Every-Day Book
vol II date    /    index  


November 27.

St. Maximus, Bp. of Riez, A. D. 460. St. James, surnamed Intercisus, A. D. 421. St. Maharsapor, A. D. 421. St. Virgil, Bp. of Saltzburg, A. D. 784. St. Secundin, or Seachnal, Bp. of Dunsaghlin, in Meath, A. D. 447.


The Great Storm


In Little Wild-street chapel, Lincoln's Inn Fields, a sermon is annually preached on this day in commemoration of the "GREAT STORM" in 1703.

This fearful tempest was preceded by a strong west wind, which set in about the middle of the month; and every day, and almost every hour, increased in force until the 24th, when it blew furiously, occasioned much alarm, and some damage was sustained. On the 25th, and through the night following, it continued with unusual violence. On the morning of Friday, the 26th, it raged so fearfully that only few people had courage to venture abroad. Towards evening it rose still higher; the night setting in with excessive darkness added general horror to the scene, and prevented any from seeking security abroad from their homes, had that been possible. The extraordinary power of the wind created a noise, hoarse and dreadful, like thunder, which carried terror to every ear, and appalled every heart. There were also appearances in the heavens that resembled lightning. "The air," says a writer at the time, "was full of meteors and fiery vapours; yet," he adds, "I am of opinion, that there was really no lightning, in the common acceptation of the term; for the clouds, that flew with such violence through the air, were not to my observation such as are usually freighted with thunder and lightning; the hurries nature was then in do not consist with the system of thunder." Some imagined the tempest was accompanied with an earthquake. "Horror and confusion seized upon all, whether on shore or at sea; no pen can describe it, no tongue can express it, no thought can conceive it, unless theirs who were in the extremity of it; and who being touched with a due sense of the sparing mercy of their Maker, retain the deep impressions of his goodness upon their minds though the danger be past. To venture abroad was to rush into instant death, and to stay within afforded no other prospect than that of being buried under the ruins of a falling habitation. Some in their distraction did the former, and met death in the streets; others the latter, and in their own houses received their final doom." One hundred and twenty-three persons were killed by the falling of dwellings; amongst these were the bishop of Bath and Wells (Dr. Richard Kidder) and his lady, by the fall of any part of the episcopal palace of Wells; and lady Penelope Nicholas, sister to the bishop of London, at Horsley, in Sussex. Those who perished in the waters, in the floods of the Severn and the Thames, on the coast of Holland, and in ships blown away and never heard of afterwards, are computed to have amounted to eight thousand.

All ranks and degrees were affected by this amazing tempest, for every family that had any thing to lose lost something: land, houses, churches, corn, trees, rivers, all were disturbed or damaged by its fury; small buildings were for the most part whooly swept away, "as chaff before the wind." Above eight hundred dwelling-houses were laid in ruins. Few of those that resisted escaped from being unroofed, which is clear from the prodigious increase in the price of tiles, which rose from twenty-one shillings to six pounds the thousand. About two thousand stacks of chimnies were blown down in and about London. When the day broke the houses were mostly stripped, and appeared like so many skeletons. The consternation was so great that trade and business were suspended, for the first occupation of the mind was so to repair the houses that families might be preserved from the inclemency of the weather in the rigorous season. The streets were covered with brickbats, broken tiles, signs, bulks, and penthouses.

The lead which covered one hundred churches, and many public buildings, was rolled up, and hurled in prodigious quantities to distances almost incredible; spires and turrets of many others were thrown down. Innumerable stacks of corn and hay were blown away, or so torn and scattered as to rec[e]ive great damage.

Multitudes of cattle were lost. In one level in Gloucestershire, on the banks of the Severn, fifteen thousand sheep were drowned. Innumerable trees were torn up by the roots; one writer says, that he himself numbered seventeen thousand in part of the county of Kent alone, and that, tired with counting, he left off reckoning.

The damage in the city of London, only, was computed at near two millions sterling. At Bristol, it was about two hundred thousand pounds. In the whole, it was supposed, that the loss was greater than that produced by the great fire of London, 1666, which was estimated at four millions.

