Hatches, Matches and Despatches

Hatches, Matches and DespatchesSeptember 5th – On this day in 1538, Henry VIII’s Vicar-General Thomas Cromwell mandated the keeping by parish clerks of registers of births, deaths and marriages (“every wedding, christening and burying”) within their parishes  – to which we owe much of what we now know of everyday past life in London.

The Parish Clerks’ “Bills of Mortality” for the Plague Year of 1665 are examined at  the church of All Hallows Staining on our “London Wall” standard walk, and on our “Tudor and Stuart London”, “Tudor and Stuart City highlights” and “Lost City highlights” themed specials.

According to these records, 68,596  people died of the – bubonic – plague in London in  1665, including 112 in the parish of All Hallows Staining (the church collapsed in 1671, it is said  on account of undermining of its foundations by plague  burials).  A  further 4,808 people died of “consumption and tiffick”, which might actually have been the plague as well.  And 5 died of being “distracted”!

Among the plague victims was my twelve times great-aunt’s first husband, Robert  Mickell, who  succumbed on 17th September, 1665  (having written in his will only days earlier, evidently only too aware of his own mortality, “I … being well in body … praised bee God for the same but considering the frailty of man’s life and not knowing how soon it may please Almighty God my creator to call me out of this transitory world doe make and ordayne this my last will and testament … ”).

He died as the epidemic reached its peak, killing around a thousand people a day (see also August 31st posting).  At this point, it grew  so deathly quiet that throughout the City the River Thames could be heard flowing under the nineteen arches of Old London Bridge.

The epidemic finally began to abate with the onset of  the cold weather in October, 1665, which would have rendered inactive the rat fleas responsible for its  spread (see also April 30th Plague Year posting).

2 thoughts on “Hatches, Matches and Despatches

  1. rafterd1972

    How wonderful for you with your Great Aunt’s first husband left a will. A great deal of my genealogy research has been aided by the discovery of various wills left by long-deceased relatives.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s