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Title: An Historical Narrative of the Great and Terrible Fire of London, Sept. 2nd 1666
Author: Harvey, Gideon
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Historical Narrative of the Great and Terrible Fire of London, Sept. 2nd 1666" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


Transcriber's note:

      This e-book, a pamphlet by Gideon Harvey, was originally
      published in 1769, and was prepared from a reprint in _The
      Novels and Miscellaneous Works of Daniel De Foe_, vol. 5
      (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1855), in which it complemented a
      reprint of Defoe's _A Journal of the Plague Year_.

      Archaic spellings have been retained as they appear in the
      without note.






Sept. 2nd 1666




No sooner was the plague so abated in London that the inhabitants
began to return to their habitations, than a most dreadful fire broke
out in the city, and raged as if it had commission to devour
everything that was in its way. On the second of September, 1666, this
dismal fire broke out at a baker's shop in Pudding-lane by
Fish-street, in the lower part of the city, near Thames-street, (among
rotten wooden houses ready to take fire, and full of combustible
goods) in Billingsgate-ward; which ward in a few hours was laid in
ashes. It began in the dead of the night, and the darkness very much
increased the confusion and horror of the surprising calamity: when it
had made havoc of some houses, it rushed down the hill towards the
bridge; crossed Thames-street, invaded St. Magnus church at the bridge
foot, and though that church was so great, yet it was not a sufficient
barricado against this merciless conqueror; but having scaled and
taken this fort, it shot flames with so much the greater advantage
into all places round about, and a great building of houses upon the
bridge is quickly thrown down to the ground; there, being stayed in
its course at the bridge, the fire marched back through the city
again, and ran along, with great noise and violence, through
Thames-street, westward, where, having such combustible matter to feed
on, and such a fierce wind upon its back, it prevailed with little
resistance, unto the astonishment of the beholders. The fire is soon
taken notice of, though in the midst of the night: _Fire! Fire! Fire!_
doth resound through the streets; many start out of their sleep, look
out of their windows; some dress themselves, and run to the place. The
citizens affrighted and amazed, delayed the use of timely remedies;
and what added to the misfortune, was, the people neglecting their
houses, and being so fatally set on the hasty removing of their goods,
which were, notwithstanding, devoured by the nimble increase of the
flames. A raging east wind fomented it to an incredible degree, and in
a moment raised the fire from the bottoms to the tops of the houses,
and scattered prodigious flakes in all places, which were mounted so
vastly high in the air, as if heaven and earth were threatened with
the same conflagration. The fury soon became insuperable against the
arts of men and power of engines; and beside the dismal scenes of
flames, ruin and desolation, there appeared the most killing sight in
the distracted looks of the citizens, the wailings of miserable women,
the cries of poor children, and decripid old people; with all the
marks of confusion and despair. No man that had the sense of human
miseries could unconcernedly behold the dismal ravage and destruction
made in one of the noblest cities in the world.

The lord mayor of the city comes with his officers; what a confusion
there is!--counsel is taken away; and London, so famous for wisdom and
dexterity, can now find neither brains nor hands to prevent its ruin:
the decree was gone forth, London must now fall: and who can prevent
it? No wonder, when so many pillars are removed, the building tumbles.
The fire gets the mastery, and burns dreadfully, by the force of the
wind; it spreads quickly; and goes on with such force and rage,
overturning all so furiously, that the whole city is brought into
jeopardy and desolation.

    ----Fire commission'd by the winds,
    Begins on sheds, but, rolling in a round,
    On palaces returns.


That night most of the Londoners had taken their last sleep in their
houses; they little thought it would be so when they went into their
beds: they did not in the least expect, that when the doors of their
ears were unlocked, and the casements of their eyes were opened in the
morning, to hear of such an enemy invading the city, and that they
should see him with such fury enter the doors of their houses, break
into every room, and look out at their windows with such a threatening

That which made the ruin more dismal was, that it began on the Lord's
Day morning; never was there the like Sabbath in London; some churches
were in flames that day; God seemed to come down and preach himself in
them, as he did in Sinai when the mount burned with fire; such warm
preaching those churches never had: in other churches ministers were
preaching their farewell sermons; and people were hearing with quaking
and astonishment: instead of a holy rest which Christians had taken
that day, there was a tumultuous hurrying about the streets towards
the place that burned, and more tumultuous hurrying upon the spirits
of those that sat still, and had only the notice of the ear, of the
strange and quick spreading of the fire.

Now the trained bands are up in arms, watching at every quarter for
outlandishmen, because of the general fears and rumours that
fire-balls were thrown into houses by several of them, to help on and
provoke the too furious flames. Now goods are moved hastily from the
lower parts of the city, and the body of the people begins to retire
and draw upward. Yet some hopes were retained on the Sunday that the
fire would be extinguished, especially by those who lived in remote
parts; they could scarce imagine that the fire a mile off could reach
their houses. All means to stop it proved ineffectual; the wind was so
high, that flakes of fire and burning matter were carried across
several streets, and spread the conflagration everywhere.

But the evening draws on, and now the fire is more visible and
dreadful; instead of the black curtains of the night which used to
spread over the city, now the curtains are yellow; the smoke that
arose from the burning part seemed like so much flame in the night,
which being blown upon the other parts by the wind, the whole city, at
some distance, seemed to be on fire. Now hopes begin to sink, and a
general consternation seizeth upon the spirits of the people: little
sleep is taken in London this night; some are at work to quench the
fire, others endeavour to stop its course, by pulling down houses; but
all to no purpose; if it be a little allayed, or put to a stand, in
some places, it quickly recruits, and recovers its force: it leaps,
and mounts, and makes the more furious onset, drives back all
opposers, snatches the weapons out of their hands, seizes upon the
water-houses and engines, and makes them unfit for service. Some are
upon their knees in the night, pouring out tears before the Lord,
interceding for poor London in the day of its calamity; yet none can
prevail to reverse that doom, which is gone forth against the city,
the fire hath received its commission, and all attempts to hinder it
are in vain.

Sunday night the fire had got as far as Garlick-hithe in
Thames-street, and had crept up into Cannon-street, and levelled it
with the ground, and still is making forward by the waterside, and
upward to the brow of the hill on which the city was built.

On Monday, Gracechurch-street is all in flames, with Lombard street on
the left, and part of Fenchurch-street on the right, the fire working
(though not so fast) against the wind that way: before it, were
pleasant and stately houses; behind it, ruinous and desolate heaps.
The burning then was in fashion of a bow; a dreadful bow it was! such
as few eyes had ever seen before!

Now the flames break in upon Cornhill, that large and spacious street,
and quickly cross the way by the train of wood that lay in the streets
untaken away, which had been pulled down from houses to prevent its
spreading, and so they lick the whole streets as they go; they mount
up to the tops of the highest houses, they descend down to the bottom
of the lowest cellars; they march along both sides of the way, with
such a roaring noise as never was heard in the city of London; no
stately buildings so great as to resist their fury: the Royal Exchange
itself, the glory of the merchants, is now invaded, and when once the
fire was entered, how quickly did it run through the galleries,
filling them with flames; then descending the stairs, compasseth the
walks, giveth forth flaming vollies, and filleth the court with fire:
by and bye down fall all the kings upon their faces, and the greatest
part of the building upon them, (the founder's statue only remaining)
with such a noise as was dreadful and astonishing.

September the third, the Exchange was burnt, and in three days almost
all the city within the walls: the people having none to conduct them
right, could do nothing to resist it, but stand and see their houses
burn without remedy; the engines being presently out of order and

Then! then! the city did shake indeed! and the inhabitants did
tremble! they flew away in great amazement from their houses, lest the
flames should devour them. Rattle! rattle! rattle! was the noise which
the fire struck upon the ear round about, as if there had been a
thousand iron chariots beating upon the stones; and if you turned your
eyes to the opening of the streets where the fire was come, you might
see in some places whole streets at once in flames, that issued forth
as if they had been so many forges from the opposite windows, and
which folding together united into one great volume throughout the
whole street; and then you might see the houses tumble, tumble,
tumble, from one end of the street to the other, with a great crash!
leaving the foundations open to the view of the heavens.

Now fearfulness and terror doth surprise all the citizens of London;
men were in a miserable hurry, full of distraction and confusions;
they had not the command of their own thoughts, to reflect and enquire
what was fit and proper to be done. It would have grieved the heart of
an unconcerned person, to see the rueful looks, the pale cheeks, the
tears trickling down from the eyes (where the greatness of sorrow and
amazement could give leave for such a vent) the smiting of the breast,
the wringing of the hands; to hear the sighs and groans, the doleful
and weeping speeches of the distressed citizens, when they were
bringing forth their wives (some from their child-bed) and their
little ones (some from their sick beds) out of their houses, and
sending them into the fields, with their goods.--Now the hope of
London is gone; their heart is sunk: Now there is a general remove in
the city, and that in a greater hurry than before the plague; their
goods being in greater danger by the fire, than their persons were by
the pestilence. Scarcely are some returned, but they must remove
again; and not as before; now, without any more hopes of ever
returning and living in those houses any more. The streets were
crowded with people and carts, to carry what goods they could get out;
they who were most active and had most money to pay carriage at
exorbitant prices, saved much, the rest lost almost all. Carts, drays,
coaches, and horses, as many as could have entrance into the city were
laden, and any money is given for help; five, ten, twenty, thirty
pounds for a cart, to bear forth to the fields some choice things
which were ready to be consumed; and some of the countrymen had the
conscience to accept the prices which the citizens did offer in their
extremity. Now casks of wine and oil, and other commodities, tumbled
along, and the owners shove as much as they can toward the gates:
every one became a porter to himself and scarcely a back, either of
man or woman, but had a burden on it in the streets. It was very
melancholy to see such throngs of poor citizens coming in and going
forth from the unburnt parts, heavy loaden, with pieces of their
goods, but more heavy loaden with grief and sorrow of heart; so that
it is wonderful they did not quite sink down under their burdens.

