Deaths due to bubonic plague in London 1562-1680

Although the Black Death peaked in Europe between 1348 and 1351, plague was almost always present in Britain for the next four centuries. In most years, plague was a dormant threat that affected very few people, and diseases such as smallpox and influenza were much more widespread; however, bubonic plague was prone to outbreaks that could decimate populations in a few short years. In London, plague outbreaks occurred every few decades, usually with death tolls in the tens of thousands. The duration and severity of these epidemics varied, sometimes having high death tolls but subsiding quickly, while others had relatively lower death tolls but could last for a number of years. As London's population and density also grew drastically during this period, plague affected the city differently in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Great Plague of London

The final major plague epidemic observed in Britain took place in 1665 and 1666. It became known as the "Great Plague" as it was the last of its kind in Britain, and its death toll eclipsed all other epidemics in the preceding century (although it was much smaller than that of the Black Death). The plague lasted for eighteen months, and had a reported death toll of more than 70,000 in this time; although modern historians estimate that the actual death toll exceeded 100,000. At its peak in September 1665, it is reported that there were more than 7,000 deaths per week, although this may have also been much higher due to the limited records kept at the time. Another reason for the lack of accurate records relating to this epidemic is because of the Great Fire of London in 1666. The fire started on September 02. 1666, and destroyed almost all of the city within the walls, leaving thousands homeless. Historians continue to debate the fire's significance, some citing that it destroyed the unsanitary dwellings where infected rats lived and drove them from the city, while others claim that the timings were purely coincidental and that the epidemic had already begun to subside in February.

Total number of deaths and bubonic plague deaths in London from 1562 to 1680

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Release date

May 2020


United Kingdom (England)

Survey time period

1562 to 1680

Supplementary notes

Release date is the date of extraction. The original source was published in 1905.

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Statistics on "Plague"

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