Wednesday 16 August 1665

Up, and after doing some necessary business about my accounts at home, to the office, and there with Mr. Hater wrote letters, and I did deliver to him my last will, one part of it to deliver to my wife when I am dead.

Thence to the Exchange, where I have not been a great while. But, Lord! how sad a sight it is to see the streets empty of people, and very few upon the ’Change. Jealous of every door that one sees shut up, lest it should be the plague; and about us two shops in three, if not more, generally shut up.

From the ’Change to Sir G. Smith’s with Mr. Fenn, to whom I am nowadays very complaisant, he being under payment of my bills to me, and some other sums at my desire, which he readily do.

Mighty merry with Captain Cocke and Fenn at Sir G. Smith’s, and a brave dinner, but I think Cocke is the greatest epicure that is, eats and drinks with the greatest pleasure and liberty that ever man did.

Very contrary newes to-day upon the ’Change, some that our fleete hath taken some of the Dutch East India ships, others that we did attaque it at Bergen and were repulsed, others that our fleete is in great danger after this attaque by meeting with the great body now gone out of Holland, almost 100 sayle of men of warr. Every body is at a great losse and nobody can tell.

Thence among the goldsmiths to get some money, and so home, settling some new money matters, and to my great joy have got home 500l. more of the money due to me, and got some more money to help Andrews first advanced.

This day I had the ill news from Dagenhams, that my poor lord of Hinchingbroke his indisposition is turned to the small-pox. Poor gentleman! that he should be come from France so soon to fall sick, and of that disease too, when he should be gone to see a fine lady, his mistresse. I am most heartily sorry for it.

So late setting papers to rights, and so home to bed.

29 Annotations

First Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Very contrary newes to-day upon the 'Change....Every body is at a great losse and nobody can tell."

(Merchant of Venice, ACT III
SCENE I. Venice. A street.



Now, what news on the Rialto?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"jealous of every door"

Terry Foreman  •  Link


"fearful, suspicious, mistrustful" (L&M Select Glossary)

CGS  •  Link

jealous 5 OED versions

[ME. gelos, etc., a. OF. gelos (12th c. in Hatz.-Darm.), mod.F. jaloux, -ouse, = Pr. gelos, It. geloso, Sp. zeloso:{em}late L. z{emac}l{omac}s-us, f. late L. z{emac}l-us a. Gr. {zeta}{ghfrown}{lambda}{omicron}{fsigma} emulation, zeal, jealousy: see -OUS. The Romanic j or ge for Gr. {zeta}, shows the analysis of Gr. {zeta} as dz, d{zh}, dj, di, evidenced in other words, in late L.]

{dag}1. Vehement in feeling, as in wrath, desire, or devotion: a. Wrathful, furious (rare); b. Devoted, eager, zealous. Obs.
2. Ardently amorous; covetous of the love of another, fond, lustful. Obs. (But cf. 4.)

3. Zealous or solicitous for the preservation or well-being of something possessed or esteemed; vigilant or careful in guarding; suspiciously careful or watchful. Const. of (for, over).

4. Troubled by the belief, suspicion, or fear that the good which one desires to gain or keep for oneself has been or may be diverted to another; resentful towards another on account of known or suspected rivalry: a. in love or affection, esp. in sexual love: Apprehensive of being displaced in the love or good-will of some one; distrustful of the faithfulness of wife, husband, or lover. Const. of, arch. over (the beloved person, or the suspected rival); also of (the attentions of another, etc.).
a1250 Owl & Night.

b. in respect of success or advantage: Apprehensive of losing some desired benefit through the rivalry of another; feeling ill-will towards another on account of some advantage or superiority which he possesses or may possess; grudging, envious. Const. of (the person, or the advantage).

c. In biblical language, said of God: Having a love which will tolerate no unfaithfulness or defection in the beloved object.

5. Suspicious; apprehensive of evil, fearful. Const. of, or with subord. clause. Now dial.

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Good ole Capt Cocke...Probably dinner with him the best medicine Sam could take right now.

With London emptying out, I'm surprised to hear no fears of looting as yet.

