In 1643 nearly as many people died in Newmarket as during the plague outbreak of 1625. This could have been simply another localised outbreak of plague – it seems to have died out in the winter like plague often did. However, there was not a national plague outbreak that year. The 17th century was notorious for fever epidemics of various sorts, the responsible pathogen being unclear in many cases. Certainly many such outbreaks were definitely not bubonic plague, the features of which were well recognised. Some might have been influenza epidemics, others typhus outbreaks, or even smallpox, although obviously the features of that would have been well recognised too. Newmarket saw a major smallpox outbreaks in 1738 and 1762.
1643: Newmarket St Mary’s parish register. Reference: J552/9, microfilm of Newmarket St Mary’s parish register, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: this is in very poor condition, but an impression can be gained regarding the large number of deaths.]
1643: Newmarket All Saints’ parish register. Reference: Microfiche of Newmarket All Saints’ parish register (fiche 1), (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: this also is in very poor condition, but an impression can be gained regarding the large number of deaths.]
1643: The Newmarket St Mary’s and All Saint’s parish registers. Reference: J562/69, microfilm transcript, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds). [Note: this is a transcript of the parish registers made about 1940. The actual registers appears to have sustained significant damage between when the transcript was made and when the microfilm referenced above was taken.]
Creighton C. A History of Epidemics in Britain, from AD 664 to the extinction of the plague. Cambridge: at the University Press; 1891.
May P. The changing face of Newmarket 1600 – 1760. Peter May Publications; 1984.
The research notes of Peter May. Reference: HD1584, (Suffolk County Record Office, Bury St Edmunds).
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