Monday night was a dreadful night! When the wings of the night had
shadowed the light of the heavenly bodies, there was no darkness of
night in London, for the fire shines now about with a fearful blaze,
which yielded such light in the streets as it had been the sun at
noon-day. The fire having wrought backward strangely against the wind
to Billingsgate, &c., along Thames-street, eastward, runs up the hill
to Tower-street; and having marched on from Gracechurch-street, maketh
farther progress in Fenchurch-street; and having spread its rage
beyond Queen-hithe in Thames-street, westward, mounts up from the
waterside through Dowgate and Old Fish-street into Watling-street; but
the great fury was in the broader streets; in the midst of the night
it came into Cornhill, and laid it in the dust, and running along by
the Stocks, there meets with another fire which came down
Threadneedle-street, a little farther with another which came up
Walbrook; a little farther with another which comes up Bucklersbury;
and all these four meeting together, break into one of the corners of
Cheapside, with such a dazzling glare, burning heat, and roaring
noise, by the falling of so many houses together, that was very
amazing! and though it was somewhat stopped in its swift course at
Mercer's chapel, yet with great force, in a while it burns through it,
and then with great rage proceedeth forward in Cheapside.

On Tuesday, was the fire burning up the very bowels of London;
Cheapside is all in a light fire in a few hours' time; many fires
meeting there as in centre; from a Soper-lane, Bow-lane, Bread-street,
Friday-street, and Old Change, the fire comes up almost together, and
breaks furiously into the broad street, and most of that side the way
was together in flames: a dreadful spectacle! and then, partly by the
fire which came down from Mercer's chapel, partly by the fall of the
houses cross the way, the other side is quickly kindled, and doth not
stand long after it.

Now the fire gets into Blackfriars, and so continues its course by the
water, and makes up toward St. Paul's church on that side, and
Cheapside fire besets the great building on this side; and the church,
though all of stone outward, though naked of houses about it, and
though so high above all buildings in the city, yet within awhile doth
yield to the violent assaults of the all-conquering flames, and
strangely takes fire at the top: now the lead melts and runs down, as
if it had been snow before the sun; and the great beams and massy
stones, with a hideous noise, fell on the pavement, and break through
into Faith church underneath; and great flakes of stone scale and peel
off strangely from the side of the walls: the conqueror having got
this high fort, darts its flames round about; now Paternoster-row,
Newgate-street, the Old Bailey, and Ludgate-hill, have submitted
themselves to the devouring fire, which, with wonderful speed rush
down the hill, into Fleet-street. Now Cheapside, fire marcheth along
Ironmonger-lane, Old-jury, Laurence-lane, Milk-street, Wood-street,
Gutter-lane, Foster-lane; now it comes along Lothbury, Cateaton-street,
&c. From Newgate-street it assaults Christ church, conquers that great
building, and burns through St. Martins-le-grand toward Aldersgate;
and all so furiously as it would not leave a house standing.

Terrible flakes of fire mount up to the sky, and the yellow smoke of
London ascendeth up towards heaven like the smoke of a great furnace;
a smoke so great as darkeneth the sun at noon-day; if at any time the
sun peeped forth it looked red like blood: the cloud of smoke was so
great, that travellers did ride at noon-day some miles together in the
shadow thereof, though there were no other clouds beside to be seen in
the sky.

If Monday night was dreadful, Tuesday night was much more so, when far
the greatest part of the city was consumed: many thousands, who, on
Saturday had houses convenient in the city, both for themselves and to
entertain others, have not where to lay their heads; and the fields
are the only receptacle they can find for themselves and their few
remaining goods: most of the late inhabitants lie all night in the
open air, with no other canopy over them but that of the heavens. The
fire is still making toward them, and threatening the suburbs. It was
amazing to see how it had spread itself several miles in compass:
among other things that night, the sight of Guildhall was a fearful
spectacle, which stood the whole body of it together in view, for
several hours after the fire had taken it, without flames (possibly
because the timber was such solid oak) in a bright shining coal, as if
it had been a palace of gold, or a great building of burnished brass.

On Wednesday morning, when people expected the suburbs would be burnt
as well as the city, and with speed were preparing their flight, as
well as they could with their luggage, into the countries and
neighbouring villages; then the Lord had pity upon poor London: the
wind is hushed; the commission of the fire is withdrawing, and it
burns so gently, even when it meets with no opposition, that it was
not hard to be quenched, in many places, with a few hands; an angel
came which had power over fire.[1] The citizens began to gather a
little heart and encouragement in their endeavours to quench the fire.
A check it had in Leadenhall by that great building: it had a stop in
Bishopsgate-street, Fenchurch-street, Lime-street, Mark-lane, and
toward the Tower; one means (under God) was the blowing up houses with
gunpowder. It is stayed in Lothbury, Broad-street, and Coleman-street;
toward the gates it burnt, but not with any great violence; at the
Temple also it staid, and in Holborn, where it had got no great
footing; and when once the fire was got under, it was kept under: and
on Thursday, the flames were extinguished.

[Footnote 1: Rev. xiv. 18.]

Few could take much sleep for divers nights together, when the fire
was burning in the streets, and burning down the houses, lest their
persons should have been consumed with their substance and
habitations. But on Wednesday night, when the people, late of London,
now of the fields, hoped to get a little rest on the ground where they
had spread their beds, a more dreadful fear falls upon them than they
had before, through a rumour that the French were coming armed against
them to cut their throats, and spoil them of what they had saved out
of the fire: they were now naked, weak, and in ill condition to defend
themselves; and the hearts, especially of the females, do quake and
tremble, and are ready to die within them; yet many citizens having
lost their houses, and almost all they had, are fired with rage and
fury; and they began to stir up themselves like lions, or bears
bereaved of their whelps. Now, arm! arm! arm! doth resound through the
fields and suburbs with a great noise. We may guess the distress and
perplexity of the people this night; but it was somewhat alleviated
when the falseness of the alarm was discovered.

Thus fell great London, that ancient and populous city! London! which
was the queen city of the land; and as famous as most cities in the
world! and yet how is London departed like smoke, and her glory laid
in the dust! How is her destruction come, which no man thought of, and
her desolation in a moment! How do the nations about gaze and wonder!
How doth the whole land tremble at her fall! How do her citizens droop
and hang down their heads, her women and virgins weep, and sit in the
dust! Oh! the paleness that now sits upon the cheeks! the astonishment
and confusion that covers the face, the dismal apprehensions that
arise in the minds of most, concerning the dreadful consequences which
are likely to be of this fall of London! How is the pride of London
stained, her beauty spoiled; her arm broken, and her strength
departed! her riches almost gone, and her treasures so much
consumed!--every one is sensible of the stroke. Never was England in
greater danger of being made a prey to a foreign power, than after
the firing and fall of the city, which had the strength and treasure
of the nation in it. How is London ceased, that rich, that joyous
city! One corner, indeed, is left; but more than as many houses as
were within the walls, are turned into ashes.

The merchants now have left the Royal Exchange; the buyers and sellers
have now forsaken the streets: Gracechurch-street, Cornhill,
Cheapside, Newgate-market, and the like places, which used to have
throngs of traffickers, now are become empty of inhabitants; and
instead of the stately houses which stood there last summer, they lie
this winter in ruinous heaps. The glory of London is fled away like a
bird; the trade of London is shattered and broken to pieces: her
delights also are vanished, and pleasant things laid waste: now there
is no chanting to the sound of the viol, nor dancing to the sweet
music of instruments; no drinking wine in bowls, and stretching upon
beds of lust; no excess of wine and banqueting; no feasts in halls; no
amorous looks and wanton dalliances; no rustling silks and costly
dresses; these things at that place are at an end. The houses for
God's worship (which formerly were bulwarks against fire, partly
through the walls about them, partly through the fervent prayers
within them) now are devoured by the flames; the habitations of many
who truly feared God have not escaped: the fire makes no
discrimination between the houses of the godly and the houses of the
ungodly; they are all made of the same combustible matter, and are
kindled, as bodies are infected, by one another.

London was laid in ashes, and made a ruinous heap: it was a byword and
a proverb, a gazing stock and an hissing and astonishment to all that
passed by; it caused the ears of all to tingle that heard the rumour
and report of what the righteous hand of God had brought upon her. A
mighty city turned into ashes and rubbish, comparatively in a few
hours; made a place fit for Zim and Okim to take up their abode in;
the merciless element where it raged scarcely leaving a lintel for a
cormorant or bittern to lodge in, or the remainder of a scorched
window to sing in. A sad and terrible face was there in the ruinous
parts of London: in the places where God had been served, nettles
growing, owls screeching, thieves and cut-throats lurking. The voice
of the Lord hath been crying, yea, roaring, in the city, of the
dreadful judgments of plague and fire.

There was suddenly and unexpectedly seen, a glorious city laid waste;
the habitations turned into rubbish; estates destroyed; the produce
and incomes of many years hard labour and careful industry all in a
few moments swept away and consumed by devouring flames.--To have seen
dear relations, faithful servants, even yourselves and families,
reduced from plentiful, affluent, comfortable trade and fortune,
over-night, to the extremest misery next morning! without an house to
shelter, goods to accommodate, or settled course of trade to support.
Many forced, in old age, to begin the world anew; and exposed to all
the hardships and inconveniences of want and poverty.

Should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my
father's sepulchre, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed
with fire?

