England's the Great Plague 1665-1666
Other parts of the country also suffered. The earliest cases of disease occurred in the spring of 1665 in a parish outside the city walls called St Giles-in-the-Fields. The death rate began to rise during the hot summer months and peaked in September when 7,165 Londoners died in one week.
Court cases were also moved from Westminster to Oxford. The Lord Mayor and aldermen (town councillors) remained to enforce the King’s orders to try and stop the spread of the disease. The poorest people remained in London with the rats and those people who had the plague. Watchmen locked and kept guard over infected houses. Parish officials provided food. Searchers looked for dead bodies and took them at night to plague pits for burial.
These aldermen wielded great powers over the Londoners in their wards and they protected their authority by restricting the involvement of ordinary citizens in civic activities.
Antibiotic treatment is extremely effective against the plague. But when the disease isn’t diagnosed or antibiotics aren’t available, it can still be very fatal, just as it was back in 1665 and 1666.
Walter Besant, The History of London. 2nd edition (London: Longmans, Green, and co., 1894), Chap 39.
Stephen Inwood, A History of London. New York: Carroll & Graf Pub., 1998, 15-19, 33.