The outbreak of plague in 1665 profoundly affected Southampton. It seems to have been initially started in June of that year by a child who had been brought to the town from London. The disease spread quickly and by the end of the month the town was panic-stricken. Booths were set up outside the town to accommodate the sick. Most of the wealthy inhabitants, including many of the town’s officials, fled the town. By 3 July the town was in such a deplorable state that the remnants of the Corporation issued a general appeal for help, first to the Justices of the County at large and the following day to Lord Ashley, Lord President of the Council. Lord Ashley replied stating that letters would be sent to the Justices in Hampshire requesting them to send food to the town from time to time and that a doctor would be sent at the king’s expense. Collections would be made for the relief of infected areas and special directions issued that Southampton should be relieved. Another appeal to the Justices was made on the 15 July and a large sum was raised. By December the sickness had abated and people began to return to their deserted homes, but the plague returned, though with diminished force, in the following year.

A contributor has been in touch with this reference from the Exchequer Port Books:

"Here followed a great Plague of w[hi]ch died of our Inhabittants about 1200 w[hi]ch deprived us of all Comerce" (after the entry for 26th June 1665, TNA E 190/826/9).

see also

Further reading:
‘Plague in the Towns of Hampshire: the Epidemic of 1665-66’, by J. Taylor, in Southern History, vol. 6, 1984, p104-122. (H/h)
History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p495-499. (HS/h)
Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman’, p8-9. (HS/h)
Southampton: Points in its Development to the End of the 18th Century, by G. H. J. Daysh, p46-7. (HS/h)


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