While the terrors occasioned by the conflagration remained in the
minds of men, many eminent, learned, pious divines of the Church of
England were more than ordinary diligent in the discharge of their
holy function in this calamitous time; and many ministers who had not
conformed, preached in the midst of the burning ruins, to a willing
and attentive people: conventicles abounded in every part; it was
thought hard to hinder men from worshipping God in any way they would,
when there were no churches, nor ministers to look after them.
Tabernacles, with all possible expedition, were everywhere raised for
public worship till churches could be built. Among the established
clergy were Dr. Tillotson, Dr. Stillingfleet, Dr. Whitcot, Dr. Horton,
Dr. Patrick, Mr. White, Dr. Outram, Mr. Giffard, Mr. Nest, Mr.
Meriton, and many others: divines of equal merit and moderation,
ornaments of their sacred profession and the Established Church. Among
the Presbyterians were Dr. Manton, Mr. Thomas Vincent, Mr. Wadsworth,
Mr. Janeway, Mr. Thomas Doolittle, Mr. Annesley, Mr. Chester, Mr.
Franklin, Mr. Grimes, Mr. Watson, Dr. Jacomb, Mr. Nathaniel Vincent,
Mr. Turner, Mr. Griffiths, Mr. Brooks, Dr. Owen, Mr. Nye, Mr. Caryl,
Dr. Goodwin, and Mr. Barker.

The loss in goods and houses is scarcely to be valued, or even
conceived. The loss of books was an exceeding great detriment, not to
the owners only, but to learning in general. The library at
Sion-college, and most private libraries in London, were burnt.

The fire of London most of all endamaged the Company of Printers and
Stationers, most of whose habitations, storehouses, shops, stocks, and
books, were not only consumed, but their ashes and scorched leaves
conveyed aloft, and dispersed by the winds to places above sixteen
miles distant, to the great admiration of beholders!

Notwithstanding the great losses by the fire, the devouring pestilence
in the city the year preceding, and the chargeable war with the Dutch
at that time depending, yet by the king's grace, the wisdom of the
Parliament then sitting at Westminster, the diligence and activity of
the lord mayor, aldermen, and commoners of the city, (who were
likewise themselves the most considerable losers by the fatal
accident) it was in the space of four or five years well nigh rebuilt.
Divers churches, the stately Guildhall, many halls of companies, and
other public edifices; all infinitely more uniform, more solid, and
more magnificent than before; so that no city in Europe (scarcely in
the universe) can stand in competition with it in many particulars.[2]

[Footnote 2: Seymour's Survey, i. 70.]

The fire of London ending at the east end of Tower-street, the extent
of which came just to the dock on the west side of the Tower, there
was nothing between the Tower-walls and it but the breadth of the
dock, and a great many old timber houses which were built upon the
banks of the dock, and in the outward bulwark of the Tower and
Tower-ditch (which then was very foul) to the very wall of the Tower
itself. Which old houses, if the fire had taken hold of, the Tower
itself, and all the buildings within it, had in all probability been
destroyed. But such was the lieutenant's care of the great charge
committed to him, that to prevent future damage, a few weeks after, he
caused all these old houses which stood between the Tower-dock and the
Tower-wall, to be pulled down: and not only them, but all those which
were built upon or near the Tower-ditch, from the bulwark-gate along
both the Tower-hills, and so to the Iron-gate; and caused strong rails
of oak to be set up upon the wharf where those houses stood which were
about four hundred: so that by these means, not only the White-tower
but the whole outward Tower-wall and the ditch round about the same,
are all visible to passengers, and afford a very fine prospect.

During the whole continuance of this unparalleled calamity, the king
himself, roused from his pleasures, commiserated the care of the
distressed, and acted like a true father of his people. In a
manuscript from the secretary's office, we find these words, "All own
the immediate hand of God, and bless the goodness and tender care of
the king, who made the round of the fire usually twice every day, and,
for many hours together, on horseback and on foot; gave orders for
pursuing the work, by commands, threatenings, desires, example, and
good store of money, which he himself distributed to the workers, out
of an hundred pound bag which he carried with him for that purpose."
At the same time, his royal highness, the Duke of York also, and many
of the nobility, were as diligent as possible; they commended and
encouraged the forward, assisted the miserable sufferers, and gave a
most generous example to all, by the vigorous opposition they made
against the devouring flames.

The king and the duke, with the guards, were almost all the day on
horseback, seeing to all that could be done, either for quenching the
fire, or for carrying off persons or goods to the fields. The king was
never observed to be so much struck with anything in his whole life.

In the dreadful fire of London, the king and the duke did their utmost
in person to extinguish it; and after it had been once mastered, and
broke out again in the Temple, the duke watching there all night, put
an effectual stop to it by blowing up houses.

Afterward, when the multitudes of poor people were forced to lodge in
the fields, or crowd themselves into poor huts and booths built with
deal boards, his majesty was frequent in consulting all ways to
relieve these wretches, as well by proclamations, as by his orders to
the justices of the peace, to send provisions into Moorfields and
other places; and moreover he sent them out of the Tower the warlike
provisions which were there deposited for the seamen and soldiers, to
keep them from starving in this extremity.

At the same time he proclaimed a fast throughout England and Wales;
and ordered that the distressed condition of the sufferers should be
recommended to the charity of all well-disposed persons, upon that
day, to be afterwards distributed by the hands of the lord mayor of
London. Lastly, to shew his special care for the city's restoration,
in council, wherein he first prohibited the hasty building any houses
till care should be taken for its re-edification, so as might best
secure it from the like fatal accident; for the encouragement of
others, he promised to rebuild his Custom-house, and to enlarge it,
for the benefit of the merchants and trade; which he performed at his
own particular charge, and at the expense of ten thousand pounds.

At the news of the fire of London all the good subjects of Ireland
were seized with the utmost consternation upon that deplorable
accident in compassion to the sufferers, the lord-lieutenant (the Duke
of Ormond) set on foot a subscription for their relief, which rose to
a higher value than could be expected in so distressed a country,
where there was not money to circulate for the common necessities of
the people, or to pay the public taxes: therefore, the subscription
was made in beeves, thirty thousand of which were sent to London.[3]

[Footnote 3: Carte Ormd. i. 329.]

       *       *       *       *       *

_Extract from the Speech of Sir Edward Turner, Speaker of the
Honourable House of Commons, at the Prorogation of the Parliament,
February, 8, 1667._

We must for ever with humility acknowledge the justice of God in
punishing the whole nation in the late conflagration in London. We
know they were not the greatest sinners on whom the tower of Siloam
fell; and doubtless all our sins did contribute to the filling up that
measure, which being full, drew down the wrath of God upon our city;
but it very much reviveth us to behold the miraculous blessing of God
upon your Majesty's endeavours for the preservation of that part of
the city which is left. We hope God will direct your royal heart, and
this fortunate island, in a few days to lay a foundation-stone in the
rebuilding of that royal city; the beauty and praise whereof shall
fill the whole earth. For the encouragement of this noble work we have
prepared several bills; one for the establishing a judicatory for the
speedy determining all actions and causes of action that may arise
between landlords and tenants upon this sad accident. Though I
persuade myself no Englishman would be exempted from making some
offering to carry on the pious undertaking, yet the exemplary charity
of your majesty's twelve reverend judges is fit with honour to be
mentioned before your majesty: they are willing to spend all their
sand that doth not run out in your majesty's immediate service, in
dispensing justice in their several courts to your people, in hearing
and determining the controversies that may arise upon old agreements,
and making new rules between owners and tenants, for their mutual
agreement in this glorious action. We have likewise prepared a bill
for the regularity of the new buildings, that they may be raised with
more conveniency, beauty, and security than they had before: some
streets we have ordered to be opened and enlarged, and many
obstructions to be removed; but all with your majesty's approbation.
This, we conceive, cannot be done with justice, unless a compensation
be given to those that shall be losers; we have, therefore laid an
imposition of twelve pence upon every chaldron, and every ton of coals
that shall be brought into the port of London for ten years, the
better to enable the Lord Mayor and aldermen to recompense those
persons whose ground shall be taken from them.

Rome was not built in a day: nor can we in the close of this session
finish the rules for the dividing the parishes, rebuilding of the
churches, and the ornamental parts of the city, that we intended;
these things must rest till another session: but we know your majesty
in the meantime will take them into your princely consideration, and
make it your care that the houses of God, and your royal chamber, be
decently and conveniently restored.

The fire of London had exercised the wits and inventions of many
heads, and especially put several ingenious persons on contriving and
setting up offices for insuring of houses from fire; since which many
of those offices are framed.

All persons were indefatigably industrious in the great work of
rebuilding; and when all provisions were made for the city's
resurrection, the famous Sir Jonas Moore first of all produced the
beautiful Fleet-street, according to the appointed model; and from
that beginning the city grew so hastily toward a general perfection,
that within the compass of a few years it far transcended its former

In the meantime, Gresham College was converted into an exchange, and
in the apartments the public business of the city was transacted,
instead of Guildhall.

To the same place, Alderman Backwell, a noted banker, removed from
Lombard-street. Alderman Meynell, and divers other bankers of
Lombard-street were preserved in their estates, and settled in and
about Broad-street.

The Royal Society being driven out from Gresham College, Henry Howard,
brother to the Duke of Norfolk, late Earl Marshal of England, invited
that noble body to hold their meetings at Arundel House, where he
assigned them very convenient rooms, and, on New Year's day, being
himself a member of that society, he very generously presented them
and their successors with a fair library of books; being the whole
Norfolkian library, with permission of changing such books as were not
proper for their collection.

Sir Robert Viner, a very great banker, providentially removed all his
concerns twenty-four hours before the furious fire entered
Lombard-street, and settled in the African-house, which was then kept
near the middle of Broad-street, till such time as he built that noble
structure in Lombard-street, now used for the General Post Office,
which was purchased by King Charles the Second for that purpose. The
neatly wrought conduit in the Stocks market-place, at the west end of
Lombard-street (the spot on which the Lord Mayor's Mansion House is
since erected) whereon was placed a large statue of King Charles the
Second on horseback, trampling upon an enemy, was set up at the sole
cost and charges of that worthy citizen and alderman, Sir Robert
Viner, knight and baronet.[4]

[Footnote 4: Of this clumsy piece of sculpture we have the following
account from Maitland's Survey, page 1,049:--"It is impossible to quit
this place without taking notice of the equestrian statue raised here
in honour of Charles II.; a thing in itself so exceedingly ridiculous
and absurd, that it is in no one's power to look upon it without
reflecting on the tastes of those who set it up. But when we enquire
into the history of it, the farce improves upon our hands, and what
was before contemptible, grows entertaining. This statue was
originally made for John Sobieski, King of Poland, but, by some
accident was left upon the workman's hands. About the same time the
city was loyal enough to pay their devoirs to King Charles immediately
upon his restoration; and finding this statue ready made to their
hands, resolved to do it in the cheapest way, and convert the Polander
into a Briton, and the Turk underneath into Oliver Cromwell, to make
their compliment complete: and the turban upon the last mentioned
figure is an undeniable proof of the truth of the story."]

