On the 7th of June 1665

On the 7th of June 1665 I walked down the street…

…and saw a few houses with a red cross on their door and the words ‘Lord have mercy on us!’ These were the first signs of the plague I saw.

Being a doctor it would affect me in the course of duty, so I got a special doctor’s outfit made entirely out of leather so my whole body would be covered and so the germs could not get at me. The only parts exposed would be my eyes so I could see to work.

The next day there were more houses with a red cross painted on and the words ‘Lord have mercy on us.’ The plague was spreading fast it seems.

I was called out today to see someone who had the plague. I put on my doctor’s outfit and went to the house. When I went in I could smell a horrible smell, even through the perfumes in my beak. My patient was a young girl and she looked terrible and the boils looked terrible under her armpits. I didn’t really know what to do, so I said to her parent “This isn’t bad. Keep her in bed and she should recover.”

By July things were really bad and people were leaving the town before they were infected. I was getting about ten calls a day and I could not get to all of them.

Already people had died and had been taken away on carts to pits outside the city where they put the bodies of everyone who was dead. The pest houses, where most of the dying were taken, were full, even though about a hundred were dying every day.

Because there was so many plague victims, the King passed a law that the dead had to be taken outside the city at night to be buried and also the infected people could get out of their houses and get some fresh air instead of being shut up in their plague infested houses. This was all right for a time until August where the plague deaths were so high that the dead had to be taken out during the day time. I saw two men killing a dog because of the plague fleas that dogs and cats carried around.

The people leaving London seemed to be a great number and the people had to have plague free certificates so they could get out of the city.

By the end of August, over 6,000 people had died and it did not seem like stopping. I thought of leaving, but I didn’t. The amount of dead being taken out seemed uncountable, but the parish records kept this up and the last week in September about 7,100 people had died. As the winter months came on the plague seemed to die down, until there seemed to be only a few deaths a week. It was still there right into the new year where it stopped in February, even though there were still people dying from it, perhaps one a week. It was about a month before people started returning to London.

Pretty soon London became a busy city again, until the 2nd of September 1666.

Teacher’s Comments


(c) M. Robert Gibson
Written 1975-10-16
History essay

This is a school essay.
It was written well before the internet. It is full of inaccuracies and assumptions; bad punctuation; bad grammar and a woeful lack of research, but, it is also a first draft. It was also hand-written in an exercise book, none of your fancy electronic gizmos back then.
And don’t forget, it was written by a schoolboy in a time before political correctness.
It is published here for purely selfish vanity reasons, so read it at your own peril and do not expect any great revelations.