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Michigan State University

Defoe and the Plague in London 1664-1665: Most Affected?

Guide accompanies a small book exhibit in the Lobby of the Main Library.

Most Affected?


In London in 1664-1665 Who was Most Affected by the Plague?

  • The poor, women, and children suffered marginally higher mortality rates because:
    • They were all more vulnerable to other infections also.
    • Possible inadequate nutrition disadvantaged all of them.
    • The poor lived in crowded, possibly ill-kempt, wooden homes with thatched roofs.
    • Women spent more time around food where fleas/rats might be found.
    • Women cared for the sick.
  • The well-to-do who could afford to leave London did so, going to their country homes or to homes of friends or relatives in rural areas less likely to be plague ridden.
  • In the London area, it hit the poorer suburban parishes on the fringes of town beginning on the West End.  It spread north, east, and south across the Thames River.  See the map in the display.
  • In the City proper, the well-to-do areas suffered less, but plague was everywhere in the City in 1665.
  • People with A blood type, the most common in southeast England at the time, were more susceptible to flea bites.  Weaker people succumbed.  Stronger, healthier people survived, developing immunities
Michigan State University