 
time, and which took place the 1st of July, 1665, 
when the numbers infected within the city were 
but few, the last bill for the ninety-two parishes 
being but four ; and some houses having been 


shut up in the city, and some people being re- 
moved to the pest-house beyond Bunhill-fields, 
in the way to Ish'ngton ; I say, by these means, 
when there died near one thousand a week in the 
whole, the number in the city was but twenty- 
eight ; and the city was preserved more healthy 
in proportion, than any other place, all the time 
of the infection. 

These orders of my Lord Mayor's were pub- 
lished, as I have said, the latter end of June, and 
took place from the first of July, and were as 
follows, viz. 
Orders conceived and published by the Lord 

Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London, 

concerning the infection of the Plague, 1665. 

" Whereas, in the Reign of our late Sovereign, 
King James, of happy memory, an act was made 
for the charitable relief and ordering of persons 
infected with the Plague ; whereby authority was 
given to Justices of the Peace, Mayors, Bailiffs, 
and other head officers, to appoint within their 
several limits, Examiners, Searchers, Watchmen, 
Keepers, and Buryers, for the persons and places 
infected, and to minister unto them oaths for the 
performance of their offices. And the same 
statute did also authorise the giving of other 
directions, as unto them for the present necessity 
should seem good in their discretions. It is now 
upon special consideration, thought very expe- 
dient for preventing and avoiding of infection of 
sickness, (if it shall so please Almighty God) that 
these officers following be appointed, and these 
orders hereafter duly observed." 


*' First, it is thought requisite, and so ordered, 
that in every parish there be one, two, or more 


persons of good sort and credit, chosen and ap- 
pointed by the Alderman, his deputy, and Com- 
mon Council of every ward, by the name of 
Examiners, to continue in that office the space of 
two months at least ; and if any fit person, so 
appointed, shall refuse to undertake the same, 
the said parties, so refusing, to be committed to 
prison until they shall conform themselves ac- 

THE examiner's OFFICE. 

" That these Examiners be sworn by the Al- 
dermen, to enquire and learn from time to time 
what houses in every parish be visited, and what 
persons be sick, and of what diseases, as near as 
they can inform themselves ; and upon doubt in 
that case, to command restraint of access, until it 
appear what the disease shall prove : and if they 
find any person sick of the infection, to give order 
to the Constable that the house be shut up ; and 
if the Constable shall be found remiss or negli- 
gent, to give present notice thereof to the Alder- 
man of the ward." 


" That to every infected house there be ap- 
pointed two Watchmen ; one for every day, and 
the other for tlie night ; and that these Watch- 
men have a special care that no person go in or 
out of such infected houses, whereof they have 
the charge, upon pain of severe punishment. 
And the said Watchmen to do such further offices 
as the sick house shall need and require ; and if the 
Watchman be sent upon any business, to lock up 
the house, and take the key with him : and the 
Watchmen by day to attend until ten of the clock 


at night ; and the Watchmen by night until six in 
the morning." 


" That there be a special care to appoint wo- 
men-searchers in every parish, such as are of ho- 
nest reputation, and of the best sort as can be got 
in this kind : and these to be sworn to make due 
search, and true report to the utmost of their 
knowledge, whether the persons whose bodies 
they are appointed to search, do die of the infec- 
tion, or of what other diseases, as near as they 
can. And that the Physicians, who shall be ap- 
pointed for cure and prevention of the infection, 
do call before them the said searchers, who are, 
or shall be appointed for the several parishes 
under their respective cares, to the end they may 
consider whether they are fitly qualified for that 
employment ; and charge them from time to 
time, as they shall see cause, if they appear de- 
fective in their duties. 

" That no searcher, during this time of visita- 
tion, be permitted to use any public work or em- 
ployment, or keep any shop or stall, or be em- 
ployed as a laundress, or in any other common 
employment whatsoever." 


" For better assistance of the searchers, for as 
much as there hath been heretofore great abuse 
in mis-reporting the disease, to the further spread- 
ing of the infection : it is therefore ordered, that 
there be chosen and appointed able and discreet 
Chirurgeons, besides those that do already belong 
to the pest-house ; amongst whom the city and 
liberties to be quartered as the places lie most 


apt and convenient ; and every of these to have 
one quarter for his limit: and the said Chirur- 
geons in every of their limits to join with the 
Searchers for the view of the body, to the end 
there may be a true report made of the disease. 

•' And further, that the said Chirurgeons shall 
visit and search such like persons as shall either 
send for them, or be named and directed unto 
them, by the Examiners of every parish, and 
inform themselves of the disease of the said 

" And, forasmuch as the said Chirurgeons are 
to be sequestered from all other cures, and kept 
only to this disease of the infection : it is ordered, 
that every of the said Chirurgeons shall have 
twelve-pence a body searched by them, to be 
paid out of the goods of the party searched, if he 
be able, or otherwise by the parish." 


" If any nurse-keeper shall remove herself out 
of any infected house before twenty-eight days 
after the decease of any person dying of the in- 
fection, the house to which the said nurse-keeper 
doth so remove herself shall be put up until the 
said twenty-eight days be expired." 

Orders concerning infected houses, and per- 
sons sick of the plague. 

notice to be given of the sickness. 

" The master of every house, as soon as any 
one in his house complaineth either of botch, or 
purple, or swelling, in any part of his body, or 
falleth otlierwise dangerously sick, without appa- 
rent cause of some other disease, shall give know- 
ledge thereof to the Examiner of health, within 
two hours after the said sign shall appear." 




" As soon as any man shall be found by this 
Examiner, Chirurgeon, or Searcher, to be sick of 
the Plague, he shall the same night be sequestered 
in the same house, and in case he he so sequestered 
then, though he afterwards die not, the house 
wherein he sickened should be shut up for a 
month, after the use of the due preservatives taken 
by the rest." 


" For sequestration of the goods and stuff of 
the infection, their bedding, and apparel, and 
hangings of chambers, must be well aired with 
fire, and such perfumes as are requisite within 
the infected house, before they be taken again to 
use : this to be done by the appointment of the 


" If any person shall have visited any man, 
known to be infected of the plague, or entered 
willingly into any known infected house, being 
not allowed : the house wherein he inhabiteth, 
shall be shut up for certain days by the Examin- 
er's direction." 

BUT, &C. 

" Item, That none be removed out of the house 
where he falleth sick of the infection, into any 
house in the city, (except it be to the pest-house, 
or a tent, or unto some such house, which the 
owner of the said visited house holdeth in his own 
hands, and occupieth by his own servants,) and 
so as security be given to the parish, whither such 
remove is made ; that the attendance and charge 


about the said visited persons sliall be observed 
and charged in all the particularities before ex- 
pressed, without any cost of that parish, to which 
any such remove shall happen to be made, and 
this remove to be done by night : and it shall be 
lawful to any person that hath two houses, to re- 
move either his sound or his infected people to 
his spare house at his choice, so as if he send 
away first his sound, he not after send thither the 
sick, nor again unto the sick the sound. And that 
the same which he sendeth, be for one week at 
the least shut up, and secluded from company, 
for fear of some infection, at the first not appear- 


" That the burial of the dead by this visitation 
be at most convenient hours, always either before 
sun-rising, or after sun-setting, with the privity 
of the Church-wardens or Constables, and not 
otherwise ; and that no neighbours nor friends be 
suffered to accompany tlie corpse to church, or 
to enter the house visited, upon pain' of having 
his house shut up, or be imprisoned. 

" And that no corpse dying of infection shall 
be buried, or remain in any church in time of 
common prayer, sermon, or lecture. And that 
no children be suffered at time of burial of any 

corpse, in any church, church-yard, or burying- 

place, to come near the corpse, coffin, or grave. 

And that all the graves shall be at least six feet 


" And further, all public assemblies at other 

burials are to be forborne during the continuance 

of this visitation." 


" That no clothes, stufif, bedding, or garments 


be suffered to be carried or conveyed out of any 
infected houses, and that the criers and carriers 
abroad of bedding or old apparel to be sold or 
pawned, be utterly prohibited and restrained; 
and no brokers of bedding or old apparel be per- 
mitted to make any outward shew, or hang forth 
on their stall, shopboards, or windows, towards 
any street, lane, common way, or passage, any old 
bedding or apparel to be sold, upon pain of im- 
prisonment. And if any broker or other person 
shall buy any bedding, apparel, or other stuff, out 
of any infected house, within two months after the 
infection hath been there, his house shall be shut 
up as infected, and so shall continue shut up 
twenty days at the least.'* 


" If any person visited do fortune by negligent 
looking unto, or by any other means, to come, or 
be conveyed from a place infected, to any other 
place, the parish from whence such party hath 
come or been conveyed, upon notice thereof given, 
shall, at their charge, cause the said party so vi- 
sited, and escaped, to be carried and brought back 
again by night, and the parties in this case offend- 
ing, to be punished at the direction of the Alder- 
man of the ward ; and the house of the receiver 
of such visited person to be shut up for twenty 


*' That every house visited, be marked with a 
red cross of a foot long, in the middle of the door, 
evident to be seen, and with these usual printed 
words, that is to say, " Lord have mercy upon 


ns," to be set close over the same cross, there to 
continue until lawful opening of the same house." 


" That the Constables see every house shut up, 
and to be attended with Watchmen, which may- 
keep them in, and minister necessaries unto them 
at their own charges (if they be able,) or at the 
common charge if they be unable : the shutting up 
to be for the space of four weeks after all be 

" That precise order be taken that the Search- 
ers, Chirurgeons, Keepers, and Buriers, are not 
to pass the streets without holding a red rod or 
wand of tliree foot in length in their hands, open 
and evident to be seen, and are not to go into any 
other house than into their own, or into that where- 
unto they are directed or sent for ; but to forbear 
and abstain from company, especially when they 
have been lately used in any such business or at- 


" That where several inmates are in one and 
the same house, and any person in that house 
happens to be infected ; no other person or family 
of such house shall be suffered to remove him or 
themselves without a certificate from the Examin- 
ers of health of that parish ; or in default thereof, 
the house whither he or they so remove, shall be 
shut up as in case of visitation." 


'* That care be taken of liackncy coachmen, 
that they may not, (as some of them have been 
observed to do), after carrying of infected persons 


to the pest-house, and other places, be admitted 
to common use, till their coaches be well aired, 
and have stood unemployed by the space of five 
or six days after such service." 

Orders for cleansing and keeping of the Streets 


" First, it is thought necessary, and so ordered, 
that every householder do cause the street to be 
daily prepared before his door, and so to keep it 
clean swept all the week long." 


" That the sweeping and filth of houses be 
daily carried away by the Rakers, and that the 
Raker shall give notice of his coming by the 
blowing of a horn, as hitherto hath been done." 


" That the laystalls be removed as far as may 
be out of the city, and common passages, and that 
no Nightman or other be suffered to empty a 
vault into any garden near about the city." 


" That special care be taken that no stinking 
fish, or unwholesome flesh, or musty corn, or 
other corrupt fruits, of what sort soever, be suf- 
fered to be sold about the city, or any part of the 

" That the brewers and tippUng-houses be 
looked unto, for musty and unwholesome casks. 

" That no hogs, dogs, or cats, or tame pigeons, 
or conies, be suffered to be kept within any part 


of the city, or any swine to be, or stray in the 
streets or lanes, but that such swine be impounded 
by the beadle, or any other officer, and the owner 
punished according to act of common council, and 
that the dogs be killed by the dog-killers ap- 
pointed for that purpose." 

Orders concerning loose persons and idle 


" Forasmuch as nothing is more com.plained of 
than the multitude of rogues and wandering 
beggars, that swarm in every place about the city, 
being a great cause of the spreading of the infec- 
tion, and will not be avoided, notwithstanding 
any orders that have been given to the contrary : 
it is therefore now ordered, that such Constables, 
and others, whom this matter may any way 
concern, take special care that no w^andering 
beggars be suffered in the streets of this city, in 
any fashion or manner whatsoever, upon the 
penalty provided by the law, to be duly and 
severely executed upon them." 


" That all plays, bear-baitings, games, singing 
of ballads, buckler-play, or such like causes of 
assemblies of people, be utterly prohibited, and 
the parties offending severly punished by every 
Alderman in his ward." 


" That all public feasting, and particularly by 
the companies of this city, and dinners at taverns, 
ale-houses, and other places of common entertain- 
ment, be forborne till further order and allowance : 


and that the money thereby spared, be preserved 
and employed for the benefit and rehefof the poor 
visited with the infection." 


*' That disorderly tiplingin taverns, ale-houses, 
coffee-houses, and cellars, be severely looked 
unto, as the common sin of this time, and greatest 
occasion of dispersing the Plague. And that no 
company or person be suffered to remain or come 
into any tavern, ale-house, or coffee-house, to 
drink, after nine of the clock in the evening, ac- 
cording to the ancient law and custom of this 
city, upon the penalties ordained in that behalf. 

"And for the better execution of these orders, 
and such other rules and directions as upon 
further consideration shall be found needful : it 
is ordered and enjoined, that the Aldermen, 
Deputies, and Common-council men, shall meet 
together weekly, once, twice, thrice, or oftener, 
(as cause shall require) at some one general place 
accustomed in their respective wards (being clear 
from infection of the Plague) to consult how the 
said orders may be duly put in execution ; not 
intending that any, dwelling in or near places in- 
fected, shall come to the said meeting while their 
coming may be doubtful. And the said Alder- 
men, and Deputies, and Common-council men, 
in their several wards, may put in execution any 
other good orders that by them at their said 
meetings shall be conceived and devised, for pre- 
servation of His Majesty's subjects from the in- 

Sir John Lawrence, Lord Mayor. 
Sir George Waterman, 7 ^^^^^^^^ 
Sir Charles Doe, y '" 

I need not say that these orders extended only 


to such places as were within the Lord Mayor's 
jurisdiction : so it is requisite to observe, that the 
justices of the peace, within those parishes, and 
places as were called the hamlets, and out-parts, 
took the same method : as I remember, the orders 
for shutting up of houses did not take place so 
soon on our side, because, as I said before, the 
Plague did not reach to these eastern parts of the 
town, at least, not begin to be very violent till the 
beginning of August. For example, the whole 
bill, from the 11th to the 18th of July, was 17G1, 
yet there died but 7 1 of the Plague in all those 
parishes we call the Tower-hamlets ; and they 
were as follows : — 







the next 

58 and to the 




week was 

48 1st of Aug. 


St. Kath. Tower 


thus ; 

4 thus : 


Trin. xMonories 




71 145 228 

It was, indeed, coming on amain ; for the 
burials that same week were in the next adjoin- 
ing parishes thus : — 

St. Lcn. Shoreditch 64 the next week 84 to the 1st 110 
St. Bot. Bishopsgt. 65 prodigiously in- 105 of Aug. 116 
St. Giles's, Crippl. 213 creased, as 421 thus: 554 

342 610 780 

This shutting up of houses was at first counted 
a very cruel and unchristian method, and the poor 
people so confined made bitter lamentations : 
complaints of the severity of it were also daily 
brought to my Lord INLayor, of houses causelessly 
(and some maliciously), shut up : I cannot say, 
but upon enquiry, many that complained so loudly, 
were found in a condition to be continued ; and 
others again, inspection being made upon the sick 

D 5 


person, and the sickness not appearing infectious, 
or if uncertain, yet, on his being content to be 
carried to the pest-house, were released. 

It is true, that the locking up the doors of 
people's houses, and setting a watchman there 
night and day, to prevent their stirring out, or 
any coming to them ; when, perhaps, the sound 
people in the family might have escaped, if they 
had been removed from the sick, looked very 
hard and cruel ; and many people perished in 
these miserable confinements, which it is reason- 
able to believe would not have been distempered 
if they had had liberty, though the Plague was in 
the house ; at which the people were very cla- 
morous and uneasy at first, and several violences 
were committed, and injuries offered to the men 
who were set to watch the houses so shut up ; 
also, several people broke out by force, in many 
places, as I shall observe by and by : but it was a 
public good that justified the private mischief; and 
there was no obtaining the least mitigation, by any 
application to magistrates, or government, at that 
time, at least, not that I heard of. This put the 
people upon all manner of stratagem, in order, if 
possible, to get out ; and it would fill a little volume 
to set down the arts used by the people of such 
houses to shut the eyes of the watchmen who 
were employed, to deceive them, and to escape or 
break out from them, in which frequent scuffles 
and some mischief happened ; of which, by itself. 

As I went along Hounsditch one morning, 
about eight o'clock, there was a great noise ; it 
is true, indeed, there was not much crowd, be- 
cause people were not very free to gather together, 
or to stay long together, when they were there, 
nor did I stay long there : but the outcry was 
loud enough to prompt my curiosity, and I called 


to one that looked out of a window, and asked 
what was the matter. 

A Watchman, it seems, Iiad been employed to 
keep his post at the door of a house which was 
infected, or said to be infected, and was shut up ; 
he had been there all night for two nights together, 
as he told his story, and the day Watchman had 
been there one day, and was now come to relieve 
him : all this while no noise had been heard in 
the house, no light had been seen ; they called 
for nothing, sent him of no errands, which used 
to be the chief business of the Watchmen ; neither 
had they given him any disturbance, as he said, 
from the Monday afternoon, when he heard great 
crying and screaming in the house, which, as he 
supposed, was occasioned by some of the family 
dying just at that time ; it seems the night before, 
the dead cart, as it was called, had been stopped 
there, and a servant maid had been brought down 
to the door dead, and the buriers or bearers, as 
they were called, put her into the cart, wrapped 
only in a green rug, and carried her away. 

The Watchman had knocked at the door, it 
seems, when he heard that noise and crying, as 
above, and nobody answered, a great while ; but 
at last one looked out, and said, with angry quick 
tone, and yet a kind of crying voice, or a voice 
of one that was crying, " What do ye want, that 
ye make such a knocking?" he answered, "I am 
the Watcliman ! how do you do ? what is the 
matter ?" the person answered, " Wliat is that to 
you ? stop the dead cart." This, it seems, was 
about one o'clock : soon after, as the fellow said, 
he stopped the dead cart, and then knocked 
again, but nobody answered : he continued 
knocking, and the bellman called out several 
times — " Bring out your dead !" but nobody an- 


swered, till the man that drove the cart being 
called to other houses, would stay no longer, and 
drove away. 

The Watchman knew not what to make of all 
this, so he let them alone till the morning-man, 
or day- watchman, as they called him, came to 
relieve him, giving him an account of the parti- 
culars ; they knocked at the door a great while, 
but nobody answered ; and they observed, that 
the window or casement at which the person had 
looked out who had answered before, continued 
open, being up two pair of stairs. 

Upon this, the two men, to satisfy their cu- 
riosity, got a long ladder, and one of them went 
up to the window, and looked into the room, 
where he saw a woman lying dead upon the floor 
in a dismal manner, having no clothes on her but 
her shift : but though he called aloud, and putting 
in his long staff, knocked hard on the floor, yet 
nobody stirred or answered ; neither could he 
hear any noise in the house. 

He came down again upon this, and acquainted 
his fellow, who went up also, and finding it just 
so, they resolved to acquaint either the Lord 
Mayor or some other magistrate of it, but did not 
offer to go in at the window : the magistrate, it 
seems, upon the information of the two men, or- 
dered the house to be broke open, a constable 
and other persons being appointed to be present, 
that nothing might be plundered ; and accordingly 
it was so done, when nobody was found in the 
house but that young woman, who, having been 
infected, and past recovery, the rest had left her 
to die by herself, and were every one gone, 
having found some way to delude the Watchman, 
and to get open the door, or get out at some 
back-door, or over the tops of the houses, so 


that he knew nothing of it ; and as to those cries 
and shrieks wliich he heard, it was supposed they 
were the passionate cries of the family at the 
bitter parting which, to be sure, it was to them 
all, this being the sister to the mistress of the fa- 
mily. The man of the house, his wife, several 
cliildren and servants, being all gone and fled, 
whetlier sick or sound, that I could never learn, 
nor, indeed, did I make much inquiry after it. 

Many such escapes were made out of infected 
houses, as particularly, when the Watchman was 
sent of some errand, for it was his business to go 
of any errand that the family sent him of, that is to 
say, for necessaries, such as food and physic, to 
fetch physicians, if they would come, or surgeons, 
or nurses, or to order the dead-cart and the like, 
but with this condition too, that when he went, 
he was to lock up the outer door of the house, 
and take the key away with him ; to evade this, 
and cheat the watchmen, people got two or three 
keys made to their locks, or they found ways to 
unscrew the locks, such as were screwed on, and 
so take off the lock, being in the inside of the 
house, and while they sent away the Watchman 
to the market, to the bake-house, or for one trifle 
or another, open the door, and go out as often as 
they pleased : but this being found out, the offi- 
cers afterwards had orders to padlock up the 
doors on the outside, and place bolts on them as 
they they thought fit. 

At another house, as I was informed, in the 
street next within Aldgate, a whole family was 
shut up and locked in, because the maid-servant 
was taken sick ; the master of tlie house had 
complained l)y his friends to the next Alderman, 
and to the Lord Mayor, and had consented to 
have the maid carried to the pest-house, but was 


refused, so the door was marked with a red 
cross, a padlock on the outside, as above, and a 
Watchman set to keep the door according to 
pubhc order. 

After the master of the house found there was 
no remedy, but that he, his wife and his children 
were to be locked up with this poor distempered 
servant, he called to the Watchman, and told 
him he must go then and fetch a nurse for them, 
to attend this poor girl, for that it would be cer- 
tain death to them all to oblige them to nurse 
her, and told him plainly, that if he would not do 
this the maid must perish either of the distemper 
or be starved for want of food, for he was re- 
solved none of his family should go near her, and 
she lay in the garret, four story high, where she 
could not cry out or call to anybody for help. 

The Watchman consented to that, and went 
and fetched a nurse as he was appointed, and 
brought her to them the same evening ; durino- 
this interval, the master of the house took his op- 
portunity to break a large hole through his shop 
into a bulk or stall, where formerly a cobbler had 
sat, before or under his shop window, but the 
tenant, as may be supposed, at such a dismal 
time as that, was dead or removed, and so he 
had the key in his own keeping : having made his 
way into this stall, which he could not have done 
if the man had been at the door, the noise he was 
obliged to make being such as would have 
alarmed the Watchman ; I say, having made his 
way into this stall, he sat still till the Watchman 
returned with the nurse, and all the next day also ; 
but the night following having contrived to send 
the W^atchman of another trifling errand, which, 
as I take it, was to an apothecary's for a plaster for 
the maid, which he was to stay for the making 


up, or some other such errand that might secure 
his staying some time : in that time he conveyed 
himself and all his family out of the house, and 
left the nurse and the Watchman to bury tlie 
poor wench ; that is, throw her into the cart, and 
take care of the house. 

I could give a great many such stories as these, 
diverting enough, which in the long course of 
that dismal year I met with, that is, heard of, 
and which are very certain to be true, or very 
near the truth ; that is to say, true in the general, 
for no man could at such a time learn all the par- 
ticulars : there was, likewise, violence used with 
tlie Watchmen, as was reported, in abundance of 
places ; and, I believe, that from the beginning 
of the visitation to the end, there was not less 
than eighteen or twenty of them killed, or so 
wounded as to be taken up for dead ; which was 
supposed to be done by the people in the infected 
houses which were shut up, and where they 
attempted to come out, and were opposed. 

Nor indeed could less be expected, for here 
were so many prisons in the town as there were 
houses shut up ; and as the people shut up or 
imprisoned so were guilty of no crime, only shut 
up because miserable, it was really the more 
intolerable to them. 

It had also this difference, that every prison, as 
we call it, had but one jailor, and as he had the 
whole house to guard, and that many houses 
were so situated as that they had several ways 
out, some more, some less, and some into several 
streets ; it was impossible for one man so to 
guard all the passages, as to prevent the escape 
of people made desperate by the fright of their 
circumstances, by the resentment of their usage, 
or by the raging of the distemper itself; so that 


tliey would talk to the Watchman on one side of 
the house while the family made their escape at 

For example, in Coleman-street there are 
abundance of alleys, as aj)pears still ; a house 
was shut up in that they call White's-alley, and 
this house had a back window, not a door, into a 
court, which had a passage into Bell-alley ; a 
Watchman was set by the Constable at the door 
of this house, and there he stood, or his comrade, 
night and day, while the family went all away in 
the evening, out at that window into the court, 
and left the poor fellows warding, and watching, 
for near a fortnight. 

Not far from the same place they blowed up a 
Watchman with gunpowder, and burnt the poor 
fellow dreadfully, and while he mude hideous 
cries, and nobody would venture to come near to 
help him, the whole family that were able to stir 
got out at the windows one story high, two that 
were left sick calling out for help ; care was taken 
to give them nurses to look after them, but the 
persons fled were never found, till after the 
Plague was abated, they returned, but as nothing 
could be proved, so nothing could be done to 

It is to be considered too, that as these were 
prisons without bars and bolts, which our common 
prisons are furnished with, so the people let 
themselves down out of their windows, even in 
the face of the Watchman, bringing swords or 
pistols in their hands, and threatening the poor 
wretch to shoot him, if he stirred, or called for 

In other cases, some had gardens, and walls, 
or pales, between them and their neighbours ; or 
yards, and back-houses ; and these by friendship 


and entreaties, would get leave to get over those 
walls or pales, and so go out at their neighbour's 
doors ; or by giving money to their servants, get 
them to let them through in the night ; so that, 
in short, the shutting up of houses was in no wise 
to be depended upon ; neither did it answer the 
end at all ; serving more to make the people 
desperate, and drive them to such extremities, as 
that they would break out at all adventures. 

And that which was still worse, those that did 
thus break out, spread the infection farther by 
their wandering about with the distemper upon 
them, in their desperate circumstances, than they 
would otherwise have done ; for whoever con- 
siders all the particulars in such cases must ac- 
knowledge ; and we cannot doubt but the severity 
of those confinements made many people despe- 
rate ; and made them run out of their houses at 
all hazards, and with the Plague visibly upon 
them, not knowing either whither to go, or what 
to do, or, indeed, what they did ; and many Uiat 
did so were driven to dreadful exigencies and 
extremities, and perished in the streets or fields 
for mere want, or dropped down by the raging 
violence of the fever upon them : others wan- 
dered into the country, and went forward any 
way as their desperation guided them, not know- 
ing whither they went or woidd go, till faint and 
tired, and not getting any relief: the houses and 
villajres on the road refusing to admit them to 
lodge, whether infected or no ; they have perished 
by the road side, or gotten into barns and died 
there, none daring to come to them, or relieve 
them, though perliaps not infected, for nobody 
would believe them. 

On the other hand, when tlie Plague at first 
seized a family, that is to say, when any one body 


of the family had gone out, and unwarily or other- 
wise catched the distemper, and brought it home, 
it was certainly known by the family before it 
was known to the officers, who, as you will see 
by the order, were appointed to examine into the 
circumstances of all sick persons, when they 
heard of their being sick. 

In this interval between their being taken sick, 
and the Examiner's coming, the master of the 
house had leisure and liberty to remove himself, or 
all his family, if he knew whither to go, and many 
did so ; but the great disaster was that many did 
thus, after they were really infected themselves, 
and so carried the disease into the houses of those 
who were so hospitable as to receive them, which, 
it must be confessed, was very cruel and un- 

And this was, in part, the reason of the general 
notion, or scandal rather, which went about of the 
temper of people infected ; namely, that they 
did not take the least care, or make any scruple 
of infecting others ; though I cannot say but there 
might be some truth in it too, but not so general 
as was reported. What natural reason could be 
given for so wicked a thing, at a time when they 
might conclude themselves just going to appear at 
the bar of divine justice, I know not: I am very 
well satisfied that it cannot be reconciled to re- 
ligion and principle, any more than it can be to 
generosity and humanity ; but I may speak of 
that again. 

I am speaking now of people made desperate 
by the apprehensions of their being shut up, and 
their breaking out by stratagem or force, either 
before or after they were shut up, whose misery 
was not lessened when they were out, but sadly 
increased : on the other hand, many that thus got 


away, had retreats to go to, and other houses, 
where they locked themselves up, and kept hid 
till the Plague was over ; and many families, fore- 
seeing the approach of the distemper, laid up 
stores of provisions sufficient for their whole 
families, and shut themselves up, and that so en- 
tirely, that they were neither seen nor heard of 
till the infection was quite ceased, and then came 
abroad sound and v*'ell. I might recollect several 
such as these, and give you the particulars of their 
managem.ent ; for, doubtless, it was the most effec- 
tual secure step that could be taken for such 
whose circumstances would not admit them to re- 
move, or who had not retreats abroad proper for 
the case ; for, in being thus shut up, they were as 
if they had been a hundred miles off: nor do I 
remember that any one of those families mis- 
carried ; among these, several Dutch merchants 
were particularly remarkable, who kept their 
houses like little garrisons besieged, suffering 
none to go in or out, or come near them ; parti- 
cularly one in a court in Throckraorton-street, 
whose house looked into Draper's-garden. 

But I come back to the case of families infected, 
and shut up by the magistrates ; the misery of 
those families is not to be expressed, and it was 
generally in such houses that we heard the most 
dismal shrieks and outcries of the poor people, 
terrified and even frighted to death, by the 
sight of the condition of their dearest relations, 
and by the terror of being imprisoned as they 

I remember — and while I am writing this story 
I think I hear the very sound of it — a certain 
lady had an only daughter, a young maiden about 
nineteen years old, and who was possessed of a 
very considerable fortune ; they were only lodgers 


in the house where they were : the young woman, 
her mother, and the maid, had been abroad on 
some occasion, I do not remember what, for the 
house was not shut up : but about two hours after 
they came home the young lady complained she 
was not well ; in a quarter of an hour more she 
vomited, and had a violent pain in her head. Pray 
God, says her mother, in a terrible fright, my 
child has not the distemper ! The pain in her 
head increasing, her mother ordered the bed to be 
warmed, and resolved to put her to bed, and pre- 
pared to give her things to sweat, which was the 
ordinary remedy to be taken when the first ap- 
prehensions of the distemper began. 

While the bed was airing the mother undressed 
the young woman, and just as she was laid down 
in bed she, looking upon her body with a candle, 
immediately discovered the fatal tokens on the in- 
side of her thighs. Her mother, not being able 
to contain herself, threw down her candle, and 
screeched out in such a frighful manner, that it 
was enough to place horror upon the stoutest 
heart in the world ; nor was it one scream, or one 
cry, but the fright having seized her spirits, she 
fainted first, then recovered, then ran all over the 
house, up the stairs, and down the stairs, like one 
distracted, and indeed really was distracted, and 
continued screeching and crying out for several 
hours, void of all sense, or, at least, government 
of her senses, and, as I was told, never came 
thoroughly to herself again : as to the young 
maiden, she was a dead corpse from that moment ; 
for the gangreen which occasions the spots had 
spread her whole body, and she died in less than 
two hours : but still the mother continued crying 
out, not knowing anything more of her child seve- 
ral hours after she was dead. It is so long ago. 


that I am not certain, but I think the mother 
never recovered, but died in two or three weeks 

This was an extraordinary case, and I am 
therefore the more particular in it, because I came 
so much to the knowledge of it ; but there were 
innumerable such like cases ; and it w^as seldom 
that the weekly bill came in, but there were two 
or three put in frighted, that is, that may well be 
called frighted to death : but besides those who 
were so frighted as to die upon the spot, there 
were great numbers frighted to other extremes, 
some frighted out of their senses, some out of 
their memory, and some out of their understand- 
ing : but I return to the shutting up of houses. 

As several people, I say, got out of their houses 
by stratagem after they were shut up, so others 
got out by bribing the watchmen, and giving them 
money to let them go privately out in the night. 
I must confess, I thought it at that time the most 
innocent corruption, or bribery, that any man 
could be guilty of ; and therefore could not but 
pity the poor men, and think it was hard when 
three of those watchmen were publicly whipped 
through the streets for suffering people to go out 
of houses shut up. 

But notwithstanding that severity, money pre- 
vailed with the poor men, and many families found 
means to make sallies out, and escape that way, 
after they had been shut up : but these were ge- 
nerally such as had some places to retire to ; and 
though there was no easy passing the roads any 
whither, after the first of August, yet there were 
many ways of retreat, and particularly, as I hinted, 
some got tents, and set them up in the fields, car- 
rying beds, or straw, to lie on, and provisions to 


eat, and so lived in them as hermits in a cell ; for 
nobody would venture to come near them, and 
several stories were told of such ; some comical, 
some tragical, some who lived like wandering 
pilgrims in the deserts, and escaped by making 
themselves exiles in such a manner as is scarce to 
be credited, and v.ho yet enjoyed more liberty 
than was to be expected in such cases. 

I have by me a story of two brothers and their 
kinsman, who, being single men, but that had 
staid in the city too long to get away, and, indeed, 
not knowing where to go to 'have any retreat, nor 
having wherewith to travel far, took a course for 
their own preservation, which, though in itself at 
first desperate, yet was so natural, that it may be 
wondered that no more did so at that time. They 
were but of mean condition, and yet not so very 
poor as that they could not furnish themselves 
with some little conveniences, such as might serve 
to keep life and soul together ; and finding the 
distemper increasing in a terrible manner, they 
resolved to shift as well as they could, and to 
be gone. 

One of them had been a soldier in the late 
wars, and before that in the Low Countries, and 
having been bred to no particular employment 
but his arms, and besides, being wounded, and 
not able to work very hard, had for some time 
been employed at a baker's of sea-biscuit in 

The brother of this man was a seaman too, but 
some how or other, had been hurt of one leg, that 
he could not go to sea, but had worked for his 
living at a sail-maker's in Wapping, or thereabouts; 
and, being a good husband, had laid up some 
money, and was the richest of the three. 


The third man was a joiner or carpenter by 
trade, a handy fellow ; and he had no wealth, but 
liis basket of tools, with the help of which he 
could at any time get his living, such a time as 
this excepted, wherever he went ; and he lived 
near Shadwell. 

They all lived in Stepney parish, which, as I 
have said, being the last that was infected, or at 
least violently, they staid there till they evidently 
saw the Plague was abating at the west part of 
the town, and coming towards the east where 
they lived. 

The story of those three men, if the reader will 
be content to have me give it in their own per- 
sons, without taking upon me to either vouch 
the particulars, or answer for any mistakes, I 
shall give as distinctly as I can, believing the 
history will be a very good pattern for any poor 
man to follow, in case the like public desolation 
should happen here ; and if there may be such 
occasion, which God of his infinite mercy grant 
us, still the story may have its uses so many ways 
as that it will, I hope, never be said, that the re- 
lating has been unprofitable. 

I say all this previous to the history, having 
yet, for the present, much more to say before I 
quit my own part. 

I went all the first part of the time freely about 
the streets, though not so freely as to run myself 
into apparent danger, except when they dug the 
great pit in the church-yard of our parish of 
Aldgate ; a terrible pit it was, and I could not 
resist my curiosity to go and see it ; as near as I 
may judge, it was about forty feet in length, and 
about fifteen or sixteen feet broad ; and at the 
time I first looked at it, about nine feet deep ; 
but it was said they dug it near twenty feet deep 


afterwards, in one part of it, till they could go no 
deeper for the water : for they had, it seems, dug 
several large pits before this ; for though the 
Plague was long a coming to our parish, yet, when 
it did come, there was no parish in or about 
London where it raged with such violence as in 
the two parishes of Aldgate and Whitechapel. 

They had dug pits several in another ground, 
when the distemper began to spread in our pa- 
rish, and especially when the dead-carts began to 
go about, which was not in our parish till the 
beginning of August. Into these pits they had 
put perhaps fifty or sixty bodies each, then they 
made larger holes, wherein they buried all that 
the cart brought in a week, which, by the middle 
to the end of August, came to from 200 to 400 a 
week and they could not well dig them larger, 
because of the order of the magistrates, confining 
them to leave no bodies within six feet of the sur- 
face ; and the water coming on, at about seven- 
teen or eighteen feet, they could not well, I say, 
put more in one pit ; but now, at the beginning of 
September, the Plague raging in a dreadful man- 
ner, and the number of burials in our parish in- 
creasing to more than was ever buried in any 
parish about London of no larger extent, they 
ordered this dreadful gulph to be dug, for such it 
was, rather than a pit. 

They had suposed this pit would have supplied 
them for a month or more when they dug it, and 
some blamed the church-wardens for suffering such 
a frightful thing, telling them they were making pre- 
parations to bury the whole parish, and the like ; 
but time made it appear the church -wardens knew 
the condition of the parish better than they did ; 
for the pit being finished the 4th of September, I 
think they began to bury in it the 6th, and by the 


SOth, which was just two weeks, they had thrown 
into it lilt bodies, when they were obliged to 
fill it up, the bodies being tlien come to lie within 
six feet of the surface ; I doubt net but there may 
be some ancient persons alive in the parish who 
can justify the fact of this, and are able to shew 
even in what pL-ice of the church-yard the pit lay 
better than I can ; the mark of it also was many 
years to be seen in the church-yard on the surface 
lying in length, parallel with the passage which 
goes by the west-wall of the church-yard, out of 
HounJsditch, and turns east again into White- 
chapel, coming out near the Three Nuns Inn. 

It was about the 10th of September that my 
curiosity led, or rather drove me to go and see 
this pit again, when there had been near 400 
people buried in it ; and I was not content to see 
it in the day-time, as I had done before, for then 
there would have been nothing to have been seen 
but the loose earth ; for all the bodies that were 
thrown in were immediately covered 'with earth, 
by those they called the buryers, which at other 
times were called bearers ; but I resolved to go 
in the night and see some of them thrown in. 

There was a strict order to prevent people 
coming to those pits, and that was only to prevent 
infection ; but after some time that order was 
more necessary, for people that were infected, and 
near their end, and delirious also, would run to 
those pits, wrapped in blankets, or rugs and throw 
themselves in, and, as they said, ))rry themselves: 
I cannot say that the officers suffered any wil- 
lingly to lie tliere ; but I liave heard, tliat in a 
great pit in Finsbury, in the parish of Cripplegate, 
it lying open then to the Helds, for it was not then 
walled about, they came and threw themselves in, 
and expired there before they threw any earth 


upon them : and that when they came to bury 
others, and found them there, they were quite 
dead, though not cold. 

This may serve a little to describe the dreadful 
condition of that day, though it is impossible to 
say any thing that is able to give a true idea of 
it to those who did not see it, other than this, 
that it was indeed very, very, very dreadful, and 
such as no tongue can express. 

I got admittance into the church-yard by being 
acquainted with the sexton wlio attended, who, 
though he did not refuse me at all, yet earnestly 
persuaded me not to go ; telling me very seriously, 
for he was a good religious and sensible man, 
that it was, indeed, their business and duty to 
venture and to run all hazards, and that in it 
they might hope to be preserved ; but that I had 
no apparent call to it, but my own curiosity, 
which he said he believed I would not pretend 
was sufficient to justify my running that hazard. 
I told him I had been pressed in my mind to go, 
and that perhaps it might be an instructing sight, 
that might not be without its uses. Nay, says 
the good man, if you will venture upon that 
score, 'name of God, go in, for, depend upon it, 
'twill be a sermon to you, it may be the best that 
ever you heard in your life. It is a speaking 
sight, says he, and has a voice with it, and a loud 
one, to call us to repentance, and with that he 
opened the door, and said, go, if you will. 

His discourse had shocked my resolution a 
little, and I stood wavering for a good while, but 
just at that interval I saw two links come over 
from the end of the Minories, and heard the 
bellman, and then appeared a dead-cart, as they 
called it, coming over the streets, so I could no 
longer resist my desire of seeing it and went in ; 


there was nobody, as I could perceive at first, in 
the cliurch-yard or going into it but the buryers 
and the fellow that drove the cart, or rather led 
the horse and cart, but when they came up to 
the pit, they saw a man go to and again, muffled 
up in a brown cloak, and making motions with his 
hands, under his cloak, as if he w\is in a great 
agony, and the buryers immediately gathered about 
him, supposing he was one of those poor delirious 
or desperate creatures, that used to pretend, as 
I have said, to bury themselves ! he said nothing, 
as he walked about, but two or three times 
groaned very deeply and loud, and sighed as he 
would break his heart. 

When the buryers came up to him, they soon 
found he was neither a person infected and des- 
perate, as I have observed above, or a person 
distempered, in mind, but one oppressed with a 
dreadful weight of grief indeed, having his wife 
and several of his children, all in the cart, that 
was just come in with him, and he followed in 
an agony and excess of sorrow. He mourned 
heartily, as it was easy to see, but with a kind of 
masculine grief, that could not give itself vent by 
tears, and calmly desiring the buryers to let him 
alone, said he would only see the bodies thrown 
in and go away, so they left importuning him; 
but no sooner was the cart turned round, and the 
bodies shot into the pit promiscuously, which 
was a surprise to him, for he at least expected 
they would have been decently laid in, though, 
indeed, he was afterwards convinced that was im- 
practicable ; I say, no sooner did he see the 
sight, but he cried out aloud, unable to contain 
himself; I could not hear what he said, but he 
went backward two or three times, and fell down 
in a swoon ; the buryers ran to him, and took 


him up, and in a little while he came to himself, 
and they led him away to the Pye-tavern, over 
against the end of Houndsditch, where, it seems, 
the man was known, and where they took care of 
him. He looked into the pit again as he went 
away, but the buryers had covered the bodies so 
immediately with throwing in the earth, that 
though there was light enough, for there was 
lanterns and candles in them, placed all night 
round the sides of the pit upon the heaps of 
earth, seven or eight, or perhaps more, yet no- 
thing could be seen. 

This was a mournful scene indeed, and affected 
me almost as much as the rest, but the other was 
awful and full of terror. The cart had in it six- 
teen or seventeen bodies ; some were wrapped up 
in linen sheets, some in rugs, some little other 
than naked, or so loose that what covering they 
had fell from them in the shooting out of the 
cart, and they fell quite naked among the rest ; 
but the matter was not much to them, or the in- 
decency much to any one else, seeing they were 
all dead, and were to be huddled together into 
the common grave of mankind, as we may call it, 
for here was no difference made, but poor and 
rich went together ; there was no other way of 
burials, neither was it possible there should, for 
coffins were not to be had for the prodigious 
numbers that fell in such a calamity as this. 

It was reported, by way of scandal upon the 
buryers, that if any corpse was delivered to 
them decently wound up, as we called it then, in 
a winding sheet, tied over the head and feet, 
which some did, and which was generally of good 
linen ; I say, it was reported, that the buryers 
were so wicked as to strip them in the cart, and 
carry them quite naked to the ground, but as I 


cannot easily credit any thing so vile among 
Christians, and at a time so filled with terrors as 
that was, I can only relate it, and leave it un- 

Innumerable stories also went about of the 
cruel behaviours and practices of nurses, who 
tended the sick, and of their hastening on the 
fate of those they tended in their sickness, but I 
shall say more of this in its place. 

I was indeed shocked with this sight; it al- 
most overwhelmed me, and I went away with my 
heart most afflicted and full of the most afflicting 
thoughts, such as I cannot describe ; just at my 
going out of the church, and turning up the 
street towards my own house, I saw another cart 
with links and a bellman going before, coming 
out of Harrow-alley, in the Butcher-row, on the 
other side of the way, and being, as I perceived, 
very full of dead bodies, it went directly over the 
street also toward the church; I stood awhile, 
but I had no stomach to go back again to see the 
same dismal scene over again, so I went directly 
home, where I could not but consider, with 
thankfulness, the risk I had run, believing I had 
gotten no injury, as, indeed, I had not. 

Here the poor unhappy gentleman's grief came 
into my head again, and indeed I could not but 
shed tears in the reflection upon it, perhaps more 
than he did himself; but his case lay so heavy 
upon my mind, that I could not prevail with 
myself, but that I must go out again into the 
street, and go to the Pye-tavern, resolving to 
inquire what became of him. 

It was by this time one o'clock in the morning, 
and yet the poor gentleman was there ; the truth 
was, the people of the house knowing him, had 
entertained him, and kept him there all the night, 


notwithstanding the danger of being infected by 
him, though it appeared the man was perfectly 
sound himself. 

It is with regret that I take notice of this 
tavern ; the people were civil, mannerly, and an 
obliging sort of folks enough, and had till this 
time kept their house open, and their trade going 
on, though not so very publicly as formerly ; but 
there was a dreadful set of fellows that used 
their house, and who, in the middle of all this 
horror, met there every night, behaved with all 
the revelhng and roaring extravagances, as is 
usual for such people to do at other times, and 
indeed, to such an offensive degree, that the very 
master and mistress of the house grew first 
ashamed, and then terrified at them. 

They sat generally in a room next the street ; 
and as they always kept late hours, so when the 
dead-cart came cross the street end to go into 
Houndsditch, which was in view of the tavern 
windows, they would frequently open the win- 
dows as soon as they heard the bell, and look 
out at them ; and as they might often hear sad 
lamentations of people in the streets, or at their 
windows, as the carts went along, they would 
make their impudent mocks and jeers at them, 
especially if they heard the poor people call upon 
God to have mercy upon them, as many would 
do at those times in their ordinary passing along 
the streets. 

These gentlemen being something disturbed 
with the clutter of bringing the poor gentleman 
into the house, as above, were first angry, and 
very high with the master of the house, for suf- 
fering such a fellow, as they called him, to be 
brought out of the grave into their house ; but 
being answered, that the man was a neighbour, 


and that he was sound, but ovemvhehned witli 
the calamity of his family, and the like, they 
turned their anger into ridiculing the man, and 
his sorrow for his wife and children ; taunting 
him with want of courage to leap into the great 
pit, and go to Heaven, as they jeeringly expressed 
it, along with them ; adding some very prophane, 
and even blasphemous expressions. 

They were at this vile work when I came back 
to the house, and as far as I could see, though the 
man sat still, mute, and disconsolate, and their 
affronts could not divert his sorrow, yet he was 
both grieved and offended at their discourse : 
upon this, I gently reproved them, being well 
enough acquainted with their characters, and not 
unknown in person to two of them. 

They immediately fell upon me with ill lan- 
guage and oaths : asked me what I did out of my 
grave, at such a time when so many honester men 
were carried into the church-yard ? and why I 
was not at home, saying my prayers, against the 
dead-cart came for me ? and the like. 

