The Great Plague Of London 1665.By September reached 7000 deaths a week, we look at why it happened and how it ended.
The Flea such a harmless creature and so small, let’s face it, apart from a little bite something as small as a Flee surely couldn’t do much harm, could it?
But in 1665 just a year before the great fire of London, the tiny harmless Siphonaptera namely the Flee was the cause of around 100,000 deaths.
The Great Plague of London in 1665 was a bubonic plague of gigantic proportions and was brought upon by the Yersinia pestis infection and this is where our little friend the flea comes in, Yersinia pestis is a flea vector infection.
The first recorded case was a Rebecca Andrews, on 12 April 1665. Many of the top dignitaries left London, poor old King Charles II who was not the most popular of persons at the time (you ask Oliver Cromwell) was happy to leave London, not only to get away from the plague but also from the growing mass who were planning to get rid of him, but there were many well known that stayed, including The Lord Mayor a few clergymen, although most of them fled some physicians and apothecaries also chose to remain.
Samuel Pepys lived here
A couple of well-known men of the time that chose to stay were Samuel Pepys, the diarist, and Henry Foe, a saddler who lived in East London, Pepys recorded much of the events of the Plague in his diary whilst Mr Foe’s nephew Daniel (yes he's the one that wrote "Robinson Crusoe" published an account in a journal in 1722 under the name of Daniel Defoe and although it was a fictional journal it is thought it was based Foes writing during the Plague.
Deaths in London according to records went from 1000 a week then 2000 a week and finally reached 7000 deaths a week by September 1665. By the end of February 1666, London was considered to be safe for Charlie II to return just in time for the ‘Great fire of London’ (Bit of a Jinx wasn’t he)
Nothing compared to “The black Death”
Although the great plague of 1665 killed almost 20% of London’s population this was nothing compared to the “Black Death” of 1347 and lasted until 1353 this pandemic killed around 30% to 60% of Europe’s population, and 2 million dead in England alone, the world’s population at that time was estimated to be around 450 million, and thanks to the Black Death it was dramatically reduced to between 350 and 375 million