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Journal > Volumes > 49 (2018) / 1 (Spring)
Lord Have Mercy on Us: Broadsides and London Plague Life
Eileen Sperry
College of Saint Rose

This article examines Lord Have Mercy broadsides, a genre of cheap weekly publications that appeared during the seventeenth-century plague outbreaks. These texts included historical data about previous epidemics, remedies, prayers, and mortality figures for parishes in London. Readers of the Lord Have Mercies served as amateur demographers by recording mortality statistics for their local communities in spaces provided by the publisher. This recording practice, I argue, serves to map the disease’s progress more precisely, thereby ameliorating fears associated with the chaotic nature of the disease in urban environments. Because these documents emerged as alternative to official government bills of mortality, the Lord Have Mercies additionally provide a valuable glimpse into the ways in which individual citizens responded to the epidemic. Finally, these broadsides provide early modern scholars a unique opportunity to gain a clearer understanding of the ways in which popular print culture intersected with daily life during plague outbreaks.

Pages: 95 - 114