I was indeed astonished at the impudence of 
the men, though not at all discomposed at their 
treatment of me : however, I kept my temper : I 
told them, that though I defied them, or any man 
in the world, to tax me with any dishonesty, yet 
I acknowledged that in this terrible judgment of 
God, many better than I were swept away, and 
carried to their grave : but to answer their ques- 
tion directly, the case was, that I was mercifully 
preserved by that great God, whose name they 
had blasphemed and taken in vain, by cursing 
and swearing in a dreadful manner ; and that I 
believed I was preserved in particular, among 
other ends of his goodness, that I might reprove 


them for their audacious boldness, in behaving in 
such a manner, and in such an awful time as this 
was, especially, for their jeering and mocking at 
an honest gentleman, and a neighbour, for some 
of them knew him, who they saw was over- 
whelmed with sorrow, for the breaches which it 
had pleased God to make upon his family. 

I cannot call exactly to mind the hellish 
abominable raillery, which was the return they 
made to that talk of mine, being provoked, it 
seems, that I was not at all afraid to be free with 
them ; nor, if I could remember, would I fill my 
account with any of the words, the horrid oaths, 
curses, and vile expressions, such as, at that time 
of the day, even the worst and ordinariest people 
in the street would not use ; for except such har- 
dened creatures as these, the most wicked wretches 
that could be found, had at that time some terror 
upon their minds of the hand of that power which 
could thus, in a moment, destroy them. 

But that which was the worst in all their devil- 
ish language was, that they were not afraid to 
blaspheme God, and talk atheistically ; making a 
jest at my calling the Plague the hand of God, 
mocking, and even laughing at the word judg- 
ment, as if the providence of God had no concern 
in the inflicting such a desolating stroke ; and 
that the people calling upon God, as they saw the 
carts carrying away the dead bodies, was all 
enthusiastic, absurd, and impertinent. 

I made them some reply, such as I thought 
proper, but which I found was so far from put- 
ting a check to their horrid way of speaking, that 
it made them rail the more ; so that I confess it 
filled me with horror, and a kind of rage, and I 
came away, as I told them, lest the hand of that 


judgment which had visited the whole city sliould 
glorify his vengeance upon them, and all that 
were near them. 

They received all reproof with the utmost 
contempt, and made the greatest mockery that 
was possible for them to do at me, giving me all 
the opprobrious insolent scoffs that they could 
think of, for preaching to them, as they called it, 
which indeed grieved me, rather than angered 
me ; and I went away blessing God, however, in 
my mind, that I had not spared them, though 
they had insulted me so much. 

They continued this wretched course three or 
four days after this, continually mocking and 
jeering at all that shewed themselves religious, or 
serious, or that were any way touched with the 
sense of the terrible judgment of God upon us, 
and I was informed they flouted in the same 
manner at the good people who, notwithstanding 
the contagion, met at the church, fasted, and 
prayed to God to remove his hand from them. 

I say, they continued this dreadful course three 
or four days, I think it was no more, when one of 
them, particularly he who asked the poor gentle- 
man what he did out of his grave, was struck 
from Heaven with the Plague, and died in a most 
deplorable manner ; and, in a word, they were 
every one of them carried into the great pit, 
which I have mentioned above, before it was 
fpiite filled up, which was not above a fortnight, 
or thereabout. 

These men were guilty of many extravagances, 
such as one would think human nature should 
have trembled at the thoughts of, at such a time 
of general terror, as was then upon us ; and par- 
ticularly scoffing and mocking at every thing 
which they happened to see, that was religious 

£ 5 


among the people, especially at their thronging 
zealously to the place of public worship, to 
implore mercy from Heaven, in such a time of 
distress ; and this tavern, where they held their 
club, being within view of the church-door, they 
had the more particular occasion for their atheis- 
tical profane mirth. 

But this began to abate a little with them be- 
fore the accident, which I have related, happened ; 
for the infection increased so violently at this 
part of the town now, that people began to be 
afraid to come to the church, at least, such num- 
bers did not resort thither as was usual ; many of 
the clergymen likewise were dead, and others 
gone into the country ; for it really required a 
steady courage, and a strong faith, for a man, not 
only to venture being in town at such a time as 
this, but likewise to venture to come to church 
and perform the office of a minister to a congre- 
gation, of whom he had reason to believe many 
of them were actually infected with the Plague, 
and to do this every day, or twice a day, as in 
some places was done. 

It is true, the people shewed an extraordinary 
zeal in these religious exercises, and as the church 
doors were always open, people would go in 
single at all times, whether the minister was offi- 
ciating or no, and locking themselves into separate 
pews, would be praying to God with great fer- 
vency and devotion. 

Others assembled at meeting-houses, every one 
as their different opinions in such things guided, 
but all were promiscuously the subject of these 
men's drollery, especially at the beginning of the 

It seems they had been checked for their open 
insulting religion in this manner, by several good 


people of every persuasion, and that, and the 
violent raging of the infection, I suppose, was the 
occasion that they had abated much of their rude- 
ness for some time before, and were only roused 
by the spirit of ribaldry and atheism at the clamour 
which was made when the gentleman was first 
brought in there, and, perhaps, were agitated by 
the same devil when I took upon me to reprove 
them, though I did it at first with all the calmness, 
temper, and good manners that I could, which, 
for a while they insulted me the more for, think- 
ing it had been in fear of their resentment, though 
afterwards they found the contrary. 

I went home, indeed, grieved and afflicted in 
ray mind, at the abominable wickedness of those 
men, not doubting, however, that they would be 
made dreadful examples of God's justice ; for I 
looked upon this dismal time to be a particular 
season of divine vengeance, and that God would, 
on this occasion, single out the proper objects of 
his displeasure, in a more especial and remarkable 
manner than at another time ; and that, though I 
did believe that many good people would, and 
did, fall in the common calamity, and that it was 
no certain rule to judge of the eternal state of any 
one, by their being distinguished in such a time 
of general destruction, neither one way or other ; 
yet, I say, it could not but seem reasonable to 
believe, that God would not think fit to spare by 
his mercy such open declared enemies, that should 
insult his name and being, defy his vengeance, and 
mock at his worship and worshippers, at such 
a time ; no, not though his mercy had thought fit 
to bear with, and spare them at other times : that 
this was a day of visitation, a day of God's anger ; 
and those words came into my thought, — Jer. v. 
9. " Shall I not visit for these things, saith the 


Lord, and shall not my soul be avenged of such a 
nation as this ?" 

These things, I say, lay upon my mind ; and I 
went home very much grieved and oppressed 
with the horror of these men's wickedness, and to 
think that any thing could be so vile, so hardened, 
and so notoriously wicked, as to insult God and 
his servants, and his worship, in such a manner, 
and at such a time as this was ; when he had, as 
it were, his sword drawn in his hand, on purpose 
to take vengeance, not on them only, but on the 
whole nation. 

I had, indeed, been in some passion at first with 
them, though it was really raised, not by any 
affront they had offered me personally, but by 
the horror their blaspheming tongues filled me 
with ; however, I was doubtful in my thoughts, 
whether the resentment I retained was not all 
upon my own private account, for they had given 
me a great deal of ill language too, I mean per- 
sonally; but after some pause, and having a 
weight of grief upon my mind, I retired myself, 
as soon as I came home, for I slept not that night ; 
and, giving God most humble thanks for my pre- 
servation in the imminent danger I had been in, T 
set my mind seriously, and with the utmost earnest- 
ness, to pray for those desperate wretches, that 
God would pardon them, open their eyes, and 
effectually humble them. 

By this, I not only did my duty, namely, to 
pray for those who despitefully used me, but I 
fully tried my own heart, to my full satisfaction, 
that it was not filled with any spirit of resentment, 
as they had offended me in particular ; and I 
humbly recommend the method to all those that 
would know, or be certain, how to distinguish 
between their real zeal for the honour of God, and 


the effects of their private passions and resent- 

But I must go back here to the particular inci- 
dents wliich occur to my thoughts of the time of 
the visitation, and particularly to the time of their 
shutting up houses, in the first part of their sick- 
ness ; for before the sickness was come to its 
height, people had more room to make their ob- 
servations than they had afterward: but when it 
was in the extremity, there was no such thing 
as communication with one another, as before. 

During the shutting up of houses, as I have 
said, some violence was oftered to the Watchmen ; 
as to Soldiers, there were none to be found ; the 
few Guards which the King then had, which were 
nothing like the number entertained since, were 
dispersed, either at Oxford with the court, or in 
quarters in the remoter parts of the country, 
small detachments excepted, who did duty at the 
Tower, and at Whitehall, and these but very few, 
neither am I positive that there was any other 
guard at the Tower, than the warders, as they 
called them, who stand at the gate with gowns 
and caps, the same as the Yeomen of the Guard ; 
except the ordinary gunners, who were 24, and 
the officers appointed to look after the magazine, 
who were called armourers : as to trained bands, 
there was no possibility of raising any, neither if 
the Lieutenancy, either of London or Middlesex, 
had ordered the drums to beat for the Mihtia, 
would any of the companies, I believe, have drawn 
together, whatever risk they liad run. 

This made the Watchmen be tiie less regarded, 
and perhaps, occasioned the greater violence to be 
used against them ; I mention it on this score, to 
observe that the setting Watclimen thus to keep 
the people in, was, first of all, not effectual, but 


that the people broke out, whether by force or by 
stratagem, even almost as often as they pleased : 
and, secondly, that those that did thus break out, 
were generally people infected, who, in their des- 
peration, running about from one place to an- 
other, valued not who they injured, and which, 
perhaps, as I have said, might give birth to report, 
that it was natural to the infected people to desire 
to infect others ; which report was really false. 

And I know it so well, and in so many several 
cases, that I could give several relations of good, 
pious, and religious people, who, when they have 
had the distemper, have been so far from being 
forward to infect others, that they have forbid 
their own family to come near them, in hopes of 
their being preserved: and have even died with- 
out seeing their nearest relations, lest they should 
be instrumental to give them the distemper, and 
infect or endanger them : if then there were cases 
wherein the infected people were careless of the 
injury they did to others, this was certainly one of 
them, if not the chief, namely, when people, who 
had the distemper, had broken out from houses 
which were so shut up, and having been driven to 
extremities for provision, or for entertainment, 
had endeavoured to conceal their condition, and 
have been thereby instrumental involuntarily to 
infect others who have been ignorant and unwary. 

This is one of the reasons why 1 believed then, 
and do believe still, that the shutting up houses 
thus by force, and restraining, or rather imprison- 
ing people in their own houses, as is said above, 
was of little or no service in the whole ; nay, I 
am of opinion, it was rather hurtful, having forced 
those desperate people to wander abroad with the 
Plague upon them, who would otherwise have 
died quietly in their beds. 


I remember one citizen, who having thus bro- 
ken out of his house in Aldersgate street, or there- 
about, went along the road to Islington, he at- 
tempted to have gone in at the Angel Inn, and 
after that at the White Horse, two inns known 
still by the same signs, but was refused ; after 
which he came to the Pied Bull, an inn also still 
continuing the same sign ; he asked them for 
lodging for one night only, pretending to be go- 
ing into Lincolnshire, and assuring them of his 
being very sound, and free from the infection, 
which also, at that time, had not reached much 
that way. 

They told him they had no lodging that they 
could spare, but one bed, up in the garret, and 
that they could spare that bed but for one night, 
some drovers being expected the next day, with 
cattle ; so, if he would accept of that lodging, he 
might have it, which he did ; so a servant was 
sent up with a candle with him, to shew him the 
room ; he was very well dressed, and looked like 
a person not used to lie in a garret, and when he 
came to the room, he fetched a deep sigh, and 
said to the servant, I have seldom lain in such a 
lodging as this ; however, the servant assured him 
again that they had no better : well, says he, I 
must make shift ; this is a dreadful time, but it 
is but for one night ; so he sat down upon the bed- 
side, and bade the maid, I think it was, fetch him 
up a pint of warm ale ; accordingly, the servant 
went for the ale ; but some hurry in the house, 
which, perhaps, employed her otherways, put it 
out of her head ; and she went up no more to 

The next morning, seeing no appearance of the 
gentleman, somebody in the house asked the 
servant that had shewed him up stairs, what was 


become of him ? she started ; alas ! says she, I 
never thought more of him : he bade me carry 
him some warm ale, but I forgot ; upon which, 
not the maid, but some other person was sent up 
to see after him, who, coming into the room, 
found him stark dead, and almost cold, stretched 
out cross the bed; his clothes were pulled off, 
his jaw fallen, [his eyes open in a most frightful 
posture, the rug of the bed being grasped hard in 
one of his hands ; so that it was plain he died 
soon after the maid left him, and, it is probable, 
had she gone up with the ale, she had found him 
dead in a few minutes after he sat down upon 
the bed. The alarm was great in the house, as 
any one may suppose, they having been free from 
the distemper till that disaster, which, bringing 
the infection to the house, spread it immediately 
to other houses round about it. I do not remem- 
ber how many died in the house itself, but I think 
the maid servant who went up first with him, fell 
presently ill by the fright, and several others ; for 
whereas there died but two in Islington of the 
Plague the week before, there died seventeen the 
week after, whereof fourteen were of the Plague ; 
this was in the week from the 11th of July to the 
1 8th. 

There was one shift that some families had, 
and that not a few, when their houses happened 
to be infected, and that was this : — The families 
who, in the first breaking out of the distemper, 
fled away into the country, and had retreats 
among their friends, generally found some or 
other of their neighbours or relations to commit 
the charge of those houses to, for the safety of 
the goods, and the like. Some houses were, in- 
deed, entirely locked up, the doors padlocked, the 
windows and doors having deal boards nailed 


over them, and only the inspection of them com- 
mitted to the ordinary watchmen and parish 
officers ; but these were but few. 

It was thought that there were not less than 
10,000 houses forsaken of the inhabitants in the 
city and suburbs, including what was in the out- 
parishes, and in Surrey, on the side of the water 
they called Southward. This was besides the 
numbers of lodgers, and of particular persons 
who were fled out of other families : so that in all 
it was computed that about 200,000 were fled 
and gone in all. But of this I shall speak again : 
but I mention it here on this account, namely, — 
that it was a rule with those who had thus two 
houses in their keeping or care, that if anybody 
was taken sick in a family, before the master of 
the family let the Examiners or any other Officer 
know of it, he immediately would send all the 
rest of his family, whether children or servants, 
as it fell out to be, to such other house which he 
had so in charge, and then giving notice of the 
sick person to the Examiner, have a nurse, or 
nurses, appointed; and have another person to 
be shut up in the house with them (which many 
for money would do) so to take charge of the 
house, in case the person should die. 

This was, in many cases, the saving a whole 
family, who, if they had been shut up with the 
sick person, would inevitably have perished : but, 
on the other hand, this was another of the incon- 
veniences of shutting up houses ; for the appre- 
hensions and terror of being shut up made many 
run away with the rest of the family, who, though 
it was not publicly known, and they were not 
quite sick, had yet the distemper upon them ; 
and who, by having an uninterrupted liberty to 
go about, but being obliged still to conceal their 


circumstances, or, perhaps, not knowing it them- 
selves, gave the distemper to others, and spread 
the infection in a dreadful manner, as I shall ex- 
plain farther hereafter. 

And here I may be able to make an observation 
or two of my own, which may be of use hereafter 
to those into whose hands these may come, if they 
should ever see the like dreadful visitation. First, 
the infection generally came into the houses of 
the citizens by the means of their servants, who 
they were obliged to send up and down the streets 
for necessaries, that is to say, for food, or physic ; 
to bake-houses, brew-houses, shops, &c. and who, 
going necessarily through the streets into shops, 
markets, and the like, it was impossible but that 
they should, one way or other, meet with distem- 
pered people, who conveyed the fatal breath into 
them, and they brought it home to the families to 
which they belonged. Secondly, it was a great 
mistake, that such a great city as this had but 
one pest-house ; for had there been, instead of 
one pest-house, viz. beyond Bunhill-fields, where, 
at most they could receive, perhaps, 200 or 300 
people ; I say, had there, instead of that one, 
been several pest-houses, every one able to con- 
tain a thousand people without lying two in a 
bed, or two beds in a room ; and had every mas- 
ter of a family as soon as any servant (especially) 
had been taken sick in his house, been obliged to 
send them to the next pest-house, if they were 
willing, as many were, and had the Examiners 
done the like among the poor people, when any 
had been stricken with the infection, — I say, had 
this been done where the people were willing (not 
otherwise,) and the houses not been shut, I am 
persuaded, and was all the while of that opinion, 
that not so many, by several thousands, had died ; 


for it was observed, and I could give several in- 
stances within the compass of my own knowledge, 
where a servant had been taken sick, and the 
family had cither time to send him out, or retire 
from tlie house, and leave the sick person, as I 
have said above, they had all been preserved ; 
whereas, when upon one or more sickening in a 
family, the house has been shut up, the whole 
family have perished, and the bearers been obliged 
to go in to fetch out the dead bodies, not being 
able to bring them to the door ; and at last none 
left to do it. 

Secondly — this put it out of question to me, 
that the calamity was spread by infection, that is 
to say, by some certain steams, or fumes, which 
the physicians call effluvia, by the breath, or by 
the sweat, or by the stench of the sores of the 
sick persons, or some other way, perhaps, be- 
yond even the reach of the physicians themselves, 
which effluvia affected the sound who came 
within certain distances of the sick, immediately 
penetrating the vital parts of the said sound 
persons, putting their blood into an immediate 
ferment, and agitating their spirits to that degree 
which it was found they were agitated; and so 
those newly infected persons communicated it in 
the same manner to others ; and this I shall give 
some instances oi, that cannot but convince those 
who seriously consider it ; and I cannot but with 
some wonder find some people, now the conta- 
gion is over, talk of its being an immediate stroke 
from heaven, without the agency of means, 
having commission to strike this and that parti- 
cular person, and none otlier : which I look u})on 
with contempt, as the eflbct of manifest ignorance 
and enthusiasm ; likewise the opinion of others, 
who talk of infection being carried on by the air 


only, by carrying with it vast numbers of insects, 
and invisible creatures, who enter into the body 
with the breath, or even at the pores with the 
air, and there generate, or emit most acute poi- 
sons, or poisonous ovse, or eggs, which mingle 
themselves with the blood, and so infect the 
body ; a discourse full of learned simplicity, and 
manifested to be so by universal experience ; but 
I shall say more to this case in its order. 

I must here take further notice that nothing 
was more fatal to the inhabitants of this city than 
the supine negligence of the people themselves 
who, during the long notice or warning they had 
of the visitation, made no provision for it, by 
laying in store of provisions, or of other neces- 
saries, by which they might have lived retired, 
and within their own houses, as I have observed 
others did, and who were in a great measure pre- 
served by that caution ; nor where they, after 
they were a little hardened to it, so shy of con- 
versing with one another, when actually infected, 
as they were at first, no, though they knew it. 

I acknowledge I was one of those thoughtless 
ones that had made so little provision, that my 
servants were obliged to go out of doors to buy 
every trifle by penny and halfpenny, just as be- 
fore it began, even till my experience shewing me 
the folly, I began to be wiser so late, that I had 
scarce time to store myself sufficient for our com- 
mon subsistence for a month. 

I had in family only an ancient woman, who 
managed the house, a maid-servant, two appren- 
tices, and myself; and the Plague beginning to 
increase about us, I had many sad thoughts about 
what coarse I shouid take, and how I should act ; 
the many dismal objects which happened every 
where as I went about the streets, had filled my 


mind with a great deal of horror, for fear of the 
distemper itself, which was, indeed, very horrible 
in itself, and in some more than in others ; the 
swellings, which were generally in the neck, or 
groin, when they grew hard, and would not 
break, grew so painful, that it was equal to the 
most exquisite torture ; and some, not able to 
bear the torment, threw themselves out at win- 
dows, or shot themselves, or otherwise made 
themselves away, and I saw several dismal ob- 
jects of that kind ; others, unable to contain 
themselves, vented their pain by incessant roar- 
infjs, and such loud and lamentable cries were to 
be heard as we walked along the streets, that 
would pierce the very heart to think of, espe- 
cially when it was to be considered that the same 
dreadful scourge might be expected every mo- 
ment to seize upon ourselves. 

I cannot say but that now I began to faint in 
my resolutions ; my heart failed me very much, 
and sorely I repented of my rashness : when I 
had been out, and met with such terrible things 
as these I have talked of — I say, I repented my 
rashness in venturing to abide in town : I wished 
often that I had not taken upon me to stay, but 
had gone away with my brother and his family. 

Terrified by those frightful objects, I would 
retire home sometimes, and resolve to go out no 
more, and perhaps 1 would keep those resolu- 
tions for three or four days, which time I spent in 
the most serious thankfulness for my preservation, 
and the preservation of my family, and the con- 
stant confession of my sins, giving myself up to 
God every day, and applying to him, with fasting, 
humiliaticn, and mediation. Such intervals as I 
had, I employed in reading books, and in writing 
down my memorandums of what occurred to me 


every day, and out of which, afterwards, I took 
most of this work, as it relates to my observa- 
tions without doors : what I wrote of my private 
meditations I reserve for private use, and desire 
it may not be made pubhc on any account what- 

I also wrote other meditations upon divine 
subjects, such as occurred to me at that time, and 
w^ere profitable to myself, but not fit for any other 
view, and therefore I say no more of that. 

I had a very good friend, a physician, whose 
name was Heath, who I frequently visited during 
this dismal time, and to whose advice I was very 
much obliged for many things which he directed 
me to take, by way of preventing the infection 
when I went out, as he found I frequently did, 
and to hold in my mouth when I was in the 
streets ; he also came very often to see me, and 
as he was a good Christian as well as a good phy- 
sician, his agreeable conversation was a very 
great support to me in the worst of this terrible 

It was now the beginning of August, and the 
Plague grew very violent and terrible in the 
place where I lived, and Dr. Heath coming to 
visit me, and finding that I ventured so often out 
in the streets, earnestly persuaded me to lock 
myself up and my family, and not to suffer any 
of us to go out of doors ; to keep all our windows 
fast, shutters and curtains close, and never to 
open them ; but first, to make a very strong 
smoke in the room, where the window or door 
was to be opened, with resin and pitch, brimstone, 
or gunpowder, and the like ; and we did this for 
some time : but as I had not laid in a store of 
provision for such a retreat, it was impossible 
that we could keep within doors entirely ; how- 


ever, I attempted, though it was so very late, to 
do something towards it ; and first, as I had con- 
venience both for brewing and baking, I went 
and bought two sacks of meal, and for several 
weeks, having an oven, we baked all our own 
bread ; also I bought malt, and brewed as much 
beer as all the casks I had would hold, and which 
seemed enough to serve my house for five or six 
weeks ; also I laid in a quantity of salt butter 
and Cheshire cheese ; but I had no flesh meat, 
and the Plague raged so violently among the 
butchers, and slaughter-houses, on the other side 
of our street, where they are known to dwell in 
great numbers, that it was not advisable, so much 
as to cro over the street amonjr them. 

And here I must observe again, that this 
necessity of going out of our houses to buy pro- 
visions, was in a great measure the ruin of the 
whole city, for the people caught the distemper 
on these occasions, one of another, and even the 
provisions themselves were often tainted, at least 
I have great reason to believe so ; and therefore 
I cannot say with satisfaction what I know is re- 
peated with great assurance, that the market 
people, and such as brought provisions to town, 
were never infected : I am certain, the butchers 
of Whitechapel, where the greatest part of the 
flesh-meat was killed, were dreadfully visited, 
and that at last to such a degree, that few of their 
shops were kept open ; and those that remained 
of them, killed their meat at Mile-End and that 
way, and brought it to market upon horses. 

However, the poor people could not lay up 
provisions, and there was a necessity that they 
must go to market to buy, and others to send 
servants or their children ; and as this was a 
necessity which renewed itself daily, it brought 


abundance of unsound people to the markets, 
and a great many that went thither sound brought 
death home with them. 

It is true, people used all possible precaution ; 
when any one bought a joint of meat in the 
market, they would not take it of the butcher's 
hand, but take it off the hooks themselves. On 
the other hand, the butcher would not touch the 
money, but have it put into a pot full of vinegar, 
which he kept for that purpose. The buyer car- 
ried always small money to make up any odd 
sum, that they might take no change. They 
carried bottles for scents and perfumes in their 
hands, and all the m^eans that could be used were 
used ; but then the poor could not do even these 
things, and they went at all hazards. 

Innumerable dismal stories we heard every day 
on this very account ; sometimes a man or woman 
dropt down dead in the very markets ; for many 
people that had the Plague upon them knew 
nothing of it till the inward gangreen had affected 
their vitals, and they died in a few moments ; this 
caused, that many died frequently in that manner 
in the streets suddenly, without any warning ; 
others, perhaps, had time to go to the next bulk 
or stall, or to any door, porch, and just sit down 
and die, as I have said before. 

These objects were so frequent in the streets, 
that when the Plague came to be very raging on 
one side, there was scarce any passing by the 
streets, but that several dead bodies would be 
lying here and there upon the ground ; on the 
other hand it is observable, that though at 
first the people would stop as they went along, 
and call to the neighbours to come out on such 
an occasion, yet, afterward, no notice was taken 
of them ; but that, if at any time we found a 


corpse lying, go cross the way, and not come 
near it ; or if in a narrow lane or passage, go 
back again and seek some other way to go on the 
business we were upon : and in those cases the 
corpse was always left till the officers had notice 
to come and take them away ; or, till night, when 
the bearers attending the dead-cart would take 
them up and carry them away. Nor did those 
undaunted creatures, who performed these offices, 
fail to search their pockets, and sometimes strip 
off the clothes, if they were well drest, as some- 
times they were, and carry off what they could get. 
But to return to the markets ; the butchers 
took that care, that if any person died in the 
market, they had the officers always at hand to 
take them upon hand-barrows, and carry them to 
the next church-yard ; and this was so frequent, 
that such were not entered in the weekly bill, 
found dead in the streets or fields, as is the case 
now ; but they went into the general articles of 
the great distemper. 

But now the fury of the distemper encreased 
to such a degree, that even the markets were 
but very thinly furnished with provisions, or 
frequented with buyers, compared to what they 
were before ; and tlie Lord Mayor caused the 
country people who brought provisions, to be 
stopped in the streets leading into tlie town, 
and to sit down there with their goods, where 
they sold what they brought, and went imme- 
diately away, and this encouraged the country 
people greatly to do so, for they sold their pro- 
visions at the very entrances into the town, and 
beyond \Vliitechappel, in Spittle-fields. Note, 
even in the fields ; as particularly in the fields 
Those streets now called Spittle-fields, were then 
indeed open fields : also in St. George's-fields in 



Southwark, in Bunhill-fields, and in a great field 
called Wood's-close, near Islington ; thither the 
Lord Mayor, aldermen and magistrates sent their 
officers and servants to buy for their families, 
themselves keeping within doors as much as pos- 
sible, and the like did many other people; and 
after this method was taken, the country people 
came with great chearfulness, and brought pro- 
visions of all sorts, and very seldom got any 
harm ; which, I suppose, added also to that re- 
port of their being miraculously preserved. 

As for my little family, having thus, as I have 
said, laid in a store of bread, butter, cheese, and 
beer, I took my friend and physician's advice, and 
locked myself up, and my family, and resolved to 
suffer the hardship of living a few months without 
flesh-meat, rather than to purchase it at the hazard 
of our lives. 

But though I confined my family, I could not 
prevail upon my unsatisfied curiosity to stay 
within entirely myself: and though I generally 
came frighted and terrified home, yet I could 
not restrain ; only that indeed I did not do it so 
frequently as at first. 

I had some little obligations indeed upon me, 
to go to my brother's house, which was in Cole- 
man-street parish, and which he had left to my 
care, and I went at first every day, but afterwards 
only once or twice a week. 

In these walks I had many dismal scenes before 
my eyes, as particularly of persons falling dead in 
the streets, terrible shrieks and screechings of wo- 
men, who in their agonies would throw open their 
chamber windows, and cry out in a dismal sur- 
prising manner ; it is impossible to describe the 
variety of postures in which the passions of the 
poor people would express themselves. 


Passing through Token-house Yard in Loth- 
bury, of a sudden a casement violently opened 
just over my head, and a woman gave three 
frightful screeches, and then cried, Oh ! death, 
death, death ! in a most inimitable tone, and 
which struck me with horror and a chilness in my 
very blood. There was no body to be seen in the 
whole street, neither did any other window open ; 
for people had no curiosity now in any case ; nor 
could any body help one another ; so I went on to 
pass into Bell-Alley. 

Just in Bell-Alley, on the right hand of the 
passage, there was a more terrible cry than that, 
though it was not so directed out at the window, 
but the whole family was in a terrible fright, and 
I could hear women and children run screaming 
about the rooms like distracted, when a garret 
window opened, and somebody from a window on 
the other side the alley, called and asked, " What 
is the matter ?" upon which, from the first window- 
it was answered, " O Lord, my old master has 
hanged himself!" The other asked again, " Is 
he quite dead ?" and the first answered, " Ay, ay, 
quite dead; quite dead and cold!" This person 
was a merchant, and a deputy alderman, and very 
rich. I care not to mention the name, though I 
knew his name too, but that would be an hard- 
ship to the family, which is now flourishing again. 

But this is but one ; it is scarce creditable what 
dreadful cases happened in particular families 
every day ; people in the rage of the distemper, 
or in the torment of their swelhngs, which was in- 
deed intolerable, running out of their own govern- 
ment, raving and distracted, and oftentimes laying 
violent hands upon themselves, throwing them- 
selves out at their windows, shooting themselves, 
&c. Mothers murdering their own children in 


their lunacy, some dying of mere grief, as a pas- 
sion, some of mere fright and surprize, without 
any infection at all ; others frighted into idiotism 
and foolish distractions, some into despair and 
lunacy ; others into melancholy madness. 

The pain of the swelling was in particular very 
violent, and to some intolerable ; the physicians 
and surgeons may be said to have tortured many 
poor creatures, even to death. The swellings in 
some grew hard, and they applied violent drawing 
plaisters, or poultices, to break them ; and if these 
did not do, they cut and scarified them in a ter- 
rible manner. In some, those swellings were made 
hard, partly by the force of the distemper, and 
partly by their being too violently drawn, and 
were so hard that no instrument could cut them, 
and then they burnt them with caustics, so that 
many died raving mad with the torment; and 
some in the very operation. In these distresses, 
some for want of help to hold them down in their 
beds, or to look to them, laid hands upon them- 
selves, as above. Some broke out into the streets, 
perhaps naked, and would run directly down to 
the river, if they were not stopt by the watch- 
men, or other officers, and plunge themselves into 
the water, wherever they found it. 

It often pierced my very soul to hear the groans 
and cries of those who were thus tormented, but 
of the two, this was counted the most promising 
particular in the whole infection ; for, if these 
swellings could be brought to a head, and to break 
and run, or as the surgeons call it, to digest, the 
patient generally recovered ; whereas those, who, 
like the gentlewoman's daughter, were struck with 
death at the beginning, and had the tokens come 
out upon them, often went about indifferent easy, 
till a little before they died, and some till the mo- 


ment they dropped down, as in apoplexies and 
epilepsies, is often the case ; such would be taken 
suddenly very sick, and would run to a bench or 
bulk, or any convenient place that offered itself, 
or to their own houses, if possible, as I mentioned 
before, and there sit down, grow faint, and die. 
This kind of dying was much the same as it was 
with those who die of common mortifications, Avho 
die swooning, and, as it were, go away in a dream; 
such as died thus, had very little notice of their 
being infected at all, till the gangreen was spread 
through their whole body; nor could physicians 
themselves know certainly how it was with them, 
till they opened their breasts or other parts of 
their body, and saw the tokens. 

We had at this time a great many frightful 
stories told us of nurses and watchmen, who 
looked after the dying people, that is to say, hired 
nurses, who attended infected people, using them 
barbarously, starving them, smothering them, or 
by other wicked means hastening their end, that 
is to say, murdering of them : and watchmen being 
set to guard houses that were shut up, when there 
has been but one person left, and perhaps that 
one lying sick, that they have broke in and mur- 
dered that body, and immediately thrown them 
out into the dead cart! and so they have gone 
scarce cold to the grave. 

I cannot say but that some such murders were 
committed, and I think two were sent to prison 
for it, but died before they could be tried : and I 
have heard that three others, at several times, 
were excused for murders of that kind ; but I 
must say I believe nothing of its being so common 
a crime, as some have since been pleased to say, 
nor did it seem to be so rational, where the people 
were brought so low as not to be able to help 


themselves, for such seldom recovered, and there 
was no temptation to commit a murder, at least, 
none equal to the fact, where they were sure 
persons would die in so short a time ; and could 
not live. 

That there were a great many robberies and 
wicked practices committed even in this dreadful 
time I do not deny ; the power of avarice was so 
strong in some, that they would run any hazard 
to steal and to plunder, and particularly in houses 
where all the families or inhabitants have been 
dead, and carried out, they would break in at all 
hazards, and without regard to the danger of infec- 
tion, take even the clothes off the dead bodies, and 
even bed-clothes from others where they lay dead. 

This, I suppose, must be the case of a family 
in Houndsditch, where a man and his daughter, 
(the rest of the family being, as I suppose, 
carried away before by the dead-cart,) were found 
stark naked, one in one chamber, and one in 
another, lying dead on the floor ; and the clothes 
of the beds, from whence, it is supposed they were 
rolled off by thieves, stolen, and carried quite 

It is indeed to be observed, that the women 
were, in all this calamity, the most rash, fearless, 
and desperate creatures ; and as there were vast 
numbers that went about as nurses, to tend those 
that were sick, they committed a great many petty 
thieveries in the houses where they were employed ; 
and some of them were publicly whipped for it, 
when, perhaps, they ought rather to have been 
hanged for examples ; for numbers of houses 
were robbed on these occasions, till at length, the 
parish officers were sent to recommend nurses to 
the sick, and always took an account who it was 
they sent, so as that they might call them to ac- 


count, if the house had been abused where they 
were placed. 

But these robberies extended chiefly to 
wearing-clothes, linen, and what rings or money 
they could come at, when the person died who 
was under their care, but not to a general plunder 
of the houses ; and I could give you an account 
of one of these nurses, who, several years after, 
being on her death-bed, confessed, with the 
utmost horror, the robberies she had committed 
at the time of her being a nurse, and by which she 
had enriched herself to a great degree ; but as 
for murders, I do not find that there was ever 
any proof of the facts, in the manner as it has 
been reported, except as above. 

They did tell me indeed of a nurse in one place, 
that laid a wet cloth upon the face of a dying 
patient, who she tended, and so put an end to his 
life, who was just expiring before : and another 
that smothered a young woman she was looking 
to, when she was in a fainting fit, and would have 
come to herself : some that killed them by giving 
them one thing, some another, and some starved 
them by giving them nothing at all : but these 
stories had two marks of suspicion that always 
attended them, which caused me always to slight 
them, and to look on them as mere stories, that 
people continually frighted one another with. 
First — That wherever it was that we heard it, 
they always placed the scene at the farther end of 
the town, opposite, or most remote from where 
you were to hear it : if you heard it in Whitechapel, 
it had happened at St. Giles's, or at Westminster, 
or Hoi born, or that end of the town ; if you heard 
of it at that end of the town, then it was done in 
Whitechapel, or the Minories, or about Cripple- 
gate parish : if you heard of it in the city, why, 


then it happened in South wark : and if you heard 
of it in Southwark, then it was done in the city, 
and the hke. 

In the next place, of what part soever you heard 
the story, the particulars were always the same, 
especially that of laying a wet double clout on a 
dying man's face, and that of smothering a young 
gentlewoman ; so that it was apparent, at least to 
my judgment, that there was more of tale than of 
truth in those things. 

However, I cannot say, but it had some effect 
upon the people, and particularly that, as I said 
before, they grew more cautious who they took 
into their houses, and who they trusted their lives 
with, and had them always recommended, if they 
could ; and where they could not find such, for 
they were not very plenty, they applied to the 
parish officers. 

But here again, the misery of that time lay upon 
the poor, who, being infected, had neither food 
nor physic; neither Physician or Apothecary to 
assist them, or Nurse to attend them : many of 
those died calling for help, and even for' suste- 
nance, out at their windows, in a most miserable 
and deplorable manner ; but it must be added, 
that whenever the cases of such persons or fami- 
lies were represented to my Lord Mayor, they 
always were relieved. 

It is true, in some houses where the people 
were not very poor, yet, where they had sent 
perhaps their wives and children away; and if 
they had any servants, they had been dismissed ; 
I say, it is true, that to save the expences, many 
such as these shut themselves in, and, not having 
help, died alone. 

A neighbour and acquaintance of mine, having 
some money owing to him from a shopkeeper in 


Whitecross-street, or thereabouts, sent his ap- 
prentice, a youth about eighteen years of age, to 
endeavour to get the money : he came to the door, 
and finding it shut, knocked pretty hard, and as 
he thought, heard somebody answer within, but 
was not sure, so he waited, and after some stay, 
knocked again, and then a third time, when he 
heard somebody coming down stairs. 

At length, the man of the house came to the 
door ; he had on his breeches or drawers, and a 
yellow flannel waistcoat ; no stockings, a pair of 
shpt-shoes, a white cap on his head, and, as the 
young man said, death in his face. 

When lie opened the door, says he, " What do 
you disturb me thus for?" The boy, though a 
little surprised, replied, " I come from such a one, 
and my master sent me for tlie money whicli he 
says you know of:" "very w^ell, child," returns 
the living ghost, " call, as you go by, at Cripple- 
gate church, and bid them ring the bell;" and 
with these words, shut the door again, and went 
up again, and died the same day : nay, perhaps the 
same hour. This the young man told me himself, 
and I have reason to believe it. This was while 
the Plague was not come to a height : I think it 
was in June, towards the latter end of the month ; 
it must be before the dead-carts came about, and 
while they used the ceremony of ringing the bell 
for the dead, which was over for certain, in that 
parish, at least, before the month of July ; for by 
the 25th of July, there died 550 and upwards, 
in a week, and then they could no more bury in 
form, rich or poor. 

I have mentioned above, that notwithstanding 
this dreadful calamity, yet the numbers of thieves 
were abroad upon all occasions, where they had 
found any prey, and that these were generally 

F 5 


women. It was one morning, about eleven o'clock, 
I had walked out to my brother's house, in Cole- 
man street parish, as I often did, to see that all 
was safe. 

My brother's house had a httle court before it, 
and a brick wall and a gate in it, and, within 
that, several warehouses, where his goods of se- 
veral sorts lay ; it happened, that in one of these 
warehouses were several packs of women's high 
crowned hats, which came out of the country, and 
were, as I suppose, for exportation ; whither, I 
know not. 

I was surprised that when I came near my 
brother's door, which was in a place they called 
Swan-alley, I met three or four women with high 
crowned hats on their heads ; and as I remem- 
bered afterwards, one, if not more, had some hats 
likewise in their hands, but as I did not see them 
come out at my brother's door, and not knowing 
that my brother had any such goods in his ware- 
house, I did not offer to say any thing to them, 
but went cross the way to shun meeting them, 
as was usual to do at that time, for fear of the 
Plague. But when I came near to the gate, 1 
met another woman with more hats come out of 
the gate. " What business, Mistress," said I, 
" have you had there ?" *' There are more people 
there," said she, " I have had no more business 
there than they." I was hasty to get to the gate 
then, and said no more to her ; by which means 
she got away. But just as I came to the gate, I 
saw two more coming cross the yard to come out 
with hats also on their heads, and under their 
arms ; at which I threw the gate to behind me, 
which, having a spring lock, fastened itself; and 
turning to the women — " Forsooth," said I, 
" what are you doing here ?" and seized upon the 


hats, and took them from them. One of them, 
who, I confess, did not look hke a thief — " In- 
deed," says she, " we are wrong ; but wejwere told 
they were goods that had no owner ; be pleased to 
take them again, and look yonder, there are 
more such customers as we :" she cried and looked 
pitifully, so I took the hats from her, and opened 
the gate, and bade them begone, for I pitied the 
women indeed ; but when I looked towards the 
warehouse as she directed, there were six or 
seven more, all women jSttins themselves with 
hats, as unconcerned and quit as they had been 
in a hatter's shop, buying for their money. 

I was surprised, not at the sight of so many 
thieves only, but at the circumstances I was in ; 
being now to thrust myself in among so many 
people, who, for some weeks, had been so shy of 
myself, that if I met anybody in the street, I 
would cross the way from them. 

They were equally surprised, though on another 
account : they all told me they were neighbours, 
that they had heard any one might take them, 
that they were nobody's goods, and the like. 
I talked big to them at first ; went back to the 
gate, and took out the key ; so that they were all 
my prisoners; threatened to lock them all into 
the warehouse, and go and fetch my Lord 
Mayor's officers for them. 

They begged heartily, protested they found 
the gate open, and the warehouse door open ; 
and that it had no doubt been broken open by 
some who expected to find goods of greater value, 
which indeed, was reasonable to believe, because 
the lock was broke, and a padlock that hung to 
the door on the outside, also loose ; and not 
abundance of the hats carried away. 

At length, I considered, that this was not a 


time to be cruel and rigorous ; and besides that, it 
would necessarily oblige me to go much about, to 
have several people come to me, and I go to seve- 
ral, whose circumstances of health I knew nothing 
of: and that, even at this time, the Plague was so 
high, as that there died 4000 a week ; so that, in 
shewing my resentment, or even in seeking justice 
for my brother's goods, I might loose my own 
life ; so I contented myself with taking the names 
and places where some of them lived, who were 
really inhabitants in the neighbourhood ; and 
threatening that my brother should call them to 
an account for it when he returned to his habi- 

Then I talked a little upon another foot with 
them, and asked them how they could do such 
things as these in a time of such general calamity, 
and, as it were, in the face of God's most dreadful 
judgments, when the Plague was at their very 
doors, and it may be, in their very houses ; and 
they did not know but that the dead-cart might 
stop at their doors in a few hours, to carry them 
to their graves. 

I could not perceive that my discourse made 
much impression upon them all that while, till it 
happened that there came two men of the neigh- 
bourhood, hearing of the disturbance, and know- 
ing my brother, for they had both been depend- 
ants upon his family, and they came to my assist- 
ance ; these being, as I said, neighbours, presently 
knew three of the women, and told me who they 
were, and where they lived ; and, it seems, they 
had given me a true account of themselves before. 
This brings these two men to a farther remem- 
brance : the name of one was John Hayward, 
who was at that time under sexton of the parish 
of St. Stephen, Coleman-street ; by under sexton 


was understood at that time grave-digger, and 
bearer of the dead. This man carried, or assisted 
to carry, all the dead to their graves, which were 
buried in that large parish, and who were carried 
in form ; and after that form of burying was 
stopped, went witli the dead-cart and the bell, to 
fetch the dead bodies from the houses where they 
lay, and fetched many of them out of the chambers 
and houses ; for the parish was, and is still re- 
markable, particularly, above all the parishes in 
London, for a great number of alleys and thorough- 
fares, very long, into which no carts could come, 
and where they were obliged to go and fetch the 
bodies a very long way ; which alleys now remain to 
witness it ; such as White's-alley, Cross-key-court, 
.Swan-alley, Bell-alley, White-horse-alley, and 
many more : here they went with a kind of hand- 
barrow, and laid the dead bodies on it, and carried 
them out to the carts ; which work he performed, 
and never had the distemper at all, but lived 
about twenty years after it, and was sexton of the 
parish to the time of his death. His wife, at the 
same time, was a nurse to infected people, and 
tended many that died in the parish, being, for 
her honesty, recommended by the parish officers, 
yet she never was infected neither. 

He never used any preservative against the in- 
fection, other than holding garlick and rue in his 
mouth, and smoking tobacco : this I also had 
from his own mouth ; and is wife's remedy was 
washing her head in vinegar, and sprinkling her 
head clothes so with vinegar, as to keep them 
always moist: and if the smell of any of those 
she waited on was more than ordinary offensive, 
she snuffed vinegar up her nose, and sprinkled 
vinegar upon her head clothes, and held a 
handkerchief wetted with vinegar to her mouth. 


It must be confessed, that though the Plague 
was chiefly among the poor ; yet were the poor 
the most venturous and fearless of it, and went 
about their employment with a sort of brutal 
courage ; I must call it so, for it was founded 
neither on religion or prudence ; scarce did they 
use any caution, but ran into any business which 
they could get employment in though it was the 
most hazardous ; such was that of tending the 
sick, watching houses shut up, carrying infected 
persons to the pest-house, and which was still 
worse, carrying the dead away to their graves. 

It was under this John Hayward's care, and 
within his bounds, that the story of the piper, 
with which people have made themselves so merry, 
happened, and he assured me that it was true. It 
is said that he was a blind piper ; but, as John 
told me, the fellow was not blind, but an ignorant 
weak poor man, and usually walked his rounds 
about ten o'clock at night, and went piping along 
from door to door, and the people usually took 
him in at public-houses where they knew him, 
and would give him drink and victuals, and 
sometimes farthings ; and he, in return would 
pipe and sing, and talk simply, which diverted the 
people ; and thus he lived : it was but a very 
bad time for this diversion, while things were as I 
have told ; yet the poor fellow went about as 
usual, but was almost starved : and when anybody 
asked how he did, he would answer, — the dead- 
cart had not taken him yet, but that they had 
promised to call for him next week. 

It happened one night, that this poor fellow, 
whether somebody had given him too much drink 
or no — John Hayward said he had not drink in 
his house — but that they had given him a little 
more victuals than ordinary at a public house in 


Coleman Street ; and the poor fellow having not 
usually had a bellyful, or, perhaps, not a good 
while, was laid all along upon the top of a bulk 
or stall, and fast asleep, at a door, in the street, 
near London-wall, towards Cripplegate ; and that 
upon the same bulk or stall, the people of some 
house, in the alley of which the house was a cor- 
ner, hearing a bell, which they always rung be- 
fore the cart came, had laid a body really dead of 
the Plague just by him, thinking, too, that this 
poor fellow had been a dead body, as the other 
was, and laid there by some of the neighbours. 

Accordingly, when John Hayward, with his 
bell and the cart, came along, finding two dead 
bodies lie upon the stall, they took them up with 
the instrument they used, and threw them into 
the cart, and all this while the piper slept soundly. 

From hence they passed along, and took in 
other dead bodies, till, as honest John Hayward 
told me, they almost buried him alive in the cart ; 
yet all this while he slept soundly ; at length the 
cart came to the place where the bodies were to 
be thrown into the ground, which, as I do remem- 
ber, was at Mount-mill ; and as the cart usually 
stopped some time before they were ready to 
shoot out the melancholy load they had in it, as 
soon as the cart stopped, the fellow awaked, and 
struggled a little to get his head out from among 
the dead bodies, when raising himself up in the 
cart, he called out, — hey ! where am I ! This 
frighted the fellow that attended about the work, 
but after some pause, John Hayward recovering 
himself, said, — Lord bless us ! there is somebody 
in the cart not quite dead! so another called to 
him, and said, — who are you ? The fellow an- 
swered — I am the poor piper— where am I ? 
Where are you, says Hayward ; why, you are 


in the dead-cart, and we are going to bury you. 
But I an't dead, though, am I ? says the piper, 
which made them laugh a httle, though, as John 
said, they were heartily frighted at first ; so they 
helped the poor fellow down, and he went about 
his business. 