The greater part of the navy was at sea, and if the storm had not been at its height at full flood, and in a spring-tide, the loss might have been nearly fatal to the nation. It was so considerable, that fifteen or sixteen men of war were cast away, and more than two thousand seamen perished. Few merchantmen were lost; for most of those that were driven to sea were safe. Rear-admiral Beaumont with a squadron then lying in the Downs, perished with his own and several other ships on the Goodwin Sands.

The ships lost by the storm were estimated at three hundred. In the river Thames, only four ships remained between London-bridge and Limehouse, the rest being driven below, and lying there miserably beating against one another. Five hundred wherries, three hundred ship-boats, and one hundred lighters and barges were entirely lost; and a much greater number received considerable damage. The wind blew from the western seas, which preventing many ships from putting to sea, and driving others into harbour, occasioned great numbers to escape destruction.

The Eddystone lighthouse near Plymouth was precipitated in the surrounding ocean, and with it Mr. Winstanley, the ingenious architect, by whom it was contrived, and the people who were with him.—"Having been frequently told that the edifice was too slight to withstand the fury of the winds and waves, he was accustomed to reply contemptuously, that he only wished to be in it when a storm should happen. Unfortunately his desire was gratified. Signals of distress were made, but in so tremendous a sea no vessel could live, or would venture to put off for their relief."*[1]

The amazing strength and rapidity of the wind, are evidenced by the following well authenticated circumstances. Near Shaftesbury a stone of near four hundred pounds weight, which had lain for some years fixed in the ground, fenced by a bank with a low stone wall upon it, was lifted up by the wind, and carried into a hollow way, distant at least seven yards from the place. This is mentioned in a sermon preached by Dr. Samuel Stennett in 1788. Dr. Andrew Gifford in a sermon preached at Little Wylde-street, on the 27th of November, 1734, says that "in a country town, a large stable was at once removed off its foundation and instantly carried quite across the highway, over the heads of five horses and the man the was then feeding them, without hurting any one of them, or removing the rack and manger, both of which remained for a considerable time to the admiration of every beholder." Dr. Gifford in the same sermon gives an account of "several remarkable deliverances." One of the most remarkable instances of this kind occurred at a house in the Strand, in which were no less than fourteen persons: "Four of them fell with a great part of the house, &c. three stories, and several two; and though buried in the ruins, were taken out unhurt: of these, three were children; one that lay by itself, in a little bed near its nurse; another in a cradle; and the third was found hanging (as it were wrap'd up) in some curtains that hitch'd by the way; neither of whom received the least damage. In another place, as a minister was crossing a court near his house, a stone from the top of a chimney upwards of one hundred and forty pounds weight, fell close to his heels, and cut between his footsteps four inches deep into the ground. Soon after, upon drawing in his arm, which he had held out on some occasion, another stone of near the same weight and size, brush'd by his elbow, and fell close to his foot, which must necessarily, in the eye of reason, have killed him, had it fallen while it was extended." In the Poultry, where two boys were lying in a garret, a huge stack of chimnies fell in, which making its way through that and all the other floors to the cellar, it was followed by the bed with the boys asleep in it, who first awaked in that gloomy place of confusion without hurt.

So awful a visitation produced serious impressions on the government, and a day of fasting and humiliation was appointed by authority. The introductory part of the proclamation, issued by queen Anne for that purpose, claims attention from its solemn import.

"WHEREAS, by the late most terrible and dreadful Storms of Wind, with which it hath pleased Almighty God to afflict the greatest part of this our Kingdom, of Friday and Saturday, the Twenty-Sixth and Twenty-Seventh days of November last, some of our Ships of War, and many Ships of our loving Subjects have been destroyed and lost at Sea, and great numbers of our subjects, serving on board the same have perished, and many houses and other buildings of our good Subjects have been either wholly thrown down and demolished, or very much damnified and defaced, and thereby several persons have been killed, and many Stacks of Corn and Hay thrown down and scattered abroad, to the great damage and impoverishment of many others, especially the poorer sort, and great numbers of Timber and other Trees have by the said Storm been torn up by the roots in many parts of this our Kingdom: a Calamity of this sort so dreadful and astonishing, that the like hath not been seen or felt in the memory of any person living in this our Kingdom, and which loudly calls for the deepest and most solemn humiliation of us and our people: therefore out of a deep and pious sense of what we and all our people have suffered by the said dreadful Wind and Storms, (which we most humbly acknowledge to be a token of the divine displeasure, and that it was the infinite Mercy of God that we and our people were not thereby wholly destroyed,) We have Resolved, and do hereby command, that a General Public Fast be observed," &c.

