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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 79    1964  page 3

The Chetney Hill Lazaret

By P. Froggatt, M.A., M.D., D.P.H.

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 'susceptible'.
   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.
   8  P. Froggatt, 'The lazaret on Chetney Hill', Med. Hist., viii (1964), 44-62.
   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 This was not repealed until 7 Will.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.)

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