I know the story goes, he set up his pipes in 
the cart, and frighted the bearers and others, so 
that they ran away ; but John Hay ward did not 
tell the story so, nor say anything of his piping 
at all ; but that he was a poor piper, and that he 
was carried away as above I am fully satisfied of 
the truth of. 

It is to be noted here, that the dead-carts in 
the city were not confined to particular parishes, 
but one cart went through several parishes, ac- 
cording as the number of dead presented ; nor 
were they tied to carry the dead to their repective 
parishes, but many of the dead taken up in the 
city were carried to the burying-ground in the 
out-parts, for want of room. 

I have already mentioned the surprise, that 
this judgment was at first among the people. I 
must be allowed to give some of ray observations 
on the more serious and religious part. Surely 
never city, at least of this bulk and magnitude, 
was taken in a condition so perfectly unprepared 
for such a dreadful visitation, whether I am to 
speak of the civil preparations, or religious ; they 
were, indeed, as if they had had no warning, 
no expectation, no apprehensions, and, conse- 
quently, the least provision imaginable was made 
for it in a public way ; for example : — 

The Lord Mayor and Sheriffs had made no 
provision as magistrates, for the regulations which 
were to be observed ; they had gone into no mea- 
sures for the relief of the poor. 


The citizens had no pubhc magazines, or store- 
houses for corn, or meal, for the subsistence of 
the poor ; which, if they had provided themselves, 
as in such cases is done abroad, many miserable 
families, who were now reduced to the utmost 
distress, would have been relieved, and that in a 
better manner than now could be done. 

The stock of the city's money I can say but 
little to ; the chamber of London was said to be 
exceeding rich ; and it may be concluded that 
they were so, by the vast sums of money issued 
from thence, in the rebuilding the public edifices 
after the fire of London, and in building new 
works, such as, for the first part, the Guildhall, 
Blackwell-hall, part of Leadenhall, half the Ex- 
change, the Session-house, the Compter, the 
prisons of Ludgate, Newgate, &c. ; several of the 
wharfs, and stairs, and landing-places on the 
river ; all which were either burnt down or da- 
maged by the great fire of London, the next year 
after the Plague ; and of the second sort, the 
Monument, Fleet-ditch, with its bridges, and the 
Hospital of Bethlem, or Bedlam, &:c. But pos- 
sibly the managers of the city's credit, at that 
time, made more conscience of breaking in upon 
the orphan's money, to shew charity to the dis- 
tressed citizens, than the managers in the follow- 
ing years did, to beautify the city, and re-edify 
the buildings, though in the first case, the losers 
would have thought their fortunes better be- 
stowed, and the public faith of the city have been 
less subjected to scandal and reproach. 

It must be acknowledged, that the absent citi- 
zens, who, though they were fled for safety into 
the country, were yet greatly interested in the 
welfare of those whom they left behind, forgot 
not to contribute liberally to the relief of the 


poor, and large sums were also collected among 
trading towns in the remotest parts of England ; 
and as I have heard also, the nobility and the 
gentry, in all parts of England, took the deplorable 
condition of the city into their consideration, and 
sent up large sums of money in charity, to the 
Lord Mayor and magistrates, for the relief of the 
poor ; the King also, as I was told, ordered a 
thousand pounds a week to be distributed in four 
parts: one quarter to the city and liberty of 
Westminster ; one quarter, or part, among the 
inhabitants of the Southwark-side of the water ; 
one quarter to the liberty and parts within of the 
city, exclusive of the city within the walls ; and, 
one fourth part to the suburbs in the county of 
Middlesex, and the east and north parts of the 
city : but this latter I only speak of as a report. 

Certain it is, the greatest part of the poor, or 
famihes who formerly lived by their labour, or by 
retail trade, lived now on charity ; and had there 
not been prodigious sums of money given by 
charitable well-minded Christians, for the support 
of such, the city could never have subsisted. 
There were, no question, accounts kept of their 
charity, and of the just distribution of it by the 
magistrates : but as such multitudes of those 
very officers died, through whose hands it was 
distributed ; and also that, as I have been told, 
most of the accounts of those things were lost in 
the great fire which happened in the very next 
year, and which burnt even the chamberlain's 
office, and many of their papers ; so I could 
never come at the particular account, which I 
used great endeavours to have seen. 

It may, however, be a direction in case of the 
approach of a like visitation, which God keep the 
city from ; I say, it may be of use to observe. 


that by the care of the Lord Mayor and aldermen, 
at that time, in distributing weekly, great sums 
of money for rehef of the poor, a multitude of 
people, who would otherwise have perished, were 
relieved, and their lives preserved. And here let 
me enter into a brief state of the case of the poor 
at that time, and what way apprehended from 
them, from whence may be judged hereafter, 
what may be expected, if the like distress should 
come upon the city. 

At the beginninor of the Plague, when there 
was now no more hope, but that the whole city 
would be visited, when, as I have said, all that 
had friends or estates in the country, retired with 
their families ; and when, indeed, one would have 
thought the very city itself was running out of the 
gates, and that there would be nobody left behind ; 
you may be sure, from that hour, all trade, ex- 
cept such as related to immediate subsistence, 
was, as it were, at a full stop. 

This is so lively a case, and contains in it so 
much of the real condition of the people, that I 
think I cannot be too particular in it ; and there- 
fore I descend to the several arrangements or 
classes of people, who fell into immediate distress 
upon this occasion : for example : — 
1. — All master workmen in manufactories ; espe- 
cially such as belonged to ornament, and the 
less necessary parts of the people's dress, 
clothes, and furniture for houses ; such as rib- 
bon-weavers, and otlier weavers ; gold and 
silver lace-makers, and gold and silver wire- 
drawers, sempstresses, milliners, shoe-makers, 
hat-makers, and glove-makers : also, uphol- 
sterers, joiners, cabinet-makers, looking-glass- 
makers ; and innumerable trades which depend 
upon such as these : I say, the master work- 


men in such, stopped their work, dismissed 
their journeymen, and workmen, and all their 

2. — As merchandizing was at a full stop, for very 
few ships ventured to come up the river, and 
none at all went out ; so all the extraordinary 
officers of the customs, likewise the watermen, 
carmen, porters, and all the poor, whose labour 
depended upon the merchants, were at once 
dismissed, and put out of business. 

3. — All the tradesmen usually employed in build- 
ing or repairing of houses, were at a full stop, 
for the people were far from wanting to build 
houses, when so many thousand houses were 
at once stripped of their inhabitants ; so that 
this one article turned all the ordinary work- 
men of that kind out of business ; such as 
bricklayers, masons, carpenters, joiners, plas- 
terers, painters, glaziers, smiths, plumbers ; 
and all the labourers depending on such. 

4. — As navigation was at a stop, our ships 
neither coming in or going out as before, so 

,' the seamen were all out of employment, and 
many of them in the last and lowest degree of 
distress ; and with the seamen, were all the 
several tradesmen, and workmen, belonging to 
and depending upon the building, and fitting 
out of ships ; such as ship-carpenters, caulkers 
rope-makers, dry-coopers, sail-makers, anchor- 
smiths, and other smiths ; block-makers, carv- 
ers, gun-smiths, ship-chandlers, ship-carvers, 
and the like ; the masters of those, perhaps, 
might live upon their substance ; but the 
traders were universally at a stop, and conse- 
quently all their workmen discharged ; add to 
these, that the river was in a manner without 
boats, and all or most part of the watermen, 


lightermen, boat-builders, and lighter-builders, 
in like manner idle, and laid by. 
5. — All families retrenched their living as much 
as possible, as well those that fled, as those 
that staid ; so that an innumerable multitude 
of footmen, serving-men, shopkeepers, journey- 
men, merchant's book-keepers, and such sort of 
people, and especially poor maid-servants were 
turned oflP, and left friendless, and helpless, 
without employment, and without habitation : 
and this was really a dismal article. 
I might be more particular as to this part, but 
it may suffice to mention in general , all trades 
being stopped, employment ceased ; the labour, 
and by that, the bread of the poor were cut off; 
and at first indeed, the cries of the poor were 
most lamentable to hear, though by the distribu- 
tion of charity, their misery that way was greatly 
abated : many indeed fled into the country ; but 
thousands of them having staid in London, till 
nothing but desperation sent them away ; death 
overtook them on the road, and they served for 
no better than the messengers of death ; indeed, 
others carrying the infection along with them, 
spreading it very unhappily into the remotest 
parts of the kingdom. 

jNlany of these were the miserable objects of 
despair which I have mentioned before, and were 
removed by the destruction which followed ; these 
might be said to perish, not by the infection itself, 
but by the consequence of it ; indeed, namely, by 
hunger and distress, and the want of all things ; 
being without lodging, without money, without 
friends, without means to get their bread, or with- 
out any one to give it them ; for many of them 
were without what we call legal settlements, and 
so could not claim of the parishes, and all the 


support they had, was by application to the ma- 
gistrates for relief, which relief was (to give the 
magistrates their due) carefully and chearfuUy 
administered, as they found it necessary ; and 
those that staid behind never felt the want and 
distress of that kind, which they felt who went 
away in the manner above noted. 

Let any one who is acquainted with what mul- 
titudes of people get their daily bread in this city 
by their labour, whether artificers or mere work- 
men : I say, let any man consider what must be 
the miserable condition of this town, if, on a sud- 
den, they should be all turned out of employment, 
that labour should cease, and wages for work be 
no more. 

This was the case with us at that time ; and 
had not the sums of money, contributed in cha- 
rity, by well-disposed people of every kind, as 
well abroad as at home, been prodigiously great, 
it had not been in the power of the Lord Mayor 
and Sheriffs to have kept the public peace ; nor 
were they without apprehensions as it was, that 
desperation should push the people upon tumults, 
and cause them to rifle the houses of rich men, 
and plunder the markets of provisions ; in which 
case, the country people, who brought provisions 
very freely and boldly to town, would have been 
terrified from coming any more, and the town 
would have sunk under an unavoidable famine. 

But the prudence of my Lord Mayor, and the 
court of Aldermen, within the city, and of the 
Justices of peace in the out-parts, was such, that 
they were supported with money from all parts 
so well, that the poor people were kept quiet, 
and their wants every where relieved as far as 
was possible to be done. 

Two things, besides this, contributed to prevent 


the mob doing any mischief: one was, that really 
the rich themselves had not laid up stores of pro- 
visions in their houses, as, indeed, they ought to 
dave done, and which, if they had been wise 
enough to have done, and locked themselves en- 
tirely up, as some few did, they had perhaps es- 
caped the disease better : but as it appeared they 
had not, so the mob had no notion of finding 
stores of provisions there, if they had broken in, 
as it is plain they were sometimes very near 
doing, and which, if they had, they had finished 
the ruin of the whole city, for there were no re- 
gular troops to have withstood them ; nor could 
the trained bands have been brought together to 
defend the city, no men being to be found to bear 
arms. But the vigilance of the Lord Mayor, and 
such magistrates as could be had, (for some, even 
of the Aldermen, were dead, and some absent) 
prevented this ; and they did it by the most kind 
and gentle methods they could think of, as parti- 
cularly, by relieving the most desperate with 
money, and putting others into business, and par- 
ticularly that employment of watching houses that 
were infected and shut up ; and as the number of 
these were very great, for, it was said, there was 
at one time, ten thousand houses shut up, and 
every house had two watchmen to guard it, viz. 
one by night and the other by day; this gave op- 
portunity to employ a very great number of poor 
men at a time. 

The women and servants that were turned off 
from their places, were likewise employed as 
nurses to tend the sick in all places ; and this 
took off a very great number of them. 

And which, though a melancholy article in it- 
self, yet was a deliverance in its kind, namely, 
the Plague, which rafjed in a dreadful manner 
from the middle of August to the middle of Octo- 


ber, carried off, in that time, thirty or forty thou- 
sand of these very people, which, had they been 
left, would certainly have been an insufferable 
burden, by their poverty : that is to say, the 
whole city could not have supported the expence 
of them, or have provided food for them ; and 
they would, in time, have been even driven to the 
necessity of plundering either the city itself, or 
the country adjacent, to have subsisted themselves, 
which, would, first or last, have put the whole 
nation, as well as the city, into the utmost terror 
and confusion. 

It was observable then, that this calamity of 
the people made them very humble ; for now, for 
about nine weeks together, there died near a 
thousand in a day, one day with another, even by 
the account of the weekly bills, which, yet I have 
reason to be assured, never gave a full account, 
by many thousands, the confusion being such, and 
the carts working in the dark, when they carried 
the dead, that in some places no account at all 
was kept, but they worked on ; the clerks and 
sextons not attending for weeks together, and 
not knowing what number they carried. This 
account is verified by the following bills of mor- 

Of all Diseases. Of the Plague. 

Aug. 8 to Aug. 15 - 



to 12- 






Aug.29 to Sept. 5- 



to 12- 



to 19- 






Sept. 26 to Oct. 3 - 






59810 49605 


So that the gross of the people were carried off 
in these two months ; for as the whole number 
whicli was brought in to die of the plague, was but 
68,590, here is 50,000 of them, within a trifle, in 
two months ; I say 50,000, because, as there 
wants 295 in the number above, so there wants 
two days of two months in the account of time. 

Now, when I say that the parish officers did 
not give in a full account, or where not to be de- 
pended upon for their account, let any one but 
consider liow men could be exact in such a time 
of dreadful distress, and when many of them were 
taken sick themselves, and perhaps died in the 
very time when their accounts were to be given 
in ; I mean the parish clerks, besides inferior 
officers ; for though these poor men ventured at 
all hazards, yet they were far from being exempt 
from the common calamity, especially if it be true, 
that the parish of Stepney had, within the year, 
one hundred and sixteen sextons, grave-diggers, 
and their assistants, that is to say, bearers, bell- 
men, and drivers of carts, for carrying off the 
dead bodies. 

Indeed the work was not of a nature to allow 
them leisure to take an exact tale of the dead 
bodies, which were all huddled together in the 
dark into a pit ; which pit, or trench, no man 
could come nigh but at the utmost peril. I ob- 
served often, that in the parishes of Aldgate or 
Cripplegate, Whitechapel, and Stepney, there were 
five, six, seven, and eight hundred in a week in 
the bills; whereas, if we may believe the opinion 
of those that lived in the city all the time, as well 
as I, there died sometimes 2000 a week in those 
parishes ; and T saw it under the liand of one 
that made as strict an exemination into that part 
as he could, that there really died an hundred 



thousand people of the Plague in it that one year, 
whereas the bills, the articles of the Plague was 
but 68,590. 

If I may be allowed to give my opinion, by 
what I saw with my eyes, I heard from other 
people that were eye-witnensses, I doverily believe 
the same, viz. that there died, at least, 100,000 
of the Plague only, besides other distempers, and 
besides those which died in the fields and high- 
ways, and secret places, out of the compass of the 
communication, as it was called, and who were 
not put down in the bills, though they really 
belonged to the body of the inhabitants. It was 
known to us all, that abundance of poor despairing 
creatures, who had the distemper upon them, and 
were grown stupid, or melancholy by their misery, 
as many were, wandered away into the fields and 
woods, and into several uncouth places, almost 
any where to creep into a bush, or hedge and 


The inhabitants of the villages adjacent would, 
in pity, carry them food, and set it at a distance, 
that they might fetch it, if they were able, and 
sometimes they were not able : and the next time 
they went, they should find the poor wretches lie 
dead, and the food untouched. The number of 
these miserable objects were many, and I know so 
many that perished thus, and so exactly where, 
that I believe I could go to the very place and 
dig their bones up still ; for the country people 
would go and dig a hole at a distance from them, 
and then with long poles, and hooks at the end of 
them, drag the bodies into these pits, and then 
throw the earth in form as far as they could cast 
it, to cover them, taking notice how the wind 
blew, and so coming on that side which the seamen 
call to windward, that the scent of the bodies 


might blow from them ; and thus great numbers 
went out of the world, who were never known, or 
any account of them taken ; as well within the 
bills of mortality as without. 

This, indeed, I had, in the main, only from the 
relation of others ; for I seldom walked into the 
fields, except towards Bethnal-green and Hackney; 
or has hereafter : but when I did walk, I always 
saw a great many poor wanderers at a distance ; 
but I could know little of their cases : for whether 
it were in the street, or in the fields, if we had seen 
anybody coming, it was a general method to walk 
away ; yet I believe the account is exactly true. 

As this puts me upon mentioning my 
walking the streets and fields, I cannot omit 
taking notice what a desolate place the city was 
at that time : the great street I lived in, which is 
known to be one of the broadest of all the 
streets of London, I mean of the suburbs, as well 
as the liberties ; all the side where the butchers 
lived, especially without the bars, was more like 
a green field than a paved street, and the people 
generally went in the middle with the horses and 
carts : it is true, that the farthest end, towards 
Whitechapel church, was not all paved, but 
even the part that was paved was full of grass 
also ; but this need not seem strange, since the 
great streets within the city, such as Leaden- 
hall-street, Bishopsgate-street, Cornhill, and 
even the Exchange itself, had grass growing 
in them in several places ; neither cart or coach 
were seen in the streets from morning to evening, 
except some country carts, to bring roots and 
beans, or pease, hay and straw to the market, 
and those but very few, compared to what was 
usual ; as for coaches they were scarce used, 
but to carry sick people to the pest-house, and to 


Other hospitals, and some few to carry physicians 
to such places as they thought fit to ^venture to 
visit ; for really coaches were dangerous things, 
and people did not care to venture into them, 
because they did not know who might have been 
carried in them last ; and sick infected people 
were, as I have said, ordinarily carried in them to 
the pest-houses, and sometimes people expired in 
them as they went along. 

It is true, when the infection came to such a 
height as I have now mentioned, there were very 
few physicians which cared to stir abroad to sick 
houses, and very many of the most eminent of the 
faculty were dead, as Avell as the surgeons also, 
for now it was indeed a dismal time, and for about 
a month together, not taking any notice of the 
bills of mortality, I believe there did not die less 
than 1500 or 1700 a day, one day with another. 

One of the worst days we had in the whole 
time, as I thought, was in the beginning of 
September, when indeed, good people began to 
think that God was resolved to make a full end 
of the people in this miserable city. This was at 
that time when the Plague was fully come into 
the eastern parishes. The parish of Aldgate, if 
I may give my opinion, buried above a thousand 
a week, for two weeks, though the bills did not 
say so many ; but it surrounded me at so dismal 
a rate, that there was not a house in twenty un- 
infected ; in the Minories, in Houndsditch, and 
in those parts of Aldgate parish, about the 
Butcher-row, and the alleys over against me, I 
say, in those place, death reigned in every corner. 
Whitechapel parish was in the same condition, 
and though much less than the parish I lived in, 
yet buried near 600 a week by the bills ; and in 
my opinion, near twice as many; whole families, 


and indeed, whole streets of families were swept 
away together ; insomuch, that it was frequent 
for neighbours to call to the bellman to go to such 
and such houses, and fetch out the people, for 
that they were all dead. 

And indeed, the work of removing the dead 
bodies by carts was now grown so very odious and 
dangerous, that it was complained of, that ,the 
bearers did not take care to clear such houses where 
all the inhabitants were dead ; but that sometimes 
the bodies lay several days unburied, till the 
neighbouring families were offended with the 
stench, and consequently infected ; and this ne- 
glect of the officers was such, that the church- 
wardens and constables were summoned to look 
after it; and even the justices of the hamlets 
were obliged to venture their lives among them, 
to quicken and encourage them ; for innumerable 
of the bearers died cf the distemper, infected by 
the bodies they were obliged to come so near : and 
had it not been that the number of poor people 
who wanted employment, and wanted bread (as I 
have said before) was so great, that necessity 
drove them to undertake any thing, and venture 
any thing, they would never have found people to 
be employed; and then the bodies of the dead 
would have lain above ground, and have perished 
and rotted in a dreadful manner. 

But the magistrates cannot be enough com- 
mended in this, that they kept such good order 
for the burying of the dead, that as fast as 
any of those they employed to carry off and 
bury the dead fell sick or died, as was many 
times the case, they immediately supplied the 
places with others, which by reason of the great 
number of poor that was left out of busi- 
ness, as above, was not hard to do : this 
occasioned, that notwithstanding the infinite 


number of people which died, and were sick, 
almost all altogether, yet they were always cleared 
away, and carried off every night : so that it 
was never to be said of London that the living 
were not able to bury the dead. 

As the desolation was greater during those 
terrible times, so the amazement of the people 
increased; and a thousand unaccountable things 
they would do in the violence of their fright, as 
others did the same in the agonies of their dis- 
temper, and this part was very affecting ; some 
went roaring and crying, and wringing their 
hands along the street ; some would go praying, 
and lifting up their hands to Heaven calling upon 
God for mercy. I cannot say, indeed, whether 
this was not in their distraction ; but be it so, it 
was still an indication of a more serious mind, 
when they had the use of their senses, and was 
much better, even as it was, than the frightful 
yellings and cryings that every day, and especially 
in the evenings, were heard in some streets. I 
suppose the world has heard of the famous So- 
lomon Eagle, an enthusiast: he, though not in- 
fected at all, but in his head, went about de- 
nouncing of judgment upon the city, in a frightful 
manner; sometimes quite naked, and with a pan 
of burning charcoal on his head. What he said, 
or pretended, indeed, I could not learn. 

I will not say whether that clergyman was 
distracted or not, or whether he did it in pure 
zeal for the poor people who went every evening 
through the streets of Whitechapel, and with his 
hands lifted up, repeated Hhat part of the liturgy 
of the church continually, " Spare us, good Lord, 
spare thy people whom thou hast redeemed with 
thy most precious blood ;" I say, I cannot speak 
positively of these things, because these were 
only the dismal objects which represented them- 


selves to me as I looked through my chamber 
windows (for I seldom opened the casements) 
while I confined myself within doors, during that 
most violent raging of the pestilence; when in- 
deed, as I have said, many began to think, and 
even to say, that there would none escape ; and 
indeed I began to think so too ; and there- 
fore kept within doors for about a fortnight, 
and never stirred out ; but I could not hold it : 
besides, there were some people who, notwith- 
standing the danger, did not omit pubhcly to at- 
tend the worship of God, even in the most dan- 
gerous times ; and though it is true that a great 
many clergymen did shut up their churches, and 
fled as other people did, for the safety of their 
lives ; yet, all did not do so, some ventured to 
officiate, and to keep up the assemblies of the 
people by constant prayers ; and sometimes ser- 
mons, or brief exhortations to repentance and 
reformation, and this as long as any one would 
come to hear them ; and dissenters did the like 
also, and even in the very churches, ^vhere the 
parish ministers were either dead or fled, nor was 
there any room for making diflference at such a 
time as this was. 

It was indeed a lamentable thing to hear the 
miserable lamentations of poor dying creatures, 
caUing out for ministers to comfort them and 
pray with them, to council them, and to direct 
them, calling out to God for pardon and mercy, 
and confessing aloud their past sins. It would 
make the stoutest heart bleed to hear how many 
warnings were then given by dying penitents to 
others, not to put off and delay their repentance 
to the day of distress, that such a time of calamity 
as this was no time for repentance, was no time 
to call upon God. I wish I could repeat the 


very sound of those groans, and of those excla- 
mations that I heard from some poor dying 
creatures, when in the height of their agonies and 
distress ; and that I could make him that reads 
this, hear, as I imagine I now hear them, for the 
sound seems still to ring in my ears. 

If I could but tell this part in such moving 
accents as should alarm the very soul of the 
reader, I should rejoice that I recorded those 
things, however short and imperfect. 

It pleased God that I was still spared, and very 
hearty and sound in health, but very impatient 
of being pent up within doors without air, as I 
have been for fourteen days, or thereabouts ; and 
I could not restrain myself, but I would go to 
carry a letter for my brother to the post-house ; 
then it was, indeed, that I observed a profound 
silence in the streets : when I came to the post- 
house, as I went to put in my letter, I saw a man 
stand in one corner of the yard, and talking to 
another at a window, and a third had opened a 
door belonging to the office. In the middle of the 
yard lay a small leather purse, with two keys 
hanging at it, with money in it, but nobody would 
meddle with it. I asked how long it had lain 
there ; the man at the window said it had lain 
almost an hour, but that they had not meddled 
with it, because they did not know but the person 
who dropped it might come back to look for it. 
I had no such need of money, nor was the sum 
so big, that I had any inclination to meddle with 
it, or to get the money at the hazard it might be 
attended with ; so I seemed to go away, when 
the man who had opened the door said he would 
take it up ; but so, that if the right owner came 
for it he should be sure to have it ; so he went in 
and fetched a pail of water, and set it down hard 


by the purse, then went again and fetched some 
gunpowder, and cast a good deal of powder upon 
the purse, and then made a train from that which 
he had thrown loose upon the jDurse ; the train 
reached about two yards : after this, he goes in a 
third time, and fetches out a pair of tongs red hot, 
and which he had prepared, I suppose, on purpose ; 
and first setting fire to the train of powder, that 
singed the purse, and also smoked the air suffi- 
ciently : but he was not content with that; but 
he then takes up the purse with the tongs, holding 
it so long till the tongs burnt througli the purse, 
and then he shook the money out into the pail of 
water, so he carried it in. The money, as I re- 
member, was about thirteen shillings, and some 
smooth groats, and brass farthings. 

There might, perhaps, have been several poor 
people, as I have observed above, that would 
have been hardy enough to have ventured for the 
sake of money ; but you may easily see by what 
I have observed, that the few people who were 
spared were very careful of themselves at that 
time when the distress was so exceeding great. 

Much about the same time I walked out into 
the fields towards Bow ; for I had a great mind 
to see how tilings were managed in the river, and 
among the ships ; and as I had some concern in 
shipping, I had a notion that it had been one of 
the best ways of securing one's self from the in- 
fection, to have retired into a ship; and musing 
how to satisfy my curiosity in that point, I turned 
away over the fields, from Bow to Bromley, and 
down to Blackwall, to the stairs, which are there 
for landing, or taking water. 

Here I saw a poor man walking on the bank, 
or sea-wall, as they call it, by himself. I walked 
a while also about, seeing the houses all shut up ; 



at last I fell into some talk, at a distance, with 
this poor man ; first, I asked him how people did 
thereabouts ? " Alas ! Sir," says he, " almost 
desolate ; all dead or sick. Here are very few 
families in this part, or in that village, pointing at 
Poplar, where half of them are not dead already, 
and the rest sick." Then he, pointing to one 
house, — " There they are all dead," said he, " and 
the house stands open ; nobody dares go into it : 
a poor thief," says he, *' ventured in to steal 
something, but he paid dear for his theft, for 
he was carried to the churchyard too last night." 
Then he pointed to several other houses. 
" There," says he, " they are all dead, the man 
and his wife, and five children." " There," says 
he, " they are shut up ; you see a watchman at 
the door :" and so of other houses. " Why," says 
I, " what do you here all alone ?" " Why," says 
he, " I am a poor desolate man, it has pleased 
God I am not yet visited, though my family is, 
and one of my children dead. " How do you 
mean, then," said I, " that you are not visited ?" 
" Why," says he, " that is my house," pointing to 
a very little low boarded house, " and there my 
poor wife and two children live," said he, "if they 
may be said to live ; for my wife and one of the 
children are visited, but I do not come at them." 
And with that word I saw the tears run very 
plentifully down his face ; and so they did down 
mine too, I assure you. 

" But," said I, " why do you not come at 
them? how can you abandon your own flesh and 
blood ?" " Oh ! Sir," says he, " the Lord for- 
bid ; I do not abandon them ; I work for them as 
much as I am able ; and blessed be the Lord, I 
keep them from want;" and with that I observed 
he hftend up his eyes to Heaven with a counte- 


nance that presently told me I had happened on a 
man who was no hypocrite, but a serious, reli- 
gious, good man, and his ejaculation was an ex- 
pression of thankfulness that, in such a condition 
as he was in, he should be able to say his family 
did not want. *' Well," says I, " honest man, that 
is a great mercy as things go now with the poor : 
but how do you hve then, and how are you kept 
from the dreadful calamity that is now upon us 
all ?" " Why, Sir," says he, " I am a waterman, 
and there is my boat," says he, " and the boat 
serves me for a house ; I work in it in the day, 
and I sleep in it in the night ; and what I get, I 
lay down upon that stone," says he, shewing me 
a broad stone on the other side of the street, a 
good way from his house, " and then," says he, 
*' I halloo, and call to them till I make them hear ; 
and they come and fetch it." 

" Well friend," says I, " but how can you get 
any money as a waterman ? does any body go by 
water these times?" " Yes, Sir," says he, "in the 
way I am employed there does. Do you see 
there," says he, " five ships lie at anchor," point- 
ing down the river, " a good way below the town : 
and do you see," says he, " eight or ten ships lie 
at the chain there, and at anchor yonder," point- 
ing above the town. " All those ships have fami- 
lies on board, of their merchants and owners, and 
such like, who have locked themselves up, and live 
on board, close shut in, for fear of the infection ; 
and I tend on them to fetch things for them, carry 
letters, and do what is absolutely necessary, that 
they may not be obliged to come on shore ; and 
every night I fasten my boat on board one of the 
ship's boats, and there I sleep by myself, and 
blessed be God, I am preserved hitherto." 

" Well," said I, " friend, but will they let you 


come on board, after you have been on shore 
here, when this is such a terrible place, and so in- 
fected as it is ?" 

*' Why, as to that," said he, " I very seldom go 
up the ship's side, but deliver what I bring to 
their boat, or lie by the side, and they hoist it on 
board ; if I did, I think they are in no danger 
from me, for I never go into any house on shore, 
or touch any body, no, not of my own family; but 
I fetch provisions for them." 

" Nay," says I, " but that may be worse, for 
you must have those provisions of somebody or 
other ; and since all this part of the town is so in- 
fected, it is dangerous so much as to speak with 
any body; for the village," said I, " is, as it were, 
the beginning of London, though it be at some 
distance from it." 

*' That is true," added he, " but you do not 
understand me right ; I do not buy provisions for 
them here ; I row up to Greenwich and buy fresh 
meat there, and sometimes I row down the river 
to Woolwich and buy there ; then I go to single 
farm-houses on the Kentish side, where I am 
known, and buy fowls, and eggs, and butter, and 
bring to the ships, as they direct me, sometimes 
one, sometimes the other : I seldom come on 
shore here ; and I came now only to call to my 
wife, and hear how my little family do, and give 
them a little money, which I received last night." 

" Poor man !" said I, " and how much hast 
thou gotten for them ?" 

" I have gotten four shillings," said he, " which 
is a great sum, as things go now with poor men ; 
but they have given me a bag of bread too, and a 
salt fish and some flesh ; so all helps out." 

*' Well," said I, " and have you given it them 
yet ?" 


" No," said he, '*' but I have called, and my 
wife has answered, that she cannot come out yet, 
but in half an hour she hopes to come, and I am 
waiting for her : poor woman!" says he, " she is 
brought sadly down ; she has a swelling, and it 
is broke, and I hope she will recover ; but I fear 

the child will die; but it is the Lord!" here 

he stopt, and wept very much. 

" Well, honest friend," said I, " thou hast a 
sure comforter, if thou hast brouglit thyself to be 
resigned to the will of God, he is dealing with us 
all in judgment. 

" Oh, Sir," says he, " it is infinite mercy, if any 
of us are spared ; and who am I, to repine !" 

" Sayest thou so," said I, " and how much less 
is my faith than thine ?" And here my heart 
smote me, suggesting how much better this poor 
man's foundation was, on which he staid in the 
danger, than mine ; that he had no where to fly ; 
that he had a family to bind him to attendance, 
which I had not ; and mine was mere presump- 
tion, his, a true dependance, and a courage resting 
on God ; and yet, that he used all possible caution 
for his safety. 

I turned a little way from the man, while these 
thoughts engaged me, for, indeed, I could no 
more refrain from tears than he. 

At length, after some further talk, the poor 
woman opened the door, and called — Robert, 
Robert ; he answered, and bid her stay a few 
moments, and he would come ; so he ran down 
the common stairs to his boat, and fetched up a 
sack in which was the provisions he had brought 
from the ships ; and when he re^ urned he hal- 
looed again; then he went to t"e great stone 
which he shewed me, and em])ticd the sack, and 
laid all out, every thing by themselves, and then 


retired ; and his wife came with a httle boy to 
fetch them away ; and he called, and said, such a 
captain had sent such a thing, and such a captain 
such a thing ; and at the end adds, God has sent 
it all ; give thanks to him. When the poor woman 
had taken up all, she was so weak she could not 
carry it at once in, though the weight was not 
much neither ; so she left the biscuit, which was 
in a httle bag, and left a little boy to watch it till 
she came again. 

" Well, but," says I to him, " did you leave 
her the four shillings too, which you said was 
your week's pay ?" 

" Yes, yes," says he, " you shall hear her own 
it." So he calls again, " Rachel, Rachel, (which, 
it seems, was her name,) " did you take up the 
money ?" " Yes," said she. " How much was 
it ?" said he. " Four shillings and a groat," said 
she. " Well, well," says he, " the Lord keep you 
all ;" and so he turned to go away. 

As I could not refrain from contributing tears 
to this man's story, so neither could I refrain 
my charity for his assistance ; so I called him, — 
*' Hark thee, friend," said I, " come hither ; for 
I believe thou art in health, that I may venture 
thee ;" so I pulled out my hand, which was in my 
pocket before ; — " Here," says I, " go and call 
thy Rachel once more, and give her a little more 
comfort from me. God will never forsake a fa- 
mily that trust in him as thou dost." So I gave 
him four other shillings, and bid him go lay them 
on the stone, and call his wife. 

I have not words to express the poor man's 
thankfulness, neither could he express it himself, 
but by tears running down his face ; he called his 
wife, and told her God had moved the heart of a 
stranger upon hearing their condition, to give 


them all that money ; and a great deal more such 
as that he said to her. The woman too, made 
signs of the like thankfulness, as well to Heaven, 
as to me, and joyfully picked it up ; and I parted 
with no money all that year that I thought better 

I then asked the poor man if the distemper had 
not reached to Greenwich ; he said it had not till 
about a fortnight before ; but that then he feared 
it had ; but that it was only at that end of the 
town, which lay south towards Deptford bridge ; 
that he went only to a butcher's shop and a gro- 
cers, where he generally bought such things as 
they sent him for ; but was very careful. 

I asked him then, how it came to pass, that 
those people who had so shut themselves up in 
the ships had not laid in sufficient stores of all 
things necessary? he said some of them had, but 
on the other hand, some did not come on board 
till they were frighted into it, and till it was too 
dangerous for them to go to the proper people to 
lay in quantities of things, and that he waited on 
two ships which he shewed me, that had laid in 
little or nothing but biscuit bread, and ship beer ; 
and that he had bought every thing else almost 
for them. I asked him if there were any more 
ships that had separated themselves as those had 
done ? he told me yes, all the way up from the 
point, right against Greenwich, to within the shore 
of Limehouse and Redriff, all the ships that could 
have room rid two and two in the middle of the 
stream, and that some of them had several families 
on board. I asked him if the distemper had not 
reached them ? he said he believed it had not, 
except two or three ships, whose people had not 
been so watchful to keep the seamen from going 
on shore, as others had been ; and he said it was 


a very fine sight to see how the ships lay up the 

When he said he was going over to Greenwich, 
as soon as the tide began to come in, I asked him if 
he would let me go w^ith him, and bring me back ? 
for that I had a great mind to see how the ships 
were ranged, as he had told me ; he told me, if I 
would assure him on the word of a Christian, and 
of an honest man, that I had not the distemper, he 
would. I assured him that I had not, that it had 
pleased God to preserve me, that I lived in White- 
chapel, but was too impatient of being so long 
within doors, and that I had ventured out so far 
for the refreshment of a little air ; but that none 
in my house had so much as been touched with it. 
"Well, Sir," says he, "as your charity has been 
moved to pity me and my poor family, sure you 
cannot have so little pity left as to put yourself 
into my boat if you were not sound in health, 
which would be nothing less than killing me, and 
ruining my whole family." The poor man troubled 
me so much, when he spoke of his family with 
such a sensible concern, and in such an affec- 
tionate manner, that I could not satisfy myself at 
first to go at all. I told him I would lay aside 
my curiosity rather than make him uneasy ; 
though I was sure, and very thankful for it, that 
I had no more distemper upon me than the 
freshest man in the world. Well, he would not 
have me put it off neither, but to let me see how 
confident he was that I was just to him, now im- 
dortuned me to go : so when the tide came up to 
his boat, I went in, and he carried me to Green- 
wich : while he bought the things which he had 
in his charge to buy, I walked up to the top of 
the hill, under which the town stands, and en the 
east side of the town, to get a prospect of the 


river : but it was a surprizing sight to see the 
number of Sliips which Liy in rows, two and two, 
and in some pUices, two or tliree such lines in the 
breadth of the river, and this not only up quite to 
the town, between the houses which we call Rat- 
cliff and Redriff, which they name the poo!, but 
even down the whole river, as far as the head of 
Long Reach, which is as far as the hills give us 
leave to see it. 

I cannot guess at the number of ships, but I 
think there must be several hundreds of sail ; and 
I could not but applaud the contrivance ; for ten 
thousand people and more, who attended ship 
affairs, were certainly sheltered here from the 
violence of the contagion, and lived very safe and 
very easy. 

I returned to my own dwelling very well satis- 
fied with my day's journey, and particularly with 
the poor man ; also I rejoiced to see that such 
little sanctuaries were provided for so many fa- 
milies on board, in a time of such desolation. I 
observed also, that as the violence of the Plague 
had increased, so the ships which had families on 
board, removed and went farther off, till, as I was 
told, some went quite away to sea, and put into 
such harbours and safe roads on the north coast, 
as they could best come at. 

But it was also true that all the people wlio thus 
left the land, and lived on board the ships, were 
not entirely safe from tlie infection, for many died, 
and were thrown over-board into the river, some 
in coffins, and some, as I lieard, without coffins, 
whose bodies were seen sometimes to drive up 
and down with tlie tide in tlie river. 

But, I ))elieve I may venture to say, that in 
those sln'ps which were thus infected, it either 
happened where the people had recourse to them 


too late, and did not fly to the ship till they had 
stayed too long on shore, and had the distemper 
upon them, though, perhaps, they might not 
perceive it ; and so the distemper did not come to 
them on board the ships, but they really carried it 
with them : or, it was in these ships where the 
poor waterman said they had not had time to 
furnish themselves with provisions, but were 
obliged to send often on shore to buy what they 
had occasion for, or suffered boats to come to 
them from the shore : and so the distemper was 
brought insensibly among them. 

And here I cannot but take notice that the 
strange temper of the people of London at that 
time contributed extremely to their own destruc- 
tion. The Plague began, as I have observed, at 
the other end of the town, namely, in Long-acre, 
Drury-lane, &c. and came on towards the city 
very gradually and slowly. It was felt at first in 
December, then again in February, then again in 
April, and always but a very little at a time ; then 
it stopt till May, and even the last week in May 
there were but 17, and all that end of the town ; 
and all this while, even so long as till there died 
above 3000 a week; yet had the people in 
Redriff, and in Wapping, and Ratcliff, on both 
sides the river, and almost all Southwark side, a 
mighty fancy that they should not be visited, or 
at least, that it would not be so violent among 
them. Some people fancied the smell of the pitch 
and tar, and such other things, as oil, and resin, 
and brimstone, which is so much used by all 
trades relating to shipping, would preserve them. 
Others argued it, because it was in its extremest 
violence in Westminster, and the parish of St. 
Giles's and St. Andrews, &c. and began to abate 
again, before it came among them, which was 
true indeed, in part. For example : — 


From the 8th to the loth of August. ■, "^ 

St. Giles's in >. Stepney 197^ 

the fields 5 St. Mag. Bermondsey - - 24^-4030 
Cripplegate 886 Rotherithe 33 

From the 15th to the 22nd of Aug-ust. , 

° week. 

St. Giles's in K^. Stepney 273") 

the fields J ^'^ St. iMag. Bermondsey - - 36 V5319 
Cripplegate 847 Rotherithe ----- 2 J 

N. B. That it was observed the numbers men- 
tioned in Stepney parish at tliat time were gene- 
rally all on that side where Stepney parish joined 
to Shoreditch, which we now call Spittle-fields, 
where the parish of Stepney comes up to the very 
wall of Shoreditch church-yard ; and the Plague 
at this time was abated at St. Giles's in the fields, 
and raged most violently in Cripplegate, Bishops- 
gate, and Shoreditch parishes, but there were not 
ten people a week that died of it in all that part 
of Stepney parish which takes in Limehouse, Rat- 
cliff-highway, and which are now the parishes of 
Shadwell and Wapping, even to St. Katharines, 
by the Tower, till after the whole month of 
August was expired ; but they paid for it after- 
wards, as I shall observe by and by. 

This, I say, made the people of RedrifF and 
Wapping, Ratcliff and Limehouse so secure, and 
flatter themselves so much with the Plague's 
going off without reaching tliem, that they took 
no care eitlier to fly into the country, or shut 
themselves up ; nay, so far were they from stir- 
ring, that they rather received their friends and 
relations from the city into their houses ; and se- 
veral from other places really took sanctuary in 
that part of the town, as a place of safety, and as 


a place which they thought God would pass over, 
and not visit as the rest was visited. 

And this was the reason, that when it came upon 
them, they were more surprised, more unprovided, 
and more at a loss what to do, than they were in other 
places, for when it came among them really, and 
with violence, as it did indeed in September and 
October, there was then no stirring out into the 
country, nobody would suffer a stranger to 
come near them, no, nor near the towns where 
they dwelled ; and, as I have been told, several 
that wandered into the country, on Surrey side, 
were found starved to death in the woods and 
commons, that country being more open and more 
woody than any other part so near London, espe- 
cially about Norwood, and the parishes of Cam- 
berwell, Dullege, and Lusum, where, it seems, 
nobody durst relieve the poor distressed people for 
fear of the infection. 

This notion having, as I said, prevailed with 
the people in that part of the town, was in part 
the occasion, as I said before, that they had re- 
course to ships for their retreat ; and w here they 
did this early, and with prudence, furnishing 
themselves so with provisions, that they had no 
need to go on shore for supplies, or suffer boats 
to come on board to bring them ; I say, where 
they did so, they had certainly the safest retreat 
of any people whatsoever : but the distress was 
such, that people ran on board in their fright, 
without bread to eat ; and some into ships that 
had no men on board to remove them farther off, 
or to take the boat and go down the river to buy 
provisions, where it may be done safely ; and 
th€se often suffered, and were infected on board 
as much as on shore. 

As the richer sort got into ships, so the lower 


rank got into hoys, smacks, lighters, and fishing- 
boats ; and many, especially watermen, lay in 
their boats ; but those made sad work of it, espe- 
cially the latter, for, going about for provision, 
and perhaps, to get their subsistence, the infection 
got in among them, and made a fearful havock : 
many of the watermen died alone in their wher- 
ries, as they rid at their roads, as well above- 
bridge as below, and were not found sometimes 
till they were not in condition for anybody to touch 
or come near them. 

Indeed the distress of the people at this sea- 
faring end of the town was very deplorable, and 
deserved the greatest commiseration : but alas ! 
this was a time when every one's private safety 
lay so near them, that they had no room to pity 
the distresses of others ; for every one had death, 
as it were, at his door, and many even in their 
families, and knew not what to do, or whither to 

This, I say, took away all compassion ; self- 
preservation, indeed, appeared here to be the first 
law, for the children ran away from their parents, 
as they languished in the utmost distress ; and in 
some places, though not so frequent as the other, 
parents did the like to their children ; nay, some 
dreadful examples there were, and particularly 
two in one week, of distressed mothers, raving 
and distracted, killing their own children ; one 
whereof was not far off from where I dwelt ; the 
poor lunatic creature not living herself long 
enougli to be sensible of the sin of what she had 
done, much less to be punished for it. 

It is not, indeed, to be wondered at; for tl;e 
danger of immediate death to ourselves took away 
all bowels of love, all concern for one another : I 
speak in general, for there were many instances 


of immoveable affection, pity, and duty, in many, 
and some that came to my knowledge ; that is to 
say, by hearsay : for I shall not take upon me to 
vouch the truth of the particulars. 

To introduce one, let me first mention, that one 
of the most deplorable cases in all the present 
calamity was, that of women with child, who, 
when they came to the hour of their sorrows, and 
their pains came upon them, could neither have 
help of one kind or another ; neither midwife or 
neighbouring women to come near them ; most 
of the midwives were dead ; especially, of such as 
served the poor ; and many, if not all the mid- 
wives of note, were fled into the country : so that 
it was next to impossible for a poor woman that 
could not pay an immoderate price to get any 
midwife to come to her, and if they did, those 
they could get were generally unskilful and ig- 
norant creatures ; and the consequence of this 
was, that a most unusual and incredible number 
of women were reduced to the utmost distress. 
Some were delivered and spoiled by the rashness 
and ignorance of those who pretended to lay 
them. Children without number were, I might 
say, murdered by the same, but a more justifiable 
ignorance, pretending they would save the mo- 
ther, whatever became of the child ; and many 
times, both mother and child were lost in the 
same manner ; and especially where the mother 
had the distemper, there nobody would come near 
them, and both sometimes perished : sometimes 
the mother has died of the Plague, and the infant, 
it may be, half-born, or born, but not parted 
from the mother. Some died in the very pains 
of their travail, and not delivered at all ; and so 
many were the cases of this kind, that it is hard 
to judge of them. 


Something of it will appear in the unusual 
numbers which are put into the weekly bills 
(though I am far from allowing them to be able 
to give any thing of a full account) under the 
articles of 




Take the weeks in which the Plague was most 
violent, and compare them with the weeks before 
the distemper began, even in the same year : for 

example : — 

^ Child-bed. Abort. Still-born. 

