Fourteen years before the great plague of London devastated
the capital in 1664, many of the towns of West Wales were ravaged
by an equally virulent outbreak of the same dreadful disease.
The decline in its foreign trade, and in its fishing interests,
together with the disruption caused by seven years of civil
war, 1642-49, had already reduced the town to a disastrously
low economic ebb.
When Cromwell visited Tenby in 1649 he was so shaken by the
abject poverty he witnessed that he gave the Mayor £10
for relief of the poor.
A year later, the ailing town was dealt
another hammer blow with the outbreak of an epidemic of plague .
The bubonic plage devastated the population wuth the poor being buried without coffins, merely
wrapped in burial shrouds and carried on elm planks to St Mary's
The Mayor Contributed one shilling towards the burial of each needy person. Examination of Mayor David Palmer's expenses for 1650-51 makes
it possible to conjecture that between three to four-hundred
people died out of a population of around one thousand.
Such was the fear that enveloped the town that it became almost
sealed off from the outside world. Records indicate that food
for the residents was left at the outskirts of the town by traders
who were too frightened to enter inside the walls. Men were
then paid by the Mayor to retrieve these supplies.
a senior official working for a parliamentary committee in West
Wales , concerned with establishing the level of financial compensation
due from rich landowners, wrote:
"The plague is so
bad in County Pembroke ... we dare not venture there ... on
account of sickness ... in Tenby where 500 have died and are
The plague had a devasting effect on the once prosperous and successful trading town of tenby and many of the buildings became empty, abandoned and destroyed.
Tenby town remained poor and in a state of decay for over a hundred years until the mid 18th century when seaside resorts became the destination of the wealthy. see Tenby Victorian History>> for more details