'The Dead Cart', 1665.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving made c 1865 by Davenport after Cruikshank, showing the 'Dead Cart' collecting bodies of plague victims. The door on the right is marked 'Lord have Mercy'. The bubonic plague is caused by Yersinia pestis, an infection carried by fleas living as parasites on rats. The plague hit London in late 1664, having ravaged Holland the previous year, and killed around 100,000 people in and around the city. The dead were collected at night and thrown into common burial graves. Regular outbreaks of bubonic plague occurred in Britain and Europe in Medieval times and continued until the 17th century. Illustration from 'A journal of the plague year, or, Memorials of the great pestilence in London, in 1665', by Daniel Defoe (1661?-1731), published in London in 1835.