'Jan. 3 to Jan. 10 - - 7 - - 1 - - - 13 

to 17 - - 8 - - 6 11 

to 24 - - 9 - - 5 15 

to 31 - - 3 - - 2 9 

Jan. 31 to Feb. 7 - - 3 - - 3 - - - 8 

to 14 - - 6 - - 2 11 

to 21 - - 5 - - 2 - - - 13 

to 28 - - 2 - - 2 - - - 10 

r J Feb. 7 to Mar. 7 - - 5 - - 1 - - - 10 


1 to Aug. 8 - 

25 - 

- 5 - ■ 

■ - 11 

to 15 - 

23 - 

- 6 - ■ 

- - 8 

to 22 - 

28 - 

. 4 - - 

. - 4 

to 29 - 

40 - 

- 6 - • 

■ - 10 


1 to Sept. 5 - 

38 - 

- 2 - - 

• - 11 

to 12 - 

39 - 

- 23- ■ 

• - 

to 19 - 

42 - 

- 5 - ■ 

■ - 17 

to2G - 

42 - 

- 6 - ■ 

. - 10 


1 to Oct. 3 - 

14 - 

. 4 - • 

- - 9 




To the disparity of these numbers, is to be 


considered and allowed for, that according to our 
usual opinion, who were then upon the spot, there 
were not one third of the people in the town dur- 
ing the months of August and September asw ere 
in the months of January and February : in a 
word, the usual number that used to die of these 
three articles ; and, as I hear, did die of them the 
year before, was thus : — 

^ S Child-bed 189 I S ^ Child-bed 625 

2 i Abort, and StiU-born 458 | 2 ( Abort, and Still-born 617 

647 1242 

This inequality, I say, is exceedingly aug- 
mented, when the numbers of people are consi- 
dered : I pretend not to make any exact calcu- 
lation of the numbers of people which were at this 
time in the city ; but I shall make a probable 
conjecture at that part by and by : what I have 
said now, is to explain the misery of those poor 
creatures above ; so that it might well be said, as 
in the Scripture — " Wo be to those who are with 
child, and to those which give suck in that day." 
For indeed it was a wo to them in particular. 

I was not conversant in many particular fami- 
lies where these things happened ; but the out- 
cries of the m.iserable were heard afar off. As to 
those who were with child, we have seen some 
calculation made; 291 women dead in child-bed 
in nine weeks, out of om^ third part of the num- 
ber, of whom there usually died in that time but 
84 of the same disaster. Let the reader calcu- 
late the proportion. 

There is no room to doubt but the misery of 
those that gave suck was in proportion as great. 
Our bills of mortality could give but little light 


in this ; yet, some it did : tliere were several 
more than usual starved at nurse ; but this was 
nothing : the misery was, where tliey were — 
First, starved for want of nurse, the mother 
dying, and all the family and the infants found 
dead by them, merely for want ; and, if I may 
speak my opinion, I do believe, that many hun- 
dreds of poor helpless infants perished in this 
manner. Secondly, not starved (but poisoned) 
by the nurse : nay, even where the mother has 
been nurse, and having received the infection^ has 
poisoned, that is, infected the infant with her 
milk, even before they knew they were infected 
themselves ; nay, and the infant has died in such 
a case before the mother. I cannot but remember 
to leave this admonition upon record, if ever such 
another dreadful visitation should happen in this 
city ; that all women that are with child, or that 
give suck, should be gone, if they have any pos- 
sible means, out of the place ; because their 
misery, if infected, will so much exceed all other 

I could tell here dismal stories of ^.iving inflints 
being found sucking the breasts of their "mothers 
or nurses after they had been dead of the Plague. 
Of a mother, in the parish where I lived, who, 
having a child that was not well, sent for an 
Apothecary to view the child ; and when he came, 
as the relation goes, was giving the child suck at 
her breast, and to all appearance, was herself very 
weU : but when the Apothecary came close to her, 
he saw the tokens upon that breast with wliich 
she was suckling the child. He was sfu-prised 
enough to be sure ; but not willing to fright the 
poor woman too much, he desired she would give 
the child into his hand ; so he takes the child, 
and going to a cradle in the room, lays it in, and 



opening its clothes, found the tokens upon the 
child too, and both died before he could get 
home, to send a preventive medicine to the father 
of the child, to whom he told their condition ; 
whether the child infected the nurse-mother, or 
the mother the child, was not certain, but the last 
most likely. 

Likewise of a child brought home to the parents 
from a nurse that had died of the Plague ; yet the 
tender mother would not refuse to take in her 
child, and laid it in her bosom, by which she was 
infected, and died with the child in her arms 
dead also. 

It would make the hardest heart move at the 
instances that were frequently found of tender 
mothers, tending and watching with their dear 
children, and even dying before them, and some- 
times taking the distemper from them, and dying, 
when the child, for whom the affectionate heart 
had been sacrificed, has got over it and escaped. 

The like of a tradesman in East Smithfield, 
whose wife was big with child of her first child, 
and fell in labour, having the Plague upon her : 
he could neither get midwife to assist her, or 
nurse to tend her ; and two servants which he 
kept fled both from her. He ran from house to 
house like one distracted, but could get no help ; 
the utmost he could get was, that a watchman, 
who attended at an infected house shut up, pro- 
mised to send a nurse in the morning : the poor 
man, with his heart broke, went back, assisted 
his wife what he could, acted the part of the 
midwife ; brought the child dead into the world : 
and his wife, in about an hour, died in his arms, 
where he held her dead body fast till the morning, 
when the watchman came, and brought the nurse, 
as he had promised ; and coming up the stairs, 


for he had left the door open, or only latched, 
they found the man sitting with his dead wife in 
his arms, and so overwhelmed with grief, that he 
died in a few hours after, without any sign of the 
infection upon him, but merely sunk under the 
weight of his grief. 

I have heard also of some who, on the death of 
their relations, have grown stupid with the insup- 
portable sorrow, and of one in particular, who 
was so absolutely overcome with the pressure 
upon his spirits, that by degrees, his head sunk 
into his body, so between his shoulders, that the 
crown of his head was very little seen above the 
bone of his shoulders ; and by degrees, losing 
both voice and sense, his face looking forward, 
lay against his collar-bone, and could not be kept 
up any otherwise, unless held up by the hands 
of other people ; and the poor man never came 
to himself again, but languished near a year in 
that condition, and died : nor was he ever once 
seen to lift up his eyes, or to look upon any par- 
ticular object. 

I cannot undertake to give any other than a 
summary of such passages as these, because it 
was not possible to come at the particulars, where 
sometimes the whole families, where such things 
happened, were carried off by the distemper : 
but there were innumerable cases of this kind, 
which presented to the eye, and the ear, even in 
passing along the streets, as I have hinted above ; 
nor is it easy to give any story of this or that 
family, which there was not divers parallel stories 
to be mot with of the same kind. 

But as I am now talking of the time when the 
Plague raged at the eastermost part of the town ; 
how for a long time the people of those parts had 
flattered themselves that they should escape ; 


and how they were surprised when it came upon 
them as it did; for indeed, it came upon them 
like an armed man, when it did come : I say, this 
brings me back to the three poor men, who wan- 
dered from Wapping, not knowing whither to go, 
or what to do, and whom I mentioned before ; 
one a biscuit-baker, one a sail-maker, and the 
other a joiner ; all of Wapping, or thereabouts. 

The sleepiness and security of that part, as I 
have observed, was such, that they not only did 
not shift for themselves, as others did, but they 
boasted of being safe, and of safety being with 
them ; and many people fled out of the city, and 
out of the infected suburbs, to Wapping, RatclifF, 
Limehouse, Poplar, and such places, as to places 
of security ; and it is not at all unlikely, that their 
doing this, helped to bring the Plague that way 
faster than it might otherwise have come. For, 
though I am much for people's flying away, and 
emptying such a town as this, upon the first ap- 
pearance of a like visitation, and that all people, 
who have any possible retreat, should make use of 
it in time, and begone ; yet I must say, when all 
that will fly, are gone, those that are left, and must 
stand it, should stand stock still where they are, 
and not shift from one end of town, or one part of 
the town, to the other ; for that is the bane and 
mischief of the whole, and they carry the Plague 
from house to house in their very clothes. 

Wherefore, were we ordered to kill all the dogs 
and cats ; but because, as they were domestic 
animals, and are apt to run from house to house, 
and from street to street : so they are capable of 
carrying the effluvia or infectious steams of bodies 
infected, even in their furs and hair ; and there- 
fore it was, that in the beginning of the infection, 
an order was published by the Lord Mayor, and 


by the magistrates, according to the advice of the 
physicians, tliat all the dogs and cats should be 
immediately killed, and an officer was appointed 
for the execution. 

It is incredible, if their account is to be de- 
pended upon, what a prodigious number of those 
creatures were destroyed ; I think they talked of 
forty thousand dogs, and five times as many cats, 
few houses beins; without a cat, some having seve- 
ral, sometimes five or six in a house. All pos- 
sible endeavours were used also to destroy the 
mice and rats, especially the latter, by laying rats- 
bane, and other poisons for them, and a prodigi- 
ous multitude of them were also destroyed. 

I often reflected upon the unprovided condition 
that the whole body of the people were in at the 
first coming of this calamity upon them, and how 
it was for want of timely entering into measures 
and managements, as well public as private, that 
all the confusions that followed were brought upon 
us ; and that such a prodigious number of people 
sunk in that disaster, which, if proper steps had 
been taken, might. Providence concurring, have 
been avoided, and which, if posterity think fit, 
they may take a caution and warning from : but 
I shall come to this part again. 

I come back to my three men ; their story has 
a moral in every part of it, and their whole con- 
duct, and that of some who they joined with, is a 
pattern for all poor men to follow, or women 
either, if ever such a time comes again ; and if 
there was no other end in recording it, I think 
this a very just one, whether my account be ex- 
actly according to fact or no. 

Two of them are said to be brothers, the one 
an old soldier, but now a biscuit-baker ; the other 


a lame sailor, but now a sail-maker ; the third a 
joiner. Says John, the biscuit-baker, one day, to 
Thomas, his brother, the sail-maker, — " Brother 
Tom, what will become of us ? The Plague grows 
hot in the city, and increases this way : what shall 
we do ? " 

" Truly," says Thomas, " I am at a great loss 
what to do ; for I find, if it comes down into 
Wapping, I shall be turned out of my lodging." 
And thus they began to talk of it before-hand. 

John. — " Turned out of your lodging, Tom ! 
if you are, I don't know who will take you in; for 
people are so afraid of one another now, there's 
no getting a lodging anywhere. 

Thomas. — " Why, the people where I lodge 
are good civil people, and have kindness enough 
for me too ; but they say I go abroad every day 
to my work, and it will be dangerous ; and they 
talk of locking themselves up, and letting nobody 
come near them." 

John. — " Why, they are in the right, to be sure, 
if they resolve to venture staying in town." 

Tho. — " Nay, I might e'en resolve to stay 
within doors too, for, except a suit of sails that 
my master has in hand, and which I am just 
finishing, I am like to get no more work a great 
while ; there's no trade stirs now ; workmen and 
servants are turned off every where, so that I 
might be glad to be locked up too : but I do not 
see they will be willing to consent to that, any 
more than to the other." 

John. — " Why, what will you do, then, brother? 
and what shall I do ? for I am almost as bad as 
you ; the people where I lodge are all gone into 
the country, but a maid, and she is to go next 
week, and to shut the house quite up, so that I 


shall be turned a drift to the wide world before 
you, and I am resolved to go away too, if I knew 
but where to go." 

Tho. — " We were both distracted we did not 
go away at first, then we might ha' travelled any 
where: there's no stirring now; we shall be 
starved if we pretend to go out of town ; they 
won't let us have victuals, no, not for our money, 
nor let us come into the towns, much less into 
their houses." 

John. — " And that which is almost as bad, I 
have but little money to help myself with neither." 

Tho. — " As to that we might make shift ; I 
have a little, though not much ; but I tell you 
there's no stirring on the road. I know a couple 
of poor honest men in our street have attempted 
to travel ; and at Barnet, or Whetston, or there- 
about, the people offered to fire at them, if they 
pretended to go forward ; so they are come back 
again quite discouraged." 

John. — " I would have ventured their fire, if I 
had been there : if I had been denied food for my 
money, they should ha' seen me take it before 
their faces ; and if I had tendered money for it, 
they could not have taken any course with me by 

Tho. — " You talk your old soldier's lan- 
guage, as if you were in the Low Countries now, 
but this is a serious thing. The people have 
good reason to keep anybody off, that they are 
not satisfied are sound, at such a time as this, 
and we must not plunder them." 

John. — " No, brother, you mistake the case, 
and mistake me too ; I would plunder nobody : 
but, for any town upon tlie road to deny me 
leave to pass through the town in the open high- 


way, and deny me provisions for my money, is to 
say the town has a right to starve me to death, 
which cannot be true." 

Tho. — " But they do not deny you liberty to 
go back again from whence you came, and there- 
fore they do not starve you." 

John. — " But the next town behind me will, by 
the same rule, deny me leave to go back, and so 
they do starve me between them ; besides, there 
is no law to prohibit my travelling wherever I 
will on the road." 

Tho. — " But there will be so much difficulty 
in disputing with them at every town on the road, 
that it is not for poor men to do it, or undertake 
it at such a time as this is especially." 

John. — " Why, brother, our condition, at this 
rate, is worse than anybodys else ; for we can 
neither go away nor stay here : I am of the same 
mind with the lepers of Samaria : — If we stay 
here, we are sure to die : I mean especially, as 
you and I are stated, without a dwelling-house of 
our own, and without lodging in anybodys else ; 
there is no lying in the street at such a time as 
this ; we had as good go into the dead-cart at 
once : therefore, I say, if we stay here we are 
sure to die, and if we go away we can but die : — 
I am resolved to be gone." 

Tho. — " You will go away : whither will you 
go ? and what can you do ? I would as willingly 
go away as you, if I knew whither : but we have 
no acquaintance, no friends. Here we were 
born, and here we must die." 

John. — " Look you, Tom, the whole kingdom 
is my native country as well as this town. You 
may as well say, I must not go out of my house 
if it is on fire, as that I must not go out of the 


town I was born in, when it is infected with the 
Pla'^Lie. I was born in England, and have a 
right to hve in it if I can." 

Tho. — *' But you know every vagrant person 
may, by the laws of England be taken up, and 
passed back to their last legal settlement." 

John. — " But how shall they make me va- 
grant ; I desire only to travel on, upon my lawful 

Tho. — " What lawful occasions can we pretend 
to travel, or rather wander upon ? they will not 
be put off with words." 

John. — " Is not flying to save our lives a law- 
ful occasion ; and do they not all know that the 
fact is true : we cannot be said to dissemble." 

Tho. — *' But suppose they let us pass, whither 
shall we go ?" 

John. — " Any where to save our lives ; it is 
time enough to consider that when we are got out 
of this town. If I am once out of this dreadful 
place, I care not where I go." 

Tho. — " We shall be driven to great extre- 
mities. I know not what to think of it." 

John. — " Well, Tom, consider of it a little." 

This was about the beginning of July ; and 
though the Plague was come forward in the west 
and north parts of the town, yet all Wapping, as 
I have observed before, and RedrifF, and Ratcliff, 
and Limehouse, and Poplar — in short, Deptford 
and Greenwich, all both sides of the river from 
the hermitage, and from over against it, quite 
dcwn to Black wall, was entirely free, there had 
not one person died of the Plague in all Stepney 
parish, and not one on the soutli side of Wliite- 
chapel-road, no, not in any parish ; and yet the 
weekly bill was that very week risen up to lOOG. 

It was a fortnight after this before the two 

H 5 

brothers met again, and then the case was a little 
altered, and the Plague was exceedingly advanced^ 
and the number greatly increased ; the bill was 
up at 2785, and prodigiously increasing, though 
still both sides of the river, as below, kept pretty 
well : but some began to die in Redriff, and about 
five or six in RatclifF-highway, when the sail- 
maker came to his brother John express, and in 
some fright ; for he was absolutely warned out 
of his lodging, and had only a week to provide 
himself. His brother John was in as bad a case^ 
for he was quite out, and had only begged leave 
of his master, the biscuit-baker, to lodge in an 
out-house belonging to his workhouse, where he 
only lay upon straw, with some biscuit sacks, or 
bread sacks, as they called them, laid upon it, and 
some of the same sacks to cover him. 

Here they resolved, seeing all employment 
being at an end, and no work or wages to be had, 
they would make the best of their way to get out 
of the reach of the dreadful infection ; and being 
as good husbands as they could, would endeavour 
to live upon what they had as long as it would 
last, and then work for more, if they could get 
work any where, of any kind, let it be what it 

While they were considering to put this reso- 
lution in practice, in the best manner they could, 
the third man, who was acquainted very well with 
the sail-maker, came to know of the design, and 
got leave to be one of the number ; and thus they 
prepared to set out. 

It happened that they had not an equal share 
of money, but as the sail-maker, who had the best 
stock, was, besides his being lame, the most unfit 
to expect to get any thing by working in the 
country, so he was content that what money they 


had should all go into one public stock, on con- 
dition, that whatever any one of them could gain 
more than another, it should, without any grudg- 
ing, be all added to the public stock. 

They resolved to load themselves with as little 
baggage as possible, because they resolved at first 
to travel on foot, and to go a great way, that they 
might, if possible, be effectually safe ; and a great 
many consultations they had with themselves, be- 
fore they could agree about what way they should 
travel, which they were so far from adjusting, that 
even to the morning they set out, they were not 
resolved on it. 

At last, the seaman put in a hint that deter- 
mined it. — " First," says he, " the weather is very 
hot, and therefore I am for travelling north, that 
we may not have the sun upon our faces and beat- 
ing on our breasts, which will heat and suffocate 
us ; and I have been told," says he, " that it is 
not good to over-heat our blood at a time when, 
for ought we know, the infection may be in the 
very air. In the next place," says he, " I am for 
going the way that may be contrary to the wind 
as it may blow when we set out, that we may not 
have the wind blow the air of the city on our 
backs as we go." These two cautions were ap- 
proved of; if it could be brought so to hit, that 
the wind miglit not be in the south when they set 
out to go nortli. 

John, the baker, who had been a soldier, then 
put in his opinion. — " First," says he, " we none 
of us expect to get any lodging on the road, and 
it will be a little too hard to lie just in the open 
air ; though it be warm weather, yet it may be 
wet, and tlamp, and we have a double reason to 
take care of our healths at such a time as this ; 
and therefore," says he, " you, brother Tom, that 


are a sail-maker, might easily make us a little 
tent, and I will undertake to set it up every night, 
and take it down, and a fig for all the inns in 
England : if w^e have a good tent over our heads, 
we shall do well enough." 

The joiner opposed this, and told them, let 
them leave that to him, he would undertake to 
build them a house every night with his hatchet 
and mallet, though he had no other tools, which 
should be fully to their satisfaction, and as good 
as a tent. 

The soldier and the joiner disputed that point 
some time, but at last the soldier carried it for a 
tent ; the only objection against it was, that it 
must be carried with them, and that would in- 
crease their baggage too much, the weather being 
hot ; but the sail-maker had a piece of good hap 
fell in which made that easy, for, his master who 
he worked for having a rope- walk, as well as sail- 
making trade, had a little poor horse that he 
made no use of then, and being willing to assist 
the three honest men, he gave them the horse for 
the carrying their baggage ; also for a small 
matter of three days work that his man did for 
him before he went, he let him have an old top- 
gallant sail that was worn out, but was sufficient 
and more than enough to make a very good tent ; 
the soldier shewed how to shape it, and they soon, 
by his direction, made their tent, and fitted it with 
poles or staves for the purpose, and thus they 
were furnished for their journey; viz. three men, 
one tent, one horse, one gun, for the soldier would 
not go without arms, for now he said he was no 
more a biscuit-baker, but a trooper. 

The joiner had a small bag of tools, such as 
might be useful if he should get any work abroad, 
as well for their subsistence as his own ; what 


money they had, they brought all into one public 
stock, and thus they began their journey. It 
seems, that in the morning when they set out, the 
wind blew, as the sailor said, by his pocket-com- 
pass, at N.W. by W. So they directed, or rather 
resolved to direct their course N.W. 

But then a difficulty came in their way, that as 
they set out from the hither end of Wapping, near 
the Hermitage, and that the Plague was now very 
violent, especially on the north side of the city, as 
in Shoreditch and Cripplegate parish, they did 
not think it safe for them to go near those parts ; 
so they went away east, through Radcliff-highway, 
as far as RadclifF-cross, and leaving Stepney 
church still on their left-hand, being afraid to 
come up from RadclifF-cross to Mile-end, bocause 
they must come just by the church-yard, ;j|fid~ be- 
cause the wind that seemed to blow mor.g.from 
the west, blowed directly from the side of^the 
city where the Plague was hottest. So I ,>say, 
leaving Stepney, they fetched a long compass, 
and going to Poplar and Bromley, came into the 
great road just at Bow. 

Here tlie watch placed upon Bow-bridge would 
have questioned them ; but they, crossing the 
road into a narrow way that turns out of the 
higher end of the town of Bow to Old-Ford, 
avoided any enquiry there, and travelled to Old- 
Ford. The constables every where were upon 
their guard, not so much, it seems, to stop people 
passing by, as to stop them from taking up their 
abode in their towns, and withal, because of a 
report that was newly raised at that time, and 
that indeed was not very improbable, viz. that the 
poor people in London being distressed and 
starved lor want of work, and by that means for 


want of bread, were up in arms, and had raised a 
tumult, and that they would come out to all the 
towns round to plunder for bread. This, I say, 
was only a rumour, and it was very well it was no 
more ; but it was not so far off from being a 
reality, as it has been thought, for in a few weeks 
more, the poor people became so desperate by 
the calamity they suffered, that they were with 
great difficulty kept from running out into the 
fields and towns, and tearing all in pieces wherever 
they came ; and, as I have observed before, no- 
thing hindered them but that the Plague raged 
so violently, and fell in upon them so furiously, 
that they rather went to the grave by thousands, 
than into the fields in mobs by thousands : for in 
the parts about the parishes of St. Sepulchre's, 
Clerkenwell, Cripplegate, Bishopsgate, and Shore- 
ditch, which were the places where the mob began 
to threaten, the distemper came on so furiously, 
that there died in those few parishes, even then, 
before the Plague was come to its height, no less 
than 5361 people in the first three weeks in 
August, when, at the same time, the parts about 
Wapping, Radcliff, and Rotherhithe, were, as 
before described, hardly touched, or but very 
lightly ; so that, in a word, though, as I said 
before, the good management of the Lord Mayor 
and justices did much to prevent the rage and 
desperation of the people from breaking out in 
rabbles and tumults, and, in short, from the poor 
plundering the rich ; I say, though they did much, 
the dead-cart did more, for, as I have said, that 
in five parishes only, there died above 5000 in 
twenty days, so there might be probably three 
times that number sick all that time : for some 
recovered, and great numbers fell sick every day. 


and died afterwards. Besides, I must still be 
allowed to say, that if the bills of mortality said 
five thousand, I always believed it was near twice 
as many in reality ; there being no room to be- 
lieve that the account they gave was right, or that 
indeed, they were, among such confusions as I 
saw them in, in any condition to keep an exact 

But to return to my travellers : — Here they 
were only examined, and as they seemed rather 
coming from the country than from the city, they 
found the people the easier with them ; that they 
talked to them, let them come into a public-house 
where the constable and his warders were, and 
gave them drink and some victuals, which greatly 
refreshed and encouraged them ; and here it came 
into their heads to say, when they should be in- 
quired of afterwards, not that they came from 
London, but that they came out of Essex. 

To forward this little fraud, they obtained so 
much favour of the constable at Old-Ford, as to 
give them a certificate of their passing from Essex 
through that village, and that they had been at 
London ; which, though false in the common ac- 
ceptation of London in the country, yet was lite- 
rally true ; Wapping or Radclifl' being no part 
either of the city or liberty. 

This certificate, directed to the next constable 
that was at Hummerton, one of the hamlets of the 
parish of Hackney, was so serviceable to them, 
that it procured them not a free passage there 
only, but a full certificate of health from a justice 
of the peace ; who, upon the constable's applica- 
tion, granted it without much difiiculty ; and thus 
they passed through the long-divided town of 


Hackney, (for it lay then in several separated 
hamlets,) and travelled on till they came into the 
great north road on the top of Stamford-hill. 

By this time they began to be weary, and so in 
the back road from Hackney, a little before it 
opened into the said great road, they resolved to 
set up their tent, and encamp for the first night ; 
which they did accordingly, with the addition, 
that, finding a barn, or a building like a barn, and 
fiirst 'searching as well as they could, to be sure 
there was nobody in it, they set up their tent, 
with the head of it against the barn: this they 
did also because the wind blew that night very 
high, and they were but young at such a way of 
lodging, as well as at the managing their tent. 

Here they went to sleep, but the joiner, a grave 
and sober man, and not pleased with their lying 
at this loose rate the first night, could not sleep, 
and resolved, after trying to sleep to no purpose, 
that he would get out, and taking the gun in his 
hand, stand sentinel, and guard his companions : 
so, with the gun in his hand, he walked to and 
again before the barn, for that stood in the field 
near the road, but within the hedge. He had not 
been long upon the scout, but he heard a noise of 
people coming on as if it had been a great num- 
ber, and they came on, as he thought, directly 
towards the barn. He did not presently awake 
his companions, but in a few minutes more their 
noise growing louder and louder, the biscuit- 
baker called to him and asked him what was the 
matter, and quickly started out too : the other 
being the lame sail-maker, and most weary, lay 
still in the tent. 

As they expected, so the people who they had 
heard, came on directly to the barn, when one of 


our travellers challenged, like soldiers upon the 
guard, with — "who comes there?" The people 
did not answer immediately, but one of them 
speaking to another that was behind him, — " Alas ! 
alas ! we are all disappointed," says he, " here 
are some people before us, the barn is taken up." 

They all stopped upon that, as under some 
surprise, and it seems there was about thirteen of 
them in all, and some women among them : they 
consulted together what they should do, and by 
their discourse, our travellers soon found they 
were poor distressed people too, like themselves, 
seeking shelter and safety ; and besides, our tra- 
vellers had no need to be afraid of their coming 
up to disturb them ; for as soon as they heard 
the words, — who comes there ? these could hear 
the women say, as if frighted, — " Do not go near 
them : how do you know but they may have the 
Plague?" And when one of the men said, — "Let 
us but speak to them ;" the women said, — " No, 
don't by any means, we have escaped thus far by 
the goodness of God, do not let us run into dan- 
ger now, we beseech you." 

Our travellers found by this that they were a 
good sober sort of people, and flying for their 
lives as they were ; and, as they were encouraged 
by it, so John said to the joiner, his comrade, 
" Let us encourage them, too, as much as we can :" 
so he called to them : " Hark ye, good people," 
says the joiner, " we find, by your talk, that you 
are flying from the same dreadful enemy as we 
are ; do not be afraid of us, we are only three 
poor men of us ; if you are free from the dis- 
temper, you shall not be hurt by us ; we are 
not in the barn, but in a little tent here on 
the outside, and we will remove for you, we can 


set up our tent again immediately any where 
else ; and upon this a parley began between 
the joiner, whose name was Richard, and one of 
their men, who said his name was Ford. 

Ford. — " And do you assure us that you are 
all sound men ? 

Rich. — " Nay, we are concerned to tell you of 
it, that you may not be uneasy, or think your- 
selves in danger : but you see we do not desire 
you should put yourselves into any danger ; and, 
therefore, I tell you, that we have not made use 
of the barn, so we will remove from it, that you 
may be safe, and we also." 

Ford. — " That is very kind and charitable ; 
but, if we have reason to be satisfied that you are 
sound and free from the visitation, why should 
we make you remove now you are settled in your 
lodging, and it may be, are laid down to rest? 
we will go into the barn, if you please, to rest 
ourselves a while, and we need not disturb 

Rich. — " Well, but you are more than we are : 
I hope you will assure us that you are all of you 
sound, too, for the danger is as great from you 
to us, as from us to you." 

Ford. — " Blessed be God that some do escape, 
though it is but few ; what may be our portion 
still we know not, but hitherto we are preserved." 

Rich. — " What part of the town do you come 
from ? was the Plague come to the places where 
you lived ?" 

Ford. — " Ay, ay, in a most frightful and terri- 
ble manner, or else we had not fled away as we 
do ; but we believe there will be very few left 
alive behind us." 

Rich. — *' What part do you come from?" 


' Ford. — " We are most of us of Cripplegate 
parish, only two or three of Clerkenwell parish, 
but on the hither side." 

Ricli. — " How then was it that you came away 
no sooner ? 

Ford. — " We have been away some time, and 
kept together as well as we could at the hither 
end of Islington, where we got leave to lie in an 
old uninhabited house, and had some bedding and 
conveniences of our own that we brought with 
us, but the Plague is come up into Islington 
too, and a house next door to our poor dwelling 
was infected and shut up, and we are come away 
in a fright." 

Rich. — " And what way are you going?" 

Ford. — " As our lot shall cast us — we know 
not whither—but God will guide those that look 
up to him." 

They parleyed no further at that time, but 
came all up to the barn, and with some difficulty 
got into it : there w^as nothing but hay in the 
barn, but it was almost full of that, and they ac- 
commodated themselves as well as they could, 
and went to rest ; but our travellers observed, 
that before they went to sleep, an ancient man, 
who it seems was father of one of the women, 
went to prayer with all the company, recommend- 
ing themselves to the blessing and direction of 
Providence, before they w^ent to sleep. 

It was soon day at that time of the year ; and 
as Richard the joiner had kept guard the first 
part of the night, so John the soldier relieved 
him, and he had the post in the morning, and they 
began to be acquainted with one another. It 
seems, when they left Islington, they intended to 
have gone north, away to Highgate, but were 


Stopped at Holloway, and there they would not 
let them pass ; so they crossed over the fields 
and hills to the eastward, and came out at the 
boarded-river, and so, avoiding the town, they 
left Hornsey on the left-hand, and Newington on 
the right-hand, and came into the great iroad 
about Stamford-hill on that side, as the three tra- 
vellers had done on the other side : and now they 
had thoughts of going over the river in the mar- 
shes, and make forwards to Epping forest, where 
they hoped they should get leave to rest. It 
seems they were not poor, at least, not so poor as 
to be in want ; at least, they had enough to sub- 
sist them moderately for two or three months, 
when, as they said, they were in hopes the cold 
weather would check the infection, or at least the 
violence of it would have spent itself; and would 
abate, if it were only for want of people left alive 
to be infected. 

This was much the fate of our three travellers ; 
only that they seemed to be the better furnished for 
travelling, and had it in their view to go farther 
off; for, as to the first, they did not propose to 
go farther than one day's journey, that so they 
might have intelligence every two or three days 
how things were at London. 

But here our travellers found themselves 
under an unexpected inconvenience, namely, that 
of their horse, for by means of the horse to 
carry their baggage, they were obliged to keep 
in the road; whereas, the people of this other 
band went over the fields or roads, path or no 
path, way or no way, as they pleased ; neither 
had they any occasion to pass through any town, 
or come near any town, other than to buy such 
things as they wanted for their necessary sub- 


sistence, and in that, indeed, they were put to 
much difficuly : of which in its place. 

But our three travellers were obliged to keep 
the road, or else they must commit spoil, and do 
tlie country a great deal of damage in breaking 
down fences and gates, to go over enclosed fields, 
which they were loath to do if they could help it. 

Our three travellers however had a great mind 
to join themselves to this company, and take their 
lot with them ; and after some discourse, they 
laid aside their first design which looked north- 
ward, and resolved to follow the other into Essex ; 
so in the morning, they took up their tent, and 
loaded their horse, and away they travelled alto- 

They had some difficulty in passing the ferry 
at the river side, the ferry-man being afraid of 
them ; but after some parley at a distance, the 
ferry-man was content to bring his boat to a place 
distant from the usual ferry, and leave it there for 
them to take it ; so putting themselves over, he di- 
rected them to leave the boat, and he having 
another boat, said he would fetch it again, which 
it seems, however, he did not do for above eight 

Here, giving the ferry-man money before- 
hand, they had a supply of victuals and drink, 
which he brought and left in the boat for them, 
but not without, as I said, having received the 
money before-hand. But now our travellers 
were at a great loss and difficulty how to get the 
horse over, the boat being small, and not fit for 
it ; and at last could not do it without unloading 
the baggage, and making him swim over. 

From the river they travelled towards the 
forest, but when they came to Walthamstow, the 


people of that town denied to admit them, as was 
the case every where : the constables and their 
watchmen kept them off at a distance, and par- 
leyed with them ; they gave the same account of 
themselves as before, but these gave no credit to 
what they said, giving it for a reason that two or 
three companies had already come that way, and 
made the like pretences, but that they had given 
several people the distemper in the towns where 
they had passed, and had been afterwards so hardly 
used by the country, though with justice too, as 
they had deserved ; that about Brent-wood, or 
that way, several of them perised in the fields, 
whether of the plague, or of mere want and distress, 
they could not tell. 

This was a good reason indeed why the people 
of Walthamstow should be very cautious, and why 
they should resolve not to entertain anybody that 
they were not well satisfied of. But as Richard 
the joiner, and one of the other men who parleyed 
with them told them, it was no reason why they 
should block up the roads, and refuse to let people 
pass through the town, and who asked nothing of 
them, but to go through the street : that if their 
people were afraid of them, they might go into 
their houses and shut their doors, they would 
neither show them civility nor incivility, but go 
on about their business. 

The constables and attendants, not to be per- 
suaded by reason, continued obstinate, and would 
hearken to nothing ; so the two men that talked 
with them went back to their fellows, to consult 
what was to be done : it was very discouraging 
in the whole, and they knew not what to do for 
a good while : but at last John the soldier and 
biscuit-baker considering a while, — " Come," says 


he, " leave the rest of the parley to me :" he had 
not appeared yet, so he sets the joiner Richard to 
work to cut some poles out of the trees, and shape 
them as like guns as he could, and in a little time 
he had five or six fair muskets, which, at a 
distance, would not be known ; and about the 
part where the lock of a gun is, he caused them 
to wrap cloth and rags, such as they had, as 
soldiers do in wet weather, to preserve the locks 
of their pieces from rust, the rest was discoloured 
with clay or mud, such as they could get ; and all 
this while the rest of them sat under the trees by 
his direction, in two or three bodies, where they 
made fires at a good distance from one another. 

While this was doing, he advanced himself and 
two or three with him, and set up their tent 
in the lane within sight of the barrier which the 
town's men had made, and set a sentinal just by 
it with the real gun, the only one they had, and 
who walked to and fro with the gun on his 
shoulder, so as that the people of the town might 
see them ; also he tied the horse to a gate in the 
hedge just by, and got some dry sticks together, 
and kindled a fire on the other side of the tent, so 
that the people of the town could see the fire and 
the smoke, but could not see what they were 
doing at it. 

After the country people had looked upon them 
very earnestly a great while, and by all that they 
could see, could not but suppose that they were a 
great many in company, they began to be uneasy, 
not for their going away, but for staying where 
they were ; and above all, perceiving they had 
horses and arms, for they had seen one horse and 
one gun at the tent, and they had seen others of 
them walk about the field on the inside of the 


hedge, by the side of the lane with their muskets, 
as they took them to be, shouldered : I say, upon 
such a sight as this, you may be assured they 
were alarmed and terribly frighted ; and it seems 
they went to a justice of the peace to know what 
they should do. What the justice advised them 
to I know not, but towards the evening they called 
from the barrier, as above, to the sentinal at the 

" What do you want ?" says John.* 

" Why, what do you intend to do?" says the 

" To do," says John, *' what would you have us 
to do ?" 

Const. — " Why don't you be gone — what do 
you stay there for ?" 

John. — " Why do you stop us on the King's 
highway, and pretend to refuse us leave to go on 
our way ?" 

Const. — " We are not bound to tell you our 
reason, though we did let you know, it was be- 
cause of the Plague." 

John. — " We told you we were all sound, and 
free from the Plague, which we were not bound 
to have satisfied you of, and yet you pretend to 
stop us on the highway ?" 

Const. — " We have a right to stop it up, and 
our own safety obliges us to it ; besides, this is 
not the King's highway, it is a way upon suffer- 
ance ; you see here is a gate, and if we do let 
people pass here, we make them pay toll." 

* It seems John was in the tent, but hearing them call he 
steps out, and taking the gun upon his shoulder, talked to 
them as if he had been the sentinel placed there upon the guard 
by some officer that was his superior. 


John. — " We have a right to seek our own 
safety as well as you, and you may see we are 
flying for our lives, and it is very unchristian and 
unjust to stop us." 

Const. — " You may go back from whence you 
came ; we do not hinder you from that." 

John, — '* No, it is a stronger enemy than you 
that keeps us from doing that; or else we should 
not ha' come hither." 

Const. — " Well, you may go any other way 

John. — " No, no : I suppose you see we are 
able to send you going, and all the people of your 
parish, and come through your town wlien we 
will ; but since you have stopped us here, we 
are content ; you see, we have encamped here, 
and here we u ill live : we hope you will furnish 
us with victuals." 

Const. — " We furnish you ! what mean you by 
that ?" 

John. — " Why, you would not have us starve, 
would you ? if you stop us here, you must 
keep us." 

Const. — " You will be ill kept at our mainte- 

John, — " If you stint us, we shall make our- 
selves the better allowance." 

Const. — " Why, you will not pretend to quarter 
upon us by force, will you ?" 

John. — " We have offered no violence to you 
yet ; why do you seem to oblige us to it ? I am 
an old soldier, and cannot starve, and if you think 
that we shall be obliged to go back for want of 
provisions, you are mistaken." 

Const. — " Since you threaten us, we shall take 
care to be strong enough for you : I have orders 
to raise the county upon you." 



John. — " It is you that threaten, not we : and 
since you are for mischief, you cannot blame us if 
we do not give you time for it ; we shall begin 
our march in a few minutes."* 

Const. — " What is it you demand of us?" 
John. — " At first we desired nothing of you 
but leave to go through the town ; we should 
have offered no injury to any of you, neither 
would you have had any injury or loss by us. 
We are not thieves, but poor people in distress, 
and flying from the dreadful Plague in London, 
which devours thousands every week : we wonder 
how you could be so unmerciful. 

Const. — " Self-preservation obliges us." 
John. — " What ! to shut up your compassion 
in a case of such distress as this V 

Const. — " Well, if you will pass over the fields 
on your left-hand, and behind that part of the 
town, I will endeavour to have gates opened for 

John. — " Our horsemen f cannot pass with our 
baggage that way ; it does not lead into the road 
that we want to go ; and why should you force 
us out of the road ; besides you have kept us 
here all day without any provisions, but such as 
we brought with us ; I think you ought to send 
us some provisions for our relief." 

Const. — " If you will go another way, we will 
send you some provisions." 

John. — " That is the way to have all the 
towns in the county stop up the ways against 

Const. — If they all furnish you with food, what 

* This frighted the constable and the people that were with 
him, that they immediately changed their note. 
t They had but one horse among them. 


will you be the worse ; I see you have tents, you 
want no lodginnf." 

John. — " Well, what quantity of provisions 
will you send us ?" 

Const. — " How many are you ?" 

John. — *' Nay, we do not ask enough for all 
our company, we are in three companies ; if you 
will send us bread for twenty men and about six 
or seven women for three days, and shew us the 
way over the field you speak of, we desire not to 
put your people into any fear for us, we will go 
out of our way to oblige you, though we are as 
free from infection as you are." 

Const. — " And will you assure us that your 
other people shall offer us no new disturb- 

John. — " No, no, you may depend on it." 

Const. — " You must oblige yourself too, that 
none of your people shall come a step nearer 
than where the provisions we send you shall be 
set down." 

John. — " I answer for it we w-ill not."* 

Accordingly they sent to the place twenty loaves 
of bread, and three or four large pieces of good 
beef, and opened some gates, through which they 
passed, but none of tliem had courage so mucli as 
to look out to see them go, and, as it was evening, 
if they had looked they could not have seen them 
so as to know liow few they were. 

This was John the soldier's management. But 
this gave such an alarm to the county, that had 
they really been two or three hundred, the whole 

* Here he called to one of his men, and bade him order 
Capt. Kichard and his people to march the lower way on the 
side of the marshes, and meet them in the Forest; which was 
all a sham, for they had no Capt. Richard, or any such com- 


county would have been raised upon them : and 
they would have been sent to prison, or perhaps 
knocked on the head. 

They were soon made sensible of this, for two 
days afterwards they found several parties of 
horsemen and footmen also about, in pursuit of 
three companies of men armed, as they said, with 
muskets, who were broke out from London, and 
had the plague upon them ; and that were not 
only spreading the distemper among the people, 
but pludering the country. 

As they saw now the consequence of their case, 
they soon saw the danger they were in, so they 
resolved, by the advice also of the old soldier, to 
divide themselves again. John and his two com- 
rades, with the horse, went away as if towards 
Waltham ; the other in two companies, but all a 
a little asunder, and went towards Epping. 

The first night they encamped all in the Forest, 
and not far offone another, but not setting up the 
tent, lest that shoidd discover them ; on the other 
hand, Richard went to work with his axe and his 
hatchet, and cutting down branches of trees, he 
built three tents or hovels, in which they all en- 
camped with as much convenience as they could 

The provisions they had at Walthamstow served 
them very plentifully this night, and as for the 
next they left it to Providence ; they had fared so 
well with the old soldier's conduct, that they now 
willingly made him their leader : and the first of 
his conduct appeared to be very good : He told 
them that they were now at a proper distance 
enough from London : that as they need not be 
mmtdiately beholden to the country for relief, so 
they ought to be as careful the country did not 
infect them, as that they did not infect the country ; 
that what little money they had they must be as 


frugal of as they could ; that as he would not 
have them think of offering the country any 
violence, so they must endeavour to make 
the sense of their condition go as far with the 
country as it could: They all referred them- 
selves to his direction ; so they left their three 
houses standing, and the next day went away to- 
wards Epping ; the captain also, for so they now 
called him, and his two fellow-travellers laid aside 
their design of going to Waltham, and all went 

When they came near Epping they halted, 
chusing out a proper place in the open forest, not 
very near the highway, but not fir out of it on 
the north side, under a little cluster of low pollard- 
trees : Here they pitched their little camp, which 
consisted of three large tents or huts made of 
poles, which their carpenter, and such as were his 
assistants, cut down and fixed in the ground in a 
circle, binding all the small ends together at the 
top, and thickening the sides with boughs of trees 
and bushes, so that they were completely close 
and warm. They had, besides this, a little tent 
where the women lay by themselves, and a hut to 
put the horse in. 

It happened that the next day, or next but one, 
was market-day at Epping, when Capt. John, and 
one of the other men, went to market, and bought 
some provisions, that is to say, bread, and some 
mutton and beef, and two of the women went 
separately, as if they had not belonged to the rest, 
and bought more. John took the horse to bring 
it home, and the sack (which the carpenter carried 
his tools in) to put it in : the carpenter went to 
work and made them benches and stools to sit on, 
such as the wood he could get would afford, and 
a kind of a table to dine on. 

They were taken no notice of for two or three 


days, but after that abundance of people ran out 
of the town to look at them, and all the country 
was alarmed about them. The people at first 
seemed afraid to come near them, and on the 
other hand, they desired the people to keep off 
for there was a rumour that the plague was at 
Waltham, and that it had been in Epping two or 
three days ; so John called out to them not to 
come out to them, for, says he, " we are all whole 
and sound people here, and we would not have 
you bring the plague among us, nor pretend we 
brought it among you." 

After this the parish officers came up to them 
and parleyed with them at a distance, and desired 
to know who they w^ere, and by what authority 
they pretended to fix their stand at that place ? 
John answered very frankly, they were poor dis- 
tressed people from London, who foreseeing the 
misery they should be reduced to, if the plague 
spread into the city, had fled out in time for their 
lives, and having no acquaintance or relations to 
fly to, had first taken up at Islington, but the Plague 
being come into that town, were fled further, and 
as they supposed that the people of Epping might 
have refused them coming into their town, they 
had pitched their tents thus in the open field, and 
in the forest, being willing to bear all the hard- 
ships of such a disconsolate lodging, rather than 
have any one think or be afraid that they should 
receive injury by them. 

At first the Epping people talked roughly to 
them, and told them they must remove ; that this 
was no place for them ; and that they pretended 
to be sound and well, but that they might be in- 
fected with the Plague for ought they knew, and 
might infect the whole country, and they could 
not suffer them there. 

John argued very calmly with them a great 


while, and told them—" That London was the 
place by which they, that is, the townsmen of 
Epping and all the country round them, subsisted ; 
to whom they sold the produce of their lands, and 
out of whom they made their rent of their farms ; 
and to be so cruel to the inhabitants of London, 
or to any of those by whom they gained so much, 
was very hard, and they would be loath to have it 
remembered hereafter, and have it told, how bar- 
barous, how unhospit.'jl]e, and how unkind they 
were to the people o. London, when they fled 
from the face of the most terrible enemy in the 
world ; that it would be enough to make the name 
of an Epping man hateful through all the city, 
and to have the rabble stone them in the very 
streets, whenever they came so much as to 
market ; that they were not yet secure from being 
visited themselves, and that as he heard, Waltham 
was already ; that they would think it very hard 
that when any of them fled for fear before they 
were touched, they should be denied the liberty 
of lying so much as in the open fields." 

The Epping men told them again — "That 
they, indeed, said they were sound and free from 
the infection, but that they had no assurance of it ; 
and that it was reported, that there had been a 
great rabble of people at Walthamstow, who made 
such pretences of being sound, as they did, but 
that they threatened to plunder the town, and 
force their way, whether the parish officers would 
or not ; that they were near 200 of them, and had 
arms and tents like Low Country soldiers : that they 
extorted provisions from the town, by threatning 
them with living upon them at free quarter, shewing 
their arms, and talking in the language of soldiers; 
and that several of them being gone away to 
Rumford and Brentwood, the country had been in- 
fected by them, and the Plague spread into both 


those large towns, so that the people durst not go 
to market there as usual ; that it was very likely 
they were some of that party ; and if so, they 
deserved to be sent to the county jail, and be 
secured till they had made satisfaction for the 
damage they had done, and for the terror and 
fright they had put the country into." 

John answered — " That what other people had 
done was nothing to them ; that they assured them 
they were all of one company ; that they had never 
been more in number than they saw them at that 
time ; (which by the way was very true) that they 
came out in two seperate companies, but joined by 
the way, their cases being the same ; tliat they 
were ready to give what account of themselves 
any body could desire of them, and to give in their 
names and places of abode, that so they might be 
called to an account for any disorder that they 
might be guilty of; that the townsmen might see 
they were content to live hardly, and only desired 
a little room to breathe in on the forest where it 
was wholesome ; for where it was not, they could 
not say, and would decamp if they found it other- 
wise there." 