Peter Bates  •  Link

Looting? Surely for mass looting you need a lot of portable stuff for which there's a ready market? I suspect the wealthy who left took their jewels and coin with them (or buried them). And you'd not get very rich by trying to flog a painting by Sir Peter Lely in the local pub. ("It fell off the back of a lorry [truck], honest guv").

You hear older people today in the UK saying "we were poor but honest - we never had to lock our front door when I was young" . But one of the reasons for that is that there were no TVs or stereos or lap-tops or credit cards or car keys to carry away.

Mary  •  Link

"two shops in three....shut up"

A very clear indicator of the seriousness of the situation in the city.

JWB  •  Link


You forget Monk sitting in the "Cockpit" with his soldiers at hand to deal with any such event. And then there were the guards at the doors of the people "shut-in".

Robert Gertz  •  Link

An empty city's a dangerous city. And there's still plenty of movable goods about-silver and gold flagons and plate, chests of money and gold, works of art in various homes (including Sam's which is probably the main reason he's risking death)and public houses, grain, bread, wine, gunpowder, and other items in storehouses. Looters are rarely stopped by burying and hiding, they simply engage in more thorough destruction in searching to find the items. Also it's impossible to move everything out...Even Moscow in 1812 still retained enough to keep Napoleon's army for a time.

Monk's men and the guards are a restraint but can only do so much while occupied with plague matters. Plus many are likely to start deserting their posts at least to protect their own families; often those left to guard join the ranks of looters. I'm just impressed things are remaining so calm so far though the panic Sam refers to at Dagerhams about visitors from London suggests things may not be so calm as all that.

JWB  •  Link

And don't forget one JP Pepys(aka Whipping Sam) patrolling the streets of the City at high noon.

"I do not know
What fate awaits me
I only know
I must be brave
and I must face that
deadly killer. I do not know
What fate awaits me
I only know
I must be brave
Or lie a coward,
a craven coward
or lie a coward
in my grave. "

Ruben  •  Link

"Monk’s men and the guards are a restraint",
but better yet are those "dead corps of the plague" as the one Sam found yesterday. You never know what you can found when you open a door... Someone already dead or a moan and a cold blueish hand reaching in your direction or worse touching you...

Margaret  •  Link

Don't forget that it wasn't just items that we consider valuable that were likely to be stolen. In "Oliver Twist", Fagin's boys risk hanging or deportation just to steal handkerchiefs!

JWB  •  Link

Good point Ruben. Also, the Mootes's wrote about the plight of servants left behind by the evacuees to look after their property. One can assume that though a shop was close-up, an apprentice or two was sleeping under the counter.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Are dead corpses (= dead bodies -- no joke there!) being moved out only at night? Is there a curfew for that purpose?

Ruben  •  Link

I read somewhere that corpses (not only completely dead ones)where moved at nigth. I see this as very important for a few reason: - people go around for their business during the day, and it cannot be worse than to have the carriages or buggys with the corpses moving around on the streets at this hours.
- nigths are darker and colder than daylight hours, so you see less of the corpses and smell less too...
-first thing in the morning, you make a "body-count", knowing you will not have more "entrys" during the day, making the counting more reliable. In the morning every parochial organization will have prayers for all those concerned at the same time and dispose of the corpses as indicated by the authorities, in the beginning in consecrated cemeteries and later, for lack of place, in improvised grounds, like public squares and the like.

Ruben  •  Link

The following is a little long but this are exceptional times!
From the Net:
"Bunhill Fields Cemetery, City Road London EC1
This old burial situated on the edge of the City. Bunhill Fields was first set aside as a cemetery during the Great Plague of 1665. It was enclosed by a brick wall and gates but does not seem to have been used at that time. The ground was never apparently consecrated and twenty years later it became a popular burial ground for Nonconformists, who were banned from being buried in churchyards because of their refusal to use the Church of England prayer book."

