Plagues and Famines of England

Plagues and Famines of England

1313 – 1666


Over the centuries England has seen it’s fare share of Plagues and Famines killing many in it’s wake. Tell tale signs of these events can still be seen today, especially in London where some church grounds are set much higher then the road, due to the sheer volume of people buried during these periods.

These Historical events often coincide with our families history, and many of us can trace our lineage to an event in time.

Parish records generally do not list how somebody has died, although there is an exception to this rule, I have seen that some parishes have taken the time to list exceptional stories, like drowning’s, abandoned babies, strange deaths and so on.

Sadly this is not the case for most deaths by plague or famine (there were just to many of them).

Even so, we can still take these dates into consideration whilst researching our English ancestors, if we find a death/s in our family during one of these events it’s very likely they are associated. Have a close look at the parish burials and see if there was a sharp increase in deaths during such event, they often double or at times treble and more.

Even if you have no deaths in your family linked to an event, you might be able to see how these events effected the parish where your ancestor lived. It may just add a little more depth to your research and tree especially during a period which would usually only yield a record for a baptism, marriage and burial.

1313 – England
Wet period/Famine – causing 1313-20 crops to fail

1348 – England/Europe
Cold/wet summers/Plague – Plague devastates Europe; 1,224,434 die –

1349 – England/Europe
Starvation precedes Plague – Plague kills 1/3-1/2 English

1351 – England
Plague/children afflicted

1371 – England
Plague outbreak – Milder than previous events

1407 – England
Plague – Thirty Thousands die/food abundant/fewer people

1485 – England/London
1st Sweating Sickness – Closes Oxford/decimates army/London

1499/1500 – England/London
Plague outbreak – Thirty Thousands die/2 yrs.

1507 – England
2nd Sweating Sickness –

1518 – England
3rd Sweating Sickness – 3rd siege reaches Calais/Kills only English

1521 – England
The Great Pestilence or The Great Death

1529 – England/London/Europe
4th Sweating Sickness – Episode virulent – 100,000 die

1551 – England/London
5th Sweating Sickness

1555 – England
Famine – Green peas eaten before drying

1563 – England
Famine/pestilence – c20,000 die

1563 – England/Europe
final episode Sweating Sickness – 17 of 66 thousand killed

1595 – England
Crops fail – Food prices rise sharply

1617 – England/London
Smallpox epidemic

1625 – England/London
Black Death – 41,000 of 63,000 deaths

1636 – England/London
Black Death – 10,000 die

1641 – England/London
Plague – 30,000 die

1664-66 – England/London
Last Black Death due to London Fire, reorganization of city – Over 100,000 die/Red Cross centres open


5 thoughts on “Plagues and Famines of England

  1. One of the things that struck me when researching my husband’s Belgian lines were the multitude of entries for unnamed men, soldiers of Napoleon’s army who had died in Belgium while trying to make their way home from Russia. I began wondering if I knew more about their demise than did their families at the time. And what must it have been like, to be so close, only to succumb to the effects of disease, exposure, and hunger before those last miles were crossed? Thank you for your visit to my blog!

    • Your husbands links to the Napoleonic Wars must have been very interesting to research, and very sad at the same time. Thankyou for replying to my post and your welcome 🙂

  2. It’s so important to remember that it isn’t just the dates that matter in genealgoy. The events surrounding them and the things they survived in their lives are what made them the people they were, influenced where they went and what they did. Thanks for the excellent information.

    • That’s very true, I often try to apply important historical events to my tree, especially as most of them would have affected the lives of our ancestors one or another. it helps to understand what lives they led too.
      Thankyou for your comment and a big thankyou for re-blogging my post. 🙂

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