Great Snow

by Nick

I am snowed in today under 8 inches of snow. Last time that happened I posted about an early modern equivalent, so I thought it would be appropriate to do the same today.

Both the passages below, like my previous post, are about the “Great Snow” of 1614-15. The first is an extract from the parish register of Youlgrave in Derbyshire.

This year, 1614-15, Jan: 16 began the greatest snow which ever fell uppon the earth, within man’s memorye. It cover’d the earth fyve quarters deep uppon the playne. And for heapes or drifts of snow, they were very deep, so that passengers, both horse and foot, passed over yates, hedges, and walles. It fell at ten severall tymes, and the last was the greatest, to the greate admiration and feare of all the land, for it came from the foure pts of the world, so that all cutryes were full, yea, the south p’te as well as these mountaynes. It continued by daily encreasing untill the 12th day of March, (without the sight of any earth, eyther uppon hilles or valleyes) uppon wch daye, being the Lordes day, it began to decrease; and so by little and little consumed and wasted away, till the eight and twentyth day of May for then all the heapes or drifts of snow were consumed, except one uppon Kinder-Scout, wch lay till Witson week.

Hyndrances and losses in this peake c~ntry by the snowe abovesayd. 1. It hindered the seed tyme. 2. It consumed much fodder. 3. And many wanted fewell, otherwise few were smoothered in the fall or drowned in the passage; in regard the floods of water were not great though many.”

The name of our Lord be praysed.

There fell also ten lesse snowes in Aprill, some a foot deep, some lesse, but none continued long. Uppon May day, in the morning, instead of fetching in flowers, the youthes brought in flakes of snow, wch lay above a foot deep uppon the moores and mountaynes.”

D. & S. Lysons, Magna Britannia, a concise topographical account of the several counties of Great Britain (1817), p. 303.

The second is from the 1618 edition of John Stow’s The abridgement of the English Chronicle.

The 17th of January, 1614, it began to freeze in ordinary manner, and the 23rd of January it beganne to snow, and continued freezing and snowing many daies; and upon Sonday the 12th of February it beganne to snow most extreamely, and continued untill the 14th of February at noone, and then it abated; and from that time for many daies after it continued freezing and snowing, much or little, until the 6th or 7th of March, by meanes whereof much cattell perished, as calves and lambs, deere and coneys, &c, by reason the earth lay long covered with deepe snow to the great hurt of all manner of cattell, and many were forced to use new devices to fodder. This snow brought extreame danger to all travaillers; after this snow thawed, there followed inundations, great and violent, which did great spoiles and dammages, as you mav read in my large booke.

John Stow, The abridgement of the English Chronicle, first collected by M. Iohn Stow, and after him augmented with very many memorable antiquities, and continued with matters forreine and domesticall, vnto the beginning of the yeare, 1618. by E.H. Gentleman (1618), p. 544.