And in another place (…):
"By a remarkable dispensation of Providence, a year later, the fire of London burnt out the foulness which had so long accumulated. Every sort of filthiness had soaked into the very foundations of the houses, which, together with the churchyards into which bodies had been hastily packed away in thousands, were cleansed and purified by the intensity of the heat..."
"Some sort of organization seems to have existed with a view to stamping out the epidemic, for the city was divided into districts each with nurses, watchers and gravediggers. The women who tended the sick carried a red staff in their hands that those whom they met might avoid them. The infected houses were marked with a cross and a prayer--a cry to Heaven when nothing more could be expected of material assistance. The warning cry "bring out your dead" and the rumble of the "dead-carts" disturbed the stillness of the night, all too short for the collection of the bodies from the streets and houses.

Besant also quotes the following regulations, drawn up by the City Fathers in their hopeless efforts to stay the ravages of the plague.

"That burial of the dead by this visitation be at most convenient hours always, either before sunrise or before sunsetting, with the privity of the churchwardens or constable, and not otherwise, and that no neighbours or friends be suffered to accompany the 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, churchyard, or burying place, to come near the corpse, coffin or grave, and that all the graves be at least six feet deep; and further, all public assemblies at other burials are to be forborne during the continuance of the visitation." The regulations further enjoined that the houses which the plague had visited were to be marked with a red cross on the middle of the door one foot in length, and the words "Lord have mercy on us" to be also inscribed.

"Yes, when the crosses were chalked on the door,
(Yes, when the terrible 'death-cart' rolled),
Excellent courage our Fathers bore,
Excellent hearts had our Fathers of old."

In view of the regulation that none might follow to the grave, the corpse was hurried out of the house at night, wrapped in any sort of an improvised shroud, to be committed to the pits, with, or more likely without, a muttered prayer from the labourer already accustomed to the sickening sight of wholesale slaughter.

Liberal libations of beer and tobacco and good pay were the only consolations of a sorely tried official, who, from force of circumstances, or some sense of duty, was pressed into this service.

Whatever the efforts made it was certainly not science that finally overcame a national calamity which, nurtured in a hot-bed of filth, would, once it had started, have sorely taxed our most earnest efforts to-day.

All that we have to remind us of this last of a series of plagues is the old burial grounds, over the entrance to which may be seen the sculptured representation of skull and cross-bones distinguishing the sites of the plague cemeteries.

In the Brompton Road, once far removed from habitation, a row of empty houses stood for many years, which none would occupy. They were built on the spot where many thousands of victims of the plague lay buried."

CGS  •  Link

Thanks Ruben. John Bunyon [ Pilgrims Progress fame]was let out of Bedford Jail to be a nurse in the London Plague, so the story goes.

Australian Susan  •  Link

Plague Pits

Outside the walls of the City of York, there was an area which was rumoured to be a plague pit and the ground so disturbed that no one would develop it. There were letters written to the local paper and representations to the Council, so fearful were people, even in the 1970s, of having a supposed plague pit disturbed. The Council built a swimming pool in the area, having, I suppose, decided no one would buy a house built there (cf Rueben's quote about Brompton Rd).
When cholera broke out in the 1820s, a burial place outside the walls was established (you can still see some of the gravestones just outside the entrance to York Railway Station). One of the first people buried there was the young daughter of the Lord Mayor of York. So the idea that infected corpses had to be isolated from other burials was still prevalent then.

Ruben  •  Link

from a transcript of a broadcast from 25 May 2003 with Robyn Williams and Dr Jim Leavesley, Medical Historian from Margaret River, Western Australia (an easy and interesting reading. Another part was published the 18 May 2003):

"Samuel was buried with his wife, Elizabeth, in St Olaves Church near the Tower of London. The church is still there, as is the row of grinning stone skulls above the entrance, indicating it was used for burials during the Great Plague of 1665. Today you have to go down a slope to get in the church door, an incline formed by the multitude of bodies buried in the churchyard at that time."

I hope no one contests the spoiler that Samuel Pepys and wife died.
I remember some years ago an annotator (was it Glyn?) posted some pictures of the Church but I do not remember seeing any skulls (in the pictures).

