Saturday 8 September 1666

Up and with Sir W. Batten and Sir W. Pen by water to White Hall and they to St. James’s. I stopped with Sir G. Carteret to desire him to go with us, and to enquire after money. But the first he cannot do, and the other as little, or says, “when we can get any, or what shall we do for it?” He, it seems, is employed in the correspondence between the City and the King every day, in settling of things. I find him full of trouble, to think how things will go. I left him, and to St. James’s, where we met first at Sir W. Coventry’s chamber, and there did what business we can, without any books. Our discourse, as every thing else, was confused. The fleete is at Portsmouth, there staying a wind to carry them to the Downes, or towards Bullen, where they say the Dutch fleete is gone, and stays. We concluded upon private meetings for a while, not having any money to satisfy any people that may come to us. I bought two eeles upon the Thames, cost me six shillings. Thence with Sir W. Batten to the Cock-pit, whither the Duke of Albemarle is come. It seems the King holds him so necessary at this time, that he hath sent for him, and will keep him here. Indeed, his interest in the City, being acquainted, and his care in keeping things quiet, is reckoned that wherein he will be very serviceable. We to him; he is courted in appearance by every body. He very kind to us; I perceive he lays by all business of the fleete at present, and minds the City, and is now hastening to Gresham College, to discourse with the Aldermen. Sir W. Batten and I home (where met by my brother John, come to town to see how things are with us), and then presently he with me to Gresham College; where infinity of people, partly through novelty to see the new place, and partly to find out and hear what is become one man of another. I met with many people undone, and more that have extraordinary great losses. People speaking their thoughts variously about the beginning of the fire, and the rebuilding; of the City. Then to Sir W. Batten’s, and took my brother with me, and there dined with a great company of neighbours; and much good discourse; among others, of the low spirits of some rich men in the City, in sparing any encouragement to the, poor people that wrought for the saving their houses. Among others, Alderman Starling, a very rich man, without; children, the fire at next door to him in our lane, after our men had saved his house, did give 2s. 6d. among thirty of them, and did quarrel with some that would remove the rubbish out of the way of the fire, saying that they come to steal. Sir W. Coventry told me of another this morning, in Holborne, which he shewed the King that when it was offered to stop the fire near his house for such a reward that came but to 2s. 6d. a man among the neighbours he would, give but 18d. Thence to Bednall Green by coach, my brother with me, and saw all well there, and fetched away my journall book to enter for five days past, and then back to the office where I find Bagwell’s wife, and her husband come home. Agreed to come to their house to-morrow, I sending him away to his ship to-day. To the office and late writing letters, and then to Sir W. Pen’s, my brother lying with me, and Sir W. Pen gone down to rest himself at Woolwich. But I was much frighted and kept awake in my bed, by some noise I heard a great while below stairs; and the boys not coming up to me when I knocked. It was by their discovery of people stealing of some neighbours’ wine that lay in vessels in the streets. So to sleep; and all well all night.

18 Annotations

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Great Fire of London: Skyline Animation

What did London look like before and after the Great Fire of 1666? View the animation to see contemporary etchings of the London skyline, showing the extent of the devastation.

Click on *Launch the animation*
Maximize the Window,
Click on *PLAY*
Click on *CONTINUE*
Use the numbered buttons at the top of the Window to see the several segments of Wenceslaus Hollar's panorama of London *Before the fire* and *After the fire*.as seen from Southwark

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/civil_war_...

Australian Susan   Link to this

"...People speaking their thoughts variously about the beginning of the fire, and the rebuilding; of the City. ..."

Instant Expert - just add rumour.

Australian Susan   Link to this

Thank you to Terry for his wonderful find: excellent visual demonstration of the destruction. Churches with spires seem to have been particularly vulnerable.

Is it just me or does today's entry; seem very much more bedeviiled. with bizarre punctuation, than usual?

Terry W   Link to this

"Bizarre punctuation"

It's not just you Susan.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

re: bizarre punctuation

I'm willing to bet it's scanning errors, unless it's repeated in the L&M version...?

Amazing that Sam wrote the last five entries in one sitting. And, after all that's happened, no wonder he's looking forward to lighting a little fire of his own at Bagwell's...

Mr. Gunning   Link to this

"I bought two eeles upon the Thames, cost me six shillings."

Six shillings? For two eels? Surely not?

2s. 6d. to be shared between 30 labourers? I guess they won't be buying any eels today.

Larry Bunce   Link to this

If the last 5 days' entries were written today, that would mean the fantastic entry for the 2nd was written the day #or day after# it happened. That is the more remarkable for having been written without extensive editing and organizing after the fact. Sam didn't know at the time that the fire would consume most of medieval London. He did know and communicated well that it was the biggest fire "as ever I did see."

GrahamT   Link to this

"2s. 6d. to be shared between 30 labourers"
That is of course 30d or 1 penny each

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"...partly through novelty to see the new place..."

Gresham?

Perhaps this bit from the Royal Society's web page explains the 'novelty' and 'new place'. In the wake of the fire, apparently GC had become the temporary Exchange:

http://royalsociety.org/page.asp?id=1060&tip=1

"...events in the mid-1660s meant that the Society's presence in Gresham College was far from continuous. Weekly meetings were suspended from June 1665 to March 1666 because of the plague, with many Fellows retiring to the comparative safety of the country. Shortly afterwards, the Great Fire of London in September 1666, while leaving the College intact, led to a shortage of accommodation for the city's merchants, and Gresham College was used as a temporary Exchange from 1666 to 1673. During this time, room was found for the Society in Arundel House, home of Henry Howard, later sixth Duke of Norfolk, an early contributor to the Society's Library. Arundel House was located in Arundel Street, just off the Strand."

rob   Link to this

Something that both Sam and John Evelyn have mentioned is that certainly at the first days of the fire people seemed to be totally shocked and unable to act coherently.

