The Tudor Society

July 11 – The plague hits Shakespeare’s hometown

Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-AvonOn this day in Tudor history, 11th July 1564, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the first death from plague was recorded in the parish records of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.

John Bretchgirdle, vicar of Holy Trinity, where William Shakespeare had been baptised that very year, on 26th April, recorded the death of Oliver Gunn, an apprentice weaver who died in what is now The Garrick Inn in the town's High Street. The words "hic incepit pestis" ("Here begins the plague") are scribbled next to the burial entry, although they may have been added to the burial entry at a later date.

The epidemic lasted six months and killed over 200 people, around a fifth (some say a seventh) of the population. Shakespeare's family were fortunate in escaping the plague.

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Image: Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon.

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July 11 – The plague hits Shakespeare’s hometown