Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
The Lord Mayor at the time [of the Great Fire], Sir William Bolton, when informed about the fire in it’s early stages, looked at it and is reputed to have remarked “Why, a maiden’s piss could put it out”. If indeed, he did utter those words then he couldn’t have been more mistaken! The very next day he was found in a state of shock, pacing endlessly up and down, muttering to himself “What am I going to do, what am I going to do?”
Sir William BoltonSir William Bolton became Lord Mayor of London shortly after the fire in November 1666. He was responsible for the fire relief fund which had been collected at churches across the country on 10 October. Destitute Londoners could apply to him for money from the fund, though at only £12,000, it could not compensate for the estimated £10 million cost of the fire. Disgracefully, Bolton was convicted of embezzling large sums of money from the fund in December 1667, something which Pepys describes as 'the greatest piece of roguery that they say was ever found in a Lord Mayor'.
Bolton had been Lord Mayor in 1666-7; he surrendered his place as alderman in May 1668, and was eventually convicted in 1675 of misappropriation of funds by the Commissioners for Charitable Uses. Both he and his widow – quite ruined by the affair – were given a small pension by the city. CSPD 1667-1668, p. 416; A. B . Beaven, Aldermen of London, i. 95; Sharpe, ii. 432, n. 2.
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