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Whitehall, Sep. 18. This day was presented to his Majesty, by his highness the Duke of York, Edmundbury Godfrey, Esq.; one of his Majesty's justices of the peace for the county of Middlesex, and city and liberty of Westminster, who, after the public thanks and acknowledgment of his eminent services done in helping to suppress the late fire in the city and liberty of London, received the honour of knighthood.
Whitehall, Sep. 29. This day, by warrant from his Majesty's principal secretaries of state, the person of Valentine Knight was committed to the custody of one of his Majesty's messengers in ordinary, for having presumed to publish in print certain propositions for rebuilding the city of London, with considerable advantages to his Majesty's revenue by it, as if his Majesty would draw a benefit to himself from so public a calamity of his people of which his Majesty is known to have so deep sense, that he is pleased to seek rather by all means to give them ease under it.
Westminster, Sep. 28. This day the House of Commons resolved, that the humble thanks of the house should be given his Majesty for his great care and endeavour to prevent the burning of the city.
Leghorn, Oct. 18. The merchants here, in consideration of the losses sustained in London, by the late fire, have out of their charity, raised near 3001. towards their relief, which they intend speedily to return, to be distributed as his Majesty pleases.
London, Oct. 29. This day Sir William Bolton, lord mayor for the year ensuing, went in his coach to Westminster, attended by his brethren the aldermen, the sheriffs, and other eminent citizens in their coaches, where he was sworn with the usual ceremonies.
Whitehall, Oct. 30. Sir Jonas Moore, with some other proprietors of houses lately demolished by the fire, in Fleet-street, having prayed liberty to rebuild the same, according to such model, form and scantling as should be set them by the committee appointed by his Majesty for the advancement of that great work, (to which they offered with all willingness to submit and conform themselves); it was this day ordered by his Majesty in council, that the said proprietors shall have their liberty to re-edify their buildings accordingly.
By Stat. 19 and 20 Car. 2, Any three or more of the judges were authorised to hear and determine all differences between landlords and tenants, or occupiers of buildings or other things
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE JUDGES' SERVICES.
by the fire demolished. They were, without the formalities of courts of law or equity, upon the inquisition or verdict of jurors, testimonies of witnesses upon oath, examination of persons interested, or otherwise, to determine all differences : they were, in complaints, to issue out notes of time and place for the parties' attendance, and proceed to make orders: their determinations were final, without appeal, writ of error, or reversal. Their orders were to be obeyed by all persons, and binding to representatives for ever. The judgments and determinations were recorded in a book by them signed : which book is placed and intrusted in the custody of the lord mayor and aldermen for the time being, to remain as a perpetual and lasting record. The judges were not to take any fee or reward, directly or indirectly, for any thing they did by virtue of that act. All differences not being determined, the act was continued in force till Sept. 29, 1672.
In gratitude to the memory of these judges, the city caused their pictures, in full proportion in their scarlet robes, to be set up in the Guildhall, with their names underneath, viz. Sir Heneage Finch,
Sir John Vaughan,
Sir John North,
Sir Thomas Twisden,
Sir William Wyld,
Sir Hugh Windham,
Sir William Ellys,
Sir Edward Thurland,
Sir Timothy Lyttleton,
Sir John Kelynge,
Sir William Windham. The city rose out of its ashes after the dreadful fire, as it was first built, not presently, by building continued streets, in any one part, but first here a house and there a house, to which others by degrees were joined; till, at last, single houses were united into whole streets; whole streets into one beautiful city; not merely, as before, a great and magnificent city, for in a short time it not only excelled itself, but any other city in the whole world that comes near it, either in largeness, or number of inhabitants.
The begining of the year 1670, the city of London was rebuilt, with more space and splendour than had been before seen in
England. The act for rebuilding it was drawn by Sir Matthew Hale, with so true judgment and foresight, that the whole city was raised out of its ashes without any suits of law; which if that bill had not prevented thein, would have brought a second charge on the city, not much less than the fire itself had been. And upon that, to the amazement of all Europe, London was, in four years' time, rebuilt with so much beauty and magnificence, that they who saw it in both states, before and after the fire, could not reflect on it, without wondering where the wealth could be found to bear so vast a loss as was made by the fire, and so prodigious an expense as was laid out in the rebuilding. This good and great work was very much forwarded by Sir William Turner, lord mayor, 1669. He was so much honoured and beloved, that at the end of the year they chose him again ; but he refused it, as being an unusual thing.