Pedro  •  Link

On this day Sandwich writes…

“…Hazy. I sent the Garland to Tynemouth with letters to Colonel Villiers, Governor of that castle and to the Duke of Albemarle by the Newcastle post. At 4 o’clock it was less haze and a little wind from noon. Then we saw Tynemouth Castle plain, WSW 4 leagues off in 35 fathom. At 8 o’clock I had a letter from Sir William Coventry signifying that the Duke of York to be at York, in order to the prevention of disturbance by fanatics, and that De Ruyter was come into the river at Ems. Calm at night. Major Smith said he heard from shore that there died in London the last week of plague 3000.”

(Journal of Edward Montagu edited by Anderson)

Dawn  •  Link

"I remember some years ago an annotator (was it Glyn?) posted some pictures of the Church but I do not remember seeing any skulls (in the pictures). "

Ruben, try this link:


Michael Robinson  •  Link

Skulls on the St. Olive's Gateway from Seething Lane

A detailed photo:…

The gate is dated 1658 and therefore prior to the great plague. Buildings of England: London I, City, p. 254. attributes the design to the Dutch sculptor/architect Hendrik de Keyser (1565-1621) probably transmitted through his English son-in-law, Nicholas Stone (1586-1647). Such carved or painted 'memento-mori' were a baroque commonplace, for example in the churchyard of St. Katherine Cree there is a portland stone door-case with a cadaver carved in the pediment, dated 1631.

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Very contrary newes to-day upon the ‘Change, some that our fleete hath taken some of the Dutch East India ships, others that we did attaque it at Bergen and were repulsed, others that our fleete is in great danger after this attaque by meeting with the great body now gone out of Holland, almost 100 sayle of men of warr."

L&M: For the engagement at Bergen, see…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"Poor gentleman! that he should be come from France so soon to fall sick, and of that disease too, when he should be gone to see a fine lady, his mistresse."

L&M: Sandwich on 18 December abandoned negotiations for the match on hearing that the King had disposed the hand of Elizabeth Malet elsewhere, and in 1667 Hinchingbrooke married Lady Anne Burlington. He had been abroad -- with a tutor in Paris and traveling -- for the past four years.

Elisabeth  •  Link

A fine lady -- Elizabeth Malet

On May 28, 1665, Sam recorded the attempted kidnapping of Malet by the notorious Earl of Rochester. Spoiler: Malet and Rochester married in 1667.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


"L&M: Sandwich on 18 December abandoned negotiations for the match on hearing that the King had disposed the hand of Elizabeth Malet elsewhere, and in 1667 Hinchingbrooke married Lady Anne Burlington. He had been abroad -- with a tutor in Paris and traveling -- for the past four years."

Sandwich WILL abandon negotiations next February 1665/66 -- see… . Hinchingbrooke will marry Lady Anne BOYLE, daughter of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Burlington and 2nd Earl of Cork (niece of Robert Boyle FRS).

And now Elizabeth has just branded an impoverished 18-year-old Earl as 'notorious'. He only got home from his grand tour on December 25 (delivered a letter from Minette to Charles II) and then was taken home to Ditchley, OXON by his tutor. He's been cooling his heels in the country, wondering how to make a living, and thinking a rich wife would be a good start ... hence the kidnapping which got him into a boat-load of trouble with the King, who loves him (because he's fun, rather like his father who shared Charles' escape after Worcester, and his years abroad). But 'notorious'? -- not yet.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Bunhill Cemetery today:…...

And the Salty One's favorite Millennium preacher was to be found there at this time:
In 1656 Thomas Vincent was incorporated at Cambridge. He was soon put into the sequestered rectory of St. Mary Magdalene, Milk Street, London, and held it until the Uniformity Act of 1662 ejected him. Vincent retired to Hoxton, where he preached privately while assisting Thomas Doolittle in his school at Bunhill Fields.
For more information see…...

George Fox was interred in the Nonconformists' burying ground at Bunhill Fields on 16 January, 1691 in the presence of thousands of mourners.

Bunhill Fields burial ground's historic significance has been recognized by its designation as a grade II listed building, as part of the Bunhill Fields Burial ground and Finsbury Square conservation area.

It is the last resting place for about 120,000 bodies. The site has a long history as a burial ground, but is most significant for its Nonconformist connections, dating from the 17th century, and the burial of prominent people including William Blake, Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan and Susannah Wesley.

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