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The Old Bailey

Blame for the Fire

The destruction of London by fire is reported to be a hellish contrivance of the French, Hollanders, and fanatic party.
Letter from Thomas Waade to Joseph Williamson, dated 14 September 1666

England was at war with France and the Netherlands in 1666 and Catholics were immediately blamed for starting the Fire. Foreigners generally were suspected, and citizen mobs attacked them in the streets.

In October 1666, Robert Hubert, a 26-year-old French watchmaker, confessed to starting the fire. His story was unconvincing, he appeared not to have been in the country on 2 September and many doubted his involvement. Nevertheless, he was tried at the Old Bailey sessions and hanged.

The Fire reached the Old Bailey, beside medieval Newgate prison, on 4 September and destroyed it. It was rebuilt in 1673.

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