The excise office was kept in Southampton-fields, near Southampton
(now Bedford House.)

The General Post Office was moved to the Two Black Pillars, in
Bridges-street, Covent Garden.

The affairs of the Custom House were transacted in Mark-lane, at a
house called Lord Bayning's, till the Custom House was rebuilt in a
much more magnificent, uniform, and commodious manner, by King Charles
the Second, which cost him £10,000.

The office for hearth money was kept near Billeter-lane, in

The king's great wardrobe, together with the fair dwelling houses of
the master and officers, near Puddle Wharf, being consumed, that
office has since been kept in York House-buildings.

The buildings of Doctor's Commons, in the Parish of St. Bennet, Paul's
Wharf, near St. Paul's, being entirely consumed by the dreadful fire,
their offices were held at Exeter House, in the Strand, until the year
1672, when they returned to their former place, rebuilt in a very
splendid and convenient manner, at the proper cost and charges of the
said doctors.

The college of physicians had purchased a house and ground at the end
of Amen-street, whereon the famous Dr. Harvey, at his proper charge,
did erect a magnificent structure, both for a library, and a public
hall; this goodly edifice could not escape the fury of the dreadful
fire; and the ground being but a lease-hold, the fellows purchased a
fair piece of ground in Warwick-lane, whereon they have erected a very
magnificent edifice, with a noble apartment for the containing an
excellent library, given them partly by the Marquis of Dorchester, but
chiefly by that eminent professor, Sir Theodore Mayerne, knight.

The former burse (or Royal Exchange) began to be erected in the year
1566, just one hundred years before it was burnt, at the cost and
charge of that noble merchant, Sir Thomas Gresham. It was built of
brick, and yet was the most splendid burse then in Europe.

It is now rebuilt within and without, of excellent stone, with such
curious and admirable architecture, especially for a front, a high
turret or steeple, wherein are an harmonious chime of twelve bells,
and for arch-work, that it surpasses all other burses. It is built
quadrangular, with a large court wherein the merchants may assemble,
and the greatest part, in case of rain or hot sunshine, may be
sheltered in side galleries or porticos. The whole fabric cost fifty
thousand pounds, whereof one-half was disbursed by the Chamber of
London, or corporation of the city, and the other half by the Company
of Mercers.

Before the dreadful fire, there were all around the quadrangle of this
Royal Exchange the statues of the sovereign princes, since what was
called the Norman Conquest, and by the care and cost of the city
companies most of those niches were again filled with the like curious
statues, in marble or alabaster.

St. Paul's Cathedral was new building at the time of the fire, the
stone work almost finished; but, it is now rebuilt with greater
solidity, magnificence and splendour, by the most renowned architect,
Sir Christopher Wren.

Not far from the college of Doctor's Commons stood the College of
Heralds, in an ancient house called Derby House, being built by Thomas
Stanly, Earl of Derby, who married Margaret, Countess of Richmond,
mother of King Henry the Seventh, where their records were preserved.
This college was burnt down, but the books and records were preserved,
and placed, by the king's appointment, at the lower end of the Court
of Requests.

Since the late dreadful fire this college has been handsomely rebuilt,
upon St. Bennet's-hill, near Doctor's Commons, where their library is
now kept. The house of St. Bartholomew's Hospital escaped the fury of
the great fire, but most of the estates belonging to it were consumed.

The companies' halls were rebuilt, all at the charges of each
fraternity, with great magnificence; being so many noble structures or
palaces, with gallant frontispieces, stately courts, spacious rooms.
The halls, especially, from which the whole are named, are not only
ample enough to feast all the livery in each company, some to the
number of three or four hundred, but many of them are fit to receive a
crowned head with all its nobles--those of each of the twelve
companies especially. The Company of Mercers, beside their hall, have
a sumptuous and spacious chapel for divine service.

Those city gates which were burnt down, as Ludgate and Newgate, were
rebuilt with great solidity and magnificence.

The attempt to make Fleet brook or ditch navigable to Holborn Bridge,
was a mighty chargeable and beautiful work, and though it did not
fully answer the designed purpose, it was remarkable for the curious
stone bridges over it, and the many huge vaults on each side thereof,
to treasure up Newcastle coals for the use of the poor.

The whole damage sustained by the fire is almost inconceivable and
incredible; but the following method of computation hath been taken,
to form some sort of gross estimate; and at the time was accounted
very moderate:--

  Thirteen thousand two hundred houses, one with      }
  another, at twenty-five pounds rent, at the low     }     3,960,000
  rate of twelve years' purchase                      }

  Eighty-seven parish churches, at eight thousand     }       696,000
  pounds each[5]                                      }

  Six consecrated chapels, at two thousand            }        12,000
  pounds each                                         }

  The Royal Exchange                                           50,000

  The Custom House                                             10,000

  Fifty-two halls of companies, most of which were    }
  magnificent structures and palaces, at fifteen      }        78,000
  hundred pounds each                                 }

  Three city gates, at three thousand pounds each               9,000

  Jail of Newgate                                              15,000

  Four stone bridges                                            6,000

  Sessions House                                                7,000

  Guildhall, with the courts and offices belonging to it       40,000

  Blackwell Hall                                                3,000

  Bridewell                                                     5,000

  Poultry Compter                                               5,000

  Wood Street Compter                                           3,000

  Toward rebuilding St. Paul's Church, which, at      }
  that time, was new building; the stonework being    }     2,000,000
  almost finished                                     }

  Wares, household stuff, monies, and moveable goods  }     2,000,000
  lost and spoiled                                    }

  Hire of porters, carts, waggons, barges, boats, &c.,}
  for removing wares, household stuff, &c., during    }       200,000
  the fire, and some small time after                 }

  Printed books and papers in shops and warehouses            150,000

  Wine, tobacco, sugar, plums, &c., of which the city }     1,500,000
  was at that time very full                          }

  Cutting a navigable river to Holborn Bridge                  27,000

  The Monument                                                 14,500


[Footnote 5: The certificate says, eighty-nine parish Churches; but
see the Act of Parliament and inscription on the monument.]

Besides melioration money paid to several proprietors who had their
ground taken away, for the making of wharves, enlarging the old, or
making new streets, market places, &c.

The fire spread itself, beside breadth, from almost Tower-hill, to St.
Dunstan's church in Fleet-street. After it had burnt almost three days
and three nights, some seamen taught the people to blow up some of the
next houses with gunpowder; which stopped the fire: so that, contrary
to the inscription on the Monument, there were human counsels in the
stopping of the fire. It stopped at Holborn Bridge, at St. Sepulchre's
church, when the church was burnt, in Aldgate and Cripplegate, and
other places on the wall; in Austin Friars, the Dutch church stopped
it, and escaped. It stopped in Bishopsgate-street, in Leadenhall-street,
in the midst of Fenchurch-street, and near the Tower. Alderman
Jefferies lost tobacco to the value of twenty thousand pounds.

_Extract from the certificates of the Surveyors appointed to survey
the ruins._

The fire began September 2nd, 1666, at Mr. Farryner's, a baker, in
Pudding-lane, between one and two in the morning, and continued
burning till the 6th; did overrun three hundred and seventy-three
acres, within the walls. Eighty-nine parish churches, besides chapels
burnt. Eleven parishes, within the walls standing. Houses burnt,
thirteen thousand and two hundred.

  RALPH GATRIX, } Surveyors.

       *       *       *       *       *

The superstition and zeal of those times made canonization much
cheaper in a Protestant than a Popish Church. A vehement preacher was
a chief saint among the godly, and a few warm expressions were
esteemed little less than prophecies.

In the dedication to the Rev. Mr. Reeves's sermon, preached 1655, are
the following queries:--

"Can sin and the city's safety, can impenitency and impunity stand
long together? Fear you not some plague? Some coal blown with the
breath of the Almighty, that may sparkle and kindle, and burn you to
such cinders, that not a wall or pillar may be left to testify the
rememberance of a city?"

The same gentleman says:[6] "Your looking-glasses will be snatched
away, your mirrors cracked, your diamonds shivered in pieces; this
goodly city all in shreds. Ye may seek for a pillar or threshold of
your ancient dwellings, but not find one. All your spacious mansions
and sumptuous monuments are then gone. Not a porch, pavement, ceiling,
staircase, turret, lantern, bench, screen, pane of a window, post,
nail, stone, or dust of your former houses to be seen. No, with
wringing hands you may ask, where are those sweet places where we
traded, feasted, slept? where we lived like masters, and shone like
morning stars? No, the houses are fallen, and the householders dropped
with them. We have nothing but naked streets, naked fields for
shelter; not so much as a chamber to couch down our children or
repose our own members, when we are spent or afflicted with sickness.
Woe unto us! our sins have pulled down our houses, shaken down our
city. We are the most harbourless people in the world; like foreigners
rather than natives; yea, rather like beasts than men. Foxes have
holes and fowls have nests, but we have neither holes or nests: our
sins have deprived us of couch and covert. We should be glad if an
hospital would receive us, dens or caves shelter us. The bleak air and
cold ground are our only shades and refuges. But, alas! this is but
the misery of the stonework, of arches, roofs, &c."

[Footnote 6: London's Remembrancer, page 33,--ten years before the

The following paragraph is taken from Mr. Rosewell's causes and cures
of the pestilence, printed at London, in the year of the great plague
1665--a year before the fire of London.