"But," said the townsmen, "we have a great 
charge of poor upon our hands already, and we 
must take care not to increase it ; we suppose you 
can give us no security against your being 
chargeable to our parish and to the inhabitants, 
any more than you can of being dangerous to us 
as to the infection." 

" Why, look you," says John, " as to being 
chargeable to you we hope we shall not ; if you 
will relieve us with provisions for our present 
necessity, we will be very thankful ; as we all 
lived without charity when we were at home, so 
we will oblige ourselves fully to repay you, if God 
please to bring us back to our own families and 


houses in safety, and to restore health to the people 
of London. 

" As to our dying here, we assure you, if any 
of us die, we that survive will bury them, and put 
you to no expence, except it should be that we 
should all die, and then, indeed, the last man, not 
being able to bury himself, would put you to that 
single expence, wliich I am persuaded," says John, 
" he would leave enough behind him to pay you 
for the expence of. 

" On tlie other hand," says John, " if you will 
shut up all bowels of compassion, and not relieve 
us at all, we shall not extort any thing by violence, 
or steal from any one ; but when what little we 
have is spent, if we perish for want, God's will be 

John wrought so upon the townsmen, by talk- 
ing thus rationally and smoothly to them, that 
they went away ; and though they did not give 
any consent to their staying there, yet they did 
not molest them ; and the poor people continued 
there three or four days longer without any dis- 
turbance. In this time they had got some remote 
acquaintance with a victualling-house at the out- 
skirts of the town, to whom they called at a dis- 
tance to bring some little things that they wanted, 
and which they caused to be set down at a dis- 
tance, and always paid for very honestly. 

During this time, the younger people of the 
town came frequently pretty near them, and 
would stand and look at them, and sometimes 
talk with tliem at some space between ; and par- 
ticularly it was observed, that the first sabbath- 
day the poor people kept retired, worshipped 
God tOf'Cther, and were heard to sing psalms. 

These things, and a quiet inoffensive beha- 
viour, began to get them the good opinion of the 

I 5 


country, and people began to pity them, and 
speak very well of them ; the consequence of 
which was, that upon the occasion of a very wet 
rainy night, a certain gentleman, who lived in the 
neighbourhood, sent them a little cart with twelve 
trusses or bundles of straw, as well for them to 
lodge upon, as to cover and thatch their huts, and 
to keep them dry. The minister of a parish, not 
far off, not knowing of the other, sent them also 
about two bushels of wheat, and half a bushel of 
white pease. 

They were very thankful to be sure for this 
relief, and particularly the straw was a very great 
comfort to them ; for though the ingenious car- 
penter had made frames for them to lie in like 
troughs, and filled them with leaves of trees, and 
such things as they could get, and had cut all their 
tent-cloth out to make them coverlids, yet they 
lay damp, and hard, and unwholesome, till this 
straw came, which was to them like feather-beds ; 
and, as John said, more welcome than feather- 
beds, would have been at another time. 

This gentleman and the minister having thus 
begun, and given an example of charity to these 
wanderers, others quickly followed, and they re- 
ceived every day some benevolence or other from 
the people, but chiefly from the gentlemen who 
dwelt in the country round about ; some sent 
them chairs, stools, tables, and such household 
things as they gave notice they wanted ; some 
sent them blankets, rugs, and coverlids ; some, 
earthenware ; and some, kitchen-ware for order- 
ing their food. 

Encouraged by this good usage, their carpenter, 
in a few days, built them a large shed or house 
with rafters, and a roof in form, and an upper 
floor, in which they lodged warm, for the weather 


began to be damp and cold in the beginning of 
September ; but this house being very well 
thatched, and the sides and roof made very thick, 
kept out the cold well enough ; he made also an 
earthen wall at one end, with a chimney in it ; 
and another of the company, with a vast deal of 
trouble and pains, made a funnel to the chimney 
to carry out the smoke. 

Here they lived comfortably, though coarsely, 
till the beginning of September, when they had 
the bad news to hear, whether true or not, that 
the Plague, which was very hot at Waltham 
Abbey on one side, and at Rumford and Brent- 
wood on the other side, was also come to 
Epping, to Woodford, and to most of the towns 
upon the forest, and which, as they said, was 
brought down among them chiefly by the higglers, 
and such people as went to and from London 
with provisions. 

If this was true, it w^as an evident contradiction 
to that report which was afterwards spread all 
over England, but which, as I have said, I cannot 
confirm of my owm knowledge, namely, that the 
market people, carrying provisions to the city, 
never got the infection, or carried it back into the 
country ; both which, I have been assured, has 
been false. 

It might be that they were preserved even 
beyond expectation, though not to a miracle, that 
abundance went and came, and were not touched, 
and that was much for the encouragement of the 
poor people of London, who had been completely 
miserable, if the people that brought provisions to 
the markets had not been many times wonderfully 
preserved, or, at least, were preserved, than could 
be reasonably expected. 

But now these new inmates began to be dis- 
turbed more effectually ; for the towns about 


them were really infected, and they began to be 
afraid to trust one another so much as to go 
abroad for such things as they wanted, and this 
pinched them very hard ; for now they had little 
or nothing but what the charitable gentlemen of 
the country supplied them with ; but,' for their 
encouragement, it happened, that other gentlemen 
in the country, who had not sent them any thing 
before, began to hear of them and supply them, 
and one sent them a large pig, that is to say, a 
porker; another, two sheep; and another sent 
them a calf; in short, they had meat enough, and 
sometimes had cheese and milk, and all such 
things ; they were chiefly put to it for bread ; for 
when the gentlemen sent them corn they had no 
where to bake it, or to grind it : this made them 
eat the first two bushels of wheat that was sent 
them in parched corn, as the Israelites of old did, 
without grinding or making bread of it. 

At last they found means to carry their corn to 
a windmill near Woodford, where they had it 
ground ; and afterwards the biscuit baker made 
a hearth so hollow and dry, that he could bake 
biscuit cakes tolerably well ; and thus they came 
into a condition to live without any assistance or 
supplies from the towns ; and it was well they 
did, for the country was soon after fully infected, 
and about 120 were said to have died of the dis- 
temper in the villages near them, which was a 
terrible thing to them. 

On this they called a new council, and now the 
towns had no need to be afraid they should settle 
near them, but on the contrary several families of 
the poorer sort of the inhabitants quitted their 
houses and built huts in the forest after the same 
manner as they had done : but it was observed, 
that several of these poor people that had so re- 
moved, had the sickness even in their huts or 


booths ; the reason of which was plain, namely, 
not because they removed into the air, but be- 
cause they did not remove time enough, that is to 
say, not till by openly conversing with the other 
people their neighbours, they had the distemper 
upon them, or, (as may be said) among them, and 
so carried about them whither they went : or, Se- 
condly, — because they were not careful enough 
after they were safely removed out of the towns, 
not to come in again and mingle with the dis- 
eased people. 

But be it which of these it will, when our tra- 
vellers began to perceive that the Plague was not 
only in the towns, but even in the tents and huts 
on the forest near them, they began then not only 
to be afraid, but to think of decamping and re- 
moving ; for had they staid, they would have 
been in manifest danger of their lives. 

It is not to be wondered that they were greatly 
afflicted at being obliged to quit the place where 
they had been so kindly received, and where 
they had been treated with so much humanity 
and charity; but necessity, and the hazard of 
life, which they came out so far to preserve, 
prevailed with them, and they saw no remedy. 
John, however, thought of a remedy for their 
present misfortune, namely, that he would first 
acquaint that gentleman who was their principal 
benefactor, with tlie distress they were in, and to 
crave his assistance and advice. 

The good charitable gentleman encouraged 
them to quit the place, for fear they should be 
cut off from any retreat at all, by the violence of 
the distenqjcr; ])ut whitlier they should go, that 
he found very hard to direct them to. At last 
John asked of hini, whether lie (being a justice of 
the peacej would give them certificates of healtVv 


to Other justices who they might come before, 
that so whatever might be their lot they might 
not be repulsed now they had been also so long 
from London. This his worship immediately 
granted, and gave them proper letters of health, 
and from thence they were at liberty to travel 
whither they pleased. 

Accordingly they had a full certificate of health, 
intimating, That they had resided in a village in 
the county of Essex so long, that being examined 
and scrutinized sufficiently, and having been re- 
tired from all conversation for above forty days, 
without any appearance of sickness, they were 
therefore certainly concluded to be sound men, 
and might be safely entertained any where, hav- 
ing at last removed rather for fear of the Plague, 
which was come into such a town, rather than for 
having any signal of infection upon them, or upon 
any belonging to them. 

With this certificate they removed, though with 
great reluctance ; and John inclining not to go far 
from home, they moved towards the marshes on 
the side of Waltham : but here they found a man, 
who it seems kept a weer or stop upon the river, 
made to raise the water for the barges which go 
up and down the river, and he terrified them 
with dismal stories of the sickness having been 
spread into all the towns on the river, and near 
the river, on the side of Middlesex and Hertford- 
shire ; that is to say, into Waltham-Cross, En- 
field and Ware, and all the towns on the road, 
that they were afraid to go that way ; though it 
seems the man imposed upon them, for that the 
thing was not really true. 

However it terrified them, and they resolved 
to move across the Forest towards Rumford and 
Brentwood : but they heard that there were num- 


bers of people fled out of London tliat way, who 
lay up and down in the Forest called Henalt 
Forest, reaching near Rumford, and who, having 
no suhsistence or habitation, not only lived oddly, 
and suffered great extremities in the woods and 
fields for want of relief, but were said to be made 
so desperate by those extremities, as that they 
offered many violences to the county, robbed and 
plundered, and killed cattle, and the like : that 
others building huts and hovels by the road-side, 
begged, and that with an importunity next door 
to demanding relief; so that the country was very 
uneasy, and had been obliged to take some of 
them up. 

This, in the first place, intimated to them, that 
they would be sure to find the charity and kind- 
ness of the county, which they had found here 
where they were before, hardened and shut up 
against them ; and that, on the other hand, they 
would be questioned wherever they came, and 
would be in danger of violence from others in 
like cases as themselves. 

Upon all these considerations, John, their cap- 
tain, in all their names, went back to their good 
friend and benefactor, who had relieved them 
before, and laying their case truly before him, 
humbly asked his advice ; and he as kindly 
advised them to take up their old quarters again, 
or if not, to remove but a little further out of the 
road, and directed them to a proper place for 
them ; and as they really wanted some house 
rather than huts to shelter them at that time of 
the year, it growing on towards Michaelmas, they 
found an old decayed house, which had been 
formerly some cottage or little habitation, but was 
so out of repair as scarce habitable, and by the 
consent of a farmer to whose farm it belonged, 


they got leave to make what use of it they 

The ingenious joiner and all the rest by his 
directions, went to work with it, and in a very 
few days made it capable to shelter them all, in 
case of bad weather, and in which there was an 
old chimney and an old oven, though both lying 
in ruins, yet they made them both fit for use, and 
raising additions, slitds, and leanto's on every 
side, they soon made the house capable to hold, 
them all. 

They chiefly wanted boards to make window 
shutters, floors, doors, and several other things ; 
but as the gentlemen above favoured them, and 
the country was by that means made easy with 
them, and above all, that they were known to be 
all sound and in good health, every body helped 
them with what they could spare. 

Here they encamped for good and all, and 
resolved to remove no more ; they saw plainly 
how terribly alarmed that county was every 
where, at any body that came from London ; and 
that they should have no admittance any where 
but Vv^ith the utmost difficulty, at least no friendly 
reception and assistance, as they had received 

Now although they received great assistance 
and encouragement from the country gentlem.en 
and from the people round about them, yet they 
were put to great straits, for the weather grew 
cold and wet in October and November, and 
they had not been used to so much hardship ; so 
that they got colds in their limbs, and distem- 
pers, but never had the infection : And thus 
about December they came home to the City 

I give this story thus at large, principally to 


give an account what became of the great num- 
bers of people which immediately appeared in the 
City as soon as the sickness abated : For, as I 
have said, great numbers of those that were able 
and had retreats in the country, fled to those 
retreats : So when it was encreased to such a 
frightful extremity as I have related, the mid- 
dling people who had not friends fled to all parts 
of the country where they could get shelter, as 
well those that had money to relieve themselves, 
as those that had not. Those that had money 
always fled farthest, because they were able to 
subsist themselves ; but those who were empty, 
suffered, as I have said, great hardships, and 
were often driven by necessity to relieve their 
wants at the expence of the country : By that 
means the country was made very uneasy at 
them, and sometimes took them up, though even 
when they scarce knew what to do with them, 
and w^ere always very backward to punish them, 
but often too they forced them from place to 
place, till they were obliged to come back again 
to London. 

I have, since my knowing this story of John 
and his brother, enquired and found, that there 
were a great many of the poor disconsolate people, 
as above, fled into the country every way, and 
some of them got little sheds, and barns, and 
out-houses to live in, where they could obtain so 
much kindness of the country, and especially 
where they had any the least satisfactory account 
to give of themselves, and particularly that they 
did not come out of London too late. But others, 
and that in great numbers, built themselves little 
huts and retreats in the fields and woods, and 
lived like hermits in holes and caves, or any place 
they could fnid ; and where, we may be sure, 


they suffered great extremities, such that many of 
them were obHged to come back again whatever 
the danger was ; and so those little huts were 
often found empty, and the country people sup- 
posed the inhabitants lay dead in them of the 
Plague, and would not go near them for fear, no 
not in a great while ; nor is it unlikely but that 
some of the unhappy wanderers might die so all 
alone, even sometimes for want of help, as parti- 
cularly in one tent or hut, was found a man dead, 
and on the gate of a field just by, was cut with 
his knife in uneven letters, the following words, 
by which it may be supposed the other man 
escaped, or that one dying first, the other buried 
him as well as he could : 

O m I s E r Y ! 

We Bo TH S h a L L D y E, 
WoE, WoE. 
I have given an account already of what I found 
to have been the case down the river among the 
seafaring men, how the ships lay in the offing, as 
it is called, in rows or lines a-stern of one another, 
quite down from the Pool as far as I could see. 
I have been told, that they lay in the same manner 
quite down the river as low as Gravesend, and 
some far beyond, even every where, or in every 
place where they could ride with safety as to 
wind and weather ; nor'' did I ever hear that 
the Plague reached to any of the people on board 
those ships, except such as lay up in the Pool, or 
as high as Deptford Reach, although the people 
went frequently on shore to the country towns 
and villages, and farmers houses, to buy fresh 
provisions, fowls, pigs, calves, and the like for 
their supply. 

Likewise I found that the waterman on the 
river above the bridge, found means to convey 


themselves away up the river as far as they could 
go ; and that they had, many of them, then- whole 
families in their' boats, covered with tiks and 
bales, as they call them, and furnished with straw 
within for their lodging ; and that they lay thus 
all along by the shore in the marshes, some of 
them setting up little tents with their sails, and so 
lying under them on shore in the day, and going 
into their boats at night ; and in this manner, as 
I have heard, the river sides were lined with 
boats and people as long as they had any thmg to 
subsist on, or could get any thing of the country; 
and indeed the country people, as well gentlemen 
as others, on these and all other occasions, were 
very forward to relieve them, but they were by 
no means willing to receive them into their towns 
and houses, and for that we cannot blame 

There was one unhappy citizen, within my 
knowledge, who had been visited in a dreadftd 
manner, so that his wife and all his children were 
dead, and himself and two servants only left with 
an elderly woman, a near relation, who had nursed 
those that were dead as well as she could : this 
disconsolate man goes to a village near the town, 
though not within the bills of mortality, and 
finding an empty house there, enquires out the 
owner, and took the house : After a few days he 
got a cart and loaded it with goods, and carried 
them down to the house ; the people of the village 
opposed his driving the cart along, but with some 
arguings, and some force, the men that drove the 
cart along, got through the street up to the door 
of the house ; there the constable resisted them 
again, and would not let them be brought in. 
The man caused the goods to be unloaden and 
laid at the door, and sent the cart away ; upon 


which they carried the man before a justice of 
peace ; that is to say, they commanded him to go, 
which he did. The justice ordered him to cause 
the cart to fetch away the goods again, which he 
refused to do ; upon which the justice ordered 
the constable to pursue the carters and fetch them 
back, and make them re-load the goods and carry 
them away, or to set them in the stocks till they 
came for further orders ; and if they could not 
find them, nor the man would not consent to 
take them away, they should cause them to be 
drawn with hooks from the house-door and 
burnt in the street. The poor distressed man 
upon this fetched the goods again, but with 
grievous cries and lamentations at the hard- 
ship of his case. But there was no remedy ; self- 
preservation obliged the people to those severi- 
ties, which they would not otherwise have been 
concerned in: whether this poor man lived or 
died I cannot tell, but it was reported, that he 
had the Plague upon him at that time ; and, per- 
haps, the people might report that to justify their 
usage of him ; but, it was not unlikely, that 
either he or his goods, or both, were dangerous, 
when his whole family had been dead of the dis- 
temper so little a while before. 

I know that the inhabitants of the towns ad- 
jacent to London, were much blamed for cruelty 
to the poor people that ran from the contagion in 
their distress ; and many very severe things were 
done, as may be seen from what has been said ; but 
I cannot but say also that where there was room 
for charity and assistance to the people, without 
apparent danger to themselves, they were willing 
enough to help and relieve them. But as every 
town were indeed judges in their own case, so the 
poor people who ran abroad in their extremities 


were often ill-used and driven back again into 
the town ; and tliis caused infinite exclamations 
and out-cries against the country towns, and made 
the clamour very popular. 

And yet more or less, maugre all the caution, 
there was not a town of any note within ten (or I be- 
lieve twenty) miles of the city, but what was more 
or less infected, and had some died among them. 
I have heard the accounts of several ; such as they 
were reckoned up, as follows : 

In Enfield 32 



Hornsey 58 



Newington 17 

Eltham & Lusum 


Tottenham 42 



Edmonton 19 



Barnet & Hadly 43 

Rum ford 


St. Albans 121 

Barking about 


Watford 45 



Uxbridge 117 



Hertford 90 



Ware 160 



Hodsdon 30 



Waltham Abbey 23 



Epping 26 

Another thing might render the country more 
strict with resj)ect to the citizens, and especially 
with respect to the poor ; and this was what I 
hinted at before, namely, that there was a seem- 
ing propensity, or a wicked inclination in those 
that were infected, to infect others. 

There have been great debates among our 
physicians, as to the reason of this : some will 
have it to be in the nature of the disease, and that 
it impresses every one that is seized upon by it, 
with a kind of a rage, and a hatred against their 


own kind, as if there was a malignity, not only in 
the distemper to communicate itself, but in the 
very nature of man, prompting him with evil 
will, or an evil eye, that as they say in the case 
of a mad dog, who, though the gentlest creature 
before of any of his kind, yet then will fly upon 
and bite any one that comes next him, and those 
as soon as any, who have been most observed by 
him before. 

Others placed it to the account of the cor- 
ruption of human nature who cannot bear to see 
itself more miserable than others of its own 
species, and has a kind of involuntary wish, that 
all men were as unhappy, or in as bad a condition 
as itself. 

Others say, it was only a kind of desperation, 
not knowing or regarding what they did, and con- 
sequently unconcerned at the danger or safety, not 
only of any body near them, but even of them- 
selves also. And indeed when men are once 
come to a condition to abandon themselves, 
and be unconcerned for the safety, or at the 
danger of themselves, it cannot be so much won- 
dered that they should be careless of the safety of 
other people. 

But I choose to give this grave debate a quite 
different turn, and answer it or resolve it all by 
saying, that 1 do not grant the fact. On the con- 
trary, I say, that the thing is not really so, but 
that it was a general complaint raised by the 
people inhabiting the out-lying villages against 
the citizens, to justify, or at least excuse those 
hardships and severities so much talked of, and in 
which complaints, both sides may be said to have 
injured one another ; that is to say, the citizens 
pressmg to be received and harboured in time 
of distress, and with the Plague upon them, 
complain of the cruelty and injustice of the 


country people, in being refused entrance, and 
forced back again with their goods and families : 
and the inhabitants finding themselves so im- 
posed upon, and the citizens breaking in as it 
were upon them, whether they would or no, com- 
plain, that when they were infected, they were 
not only regardless of others, but even willing 
to infect them ; neither of which were really 
true, that is to say, in the colours they were 
described in. 

It is true there is something to be said for the 
frequent alarms which were given to the country, 
of the resolution of the people of London to 
come out by force, not only for relief, but to 
plunder and rob, that they ran about the streets 
with the distemper upon them without any con- 
troul; and that no care was taken to shut up 
houses, and confine the sick people from infect- 
ing others; whereas, to do the Londoners justice, 
they never practised such things, except in such 
particular cases as I have mentioned above, and 
such like. On the other hand, every thing was 
managed with so much care, and such excellent 
order was observed in the whole city and suburbs, 
by the care of the Lord Mayor and aldermen ; 
and by the justices of the peace, churchwardens, 
&c. in the out parts, that London may be a 
pattern to all the cities in the world for the good 
government and the excellent order that was 
every where kept, even in the time of the most 
violent infection, and when the people were in 
the utmost consternation and distress. But of 
this I shall speak by itself. 

One thing, it is to be observed, was owing 
principally to the prudence of the magistrates, 
and ought to be mentioned to their honour, viz. 
the moderation which they used in the great and 



difficult work of shutting up of houses : it is 
true, as I have mentioned, that the shutting up 
of houses was a great subject of discontent, and I 
may say indeed, the only subject of discontent 
among the people at that time ; for the confining 
the sound in the same house with the sick, was 
counted very terrible, and the complaints of 
people so confined were very grievous; they 
were heard into the very streets, and they were 
sometimes such that called for resentment, 
though oftener for compassion ; they had no 
way to converse with any of their friends but 
out at their windows, where they would make 
such piteous lamentations, as often moved the 
hearts of those they talked with, and of others 
who, passing by, heard their story; and as those 
complaints oftentimes reproached the severity, 
and sometimes the insolence of the watchmen 
placed at their doors ; those watchmen would 
answer saucily enough, and perhaps be apt to 
affront the people who were in the street talking 
to the said families ; for which, or for their ill- 
treatment of the families, I think seven or eight 
of them in several places were killed ; 1 know 
not whether I should say murdered or not, be- 
cause I cannot enter into the particular cases. 
It is true, the watchmen were on their duty, and 
acting in the post where they were placed by a 
lawful authority ; and killing any public legal 
officer in the execution of his office, is always 
in the language of the law called murder. But 
as they were not authorized by the magistrate's 
instructions, or by the power they acted under, 
to be injurious or abusive, either to the people 
who were under their observation, or to any that 
concerned themselves for them ; so when they 
did so, they might be said to act themselves, 


not their office ; to act as private persons, not as 
persons employed ; and consequently, if they 
brought mischief upon themselves by such an 
undue behaviour, that mischief was upon their 
own heads ; and indeed, they had so much the 
hearty curses of the people, whether they de- 
served it or not, that whatever befel them, nobody 
pitied them, and every body was apt to say they 
deserved it, whatever it was ; nor do I remember 
that any body was ever punished, at least to any 
considerable degree, for whatever was done to the 
watchmen that guarded their houses. 

What variety of stratagems were used to es- 
cape and get out of houses thus shut up, by 
which the watchmen were deceived or overpow- 
ered, and that the people got away, I have taken 
notice of already, and shall say no more to that : 
but I say the magistrates did moderate and ease 
families upon many occasions in this case, and 
particularly in that of taking away, or suffering 
to be removed the sick persons out of such 
houses, when they were willing to be removed 
either to a pest-house, or other places, and some- 
times giving the well persons in the family so 
shut up, leave to remove upon information given 
that they were well, and that they would confine 
themselves in such houses where they went, so 
long as should be required of them. The con- 
cern also of the magistrates for the supplying 
such poor families as were infected; I say, supply- 
ing them with necessaries, as well physic as food, 
was very great, and in which they did not content 
themselves with giving the necessary orders to the 
officers appointed, but the aldermen in person, 
and on horseback, frequently rode to such houses, 
and caused the people to be asked at their win- 
dows, whether they were duly attended or not 1 


also, whether they wanted any thing that was ne- 
cessary, and if the officers had constantly carried 
their messages, and fetched them such things as 
they wanted, or not ? and if they answered in the 
affirmative, all was well ; but if they complained 
that they were ill supplied, and that the officer 
did not do his duty, or did not treat them civil- 
ly, they (the officers) were generally removed, 
and others placed in their stead. 

It is true, such complaint might be unjust, 
and if the officer had such arguments to use as 
would convince the magistrate that he was right, 
and that the people had injured him, he was 
continued, and they reproved. But this part 
could not well bear a particular inquiry, for the 
parties could very ill be well heard and answer- 
ed in the street, from the windows, as was the 
case then ; the magistrates therefore generally 
chose to favour the people, and remove the man, 
as what seemed to be the least wrong, and of 
the least ill consequence ; seeing, if the watch- 
man was injured, yet they could easily make 
him amends by giving him another post of the 
like nature ; but if the family was injured, there 
was no satisfaction could be made to them, the 
damage perhaps being irreparable, as it concern- 
ed their lives. 

A great variety of these cases frequently hap- 
pened between the watchmen and the poor peo- 
ple shut up, besides those I formerly mentioned 
about escaping ; sometimes the watchmen were 
absent, sometimes drunk, sometimes asleep when 
the people wanted them, and such never failed to 
be punished severely, as indeed they deserved. 

But after all that was or could be done in these 
cases, the shutting up of houses, so as to confine 
those that were well with those that were sick, 


had very great inconveniencies in it, and some 
that were very tragical, and which merited to 
have been considered if there had been room for 
it ; but it was authorized by a law, it had the 
public good in view, as the end chiefly aimed 
at, and all the private injuries that were done 
by the putting it in execution, must be put to the 
account of the public benefit. 

It is doubtful to this day, whether in the whole 
it contributed any thing to the stop of the infec- 
tion, and indeed, I cannot say it did ; for nothing 
could run with greater- fury and rage than the 
infection did when it was in its chief violence ; 
though the houses infected were shut up as ex- 
actly, and as effectually as it was possible. Cer- 
tain" it is, that if all the infected persons were 
effectually shut in, no sound person could have 
been infected by them, because they could not 
have come near them. But the case was this, 
and I shall only touch it here, namely, that the 
infection was propagated insensibly, and by such 
persons as were not visibly infected, who neither 
knew who they infected, or who they were in- 
fected by. 

A house in Whitechapel was shut up for the 
sake of one infected maid, who had only spots, 
not the tokens, come out upon her, and recover- 
ed ; yet these people obtained no liberty to stir, 
neither for air or exercise, forty days : want of 
breath, fear, anger, vexation, and all the other 
griefs attending such an injurious treatment, 
cast the mistress of the family into a fever, and 
visitors came into the house, and said it was the 
Plague, though the physicians declared it was 
not ; however the family were obliged to begin 
their ([uarantine anew, on the report of the visi- 
tor or examiner, though their former (quarantine 


wanted but a few days of being finished. This 
oppressed them so with anger and grief, and, as 
before, straightened them also so much as to 
room, and for want of breathing and free air, 
that most of the family fell sick, one of one dis- 
temper, one of another, chiefly scorbutic ail- 
ments ; only one a violent cholic, till after seve- 
ral prolongings of their confinement, some or 
other of those that came in with the visitors to 
inspect the persons that were ill, in hopes of re- 
leasing them, brought the distemper with them, 
and mfected the whole house, and all or most of 
them died, not of the Plague, as really upon 
them before, but of the Plague that those people 
brought them, who should have been careful to 
have protected them from it ; and this was a 
thing which frequently happened, and was in- 
deed one of the worst consequences of shutting 
houses up. 

1 had about this time a little hardship put 
upon me, which I was at first greatly afl^icted 
at, and very much disturbed about; though, as 
it proved, it did not expose me to any disaster ; 
and this was being appointed by the alderman 
of Portsoken ward, one of the examiners of the 
houses in the precinct where I lived ; we had a 
large parish, and had no less than eighteen exa- 
miners, as the order called us ; the people called 
us visitors. I endeavoured with all my might to 
be excused from such an employment, and used 
many arguments with the alderman's deputy to 
be excused ; particularly I alledged, that 1 was 
against shutting up houses at all, and that it 
would be very hard to oblige me to be an instru- 
ment in that which was against my judgment, 
and which I did verily believe would not answer 
the end it was intended for ; but all the abate- 


ment I could get was only, that whereas the 
officer was appointed by my Lord Mayor to con- 
tuKie two months, I should be obliged to hold it 
but three weeks, on condition nevertheless, that 
I could then get som.e other sufficient house- 
keeper to serve the rest of the time for me, which 
was, in short, but a very small favour, it being 
very difficult to get any man to accept of such 
an employment, that was fit to be intrusted 
with it. 

It is true, that shutting up of houses had one 
effect, which I am sensible was of moment, 
namely, it confined the distempered people, who 
would otherwise have been both very troublesome 
and very dangerous in their running about streets 
with the distemper upon them, which when they 
were delirious, they would have done in a most 
frightful manner, and as indeed they began to 
do at first very much, till they were thus re- 
strained ; nay, so very open they were, that the 
poor would go about and beg at people's doors, 
and say they had the Plague upon them, and 
beg rags for their sores, or both, or any thing 
that delirious nature happened to think of. 

A poor unhappy gentlewoman, a substantial 
citizen's wife was (if the story be true) murdered 
by one of these creatures in Aldersgate street, or 
that way: he was going along the street, raving 
mad to be sure, and singmo: ; the people only 
said he was drunk, but he himself said he had 
the Plague upon him, which, it seems, was true ; 
and meeting this gentlewoman, he would kiss 
her ; she was terribly frighted, as he was only a 
rude fellow, and she run from him, but the street 
being very thin of people, there was nobody near 
enough to help her ; when she saw he would 
overtake her, she turned, and gave him a thrust 


SO forcibly, he being but weak, and pushed him 
down backward : but very unhappily, she being 
so near, he caught hold of her, and pulled her 
down also; and getting up first, mastered her, 
and kissed her ; and which was worst of all, 
when he had done, told her he had the Plague, 
and why should not she have it as well as he. 
She was frighted enough before, being also young 
with child ; but when she heard him say he had 
the Plague, she screamed out, and fell down in 
a swoon, or in a fit, which, though she recovered 
a little, yet killed her in a very few days, and 1 
never heard whether she had the Plague or no. 

Another infected person came, and knocked at 
the door of a citizen's house, where they knew 
him very well ; the servant let him in, and being 
told the master of the house was above, he ran 
up, and came into the room to them as the whole 
family was at supper : they began to rise up a 
little surprised, not knowing what the matter 
was, but he bid them sit still, he only came to 
take his leave of them. They asked him, — 

" why Mr. , where are you going ?'* 

" Going," says he, " I have got the sickness, 
and shall die to-morrow night." It is easy to 
believe, though not to describe the consterna- 
tion they were all in, the women and the man's 
daughters, which were but little girls, were 
frighted almost to death, and got up, one run- 
ning out at one door, and one at another, some 
down stairs, and some up stairs, and getting to- 
gether as well as they could, locked themselves 
into their chambers, and screamed out at the 
window for help, as if they had been frighted 
out of their wits : the master, more composed 
than they, though both frighted and provoked, 
was going to lay hands on him, and throw him 


down stairs, being in a passion, but then consi- 
dering- a little the condition of the man, and the 
danger of touching; him, horror seized his mind, 
and he stood still like one astonished. The 
poor distempered man, all this while, being as 
well diseased in his brain as in his body, stood 
still like one amazed; at length he turns round. 
" Ay," says he, with all the seeming calmness 
imaginable, " is it so with you all ! are you all 
disturbed at me ? why then, I'll e'en go home 
and die there." And so he goes immediately 
down stairs: the servant that had let him in 
goes down after him with a candle, but was 
afraid to go past him and open the door, so he 
stood on the stairs to see what he would do ; 
the man went and opened the door, and went 
out and flung the door after him : It was some 
while before the family recovered the fright, but 
as no ill consequence attended, they have had 
occasion since to speak of it (you may be sure) 
with great satisfaction. Though the man was 
gone, it was some time, nay, as I heard, some 
days before they recovered themselves of the 
hurry they were in, nor did they go up and 
down the house with any assurance, till they 
had burnt a great variety of fumes and perfumes 
in all the rooms, and made a great many smokes 
of pitch, of gunpowder, and of sulphur, all sepa- 
rately shifted ; and washed their clothes, and 
the like : as to the poor man, whether he lived 
or died I do not remember. 

It is most certain, that if by the shutting up of 
houses the sick had not been confined, multitudes 
who in the height of their fever were delirious 
and distracted, would have been continually 
running up and down the streets, and even as it 
was, a very great number did so, and offered all 

K 5 


sorts of violence to those they met, even just as 
a mad dog runs on and bites at every one he 
meets ; nor can I doubt but that should one of 
those infected diseased creatures have bitten any 
man or woman, while the frenzy of the distemper 
was upon them, they, I mean the person so 
wounded, would as certainly have been incu- 
rably infected, as one that was sick before, and 
had the tokens upon him. 

I heard of one infected creature, who, running 
out of his bed in his shirt, in the anguish and 
agony of his swellings, of which he had three 
upon him, got his shoes on, and went to put on 
his coat, but the nurse resisting and snatching 
the coat from him, he threw her down, run over 
her, run down stairs, and into the street directly 
to the Thames in his shirt, the nurse running 
after him, and calling to the watch to stop him ; 
but the watchman, frighted at the man, and 
afraid to touch him, let him go on ; upon which 
he ran down to the Still-yard stairs, threw away 
his shirt, and plunged into the Thames, and, being 
a good swimmer, swam quite over the river; and 
the tide being coming in, as they call it, that is 
running westward, he reached the land not till 
he came about the Falcon stairs, where landing, 
and finding no people there, it being in the night, 
he ran about the streets there, naked as he was, 
for a good while, when it being by that time high- 
water, he takes the river again, and swam back 
to the Still-yard, landed, ran up the streets again 
to his own house, knocking at the door, went up 
the stairs, and into his bed again ; and that this 
terrible experiment cured him of the Plague, 
that is to say, that the violent motion of his 
arms and legs stretched the parts where the 
swellings he had upon him were, that is to say 


under his arms and his groin, and caused them 
to ripen and break ; and that the cold of the 
water abated the fever in his blood. 

I have only to add, that I do not relate this 
any more than some of the other, as a fact within 
my own knowledge, so as that I can vouch the 
truth of them, and especially that of the man 
being cured by the extravagant adventure, which 
I confess I do not think very possible, but it 
may serve to confirm the many desperate things 
which the distressed people falling into deliri- 
ums, and what we call lightheadedness, were 
frequently run upon at that time, and how in- 
finitely more such there would have been, if such 
people had not been confined by the shutting up 
of houses ; and this I take to be the best, if not 
the only good thing which was performed by that 
severe method. 

On the other hand, the complaints and the mur- 
murings were very bitter against the thing itself. 

It would pierce the hearts of all that came by 
to hear the piteous cries of those infected people, 
who being thus out of their understandings by 
the violence of their pain, or the heat of their 
blood, were either shut in, or perhaps tied in 
their beds and chairs, to prevent their doing 
themselves hurt, and who would make a dread- 
ful outcry at their being confined, and at their 
being not permitted to die at large, as they called 
it, and as they would have done before. 

This running of distempered people about the 
streets was very dismal, and the magistrates did 
their utmost to prevent it, but as it was gene- 
rally in the night, and always sudden, when such 
attempts were made, the officers could not be at 
hand to prevent it, and even when they got out 
in the day, the officers appointed did not care to 


meddle with them, because, as they were all 
grievously infected to be sure when they were 
come to that height, so they were more than or- 
dinarily infectious, and it was one of the most 
dangerous things that could be to touch them ; 
on the other hand, they generally ran on, not 
knowing what they did, till they dropped down 
stark dead, or till they had exhausted their 
spirits so, as that they would fall, and then 
die in perhaps half-an-hour or an hour, and 
which was most piteous to hear, they were sure 
to come to themselves intirely in that half-hour 
or hour, and then to make most grievous and 
piercing cries and lamentations in the deep af- 
flicting sense of the condition they were in. 
This was much of it before the order for shutting 
up of houses was strictly put in execution, for at 
first the watchmen were not so vigorous and se- 
vere, as they were afterward in the keeping the 
people in ; that is to say, before they were, I 
mean some of them, severely punished for their 
neglect, failing in their duty, and letting people 
who were under their care slip away, or conniv- 
ing at their going abroad, whether sick or well. 
But after they saw the ofhcers appointed to exa- 
mine into their conduct, were resolved to have 
them do their duty, or be punished for the omis- 
sion, they were more exact, and the people were 
strictly restrained, which was a thing they took 
so ill, and bore so impatiently, that their discon- 
tents can hardly be described : but there was an 
absolute necessity for it, that must be confessed, 
unless some other measures had been timely en- 
tered upon, and it was too late for that. 

Had not this particular of the sick being re- 
strained as above, been our case at that time, 
London would have been the most dreadful 


place that ever was in the world, there would, 
for ought I know, have as many people died in the 
streets as died in their houses ; for when the dis- 
temper was at its height, it generally made them 
raving and delirious, and when they were so, 
they would never be persuaded to keep in their 
beds but by force ; and many who were not tied, 
threw themselves out of windows, when they 
found they could not get leave to go out of their 

It was for want of people conversing one with 
another, in this time of calamity, that it was im- 
possible any particular person could come at the 
knowledge of all the extraordinary cases that oc- 
curred in different families ; and particularly I 
believe it was never known to this day how many 
people in their deliriums drowned themselves in 
the Thames, and in the river which runs from the 
marshes by Hackney which we generally called 
Ware River, or Hackney River; as to those 
which were set down in the weekly bill, they 
were indeed few ; not could it be known of any 
of those, whether they drowned themselves by 
accident or not: But 1 believe, I might reckon 
up more, who, within the compass of my know- 
ledge or observation, really drowned themselves 
in that year, than are put down in the bill of all 
put together, for many of the bodies were never 
found, who, yet were known to be lost; and the 
like in other methods of self-destruction. There 
was also one man in or about Whitecross-street, 
burnt himself to death in his bed; some said it 
was done by himself, others that it was by the 
treachery of the nurse that attended him ; but 
that he had the Plague upon him was agreed 
by all. 

It was a merciful disposition of Providence 


also, and which I have many times thought of 
at that time, that no fires, or no considerable 
ones at least, happened in the City, during that 
year, which, if it had been otherwise, would have 
been very dreadful ; and either the people must 
have let them alone unquenched, or have come 
together in great crowds and throngs, uncon- 
cerned at the danger of the infection, not con- 
cerned at the houses they went into, at the goods 
they handled, or at the persons or the people 
they came among : But so it was, that excepting 
that in Cripplegate parish, and two or three 
little eruptions of fires, which were presently 
extinguished, there was no disaster of that kind 
happened in the whole year. They told us a 
story of a house in a place called Swan-alley, 
passing from Goswell-street near the end of Old- 
street into St. John-street, that a family was in- 
fected there, in so terrible a manner that every 
one of the house died ; the last person lay dead 
on the floor, and as it is supposed, had laid her- 
self all along to die just before the fire ; the fire 
it seems had fallen from its place, being of wood, 
and had taken hold of the boards and the joists 
they lay on, and burnt as far as just to the body, 
but had not taken hold of the dead body, though 
she had little more than her shift on, and had 
gone out of itself, not hurting the rest of the 
house, though it was a slight timber house. How 
true this might be, I do not determine, but the 
City being to suffer severely the next year by fire, 
this year it felt very little of that calamity. 

Indeed considering the deliriums which the 
agony threw people into, and how I have men- 
tioned in their madness, when they were alone, 
they did many desperate things ; it was very 


Strange there were no more disasters of that 

It has been frequently asked me, and I cannot 
say, that I ever knew how to give a direct answer 
to it, " How it came to pass that so many 
infected people appeared abroad in the streets, 
at the same time that the houses which were 
infected were so vigilantly searched, and all of 
them shut up and guarded as they were." 

I confess, I know not what answer to give to 
this, unless it be this, that in so great and popu- 
lous a city as this is, it was impossible to dis- 
cover every house that was infected as soon as it 
was so, or to shut up all the houses that were 
infected : so that people had the liberty of going 
about the streets, even where they pleased, unless 
they were known to belong to such and such 
infected houses. 

It is true, that as several physicians told my 
Lord Mayor, the fury of the contagion was such 
at some particular times, and people sickened so 
fast, and died so soon, that it was impossible and 
indeed to no purpose to go about to enquire who 
was sick and who was well, or to shut them up 
with such exactness, as the thing required ; 
almost every house in a whole street being 
infected, and in many places every person in 
some of the houses; and that which was still 
worse, by the time that the houses were known 
to be infected, most of the persons infected would 
be stone dead, and the rest run away for fear of 
being shut up ; so that it was to very small pur- 
pose to call them infected houses and shut them 
up; the infection having ravaged, and taken its 
leave of the house, before it was really known 
that the family was any way touched. 

208 The history of the plague. 

This might be sufficient to convince any rea- 
sonable person, that as it was not in the power 
of the magistrates, or of any human methods or 
policy, to prevent the spreading the infection ; 
so that this way of shutting up of houses was 
perfectly insufficient for that end. Indeed it 
seemed to have no manner of public good in it, 
equal or proportionable to the grievous burthen 
that it was to the particular families, that were 
so shut up ; and as far as I was employed by 
the public in directing that severity, I frequently 
found occasion to see, that it was incapable of 
answering the end. For example, as I was de- 
sired as a visitor or examiner to enquire into the 
particulars of several families which were infect- 
ed, we scarce came to any house where the 
Plague had visibly appeared in the family but 
that some of the family were fled and gone ; the 
magistrates would resent this, and charge the 
examiners with being remiss in their examination 
or inspection : But by that means houses were 
long infected before it was known. Now, as I 
was in this dangerous office but half the appoint- 
ed time, which was two months, it was lono- 
enough to inform myself, that we were no way 
capable of coming at the knowledge of the true 
state of any family, but by enquiring at the door, 
or of the neighbours ; as for going into every 
house to search, that was a part no authority 
would offer to impose on the inhabitants, or any 
citizen would undertake, for it would have been 
exposing us to certain infection and death, and 
to the ruin of our own families as well as of our- 
selves ; nor would any citizen of probity, and 
that could be depended upon, have staid in the 
town, if they had been made liable to such a 


Seeing then that we could come at the cer- 
tainty of things by no method but that of enquiry 
of the neighbours, or of the family, and on that 
we could not justly depend, it was not possible, 
but that the uncertainty of this matter would 
remain as above. 

It is true, masters of families were bound by 
the order, to give notice to the examiner of the 
place wherein he lived, within two hours after he 
should discover it, of any person being sick in his 
house, that is to say, having signs of the infec- 
tion, but they found so many ways to evade this, 
and excuse their negligence, that they seldom 
gave that notice, till they had taken measures to 
have every one escape out of the house, who had 
a mind to escape, whether they were sick or 
sound ; and while this was so, it is easy to see, 
that the shutting up of houses was no way to be 
depended upon, as a sufficient method for putting 
a stop to the infection, because, as I have said 
elsewhere, many of those that so went out of 
those infected houses, had the Plague really 
upon them, though they might really think them- 
selves sound : and some of these were the people 
that walked the streets till they fell down dead, 
not that they were suddenly struck with the dis- 
temper, as with a bullet that killed with the 
stroke, but that they really had the infection in 
their blood long before, only, that as it preyed 
secretly on the vitals, it appeared not till it seized 
the heart with a mortal power, and the patient 
died in a moment, as with a sudden fainting, or 
an apoplectic fit. 

I know that some, even of our physicians, 
thought, for a time, that those people that so 
died in the streets were seized but that moment 
they fell, as if they had been touched by a stroke 


from heaven, as men are killed by a flash of light- 
ning ; but they found reason to alter their opi- 
nion afterward ; for upon examining the bodies 
of such, after they were dead, they always either 
had tokens upon them, or other evident proofs 
of the distemper having been longer upon them 
than they had otherwise expected. 

This often was the reason that, as I have said, 
we that Avere examiners were not able to come at 
the knowledge of the infection being entered into 
a house till it was too late to shut it up ; and 
sometimes not till the people that were left were all 
dead. In Petticoat-lane two houses together were 
infected, and several people sick ; but the distem- 
per was so well concealed, the examiner, who was 
my neighbour, got no knowledge of it, till notice 
was sent him that the people were all dead, and 
that the carts should call there to fetch them 
away. The two heads of the families concerted 
their measures, and so ordered their matters, as 
that when the examiner was in the neighbour- 
hood, they appeared generally at a time, and 
answered, that is, lied for one another, or got 
some of the neighbourhood to say they were all 
in health, and, perhaps, knew no better, till 
death making it impossible to keep it any longer 
as a secret, the dead carts were called in the 
night, to both the houses, and so it became pub- 
lic ; but when the examiner ordered the consta- 
ble to shut up the houses, there was nobody left 
in them but three people, two in one house, and 
one in the other, just dying, and a nurse in each 
house, who acknowledged that they had buried 
five before, that the houses had been infected 
nine or ten days, and that for all the rest of the 
two families, which were many, they were gone. 


some sick, some well, or whether sick or well, 
could not be known. 

In like manner, at another house in the same 
lane, a man, having his family infected, but very 
unwilling to be shut up, when he could conceal 
it no longer, shut up himself; that is to say, he 
set the great red cross upon his door, with the 
words, — " LORD HAVE MERCY UPON US;" and 
so deluded the examiner, who supposed it had 
been done by the constable, by order of the other 
examiner, for there were two examiners to every 
district or precinct ; by this means he had free 
egress and regress into his house again, and out 
of it, as he pleased, notwithstanding it was in- 
fected ; till at length his stratagem was found 
out, and then he, with the sound part of his ser- 
vants and family, made off, and escaped ; so they 
were not shut up at all. 

These things made it very hard, if not impos- 
sible, as I have said, to prevent the spreading of 
an infection, by the shutting up of houses, unless 
the people would think the shutting up of their 
houses no grievance, and be so willing to have it 
done, as that they would give notice duly and 
faithfully to the magistrates of their being in- 
fected, as soon as it was known by themselves : 
but as that cannot be expected from them, and 
the examiners cannot be supposed, as above, to 
go into their houses to visit and search, all the 
good of shutting up houses will be defeated, and 
few houses will be shut up in time, except those 
of the poor, who cannot conceal it, and of some 
people who will be discovered by the terror and 
consternation which the thing put them into. 

