Fairs and Plagues

The arrival – or even rumour – of plague could be disastrous for people, but life back then was dangerous, and fairs were often where a years worth of goods could be sold, so a balance had to be struck between preventing infection, and putting people at risk of bankruptcy, and possible starvation. 

“On June 24th 1636 there occurs a petition to the [Bristol] council of the wholesale tradesmen of London that frequent the two annual fairs at Bristol:

“On 25th July next one of the usual fairs is held at Bristol, whereunto petitioners resort with their servants and goods for supply of most of the counties of this kingdom, and also of Ireland and Wales, at which divers[e] of their chapman [itinerant sales agents] and debtors meet (many nowhere else) to be furnished with new credit and pay old debts.” These petitioners, “many drapers, skinners, leather sellers and upholsterers were wont to drive to Bristol to bestow many thousands of pounds,” but they now complain that the council of Bristol, upon the pretence of the infection in London intend to inhibit both the persons and goods of the petitioners, who, ‘having the chief part of their estates owing them by chapmen who meet nowhere else but at Bristol, they pray that having proved that the plague had not been within their houses within the last 12 months, the restraint of Bristol should be overruled by his Majesty’s Council.” This application was granted. “

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s