"Is it not of the Lord that the people shall labour in the very fire,
and weary themselves for vanity? It is of the Lord, surely! It comes
to pass, by the secret counsel of God, that these houses and cities
which they build, shall either come to be consumed by fire; or else,
the people shall weary themselves in vain, for vanity to no purpose;
seeing it comes so soon to be destroyed and ruinated, what they



Sept. 2.--About two o'clock this morning, a sudden and lamentable fire
broke out in this city; beginning not far from Thames-street, near
London Bridge, which continues still with great violence, and hath
already burnt down to the ground many houses thereabouts: which said
accident affected his Majesty with that tenderness and compassion,
that he was pleased to go himself in person, with his royal highness,
to give orders that all possible means should be used for quenching
the fire, or stopping its further spreading: in which care the right
honourable the Earl of Craven was sent by his Majesty, to be more
particularly assisting to the Lord Mayor and magistrates; and several
companies of his guards sent into the city, to be helpful in what
means they could in so great a calamity.

Whitehall, Sept. 8.--The ordinary course of this paper being
interrupted by a sad and lamentable accident of fire, lately happened
in the city of London, it hath been thought fit to satisfy the minds
of so many of his Majesty's good subjects who must needs be concerned
for the issue of so great an accident, to give this short but true
account of it.

On the 2nd inst., at one o'clock in the morning, there happened to
break out a sad and deplorable fire in Pudding-lane, New Fish-street,
which falling out at that hour of the night and, in a quarter of the
town so close built with wooden pitched houses, spread itself so far
before day, and with such distraction to the inhabitants and
neighbours, that care was not taken for the timely preventing the
further diffusion of it, by pulling down houses, as ought to have
been; so that the lamentable fire in a short time became too big to be
mastered by any engines, or working near it. It fell out most
unhappily too, that a violent easterly wind fomented it, and kept it
burning all that day, and the night following, spreading itself up to
Gracechurch-street, and downward from Cannon-street to the water side,
as far as the Three Cranes in the Vintry.

The people in all parts about it were distracted by the vastness of
it, and their particular care was to carry away their goods. Many
attempts were made to prevent the spreading of it by pulling down
houses, and making great intervals; but all in vain, the fire seizing
upon the timber and rubbish, and so continuing itself, even through
those places, and raging in a bright flame all Monday and Tuesday,
notwithstanding his Majesty's own, and his royal highness's
indefatigable and personal pains to apply all possible means to
prevent it; calling upon and helping the people with their guards, and
a great number of nobility and gentry unweariedly assisting therein,
for which they were requited with a thousand blessings from the poor
distressed people. By the favour of God the wind slackened a little on
Tuesday night, and the flames meeting with brick buildings at the
Temple, by little and little it was observed to lose its force on that
side, so that on Wednesday morning we began to hope well, and his
royal highness never departing nor slackening his personal care,
wrought so well that day, assisted in some parts by the lords of the
council before and behind it, that a stop was put to it at the Temple
Church; near Holborn Bridge; Pye Corner; Aldersgate; Cripplegate; near
the lower end of Coleman-street; at the end of Basinghall-street;
by the Postern at the upper end of Bishopsgate-street; and
Leadenhall-street; at the Standard, in Cornhill; at the church in
Fenchurch-street; near Clothworkers' Hall in Mincing-lane; in the
middle of Mark-lane; and at the Tower-dock.

On Thursday, by the blessing of God, it was wholly beat down and
extinguished. But so as that evening it burst out afresh at the
Temple, by the falling of some sparks (as is supposed, upon a pile of
wooden buildings); but his royal highness, who watched there the whole
night in person, by the great labour and diligence used, and
especially by applying powder to blow up the houses about it, before
day, happily mastered it.

Divers strangers, Dutch and French, were, during the fire,
apprehended, upon suspicion that they contributed maliciously to it,
who are all imprisoned, and informations prepared to make severe
inquisition hereupon by my Lord Chief Justice Keeling, assisted by
some of the Lords of the privy council, and some principal members of
the city: notwithstanding which suspicions, the manner of the burning
all along in a train, and so blown forward in all its ways by strong
winds, makes us conclude the whole was an effect of an unhappy chance,
or to speak better, the heavy hand of God upon us, for our sins,
shewing us the terror of his judgment, in thus raising the fire, and
immediately after, his miraculous and never enough to be acknowledged
mercy, in putting a stop to it when we were in the last despair, and
that all attempts for the quenching it, however industriously pursued,
seemed insufficient. His Majesty then sat hourly in council, and ever
since hath continued making rounds about the city, in all parts of it
where the danger and mischief was greatest, till this morning that he
hath sent his Grace the Duke of Albemarle, whom he hath called for to
assist him in this great occasion: to put his happy and successful
hand to the finishing this memorable deliverance.

About the Tower, the seasonable orders given for pulling down houses
to secure the magazines of powder, was most especially successful,
that part being up the wind; notwithstanding which, it came almost to
the very gates of it, so as, by the early provision, the several
stores of war lodged in the Tower were entirely saved; and we have
hitherto this infinite cause particularly to give God thanks that the
fire did not happen in any of those places where his Majesty's naval
stores are kept; so as though it hath pleased God to visit us with his
own hand, he hath not, by disfurnishing us with the means of carrying
on the war, subjected us to our enemies.

It must be observed, that this fire happened at a part of the town,
where, though the commodities were not very rich, yet they were so
bulky that they could not be removed, so that the inhabitants of that
part where it first began, have sustained very great loss; but, by the
best inquiry we can make, the other parts of the town, where the
commodities were of greater value, took the alarm so early, that they
saved most of their goods of value, which possibly may have diminished
the loss; though some think, that if the whole industry of the
inhabitants had been applied to the stopping of the fire, and not to
the saving their particular goods, the success might have been much
better; not only to the public, but to many of them in their own

Through this sad accident it is easy to be imagined how many persons
were necessitated to remove themselves and goods into the open fields,
where they were forced to continue some time, which could not but work
compassion in the beholders; but his Majesty's care was most signal on
this occasion, who, besides his personal pains, was frequent in
consulting all ways for relieving those distressed persons, which
produced so good effect, as well by his Majesty's proclamations and
orders issued to the neighbouring justices of the peace, to encourage
the sending provisions into the markets, which are publicly known, as
by other directions, that when his Majesty, fearing lest other orders
might not yet have been sufficient, had commanded the victualler of
his navy to send bread into Moorfields for the relief of the poor,
which, for the more speedy supply, he sent in biscuit out of the sea
stores; it was found that the market had been already so well supplied
that the people, being unaccustomed to that kind of bread, declined
it, and so it was returned in great part to his Majesty's stores
again, without any use made of it.

And we cannot but observe, to the confusion of all his Majesty's
enemies, who endeavoured to persuade the world abroad of great parties
and disaffection at home, against his Majesty's government, that a
greater instance of the affections of this city could never be given,
than hath now been given in this sad and most deplorable accident,
when, if at any time, disorder might have been expected, from the
losses, distractions, and almost desperation of some persons in their
private fortunes--thousands of people not having habitations to cover
them. And yet all this time it hath been so far from any appearance of
designs or attempts against his Majesty's government, that his Majesty
and his royal brother, out of their care to stop and prevent the fire,
exposing frequently their persons, with very small attendants, in all
parts of the town, sometimes even to be intermixed with those who
laboured in the business; yet, nevertheless, there hath not been
observed so much as a murmuring word to fall from any; but, on the
contrary, even those persons whose losses render their conditions most
desperate, and to be fit objects of others' prayers, beholding those
frequent instances of his Majesty's care of his people, forgot their
own misery, and filled the streets with their prayers for his Majesty,
whose trouble they seemed to compassionate before their own.

Whitehall, Sept. 12.--His Majesty, in a religious sense of God's heavy
hand upon this kingdom, in the late dreadful fire happened in the city
of London, hath been pleased to order that the tenth of October next,
be observed as a general and solemn fast throughout England, Wales,
&c.; and that the distresses of those who have more particularly
suffered in that calamity be on that day most effectually recommended
to the charity of all well-disposed Christians, in the respective
churches and chapels of this kingdom, to be afterward, by the hands of
the Lord Mayor of the city of London, distributed for the relief of
such as shall be found most to need it.

Whitehall, Sept. 15.--His Majesty pursuing, with a gracious
impatience, his pious care for the speedy restoration of his city of
London, was pleased to pass, the twelfth instant, his declaration, in
council to his city of London upon that subject, full of that princely
tenderness and affection which he is pleased on all occasions to
express for that, his beloved city.

In the first place, upon the desires of the lord mayor and court of
aldermen, he is pleased to prohibit the hasty building of any edifice,
till such speedy care be taken for the re-edification of the city as
may best secure it from the like accidents, and raise it to a greater
beauty and comeliness than formerly it had; the lord mayor and
aldermen being required to pull down what shall, contrary to this
prohibition be erected, and return the names of such refractory
persons to his Majesty and his council, to be proceeded against
according to their deserts.

That any considerable number of men addressing themselves to the court
of aldermen, and manifesting in what places their ground lies upon
which they intend to build, shall in short time receive such order and
direction that they shall have no cause to complain.

That no person erect any house or building, but of brick or stone,
that they be encouraged to practise the good husbandry of strongly
arching their cellars, by which divers persons have received notable
benefit in the late fire.

That Fleet-street, Cheapside, Cornhill, and all other eminent streets,
be of a breadth to prevent the mischief one side may receive from the
other by fire; that no streets, especially near the water be so narrow
as to make the passages uneasy or inconvenient; nor any allies or
lanes erected, but upon necessity, for which there shall be published
rules and particular orders.

That a fair quay and wharf be left on all the river side, no houses to
be erected, but at a distance declared by the rules. That none of
those houses next the river be inhabited by brewers, dyers, or
sugar-bakers, who by their continual smokes contribute much to the
unhealthiness of the adjacent places; but that such places be allotted
them by the lord mayor and court of aldermen, as may be convenient for
them, without prejudice of the neighbourhood.

