Category Archives: Death

Death Weather

A Great Tempest Happened

These fragments come from the late 17th Century and describe two strange weather events, the first in Bedfordshire and the second in Northamptonshire.

At sundry times, strange firie Meteors have happened in the Air, and very neare the Earth.  But I think not in this manner, as I have heard of in any story. On the 12th of May, a great Tempest happened, accompanied with prodigious Rain, Thunder and Lightning, more terrible than has been known for many years before, which occasioned the next day violent floods of Water, by coming down the Hills, and overflowing the Brooks and Rivers; But that which is most remarkable is that after a prodigious clap of Thunder about Noon, there broke out (as from a cloud0 a long stream of Fire, which appeared greater as it came near to the Earth, forming itselfe into the shape of a prodigious Firie Serpent that appeared, the Tail dragging on the ground, making a noise like a Whirlwind finding the Grass in its way, but that which formed the head was elevated as high as the highest Trees, and in the body could be seen and plainly discerned a very terrible smoak. When it came unto Shipton Brook, the Tail dragging on the Water caused a terrible hissing and spouting up of the Water, and immediately it Thundered and a terrible Storm erupted into which this body of fire dissipated and vanished. This is attested by divers who say they were Eye-witnesses of it, and much terrified at so dreadfull a sight.’

On the 16th of May, prodigious black Clouds began to gather, which caused a great darkness so that people were apprehensive of a violent Storm approaching. Immediately the Thunder began to bellow and the lightning to rend the Clouds, and flashes enlighten the Air, when immediately some great drops of Rain fell, which was followed by prodigious Hail-stones which wounded divers that were hasting for shelter. Some of these stones as big as Goose Eggs they fell so violently that they beat young Trees in pieces, greatly damaging Corn &c , lying in such prodigious Quantities for a great many hours afterward unmelted, so that Horse Carts, Coaches, and Waggons, especially in the narrow ways, could not pass without great difficulty. The storm continued about an hour and damaged a great many Buildings by beating off the Tiles and Thatch.  Some scores of Pigeons, Rooks, Daws &c have been found dead in the fields, killed by the fall of the stones, and many Horses, Cows and Oxen were so bruised and wounded that many of them are expected not to live, as also several people who were too far from substantial shelter. And no sooner were these prodigious Stones melted, but the Water came pouring down from the Hills into the Valleys and Plains where many Sheep, Swine and Cattle were swept away and driven violently by the Torrent into Meadows, Rivers and other depths and there perished. Several Mills were thrown down, that stood on Rivulets, and some people is said to have be drowned.’

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Death Weather

Buried in salt water

The following is an account of flooding in Somerset in January 1607.

In January last, towards the end of the month, the sea flowing fast and meeting with the land so violently, the bankes were eaten through and a rupture made at Somersetshire. No sooner had this furious invader entered but he encountered with the river Severn, and both boild in such fury that many Miles (to the quantity of 20 in length and four or five at least in bredth) were in a short time swallowed up by this torrent. The inundation began in the morning and within a few houres covered the whole face of the earth thereabouts to the depth of eleven or twelve feet. Men that were going to their labours were compelled to fly back to their houses, yet before they could enter, death stood at the doores ready to receive them. In a short time did whole villages stand like Islands, and in a more short time were those villages undiscoverable and no where to be found. The tops of trees and houses only appeared as if at the beginning of the world towns had been built at the bottom of the Sea. Inhabitable houses were sunke clean out of sight. Hunsfielde (a Market Towne in the sayde shire) was quite drowned. Kenhouse another village covered all over, Kingson a third village likewise lies buried in salt Water. So besides, Brian Downe, a village quite consumed. Add unto these peopled places the loss of Corne-fields, Pastures, Meadows and so forth, the misery of it no man can expresse. In this civill warre betweene the Land and the Sea, many Men Women and Children lost their lives, to save which, some climbed uppe to the tops of the houses, but the rage of the merciless tide grew so strong, in many, yea most, of the villages the foundations of the buildings being washed away, the whole frame fell down, and they dyed in the waters. Others got into trees, but the trees had their rootes unfastened by the self-same destroyer. An infant was found in a Cradle some mile or two from the place where it did live, and so was preserved for the Cradle was not of wicker as ours are, but of strong thicke bordes, closely joynted together, and that saved the infants life.

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Curiosities Death

I kill you all

These fragments on the levelling nature of death, come from a curious little tract published anonymously in 1580, entitled Marke well the effect, purtreyed here in all … The accompanying woodcut provides a compelling insight into the minds of both the author and his readers. 


