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Thursday 29 August 2002, 9.02 am - 9.30 am.
Melvyn Bragg follows his long historical exploration of the Routes of English with Voices of the Powerless, in which he explores the lives of the ordinary working men and women of Britain at six critical moments across the last 1,000 years.

The extracts of documents that may be read on this page are from John Ivie - who was a Puritan magistrate living in Salisbury at the time of the plague outbreak in 1627.

READINGS: John Ivie, the Plague and Salisbury

After Candlemas was past, the Lord sent upon us a very sore and grievous plague. And as many persons of the city that had any friends in the country that would receive them into part of their houses or barns did fly as if it were out of an house on fire;

And then there was none left to assist me and comfort the poor in so great a misery, neither recorder, justice, churchwarden, or overseers in all the city, nor high constable, but only two of the petty constables that had no friend to receive them in the country. Reading.

John Williams came to me very sad on the Monday morning and told me, "Sir, I was with you for a warrant on Saturday, but those four men came home at night and fell to drinking all night, and by prayer-time the next day in the afternoon they had drunk up all that was in the house" They set the cowl upon the table and set another empty cowl by, and made a vow that they would, before they left, drink all that was in one and put their urine in the other, which they did with speed.

The Monday night following this fellow died, and by the Thursday morning about four of the clock were all that were in the house buried; the four journeymen, the master, John Chappel, his wife and maid were all dead in three days and few hours after their great drinking. It pleased God to give me power to suppress all saving that one house; then the God of power did suppress that house in his own judgement.

I went to the door of the house. " I pray take it not amiss; I must in the night remove you all to the pesthouse. She railed on me very sorely. Yet late in the night I came to have them all out, but she would not open the door, but in a rude manner did scold at me, and asked me whether I came of a woman or a beast that I should do so bloody an act upon poor people in their condition. I gave the bearers order to strike and at the second stroke the door flew open. Then two of them went in and came out again immediately and told me their lives were as precious to them as mine to me; they would not go in again; the house was so hot they were not able to stay there. For the smell of the house, with the heat of the infection, was so grievous they were not able to endure it. I told them " You must and shall endure it."

[One of them was a tall black-haired man. His fore-top of hair did reach over his head and a large lock on his shoulder knit up with a bow knot; the other two had long locks but not knit up.] I took the gallant by the sleeve and demanded, "Sir, what are you?" He replied, "A man." I said I doubt it" "Why do you doubt it?" "Because you behave yourself like a beast and a thief." He swears high upon the Welsh tongue. I pulled him and said, "Come you along", and bade the constables bring the rest. Then he spat the same Welsh again. I understood his meaning to be "Whither will you lead me? My answer was, "Whither please me".

The next careful chore was to suppress the alehouses, which were above four score, licensed and not. [And then I sent for all those that sold without licence and gave them a charge not to sell at their peril until they and the rest were licensed, which for fear of the gaol they did not.] For I will not suffer the city to be undone for to maintain the Devil's school in so many houses. I know you will complain to the brewers; I will not hinder you.

Yet the rude people were out of order weekly and gave out they were two hundred strong and would have better allowance. Then in the evening came to my house their captain to speak with me, who name was Richard Coulter. He began to swear beastly and said, "Do you think we will be starved? Our allowance is too short for us.

And by that time that I was come home and supped, these bearers were with me again. "Oh Master, we shall be killed; carry us whither you will. For Justice Bee brought upon us above five hundred people, and have vowed our death, and have torn the tiles very much, and hath thrown in much cold water and scalding water upon us." I said unto the bearers, Be courageous."

Listen Live
Audio Help
l - Castles and Cruelty - extracts on programme page.
2 - The Peasants' Revolt - extracts on programme page.
-3 - The Reformation - extracts on programme page
4 - The Plantation of Ulster - extracts on programme page
5 - The English Civil War and the Siege of Chester - - extracts on programme page
Listen to Melvyn Bragg talk about Voices of the Powerless
Listen to Simon Elmes, executive producer, give an unigue insight into the programme.
Listen to the signature music
Go to - Homepage.
Go to Prog l - Castles and Cruelty
Go to Prog 1 - Biography of Orderic Vitalis
Go to Prog 2 - The Peasants' Revolt
Go to Prog 3 - The Reformation
Go to Prog 3 - The Reformation - Key Events
Go to Prog 4 - The Plantation of Ireland in the Counties of Armagh and Tyrone.
Go to Prog 5 - The English Civil War and the Siege of Chester
Read The Sources
Go to Prog 1 - Castles and Cruelty
Go to Prog 2 - The Peasants' Revolt
Go to Prog 3 - the Reformation
Go to Prog 4 - the Plantation of Ulster
Go to Prog 5 - The English Civil War and the Siege of Chester

In Our Time
Thursday 9.00-9.45am, rpt 9.30-10.00pm. Melvyn Bragg explores the history of ideas. Listen again online or download the latest programme as an mp3 file.
This Sceptred Isle
BBC History - Plantation of Ireland
Melvyn Bragg
Melvyn Bragg presents In Our Time for BBC Radio 4, a series where he and his guests discuss the "Big Ideas" of cultural or scientific significance.

He also presented The Routes of English, his millennial series celebrating 1,000 years of the English language.

Melvyn Bragg was born in 1939 in Wigton, Cumbria - where many of his books are set. He won a scholarship to Oxford to read history, and in 1961 he gained a coveted traineeship with the BBC.

He has presented a number of television series including: Read All about It, Two Thousand Years, and Who's Afraid of the Ten Commandments? and createdThe South Bank Show.

Melvyn presented Start the Week between 1988 and 1998. In his 1998 series On Giant's Shoulders he interviewed scientists about their eminent predecessors.

As well as presenting for Radio 4, he is Controller of Arts for London Weekend Television. In 1998 he was made a life peer. He's written 17 novels, the latest of which, The Soldier's Return, won the WH Smith Literary Award.

Melvyn Bragg was made a Life Peer in 1998 and he took the title of Baron Bragg of Wigton in the County of Cumbria.

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