Category Archives: Weather

Death Weather

A little chicken flew up unto her

These fragments come from a 1607 pamphlet entitled Lamentable newes out of Monmouthshire in Wales.

In the month of Januarie last past upon a Tuesday, the Sea being very tempestuously moved by the windes, over-flowed his ordinary Bankes, and did drowne 26 Parishes adjoyning on the Coast side, in the foresaide Countrey of Monmouth-shire, the particulars whereof doe follow: all spoyled by the greevous and lamentable furie of the waters.

Now all kinde of Cattle being for twentie foure miles in length, and foure in breadth, were drowned, and the Sea hath beaten down a great multitude of houses, scattering and dispersing the poore substance of innumerable persons. So that the damage done in the foresaid places, both in cattel and other goodes, is supposed to amount unto the value of above an hundred thousand pounds.

The foresaid waters having gotten over their wonted limittes, are affirmed to have runne at their first entrance with a swiftnesse so incredible, as that no Gray-hounde coulde have escaped by running before them.  Further, among other matters, these things are related as certaine truths.  As that a certaine man and a woman having taken a tree for their succour, and espying nothing but death before their eyes: at last among other things which were carried along in the streame, perceyved a certaine Tubbe, of great largenesse to come neerer and neerer unto them, untill it rested uppon that Tree wherein they were. Committing themselves, they were carryed safe, untill they were cast uppe uppon the drie shoare.

A maide childe, not passing the age of foure yeares, it is reported, that the mother thereof, perceiving the waters to breake so fast into her house, and not being able to escape with it, set her upon a beame in the house, to save her from being drowned.  And the waters rushing in a pace, a little Chicken as it seemeth, flew up unto her, (it being found in the bosome of the childe, when helpe came to take her downe) and by the heate thereof, as it is thought, preserved the childes life in the middest of so colde a tempest.

An other little childe is affirmed to have been cast upon land in a Cradle, in which was nothing but a Catte, the which was discerned as it came floating to the shore, to leape still from one side of the Cradle unto the other, as if she had bene appointed steeresman to preserve the small boat from the waves furie.

Moreover one Mistresse Van, a gentlewoman of good sorte, whose living was an hundred pound and better by the yeare, is avouched, before she could get uppe into the higher roomes of her house, having marked the approach of the waters, to have been surprised by them and destroyed, howsoever, her house being distant above foure miles in breadth from the sea.

Besides these thinges in Monmouth-shiere, alreadie specified: One Mistresse Mattheus of Landaffe in Glamorgin Shiere, dwelling some foure miles in breadth from the Sea, is said to haue lost foure hundreth English Ewes.  Much corn is likewise there destroyed in that Countrey, many houses ruinated, and many other kindes of Cattell perished. The number of men that are drowned, are as yet not knowne to exeeede above twentie hundred.  A multitude more then had perished for want of foode, and extremitie of colde, had not the right Honourable the Lord Herbert, sonne and heire to the Carle of Worcester, and sir Waltar Mountague, Knight, brother vnto the Recorder of London, who dwell neare unto the foresaid places, sent out boates,  to relieve the distressed.  The Lord Herbert himselfe going unto such houses as he could, that were in extremitie, to minister vnto them provision of meate and other necessaries. And these are the things touching these foresaid places, which haue been deliuered as truthes unto us, of undoubted veritie.  And there we leave them.

The Lorde of his mercie grant, that we may learne in time to be wise unto our owne health and salvation, least that these water-flouds in particular, proove but forerunners unto some scarefull calamities, more generall.

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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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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.

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