The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:

Open location in Google Maps: 51.891739, 0.901208

5 Annotations

First Reading

cgs  •  Link

Roman town and oysters, famous for its military connections and the Inter-regnum

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Colchester bayze AKA Colchester bays

The making of fine quality BAYS was apparently introduced to Colchester in Essex by Dutch makers from Sandwich in Kent in about 1565.
They were joined in the town by other immigrants who made a cloth of lower quality. Thus two distinctive fabrics with the same designation were made in the same town, as was the case with BARNSTABLE BAYS.
A feature of the bays of the Sandwich type were that they dyed well in the piece and their manufacture was strictly regulated, with all pieces marked, unlike the coarser varieties, which remained unregulated [Acts (1660)].
Eric Kerridge gives a good account of bays making in Colchester, and the complicated nomenclature used in the trade [Kerridge (1985)], for instance, they were also known as 'short BAYS'.
OED earliest date of use: 1667
Found used to make CLOAK
Found in units of YARD
Colchester has long been famous for its OYSTERs (sometimes called Colchesters for short, or Colchester natives). Their production around Colchester and on the other side of the estuary at Whitstable, has long been well organized and regulated.
The difficulties of transport are constantly emphasized by historians, yet the mechanisms of trade were sufficiently developed to allow OYSTERS that were grown and harvested around Colchester to be traded widely, and usually via the London market of Billingsgate in much of England.
They were widely known and bought in large numbers by some; for example both Samuel Pepys and Elizabeth Purefoy ordered them by the BARREL [Diaries (Pepys)]; [Eland (1931)].

For more information, see…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Rev. Ralph tells us of the plague statistics for Colchester. About half the population died, but the town sprang back more rapidly than I thought possible:

Although plague was a frequent visitor to the town, only in 1597, 1603-4, and 1625-6 did mortality reach double the average level for a sample of parishes representing the town as a whole, and under 10 per cent of total mortality in the early 17th century was due to the additional deaths that such crises produce.

But the plague of 1665-6 was completely different. The Colchester death toll was variously given as 5,259 for the 17 months between August 1665 and December 1666, of which 4,731 were from plague, and 5,034 for the 67 weeks from 8 September 1665 to 21 December 1666, of which 4,526 were from plague.

Approximately half of Colchester's population perished in the epidemic, probably making it the most destructive outbreak experienced by any large town in Early Modern England. The full resources of the corporation were mobilized. Two new pest houses were built, in St. Mary's-at-the-Walls and at Mile End, while searchers and bearers of the dead were appointed to dispose of the bodies.

Funds collected in Colchester's churches quickly proved inadequate to relieve the sufferers, and were supplemented by a tax on villages within 5 miles of the town, authorized by the J.P.s and producing £217 a month.

Early in 1666 an additional £250 a month for three months was ordered to be levied in the hundreds of Lexden, Dunmow, and Hinckford, and by July funds were also being raised in the hundreds of Clavering, Uttlesford, and Ongar, and in Witham half hundred.

In May 1666 weekly collections were made in London churches by order of Charles II, amassing a total of £1,307 10s.
In all c. £2,700 was raised in taxes and donations for the relief of Colchester, a sum that was administered with painstaking diligence by the corporation and its officials, despite the absence of the mayor and several aldermen, assistants, and councilors during October and November 1666.

A surplus of £400 of the money collected for the poor remained in the Colchester corporation's coffers some 18 years later.

The immediate impact of the epidemic was profound, but both the Colchester population and the economy recovered surprisingly rapidly. Already in March 1666, when the months of peak mortality were still to come, 279 houses stood empty.
By 1674, only 63 houses were empty, showing that Colchester had conformed to the typical pattern whereby urban population losses were quickly made good by an influx of migrants.

Cloth production also quickly recovered, and achieved new heights as early as 1668.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

In 1669 we have a contemporary visit to Colchester recorded in Cosmo, later the Grand Duke of Turin's journal. It turns out that one of his entorage had fought for the King and been in the Siege of Colchester.

I've standardized the spelling of names I know, corrected scanning errors I could figure out, and increased the number of paragraphs. I apologize if I guessed incorrectly:

From Newhall [THE HOME OF GEORGE MONCK, DUKE OF ALBEMARKLE] his highness proceeded rapidly to Colchester, passing through the villages of Witham and Keltham, and arrived there before evening, time enough to take a walk round the city.

Colonel Gascoyne, who attended him, directed his attention to an ancient castle of a square form with four towers, one at each corner; at the foot of it he pointed out a place distinguished by a small white cross, fixed in the ground, where he, having been taken prisoner by the Parliamentary army, was condemned to be shot, with other officers of the royal party; but this sentence, for certain reasons, was commuted to banishment from the kingdom.


The mayor, with the aldermen and others constituting the magistracy of the city, came in state to wait upon his highness, who received them with the formalities observed on similar occasions.

His highness passed the evening alone, supping in private, and his gentlemen according to their usual habits.

Colchester, the capital city of the county of Essex, situated on the river Coll, from which it takes its name, is surrounded by a wall, with several watch towers, which, being wasted by time, are in a very ruinous state; and adjoining to it, without the wall, are extensive suburbs.

The business of the place consists in the manufacture of baize and English serge, which are here better made and brought to greater perfection than anywhere else in the kingdom, and consequently it so employs the greatest part of the population, which amounts to upwards of 16,000 souls.



His highness, Cosmo, must be considered only as a traveler. Under his direction, the narrator of the records was Count Lorenzo Magalotti, afterwards Secretary to the Academy del Cimento, and one of the most learned and eminent characters of the court of Ferdinand II. They were all professed Catholics, of course.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.


Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • Oct