That the lord mayor and court of aldermen cause an exact survey to be
made of the ruins, that it may appear to whom the houses and ground
did belong, what term the occupiers were possessed of, what rents were
paid, and to whom the reversions and inheritances did appertain, for
the satisfying all interests, that no man's right be sacrificed to the
public convenience. After which a plot and model shall be framed of
the whole building, which no doubt may so well please all persons, as
to induce them willingly to conform to such rules and orders as shall
be agreed to.

His majesty likewise recommends the speedy building some of those many
churches which have been burnt, to the charity and magnanimity of
well-disposed persons, whom he will direct and assist in the model,
and by his bounty encourage all other ways that shall be desired.

And to encourage the work by his example, his majesty will use all
expedition to rebuild the Custom House, and enlarge it for the more
convenience of the merchants, in the place where it formerly stood:
and upon all his own lands, will part with any thing of his own right
and benefit, for the advancement of the public benefit and beauty of
the city; and remit to all persons who shall erect any new buildings,
according to this his gracious declaration, all duties arising from
hearth-money for the space of seven years; as by the declaration
itself more at large appears.

Whitehall, Sep. 18. This day was presented to his Majesty, by his
highness the Duke of York, Edmundbury Godfrey, Esq.; one of his
Majesty's justices of the peace for the county of Middlesex, and city
and liberty of Westminster, who, after the public thanks and
acknowledgment of his eminent services done in helping to suppress the
late fire in the city and liberty of London, received the honour of

Whitehall, Sep. 29. This day, by warrant from his Majesty's principal
secretaries of state, the person of Valentine Knight was committed to
the custody of one of his Majesty's messengers in ordinary, for having
presumed to publish in print certain propositions for rebuilding the
city of London, with considerable advantages to his Majesty's revenue
by it, as if his Majesty would draw a benefit to himself from so
public a calamity of his people of which his Majesty is known to have
so deep sense, that he is pleased to seek rather by all means to give
them ease under it.

Westminster, Sep. 28. This day the House of Commons resolved, that the
humble thanks of the house should be given his Majesty for his great
care and endeavour to prevent the burning of the city.

Leghorn, Oct. 18. The merchants here, in consideration of the losses
sustained in London, by the late fire, have out of their charity,
raised near 300_l._ towards their relief, which they intend speedily
to return, to be distributed as his Majesty pleases.

London, Oct. 29. This day Sir William Bolton, lord mayor for the year
ensuing, went in his coach to Westminster, attended by his brethren
the aldermen, the sheriffs, and other eminent citizens in their
coaches, where he was sworn with the usual ceremonies.

Whitehall, Oct. 30. Sir Jonas Moore, with some other proprietors of
houses lately demolished by the fire, in Fleet-street, having prayed
liberty to rebuild the same, according to such model, form and
scantling as should be set them by the committee appointed by his
Majesty for the advancement of that great work, (to which they offered
with all willingness to submit and conform themselves); it was this
day ordered by his Majesty in council, that the said proprietors shall
have their liberty to re-edify their buildings accordingly.

By Stat. 19 and 20 Car. 2, any three or more of the judges were
authorised to hear and determine all differences between landlords and
tenants, or occupiers of buildings or other things by the fire
demolished. They were, without the formalities of courts of law or
equity, upon the inquisition or verdict of jurors, testimonies of
witnesses upon oath, examination of persons interested, or otherwise,
to determine all differences: they were, in complaints, to issue out
notes of time and place for the parties' attendance, and proceed to
make orders: their determinations were final, without appeal, writ of
error, or reversal. Their orders were to be obeyed by all persons, and
binding to representatives for ever. The judgments and determinations
were recorded in a book by them signed: which book is placed and
intrusted in the custody of the lord mayor and aldermen for the time
being, to remain as a perpetual and lasting record. The judges were
not to take any fee or reward, directly or indirectly, for any thing
they did by virtue of that act. All differences not being determined,
the act was continued in force till Sept. 29, 1672.

In gratitude to the memory of these judges, the city caused their
pictures, in full proportion in their scarlet robes, to be set up in
the Guildhall, with their names underneath, viz.

  Sir Heneage Finch,
  Sir Orlando Bridgman,
  Sir Matthew Hale,
  Sir Richard Rainsford,
  Sir Edward Turner,
  Sir Thomas Tyrril,
  Sir John Archer,
  Sir William Morton,
  Sir Robert Atkins,
  Sir Samuel Brown,
  Sir Edward Atkins,
  Sir John Vaughan,
  Sir John North,
  Sir Thomas Twisden,
  Sir Christopher Turner,
  Sir William Wyld,
  Sir Hugh Windham,
  Sir William Ellys,
  Sir Edward Thurland,
  Sir Timothy Lyttleton,
  Sir John Kelynge,
  Sir William Windham.

The city rose out of its ashes after the dreadful fire, as it was
first built, not presently, by building continued streets, in any one
part, but first here a house and there a house, to which others by
degrees were joined; till, at last, single houses were united into
whole streets; whole streets into one beautiful city; not merely, as
before, a great and magnificent city, for in a short time it not only
excelled itself, but any other city in the whole world that comes near
it, either in largeness, or number of inhabitants.

The beginning of the year 1670, the city of London was rebuilt, with
more space and splendour than had been before seen in England. The
act for rebuilding it was drawn by Sir Matthew Hale, with so true
judgment and foresight, that the whole city was raised out of its
ashes without any suits of law; which if that bill had not prevented
them, would have brought a second charge on the city, not much less
than the fire itself had been. And upon that, to the amazement of all
Europe, London was, in four years' time, rebuilt with so much beauty
and magnificence, that they who saw it in both states, before and
after the fire, could not reflect on it, without wondering where the
wealth could be found to bear so vast a loss as was made by the fire,
and so prodigious an expense as was laid out in the rebuilding. This
good and great work was very much forwarded by Sir William Turner,
lord mayor, 1669. He was so much honoured and beloved, that at the end
of the year they chose him again; but he refused it, as being an
unusual thing.

Whatever the unfortunate citizens of London suffered by this dreadful
fire, it is manifest, that a greater blessing could not have happened
for the good of posterity; for, instead of very narrow, crooked, and
incommodious streets, dark, irregular and ill-contrived wooden houses,
with their several stories jutting out, or hanging over each other,
whereby the circulation of the air was obstructed, noisome vapours
harboured, and verminious, pestilential atoms nourished, as is
manifest, by the city not being clear of the plague for twenty-five
years before, and only free from contagion three years in above
seventy; enlarging of the streets, and modern way of building, there
is such a free circulation of sweet air through the streets, that
offensive vapours are expelled, and the city freed from pestilential
symptoms: so that it may now justly be averred that there is no place
in the kingdom where the inhabitants enjoy a better state of health,
or live to a greater age, than the citizens of London.



Whether the fire came casually, or on design, remains still a secret:
though the general opinion might be that it was casual, yet there were
presumptions on the other side of a very odd nature. Great calamities
naturally produce various conjectures; men seldom considering, that
the most stupendous effects often proceed from the most minute causes,
or most remote accidents. People failed not to give a scope to their
imagination, and to form guesses concerning the causes and authors of
this afflicting and astonishing misfortune.

The king in his speech calls it "God's judgment;" the pious and
religious, and at first all other men, generally and naturally
ascribed it to the just vengeance of Heaven, on a city where vice and
immorality reigned so openly and shamefully, and which had not been
sufficiently humbled by the raging pestilence of the foregoing year.

Sir Edward Turner, speaker of the House of Commons, at presenting
bills for the royal assent, says, "We must for ever with humility,
acknowledge the justice of God in punishing this whole nation by the
late dreadful conflagration of London."

The act of common-council for rebuilding, says, "The fire was by all
justly resented as a most sad and dismal judgment of Heaven."

But time soon produced abundance of suspicions and variety of opinions
concerning the means and instruments made use of.

There were some so bold as even to suspect the king. Those reports,
and Oates's and Bedloe's narratives, are suppositions too monstrous,
and the evidence too wretchedly mean to deserve consideration.

The citizens were not well satisfied with the Duke of York's
behaviour: they thought him a little too gay and negligent for such an
occasion; that his look and air discovered the pleasure he took in
that dreadful spectacle; on which account, a jealousy that he was
concerned in it was spread with great industry, but with very little
appearance of truth.

Some suspected it was an insidious way of the Dutch and French making
war upon the English; their two fleets being then nearest to a
conjunction. What increased the suspicion was, that some criminals
that suffered were said to be under the direction of a committee at
London, and received orders from another council in Holland.

Not long before the fire, the French sent the governor of Chousey in a
small boat with a letter to Major-General Lambert, then prisoner in
Guernsey, to offer him terms to contrive the delivery of that island
to them.

Divers strangers, both French and Dutch, were apprehended, upon
suspicion, imprisoned, and strictly examined. It was said, a Dutch boy
of ten years old, confessed, that his father, his uncle, and himself,
had thrown fire-balls into the house where the fire began, through a
window which stood open.

The English fleet had some time before landed on the Vly, an island
near the Texel, and burnt it; upon which some came to De Wit, and
offered, in revenge, if they were but assisted, to set London on fire;
but he rejected the [villanous] proposal; and thought no more on it
till he heard the city was burnt.

The fire which laid so great part of London in ashes, gave a fresh
occasion to the enemies of the republicans to charge them with being
the malicious authors thereof; because the fire happened to break out
the third of September, a day esteemed fortunate to the republicans,
on account of the victories of Dunbar and Worcester, obtained by
Oliver Cromwell, when general of the armies of the commonwealth of

In the April before, some commonwealth men were found in a plot, and
hanged; and at their execution confessed, that they had been
requested, to assist in a design of firing London on the second of

At the trial of the conspirators at the Old Bailey, it appeared, a
design was laid to surprise the town and fire the city; the third of
September was pitched on for the attempt, as being found by Lilly's
almanack, and a scheme erected for that purpose, to be a lucky day.
The third of September was a day auspicious and full of expectation
from one party, but at this time ominous and direful to the nation.
The city was burnt at the time projected and prognosticated, which
gave a strong suspicion, though not a proof, of the authors and
promoters of it.

