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Re: [pepysdiary] Black Death blamed on man, not rats

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  • Nick Balmer
    Hello Terry, As an aside to your interesting post exonerating the Rat from carrying the plague, you might be interested to hear a Pepy s period tale. It would
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 29, 2008
      Hello Terry,
       
      As an aside to your interesting post exonerating the Rat from carrying the plague, you might be interested to hear a Pepy's period tale.
       
      It would appear that the inhabitants of the Isle of Wight were right after all to believe that people carried the infection. In 1665 they petitioned to the Island authorities to prevent Lady Richard's from returning to her house at Yaverland.
       

      Inhabitants of Yaverland to Sir W. Oglander
      The Humble desire of ye Inhabitants of yaverland August the 30th (65)

      Sr
      These few lines are to entreate yor worpp for to send to Bradinge yt they might sett a watch & ward to keepe out all newport people out of the towne wee are resolved to keepe a gard day & night att yarbridge & wee have beene with Major Holmes att the fort & he hath promise that none shall come that way & we doe understand that the Lady Richards is minded to come to Yaverland too morrow but we are resolved for to stop her & not to lett her come in & wee are fearfull if she might come in thorough Brading & soe to come over the wall by ye sluce therefore we thought fitt to acquainte your worshipp with it hopeinge that yor worshipp will send to Bradinge that they might secure that way

      [i]

       
      You may be wondering why these inhabitants were so concerned by Lady Richard's arrival?
       
      I believe the answer was that she was Sir John Baber's mother in law. Sir John Baber was a doctor based at Henrietta Street just south of St. Paul's Church Covent Garden. He was a member of the vestry of the church, which had been built by Inigo Jones in the 1630's. At sometime during the early 1650’s, but before 1653, he had married his first wife Elizabeth Richards, who was the daughter of Sir John Richards, Knight of Yaverland[i] on the Isle of Wight.

       

      John and Elizabeth’s first child was a daughter called Martha who was born in 1656.  Their first son John was born on 27th December 1656[iii], followed by Francis on September 11th 1657, and William on or about October 1658.[iv] John’s wife died the following year, on 28th April 1659, and was buried in Saint Paul’s Covent Garden. So must have faced severe difficulties bringing up the children on his own, as both his own parents were dead, and his family home had been destroyed during the Civil War.

       

      By 1665 John Baber had become Sir John Baber, one of three physician's to King Charles II. He appears in Pepy's diary on at least two occasions.

       

      The plague in 1665 broke out in Long Acre just a couple of hundred yards north of Covent Garden in the parish. Sir John was afterwards recognised for the efforts that he had made on behalf of the parish to contain the plague.

       

      The Vestry erected a stone column in the middle of the square at Covent Garden in 1667 with a plaque with his coat of arms on it to record his contribution to the parish turning the plague and the fire. It was there until about 1780, and can be seen in many drawings of the period.

       

      I believe that Sir John had sent his children away from London with their grandmother, my 10 x great grandmother Lady Richards.

       

      Knowing that she came directly from the epicentre of the plague outbreak, and that she could well be bringing the infection with her, in the form of the doctor's children, no wonder the islanders didn't want her anywhere near them.

       

      Luckily Sir John and his children survived the plague.  He was responsible for running a hospital in Westminster, and he also organised the disinfection of the Palace of Westminster before the King's return from Oxford.

       

      My great x 8 grandfather's was one of only 27 doctors who stayed in London throughout the plague. All the others fled.

       

      I just hope we never have to face such an event.

       

      Regards

       

      Nick Balmer

       

       

       

       



      [i] On the south coast of the Isle of Wight, at the eastern tip of the island, between Sandown and Bembridge.

      [ii] Victoria County History of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Volume V page 207.

      [iii] Possibly 1653

      [iv] Vera Baber.



      [i] Source: (OG/89/11) from http://www.btinternet.com/~rob.martin1/bem/plag.htm

       
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2008 4:38 AM
      Subject: [pepysdiary] Black Death blamed on man, not rats


      Black Death blamed on man, not rats

      * Jo Revill
      * The Observer,
      * Sunday May 16 2004
      * Article history

      For years the Black Death in all its gory horror has been blamed on one
      animal - the rat.

      But a new analysis of more than 100 plague epidemics which swept Europe for
      hundreds of years concludes that it was not spread by rodents running
      between villages and towns but by man himself, usually travellers unaware
      of their infection who moved between communities in search of work.

      Chris Duncan, emeritus professor of zoology at Liverpool University, and
      social historian Sue Scott have carried out a piece of astonishing medical
      detective work, forming a complete history of the Black Death using parish
      records, wills and diaries across England.

      They are convinced that the terrible illness was not in fact bubonic
      plague, which is carried by fleas on the backs of rats, but another highly
      infectious and deadly virus, haemorrhagic plague.

      Their account of the Black Death shows it could easily have been
      transmitted by people travelling around the country, despite the lack of
      transport in the Middle Ages. It suggests the 20th century has badly
      misunderstood one of the worst epidemics ever to strike humanity.

      Their book, The Return of the Black Death, is the result of years of work
      looking at how the plague spread so quickly, wiping out nearly one half of
      Europeans in medieval times.

      http://www.guardian .co.uk/uk/ 2004/may/ 16/health. books

    • Terry Foreman
      Nick Balmer, Thanks for the very interesting contribution to the our understanding of the way the plague was understood at the time: it corroborates the views
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 29, 2008

        Nick Balmer,

        Thanks for the very interesting contribution to the our understanding of the way the plague was understood at the time:  it corroborates the views of those at several places who feared Pepys and others from London, which had mistakenly come to be regarded as the per capita center of the plague.  It is now a part of the Pepysdiary.com's digital record.

        Had not Sir John Baber's children survived, I gather we would not be having this little chat; so hooray for Sir John and all of his descendants!!

        Terry

         

        At 07:45 PM 8/29/2008 +0100, you wrote:

        Luckily Sir John and his children survived the plague.  He was responsible for running a hospital in Westminster, and he also organised the disinfection of the Palace of Westminster before the King's return from Oxford.

         

        My great x 8 grandfather's was one of only 27 doctors who stayed in London throughout the plague. All the others fled.

         

        I just hope we never have to face such an event.

         

        Regards

         

        Nick Balmer

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