'Solomon Eagle', 1665.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving made c 1865 by Davenport after Cruikshank, of Quaker Solomon Eagle, who 'prophesied evil tidings' during the Great Plague of London in 1665. Daniel Defoe (1661?-1731) wrote that Eagle, 'though not infected at all but in his head, went about denouncing of judgement upon the city in a frightful manner, sometimes quite naked, and with a pan of burning charcoal on his head. What he said, or pretended, indeed I could not learn.' 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, and killed 100,000 people in and around the city. Illustration from Defoe's 'A journal of the plague year, or, Memorials of the great pestilence in London, in 1665', published in London in 1835.