I got myself discharged of the dangerous 
office I was in, as soon us I could get another 


admitted, who I had obtained for a little money 
to accept of it;, and so, instead of serving the 
two months, which was directed, I was not above 
three weeks in it ; and a great while too, consi- 
dering it was in the month of August^, at which 
time the distemper began to rage with great vio- 
lence at our end of the town. 

In the execution of this office, I could not 
refrain speaking my opinion among my neigh- 
bours, as to this shutting up the people in their 
houses ; in which we saw most evidently the 
severities that were used, though grievous in 
themselves, had also this particular objection 
against them, namely, that they did not answer 
the end, as I have said, but that the distempered 
people went, day by day, about the streets ; and 
it was our united opinion, that a method to have 
removed the sound from the sick, in case of a 
particular house being visited, would have been 
much more reasonable, on many accounts, leav- 
ing nobody with the sick persons, but such as 
should, on such occasion, request to stay and 
declare themselves content to be shut up with 

Our scheme for removing those that were 
sound from those that were sick, was only in 
such houses as were infected, and confining the 
sick was no confinement ; those that could not 
stir would not complain while they were in their 
senses, and while they had the power of judging: 
indeed, when they came to be delirious and light- 
headed, then they would cry out of the cruelty of 
being confined ; but for the removal of those 
that were well, we thought it highly reasonable 
and just, for their own sakes, they should be 
removed from the sick, and that, for other peo- 
ple's safety, they should keep retired for a while, 


to see that they were sound, and might not in- 
fect others; and we thought twenty or thirty 
days enough for this. 

Now, certainly, if houses had been provided 
on purpose for those that were sound to perform 
this demi-quarantine in, they would have much 
less reason to think themselves injured in such 
a restraint, than in being confined with infected 
people in the houses where they lived. 

It is here, however, to be observed, that after 
the funerals became so many, that people could 
not toll the bell, mourn, or Aveep, or wear black 
for one another, as they did before ; no, nor so 
much as make coffins for those that died ; so 
after a while the fury of the infection appeared 
to be so encreased, that, in short, they shut up 
no houses at all ; it seemed enough that all the 
remedies of that kind had been used till they 
were found fruitless, and that the Plague spread 
itself with an irresistible fury ; so that, as the 
fire, the succeeding year, spread itself, and burnt 
with such violence, that the citizens in despair, 
gave over their endeavours to extinguish it, so in 
the Plague, it came at last to such violence, that 
the people sat still looking at one another, and 
seemed quite abandoned to despair: whole streets 
seemed to be desolated, and not to be shut up 
only, but to be emptied of their inhabitants ; 
doors were left open, windows stood shattering 
with the wind in empty houses, for want of peo- 
ple to shut them : in a word, people began to 
give up themselves to their fears, and to think 
that all regulations and methods were in vain, 
and that there was nothing to be hoped for but 
an universal desolation : and it was even in the 
height of this general despair, that it pleased 
God to stay his hand, and to slacken the fury of 


the contagion, in such a manner, as was even 
surprisins;, like its beginning, and demonstrated 
it to be his own particular hand, and that above, 
if not without the agency of means, as 1 shall 
take notice of in its proper place. 

But 1 must still speak of the Plague, as in its 
height, raging even to desolation, and the people 
under the most dreadful consternation, even, as 
I have said, to despair. It is hardly credible to 
what excesses the passions of men carried them 
in this extremity of the distemper ; and this part, 
I think, was as moving as the rest. What could 
affect a man in his full power of reflection ; and 
what could make deeper impressions on the soul 
than to see a man, almost naked, and got out of 
his house, or perhaps out of his bed into the 
street, come out of Harrow-alley, a populous 
conjunction or collection of alleys, courts, and 
passages in the Butcher-row, in Whitechapel ! I 
say, what could be more affecting, than to see 
this poor man come out into the open street, run 
dancing and singing, and making a thousand 
antic gestures, with five or six women and chil- 
dren running after him, crying and calling rjpon 
him, for the Lord's sake to come back, and en- 
treating the help of others to bring him back, 
but all in vain, nobody daring to lay a hand upon 
him, or to come near him. 

This was a most grievous and afflicting thing 
to me, who saw it all from my own windows ; 
for all this while the poor afflicted man was, as 
I observed it, even then in the utmost agony of 
pain, having, as they said, two swellings upon 
him, which could not be brought to break, or 
to suppurate ; but by laying strong causticks 
on them, the surgeons had, it seems, hopes to 
break them, which causticks were then upon 


him, burning his flesh as with a hot iron. I 
cannot say what became of this poor man, but 
I think he continued roving about in that man- 
ner till he fell down and died. 

No wonder the aspect of the city itself was 
frightful, the usual concourse of people in the 
streets, and which used to be supplied from our 
end of the town was abated ; the Exchange was 
not kept shut indeed, but it was no more fre- 
quented ; the fires were lost, they had been al- 
most extinguished for some days, by a very 
smart and hasty rain: but that v;as not all, 
some of the physicians insisted, that they were 
not only no benefit, but injurious to the health 
of people. This they made a loud clamour about, 
and complained to the Lord Mayor about it. On 
the other hand, others of the same faculty, and 
eminent too, opposed them, and gave their rea- 
sons why the fires were and must be useful to 
assuage the violence of the distemper. I cannot 
give a full account of their arguments on both 
sides : only this I remember, that they cavilled 
very much with one another; some were for fires, 
but that they must be made of wood, and not 
coal, and of particular sorts of wood too, such as 
fir in particular, or cedar, because of the strong 
eflfluvia of turpentine ; others were for coal and 
not wood, because of the sulphur and bitumen; 
and others were for neither one or other. Upon 
the whole, the Lord Mayor ordered no more 
fires, and especially on this account, namely, 
that the Plague was so fierce, that they saw evi- 
dently it defied all means, and rather seemed to 
encrease than decrease, upon any application to 
check and abate it ; and yet this amazement of 
the magistrates proceeded rather from want of 
being able to apply any means successfully, than 


from any unwillingness, either to expose them- 
selves, or undertake the care and weight of busi- 
ness ; for, to do them justice, they neither spared 
their pains or their persons ; but nothing answer- 
ed ; the infection raged, and the people were 
now frighted and terrified to the last degree^ so 
that, as I may say, they gave themselves up, and, 
as I mentioned above, abandoned themselves to 
their despair. 

But let me observe here, that when I say the 
people abandoned themselves to despair, I do 
not mean to what men call a religious despair, 
or a despair of their eternal state, but I mean 
a despair of their being able to escape the infec- 
tion, or to outlive the Plague, which they saw 
was so raging and so irresistible in its force, 
that indeed few people that were touched with it 
in its height, about August and September, es- 
caped ; and, which is very particular, contrary 
to its ordinary operation in June and July, and 
the beginning of August, when, as 1 have observ- 
ed, many were infected, and continued so many 
days, and then went off, after having had the 
poison in their blood a long time ; but now, on 
the contrary, most of the people who were taken 
during the two last weeks in August and in the 
three first weeks in September, generally died 
in two or three days at farthest, and many the 
very same day they were taken ; whether the 
dog-days, or as our Astrologers pretended to 
express themselves, the influence of the dog- 
star had that malignant effect; or all those 
who had the seeds of infection before in them, 
brought it up to a maturity at that time altoge- 
ther, I know not ; but this was the time when it 
was reported, that above 3000 people died in one 
night ; and they that would have us believe they 


more critically observed it, pretend to say, that 
they all died within the space of two hours, 
viz. between the hours of one and three in the 

As to the suddenness of people's dying at this 
time, more than before, there were innumerable 
instances of it, and 1 could name several in my 
neighbourhood ; one family without the bars, 
and not far from me, were all seemingly well on 
the Monday, being ten in family, that evening 
one maid and one apprentice were taken ill, and 
died the next morning, when the other appren- 
tice and two children were touched, whereof one 
died the same evening, and the other two on 
Wednesday ; in a word, by Saturday at noon, 
the master, mistress, four children, and four ser- 
vants, were all gone, and the house left entirely 
empty, except an ancient woman, who came in to 
take charge of the goods for the master of the 
family's brother, who lived not far off, and who 
had not been sick. 

Many houses were then left desolate, all the 
people being carried away dead, and especially 
in an alley farther on the same side, beyond the 
bars, going in at the sign of Moses and Aaron ; 
there were several houses together, which (they 
said) had not one person left alive in them, and 
some that died last in several of those houses, 
were left a little too long before they were fetch- 
ed out to be buried ; the reason of which was 
not, as some have written very untruly, that the 
living were not sufficient to bury the dead ; but 
that the mortality was so great in the yard or 
alley, that there was nobody left to give notice 
to the buriers or sextons, that there were any 
dead bodies there to be buried. It was said , 
how true I know not, that some of those bodies 



were so much corrupted, and so rotten, that it 
was with difficulty they were carried ; and as 
the carts could not come any nearer than to the 
alley-gate in the High-street, it was so much the 
more difficult to bring them along; but I am not 
certain how many bodies were then left. I am 
sure that ordinarily it was not so. 

As I have mentioned how the people were 
brought into a condition to despair of life, and 
abandon themselves, so this very thing had a 
strange effect among us for three or four weeks, 
that is, it made them bold and venturous, they 
were no more shy of one another, or restrained 
within doors, but went any where, and every 
where, and began to converse ; one would say 
to another, — *' I do not ask you how you are, or 
say how 1 am, it is certain we shall all go, so 
'tis no matter who is sick or who is sound ;" and 
so they run desperately into any place or any 

As it brought the people into public company, 
so it was surprising how it brought them to crowd 
into the churches; they inquired no more into 
who they sat near to, or far from, what offen- 
sive smells they met with, or what condition the 
people seemed to be in, but looking upon them- 
selves all as so many dead corpses, they came 
to the churches without the least caution, and 
crowded together as if their lives were of no 
consequence, compared to the work which they 
came about there: indeed, the zeal which they 
shewed in coming, and the earnestness and affec- 
tion they shewed in their attention to what they 
heard, made it m.anifest what a value people 
would all put upon the worship of God, if they 
thought every day they attended at the church 
that it would be their last. 


Nor was it without other strange effects, for 
it took away all manner of prejudice at, or scruple 
about, the person who they found in the pulpit 
when they came to the churches. It cannot be 
doubted/but that many of the ministers of the 
parish chuiches were cut off among others, in so 
common and dreadful a calamity; and others 
had not courage enough to stand it, but removed 
into the country as they found means for escape; 
as then some parish churches were quite vacant 
and forsaken, the people made no scruple of de- 
siring such dissenters as had been a few years 
before deprived of their livings, by virtue of the 
act of parliament called the act of uniformity, to 
preach in the churches, nor did the church mi- 
nisters in that case make any difficulty of ac- 
cepting their assistance ; so that many of those 
who they called silenced ministers, had their 
mouths opened on this occasion, and preached 
publicly to the people. 

Here we may observe, and 1 hope it will not 
be amiss to take notice of it, that a near viev/ of 
death would soon reconcile men of good princi- 
ples one to another, and that it is chiefly owing 
to our easy situation in life, and our putting 
these things far from us, that our breaches are 
fomented,"ill blood continued, prejudices, breach 
of charity and of christian union so much kept 
and so far carried on among us as it is : another 
Plague year would reconcile all these differences, 
a close conversing with death, or with diseases 
that threaten death, would scum off the gall 
from our tempers, remove the animosities among 
us, and bring us to see with differing eyes, than 
those which we looked on things with before ; as 
the people who had been used to join with the 
church, were reconciled at this time, with the 


admitting the dissenters to preach to them ; so 
the dissenters, who with an uncommon prejudice, 
had broken off from the communion of the 
church of England, were now content to come 
to their parish churches, and to conform to the 
worship which they did not approve of before ; 
but as the terror of the infection abated, those 
things all returned again to their less desirable 
channel, and to the course they were in before. 

I mention this but historically, I have no mind 
to enter into arguments to move either, or both 
sides, to a more charitable compliance one with 
another ; I do not see that it is probable such a 
discourse would be either suitable or successful ; 
the breaches seem rather to widen, and tend to a 
widening further, than to closing ; and who am 
I that I should think myself able to influence 
either one side or other? but this 1 may repeat 
again, that it is evident death will reconcile us 
all ; on the other side the grave we shall be all 
brethren again : in heaven, whither I hope we 
may come from all parties and persuasions^ we 
shall find neither prejudice or scruple ; there we 
shall be of one principle and of one opinion : 
why we cannot be content to go hand in hand to 
the place where we shall join heart and hand 
without the least hesitation, and with the most 
complete harmony and affection ; I say, why we 
cannot do so here I can say nothing to, neither 
shall I say any thing more of it, but that it re- 
mains to be lamented. 

I could dwell a great while upon the calami- 
ties of this dreadful time, and go on to describe 
the objects that appeared among us every day, 
the dreadful extravagancies which the distraction 
of sick people drove them into ; how the streets 
began now to be fuller of frightful objects, and 


families to be made even a terror to themselves : 
but after I have told you, as I have above, that 
one man being tied in his bed, and finding no 
other way to deliver himself, set the bed on fire 
with his candle, which unhappily stood within 
his reach, and burnt himself in his bed. And 
how another, by the insufferable torment he bore, 
danced aud sung naked m the streets, not know- 
ing one ecstacy from another ; I say, after I 
have mentioned these things, what can be added 
more ? what can be said to represent the misery 
of these times, more lively to the reader, or to 
give him a perfect idea of a more complicated 
distress ? 

I must acknowledge that this time was terrible, 
that 1 was sometimes at the end of all my reso- 
lutions, and that 1 had not the courage that I 
had at the beginning. As the extremity brought 
other people abroad, it drove me home, and 
except having made my voyage down to Black- 
wall and Greenwich, as I have related, which 
was an excursion, I kept afterwards very much 
within doors, as I had for about a fortnight 
before ; I have said already, that I repented 
several times that 1 had ventured to stay in 
town, and had not gone away with my brother 
and his family, but it was too late for that now ; 
and after I had retreated and stayed within 
doors a good while before my impatience led me 
abroad, then they called me, as I have said, to 
an ugly and dangerous office, which brought me 
out again; but as that was expired, while the 
height of the distemper lasted, 1 retired again, 
and continued close ten or twelve days more ; 
during which many dismal spectacles represent- 
ed themselves in my view, out of my own win- 
dows, and in our own street, as that particularly 


from Harrow-alley, of the poor outrageous crea- 
ture which danced and sung in his agony, and 
many others there were: scarce a day or night 
passed over, but some dismal thing or other 
happened at the end of that Harrow-alley, which 
was a place full of poor people, most of them 
belonging to the butchers, or to employments 
depending upon the butchery. 

Sometimes heaps and throngs of people would 
burst out of the alley, most of them women, 
making a dreadful clamour, mixed or compound- 
ed of screeches, cryings, and calling one another, 
that we could not conceive what to make of it ; 
almost all the dead part of the night the dead- 
cart stood at the end of that alley, for if it went 
in it could not well turn again, and could go in 
but a little way. There, I say, it stood to re- 
ceive dead bodies, and as the church-yard was 
but a little way off, if it went away full it would 
soon be back again : it is impossible to describe 
the most horrible cries and noise the poor peo- 
ple would make at their bringing the dead bodies 
of their children and friends out to the cart, and 
by the number one would have thought there 
had been none left behind, or that there were 
people enough for a small city living in those 
places : several times they cried murder, some- 
times fire : but it was easy to perceive it was all 
distraction, and the complaints of distressed and 
distempered people. 

I believe it was every where thus at that time, 
for the Plague raged for six or seven weeks be- 
yond all that I have expressed ; and came even 
to such a height, that in the extremity, they be- 
gan to break into that excellent order, of which 
I have spoken so much, in behalf of the ma- 


gistrates, namely, that no dead bodies were seen 
in the streets, or burials in the day time, for 
there was a necessity, in this extremity, to bear 
with its being otherwise for a little while. 

One thing- I cannot omit here, and indeed I 
thought it was extraordinary ; at least, it seem- 
ed a remarkable hand of divine justice, viz. that 
all the predictors, astrologers, fortune-tellers, 
and what they called cunning men, conjurors, 
and the like ; calculators of nativities, and 
dreamers of dreams, and such people, were gone' 
and vanished, not one of them was to be found : 
I am verily persuaded that a great number of 
them fell in the heat of the calamity, having 
ventured to fetay upon the prospect of getting 
great estates ; and indeed their gain was but 
too great for a time, through the madness and 
folly of the people ; but now they were silent, 
many of them went to their long home, not able 
to foretel their own fate, or to calculate their 
own nativities ; some have bee a critical enough 
to say, that every one of them died : I dare not 
affirm that ; but this I must own, that 1 never 
heard of one of them that ever appeared after 
the calamity was over. 

But to return to my particular observations, 
during this dreadful part of the visitation : I am 
now come, as I have said, to the month of Sep- 
tember, which was the most dreadful of its kind, 
I believe that ever London saw ; for by all the 
accounts which I have seen of the preceding 
visitations which have been in London, nothing 
has been like it ; the number in the weekly bill 
amounting to almost 40,000 from the 22nd of 
August to the 2Gtli of September, being but five 
weeks, the particuhirs of the bills are as follows, 


From August the 22d to the 29th 7496 

To the 5th of September . . 82.52 

To the 12th .... 7690 

To the 19th .... 8297 

To the 26th .... 6460 


This was a prodigious number of itself, but if 
I should add the reasons which I have to be- 
lieve that this account was deficient, and how 
deficient it was, you would with me, make no 
scruple to believe that there died above ten 
thousand a week for all those weeks, one week 
with another, and a proportion for several weeks 
both before and after : the confusion among the 
people, especially within the city at that time, 
was inexpressible ; the terror was so great at 
last, that the courage of the people appointed to 
carry away the dead, began to fail them; nay, 
several of them died, although they had the dis- 
temper before, and were recovered ; and some 
of them dropped down when they have been car- 
rying the bodies even at the pitside, and just 
ready to throw them in ; and this confusion was 
greater in the city, because they had flattered 
themselves with hopes of escaping ; and thought 
the bitterness of death was past ; one cart they 
told us, going up Shoreditch, was forsaken of 
the drivers, or being left to one man to drive, 
he died in the street, and the horses going on, 
overthrew the cart, and left the bodies, some 
thrown out here, some there, in a dismal man- 
ner ; another cart was it seems found in the 
great pit in Finsbury fields, the driver being 
dead, or having been gone and abandoned it, 


and the horses running too near it, the cart fell 
in and drew the horses in also : it was sug- 
gested that the driver was thrown in with it, 
and that the cart fell upon him, by reason his 
whip was seen to be in the pit among the bo- 
dies ; but that, I suppose, could not be certain. 
In our parish of Aldgate, the dead carts were 
several times, as I have heard, found standing at 
the church-yard gate, full of dead bodies, but 
neither bellman or driver, or any one else with 
it ; neither in these, or many other cases, did 
they know what bodies they had in their cart, 
for sometimes they were let down with ropes out 
of balconies and out of windows; and sometimes 
the bearers brought them to the cart, sometimes 
other people ; nor, as the men themselves said, 
did they trouble themselves to keep any account 
of the numbers. 

The vigilance of the magistrate was now put 
to the utmost trial, and it must be confessed, can 
never be enough acknowledged on this occasion 
also, whatever expence or trouble they were at, 
two thinors were never neglected in the city or 
suburbs either : — 

pirst. — Provisions were always to be had in 
full plenty, and the price not much raised, nei- 
ther, hardly worth speaking. 

Second. — No dead bodies lay unburied or un- 
covered ; and if one walked from one end of the 
city to another, no funeral, or sign of it was to 
be'seen in the day time, except a little, as I 
have said above, in the three first weeks in 

This last article perhaps will hardly be be- 
lieved, when some accounts which others have 
published since that shall be seen, wherein they 
say that the dead lav unburied, which 1 am a s- 

L 5 


sured was utterly false ; at least, if it had been 
any where so, it must have been in houses where 
the living were gone from the dead, having found 
means, as I have observed, to escape, and where 
no notice was given to the officers ; all which 
amounts to nothing at all in the case in hand ; 
for this I am positive in, having myself been em- 
ployed a little in the direction of that part in 
the parish in which I lived, and where as great 
a desolation was made in proportion to the num- 
ber of inhabitants as was any where. I say, I 
am sure that there were no dead bodies remain- 
ed unburied; that is to say, none that the proper 
officers knew of ; none for w^ant of people to 
carry them off, and buriers to put them into the 
ground and cover them ; and this is sufficient to 
the argument ; for what might lie in houses and 
holes, as in Moses and Aaron alley, is nothing ; 
for it is most certain, they were buried as soon 
as they were found. As to the first article, 
namely, of provisions, the scarcity or dearness, 
though I have mentioned it before, and shall 
speak of it again; yet I must observe here. 

First,— The price of bread in particular, was 
not much raised; for in the beginning of the 
hear, viz. in the first week in March, the penny 
wheaten loaf was ten ounces and a half; and in 
the height of the contagion, it was to be had at 
nine ounces and a half, and never dearer, no, 
not all that season : and about the beginning of 
November, it was sold ten ounces and a half 
again ; the like of which, 1 believe, was never 
heard of in any city under so dreadful a visita- 
tion before. 

Second. — Neither was there (which I won- 
dered much at) any want of bakers or ovens kept 
open to supply the people with bread ; but this 


was indeed alleged by some families, viz. that 
their maid-servants going to the bake-houses 
with their dough to be baked, which was then 
the custom, sometimes came home with the sick- 
ness, that is to say, the Plague upon them. 

In all this dreadful visitation, there were, as 
I have said before, but two pest-houses made use 
of, viz. one in the fields beyond Old-street, and 
one in Westminster; neither was there any 
compulsion used in carrying people thither : in- 
deed there was no need of compulsion in the 
case, for there were thousands of poor distressed 
people, who having no help, or conveniencies, or 
supplies but of charity, would have been very 
glad to have been carried thither, and been 
taken care of, which indeed was the only thing 
that, 1 think, was wanting in the whole public 
management of the city : seeing nobody was 
here allowed to be brought to the pest-house, 
but where money was given, or security for 
money, either at their introducing, or upon their 
being' cured and sent out; for very many Avere 
sent out again whole, and very good physicians 
were appointed to those places, so that many 
people did very well there, of which I shall make 
mention again. The principal sort of people 
sent thither were, as I have said, servants, who 
got the distemper by going of errands to fetch 
necessaries to the families where they lived ; and 
who in that case, if they came home sick, were 
removed to preserve the rest of the house, and 
they were so well looked after there, in all the 
time of the visitation, that there was but 156 
buried in all at the London pest-house, and 159 
at that of Westminster. 

By having more pest houses, I am far from 
meaning a forcing all people into such places. 


Had the shutting up of houses been omitted, 
and the sick hurried out of their dwellings to 
pest-houses, as some proposed, it seems, at that 
time, as well as since, it would certainly have 
been much worse than it was ; the very removing 
the s'ck would have been a spreading of the 
infection, and the rather because that removing 
could not effectually clear the house where the 
sick person was, of the distemper ; and the rest 
of the family being then left at liberty, would 
certainly spread it among others. 

The methods also in private families, which 
would have been universally used to have con- 
cealed the distemper, and to have concealed the 
persons being sick, would have been such, that 
the distemper would sometimes have seized a 
whole family before any visitors or examiners 
could have known of it : on the other hand, the 
prodigious numbers which would have been sick 
at a time, would have exceeded all the capacity 
of public pest-houses to receive them, or of 
public officers to discover and remove them. 

This was well considered in those days, and I 
have heard them talk of it often : the magis- 
trates had enough to do to bring people to sub- 
mit to having their houses shut up, and many 
ways they deceived the watchmen, and got out, 
as I have observed ; but that difficulty made it 
apparent that they would have found it imprac- 
ticable to have gone the other way to work ; for 
they could never have forced the sick people out 
of their beds, and out of their dwellings ; it 
must not have been mv Lord Mayor's officers, 
but an army of officers that must have attempted 
it ; and the people on the other hand, would 
have been enraged and desperate, and would 
have killed those that should have offered to 


have meddled with them or with their children 
and relations, whatever had befallen them for it; 
so that they would have made the people, who, 
as it was, were in the most terrible distraction 
imaginable ; I say, they would have made them 
stark mad; whereas the magistrates found it 
proper on several accounts to treat them with 
lenity and compassion, and not with violence and 
terror, such as dragging the sick out of their 
houses, or obliging them to remove themselves, 
would have been. 

This leads me again to mention the time when 
the Plague first began, that is to say, when it 
became certain that it would spread over the 
whole town, when, as I have said, the better sort 
of people first took the alarm, and began to 
hurry themselves out of town ; it was true, as I 
observed in its place, that the throng was so 
great, and the coaches, horses, waggons and 
carts were so many, driving and dragging the 
people away, that it looked as if all the city was 
running away ; and had any regulations been 
published that had been terrifying at that time, 
especially such as would pretend to dispose of 
the people, otherwise than they would dispose 
of themselves, it would have put both the city 
and suburbs into the utmost confusion. 

. But the magistrates wisely caused the people 
to be encouraged, made very good by-laws for 
the regulating the citizens, keeping good order 
in the streets, and making every thing as eligible 
as possible to all sorts of people. 

In the first place, the Lord Mayor and the 
sherifFs, the court of aldermen, and a certain 
number of the common-council men, or their 
deputies, came to a resolution and published it ; 
viz. — " That they would not quit the city them- 


selves, -but that they would be always at hand 
for the preserving good order in every place, and 
for the doing justice on all occasions ; as also 
for the distributing the public charity to the 
poor ; and, in a word, for the doing the duty, 
and discharging the trust reposed in them by 
the citizens, to the utmost of their power." 

In pursuance of these orders, the Lord Mayor, 
sheriffs, &c. held councils every day more or 
less, for making such dispositions as they found 
needful for preserving the civil peace ; and 
though they used the people with all possible 
gentleness and clemency, yet all manner of pre- 
sumptuous rogues, such as thieves, house-break- 
ers, plunderers of the dead, or of the sick, were 
duly punished, and several declarations were 
continually published by the Lord Mayor and 
court of aldermen against such. 

Also all constables and church-wardens were 
enjoined to stay in the city upon severe penalties, 
or to depute such able and sufficient house- 
keepers, as the deputy aldermen, or common- 
council men of the precinct should approve, and 
for whom they should give security ; and also 
security in case of mortality, that they would 
forthwith constitute other constables in their 

These things re-established the minds of the 
people very much, especially in the first of their 
fright, when they talked of making so universal 
a flight, that the city would have been in danger 
of being entirely deserted of its inhabitants, ex- 
cept the poor ; and the country of being plun- 
dered and laid waste by the multitude. Nor 
were the magistrates deficient in performing 
their part as boldly as they promised it ; for my 
Lord Mayor and the sheriffs were continually in 


the streets, and at places of the greatest danger, 
and though they did not care for having too great 
a resort of people crowding about them, yet in 
emergent cases, they never denied the people 
access to them, and heard with patience all their 
grievances and complaints ; my Lord Mayor had 
a low gallery built on purpose in his hall, where 
he stood a little removed from the crowd when 
any complaint came to be heard, that he might 
appear with as much safety as possible. 

Likewise the proper officers, called my Lord 
Mayor's officers, constantly attended in their 
turns, as they were in waiting ; and if any of 
them were sick or infected, as some of them 
were, others were instantly employed to fill up 
and officiate in their places, till it was know^n 
whether the other should live or die. 

In like manner the sheriffs and aldermen did 
in their several stations and wards, where they 
were placed by office, and the sheriffs' officers or 
Serjeants were appointed to receive orders from 
the respective aldermen in their turn ; so that 
justice w^as executed in all cases without inter- 
ruption. In the next place, it was one of their 
particular cares to see the orders for the freedom 
of the markets observed ; and in this part either 
the Lord Mayor, or one or both of the sheriffs, 
were every market day on horseback to see their 
orders executed, and to see that the country 
people had all possible encouragement and free- 
dom in their coming to the markets, and going 
back again ; and that no nuisances or frightful 
objects should be seen in the streets to terrify 
them, or make them unwilling to come. Also 
the bakers were taken under particular order, 
and the Master of the Bakers' Company was, 
with his court of assistants, directed to see the 


order of my Lord Mayor for their regulation put 
in execution, and the due assize of bread, which 
was weekly appointed by my Lord Mayor, ob- 
served, and all the bakers were obliged to keep 
their ovens going constantly, on pain of losing 
the privileges of a freeman of the city of London. 

By this means, bread was always to be had in 
plenty, and as cheap as usual, as I said above ; 
and provisions were never wanting in the markets, 
even to such a degree, that I often wondered at 
it, and reproached myself with being so timorous 
and cautious in stirring abroad, when the country 
people came freely and boldly to market, as if 
there had been no manner of infection in the 
city, or danger of catching it. 

It was indeed one admirable piece of conduct 
in the said magistrates, that the streets w^ere kept 
constantly clear, and free from all manner of 
frightful objects, dead bodies, or any such things 
as were indecent or unpleasant, unless where 
any body fell down suddenly or died in the 
streets, as I have said above, and these were 
generally covered with some cloth or blanket, or 
removed into the next church-yard, till night: all 
the needful works that carried terror with them, 
that were both dismal and dangerous, were done 
in the night; if any diseased bodies were re- 
moved, or dead bodies buried, or infected clothes 
burnt, it was done in the night; and all the 
bodies which were thrown into the great pits in 
the several church-yards or burying-grounds, as 
has been observed, were so removed in the night; 
and every thing was covered and closed before 
day : so that in the day time there was not the 
least signal of the calamity to be seen or heard 
of, except what was to be observed from the 


emptiness of the streets, and sometimes from the 
passionate outcries and lamentations of the 
people, out at their windows, and from the num- 
bers of houses and shops shut up. 

Nor was the silence and emptiness of the 
streets so much in the city as in the out-parts, 
except just at one particular time, when, as I 
have mentioned, the Plague came east, and spread 
over all the city ; it was indeed a merciful dispo- 
sition of God, that as the Plague began at one 
end of the town first, as has been observed at 
large, so it proceeded progressively to other parts, 
and did not come on this way or eastward, till it 
had spent its fury in the west part of the town ; 
and so as it came on one way, it abated another ; 
for example : — 

It began at St. Giles's and the Westminster 
end of the town, and it was in its height in all 
that part by about the middle of July, viz. in St. 
Giles's in the Fields, St. Andrew's, Holborn, St. 
Clement's Danes, St. Martin's in the Fields, and 
in Westminster: the latter end of July, it de- 
creased in those parishes, and coming east, it 
inci eased prodigiously in Cripplegate, St. Sepul- 
chre's, St. James's Clerkenwell, and St. Bride's, 
and Aldersgate ; while it was in all these parishes, 
the city and all the parishes of the Southwark 
side of the water, and all Stepney, Whitechapel, 
Aldgate, Wapping, and RatclifF, were very little 
touched ; so that people went about their business 
unconcerned, carried on their trades, kept open 
their shops, and conversed freely with one ano- 
ther in all the city, the east and north-east sub- 
urbs, and in Southwark, almost as if the Plague 
had not been among us. 

Even when the north and north-west suburbs 



were fully infected, viz. Cripplegate, Clerkenwell, 
Bishopsgate, and Shoreditch, yet still all the rest 
were tolerably well: for example 

From the 25th of July to the 1st of August, 
the bill stood thus of all diseases 
St. Giles's, Cripplegate 
St. Sepulchre's 
Clerkenwell . 
Bishopsgate . 

Stepney Parish 



All the 97 Parishes within the walls 228 

All the Parishes in Southwark . 205 






So that, in short, there died more that week in 
the two parishes of Cripplegate and St. Sepul- 
chre's by 48 than all the city, all the east suburbs, 
and all the Southwark parishes put together: 
this caused the reputation of the city's health to 
continue all over England, and especially in the 
counties and markets adjacent, from whence our 
supply of provisions chiefly came, even much 
longer than that health itself continued ; for when 
the people came into the streets from the country, 
by Shoreditch and Bishopsgate, or by Old-street 
and Smithfield, they would see the out-streets 
empty, and the houses and shops shut, and the 
few people that were stirring there walk in the 
middle of the streets ; but when they came within 
the city, there things looked better, and the 
markets and shops were open, and the people 
walking about the streets as usual, though not 


quite so many ; and this continued till the latter 
end of August and the beginning of September. 

But then the case altered quite, the distemper 
abated in the west and north-west parishes, and 
the weight of the infection lay on the city and 
the eastern suburbs, and the Southwark side, and 
this in a frightful manner. 

Then indeed the city began to look dismal, 
shops to be shut, and the streets desolate; in 
the high street indeed necessity made people stir 
abroad on many occasions ; and there would be 
in the middle of the day a pretty many people, 
but in the mornings and evenings scarce any 
to be seen, even there, no not in Cornhill and 

These observations of mine were abundantly 
confirmed by the weekly bills of mortality for 
those weeks, an abstract of which, as they respect 
the parishes which I have mentioned, and as 
they make the calculations I speak of very evi- 
dent, take as follows : 

The weekly bill which makes out this decrease 
of the burials in the west and north side of the 
city, stand thus : — 

From the 12th of September to the 19th. 

St. Giles's, Cripplegate . . . 456 

St. Giles's in the Fields . . 140 

Cler ken well . . . . . 77 

St. Sepulchre's . . . .214 

St. Leonard, Shoreditch . . 183 

Stepney Parish .... 




Whitechapel .... 


In the 97 Parishes within the walls 


In the 8 Parishes on Southwark side 





Here is a strange change of things indeed, and 
a sad change it was, and had it held for two 
months more than it did, very few people would 
have been left alive: but then such, I say, was 
the merciful disposition of God, that when it was 
thus the west and north part, which had been so 
dreadfully visited at first, grew, as you see, much 
better ; and as the people disappeared here, they 
began to look abroad again there ; and the next 
week or two altered it still more, that is, more 
to the encouragement of the other part of the 
town ; for example : — 

From the 19th of Septembei 

to the 26th. 

St. Giles's, Cripplegate . 

St. Giles's in the Fields 

Clerkenwell . 

St. Sepulchre's 

St. Leonard, Shoreditch 


Stepney Parish 



In the 97 Parishes within the 


34 G 


In the 8 Parishes on Southwark side 1390 


From the 2Gth of September to the 3d of 
October : — 

St. Giles's, Cripplegate 

St. Giles's in the Fields 

Clerkenwell . 

St. Sepulchre's 

St. Leonard, Shoreditch 



Carried over 604 


Brought forward 604 

Stepney Parish .... 674! 

Aldgate 372 

Whitechapel .... 32S 

In the 97 Parishes within the walls 1149 

In the 8 Parishes on South wark side 1201 


And now the misery of the city, and of the 
said east and south parts was complete indeed ; 
for as you see the weight of the distemper lay 
upon those parts, that is to say, the city, the 
eight parishes over the river, with the parishes of 
Aldgate, Whitechapel, and Stepney, and this 
was the time that the bills came up to such a 
monstrous height, as that I mentioned before ; 
and that eight or nine, and, as I believe, ten or 
twelve thousand a week died ; for it is my settled 
opinion, that they never could come at any just 
account of the numbers, for the reasons which I 
have given already. 

Nay one of the most eminent physicians, who 
has since published in latin an account of those 
times, and of his observations, says, that in one 
week there died twelve thousand people, and 
that particularly there died four thousand in one 
night; though I do not remember that there 
ever was any such particular night so remarkably 
fatal as that such a number died in it: however, 
all this confirms what I have said above of the 
uncertainty of the bills of mortality, &c. of which 
I shall say more hereafter. 

And here let me take leave to enter again, 
though it may seem a repetition of circum- 
stances, into a description of the miserable con- 
dition of the city itself, and of those parts where 


I lived at this particular time : the city and those 
other parts, notwithstanding the great numbers 
of people that were gone into the country, was 
vastly full of people, and perhaps the fuller, be- 
cause people had for a long time a strong belief, 
that the Plague would not come into the city, 
nor into Southwark, no nor into Wapping or 
RatclifF at all ; nay such was the assurance of 
the people on that head, that many removed 
from the suburbs on the west and north sides, 
into those eastern and south sides, as for safety, 
and as I verily believe, carried the Plague 
amongst them there, perhaps sooner than they 
would otherwise have had it. 

Here also I ought to leave a farther remark 
for the use of posterity, concerning the manner 
of people's infecting one another ; namely, that 
it was not the sick people only from whom the 
Plague was immediately received by others that 
were sound, but the well. To explain myself: — 
by the sick people, I mean those who were known 
to be sick, had taken their beds, had been under 
cure, or had swellings and tumours upon them, 
and the like ; these every body could beware of, 
they were either in their beds, or in such con- 
dition as could not be concealed. 

By the well, I mean such as had received the 
contagion, and had it really upon them, and in 
their blood, yet did not shew the consequences 
of it in their countenances, nay, even were not 
sensible of it themselves, as many were not for 
several days. These breathed death in every 
place, and upon every body who came near 
them ; nay, their very clothes retained the in- 
fection, their hands would infect the things they 
touched, especially if they were warm and sweaty, 
and they were generally apt to sweat too. 


Now it was impossible to know these people, 
nor did they sometimes, as I have said, know 
themselves to be infected : these were the people 
that so often dropped down and fainted in the 
streets ; for oftentimes they would go about the 
streets to the last, till on a sudden they would 
sweat, grow faint, sit down at a door, and die : 
it is true, finding themselves thus, they would 
struggle hard to get home to their own doors, or 
at other times would be just able to go into their 
houses, and die instantly ; other times they 
would go about till they had the very tokens 
come out upon them, and yet not know it, and 
would die in an hour or two after they came 
home, but be well as long as they were abroad : 
these were the dangerous people ; these were 
the people of whom the well people ought to 
have been afraid ; but then, on the other side, 
it was impossible to know them. 

And this is the reason why it is impossible in 
a visitation to prevent the spreading of the 
Plague by the utmost human vigilance, viz. that 
it is impossible to know the infected people from 
the sound ; or that the infected people should 
perfectly know themselves : I knew a man who 
conversed freely in London all the season of the 
Plague in 1665, and kept about him an antidote 
or cordial, on purpose to take when he thought 
himself in any danger, and he had such a rule 
to know, or have warning of the danger by, as 
indeed I never met with before or since ; how far 
it may be depended on I know not : he had a 
wound in his leg, and whenever he came among 
any people that were not sound, and the infec- 
tion began to affect him, he said he could know 
it by that signal, viz. that his wound in his leg 
would smart, and look pale and white ; so as 

240 THE HISTORY or the plague. 

soon as ever he felt it smart, it was time for him 
to withdraw, or to take care of himself, taking 
his drink, which he always carried about him 
for that purpose. Now it seems he found his 
wound would smart many times when he was in 
company with such, who thought themselves to 
be sound, and who appeared so to one another; 
but he would presently rise up, and say publicly, 

'< Friends, here is somebody in the room that 

has the Plague ;" and so would immediately break 
up the company. This was indeed a faithful 
monitor to all people, that the Plague is not to 
be avoided by those that converse promiscuously 
in a town infected, and people have it when they 
know it not, and that they likewise give it to 
others when they know not that they have it 
themselves ; and in this case, shutting up the 
well or removing the sick will not do it, unless 
they can go back and shut up all those that the 
sick had conversed with, even before they knew 
themselves to be sick, and none knows how far 
to carry that back, or where to stop ; for none 
knows when, or where, or how they may have 
received the infection, or from whom. 

This I take to be the reason which makes so 
many people talk of the air being corrupted and 
infected, and that they need not be cautious of 
whom they converse with, for that the contagion 
was in the air. I have seen them in strange agi- 
tations and surprises on this account. " I have 
never come near any infected body !" says the 
disturbed person, " I have conversed with none 
but sound healthy people, and yet I have gotten 
the distemper !" " I am sure I am struck from 
heaven," says another, and he falls to the seri- 
ous part. Again, the first goes on exclaiming, 
" 1 have come near no infection, or any infected 


person ; I am sure it is in the air : we draw in 
death when we breathe, and therefore 'tis the 
hand of God ; there is no withstanding it." And 
this at last made many people, being hardened 
to the danger, grow less concerned at it, and 
less cautious towards the latter end of the time, 
and when it was come to its height, than they 
were at first ; then with a kind of a Turkish pre- 
destinarianism, they would say, if it pleased God 
to strike them, it was all one whether they went 
abroad or staid at home, they could not escape 
it, and therefore they went boldly about even 
into infected houses, and infected company^ vi- 
sited sick people, and in short, lay in the beds 
with their wives or relations when they were in- 
fected ; and what was the consequence ? but the 
same that is the consequence in Turkey, and in 
those countries where they do those things : 
namely, that they were infected too, and died by 
hundreds and thousands. 

I would be far from lessening the awe of the 
judgments of God, and the reverence to his Pro- 
vidence, which ought always to be on our minds 
on such occasions as these ; doubtless the visita- 
tion itself is a stroke from heaven upon a city, or 
country, or nation where it falls ; a messenger of 
his vengeance, and a loud call to that nation, or 
country, or city, to humiliation and repentance, 
according to that of the prophet Jeremiah, xviii. 
7, 8. " At what instant I shall speak concern- 
ing a nation, and concerning a kingdom to pluck 
up, and to pull down, and destroy it: if that 
nation against whom I have pronounced turn 
from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I 
thought to do unto them." Now to prompt 
due impressions of the awe of God on the minds 
of men on such occasions, and not to h^ssen 



them, it is that I have left those minutes upon 

I say, therefore, I reflect upon no man for 
putting the reason of those things upon the im- 
mediate hand of God, and the appointment and 
direction of his Providence ; nay, on the contra- 
ry, there were many wonderful deliverances of 
persons from infection, and deliverances of per- 
sons when infected, which intimate singular and 
remarkable Providence, in the particular instances 
to which they refer, and I esteem my own deli- 
verance to be one next to miraculous, and do 
record it with thankfulness. 

But when I am speaking of the Plague, as a 
distemper arising from natural causes, we must 
consider it as it was really propagated by natural 
means, nor is it at all the less a judgment for its 
being under the conduct of human causes and 
eftects ; for as the divine power has formed the 
whole scheme of nature, and maintains nature in 
its course ; so the same power thinks fit to let 
his own actings with men, whether of mercy or 
judgment, to go on in the ordinary course of 
natural causes, and he is pleased to act by those 
natural causes as the ordinary means ; excepting 
and reserving to himself nevertheless a power to 
act in a supernatural way when he sees occasion: 
now, 'tis evident, that in the case of an infection, 
there is no apparent extraordinary occasion for 
supernatural operation, but the ordinary course 
of things appear sufficiently armed, and made 
capable of all the effects that heaven usually di- 
rects by a contagion. Among these causes and 
effects this of the secret conveyance of infection 
imperceptible, and unavoidable, is more than 
sufficient to execute the fierceness of divine ven- 


geance, without putting it upon supernaturals 
and miracles. 

The acute penetrating* nature of the disease 
itself was such, and the infection was received 
so imperceptibly, that the most exact caution 
could not secure us while in the place : but 1 
must be allowed to believe, and I have so many 
examples fresh in my memory, to convince me of 
it, that I think none can resist their evidence; I 
say, I must be allowed to believe, that no one in 
this whole nation ever received the sickness or 
infection, but who received it in the ordinary way 
of infection from somebody, or the clothes, or 
touch, or stench of somebody that was infected 

The manner of its coming first to London, 
proves this also, viz. by goods brought over from 
Holland, and brought thither from the Levant; 
the first breaking of it out in a house in Long- 
acre, where those goods were carried, and first 
opened ; its spreading from that house to other 
houses, by the visible unwary conversing with 
those who were sick, and the infecting the parish 
officers who were employed about the persons 
dead, and the like ; these are known authorities 
for this great foundation point, that it went on, 
and proceeded from person to person, and from 
house to house, and no otherwise : in the first 
house that was infected there died four persons ; 
a neighbour hearing the mistress of the first 
house was sick, went to visit her, and went home 
and gave the distemper to her family, and died, 
and all her household. A minister called to 
pray with the first sick person in the second 
house, was said to sicken immediately, and die 
with several more in his house: then the physi- 


cians began to consider, for they did not at first 
dream of a general contagion. But the physi- 
cians being sent to inspect the bodies, they as- 
sured the people that it was neither more or less 
than the Plague, with all its terrifying particulars, 
and that it threatened an universal infection, so 
many people having already conversed with the 
sick or distempered, and having, as might be 
supposed, received infection from them, that it 
would be impossible to put a stop to it. 

Here the opinion of the physicians agreed 
with my observation afterwards, namely, that 
the danger was spreading insensibly ; for the 
sick could infect none but those that came with- 
in reach of the sick person, but that one man, 
who may have really received the infection, and 
knows it not, but goes abroad and about as a 
sound person, may give the Plague to a thou- 
sand people, and they to greater numbers in 
proportion, and neither the person giving the 
infection, or the persons receiving it, know any 
thing of it, and perhaps not feel the effects of it 
for several days after. 

For example, — Many persons in the time of 
this visitation never perceived that they were in- 
fected till they found, to their unspeakable sur- 
prise, the tokens come out upon them, after 
which they seldom lived six hours ; for those 
spots they called the tokens were really gan- 
green spots, or mortified flesh in small knobs as 
broad as a little silver penny, and hard as a 
piece of callus or horn; so that when the disease 
was come up to that length, there was nothing 
could follow but certain death, and yet, as I 
said, they knew nothing of their being infected, 
nor found themselves so much as out of order, 
till those mortal marks were upon them : but 


every body must allow that they were infected 
in a high degree before, and must have been so 
some time ; and consequently their breath, their 
sweat, their very clothes were contagious for 
many days before. 

This occasioned a vast variety of cases, which 
physicians would have much more opportunity 
to remember than I ; but some came within the 
compass of my observation, or hearing, of which 
I shall name a few. 

