Historical Studies

The Bubonic Plague at Worcester


Category: Historical Studies
The outbreak of the Bubonic Plague in 1637 was as serious for Worcester as the 1665 Plague was for London. The pestilence swept away at least a fifth of the City's population. 1551 victims were buried but probably all burials  were not recorded as all who could fled the City. Earlier, outbreaks had occured fairly regularly. The stark reality of the horror of the visitations is shown in the parish register of St.John in Bedwardine, Worcester, for the year 1610, referring to the Vicar and his family:

  • Thomas Leonarde, a young man and scholler of Brasenose Colleidge in Oxforde being the sonne of Thomas Leonarde, vicar of this church, was buried the 8th day of September, 1610.
  • Edwarde Leonarde, the sonne of Thomas Leonarde, vicar of this parish was buried the 21st day of September, 1610.
  • Alice Leonarde, a maide and daughter of the foresaide Thomas Leonarde, vicar of this churche, was buried the 21st day of September, 1610.
  • John Leonarde, sonne of the said Thomas Leonarde, vicar, etc,. was bureid the 22nd day of September, 1610.
  • Rivahrde Leonarde, sonne of the said Thomas Leonarde, vicar, etc,. was buried the 22nd day of September, 1610.
  • Thomas Leonarde, vicar of this Church, was buried the 30th day of October, An dom .1610.
  • Margarett, the daughter of Thomas Leonarde, vicar of the Church, was buried the 17th October, 1610.
  • Henrye, the sonne of Thomas Leonarde, Vicar, was buried the 26th of October 1610.

In the space of 48 days eight members of the Vicar's family were buried. In the probate inventory annexed to his will there is mention of his libary, 380 books. Clearly he was a scholar with sufficient means to purchase books and to send at least one of his sons to Brasenose College. The plague, indeed, was no respecter of persons.

At an earleir visitation of the plague at Bewdley in 1604-5, there were 115 deaths - 23 from one family alone.



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