MY THANKS go to Bill Knight who emailed “Considering the times we are living through at the moment with the Covid crisis, I wondered if you might be interested in doing a piece about a Mayor of Salisbury, John Ivie, who in 1627 put systems in place to ‘save’ the poor of Salisbury from the plague”.

It was because of the visitations of the dreaded plague in ancient Salisbury which caused such havoc that John Ivie will forever be remembered.

John Ivie was a strong man, a man of great piety and a man of action, but his election to the Mayoralty was evidently contrary to his natural wish.

However, he accepted the terrible responsibility which was imposed on him.

When the plague broke out the city was cast into a panic.

Two-thirds of the people fled and John Ivie was left without Recorder or Magistrate, having only two petty constables who had no friends to whom they could go.

He sent his wife and most of his household away, and together with his sergeant at mace, a manservant and an elderly maid, remained at his post to relieve the suffering of the distracted people and to govern the city under most trying circumstances.

The clergy, who at first tried to find safety by shutting the gates of the Close against the people of the city, later joined in the general exodus.

History tells that they refused to open the Close gates and allow the people to worship, but a mob forced open the gates and rushed in.

In Salisbury, in 1604 there were 1,000 deaths from plague.

Five hundred of them in St Edmund’s parish where the weavers lived, 348 in St Thomas’, and 150 in the little parish of St Martin’s.

Fisherton was then a suburb and its mortality was not recorded.

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