Friday 25 August 1665

Up betimes to the office, and there, as well as all the afternoon, saving a little dinner time, all alone till late at night writing letters and doing business, that I may get beforehand with my business again, which hath run behind a great while, and then home to supper and to bed.

This day I am told that Dr. Burnett, my physician, is this morning dead of the plague; which is strange, his man dying so long ago, and his house this month open again. Now himself dead. Poor unfortunate man!

20 Annotations

First Reading

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Hats off to a brave and good man.

Carl in Boston  •  Link

In the movie "Restoration" of Charles II, the physician is redeemed from his dissolute life in the court by tending to the sick people during this very plague. The physicians and corpse buriers must have had nerves of steel.

Pedro  •  Link

Burnett…He died in the Plague, after performing a post-mortem on a plague victim.

The above from Pauline’s L&M is expanded by Moote and Moote in their book The Great Plague…

“Some other medically informed individuals in London had a different opinion of what happened that fateful day, based on the suspicion that Thompson had not been alone during his autopsy. John Tillison got wind of the rumours at the cathedral and passed on his version to Dean Sancroft: Drs. Burnett, Glover and O’Dowde, along with one or two fellows of the College of Physicians, the chemist Johnson, and some surgeons and apothecaries had all died suddenly. What a grim harvest of disparate souls. Burnet was Pepys’ personal physician, Glover one of the doctors treating the sick poor of the city, O’Dowde a prominent chemical physician, and Johnson the chemist of the Galenist College. The cathedral cannon ventured an explanation that the corpse had been full of tokens and “being in hand with ye dissected body some fell downe dead immediately and others did not outlive ye next day at noon.”

JWB  •  Link

Live & learn

"An Arizona-based wildlife biologist likely died of the plague, officials from Grand Canyon National Park announced on Friday(posted 11/10/07).
Autopsy reports for Eric York, a 37-year-old wildlife biologist for the National Park Service, showed that he had plague in his body.
Officials said York was most likely exposed to the plague when he performed an autopsy on a mountain lion that had been infected and most likely killed by it. York was the only person to come in contact with the dead mountain lion, according to officials."…

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"poor unfortunate man"
When I was a "Batallion Surgeon" in Vietnam I came in contact with Plague victims among the civilian population;needless to say I consumed a lot of antibiotics.

Rex Gordon  •  Link

Bubonic plague still in the news ...

This morning I heard a radio news report that a young boy in Colorado, in the American mountain west, had contracted the plague. He has recovered, but nobody has the slightest idea how he came into contact with it. Apparently the plague germ may be spreading out west, if the 2007 death of the Arizona biologist JWB posted about was a starting point.

Rex Gordon  •  Link

Wreck of HMS London found in the Thames Estuary ...

This isn't related to today's diary entry, but today's Daily Mail has an amazing photograph of the HMS London, which blew up and sank in 1665, resting in remarkably good condition on the floor of the Thames estuary. Here's the link:…

Sam would have known this ship well. Its demise was certainly a major event.

Pedro  •  Link

The London.

Thanks Rex for the alert.

The site says “The 90-cannon warship was blown up accidentally in peacetime in 1665,”

We followers of Pepys know that tecnically the time of the accident could be considered in wartime, for as said, on 7th March 1665 Pepys recorded the event in his diary, but he also recorded on Saturday 4 March 1664/65 that “This day was proclaimed at the ‘Change the war with Holland.”

Harry Lime  •  Link

There's no record that anyone other than Dr Thompson performed an autopsy. Dr Burnett would have had plenty of opportunities to catch the plague off his patients!

The HMS London was on a programme about shipwrecks on BBC2 tonight which might be on the iPlayer at some point

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Dr. Burnett had been exposed to plague for awhile

Recall 10 June 1665: "[I] hear that the plague is come into the City (though it hath these three or four weeks since its beginning been wholly out of the City); but where should it begin but in my good friend and neighbour’s, Dr. Burnett, in Fanchurch Street: which in both points troubles me mightily."…

CGS  •  Link

from the times by a Presby man
In August"... 2017,...2817,....3880.... 4237... 6102...and all these oft the Plague, besides oft ther
Now the cloud is very black, and the storm
comes clown upon us very sharp. Now death
rides triumphantly on his pale horse through
our streets, and breaks into every house almost
where any inhabitants are to b« found.

Now people fall as thick as leaves from the trees in
autumn, when they are shaken by a mighty
wind. Now there is a dismal solitude in London
streets, every day looks with the face of a
sabbath-day, observed with greater solemnity
than it used to be in the city.