A certain citizen who had lived safe, and un- 
touched, till the month of September, when the 
weight of the distemper lay more in the city than 
it had done before, was mighty cheerful, and 
something too bold, as I think it was, in his talk 
of how secure he was, how cautious he had been, 
and how he had never come near any sick body: 
says another citizen (a neighbour of his) to him, 

one day, " Do not be too confident, Mr. , it 

is hard to say who is sick and who is well ; for 
we see men alive and well, to outward appear- 
ance, one hour, and dead the next." " That is 
true/' says the first man, for he was not a man 
presumptuously secure, but had escaped a long 
while, and men, as I said above, especially in 
the city, began to be over easy upon that score. 
" That is true," says he, " I do not think myself 
secure, but I hope 1 have not been in company 
with any p(>rson that there has been any danger 
in." ** No !" says his neighbour, " was not you 
at the Bull-head tavern, in Gracechurch-street, 

with Mr. , the night before last V " Yes," 

says the first, " I was, but there was nobody 
there that we had any reason to think danger- 
ous." Upon which his neighbour said no more, 
being unwilling to surprise him ; but this made 
him more inquisitive, and as his neighbour ap- 


peared backward, he was the more impatient, 
and in a kind of warmth, says he aloud, " why, 
he is not dead is he V Upon which his neigh- 
bour still was silent, but cast up his eyes, and 
said something to himself; at which the first 
citizen turned pale, and said no more but this, 
*' then I am a dead man too," and went home 
immediately, and sent for a neighbouring apo- 
thecary to give him something preventive, for he 
had not yet found himself ill ; but the apothe- 
cary opening his breast, fetched a sigh, and said 
no more but this, " look up to God ;" and the 
man died in a few hours. 

Now let any man judge from a case like this, 
if it is possible for the regulations of magistrates, 
either by shutting up the sick, or removing them, 
to stop an infection, which spreads itself from 
man to man, even while they are perfectly well, 
and insensible of its approach, and may be so 
for many days. 

It may be proper to ask here, how long it 
may be supposed men might have the seeds of 
the contagion in them before it discovered itself 
in this fatal manner ; and how long they might 
go about seemingly whole, and yet be contagious 
to all those that came near them ? 1 believe the 
most experienced physicians cannot answer this 
question directly, any more than I can ; and 
something an ordinary observer may take notice 
of, which may pass their observation. The 
opinion of physicians abroad seems to be, that it 
may lie dormant in the spirits, or in the blood 
vessels, a very considerable time ; why else do 
they exact a quarantine of those who come into 
their harbours, and ports, from suspected places ? 
forty days is, one would think, too long for na- 
ture to struggle with such an enemy as this, and 


not conquer it, or yield to it ; but I could not 
think by my own observation that they can be 
infected so as to be contagious to others, above 
fifteen or sixteen days at farthest; and on that 
score it was, that when a house was shut up in 
the city, and any one had died of the Plague, 
but nolDody appeared to be ill in the family for 
sixteen or eighteen days after, they were not so 
strict, but that they would connive at their going 
privately abroad ; nor would people be much 
afraid of them afterward, but rather think they 
were fortihed the better, having not been vul- 
nerable when the enemy was in their own house; 
but we sometimes found it had lain much longer 

Upon the foot of all these observations, I 
must say, that though Providence seemed to 
direct my conduct to be otherwise; yet, it is my 
opinion, and I must leave it as a prescription, 
viz. that the best physic against the Plague is to 
run away from it. I know people encourage 
themselves by saying, God is able to keep us in 
the midst of danger, and and able to overtake 
us when we think ourselves out of danger ; and 
this kept thousands in the town, whose carcasses 
went into the great pits by cart loads ; and who, 
if they had fled from the danger, had, I believe, 
been safe from the disaster; at least, 'tis pro- 
bable they had been safe. 

And were this very fundamental only duly 
considered by the people on any future occasion 
of this or the like nature, I am persuaded it 
would put them upon ([uite different measures 
for managing the people, from those that they 
took in IGGo, or than any that have been taken 
abroad, that 1 have heard of; in a word, they 
would consider of separating the people into 


smaller bodies, and removing them in time far- 
ther from one another, and not let such a con- 
tagion as this, which is indeed chiefly dangerous, 
to collected bodies of people, find a million of 
people in a body together, as was very near the 
case before, and would certainly be the case, if 
it should ever appear again. 

The Plague, like a great fire, if a few houses 
only are contiguous where it happens, can only 
burn a few houses ; or if it begins in a single, 
or as we call it a lone house, can only burn that 
lone house where it begins : but if it begins in a 
close-built town, or city, and gets a head, there 
its fury encreases, it rages over the whole place, 
and consumes all it can reach. 

I could propose many schemes on the foot of 
which the government of this city, if ever they 
should be under the apprehensions of such 
another enemy, (God forbid they should) might 
ease themselves of the greatest part of the dan- 
gerous people that belong to them ; I mean such 
as the begging, starving, labouring poor, and 
among them chiefly those who, in case of a 
siege, are called the useless mouths ; who being 
then prudently, and to their own advantage dis- 
posed of, and the wealthy inhabitants disposing 
of themselves, and of their servants, and children, 
the city, and its adjacent parts would be so effec- 
tually evacuated, that there would not be above 
a tenth part of its people left together, for the 
disease to take hold upon : but suppose them to 
be a fifth part, and that two hundred and fifty 
thousand people were left, and if it did seize upon 
them, they would by their living so much at large, 
be much better prepared to defend themselves 
against the infection, and be less liable to the 
effects of it, than if the same number of people 


lived close together in one smaller city, such as 
Dublin, or Amsterdam, or the like. 

It is true, hundreds, yea thousands of families 
fled away at this last Plague, but then of them, 
many fled too late, and not only died in their 
flight, but carried the distemper with them into 
the countries where they went, and infected those 
whom they went among for safety ; which con- 
founded the thing, and made that be a propaga- 
tion of the distemper, which was the best means 
to prevent it ; and this too is an evidence of it, 
and brings me back to what I only hinted at be- 
fore, but must speak more fully to here, namely, 
that men went about apparently well many days 
after they had the taint of the disease in their 
vitals, and after their spirits were so seized, as 
that they could never escape it ; and that all the 
while they did so, they were dangerous to others, 
I say, this proves that so it was ; for such people 
infected the very towns they went through, as 
well as the families they went among ; and it 
was by that means that almost all the great 
towns in England had the distemper among 
them, more or less ; and always they would tell 
you such a Londoner or such a Londoner brought 
it down. 

It must not be omitted, that when 1 speak of 
those people who were really thus dangerous, I 
suppose them to be utterly ignorant of tlieir own 
condition ; for if they really knew their circum- 
stances to be such as indeed they were, they 
must have been a kind of wilful murderers, if 
they would have gone abroad among healthy 
people, and it would have verilied indeed the 
suggestion which I mentioned above, and which 
I thought seemed untrue, viz. that the infected 
people were utterly careless as to giving the in- 

M 5 


fectioii to others, and rather forward to do it 
than not ; and I beheve it was partly from this 
very thing, that they raised that suggestion, 
which I hope was not really true in fact. 

I confess no particular case is sufficient to 
prove a general, but I could name several people 
within the knowledge of some of their neigh- 
bours and families yet living, who shewed the 
contrary to an extreme. One man, a master of 
a family in my neighbourhood, having had the 
distemper, he thought he had it given him by a 
poor workman whom he employed, and whom he 
went to his house to see, or went for some work 
that he wanted to have finished, and he had 
some apprehensions even while he was at the 
poor workman's door, but did not discover it 
fully, but the next day it discovered itself, and 
he was taken very ill ; upon which he imme- 
diately caused himself to be carried into an out 
building which he had in his yard, and where 
there was a chamber over a work-house, the man 
being a brazier ; here he lay, and here he died, 
and would be tended by none of his neighbours, 
but by a nurse from abroad, and would not suffer 
his wife, nor children, nor servants, to come up 
into the room, lest they should be infected, but 
sent them his blessing and prayers for them by 
the nurse, who spoke it to them at a distance, 
and all this for fear of giving them the distem- 
per, and without which, he knew as they were 
kept up, they could not have it. 

And here I must observe also, that the Plague, 
as I suppose all distempers do, operated in a 
different manner, on differing constitutions; 
some were immediately overwhelmed with it, and 
it came to violent fevers, vomitings, insufferable 
head-aches, pains in the back, and so up to 


ravings and ragings with those pains: others 
with swelHngs and tumours in the neck or groin, 
or arm-pits, which, till they could be broke, put 
them into insufferable agonies and torment ; 
while others, as I have observed, were silently 
infected, the fever preying upon their spirits in- 
sensibly, and they seeing little of it, till they fell 
into swooning, and faintings, and death, without 

I am not physician enough to enter into the 
particular reasons and manner of these differing 
effects of one and the same distemper, and of its 
differing operation in several bodies : nor is it my 
business here to record the observations which I 
really made, because the doctors themselves have 
done that part much more effectually than I can 
do, and because my opinion may in some things 
differ from theirs : I am onlyrelatingwhat I know, 
or have heard, or believe, of the particular cases, 
and what fell within the compass of my view, 
and the different nature of the infection, as it 
appeared in the particular cases which I have 
related ; but this maybe added too, that though 
the former sort of those cases, namely, those 
openly visited, were the worst for themselves as 
to pain, I mean those that had such fevers, vo- 
mitings, head-aches, pains and swellings, be- 
cause they died in such a dreadful manner, yet 
the latter had the worst state of the disease ; 
for in the former they frequently recovered, es- 
pecially if the swellings broke, but the latter was 
inevitable death ; no cure, no help, could be 
possible, nothing could follow but death ; and it 
was worse also to others, because, as above, it 
secretly, and unperceived by others, or by them- 
selves, communicated death to those they con- 
versed with, the penetrating poison insinuating 


itself into their blood in a manner which it is 
impossible to describe, or indeed conceive. 

This infecting and being infected, without so 
much as its being known to either person, is evi- 
dent from two sorts of cases, which frequently 
happened at that time ; and there is hardly any 
body living who was in London during the infec- 
tion, but must have known several of the cases 
of both sorts. 

First Fathers and mothers have gone about 

as if they had been well, and have believed them- 
selves to be so, till they have insensibly infected, 
and been the destruction of their whole families : 
which they would have been far from doing, if 
they had the least apprehensions of their being 
unsound and dangerous themselves. A family, 
whose story I have heard, was thus infected by 
the father, and the distemper began to appear 
upon some of them, even before he found it upon 
himself; but searching more narrowly, it ap- 
peared he had been infected some time, and as 
soon as he found that his family had been poi- 
soned by himself, he went distracted, and would 
have laid violent hands upon himself, but was 
kept from that by those who looked to him, and 
in a few days he died. 

Second.— The other particular is, that many 
people having been well to the best of their 
own judgment, or by the best observation which 
they could make of themselves for several days, 
and only finding a decay of appetite, or a light 
sickness upon their stomachs ; nay, some whose 
appetite has been strong, and even craving, and 
only a light pain in their heads, have sent for 
physicians to know what ailed them, and have 
been found to their great surprise, at the brink 


of death, the tokens upon them, or the Plague 
grown up to an incurable height. 

It was very sad to reflect how such a person 
as this last mentioned above, had been a walk- 
ing destroyer, perhaps for a week or fortnight 
before that ; how he had ruined those that he 
would have hazarded his life to save, and had 
been breathing death upon them, even per- 
haps in his tender kissing and embracings of his 
own children : yet thus certainly it was, and 
often has been, and I could give many particu- 
lar cases where it has been so ; if then, the blow 
is thus insensibly striking ; if the arrow flies 
thus unseen, and cannot be discovered ; to what 
purpose are all the schemes for shutting up or 
removing the sick people ? those schemes cannot 
take place but upon those that appear to be 
sick, or to be infected ; whereas there are among 
them, at the same time, thousands of people 
who seem to be well, but are all that while car- 
rying death with them into all companies which 
they come into. 

This frequently puzzled our physicians, and 
especially the apothecaries and surgeons, who 
knew not how to discover the sick from the 
sound; they all allowed that it was really so, 
that many people had the Plague in their very 
blood, and preying upon their spirits, and were 
in themselves but walking putrified carcasses, 
whose breath was infectious, and their sweat 
poison ; and yet were as well to look on as 
other people, and even knew it not themselves : 
1 say, they all allowed that it was really true in 
fact, but they knew not how to propose a disco- 

My friend, Dr. Heath, was of opinion, that it 


might be known by the smell of their breath ; 
but then, as be said, who durst smell to that 
breath for his information ? since to know it, he 
must draw the stench of the Plague up into his 
own brain, in order to distinguish the smell ! I 
have heard, it was the opinion of others, that it 
might be distinguished by the party's breathing 
upon a piece of ^lass, where the breath con- 
densing, there might living creatures be seen by 
a microscope, of strange, monstrous and frightful 
shapes, such as dragons, snakes, serpents, and 
devils, horrible to behold : but this 1 very much 
question the truth of, and we had no microscopes 
at that time, as I remember, to make the experi- 
ment with. 

It was the opinion also of another learned 
man, that the breath of such a person would 
poison and instantly kill a bird ; not only a 
small bird, but even a cock or hen, and that if it 
did not immediately kill the latter, it would 
cause them to be roupy, as they call it; particu- 
larly that if they had laid any eggs at that time, 
they would be all rotten ; but those are opinions 
which I never found supported by any experi- 
ments, or heard of others that had seen it ; so I 
leave them as I find them, only with this re- 
mark, namely, that I think the probabilities are 
very strong for them. 

Some have proposed that such persons should 
breathe hard upon warm water, and that they 
would leave an unusual scum upon it, or upon 
several other things, especially such as are of a 
glutinous substance, and are apt to receive a 
scum and support it. 

But from the whole I found that the nature of 
this contagion was such, that it was impossible 


to discover it at all, or to prevent its spreading 
from one to another, by any human skill. 

Here was indeed one difficulty, which I could 
never thoroughly get over to this time, and which 
there is but one way of answering that I know 
of, and it is this, viz. the first person that died 
of the Plague was in December 20th, or there- 
abouts, 16C4, and in or about Long-acre, whence 
the first person had the infection was generally 
said to be from a parcel of silks imported from 
Holland, and first opened in that house. 

But after this, we heard no more of any person 
dying of the Plague, or of the distemper being 
in that place, till the 9th of February, which 
was about seven weeks after, and then one more 
was buried out of the same house : then it was 
hushed, and we were perfectly easy as to the 
public for a great while; for there were no more 
entered in the weekly bill to be dead of the 
Plague, till the 22d of April, when there was 
two more buried, not out of the same house 
but out of the same street ; and as near as I can 
remember, it was out of the next house to the 
first : this was nine weeks asunder, and after 
this we had no more till a fortnight, and then it 
broke out in several streets, and spread every 
way. Now the question seems to lie thus : — 
Where lay the seeds of the infection all this 
while .' how came it to stop so long, and not 
stop any longer? Either the distemper did not 
come immediately by contagion from body to 
body, or if it did, then a body may be capable 
to continue infected, without the disease disco- 
vering itself, many days, nay, weeks together, 
even not a quarantine of days only, but a soix- 
antine, not only forty days, but sixty days, or 


It is true, there was, as I observed at first, and 
is well known to many yet living, a very cold 
winter, and a long frost, which continued three 
months, and this, the doctors say, might check 
the infection ; but then the learned must allow 
me to say, that if, according to their notion, the 
disease was, as I may say, only frozen up, it 
would, like a frozen river, have returned to its 
usual force and current when it thawed, whereas 
the principal recess of this infection, which was 
from February to April, was after the frost was 
broken, and the weather mild and warm. 

But there is another way of solving all this 
difficulty, which I think my own remembrance 
of the thing will supply ; and that is, the fact is 
not granted, namely, that there died none in 
those long intervals, viz. from the 20th of De- 
cember to the 9th of February, and from thence 
to the 22d of April. The weekly bills are the 
only evidence on the other side, and those bills 
were not of credit enough, at least with me, to 
support an hypothesis, or determine a question 
of such importance as this : for it was our re- 
ceived opinion at that time, and I believe upon 
very good grounds, that the fraud lay in the 
parish officers, searchers, and persons appointed 
to give account of the dead, and what diseases 
they died of: and as people were very loath at 
first to have the neighbours believe their houses 
were infected, so they gave money to procure, or 
otherwise procured the dead persons to be re- 
turned as dying of other distempers ; and this I 
know was practised afterwards in many places, 
1 believe I might say in all places where the dis- 
temper came, as will be seen by the vast increase 
of the numbers placed in the weekly bills under 
other articles of diseases, during the time of the 


infection; for example, in the months of July 
and August, when the Plague was coming on to 
its highest pitch, it was very ordinary to have 
from a thousand to twelve hundred, nay, to al- 
most fifteen hundred a week of other distem- 
pers; not that the numbers of those distempers 
were really increased to such a degree ; but the 
great number of families and houses where really 
the infection was, obtained the favour to have 
their dead be returned of other distempers, to 
prevent the shutting up their houses. For 
example : — 

Dead of other diseases beside the Plague. 

From the 18th to the ^5th July 942 

To the 1st of August . . 1004 

To the 8th .... 1213 

To the 15th .... 1439 

To the 22d .... 1331 

To the 29th . . . .1394 

To the 5th of September . . 1264 

To the 12th . . . .1056 

To the 19th . . . .1132 

To the 26th .... 927 

Now it was not doubted but the greatest part 

of these, or a great part of them, were dead of 

the Plague, but the officers were prevailed with 

to return them as above, and the numbers of 

some particular articles of distempers discovered, 

is as follows : — 

From the 1st to 8th Aug. to 15th to 22d co 29th. 
Fever . .314 353 3i8 383 

Spotted Fever 174 190 166 165 

Surfeit. . 85 S7 74 99 

Teeth . . 90 113 111 133 

663 743 699 780 


From Aug. 29 to Sept. 5th to 12th to 19th to 26th 
Fever ... 364 332 309 268 
Spotted Fever 157 97 101 65 

Surfeit ... 68 45 49 36 

Teeth . . . 138 128 121 112 

727 602 580 481 

There were several other articles which bore 
a proportion to these, and which it is easy to 
perceive, were increased on the same account, as 
aged, consumptions, vomitings, imposthumes, 
gripes, and the like : many of which were not 
doubted to be infected people ; but as it was of 
the utmost consequence to families not to be 
known to be infected, if it was possible to avoid 
it, so they took all the measures they could to 
have it not believed ; and if any died in their 
houses, to get them returned to the examiners, 
and by the searchers, as having died of other 

This, I say, will account for the long interval 
which, as I have said, was between the dying of 
the first persoas that were returned in the bill to 
be dead of the Plague, and the time when the 
distemper spread openly, and could not be con- 

Besides, the weekly bills themselves, at that 
time, evidently discovers this truth ; for, while 
there was no mention of the Plague, and no in- 
crease after it had been mentioned, yet it was 
apparent, that there was an increase of those 
distempers which bordered nearest upon it ; for 
example, there were eight, twelve, seventeen of 
the spotted fever in a week, when there were 
none, or but very few of the Plague ; whereas 
before, one, three, or four, were the ordinary 


weekly numbers of that distemper: likewise, as I 
observed before, the burials increased weekly in 
that particular parish, and the parishes adjacent, 
more than in any other parish, although there 
were none set down of the Plague ; all which tell 
us, that the infection was handed on, and the 
succession of the distemper really preserved, 
though it seemed to us at that time to be ceased, 
and to come again in a manner surprising. 

It might be also, that the infection might re- 
main in other parts of the same parcel of goods 
which at first it came in, and which might not 
be perhaps opened, or at least not fully, or in the 
clothes of the first infected person, for I cannot 
think that any body could be seized with the 
contagion in a fatal and mortal degree for nine 
weeks together, and support his state of health 
so well, as even not to discover it to themselves ; 
yet, if it were so, the argument is the stronger 
in favour of what I am saying, namely, that the 
infection is retained in bodies apparently well, and 
conveyed from them to those they converse with, 
while it is known to neither the one nor the other. 

Great were the confusions at that time upon 
this very account ; and when people began to 
be convinced that the infection was received 
in this surprising manner from persons apparent- 
ly well, they began to be exceeding shy and 
jealous of every one that came near them. Once 
in a public day, whether a sabbath day or not I 
do not remember, in Aldgate church, in a pew 
full of people, on a sudden, one fancied she smelt 
an ill smell ; immediately she fancies the Plague 
was in the pew, whispers her notion or suspicion 
to the next, then rises and goes out of the pew ; 
it immediately took with the next, and so to 
them all ; and every one of them, and of the two 


or three adjoining pews, got up and went out of 
the church, nobody knowing what it was offend- 
ed them, or from whom. 

This immediately filled every body's mouths 
with one preparation or other, such as the old 
women directed, and some, perhaps, as physici- 
ans directed, in order to prevent infection by the 
breath of others ; insomuch, that if we came to 
go into a church, when it was any thing full of 
people, there would be such a mixture of smells 
at the entrance, that it was much more strong, 
though perhaps not so wholesome, than if you 
were going into an apothecary's or druggist's 
shop ; in a word, the whole church was like a 
smelling bottle ; in one corner it was all per- 
fumes, in another aromatics, balsamics, and va- 
riety of drugs and herbs ; in another salts and 
spirits ; as every one was furnished for their 
own preservation; yet I observed, that after peo- 
ple were possessed, as I have said, with the be- 
lief, or rather assurance, of the infection being 
thus carried on by persons apparently in health, 
the churches and meeting houses were much 
thinner of people than at other times before that 
they used to be ; for this is to be said of the 
people of London, that, during the whole time 
of the pestilence, the churches or meetings were 
never wholly shut up, nor did the people decline 
coming out to the public worship of God, except 
only in some parishes when the violence of the 
distemper was more particularly in that parish 
at that time ; and even then no longer than it 
continued to be so. 

Indeed nothing was more strange than to see 
with what courage the people went to the public 
service of God, even at that time when they were 
afraid to stir out of their own houses upon any 


other occasion; this I mean before the time of 
desperation, which I have mentioned already; 
this was a proof of the exceeding populousness 
of the city at the time of the infection, notwith- 
standing the great numbers that were gone into 
the country at the first alarm, and that fled out 
into the forests and woods when they were farther 
terrified with the extraordinary increase of it. 
For when we came to see the crowds and throngs 
of people which appeared on the sabbath days 
at the churches, and especially in those parts of 
the town where the Plague was abated, or where 
it was not yet come to its height, it was amazing. 
But of this t shall speak again presently. I return, 
in the mean time, to the article of infecting one 
another at first ; before people came to right 
notions of the infection, and of infecting one 
another, people were only shy of those that were 
really sick, a man with a cap upon his head, or 
with cloths round his neck, which was the case 
of those that had swellings there; such was 
indeed friohtful : but when we saw a gentleman 
dressed, with his band on, and his gloves in his 
hand, his hat upon his head, and his hair comb- 
ed, of such we had not the least apprehensions ; 
and people converse a great while freely, espe- 
cially with their neighbours and such as they 
knew. But when the physicians assured us that 
the danger was as well from the sound, that is, 
the seemingly sound, as the sick ; and that those 
people who thought themselves entirely free, 
were oftentmies the most fatal ; and that it came 
to be generally understood that people were 
sensible of it, and of the reason of it : then, I 
say, they began to be jealous of everv body, and 
a vast number of people locked themselves up, 
so as not to come abroad into any company at 


all, nor suffer any that had been abroad in pro- 
miscuous company to come into their houses, or 
near them ; at least, not so near them, as to be 
within the reach of their breath, or of any smell 
from them ; and when they were obliged to con- 
verse at a distance with strangers, they would 
always have preservatives in their mouths, and 
about their clothes, to repel and keep off the 

It must be acknowledged, that when people 
began to use these cautions, they were less ex- 
posed to danger, and the infection did not break 
into such houses so furiously as it did into others 
before, and thousands of families were pre- 
served, (speaking with due reserve to the direc- 
tion of Divine Providence) by that means. 

But it was impossible to beat any thing into 
the heads of the poor : they went on with the 
usual impetuosity of their tempers, full of out- 
cries and lamentations when taken, but madly 
careless of themselves, fool-hardy and obstinate, 
while they were well : where they could get em- 
ployment they pushed into any kind of business, 
the most dangerous and the most liable to infec- 
tion : and if they were spoken to, their answer 
would be, — " I must trust to God for that : if 
1 am taken, then I am provided for, and there 
is an €nd of me ;" and the like : or thus, — 
" Whv, what must 1 do ? I cannot starve ; I had 
as good have the Plague as perish for want — I 
have no work ; what could 1 do ? I must do this 
or beg." Suppose it was burying the dead, or 
attending the sick, or watching infected houses, 
which were all terrible hazards ; but their tale 
was generally the same. It is true, necessity 
was a very justifiable warrantable plea, and 
nothing could be better ; but their way of talk 


was much the same, where the necessities were 
not the same : this adventurous conduct of the 
poor was that which brought the Plague among 
them in a most furious manner, and this, joined 
to the distress of their circumstances, when 
taken, was the reason why they died so by heaps; 
for I cannot say I could observe one jot of better 
husbandry among them, I mean the labouring 
poor, while they were all well, and getting 
money, than there was before, bnt as lavish, as 
extravagant, and as thoughtless for to-morrow 
as ever ; so that when they came to be taken 
sick, they were immediatelv in the utmost dis- 
tress, as well for want as for sickness, as well 
for lack of food as lack of health. 

This misery of the poor I had many occasions 
to be an eye-witness of, and sometimes also of 
the charitable assistance that some pious people 
daily gave to such, sending them relief and sup- 
plies both of food, physick, and other help, as 
they found they wanted ; and indeed it is a debt 
of justice due to the temper of the people of that 
day, to take notice here, that not only great 
sums, very great sums of money were charitably 
sent to the Lord Mayor and Aldermen for the 
assistance and support of the poor distempered 
people ; but abundance of private people daily 
distributed large sums of money for their relief, 
and sent people about to enquire into the con- 
dition of particular distressed and visited fami- 
lies, and relieved them ; nay, some pious ladies 
were so transported with zeal in so good a work, 
and so confident in the protection of Providence 
in discharge of the great duty of charity, that 
they went about in person distributing alms to 
the poor, and even visiting poor families, though 
sick and infected, in their very houses, appoint- 


ing nurses to attend those that wanted attending, 
and ordering apothecaries and surgeons, the first 
to supply them with drugs or plaisters, and such 
things as they wanted ; and the last to lance 
and dress the swellings and tumours, where such 
were wanting ; giving their blessing to the poor 
in substantial relief to them, as well as hearty 
prayers for them. 

I will not undertake to say, as some do, that 
none of those charitable people were suffered to 
fall under the calamity itself; but this I may 
say, that 1 never knew any one of them that 
miscarried, which I mention for the encourage- 
ment of others in case of the like distress ; and 
doubtless, if they that give to the poor, lend to 
the Lord, and he will repay them; those that 
hazard their lives to give to the poor, and to 
comfort and assist the poor in such a misery as 
this, may hope to be protected in the work. 

Nor was this charity so extraordinary eminent 
only in a few ; but (for I cannot lightly quit this 
point) the charity of the rich, as well in the city 
and suburbs, as from the country, was so great, 
that in a word, a prodigious number of people, 
who must otherwise inevitably have perished for 
want as well as sickness, were supported and 
subsisted by it ; and though I could never, nor 
I believe any one else, come to a full knowledge 
of what was so contributed, yet I do believe that, 
as I heard one say that was a critical observer 
of that part, there was not only many thousand 
pounds contributed, but many hundred thousand 
pounds, to the relief of the poor of this distressed 
afflicted city ; nay, one man affirmed to me that 
he could reckon up above one hundred thousand 
pounds a week, which was distributed by the 
churchwardens at the several parish-vestries, by 


the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen in the several 
wards and precincts, and by the particular di- 
rection of the court and of the justices respec- 
lively in the parts where they resided ; over and 
above the private charity distributed by pious 
hands in the manner I speak of; and this con- 
tinued for many weeks together. 

I confess this is a very great sum ; but if it be 
true, that there was distributed in the parish of 
Cripplegate only, seventeen thousand eight hun- 
dred pounds in one week to the relief of the 
poor, as I heard reported, and which I really 
believe was true ; the other may not be im- 

It was doubtless to be reckoned among the 
many signal good Providences which attended 
this great city, and of which there were many 
other worth recording ; I say, this was a very 
remarkable one, that it pleased God thus to 
move the hearts of the people in all parts of the 
kingdom, so cheerfully to contribute to the relief 
and support of the poor at London ; the good 
consequences of which were felt many ways, and 
particularly in preserving the lives and recover- 
ing the health of so many thousands, and keep- 
ing so many thousands of families from perishing 
and starving. 

And now I am talking of the merciful disposi- 
tion of Providence in this time of calamity, 1 
cannot but mention again, though I have spoken 
several times of it already on other accounts, 1 
mean that of the progression of the distemper ; 
how it began at one end of the town, and pro- 
ceeded gradually and slowly from one part to 
another, and like a dark cloud that passes over 
our heads, which, as it thickens and overcasts 
the air at one end, clears up at the other end ; 



SO, while the Plague went on raging from west to 
east, as it went forwards east, it abated in the 
west, by which means those parts of the town 
which were not seized, or who were left, and 
where it had spent its fury, were (as it were) 
spared to help and assist the other ; whereas 
had the distemper spread itself over the whole 
city and suburbs at once, raging in all places 
alike, as it has done since in some places abroad, 
the whole body of the people must have been 
overwhelmed, and there would have died twenty 
thousand a day, as they say there did at Naples, 
nor would the people have been able to have 
helped or assisted one another. 

For it must be observed that where the Plague 
was in its full force, there indeed the people 
were very miserable, and the consternation was 
inexpressible. But a little before it reached even 
to that place, or presently after it was gone, they 
were quite another sort of people, and I cannot 
but acknowledge, that there was too much of 
that common temper of mankind to be found 
among us all at that time ; namely, to forget the 
deliverance when the danger is past : but I shall 
come to speak of that part again. 

It must not be forgot here to take some notice 
of the state of trade during the time of this com- 
mon calamity, and this with respect to foreign 
trade, as also to our home trade. 

As to foreign trade, there needs little to be 
said ; the trading nations of Europe were all 
afraid of us ; no port of France, or Holland, or 
Spain, or Italy, would admit our ships or corre- 
spond with us ; indeed we stood on ill terms with 
the Dutch, and were in a furious war with them, 
but though in a bad condition to fight abroad. 


who had such dreadful enemies to struggle with 
at home. 

Our merchants were accordingly at a full stop, 
their ships could go no where, that is to say, to 
no place abroad ; their manufactures and mer- 
chandize, that is to say, of our growth, would 
not be touched abroad : they were as much 
afraid of our goods as they were of our people ; 
and indeed they had reason, for our woollen 
manufactures are as retentive of infection as 
human bodies, and if packed up by persons in- 
fected, would receive the infection, and be as 
dangerous to touch as a man would be that was 
infected ; and therefore, when any Eno^lish vessel 
arrived in foreign countries, if they did take the 
goods on shore, they always caused the bales to 
be opened and aired in places appointed for that 
purpose : but from London, they would not suffer 
them to come into port, much less to unlade 
their goods upon any terms whatever; and this 
strictness was especially used with them in Spain 
and Italy ; in Turkey, and the islands of the 
Arches indeed, as they are called, as well those 
belonging to the Turks as to the Venetians, they 
were not so very rigid ; in the first there was no 
obstruction at all ; and four ships which were 
then in the river loading for Italy, that is, for 
Leghorn and Naples, being denied product, as 
they call it, went on to Turkey, and were freely 
admitted to unlade their cargo without any diffi- 
culty, only that when they arrived there, some of 
their cargo was not fit for sale in that country, 
and other parts of it being consigned to mer- 
chants at Leghorn, the captains of the ships had 
no right nor any orders to dispose of the goods ; 
so that great inconveniences followed to the 


merchants. But this was nothing but what the 
necessity of affairs required, and the merchants 
at Leghorn and Naples having notice given 
them, sent again from thence to take care of the 
effects, which were particularly consigned to 
those ports, and to bring back in other ships 
such as were improper for the markets at Smyrna 
and Scanderoon. 

The inconveniences in Spain and Portugal 
were still greater ; for they would by no means 
suffer our ships, especially those from London, 
to come into any of their ports, much less to un- 
lade ; there was a report that one of our ships 
having by stealth delivered her cargo,- among 
which was some bales of English cloth, cotton, 
kerseys, and such like goods, the Spaniards 
caused all the goods to be burnt, and punished 
the men with death who were concerned in carry- 
ing them on shore. This I believe was in part 
true, though 1 do not affirm it ; but it is not at 
all unlikely, seeing the danger was really very 
great, the infection being so violent in London. 

I heard likewise that the Plague was carried 
into those countries by some of our ships, and 
particularly to the port of Faro in the kingdom 
of Algarve, belonging to the king of Portugal ; 
and that several persons died of it there, but it 
was not confirmed. 

On the other hand, though the Spaniards and 
Portuguese were so shy of us, it is most certain 
that the Plague, as has been said, keeping at first 
much at that end of the town next Westminster, 
the merchandising part of the town, such as the 
city and the water side, was perfectly sound, till 
at least the beginning of July ; and the ships in 
the river till the beginning of August ; for, to the 
first of July, there had died but seven within the 


whole city, and but 60 within the liberties: but 
one in all the parishes of Stepney, Aldgate, and 
Whitechapel ; and but two in all the eight pa- 
rishes of Soulhwark. But it was the same thing 
abroad, for the bad news was gone over the whole 
world, that the city of London was infected with 
the Plague ; and there was no inquiring there 
how the infection proceeded, or at which part of 
the town it was begun, or was reached to. 

Besides, after it began to spread, it increased 
so fast, and the bills grew so high, all on a sud- 
den, that it was to no purpose to lessen the 
report of it, or endeavour to make the people 
abroad think it better than it was, the account 
which the weekly bills gave in was sufficient ; 
and that there died two thousand to three or four 
thousand a week, was sufficient to alarm the whole 
trading part of the world, and the following time 
being so dreadful also in the very city itself, put 
the whole world, I say, upon their guard against 

You may be sure also, that the report of these 
things lost nothing in the carriage, the Plague 
was itself very terrible, and the distress of the 
people very great, as you may observe of what I 
have said : but the rumour was infinitely greater, 
and it must not be wondered, that our friends 
abroad, as my brother's correspondents in par- 
ticular were told there, namely, in Portugal and 
Italy, where he chiefly traded, that in London 
there died twenty thousand in a week ; that the 
dead bodies lay unburied by heaps; that the 
living were not sufficient to bury the dead, or 
the sound to look after the sick ; that all the 
kingdom was infected likewise, so that it was an 
universal malady, such as was never heard of in 
those parts of the world ; and they could hardly 


believe us, when we gave them an account how 
things really were, and how there was not above 
one-tenth part of the people dead ; that there 
was five hundred thousand left that lived all the 
time in the town ; that now the people began to 
walk the streets again, and those who were fled, 
to return ; there was no miss of the usual throng 
of people in the streets, except as every family- 
might miss their relations and neighbours, and 
the like ; I say, they could not believe these 
things ; and if enquiry were now to be made in 
Naples, or in other cities on the coast of Italy, 
they would tell you that there was a dreadful in- 
fection in London so many years ago ; in which, 
as above, there died twenty thousand in a week, 
&c. just as we have had it reported in London 
that there was a Plague in the city of Naples, in 
the year 1656, in which there died twenty thou- 
sand people in a day, of which I have had very 
good satisfaction that it was utterly false. 

But these extravagant reports were very pre- 
judicial to our trade, as well as unjust and inju- 
rious in themselves ; for it was a long time after 
the Plague was quite over, before our trade could 
recover itself in those parts of the world ; and the 
Flemings and Dutch, but especially the last, 
made very great advantages of it, having all the 
market to themselves, and even buying our ma- 
nufactures in the several parts of England where 
the Plague was not, and carrying them to Hol- 
land, and Flanders, and from thence transport- 
ing them to Spain and to Italy, as if they had 
been of their own making. 

But they were detected sometimes and punish- 
ed, that is to say, their goods confiscated, and 
ships also ; for if it was true, that our manufac- 
tures, as well as our people, were infected, and 


that it was dangerous to touch or to open, and 
receive the smell of them ; then those people ran 
the hazard by that clandestine trade, not only of 
carrying the contagion into their own country, 
but also of infecting the nations to whom they 
traded with those goods ; which, considering how 
many lives might be lost in consequence of such 
an action, must be a trade that no men of con- 
science could suffer themselves to be concern- 
ed in. 

I do not take upon me to say that any harm 
was done, I mean of that kind, by those people: 
but I doubt I need not make any such proviso 
in the case of our own country ; for either by 
our people of London, or by the commerce, 
which made their conversing with all sorts of 
people in every county, and of every consider- 
able town, necessary : I say, by this means the 
Plague was first or last spread all over the king- 
dom, as well in London, as in all the cities 
and great towns, especially in the trading manu- 
facturing towns, and sea ports : so that first or 
last, all the considerable places in England were 
visited more or less, and the kingdom of Ireland 
in some places, but not so universally: how it 
fared with the people in Scotland, I had no op- 
portunity to enquire. 

It is to be observed, that while the Plague 
continued so violent in London, the out-ports, 
as they are called, enjoyed a very great trade, 
especially to the adjacent countries, and to our 
own plantations; for example, the towns of Col- 
chester, Yarmouth, and Hull, on that side of 
England, exported to Holland and Hamburgh, 
the manufactures of the adjacent counties for se- 
veral months after the trade with London was, 
as it were, entirely shut up ; likewise the cities 


of Bristol and Exeter, with the port of Plymouth, 
had the hke advantage to Spain, to the Canaries, 
to Guinea, and to the West Indies, and parti- 
cularly to Ireland ; but as the Plague spread it- 
self every way after it had been in London to 
such a degree as it was in August and Septem- 
ber ; so all, or most of those cities and towns 
were infected first or last, and then trade was, as 
it were, under a general embargo, or at a full stop, 
as I shall observe farther, when I speak of our 
home trade. 

One thing however must be observed, that as 
to ships coming in from abroad, as many you 
may be sure did, some who were out in all parts 
of the world a considerable viJaWe before, and 
some who when they went out knew nothing of 
an infection, or at least, of one so terrible ; these 
came up the river boldly, and delivered their car- 
goes as they were obliged to do, except just in 
the two months of August and September, when 
the weight of the infection lying, as I may say. 
all below bridge, nobody durst appear in busi- 
ness for a while : but, as this continued but for 
a few weeks, the homeward bound ships, espe- 
cially such whose cargoes were not liable to 
spoil, came to an anchor for a time, short of the 
POOL,* or fresh water part of the river, even as 
low as the river Medway, where several of them 
ran in, and others lay at the Nore, and in the 
Hope below Gravesend: so that by the latter 
end of October, there was a very great fleet of 
homeward-bound ships to come up, such as the 
like had not been known for many years. 

* That part of the River where the Ships lie up when 
they come home is called the Pool, and takes in all the 
river on both sides of the water, from the Tower to 
Cuckold's Point, and Limehouse. 


Two particular trades were carried on by water 
carria2:e all the while of the infection, and that 
with little or no interruption, very much to the 
advantage and comfort of the poor distressed 
people of the city, and those were the coasting 
trade for Corn, and the Newcastle trade for 

The first of these was particularly carried on 
by small vessels from the port of Hull, and other 
places in the Humber, by which great quantities 
of corn were brought in from Yorkshire and Lin- 
colnshire : the other part of this corn-trade was 
from Lynn in Norfolk, from Wells, and Burn- 
ham, and from Yarmouth, all in the same coun- 
ty ; and the third branch was from the river 
Medway, aud from Milton, Feversham, Margate, 
and Sandwich, and all the other little places and 
ports round the coast of Kent and Essex. 

There was also a very good trade from the 
coast of Suffolk, with corn, butter, and cheese ; 
these vessels kept a constant course of trade, 
and without interruption came up to that mar- 
ket, know still by the name of Bear-key, where 
they supplied the city plentifully with corn, 
when land carriage began to fail, and when the 
people began to be sick of coming from many 
places in the country. 

This also was much of it owing to the pru- 
dence and conduct of the Lord Mayor, who took 
such care to keep the masters and seamen from 
danger, when they came up, causing their corn 
to be bought off" at any time they wanted a 
market, (which, however, was very seldom,) and 
causing the corn-factors immediately to unlade 
and deliver the vessels loaden with corn, that 
thev had very little occasion to come out of their 

N 5 


ships or vessels, the money being; always carried 
on board to them, and put into a pail of vinegar 
before it was carried. 

The second trade was that of coals from New- 
castle upon Tyne ; without which the city would 
have been greatly distressed ; for not in the 
streets only, but in private houses and families, 
great quantities of coals were then burnt, even all 
the summer long, and when the weather was 
hottest, which was done by the advice of the 
physicians ; some indeed opposed it, and insisted 
that to keep the houses and rooms hot, was a 
means to propagate the distemper, which was a 
fermentation and heat already in the blood ; that 
it was known to spread and increase in hot wea- 
ther, and abate in cold, and therefore they 
alleged that all contagious distempers are the 
worse for heat, because the contagion was nou- 
rished, and gained strength in hot weather, and 
was, as it were, propagated in heat. 

Others said, they granted that heat in the cli- 
mate might propagate infection, as sultry hot 
weather fills the air with vermin, and nourishes 
innumerable numbers, and kinds of venomous 
creatures, which breed in our food, in the plants, 
and even in our bodies, by the very stench of 
which, infection maybe propagated; also, that 
heat in the air, or heat of weather, as we ordina- 
rily call it, makes bodies relax and faint, ex- 
hausts the spirits, opens the pores, and makes us 
more apt to receive infection, or any evil influence, 
be it from noxious pestilential vapours, or any 
other thing in the air : but that the heat of fire, 
and especially of coal fires, kept in our houses, 
or near us, had a quite different operation, the 
heat being not of the same kind, but quick and 
fierce, tending not to nourish;, but to consume 


and dissipate all those noxious fumes, which the 
other kind of heat rather exhaled, and stagnated, 
than separated, and burnt up ; besides, it was 
alleged that the sulphurous and nitrous parti- 
cles, that are often found to be in the coal, with 
that bituminous substance which burns, are all 
assistins: to clear and purge the air, and render 
it wholesome and safe to breathe in, after the 
noxious particles (as above) are dispersed and 
burnt up. 

The latter opinion prevailed at that time, and 
as I must confess I think with good reason, and 
the experience of the citizens confirmed it, many 
houses which had constant fires kept in the 
rooms, having never been infected at all; and I 
must join my experience to it, for I found the 
keeping of good fires kept our rooms sweet and 
wholesome, and I do verily believe made our 
whole family so, more than would otherwise have 

But I return to the coals as a trade ; it was 
with no little difficulty that this trade was kept 
open, and particularly because as we were in an 
open war with the Dutch, at that time, the 
Dutch capers at first took a great many of our 
collier ships, which made the rest cautious, and 
made them to stay to come in fleets together: 
But after some time, the capers were either 
afraid to take them, or their masters, the States, 
were afraid they should, and forbad them, lest 
the plague should be among them, which made 
them fare the better. 

For the security of those northern traders, the 
coal ships were ordered by my Lord Mayor, not 
to come up into the Pool above a certain number 
at a time, and ordered lighters, and other vessels, 
such as the woodmongers, that is the wharf- 


keepers, or coal-sellers furnished, to go down 
and take out the coals as low as Deptford and 
Greenwich, and some farther down. 

Others delivered great quantities of coals in 
particular places, where the ships could come to 
the shore, as at Greenwich, Blackwall, and other 
places, in vast heaps, as if to be kept for sale ; 
but were then fetched away, after the ships 
which brought them were gone ; so that the sea- 
men had no communication with the river men, 
nor so much as came near one another. 

Yet all this caution could not effectually pre- 
vent the distemper getting among the colliery, 
that is to say, among the ships, by which a great 
many seamen died of it; and that v\^hich was 
still worse, was, that they carried it down to 
Ipswich and Yarmouth, to Newcastle upon Tyne, 
and other places on the coast ; where, especially 
at Newcastle and at Sunderland, it carried off a 
great number of people. 

The making so many fires as above, did indeed 
consume an unusual quantity of coals ; and that 
upon one or two stops of the ships coming up, 
whether by contrary weather or by the interrup- 
tion of enemies, I do not remember, but the price 
of coals was exceeding dear, even as high as 
£4. a chaldron, but it soon abated when the 
ships came in, and as afterwards they had a freer 
passage, the price was very reasonable all the 
rest of that year. 

The public fires which were made on these 
occasions, as I have calculated it, must necessa- 
rily have cost the city about 200 chaldrons of 
coals a week, if they had continued, which was 
indeed a very great quantity; but as it was 
thought necessary, nothing was spared; how- 
ever, as some of the physicians cried them down, 


they were not kept a-light above four or five 
days ; the fires were ordered thus : 

One at the Custom House, one at Billingsgate, 
one at Queenhithe, and one at the Three Cranes ; 
one in BlacktViars, and one at the gate of Bride- 
well ; one at the corner of Leadenhall Street, 
and Gracechurch ; one at the north and one at 
the south gate of the Royal Exchange ; one at 
Guildhall, and one at Blackvvell Hall gate; one 
at the Lord Mayor's door, in St. Helen's, one at 
the west entrance into St. Paul's, and one at the 
entrance into Bow Church : I do not remember 
whether there was any at the City gates, but one 
at the Bridge foot there was, just by St. Magnus 

I know, some have quarrelled since that at the 
experiment, and said, that there died the more 
people because of those fires ; but I am per- 
suaded those that say so, offer no evidence to 
prove it, neither can I believe it on any account 

It remains to give some account of the state of 
trade at home in England, during this dreadful 
time ; and particularly as it relates to the manu- 
factures, and the trade in the city : at the first 
breaking out of the infection, there was, as it is 
easy to suppose, a very great fright among the 
people, and consequently a general stop of trade, 
except in provisions and necessaries of life ; and 
even in those things, as there was a vast number 
of people fled, and a very great number always 
sick, besides the number which died ; so there 
could not be above two-thirds if above one-half 
of the consumption of provisions in the city as 
used to be. 

It pleased God to send a very plentiful year of 
corn and fruit, but not of hay or grass ; by which 


means bread was cheap, by reason of the plenty 
of corn : flesh was cheap, by reason of the scarcity 
of grass ; but butter and cheese were dear for the 
same reason ; and hay in the market, just beyond 
Whitechapel bars, was sold at £4 per load. But 
that affected not the poor ; there was a most ex- 
cessive plenty of all sorts of fruit, such as apples, 
pears, plumbs, cherries, grapes ; and they were 
the cheaper, because of the want of people ; but 
this made the poor eat them to excess, and this 
brought them into fluxes, griping of the guts, 
surfeits, and the like, which often precipitated 
them into the Plague. 

But to come to matters of trade : — First, 
foreign exportation being stopped, or at least, 
very much interrupted, and rendered difficult, a 
general stop of all those manufactures followed 
of course, which were usually brought for expor- 
tation ; and though sometimes merchants abroad 
were importunate for goods, yet little was sent, 
the passages being so generally stopt, that the 
English ships would not be admitted, as is said 
already, into their port. 

