The black death spread to England in 1348 and killed nearly half of the population of the city. It had reached York in around April 1349 after spreading northwards. So many died that the churchyards in York couldn’t cope and the chapel and cemetery at St. Oswald at Fulford were brought into use and dedicated to help deal with the number of bodies.
It is thought that poor hygiene in the city made matters worse, with the River Ouse not just used for dumping effluent and rubbish in, but the water also used in baking and brewing.
In 1604 another plague hit the city, when it is thought 3,512 people were killed. The city authorities arranged for the Lord President’s Courts to be moved from the city temporarily to Ripon and Durham and many residents also left the city until the plague had been brought under control.