Marke well the effect, purtreyed here in all:
The Prelate with his dignities renowne,

The King that rules, the Lawyer in the hall,
The Harlot and the countrey toyling Clowne:

Howe and which way together they agree,
And what their talke and conference might be.

Each to their cause, for guard of their degree,
And yet death is the conquerour you see.

The bishop vaunts to pray for the other fower,
As who would say, he holds the palme & prie,
And that in him and his most holy power,
It doth depend, their causes to suffice
I pray (saith he) that Christs continual grace
May them conduct, & guide in every place.

The puissant King he claimeth to defend,
The bishop and the other three like case,
In all conflictes or broyles unto the end,
Who but his power their enemies doth deface
He ushers men, and sends them forth a farre
In their behalf, to maintaine deadly warre.

The smiling queane, the harlot cald by name,
Stands stiffe upon the blaze of beauty brave,
To vanquish all, she makes her prized claime.
And that she ought the golden spurs to have,
For by her flights she can bewitch the best,
The strong, the Lawyer, & the rest.

The Lawyer he, in title of his claime,
Presumeth next, by law and justice true,
Somewhat the more, to elevate his name:
For law (saith he) all discord doth subdue:
It endeth strife, it gives to each his right,
And wholy doth contention vanquish quight

The country clowne full loth to lose his right,
Puts in his foot, and pleads to be the chiefe.
What can they do (saith he) by power or might,
If that by me they have not their reliefe?
For want of food they should all perish then,
What say you now to me the countrey man.

For want of me they should both live and lacke,
For want of me they could not till the earth,
And thats the cause I carry on my backe,
This table here of plenty not of death.
I feast them all, their hunger I appease,
For by my toyle they feede even at their ease.

Death that aloofe in stealing wise doth stand
Hearing the vaunts that they begin to make.
Straight steppeth forth, with piercing dart in hand
And boldly seemes the quarell up to take.
Are they (saith he) so proud in their degree,
Lo, here by me soone conquered shall they bee,

And standing by to give their later foode,
He entreth straight, the conquest to attaine,
Thers none of them (saith he) the chiefest blood
That valiant death intendeth to refraine,
I’ll crop their crowne & garlands fresh and gay,
And at the last I’ll shrine them all in clay.

  • I pray for you all.
  • I help you all to your right.
  • I defend you all.
  • I vanquish you all.
  • I seede you all.
  • I will kill you all.

The Authors Apostrophe to the Reader:

Here may you see, what as the world might be,
The rich, the poore, Earle, Cesar, Duke, & King·
Death spareth not the chiefest high degree,
He triumphes still, on every earthly thing,
While then we live let us endevour still,
That all our works agree with Gods goodwill.’

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Death Weather

The whole Valley was filled with Snow

These tragic snippets come from A True and Perfect NARRATIVE of the Late Extraordinary SNOWS (1674), subtitled Whereby above Twenty Families of Poor People, Men, Women and Children, were Distressed and some Destroyed at Langsdale in the Bishoprick of Durham: The Snow from the Hills covering the Tops of their Houses that they could not get out: having burnt all their Goods to keep them warm.

In a place called Langsdale, there stood several small Houses or Cottages inhabited by Shepherds and other poor people, their dwellings being only made of Loam-walls, one story, and thatcht over head. Here the Snow came down so furiously driven down the Hills by North-East Winds, that the poor people could hardly stir abroad. After the first two or three days, which had covered the ground generally four or five foot deep, but in drifts at some places it lay at least ten or twelve foot high, the heavens seemed more clear, but on the third day of March, being Shrove Tuesday, it fell a snowing again with greater violence. The whole Valley was filled with Snow, amd almost level’d with the tops of the Hills. The Houses were Covered over, and the miserable people found themselves buried alive in Snow. They that had any wood or fireing made use of use of it, hoping by that means to melt themselves out a way.

Their poverty for the most part was such as did not allow them to keep much store of Provisions in their houses, and the weather had been so bad, for above a Fortnight, that they could not conveniently either work to earn, or go abroad to buy Victuals, their stock was soon exhaused and they were at last reduced to the worst of Humane evils, a necessity of starving for want of food. The dismalness of living in continual darknesse, as in a Grave; the extremity of the Frost, the Lamentations of half distracted Women, and cries of dying Children for Bread, may easily present the imaginations with spectacles of Horror. Let it be suffice to say that cold and want at last brought welcome death to rid them of their Torments.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

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