While I’ve been talking about the time of the Stuarts and Cromwell’s Commonwealth and was going on to talk about the restoration I found it interesting to note that the Plague decimated the population of London during the reign of Charles 11 and that is seems to have been going around since an infection escaped from China in 1331. It ran around but broke out seriously in London in 1665 causing the economy to stumble along as merchants and business people left the city seeking to escape. There’s so much potential for stories in that time when it’s realised that there was a quarantine system introduce on ships coming from Amsterdam and Hamburg in the first instance but extended to the Dutch Republic generally as time went by. Ships were stopped and made to mor at Canvey Island for thirty days, later increased to forty days, until they were granted a certificate of health and allowed upstream. Ships from ports free of plague were allowed to proceed to Tilbury and Gravesend but then only allowed to pass if they had a certificate. Of course there were people slipped off and disembarked but they were quarantined for forty days by the local authorities.
Londoners wanting to leave had to provide a certificate of good health city gates and once they were out in the country were ostracised and chased away from other towns and villages. many died from exposure and starvation as a result.
This is the kind of environment made for drama. A threat of death and barred from shelter. People escaping from Amsterdam trying to evade the authorities. Sons and daughters asking for shelter from parents and siblings creating moral dilemmas. Would the servants report them? People wandering about the countryside stealing food, milking cows in fields. Would that infect the cows and cause a local outbreak?
When I think about it, I’m surprised no one has written a best seller about it.