This put a stop to the manufactures, that were 
for exportation, in most parts of England, except 
in some out-ports, and even that was soon stop- 
ped ; for they all had the Plague in their turn : 
but though this was felt all over England : yet 
what was still worse, all intercourse of trade for 
home consumption of manufactures, especially 
those which usually circulated through the Lon- 
doner's hands, was stopped at once, the trade 
of the city being stopped. 

All kinds of handicrafts in the city, &c. trades- 
men, and mechanics, were, as I have said before, 
out of employ, and this occasioned the putting 
off, and dismissing an innumerable number of 


journeymen and workmen of all sorts, seeing 
nothing was done relating to such trades, but 
what might be said to be absolutely necessary. 

This caused the multitude of single people in 
London to be unprovided for ; as also of families 
whose living depended upon the labour of the 
heads of those families ; I say, this reduced them 
to extreme misery ; and I must confess it is for 
the honour of the city of London, and will be for 
many ages, as long as this is to be spoken of, 
that they were able to supply with charitable 
provision the wants of so many thousands of 
those as afterwards fell sick, and were distress- 
ed ; so that it may be safely averred that no- 
body perished for want, at least, that the magis- 
trates had any notice given them of. 

This stagnation of our manufacturing trade in 
the country would have put the people there to 
much greater difficulties, but that the master 
workmen, clothiers, and others, to the uttermost 
of their stocks and strength, kept on making 
their goods to keep the poor at work, believing 
that as soon as the sickness should abate, they 
would have a quick demand in proportion to the 
decay of their trade at that time : but, as none 
but those masters that were rich could do thus, 
and that many were poor and not able, the ma- 
nufacturing trade in England suffered greatly, 
and the poor were pinched all over England by 
the calamity of the city of London only. 

It is true, that the next year made them full 
amends by another terrible calamity upon the 
city; so that the city by one calamity im- 
poverished and weakened the country, and by 
another calamity, even terrible too of its kind, 
enriched the country, and made them again 
amends : for an infinite quantity of household 


stuff, wearing apparel, and other things, besides 
whole warehouses filled with merchandize and 
manufactures, such as come from all parts of 
England, were consumed in the fire of J.ondon, 
the next year after this terrible visitation : it is 
incredible what a trade this made all over the 
whole kingdom, to make good the want, and to 
supply that loss : so that, in short, all the ma- 
nufacturing hands in the nation were set on work, 
and were little enough, for several years, to sup- 
ply the market and answer the demands ; all 
foreign markets also were empty of our goods, 
by the stop which had been occasioned by the 
Plague, and before an open trade was allowed 
again; and the prodigious demand at home fall- 
ing in, joined to make a quick vent for all sorts 
of goods ; so that there never was known such 
a trade all over England for the time, as was in 
the first seven years after the Plague, and after 
the fire of London. 

It remains now that I should say something 
of the merciful part of this terrible judgment. 
The last week in September, the Plague being 
come to its crisis, its fury began to assuage. I 
remember my friend Dr. Heath coming to see 
me the week before, told me, he was sure that 
the violence of it would assuage in a few days ; 
but when I saw the weekly bill of that week, 
which was the highest of the whole year, being 
eight thousand two hundred and ninety-seven of 
all diseases, 1 upbraided him with it, and asked 
him, what he had made his judgment from? his 
answer, however, was not so much to seek, as I 
thought it would have been. " Look you," says 
he, '' by the number which are at this time sick 
and infected, there should have been twenty 
thousand dead the last week, instead of eight 


thousand, if the inveterate mortal contagion had 
been as it was two weeks ago ; for then it ordi- 
narily killed in two or three days, now not under 
eight or ten, and then not above one in five re- 
covered ; whereas, I have observed, that now 
not above two in five miscarry, and observe it 
from me, the next bill will decrease, and you will 
see many more people recover than used to do ; 
for though a vast multitude are now every where 
infected, and as many every day fall sick, yet 
there will not so many die as there did, for the 
malignity of the distemper is abated ; adding, 
that he began now to hope, nay, more than hope, 
that the infection had passed its crisis, and was 
going off; and accordingly so it was, for the 
next week being, as I said, the last in Septem- 
ber, the bill decreased almost two thousand. 

It is true, the Plague was still at a frightful 
height, and the next bill was no less than six 
thousand four hundred and sixty, and the next 
to that five thousand seven hundred and twenty; 
but still my friend's observation was just, and it 
did appear the people did recover faster, and 
more in number, than they used to do ; and in- 
deed, if it had not been so, what had been the 
condition of the city of London ? for, according 
to my friend, there were not fewer than sixty 
thousand people at that time infected, whereof, 
as above, twenty thousand four hundred and 
seventy-seven died, and near forty thousand re- 
covered ; whereas, had it been as it was before, 
fifty thousand of that number would very pro- 
bably have died, if not more, and fifty thousand 
more would have sickened ; for in a word, the 
whole mass of people began to sicken, and it 
looked as if none would escape. 

But this remark of my friend's appeared more 


evident in a few weeks more ; for the decrease 
went on, and another week in October it de- 
creased one thousand eight hundred and forty- 
three ; so that the number dead of the Plague 
was but two thousand six hundred and sixty- 
five ; and the next week it decreased one thou- 
sand four hundred and thirteen more, and yet it 
was seen plainly that there was abundance of 
people sick, nay, abundance more than ordinary, 
and abundance fell sick every day, but (as above) 
the malignity of the disease abated. 

Such is the precipitant disposition of our 
people, whether it is so or not all over the 
world, that is none of my particular business 
to enquire : but I saw it apparently here, that 
as upon the first fright of the infection they 
shunned one another, and fled from one ano- 
ther's houses, and from the city, with an unac- 
countable, and, as I thought, unnecessary fright ; 
so now, upon this notion spreading, (viz.) that 
the distemper was not so catching as formerly, 
and that if it was catched, it was not so mortal, 
and seeing abundance of people, who really fell 
sick, recover again daily; they took to such a 
precipitant courage, and grew so entirely regard- 
less of themselves, and of the infection, that 
they made no more of the Plague than of an 
ordinary fever, nor indeed so much ; they not 
only, went boldly into company with those who 
had tumours and carbuncles upon them, that 
were running, and consequently contagious, but 
eat and drank with them, nay, into their houses 
to visit them, and even, as I was told, into their 
very chambers where they lay sick. 

this I could not see rational ; my friend Dr. 
Heath allowed, and it was plain to experience, 
that the distemper was as catching as ever, and 


as many fell sick, but only he alleged, that so 
many of those that fell sick did not die ; but I 
think that while many did die, and that, at best, 
the distemper itself was very terrible, the sores 
and swellings very tormenting, and the danger 
of death not left out of the circumstance of 
sickness, though not so frequent as before ; all 
those things, together with the exceeding te- 
diousness of the cure, the loathsomeness of the 
disease, and many other articles, were enough to 
deter any man living from a dangerous mixture 
with the sick people, and make them as anxious 
almost to avoid the infection as before. 

Nay, there was another thing which made 
the mere catching of the distemper frightful, 
and that was the terrible burning of the caus- 
ticks, which the surgeons laid on the swellings 
to bring them to break, and to run ; without 
which the danger of death was very great, even 
to the last ; also the unsufferable torment of the 
swellings, which though it might not make 
people raving and distracted, as they were be- 
fore, and as I have given several instances of 
already, yet they put the patient to inexpressible 
torment ; and those that fell into it, though they 
did escape with life, yet they made bitter com- 
plaints of those that had told them there was no 
danger, and sadly repented their rashness and 
folly in venturing to run into the reach of it. 

Nor did this unwary conduct of the people 
end here, for a great many that thus cast off 
their cautions suffered more deeply still ; and 
though many escaped, yet many died ; and at 
least^ it had this public mischief attending it, 
that it made the decrease of burials slower than 
it would otherwise have been ; for as this notion 
run like lightning through the city, and the 


people's heads were possessed with it, even as 
soon as the first great decrease in the bills ap- 
peared, we found, that the two next bills did 
not decrease in proportion ; the reason I take to 
be the people's running so rashly into danger, 
giving up all their former cautions, and care, 
and all the shyness which they used to practise ; 
depending that the sickness would not reach 
them, or that if it did, they should not die. 

The physicians opposed this thoughtless hu- 
mour of the people with all their might, and 
gave out printed directions, spreading them all 
over the city and suburbs, advising the people 
to continue reserved, and to use still the utmost 
caution in their ordinary conduct, notwithstand- 
ing the decrease of the distemper, terrifying them 
with the danger of bringing a relapse upon the 
whole city, and telling them how such a relapse 
might be more fatal and dangerous than the 
whole visitation that had been already ; with 
many arguments and reasons to explain and 
prove that part to them, and which are too long 
to repeat here. 

But it was all to no purpose, the audacious 
creatures were so possessed with the first joy, 
and so surprised with the satisfaction of seeing 
a vast decrease in the weekly bills, that they 
were impenetrable by any new terrors, and would 
not be persuaded but that the bitterness of death 
was passed ; and it was to no more purpose to 
talk to them than to an east-wind ; but they 
opened shops, went about streets, did business, 
and conversed with any body that came in their 
way to converse with, whether with business, 
or without, neither inquiring of their health, or 
so much as being apprehensive of any danger 


from them, though they knew them not to be 

This imprudent rash conduct cost a great 
many their lives, who had with great care and 
caution shut themselves up, and kept retired 
as it were from all mankind, and had by that 
means, under God's Providence, been preserved 
through all the heat of that infection. 

This rash and foolish conduct, I say, of the 
people went so far, that the ministers took no- 
tice to them of it at last, and laid before them 
both the folly and danger of it ; and this check- 
ed it a little, so that they grew more cautious, 
but it had another effect, which they could not 
check ; for as the first rumour had spread, not 
over the city only, but into the country, it had 
the like effect, and the people were so tired 
with being so long from London, and so eager 
to come back, that they flocked to town with- 
out fear or forecast, and began to shew them- 
selves in the streets, as if all the danger was 
over : it was indeed surprising to see it, for 
though there died still from a thousand to 
eighteen hundred a week, yet the people flocked 
to town, as if all had been well. 

The consequence of this was, that the bills 
increased again four hundred the very first week 
in November ; and if I might believe the phy- 
sicians, there was above three thousand fell sick 
that week, most of them new comers too. 

One John Cock, a barber in St. Martin's le 
Grand, was an eminent example of this; I mean 
of the hasty return of the people when the 
Plague was abated : this John Cock had left the 
town with his whole family, and locked up his 
house, and was gone in the country, as many 


Others did, and finding the Plague so decreased 
in November, that there died but nine hundred 
and five per week of all diseases, he ventured 
home again ; he had in his family ten persons, 
that is to say, himself and wife, five children, 
two apprentices, and a maid servant; he had 
not been returned to his house above a week, 
and began to open his shop, and carry on his 
trade, but the distemper broke out in his family, 
and within about five days they all died, except 
one, that is to say, himself, his wife, all his five 
children, and his two apprentices, and only the 
maid remained alive. 

But the mercy of God was greater to the rest 
than we had reason to expect ; for the malig- 
nity, as 1 have said, of the distemper was spent, 
the contagion was exhausted, and also the win- 
ter weather came on apace, and the air was clear 
and cold, with some sharp frosts ; and this in- 
creasing still, most of those that had fallen sick 
recovered, and the health of the city began to 
return : there were indeed some returns of the 
distemper, even in the month of December, and 
the bills increased near a hundred, but it went 
off again, and so in a short while things began 
to return to their own channel. And wonderful 
it was to see how populous the city was again 
all on a sudden ; so that a stranger could not 
miss the numbers that were lost, neither was 
there any miss of the inhabitants as to their 
dwellings : few or no empty houses were to be 
seen, or if there were some, there was no want 
of tenants for them. 

1 wish I could say, that as the city had a new 
face, so the manners of the people had a new 
appearance : I doubt not but there were many 
that retained a sincere sense of their deliverance, 


and that were heartily thankful to that sovereign 
hand that had protected them in so dangerous a 
time; it would be very uncharitable to jud^e 
otherwise in a city so populous, and where the 
people were so devout as they were here in the 
time of the visitation itself ; but except what of 
this was to be found in particular families and 
faces, it must be acknowledged that the general 
practice of the people was just as it was before, 
and very little difference was to be seen. 

Some, indeed, said things were worse, that 
the morals of the people declined from this very 
time j that the people, hardened by the danger 
they had been in, like seamen after a storm is 
over, were more wicked and more stupid, more 
bold and hardened in their vices and immorali- 
ties than they were before : but I will not carry 
it so far neither : it would take up a history of 
no small length, to give a particular of all the 
gradations, by which the course of things in this 
city came to be restored again, and to run in 
their own channel as they did before. 

Some parts of England were now infected as 
violently as London had been ; the cities of 
Norwich, Peterborough, Lincoln, Colchester, and 
other places were now visited ; and the magis- 
trates of London began to set rules for our con- 
duct, as to corresponding with those cities : it is 
true, we could not pretend to forbid their people 
coming to London, because it was impossible to 
know them asunder, so after many consultations, 
the Lord Mayor, and court of aldermen, were 
obliged to drop it : all they could do, was to 
warn and caution the people, not to entertain in 
their houses, or converse with any people who 
they knew came from such infected places. 
But they might as well have talked to the air, 


for the people of London thought themselves so 
Plague-free now, that they were past all admo- 
nitions ; they seemed to depend upon it, that 
the air was restored, and that the air was like a 
man that had had the small pox, not capable of 
being infected again ; this revived that notion, 
that the infection was all in the air, that there 
was no such thing as contagion from the sick 
people to the sound ; and so strongly did this 
whimsy prevail among people, that they run all 
together promiscuously, sick and well ; not the 
Mahometans, who, prepossessed with the princi- 
ple of predestination, value nothing of conta- 
gion, let it be in what it will, could be more ob- 
stinate than the people of London ; they that 
were perfectly sound, and came out of the whole- 
some air, as we call it, into the city, made no- 
thing of going into the same houses and cham- 
bers, nay, even into the same beds, with those 
that had the distemper upon them, and were not 

Some, indeed, paid for their audacious bold- 
ness with the price of their lives ; an infinite 
number fell sick, and the physicians had more 
work than ever, only with this difference, that 
more of their patients recovered ; that is to say, 
they generally recovered, but certainly there 
were more people infected, and fell sick now, 
when there did not die above a thousand or 
twelve hundred in a week, than there was when 
there died five or six thousand a week ; so en- 
tirely negligent were the people at that time, in 
the great and dangerous case of health and in- 
fection, and so ill were they able to take or 
accept of the advice of those who cautioned 
them for their good. 

The people being thus returned, as it were in 


general, it was very strange to find, that in their 
inquiring after their friends, some whole families 
were so entirely swept away, that there was no 
remembrance of them left ; neither was any body 
to be found to possess or shew any title to that 
little they had left; for in such cases, what was 
to be found was generally embezzled and pur- 
loined, some gone one way, some another. 

It was said such abandoned effects came to 
the king as the universal heir, upon which we 
are told, and I suppose it was in part true, that 
the king granted all such as deodands to the 
Lord Mayor and" court of Aldermen of London, 
to be applied to the use of the poor, of whom 
there were very many : for it is to be observed, 
that though the occasions of relief, and the ob- 
jects of distress were very many more in the time 
of the violence of the Plague, than now after all 
was over ; yet the distress of the poor was more 
now a great deal than it was then, because all 
the sluices of general charity were now shut: 
people supposed the main occasion to be over, 
and so stopped their hands ; whereas particular 
objects were still very moving, and the distress 
of those that were poor was very great indeed. 

Though the health of the city was now very 
much restored, yet foreign trade did not begin to 
stir, neither would foreigners admit our ships 
into their ports for a great while ; as for the 
Dutch, the misunderstandings between our court 
and them had broken out into a war the year 
before ; so that our trade that way was wholly 
interrupted ; but Spain and Portugal, Italy and 
Barbarv, as also Hamburgh, and all the ports in 
the Baltick, these were all shy of us a great 
while, and would not restore trade with us for 
many months. 



The distemper sweeping away such multitudes, 
as I have observed, many, if not all the out- 
parishes were obliged to make new burying- 
grounds, besides that I have mentioned in Bun- 
hill-fields, some of which were continued, and 
remain in use to this day ; but others were left oiF, 
and which, I confess, I mention with some re- 
flection, being converted into other uses, or built 
upon afterwards, the dead bodies were disturbed, 
abused, dug up again, some even before the 
flesh of them was perished from the bones, and 
removed like dung or rubbish to other places ; 
some of those which came within the reach of 
my observations, are as follows : — 

First. — A piece of ground beyond Goswell- 
street, near Mount-mill, being some of the re- 
mains of the old lines or fortifications of the 
city, where abundance were buried promiscuously 
from the parishes of Aldersgate, Clerkenwell, 
and even out of the city. This ground, as I 
take it, was since made a physic garden, and 
after that has been built upon. 

Second. — A piece of ground just over the 
Black Ditch, as it was then called, at the end of 
Holloway-lane, in Shoreditch parish ; it has 
been since made a yard for keeping hogs, and 
for other ordinary uses, but is quite out of use 
as a burying ground. 

Third. — The upper end of Hand-alley in 
Bishopsgate-street, which was then a green field, 
and was taken in particularly for Bishopsgate 
parish, though many of the carts out of the city 
brought their dead thither also, particularly out 
of the parish of St. Allhallows on the wall ; this 
place 1 cannot mention without much regret; 
it was, as I remember, about two or three years 
after the Plague was ceased, that Sir Robert 


Clayton came to be possessed of the ground ; 
it was reported, how true I know not, that it 
fell to the king for want of heirs, all those who 
had any right to it being carried off by the pes- 
tilence, and that Sir Robert Clayton obtained 
a grant of it from king Charles II. But how- 
ever he came by it, certain it is, the ground was 
let out to build on, or built upon by his order ; 
the first house built upon it was a large fair 
house, still standing, which faces the street, or 
way, now called Hand-alley, which, though 
called an alley, is as wide as a street : the 
houses in the same row with that house north- 
ward, are built on the very same ground where 
the poor people were buried, and the bodies on 
opening the ground for the foundations, were 
dug up, some of them remaining so plain to be 
seen, that the women's sculls were distinguished 
by their long hair, and of others, the flesh was 
not quite perished ; so that the people began to 
exclaim loudly against it, and some suggested 
that it might endanger a return of the contagion : 
after which the bones and bodies, as fast as they 
came at them, were carried to another part of 
the same ground, and thrown all together into a 
deep pit, dug on purpose, which now is to be 
known, in that it is not built on, but is a pas- 
sage to another house, at the upper end of Rose- 
ailev, just against the door of a meeting-house, 
which has been built there many years since : 
and the ground is palisadoed off from the rest of 
the passage, in a little square ; there lies the 
bones and remains of near two thousand bodies, 
cariied by the dead carts to their grave in that 
one yeai. 

Fourth. — Besides this, there was a piece of 


ground in Moorfields, by the going into the 
street which is now called Old Bethlem, which 
was enlarged much, though not wholly taken in 
on the same occasion. 

N.B. The author of this journal lies buried 
in that very ground, being at his own desire, his 
sister having been buried there a few years before. 

Fifth. — Stepney parish extending itself from 
the east part of London to the north, even to the 
very edge of Shoreditch church-yard, had a 
piece of ground taken in to bury their dead, close 
to the said church-yard; and which for that 
very reason, was left open, and is since, I sup- 
pose, taken into the same church-yard : and 
they had also two other burying-places in Spittle- 
fields, one where since a chapel or tabernacle 
has been built for ease to this great parish, and 
another in Petticoat-lane. 

There were no less than five other grounds 
made use of for the parish of Stepney at that 
time; one where now stands the parish church 
of St. Paul's, Shadwell, and the other where 
now stands the parish church of St. John, at 
Wapping, both which had not the names of 
parishes at that time, but were belonging to 
Stepney Parish. 

I could name many more, but these coming 
within my particular knowledge, the circum- 
stance I thought made it of use to record them : 
from the whole, it may be observed, that they 
were obliged in this time of distress to take in 
new burying-grounds in most of the out-parishes, 
for laying the prodigious numbers of people 
which died in so short a space of time ; but why 
care was not taken to keep those places separate 
from ordinary uses, that so the bodies might 


rest undisturbed, that I cannot answer for, and 
must confess, I think it was wron^ ; who were 
to blame, I know not. 

I should have mentioned, that the quakers had 
at that time also a burying-ground set apart to 
their use, and which they still make use of, and 
they had also a particular dead cart to fetch their 
dead from their houses ; and the famous Solo- 
mon Eagle, who, as I mentioned before, had pre- 
dicted the Plague as a judgment, and run naked 
through the streets, telling the people that it 
was come upon them, to punish them for their 
sins, had his own wife died the very next day of 
the Plague, and was carried one of the first in 
the quakers' dead cart .to their new burying- 

I might have thronged this account with many 
more remarkable things which occurred in the 
time of the infection, and particularly what pass- 
ed between the Lord Mayor and the court, which 
was then at Oxford, and what directions v^^ere 
from time to time received from the Government 
for their conduct on this critical occasion. But 
really the court concerned themselves so little, 
and that little they did was of so small import, 
that I do not see it of much moment to mention 
any part of it here, except that of appointing a 
monthly fast in the city, and the sending the 
royal charity to the relief of the poor, both which 
I have mentioned before. 

Great was the reproach thrown on those phy- 
sicians who left their patients during the sick- 
ness, and now they came to town again, nobody 
cared to employ them ; they were called desert- 
ers, and frequently bills were set up upon their 
doors, and written — " Here is a doctor to be 
let !" — so that several of those physicians were 


fain for a while to sit still and look about them, 
or at least remove their dwellings, and set up in 
new places, and among new acquaintance ; the 
like was the case with the clergy, who the people 
were indeed very abusive to, writing verses and 
scandalous reflections upon them, setting upon 
the church door — " Here is a pulpit to be let !" 
■ — or sometimes to be sold, which was worse. 

It was not the least of our misfortunes, that 
with our infection, when it ceased, there did not 
cease the spirit of strife and contention, slander 
and reproach, which was really the great troubler 
of the nation's peace before : it was said to be 
the remains of the old animosities, which had so 
lately involved us all in blood and disorder. But 
as the late act of indemnity had laid asleep the 
quarrel itself, so the Government had recom- 
mended family and personal peace upon all occa- 
sions, to the whole nation. 

But it could not be obtained, and particularly 
after the ceasing of the Plague in London, when 
any one that had seen the condition which the 
people had been in, and how they caressed one 
another at that time, promised to have more 
charity for the future, and to raise no more re- 
proaches : I say, any one that had seen them, 
then, would have thought they would have come 
together with another spirit at last. But, I say, 
it could not be obtained ; the quarrel remained, 
the church and the presbyterians were incom- 
patible ; as soon as the Plague was removed, the 
dissenting outed ministers, who had supplied the 
pulpits which were deserted by the incumbents, 
retired : they could expect no other, but that 
they should immediately fall upon them, and 
harass them with their penal laws, accept their 
preaching while they were sick, and persecute 


them as soon as they were recovered again ; this 
even we that were of the church thought was 
very hard, and could by no means approve of it. 

But it was the Government, and we could say 
nothing to hinder it ; we could only say, it was 
not our doing, and we could not answer for it. 

On the other hand, the dissenters reproaching 
those ministers of the church with going away, 
and deserting their charge, abandoning the peo- 
ple in their danger, and w^hen they had most 
need of comfort, and the like, this we could by 
no means approve; for all men have not the 
same faith, and the same courage, and the scrip- 
ture commands us to judge the most favourably 
and according to charity. 

A Plague is a formidable enemy, and is armed 
with terrors, that every man is not sufficiently 
fortified to resist, or prepared to stand the shock 
against : it is very certain, that a great many of 
the clergy, who were in circumstances to do it, 
withdrew, and fled for the safety of their lives ; 
but it is true also, that a great many of them 
staid, and many of them fell in the calamity, and 
in the discharge of their duty. 

It is true, some of the dissenting turned out 
ministers staid, and their courage is to be com- 
mended, and highly valued, but these were not 
abundance; it cannot be said that they all staid, 
and that none retired into the country, anymore 
than it can be said of the church clergy, that 
they all went away ; neither did all those that 
went away, go without substituting curates, and 
others in their places, to do the offices needful, 
and to visit the sick as far as it was ])racticable ; 
so that upon the whole, an allowance of charity 
might have been made on both sides, and we 
should have considered, that such a time as this 


of 1G65, is not to be paralleled in history, and 
that it is not the stoutest courage that will always 
support men in such cases : I had not said this, 
but had rather chosen to record the courage and 
religious zeal of those of both sides, who did ha- 
zard themselves for the service of the poor people 
in their distress, without remembering that any 
failed in their duty on either side, but the want 
of temper among us has made the contrary to 
this necessary; some that staid, not only boasting 
too much of themselves, but reviling those that 
fled, branding them with cowardice, deserting 
their flocks, and acting the part of the hireling, 
and the like : I recommend it to the charity of 
all good people to look back, and reflect duly 
upon the terrors of the time, and whoever does 
so will see that it is not an ordinary strength 
that could support it ; it was not like appearing 
in the head of an army, or charging a body of 
horse in the field ; but it was charging death 
itself on his pale horse : to stay was indeed to 
die, and it could be esteemed nothing less, espe- 
cially as things appeared at the latter end of 
August and the beginning of September, and as 
there was reason to expect them at that time ; 
for no man expected, and I dare say, believed, 
that the distemper would take so sudden a turn 
as it did, and fall immediately two thousand in 
a week, when there was such a prodigious num- 
ber of people sick at that time as it was known 
there was ; and then it was that many shifted 
away that had staid most of the time before. 

Besides, if God gave streno^th to some more 
than to others, was it to boast of their ability to 
abide the stroke, and upbraid those that had not 
the same gift and support, or ought not they ra- 


ther to have been humble and thankful, if they 
were rendered more useful than their brethren ? 

I think it ought to be recorded to the honour 
of such men, as well clergy as physicians, sur- 
geons, apothecaries, magistrates, and officers of 
every kind, as also all useful people, who ven- 
tured their lives in discharge of their duty, as 
most certainly all such as staid did to the last 
degree, and several of all these kinds did not 
only venture, but lost their lives on that sad 

I was once making a list of all such, I mean 
of all those professions and employments who 
thus died, as I call it, in the way of their duty ; 
but it was impossible for a private man to come 
at a certainty in the particulars ; I only remem- 
ber, that there died sixteen clergymen, two al- 
dermen, five physicians, thirteen surgeons, within 
the city and liberties before the beginning of 
September : But this being, as I said before, the 
great crisis and extremity of the infection, it can 
be no complete list. As to inferior people, I 
think there died six and forty constables and 
headboroughs in the two parishes of Stepney and 
Whitechapel ; but I could not carry my list on, 
for when the violent rage of the distemper in 
September came upon us, it drove us out of all 
measures ; men did then no more die by tale and 
by number, they might put out a weekly bill, and 
call them seven or eight thousand, or what they 
pleased ; it is certain they died by heaps, and 
were buried by heaps, that is to say, without ac- 
count ; and if I might believe some people, who 
were more abroad and more conversant with 
those things than I, though I was public enough 
for one that had no more business to do than I 

o 5 


had, I say if I may believe them, there was not 
many less buried those three first weeks in Sep- 
tember than 20,000 per week ; however the 
others aver the truth of it, yet I rather choose to 
keep to the public account ; seven and eight 
thousand per week is enough to make good all 
that I have said of the terror of those times ; and 
it is much to the satisfaction of me that write, 
as well as those that read, to be able to say, that 
every thing is set down with moderation, and 
rather within compass than beyond it. 

Upon all these accounts I say I could wish, 
when we were recovered, our conduct had been 
more distinguished for charity and kindness in 
remembrance of the past calamity, and not so 
much in valuing ourselves upon our boldness in 
staying, as if all men were cowards that fly from 
the hand of God, or that those, who stay, do not 
sometimes owe their courage to their ignorance, 
and despising the hand of their Maker, which is 
a criminal kind of desperation, and not a true 

I cannot but leave it upon record, that the 
civil officers, such as constables, headboroughs, 
lord mayor's, and sheriflTs' men, as also parish 
officers, whose business it was to take charge of 
the poor, did their duties in general with as 
much courage as any, and perhaps with more, 
because their work was attended with more ha- 
zards, and lay more among the poor, who were 
more subject to be infected and in the most piti- 
ful plight when they were taken with the infec- 
tion ; but then it must be added too, that a great 
number of them died, indeed it was scarce pos- 
sible it should be otherwise. 

I have not said one word here about the phy- 
sic or preparations that we ordinarily made use 


of on this terrible occasion, I mean we that went 
frequently abroad up and down street, as I did ; 
much of this was talked of in the books and bills 
of our quack doctors, of whom I have said enough 
already. It may however be added, that the Col- 
lege of Physicians were daily publishing several 
preparations;, which they had considered of in 
the process of their practice, and which being 
to be had in print, I avoid repeating them for 
that reason. 

One thing I could not help observing, what 
befel one of the quacks, who published that he 
had a most excellent preservative against the 
plague, which whoever kept about them, should 
never be infected, or liable to infection ; this 
man, who we may reasonably suppose, did not 
go abroad without some of this excellent preser- 
vative in his pocket, yet was taken by the dis- 
temper, and carried off in two or three days. 

I am not of the number of the physic-haters, 
or physic-despisers ; on the contrary, I have 
often mentioned the regard I had to the dictates 
of my particular friend Dr. Heath ; but yet I 
must acknowledge, I made use of little or no- 
thing, except as I have observed, to keep a pre- 
paration of strong scent to have ready, in case I 
met with any thing of offensive smells, or went 
too near any burying-place, or dead body. 

Neither did I do, what I know some did, keep 
the spirits always high and hot with cordials, 
and wine, and such things, and which, as I ob- 
served, one learned physician used himself so 
much to, as that he could not leave them off 
when the infection was quite gone, and so be- 
came a sot for all his life after. 

I remember, my friend the doctor used to say, 
that there was a certain set of drugs and prepa- 


rations, which were all certainly good and use- 
ful in the case of an infection ; out of which, or 
with which, physicians might make an infinite 
variety of medicines, as the ringers of bells make 
several hundred different rounds of music by the 
changing and order of sound but in six bells ; 
and that all these preparations shall be really 
very good ; therefore, said he, I do not wonder 
that so vast a throng of medicines is offered in 
the present calamity ; and almost every physi- 
cian prescribes or prepares a different thing, as 
his judgment or experience guides him; but, 
says my friend, let all the prescriptions of all the 
physicians in London be examined ; and it will 
be found, that they are all compounded of the 
same things, with such variations only, as the 
particular fancy of the doctor leads him to ; so 
that, says he, every man judging a little of his 
own constitution and manner of his living, and 
circumstances of his being infected, may direct 
his own medicines out of the ordinary drugs and 
preparations. Only that, says he, some recom- 
mend one thing as most sovereign, and some 
another ; some, says he, think that Pill. Ruff, 
which is called itself the Antipestilential Pill, is 
the best preparation that can be made ; others 
think, that Venice Treacle is sufficient of itself 
to resist the contagion, and I, says he, think as 
both these think, viz. that the first is good to 
take beforehand to prevent it, and the last, if 
touched, to expel it. According to this opinion, 
1 several times took Venice Treacle, and a sound 
sweat upon it, and thought myself as well forti- 
fied against the infection as any one could be 
fortified by the power of physic. 

As for quackery and mountebank, of whick 
the town was so full, I listened to none of them, 


and observed, often since, with some wonder, 
that for two years after the Plague, I scarcely 
saw or heard of one of them about town. Some 
fancied they were all swept away in the infection 
to a man, and were for calling it a particular 
mark of God's vengeance upon them, for leading 
the poor people into the pit of destruction, 
merely for the lucre of a little money they got 
by them ; but I cannot go that length neither ; 
that abundance of them died is certain, many of 
them came within the reach of my own know- 
ledge ; but that all of them were swept off 1 much 
question ; I believe rather they fled into the 
country, and tried their practices upon the people 
there, who were in apprehension of the infection 
before it came among them. 

This, however, is certain, not a man of them 
appeared for a great while in or about London. 
There were, indeed, several doctors, who pub- 
lished bills, recommending their several physical 
preparations for cleansing the body, as they call 
it, after the Plague, and needful, as they said, 
for such people to take, who had been visited 
and had been cured ; whereas I must own, I 
believe that it was the opinion of the most emi- 
nent physicians at that time, that the Plague 
was itself a sufficient purge ; and that those who 
escaped the infection needed no physic to cleanse 
their bodies of any other things ; the running 
sores, the tumours, &c., which were broken and 
kept open by the directions of the physicians, 
having sufficiently cleansed them ; and that all 
other distempers, and causes of distempers, were 
eflectually carried off that way ; and as the phy- 
sicians gave this as their opinion, wherever they 
came, the quacks got little business. 

There were, indeed, several little hurries which 


happened after the decrease of the plague, and 
which, whether they were contrived to fright and 
disorder the people, as some imagined, 1 cannot 
say,' but sometimes we were told the Plague 
would return by such a time ; and the famous 
Solomon Eagle, the naked Quaker, I have men- 
tioned, prophesied evil tidings every day ; and 
several others telling us, that London had not 
been sufficiently scourged, and the sorer and 
severer strokes were yet behind : had they stop- 
ped there, or had they descended to particulars, 
and told us that the city should the next year 
be destroyed by fire ; then, indeed, when we had 
seen it come to pass, we should not have been 
to blame to have paid more than common re- 
spect to their prophetic spirits, at least, we 
should have wondered at them, and have been 
more serious in our enquiries after the meaning 
of it, and whence they had the fore-knowledge ; 
but as they generally told us of a relapse into 
the plague, we have had no concern since that 
about them ; yet by those frequent clamours, we 
were all kept with some kind of apprehensions 
constantly upon us ; and if any died suddenly, 
or if the spotted fevers at any time increased, 
we were presently alarmed ; much more if the 
number of the Plague increased ; for, to the end 
of the yeat", there were always between two and 
three hundred of the Plague. On any of these 
occasions, I say, we were alarmed anew. 

Those who remember the city of London be- 
fore the fire, must remember, that there was then 
no such place as that we now call Newgate Mar- 
ket ; but in the middle of the street, which is 
now called Blowbladder-street, and which had 
its name from the butchers, who used to kill and 
dress their sheep there, (and who it seems had a 


custom to blow up their meat with pipes to make 
it look thicker and fatter than it was, and were 
punished there for it by the Lord Mayor), I say, 
from the end of the street towards Newgate, 
there stood two long rows of shambles for the 
selling meat. 

It was in those shambles, that two persons 
falling down dead, as they were buying meat, 
gave rise to a rumour, that the meat was all in- 
fected, which, though it might affright the peo- 
ple, and spoiled the market for two or three 
days ; yet it appeared plainly afterwards, that 
there was nothing of truth in the suggestion : 
but nobody can account for the possession of 
fear when it takes hold of the mind. 

However, it pleased God, by the continuing 
of the winter weather, so to restore the health of 
the city, that by February following, we reckon- 
ed the distemper quite ceased, and then we were 
not so easily friijhted again. 

There was still a question among the learned, 
and at first perplexed the people a little, and that 
was in what manner to purge the houses and 
goods where the Plague had been, and how to 
render them habitable again, which had been 
left empty during the time of the Plague ; abun- 
dance of perfumes and preparations were pre- 
scribed by physicians, some of one kind, and 
some of another, in which the people, who 
listened to them, put themselves to a great, and 
mdeed, in my opinion, to an unnecessary ex- 
pence ; and the poorer people, who only set 
open their windows night and day, burnt brim- 
stone, pitch, and gunpowder, and such things 
in their rooms, did as well as the best; nay, the 
eager people, who, as 1 said above, came home 
in baste, and at all hazards, found little or no 


inconvenience in their houses, nor in the goods, 
and did little or nothing to them. 

However, in general, prudent cautious people 
did enter into some measures for airing and 
sweetening their houses, and burnt perfumes, in- 
cense, benjamin, resin, and sulphur, in their 
rooms close shut up, and then let the air carry 
it all out with a blast of gunpowder , others 
caused large fires to be made ail day and all 
night, for several days and nights ; by the same 
token that two or three were pleased to set their 
houses on fire, and so effectually sweetened them 
by burning them down to the ground ; as parti- 
cularly one at RatclifF, one in Holborn, and one 
at Westminster ; besides two or three that were 
set on fire, but the fire was happily got out again 
before it went far enough to burn down the 
houses ; and one citizen's servant, I think it was 
in Thames-street, carried so much gunpowder 
into his master's house, for clearing it of the in- 
fection, and managed it so foolishly, that he 
blew up part of the roof of the house. But the 
time was not fully come thatj the city was to be 
purged with fire, nor was it far off; for within 
nine months more I saw it all lying in ashes; 
when, as some of our quacking philosophers pre- 
tend, the seeds of the Plague were entirely de- 
stroyed, and not before; a notion too ridiculous 
to speak of here, since, had the seeds of the 
Plague remained in the houses, not to be destroy- 
ed but by fire, how has it been that they have 
not since broken out ? seeing all those buildings 
in the suburbs and liberties, all in the great 
parishes of Stepney, Whitechapel, Aldgate, 
Bishopsgate, Shoreditch, Cripplegate, ana St. 
Giles's, where the fire never came, and where 
the Plague raged with the greatest violence, re- 


main still in the same condition they were in 

But to leave these things just as I found 
them, it was certain that those people who were 
more than ordinarily cautious of their health, 
did take particular directions for what they 
called seasoning of their houses, and abundance 
of costly things were consumed on that account, 
which, I cannot but say, not only seasoned 
those houses, as they desired, but filled the air 
with very grateful and wholesome smells, which 
others had the share of the benefit of, as well as 
those who were at the expences of them. 

And yet after all, though the poor came to 
town very precipitantly, as I have said ; yet I 
must say, the rich made no such haste ; the men 
of business, indeed, came up, but many of them 
did not bring their families to town till the spring 
came on, and that they saw reason to depend 
upon it, that the Plague would not return. 

The court, indeed, came up soon after Christ- 
mas, but the nobility and gentry, except such as 
depended upon, and had employment under the 
administration, did not come so soon. 

I should have taken notice here, that notwith- 
standing the violence of the Plague in London, 
and in other places, yet it was very observable, 
that it was never on board the fleet ; and yet, for 
some time, there was a strange press in the river, 
and even in the streets for seamen to man the 
fleet ; but it was in the beginning of the year, 
when the Plague was scarce begun, and not at 
all come down to that part of the city where they 
usually press for seamen ; and though a war with 
the Dutch was not at all grateful to the people 
at that time, and the seamen went with a kind of 
reluctancy into the service, and many complained 


of being dragged into it by force, yet it proved 
in the event a happy violence to several of them, 
who had probably perished in the general cala- 
mity, and who, after the summer service was 
over, though they had cause to lament the deso- 
lation of their families, who, when they came 
back, were many of them in their graves ; yet 
they had room to be thankful that they were 
carried out of the reach of it, though so much 
against their wills ; we indeed had a hot war with 
the Dutch that year, and one very great engage- 
ment at sea, in which the Dutch were worsted ; 
but we lost a great many men, and some ships. 
But, as I observed, the Plague was not in the 
fleet, and when they came to lay up the ships in 
the river, the violent part of it began to abate. 

I would be glad if 1 could close the account of 
this melancholy year with some particular ex- 
amples historically ; I mean of the thankfulness 
to God our preserver, for our being delivered 
from this dreadful calamity; certainly the cir- 
cumstances of the deliverance, as well as the ter- 
rible enemy we were delivered from, called upon 
the whole nation for it; the circumstances of the 
deliverance were indeed very remarkable, as I 
have in part mentioned already, and particularly 
the dreadful condition which we were all in when 
we were, to the surprise of the whole town, made 
joyful with the hope of a stop of the infection. 

Nothing but the immediate finger of God, 
nothino- but omnipotent power, could have done 
it ; the contagion despised all medicine, death 
raged in every corner ; and had it gone on as it 
did then, a few weeks more would have cleared 
the town of all, and every thing that had a soul : 
men every where began to despair — every heart 
failed them for fear — people were made desperate 


through the anguish of their souls — and the ter- 
rors of death sat in the very faces and counte- 
nances of the people. 

In that very moment, when we might very well 
say, vain was the help of man — I say, in that 
very moment it pleased God, with a most agree- 
able surprise, to cause the fury of it to abate, 
even of itself, and the malignity declining, as I 
have said, though infinite numbers were sick, yet 
fewer died ; and the very first week's bill de- 
creased one thousand eight hundred and forty 
three, a vast number indeed ! 

It is impossible to express the change that 
appeared in the very countenances of the people 
that Thursday morning, when the weekly bill 
came out ; it might have been perceived in their 
countenances, that a secret surprise and smile 
of joy sat on everybody's face; they shook one 
another by the hands in the streets, who would 
hardly go on the same side of the way with 
one another before ! where the streets were not 
too broad, they would open their windows and 
call from one house to another, and asked how 
they did, and if they had heard the good news, 
that the Plague was abated ; some would return 
when they said good news, and ask, what good 
news? and when they answered that the Plague 
was abated, and the bills decreased almost two 
thousand, they would cry out, God be praised; 
and would weep aloud for joy, telling them they 
had heard nothing of it ; and such was the joy 
of the people, that it was, as it were, life to 
them from the grave. I could almost set down 
as many extravac^ant things done in the excess 
of their joy, as of their t^rief ; but that would be 
to lessen the value of it. 

I must confess myself to have been very much 


dejected just before this happened ; for the pro- 
digious number that were taken sick the week 
or two before, besides those that died, was such, 
and the lamentations were so great every where, 
that a man must have seemed to have acted even 
against his reason, if he had so much as expected 
to escape ; and as there was hardly a house but 
mine in all my neighbourhood but what was 
infected ; so had it gone on, it would not have 
been long that there would have been any more 
neighbours to be infected ; indeed, it is hardly 
credible what dreadful havock the last three 
weeks had made ; for if I might believe the per- 
son, whose calculations 1 always found very well 
grounded, there were not less than thirty thou- 
sand people dead, and near one hnndred thou- 
sand fallen sick in the three weeks I speak of; 
for the number that sickened was surprising, 
indeed it was astonishing, and those whose 
courage upheld them all the time before, sunk 
under it now. 

In the middle of their distress, when the con- 
dition of the city of London was so truly calami- 
tous, just then it pleased God, as it were, by his 
immediate hand, to disarm this enemy; the 
poison was taken out of the sting : it was won- 
derful : even the physicians themselves were 
surprised at it : wherever they visited, they found 
their patients better, either they had sweated 
kindly, or the tumours were broke, or the car- 
buncles went down, and the inflammations round 
them changed colour, or the fever was gone, or 
the violent head-ache was assuaged, or some 
good symptom was in the case ; so that in a few 
days, every body was recovering ; whole families 
that were infected and down, that had ministers 
praying with them, and expected death every 


hour, were revived and healed, and none died at 
all out of them. 

Nor was this by any new medicine found out, 
or new method of cure discovered, or by any 
experience in the operation, which the physicians 
or surgeons attained to ; but it was evidently 
from the secret invisible hand of Him that had 
at first sent this disease as a judg;ment upon us; 
and let the atheistic part of mankind call my 
saying what they please, it is no enthusiasm ; it 
was acknowledged at that time by all mankind : 
the disease was enervated, and its malignity 
spent, and let it proceed from whensoever it will, 
let the philosophers search for reasons in nature 
to account for it by, and labour as much as they 
will to lessen the debt they owe to their Maker ; 
those physicians who had the least share of reli- 
gion in them, were obliged to acknowledge that 
it was all supernatural, that it was extraordinary, 
and that no account could be given of it. 

If I should say that this is a visible summons 
to us all to thankfulness, especially we that were 
under the terror of its increase, perhaps it may 
be thought by some, after the sense of the thing 
was over, an officious canting of religious things, 
preaching a sermon instead of writing a history ; 
making myself a teacher instead of giving my 
observations of things : and this restrains me 
very much from going on here, as I might other- 
wise do ; but if ten lepers were healed, and but 
one returned to give thanks, I desire to be as 
that one, and to be thankful for myself. 

Nor will I deny but there were abundance of 
people who, to all appearance, were very thank- 
ful at that time ; for their mouths were stopped, 
even the mouths of those whose hearts were not 
extraordinary long aftected with it: but the im- 


pression was so strong at that time, that it could 
not be resisted, no, not by the worst of the 

It was a common thing to meet people in the 
street, that were strangers, and that we knew 
nothing at all of, expressing their surprise. Go- 
ing one day through Aldgate, and a pretty many 
people being passing and repassing, there comes 
a man out of the end of the Minories, and look- 
ing a little up the street and down, he throws his 
hands abroad, — " Lord, what an alteration is 
here ! why, last week I came along here, and 
hardly any body was to be seen ;" another man, 
I heard him, adds to his words, " 'tis all won- 
derful, 'tis all a dream." ^' Blessed be God," 
says a third man, " and let us give thanks to 
him, for 'tis all his own doing." Human help 
and human skill was at an end. These were all 
strangers to one another : but such salutations 
as these were frequent in the street every day ; 
and in spite of a loose behaviour, the very com- 
mon people went along the streets, giving God 
thanks for their deliverance. 

It was now, as I said before, the people had 
cast off all apprehensions, and that too fast; in- 
deed we were no more afraid now to pass by a 
man with a white cap upon his head, or with a 
cloth wrapped round his neck, or with his leg 
limping, occasioned by the sores in his groin, all 
which were frightful to the last degree, but the 
week before ; but now the street was full of them, 
and these poor recovering creatures, give them 
their due, appeared very sensible of their unex- 
pected deliverance ; and 1 should wrong them 
very much, if I should not acknowledge, that I be- 
lieve many of them were really thankful ; but I 
must own, that for the generality of the people it 


might too justly be said of them, as was said of the 
children of Israel, after their being delivered from 
the host of Pharaoh, when they passed the Red 
Sea, and looked back, and saw the Egyptians 
overwhelmed in the water, viz. That they sang his 
praise, but they soon forgot his works. 

I can go no farther here, I should be counted 
censorious, and perhaps unjust, if I should enter 
into the unpleasing work of reflecting, whatever 
cause there was for it, upon the unthankfulness 
and return of all manner of wickedness among 
us, which I was so much an eye-witness of my- 
self; I shall conclude the account of this cala- 
mitous year therefore with a coarse but sincere 
stanza of my own, which I placed at the end of 
my ordinary memorandums, the same year they 
were written : — 

A dreadful Plague in London was 

In the year sixty-five, 
Which swept an hundred thousand souls 

Away — yet I alive I 



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