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The London Gazette - Fire of London

1666

Great Fire of London

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  • Intro

    This article describing the events of the Great Fire of London was published in The London Gazette, Monday September 3 to Monday September 10 1666. The fire had started in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane on September 2. In 17th century London fires were common, but none of them had spread so widely or caused as much damage as this. London was by far the largest city in England and mainly consisted of wooden buildings, tightly packed together along very narrow streets. This poorly built urban sprawl, together with dry weather and a strong easterly wind, created the perfect conditions for the rapid spread of the fire. It raged for four days until it was finally extinguished, largely due to a change in wind direction. By then it had destroyed 373 acres of the city of London, including over 13,000 houses and 84 churches as well as St Paul’s Cathedral and much of London Bridge.

  • Transcript

    The London Gazette - Fire of London

    The London Gazette

    Published by Authority

    From Monday September 3 to Monday September 10 1666

     

    Whitehall, Sept. 8.

    The ordinary course of this Paper having been interrupted by a sad and lamentable accident of Fire lately happened in the City of London: It hath been thought fit for satisfying the minds of so many of His Majesties 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 second instant at one of the clock in the Morning there happened to break out, a sad in deplorable fire, in Pudding Lane, neer New Fishstreet, which falling out at that hour of the night, and in a quarter of the town so close built with wooden pitched houses, spread it self 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 this lamentable Fire in a short time became too big to be mastered by any Engines or working neer 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 it self up to Grace-church street, and downwards from Cannon Street to the Waterside as far as the Three Cranes in the [?].

     

    The people in all parts about it distracted by the vastness of it, and their particular care 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 it self, even through those spaces, and raging in a bright flame all Monday and Tuesday, notwithstanding His Majesties own, and His Royal Highness's indefatigable and personal pains to apply all possible remedies 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 required with a thousand blessings from the poor distressed people. By the favour of God the Wind flickned a little on Tuesday night & 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 dispairing or slackning his personal care, wrought so well that day, assisted in some parts by the Lords of the Councel before and behind it, that a stop was put to it at the Temple church, neer Holborn-bridge, Pie-corner, Aldersgate, [?], neer the lower end of Coleman-street, at the end of Basing-hall-street, by the Postern, at the upper end of Bishopsgate-street, and Leaden-hall-street, at the Standard in Cornhill, at the Church in Fan-church-street, neer [?]workers Hall in [Minting?]-lane, at 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 unhappily burnt out again a fresh 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 that whole night in Person, by the great labours and diligente [used?], and especially by applying Powder to blow up the Houses about it, before day most happily [?] it. 

     

    Divers Strangers, Dutch and French were, during the fire, apprehended, upon suspition that they contributed mischievously to it, who are all imprisoned and Informations prepared to make a severe inquisition here upon my Lord Chief Justice [Keeling?], assisted by some of the Lords of the Privy Councel, and some principal Members of the City, notwithstanding which suspitions, the manner of the burning all along in a [train?], and so blowen forwards in all its way 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 terrour 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 last despair, and that [our?] attempts for the quencing it however industriously pursued, seemed insufficient. His Majesty then sat hourly in Councel, 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 Aibemarle, 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 plucking down Houses to secure the Magazins of Powder, was more especially successful, that part being [?] the Wind, notwithstanind which it came [?] [?] very Gates of it, so as by this early provision, the several Stores of War lodged in the Tower were entirely saved: And we have further this infinite cause particularly to give God thanks, that the fire did not happen in any of those places where his Majesties Naval Stores are kept, so as tho 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 in a part of the Town, where tho the Commodities were not very rich, yet there were so bulky that they could not well be removed; so that the Inhabitants of that part where it first began have sustained very great loss, but by the best enquiry we can make, the other parts of the Town, where the Commodities were of greater value, took the Alarum so early, that they saved most of their Goods of value, which possibly may have diminished the loss, tho some think, that if the whole industry of the Inhabitants had been applyed to the stopping of the fire, and not to the saving of their particular Goods, the success might have much better, not only to the publick, but to many of them in their own particulars.

     

    Through this sad Accident it is easie 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, by his Majesties care was most signal in this occasion, who, besides his personal pains, was frequent in consulting all wayes for relieving those distressed persons, whic produced so good effect, aswell by his Majesties Proclamations, and the Orders issued to the Neighbour Justices of the Peace to encourage the sending in provisions to the Markets, which are publickly known, as by other directions, that when his Majesty, fearing lest other Orders might not yet have been sufficient, had commanded the ViSualler of his Navy to send bread into Moore-fields for the relief of the poor, which for the more speedy supply he sent in Bisket out of the Sea Stories; it was found that the Markets had been

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