http:// boar.org.uk/ariwxo3FNQ346.htm Latest edit 8 Jan 2010.
Interactive version ©2006 R.J.PENHEY
The Bourne Archive
Part 16. January 1893.
This quarterly periodical took the form of a forum in
which people sent in questions about the history, ecology and so on of the
Health and Social Welfare
346 – The Plague in the
earliest parochial registers are of the date 1538. The last great visitation in
In Gibbons’ Ely Episcopal Records, among the notes
on the register transcripts, are several references to this subject. But in
comparatively few of the country parishes is there evidence of any great
mortality from the plague. In the town of
1638. Mr. Rd. Hewes, fellow of Jesus, of plague June 13. (Numbers “of the plague” to 10 Oct.)
1666 Great numbers died “of ye plague” between 20 July and 26 Nov.
1666 An excessive mortality: many marked “+ plague.”
1638 Jonathan Waterhouse was burd. At the pest house July 28.
1666 Thos. Coward died off the Plague. July 31. (Mr. Robert Marchaunte, Sara Lightfoote, wid., and many others, down to October.)
1630 89 burials ; usual number about 15.
1666 The Burialls of the visited att the Green and att Ham ffrom 23 June to 28 Nov. (Between 30 and 40.)
At Dullingham, in 1603, there was an excessive mortality, prefaced in July thus : –“The following died of the plague,” and ending in November “Heer by Godes mercy ye plague ceased.” At Histon, in 1655, and at Rampton, in 1631, (in which year there were 30 deaths, the usual number being 2 or 3,) there is recorded an unusual mortality, but it is not expressly stated that it was from the plague. These three places are just outside the limits of the Fen district.
1666. Ramsey visited wth ye plague this year. 16 Jul. Elizabeth the wife of Thomas Middleton was buried in her own Garden.
It is seldom in this register that the interment is noted as being otherwise than in the churchyard. Those who died of the plague are frequently entered as “buried the same day.” In Burn’s History of Parish Registers, p. 102, it is said that the visitation was “in or about February 1665,” and that “it was introduced into the place by a gentleman, who first caught the infection by wearing a coat, the cloth of which came from London : the tailor who made the coat, with all his family, died, as did no less than the number above mentioned .” 2
Occasionally the number of deaths was so great that no attempt was made to enter the burials in the register. Thus we find in the Thorney book : –
1666. Circa hoc tempus pestis plurimos corripuit, quorum nomina huic libello inserta non habes. 3
Mention is made of three different times when the town suffered from this terrible scourge. Of the first there is no detailed account. In January 1574-5 it is stated “Heare began the Plague.” There is nothing to let us know how many persons died, or how long it raged. Thirty-tow years later we read a little more about a second visitation. In Dec.1606 we have: –“Henry Renoulds came ffrom London where he dwelte ; sick of ye plague , and being received by Wyllyam Browne, died in his house : The said William soone after fell sick of ye plague and died, so did his sonne, his daughtr, and his servant only his wife, and her mayde escaped with soars. The plague brought by this means to Peterburgh continued there, till September followinge.” In July, within four days, five persons of a family named Turner were buried, no doubt victims of this plague.
But the most severe visitation was that which raged
for twenty months in 1665 to 1667. In Sep. 1665 is this note: –“About this time
the plague was supposed to be brought by a woman a stranger, from
“Simon Gunton6 beneath the wings of divine mercy safe hitherto.”
“Simon Gunton preserved by the goodness of God.”
“Simon Gunton vicar, surviving through the mercy of God.”
“Simon Gunton vicar, saved by the goodness and grace of God.”
Notices of the plague at Stamford are given by our correspondent, Mr. J. Simpson, in Notes and Queries, 6th S. ii. 524. In 1574, 1580, 1602-3, 1624, and 1641, that town suffered from “the sickness called the plague.” In 1602 it was ordered “that a cabin should be erected” for those visited; this was built on the site of the Carmelite Friary. Nearly 600 died at this visitation.