The Dutch were pressed by the commonwealth men to invade England, and
were assured of powerful assistance, and hopes of a general
insurrection, but they would not venture in so hazardous a design.

Though several persons were imprisoned, it was not possible to
discover, or prove, that the house where this dreadful calamity began,
was fired on purpose. Whether it was wilful or accidental was a long
time a party dispute.

The great talk at that time was, who were the burners of the city?
some said it was contrived and carried on by a conspiracy of the
Papists and Jesuits, which was afterward offered to be made appear in
the popish plot. And there came in so many testimonies to prove that
it was the plotted weapon of the papists, as caused the parliament to
appoint a committee to enquire into it, and receive informations.

By the dreadful fire in 1666, multitudes of people lost their estates,
goods and merchandizes; and many families, once in flourishing
circumstances, were reduced to beggary. From the inscription on the
plinth of the lower pedestal of the Monument, it appears that the
Papists were the authors of this fire; the Parliament being of this
persuasion, addressed the king to issue a proclamation, requiring all
Popish Priests and Jesuits to depart the kingdom within a month; and
appointed a committee, who received evidence of some Papists, who were
seen throwing fire-balls into houses, and of others who had materials
for it in their pockets. This sad disaster produced some kind of
liberty to the Non-conformists.

A sudden and dreadful massacre of the Protestants was feared; and the
suspicion confirmed by particular kinds of knives found after the fire
in barrels.

Several evidences were given to the committee that men were seen in
several parts of the city casting fire-balls into houses; some that
were brought to the guard of soldiers, and to the Duke of York, but
were never heard of afterwards. Some weeks after, Sir Robert Brooks,
chairman of the committee, went to France, and as he was ferried over
a river, was drowned, with a kinsman of his, and the business drowned
with him.[7]

[Footnote 7: Oldmison, i. 547.]

Oates, in his narrative, says: The dreadful fire in 1666 was
principally managed by Strange, the provincial of the Jesuits, in
which the society employed eighty or eighty-six men, and spent seven
hundred fire balls; and over all their vast expense, they were
fourteen thousand pounds gainers by the plunder; among which was a box
of jewels consisting of a thousand carats of diamonds. He farther
learned, that the fire in Southwark, in 1676, was brought about by the
like means; and though in that they were at the expense of a thousand
pounds, they made shift to get two thousand clear into their own

[Footnote 8: Rapin, ii. 690.]

Mr. Echard was told by an eminent prelate, that Dr. Grant, a Papist,
was strongly suspected, who having a share in the waterworks,
contrived, as is believed, to stop up the pipes the night before the
fire broke out, so that it was many hours before any water could be
got after the usual manner.

Dr. Lloyd, afterward bishop of Worcester, told Dr. Burnet, that one
Grant, a Papist, had sometime before applied himself to Lloyd, who had
great interest with the Countess of Clarendon, (who had a large estate
in the new river, which is brought from Ware to London) and said he
could raise that estate considerably if she would make him a trustee
for her. His schemes were probable, and he was made one of the board
that governed that matter; and by that he had a right to come as
often as he pleased to view their works at Islington. He went thither
the Saturday before the fire broke out, and called for the key of the
place where the heads of the pipes were, and turned all the cocks,
which were then open, and stopped the water, and went away, and
carried the keys with him. When the fire broke out next morning, they
opened the pipes in the streets to find water, but there was none.
Some hours were lost in sending to Islington, where the doors were to
be broke open, and the cocks turned; and it was long before the water
got from Islington. Grant denied that he turned the cocks; but the
officer of the works affirmed that he had, according to order, set
them all a-running, and that no person had got the keys from him but
Grant; who confessed he had carried away the keys, but did it without

When we consider, several depositions were made after the fire, of its
breaking out in several different places at the same time, and that
one man confessed his setting fire to the houses where it began, when
he was executed for it: when we remember Bishop Lloyd's testimony
concerning Grant, we cannot easily be convinced that it was entirely

Bishop Kennet gives the following account: There was but one man tried
at the Old Bailey for being the incendiary, who was convicted by his
own confession, and executed for it. His name was Roger[9] Hubert, a
French Huguenot[10] of Rohan, in Normandy. Some people shammed away
this confession, and said he was _non compos mentis_; and had a mind,
it seems, to assume the glory of being hanged for the greatest
villain. Others say he was sober and penitent; and being, after
conviction, carried through the ruins to shew where he put fire, he
himself directed through the ashes and rubbish, and pointed at the
spot where the first burning house stood.

[Footnote 9: Robert, according to Rapin.]

[Footnote 10: Bishop Burnet and some others say he was a Papist.]

The fire was generally charged on the Papists; one Hubert, a a
Frenchman, who was seized in Essex as he was flying to France,
confessed he had begun the conflagration. He was blindfolded, and
purposely conducted to wrong places, where he told them it was not the
spot where he began the flames; but when he was brought to the right,
he confessed that was the place where he threw the fire-ball into the
baker's house, the place where the fatal fire began, which he
persisted in to the last moments of his execution. He was hanged upon
no other evidence: though his broken account made some believe him
melancholy mad.[11]

[Footnote 11: Burnet, Abr., 120.]

But Oates several years afterwards informed the world the execrable
deed was performed by a knot of eighty jesuits, friars, and priests,
of several nations.[12]

[Footnote 12: Howell, Impartial History of James II., i. 9.]

After all examinations there was but one man tried for being the
incendiary, who confessing the fact, was executed for it: this was
Robert Hubert, a French Hugenot, of Rohan, in Normandy, a person
falsely said to be a Papist, but really a sort of lunatic, who by mere
accident was brought into England just before the breaking out of the
fire, but not landed till two days after, as appeared by the evidence
of Laurence Peterson, the master of the ship who had him on board.[13]

[Footnote 13: Echard, i. 169.]

It was soon after complained of, that Hubert was not sufficiently
examined who set him to work, and who joined with him. And Mr. Hawles,
in his remarks upon Fitzharris's trial is bold to say, that the
Commons resolving to examine Hubert upon that matter next day, Hubert
was hanged before the house sat, so could tell no farther tales.

Lord Russell and Sir Henry Capel observed to the House of Commons
(1680) that those that were taken in carrying on that wicked act, were
generally discharged without trial.

In 1679, the House of Commons were suddenly alarmed with an
information of a fresh design of the Papists to burn London a second
time. The house of one Bird, in Fetter-lane, being set on fire, his
servant Elizabeth Oxly, was suspected of firing it wilfully, and sent
to prison. She confessed the fact, and declared she had been employed
to do it by one Stubbs, a Papist, who had promised her five pounds.
Stubbs being taken up, confessed he persuaded her to do it, and that
Father Giffard, his confessor, put him upon it; telling him it was no
sin to burn all the houses of heretics. He added he had frequent
conferences on this affair with Giffard and two Irishmen. Stubbs and
the maid declared, the Papists were to make an insurrection, and
expected an army of sixty thousand men from France. It was generally
inferred from this incident, that it was not Giffard's fault (nor that
of his party), that the city of London was not burnt, as in the year
1666; and confirmed those in their opinion who thought that general
conflagration was the contrivance and work of the Papists.

The hand of man was made use of in the beginning and carrying on of
this fire. The beginning of the fire at such a time when there had
been so much hot weather which had dried the houses, and made them the
more fit for fuel; the beginning of it in such a place, where there
were so many timber houses, and the shops filled with so much
combustible matter; and the beginning of it just when the wind did
blow so fiercely upon that corner toward the rest of the city, which
then was like tinder to the sparks; this doth smell of a popish
design, hatched in the same nest with the gunpowder plot. The world
sufficiently knows how correspondent this is to popish principles and
practices; they might, without any scruple of their kinds of
conscience, burn an heretical city, as they count it, into ashes: for
beside the dispensations they can have from his holiness (rather his
wickedness) it is not unlikely but they count such an action as this

Lord Chancellor (Earl of Nottingham) in his speech in giving judgment
against Lord Viscount Stafford, said, "Who can doubt any longer that
London was burnt by Papists?" though there was not one word in the
whole trial relating to it.

The inscription on the plinth of the lower pedestal of the Monument
has given an opportunity to the Reverend Mr. Crookshanks to say, it
appears that the Papists were the authors of the fire, and that the
Parliament being of the same persuasion, addressed the king.

The inscription is in English:

"This pillar was set up in perpetual remembrance of the most dreadful
burning of this protestant city, begun and carried on by the treachery
and malice of the popish faction, in the beginning of September, in
the year of our Lord 1666. In order to the carrying on their horrid
plot for extirpating the protestant religion and old English liberty,
and introducing popery and slavery."[14]

[Footnote 14: Old. Hist. of the Church of Scotland, i. 207.
[Transcriber's Note: The marker for this footnote is missing in the
original; its location has been guessed.]]

This inscription was erased by King James upon his succession to the
crown; but reinscribed presently after the revolution, in such deep
characters as are not easily to be blotted out.

The latter part of the inscription on the north side (_Sed furor
papisticus, qui tam dira patravit, nondum restinguitur_) containing an
offensive truth, was erased at King James's accession, and reinscribed
soon after the revolution.

Mr. Pope differs much in his opinion concerning these inscriptions,
when he says--

    Where London's column, pointing at the skies,
    Like a tall bully, rears its head, and lies.

It seems wonderful (says the author of the Craftsman) that the plague
was not as peremptorily imputed to the Papists as the fire.[15]

[Footnote 15: Seymour, i. 454. [Transcriber's Note: The marker for
this footnote is missing in the original; its location has been

There was a general suspicion of incendiaries laying combustible stuff
in many places, having observed several houses to be on fire at the
same time: but we are told, God with his great bellows did blow upon
it, and made it spread quickly, and horrible flakes of fire mounted to
the skies.

There was a strange concurrence of several natural causes which
occasioned the fire so vigorously to spread and increase.

