opinion8 and legislation.9
Plague virtually disappeared from England after 1666, and the
Government, after thanking God, determined to take all measures to
prevent its re-importation.
In August, 1709, plague again occurred in the Hanse
cities of the Baltic brought by the overland trade with Turkey.
Orders in Council were issued. They were repeated in each of the
following six months, were backed by Royal Proclamation because
they were disobeyed,10 and later by Act of Parliament11
enforced by troops.12 This inaugurated an almost
continuous quarantine policy for England. The main provision was
for ships from the Baltic to quarantine at temporary sites near
the large ports.13 This was a continuation of former
expediencies, and in 1720, with plague in France, the Government
instructed a London physician, Richard Mead, to devise more
efficient methods. Among Mead's recommendations was quarantine 'in
lazarettoes near to our several ports, built in convenient places,
on little islands, if it can be so, for the reception both of men
and goods . . . 14 The duration of quarantine would
depend upon whether there was plague during the voyage, .the Bill
of Health, i.e. foul or clean, given by the Consul at the port of
embarkation,15 and whether the goods retained
infection, hair, skins and cotton, being deemed especially
Mead's book was popular but his ideas were not, being
restrictive to trade; but they were preferred by the Government to
a possible re-importation of plague. They formed the basis for two
new Acts,16 one concerned with quarantine the other
with smuggling 'from which wicked Practice I should always
apprehend more danger of bringing the disease [into the country]
than by any other way whatsoever'.14 Because of
administrative difficulties and the strength of the commercial
lobby, quarantine was enforced only in time of emergency until the
Quarantine Act of 1753 initiated a continuous and improved system.17
Nevertheless the principles of quarantine in land lazarets 'after
the custom of Italy',18 had been officially accepted in
1721; eighty years passed before the first stone was laid.
P. Froggatt, 'The lazaret on Chetney Hill', Med. Hist., viii
9 2 James I, c. 31 (1604).
This was not repealed until 7 Will. IV and 1 Vict., o. 91 (1837)
but was obsolete for many years.
10 Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, Oxford,
i (1910), No. 4492.
11 9 Anne c. 2 (1710).
12 Calendar of Treasury Books, 1712,
xxvi (pt. 2), 101.
13 Those sites were specified in an Order
of 31st January, 1712 (ibid., p. 143).
14 R. Mead, A Discourse on the Plague, 9th
Edn., London, A. Millar and J. Brindley (1744), pt. I, chap. 2;
pt. II, chap. 1.
15 Bills of Health were frequently
incorrect and abused. For an example see: J. Howard, An Account
of the Principal Lazarettos in Europe, 2nd. edition London,
Jobson, Dilly and Codell (1791), pp. 26-7.
16 7 Geo. I, c. 3 (1721); 8 Geo. I,
c. 18 (1722).
17 26 Geo. II, c. 6 (1753).
18 Directives of the College of
Physicians, 1636. (P. Russell, op. ext., p. 318, footnote.)