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Great Plague 1665 - Samuel Pepys account

60 second histories

This video covers:  An eye witness account from Samuel Pepys of the Great Plague in London in 1665.

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People were terrified of the plague here in the city of London. I recall walking home from work that terrible summer in sixteen sixty-five and seeing several houses all shut up and marked with red crosses. I prayed the Lord would have mercy upon those inside. It was a hot summer and as the weather grew warmer, the death rate grew. My friend and neighbour was struck down and even Doctor Burnet’s door was shut up against the plague. He had discovered the illness himself and volunteered to shut up his house, all credit to the man. All this death really frightened me. I remember purchasing clothes and wig from Westminster but dared not wear them in case the maker was infected with the plague. A curfew was put in place whereby people had to be in by nine in the evening to allow the sick to come out to take the air, and orders were made to stop relatives and onlookers from attending mass burials to preventing the plague from spreading. People hoped the death rate would drop, but it didn’t.
17th Century
Medicine & Health
Key people
Medicine & health
Samuel Pepys
Key words: 
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