It will be seen that the whole of the places above mentioned (with the exception of three that are not strictly in the Fenland) are large or important places. It would be interesting to know what record there is of visitations in the villages. The only instance that has come to my notice is Baston, a village of about 700 inhabitants, four miles north of Market Deeping. The following are the entries in the burial register : –
1582 BURIALS IN THE PLAGE
17 Ellyn the wyffe of John Smyth.
18 Anne the doughter of Wm Poynton.
19 Wm Poynton and Peregryne his son.
20 Robert the son of wyddow moyses.
22 John Gent Wende.
23 Johan Harriote of Tetford.
23 Johan the wyffe of Wm Bonnet.
24 Margaret Butcher Bonnyt’s Chyld & Parnell Poynton Robert Poynton.
25 Mother Poynton.
27 Wm Knight.
29 Wm Bonnet.
2 Sep. Thomas Clerke.
3 Elizabethe Smythe and Alice Moyses.
10 Ruthe the sarvaunt to Ryc fflond.
10 May the daughter of Elisabeth Kitchen.
13 Wm the son of the sayde Elisabeth.
14 Harri Clerke the son of Ellin Clerk.
14 Sethe the son of Thomas Smyth.
14 Mary Parker the doughter of Robt Parker.
14 Rycd the son of Ellyn Clerke was (sic) Robert Parker his son were buried.
16 Elisabeth Downes & Anne Smythe.
19 Ricd Haynes and Rob’t Parker.
21 Robt Smyth Elisabeth Wylburne Wm Tayler.
28 John the son of Wm Donnes.
4 Oct. Jane Gye Elisabeth Baker and Anthony Everet.
4 Anne the wyffe of Wm Caster.
5 Mother Caster.
5 Thommas Donnes Jane wuff to Cutberd Hammar.
6 Rycd the sarvant to Rob’t Jessop Anne the daughter of Cutberd Hammar.
8 Sicilia Gye wyddow.
11 Johan the wyffe of Greggori Henes and Greggori his son.
12 Embe Borrowe wyddo was Buried.
14 Ursulay the wyffe of John Wylburne.
15 Margret Howe.
18 Wm Browne laborer.
19 Isabell the doughter Christabell Tayler.
21 Ellimor the doughter of Cutberd Hammar.
25 Habell the son of Thomas Baker.
28 Wm Parkerson.
30 Christabell Tayler wyddow.
31 Alice Bronne.
1 Nov. Oulde Johan dyed and was Buried.
8 Anne Jordane the ser(vant) Wm Cope.
14 Wm fforman.
16 Thomas the son of John Henes.
18 Alice Beverley.
23 George lewis.
24 Humffre Christopherson.
18 Dec. Anne the doughter of John Haynes.
20 John Haynes.
26 Johan Caster the ser(vant) to Thurstone Wallet.
14 Wm Cooper.
Two baptisms and one death “not of the plage,” are omitted in this extract. Such a list may seem more than is required to be given at length, but it is useful as an example of the rise and fall of the epidemic. It seems at Baston to have been violent at first, 12 dying in the first week ; in the fifth week to have become more severe, and then to have continued at 2 or 3 (once 9) in the week, till it ceased altogether. We see also, from such a list, how in some instances and entire family would appear to have Succumbed to the visitation. In six months there are recorded 72 deaths. At that date this number would probably represent a sixth of perhaps a fifth, part of the entire population.
From the entry
quoted in Art. 346 it appears that the plague was severe in
Footnotes with an asterisk are those of FNQ.
3. Around this time the plague carried away many, so that the names have not been inserted into this memorandum book.
4*. ↑ In a Lecture on The Old Registers of the Parish of S. John Baptist,
5*. ↑ It does not bear strictly upon my subject, but it is interesting to compare with this devotion of the vicar, the alarm of one of the prebendaries of the day, Thomas Greaves, who procured from the bishop a license to absent himself altogether, on the ground that he could not “during the continuance of that contagious Sickness with safety reside there, nor read the Morning and Evening Prayers in the Cathedral Church as the Act of Uniformity doth require.”