John Evelyn says in so many words that if the people would have acted the first days as they had the days thereafter there would not have been such a big fire at all.

I myself have not witnessed any fire at all but some of you annotaters have. How did that work out?

Michael Robinson   Link to this

" ... having been written without extensive editing and organizing ..."

Spoiler: We do know that SP made contemporaneous notes and rough drafts. The entries for April 10 -19th.& June 1 - 17th. 1668 were never written up, SP left the empty pages, and in their place inserted his rough notes and drafts, including notes of expenditures which he must have transferred to his cash book. These form the best surviving evidence for his method of composition.

Robert Gertz   Link to this

"Something that both Sam and John Evelyn have mentioned is that certainly at the first days of the fire people seemed to be totally shocked and unable to act coherently.

John Evelyn says in so many words that if the people would have acted the first days as they had the days thereafter there would not have been such a big fire at all."

Difficult to say...It seems once the fire really took hold only the use of gunpowder to collapse homes could stop it. However in the first hours, it also seems that a more experienced (or simply more able and less interested (in protecting friends' interests)) group than Bludworth and crew might have been able to circumvent disaster- the wrong men and the wrong hour met as often happens. Imagine if the security official who refused entry to that would-be member of the 9/11 gang had been handling things at Logan Airport. If the German SDs had been better led in 1933. If one of Stalin's old pals had actually pulled off an assassination plot rather than confessing to a fantasy one. If Gratian had been in command at Adrianople. If Romanus IV had put a loyal friend in command of his rear guard. If Princep had lost his nerve in 1914. If Ludendorff had decided to shoot Lenin in 1917 rather than put him on a train.

Terry Foreman   Link to this

The London Gazette - Munday Septemb 3, to Munday Septemb 10, 1666

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/85/pages/1

Excellent coverage of the fire -- from Pudding Lane onward (PDF archived copy of the original).

***
For a "cleaned up" HTML version see http://www.barryoneoff.co.uk/html/fire_report.html

Barryoneoff’s treatment of the fire http://www.barryoneoff.co.uk/html/the_fire.html

Michael Robinson   Link to this

Re: The London Gazette Report

Thanks for this, Terry. How curious our Surveyor General of the Victualing does not mention the incident below; and interesting that even in extremity the poor would not eat 'that kind of Bread' which must have been a staple for seamen.

" ... that when his Majesty, fearing lest other Orders might not have been sufficient, had comanded the Victualer of his Navy to send bread into the Moore-fields for relief of the poor, which for the more speedy supply he sent in Bisket out of the Sea Stores; it was found that the Markets had already been so well supplyd that the people being un-accustomed to that kind of Bread declined it, and so it was returned in greater part to his Majestys Stores again without any use made of it. ..."

A. De Araujo   Link to this

"did quarrel with some........saying that they come to steal"
I wouldn't be surprised if the fire would restart.

CGS   Link to this

Rob: New unknown experiences always cause panic, that is why education and analyzing of previous situations helps by reading but using simulators based on previous disasters helps to remove fear and panic.Thus advances are made, positive side of the failure to think clearly, Hind sight helps sometimes as witnessed by events of the modern era of storms, human weakness etal.
Preparation for that unknown day, banking of Knowledge against possibility, probability is always a good idea, be prepared but so many times it is never done, but this cleansing of the London past has created so much new wealth, banking, insurance, fire brigades, new rules [enforced ] for building rookeries for the masterless men,new rules for commerce, new designs streets so that commerce can be more efficient, a formal army and Improving of the navy against underhanded attacks by one's neighbours.
In spite of the blame of the disaster on Heaven and sin , man use it improve the future, some designs were not used in London but were implemented in new lands by the enlightenment of few who escaped from the negative aspects of monopoly of thought.

A book that seems not to apply but does if looked at from another viewpoint. good for those that like to look on the flip side or at the edge of things.

The art of war.
http://www.chinapage.com/sunzi-e.html

Terry Foreman   Link to this

Letter in the Carte Calendar

John Cressett to Philip, Lord Wharton
Written from: [Stoke-]Newington, near Tottenham

Date: 8 September 1666

Shelfmark: MS. Carte 103, fol(s). 257

Document type: Holograph; with seal of arms

Mentions the prevention of an intended journey to Aylesbury, by the outbreak of the great fire in London; adding "it would grieve your soul to see the place, and to converse with the undone multitudes; ... many thousands lie in the fields - men, women, and little children, and have neither bread, meat, drink, nor firing". ... http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/projects...

Terry Foreman   Link to this

John Cressett to Philip, Lord Wharton
Written from: [Stoke-]Newington, near Tottenham

Date: 8 September 1666

Shelfmark: MS. Carte 103, fol(s). 257

Document type: Holograph; with seal of arms

Mentions the prevention of an intended journey to Aylesbury, by the outbreak of the great fire in London; adding "it would grieve your soul to see the place, and to converse with the undone multitudes; ... many thousands lie in the fields - men, women, and little children, and have neither bread, meat, drink, nor firing". ...
http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/projects...

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