The Great Plague spread slowly over London during the late spring of 1665. It was not until June 7 that Samuel Pepys first saw the dread quarantine sign:
“This day, much against my will, I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and ‘Lord Have Mercy upon Us’ writ there – which was a sad sight to me, being the first of the kind….that I ever saw. It put me into an ill conception of myself and my smell, so that I was forced to buy some roll tobacco to smell and chew, which took away the apprehension.”…
Just three days later Pepys wrote in his diary that he feared for his own life:
“To bed, being troubled by sickness, and particularly how to put my things and estates in order, in case it should please God to call me away.”
On June 15th, Pepys wrote:
“The town grows very sickly, and people are afraid of it.”…
Pepys had the necessary money and political connections to get a health certificate to flee London during the plague, but he did not do so. However, very many of the city’s wealthy did leave including Charles II whose court left on June 29th. The Rev. Dr. Thomas Vincent wrote that as he walked the streets of London in the summer of 1665, he saw few rich men and even fewer women from wealthy backgrounds.Read More:http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/samuel_pepys_plague.htm
The cry for divine mercy was understandable, for the inmates of a quarantined house were more than likely doomed. All through the summer, officials kept records of burials and published them in bills of mortality. The epidem
eached its height in September, when there were more than thirty thousand recorded deaths. By the, the affluent had long since fled the city, although Pepys syayed at his London post and looked with scorn upon the “great people” who had deserted theirs.
In October, the Great Plague at last began to subside, never again to return to England.
Samuel Pepys and William Boghurst: Eyewitness Accounts
In his famous diary, Samuel Pepys, a naval administrator and Member of Parliament, conveyed the melancholy image of desperate people wandering the streets in search of relief from the ravages of the plague. His notes during 1665 often intimate the severity of London’s Great Plague epidemic. In July, he lamented “the sad news of the death of so many in the parish of the plague, forty last night, the bell always going . . . either for deaths or burials.” A month later, when London’s mortality rate rose sharply, Pepys noted that survivors “are fain to carry the dead to be buried by daylight, the nights not sufficing to do it in.”
In another eyewitness account, Loimographia (1665), William Boghurst, a general practitioner who accurately described the symptoms of plague and predicted its demise in 1666, attributed the plague’s causes to filth and squalor, inadequate disposal of sewage, and poor nutrition among London’s impoverished residents. He criticized the standard treatments of bleeding, purging, and fumigating houses and objected to quarantining infected households since this had “oft [been] enough tried and always found ineffectual.” Read More:http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/contagion/plague.html