There was a great supineness and negligence in the people of the house
where it began: it began between one and two o'clock after midnight,
when all were in a dead sleep: on a Saturday night, when many of the
eminent citizens, merchants, and others, were retired into the
country, and left servants to look to their city houses: it happened
in the long vacation, at a time of year when many wealthy citizens are
wont to be in the country at fairs, or getting in debts, and making up
accounts with their chapmen.

The houses where it began were mostly built of timber, and those very
old: the closeness and narrowness of the streets did much facilitate
the progress of the fire, and prevented the bringing in engines. The
wares and commodities stowed and vended in those parts were most
combustible of any other, as oil, pitch, tar, cordage, hemp, flax,
rosin, wax, butter, cheese, wine, brandy, sugar, and such like.

The warmth of the preceding season had so dried the timber, that it
was never more apt to take fire; and an easterly wind (which is the
driest of all) had blown for several days together before, and at that
time very strongly.

The unexpected failing of the water from the New River; the engine at
London-bridge called the Thames water-tower was out of order, and in a
few hours was itself burnt down, so that the pipes which conveyed the
water from thence through the streets, were soon empty.

Beside, there was an unusual negligence at first, and a confidence of
easily quenching it, and of its stopping at several places afterward;
which at last turned into confusion, consternation, and despair;
people choosing rather by flight to save their goods, than by a
vigorous opposition to save their own houses and the whole city.

Thus a small spark, from an unknown cause, for want of timely care,
increased to such a flame, that nothing could extinguish, which laid
waste the greatest part of the city in three days' time.

The king in his speech to the parliament, says, "God be thanked for
our meeting together in this place: little time hath passed since we
were almost in despair of having this place left to meet in. You see
the dismal ruins the fire hath made: and nothing but a miracle of
God's mercy could have preserved what is left from the same

When the presumptions of the city's being burnt by design came to be
laid before a committee of the House of Commons, they were found of no
weight: and the many stories, published at that time with great
assurance, were declared void of credibility.[16]

[Footnote 16: Echard, iii. 168. [Transcriber's Note: The marker for
this footnote is missing in the original; its location has been

After all, it may perhaps be queried, whether the foregoing rumours
and examinations, though incongruous with each other, may not afford
some colour to a whisper, that the government itself was not without
some ground of suspicion of having been the secret cause of the
conflagration; to afford an opportunity of restoring the capital of
the nation, in a manner more secure from future contagion, more
generally wholesome for the inhabitants, more safe from fires, and
more beautiful on the whole, from the united effect of all these
salutary purposes. Such, however, has been the result of that
temporary disaster, whether accidental or not; and if intended, a more
pardonable instance of doing evil that good may come of it, cannot
perhaps be produced.[17]

[Footnote 17: Burnet, Abr. 121. [Transcriber's Note: The marker for
this footnote is missing in the original; its location has been



The Act of Parliament 19 and 20 Car. II., enacts, that--The better to
preserve the memory of this dreadful visitation, a column or pillar of
brass or stone be erected on, or as near unto the place where the fire
unhappily began, as conveniently may be; in perpetual remembrance
thereof: with such inscription thereon as the lord mayor and court of
aldermen shall direct.

In obedience to which act, the fine piece of architecture, called The
Monument, was erected, at the expense of fourteen thousand five
hundred pounds; it is the design of the great Sir Christopher Wren,
and undoubtedly the finest modern column in the world, and in some
respects may vie with the most famous of antiquity, being twenty-four
feet higher than Trajan's pillar at Rome. It is of the Doric order,
fluted; its altitude, two hundred and two feet from the ground;
greatest diameter of the body fifteen feet; the ground bounded by the
plinth or lower part of the pedestal, twenty-eight feet square; and
the pedestal is in altitude forty feet; all of Portland stone. Within,
is a large staircase of black marble, containing three hundred and
forty-five steps, ten inches and a half broad, and six inches risers;
a balcony within thirty-two feet from the top, whereon is a spacious
and curious gilded flame, very suitable to the intent of the whole

On the front or west side of the die of the pedestal of this
magnificent column is finely carved a curious emblem of this tragical
scene, by the masterly hand of Mr. Gabriel Cibber. The eleven
principal figures are in alto, the rest in basso relievo.

At the north end of the plain the city is represented in flames, and
the inhabitants in consternation, their arms extended upward, crying
for succour. A little nearer the horizon, the arms, cap of
maintenance, and other ensigns of the city's grandeur, partly buried
under the ruins. On the ruins, lies the figure of a woman crowned with
a castle, her breasts pregnant, and in her hand a sword; representing
the strong, plentiful, and well-governed city of London in distress.
The king is represented on a place ascended to by three steps,
providing by his power and prudence for the comfort of his citizens
and ornament of his city. On the steps stand three women: 1. Liberty,
having in her right hand a hat, wherein the word Liberty, denoting the
freedom or liberty given those who engaged three years in the work. 2.
Ichnographia, with rule and compasses in one hand, and a scroll in the
other; near her, the emblem of Industry, a beehive. 3. Imagination,
holding the emblem of Invention. All which intimate, that the speedy
re-erection of the city was principally owing to liberty, imagination,
contrivance, art, and industry. There is the figure of time raising
the woman in distress, and Providence with a winged hand containing an
eye, promising peace and plenty, by pointing to those two figures in
the clouds. Behind the king, the work is going forward. Under the
king's feet appears Envy enraged at the prospect of success, and
blowing flames out of his mouth. The figure of a lion, with one
fore-foot tied up, and the muzzle of a cannon, denote this deplorable
misfortune to have happened in time of war; and Mars, with a chaplet
in his hand, is an emblem of approaching peace. Round the cornice are
noble enrichments of trophy work, sword, the king's arms, cap of
maintenance, &c., at the angles, four very large dragons, the
supporters of the city arms.

On this column of perpetual remembrance the lord mayor and court of
aldermen have ordered inscriptions to be cut in Latin:

That on the north side, describes the desolation of the city in ashes;
and is thus translated:

In the year of Christ 1666, the second day of September, eastward from
hence at the distance of two hundred and two feet, (the height of this
column) about midnight, a most terrible fire broke out, which, driven
by a high wind, not only wasted the adjacent parts, but also places
very remote, with incredible noise and fury: it consumed eighty-nine
churches, the city gates, Guildhall, many public structures,
hospitals, schools, libraries, a vast number of stately edifices,
thirteen thousand two hundred dwelling houses, four hundred streets;
of twenty-six wards, it entirely consumed fifteen, and left eight
others shattered and half burnt; the ruins of the city were four
hundred and thirty-six acres, from the Tower by the Thames side to the
Temple church, and from the north-east gate of the city wall to
Holborn-bridge: to the estates and fortunes of the citizens it was
merciless, but to their lives very favourable[18]; that it might in
all things resemble the last conflagration of the world.

[Footnote 18: It was a very miraculous circumstance, amidst all this
destruction and public confusion, no person was known either to be
burnt, or trodden to death in the streets.]

The destruction was sudden, for in a small space of time, the the same
city, was seen most flourishing, and reduced to nothing.

Three days after, when this fatal fire had baffled all human councils
and endeavours, in the opinions of all, as it were by the will of
heaven, it stopped, and on every side was extinguished.

The south side describes the glorious restoration of the city, and has
been thus translated:--

Charles the Second, son of Charles the Martyr, King of Great Britain,
France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, a most gracious prince,
commiserating the deplorable state of things, while the ruins were
yet smoking, provided for the comfort of his citizens, and the
ornament of his city; remitted their taxes, and referred the petitions
of the magistrates and inhabitants to the parliament, who immediately
passed an act, that public buildings should be restored to greater
beauty with public money, to be raised by an imposition on coals; that
churches, and the cathedral of St. Paul's, should be rebuilt from
their foundations with all magnificence; that bridges, gates, and
prisons should be made new; the sewers cleansed; the streets made
straight and regular; such as were steep, levelled, and those too
narrow, made wider; markets and shambles removed to separate places.
They also enacted, that every house should be built with party walls,
and all in front raised of equal height, and those walls all of square
stone or brick; and that no man should delay beyond the space of seven
years. Moreover, care was taken by law to prevent all suits about
their bounds. Also, anniversary prayers were enjoined;[19] and to
perpetuate the memory hereof to posterity, they caused this column to
be erected. The work was carried on with diligence, and London is
restored; but whether with greater speed or beauty may be made a
question. Three years' time saw that finished which was supposed to be
the business of an age.

[Footnote 19: By statute 19 and 20, Car. II., it is enacted, That the
citizens of London, and their successors for the time to come, may
retain the memory of so sad a desolation, and reflect seriously on the
manifold iniquities, which are the unhappy causes of such judgments:
be it therefore enacted, that the second day of September (unless the
same happen to be Sunday, and if so, then the next day following) be
yearly for ever hereafter observed as a day of fasting and humiliation
within the said city and liberties thereof, to implore the mercy of
Almighty God upon the said city; to make devout prayers and
supplications unto him, to divert the like calamity for the time to

The east side, over the door, has an inscription, thus Englished:

This pillar was begun, Sir Richard Ford, knight, being lord mayor of
London, in the year 1671: carried on in the mayoralties of Sir George
Waterman, knight; Sir Robert Hanson, knight; Sir William Hooker,
knight; Sir Robert Viner, knight; Sir Joseph Sheldon, knight; and
finished, Sir Thomas Davis, knight, being lord mayor, in the year

The inscription on the plinth of the lower pedestal is in page 245.

On a stone in front of the house built on the spot where the fire
began, there was (very lately) the following inscription:

"Here, by the permission of Heaven, hell broke loose on this
protestant city, from the malicious hearts of barbarous Papists, by
the hand of their agent, Hubert, who confessed, and on the ruins of
this place declared his fact, for which he was hanged, viz.:--That he
here began the dreadful fire, which is described and perpetuated on
and by the neighbouring pillar. Erected 1680, in the mayorality of Sir
Patience Ward, knight."

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Historical Narrative of the Great and Terrible Fire of London, Sept. 2nd 1666" ***

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