Ships held in quarantine in Hole Haven

Samuel Pype's Diary 26 November 1663

Thursday 26 November 1663

Up and to the office, where we sat all the morning, and at noon I to the ‘Change, and there met with Mr. Cutler the merchant, who would needs have me home to his house by the Dutch Church, and there in an old but good house, with his wife and mother, a couple of plain old women, I dined a good plain dinner, and his discourse after dinner with me upon matters of the navy victualling very good and worth my hearing, and so home to my office in the afternoon with my mind full of business, and there at it late, and so home to supper to my poor wife, and to bed, myself being in a little pain. … by a stroke … in pulling up my breeches yesterday over eagerly, but I will lay nothing to it till I see whether it will cease of itself or no. The plague, it seems, grows more and more at Amsterdam; and we are going upon making of all ships coming from thence and Hambrough, or any other infected places, to perform their Quarantine (for thirty days as Sir Rd. Browne expressed it in the order of the Council, contrary to the import of the word, though in the general acceptation it signifies now the thing, not the time spent in doing it) in Holehaven, a thing never done by us before.

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  • If I may be so bold and quote from Samuel Pepys’ Diary of October 20th, 1666, it’s a poor indictment of the leadership of the fleet at the time, but I do believe that some nearby localities come into the conversation. ‘Up, and all the morning at the office, where none met but myself. So I walked a good while with Mr. Gawden in the garden, who is lately come from the fleete at the buoy of the Nore, and he do tell me how all the sober commanders, and even Sir Thomas Allen himself, do complain of the ill government of the fleete.’

    1666 was of course annus mirabilis, the year of the Great Fire of London and Pepys quite rightly bemoans the reaction to the news of that event by some of the leaders of the fleet:- ‘…he heard a young commander presently swear, that now a citizen’s wife that would not take under half a piece before, would be occupied for half-a-crowne: and made mighty sport of it.’

    But back to our area:- ‘…the fleete come to anchor between the Horse and the Island, so that when they came to weigh many of the ships could not turn, but run foul of the Horse, and there stuck, but that the weather was good.’

    Could that be Upper or Lower Horse in Hole Haven? All this was of course just a year before the Dutch burned much of the English fleet in the attack on the Medway, Dutch sailors raided Canvey Island and Charles II was forced to sue for peace.

    By Robert Hallmann (05/02/2009)

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