Now shops are shut in, people rare, and very few that walk about insomuch that the grass begins to spring
up in some places, and a deep silence in almost

very place, especially within the walls : no rattling
coaches, no prancing horses, no calling in
customers, no offering wares ; no London cries
sounding in their ears ; if any voice be heard,
it is the groans of dying persons, breathing
forth their last, and the funeral knells of them
that are ready to be carried to their graves.

Now shutting up of visited houses (there being
so many) is at an end, and most of the well are
mingled with the sick, which otherwise would
have got no help.

Now in some places where
the people did generally stay, not one house in
an hundred but is infected ; and in many houses
half the family is swept away ; in some the
whole, from the eldest to the youngest ; few
escape with the death of but one or two ; never
did so many husbands and wives die together ;

never did so many parents carry their children
with them to the grave, and go together into
the same house under earth, who had lived to-
together in the same house upon it.
Now the nights are too short to bury the dead ; the '
whole days, though at so great a length, is hardly
sufficient to light the dead that fall therein
into their beds.

Now we could hardly go forth, but we should
meet many coffins, and see many with sores,
and limping in the streets ; amongst other sad
spectacles, methought two were very affecting...."

Australian Susan  •  Link

Thank you to Rex, JWB and CGS for fascinating article, great map and moving description.

Re the map - note absence of plague in Australia: plague came to Sydney in 1900 in ships from China, but never spread to the wildlife here as the rats which left the ships and strayed outside into the bush died quickly in the harsh climate. Shipping also spread plague to San Francisco from Sydney: both China and the USA have endemic plague in native wildlife. Sometimes there are advantages to living in this vast, harsh, brown, dry land.

Paul Chapin  •  Link

Marvelous annotations today - the wreck of HMS London discovered and pictured, and the powerful passage from "God's Terrible Voice." Many thanks to Rex and to CGS.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Wreck of HMS London found -- UK Available Only 7 Days from Aug 26th. -- BBC Program Link view/Download

Thames Shipwrecks: A Race Against Time…

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Also see 22 July: “I met this noon with Dr. Burnett, who told me, and I find in the newsbook this week that he posted upon the ‘Change, that whoever did spread the report that, instead of the plague, his servant was by him killed, it was forgery, and shewed me the acknowledgment of the master of the pest-house, that his servant died of a bubo on his right groine, and two spots on his right thigh, which is the plague.”

The servant, William Passon, was he of whom Pepys wrote on 10 June 1665:
“[I] hear that the plague is come into the City (though it hath these three or four weeks since its beginning been wholly out of the City); but where should it begin but in my good friend and neighbour’s, Dr. Burnett, in Fanchurch Street.”…

dirk  •  Link

From the Carte Papers, Bodleian Library…

Edward, Earl of Manchester, Lord Chamberlain to Sandwich

Written from: Salisbury
Date: 25 August 1665

The disappointment of the design [at Bergen] is in no way any reflection on Lord Sandwich. Sir Thomas Clifford is to be despatched on a mission to the King of Denmark. Adds his hope that his Lordship will have a successful encounter with the Dutch fleet, and one attended with safety to his person. Should the Dutch get home with their ships, & their great treasure, it would be of very ill concernment to England...

dirk  •  Link

From the Carte Papers, Bodleian Library…

Samuel Pepys to Sandwich

Written from: Navy Office
Date: 25 August 1665

Has made enquiry into the victualling of the fleet. Mr Gawden's account is unsatisfactory. What prize-wines & brandy we have will all be delivered to that use. "I am grieved at heart to see your Lordship in this strait, which shall be eased, as far as any pains of mine shall stand instead."...


The State of the Victualling of His Majesty's Fleet, consisting of 205 ships, as it was declared... July 26 1665 by Dennis Gawden Esq. [Certified by Pepys]

Robert Gertz  •  Link

Interesting that Sam is all business about Gauden with Sandwich...Thanks, Dirk.

Second Reading

Robert Harneis  •  Link

Interesting letter dated this 25th August 1665 from Pepys to the man he much admired, Sir William Coventry, gives an idea of the atmosphere as the plague gets worse: --

"Little till now occuring to give occasion of writing to you, I forbore to tell you of my receipt of yours of the 14th, wherein nothing commanded answer more than the return of my thanks for the large share you give me of your good wishes, which (I bless God) I have yet to benefit of, though the sickness in general thickens upon us, and particularly upon our neighbourhood. You, Sir, took your turn at the sword; I must not therefore grudge mine at the pestilence"

Followed by a letter from Sandwich of the 30th August which begins: --

"under sayle wind at west.
Mr Pepys, Having not heard from you of divers days , it was very good newes to me to receive your letters, for I was in feare for you of the infection.
It was signed: --
I am,
Your affectionate friend and servant

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