Powys Digital History Project

The Plague in Presteigne 3
The isolation of Presteigne

  Attempts to limit the plague
People from surrounding areas were reluctant to enter the town during the 1636 outbreak, and the movement of the townspeople was restricted by the authorities in an attempt to limit the spread of the contagion.
As food was no longer being brought in to the town, the surviving population would have been forced to wander further afield in search of essential supplies. To avert the obvious dangers of the further spread of the contagion, arrangements were made to levy a charge on unaffected areas to pay for food and other goods to be left on the outskirts of the town for collection by the people of Presteigne.
These efforts were only partly succesful because it was not possible to stop everyone from leaving, and the food provided was not enough to feed the inhabitants.

 An extract from the
parish register,
Summer 1636

Reproduced with
acknowledgements to
the Parochial
Church Council of
St Andrew's


Loss of the weekly market
Because of the plague the weekly market in Presteigne was stopped in 1636, and it is likely that the recurring outbreaks of bubonic plague were a major factor in the serious decline of the cloth industry in the town. The plague resulted in the loss of a large number of skilled weavers and other workers, and outsiders were no longer willing to buy the possibly contaminated products of a plague town.
Such reluctance may have been wise, because the plague struck the village of Eyam in Derbyshire due to infection contained in a bale of cloth sent from London to a tailor in the village in 1665. The village became well known for the remarkable sacrifice of its inhabitants in cutting themselves off from all outside contact to avoid spreading the plague.

It is possible that the cloth industry was one of the reasons for Presteigne having been affected more seriously than other towns by plague epidemics, since the business involved frequent contacts with traders from many other areas, and the risk was therefore greater than with purely local markets.

There are 3 pages on the plague in Presteigne. Use the box links below to view the other pages.