Impact of the Great Plague of London, 1665-6

This book is filled with stories like this, which touch the soul. But for some reason, the image of the smudge in the ledger, marking the passing of a dedicated parish clerk in recording the dead, sticks in the mind:

‘The indispensable parish clerk was in the front ranks of the vulnerable. Thomas Beard paused while writing in the register of St. Martin Orgar, a long finger of a parish leading down to the Thames near London Bridge. Next to his handwriting was a smudge; the rest of the entry was completed by a different hand, that of the churchwarden. Beard died that evening and was buried the following day, August 6. Immediately, John Robbins was appointed to fill his place. Robins died on August 28, and by September 9 his wife had buried their three sons and a daughter.’

[A. L. Moote & D. C. Moote, Great Plague: The Story of London’s Most Deadly Year (Baltimore, 2006), p.229.)