Lord Mayor Rules During the Plague


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Plague had repeatedly struck Britain since the Middle Ages, but the severe outbreak in 1665 in London forced new developments in public health

The infectious nature of the plague was recognised, and victims were kept isolated but there was no real understanding of the nature of the plague and its causes.

Here are some of the actions ordered by the Lord Mayor of London:

  • Each infected house to have one or two watchmen to ensure no one entered or left the house.
  • Any woman attending that house must not leave for 28 days after the person has deceased.
  • Women must be appointed in every town/village to check that the people within the boarded up houses have died from the plague, these women are not allowed to work as a shopkeeper or laundry maid.
  • The burial of the dead must be either before sunrise or after sunset. All graves should be at least six foot deep.
  • Bedding of the deceased must be aired by a fire and perfumed before being used again.
  • Each household should be responsible for sweeping the front of their houses. This rubbish would then be collected daily.
  • No animals to be kept within the city e.g. pigs, cats, dogs, pigeons or rabbits.
  • No food stock that is putrid to be sold or kept on the streets.
  • All street performers to be banned from the city, including bear-baiting, plays etc.
  • All disorderly ale-houses, coffee shops to be closed.
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