In 1603 there was another outbreak of the bubonic plague. Here are the records of the measures taken in Hull. The quotations are from Hull Bench Book Four [Hull History Centre C BRB/2]
In mid July news of the plague spread. It was thought that there was a danger that it would be brought to Hull by ship. The Mayor and Aldermen did not shut the port to traffic, but no one was allowed come ashore from any ship without permission.
14 July 1603. It is agreed this present Thursday by Mr Mayor and his brethren the aldermen, that whereas the plague not only is in the City of London and Newcastle but also in diverse other places dispersed, that from henceforth no masters of ships, sailers nor any other persons coming from any places infected or suspected, having warning from Mr Mayor, shall not come on shore or enter this Town or any house therein, until such time as they have licence and be permitted by Mr Mayor. [f.348v.]
Two weeks later provision was made to prevent potential carriers from entering the town by land.
28 July 1603. It is agreed this present day being Thursday, that during such time as the plague shall continue in any the places aforesaid or any other, there shall be reserved out of the watch of every half ward when their turn cometh, eight sufficient householders to ward, in their own persons, all the next day following, two of them at the Southend two at Myton gate two at Beverley gate and two at North gate to the end to keep out such as came from infected places, and likewise idle persons and vagrants. [f.348v.]
The Hull night watch was made up of householders on a rota. The were allowed to send ‘sufficient’ substitutes, but, as these substitutes were paid as little as 3d, a night they were not always very reliable. This plague order extends the regular night watch into the following day, and allows no substitution. These gate guards are to keep out both those from known infected places, and also the ‘idle’ (that is the unemployed) and vagrant (that is unsettled) people. Neither the idle not the vagrant were welcome in Hull, even when there was no plague.
Despite these orders the plague is in the town, and so the pubs are closed down.
The same day and year. Forasmuch as it is greatly suspected that some persons within this Town are infected with the pestilence or plague, and likewise feared that divers, ignorantly or otherwise, may frequent the company of them so infected, and after resort into the companies of others, especially in alehouses and tippling houses within this Town (a thing too common in this so dangerous a time of infection) whereby much inconvenience may ensue and the infecting of the whole inhabitants.
For better avoiding whereof and restraining of such assemblies at alehouses and tippling houses it is thought very fitting that no person or persons, inhabiters within this Town, neither any of their servants or apprentices, at any time hereafter, during so longe time as their shall be any suspicion at all of any infection, shall go to any alehouse or tippling house within this town or the liberties thereof, or to the doors of the same, to the end to drink any ale beer wine or other drink there, upon penalty and forfeiture every inhabiter for every time doing 2s 6d. And for default of payment to have imprisonment till satisfaction thereof be made. And every servant or apprentice to pay and forfeit likewise 2s 6d or to have imprisonment by the space of six days and nights.
And to the end that all may hereof have notice, it is agreed that the Constable of every ward shall go from house to house and give notice hereof. [f.349]
By August cargoes coming into the port are being restricted, and those that are allowed have to be disinfected by “airing”. The plague carrying fleas usually travelled on people, clothes or bedding, so this is not unreasonable.
This last of August 1603 it is agreed that no manner of goods coming from London shall be taken into any house, cellar or room, or other place within this Town during the time of infection, except soap, oil, iron or steel, and inhabitants of this Town, and not before the said goods first be taken up on the groves and there be aired, washed and dressed for the space of 24 hours at the least.
And if any Burgess or inhabitant do or suffer to be done to the contrary, that is that any soap, oil iron or steel be found taken up into his or their houses, cellars, rooms or other places without airing, washing and dressing the said goods, then all and every person taking receiving or admitting any such goods into his or their houses, cellars, rooms, stathes or other place without airing, washing and dressing the said goods shall pay the sum of forty pounds to be levied of his goods or chattles, and in default of such goods to be committed to prison there to remain without bail for the space of one half year, And if he be a free man to forfeit his freedom and to be imprisoned as aforesaid. [ff.349v.-350]
A ‘free’ man was a burgess of the town, one entitle to trade in Hull. I do not know what or where “the groves” are. I am pretty certain that my transcription in correct but the meaning eludes me.
By December it was apparent that the closing down of the pubs hadn’t fully worked, and the new mayor (who took office in November) brought in the other twelve Aldermen (two of whom were responsible for each of the six wards) to enforce the closure.
Whereas in the time of Mr William Barnard late mayor it was thought good to him and the rest of the Aldermen his bretheren that order should be made and establised for the inordinate resort to alehouses and tippling houses, whearby great danger might grow by reason of the infection and plague which then reigned amongst us, and as yet is suspected. And the rather because the basest and worst sort of people, as well strangers as townsmen, did frequent thither both on the Sabboth days in sermon times, and also at unseasonable times in the night, offensive as well to the laws of God as to his Majesty’s.
And whereas also the same order took no such effect as was expected, by reason so great a charge, for the most part being laid upon the Mayor, could not by him be duly executed, Now it is ordered set down and agreed that no person or persons burgess or inhabitant within this town shall from henceforth use any such inordinate repair to the alehouses and tippling houses by day nor night in pain to forfeit for every time so offending 20s and the owner of the said alehouse or tippling house to forfeit and lose for every time that such repair is in his house 12d or either of them as well the guest as the host to suffer two days and two nights imprisonment without bail.
And for the better execution of the premises, it is this day ordered, agreed and consented by the right worshipful Joseph Feild now Mayor and the rest of the Aldermen, that every Alderman or his deputy in his several half ward shall have power and authority at his direction to commit all such persons, as well host as guest, as shall offend, and that it shall be lawful for the Aldermen in their half wards at their discretions, as need shall require, to command the constables of their several half wards, with other officers belonging to Mr Mayor or Mr Sheriff, to be aiding and assisting to them in the execution of this order.
It is further ordered and agreed by the now mayor consented unto that if any Alderman of any half ward are from home upon thir necessary occasions, premonition & intelligence being given thereof to the mayor by the alderman, that then, for the better effecting of this act, Mr Mayor shall take upon him all such authority according to his discretion as the Alderman had if he had been at home. Set down at the Council house in the Guildhall the 5th of December 1603. [ff.354v.-355]
In May 1604 the plague was still in the town, and a new and more radical plan was approved. The sick and the others in their houses were ejected from the town.
3 May 1604. Whereas divers houses within this Town at this present are visited and infected by means whereof and the abode of the inhabiters of the same houses if they still remain great danger is likely to ensue to the neighbour houses and so to the whole Town For remedy whereof it is ordered and set down that the inhabitors of the said visited houses and of such houses as hereafter shall be infected shall be removed forth of the Town into the Carr to cotes there most convenient. And that to that end Mr Mayor for the time being shall take or cause to be taken repaired and made fit such and so many of the said cotes as shall be necessary and thought most fitting for that purpose whether the owners or occupiers having notice will consent thereto or no, Considering the necessity of the cause and present use thereof. And that so soon as it shall please God to cease the sicknes restitution sufficient to be made to the owners of the said cotes for their damages upon view by indifferent persons made for the same. [f.358]
A cote was an agricultural building, and the Carr was presumably Myton Carr, the agricultural area just outside the town to the West.
The plague may have subsided, because this is the last plague order entry for some time.
Money: The £1 can be divided – an eighth is 2s 6d – a sixth is 3s 4d – a quarter is 5s – a third is 6s 8d – a half is 10s – two-thirds is 13s 4d – three-quarters is 15s