Elizabeth I died in 1603. She had never married and she had no children. James VI of Scotland, the son of Mary Queen of Scots, was Elizabeth's nearest relative and so became James I of England, combining the thrones of England and Scotland.
The age of the Stuarts lasted just over 100 turbulent years - Civil war, several uprisings and plots, a great plague and the Great Fire of London were amongst the most notable events that took place during that time.
Scientific discovery continued with distinguished people like Isaac Newton contributing to the knowledge of mankind. Architect Christopher Wren produced some outstanding works including his masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral.
Gunpowder, Treason And Plot - James I (VI) King James VI of Scotland and I of England Charles I, 1625-40 The English Civil Wars 1642-1651
Mayflower and the Pilgrim FathersThe Mayflower carried the Pilgrim Fathers from England to the New World
On the death of Queen Elizabeth 1st, James 1st became king and immediately installed the Protestant faith as the one true religion for England and Scotland all other religions were discouraged or barred.
In Nottinghamshire, members of the Puritan Separatist Church became increasingly concerned that they were unable to practice their religion and to avoid fines and persecution members of the church left England in secrecy and set up a community in Holland. The ‘separatists’ as they became known found it difficult to settle due to cultural and language differences and yearned for a home of their own.
The answer to their problem came via an English stock company that offered to pay for settlers to found a new colony in Virginia to protect their interests in North America.
On the 16th September 1620, 102 men and women including 35 Puritan separatists sailed from Plymouth in Devon on a ship called the Mayflower captained by Myles Standish.
Conditions on board the Mayflower were harsh with very little food or water and cramped living quarters. The Pilgrim Fathers faced violent storms that led many of the pilgrims to become overcome by seasickness. Despite the harrowing conditions there was only one death, William Butten of Austerfield, perhaps even more surprising was there was also one birth aboard, a boy Oceanus Hopkins.
In addition to the harsh conditions the 35 Puritan separatists clashed with the other passengers on board due to their religious differences but to avert further problems the Mayflower Compact was signed establishing the rights of non-Puritans, this document formed the basis for government of the new colony.
The Mayflower was blown off course by a violent storm and failed to reach Virginia but they finally, after 66 days at sea, dropped anchor in Plymouth Sound on November 21st, 1620.
In December, the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Cape Cod and decided that they would stay, by the 21st December they had established their own government in the New Plymouth colony.
Life in the new colony that first winter was severe with over half of the original settlers dying from a combination of poor food, illness and the severe weather. The remainder survived mainly due to their own perseverance and help from local Indians.
The following year in November 1621 the established community celebrated its first Thanksgiving a tradition, which still takes place in the USA to this day almost 400 years later.
The Great Fire of London
On Sunday 2nd September 1666, a fire started in Thomas Farynor’s (the official baker to King Charles II) shop in Pudding Lane, London.
It appears Thomas Farynor forgot to douse the fires in his bakers oven and some embers set light to some firewood nearby. By one o’clock in the morning the building was engulfed by flames, Farynor and his family escaped by climbing through a window onto the roof and across the rooftops. His maid unfortunately didn’t make it out of the burning building and she became the first person to die as a result of the fire.
From Farynor’s shop, the flames spread to the Star Inn on Fish Street Hill. The closely packed buildings made of timber and pitch ignited quickly and the strong winds swiftly spread the fire down to warehouses by the River Thames which were packed with goods which ignited easily e.g. oil, spirits, straw and hemp.
The fire now became uncontrollable spreading half way across the old London Bridge (luckily a gap caused by a previous fire prevented the fire making it across the river and devastating the south bank as well!)
The fire continued to rage the following day destroying Fleet Street, the Old Bailey and Newgate, reports said that the stones in St Paul's exploded due to the extreme heat. Although there were laws in force tat required the various parishes to provide buckets and ladders in case of fire much of the equipment had been left to rot and was totally inadequate for what they were facing.
By now there was little else to do but to tear down the houses to make gaps or fire breaks so the fire couldn’t get any further. Eventually gun powder had to be used as it was taking to long to pull down the houses by hand.
For 3 more days the fire raged before it finally began to burn itself out near Holborn Bridge but just as people thought the worst was over, the fire flared up again. The Duke of York ordered more buildings to be destroyed to prevent Whitehall from going up in flames, finally it was brought under control.
The fire which lasted 5 days devastated over 400 acres of medieval London, leaving 87 churches (including St Paul’s cathedral) 50 livery halls and 13,200 houses destroyed. Amazingly only 6 people were reported killed by the fire although it is thought this figure isn’t totally accurate.
On the plus side the fire did help destroy the rat population which transmitted the bubonic plague which killed thousands the previous year. However for those that had lost their possessions in the fire they were now reduced to a life of poverty. Some tents were provided around Moorfields and St George’s fields whilst other built what shelters they could.
The fire spread so easily because the houses were made mostly of wood.
Following the great fire the old wooden structures were replaced by brick built buildings and paved the way for the first fire brigades to be employed. Sir Christopher Wren re-built St Paul’s to what we know today in addition to 49 new churches and also the memorial to the fire.
|1603||James I (James VI of Scotland) ascends to the throne of England.|
|1611||King James' Bible|
|1641||Start of the Irish Rebellion|
|1642||Start of the English Civil War|
|1649||Charles I surrenders and is executed|
|Start of Cromwell's commonwealth ending in 1660|
|1660||Charles II is invited to take the throne.|
|1665||Plague sweeps the country|
|1666||The Great fire of London|
|1685||Monmouth rising - ends1688|
|1688||The Glorious Revolution - William and Mary|
|1690||Battle of the Boyne|
|1692||The Glencoe Massacre|
|1694||The founding of the Bank of England|
|1702||Queen Anne ascends to the throne|
|1707||The Act of Union|
|1712||The first steam engine|
|1714||Queen Anne dies|