Whatever the unfortunate citizens of London suffered by this dreadful fire, it is manifest, that a greater blessing could not have happened for the good of posterity; for, instead of very narrow, crooked, and incommodious streets, dark, irregular and ill-contrived wooden houses, with their several stories jutting out, or hanging over each other, whereby the circulation of the air was obstructed, noisome vapours harboured, and verminious, pestilential atoms nourished, as is manifest, by the city not being clear of the plague for twenty-five years before, and only free from contagion three years in above seventy; enlarging of the streets, and modern way of building, there is such a free circulation of sweet air through the streets, that offensive vapours are expelled, and the city freed from pestilential symptoms : 80 that it may now justly be averred that there is no place in the kingdom where the inhabitants enjoy a better state of health, or live to a greater age, than the citizens of London.
VARIOUS OPINIONS CONCERNING THE CAUSES OF THE GREAT FIRE.
WHETHER the fire came casually, or on design, remains still a secret : though the general opinion might be that it was casual, yet there were presumptions on the other side of a very odd nature. Great calamities naturally produce various conjectures ; men seldom considering, that the most stupendous effects often proceed from the most minute causes, or most remote accidents.
RUMOURS AS TO CAUSE.
People failed not to give a scope to their imagination, and to form guesses concerning the causes and authors of this afflicting and astonishing misfortune.
The king in his speech calls it “God's judgment;" the pious and religious, and at first all other men, generally and naturally ascribed it to the just vengeance of Heaven, on a city where vice and immorality reigned so openly and shamefully, and which had not been sufficiently humbled by the raging pestilence of the foregoing year.
Sir Edward Turner, speaker of the House of Commons, at presenting bills for the royal assent, says,
“ We must for ever with humility, acknowledge the justice of God in punishing this whole nation by the late dreadful conflagration of London.'
The act of common-council for rebuilding, says, “The fire was by all justly resented as a most sad and dismal judgment of Heaven.”
But time soon produced abundance of suspicions and variety of opinions concerning the means and instruments made use of.
There were some so bold as even to suspect the king. Those reports, and Oates's and Bedloe's narratives, are suppositions too monstrous, and the evidence too wretchedly mean to deserve consideration.
The citizens were not well satisfied with the Duke of York's behaviour : they thought him a little too gay and negligent for such an occasion; that his look and air discovered the pleasure he took in that dreadful spectacle ; on which account, a jealousy that he was concerned in it was spread with great industry, but little appearance
of truth. Some suspected it was an insidious way of the Dutch and French making war upon the English; their two fleets being then nearest to a conjunction. What increased the suspicion was, that some criminals that suffered were said to be under the direction of a committee at London, and received orders from another council in Holland.
Not long before the fire, the French sent the governor of Chousey in a small boat with a letter to Major-General Lambert, then prisoner in Guernsey, to offer him terms to contrive the delivery of that island to them.
Divers strangers, both French and Dutch, were apprehended, upon suspicion, imprisoned, and strictly examined. It was said, a Dutch boy of ten years old, confessed, that his father, his uncle, and himself, had thrown fire-balls into the house where the fire began, through a window which stood
The English fleet had some time before landed on the Vly, an island near the Texel, and burnt it; upon which some came to De Wit, and offered, in revenge, if they were but assisted, to set London on fire; but he rejected the (villanous] proposal ; and thought no more on it till he heard the city was burnt.
The fire which laid so great part of London in ashes, gave a fresh occasion to the enemies of the republicans to charge them with being the malicious authors thereof; because the fire happened to break out the third of September, a day esteemed fortunate to the republicans, on account of the victories of Dunbar and Worcester, obtained by Oliver Cromwell, when general of the armies of the commonwealth of England.
In the April before, some commonwealth men were found in a plot, and hanged ; and at their execution confessed, that they had been requested, to assist in a design of firing London on the second of September.
At the trial of the conspirators at the Old Bailey, it appeared, a design was laid to suprise the town and fire the city; the third of September was pitched on for the attempt, as being found by Lilly’s almanack, and a scheme erected for that purpose, to be a lucky day. The third of September was a day auspicious and full of expectation from one party, but at this time ominous and direful to the nation. The city was burnt at the time projected and prognosticated, which gave a strong suspicion, though not a proof, of the authors and promoters of it.
The Dutch were pressed by the commonwealth men to invade England, and were assured of powerful assistance, and hopes of a general insurrection, but they would not venture in so hazardous a design.
Though several persons were imprisoned, it was not possible to discover, or prove, that the house where this dreadful calamity began, was fired on purpose. Whether it was wilful or accidental was a long time a party dispute.
The great talk at that time was, who were the burners of the city? some said it was contrived and carried on by a conspiracy of the Papists and Jesuits, which was afterward offered to be made appear in the popish plot. And there came in so many testimonies to prove that it was the plotted weapon of the papists, as caused the parliament to appoint a committee to enquire into it, and receive informations.
By the dreadful fire in 1666, multitudes of people lost their estates, goods and merchandizes; and many families, once in