The World of One Flea Spare

Summary: This is the era of John Milton (author of Paradise Lost) and John Bunyan (author of the Pilgrim’s Progress).  America was still divided up between English colonies, French territory, and other European powers.  The Church of England has been restored as the dominant religion in England.  England herself is at war with the Dutch.

What events happened in 1665?



How big was London at the time?

From wikipedia: By the 1660s, London was by far the largest city in Britain, estimated at half a million inhabitants, which was more than the next fifty towns in England combined.[5] Comparing London to the Baroque magnificence of Paris, John Evelyn called it a “wooden, northern, and inartificial congestion of Houses,” and expressed alarm about the fire hazard posed by the wood and about the congestion.[6] By “inartificial”, Evelyn meant unplanned and makeshift, the result of organic growth and unregulated urban sprawl. A Roman settlement for four centuries, London had become progressively more overcrowded inside its defensive City wall. It had also pushed outwards beyond the wall into squalid extramural slums such as Shoreditch, Holborn, and Southwark and had reached far enough to include the independent City of Westminster

From wikipedia: In England the Tudor King Edward VI reorganised grammar schools or instituted new ones so that there was a national system of “free grammar schools” that were in theory open to all and offered free tuition to those who could not afford to pay fees. The vast majority of poor children did not attend these schools since their labour was economically valuable to their families.
In 1564, the Statute of Artificers and Apprentices was passed to regulate and protect the apprenticeship system, forbidding anyone from practising a trade or craft without first serving a 7-year period as an apprentice to a master[1] (though in practice Freemen’s sons could negotiate shorter terms).[2]
Following the Act of Uniformity in 1662, religious dissenters set up academies to cater for students who did not wish to subscribe to the articles of the Church of England. Some of these ‘dissenting academies’ still survive, the oldest being Bristol Baptist College. Several Oxford Colleges (Harris Manchester, Mansfield, and Regent’s Park) are also descendents of this movement.
From 1692, ‘parish‘ apprenticeships under the Elizabethan Poor Law came to be used as a way of providing for poor, illegitimate and orphaned children of both sexes alongside the regular system of skilled apprenticeships, which tended to provide for boys from slightly more affluent backgrounds. These parish apprenticeships, which could be created with the assent of two Justices of the Peace, supplied apprentices for occupations of lower status such as farm labouring, brickmaking and menial household service.[3]
Until as late as the nineteenth century, all university fellows and many schoolmasters were expected or required to be in holy orders. Schoolmistresses typically taught the three Rs (reading, writing and ‘rithmetic) in dame schools, charity schools, or informal village schools.

Mortality rates

Infant mortality rate: the best I have been able to find so far was “above 50%”

Life Expectancy

Early Modern England (1500-1700)
Expectation of life at birth was exceptionally high in the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, varying in the period between 1566 and 1621 from a high point of 41.7 years in 1581 to a low of 35.5 years in 1591, and averaging over 38 years.1
Infant mortality
“Demographic estimates show that approximately 2 per cent of babies born in the Elizabethan period died before the end of their first day of life. Death claimed a cumulative total of 5 per cent within the week, 8 or 9 per cent within a month, and 12 or 13 per cent within a year, with slightly higher rate of infant mortality in the later seventeenth century.” 2
Life expectancy in London was lower than that of England in general, even for the wealthy. Crowding, poor sanitation and increased likelihood of disease all took their toll on the population. “Expectation of life at birth varied greatly from the wealthy to poorer parishes of London. St Peter Cornhill, 1580-1650 had an expectation of life of 34-6 years. Comparatively, the poor parish of St. Mary Somerset, 1606-1653, had a life expectancy at birth of only 21 years.” 3
English life tables
It is also an error to suppose that if the period life expectation is 35 years, for example, as it was during the 1691 half-decade, someone aged thirty could expect to live for 5 years more, someone aged twenty-five, 10 years more, and so on. Such a misconception leads to much more serious confusion. In fact with an [expectation of life at birth] of 25, a woman of twenty in England before 1871 could expect to live about 36.5 years more; one of twenty-five about 33.5 years; one of thirty, 30.5; one of forty, 24.5. Even at sixty she would have over 12 years to live.

Church of England
(during the Restoration)
From Wikipedia: For the next century, through the reigns of James I, who ordered the creation of what became known as the King James Bible,[7] and Charles I, and culminating in the English Civil War and the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, there were significant swings back and forth between two factions: the Puritans (and other radicals) who sought more far-reaching Protestant reforms, and the more conservative churchmen who aimed to keep closer to traditional beliefs and Catholic practices. The failure of political and ecclesiastical authorities to submit to Puritan demands for more extensive reform was one of the causes of open warfare. By Continental standards, the level of violence over religion was not high, but the casualties included a king, Charles I, and an Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud. Under the Commonwealth and then the Protectorate of England from 1649 to 1660, the bishops were dethroned and former practices were outlawed, and in their place, Presbyterian ecclesiology was introduced in place of the episcopate. In addition, the 39 Articles were replaced with the Westminster Confession, and the Book of Common Prayer was replaced by the Directory of Public Worship. Despite this, about one quarter of English clergy refused to conform to this form of State Presbyterianism.

With the Restoration of Charles II, Parliament restored the Church of England to a form not far removed from the Elizabethan version. One difference was that the ideal of encompassing all the people of England in one religious organization, taken for granted by the Tudors, had to be abandoned. The religious landscape of England assumed its present form, with the Anglican established church occupying the middle ground, and those Puritans and Protestants who dissented from the Anglican establishment, and Roman Catholics, too strong to be suppressed altogether, having to continue their existence outside the National Church rather than controlling it. Continuing official suspicion and legal restrictions continued well into the 19th century.

A Key Factor in a Sailor’s Life: Impressment
From Wikipedia: Impressment, colloquially, “the Press”, was the act of compelling men into a navy by force and without notice. It was used by the Royal Navy, beginning in 1664 and during the 18th and early 19th centuries, in wartime, as a means of crewing warships, although legal sanction for the practice goes back to the time of Edward I of England. The Royal Navy impressed many British merchant sailors, as well as some sailors from other nations. People liable to impressment were eligible men of seafaring habits between the ages of 18 and 45 years, though, albeit rarely, non-seamen were impressed as well.
Impressment was strongly criticized by those who believed it to be contrary to the British constitution; unlike many of its continental rivals, Britain did not conscript its subjects for any other military service, aside from a brief experiment with army impressment in 1778 to 1780. Though the public opposed conscription in general, impressment was repeatedly upheld by the courts, as it was deemed vital to the strength of the navy and, by extension, to the survival of the realm.


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