This public fast was accordingly observed, throughout England, on the nineteenth of January following, with great seriousness and devotion by all orders and denominations. The protestant dissenters, notwithstanding their objections to the interference of the civil magistrate in matters of religion, deeming this to be an occasion wherein they might unite with their countrymen in openly bewailing the general calamity, rendered the supplication universal, by opening their places of worship, and every church and meeting-house was crowded.


"It may not be generally known, that a Mr. JOSEPH TAYLOR, having experienced a merciful preservation, during the 'Great Storm,' in 1703; and, being at that period, a member of the (Baptist) church, meeting in Little Wild-street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, instituted an annual sermon, to perpetuate the recollection of that affecting occurrence; leaving, in trust, a small sum to be thus annually expended."

The above announcement is prefixed to a sermon preached in the before-mentioned chapel, in the year 1821, by the rev. George Pritchard. The annual sermon at that place has been regularly preached, but Mr. Pritchard's is the last printed one. It has an appendix of "remarkable facts, which could not so conveniently be introduced into the discourse." The rev. Robert Winter, A. M. (now D. D.) preached the sermon of 1798, which was the last published one preceding Mr. Pritchard's.

Mr. Joseph Taylor was a bookseller in Paternoster-row. He left 40l. for the purpose mentioned, to which the church added 5l., and purchased 50l. three per cent. consols, which is now standing in the name of the three trustees, who pay the minister.

For the sermon -
Distributing of Notices -
Clerk - - -
Two Pew-openers 2s. 6d. each


The following is a copy of the notice, printed and distributed in the year 1825.


On Sunday Evening, November 27, 1825,


Annual Sermon

In commemoration of the Great Storm in 1703,


In Little Wild Street Chapel,



Of Prescot Street.

"A collection will be made after the service for the support of the Evening Lecture, which was commenced at the beginning of the present year, and will be continued every Sunday evening, to which the inhabitants of Wild-street, and its vicinity, are earnestly solicited to attend.

"Service commences at half-past six o'clock."

Etymology of the Seasons.

To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.

     Mr. Editor,
I am, no doubt, with many others, obliged by the information contained in your Every-Day Book, especially in giving the etymology and origin of things of old and present practices.

But being a dabbler in etymology myself, I was disappointed in finding none for the present season of the year, autumn; and as many of our names of places were, no doubt, given by our Saxon ancestors, we in the north retain more of that language, and consquently more familiar with the names of places than you in England.

Perhaps there is not one hundred persons in Langbourn ward know any meaning to the two words by which the ward is called; but to any child in Scotland the words are significant.

Will you then allow me to give you my etymology of the seasons?

Spring makes itself familiar to almost every one; but summer, or as we would say in Scotland, means an addition, or "sum-more," or "some-mere;" viz. if a person was not satisfied with his portion of victuals, he would say "I want sum-mere."

And does not this correspond with the season, which in all the plants and fruits of the field and garden, is getting "sum-mere" every day, until the months of August and September, when according to the order and appointment of the great Lawgiver, they are brought to perfection, and gathered in?

Then comes the present season, autumn, or as we would in the north say, "ae-tum," or "all-empty," which is the present state of the gardens, trees, and fields; they are "ae-tum."

The last season brings with it its own name by its effects, "wind-tere."

If these observations will add any thing to your fund of information, it will not diminish that of

Your humble servant,

PS.—Observe, they pronounce the A in scotland as in France, Aa.

November 16, 1825.


Lupinleaved Wood Sorrel. Oxalis lupinifolia.
Dedicated to St. Virgil.

Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:

1. Belsham's Hist. of G. Britain. [return]